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Leith Burgh Police - PC John Cameron

Leith Burgh Police 1806 – 1920

PC John Cameron

 

Leith Constabulary Gallantry Medal 1881

 

Introduction

John Cameron was born in 1844 in the Parish of Duthil & Rothiemurchus in Elginshire, now known as Morayshire. His father was a farmer in the rough hill land to the west of Carrbridge. He was the eldest child of five, two sons and three daughters.

 

He became a Police Constable in Leith Burgh Police after 1862.  In 1881, he was one of six officers awarded the Leith Constabulary Medal for Gallantry, having been involved in “The Extraordinary Outrages in Edinburgh and Leith” during which two men discharged firearms wounding several citizens of Edinburgh in attempted Robbery on 4 February that year. They also shot and wounded three Leith Burgh Police officers in order to evade arrest. In the course of their arrest by officers including John Cameron, one of the suspects shot himself in the head and the other only just failed to do so because his gun jammed. An account of the incident taken from contemporary pages of The Scotsman and Leith newspapers is included below.

 

John retired on pension from Leith Police about 1900 and moved back to Duthil & Rothiemurchus to live with his two younger sisters and help work the farm at Torbreck.

 

He died in 1904 in Inverallan Hospital, Grantown-on-Spey, Morayshire.

 

What follows is a chronological record of John Cameron’s life, and those of his father, mother, sisters and brother, extracted from official public records and newspapers.

 

The Early Years

 

Register of Births in the Parish of Duthil & Rothiemurchus 1844

John Cameron was born on 27 September 1844 at Forrigen in the Parish of Duthil & Rothiemurchus in the County of Elgin (now Morayshire).  He was baptised there on 31 October 1844. [i] Forrigen is a few miles north-west of Carrbridge, just north of Black Mount and a few miles east of Slochd to the north of the A9 Trunk road.

 

His father was Peter Cameron, a Crofter and his mother, Anne Grant. His parents had been married at Duthil & Rothiemurchus on 18 July 1844. [ii]

 

Register of Births in the Parish of Duthil & Rothiemurchus 1848

“Baptisms and Births, Cameron and Grant. Janet, daughter of Peter Cameron, Leinmhor of Foreigin (Lynmore of Forrigen) and of Anne Grant his wife was born on 1st and baptised on 29th December, 1848.”[iii]

 

‘Lynmore’ and ‘Forigen’ are the names used on the modern Ordnance Survey map. Both buildings can be seen in the attached maps from 1875 and 1902 below.

 

Janet, later known as ‘Jessie’, was the eldest younger sister of John Cameron.

 

Register of Births in the Parish of Duthil & Rothiemurchus 1853

“Baptisms and Births, Cameron and Grant. Donald, son of Peter Cameron, Farmer in Slock (Slochd)and of his wife Anne Grant was born 27 October and baptised  11th December 1853 by the Rev. William Grant, Duthil.” [iv]

 

This is the birth of John Cameron’s only younger brother.

 

Register of Births in the Parish of Duthil in the County of Elgin 1857

Bell Cameron was born on 1 June 1857 at Slock (Slochd). Her father was Peter Cameron, a Farmer and her mother, Ann Cameron, maiden surname, Grant. Her father registered her birth on 15 June that year.[v]

 

This is the birth of John Cameron’s second younger sister. Although her name was registered as ‘Bell’, she was later known as ‘Isabella’.

 

Register of Births in the Parish of Duthil in the County of Elgin 1860

Ann Cameron was born on 2 October 1860 at Slock (Slochd). Her father was Peter Cameron, a Farmer and her mother, Ann Cameron, maiden surname, Grant. Her father registered her birth on 8 October that year. [vi]

 

This is the birth of John Cameron’s third younger sister. 

 

The Census of Scotland 1861

The following were living at the Farmhouse, Slochd in the Parish of Duthil on the night of the Census of Scotland 1861. [vii]

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

Peter Cameron, (44)

Head, Farmer of 8 acres.

Duthil, Morayshire

Ann Cameron, (44)

Farmer’s Wife.

Duthil, Morayshire

John Cameron, (15)

Farmer’s Son,

Duthil, Morayshire

Jessie Cameron, (12)

Farmer’s Daughter, 

Duthil, Morayshire

Donald Cameron, (7)

Farmer’s Son, 

Duthil, Morayshire

Isabella Cameron, (4)

Farmer’s Daughter,

Duthil, Morayshire

Ann Cameron, (6 months)

Farmer’s Daughter.

