My mother was Marion Clirehugh. She was the fourth generation of Clirehughs in America. Her great-grandfather moved in 1834 from Edinburgh, Scotland to New York City, New York. Vair Clirehugh was 36 when he moved his wife and two children to NY. He resumed his business as a wig maker and barber and had three more children.
Mine is the only Clirehugh family in Scotland, England, and the USA that I know of.
The earliest evidence for the modern spelling of the surname is found in the 1794 handwritten marriage register that cites the marriage of William Clirehugh and Margaret Meldrum. The 1810 handwritten marriage register that cites the marriage of William Clirehugh and Margaret Paterson also spells the surname in the "modern" way. There was a typeset 1824 announcement in The Scotsman, an Edinburgh newspaper, about Vair Clirehugh's business. Beginning in 1839 the name of William Clirehugh, brother of Vair, was found in advertisements placed in The Scotsman. Many of the records handwritten by others used a variety of spellings, none of which are reliable. On the other hand, the newspaper entries, typed and placed by a family member, are reliable.
The parental family of the first William Clirehugh may have spelled their name differently, if they were literate. Certainly a phonetic spelling of this name spoken with a broad Scottish accent would have likely sounded like clair-hue. It is thus possible that surnames like Clarihue, Clearihue, Clerihue, and Clerihew may have belonged to related family members. Many people with these surnames lived in Aberdeenshire.
Where are the Clirehughs today? The earliest known member, William Clirehugh, was married in 1794 in Edinburgh, Scotland, and died there in 1836. No living descendants in Scotland are known. His oldest son, William Clirehugh, and his son William Palin Clirehugh, moved to England where WPC founded a major insurance company. The surname died out there in 1943, no living descendants are known. The second son, Vair Clirehugh, moved to America where there are living descendants of two of his sons including some with the surname. His second daughter, Elizabeth (Clirehugh) Cockburn, also moved to America where there are living descendants of her daughter.
There are many Vair Clirehughs in this family. I wonder at the origin of the name. My first theory was that the first Vair Clirehugh, born in 1798, was named after William Vair who was a barber and wigmaker in Edinburgh in the mid-to-late 1700s and in the same guild as William Clirehugh, the earliest known ancestor. William Vair married Miss Margaret Downie on 9-30-1759. He was buried 12-16-1801 age 73 in the Churchyard of Restalrig, Old Kirk Parish, Edinburgh.
As of 11-22-2009 I have another theory. This is based on a naming pattern for Scottish families provided by the Scottish Family Researchers. In this pattern the second son is named after the child's maternal grandfather. As most of the other children's names conform to this pattern, I am willing to believe that the name Vair also conformed. However, the mother Margaret Meldrum's father was named as John in her marriage record. Perhaps his name was John Vair Meldrum. The name of John, normally given to the second son, was given to the third son; this was also a deviation from the pattern, but since "William" was given to the first son, it was already in use. BUT . . . later research has failed to find a Vair.
A new year - 2019 - a new theory. There was a French philosopher, Guillaume du Vair (1556–1621), who was a highly influential French thinker and writer. He first came to the fore with a brilliant oration on the death of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1587. A number of his philosophical works were translated into English in the 17th century. It may be that my Clirehugh ancestors admired him and borrowed his surname.
The earliest Clirehugh men were wigmakers. This was a good profession in the 1700s and 1800s; in 1691 there were 65 wigmakers in Edinburgh. According to The Costumer's Manifesto wigs "became almost universal for European upper and middle class men by the beginning of the 18th century." According to Wikipedia the 1795 English tax on wig powder led to the demise of wig wearing and powder by 1800 "except for older or more conservative men, especially those in the clergy, lawyers, and doctors, some of whom continued wearing wigs through the first three decades of the nineteenth century" (according to American Foreign Relations).
