a family story

John Roxborogh

Alexander (c1800-1889) and Ann (c1810-1890)

According to an entry in the family Bible kept by Alexander his youngest son, Alexander McKenzie was born in Strathkanaird on 12 November 1800 and his wife Ann sometime in 1810. The 1861 census states that her birthplace was Glaslich, a nearby settlement. So far a record of their marriage has not been traced.

In the 1851 census it is recorded that Alexander was born in Achindrean. His parents, John and Helen McKenzie had probably lived there for many years, maybe all their lives. He may have been the eldest son as in 1841 he and Ann were living in the same house on the croft and when John McKenzie died sometime before 1851 Alexander took over the lease which means he must have inherited it.

Alexander spent 73 years in the village, but there is no diary or oral history to tell its story through his eyes. In 1871 he was the oldest male, the village's 'senior citizen'.

He must have been a good crofter and he and Ann good parents to have reared a family of at least seven children in the difficult circumstances prevailing from the 1830s to the 1860s.

Alexander lived on for a further 15 years after their arrival in New Zealand, dying at his home in Duke Street Feilding in August 1889. Ann survived him by seven months and the Feilding Star of 15 March 1890 reported "a very large attendance of relations and friends" at her funeral.

The funeral cortege may have travelled from Feilding to the cemetery by train as this was common practice at the time. In Achindrean funeral processions were made up of all the men in the village. Those carrying the coffin walked in front with others behind in twos, following in step and ready to take their turn as the bearers dropped off and moved to the back of the procession. They were so practiced that the change over of bearers took place without any break in their rhythm, and the changes were repeated as necessary as the procession made its way over the hills to the cemetery.

Alexander and Ann