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First Generation

1. Thomas Torrance

Born Approx 1806 in Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland. Living in Prestonholm Village, Cockpen, Midlothian, Scotland just prior to emigration. Died 1 Aug 1894, Harvey .Pre-emigration occupation: Banksman at Coal Works. In the North of England and Scotland a: Bank is the top of the shaft, or the entrance to the mine. A Banksman is a man who works at the Bank, and typically that means he receives the coal and transfers it to screens or to some form of transport. The Banksman also has to communicate with the pit bottom; the communication was normally done with signals transmitted by a bell and rope, later by electrical signals, and later still by telephone and other apparatus. The Banksman is therefore a crucial man of the pit and held a position of some responsibility.


He married the widow Isabella Dickson born Stow, Midlothian ca 1803 (Source 1851 Scotland Census). Her first married name was taken from her daughter Isabella Dickson.


The village of Prestonholm (coordinates 332400 662600) was in Cockpen Parish, and lay between Dalhousie Castle and the Kirkhill Hotel. It was inhabited mainly by flax mill and coal collier workers. However, it was demolished on orders of one of the Ramsay family, the then tenants of Dalhousie Castle. Nothing is left of it now bar a few bricks at the top of the field. See Cockpen Parish - New Statistical Account 1845, Volume 1 page 606-610 below for account of life in the area in the mid 19th century. (source: Lois Foster, 5 April 2008)

Occupation in Harvey: probably assisted brother Robert Torrance in farming. Religion Presbyterian.


(L) Location map showing the birth places of Robert and Thomas Torrance and their respective wives Eleanor 'Ellen' MacDonald and Isabella Dickson. (R) Higher resolution map showing communities where Robert (Newbattle) and Thomas (Dalkeith) Torrance were born and where they were working in Prestonholm as Banksmen prior to emigration. Google maps compiled: Tim Patterson, 16 April 2009.


Aerial photograph showing where the community of Prestonholm once stood. Google map compiled: Tim Patterson, 16 April 2009.


(L) Ordinance map showing where the village of Prestonholm once stood. (R) 1845 map showing distribution of buildings and factories in and around Prestonholm.

1851 census records for the families of brothers Thomas and Robert Torrance. The two families lived next door to each other in Prestonholm Village. Transcript of scanned image found below.

Scan of 1851 Scotland Census
Civil Parish: Cockpen
Roll: CSSCT 1851_175
Parish Number: 676
Prestonholm Village

Census 1851

The surname has various spellings:  Torrance, Torrence and Torrens.

Thomas and his wife Isabella may have come to New Brunswick between 1854/1856 at the same time that  Robert Torrance emigrated from Scotland.

In the 1861 Census, living in the same area as Thomas, was a Robert Torrance.

Robert had received 100 acres of land in Manners Sutton, York Co., NB, 22 Nov 1859.  (PANB, Land Grants 1784-1997, Volume #57,Grant  #9341, Microfilm F16356.)  The family settled on Lot N, near Frog Lake.

It is not known with total certainty how Robert and Thomas were related. However, as they lived next door to each other in Prestholm prior to emigration (household 19 & 20 in the 1851 Scoland Census) and lived in the same household in later years in Harvey it is probable that they were brothers.

In the 1881 Census for Manners Sutton, York Co., NB, Robert is 66 years old, wife Eleanor is 60 years old, children Eleanor, 28, Isabella, 23, Annie, 21, Thomas, 20 and Robert 18 are living at home; also Thomas Torrance, widowed, age 74, born in Scotland, pauper, is living in the household.

In the 1891 Census, Robert is 76, Ellen is 71; children Ellen, 40, Isabella, 35, Thomas, 30 and Robert, 28 are living at home, also Thomas Torrance, 85, Lodger is living with Robert Torrance's family.

From Harvey Presbyterian Church records, Thomas Torrance died 1 Aug 1894, age 89 years.Death included in Harvey Presbyterian Church records.  Probably buried in Harvey Settlement Cemetery without gravestone.


They had the following child, step daughter of Thomas:
            2            i.          Isabella Dickson

Supplementary Data: 

Cockpen Parish - New Statistical Account 1845, Volume 1 page 606-610






Name-the present has been the name of the parish as far back as can be ascertained. It is probably of Gaelic origin.

Extent.-the parish is somewhat of an oval form, 3 miles long from north to south, and 1½ mile broad from east to west. It contains about 4 square miles.

