The Spence Family of Port Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia

This webpage gives notes about the ancestry of my great great grandfather. I have other genealogical webpages, as shown on my main page. As with most genealogy the jigsaw was put together by different people, and can always still be improved. I should especially mention Michael Spence (a descendent with the same name!), Nancy Ringland, Alan Donavan, John & Chrissy Wellborne, Sandi Irvine, and Jacky Spence. If you want to use this information use it carefully, but preferably contact me to make sure you get the latest news, and that you know where the potential errors are.


My great great grandfather William Andrew Spence, was one of Port Macquarie's earliest mayors. As described in his obituary in The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate Saturday 27 February 1937 p 4:

W. A. SpenceA native of Port Macquarie, Mr. William Andrew Spence passed, away at his residence, Hay Street, on Saturday morning last, aged 86 years on 11th February last. Born at Port Macquarie, deceased was a son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Michael Spence, and had resided here all his life. He married Miss Elizabeth Mahoney, a native of Wales, England, at Port Macquarie, there being seven children, two of whom are deceased. His wife pre-deceased him many years ago, and about 1920 he re-married, the lady being Miss Flora McDonald. The passing of Mr. Spence severs another link in the history of the town and the early days of Port Macquarie. In his early life Mr. Spence conducted a general store (as did his parents) in the building now known as Maher's, in Clarence Street. Severing this connection the deceased became associated with shipping interests, and for a period of about 40 years acted, as local agent for different shipping companies. These comprised Nipper and See, John See and Co., the N. Cain Co., and the North Coast S. N. Co., the subject of our notice retiring from the latter 10 years ago, since when he has lived in retirement. The late Mr. Spence was an auctioneer for many years. Numerous positions in the town were held by him, including secretary of the Dairy Co., at Port Macquarie. Recognised as an expert penman his work was always neat and tidy and a lesson to all. In his younger days the deceased was a noted athlete, being associated with foot running, football and cricket, and was a very punishing bat. He was also an expert pole vaulter. For a number of years also he took a keen playing interest in golf. In the town's activities he played his part being connected with many movements for advancement. He was an alderman of the Municipal Council during several terms, as well as occupying the Mayoral chair. It is interesting to note that his death marks the passing of a band of six aldermen who comprised the first council, the first meeting, of which body was held on 7th June, 1887. The then aldermen were Messrs. James Mclnherney (Mayor), W. A. Spence, F. Hayward, J. Hibbard, A. Jennings, J. Gaul. The late Mr. Spence was a prominent Mason, known and respected throughout the State for his versatile knowledge and imparting of the tenets of the order. Many district residents will recall his orations of the beautiful Masonic burial service. Of the family of five sons, living, three saw active service in the Great War, namely, Messrs. Hugh, Norman and Michael, whilst the latter was also a participant in the Boer War. Of late years, though mentally alert, the deceased had suffered considerably with rheumatism, and was unable to move about very much owing to this malady. His end, however, came peacefully. During this time he had the constant care and attention of his devoted wife. We regret the passing of the old pioneers, and of a man who had played his part in the destinies of the town and country. He was fair and just to all, and endeavoured to live his life on the principle of doing unto others as they should do unto you. The surviving sons are : Messrs. Hugh (Port Macquarie), Norman (Wauchope), Michael (Port Macquarie), Stanley (Secretary of the Auckland Park Racing Club, New Zealand), and Clarence Spence (Manager of the Bank of New South Wales, Bega). Two daughters, Mrs. Lancaster and Miss Mabel Spence, predeceased their father. A large funeral cortege moved from St. Thomas' Church on Sunday afternoon, after a short service, for the Port Macquarie Cemetery where the remains were interred. Members of Lodge Hastings and , other sister lodges were present, and acted as pall bearers. Canon L. Gray completed the Church of England burial service at the graveside, and V. Wor. Bro. D. H. Bean' gave the Masonic burial service. Amongst the floral tributes was a wreath from the Municipal Council.

A month later, on Saturday 6th March, another article appeared. "LATE MR. W. A. SPENCE. Old Times Re-called."

Writing to Mr. Hugh Spence, in regard to the recent death of his father, Mr. W. A. Spence, Mr. A. V. Drew, of Sydney, expresses heart felt sympathy, and says : — "Your father lived to a ripe old age, but it does not matter how old one's parents are, it's always a sad time for their children. Last night and to-day many things have run through my mind of your dear father, of 60 to 70 years ago. He was the best bat and sure fielder (never missed a catch) that played cricket in Port Macquarie 60 to 67 years ago. Many matches I played with your dad. Your father and I rode over to the Manning in 1876 to play Taree. Port beat Taree badly. The same year, in November, we went to Kempsey, and won by three wickets. Christmas, 1876, your father and I left Port at 2 p.m. for Rollands Plains, where a big day's sport was to take place on Boxing Day. The big prize footrace was won by Roger Wilson. Your father was a fast runner, and beat Bill Stewart, and many footraces he won on the green year in and year out. But with the pole vaulting he could not be surpassed. Many sports used to take place in Port on the holidays long years ago, and your father always won prizes. The highest jump with the pole, I think, was near 12 feet, if not more. Fishing was a sport he liked. Shops used to close at 1 p.m. on Wednesdays, and over to the North Shore we would go. One brave act I saw your father do was as follows : In 1879 your father was working for Rowe Ewan & Co. The butcher's shop was in the cellar of the store, under their big bulk store, near the wharf where Pountneys have their office. Rowe Ewan had a long wharf built a good 25 feet. Old Bill Delaforce used to have a fairly big boat and take cargo and passengers up and down the river. Delaforce was tarting [sic.] at 7 a.m. with goods and a big woman as a passenger. He had let the rope go, and the boat drifted out. The woman stood up to arrange something, when she over-balanced and fell into the water. Some woman screamed, and your father rushed out of the shop, plunged in with his clothes on, and as the woman came to the top your father caught hold of her and brought her to the wharf. The late Jim Doyle and two other men dragged her on to the wharf. Your father's prompt action created great cheers and hand-clapping. Many other things have come to my notice that happened long years ago. I hope you and your care are all well and everything going well with you. I am keeping fairly well, and will be 81 in a few months, there being ony [sic.] about three and a half to four years between your father's age and mine. I have much to thank God for, for many blessings through a long life. I saw in the 'Port News' an issue or two ago that property was changing hands and values were rising. I suppose more buildings will go up this year. I am at a loss to know where those cabins have been built, as to what street and part of the town. I am in hopes of paying another visit to old Port later on in the year. I notice shipping is brisk in Port, some weeks three steamers arriving and departing. Good thing to have oposition— it's the heart and soul of business the world over. If there were only one store in Port people would have to pay dearly for goods, and the same with cars running to Wauchope." [The Roger Wilson mentioned is Rev. Roger Wilson, now residing at Port Macquarie, who is in his 88th year, and hale and hearty. He was between 17 and 18 years of age at the time referred to. — Ed.]

W. A. Spence's parents, Michael and Emily, were remembered as two of the better educated, perhaps even refined, free citizens of the first generation after it ceased being a penal colony. For a long time, this was the chief memory that they seem to have inspired in their descendents. Michael the postmaster, and eventually a magistrate, was said to have known about wines, and come from a family in the wine-trade with connection in London, Spain and Scotland. Emily was said to have had stories of outings with aristocratic families, and to have known tutors to the royal family.

When I first became interested in this, the family was still spreading the news that it had been proven that Michael Spence was, despite his reputation, a convict who had been convicted of bigamy. As it happened, on the other hand, his records also showed quite clearly that his father, Peter Andrew Spence, had indeed been a wine trader in London.

It was known that the family were originally from Perth in Scotland, and Michael's baptism was found to have taken place in Kinnoull, over the bridge from the city centre, which is a very beautiful place. In collaboration with Jacky Spence in Scotland, a fellow descendent of Spences from Perth, a theory had developed that Peter Andrew Spence was Peter Spence, baptised 26 December 1779, the son of Gavin Spence, reedmaker of Perth, and his wife Janet Black. This family had come from Newburgh in Fife. Although this proposal is now known to be incorrect, Jacky proved an enormous help to discovering the correct sequence of events. So it is very lucky, as will be explained below, that we found that we are related through marriage!

The way in which the family forgot Michael’s reason for coming to Australia is fascinating and I have found that in the late 19th century this was more typical than we might expect today. The Spences are all the more remarkable because they took up public positions of responsibility and became involved in local political life. How did they get away with it? This seems to exemplify one of the ways in which the culture was different in those times. There was a lot of restraint shown in bringing such things up in public. Even when Michael was involved in a questionable insolvency case when he was not long free, this point was not pushed. This will be more discussed below.

Going backwards in time, from Michael and his family...

1. Michael Spence, Convict and Magistrate.

Scottish church records show that Michael Spence was born 22nd and baptised 29th September 1808 in the parish church of Kinnoull, Perthshire. (By default, normal parish churches in Scotland were Presbyterian). In the Scottish style of the time, both his parents names are given fully on the birth register including his mother's maiden name. His father was granted a “Mr” indicating respectability and "gentleman" status in those days. At that time they were apparently residents of Bridgend, the small suburb over the river Tay from the old town of Perth, and under the pretty hills which look out over Perth to the Breadalbane highlands in the West.

The picture below shows Kinnoull parish church, as it now appears. (According to Jacky Spence, this church standing today replaces an older one.)

Mary Slater, Michael’s Wife in London.

Michael married Mary Slater 13 Mar 1827, Saint Bride, Fleet Street, London, and had 3 children with her. They were married by banns. She must have already been pregnant, judging by the age of her eldest daughter Mary. By chance, she is also the author of our only source of any detailed account of what went wrong…

1 Trafalgar Street East

Walworth 29th Oct'r 1832

My Lord

It is with great reluctance, and submission, I venture to state my case to your Lordships consideration. I am the legal wife of Michael Spence who was convicted of Bigamy, at the sessions held at the Town Hall Southwark on Tuesday the 16th inst. before the Recorder of London - I was married to him, by Banns, at St Brides Church, on the 13th of March 1827, and have three children by him, now living namely, one girl 5 years old, one boy 3 years and one girl 1 year and a half old, my parents were respectable as well as my connexions.

After our union, my relatives put us in possession of a house, rent free, and genteely furnished it. - They also obtained a considerable appointment for my husband, who till then was in indifferent circumstances, his parents not having the means, or having contributed in the smallest degree to our benefit, tho' they expressed their fullest satisfaction at our prospects. - We lived happy for some time, and should have continued so, but my husband became addicted to other females, and at last formed an acquaintance with Ann Marsh, a woman of the town, and known as such at Union Hall. - And subsequently married her on the 19th Nov'r at St Andrews Holborn, she well knowing at the time he was a married man and had three children I having appraised her of it myself. - On his becoming acquainted with this woman he neglected his family and home, spending his means in the utmost profligacy with her, leaving me and his children without food or the means of procuring it, and we must ultimately have become paupers, had it not been for the assistance of my relatives. - He even attempted to take the beds from myself and children, with the furniture to carry to the lodging of Ann Marsh, and because he was restrained he wantonly destroyed part of it, and would have demolished the whole, had he not been prevented by the kindness of my friends. - He afterwards expressed great contrition before his father, and promised to amend his conduct, and I was in hope his sorrow was sincere, but instead of amendment he behaved worse than before, and actually married Ann Marsh a few weeks after, and when I discovered it he left me and resided entirely with her, and used me and the children with the greatest barbarity uttering the most horrid threats, so that I was constrained to prosecute him for bigamy as before stated; - to which he pleaded Guilty in hopes (as I learn) of mitigation of punishment in order that he might continue his connexion with Ann Marsh as he has frequently threatened "to do for me as soon as he is liberated" which I have no doubt would be the case, and wholly leave my poor dear children entirely destitute who are now supported by my exertions at Needle Work with some small assistance from my relatives. - Under these sad circumstances I most humbly implore your Lordship will protect us from this calamity by not recommending the duration of his punishment to be shortened.

                        I have the honor to be, My Lord,

                        With the most profound submission and respect

                        Your most ob'dt and very humble servant

                        Mary Spence

I hereby certify that the forgoing statement is correct and also that the conduct of Mrs Spence to her husband and family has been at all times exemplar which he (the husband) likewise acknowledged in the presence of his father

                        Caleb Parker

                        No 5 Walworth Place

                        Walworth Road

There is no reason to doubt that this was an unhappy situation, but that this letter had a specific purpose means we can unfortunately not use it as a simple neutral account. It seems for example quite clear that despite the description she gives, the Spences had the means to support themselves, while Mary's family can not have been very wealthy, as we will see below.

My thanks to John and Chrissy for pointing out that The Morning Chronicle of Wednesday, October 17, 1832; reported that in the Southwark Sessions on Tuesday Michael Spence had pleaded guilty and been sentenced to seven years transportation. It is interesting that the summary mentions specifically that the recorder "urged him very strongly to reconsider his plea". The letter did its trick it seems, and the sentence was perhaps considered rather strong? A little more colour is added by the story in the London Standard 21 September 1832

Michael Spence, an account of whose examination on Tuesday last appeared on Wednesday, was brought up for final examination.

John Blazer, police constable, produced the certificate of marriage with his first wife, Mary Slater, on the 13th of March, 1827, at St. Bride’s church, Fleet-street.

Mary Slater deposed, that she was married to the prisoner at the time above stated, and by him she had two children, which were then in the office.

Mr. Alderman Ansley said, that from the evidence adduced he should commit the prisoner for trial; upon which the prisoner (who is a well-looking young man) said, “Thank you, sir.”

The prisoner, when leaving the office, with great sang froid said to both wives “Good bye, my chucks;” and to his children, “Farewell, my little dears.” One of the children is by the second wife.

Chuck was a slang term of endearment for a close acquaintance. More information comes from London Standard 19 September 1832, covering the original examination. It again emphasizes Michael's appearance, and his coolness about the case!

TOWN-HALL.--Michael Spence, a young man of fashionable appearance, was yesterday charged with intermarrying with Anne March, his first wife, Mary Slater, being alive.

Anne March, an interesting young woman, with a child in her arms, stated that she met the prisoner in the month of July, 1831, which subsequently led to their marriage at St. Andrew’s, Holborn, on the 19th of November, in the same year; the child in her arms was the issue of that marriage. She had received information that the prisoner had been married to another woman, by whome he had a family, and he frequently absented himself. She eventually ascertained that the prisoner had been married in the year 1827 to his first wife, Mary Slater.

Elizabeth Anne March, the sister of the last witness, stated that the prisoner and her sister were married at the time stated by the prosecutrix. The witness recognized the prisoner as the party who intermarried with her sister.

Mary Ann Slater, the first wife, stated that she was married to the prisoner on the 13th of March, in the year 1827, at St. Bride’s Church, Fleet street. The prisoner represented himself as a clerk to a merchant in the city. Three children were the issue of that marriage.

Mr. Alderman Ansley.—Well, what have you to say to this charge?

Prisoner.—I have nothing to say beyond this – that my first wife was with child when I married her, and so was my second. They were with child by me before I married either of them, and from threats I married them.

Alderman.—I shall reman you until Thursday to prove the marriages.

Prisoner.—Why not commit me at once?

Alderman.—I must act upon the law laid down, which requires the production of the certificates, as also evidence of identity. You must therefore be remanded until Thursday next.

The prisoner was then removed.

I have also found the marriage records (before I found them mentioned in the newspapers above).

The children mentioned in Mary's letter of 1832 were baptised in St Peter’s in Walworth, again in Surrey, in what would today be called south London:

Mary Spence      born 27 September 1827, baptised 24 October 1827

Alfred Spence     born 16 July 1829, baptised 5 August 1829

Frances Spence   born 21 March 1831, baptised 12 June 1831

I have a note that Frances died (or perhaps was buried) 22 July 1834, but I do not recall where I got this information! The one member of this family who can however be traced is Alfred Spence.

In the 1851 census “Alfie” appears as a 21 year old “Wharehouseman” born in Walworth, who is a “son-in-law” of one William Portsmouth, a 36 year old “Shopkeeper and Fatmelter” and native of Southwark. They are living in 16 Belgrave Place, in Walworth (HO107/1567). Given William’s age, this use of the word “son-in-law” must be understood to mean “step son” (as it once could mean). The other children were 11 and 13. Does this imply that Mary Portsmouth, William’s wife, is Mary Slater re-married? She was a 39 year old dressmaker, born in Poplar, Middlesex. (Alan Donavan has found a suitable baptism for Mary Slater at Poplar.) She would have been 25 when she married Michael Spence and 30 when they separated permanently, so in that respect it is possible. But if this is Mary Slater, then William Portsmouth must have had his children with a previous wife, probably now deceased, and he must have remarried quickly, because (tracking back to the census 10 years before) in 1841 his children had been 4 and 1, but Mary was already there.

Given what we know from 1851, in 1841 Alfred can be found recorded under the Portsmouth surname. At this time William Portsmouth was a Green Grocer and the family was living at Oxford Market, Marylebone, in London (HO107/675/10). The same family can also be found in 1861 and 1871 in Camberwell, but Alfred is gone. Strangely, a 16 year old “daughter” appears in 1871, when Mary is 63. Is this another guardianship?

Meanwhile, in 1861, Alfred Spence is to be found amongst a large group of soldiers who were in the Forton District Military Prison in Alverstoke, Hampshire (which had long before housed American citizens during the American revolution, and French soldiers during the Napoleonic wars). Alan Donavan found Alfie's military record dated 1865 which describes him as a person being discharged for bad health connected to vice and intemperance.

In 1871 he is in Camberwell St Giles, with his own wife, Letitia, 45 years old. It appears she brought her children from a previous marriage into this family, all surnamed Carne (and all called daughters and sons “in law” of Alfred). The youngest was 6, so Letitia had re-married when she was at least 39 and Alfred was unlikely to have children. Perhaps they tried, because in 1868, a baby named Alfred Spence is registered as having died in Camberwell. Alfred senior died, it seems, in the last quarter of 1879, in Guildford Surrey (2a/12).

So, it seems, ended Michael Spence's English family, or at least the male line.

Australia: Reformed Bigamist.

Michael Spence was sentenced to seven years, and was shipped to Australia on the Asia, arriving 27 June 1833. As a “government servant” he was assigned to a well-known figure of early Port Macquarie, the surgeon Dr Jean Baptiste Charles Lamonnerie, also called Dr Fattorini, who was said to be the illegitimate son of Napolean. Michael’s convict record shows his occupation had been as a merchant’s clerk before he was convicted, presumably working for his father, if we keep family stories in mind (although note Mary Slater's letter). Michael and Dr Fattorini also appear in a legal case in 1843, showing that his life may not have been the typical one of a convict. In the case of “Templeton and another versus Stokes” reported in the Sydney Morning Herald for 7 November 1843, the Templeton involved was a trustee of the estate of Fattorini, who was in sequestration, trying to get back a load of 35,000 bricks which had been delivered by the firm of “Spence and Co.” to Stokes. It appears that Stokes argued that this was a trick, and that he had rights to keep the bricks, presumably in lieu of debts owed by Fattorini.

After the case had been opened, a number of witnesses were called to show that although the name of Spence and Co. was used, yet Michael Spence was merely a servant employed by Fattorini, and had no interest in the firm. Mr. Fattorini being called, deposed, that so far as the brick-making and lime-burning business was concerned, Spence was his partner; and he had reason to believe, that, at the time when he (Fattorini) sequestrated, the bricks in question were not even made.

Fattorini (and Spence) lost this case. Notice the normal style of the time, referring to Spence as a “servant”, not a convict, which is what is implied. This Spence and Co. arrangement had come under a lot more examination in the more general proceedings concerning Fattorini’s building business a few months earlier, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of 14 February 1843. There is a remark made by Fattorini there that “Spence has been free now for three years” which would be correct. “I swear that I never told any body that I joined in this partnership with Spence for the purpose of getting credit.”

A few years later, Michael married Emily Maria Hollis, on 31 May 1851 at Saint James Church in Sydney, in what was then called the county of Cumberland in the colony of New South Wales - in other words the Sydney area. Michael was described as a widower, which I understand to be a legally correct term at the time, for bigamists who had served their sentences. The witnesses were John Lainst of Gloucester Terrace and G. Lott of Gloucester Terrace. This is quite far from Port Macquarie.

It was also discovered that there was a child born in Sydney in 1850, before this marriage. An interview was done by Jean Pearson for the Hastings District Historical Society in 1963, with Michael's grandson William Stanley Spence. He remembered an uncle George Bentinck Spence who had been a policeman, but he appeared in none of the records in Port Macquarie, and no baptism could be found at all. Then he was found in the Police records.

ServiceNo Surname FirstName             DOB NativeOf                     DateAppointed         Reel Item

3867         SPENCE George Bentick        1850 New South Wales         15 Feb 1880         3043 [8/3252] - 

2250         SPENCE George Bentnick      1850 New South Wales         11 Feb 1873         3043 [8/3251] - 

3867         SPENCE George Beulick        1850 New South Wales         15 Feb 1881         3043 [8/3251] - 

Newspapers from the time show he spent time in the Hunter Valley, in Muswellbrook. George’s death certificate has also been found (see below), clearly naming his parents, and agrees that he was born in 1850, almost certainly before the wedding. Perhaps his birth was registered under a different name, because it has not yet been found.

Here are Michael and Emily’s better known children, from whom all Australians in this Spence family descend:-

William Andrew Spence:  born 10 February 1852   married Elizabeth Mahony in 1872      died 20 February 1937

James Frederick Spence: born 11 April 1853      married Martha Wood in 1883         died 28 June 1896

Henry Burdett Spence:   born 11 February 1855   Single                              died 10 June 1923

Emily Maria Spence:     born 19 August 1856     married William Ringland in 1875      died 20 March 1946

Edward Denny Spence:    born 8 February 1859    Single                              died 11 August 1860

Peter Andrew Spence:    born 9 October 1860     married Mary E. Foster in 1882      died 1920

Margaret Agnes Spence: born 4 September 1863   married Stephen Donovan in 1888      died 11 July 1945

The Sydney Morning Herald for 23 June 1851, not long after the wedding, records the end of another partnership…

SPENCE AND MIERS.

NOTICE.-The Partnership heretofore subsisting between Michael Spence and Robert Miers, as Storekeepers and General Dealers, at Kempsey, in the district of Port Macquarie, under the style of Spence and Miers, is this day dissolved by mutual consent. All debts due by the said firm of Spence and Miers will be paid by the said Robert Miers, and all debts due to the said firm are to be received by him, the said Robert Miers, as witness our hands at Sydney, this 21st day of June, A.D. 1851.

MICHAEL SPENCE. ROBERT MIERS.

Witness to signature, W. COLLIE. 12177

Soon after this, Michael started appearing in lists of licensed spirits dealers for Port Macquarie, for example in 1852. (Robert Miers also appears in those lists.) Michael also appears in insolvency records, a Port Macquarie Storekeeper 19/12/1860. (Doctor Fattorini appears in those records more than once.) This situation did not last long. The Sydney Morning Heralds insolvency court section for 19/2/1861 reports a single meeting, “insolvent was present, but, an arrangement having been made for the release of the estate from sequestration, no debts were proved”.

Perhaps the most remarkable record showing how convict histories were treated in these times comes from the apparently rather passionate debate about Michael which was had in the Parliament of NSW itself, reported 9 July 1881 in the Sydney Morning Herald, upon his being commissioned as a Justice of the Peace for Port Macquarie. A Mr Young, member for Hastings and Macleay, started it:

He was surprised to find the material out of which two of these magistrates were made. With reference to one of the others, he had received a letter from a gentleman in the district [Mr Young then read the letter and cries of "Name! name!"] He did not wish to injure this gentleman (Groans.) Well, then, the name was Edward Beck. With reference to the other appointment the same gentlemen also wrote to him (Cries "Name! name!" ) The name was Michael Spence. [Mr MELVILLE: Who writes the letter?] That he did not think, he ought to say, (Uproar) He had also to read something written in the public press at Port Macquarie, over the signature "Pro Bono Publico" (Laughter) (The letters and the newspaper extract spoke in very condemnatory terms of the character and social standing of the persons related to.)

Spence’s nominator, Mr R.B. Smith, apparently member for the Macleay, started the responses, which became quite heavy:

He knew nothing of Mr Beck, but he had great pleasure in stating that he took the responsibility of the appointment of his old and esteemed friend, Mr Michael Spence, one of the most respectable and worthy residents of Port Macquarie, a colonist of 50 years' standing, and a man who had filled different positions with credit to himself, and satisfaction to the public. He was a man whom he thought he would not honour at all if he made the slightest comparison between him and his accuser, for morality or otherwise, for any point of integrity, honesty, ability, trustworthiness or morality. (Laughter.)

Smith challenged Young to make a specific charge. He had clearly prepared, and had letters ready, including not only the letter recommending Spence, and showing he had been the subject of quite some checks, but also the letter Young had already sent to the government. Mr Levien then made a statement, including an accusation that Mr Young was a “coward and a cur” for his action. He accepted the speaker’s request to retract the words but said that he “would never be the moral coward to come into the House to attack a man for something that took place fifty years ago”. Sir Henry Parkes chipped in saying that although mistakes might well be made in such appointments he was very satisfied with Michael Spence, and had looked into the case carefully. He had a letter from Mr Spence which repeated the statement that no specific accusation was made. Parkes felt the complaint of Mr Young had actually worked to the advantage of Spence. A Mr Forster thought they had been a bit hard on Mr Young, but he also confirmed his basic agreement with the government’s decision. The conclusion of his speech shows that everyone knew what the accusation was against Spence, and it strongly implies that this type of thing was quite common:

There were two allegations against Mr Spence, one of which was that he had not sufficient property. That had been disposed of by the statement of the hon member for the Macleay. Another painful subject had been alluded to, and which they could not avoid mentioning as it had been alluded to. Even supposing Mr Spence had been convicted in former davs he maintained that that should be no disqualification (Hear, hear) It would be a most monstrous wrong to numbers of worthy and honest people to enforce a rule of that kind. Surely it was enough that the law had been put in force, and they knew enough of the sentences that were passed, and the crimes charged against people in those days, to be perfectly aware that hundreds of offences would be passed over now with the most trivial notice. He thought it was a most ungenerous reminiscence to revive in the present day, after so many years had passed. He believed there were numbers of men of that class who had been some of our best colonists in integrity, honour, and public usefulness and he hoped after what had passed that night that they should have no more objections made to appointments of the kind upon that ground at least (Hear, hear)

The Sydney Morning Herald’s “Country News” section for Thursday 16 April 1885 gives the following for Port Macquarie:

Mr. Michael Spence, J.P., an old resident of the district, dropped dead this morning from apoplexy.

The weather is unsettled and showery.

A longer story of Michael's passing away appeared in the The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser Saturday 25 April 1885, page 13, which Alan Donavan showed me:

Death of Mr. M Spence, of Port Macquarie. (Port Macquarie News, April 18)

We have this week the mournful task of chronicling the death of one of the oldest residents of Port Macquarie [Note: only 77], namely Michael Spence, Esq., J.P., who expired suddenly at his residence on the morning of Wednesday last. Mr. Spence had been complaining of a light cold previous to the hour of his death, but nothing of a serious nature was apprehended until about 8 o'clock on Wednesday morning, when Mrs. Spence, the wife of the deceased gentlemen, found him lying upon his face in the back premises. His two sons were then speedily summoned, and Mr. Spence was removed two his bed where he remained sensible up to the last moment of his life. He expressed himself as having no pain, and Dr. Cortis arrived in time to examine him alive ; but very soon after the doctor's arrival Mr. Spence breathed his last. His last words were addressed to his son, who was present, and these were " Willie, Willie, I am going." Mr. Spence was in his 77th year when he died, and he had resided in Port Macquarie about 52 years. Deceased was born in Perth, Scotland, and had spent some of his early years in England, previous to his arrival in Australia. His sister was the wife of the late celebrated war correspondent, Cameron, of the London Standard, killed in the Soudan ; and his family connexions in the old country were of a superior class. [Note: to be discussed below] Mr. Spence will be very much missed by a large class of people in Port Macquarie, who were benefitted by his experience, advice, and shrewd intelligence in many ways. He had taken an active part in public affairs during the whole period of his residence in the town, and was for many years, and up to the last decade, its postmaster. There were few matters of public interest in the locality that did not receive the attention of Mr. Spence, and he was always energetic and persistent in anything he took in hand. We learn that Dr. Cortis certified to the cause of death as being apoplexy ; but Dr. Casement, who examined the body after death, was of the opinion that death resulted from old age and the regular wearing out of the springs of life. The deceased had a strong constitution, was strictly temperate, and never suffered from serious illness. He passed away without a struggle.

Michael was buried 16 April 1885 in Port Macquarie, one day after his death. George Bentinck Spence was not mentioned on the death certificate along with the other children, although it seems from later accounts that the children and grand children knew about this son and that he was a policeman. When George died, 3rd June 1889 in Newcastle, a 38-year-old single salesman, his mother Emily Spence of Port Macquarie was there with him.

John & Chrissy Wellborne have pointed out that George must have been born before the marriage, and given what we can guess about Emily his mother below, he was in fact possibly born before she met Michael Spence, who was therefore probably not his real father…

Emily Maria Hollis, the third (and lasting) wife, and my ancestor.

Emily Maria SpenceConcerning Emily, a lot more mystery remains. For example, she reported in Australia (reflected in her death certificate) that she had been born in Epping in Essex about 1821 to a William Hollis, hotelkeeper. And she had arrived in Australia in about 1849. Despite such a promisingly accurate report, no sign of any such Hollis in Essex could be found. It does not appear to be a typical surname around Epping. Epping was in fact a transit hub in this period so it did have several hotels and inns. But I wonder if Emily's family were really locals in Epping.

Despite the difficulties, some progress has been made:

Firstly, Nancy Ringland discovered that in 1850 there was a 24 year old Emily Hollis on board a ship named the Duke of Portland, who arrived in Port Phillip, the port of Melbourne. She was one of 63 “distressed needlewomen” who were sent out on a scheme to take young unmarried ladies out of the unhealthy environment of London, where it was perceived that they could be all-too-easily led astray. This was the third such shipment, organised by the public figure and British government minister Mr Sidney Herbert, who actually accompanied them.

She was described as an “ironer” but records show that she disembarked in Melbourne (most had left the boat in Adelaide) in order to work as a nurse for the newly married gentleman colonist Mr Hastings Cunningham, later the founder of Mount Gambier, now the second biggest city in South Australia.

This might not just be a coincidence of age and year of arrival, because it had always been said in the family that the name Bentinck, given to Emily’s first child as a middle name, had some special significance. Bentinck was one of the family names of the Dukes of Portland, the same as the boat she was on. The most famous George Bentinck, who died a year or two before Emily’s arrival in Australia, was actually a politician born into that family, his brother and father were both Dukes of Portland named William Bentinck.Emily Maria Spence

On the other hand there is a family tradition that she had experience with bringing up children, even the children of royalty! John & Chrissy Wellborne have cleverly noticed that being diverted towards a nursing position would make sense if she were found to be pregnant (with George, who must have been born soon after, and whose middle name matches the ship).

The family stories continue to show surprising signs of being true. It is striking that an Emily Maria Hollis of the right age and profession has been discovered in the 1841 English census, and indeed there is no other apparent candidate of the right age. She was 20 years old, living with a large number of fellow school mistresses. Their address was in Peascod Street in Windsor, right next to the castle of the royal family. The census indicates that she was not born in the local county of Berkshire, however there was a Hollis family in the Thames valley area, some of whom ended up in Victoria, and because there are many counties bordering each other in that Thames region one could still be local without being born in Berkshire. It is suggested on the internet that Emily might be the "Emily Hollis" baptism at Cookham for example, 17 Mar 1822, to parents named William and Jane. The same baptism seems to be recorded on the same date in East Lockinge also. Both these were in Berkshire, but the child could potentially have been born elsewhere than where it was baptised. As mentioned, in 1841 there is only one obvious Emily of this age coing up in census index searches.

As with Michael, the records for Emily give intriguingly mixed signals.

Through the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre I have been able to get copies from an 1851 report entitled Fund for Promoting Female Emigration, by Sidney Herbert (2057/F8/8/16). What it at least makes clear is that Emily must have been a resident of London. They should be from the poorest and most helpless classes, but respectable in character. Committees were formed in different parts of London in order to judge applicants. Page 42 (Appendix B) also shows that one of two women with initials "E. H.", who in England was an ironer for 8s a week, was taken on by Mr H. Cunningham of Geelong for £30 a year. (The other "E.H." which can work out to be Ellen Hartney, a 16 year old servant of all work". ) This seems to be by far the highest salary anyone on the Duke of Portland received. She is bracketed within a group who came from "Holborn and Westminster Districts".

There is another possible lead. This appendix also gives some examples of the "class of persons benefited" by the operation. The first example is "E.H., age 27". We must keep in mind that this report is not only about the Duke of Portland voyage, but the whole programme, so this might not be our Emily (nor indeed any Emily). Indeed, it does not mention ironing at 8s a week at all. But it seems well worth quoting the story:

Father editor of a provincial journal, who died ten years ago, leaving his family unprovided for. Through the help of some gentlemen, she was apprenticed to a dressmaker, and has supported herself by needlework; but lately found great difficulty in getting employment; has not earned more than 3s. a week for some time, and was turned out of her lodging. She was admitted to the "Home" where she was of great help to the Matron in preparing outfits; was afterwards appointed a Sub-Matron in one of the ships.

2. Peter Andrew Spence, Wine Merchant.

Michael's father Peter married Anna Maria Ellis in England, even though his first son was baptised in Scotland, in what was understood to be his hometown of Perth. The date of the marriage was 14 Dec 1807 and the place was in what we now call South London - St Mary's, Lambeth, technically in the county of Surrey - the same area where Peter Andrew Spence worked. They were both described as single and "of this parish". They were married by banns.

That he was a wine merchant was known from Australian memories. Family legends seem to show confidence that he was a specialist in ports and sherries from Spain and Portugal. It was even asserted that Peter or Michael had done some sort of diplomatic work with Spain. What this might refer to is now unknown, but who knows? The period in question (up until Michael left) involved the Napoleonic wars and their aftermath, with Britain certainly maintaining a close eye on the area during this period, and the wine trade would have been an old and strong connection there.

A breakthrough came when we found the PCC will of Peter Andrew Spence "of Crosby Hall Chambers in the City of London and Nr 8 Marlborough Terrace Old Kent Road in the County of Surrey, Wine Merchant", naming his wife, Anna Maria Spence as executor. It was made 15 September 1848, but it was proved 20 May 1857.

This led to a death certificate which gave the following information…

1857 death in the sub-district of St George Camberwell, district Camberwell, County Surrey

Second March 1857, 15 Addington Place, High Road

PETER ANDREW SPENCE, Male, 66 years, Wine Merchant

Albuminuria 3 years, Exhaustion 6 Weeks, Certified.

Informant: Ann Moss, Present at the Death, 2 Camden Grove, Peckham

Registered: Fourth March 1857, Charles Stevens, Registrar

He can also therefore be traced in censuses:

1841. Lambeth, St Mary Newington, Surrey. HO 107/1064/8.

Apollo Building South

Peter Spence, 50 years old, Wine Merchant, born in Surrey

Anna Spence, 50 years old, born in Surrey

Elizabeth Spence, 14 years old, born in Surrey

Mildred King, 40 years old, F.S. (Female Servant), born in Surrey

1851. Lambeth, St Giles Camberwell, Surrey. HO 107/1581.

Asylum Road, 1 Esther Place

Peter A. Spence, head of family, married, 60 years old, Wine Merchant, born Southwark, Surrey (there is possibly something else written above this, but very close to a printed line on the document: maybe St Saviour?)

Anna M. Spence, wife, 61 years old, born in the same place

Sabina Brewer, Servant, unmarried, servant, born in Brokenhurst Hamphire.

(They are neighbours to a Hutchinson family, which may link to an old family story.)

1861. Lambeth, St Mary Newington, Surrey. RG9/344.

10 Marlborough Place

Anna Maria Spencer (sic.), Lodger, Widow, 71 years old, Wine Merchant, born Southwark.

The children of Peter Andrew Spence and Anna Maria Spence née Ellis:

Michael Spence          born 22 Sep 1808, baptized 29 September 1808, Kinnoull, Perthshire

Harriot Maria Spence    baptized 26 Mar 1810, Saint Luke, Old Street, Finsbury, London

Married Edward Moss 15 Dec 1832, Saint Nicholas, Liverpool

Martha Spence           baptized 29 Mar 1816, Saint Leonards, Shoreditch, London

Mary Jane Spence        baptized 7 Feb 1822, Saint Mary, Newington, Surrey

Married John Black Cameron, son of Alexander Cameron, 7 Jan 1841, Saint Johns Old Haymarket, Liverpool.

Family legend says that he was, like Churchill, a correspondent from the Sudan Campaign.

Ann Spence              baptized 11 Mar 1824, Saint Mary, Newington, Surrey

Married twice: Francis Evelyn Moss Esquire (there is a Moss-Spence marriage entry in 30 May 1846 in the Vicar-General's Marriage Licence Allegations Index); and then John Roberts.

Elizabeth Spence        baptized 14 October 1826, Saint Mary, Newington, Surrey.

Married Charles Wellborne, an attorney. (There is a Wellborne-Spence marriage entry in 26 Aug 1844 in the Vicar-General's Marriage Licence Allegations Index). This is the family from which John and Chrissy Wellborne descend.

Peter Andrew Spence     baptized 6 Nov 1828, Saint Mary, Newington, Surrey

Emily Spence            baptized 2 Dec 1832, Saint Mary, Newington, Surrey

And in turn the age at death of Peter Andrew Spence, and the census information, lead us not to Peter Spence born in Perth, but to a baptism which was in South London: 7 August 1791 Saint Saviour, Southwark, Surrey. The parents were Peter Spence, a barber, and Jane. Was Peter Andrew Spence really a Scot or not? William Stanley Spence in Australia remembered even Michael (his grandfather) having a thick Scottish “rolling R” accent in Australia – not cockney! And indeed we known Michael was baptised there. A marriage appeared to match, but once again it was in London, though it looked like a Scottish wedding: Peter Spence and Jane Lennox married in 1787 in Westminster St James. (More about this below.)

In the meantime, evidence built up against the theory of a connection with Gavin Spence of Perth. It appears now that Gavin’s son Peter had led a different life. He seems to even appear in the 1851 census in Kilmarnock, a 72 year old reedmaker born in Perth. Eventually, a DNA comparison was made between the Port Macquarie Spences and the descendents of Gavin Spence, and it excluded any chance that these two families had the same biological paternal line.

We could also find the death certificate of Anna Maria Spence, née Ellis, and can therefore trace her will. Later in life she had moved a bit further from the built up part of the city.

1865 death in the sub-district of Dorking, district Dorking, County Surrey

Ninth November 1865, Mickleham

ANNA MARIA SPENCE, Female, 75 years, Widow of Peter Andrew Spence, Wine Merchant

Chronic Bronchitis, Old Age, Certified

Informant: Anne Roberts, Present at the Death, Mickleham

Registered: Tenth November 1865, John Bull, Registrar

Her will and death duty register have also been checked. Executor: Charles Welborne, Southwark Surrey (PR court folio 1369). Indeed her heirs listed in the death duty registers were four daughters. With this information we can try to trace four of the sisters of Michael Spence, partly via their husbands. She does not appear to be in contact with 3 of the 4 heiresses.

Harriet Maria Moss, “now or late the Wife of Edward Moss”, “being now (the will was made 4 February 1864) resident at Everton, near Liverpool, in the County of Lancaster”.

1861. Perhaps: Harriet M. Moss. 10 Seacombe St. Everton. A married, 48 year old governess of a day school, born in Middlesex. Two children with the surname Whyte are living with her as son and daughter.

(Or perhaps: 9 Skelton St. Greenwich Kent. Coal Dealer. 52 year old widower. Born about 1809?)

1871. Marriet Moss. 10 Seacomb St. Everton. A 58 year old widow and governess, born in London.

1881. Harriet Maria Moss. 10 Secome St, Everton. A 65 year old annuitant who was born in Middlesex.

Mary Jane Cameron, In 1865, “Wife of John Black Cameron of the Island of Saint Thomas, West Indies, Superintendent of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company there”.

1881. 14 Greville Road, Marylebone, London. 58 year old Annuitant and Widow. Born Camberwell. Whose two children living with her, Eugenie E, and Anthony, are shown as having been born at “St Thomas D.W.I.” (Presumably the West Indies.)

Searching for Camerons born in St Thomas finds a John Black Cameron in 1901 born about 1861, who is probably a son of Mary. He is shown as an “advertising agent” but someone has written over this “news”. Perhaps this could be the journalist of our family myth? (The Sudan campaign was in the 1880s.) However a bit of research reveals that the John Cameron who our family thinks was a relative, the correspondent for The Standard, died in 1885 (the same year as Michael Spence's obituary was written) at Al-Kur during the campaign and was probably named John Alexander Cameron. Apparently he was born in Inverness. Our John was dead before 1881.

There is however a book by our John Black Cameron, published 1850, with a West Indian theme: “The wreck of the West India steam-ship Tweed”. I know very little about this book apart from what the title makes obvious and that it exists and was published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Elizabeth and Charles Wellborne, sole executor of Anna Maria Spence, were named as living in 1865 at 17 Duke St, London Bridge, Southwark, Surrey. In censuses there are several children mentioned, and the family seems to have been prosperous.

1841. St Thomas St East. Attorney. Southwark, Surrey. 25 years old. Living alone.

1851. 8 Lewisham Road. Attorney and Solicitor. Greenwich, Kent. 38 years old, born Doncaster, Yorkshire. His wife Elizabeth was 24 and born Newington.

1861. 12 North Terrace. Attorney at Law Solicitor. Camberwell, Surrey. 48 years old, born Doncaster. His wife Elizabeth was 34 and born Walworth.

1871. 12 North Terrace Church Street? Attorney, Solicitor and Landowner. Camberwell, Surrey. 58 years old, born Doncaster. His wife Elizabeth 43 and born in Newington.

1881. 12 North Terrace Peckham Road. Solicitor. Camberwell, Surrey, 68 years old. Born Doncaster. His wife 54 and born Walworth.

Children found so far:

Elizabeth A Wellborne. 5 in 1851. Born St Olive Southwark. John and Chrissy say she seems to have died in 1852.

Arthur S Wellborne. 4 in 1851. Born St Olive Southwark. John and Chrissy say he seems to have died in 1852.

Henrietta A. Wellborne. 2 in 1851. Born St Olive Southwark. John and Chrissy say she seems to have died in 1852.

Charles Evelyn Wellborne. 9 in 1861. 19, articled clerk in 1871. Born in Deptford, Kent. John and Chrissy say he left descendants, and died 1914.

Jane Alice Wellborne. 7 in 1861. 17, cook in 1871. 27 in 1881. Born in Camberwell, Surrey. John and Chrissy say she died a spinster.

Harry D. Montford Wellborne. 2 in 1861. 22 in 1881. Born in Camberwell, Surrey. Law student undergraduate in 1881.

According to John and Chrissy, Charles junior and Harry carried on the legal firm of Wellborne and sons, Southwark, following Charles senior’s death in 1881.

Ann or Anne, Moss or Roberts. By 1865 she was Anne Roberts (present at death of her mother). Wife of John Roberts in Coxton, St Maughans, Monmouthshire (in South Wales, right on the border with England), and widow of Francis Evelyn Moss Esquire, with whom she had Anna Maria Spence’s two grandchildren mentioned in her will. There were clearly other children.

1851. Ann Moss. 7 Minerva Terrace, Deptford St Paul, Kent. 25 years old, born Walworth. “Wife of commander of H. M. packet(?) Clyde”.

·         Her 3-year-old daughter Ann E Moss was apparently born in Barbados. Her son Francis E Moss, was 3 months old and born there in Deptford.

·         Francis Evelyn Moss’ baptism appears in the IGI: 04 JAN 1851 in St James Hatcham, Deptford. He appears in his grandmother’s will.

·         Also from the IGI we know a brother was born soon after: Charles Anderson Moss. Birth 21 SEP 1851. Baptism 10 NOV 1851 in Christ Church, Camberwell, London, England.

·         The IGI also gives John James Andrew Moss, again with the correct parents, birth 21 JAN 1853, and baptism 13 SEP 1853 in Shirley by Southampton, Hampshire, England. He appears in his grandmother’s will.

1861. John Roberts is unmarried, 24 years old at Coxton Farm, St Maughan, running 80 acres, and employing 6 men and 9 boys. He has 6 live-in servants including two of his sisters. His place of birth is given as Llangattock Vibon Avel, which is nearby.

1871. John Roberts is 35 and still on his farm. Under “occupation” it is indicated that he is a landowner. Still no sign of a wife, but it is difficult to read the marital status and be sure if he is married.

By 1881, this John had moved on.

The Moss children.

1861. John Moss, 8 years old, born Sheeley or Shirley, Hants, is a student living in Bedfont, Middlesex, with big brothers Charles, 9, and “Evelyn” 10. The brothers are all shown having been born in Hants as well which is why I found John first! Charles must have died soon after, as he does not appear with his brothers in his grandmother’s will.

1871. The two heirs were living together as boarders at 27 Grove Lane, St Giles, Lambeth, Camberwell. Francis E. Moss, 20, an “Officer in the Merchant Marine Service” and John J. A. Moss, 18, a lawyers article clerk. His exact birthplace in Hants given as Shirly Hall. Francis appears to have died soon after, according death registration indexes, in the second quarter of 1871 in Camberwell.

At least according to the IGI, John James Andrew Moss appears to have married Caroline Chantry Cozens 22 JAN 1876 at Saint Bride Fleet St, London.

Anna Maria Ellis, a Southwark Innkeeper's daughter

Concerning Anna Maria Ellis, as with Emily Maria Hollis it has been very difficult to research who she was before she married into this family. It appears from the marriage record, that she was a local Surrey girl, but her three-part name is surprisingly common and it was a heavily populated area. We can see also from the records that she must have been born in 1791 or more likely 1790.

In this search a big lead was found by Sandi Irvine who discovered that a family of Ellises from this suburb not only had a daughter of the right age and name and origin, but also that they and the Spences worked in related areas. The Ellises owned two very well-known inns in Southwark, but some of them were also hop traders, as were some Spences who we think are relatives, while our Peter Andrew Spence was of course a trader in wines. Sandi also points out that this lead would explain the use of the name Michael. Further investigation has shown that the Ellises were indeed closely connected to the local sellers of wine and brandy, before young Peter Andrew Spence took up such a business.

It was looking for a Michael Ellis, with the idea that Michael Spence must have been named after someone, that Sandi found that Michael Ellis of the Spurr Inn in Southwark (where part of Guys Hospital is today) left a PCC will proved 29 August 1806 which left money to, amongst others, his daughter Anna Maria Ellis. This is not long before our Anna Maria Ellis got married. Sandi wrote to me:

The fact that Anna Maria and Peter marry in Lambeth is probably because that is where her guardian Ann Ellis was living (unconfirmed). The Ellis children were probably born quite close together and if listed in age order in the will (likely) then Anna Maria was the oldest of the three 'younger children' although under 21 at the time of her father's death.

We have not found records for all the baptisms of the children, so the age of Anna Maria in this will has to be interpolated. She is one of the three youngest children, all described as under 21 in 1805 when the will was written. These were named as Anna Maria, Harriot and a Michael (junior). This would normally be in descending order of age. We already know that our Anna Maria must have been a young 17 or so when she married, which would be more typical in a family where the father had died while his children were young. The elder children in the will were: Mary Clark, wife of Thomas Clark(e); Ann Ellis (to look after the three youngest); John Ellis; and Sarah Armstrong wife of John Armstrong. We can find baptisms as follows so far:

These baptisms confirm the sequence of births implied by the will and indicate that Anna Maria Ellis mentioned in the will must have been born between the years of about 1785 and 1792. Michael senior's wife, who survived him, was also mentioned in the will as Mary.

We can also see that the burial corresponding to the will 16 Aug 1806 St Saviour says Michael was a 49 year victualler. This would correspond to the baptism 16 Nov 1758 St Saviour, son of one Barnard Ellis. (See below.) Michael's executors were Thomas Abbott Hooper and Thomas Lucas. Thomas Abbott Hooper can be traced as an innkeeper whose mother (the Wheatscheaf) and wife both had the surnameCurling. He seems to have taken over his license from his father-in-law John Curling who was the executor of Michael's father.

As the Spurr Inn was a well-known coachhouse Michael must also be the one mentioned in Surrey Quarter Sessions "Certificate of conviction of Michael Ellis late of St Saviour, Southwark, postmaster, under the Post Horse Act" QS2/6/1793/Mid/20. This was an act which was an "Act for repealing the duties on licenses taken out by persons letting horses for the purpose of travelling post and on horses let to hire for travelling post and by time and on stage coaches and for granting other duties in lieu thereof And also additional duties on horses let to hire for travelling post and by time". Several other postmasters were convicted at the same time.

Barnard Ellis (senior) the father of Michael

One generation back, Barnard Ellis, the father of Michael, was buried in St Saviour 8 Jan 1788, an innholder. His PCC will proved 22 January the same year names sons Michael and Barnard, and a daughter Mary, and his wife Ann. He also names his son Michael's wife as a Mary, as shown in some of the baptisms above. 

A widower named Barnard Ellis married an Ann Smith in 1776 in St Saviour. These baptisms of a Barnard can also be found:


Helping confirm the lead that Sandi found, I found that the trustees, administrators and executors of Barnard senior's will in 1788 were "Peter Spence of the parish St Saviour Southwark in the County of Surrey Peruke Maker and John Curling of the new Market Southwark in the same county Gentleman". Peter Spence, to be discussed more below, is Peter Andrew Spence's father. John Curling's PCC will was dated 1805 and clearly mentions that he was the father in law of Thomas Anthony Hooper, executor of the will of Michael Ellis discussed above. This Thomas was also executor to several other Ellises to be discussed below. John Curling notes that he was formerlly from St Saviours, but now of St Lawrence Thanet in Kent. Thomas Abbott Hooper of Bridge Street, was buried in St Saviours 28 May 1829 at the age of 64.

Court records for 1768 also show that at that time The Spur Inn was kept by a Barnard Ellis, and in 1770 he is recorded as a bondsman for insane people (apparently a common calling of inn keepers in Southwark). This position of Spur Inn keeper and bondsman, this time bondsman to people with venereal diseases, was taken over during the 1770s and 1780s by a William Ellis. I suspect William to be Barnard senior's brother, a hop trader, because in a Surrey will of 26 Mar 1765, "Barnard Ellis of St Margaret's Hill, St Saviour Southwark, innholder and William Ellis of same place, dealer in hops" appear together. (St Margaret's Hill was a part of the high street. See maps of the time.) British postal service records show that Mr Barnard Ellis took over as deputy and letter receiver for the Borough stage on 5 January 1766, from a Mr William Baldwin, who had resigned. Perhaps the most important of such records so far is this one:

1760.—William East, of Sackville Street, St. James's, Westminster, demised to Bernard Ellis, of the parish of St. Saviour, Southwark, innholder, the Spur Inn and the inn yard, and small new-built tenement in the inn yard, with the stables and hop warehouses, and two small messuages or tenements fronting the Borough, adjoining on the south side, and over the gateway of the inn, for 21 years, at the yearly rent of £170.

20th September, 1781.—Sir William East, of Hall Place, Berks, Bart., demised to the said Bernard Ellis the same premises for 21 years, at the same rent.

So it appears Barnard was renting, but also that he had been an inn-keeper already before 1760? In any case he must have had some financial confidence to be able to take over such a big commitment. We also know the second term would have finished 1802. The owners during this time were the Easts concerning which...

William East, the purchaser of the Spur Inn, was son and heir of Gilbert East, of St. Botolph's Without, Bishopsgate, London. He died in 1726, and was buried at Witham, Essex, where there is a monument to his memory.

William East, Esq., his son and heir, also of the Middle Temple, was of Hall Place, Hurley, Berks, and of Kennington, Surrey; and his grandson, William East, was created a Baronet, June 5, 1706 [sic.].

Gilbert East, his eldest son and heir, was admitted to the Middle Temple in 1769, and he and his brother, Augustus Henry, both dying without issue, the family estates descended to their only sister, Mary East, who married Sir William Clayton; and their second son, East George Clayton, taking the additional name of East, was the father of Sir Gilbert East Clayton East, Bart., from whom Mr. Simpson purchased the Spur Inn.

There are signs of Ellises being in the Vintners and Innholders business in Southwark very far back. For example these apprenticeships, so of which are clearly in the family we have just described:-

One thing at least which we learn from this is that in the 1760s when the first Barnard was just taking over the Spur, he also had the Swan, which was apparently near where the modern Swan lane is, just south of St George the Martyr. (I know a modern descendent of his who has worked in a pub there!) We do not know when the family took control of the King's Head, but it is interesting to note that the navy apparently had someone named Thomas Ellis sending provisions via there in the early 1700s.

A Barnard Ellis had married a Susan Forster in St Botolph in 1764. But they were residents of Middlesex. Much earlier, Mary Fowler (or Gowler) married a Barnard Ellis in a London non-conformist marriage 15 Jan 1745 (Dare's Notebook of the Fleet Notebooks performed according to the Rules of the Fleet). Barnard has something like "St Alban Woods Street Chamberlin" written next to his name, and Mary was a spinster from St Clements Danes. We can not be confident that these marriages are related to the Southwark inn-keeper.

Contemporary Ellises of Michael

To further look into the Ellis family, we should consider Michael's contemporaries in Borough. The "All Surrey, England, Land Tax Records, 1780-1832" on ancestry.com show Bernard or Barnard Ellis living at in St Saviour's parish on the high street, in the King's Head, property of John Elliott, from 1785 to 1795. The "All Surrey, England, Licensed Victuallers, 1785-1903" records show that from 1785 to 1787, there were two licensed Barnards in St Saviours, one of whom was then replaced by "Michael and Ann" Ellis in 1788. In 1796 there was a Barnard Ellis, presumably a close relative of Michael, keeping inn at the Kings Head.

This younger Barnard could be an older brother of Michael, and Michael's father does mention a son named Barnard. The younger Barnard's PCC will of 1799 names Michael not as a brother but as a trustee and friend. Could this perhaps be because they were half brothers? He also names William Ellis of Golden Lane Old Street in the county of Middlesex (London), a victualler. Today, Golden Lane and Old Street are two neighbouring districts, but I see that in old texts they are sometimes named together this way. As brothers, this younger Barnard clearly names Richard, John and William Ellis. He also had a sister named Ann (Daley?). His wife was Elizabeth, and his only son is named as Richard, who was under 21. He mentions that his brother William is unlikely to have surviving issue by this time, though it seems he was likely to have a surviving widow. In one listing of his close relatives he also includes several Gadsdons: Charles, David and Elizabeth. (Perhaps children of another sister?)

In 1800, Elizabeth Ellis, Barnard's widow shows up as the other Ellis licensee along with Michael Ellis in St Saviours. Richard joins them in 1804. In 1805 Richard and Michael are alone. In 1806 it is Richard and Michael's widow Mary. In 1807, there is only Sophia, the widow of Richard.

The only son of this Barnard, Richard, also left a PCC will (made 18 July 1807), clearly naming himself as innkeeper of the King's Head. His wife was Sophia. His mother, still alive, was Elizabeth. He mentions stock still in the hands of Michael Ellis, William Ellis and himself (without naming his relationship to them). His executors are Thomas Abbott Hooper (also one of Michael's executors) and George Martin of Shoreditch, gold wire drawer (who had a PCC will 1813, but not a long one). He mentions uncles Richard and William Ellis.

Barnard's widow Elizabeth had a PCC will also, in 1812, where she describes herself as his widow and gives her maiden name as Gadsdon. Charles and David (named in Barnard's will) are here named as her brothers. Amongst various others William Ellis of the Plough in Bermondsey Street is to get her late husband's watch.

From the above wills it is not clear how many Williams are being mentioned. But in any case one of them is likely to be the Innkeeper of St Mary Newington who had an 1807 PCC will. His wife was Sarah (sister of a William Hampton), he had a neice Hannah Denton, and a sister Mary Denton. His executors were Richard Ellis of the King's Head, and Thomas Abbott Hooper (once more). He left both of them, as well as Mrs Elizabeth Ellis of the King's Head, a mourning ring. He had a brother (clearly named as such) Samuel Ellis. William Ellis and Sarah Hampton married 2 Dec 1784 in St Peter Cornhill. A Barnard Ellis signed, along with a Sarah Jeffery.

Children for the second Barnard and his wife Elizabeth seem to be including the following:
Not only did Barnard (the contemporary of Michael, possibly his brother) marry and have his family on the north side of the river in St Peter Cornhill, but his brother William also clearly did. Possibly then this Southwark family had stronger connections originally over there.

Further back in time

The name Barnard Ellis is found in a very wealthy pub owning (and possibly post office managing) family in Darenth, Kent in the 1500s, 1600s and early 1700s. The use of the name was even insisted upon for heirs in one will. Kent was important in the hop trade, which as explained above, our Ellises may also have been occupied with this the 18th century. The Hoopers and Curlings seem to have both come from Thanet in Kent.

But Barnard Ellis was also a name found in other places including Yorkshire and Wales. Throughout this period one Joseph Ellis also appears in the parish as a jury-qualified freeholder, from 1788-1792 he always appears next to Peter Spence. This Joseph, a hop factor, had a PCC will in 1795 which mentions brothers Thomas, of Beverley in Yorkshire, and Robert, of Elloughton in Yorkshire.

3. Peter Spence, Barber, Wig-Maker, and investor.

As mentioned above, Peter Andrew Spence was baptised 7 August 1791 Saint Saviour, Southwark, Surrey. The parents were Peter Spence, a barber, and Jane. So it was relatively easy to propose a wedding might be Peter Andrew Spence’s parents: Peter Spence and Jane Lennox married in 1787 in Westminster St James. In 2011 I finally have seen the record itself, and not just the index entry. The marriage took place on the 18th of June, by banns. It was performed by Richard Hainsby(?) curate, and the witnesses were Edward Lennox and Jno. Benefold.

Peter Spence, a peruke maker or barber is also strongly associated with the Ellises. It has already been mentioned that he was executor to Barnard Ellis, the father of Michael. I have also seen that the admissions registers for St Thomas hospital show amongst guarantors there not only the Ellises but also on at least one occasion Peter Spence, living at the Spur Inn (8 Dec 1774), and on one occasion (23 Dec 1790) described as a hop factor resident in Borough. John Curling, also an executor for Barnard Ellis senior, also appears in the St Thomas records, which show he was a brandy merchant, for example 12 June 1782, and 31 July 1782.

The "All Surrey, England, Land Tax Records, 1780-1832 results for Peter Spence" records on ancestry.com show that Peter Spence was renting in the Spurr Inn, possibly for a business, with an Andrew Spence (maybe a younger brother?) until 1788. In 1789 they were still there but as mentioned above, Hannah and Michael had replaced Barnard in the Spurr. The "All UK, Poll Books and Electoral Registers, 1538-1893" show that this same Peter in the Spurr Inn was also the owner of the messuage on the High Street which was occupied by John Hunt. The "All Surrey, England, Land Tax Records, 1780-1832" records show that this Peter was recorded as holding that messuage from the beginning of those records until 1806. Yet another set of records "All Surrey, England, Jury-Qualified Freeholders and Copyholders, 1696-1824" shows that Peter Spence of St Saviours was a barber and was himself a resident of the High street from 1770 until 1773, but he kept appearing in the list until 1792 (not all the records show the same details). From 1793 until 1796 the Land Tax records show Peter Spence as one of three residents in "the Lane". 

Once again a PCC will confirmed all the connections. Peter Spence, barber, was a successful man, who made a lot out of making wigs ("perukes") and invested it seemingly well. He made part of his will 27 June 1805 and finished it (or changed it) 6 June 1807 in Perth and described himself, quite helpfully, as being "late of Long Lane in the Parish of Saint Mary Magdalen Bermondsey in the County of Surrey now of Bridge End of Tay in the County of Perth". The will was proved 20 July the same year. He mentioned "Peter Andrew Spence my only son life procreated of the marriage betwixt me and Jane Lenox my spouse now deceased". As we will see below, there is evidence of an earlier spouse.

Peter had accumulated a large fortune, buying up Bank of England bonds and properties in and around the city of Perth. He married and had his son quite late in life. His generation of Scots were the first to be able to go to England as a citizen of a United Kingdom of Great Britain (the Act of Union was in 1707) and he took full advantage. For an old map of Perth see http://www.nls.uk/maps/townplans/perth.html

His will describes one of his main properties as being…

·         bounded on the west by the river Tay

·         bounded on the east by the street or highway leading to Scone

·         bounded on the north by "the Land and Yard of Patrick Keir Esquire of Kinmouth" which is very interesting because there is a Keir street right there (second right as you head northwards to Scone after crossing the bridge from Perth and turning left). (Kinmouth was some distance away and presumably another residence.)

·         bounded on the south by "the Land and Yard some time of Alexander Gardiner younger Tenant in Muirton of Balhousie and now of the heirs and successors of Alexander Wood Writer in Perth"

Balhousie seems to refer to the island or flood plain to the north of the city which is where the Blackwatch museum now is, but Peter Spence's land in the parish of Kinnoul was also, he says, in the barony of Balhousie. Muirton is also just there, so that's presumably where Alexander Gardner moved to, not the place bordering Peter senior's land. In any case, the basic idea is that he must have been close to the river and the old bridge, but upland and safe from floods. On one old 1850 map this area is just marked "Villas". Peter Spence noted in his will that he purchased this from John Grigor alias John Grigor Hay, mason in Bridge End "then heretable proprietor thereof in terms and by virtue of a disposition bearing date [27 June 1796]".

There is an old publication of rental from 1835 from the area. It shows a Peter Spence in Kinnoull whose property is valued at 6-13-4, and described (like several other cases) as "Feu in Bridgend". T(his would presumably be referring to Peter Andrew Spence, Peter's son.) No Woods or Gardiners appear, but Patrick Small Keir does. His land is described as "rest of Kinmonths lands" and valued at 39 pounds.

Another possession Peter described appears to be right in the centre of town, on the other side of the river in Perth itself...

..."all and whole the second or middle fflatt or story from the shops possessed by David Lumsdains(?) writer the fore and back shops on the East side of The Middle Gavel and West side of the Main Passage from the High Street with the two fore and back Cellars below the said shops and the two Middle Garrett Rooms on the East side of the said Middle Gavel allocate in the corner tenement of land fronting the North Street of Perth and vying(?) on the South side thereof and East side of the Water Gate of Perth purchased and acquired by me from James Ballingall Wright in Perth in the terms and by virtue of a disposition made and granted by him to and in my favors bearing date [10 August 1793]".

He also had a 100 pound bond owed him, with interest, from a Robert Leonard, a tin man of Southwark. More details from the will are discussed below.

This picture was taken by me looking south from the main bridge in Perth, very close to Bridge End: Kinnoull to left, Kinfauns in front, Perth to right. The River Tay turns gently right, twice, but will soon (at St Madoes) turn left a second time and become the Firth of Tay:

Jane Lennox

Yet again, we know very little about the wife in this generation. Jane Lennox appears, like her husband, to be a Scot in London. The marriage date we have of 18 June 1787 in Westminster St James shows that the witnesses were Edward Lennox and Jno Benefold. It is interesting to see that a Lennox family lived in Kinfauns, where Peter grew up (as we shall see below). 

Edward Lennox was certainly a name that could be found in Perth in the 1700s, but was not yet common in England except for Northumberland, on the Scottish border. Looking at the London Lives website, there was an Edward Lennox, HAIRDRESSER (same job as Peter Spence), St James, Piccadilly Jermyn St, who was a voter in Westminster Elections, 1st January 1774 and 1st January 1780. By 1st January 1784 and 1st January 1788 he has become a stay maker at the same address. An Edward Lenox, mariner of St Mary Whitchapel, married a Jane Thomas in 17 August 1752, in a non-conformist marriage, but Edward the hairdresser of St James lived much longer than that and this Jane can not be the one who married Peter Spence. Edward the hairdresser apparently married an Elizabeth Ford in September 1771. In the 1780s Edward Lennox of Jermyn St, St James is noted as a staymaker. Could there have been two generations, or did he change trade? (Edward Lenox the mariner seems to be the one with a 1783 PCC will. He and his wife Jane do seem to have had a daughter Jane, but his will mentions no children.) Probably it is the St James Edward (or one of them) who was buried 10 Feb 1795 in Westminster. (The name keeps appearing in rates books until about then.)

James and Edward are very likely related to Thomas Lenox, a hair merchant of St James Westminster, with property in Cumberland, who had a PCC will in 1719. This will mentions a living father Richard, brothers John (who has a daughter), William (who has a son), Richard, James, a sister Mary, a Thomas Lenox who was a victualler in Hungerford market, and the children of a James in Westminster. Thomas left money to the local quakers. (There was a William son of Richard Lennox of Cumberland who was apprenticed in London as a longbow string maker in 1698.)

It can be no coincidence that a John Benefold of St James was also a barber, who took on an apprentice (Thomas Holland Houghton) in St James in 1741. But this John Benifold of St James also seems to have been buried 1765 (before the wedding). He had a PCC will which calls him a Peruke maker of St James. It also shows he had a son with the same name, and in other records the barber is often referred to as John Benefold senior. His son seems to then be the one who died 1793, after 20 years in chancery, and some years with an independent fortune as parish clerk of St James. (He was therefore a very well qualified wedding witness!) One of them married Magdalen Tugnet in 1747, as a bachelor. The junior John married as a widower to Mirabella Gibson in 1763, because she is mentioned in his in 1793 PCC will. She also has a PCC will as a widow, which confirms links to Gibsons. 

There was also at this time James Lennox in Westminster who was a Victualler, mentioned in the same elector lists, which could mean he kept an inn, and lived at Tufton St. From information on London Lives, it appears his place on Tufton Street was the "Two Brewers", which seems to be where the constables of the liberty of Westminster were officially summoned to gather. James Lennox had this place at least in 1777 and 1779, but by 1784 this was in other hands.

In Perth, during this same generation, these types of names were much more common. There was for example an Edward Lennox who was a mason.

An earlier wife?

Thanks go to Sandi Irvine for finding that there is a record 6 March 1757 at St Saviour's Church for Peter Spence "of the Parish of St Saviour's" marrying an Anna Felles from St Botolph's Aldersgate. They were married by licence. As Sandi writes: "The witnesses were Robert Honey and John Taylor so, from the Honey connection, it looks like our Peter Spence". It appears, as will become yet more clear below, that our Peter senior only had one child, and this was late in life, to his second wife.

4. Robert Spence, Farmer.

No sign of Peter Spence's birth or baptism could be found, though Perth's registers are quite good. But the PCC will of 1805 gave the needed hint. With only one surviving son, and his wife already dead, he wrote a very long will involving several executors and supervisors (William Honey of St Saviour in Surrey, a baker, James Roy, a merchant in Perth, John Clark, resident of Errol, and Robert Clark, writer in Perth), and leaving (with punctuation inserted by me)…

the sum of one hundred pounds sterling to William and Peter Spence, sons of William Spence my Brother German, equally between them; the sum and at the rate of four shillings weekly to each of Ann Spence, residing with me; Janet Spence, Relict of Charles Irvine shoemaker, Perth; and Thomas Spence of London, Baker - my sisters and brother German.

It has been hard to track William and Peter the sons of William Spence. I suspect that this part of the family were hop factors. As we have seen above, there was a Peter Spence, hop factor, living in Borough in 1790. It could be our Peter, or could it be his nephew? There was a partnership of hop factors in Southwark belonging to a William and Robert Spence, wherein Robert was "Robert Morris Spence" who was buried in 1798, before this will, and left his own PCC will. His will mentions that he was about 40 in 1798, so born about 1758. He also makes it clear that his wife was named Mary Parthenia Hemming before marriage, so we know for sure he was married 8 May 1784 in Southwark St Saviour. One of the witnesses was a William Spence. Robert Morris Spence and his wife had several children baptised in Southwark:

Strangely perhaps, it seems Robert Morris Spence was baptised in Leeds St Peter, where he is recorded as having been born 16 Jan 1758, and baptised 27 Feb 1758. His father is named as William, and their residence is given as "Back of Shambles". The day before, in the preceding entry in the register, a William son of William was also baptised, but he was born the 18th, and his residence was given as Nether Green. None of this is terribly convincing so far.

By 1800 the hop factor firm seems to have changed name to "Spence and son", so presumably a son of William, Robert's presumed brother, joined the business.

A better lead is that Charles Irvine, a shoemaker of Perth, and his marriage to Janet Spence, which could be traced to an Edinburgh marriage of the “Sabbath 11th March 1764”.

Charles Irvine Journeyman Shoemaker & Janet Spence daughter of deceased Robert Spence farmer in the parish of Kilfauns now both in the Tronkirk parish.

There is no parish in Scotland called Kilfauns, but there is a parish called Kinfauns, and it is close to Perth. “Kin” and “Kil” are common beginnings of parish names in the formerly Gaelic speaking parts of Scotland, but “fauns” is unusual. The borders of Kinfauns were intertwined with those of the parish of Kinnoull – the parish where Michael Spence was born and where his grandfather Peter Spence wrote his will and invested. And there was a Robert Spence having children, most importantly a Janet, at the right time in Kinfauns – in the farmlands next to Kinnoull, on the floodplain between the steep hills called the “Braes of the Carse” and the bend in the Tay. His wife, it appears, had the surname Honney, like one of the executors in Peter Spence’s will. Here is the apparent family, as reconstructed from registers:

St Madoes register:

1719. Married the 14 of August Rob: Spence and Anne Honney being lawfilie proclaimed.

1720. Baptized the last day of July James son to John Wilson & Janet Steward the same day Baptized James son to Robert Spence & Anna Honney

1722. Baptized the 9th of Januarie William son to Robert Spence and Anna Honneie with Patrick Duncan and James Spence [These witnesses may well be relatives such as uncles]

1723. Baptised the 8 of September Margaret daughter to Robert Spence & Anna Honney

1726. Feb: 24 Baptized Anna daughter to Robert Spence & Anna Honney

1727. Baptised the 5 of November Patrick son to Robert Spence and Anna Honney.

1730. Baptised the 30 of October Chritan daughter to Robert Spence & Agnas Honney

1733. Baptised the 4th of March Elizebath daughter to Robert Spence and Agnas Honney. [The same baptism is also in the Kilspindie register: Elizabeth Spence daytr to Robert Spence in Cairny in ye parish of St Madoes & Agnes Kinney his wife was baptized March 4th 1733]

1735. Baptized the 17th of Agust [sic] Robert Son to Robert Spence and Agnas Honney

1738. Baptized the 10th Februarie Janet daughter to Robert Spence & Agnas Honney witness John Black & William Gairns.

1740. Baptised the 29 of June Mary Daughter to Robert Spence and Agnas Honney

1743. July 31 Andrew son to Robert Spence & Agnes Honney baptized before the Congregation (possibly the Andrew who worked with Peter at the Spurr Inn?)

Kinfauns register:

1746. Sab: Septr 24. Robert Spence in the Long Ley had twins baptised one named Thomas the other named Henrywitnesses Arthur Gowrly & Ninian Balmain.

1787. November 5. Burial recorded for Agnes Honey.

Some things to note:

·         Obviously Robert lived in St Madoes for a long time, but his life was being watched from Kilspindie, at least in 1733, as shown by the register there which noted one of this children’s baptisms. Later in life, when his youngest children were married, it appears he moved to Kinfauns, which is where he was living when Janet was married.

·         As we know from Peter's will, William, one of the eldest children, seems to have pre-deceased Peter and already had two adult sons, William and Peter, by 1807 when our Peter passed away.

·         Janet’s death is recorded in Perth’s burial registers: “Jannet widow of Charles Irvine”. It happened 3 February 1825, and she was buried 3 days later. Her age was given as 87. This matches exactly with the implied age of the daughter of Robert Spence in Kinfauns.

·         A Thomas Spence, baker, (like the one in the will) was also buried there at 75 years of age, 25 December 1821, having died 2 days before. He also corresponded to the Thomas baptised in Kinfauns. Checks were done to ensure that there weren’t lots of other Spences born at the same time with the same name. Coincidence seems out of the question.

·         One vital piece of the puzzle remained: there was no Peter Spence, but rather a Patrick. However, to everyone’s surprise, it was discovered that Peter and Patrick, apparently both shortened to Pete or Petie in normal speech, were considered to be the same name in this region, at this time.

Looking at the register entries for more hints about further connections…

First, concerning placenames, no sign of “the Long Ley” so far in any old maps. As a geographical description it could describe one of several areas in Kinfauns, the closest ones to St Madoes being in Glencarse itself? Concerning Cairney, it is quite easy to find on maps, but is not particularly close to any other parish. As we will discuss below there was a Spence family who lived near there in the 1600s, but especially the early 1660s.

Second, looking at witnesses, if we assume male witnesses are likely to be of an age where they were at that time (or in recent decades) having children themselves, then:-

1720 baptism in St Madoes.

·         1720. The only James Spence I find in the right time and place having children was in Kilspindie. His residence seems to have been at a place named Fowlfeord, or Foulfoord. An old map by John Thomson in 1832 shows this place to have once been right near the border with Kinfauns parish, between Overdurdie and Godens, on Pitroddie burn, fording it quite close to modern Oliverburn. There appears to have also been a Goddens Mill there on the burn. His wife appears to be Jean or Jane Mathison. He appears to have married in Kilspindie itself 10 November 1732 (both said to be of this congregation). Within Kilspindie itself there is furthermore a baptism of such a James, 12 April 1705, with the father being named Andrew. As it happens, this James also had a brother named Robert! We will discuss this family below.

·         1720. Patrick Duncan was also a pretty common name in the area, with register entries in St Madoes, Kilspindie and Errol. A couple of the baptisms with fathers of this name in Errol were near 1720, and this Patrick lived at Gallow Flat, which is right on the border with St Madoes, near Cottown, Chapelhill, and Ross. We will discuss this more below but we need to be a bit cautious because this surname could equally be connected to pretty much any family in the area, including all the Spence families and also Robert's wife, Agnes Honney. But it is interesting that James Spence, mentioned above, was baptised in Ross, as was his brother Robert.

1738 baptism in St Madoes.

·         1738. There was a William Gairns having children in St Madoes in the 1730s. His wife seems to have been Ann Morton. They married in St Madoes 20/08/1724. The marriage register says they were from Errol at the time. Some of their children may indeed have been baptised there, as a William Gairns was having children baptised at the same period. He was a tenant at Belsies. This might mean “Belsize” but the closest I can find is on the old Thomson map of 1832, which contains many odd spellings. It shows a Belshes between the town of Errol itself, and Inchcoonan, relatively central within the parish of Errol.

·         1738. As we would expect, there are lots of John Blacks. But if we restrict ourselves to this period, and to Kinfauns, Kilspindie, Kinnaird and St Madoes, there are really only a few baptisms that seem notable with John Black as father: there were several in St Madoes some decades earlier (last in 1714), with mother being Margaret Black; and there is the baptism of Alexander Black 1/10/1745 in Kilspindie, with parents being John Black and Margaret Mitchell.

1746 baptisms in Kinfauns. The two men involved seem to be regulars of the Kinfauns parish register in this period.

·         1746. Arthur Gowrly married 26/02/1729 Elspet Sim and had one child in 1831, Thomas. He later seems to have married Janet Paterson in Kinfauns 31/01/1734. He then had 7 children baptised in Kinfauns. The register consistently shows him as a resident of Glenlowie, which I imagine to be in the glen where we find Pitlowie and Hole o Clean. On modern maps there is an appropriate farm called Glen of Pitlowie perhaps?

