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Alexander McBay 1840's
Hello, I discovered this site while looking for some background information about my great,great,great grandfather. I look forward to reading the articles and posts.

My ancestor Alexander McBay was a coastguard, as was his father and brother. He was born in Scotland at Montrose. The 1841 census shows him posted at Canisbay, Caithness with his wife and first born son James. During the 1840's the family were in Donegal and I am assuming that he was posted tthere as a coastguard. By 1851 they were back in Scotland where Alexander was chief boatsman at Muchals on the east coast. All I know about their stay in Donegal are the census records which give the birthplaces of three of their children. Charlotte Maria is recorded as born at Roadford, Donegal in 1842-3. Their sons Alexander Barrett born 1845-6 and Charles William born 1846-7 were both recorded as born at Culduff, Donegal. I think Culduff may be a misspelling of Culdaff, but cannot find a roadford in Donegal.

Any thoughts which might help me to fill in a few gaps in my family history would be very much appreciated.
All the best, Heather
Heather welcome to the Forum.

To find out more about Alexander's CG career you should consult the ADM 175 files (free downloads from the National Archives website). Using these I traced his movements for the period 1836 to 1855, but it should also be possible to go both further backwards and forwards. You might like to start with ADM 175/22 pdf 18, but save this file to your computer because you will be coming back to it again!

You will find that 'Roadford' should read Port Redford (Kennigo) and that rather than being at Culdaff he was stationed at Glenagad Head for the births you mention.

If you have real difficulties with the above records PM me.

Another source worth looking at is the Merchant Seamen's Ticket on the pay to view site Find My Past. There is one for Alexander issued in 1845 (153,130) which provides a physical description and gives a date of birth as 15 July 1811.

Hope this helps.

Thank you so much for this help Martin.
I have already found a lot of information. It is amazing how each bit of new information leads to another, for example now that I know that Alexander was at Bourne Bottom before 1836, I have a better idea of how he and wife may have met. They were married at Exeter where her family lived then. Its also interesting to see just how often the families had to pack up and move.

Merged on 14/07/2016 10:59:46:
Having had a chance to look through the ADM files, I have been able to trace most of Alexander's career as a coastguard. He seems to have joined the service on the 8th of November 1822 at Westhaven, near Montrose, when he was just eleven years of age. His father joined a year later and his brother James in 1828. The records for the first five years of Alexander's career are somewhat unclear. In the Index of Coastguard Nominations for 1827-1840 there are two partial records. One has him arriving from what could be"JG or H Leith" just a hard to read sqiggle really. The other has him being sent to Peterhead with the reference number 233. The next record I have found has him arriving at Bletchington, New Haven from what looks like "Leith, Exi...". After this the records become clearer. On the 27th of August 1834 Alexander was moved from Blechington to Bourne Bottom (Studlands Bay) at Poole in Dorset. This gives me a clue as to how he might have met his wife Mary Ann as her family home was not far west along the coast in South Devon. On the 8th February 1836 he was moved from Bourne Bottom to North Berwick, and on the 16th of March 1838 he was moved to Freswick up on the northern-most tip of Caithness.
Alexander and Mary Ann were married at Exeter in the second quarter of the year 1839. This may have been while Alexander was on leave. They were back in Scotland by the time the census of 1841 was taken the following year, living at Skirza, in one of a row of coastguard houses in Canisbay.
On the 18th of March 1842 the family were moved to Port Redford in the north of Ireland. There eldest daughter was born there in 1843. On 13th of July Alexander was moved further along the coast to Glenegad station. Another two children were born there at Culdaff, and in July 1847 Alexander was promoted to Commisioned Boatman.
On the 10th of March 1848 the family were moved back to Caithness, first to Freswick and then to Staxigoe two miles east of Wick when the Freswick station was abolished.
By now Alexander had been promoted to Chief Boatman and on the 22nd of March 1850 he was moved to the position at Muchals Coastguard Station. On 30th August 1862 they moved up the coast to Katerline (now spelt Catterline). On the 10th of April 1866 they were moved from Katerline up to Collieston 18 miles north of Aberdeen. At this posting Alexander was Chief Boatman in command of the station, the top posting usually reserved for commissioned officers.
I have still to trace the family's movements in the service after that date, but by 1871 Alexander is recorded as being on pension at Aberdeen St Nicholas.
Thank you very much for the help you have given me in finding out more about my ancestor. I hope his story will be of interest to others. Heather
Edited by Heatherconnie on 14/07/2016 10:59
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