|1.||William Clirehugh (1766–1836), lived in Edinburgh, Scotland in the 1700s and 1800s. He is my great-great-great grandfather.|
|first wife||Margaret Meldrum, married 1794 Edinburgh, Scotland|
|second wife||Margaret Paterson, married 1810 Edinburgh, Scotland|
|1.1a||stillborn Clirehugh (1795–1795) born Scotland|
|1.1||William Clirehugh (1797–1864) born Scotland, died England|
|m1. Jane(t) Dove (1811– ) born Scotland|
|m2. Mary (Able) Knowles (1806–1880) born England, married Scotland, died England|
|1.2||Vair Clirehugh (1798–1860) born Scotland, immigrated to NY|
|m. Mary Ann Scott (1802–1873) born Scotland, lived NY, died Scotland|
|1.3||Helen Clirehugh (1800–1857) born Scotland, died Scotland|
|m1. Joseph Plum ( –1832) lived Scotland|
|m2. Thomas Thompson born England, died England|
|1.3b||John Clirehugh (1801– ) born Scotland|
|1.4||Elizabeth Clirehugh (1803–1884) born Scotland, died NY|
|m. John Cockburn lived Scotland|
|1.5||Margaret Clirehugh (1806– ) born Scotland|
|1.6||Margaret Clirehugh (1811–1884) born and died Scotland|
|1.7||Sibble Cavine Clirehugh (1813– ) born Scotland|
|1.8 and 1.9||two stillborn children (1816) born Scotland|
The first family is detailed below. The children who had known families are detailed on separate pages:
"William" was the name of men in five consecutive generations:
William Clirehugh (1744–1823)
William Clirehugh (1766–1836)
William Clirehugh (1797–1864) « brothers » Vair Clirehugh (1798–1860)
William Clirehugh (1831–1920) William Clirehugh (1825–1897)
William Clirehugh (1859–1900) William Clirehugh (1853–1910)
Some of these files are in Adobe Acrobat PDF format for which you'll need the Adobe Acrobat Reader (available free from Adobe).
|ID||NAME||KEY DATES AND NOTES|
|1.||William CLIREHUGH||b. abt. 1766
m1. 12-25-1794 Margaret MELDRUM in Edinburgh
m2. 6-30-1810 Margaret PATERSON in Edinburgh
d. 11-5-1836 St. Cuthbert's, Edinburgh, age 70
Father: William Clirehugh, b. abt. 1744; d. 2-14-1823 Edinburgh at Weir's Close, Canongate, age 79; buried Canongate Parish, Edinburgh.
Hairdresser, barber, wigmaker.
Children, all born Edinburgh:
A William Clerihugh, hair dresser, age 70 died 11-5-1836 at 41 N. Richmond Street, Edinburgh of old age. His death was recorded in the parish records of St. Cuthbert's. He was born about 1836 - 70 = 1766. If this was the husband of the two Margarets, then he first married at age 28. The age, name, and profession are a good fit for my family. So I tentatively conclude this man is my ancestor and I am setting the birth and death dates for my William accordingly. I found this death record on 1-5-2011 on Scotlands People. I am thrilled!
|1. -1||Margaret MELDRUM||b. 1-22-1746 New Greyfriars Parish, Edinburgh, Scotland ???
m. 12-25-1794 William CLIREHUGH in Edinburgh, Scotland
Father: John Meldrum of Edinburgh, dead by 1794.
In 2017 I had thought this Margaret (defined by birth location and father's name) was the first wife of Wm Clirehugh, but now I doubt it. This Margaret would have been age 48 when she married in 1794, a highly unlikely situation. I'm leaving this info here until I find better.
Wm Clirehugh's first wife died between the 1806 birth of her daughter Margaret and the date of her widowed husband's second marriage in 1810. I have found no death record for her.
|1. -2||Margaret PATERSON||b.
m. 6-30-1810 William CLIREHUGH in Edinburgh Parish, Edinburgh, Scotland
Marriage record said she lived in St. Andrew Church Parish and her father was a "taylor" in Edinburgh. Unfortunately, her father's first name is missing from the marriage record.
