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The Waddell of Nova Scotia Connection

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I'm not laying claim to any identifiable descent from the Waddels (one ℓ) who seemingly appeared from nowhere in the Parish of Shotts, Lanarkshire, in the second half of the 18th century. Reading onwards you will share in the general mystification as to their origins. But Ref (3) has an entire chapter (XIII, pp146–153) devoted to the various Waddell (two ℓℓ) families of Shotts, itemising at least 16 of them in the introductory section, and so it's not surprising that some individuals have so far escaped identification.

Note that one ℓ and two ℓℓ are regarded as entirely equivalent (after all, there are six surviving signatures of Shakespeare, and every one is different from the others).

The story of the Waddel(l) connection in Nova Scotia revolves around the city of Truro in Colchester County, but other places and counties enter the narrative too, and it might well be helpful to have some idea as to the geography of Nova Scotia and its relation to the neighbouring provinces of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

The History of the Parish of St John's, Truro, Nova Scotia, by James Albert Kaulbach DD, Archdeacon of Nova Scotia; edited by W P Robertson, Rector of Truro; privately published, 1913

(See also here1,  2)

I first noticed this connection from p13 of Kaulbach's history of the Anglican presence in Truro, Nova Scotia. Indeed the Diocese of Nova Scotia had been created in 1787, and was the oldest see of the English Church in any part of the Dominions, and next to Connecticut the oldest in the North American continent.

The first Anglican missionary to Truro, Rev John Burnyeat, arrived in Jul 1820, and construction of the first Anglican church in Truro began the following year. But the local consensus had not been wholly in favour of the project. It was counter-argued that "the lands intended for a glebe in the township were irrecoverably lost, and the 'ministerial lot' was already in the hands of Mr Waddell, the Presbyterian Minister"

The Scottish Presbyterian missionaries had evidently pre-empted the best sites in town for their own purposes – a kirk and a manse, perhaps. Indeed they'd been there for over half a century beforehand – back in 1770 Dr Daniel Cock had been called by the congregation in Truro to be their minister, though he had first to collect his wife and family from Scotland, which meant he didn't take incumbency in Truro until 1772. He become immensely popular with his flock, though some outsiders had cavilled at his keeping black slaves in his household. His church was down where the present cemetery is located on Robie Street, about equidistant from the Upper Village and Lower Truro.

On 12 Aug 1707, a newly ordained young missionary set out from Scotland to assist the aging Dr Cock in his ministry, and in 1799 this brash young fellow took over entirely. (Q: "Who was this masked missionary?", A: "We're not at all sure")

To mark the occasion, Rev Hugh Graham had preached at least one of the sermons entitled

Two sermons entitled the relation and relative duties of the pastor and people, delivered at the admission of the Reverend John Waddel to the charge of the united congregations of Truro and Onslow

He with Daniel Cock, David Smith and George Gillmore had established the Presbytery of Truro back in 1786. They were of the burgher faction as opposed (naturally enough) to the anti-burgher faction, the two opposites not uniting until 1817, surprisingly unaccompanied however by mutual annihilation and a burst of electromagnetic radiation.


The Rev John Waddel was no greenhorn, however. From a humble background, he had spent five years of intensive study in Glasgow, then as now one of the finest Universities in Europe, followed by four years of theological training with one of the best and subtlest minds of the time in Selkirk. He hit the ground running, and by a happy inspiration married into one of the most prestigious Huguenot families in Canada, though his wife died aged only 38, leaving him with seven young children to bring up.

I am most indebted to the following websites for detailed information regarding his descendents, but I'm not at all sure where the terminal ℓ in the surname doubled-up:

Also very helpful as regards a number of more precise DOB's:

Please note that the Dictionary of Canadian Biography link for Dr John Waddell gives dates for his marriages and for the death of his first wife which are at variance with all the other sources listed above.

#IndividualSpouse / PartnerFamily
0James Waddel

"Jacobus Opifex"

skilled craftsman, possibly a carpenter or maybe a weaver (renowned for their political radicalism).
James Waddel
(1 Jul 1764 – 1851)

Rev John Waddel
(10 Apr 1771 – 14 Nov 1842)
1James Waddel
(1 Jul 1764 – 1851)

carpenter &
Isobel Bruce (?)  
1Rev John Waddel
(10 Apr 1771 – 14 Nov 1842)

Presbyterian minister in Truro, Nova Scotia
Nancy Ann Blanchard
(1780 – 18 Aug 1818)
(m 2 Sep 1802)

daughter of Col Jotham Blanchard
Mary Waddell
(17 Sep 1803 – Nov 1838)

Rev James Waddell
(4 May 1805 – 1870)

Jotham Blanchard Waddell
(b 1 May 1808)

Dr John Waddell
(10 Mar 1810 – 29 Aug 1878)


Elizabeth Waddell
(29 Mar 1812 – 13 Nov 1870)

Jane Walker Waddell
(27 Apr 1814 – 1 Jun 1840)

Sarah Waddell
(5 Jan 1817 – 14 Jan 1824)
2Mary Waddell
(1803 – 1838)
Isaac Smith
(1802 – 1891)
(m 23 Feb 1823)
Nancy Waddell Smith
(b 1826)

Eleanor Smith
(b 1827)

Sarah Jane Smith
(b 1830)

Gavin Walker Smith
(b 1838)
2Rev James Waddell
(4 May 1805 – 14 Mar 1870)
Elizabeth Blanchard
(1819 – 1897)
(m 28 Sep 1837)

She and James were 1st cousins
William Henry Waddell
(29 Jun 1838 – 1913)

Jane Walker Waddell
(19 Dec 1840 – 1926)

Elizabeth Bedford Waddell
(8 Aug 1844)

Edward Sherburne Waddell
(18 Aug 1847 – 1907)

Mary Waddell
(20 Jun 1849 – 1893)

Sarah Waddell
(b 1855)

Dr John Waddell
(19 Sep 1858 – 5 Jan 1923)
2Jotham Blanchard Waddell
(b 1 May 1808)
Nancy Kent
(28 Oct 1806 – 14 Aug 1852)
(m 6 Apr 1830)
John Waddell
(5 Apr 1831 – 1889)

Nancy Waddell
(b 5 Jan 1833)

Richard Christie Waddell
(3 May 1835 – 26 May 1871)

Alexander Kent Waddell
(23 Dec 1837 – 1910)

Jane Frances Waddell
(23 Jul 1840 – 1920)

Susan Lynds Waddell
(13 Jul 1842 – 1920)

William McCully Waddell
(2 Jan 1845 – 1888)

Samuel James Waddell
(8 Aug 1847 – 1919)
2Dr John Waddell
(10 or 17 Mar 1810 – 29 Aug 1878)


in charge of the Lunatic Asylum at St John, New Brunswick (1849 – 1876)

"Probably no man in the province of New Brunswick was better or more generally known than Dr. Waddell, and there are few whose name and works will be held in more grateful remembrance."
Susan(nah) Lynds
(1811 – 28 Dec 1834)
(m 3 Oct 1833)

she and twin babies died shortly after the birth
Jane Blanchard
(1 Jul 1807 – 3 Dec 1878)
(m 25 Jun 1844)
Susan Lynds Waddell
(8 Sep 1846 – 23 Feb 1901)

Sarah Waddell
(29 Mar 1848 – 27 Jul 1874)

Charles Melville Waddell
(30 Dec 1849 – 15 Mar 1859)
3William Henry Waddell
(1838 – 1913)
Elizabeth T Blanchard
(b 1848)
(m 15 Nov 1866)
(1868 – 1869)

Hiram Blanchard Waddell
(b 1870)

Eva Anderson Waddell
(b 1872)

James Sherburne Waddell
(b 1877)

William Henry Waddell
(b 1877)

John Barclay Waddell
(b 1889)
3Jane Walker Waddell
(19 Dec 1840 – 1926)
Rev Edward Adams McCurdy
(1838 – 1920)
(m 6 Nov 1866)
Leander McCurdy
(1868 – 1868)

William McCurdy
(1870 – 1870)

Roy McGregor McCurdy
(1871 – 1878)

Elizabeth Waddell McCurdy
(1873 – 1874)

Mary McCurdy
(1874 – 1876)

Eliza McCurdy
(1877 – 1878)

Raymond McCurdy
(1879 – 1929)

James Waddell McCurdy (1880 – 1881)
3Elizabeth Bedford Waddell
(b 19 Dec 1844)
John S Tupper
(1843 – 1880)
(m 28 Feb 1869)
James Waddell Tupper
(b 1870)

John McLean Tupper
(1872 – 1874)

Bessie Tupper
(1875 – 1882)

Mary Maria Tupper
(b 1877)