Duthil, Morayshire

 

There is no occupation stated for any of the family apart from Peter.

 

 

[i] 31/10/1844, CAMERON, PETER (Old Parish Registers Births 096/OB 0030 0079 Duthil & Rothiemurchus), (NRS).

[ii] 18/7/1844, CAMERON, PETER (Old Parish Registers Marriages 096/B 30 140 Duthil & Rothiemurchus) Page 140 of 158. (NRS).

[iii] 29/12/1848, CAMERON, JANET (Old Parish Registers Births 096/B 30 90 Duthil & Rothiemurchus) Page 90 of 148. (NRS). 

[iv] 11/12/1853, CAMERON, DONALD (Old Parish Registers Births 096/B 30 109 Duthil & Rothiemurchus) Page 109 of 158. (NRS). 

[v] 1857 CAMERON, BELL (Statutory Registers Births 132/1 20) (NRS).

[vi] 1860 CAMERON, ANN (Statutory Registers Births 132/1 31) (NRS).

[vii] 1861 CAMERON, PETER (Census 132/1 4/5) Page 5 of 6 (NRS).

Foregin, Elginshire, the place of birth of John Cameron on 27 September 1844. (Courtesy of the National Records of Scotland).

The Census of Scotland 1871

The following were living at the No.7 Slochd in the Parish of Duthil on the night of the Census of Scotland 1871. [i]

 

From 1870, Duthil was no longer in Morayshire but transferred to Inverness-shire.[ii]

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

Peter Cameron, (55)

Head, Farmer of 12 acres arable.

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Ann Cameron, (54)

Farmer’s Wife.

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Jessie Cameron, (19)

Farmer’s Daughter.

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Isabella Cameron, (13)

Farmer’s Daughter, Scholar.

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Annie Cameron, (10)

Farmer’s Daughter, Scholar.

Duthil, Inverness-shire

 

John Cameron had by now, moved to Leith and joined the Burgh Police. I cannot identify where Donald Cameron is in the Census of this year as it is such a common name.

 

 

[i] 1871 CAMERON, PETER (Census 096/B1 4/6) Page 6 of 12) (NRS)

Leith Burgh Police

The earliest date John would be eligible to join Leith Burgh Police would have been his eighteenth birthday in September 1862. By the Census of 1871 he was a Police Constable living as a Boarder at 149 Constitution Street, Leith, not far from Leith Police Station. Unfortunately, the only known Leith Burgh Police personnel records are those of officers who transferred to Edinburgh City Police on 2 November 1920.

 

The Census of Scotland 1871

The following were living at 149 Constitution Street, Leith on the night of the Census of Scotland 1871. [i]

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

John Thomson, (26)

Police Constable

Fordoun, Kincardine

Helen Thomson, (29)

Wife

Logie Coldstone, Aberdeenshire

William Thomson, (5)

Son, Scholar

Fordoun, Kincardine

John Thomson, (3)

Son

Leith, Edinburgh

Alexander Thomson, (1)

Son

Leith, Edinburgh

John Cameron, (27)

Lodger, Police Constable

Carr Bridge, Inverness-shire

William Low, (28)

Lodger, Draper’s assistant

Garvock, Kincardine

John Kane, (22)

Lodger, Coachman

Aberfeldy, Perthshire

Jane Kane, (28)

Lodger, Coachman’s Wife

Old Machar, Aberdeenshire

Henry Kane, (1)

Lodger’s son

St Andrew, Edinburgh

Robert Burnett, (22)

Lodger, Engineer’s Labourer

Peterhead, Aberdeenshire

 

It was not unusual at this time for police officers to take in lodgers to supplement their income.

 

[i] 1871 CAMERON, JOHN (Census 692/2 27/ 2) Page 2 of 18 (NRS).

‘The Outrages in Edinburgh and Leith 1881’

In February 1881, PC John Cameron was involved in “The Extraordinary Outrages in Edinburgh and Leith” during which two men discharged firearms and wounded several citizens of Edinburgh in the course of Robbery. They also shot and wounded two Leith Burgh Police officers. In the course of their arrest by officers including John Cameron, one of the suspects “blew his brains out” and the other only just failed to do so because his gun jammed.

