This blog began in 1997 as a single news page called Nucelus. In 2005, during a long wait to move into a new house, I decided to learn some php and MySQL and write my own blogging system, which became inkyBlog and which now powers this, my own Webbledegook blog.
Thank you to my brother, Murray Ewing, for help with some of the more challenging aspects!
James and Helen married at Scone in Perthshire on 7 July, 1793. A couple of years ago I made more of an effort to look into Helen, starting - in the absence of anything else - with the fact that a grandchild of hers was named Thomas Clark Ewing (another was Helen Clark Ewing), quite likely named after a relative of Helen's - her father, perhaps, or a brother?
With Helen being 'of Scone' it seemed sensible to investigate any Thomas Clarks in the same locale, and indeed one (and only one) does pop up, namely Thomas Clark who married Margaret Wilson, at Scone, in 1800. He appears on the 1841 census as a merchant in New Scone, aged 65, giving a birthdate of around 1775. Helen was in Dysart, in Fife, at this time, with her age given as 75. Remembering that ages in the 1841 census could be rounded to the nearest 5 years, this would give Helen a date of around 1765.
A search for Helen Clarks (Clarke/Clerk/e) born in Perthshire between the years 1760-1775 gives five candidates. Of these only one family also had a Thomas, these being the children of Adam Clark and Elspet Robertson. Also of interest is the fact that their birthdates fit the 1841 census the closest - with Helen baptised in 1766, and Thomas in 1773.
While I did look into the other families, it is that of Adam and Elspet that keep coming up with stand-out data points. There are five baptisms on record to this couple, the first two at Scone (Innerbuist), and then three in St Martins (Durhamfield). Helen and Robert appear in the record next to each other under "some deseenters children", baptised in 1766 and 1768 respectively. Thomas Clark's 1846 Will gives instruction to leave £10 to the Session of the United Associate Congregation of Scone, the same seceder's denomination under which James Ewan and Helen Clark had a number of their children baptised, in Perth.
James Ewan and Adam Clark appear on the same page of the 1797 Horse Tax Roll of Scone - James at Parkfield of Limepotts, and Adam at Pikestone Hill (now Pictstonhill), neighbouring farms less than a mile and a fifteen-minute walk from each other.
While there are several factors that point to Helen being the daughter of Adam and Elspet Clark, there is another that throws a spanner in the works. There is another Scone marriage involving a Helen Clark - the 1789 marriage of Helen Clark, of Scone, and Henry Low, of Kinnoull. This Helen could also be a candidate as the daughter of Adam, so how to differentiate?
There are several difficult things about this Clark/Low union. I could find no children for the couple, and no deaths. Henry Low of Kinnoull is a fairly unique identifier, and just such a person can be found, in 1791, marrying a Helen (or Nelly) Hutton in Perth (married by a Burgher dissenting minister, rather than the Anti-Burgher tradition of the Ewans). This marriage had more evidence of a life - children, newspaper mentions, and deaths for Henry and his wife in 1828 and 1837.
So what happened to Helen Clark from the 1789 marriage? A closer look at the record may provide the answer. On page 189 of the Scone Old Parish Register, the Low/Clarke union is listed among fourteen other marriages - every one of those entries mentions that the parties were either "contracted, duly proclaimed and married" or "contracted, proclaimed and married". The exception is Henry Low and Helen Clarke, which states, "November 9 Henry Low in Kinnoul Parish & Helen Clarke in this Parish were contracted and duly proclaimed". This may be a clue that, while the banns was proclaimed, the marriage did not go ahead. So perhaps the same Henry Low would go on to marry Nelly Hutton just over a year later, and the same Helen Clark would go on to marry James Ewan in the same church, almost four years later.
There are other aspects of which to be careful. Just because there is no record, it doesn't mean there is no person - so while there only seems to be one Scone Helen Clark, there could be another whose baptism does not exist in the records. Also there is a Monumental Inscription recorded for Adam Clark, who died at Scone in 1799, which suggests he had five children who "died in childhood" (though it's not clear from the transcription, this could actually refer to the children of his son, James). One of these children could have been Helen, unrecorded.
While it would be great if Helen had named one of her children with the less common name of Adam, or Adam himself had left a Will with a mention of a married daughter named Helen Ewan (some of his children did leave Wills), on balance, with the other evidence of the names, birthdates, geographical proximity, and religious connection, it seems a very strong likelihood that Helen Clark, who married James Ewan in 1793, was the daughter of Adam Clark and Elspet Robertson. Furthermore, Adam, born in Errol in 1733, was the son of Robert Clark and Elspeth Jackson, taking Helen's probable line back one generation further.
As usual, I invite discussion and further evidence for or against this theory from fellow researchers - please feel free to get in touch.