Edward Sherburne Tupper
(1880 – 1901)
3Edward Sherburne Waddell
(1847 – 1907)
Isabella Taylor
(b 1843)
3Dr John Waddell
(19 Sep 1858 – 5 Jan 1923)
Annie Maud Burrows
(1862 – 1948)
(m 24 Jun 1891)
Mary Lucy Winnifred Aymor Waddell
(1894 – 1974)

Elizabeth Gwendoline Waddell
(1896 – 1983)
3Richard Christie Waddell
(3 May 1835 – 26 May 1871)

killed by a kick from a horse
Margaret Fulton
(m Jun 1864)
Two sons and one daughter
3Alexander Kent Waddell
(23 Dec 1837 – 1910)
Lucinda Woodberry
(m ca 1860)
Two daughters
4Hiram Blanchard Waddell
(b 1870)
Margaret Macaulay
(1867 – 1927)
4Mary Lucy Winnifred Aymor Waddell
(1894 – 1974)
Lt Gen Ernest William Sansom CB DSO1,  2
(18 Dec 1890 – 18 Oct 1982)
(m 1 Feb 1930)
Anne Lillias Gwendoline Sansom
(1930 – 2010)
4Elizabeth Gwendoline Waddell
(1896 – 1983)
Dr Richard Cargill sp
5Anne Lillias Gwendoline Sansom
(1930 – 2010)
Allan Arthur Ellis Seddon
(b 1 Oct 1938)
(m 26 Feb 1969)

Narrative history

Click here for an authoritative account of Rev John Waddel's ministry in Nova Scotia, his marriage and his family.

The Rude Forefathers

Just for fun, I'm appending a tabulation of a wild and woolly exchange of messages over a period of 10 years on the subject of Rev John Waddel and his elder brother James, who also emigrated to Nova Scotia in 1813. The main point of contention, which generated more heat than light, was about their DOB's and their parentage, particularly 'Jacobus Opifex' himself. No Scottish parish records – Shotts in particular – have yet been found of their birthdates, and John's very precise DOB was presumably gleaned from his gravestone in the family plot at Robie St. Cemetery, Truro NS.

