Copyright (C) 2021 by Patrick's People all rights reserved Updated 24 July 2021
(About 1775-Before 1862)
(1794-After 1862)
PORTER, Elisabeth
(1804-After 1862)
(1840-After 1910)


Family Links

1. GIBSON, Thomas

2. McALLISTER, James


  • Born: 1840s, Tarbolton, Ayrshire, Scotland 2 3 4 5 6
  • Marriage (1): GIBSON, Thomas on 31 October 1862 in 5 James Street, Tarbolton, Ayrshire, Scotland
  • Marriage (2): McALLISTER, James
  • Died: After 15 April 1910 4 5 6 7

   Other names for Agnes were GIBSON, Agnes,7 8 9 McALLASTOR, Agnes 5 and McALLISTER, Agnes, Mrs.6

  General Notes:

The 1851 census for Tarbolton, Ayrshire, recorded Agnes Donaldson aged 7 years living with her parental family in the village and county where she had been born.

The 1861 census for Tarbolton, Ayrshire, recorded Agnes Donaldson, aged 17 years, living with her father, William, and her mother, Elisabeth, at 8 James Street. She had been born in Tarbolton.

In 1871 Agnes Gibson was recorded, aged 27 years, living with her husband and children in Riccarton parish, Ayrshire, at Portland Row. She had been born in Tarbolton.

In 1881 the census recorded Agnes Gibson, aged 38 years and born in Tarbolton, Ayrshire, as a widow. She was living in Auchinleck in Ayrshire at 152 Long Row, in a household of which she was the head. The rest of the household comprised her seven children and an adult boarder called James McAlister [sic]. The five older children were surnamed Gibson and the youngest two, aged 2 years of age and 9 months of age were McAlister.

Agnes was co informant and co signatory with James McAllister of their twin daughters' birth in 1889. Each birth certificate recorded her as 'Agnes Gibson or Donaldson widow of Thomas Gibson Iron Miner who died 17 March 1875 [sic]'.

In 1891 Agnes Gibson was living at 152 Common Loch in Auchinleck, Ayrshire. She was not, as she had been in 1881 listed as head of the household. She was listed second to James McAllister who was designated head, and was named as 'housekeeper'. James was recorded as unmarried, Agnes as a widow. Her age was noted as 48 years, and her birthplace as Tarbolton. All of the children listed were surnamed McAllister.

Agnes McAllastor [sic] was recorded by the 1901 census living in Auchinleck Ayrshire with James McAllastor, three daughters and a son. She was an 'ironstone miner's wife' and recorded as 60 years of age. Her birthplace was Tarbolton in Ayrshire.

On 12 July 1902 Mrs Agnes McAllister sailed on board the SS Carthaginian from Glasgow for New York in steerage with five of her children: Elizabeth, Jemima, Alexander, Janet and Bella McAllister. They arrived at the port of New York on 24 July 1902. Mrs Agnes McAllister was recorded in the ship's manifest as a married woman of 48 years of age. Her occupation was noted as 'housekeeper'. To the questions about whether she could read or write the answer was 'yes' to both. Her nationality was 'Scotch' and her last residence Auchinleck. The manifest records that her final destination was Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and that she had a ticket for that destination, paid for by herself. She declared herself to be in possession of just 3 and 5 shillings. She had never been in the USA before and was going to join a son 'Thomas McAllister 631 South Avenue, Media Park, Philadelphia'. She stated that she had not been in prison nor supported by charity, she was not a polygamist, she was not under contract to labour in the USA, she was not deformed or crippled but in good health mentally and physically.

The 1910 U.S. Census for Worcester County in Massachusetts recorded Agnes Gibson as head of a household living at Pleasant Street West, in the town of Warren, that comprised herself and three of her daughters: Jemima, Janet, and Bella, her son in law Archibald Ramsay, and her granddaughter Agnes Ramsay. Archibald was a married man aged 37 years and had been married for 17 years. He had been born in Scotland and emigrated in 1909, and was an engineer. His daughter, Agnes, was 16 years old, single and had been born in Scotland. Her grandmother, Agnes Gibson, was recorded as 62 years old and a widow. She was a white woman of Scots-English descent who had immigrated to the U.S. in 1892 (inaccurately as we now know). She spoke English, had no occupation or profession, rented her home, and could read and write. 2 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

  Research Notes:


No baptismal or birth record has been found for Agnes Donaldson as yet. An Agnes Donaldson was born to a William Donaldson and Mary Crawford on 29 August 1845, and baptised in Ayr on 7 September 1845. This couple married at Tarbolton on December 11 1840. It is possible that there was a familial relationship between them and William Donaldson and Elizabeth Porter. I have not found this small family as yet in either the 1841 or 1851 census returns.


