Looking for a Snowball


1. Margaret Snowball (Formerly Stark) [1788 -?]

by Ian Scott © All rights reserved
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Margaret, the third known child of William Stark and Betty Wishart was born the 17th March 1788. [1] Her father William, a gardener in Linktown, part of the larger town of Kirkcaldy in Fife, came from a long residing family in the area. Margaret's baptism took place eight days later on the 25th [2] in the parish church of Abbotshall, less than a mile from her birth place.

At present nothing is known of her childhood and youth, and we next find Margaret as an eligible young single woman of 24 years.

During the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) many of the English Counties raised citizen Militias to provide additional defense of the country whilst a large part of the regular army was fighting Napoleon in Europe. In 1812 the Durham Militia was stationed north of the border at Burntisland in Fife, a distance of just six miles along the coast from Kirkcaldy. 

On October 4th 1812 the Kirkcaldy Register of Proclamations and Banns recorded - "William Snowball, Taylor, private soldier in the Durham Militia presently lying at Burntisland (Son William Snowball, Labourer at Wittengelbert near Durham) and Margaret Stark of this Parish (Daughter of William Stark, Gardener in Linktown of Abbotshall). Married the 5th thereof". [3]

The same page of the Register shows a number of militia soldiers all marrying in a short time period of October, so one can surmise the troops were about to move on and relationships were being confirmed. 

The Old Kirk, Kirkcaldy, Fife, ScotlandWilliam settled in Kirkcaldy plying his trade as a tailor. Two children were born to the couple, William in November 1814 [4], followed by James (my GG maternal Grandfather) in January 1816 [5].

Tragedy struck when on the 6th March 1817 [6] William Snowball died suddenly aged 31 years, leaving widow Margaret with two young children and in early pregnancy with a third child.

The Kirk Session (Church Elders) minutes in Kirkcaldy allow us to follow the trail of Widow Snowball from 1817 through to 1823, where she received regular financial assistance from the parish to support her and the children. As experienced researchers are aware parish financial responsibility was 'pushed back' to the husband's home parish, which in this case is in County Durham.

On 1st June 1817 (20 shillings) was provided to Widow Snowball "to assist her in travelling with her two infants to the neighbourhood of Durham with a view to get support from his Parish there" [7].

Margaret travelled to the parish of Midridge in County Durham, a road distance of around 140 miles, where she would have made contact with the extended Snowball family and parish officials. With two young children, and grieving for a recently lost husband, this would have been a most difficult journey. She made the long return a short time later, as the third child David-Law Snowball was born in Kirkcaldy on the 8th October 1817. [8]

12th April 1818 "The Elders requested the Minister to write to the Overseers of the Poor of South Church Midridge, Durham by Bushy Ford, to get a supply of money for Widow Snowball residing in this Parish, whose husband belonged to that Parish..." .[9]Abbotshall Church and graveyard, Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland (Ian Scott, Family Collection)

The minutes continue with regular information concerning support from Midridge via Kirkcaldy until 5th October 1823, after which time further entries cease. 

But what happened to Margaret and the family? The children would then have been nine, seven and six. 

Searches through the records in Scotland failed to find family members until son James married in Kirkcaldy in 1845. David Law died in Kirkcaldy in October 1848 [10] and was buried in the Stark family Lair. 

Widening our search to England, the 1841 census reveals James Snowball living in Westminster London together with George Hunter also from Kirkcaldy, both carrying on the trade of carpenter. George was an older brother of Grace Hunter who was to marry James back at Kirkcaldy later in 1845. Brother David Snowball, a tailor, was also living in the same London accommodation. [11]

James Snowball and daughter Margaret Hunter Snowball - 20 Jan 1916 (Ian Scott, Family Collection)


Despite further searching, we were unable to trace eldest son William in the 1841 census, but did find his marriage at Monkwearmouth, County Durham in August 1841 [12], just eleven weeks after the census.

Again, what happened to Margaret? The evidence strongly suggests she moved to County Durham after October 1823. With no record in any of the census from 1841 on, did she die prior to June 1841, or re-marry and start a new life?

Ongoing research has filled in comprehensive family details of William and James and their descendents.

We are left with the recurring question, what happened to Margaret?


So! Still looking for a Snowball! 


Back to top

Sources and Notes:

[1] Old Parochial Register of Births - Parish of Abbotshall, Fife, entry 25 March 1788
[2] Ibid
[3] Old Parochial Register of Marriages - Parish of Kirkcaldy, Fife, entry 5 October 1812
[4] Old Parochial Register of Births - Parish of Kirkcaldy, Fife, entry 8 January 1815
[5] Old Parochial Register of Births - Parish of Kirkcaldy, Fife, entry 28 January 1816
[6] Lair Registers of Kirkcaldy Old Churchyard - CH2/636/28-30
[7] Kirkcaldy Kirk Session Minutes - 1 June 1817 page: 144 (CH2/636/14/144)
[8] Old Parochial Register of Births - Parish of Kirkcaldy, Fife, entry 19 October 1817
[9] Kirkcaldy Kirk Session Minutes 12 April 1818 page: 156 (CH2/636/14/156)
[10] Old Parochial Register of Deaths - Parish of Abbotshall, Fife, entry 3 October 1848 (ScotlandsPeople OPR Deaths 399/00 0070 0190 Abbotshall)
[11] 1841 UK census - HO107 Piece: 730 Book: 4 St. Anne Soho Middlesex ED: 8 Folio: 31 Page: 4 Line: 22 GSU Roll: 438833 Ancestry.com
[12] Register of Marriage Parish of Monkwearmouth County Durham No: 265/1841

Last Updated on Sunday, 06 October 2013 10:32