14259 Jan 2002Audrey Seddon 
Hello! I'm researching my family roots, which include Waddells. The first related Waddell that we are aware of was Rev. John Waddell (1771–1842) from Lanarkshire Scotland. He arrived in Truro, Nova Scotia in 1797, and married his cousin Nancy Blanchard in 1802. My family is decended from their oldest son Rev. James Waddell (1805–1870) of Truro NS. Those interested may see my family tree at www.familymatters.8m.net.
143010 Jan 2002Audrey seddon 
Hello! My ancestor Rev. James Waddell (1805–1870) had a brother, Jotham Blanchard Waddell (born 1808) who married Nancy Kent (1807–1852) and had eight children. Could this be a connection?
Audrey in Montreal
148027 Feb 2002Jane (Curry) WileAudrey Seddon
Hi Audrey – I descend from Rev. John Waddell's older brother James and his wife Isobel Bruce who settled at South Maitland, Hants County, Nova Scotia in 1813. James had also studied for the ministry, but upon completion of his studies, refused to accept some of the rules and regulations he was told he must affirm to and being rather strong minded would not accept. By the time he came to Nova Scotia in 1813 he was a skilled finish carpenter and cabinet maker. Some of his tools and furniture are at the Nova Scotia Museum in Halifax, NS. James & Rev. John were sons of James Waddell, a Weaver of Leonshire, Scotland and if you would like to have a look, my research is posted on my site at www.genealogyent.com/resident/genejane/home.htm
Cheerio! Jane
150314 Mar 2002Audrey SeddonJane (Currie) Wile
Hello! My parents did some research on Scotland to see if they could find the Waddell hometowns. You mentioned that the brothers James and Rev. John Waddell both were from Leonshire, Scotland. However, my parents have found no Leonshire or Leon in Scotland, despite carefully looking over several maps. Can you please tell us exactly where this place is? As an aside, we have located Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire, which is the origin of the Reeds Point NB Waddells.
220428 Mar 2009Raymond Price-WaddingtonJane (Currie) Wile
Would like to hear from you or Audrey Seddon. I too am descended fr Rev John Waddell. Neither of your websites seem to be still active. Son John Waddell physician and supt. of the New Brunswick Lunatic Asylum. In the 19th C.biographical entry on him they say Rev. John was a native of Shotts, Scotland.
220611 Apr 2009Ranald BlanchardRaymond Price-Waddington
Hello Raymond. I assume you descend thru Susan and Rev. Lorenzo Stevens. A 'quick look' at my records, and I do not have family for them or death dates.
Rannie Blanchard
220815 Apr 2009Jane (Currie) WileRaymond Price-Waddington
Hi Raymond – my Waddell research goes back to the days when sources did not seem important and so I do not have a proper source, however I do know where the information was located. James Waddel was a Cabinet Maker / Carpenter by trade and two armchairs made by him are now kept at the Nova Scotia Museum at Halifax, Nova Scotia. They were donated by his great-grandniece and she supplied a brief family history along with the chairs. A picture of the chairs and the following notation was published in a book about early furniture makers in the province: "Maple arm and side chairs, of bird's eye maple made by James Waddell (1764–1851) in Truro, and now belonging to Mrs. W.P. Grant of Pine Hill, Halifax, a great-grandniece of James Waddell." It seems to me that we contacted the Nova Scotia Museum and they sent along a copy of the family history submitted by Mrs. Grant. When my mother and I were doing research on the Waddell family in 1983 we wrote to a University in Edinburgh to ask about John and James Waddell as students. We received at reply that stated that John and James were sons of a James Waddell who had been a groundskeeper at the University and he had originally come from Leonshire. This letter and other research materials were lost in a move and I have made no attempt to get it again. I descend from James, brother of Rev. John and for some reason his name was lost in our oral family history. However two things were always consistent and these were that were were related to the Bruce family of Scotland and that we were related to the family of Rev. John Waddell.... James Waddel married Isobel Bruce of Scotland, but were have no idea what her ancestry is as yet.
Hope this is of help and interest.
I now have a subscription website at www.genejane.com and you can contact me directly at jane@genejane.com
24525 Feb 2012 Anne BurgessAudrey Seddon 
There is no such place as Leon or Leonshire in Scotland. The only county in Scotland beginning with L is Lanarkshire.
251916 May 2013Audrey SeddonRaymond Price-Waddington
I'm sorry I haven't checked back here in a long time. I am descended from the Rev. John Waddell 1771–1842 and despite much work over the years I've still not broken the brick wall as to who his parents were and where he was from.
My tree contains many of the prominent Colchester County families such as Waddell, Blanchard, and Archibald.

But maybe the 'brick wall' mentioned last year by Audrey Seddon in that final post can be identified and its historical origins explained.

From time to time my wife and I note fresh examples of the duplicity and dishonour of the British Government's reaction to groups of people to whom it had earlier turned in its hour of need, promising apes, peacocks and ivory just to get it through some contemporary crisis. Their promises or commitments evaporate like raindrops on a barbecue once the storm is weathered.

*** During each World War, for example, the pay of seamen (whether Merchant Navy or Royal Navy) was terminated when their ship was sunk. The pay of POW's in prison camps abroad had been stopped immediately they were captured. In modern times, the pensions of Gurkha soldiers (alpha-plus warriors whose reputation was fearsome wherever they fought as part of the British Army) were prevaricated over until a celebrity actress intervened. And we still don't know whether the Iraqi and Afghan interpreters who assisted our armed forces during the unsuccessful attempts at pacification after 2003 will be allowed to settle out of harm's way in Britain.

Just as contemptible is the practice of withdrawing notional privileges extended unreservedly at earlier times, when circumstances later alter to an extent that those privileges suddenly appear to be inconvenient.

*** For example, the Commonwealth Immigration Act 1962 had stated that citizens of the UK and UK Colonies holding passports issued by the UK Government had the right of entry to the UK.

But the Commonwealth Immigration Act 1968 subjected all holders of UK passports to immigration controls unless they, their parents or a grandparent had been born, adopted or naturalised in the United Kingdom. Why was this rushed through Parliament in three days?

Because hundreds of thousands of (highly-talented) East African Asians, all UK passport holders, were being booted out of East Africa, and therefore looked to Britain to take them in. Tough titty – the 1968 Act effectively revoked their British citizenship and made thousands of these people stateless.

*** An earlier instance of this, the disastrous attempt in 1637 by King Charles I and Archbishop Laud (parliament can for once be exonerated) to force the episcopal Anglo-Catholic Church of England prayerbook on to the Scots (who had completed their own religious reformation over half a century earlier, prior to the dual Monarchy of James I of England and VI of Scotland). Ironically, this led indirectly to the English Civil War, at the end of which the King was publicly executed. Laud had already lost his head to the axe some years earlier.

