Copyright (C) 2020 by Patrick's People all rights reserved Updated 12 September 2020
CURRAN, Michael
(About 1810-Before 1858)
ROUKE, Margaret
(About 1810-Before 1858)
ADAMS, Thomas (DNA Linked)
(About 1795-0002/1878)
McMILLAN, Sarah (DNA Linked)
(About 1810-)
ADAMS, Rebecca (DNA Linked)
(About 1839-0008/1913)


Family Links

1. NISBET, William

CURRAN, Sarah 2

  • Born: 19 March 1860 at 3.00 am, Esperston Lime Works, Borthwick, Midlothian, Scotland
  • Marriage (1): NISBET, William on 30 July 1880 in North Esk Manse, Inveresk, Edinburgh, Scotland 1
  • Died: 16 February 1882 at 0.25 am, 11 Davie Street, Edinburgh, Scotland 3

   Cause of her death was puerperal fever over 3 days.

   Other names for Sarah were CAIRNS, Sarah 2 4 and NISBET, Sarah.4

  General Notes:

When Sarah Curran was born in 1860 it was her father Hugh who informed the registrar at Borthwick, Alexander MacDougall, on 29 March 1860 and made his X mark. Hugh Curran was a labourer. Sarah was the couple's second child and first daughter.

The 1861 census for Esperstone Lime Works at Borthwick 'Edinburghshire' or the county of Midlothian, as we now know it, recorded Sarah Curran living with her parents there. Sarah had been born in Borthwick, and at 1 year old was the youngest of the family.

In 1871 the census for the civil parish of Liberton in Edinburghshire recorded Sarah Curran living with her family at Old Dalkeith Road in the hamlet of Little France. Sarah had been born in Borthwick, Midlothian and was recorded as 11 years of age. She now had three little brothers, Thomas, James and John, as well as an older brother, Hugh.

On 4 June 1880, William Nisbet and Sarah Cairns were witnesses at the marriage, in Haddington, of William's cousin, Eleanor Haimes, to Sarah's brother, Hugh Curran.

In July 1880 Sarah Cairns married William Nisbet, and in late August of 1880 her first child, Rebecca, was born at Inveresk.

Sarah Nisbet was recorded by the 1881 census for Edinburgh living at 11 Davie Street with her husband and daughter. She was recorded as aged 20 years and her birth place was recorded as Jordan Law, Peeblesshire.

Note: It seems clear that Sarah herself did not give this information about her birth. Jordan law is in Berwickshire, and in any case she was born at Borthwick near Edinburgh.

Sarah died after childbirth in 1882. She was 21 years old. Her death came one week after her baby, named Isabella, was born. She was survived by her husband, William, and her two daughters. 3 5 6 7

  Research Notes:


At some time during their time in Scotland the Curran family became the Cairns family. For Sarah specifically in the records we have this took place between 1871 when the census recorded her still as Sarah Curran, and 1880 when she married as Sarah Cairns. The change took place then for all of the family. To find them in the 1871 census you must search under Curran. In 1881 you will find them in the census as Cairns. The cause, reason or purpose of the name change is open to speculation.


Although there were great strides in medicine being made in Western Europe in the 19th century, industrialisation and urbanisation increased the pressure on public health. Nowhere was this more true than in the large cities of the British Isles. There, not only the elderly and the weak were vulnerable but also the young, the fit, and the strong. They were cut down by a variety of fevers and epidemics that fed on the lack of understanding on the part of medical men, and the lack of hygiene and poor social conditions that prevailed in city life.

The main cause of death in childbirth during the 19th century was puerperal fever or puerperal sepsis. This was an infection of the uterus or womb, usually contracted during, or right after, the delivery of the child. The disease would almost always show up in the autopsy, but the fact that it was contagious became a heated debate in the medical community. Finally through the work of Holmes and Semmelweis it was proved that the Doctors and Midwives carried the infection, and that by simply washing their hands death rates would drop dramatically.

  Medical Notes:

Alex. Noir LRCPS certified the cause of death.

William Nisbet, the widower, who had been present, notified the registrar of his wife's death. The death was registered on 16 February 1882 at Edinburgh, R. Charlton being registrar.

Sarah married William NISBET, son of Alexander Sandilands NISBET (DNA Linked) and Isabella HAIMES (DNA Linked), on 30 July 1880 in North Esk Manse, Inveresk, Edinburgh, Scotland.1 (William NISBET was born 11 May 1860 at 2.30 pm in Newtonport, Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland 8 9 10 and died 17 September 1915 at 1.00 am in Longmore Hospital, Edinburgh, Scotland.). The cause of his death was malignant disease of the bowel over 1 year.

  Marriage Notes:

The marriage took place after banns according to the forms of the Established Church of Scotland at Inveresk Manse. The minister of North Esk Parish Church, Henry Moncrieff MacGill, conducted the service. The witnesses were Thomas Carnes [sic] and Maggie Wood.

William Nisbet, a plumber journeyman, aged 20 years, was an unmarried man resident at 5 Brown Street, Edinburgh.

Sarah Cairns worked as a housekeeper. She too was unmarried and aged 20 years, of Millhill, Musselburgh.

The marriage was registered on 3 August 1880 at Musselburgh.



1 GRO Scotland, Marriage certificate Edinburgh/Inveresk 1880 July 16.

2 GRO Scotland, Marriage certificate City of Edinburgh Newington district 1906 Nov 29/daughter Isabella.

3 GRO Scotland, Death certificate RDS 685/5 No 145 Edinburgh/Newington 1882.

4 Old Parish Registers, St Nicholas Parish Aberdeen Baptisms 1662.

5 GRO, Borthwick Mislothian 674 en d 1 page 18 Esperstone Lime Works.

6 1871 UK census, Liberton Midlothian 693 en d 3 page 26 Old Dalkeith Rd Little France.

7 GRO Scotland, Marriages Haddington 709 no 13 1880.


9 GRO Scotland, Births Haddington 1860 no 79.

10 GRO, Newington Edinburgh en d 25 page 8.

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