John McLea (1790-c.1833)

?John McLea (c.1745-?)?Duncan MacLea (1769-?)Janet McKay (1795-1870)Margaret McLea (1819-1888)
?Janet Brown (c.1745-?)?Margaret Fisher (1766-?)Duncan McLea (1824-1899)
?Duncan Fisher (c.1743-?)Peter McLea (c.1828-1888)
?Margaret Smith (c.1743-?)Jessie McLea (c.1829-1873)

John McLea was a Blacksmith and Bell Hanger in Glasgow, Scotland.

He was probably born in Rothesay, on the Isle of Bute, on 2 May 1790 and christened on 9 May 1790. His birth on the Isle of Bute is conjecture based on the fact that his wife, Janet McKay, was born on Bute in 1795. Since they show up in the defined records together when they married in Hutchesontown, Glasgow, on 27 Nov 1818, there is no certainty on the place of birth of John. Since the records of the time did not record this, nor his parent's names, there is no way to be sure. However, we can make some guesses.

Duncan and Peter, the sons of John, both named their first born after father John. His son Peter named his second born son James, and this is important. Similarly, also important is the name Duncan, given to John's own first-born son. So we have Duncan, James, and John, as lineal names which link descending generations. Scottish names at the time were based almost exclusively on a well-known "naming convention".

  • First born son after father's father
  • First born daughter after mother's mother
  • Second born son after mother's father
  • Second born daughter after father's mother
  • Third son after father
  • Third daughter after mother
  • Anything goes

Following the naming convention, there is only one John McLea in Rothesay in the correct time frame: the son of Duncan McLea and Margaret Fisher born in May 1790.

If this lineage is correct, the naming convention holds with John McLea, the first-born son of Duncan McLea, being named after Duncan's father John. Similarly, John McLea and Janet McKay's childen are correctly named as well.

  • Margaret for her mother's mother (though both mothers are named Margaret as it happens)
  • Duncan after father's father
  • Peter after mother's father
  • Jessie (nickname of Janet in Scotland, and also Janet McKay's nickname) after mother

All the other recorded John McLeas on Bute are unlikely given naming conventions and ages at the time of marriage/birth of children. Similarly, unrecorded John McLeas are also a possibility, however, the parish records are fairly complete on Bute at the time (few later additions recorded) and so there are probably few missing children there.

On the whole, I find the lineage of John to be quite plausible and as such have recorded it as fact in the tree. However, keep in mind that this lineage is not proven 100%. I continue to look for additional records which may prove his birth in Rothesay, and/or his parentage or age.

For his death, we have only the evidence from his listings as a blacksmith in the Glasgow Post Office directories. He is first recorded in 1823 at 13 Hospital street. His last entry is in 1833 at the same address. John McLea presumably died sometime between his last listing in 1833 and the 1841 census, and probably closer to 1833, because he is listed every year from 1826 to 1833, but then disappears suddenly.

Since few death or burial records exist from the era, we will probably never know his date of death, nor the place of burial, especially since gravestones for "poor folk" were unheard of. Checks of well-known places in Glasgow have yet yielded nothing.

John is a bit of an enigma. But we do know a few things about him. For one, he passed his smithing profession onto his son Peter, who was born only a few years before his death. And his three eldest children, Margaret, Duncan, and Peter, all named children after him (the youngest, Jessie, never married).

Though he is largely an unknown, he is the farthest-back McLea ancestor we can claim at this time with 100% certainty, and so we might consider him to be the family Patriarch.