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Based on the local tradition of naming children after their grandparents, alternating between paternal and maternal, Francis was likely the son of Donald and Christian. This is confirmed by there being a Francis born to Donald (no mother named) and baptized in Olrig parish. Their home was at Swarclett The baptism records of the Coghill siblings show that the family was living in Murkle between at least 1750 to 1772, but father Frances had at some point moved there after he was born at the farmstead of Swarclett on the far south side of Olrig parish.

top: the 1873 Ordnance Survey map of Swarclett; bottom, google maps aerial view showing traces of the farm, including what was probably the house on the south side near the well and a barn with enclosure to the north. This was such a small farmstead, I wonder if the Coghills were crofters here rather than boarding as farm laborers.

The main part of Murkle from the 1873 map. There were large farmsteads here, particularly at East and West Murkle, so the Coghills may have found enough work here as farm laborers to stay for at least 22 years. Otherwise, they may have crofted at one of the many smaller, scattered houses. Some families did both, crofting and supplimenting as hired-out laborers.

St. Trothan's Church in Olrig, where the Coghills were baptized. It was abandoned long ago, but the cemetery continued to be used

1873 Ordnance Survey maps of Coghill just east of Scrabster. Alexander Coghill, his son David and grandson David owned the property in the early to late 1600s. They may have started the Coghill family in Caithness, since I haven't seen any earlier references to them there. David, Jr., sold it in the 1690s. Given the lack of prospects in Caithness, their descendants would quickly have become crofters and agricultural laborers along with most of the others living there excepting the few who were able to maintain a trade in the small towns of Thurso, Castletown and Wick. The vast majority of land in Caithness was owned by various members of the Sinclair family.

children of Francis Coghill and Christian Swanson:

i. Donald b. 6 September 1750
ii. William b. 30 September 1752
iii. Alexander b. 21 July 1754
iv. Christian bap. 4 December 1756
v. Janet b. 16 May 1759
vi. Andrew b. 18 July 1761
vii. Barbara b. 3 April 1762
viii. Margaret b. 7 September 1763
ix. Ann b. 30 March 1766
x. Francis b. 11 June 1769
xi. John b. 11 June 1769
xii. David b. 12 June 1772

vital records sources: Francis and Jacobina's baptism and marriage records are in the Olrig church register.

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all text and photographs © 1998-2021 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted