I’ve written several posts about my 3rd great-grandfather, John Burnett, the gunner and driver in the 8th & 9th Battalions of the Royal Artillery.
Ever since finding the 1841 discharge papers of a John Burnett that I believe is one and the same with my John Burnett, I’ve been working hard in trying to find any other mention of him in Aberdeenshire, Scotland; to verify that the discharge papers are his, and also to find his parents, if possible.
Several weeks ago I was looking through wills and deeds on the Scotland’s People website [ http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk ] when I came across a will that was very interesting, though if I had found it just a few weeks earlier I probably would have passed it by. It is a thirteen page will for a John Burnett in Dunnotar, Aberdeenshire (about ten minutes from Fetteresso, the town given as birthplace in the discharge papers), dated 1807, in which John Burnett, writer (solictor) of Stonehaven outlines his property and the dispersal of it upon his death, making provisions for his wife Ann (Craig) Burnett, and his “legal” children.
I plodded through the entire will, not finding anything that would tie this man to my John Burnett, when finally I came to the last paragraph on the 13th page and read the following:
“…they will if my circumstances shall afford it lay out as much in putting to some decent trade John Burnet son of Marg’t Duthie residing in Stonehaven said to be my natural son. “
Margaret Duthie? Where had I come across that name before?
I looked in my family tree program and there it was! Just a few weeks before I had come across a Registration of Birth for one of the daughters of my 2nd great-grandfather William Burnett (William the son of John Burnett). It included her middle name which I hadn’t known before; her full name: “MARGARET DUTHIE Burnett”!
I already had a birth year for John Burnett of 1797. I searched through birth records on the same website and found John Burnett, natural son of John Burnett and Margaret Duthie, born 4 Jul 1797 in Dunnotar. A perfect match!
This is either a remarkable coincidence or very good evidence that my John Burnett was the illegitimate son of John Burnett, writer of Stonehaven.
John Burnett, writer of Stonehaven, died the same year as the will was drawn up, in 1807. If the instructions of the will concerning his illegitimate son John were followed, the decent trade afforded to him would be that of a shoemaker.