Which Robert and Margaret Campbell are mine?
Main Street, Houston, Renfrewshire, Geograph, Creative Commons Licence A few years ago I wrote a blog post about navigating the problem created when ancestors' names were recorded incorrectly on records. I illustrated some of the methods I used to solve the tricky name puzzles many of our ancestors left for us to solve.
Ancestors with common names can also cause a significant amount of confusion and can require the same kind of detective work in the search for which ancestor is yours.
This blog post shows how I addressed the situation of finding more than one couple of the same name, similar age and who live nearby each other, and how I worked through the same name confusion to find evidence to prove which couple belonged on my family tree.
I have found a number of my ancestors placed incorrectly on other online family trees and they are often there because of 'same name and same place' confusion. When we are searching for an ancestor and we find several couples who are potentially ancestors, with the same names, the importance of finding genealogical evidence becomes a crucial element of our research.
|Elizabeth GIBSON, Glasgow, granddaughter of Margaret Campbell. Image belongs to author © |My Scottish third great grandmother was named on her marriage record to James Gibson as Margaret CAMPBELL.  Both Margaret and Campbell are common names in Scotland and if your Scottish ancestors were anything like mine, they likely followed traditional Scottish naming patterns which ensured that the same names were repeated in families over several generations and family members with the same names born in or around the same place at the same time. My blog post about this very situation, The Tale of Two Williams and the Importance of Genealogical Evidence can be found here.
Common names can cause the same confusion when searching for ancestors even when people are not related. Confusing! Couples with the same names can be quite the recipe for a genealogical headache.
Image Pixabay, Creative Commons Licence
Working backwards from my Scottish paternal great grandmother, Elizabeth Gibson (1830 - 1876) through her father James Gibson (1830 - 1876) and his father James Gibson (1796- ), I discovered my third great grandmother was named Margaret CAMPBELL. 
Birth of James Gibson, 25 December 1830  My three times great grandparents, Margaret Campbell and James Gibson married  on February 3, 1828 at Houston and Killellan, Renfrewshire, after banns were read in the Church of Scotland. Both were stated to be 'of that Parish' meaning that they lived there at the time of their marriage. Prior to the introduction of civil registration for births, deaths and marriages in Scotland on 1 January 1855, it was the duty of Parish ministers and clerks to record births, baptisms, burials and marriages, however these records contain little helpful information, beyond the parish of residence of the couple, the date banns were read and the marriage date and sometimes the groom's occupation.
|Marriage of Margaret Campbell and James Gibson 1828 |
When Margaret Campbell and James Gibson booked their names for proclamation of banns on purpose of marriage  they were both described as parishioners of Houston and Killellan.
Being a parishioner does not automatically infer that a person was born in the parish but it is a good place to look for the birth of the bride since often it was the bride's parish in which a marriage took place. Banns were usually read in two parishes if those intending to wed were from different parishes .
In this case it seemed reasonable for me to search for a birth for Margaret Campbell in Houston and Killellan, that being the place where she married James Gibson.
ROBERT CAMPBELL AND MARGARET WHITE OF HOUSTON & KILLELLAN, RENFREW
Margaret Campbell is a common name in Scotland and although I found quite a few birth records of females with this name, there was only one Margaret Campbell who was born in Houston and Killellan, Renfrewshire. Margaret Campbell was born, along with her twin brother Robert, on the 30th of May 1802  to Robert Campbell and Margaret White in Houston and Killellan, Renfrewshire.
Robert Campbell and Margaret White had married in Houston and Killellan on 25 December 1794. According to Margaret's birth record her father Robert Campbell was a Tailor. 
Birth of Margaret and Robert Campbell, 25 December 1794 
Since I found no death record for Margaret Campbell nee White of Houston and Killellan, it seemed a reasonable conclusion that her parents Margaret White and Robert Campbell were my four times great grandparents.