|1.1||William CLIREHUGH||b. 2-7-1797 Edinburgh, Scotland
bap. 2-23-1797 Edinburgh Parish, Edinburgh, Scotland
m1. 1-4-1830 Jane(t) DOVE at Parish of St. Cuthbert's, Edinburgh, Scotland
m2. 12-6-1835 Mary (Able) KNOWLES at Dundee, Scotland
d. 9-9-1864 #2 Prospect Villas, Twickenham, England (near London)
bur. 9-13-1864 All Souls Cemetery, West London
He moved to Dundee by 1835.
|1.2||Vair CLIREHUGH||b. 10-10-1798 Edinburgh, Scotland
bap. 11-1-1798 Edinburgh, Scotland
m. 6-6-1824 Mary Ann SCOTT in Edinburgh, Scotland
d. 5-27-1860 at sea en route to NYC from Scotland on steamship Glasgow, a Sunday
bur. 5-31-1860 Brooklyn, NY
His marriage was recorded in Edinburgh and Montrose.
|1.3||Helen CLIREHUGH||b. 2-20-1800 Edinburgh, Scotland
bap. 3-7-1800 Edinburgh, Scotland
m1. 5-5-1821 Joseph PLUM at St. Cuthbert's Parish, Edinburgh, Scotland
m2. 6-4-1835 Thomas THOMPSON at St. Cuthbert's Parish, Edinburgh, Scotland
d. 1-21-1857 Wood Muir Park, Newport, Fife, Scotland age 56
At time of marriage in 1821 she lived at 55 High Street, Edinburgh.
|1.3 -1||Joseph PLUM||b.
m. 5-5-1821 Helen CLIREHUGH at St. Cuthbert's Parish, Edinburgh, Scotland
d. 1-1-1832 Adam Square, Edinburgh
At time of marriage in 1821 he was an innkeeper at 28 Nicolson Street (brother-in-law William Clirehugh was at 55 Nicolson).
|1.3 -2||Thomas THOMPSON||b. abt. 1781 Chester, Chester, England
m. 6-4-1835 Helen (CLIREHUGH) PLUM at Edinburgh, Scotland
d. between 1841 and 1851, probably Liverpool, England
At the time of his marriage in 1835 he lived on Elder Street, St. Andrews, Edinburgh.
He was married at St. Cuthberts.
|1.3b||John CLIREHUGH||b. 7-4-1801 Edinburgh, Scotland
His baptism was witnessed by Alex Davidson and James MacKay, both grocers in Edinburgh.
|1.4||Elizabeth CLIREHUGH||b. 10-1-1803 Edinburgh, Scotland
bap. 10-19-1803 Edinburgh, Scotland
m. 5-16-1825 John COCKBURN in Edinburgh, Scotland
d. 10-21-1884 NYC, NY
bur. 10-24-1884 Brooklyn, NY
The details of Elizabeth's life, children, and descendants are located in a separate document.
|1.5||Margaret CLIREHUGH||b. 6-12-1806 Edinburgh, Scotland
bap. 7-2-1806 Edinburgh, Scotland
This child was likely dead by August 1811 when her name was given to the next child.
|1.6||Margaret CLIREHUGH||b. 8-9-1811 Edinburgh Parish, Edinburgh, Scotland
d. 7-11-1884 Edinburgh, Scotland
Mother: Margaret PATERSON.
|1.7||Sibble Cavine CLIREHUGH||b. 3-4-1813 Edinburgh Parish, Edinburgh, Scotland
Mother: Margaret PATERSON.
|1.8 and 1.9||two stillborn children||b. 9-6-1816 Edinburgh, Scotland
d. 9-6-1816 Edinburgh, Scotland
Burial cited in register of St. Cuthbert's Parish.
James Boswell, 9th Laird of Auchinleck (1740–1795) was a lawyer, diarist, and author born in Edinburgh, Scotland; he is best known for his biography of Samuel Johnson. His book Boswell In Search Of A Wife 1766-1769 is on archive.org, "The Star and Garter in Writers' Court, kept by John Clerihue, a favorite tavern for lawyers" is likely a footnote, Clerihue's was mentioned several times.
Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832) wrote Guy Mannering in 1815. The story is set in the 1760s to 1780s. It has a character named Mr. Paulus Pleydell, an advocate from Edinburgh. The following are quotes from the book, they name the tavern owner as Clerihugh. Other sources spelled it Clirehugh.
"His honour," said the chairman, "will be at Clerihugh's about this time--Hersell could hae tell'd ye that, but she thought ye wanted to see his house." [http://www.fullbooks.com/Guy-Mannering6.html from Chapter XXXVI]
Oh, s drink never disturbs him, Colonel; he can write for hours after he cannot speak. I remember being called suddenly to draw an appeal case. I had been dining, and it was Saturday night, and I had ill will to begin to it--however, they got me down to Clerihugh's, and there we sat birling till I had a fair tappit hen, under my belt, and then they persuaded me to draw the paper. Then we had to seek Driver, and it was all that two men could do to bear him in, for, when found, he was, as it happened, both motionless and speechless. But no sooner was his pen put between his fingers, his paper stretched before him, and he heard my voice, than he began to write like a scrivener--and, excepting that we were obliged to have somebody to dip his pen in the ink, for he could not see the standish, I never saw a thing scrolled more handsomely." [from http://www.fullbooks.com/Guy-Mannering7.html from Chapter XXXIX]
Robert Chambers (1802–1871) wrote Scottish Jests and Anecdotes which included a story set in "Clirehugh's Tavern in Writers' court, as the most respectable house of entertainment which at the time graced the Scottish metropolis." He published the story in 1832, it began ". . . about sixty years ago . . ."; this suggests the tavern existed about 1772. (Robert Chambers established his printing offices nearby on Warriston's Close.)
John Galsworthy (1867–1933) was an English novelist and playwright. Two of his stories, Tatterdemalion and The Bright Side, include a character named Mrs. Clirehugh. Galsworthy attended Harrow School at about the same time as Stamford Vair Clirehugh, perhaps they met.
Clirehugh's tavern was also mentioned in James Grant's Old and New Edinburgh (1800) and John Geddie's Romantic Edinburgh (1909).
The city of Edinburgh has come to fascinate me as it features in the stories of unknown Clirehughs.
The modern city of Edinburgh is wrapped around the slopes and base of a rocky crag on which sits Edinburgh Castle. The peak, called Castle Rock, was once an active volcano; it has been occupied by a series of hill forts for about 11,000 years. There has been a royal castle there since at least 1100 AD. The Royal Mile is a road that runs from Edinburgh Castle down to Holyrood Abbey just over a mile away, along a rocky spine. The streets which make up the Royal Mile are (west to east) Castle Hill, Lawn Market, High Street, Canongate, and Abbey Strand. Steep closes (or alleyways and courts) run downhill between the many tall buildings (often tenements, or apartment buildings) off the main thoroughfare in a fishbone pattern. A true "close" was surrounded by buildings on both sides, giving a canyon-like atmosphere; most are only wide enough for pedestrians.
Due to space restrictions imposed by the narrowness of the ridge extending from Castle Rock (sometimes called a "tail"), the Old Town became home to some of the earliest "high rise" residential buildings. Tall buildings were built storey upon storey and rooms and cellars were excavated from the ground below street level. Multi-storey dwellings known as lands were the norm from the 16th century onwards with ten and eleven stories being typical and one even reaching fourteen stories.
In 1707 Edinburgh was a small capital city, little more than the Royal Mile. A New Town was first proposed in 1752 on a separate green-field site immediately to the north. Built in several stages from the 1760s to the 1830s, the New Town of Edinburgh was the largest planned city development in the world at that time, and it proved an outstanding success in bringing commercial and cultural dynamism to the city.
The population in 2001 was nearly 450,000.
There is a fine map of the Royal Mile dated from the early 20th century. It shows Warriston's Close and the Royal Exchange (#16). The map from 1817 shows Writers' Court as close #20.
