James was probably the boy of that name who was apprenticed to the watchmaker James Geddes of Edinburgh on 11 May 1750. He was the right age and in the right place. He is also the only watchmaking James Stoddart found of his generation. The apprenticeship records say his father was also named James. Geddes died in 1755, and his widow transferred James to Robert Clidsdale. They were both high-profile shops in Edinburgh and photos of Clidsdale's work show a high level of craftsmanship. Jane (Bradford) Gooch says James was in Sheines, near Portsmouth, Lanarkshire, before moving to London, but this doesn't make sense geographically. This may have been an area with that name in the Newington and/or Marchmont neighborhoods of Edinburgh, in the borough of Midlothian. The border with Lanarkshire is not far away. The present Sciennes Road is related to it. It may also be that he lived there before his apprenticeship. He was more likely working in a shop in Edinburgh after his apprenticeship ended, which would also explain his baptizing his earlier children at Edinburgh's St. Cuthbert's Church. James undoubtedly had a brother John, who married on the same day and in the same church as James, but nothing further about him has been found.
James, Marion and their older children moved from Edinburgh to London between 1764 and 1770, when baptism records place them respectively in those cities. Two daughters, born about 1766 and 1768, were likely baptized somewhere in London given the likelihood that if they had been in Edinburgh they would very likely appear in the records of St. Cuthbert's as their older siblings do. Until more evidence is found, it's likely that the family moved to London about 1765 or 1766. The Stoddarts lived on Caroline Court in London's Holborn neighborhood by 1770 and were still there in 1772, also based on baptism records. The last of the children was baptized in 1774 in the Clerkenwell neighborhood not far from Caroline Court, and that is where they stayed. James is listed in 1785 and 1790 directories as a watch and clock maker on Berkley and Red Lion Streets.(1) No details have been found about his association with Berkley Street. The Stoddarts eventually, if not at that time, lived and worked at 61 Red Lion Street (now Britton Street). James hasn't been found directly associated with that house - only the street. His burial record in 1820 says he lived on King Street, which was in the northeast part of Clerkenwell (since altered and redeveloped as Cyrus Street). Robert was owner of the house by 1811, when he took out an insurance policy for it.
No probate record has been found for James, suggesting he either closed his business entirely or it had been taken over completely by his sons Robert and James. The latter is more likely. Nothing has been found to suggest he owned real estate, which would also have indicated an estate probate. There is a burial record for him in the parish of St. James, Clerkenwell, on 14 December 1820, age 83. Nothing further is known about his residence on King Street. Was this the home of one of his children? Nothing about Marion has been found other than that her father is called Robert in her marriage record. Given this, she was likely the daughter of Robert and Janet (Brown) Smith baptized at St. Cuthbert's on 15 January 1736, and those first names were given to two of James and Marion's children. Three of their presumed grandparents are represented by name among them. The second-born daughter was Margaret, suggesting that was James' mother's name. Marion isn't in the burial records for St. James or St. John's Churches in Clerkenwell, where it would be expected.
children of James and Marion (Smith) Stoddart:
i. Janet, bap. 21 October 1760, St. Cuthbert's, Edinburgh, probably died young
ii. Jean (Janet?), bap. 23 July 1764, St. Cuthbert's, m. John Melvill, 27 July 1783, St. Leonard's Shoreditch, London
iii. Margaret, baptism not yet found, m. John Watkins, 19 January 1787, St. Sepulchre, London
iv. Mary, same, m. Thomas Higginson, 4 June 1805, St. Luke's Old Street, London
v. James, bap. 26 Aug 1770, St. Andrew's Holborn, London
vii. Anna, bap. 13 November 1774, St. John the Baptist, Clerkenwell, London
vital records sources: James' death year is in family notes by Stanton M. Smith, with an estimated birth date, source unknown. His marriage is found in the Mormon IGI, taken from the parish records of St. Cuthbert's (blotter entry, apparently confirming the legality of the marriage similar to or the same as having posted banns), Edinburgh. His burial is in the records of St. James Parish, Clerkenwell, online images of register books at ancestry.com.
Wakefield's Merchant and Tradesman's General Directory for London, etc. (1790); Bailey's British Directory or Merchant's and Trader's Useful Companion, for the year 1785, etc.
The latter is surely confused in saying "Red Lion Sq." rather than "Red Lion St.," as the 1790 directory indicates. The Stoddarts are known to have lived and worked on Red Lion St.
all text and photographs © 1998-2011 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted