Elspeth "Elsie" MUNRO (1829 - 1894)
A debt to Hugh Carter's work on the MUNROs is acknowledged.
It is not unusual to find an endnote to death notices in colonial newspapers that certain other papers 'please copy'. Assuming that the original notice was paid for, did the other papers perform this service ex gratia?
The Sydney Morning Herald for 22 March 1894 carries the following death notice—
STEWART.-- March 21, at her residence, 56 Raglan-street, Waterloo, late of Melbourne, Elsie, the dearly beloved wife of Alex. Stewart, aged 63. Melbourne papers please copy.
Two days later the Melbourne Argus obliged-
STEWART.-- On the 21st inst., at 56 Raglan-street, Sydney, Elsie, the beloved wife of Alexander Stewart, late of St Kilda, and only sister of Mrs Draper, Pakington-street, St Kilda. Inverness and Cromarty papers please copy.
Whether they did so is yet to be found.
Elspet MUNRO was born in the parish of Avoch, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland on 21 August 1829 and baptised on 6 November. According to the parish register her baptism was sponsored by her father, George MUNRO, a wright resident in Seatown (a settlement where the fishermen who worked out of Avoch lived). Her mother is given as Janet Macrae.
The parish register entry is written in an apparently feeble hand and is ruled off after a further four entries. It is signed "Ja(me)s Smith Mod(erato)r" and subsequent entries from December 1829 are written in a more vigorous hand. The Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae tells us that James Smith died on 9 December 1830 and that, being born in 1758, he would have been about 72. It is noted that the majority of the congregation had seceded from the church in "opposition to his settlement" so it would seem the MUNROs belonged to the faithful few that remained with the Smith flock.
Presumably George MUNRO died before the 1841 census was held. The head of the household in Avoch is Janet MUNRO (40), her occupation "retailing loaf of bread", and the children are listed as May (15), Elspet (11), James (8) and W(illia)m (8).
In the 1851 census, Janet is recorded living on her own in Avoch, a pauper. Some of her children had established their own households but it is not certain where Elspet was at this stage. The FORBES family at Pulrossie in the parish of Creich, Sutherland, had a 22 year old servant named Elspet MUNRO whose birthplace is shown as Alness, Rosshire. However, in later life Elspet seems to have been proud of her Avoch connection and it may be assumed as unlikely that she would declare a different birthplace.
In the 1861 census, Elspet, now 31 but listed as 30, is living with her brother George, at 10 Bridge Street, Inverness. George was a tailor and clothier and had become sufficiently prosperous to be employing 7 men and 1 boy. He had recently been made a widower and Elspet had taken on the role of housekeeper. Her birthplace is shown as Avoch.
Later in 1861, Elspet married Alexander STEWART and began her long journey to the far side of the world, where she was to be reunited with the soil 33 years later. (The wedding registration clarifies her father's occupation, shown in the 1829 Avoch parish register as a wright, identifying him as a cabinetmaker, deceased.)
Over the remainder of her life she was variously known as "Elspeth", "Elsped", "Alice", "Appy" and "Elsie".
Her last-used name was commemorated briefly in the firstborn daughter of her own daughter, Ellen JAMES. Elsie May JAMES (the "May" presumably from May MUNRO, who was the "Mrs Draper, Pakington-street, St Kilda" referred to in the death notice) was born in 1890 but died before Elspeth. In 1922, a great granddaughter was christened "Elspeth".
Elsie STEWART died following a stroke. Her son, John, was the informant for the registration of her death. The name of her parents is shown as "unknown" on her death certificate. Her husband, Alexander STEWART, and her children George Alexander, John, Jessie and Ellen all survived her.