Looking at the 1841 census in Houston and Killellan  I found Robert Campbell aged 76 years, a Tailor living in Old Town, Houston with wife Margaret 70 years and son Robert 35 years, a Shoe Maker.
1841 Census, Houston and Killellan, Robert Campbell and Margaret White 
Robert Campbell and Margaret White had the following children all born in Houston and Killellan. 
The 1841 census record in Houston and Killellan informed me that Margaret White was born in Renfrewshire  but that Robert was not and I discovered from the 1851 Census that Robert Campbell was born in Callender, Perth.  Since there had been Campbells living in Houston and Killellan from at least the late 17th century it is possible that family connections were the reason Robert Campbell had moved from Callender in Perth to Houston and Killellan, Renfrewshire. Family connections for these Campbell families are yet to be explored. Callender, Perth to Houston and Killellan, Renfrewshire, Google Maps
I felt confident that I had found my fourth great grandparents Robert Campbell and Margaret White because their daughter was the only Margaret Campbell who was born in Houston and Killellan and married there within the timeframe I was searching. A problem arose however, for me when I looked at other family trees on Ancestry which had my ancestors Margaret Campbell and James Gibson on them. Almost every other tree named Margaret Campbell's parents as Robert Campbell and Margaret Love. Robert and Margaret Campbell were from Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire, around nine miles from Houston and Killellan.
Same name couples can cause so much confusion! Although I believed it more likely that that Margaret White, who was born in Houston and Killellan, was the person who married Robert Campbell in Houston and Killellan when she was 26 years old, I also know that no research is complete without investigating every clue you find. I set out to find what I could about Margaret Love and Robert Campbell because I needed to understand why other people had reached a different conclusion to the one I had reached.
Houston to Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire, Google Maps
ROBERT CAMPBELL AND MARGARET LOVE OF LOCHWINNOCH, RENFREW
I discovered banns being read for the marriage of Robert Campbell and Margaret Love in Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire on the 4th of February 1792.  The couple were both stated to be 'in this parish' meaning that at the that time they both lived in Lochwinnoch, although banns read the same day in Abbey, Renfrewshire stated that Robert Campbell was from Lochwinnoch and Margaret from Abbey, Renfrewshire. 
Marriage of Robert Campbell and Margaret Love, Lochwinnoch 
Robert Campbell and Margaret Love had the following children born in Lochwinnoch [19 ]
Robert Campbell and Margaret Love were still living in Lochwinnoch at the time of the 1841 Census.  Robert Campbell was a Coal Agent and according to the census record neither he or Margaret (Love) were born in Lochwinnoch.
Robert Campbell and Margaret Love, 1841 Census, Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire 
I had found a clear case of same name confusion. Two couples named Robert and Margaret Campbell, living within nine miles of each other both had a daughter named Margaret. One Margaret Campbell was born in 1802 in Houston and Killellan and the other was born in Lochwinnoch nine miles away in 1806.
My problem was that I needed evidence to show which Margaret Campbell married my third great grandfather James Gibson in Houston and Killellan in 1828. Was she the daughter of Robert Campbell and Margaret White of Houston and Killellan or was she the daughter of Robert Campbell and Margaret Love of Lochwinnoch? My evidence needed to go beyond the fact that one Margaret Campbell was born and raised in Houston and Killellan so therefore she was the person who married James Gibson there in 1828.
My tree on the right with Margaret White and other trees with Margaret Love. Ancestry.com
FINDING THE EVIDENCE
Looking for clues as to how I could prove that Margaret Campbell, wife of Robert who lived in Houston and Kilellan was Margaret White who was born in Houston to parents John Campbell and Janet Roberston, I revisited the 1841 Census record again to see if the Campbell's neighbours might offer some help.
Looking at FANS (Friends and Neighbours) is often the only way to find evidence of a family connection. Too often when we are researching, we overlook neighbours in our research. As soon as I looked at the household living next door to Robert and Margaret Campbell, I realised I had overlooked a vital piece of evidence.
