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[for Ormsby family see page ‘ORMSBY’ at top of screen]

[this post last edited, new information and / or images added 18 March 2013]

James ORMSBY was born in Ireland about 1807. I have not yet found anything that indicates which part of Ireland the family came from, and the only information discovered to date is that James’ father’s name was John ORMSBY [see post 21 October 2012]. More research is required. James moved from Ireland to Ayrshire and in 1841 he worked as an agricultural labourer in Whitletts Village, St. Quivox Parish in Ayrshire. Four years later, aged 38, he married 24 year old Helen STEEL.

James seems to have been a man of ambition. By 1848 he held the position of Land Stewart at the Auchincruive estate and lived at Brickrow. In the 1851 census the occupants of Brickrow were James and his wife Helen, and their three children Helen, Andrew and James, James’ mother-in-law Helen STEEL (maiden surname McMURTRIE) and two brothers-in-law Richard STEEL and Andrew STEEL. The farming operation also required two agricultural labourers and a house servant. This is confirmed by the Scottish Post Office Directory for 1851-1852 that listed ‘Ormsby, James, overseer’ at Brickrow Farm. On the 30th November 1855 James took out two Endowment Policies, for a total of £200 with the St. Patrick Assurance Company of Ireland, perhaps an indication that he returned to Ireland from time to time. In the 1861 census the size of the farm is not given, however by then the two Steel brothers, Richard and Andrew had left Brickrow.

At the time of the April 1871 census James was a farmer of “50 acres arable” at Brickrow. He died, 64 years old, on October 12, 1871 rather gruesomely of ‘internal cancer and also in lower jaw, duration for a year or more’. His eldest son, 23 year old Andrew ORMSBY, was the informant on his death registration.

After his death an inventory of James’ personal estate was conducted. This document described James as “sometime Land Stewart, afterwards Farmer and Cattle Dealer residing at Brickrow”. The inventory of his personal property (“household furniture, Farm Stock and Crops, Implements of Husbandry, body clothes and other effects belonging to the deceased”) was valued at £572. Two accounts in the Bank of Scotland in Ayr, total value £165, were also included in the inventory, as was the £50 owed by “Archibald Mair, Farmer, Craigbrae”. Preliminary research shows that there was a family connection with Mair, although the specifics are not clear and require more research.

The inventory also identified the two separate £100 Endowment Policies with the St. Patrick Assurance Company of Ireland that James had taken out in 1855. One Endowment Policy was assigned to his son James ORMSBY and one to his son Richard Steele ORMSBY on the condition they lived and “attained the age of 21 years”. In James’ case this was 16 November 1871, and for Richard 19 March 1874. The inventory identifies only the two endowment policies, none was purchased for his daughter Helen ORMSBY, or his eldest son Andrew ORMSBY. James may have wanted his eldest son Andrew to take over Brickrow Farm and the cattle dealing business? His youngest sons, John ORMSBY and Henry ORMSBY were also not included, perhaps because they were not born when James took out the endowment policies in 1855. James may have meant to establish some policy for them and never got around to it, or didn’t have the money to do so.

After James’ death, the farming operation depended on James’ widow Helen, and their two sons Andrew (23) and John (15). James’ son Richard had already left home and was not interested in farming, and James’ son James may have left shortly after his father’s death. James (the son) would have received his £100 from his father’s will on his 21st birthday 16 November 1871 and may have used this to start a new life.

Helen, as the family’s Head, and her sons Andrew and John worked industriously with the help of some servants and by 1881 Brickrow Farm increased in size by 26 acres. Helen also cared for her mother Helen STEEL who had lived with the Ormsby family from 1851 until her death at age 90 in 1872.

Helen (James’ widow) lived at Brickrow, probably until the 1894 marriage of her son John to Helen Ramsay MUIR when she, her daughter Helen and sons Andrew and Henry and grandson James Henry ORMSBY moved across the road to Gibbsyard, Auchincruive, Ayrshire. In 1901 Helen, Head of the family, lived at Gibbsyard “living on own means”.

92 year old Helen died of cardiac failure at Gibbsyard 26 January 1913. She is buried in the Ormsby family plot in St. Quivox Parish church cemetery.

Ormsby family graves in St. Quivox Parish, Photo taken by the author 2003