Sentimental Sunday – great great granny

This painting hangs in the home of a relative and Auntie kindly took a snap of it (sorry about the flash!).  This is the family of Thomas Alexander (1816 – 1884) and Margaret Borthwick (1819 – 1865) who were my G G G grandparents.

Family of Thomas Alexander and Margaret Borthwick

Family of Thomas Alexander and Margaret Borthwick

I’m interested in the symbols in the painting as most of the family are holding something – a book, a cane, a flower, a hat.  My guess is that the book symbolises learning or education?  David is holding is something in his left hand and a cane in his right – is it one of those old “hoop” toys?

The Mum, Margaret Borthwick is the spitting image of my Dad, which I find intriguing and just a little bit strange.  Thomas and Margaret’s youngest daughter, Mary Johnstone Alexander (on the right), married Patrick Graham in Perth in 1873.  Patrick farmed at Cairnbeddie, St Martins and later at Baldinnies, Dunning and they had two little boys, John and Alexander who was my G grandfather.  Sadly, Patrick and Mary both died when their sons were very little and the boys were looked after by David (the young man in the painting) and Margaret (the eldest daughter).

I’ve already posted the story of “Auntie Margaret and the Orphans” and how I discovered their graves by chance on my other blog Ramblings of a Scottish Genealogist if you’d like to read it, but get a hanky :-)

Read more Sentimental Sunday posts at Geneabloggers

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About Jo

Professional Scottish genealogist - this blog is for my own family history and photos
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12 Responses to Sentimental Sunday – great great granny

  1. Oh my, that is your dad staring back at me. Although I never saw him dressed like that! Fascinating stuff, Jo.

  2. Jo says:

    Weird, eh, Dorothy? Thankfully, I never saw him dressed like that either :-)

  3. Marilyn says:

    What a marvellous family painting, excellent that you were able to photograph it.

  4. Adrian Smith says:

    I notice if you click on the image it opens in a larger format.
    What is the mother holding? Is that a handkerchief or is it part of her clothing?
    Would a handkerchief suggest sadness or some other negative emotion?

    I know they were big on symbolisation in this period but maybe they were all just asked to grab something to stop them continually fidgeting or something ;-)

    Great photo

  5. What a lovely painting, a real family treasure! That was a sad story about the small children, how lucky that they were able to be kept with relatives instead of being sent to an orphanage:)

  6. Joan says:

    This is such a treasure to have and I love the way each is holding something special. Thank you for visiting my blog. I have enjoyed being here.

  7. Alan Burnett says:

    What an interesting picture. You highlight the various elements so well.

  8. Mark says:

    What an interesting collection, just love old photos – I have just scanned 100 from the days when I was little. The albums were already starting to fall apart.

  9. Hi Jo, Beautiful family portrait of your G G G grandparents. I was struck by the surname Borthwick, and wondered if there is any familial connection to the beautiful, but tragic, Maymah Borthwick, life partner of Frank Lloyd Wright? Cheers, Jennifer

  10. Susan says:

    What a wonderful early portrait to have of your ancestors. I live in Hawick (in the Scottish Borders) and Borthwick is very much a local surname with Borthwick Water only a few miles away.

    • Jo says:

      Hi Susan, thanks for your comment :-) I haven’t managed to make a Borders connection so far. I bet you’re having a snowy time in Hawick at the moment – still laughing at your domino story on your blog! Jo

  11. Pingback: Ancestor Approved Award | Images Past

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