The Great Fire of November 1824 began on the evening of Monday, the 15th of November, at a little before 10 o'clock. It began in a printer's shop on the High Street and burned for four days until it was largely extinguished by a heavy shower of rain. It killed 13 people and destroyed 400 homes as well as other buildings, including the Tron Kirk. "From three to four hundred families were burnt out by this dreadful calamity; and there was not a close or a retired corner near the place, but that was crowded with the wrecks of their humble property." From a distance it looked as if the whole town was destroyed. "The estimated value of the destroyed and damaged property is thought to have been approximately £200,000."
After that, the Town Fathers agreed to organise Edinburgh's first ever municipal fire brigade. Edinburgh became famous for its lead in developing modern fire-fighting equipment and techniques.
Writers' Court. Writers' Court, also known as Writers' Close, was located on the north side of High Street at 315, between Warriston's Close (previously known as Bruce's Close, named after Robert Bruce of Binnie) on the west and Mary King's Close on the east; after 1761, the Royal Exchange was the eastern boundary. Once the site of a great manse occupied by John Knox from 1560 to 1566, this court was built at the end of the seventeenth century by Robert Milne and Patrick Steel (or Steill). About 1696 a signet office was constructed in the court. The signet office was home to a library for the Society of Writers to Her Majesty's Signet (HM Signet), and the literary connection was later reinforced by the presence of the publishers W. & R. Chambers (William and Robert Chambers). The court was subsequently named Writers' Court. The Signet was originally the private seal of the early Scottish Kings, and the Writers to the Signet were those authorised to supervise its use and, later, to act as clerks to the Courts; "writers" were essentially lawyers. A new Signet Library building was begun in 1810 and completed in 1815, it is located at Parliament Square, on the south side of the High Street and adjacent to St Giles Cathedral.
Writers' Court, once described "a gloomy little cul de sac," is no more, having fallen victim to a redevelopment project. It was extant in 1829. Part of the Exchange, including Writer's Court, was acquired for use in the City Chambers in 1893. Writer's Court was subsequently remodeled in 1898–9 by Robert Morham. Warriston Close survives, at 323 High Street.
Royal Exchange and City Chambers. Edinburgh's City Chambers were built to the neo-classical designs of Robert and James Adam. The building was begun in 1753 and completed in 1761 as the Royal Exchange which was its function until 1811 when the Town Council took it over for use as chambers. The main building is set back from the High Street with a little courtyard to the front which is nicely finished off with an arcade facing the High Street. The Exchange was built above the lower levels of several closes such as the infamous Mary King's Close and Craig's Close. The top floors of the houses were demolished and the lower floors incorporated into the new foundations, as a result Mary King's Close was "entombed." The Royal Exchange was designed to accommodate some forty shops, three coffee-houses, ten dwellings, a customs house and a piazza. The current address of the City Chambers is 245–329 High Street.
The occupants of the City Chambers were largely judges, lawyers, and legal clerks. They frequented the adjacent tavern located in Writers' Close.
The Star and Garter Tavern was located in Writers' Court, adjacent to the Royal Exchange which supplied many of its customers.
It was perhaps the best of its kind at the time. The Tavern was the chief resort of the magistrates, town councillors, judges, lawyers, and legal clerks who had all their parties there, as well as Dr. Webster, Lord Gardenstone, David Hume, John Home, and James Boswell. Cassell's Old and New Edinburgh by James Grant 1880 (available on Google Books) has a robust description of the tavern.
My great grandfather, Vair Clirehugh, immigrant to America, was said by a social journalist of the time to be "a lineal descendant of the Clirehugh immortalized in [Sir Walter Scott's] Guy Mannering."
I am sure that the referenced tavern keeper was John Clerihue who owned the Star and Garter Tavern in the mid 1700s. The surname was spelled in a number of different ways including Clerihugh, Cleriheugh, and Clirehugh.
I have not found a sure record of John Clerihue's birth, which I believe to be about 1700 (based on his age at death) in Aberdeenshire where the Clerihues lived. I found 39 variants of the spelling of that surname, virtually all from Aberdeenshire.
