Children of William Gammell

Children of William Gammell
Shipmaster of Greenock

William Gammell and his wife Margaret Scott had a family of nine children. Details from the Greenock Parish Registers are as follows:

Magdalene Gemmil      b. 19 June 1728          d. 28 May 1729
Janet Gamel                b. 23 August 1730      d. 4 April 1738
William Gemmel          b. 20 June 1732          d. 1818 or 1819?

James Gamel              b. 12 December 1735   d. 15 September 1825
Robert Gammel           b. 29 November 1736  d. 29 June 1737
Margaret Gammel        b. 3 August 1738        d. in adulthood, date unknown
Jean Gammel              b. 3 February 1744     d. 15 February 1744
John Gammel             b. 2 March 1746          d. unknown
Agnes Gammel           b 17 February 1747     d. unknown

The first thing to be noted is the haphazard spelling of the surname in the registers. That they are all children of William and Margaret is, however, beyond doubt, as in each instance they are named as parents, and William described as 'Shipmaster'.

Although the parish registers contain no record of the deaths in infancy of the two youngest children (recording of deaths ceased to be contained in Registers in 1747), it is almost certain that they did so die, as the memorial stone which now lies at the church on The Esplanade, Greenock, commemorating William and Margaret and their children, mentions only James and William and 'others of their children who died in infancy'. There is also no marriage record of either of these children, as there is of their sixth child Margaret.

Since the life of James is detailed on another page in this site, this page details:


William Gammell 1732-1818/19?
William was the third child and eldest son of William the shipmaster and Margaret Scott and was born on 20 June 1732. He was educated firstly at Greenock Grammar School, and later graduated at Glasgow University 'Filius Gulielmi Navachae in Greenock' or 'Son of William, shipmaster in Greenock'.

We do not know much about what happened to him later in life, except that he is described as a merchant in a land deal in April 1765 in Greenock which is recorded in the books of Sasine (No.422) in Register House in Edinburgh, and in 1820, his younger brother James, the banker, established himself as his heir (Succession of Heirs in Register House 1820). This document tells us very little except that the fact of his brother establishing himself as sole heir, must make it certain that William left neither wife nor children, even if he ever married. The document also indicates that he must have died only a year or two at most before 1820, the date of the document in question, but no record of activity in Greenock has been found, although he may well have been in business there all his life; on the other hand it is even possible he emigrated and died overseas.

He is commemorated on his father's memorial stone in Greenock West Churchyard but without dates of birth or death.

Margaret Gammell 1738 - unknown
Margaret was born on 3 August 1738.  On 10 September 1756, she married James Donald, merchant.  He was the eldest son (of 15 children) of Robert Donald, a prominent Greenock merchant, and Christian Lees.  Margaret and James appear to have had at least two children, Robert Donald born on 3 August 1757, and Margaret Donald, born on 1 September 1759.  They may also have had another son, Andrew. 

No record of the date of death of Margaret has been found.

Robert Donald 1756 - about 1806
Robert was a merchant in Greenock (James and Robert Donald and Company); the James presumably being his father.  At some stage he moved to Petersburg, Virginia where he continued as a merchant, but died in about 1806. It is not known if he was married or had any children.

Margaret Donald 1759 – unknown
Margaret married George Charles Jones, a Captain in the 43rd (Argyllshire) Regiment, in Edinburgh on 7 June 1805.  In 1806 she was the sole executrix of her brother, Robert.  It is not known when she died or if she had any children.

Finally, in the will of James Gammell, the banker in 1825, a certain James Gammell Donald was left 100 guineas, and this man might have been grandson, but if such a grandson existed, we don’t know of him.  It could equally likely have been James Donald (born in 1769), the eldest son of his wife’s (Janet Gammell nee Geils) sister (Grizel Donald nee Geils).  This is given some weight since he left a bequest of £50 to Benjamin Andrew Donald who was the grandson of Grizel, who was left orphaned in 1806 when his Father Andrew (James Donald’s brother) had died.

Discussion
All the above appears to fit with the evidence, but for one fact.  In the deposition made on Margaret’s behalf in 1806, Margaret’s mother is referred to as Elizabeth, which it of course wasn’t, it was Margaret (Gammell) who was married to James.  There are two possible explanations. 

First Margaret and James disappeared and there was another Donald family with everything else the same, but with a mother called Elizabeth – this is just possibly but doesn’t seem likely;
Second, Margaret had changed her name so that she was commonly known as Elizabeth – this seems more likely.

But this remains a bit of a mystery to be solved.

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