Walter Falconer (1809-1892)
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Walter Falconer (1809-1892)
Walter Falconer (Great-Great-Great Grandfather) (1809-1892)
Walter Falconer was born in 1809, the son of Janet Gibson and Walter Falconer. The Old Parish
account of his birth and baptism states; "Walter Falconer in Colintoun and Janet Gibson had a
son named Walter, born in fornication on the seventh of September 1809, and baptised the 29th
of October. Witnesses James Waugh and William Chats." It is possible that the Collinton Kirk
Sessions would have also recorded more details of this event. But it seems that there are gaps in
these Sessions from 1804-1820 and the time of Walter’s birth, so it is impossible to say for
definite. It is also uncertain if Walter’s parents actually married in Scotland, as no marriage
record seems to exist either.
In 1832, Walter Falconer married Hannah Stevens (also known as Stephen(s)). The Old Parish
Records outline the Proclamation: "Walter Falconer, Baker, Darlings Buildings, Stockbridge,
and Hannah Steven's (residing) in No 20 St. Andrews Square in the Parish of St. Andrews,
Edinburgh, daughter of the late John Steven's, gentleman's Servant in Montrose, gave up their
names for the Proclamation of Banns Matrimonal." The Proclamation further states that the
marriage was "contracted, owing to the parties having returned with their certificate signed by
the Elder of the District." Walter and Hannah, also known as Ann(e), were married on the 6th
of July 1832, in the Parish of St. Cuthbert’s in Edinburgh.
By 1841, the census records show that Walter, Ann, and their family were living in Montrose.
Most likely, this was because Ann was born and raised in that district. Ann had been born in
Montrose to John Steven and Isobell Burnett as the Parish of that district recorded in 1807:
“John Steven and Isobell Burnett his spouse, had a lawful daughter, born 28th July 1807,
baptised named Ann.” The Falconer family were certainly living in Montrose from 1836
onwards however, as their four children at the time of the 1841 census had all been born in that
Parish. Jane (1836), Walter (1837), John (1839) and George Muirhead Falconer (1840), were
all born in Montrose between 1836 and 1840. The 1841 census does not record Walter’s son
John as living with the family however, and so it is possible that John died when he was an
infant. This speculation is unconfirmed by the historical records however.
The Census of 1841 also states that the Walter and his family were living on the High Street in
the town centre of Montrose at that time. It is not absolutely clear what house number they were
living at however. It seems though, that Walter was still working as a baker while living in
Montrose. He was additionally living next door to other baker men who also lived on the High
Street, most notably: John Paton (20), Robert Stephen (20), (possibly a relation of his wife),
James Kidd (30), and Maurice Neilson (21).
By 1851, Walter had moved across Angus. He was living in the parish of Dundee, and still
working as a baker at the time of the census of that year. The family at that time were living at
85 Murraygate in the town centre of Dundee. Four more children had been born to Walter and
Ann since the last census: Isabella (1842), William (1844), James (1846), and Duncan Stewart
Falconer (1849) had all been born since 1841. Duncan was born in Dundee, while the other
three children were born in Montrose. It is likely then that Walter and the family had stayed in
Montrose for the best part of 12 years and had moved to Dundee sometime between 1846 and
Walter Falconer (1809-1892)
Walter employed four other men while living and working in Dundee. Two other bakers, one
called James Flemming (23) from Greenock, the other called William Hewit (30) from Dundee,
were working for Walter in the Murraygate. Two apprentices were also being trained by Walter
at the same time according to the 1851 records. John Davidson (15) from Dundee, and Alex
Rhynd (16) from Stanley in Perthshire, were learning the baking trade from Walter, who was at
this time a Master Baker.
By 1861, Walter Falconer had returned to Edinburgh. He was living at number 43
Candlemaker Row (East Side) at the time of the census that year. The Falconer family of eight
were staying in a house with three windowed rooms in the Parish of Old Greyfriars. Walter’s
first wife Ann died in 1860 on July 15th, and he had remarried, to a lady called Isabella Sinclair
in the same year. Ann was buried in the Newington Burial ground in Edinburgh.
The 1860 marriage certificate to his second wife Isabella, confirms that Walter’s parents were
indeed Walter Falconer and Janet Gibson which corroborates the Parish birth and baptism
account above. Isabella, a fisherman’s daughter who was also living on Candlemaker Row, was
17 years Walter’s junior at the time of the marriage. Walter and Isabella were married at 43
Candlemaker Row on November 29th 1860.
Walter’s children were on the road to adulthood when the family were living at Candlemaker
Row in Edinburgh. His eldest son Walter was 24 in 1861 and he was also working as a baker
according to the census records. Similarly, George Muirhead Falconer (my great-greatgrandfather),
was working as a baker in 1861, aged 20. It is impossible to say for definite, but
Bakehouse Close on the Canongate was within easy walking distance from where Walter and his
sons were living, so possibly they were working there?
Walter’s daughter, Isabella, was also working as a barmaid in 1861. His son William was
working as a warehouse boy, while his son James was also working as a message boy. Walter’s
youngest son Duncan was still at school. There is no mention of Walter’s eldest daughter, Jane,
living at Candlemaker Row however. Jane married James Flemming who was one of Walter’s
employees, and moved to
Glasgow it seems.
Most of Walter’s neighbours in
Candlemaker Row seemed to be
business people of some sort.
On either side, he had
neighbours that were
seamstresses, and shoemakers.
But there were also tobacco
dressmakers, and police
constables living in the
vicinity. To the left is the artist
Walter Falconer (1809-1892)
William Channing’s picture of
Candlemaker Row in 1850.
By 1871, Walter had moved to Kincardinshire. He was living at Bank Street in the town of
Tulliallan with his second wife Isabella, and his son John, aged two. Walter and Isabella had two
years prior borne a son called John Falconer on the 5th of January in 1869 when Walter was 59.
John had been born at 5 Heriot Mount in district of Newington in Edinburgh. In 1871, Walter
and Isabella’s second son was also born named David. Walter was 61 when his youngest son
David was born on the 21st of June in Tulliallan, Perthshire.
The 1881 census records Walter as a widow for the second time however. His second wife
Isabella died on the 3rd of June in 1877 at 4 Union Court in Edinburgh. Isabella died from heart
disease and bronchitis. Two years prior to his wife dying, his eldest son Walter had also died in
the district of the Cannongate in Edinburgh. Walter (Junior) died of chronic bronchitis and
emphysema at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh. He had never married, and he died at the age
of 38 in 1875. It seems then that Walter (Senior) was living alone with his two youngest sons
John (12) and David (9) in the District of St Cuthbert’s, Edinburgh, in 1881. Walter and his
two boys were living at 12 Beaumont Place according to the records.
Ten years later, the census records show that Walter was living with his daughter, Isabella Dall
at Newhaven Road in Leith, Edinburgh. It seems that Isabella had also been widowed as her
husband David Dall had died in 1883 from pneumonia. Both Walter and his daughter Isabella
were living in a house with 4 rooms, shared with Isabella’s four children: John, Isabella, Jane,
and Walter Dall.
Walter Falconer died a year later in 1892 in the district of South Leith, in Edinburgh. He died of
senile difficulty at 1 Elisafield in Bonnington, aged 82. His death certificate records him as the
widow of Ann Stephen, his first wife. Strangely, Walter’s father is recorded as being John
Falconer on his death certificate, while his mother is listed as Janet Gibson. This seems to
contradict his birth and second marriage records, which both suggest that his father was also
named Walter Falconer, a ploughman.
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