Topographical Appearances. The general appearance of the surface is flat. It is varied, however, by gradual rises and falls, and is all of a cultivated rich clay soil, except a small portion on the north end of at Hillhead, which is a soil of very fine rich loam. the stiff clay soil is in general, about 2 feet thick and rests upon a stiff clay subsoil; and the limey soil at Hillhead lies upon a sandy or gravelly subsoil. The parish is composed of what naturalists call the independent coal formation. We have coarse coal, foliated coal, and slate coal, in beds from about 2 feet to 3½ feet thick. The rocks between which the coals are deposited, and slightly inclined strata, are clay-sandstone, slate-clay, bituminous shale, and limestone. In some places, patches or nodules of greenstone are to be found. There is a bed of clay sandstone, a Skeltimuir, on the west side of the parish, about 300 feet above the level of the sea, wherein are found petrifications of seashells.

There is now only one coal mine in parish, on the estate of Mr Dundas of Arniston. This coal-work is near the south side of the parish at Stobhill. It has been wrought to the depth of 94 fathoms 3 feet, through 15 beds of coal, of from 1½ to 2 feet thick excepting only one, which is of no less than 7 feet in thickness. The rocks betwixt which the beds of coal are deposited, are a sandstone and limestone of from 6 or 7 to 14 feet in thickness, and very little inclined, only from 1 to 3½ degrees. It is expected soon to reach a bed of fine splint coal, which is computed to be 5½ feet thick.

The parish is traversed, within a mile of its South boundary, by the river South Esk, flowing from southwest to north-east. The river flows within a few yards of Dalhousie Castle, a venerable structure built in the 12th century, and which, a few years ago, received such additions and improvements by its eminent proprietor, the late Earl of Dalhousie, as render it a truly noble structure. Dalhousie-burn also, a fine stream, passes between Dalhousie Grange and the manse, within 200 yards of each of them, and falls into the South Esk half a mile to the eastward. The North Esk also touches Cockpen parish on the north, and forms there the boundary between it and Lasswade. The South Esk, after leaving Dalhousie Castle, passes close by the romantic place where Cockpen house stood, the mansion of the Laird of Cockpen, about a furlong to the east of Dalhousie Castle; and then passes the singularly beautiful Dalhousie Garden, the fence of the south side of which is formed entirely by the Esk's precipitous sandstone bank. The beauty of the river's high banks, all covered with wood, (oak, ash, Birch, plane, thorn, elder, & c.) and of the gardens so situated, is greatly admired. Trees of all kinds seem to flourish on our clay soil, except the balm of Gilead firs. These all die about their sixteenth or seventeenth year.


Landowners.-the late Earl of Dalhousie, who was eminent in the military or civil service of his country, was born in this parish: and there at present resided in its John Craig, Esq. of Preston home; and, during the summer months, John told, Esq of Kirkhill, WS. Besides these two, the parish is the property of the following nobleman and gentleman: the right Honourable the Earl of Dalhousie, who has nearly the half of the parish; the Most Noble the Marquis of Lothian; Mr Dundas of Polton; Robert Dundas, Esq of Arniston, each of whom possess nearly 1/6 of the parish; and Robert Wardlaw Ramsay, Esq. of Whitehill, who has only about 40 acres.

Parochial Registers.-the register of marriages and baptisms has, with few exceptions, been regularly kept from the year 1695.

To the present time. It has been, for many years past, most carefully attended to.

Modern buildings.-in the year 1816, a new manse was built by the heritors; and in 1820, an elegant new church, in its immediate neighbourhood; both most conveniently situated in the centre of the parish.

mansion-houses.-there are no mention houses in the parish, except Dalhousie Castle and Hillhead. Lord Dalhousie, more than 50 years ago, purchased the old mansion-house and farm of Cockpen from Baron Cockburn.

Mills.-there are two Mills, manufactories of flax-yarn and paper, the former at Prestonholm, on the South Esk, and the latter at St Leonard's in the immediate neighbourhood of Lasswade on the north Esk.


It is stated in the former account, that, "by a list, found among the papers of the then incumbent, it appears that, in 1749, there were in the parish 160 families, containing 229 males and 349 females, or 640 individuals; of which 454 were above, and 194 under ten years of age. The return to Dr Webster was 640 souls." By the census of 1811, the population was 2000; but in 1821, it was 75 short of that number, owing probably to the removal of some colliers.