In chronological order, this is what I know about John:
After John's death the tavern passed to other owners: William Grant (by 1773), James Hunter (by 1785 and through 1794), Lucky Wilson, Charles Walker, and John Paxton (by 1838). But Clerihue's name is the one memorialized in the histories of Edinburgh. Note: This tavern was not the same as the Royal Exchange Coffee House and Tavern which was accessed from stairs leading down from the courtyard of the Exchange; this Coffee House and Tavern was once owned by Dougal McEwan (who sold it in 1833, after nearly 40 years' ownership, to John Paxton who had "conducted a similar establishment in this city for several years" on Lawn Market).
In 12-1900 a George Buchanan Vair Turnbull, merchant, died in Edinburgh. John Clerihue's daughter Elizabeth married a John Turnbull in 1767. On the basis of that and George's middle name Vair, it suggests the possibility of a relationship with my Vair Clirehugh.
So was my great grandfather a descendant of John Clirehugh? "Lineal descendant" is defined as a blood relative in the direct line of descent, making Vair's father William, born about 1766, a son or grandson of John Clerihue/Clirehugh. It is the will of James Clerihue that stops this possibility, as it claims James was the only son of his parents and he died unmarried. I conclude that it is highly unlikely that Vair was a lineal descendant of John, that the claim was hyperbole. If there was a relationship, which there very much may have been, it would have been a collateral descent, meaning descended from a brother of John's. I have yet to confirm such a relationship.
The Scottish Record Society's Register of Edinburgh Burgess says "Variants of the name Clerihew. 'An Aberdeenshire surname.' Virtually all of the 38 name variants I researched on ScotlandsPeople were in Aberdeenshire.
On 7-8-1833 Peter Clirehugh married Janet Barg/Barrie in Edinburgh. At the time Peter was a servant residing on George Street St., Georges Parish. Vair Clirehugh had a shop on George Street in 1829-1833, coincidence? Peter and Janet had a son James born 11-20-1835. The family was cited in the 1861 census with Peter born in Alford, Aberdeenshire. The family surname was spelled in a variety of ways: Clerihue, Clarihue, and Clerihew. A Peter Clerihew, age 70, died 1874 in St. Andrew Parish, Edinburgh.
I found Clerihues that seem to fit John and Peter's families in Alford and in the adjacent Parish of Tullynessle and Forbes, Aberdeenshire.
Where did the Clirehughs come from? One possibility is that the surname reflected a place in Europe from which an ancestor emigrated to Aberdeenshire. These are the current candidates: Clervaux region of northern Luxembourg (the castle dates to the 12th century), the town of Clarieu in Poitiers (just a little east of La Rochelle, in central France). There was a Seigneur de Clarieu and Baronie de Clarieu.
To which clan might the Clirehughs have belonged? Which clans existed in Tullynessle, Forbes, and Alford? There was Clan Forbes whose seat was Castle Forbes in Alford; this is an alternative name for Craigievar Castle, built by William Forbes near Alford in 1626. One map of the clans, that lacks a date and towns, indicates the clans were Stewart and Forbes, nearby were Farquharson and Gordon. A chief of the Clan Stewart, Walter Stewart (1293–1326), 6th High Steward of Scotland, married Marjorie Bruce (1296–1316) daughter of King Robert the Bruce, thus beginning the Royal House of Stewart. Marjorie died at age 19 after a fall from horseback, surviving the premature birth of her son (who became Robert II) by a few hours.
Living family members have no knowledge of their distant ancestors. During my childhood my mother told me we were descended from the royal Stewarts. This belief may be just another family myth, but I am recording it here to remind myself to research the possibility.
ID: In this document, each person has an assigned ID.
The ID is a segmented number where each segment is separated by a period.
The number of segments indicates the generation.
For example, 1.2.3 is the third child of 1.2 who is the second child of 1.0.
Spouses are identified with a suffix of "-n" where n is the number of the marriage;
for example, 1.2.3 -1 is the first spouse of 1.2.3.
When there is no ID, the relationship of the person to others is unknown; they may not be a relative.
Key dates are specified in MM-DD-CCYY format.
Date abbreviations: abt.: about b.: born bap.: baptized m.: married div.: divorced sep.: separated d.: died bur.: buried
Please contact me with corrections and additions or if you're a relative!