And the English Civil War was just one facet of what is nowadays referred to as the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Cromwell (admittedly a military genius, but harsh and merciless) laid waste dissenting areas in both Scotland and Ireland. Until about a generation ago in Ireland the "Curse of Cromwell" was still invoked as the ultimate sanction in a quarrel.

And all because of the Prayer Book (which was never actually used).

(If only Charles I's elder brother, the staunchly Protestant and immensely popular Heir Apparent, the putative King Henry IX, had survived the typhoid contracted from his dip in the Thames back in 1612, how entirely different the whole subsequent history of the British Isles might have been.)

So, with all this rancorous history upstream already, what did the Westminster Parliament do in 1711 (a mere 5 years after the Act of Union between Britain and Scotland)? They passed a law that restored the right of landowners (or other species of patron) the length and breadth of Scotland to dictate to a parish exactly who was going to be their new clergyman following the departure or death of their existing incumbent.

Not all individuals who study theology and take Holy Orders are inspired by their inner vision. Some are mere Tartuffes who think they can flannel their way through the church rituals, dazzle the ladies of the parish with a show of religiosity and personal charm, and preach from a tired old book of lazy sermons.

The problem was that exactly this sort of God-bothering fraud was more than likely to catch the attention of the aristocratic individual in whose gift the parish was, and get himself put forward when the next vacancy inevitably occurred.

And inevitably, as in any profession, there were some who were simply incompetent and slothful, but for reasons unknown, got presented to some unfortunate parish that all too frequently found them impossible to refuse ...

... and this happened twice in the Parish of Shotts during the eighteenth century. The second episode in particular goes a long way towards explaining why the baptismal information about James Waddel Jr and Rev John Waddel never found its way into the public domain.

The classic text on the Parish of Shotts is by William Grossart, Ref (1) below, and in the sixth chapter The Succession of Ministers since the Reformation in 1560 till the Present Time [Jul 1880] he includes an account of the incumbencies of Rev David Orr (from 1738 until 1753) and Rev Laurence Wells (1762 until 1786, although he wasn't actually ordained until 1768).

Shotts belonged to the Presbytery of Hamilton, and the Duke of Hamilton was the patron of the Parish. His was the hand in the Presbytery glove, and indeed the General Assembly seemed to be in his pocket.

In the case of Rev David Orr, Grossart implies that the parochial resistance to Orr's presentation by the Duke's minions was fairly muted, and revolved around the feeling that the parishioners hadn't been sufficiently consulted in advance. Dissatisfaction came only later, according to Grossart, when Orr fell into bad habits and "had not administered the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper for three of four years".

The Salsburgh Heritage Group tell of a much more vociferous opposition to Orr's appointment, and a substantial congregational desertion to the Associate Presbytery founded by Ebenezer Erskine some years earlier..


The establishment of a Church at Shottsburn is directly linked to the passing by Parliament of the Patronage Act of 1712. This Act stated that the choosing of a minister for each Church would now no longer be carried out by the congregation but would instead be done by the Patron of the Church. The Patron of the Kirk O' Shotts at this time was the Duke of Hamilton.

In the years following the passing of the Patronage Act the choice of two ministers in particular for Kirk O' Shotts caused much resentment and protest. The first of these was the Rev. David Orr in 1738. Opposition to his appointment was so strong that a number of the congregation left the Kirk and joined the Associate Presbytery. (The Associate Presbytery was an independent church founded in 1733 by Ebenezer Erskine with congregations nationwide whose members had left the National Church of Scotland due to its policy regarding the Patronage Act.)

The congregation members who had left formed themselves into a Fellowship Society and Prayer Group and created an alliance with a similar group at Daviesdyke (an area east of the village of Bonkle) who had left Cambusnethan Church due to their objection of the ordination of a minister there under the terms of the Patronage Act. The Daviesdyke Group were recognised as a congregation by the Associate Presbytery in 1737 and when their Church was built and opened in 1740 it was there that the members of the congregation who had left Kirk O' Shotts would worship for about the next thirty years.

The church they would worship in was called the Moor Kirk or Moir Kirk and it had a turf roof which often caused it to be referred to as the Heather Kirk. It was rebuilt in 1780 with a slate roof but it was finally abandoned in the early 1800's when a new Church was built in Bonkle. The ruins of this Kirk can still be seen about a mile or so south of Allanton, just off the Dura Road. It is also known locally as Dura Kirk.