 

The events caused quite a stir in Edinburgh and Leith and there was a clamour for public recognition pf the six officer’s bravery by the Leith town Council. A fund was set up by the Provost (Mayor) of Leith and fund raising concerts arranged. The subsequent sum raised was sufficient to have six silver medals created and these were presented to the officers along with the sum of thirty guineas at a ceremony later in the year. The medals were individually named to each officer as shown below:

 

The obverse (front) of the medal has an inscription of the Arms of Leith and "John Henderson, Provost" The inscription on the reverse of John Cameron’s medal reads:

 

"Presented with Thirty Guineas Stg., by the Provost, Magistrates, Town Council, Public of Leith and others, To Police Conble. Jno Cameron, for an act of conspicuous bravery in arresting two armed men who had shot at and wounded several persons in Edinburgh and Leith on 4 Feb. 1881"

 

NB: (A full account of the incident taken from contemporary pages of The Scotsman and other newspapers is available on the page above this in the 'Galleries'.

 

The Census of Scotland 1881

The following were living at the Torbreck, in the Parish of Duthil on the night of the Census of Scotland 1881. [ii]The location of Torbreck is almost due south of Slochd, just west of the Allt Slochd Mhuic and the General Wade Military road that runs parallel to it.

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

Peter Cameron, (66)

Head, Farmer of 11 acres, some of which is arable.

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Ann Cameron, (65)

Farmer’s Wife

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Jessie Cameron, (29)

Farmer’s Daughter, General Domestic Servant

Duthil, Inverness-shire

 

Janet (Jessie) was still unmarried and living with her parents.

 

The Census of Scotland 1881

The following were living at 12 George Street, Leith on the night of the Census of Scotland 1881. George Street was off Ferry Road and North Fort Street. [iii]

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

James Wilson, (31)

Joiner, Shipbuilding Yard

Motherwell, Lanarkshire

Margaret Wilson, (27)

Wife

Bothwell, Lanarkshire

James Wilson, (7)

Son, Scholar

Motherwell, Lanarkshire

Margaret Wilson, (5)

Daughter, Scholar

Motherwell, Lanarkshire

Lilias Wilson, (4)

Daughter

Motherwell, Lanarkshire

Jessie Wilson, (2)

Daughter

Motherwell, Lanarkshire

John Wilson, (10 months)

Son

Leith, Edinburgh

James McEldowney, (23)

Customs Officer

Ireland

John Cameron, (36)

Police Constable

Grantown, Inverness-shire

 

John Cameron’s place of birth is given as Grantown (on-Spey), Inverness-shire. Grantown is a few miles north east of the Parish of Duthil but is a reasonably large settlement.

 

Register of Marriages in the District of Duthil in the County of Inverness 1885

On 12 March 1885, at Aviemore, after Banns according to the Forms of the Free Church of Scotland, Donald Cameron, (31), a Head Gamekeeper of Flowerdale, Gairloch, Rosshire, married Christina McLean, (31), a Domestic servant of Avonlochan, Duthil. [iv]

 

The witnesses were William and John Grant, and the ceremony was performed by the Reverend Ewan Macleod, Minister.

 

Donald’s parents were Peter and Ann Cameron. Christina’s parents were Alexander McLean, a Day Labourer and Isabella Fraser or McLean.

 

Register of Marriages in the District of Duthil in the County of Inverness 1885

On 23 April 1885, at Slock (Slochd), Duthil, after Banns according to the Forms of the Free Church of Scotland, Murdo MacNeil, (24), a House Carpenter of Gairloch, married Annie Cameron, (23), of Slock, Duthil. [v]

 

The witnesses were William and John Grant, and the ceremony was performed by the Reverend Ewan Macleod, Minister. Interestingly, the same witnesses as her brother, the month before.

 

Annie’s parents were Peter and Ann Cameron. Murdo’s parents were George Mc Neil, a Sawmiller, (Deceased) and Margaret Jones or McNeil, (Deceased).

 

Register of Deaths in the District of Duthil in the County of Inverness 1887

Peter Cameron, (72), a Crofter, (Married to Ann Grant), died on 24 January 1887 at Slock (Slochd), Duthil. He was the son of John Cameron, a Crofter, (Deceased) and Mary Cumming or Cameron, (Deceased). His death was registered by his son Donald Cameron of Flowerdale, Gairloch, Rosshire.[vi]

 

Register of Marriages in the District of St Andrew in the Burgh of Edinburgh 1887

On 1 June 1887, at 4 Meadowbank Place, Edinburgh, Isabella Cameron, (27), a Domestic servant of 11 East Claremont Street, Edinburgh , married James Angus, (21), a Baker Journeyman of 18 Rose Street, Edinburgh. [vii]

 

James’ parents were Alexander Angus and Isabella Simpson or Angus.

