William Bertram Mann Lobban
This is the strange story of a man who adopted the Lobban name to be able to continue to live at Burnside croft, Rosehall, Sutherland. It is embedded in the family history of Charles Lobban family, which is replete with other non-paternity events (NPEs). Charles was one of the lawless sons of lawless James Lobban (1791–1879, m. Elizabeth Simpson) in Glass and adjacent Grange.
Non-paternity events (NPEs) arise whenever a boy does not carry the surname of his father. They can occur through illegitimate sons who are given the mother’s surname, through legitimate sons whose father dies and the mother remarries, or any other kind of adoption, or just because a boy or man at some time is given or takes another name. They are a challenge to genetic genealogists, because the Y-chromosome markers will not match with the rest of the family.
To understand this situation, we must first explore what the Charles Lobban family was doing so far from their ancestral home of Glass. (For those of us unfamiliar with Scottlsh geography, the map below shows where Rosehall, Sutherland is.) Charles was jailed for three years, 1862–1865, for stealing sheep (details). His father was an inveterate petty thief. Perhaps Charles moved away to Sutherland to try to make a new life, but his connections followed him.
At the 1901 Census, Burnside, Rosehall was occupied by Jane Kemp Lobban and the following relatives:
- Charles Lobban 66, her father (widowed 1871, died 1918)
- Isabella Lobban 76, her aunt (father’s sister) (died 1910)
- Jane Lobban 32 (died 1911)
- Helen Lobban 30, her sister (died 1932)
- Bella Lobban 13, her niece (Helen’s daughter)
- William Lobban 5, her nephew (Helen’s son)
Isabella had one child of unknown father, William (1866–1957) and named Lobban (an NPE). He emigrated to San Francisco USA in 1888, naturalized 1894, married English girl Clara Edgar in San Jose, Santa Clara County, 22 Apr 1895. They lived in San Francisco until mid 1920s, then Alameda, CA, where he died. The census records do not show any children.
Isabella’s niece Helen followed her aunt’s example: she never married, but managed to mother four children from the age of about 17 years onwards – including (Isa)Bella and William (1895–1973) shown in the census record, and John (1904–1971) – two more NPEs.
Into this household arrived William Bertram Mann (son of William Bertram and Jane Mann), and married Jane in 1902. They had five children, of whom the first died in infancy, and the fifth caused Jane’s death in 1911. The middle three – two boys (Charles & William) and a girl lived long lives.
Apparently in order to remain at Burnside, William was persuaded by his future mother-in-law to change his name to Lobban. That mother-in-law was Margaret Angus Lobban (1859–1930), the illegitimate daughter of John Lobban (Agric Labourer) of Haughs of Asswanley, Glass, and Margaret Angus (Domestic Servant). She in turn had an illegitimate daughter with an unknown father when she was a domestic servant in Glass, that child being Jeannie Riddoch. Then Margaret was responsible for her son-in-law William changing his surname to Lobban, to enable the continuity of the Lobban name as widower of the Croft at Rosehall. So was there already continuity with the Lobban name as long as Jane Kemp Lobban was William’s wife? But as he wanted to continue at Rosehall, he apparently either had to marry someone with the last name Lobban (even as a maiden surname), or change his name to Lobban. [This may have something to do with the “courtesy of Scotland,” whereby a person marrying an heiress took her name but did not get the clanship (R.R. Mclan 1980, quoted by Cynthia Sweet) — but this woman was hardly an heiress.] So, during his first marriage he was still calling himself (and presumably his children) Mann? William died at Burnside in 1930.
This story is rather incomplete and perhaps inaccurate, and if any can correct or expand it, I would be grateful to hear from them.
Page by Christopher S. Lobban, posted 8 Mar. 2020.