Raitts here, there and everywhere

We know there were several other Raitt families in Arbroath and St Vigeans at the same time as ours in the nineteenth century – and the chances are that they were indeed related – possibly descended from the Raitts (or Raits) of Halgreen and/or Anniston – as were the Raitts in Aberdeen and Dundee. And this is something to work on. But in the meantime, it is interesting to see just what Raitts were here, there and everywhere.

For instance, in the Angus and Mearns Directories for 1846 and 1847, there is mention in Montrose of Mrs Raitt who was a vintner in Wharf Street. In

Arbroath John Raitt, shoemaker, lived at 13 Panmure St, while Miss Rait lived at 16 Fore-Abbey St. David Raitt was also listed as a manufacturer in Arbroath in 1847. There were various Electors: in St Vigeans was Aw. Raitt residing at  Firthmuir of Boysack, and James Raitt at Cotton of Colliston; in Monifief there was David Rait of Burnhill Links; in Carmyllie there was John Rait of Cotton of Cononsyth; and in Kincardine there was James Raitt residing at  Muirhead of Snadon.

James Rait of Anniston, was a freeholder in Forfar, but he was a lot of other things besides. Clearly the bigwig in the area, he held the Lieutenancy in 1841 and among the offices he held in 1846 and 1847 was Trustee on the Turnpike betwixt Dundee and Montrose: Property & Income Tax Commissioner; Commissioner of Supply; member of the Constabulary Committee; member of the Forfarshire Educational Association; member of the Agricultural List; and also, for good measure, he was a Major in the Forfarshire and Kincardineshire militia.

In 1846, the list of Arbroath shipping notes three vessels that were  commanded by possible relatives: the sloop Agnes, built in 1837, 40 tons,  owned by Mrs Mills was captained by a Raitt; the sloop Reaper, built in 1833, 45 tons, owned by Walter Just was captained by someone spelled Raith; and the schooner Venture, built in 1842, 90 tons, owned by Dick Johnston was also captained by a Raitt (this vessel and captain is also listed in 1847). It is tempting to think that this may have been my great great grandfather John Raitt (1805-1880).

As briefly noted on other pages on this site, we find Raitts in Germany and Poland centuries ago and only slightly more recently in southern Africa, America  and Australia. And as we well know, various ancestral Raitts and their in-laws left Scotland for good in the nineteenth century as well as earlier and later. John (Dorward) Raitt and his brother James Dorward Raitt went to America in 1863 and 1871; John Raitt pitched up as Sheriff of Anne Arundel County in Maryland in 1755, and there are a whole bunch of early Raitts in the New York area – some of whom wended their way to California and became famous as actors and singers. There are also Raitts in Texas and Iowa as well as Illinois and Nebraska and elsewhere.

However, we cannot leave out Alexander Raitt who left Scotland in the 1820s or 30s (that may be him arriving in New England in 1825) and ended up in New Brunswick, Canada. There he married an Irish girl, Ann Gosnell, from Sherkin Island, Cork who emigrated with her parents to Canada in 1832. Alexander and Ann married in 1837 and had seven children, the fifth of which, Thomas, moved south first to Boston and then Wisconsin. His son, also named Thomas, eventually settled in Minneapolis, Minnesota while other siblings moved to Montana and Washington. Just who Alexander was and where he came from in Scotland is not yet known. Although he died in 1852 there is no death record and so it is not known exactly how old he was and when he was born.  If he abided by traditional Scottish naming patterns when naming his children, then he could be the son of John Rait of Inverkeilor (and thus born in 1810) or John Raitt of Aberdeen (thus born in 1796). Interestingly though, there were only four Alexander Raitts born in Scotland between 1793-1815 – and only 12 if variants like Rait (seven) and Reat (one) are included. One is the Alexander Raitt who was born in 1793 in St Vigeans – son of David Raitt and Margaret Watt. David belonged to the Grange of Conon Raitts - and since this farm was so close to St Vigeans and Arbroath, I feel convinced there is a link to our branch.

Sunday, 21 November 2010