·         1746. Ninian Balmain married in Dunning, Perthshire, 27/01/1723 to Mary Patton, he being from Kinfauns at the time. He had 9 children baptised in Kinfauns between 1727 and 1744. This last one (William Balmain) was apparently a joint baptism at the Mains of Kinfauns, with Arthur Gowrly baptising his daughter Janet Gowrly, with the same witnesses, John Campsy and James Paton. Ninian Gowerly is said to be local to the Mains of Kinfauns. I find no will for any Ninian Balmain but there was one for a John Balmain 2/08/1745 indexed as “IN CROSSFOORD OF KILFAUNS, PARISH KILFAUNS” and this John or another one was apparently having children at the same time in Kinfauns, although that will gives no leads. There were also several Balmain marriages in the area, including 2 in Kinfauns 17/12/1724, 15/06/1739, 1 in Kilspindie 22/11/1712, and 1 in Perth, 15/08/1735, between a William Balmain and a Christian Spence.

The Honey family.

Agnes was apparently baptised in Kinfauns itself, in this series of baptisms to a father named Andrew:

Andrew Honey, her father, appears to have been married in Kinnoul 26/03/1702 to Elizabeth Duncan. Maybe the Spence connection to Kinnoull was actually through the mother Agnes? In any case the Honeys are potential explanation, should any be needed, for connections to Kinfauns, to people of the surname Duncan, and to the name Andrew. Tracing the Honeys further is however not easy because no appropriate Andrew appears in baptism indexes. There are many Duncans in the area, including for example in Kilspindie, St Madoes, Errol and Kinnaird. Of course we also have the possible lead for these Duncans because of the above-mentioned witness in 1720, Patrick Duncan.

I could also find the PCC will in England for William Honey (PROB 11/1518) of 29 January 1811, the trustee of Robert Spence in his will, a baker who lived in Southwark. He and his brother Robert Honey both apparently lived in Duke Street, in St Saviour. Like Robert Spence he has a scheme in his will to invest into the Bank of England in order to create an income stream for his family. He mentions his wife (still living) Ann, his children Elizabeth Chandler, Ann Honey, Andrew Honey, Robert Honey and "William Richard Honey". He possessed his land on Duke st under lease from Mr Richard Walker of Peckham.

There is then also an earlier PCC will PROB 11/1151, this time of Andrew Honey, Baker of Saint Saviour Southwark, dated 2 March 1787. Sure enough it mentions that he is of Duke street and has sons William and Robert. Robert could be the witness in 1757. I believe we can suggest that this Andrew was the same Andrew baptised 1707, although this would make him 80 years old, and significantly older than his nephew Robert Spence who died at a similar time, so there is a possibility also that this might be a younger Andrew, for example a cousin of Robert Spence.

5. The father of Robert: William or Andrew?

To go back further, some guessing is inevitable. However some reasonable proposals can be made. It is interesting to go through the possibilities, anyway because many, perhaps even all of the options, clearly involve the same family, and this gives an impression of how they lived and moved during their lives. The earliest registers and wills show that by 1600 at least there were several Spence families in and around Kinfauns and the neighbouring parishes. They may well have been different branches of one family. We descend from them.

To start with though, because the old church parishes of the area can be quite confusing, and because there is no simple map I have found elsewhere, I have made a simple reference map…

Here are the baptisms of Robert Spences from the right period and region:

It seems extremely likely that our Robert, married in 1719, and having some sort of connection to Kilspindie, was either the son of Andrew Spence of Kilspindie, or else William Spence in Errol. Going through the two father options:-

Option a. William Spence in Errol does not appear to have married there, but there was a William who married 6 Nov 1692 in Kilspindie to Margaret Deavie, just before these baptisms in Errol:

At the time of their marriage, this couple were said to be residents of Kilspindie, and they had their children in Errol, but this family has strong connections to Kinfauns. Ross and Chapelhill are hamlets right in the Glendoick corner of Errol where it meets St Madoes, the Glendoick corner of Kinfauns, and the Durdie corner of Kilspindie. I believe that Robert in Over Durdie, who appears as witness at one of the baptisms, must be the same one baptised in 1667. I think “William in Ross” and “Robert in Durdie” were brothers or close relatives. It seems quite likely that the parents of both of them were Robert Spence and an earlier Margaret Davie, from a family based for a long time in “Hole o Clean”, right between Glendoick and Overdurdie. Apparently Robert and Margaret married in Kinfauns 21 Jun 1666, but they had Robert baptised in St Madoes 7 Aug 1667, William baptised in Kinfauns 17 Dec 1668, and also a daughter Christen baptised there 27 Feb 1671. (She later seems to have married Alexander Ailison there 18 Feb 1694.) The Kinfauns family is discussed below.

Option b. Andrew Spence of Fingask in Kilspindie was apparently the Andrew who married Christian Whyte 29 July 1698 at Kilspindie (the register does not say give any personal details about them) and apparently had three children baptised in Kilspindie, and three in Kinnaird…

It is worth making an interesting digression here because I believe that David in this family was the grandfather, via his son Charles, of Charles Spence the "Poet of the Carse" who was a quite respected poet who lived in this same area himself, as well as in Manchester. A simple Google search should provide interested readers with lots of material on him! I have therefore created a separate webpage about this subject, in order not to digress too much here.

Going back further, it is not so easy to ascertain who this Andrew was. There appear to be three suitable Andrew Spence baptisms in the neighbouring parishes.

Option b1. One was baptised in Kinfauns 18 May 1677, the son of a James of Clene (modern Hole o Clean, not far from Kilspindie and Fingask). This would put him in the same family as option a. This Kinfauns family will be discussed below.

Option b2. Another in Kinfauns was baptised 30 Mar 1674, the son of a William (witnesses Andrew Ailison, Robert Jackson, Peter Brown). This William was probably either the one who married Kathren Jackson 11 Aug 1663 (banns 26 Jul 1663), or else Elspet Elder 5 Oct 1666 (banns 29 Jul 1666). Given the Jackson witness I presume the former, but they could be the same person. I currently do see only one possible baptism for this father named William, and he also fits in the Kinfauns family tree, to be discussed below. As we will see there, there is reason to believe he dwelt in Pitlowie in Kinfauns.

Option b3. There were also two Andrew baptisms in Errol, just downhill from Kilspindie: 15/03/1663 the son of another Andrew; and 26/12/1669, also the son of an Andrew. I think the latter two are probably in the same family, with the first Andrew dieing young. Note that Inchmichael is a part of Errol, bordering close to Kinnaird.

It is worth noting that in the same period, there was another father named Andrew Spence having children in Kinnaird, the next parish north from Kilspindie and Errol, but close to where Andrew lived in Kilspindie. There are no baptisms for an Andrew Spence there, but because registers are often incomplete when we get back this early, this is interesting. Indeed, this might be the same Andrew Spence, having children in two parishes? (If so then he was moving back and forth a lot!)

An Andrew Spence married Mary Gallow in Errol, 4 May 1659, and he must at least be the father of the Inchmichael baptisms, with George Gallows being a witness to several of them, if not the Kinnaird ones. More ideas about the origin of this Andrew in Inchmichael will be discussed below when we consider what old wills can help us learn.

6. The Kinfauns Spence family in Hole O Clean.

All of these families may be related and many seem to go back to one family in Kinfauns in the 1600s. The following tree is a rough proposal for the Spences of Clein in Kinfauns. Clein has been identified with the help of Donald Abbot as “Hole O Clean” (sometimes Holl of Glencarse in old documents for example) which is now a small collection of houses near Glendoick, right at the edge of the forested slope where the windy path up to Pitlowie and Overdurdie starts.

1. George Spens of Kinfauns had the following children baptised:                             

1.1.      16 Oct 1625   GEORGE SPENS

1.2.      30 Mar 1628   ROBERT SPENS probably living at Pans Hill in 1682                    

Marriage? There were banns proclaimed in 1653 for a Robert Spence and Geill Watt.

?1.2.1.             19/10/1654 CRISTIANE SPENS at Kinfauns  (witnesses George Spens and John Martine)    

?1.2.2.             18/04/1656 JAMES SPENS at Kinfauns

?1.2.3.             10 Jan 1661   MARGARET SPENCE    at Kinfauns       

?1.2.4.             12 Mar 1663   GEORGE SPENCE      at Kinfauns

Married   MARGARET DAVIE at Kinfauns 21st June 1666, witnesses James Watt, James Spens, and perhaps David? Sharpe?

Children's baptisms                       

1.2.3.   7 Aug 1667    ROBERT SPENCE      at St Madoes      

Married           ELIZABETH DROAN 8 Jan 1693    at Kilspindie Kinfauns       

Admin naming Elizabeth Drone was 1716 and in Overdurdie.

1.2.4.   17 Dec 1668   WILLIAM SPENCE     at Kinfauns    witn. James Spence, William Hunter, James Brown

Married MARGARET DEAVIE Kilspindie, 6 Nov 1692 (register says both of Kilspindie parish)

1.2.5.   27 Feb 1671   CHRISTEN SPENCE    at Kinfauns  witn. William Spence, David Sharp, John Blair

1.3.      17 Apr 1631   JAMES SPENS

Married   Margaret Sharpe    at Kinfauns   10 December 1656, Will in 1682      

Children's baptisms                  

1.3.1.   30 May 1658   JAMES SPENCE at Kinfauns       

?1.3.1.1           18 May 1677   ANDREW SPENCE at Kinfauns (Clein; witnesses Peter and James Brown, Wm Hunter, Andrew Paterson)

Married   Jean Doctor   19 August 1684 at Kinfauns

1.3.1.2.            09 Jul 1685 Jean Spence     at Kinfauns (Clein; witnesses Wm Hunter, James Brown, Wm Spence, John Runciman)

1.3.1.3.            16 Aug 1687 Margaret Spence     at Kinfauns       

1.3.1.4.            22 May 1689 Agnes Spence     at Kinfauns (James in Clein; witn. William Hunter, James Brown, William Spence)

1.3.1.5.            24 Aug 1690 Rebeccah Spence     at Kinfauns       

1.3.2.  9 Sep 1660    GEORGE SPENCE      at Kinfauns       

1.3.3.   26 Mar 1663   MARGARET SPENCE    at Kinfauns  

1.3.4.   8 Jul 1665    WILLIAM SPENCE     at Kinfauns  

1.3.5.   26 Jul 1668   AGNES SPENCE       at Kinfauns (witnesses Robert Spence, David Sharpe, and Wm Hunter)

Married   James Moncur  5 October 1690 at Kinfauns

1.4.      26 Oct 1634   JHON SPENS                           

1.5.      14 Apr 1636   CHRISTAN SPENS              

Married   David Sharp        at Kinfauns   20 April 1662     

1.6.      30 Sep 1639   BESSIE SPENS                

Married   Gilbert Duncan     at Kinfauns   3 May 1663

1.7.            4 Oct 1646 WILLIAM SPENS Probably living in Pitlowie in 1681.

Probably married Kathren Jackson 11 Aug 1663 (banns 26 Jul 1663), and/or Elspet Elder 5 Oct 1666 (banns 29 Jul 1666) at Kinfauns

1.7.1.   20 Jul 1667      SPENCE         GEORGE at Kinfauns (witn. John Elder, James Spence, Jon Runciman)

1.7.2.   27 Nov 1669   SPENCE         GEORGE at Kinfauns (witn. James Spence and Oliver Elder)

1.7.3.   30 Mar 1674    SPENCE         ANDREW at Kinfauns (witn. Andrew Ailison, Robert Jackson, Peter Brown)

1.7.4.   11 Nov 1671   SPENCE         WM. at Kinfauns (witn. Andrew Ailison, Wm Hunter, James Syme, Jon Brown, John Runciman)

1.7.5    10 Jun 1678     SPENCE         ROBERT at Kinfauns (William said to be of Pitlowie; witn. Alexander Ailison, James Spence, Gilbert Duncan)

1.7.6.   13 Jun 1681     SPENCE         MARGARET at Kinfauns (William said to be of Pitlowie; witn. James Spence, Andrew Ailison, William Hunter)

There is at least one problem with this Kinfauns tree, which is that although Andrew seems to be the son of a James Spence baptised 1677 in Kinfauns, he fits awkwardly between one James, being later than the children mentioned in his will, and his son James who was married after 1677. Possibly the second James had a first wife who died young?

It is interesting to find a Lennox family in the same registers in this small community. It is tempting to wonder if a member of this family made it to London much later and married a Spence there. (See above.)

7. Still Earlier. Spens Wills from the 1500s and early 1600s.

More work has to be done on the older wills which exist. Wills of this age are quite hard to read, and offers of help would be welcome! To the right is what the surname Spence looked like on a good day:

The Hole O Clean Spens family

Starting with the Hole O Clean family, the will of James Spence 07/09/1682 exists, which clearly fits in the tree above. It clearly names his wife as Margaret Sharpe. James named his and Margaret’s “lawfull bairnes” Wm, Agnes and Margaret Spence and their “eldest sones” were named as Jordayn, James and George. He names Rot (Robert) Spence of Payhill (or Parshill? maybe either modern Pans Hill or modern Pawns Hill?) and Wm Spence in Pitlowie, his german brethren, to be tutors to his minor children, apparently William, Agnes and Margaret, and William Hunter in Orchard of Clein and Gilbert Duncan in Cotoun of Pitfour to be supervisors. The master of his ground was Andro Murray of Murrayshall.

