compiled by Steve Wilson,
last updated August 28, 2016.
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The baptism of the child of Thomas Neilson and Margaret Punton on 10 Nov. 1672 identifies James Craig as his brother-in-law. In the Innerwick records, we find James Craig's wife was Isabel Neilson.
So who were the parents of the siblings Thomas and Isabel Neilson? There are only two reasonable candidates: Alexander Neilson (who married Agnes Litster in 1636) or Thomas Neilson (who married Helen Arthur in 1628, and Agnes Gray in 1634). And both couples had children baptised with these names: Alexander had Isabel in 1636 and Thomas in 1639, while Thomas had Isabel in 1629 and Thomas in 1632 and 1636. We are inclined to think that Alexander and Thomas were brothers. So which is more likely to be the father?
Isabel Neilson and James Craig had five children baptised at Innerwick, named Margaret (1665), Henry (1668), the twins Alexander and Jean (1672), and Christian (1673). Among the witnesses were Thomas Neilson (twice) and Archibald Neilson. If Thomas was Isabel's father, then she would have been aged 36 to 44. If Alexander was Isabel's father, then she would have been aged 29 to 37. Both are possible, but Alexander seems more likely, especially as one of the five children was named Alexander. That would make the witness Thomas Neilson the uncle of Isabel.
The names of the children of Thomas Neilson and Margaret Punton were Anna (1664), Margaret (1666), and Elizabeth (1672). The only Neilson witness at these three baptisms was Archibald (once). Then Margaret Punton disappears from the records, and we find Thomas Neilson (the same Thomas?) marrying Elizabeth Clerk in 1678, and they had a son Henry in 1686. Unfortunately, none of the children was named Alexander or Thomas, making the identification of Thomas's father more problematic, except for the fact that James Craig was his brother-in-law.
So who is Archibald Neilson? He appears in the Innerwick records five times between 1664 and 1677, always as a witness. In addition to the baptisms of children of the siblings Thomas and Isabel, he also witnessed a baptism of a child of Agnes Neilson who married James Murray.
Agnes Neilson and James Murray were married at Oldhamstocks in 1666, and had five children baptized at Innerwick, Margaret (1667), Agnes (1670), Magdalene (1673), Lilias (1677), and Margaret (1680). Alexander Neilson was a witness at the first two baptisms, Thomas Neilson at the third and fifth baptisms, Henry at the third, and Archibald at the fourth. James Murray was a witness at the baptism of Thomas Neilson's son Henry in 1686. Given that Alexander Neilson was the witness in the beginning, and disappears from the records after 1676, it appears that he played a more important role in the life of Agnes (her father?) then Thomas did. Thomas Neilson did have a daughter Agnes (in 1633), but if Thomas was her father, then she would have been age 47 at the birth of her last daughter (in 1680). And Agnes Neilson never used Helen as a daughter's name (Thomas's wife).
That leaves Henry Neilson, the witness at the baptism of Agnes Neilson's third child, and who married Lilias Wait in 1675. Their first six children were baptized at Innerwick, the last one in Dunbar, named Alexander (1676), Elizabeth (1678), William (1680), James (1682), Lilias (1684), Mary (1687), and Robert (1695). Once again, we see a child named Alexander, but no son named Thomas. It seems most likely that Henry was a son of Alexander, not Thomas.
Therefore, we are conjecturing at least four children of Alexander Neilson and Agnes Litster, namely Isabel, Thomas, Agnes, and Henry. Also, we believe that Alexander had at least two siblings, namely Thomas and Archibald.