Agnes's father's surname was Donaldson.

Her first husband was Thomas Gibson and Agnes assumed his surname on and off for the rest of her life, as did many of her children, even those whose father was not Thomas Gibson. When Thomas died in March 1876, Agnes was left with six children, that we know of, to support, the eldest of whom was 12 years of age. Like many widows or widowers of that time, she opted for another relationship or liaison to support her children, there being little beyond one's own means to rely on.

We don't know when James McAllister, an unmarried man, came into Agnes's life, probably in 1878 if not before. Margaret McAllister was born in 1879. This relationship produced seven children we know of. At first Agnes was the head of the household and James a boarder (1881), then James was acknowledged as head and Agnes was 'housekeeper' (1891). By 1901 she was recorded as 'wife'. Only then was she recorded as Agnes McAllastor [sic], before that she was Agnes Gibson. During her trip to America she was Mrs Agnes McAllister - presumably since all her children travelling with her were so named. In the 1910 US Census she once again became Agnes Gibson, and the children living with her, though registered at birth as McAllisters, were also recorded as Gibson.

No formal regular marriage between Agnes and James McAllister has been uncovered as yet. This is not untypical of Scottish rural life at the time. For all everyday practical purposes, a common law marriage, for that is what it was, was recognised as a marriage. Formally, the Church and State, however, viewed it as an 'irregular' marriage, thus any children born of it were recorded as illegitimate, even when, as in the case of James and Agnes, both parents acknowledged the child and both signed the birth certificate giving the child the right to bear its father's surname. For the poorer classes it mainly left individuals with a sense of social stigma; for the rich, it protected property rights.

Agnes married Thomas GIBSON, son of John GIBSON and Mary STEVENSON, on 31 October 1862 in 5 James Street, Tarbolton, Ayrshire, Scotland. (Thomas GIBSON was born in 1834 in Dalry, Ayrshire, Scotland 3 12 and died 17 March 1876 at 3.00 pm in 152 Dirnconner, Auchinleck, Ayrshire, Scotland 3 12.). The cause of his death was surfalous (probably sulphurous) myelitis.

  Marriage Notes:

The marriage took place after banns according to the forms of the Established Church of Scotland. The minister officiating was David Ritchie, minister of Tarbolton. The witnesses were Mary Mcradey (?) and Martha Wilson.

Thomas Gibson was an engine keeper by occupation and a widower by status. He was 27 years old and resident in Tarbolton. His father was deceased.

Agnes Donaldson, who made her X mark, was recorded as 18 years old and resident in Tarbolton. She was a single woman and was a woollen worker.

The marriage was registered on 3 November 1862, John Dunlop being the registrar. 3

Agnes next married James McALLISTER. (James McALLISTER was born in 1840 in Ireland 9.)


1 Massachusetts Marriage Records 1840-1915, Warren, Worcester County, Massachusetts USA 1912.

2 1861 UK census, Tarbolton Ayrshire 619 en d 2 8 James Street.

3 GRO Scotland, Marriage Tarbolton 619/00 no 19.

4 1891 UK Census.

5 1901 UK Census, Lugar Auchinleck 577/2 en d 2 page 12.

6 Ship Manifest, Carthaginian Allen Line Royal Mail Steamers fr Glasgow 12 July 1902 to New York.

7 1910 US Census, Massachusetts Worcester County Warren town En d 1831 page 14A.

8 1871 UK census, Riccarton 611 en d 4 page 22.

9 1881 UK census, Auchinleck Ayrshire 577 en d 6 page 12 152 Long Row.

10 GRO Scotland, Birth Lugar Ayrshire 577/02 no 155.

11 1851 UK census, Tarbolton 619 en d 5.

12 GRO Scotland, Death Auchinleck 577 no 36.

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