It names his residence within the parish of Kinfauns as Clein (Clean). Inland from Clean was a detached part of Kinnoull known as Balthayock, home to well-known family of Blairs.

The earliest Spens will in Clean that I know of is Cristiane Spens 06/02/1583sometime spouse to John Blair, portioner of Clene, sheriffdom of Perth”. This is an extremely difficult one to read. It mentions a daughter Christiane Spens, and the son of her husband Thomas Blair. The apparent husband’s will is dated 9/03/1614 (Johnne Blair of Clene) and the heir mentioned is the son Thomas Blair of Clene. A document held by the Scottish National Archives (GD190/2/86) concerns the next generation in 1614, where Thomas junior’s son Alexander married Issobell, daughter of Henry Brown of Pawnishill (Pan’s Hill). From this we find that the Blair portion of Clene was “9 acres of land in the town of Clene and one fourth part of the lands of the Manes of Clene”. They may well have been related to the well-known Blairs of nearby Balthayock.

Christian may have been previously married. She may be the same lady who appears as “relict” in the will of Gilbert Hedderveik, 12/06/1577 in Clene. Amongst witnesses there appears to be a Mr Patrik Blair and a Balthasar Spens “notar publict”. A notary of this name appears in Glasgow records, witnessing a marriage contract there involving one James Spens and his daughter Jonet to one Donald Marsar or Marsour, in 1562/3. He also appears mentioned in parliamentary rolls as a “messingearis” in 1579. In 1575/6, RH6/2379, he is described as a notary and a Clerk of Dunblane.

An intermediate will, fitting between the above ones, which contains a fair amount of readable detail is that of James Spens 20/4/1624 of Clein in Kinfauns. It mentions George Spens son of the late Patrick Spens. Mentioned near the top concerning making the inventory are Thomas Blair and Andro Gardener. The will also mentions amongst others a Patrik Say, Janet Devy, Johnne Hendersonne, Thomas Crystie, Thomas Wilson, Andro Sym, Patrik Sym, Andro Wiȝt or Quhȝt, William Broune, Margaret spouse to Robert Martine in Lethindie?, David Thomsone, and someone Williamsone who was the relict of Thomas Sharpe. Also, James Rattraz of Barklay Hill and James Hunter of Pitlowie. Many of these surnames match those from the mentioned in other documents and there appears to have been a small community of families who interacted in this area over several generations.

A will of William Campsie of Clene, 13/05/1616, cotterman, seems to name this James as his master, presumably meaning the owner of the land he lived on.

A little further away is the will of a Gilbert Spens 9/11/1618, son of a deceased James, of Binn in Kinfauns (uphill from the parish church, towards Kinnoull) who may be the brother of James of 1624. In any case Gilbert has brothers named James (may be from Clene, but very hard to read) and William, and he also mentions George? the son(s) of the late Patrik Spens coupar? in Durdie (or Dundie?), and Janet and Mary Spens, and apparently one other girl, lawful daughters of the late Janet (or James?) Spens (his sister?), Peter Gibson son of the late John Gibson, and Thomas Blair (or Bland?) in Clene. This Thomas was a witness to the last testament along with Robert Elder and Andrew Sym, that I can read so far.

The will of Thomas Scherpe of Clein 27/11/1624, some months after the will of James mentioned above, names George Spens a portioner of Clein, meaning he had become a small time land owner, like the Blairs of Clein had been. Presumably George had inherited this and moved to Clein after the deaths of James and Gilbert. How were they all related?

Going back though, there is also a will for James Spens 15/9/1578in the Bin” which appears to make a link for us. His lawfull bairnes were his witnesses, and we can use the listing to propose the family tree:

1.    James Spens 15/9/1578 “in the Bin”. His relict’s name seems to be Janet Gardner? He was probably related to Christiane Spens, wife of Gilbert Hedderveik and later John Blair in Clene; and he may even have been related to Balthasar Spens the notary. His children were...

1.1.        Andrew

1.2.        James (of Clean, will of 1624)

1.3.        Patrick (father of George, perhaps a cooper in Durdie or Dundee in 1618 and 1624, and then a portioner of Clein?)

1.4.        William

1.5.        Richard?

1.6.        Gilbert (of Binn, will of 1618)

1.7.        Janet

I do not claim that the Spences owned it yet, but the Binn is probably a reasonably impressive possession to have had. A good photo can be found on the internet: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/23514.

A Kinnaird Will

There is a will for an Andrew Spence of Pitmiddle, Kinnaird, 21/05/1614. His relict is Issobel Sym. Witnesses, David Ogilvie, William Blair, Jon Mortimer and Mr Robert Symmer(?). I am not sure how to fit him yet, if at all.

The Spences of Inschyra in St Madoes, and Ardgath in Errol

Very close by are a two other groups of Spence related wills from Ardgath in Errol on the one hand, just to the east of Clean and Ross, and on the other hand, just to the west, around the south of Pans Hill, Inschyra and Priorland (within a detached part of Kinnoull), and Cairnie (within the parish of St Madoes). The wills show that they were related to each other, and indeed it seems likely they were related to the Spences of Kinfauns.

So far, the last that might fit in this line is that of Gilbert Spens of Inschyra, 21 August 1674. This brings us into the time when Andrew Spence discussed above was having children in Inchmichael in Errol. This will is interesting for our story. It mentions not only a James Spens in Inschyra, whose relationship is not explained, but also that his brothers are Thomas and James Spens in Errol and Andro Spens in Nether Durdie (Kilspindie). Helen Spens is his sister, and seems to have helped him in his sickness, and kept house now he is aged and infirm. He specifically mentions having received nothing from his parents. Other people in his will are in Kinfauns, Glendoick etc. His landlord appears to have been Andro Blair of Inschyra.

This is interesting because the biggest problem with "option b3", that Robert Spence was the son of an Andrew, is that Fingask and Craighall are not in the part of Kilspindie close to Kinfauns and St Madoes. This will does however make a link between Kilspindie and Errol, and even mentions an Andrew. And we can also note the two Spence-Gallow marriages in Errol, the first involving a Thomas. This fits with the multiple occasions where Andrew Spence of Inchmichael in Errol (option b3) had Gallow witnesses at his baptisms.

29 Jun 1658 THOMAS SPENCE and AGNES GALLOW

22 Jul 1676 ELIZABETH SPENCE and WILLIAM GALLOW

It is hard to make the link back to the early 1600s, but the following people all see to be related to each other and to Gilbert with the will of 1674, as well as Andrew of Inchmichael?

·         Jonet Gray, 3/11/1595, spouse to George Spens in Argath. Mentions Thomas Spens in Inschyra, linking the Ardgath and Inschyra Spences.

·         David of Cairney 06/01/1595

·         Nicol and his widow Margaret Cook of Saint Madois 06/01/1595

·         Peter Spens 31/01/1595 in “Cairney”.

·         James of Cairney 13/06/1599, mentions Nicol Spens is his brother.

·         Issobel Spens of 14/02/1599, who had Simpson relatives.

·         Jonet Pett 4/10/1602. Spouse of Thomas Spens of Priorland.

·         Thomas Spens 27/05/1606 at "Pryourland Kynnoul” appears to mention a George Spens as a brother.

·         William Spens 07/04/1612 in “Carny” seems to have been the son of a Peter (or a Patrick), so possibly the one whose will was in 1595.

·         Patrick Spens 13/1/1616 of Inschyra, not long before the wills that mention sons of a deceased Patrik. It mentions Andrew Sharp of Glendook, Andrew Dryburne in Inschyra, Peter Gardiner(?), Margaret Andersone, William Black, Andrew Say, William Gall of Inschyra, Cristian Lawsone, Thomas Wilson and Alexander Wilsone his son, Gilbert Spence Patrick’s son, Walter Spens his servant, Jon Spence his youngest son, Thomas Spens his eldest son, Thomas Dryburne.

·         George Spens of 18/07/1617. I think the witnesses for George are Alexander Blair of Cairney, Peter Duncan of Inchmichael. It appears his wife was Helen Blair and his eldest son was Thomas Spens.

·         Catherine Spens 07/06/1619, wife of Peter Duncan of Inchmichael, clearly the one mentioned by George of 1617.

·         Elspet Powrie, 10/4/1620. Spouse of Thomas Spens of Ardgath.



Others of possible interest, but not quite so close:

·         Issobell, “spouse to Richard Howdny at the Bridge-end of Tay, parish of Kynnoule”, 10/08/1593

·         James, Over Balbegie in Kynnoul, 11/02/1596. (Balbeggie is not close. It was a detached part of Kinnoull, inland past Scone, over the Braes of the Carse.)

·         Issobell, “spouse to Thomas Gairdin in Balbegie, parish of Kynnoull”, 04/03/1607.

The general area, going further back

That there were Spences in these hills and dales long before even these dates can be shown by one old record on the Scottish National Archives website :-

NRAS4       Anstruther Family, Baronets, of Balcaskie Fife

1483/4, Jan. 30. Precept of Sasine by Andrew Parkar of Balcasky in favour of Peter Spens of Kilspindy, of lands of Balcasky.

 

8. How far can we go with this? Some further thoughts.

The above work brings us to the first wills and registers of the early modern era and the end of the Middle Ages. Is it possible to go further?

Many websites selling paraphernalia (coats of arms, tartans etc) exist which encourage people to believe strongly in proven links between their family and famous medieval clans and noblemen. The surname Spence or Spens is a good example:

1.    It is constantly said to be associated with the clan McDuff.

2.    It is always said to be associated with aristocrats of that surname.

The source of both assertions is very weak indeed. One aristocratic Spens line is said (with at least some doubt) to descend from the MacDuff kings of Fife, and it is claimed (again, I would say with some doubt) that old records for Spences and Spenses seem to be most common around Fife. That is the only basis for these assertions, as far as I can tell.

Nearly every genealogist would like to prove links to clans and arms-baring aristocrats - not only because clans and noblemen are interesting historical figures, but also because at least something can be said about what they were doing in pre-modern times. But in fact even families with aristocratic ancestry face enormous problems to construct secure family trees. Even amongst researchers into the aristocratic Spens families there is the question of how many aristocratic families there were. See for example http://www.stirnet.com/html/genie/british/ss4as/spens1.htm

Until recently, either you could find a paper trail or you couldn't, and most people couldn't. More recently genealogists have a new tool: genealogical DNA testing of the Y chromosome. Spence and Spens genealogists have recently managed to get a reasonable number of participants, including some with paper trails back to aristocracy, into a project that uses DNA to try to establish or disprove links between different Spence families. See http://www.familytreedna.com/public/Spence/index.aspx. Volunteers are needed!

With the level of technology currently available, the most important conclusions such projects give are about which families are in the same male line. For example, if a Spence family descends from the son of a woman Spence (the type of name giving which has certainly always happened for many reasons) it will have different Y DNA than the descendents of her brothers, because Y DNA only comes from father to son.

The results so far show that Spence is a surname of a type which was taken up at many times. There is no sign at all that all Spences, even just the aristocratic ones, share a common ancestor. And there is no sign of any link to other family names associated with the MacDuff.

This is not surprising. Spence, like the English surname Spencer, is an Anglicization of a “Frenchification” of an early medieval Latin term, "dispensator". (As far as I can tell Spence, Spens and Spense are always lowland Scottish in origin, while Spenser and Spencer have English equivalents.)

Literally, the name refers to the keeper of a larder who dispenses food to a large household. As powerful households increased in sophistication and started to act as governments, many such job titles from the simple households of the early middle ages started to accumulate importance far beyond their early meaning. Other French job titles which developed this way include...

·         Chamberlain, which went from running affairs around the bedchambers to being a minister with responsibilities in domestic affairs;

·         Chancellor, which went from referring to clerks, to secretaries of state;

·         Marshall, which originally meant stable master but later referred to a type of high military commander.

But not all stable masters were generals for a king, and we should not expect that all Spences descend from whoever the most famous one was!

(So far, DNA investigation also seems to show that the Spencers of England are also many families and not one, but no link has been found between Spencers and Spences.)

But what has the project found about our Spences from the Carse of Gowrie? So far, we only have one match, and this is to a Scottish Spence family that could be traced back to Ireland around 1800. This is clearly a branch of a Scottish family that moved to Ireland some centuries ago, and then returned during the Industrial Revolution. This was a very common occurrence.

 Who knows what this discovery might eventually lead to? The DNA project is relatively new, and there are still lots of things we can try.