1841 Census, Robert and Margaret Campbell, Houston and Killellan 
What I knew about Margaret Campbell of Houston and Killellan was the she was born in 1769  to parents John Campbell and Janet Robertson of Houston and Killellan. Margaret's siblings were as follows William (), Janet (1767) and Mary (1771). 
When I re-examined the 1841 Census where had found Robert Campbell and Margaret White living in Houston and Killellan, aged in the 70's, I saw that right next door to them lived two women of independent means named Janet White 75 and Mary White aged 69 years. Both were born in Houston and Killellan and both women were the age of Margaret's older sister Janet and younger sister Mary. With the two women were two boys named John Gibson aged 12 years and James aged 10 years. 
Houston and Killellan Church, Wikimedia Commons
Finding the two boys John and James Gibson solved a mystery for me since I had found their father James Gibson living at 41 Ferguslie, Abbey, Renfrewshire aged 45 years employed as a Spirit Dealer and with him was his only daughter Mary aged 7 years but his sons John and James were missing. James Gibson widowed by 1841 and so it made sense that the boys were living elsewhere with family.
Finding the two White sisters Janet and Mary living next door to their married sister Margaret Campbell (nee White) and the Gibson boys, one of whom was my three times great grandfather James, was the crucial piece of evidence I needed to prove that my four times great grandmother was Margaret White from Houston and Killellan and not Margaret Love from Lochwinnoch.
When I conducted my initial research, my finding had been that Margaret White was my ancestor and that it was she who married Robert Campbell in Houston and Killellan in 1794. The fact that a number of online family trees still have Margaret Love on them incorrectly in her place, demonstrates the necessity for careful investigation when you come across couples with the same names.
Perhaps Robert Campbell of Lochwinnoch and Robert Campbell of Houston and Killellan, originally from Callender, Perth were related which would mean that Margaret Love belongs somewhere on my family tree but she is not my four times great grandmother or the mother of Margaret Campbell who married James Gibson in 1828 in Houston and Killellan, Renfrewshire.
WHERE TO NEXT?
I am hoping that DNA will determine whether the Campbell family from Lochwinnoch is related to the Campbell family from Houston and Killellan.
1. Marriage of Robert Campbell and Margaret White, 25 December 1794, Houston and Killellan, Scotlands People, Statutory Registers, Marriages
1. Birth of James Gibson, 27 December 1830, Scotlands People, Old Parish registers, Births 559/60 p. 326
7. Births of Margaret White and Robert Campbell, 30 May 1802, Scotlands People, Old Parish registers, Births
8. Marriage of Robert Campbell and Margaret White, 25 December 1794, Houston and Killellan, Scotlands People, Statutory Registers, Marriages
9. Births of Margaret White and Robert Campbell, 30 May 1802, Scotlands People, Old Parish registers, Births
11.1841 Census, Houston and Killellan, Scotlands People
13. Births of Campbell Children, Scotlands People
14. 1841 Census, Houston and Killellan, Scotlands People
15. 1851 Census, Houston and Killellan, Scotlands People
16. Marriage of Robert Campbell and Margaret Love, Lochwinnoch, Renfrewhsire, Scotlands People, Statutory Registers, Marriages, 570.
17. Marriage of Robert Campbell and Margaret Love, Abbey, Renfrewshire, Scotlands People, Statutory Registers, Marriages, 559.
18. Marriage of Robert Campbell and Margaret Love, Lochwinnoch, Renfrewhsire, Scotlands People, Statutory Registers, Marriages, 570
19. Births of children of Robert Campbell and Margaret Love, Lochwinnoch, Scotlands People
20. 1841 Census, Lochwinnoch, Scotlands People
21. 1841 Census, Houston and Killellan, Scotlands People
22. 1841 Census, Houston and Killellan, Scotlands People
23. Births of Children to Robert and Margaret Campbell, Houston and Killellan, Soctlands People
24. 1841 Census, Houston and Killellan, Scotlands People