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McKee-a family of "weavers"

McKee-a family of "weavers"

Posted: 6 Apr 2013 10:04PM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: McKee
I am seeking any information or sources for further research for the following family members:
David McKee, b. 1809 Belfast, Presbyterian
William McKee, b. 1829 Belfast, Presbyterian, son of David
They were a family of "weavers" and lived for a short time in Scotland before immigrating to Canada in the 1840's. Are there sources for the Presbyterian Church in that time period? What about "weavers"? Any known records? Thank you, Maymie

Re: McKee-a family of "weavers"

Posted: 7 Apr 2013 6:50AM GMT
Classification: Query
Maymie, Hello. My family, the Watsons, were also weavers from Antrim County - later than your family. Gilert Watson contacted me several years ago. He has researched the Watson families from Antrim County. He has my family leaving Belfast in May 1863 and arriving in Philly in July 1863. My family settled in the United States, New Jersey. He informed me that the United States transported cotton to Northern Ireland but during the Civil War it was not possible - and poverty forced many families to leave. Go luck with your search. Judie

Re: McKee-a family of "weavers"

Posted: 7 Apr 2013 9:21AM GMT
Classification: Query
Weaving was very common in Ulster. Mostly it was a rural activity (because you needed ground to grow flax). Most weaver families had a hand operated loom in their house and wove at home in the winter months when no agricultural work was available. They then sold their produce at local markets. Originally they wove cotton (imported from the USA) but following US independence, and interruptions to supply, they switched to linen because that could be grown in Ireland, whereas it’s too cold and damp for cotton. There are no specific records of weavers. Every agricultural labourer was also a weaver. Mechanised factories gradually made home weaving obsolete and by 1900 it had pretty much disappeared.

Belfast has about 50 Presbyterian churches. Not all were open in 1809. Belfast expanded enormously in the 1800s and many new ones were built. Copies of the records of most Presbyterian churches are held in PRONI, Belfast. Few are on-line and so you would need to either go to PRONI or get someone to do it for you.

Here’s a bit of background about weaving in Ulster:

http://www.irish-genealogy-toolkit.com/flax-plant.html

Here’s a link to the church records:

http://www.proni.gov.uk/index/research_and_records_held/cata...

Re: McKee-a family of "weavers"

Posted: 7 Apr 2013 2:56PM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: McKee
Very interesting information. I was thinking that the potato famine may have been a factor in their immigration. My g-grandfather, William and his father David worked in conjunction with carding mills after they immigrated to Ontario, so they were weaving wool and apparently continued to do so into the 1890's. As you suggest, there is evidence that they also farmed. Thank you for the links. I'll check them out. Maymie

Re: McKee-a family of "weavers"

Posted: 7 Apr 2013 3:08PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 7 Apr 2013 9:32PM GMT
Surnames: McKee
Hi - thanks for the reply. One of my g-grandfather, William's, youngest daughters,(Louise McKee) married a Harry J. Watson from Ontario (1901). He went to dental school in Detroit and opened a practice in Michigan. I don't know if he was from a family of weavers, but it's not unlikely. Tragically, Louise died shortly after the marriage so I didn't research the connection any further. It's all so interesting isn't it? Maymie

Re: McKee-a family of "weavers"

Posted: 7 Apr 2013 3:18PM GMT
Classification: Query
The famine was factor in some people’s decision to emigrate but the worst years of the famine were 1847 – 1850, so if they had gone to Scotland before that it may not have been the primary reason. And Belfast wasn’t as badly affected in the famine as other parts of Ireland. People had been pouring out of Ireland all through the 1800s. The famine simply speeded the process up.

The main driver for leaving was to get better paid work. One of Ireland’s problems is a lack of natural resources. There’s no coal, oil, iron ore etc, and so apart from a modest amount of shipbuilding in Belfast and the Belfast linen mills (which mostly only employed women), it did not really get the industrial revolution that benefited England and Scotland where mills, steelworks, ship building, coal mining and all their support industries were major employers creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Much better paid than subsistence farming or weaving. Added to that you had the effects of a massive population explosion in Ireland – up from 3 million in 1750 to 8 million in 1841 (no-one is really sure of the reasons why but reduced neo-natal deaths seem to be a factor) and the famine. So some push factors and some pull factors saw huge numbers of people leave Ireland. Something like 2 million people emigrated from Ireland in the 1800s.

If you look at the Scottish censuses for the Glasgow area in the late 1800s, you will see that about every fifth person recorded there was born in Ireland. Scotland was a particularly popular place to go to work because it was easy and very cheap to get to.

Re: McKee-a family of "weavers"

Posted: 7 Apr 2013 9:31PM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: McKee
I really enjoy getting the historical background for the time period I'm researching. thank you for sharing the information, Maymie
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