In the slightly later case of Rev Laurence Wells, Grossart gives a very vivid picture indeed of the extraordinary pressures that were brought to bear on the parish to enforce the Duke's determination that they should accept Rev Wells, who was widely acknowledged to be a complete waste of space. It wasn't until 1768 that he was ordained, and the ordination was held not at Shottskirk but at the Hamilton Presbytery House. The majority of the congregation proceeded to boycott the church, join the Burgher Seceders, and build a new church at Shottsburn.


The choice of the Rev Laurence Wells in 1762 caused even greater ill-feeling amongst the congregation to such an extent that direct action was taken by some members to prevent the installation of the Rev Wells at Kirk O' Shotts.

Following the selection of the Rev Wells attempts were made on three occasions by officials of the Presbytery to have him ordained in the Kirk O' Shotts. All three attempts were unsuccessful due to various actions taken by members of the congregation.

The first attempt failed due to the fact that when members of the Presbytery and Rev Wells arrived at the Kirk O' Shotts, Andrew Hamilton, the Bellman, who was keeper of the keys for the Kirk and Churchyard was nowhere to be found and in inquiring of his whereabouts his wife replied that she had no idea where he was or where he kept the keys.

The second occasion saw the ordination party jostled and insulted by an angry mob with the Rev Wells assaulted and having his coat torn.

On the third occasion the Sheriff of the County dispatched a troop of Dragoons from Hamilton and a company of soldiers from Glasgow to preserve the peace and to enable the officials to carry out the ordination. However, when they arrived at the Kirk O' Shotts, no members of the Presbytery or the Rev Wells put in an appearance. After waiting several hours the Dragoons and soldiers returned to their barracks. It transpired that the Rev Wells and the Presbytery officials had been intercepted on their road to the Kirk and held so they could not reach their destination.

The ordination of the Rev Wells as minister of the Kirk O' Shotts eventually took place on 16 Aug 1768 at Presbytery House, Hamilton six years after he had first been selected. Some of those involved in the riots against the Rev Wells were arrested and appeared in court in Glasgow on 17 Sep 1768. William Inglis, James Hamilton, Elizabeth Ferguson and Sarah Russell were indicted on charges of riot and assault on the Rev Wells. James Hamilton and Sarah Russell were found not guilty, William Inglis was found guilty and fined 200 merks and imprisoned for two months. Elizabeth Ferguson was also found guilty and sentenced to be taken through the streets of Glasgow with her hands tied behind her back followed by the hangman and to be kept at hard labour in a House of Correction for two months.

The installation of the Rev Wells and the aftermath were the last straw for a significant number of the congregation who left the Kirk O' Shotts and after amalgamating with the group who had left in 1738 they applied to the Associate Presbytery to be classed as a congregation. This was granted and they worshipped locally, sometimes in a tent, until Shottsburn Church was built.

The Church at Shottsburn was built in 1771 on land purchased from farmer Andrew Smith of Blairmuckhill Farm. The foundation stone was taken from the bed of the Shotts Burn. Stones used in the construction of the Church were carried there by men and women of the congregation from the hillside to the north. The area these stones were taken from eventually became the site of Duntilland Quarry. The first minister of Shottsburn Church was the Rev John Scott. The manse was built in 1774.

Well may you ask what all this has to do with the price of fish, as the saying goes?

My own take on all this disruption is that without a congregation to speak of, and with virtually no ministry anyway, the number of entries of baptisms, weddings and funerals in the Shotts Parish register must have dropped close to zero. The birth of James Waddel in 1764 and of John Waddel in 1771 would have gone entirely unrecorded, in Shotts at least – and anywhere else, it would seem.

This interpretation is of course open to criticism, and Forfarian in particular will almost certainly have some much better-informed opinions about the obscurity of James and John Waddell's origins!

Even odder, though, is the case of Rev George Waddel of Longridge, whom we meet on p 686 in Ref (2) below. Clearly quite distinct from Rev John Waddel, he is nevertheless attributed with a strikingly similar subsequent career path. On p 9 of Ref (3) below, it mentions "two divinity graduates, possibly cousins, from Longridge, near Whitburn in West Lothian, who settled in Halifax in the 19th century and became well-known furniture makers". Now, these could have been John and George, but there is also an identity-overlap with John's brother James Waddel, who did indeed become a highly-regarded cabinet-maker in Truro.