Soon, however, after that period, Mr Craig, proprietor of the flax-mill at Prestonholm, brought about 200 additional hands to his work, which raised the number in the parish of 2000. But on the burning of the same mill, which unfortunately happened on the 27th of February 1827, 567 persons left the parish. In 1814, there were in the parish 382 families, and 1760 individuals, of whom 796 were males, 972 females; 319 under seven years of age, and 20 above seventy. The average number of births for the last seven years has been 50, and of marriages 18. No register of the deaths has been kept.

By the census of 1841, there were 505 families, and population of 2345, which has been considerably increased since that year.


There are at present in the parish 10 farmers who keep servants and cottars under them. The number of these farm servants and cottars is 100. There are 10 persons engaged in retail shop-keeping; 300 at least in manufactures; and 12 tradesmen. There are only 4 male household servants, and 36 female ones. The parish is all arable and under the tillage, excepting immediate banks of the rivers and burdens, and policy around Dalhousie Castle, &c. it is computed that there is about one eight of the parish not under tillage. The number of arable acres, therefore, is about 2200. Some of the farms are about 400 acres in extent; but most of them are not half so large; and some of the rents are L3, 5s. per acre, others not half that sum.

Farm Leases.-the duration of leases is usually nineteen years. The farms are all enclosed by thorn hedges; and the usual course of tillage is summer fallow; then a crop of wheat; then peas, sometimes turnips or potatoes, then a crop of oats or barley, along which the ground is sown down with grass and clover for a year or two. It is then ploughed again and sown with oats, and afterwards put into fallow. There is, no doubt, far more grain is produced in the parish than is consumed in it. Dalkeith market, held weekly throughout the year, affords a convenient place of sale. The rental is about L. 4000

Manufactures.-There are two kinds of manufacture carried on, flax-yarn and paper. The first is at Prestonholm, where 214 men, women and children above ten years of age are employed. At the paper-mill at St Leonards, 18 men and 35 women are employed. Three fourths of the paper is sent to London, and the remainder is sold in Edinburgh and Glasgow.


the nearest market town is Dalkeith, at the distance of two miles and a quarter of from the centre of the parish; and there are three villages, Prestonholm, Bonnyrigg, and West Mill or St Leonard's.

Abundant means of communication are enjoyed. A turnpike road from Edinburgh towards Carlisle passes through the middle of the parish; one from Dalkeith towards Peebles; and another from the same place towards Noblehouse. There are three toll-bars in parish; and three bridges over the South Esk, all in good order.

Ecclesiastical State.-the parish church is in a convenient situation for the people, none of whose houses are more than two miles distant from it. It was built in 1820, and is in excellent repair: it is much admired for its simple elegance and convenience of structure; and it accommodates easily 750 persons. There are free sittings for about 300. Indeed, only three families pay seat-rents. The manse, as before stated, was built in 1816, and is in good repair. The Glebe is contiguous to it, and consists of seven acres and three roods Scotch, which let at L.3 per acre. The stipend consists of 53 bolls, 3 pecks, and 4/5 of a lippy of bear; 86 bolls, 1 firlot, 2 pecks, and 15 lippy of oatmeal; and £128 Scots (L.10, 13s.4d.) In money. The tiends are exhausted; and the Minister has, since the year 1824, the sum of L.24, 4s.10½d. annually from the Exchequer. The number of commumicants at last communion was 316.

There is a free Church in the village of Bonnyrigg, about a mile from the parish church. The same village also their are a Morrisonian meeting-house, and a Baptist meeting house. Both opened during the past year. The parish church was never better attended.

Education.-There is one parochial school, with the legal accommodation. The number of scholars usually attending it is from 90 to 100, and the branches taught are, English, writing, arithmetic, mensuration, bookkeeping, Latin, mathematics, and the principles of religion. The schoolmaster has the maximum salary and the following fees: per month for English reading, 10d.; writing, 1s.; arithmetic, 1s. 2d.; mensuration, book-keeping, or Latin, 1s. 8d. There are four and endowed schools; one of them generally attended by about 60 or 70 scholars; another by about 50; the third by about 30, and the fourth by about 20.

Poor.-the average number of persons that receive parish aid regularly is 57; and the average sum of money they receive is 1s. 6d. a-week. Many, however, receive occasional relief, without becoming regular paupers. The annual amount of church collections is about L.40; and this is kept in a separate fund from the assessment to supply a different class of poor. We have an assessment of about L.300 a-year.

Alehouses. There are 9 public-houses in the parish, and certainly they have rather a bad effect upon morals; but they are all decently kept.

Fuel.-Coals are the only kind of fuel used, and they are all procured in the parish or its immediate neighbourhood, at the rate of 3d. per cwt.


July 1845.

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