A Ross family photo, 1902

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A Ross family photo,

My parents were given this photo by my Aunt Maureen, sister of my father Donald MacDonald-Ross. In the nature of most group portraits it appears to be a copy of a copy, so some detail has been lost, and more through the scanning process, however, there are clues to the identity of some the 23 people in the picture;

Pencilled notes on the back read "R. MacDonald Ross (Probably centre front) and family members", and in a different hand in another corner "1902". The first note was probably by Maureen, the second either by her at a different date, or less likely by her father, my grandfather, Ross MacDonald Ross. I think it is a safe assumption the photo was taken at the family farm of Lower Arboll in Tarbat Parish, Easter Ross.

My assumption is in the photo are parents, twelve children, three grandchildren, and six spouses.

Grandfather was born 1891, twelfth of thirteen children (an older brother predeceased his birth), and 10 or 11 years old in 1902 does look right for the child third from the left in the front row, "centre front".

"Sybol" Ross, one year younger than my grandfather, would most likely be the child at the right of the front row.

At the left of that row is a child who looks one year older than Ross, my guess is that is Murdoch Alexander Ross, "Uncle Altie", who was born in 1890. In 1910 he emigrated to the USA and made his fortune there.

The two unidentified girls in the front row are probably daughters of either Jessie Ross (born 1871) or Isabella Ross (born 1874), the young boy who looks impatient with the posing was probably another son of one of those two ladies. Another daughter, Betsy Ross (born 1872) did not wed till 1908.

Middle row looks to be composed of three couples and an unmarried man. The elderly couple fifth and sixth from the left are no doubt the proud parents of the tribe! Andrew Ross was born 1837 at Arboll to Donald Ross and his wife Janet "Jessie" Ross. Christina "Chirsty" was born 1849 to a MacDonald family at Reiff in Coigach, Wester Ross, an area I have made focus of my webpage at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~coigach
Andrew and Chirsty were married at Lower Arboll in 1870.

I may be mistaken assuming the four people at the left of the middle row were two couples, but the way they are posed suggests that to me. Also the two people at the left of the back row look like a couple,... mmmm maybe even the next two people as well....

Donald Ross, born 1877 as eldest son of Andrew and Christina, was an unmarried stonemason at home in the 1901 census, he died 1906 in the tragic sinking of the S.S. Valencia at Vancouver Island. Some newspaper reports note he had been married with wife lost in the 1904 sinking of the S.S. Clallam, but records of the dead do not include a Mrs. Ross, and a marriage registration for Donald has not been found in Scottish or B.C. records, so that may be an error. I assume that Donald is beside his parents at the right of the middle row. He looks to be unmarried in this photo.

With the eldest son to one side of the parents, I think the eldest daughter and her husband are the couple on the other side, third and fourth from the left in the middle row. Janet "Jessie" Ross was born 22 November 1871.

John Ross, who took over the farm and whose son Andrew still lives there, was unmarried in 1902, my guess is he is the man at the right of the back row.

An 18 year old son was George Hugh Ross, probably fifth from the left in the back row. In the 1901 census he was a "Pupil Teacher". George married in 1914, then a full teacher. George Hugh Ross had a first cousin in New Zealand, Hugh George McDonald, who also became a teacher! That Hugh visited Arboll while on leave during WW1, I wonder if the similar named cousins met? The double forenames (and probably the naming of "Ross MacDonald Ross") were to honour two brothers of Chirsty, a brother-in-law, and that fellow's cousin, drowned when their boat was swamped setting out to the fishing in 1887, see the file at fourmen.htm

Of the male children that leaves Andrew, born 1886, 16 years old looks right for the person to the right of George Hugh, sixth from the left in the back row. I do not know much about Andrew.

The young woman seventh from the left in the back row is probably Catherine Ross, born 1882 she later married to George, a chemist at Strathpeffer.

Of the twelve children of Andrew and Chirsty that leaves unidentified three women, and by coincidence four couples!

The unidentified daughters are;

Probably Betsy, the second oldest daughter, is in the second person in the middle row, and the other two are in the back row, second, fourth, and or ninth from the left.

Clearly, my guesses as to identidy of the people may be wrong in places, and I welcome any input!

Email Donald MacDonald-Ross: don_niagara@yahoo.ca

The letter number combos with the names that follow represent the row in the photo; (F)ront, (M)iddle, or (B)ack, with their position from the left, according to the guesswork above.

Parents Andrew Ross (M5), and Chirsty MacDonald (M6)
Their children;

  1. (M4) Janet "Jessie" ROSS, born 22 November 1871.
  2. (M2) Betsy ROSS, born 28 December 1872. Registered as "Betsey", clearly a dimunitive of her maternal grandmother's name; Elizabeth (MacLeod) MacDonald.
  3. Isabella ROSS, born 7 May 1874. (B2, B4, or B9, probably)
  4. Christina ROSS, born 3 March 1877. (B2, B4, or B9, probably)
  5. (M7) Donald ROSS, born 1879.
  6. (B10) John ROSS, born 1880, married in 1918 to Mary Ross
  7. (B7) Catherine ROSS, born 1882 married to George (?), a chemist at Strathpeffer.
  8. (B5) George Hugh ROSS, born 1884, in the 1901 census he was listed with occupation of "Pupil Teacher", he married 25 December 1914.
  9. (B6) Andrew ROSS, born 1886.
  10. (F1) Murdoch Alexander ROSS, born 1890.
  11. (F3) Ross MacDonald ROSS, born 28 August 1891 at Arboll.
  12. (F6) Sybol ROSS, born 1893, lived to a great old age in Scotland, did not marry.

    This file, and others dealing with history and genealogy of Coigach, links from my homepage at:


    Any suggestions for additions or edits please feel free to email me,

    Donald MacDonald-Ross, at:

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