 

The Census of Scotland 1891

The following were living at the Gamekeepers House, Gairloch in the County of Ross and Cromarty, on the night of the Census of Scotland 1891. [viii]

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

Donald Cameron, (38)

Gamekeeper

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Christina Cameron, (36)

Wife

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Johan MacLennan, (20)

Servant

Daviot, Inverness-shire

 

The Census of Scotland 1891

The following were living at Torbreck in the Parish of Duthil and Rothiemurchus in the County of Inverness,  on the night of the Census of Scotland 1891. [ix]

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

Ann Cameron, (74)

Farmer

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Jessie Cameron, (40)

Farmer’s Daughter

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Jane Grant, (8)

Boarder, Scholar

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Jane Stewart, (60)

Boarder, Annuitant

Duthil, Inverness-shire

 

The Census of Scotland 1891

The following were living  at 9 Bangor Road, Leith on the night of the Census of Scotland 1891. [x] Bangor Road is off Great Junction Street. 

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

Mary Sturgeon, (28)

Tailoress

Holytown, Lanarkshire

William Sturgeon, (5)

Son, Scholar

Hamilton, Lanarkshire

James Sturgeon, (3)

Son

Leith, Edinburgh

John Sturgeon, (1)

Son

Leith, Edinburgh

John Cameron, (46)

Lodger, Police Constable

Duthil, Inverness-shire

 

The Census of Scotland 1891

The following were living  at the Carpenter’s House, on the night of the Census of Scotland 1891. [xi]

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

Murdo McNeil, (31)

House Carpenter

Gairloch, Ross-shire

Annie McNeil, (27)

Wife

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Margaret Chisholm, (86)

Grandmother (of Murdo)

Gairloch, Ross-shire

 

Register of Deaths in the Southern District of Gairloch in the County of Ross 1895

Murdoch McNeil, (37), Joiner (Master), married to Ann Cameron, died on 26 April 1895 at Portnahale, South Gairloch. His parents were George McNeil, a Sawyer and Mary Jones or McNeil, both deceased. His brother, Roderick McNeil registered his death. [xii]

 

Leith Burgh Police 1897

The Edinburgh Evening News of Friday 12 November 1897 reported on a case of a hotelier allegedly selling alcohol illegally on a Sunday at number 13 The shore, Leith. PC John Cameron was one of the officers giving evidence for the prosecution. 

 

Register of Deaths in the District of Duthil in the County of Inverness 1899

Ann Cameron, (84), widow of Peter Cameron, Crofter, died on 6 July 1899 at Slock (Slochd), Duthil. 

 

Her parents were William Grant, a Crofter and Jessie Cumming or Grant, both deceased. Her son, John Cameron of 9 Bangor Road, Leith, registered her death. [xiii]

 

By the Census of 1901, John Cameron, a 'Retired Police Constable', was living with his sister Jessie Cameron at Torbreck in the Parish of Duthil.

 

 

[i] Picture courtesy of Mike Forrest, a relative of PC Thomas McConville.

[ii] 1881 CAMERON, ANN (Census 096/B1 4/6) Page 6 of 9 (NRS).

[iii] 03/04/1881 CAMERON, JOHN (Census 1881 692/01 012/01 004) (NRS).

[iv] 1885 CAMERON, DONALD (Statutory Registers Marriages 096/ B1 2) (NRS).

[v] 1885 CAMERON, ANNIE (Statutory Registers Marriages 096/ B1 3) (NRS).

[vi] 1887 CAMERON, PETER (Statutory Registers Deaths 096/B1 5) (NRS).

[vii] 1887 CAMERON, ISABELLA (Statutory Registers Marriages 685/2 191) (NRS).

[viii] Ancestry.com 1891 Scotland Census.

[ix] Ancestry.com 1891 Scotland Census.

[x] 05/04/1891 CAMERON, JOHN (Census 1891 692/02 029/00 023) (NRS).

[xi] Ancestry.com 1891 Scotland Census, Gairloch.

[xii] 1895 MCNEIL, MURDOCH (Statutory Registers Deaths 066/2 17) (NRS)

[xiii] 1899 CAMERON, ANN (Statutory Registers Deaths 096/B1 14) (NRS).

Torbreck in the County of Inverness. This is where John Cameron lived with his two sisters after his retirement from Leith Burgh Police. (Courtesy of the National Records of Scotland).

The Census of Scotland 1901

The following were living at Torbreck in the Parish of Duthil in the County of Inverness on the night of the Census of Scotland 1901. [i]

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

Jessie Cameron, (50)

Farmer

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Ann McNeil, (40)

Sister, Farm servant

Duthil, Inverness-shire

John Cameron, (56)

Brother, retired Police Constable

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Ann Mac ?, (13)

Boarder, Scholar

Moy, Inverness-shire

Jane Hunter

Boarder, Widow

Duthil, Inverness-shire

 

The Census of Scotland 1901

The following were living at 2 Tyvaird, Gairloch in the County of Ross and Cromarty, on the night of the Census of Scotland 1901. [ii]

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

Donald Cameron, (48)

Gamekeeper

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Christina Cameron, (47)

Wife

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Jessie Cameron, (26)

Daughter

Daviot, Inverness-shire

Alexander McLean, (81)

Father-in-Law, formerly a Meal Miller

Gairloch, Ross-shire

Grace Mackenzie, (17)

Servant

Applecross, Ross-shire

 

Register of Deaths in the District of Inverallan in the County of Elgin 1904

John Cameron, (60), Farmer, Single of Slock (Slochd), Duthil, died on 20 October 1904 at Inverallan Hospital, Grantown-on-Spey, Elginshire. He was the son of Peter Cameron, a Crofter and Ann Grant or Cameron, both deceased.

 

His sister Jessie Cameron, of Slock, registered his death. [iii]

 

John Cameron, a ‘Retired Police Constable’,  had never been married but had intimated that it was his wish that his sister be the Executrix of his estate. 

 

On 30 December 1904,  at Inverness Sheriff Court, “A. J. Mackenzie, Solicitor, Inverness” , who appeared on behalf of the ‘Deponent’, Jessie Cameron, presented an Inventory of the Personal estate of John Cameron to Thomas Mackintosh, JP, (Justice of the Peace) for Elginshire. [iv]

 

Jessie on being solemnly sworn and examined, Deponed that:

 

“The said John Cameron died at Grantown-on-Spey upon the Twentieth day of October, Nineteen hundred and four and had at the time of his death his ordinary or principal domicile in the County of Inverness in Scotland. That the Deponent is Executor nominate conform to last Will and Testament of the deceased dated Twenty eighth day of September One Thousand Nine Hundred and four which is now exhibited and signed by the Deponent and the said Thomas Mackintosh of this date as relative hereto: That the Deponent has entered or is desirous to enter upon the possession and management of the Deceased’s estate as Executrix aforesaid.” 

 

Jessie and Thomas Mackintosh JP then confirmed that the personal and moveable Estate in the Inventory did not exceed the sum of four hundred pounds and signed the deposition stating that “All of which is truth, as the Deponent shall answer to God.”

 

The Deposition is certified  as an Extract on three pages by Norman Russell, Sheriff Clerk Depute.

 

Among the items listed as “Sums in Bank” on the third page were the following:

 

Cash in House, Household Furniture

£3.17/0d

Amount lodged on deposit with Savings Bank, Leith

£204.16/0d

Amount lodged with Edinburgh Savings Bank Special Investment account

£102.5/10d

Balance of pension due to the deceased by the Town Chamberlain of Leith

£8.10/1d

Total

£319.8/11d

 

The End of the Story

As of June 2021, it has not been possible to trace the deaths of  John Cameron’s brother and two of his sisters, Jessie (Janet) and Annie McNeil.

 

Register of Deaths in the District of Duthil in the County of Inverness 1939

On 6 January 1939, at Rose Cottage, Carr Bridge in the County of Inverness, Isabella Angus, (81), died. She was the wife of James Angus, a Retired Baker.  Her parents were Peter and Ann Cameron, both deceased.

 

Her husband James registered her death. [v]

 

Please contact the website if you can identify the place and year of death of Jessie (Janet) Cameron, Donald Cameron, and Annie Cameron or McNeil. Thank you. 

 

 

[i] 1901 CAMERON, JOHN (Census 096/B1 4/6) Page 6 of 7) (NRS).

[ii] Ancestry.com Scotland Census 1901, Gairloch.

[iii] 1904 CAMERON, JOHN (Statutory Registers Deaths 128/2 31) (NRS).

[iv] 1904 CAMERON, JOHN (Wills and Testaments, Reference SC29/44/46, Inverness Sheriff Court) Image 565 – 572.

[v] 1939 CAMERON, ISABELLA (Statutory Registers Deaths 096/B1 2) (NRS).

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