And the Truro Presbytery website history section mentions neither John nor George Waddel. John, at least, would be rather saddened by that, having committed himself heart and soul to them. As the hymn says:

Time like an ever-rolling stream
Bears all its sons away.
They fly forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.


Well, here we are, just drawing drawing stumps and heading back to the pavilion, with no progress made on the subject of Rev John Waddel's family background. Have we conducted a thorough post-mortem of absolutely every googly and chinaman etc that has been bowled at us? Not quite ...

It is very noticeable that Rev John Waddel's daughter Jane Waddell, grand-daughter Jane Waddell and grandson Gavin Smith all bore the middle name of Walker, and this strongly suggests, of course, that "Walker" was recognised as a significant surname in his or his wife Nancy's immediate family history – as a parent or grandparent perhaps.

There is no such trace (that I can find) on Nancy Blanchard's side (apart from a mention in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography of Dr John Waddell's second wife as Jane Walker Blanchard; that article is suspect, however, in various other important details and I'm not inclined to trust it), but there are several on Rev John Waddel's side – identified simply by googling "Waddel, Walker":

  1. (Stirnet) Marion Walker (1710 – 1781), who married James (or Robert§) Waddell, 3rd Laird of Stanrigg, and bore James and John, plus daughter Janet who married George Waddell of Balmuzier and Ballochney, a precursor of the Second Line of Balquhatstone Waddells.

    Although this looked excitingly plausible at first glance, a second glance at the dates and marital details soon dispelled any possibility of a breakthrough. And in any case James Waddell Sr would surely have been categorised as Armiger rather than Opifex!

  2. (Rootschat, tigerquoll ) Jean [Janet] Waddell (b 3 Jun 1747 in New Monkland, Lanark(shire)) to parents James Waddel and Marion Walker.

  3. (Rootschat, Forfarian) There was an elder daughter, Jean: "1732, Nover 22 James Waddel and Marion Walker of Standrig a laull Daur called Jean."

    This Janet married George Waddell of Ballochney and Balmulzier in 1776 and died in 1818.

In summary of (2) and (3) [which are really disguised re-runs of (1)], there was a married couple, James Waddel and Marion Walker of Stanrigg, who were blessed with at least two daughters, Jean (b 22 Nov 1732) and Janet (3 Jun 1747 – 1818). Janet subsequently married George Waddell of Balmuzier & Ballochney in 1776. Although Janet's dates are not entirely consistent with Stirnet and those given elsewhere in OrnaVerum, I wouldn't want to raise any issues with the formidably well-informed Forfarian, particularly as Janet's DOB can be authoritatively corroborated.

If we discard the Balmuzier & Ballochney connection, the real question is whether James Waddel and Marion Walker, just plain folks, could also have been the parents of the cabinet-maker James Waddell (b 1764) and missionary John Waddel (b 1771)? But the timespan between Jean and John would have been 39 years, implying quite unbelievably that Marion was (at least) 54 when John was born.

A beautiful hypothesis slain by an ugly fact, as T H Huxley remarked in a different context. Jacobus Opifex remains a man of mystery, and perhaps that's the way he wanted it.

§ The Stirnet website has Robert, but Gavin Main Waddell, A History of the Waddells of Scotland, p 99, says James.


Don't be deceived, incidentally, by the ancestry.co.uk family-tree purporting to show the antecedents of Rev John Waddel. The entry for John himself is actually correct as far as it goes, though incomplete as regards daughters, and the subsequent generations are correct, though incomplete also.

But! Though his father's name is correctly given, with a plausible and potentially useful DOB of 1745, once you click on it "you're doomed", as Private Frazer would say with great relish.

It's a one-way trip to a different Waddell family tree, possibly valid in itself, but utterly unrelated to our hero Rev John W.


  1. Historic Notices and Domestic History of the Parish of Shotts, William Grossart; publ by Aird & Coghill, Glasgow 1880
  2. Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, Rev William McKelvie; publ by Oliphant & Son, Edinburgh 1873

    (see www.mocavo.co.uk/Annals-and-Statistics-of-the-United-Presbyterian-Church-by-the-Late-Rev-William-Mackelvie/380068/688#5 for a digitised version).

  3. A History of the Waddell Family in Scotland, Gavin Main Waddell; 2013