The township of Bathgate, also referred to as Bathket or Bathkit, is located in West Lothian, Scotland. The first recorded history of the Bathgate Parish Church, otherwise known as Kirkton Old (Ruins), appears in the royal charters of the 12th century when Geoffrey de Melville was commanded by King Malcolm IV to measure out an area of land which would form the basis of the Bathgate Parish. By 1315, a castle and church had been built and left as dowry to Marjorie Bruce, daughter of King Robert I of Scotland when she married Walter Stewart.
In 1739 the church was abandoned when a new church was built in Bathgate. In 1846 the remaining walls of the original church were strengthened. Today these walls are the architectural features that serve as an entrance to the surviving structure which houses some of Bathgate’s most historical graves. Historical records of the graveyard suggest that the oldest graves may date back as far as the 1200’s which were placed in niche’s of the church walls, although today there is few traces of these remains.
The most significant grave marker found in the graveyard is one carrying a large cross, over which is carved a shield bearing the Crichton arms of a lion rampant and to the left of the cross a long sword with a Latin inscription. The grave slab was fixed into the inner face of the south wall commemorating Andreas Cricthton of Drumcorse who was Chamberlain to the Lordship of Linlithgowshire (the County) who died in 1514.
I first came across the Kirkton Old (Ruins) while researching my fourth great grandparents and was the graveyard where I found several of the Fleming family in their final resting place.
Andrew Fleming (1805 – 1885) was born on 16 February 1805 in Bathgate, West Lothian to Alexander Fleming (1772 – 1837) and Ann Agnes Clarkson (1776) and the third eldest son of their nine children. On 25 March 1842, Andrew married Jean Learmonth (1818 – 1895) the daughter of Thomas Learmonth and Elizabeth Jeffrey in Bathgate, West Lothian.
Andrew a handloom weaver of cotton and Jean a cotton winder lived in Cochrane Street, Bathgate in 1851 and it is there Jean would give birth to their first seven children; Elisabeth, Alexander, Thomas (who died at birth), Margaret (died aged 12 years), Jane and Barbara. By 1861, their three eldest children had left home for employment and Jean had given birth to three more children; Andrew (died at birth), John, Christina and James. In 1871, the family had moved to Main Street in Bathgate where they had their youngest son, Andrew. Astonishingly. Jean would have been 56 years old and Andrew would have been their eleventh child.
Andrew was a testament to the hard times that those living in Bathgate experienced with large families who had little money. Despite his older children bringing in wages for the family, at 77 years old, Andrew was still working as a cotton weaver in 1881. Sadly on 8 January 1895 at their home at 18 Hopetoun Lane, Bathgate, Andrew would pass away aged 86 years.
It is in the Kirkton Old (Ruins) of the Bathgate Parish Church that Andrew Fleming lays at rest with six of his children and wife Jean, who died ten years after Andrew’s death on 1 November 1895 in Bathgate.
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Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1995, FLEMING, Andrew, 3 March 1805. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Registration of Marriage, FLEMING, Andrew and LEARMONTH, Jean, 25 March 1842, Bathgate Scotland, ScotlandsPeople, Edinburgh, Scotland. Copy in possession of author.
Registration of Death, FLEMING, Jean, 1895, Bathgate Scotland, ScotlandsPeople, Edinburgh, Scotland. Copy in possession of author.
1851 Scotland Census, Parish of Bathgate, Scotland, ED. 1, p. 27, Line, 6, Roll. CSSCT1851_173, Year, 1851. Ancestry.com. 1851 Scotland Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.
1861 Scotland Census, Parish of Bathgate, Scotland, ED. 4, p. 15, Line, 23, Roll. CSSCT1861_120, Year, 1861. Ancestry.com. 1861 Scotland Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.
1871 Scotland Census, Parish of Bathgate, Scotland, ED. 4, p. 6, Line, 14, Roll. CSSCT1871_152, Year, 1871. Ancestry.com. 1871 Scotland Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
Statutory Registers Deaths, 1885, FLEMING, Andrew, 8 January 1885. Bathgate Scotland, ScotlandsPeople, Edinburgh, Scotland. Copy in possession of author.
BillionGraves.com, Grave record of Andrew Fleming, died 8 January 1885, BillionGraves Record 6667714 Bathgate, West Lothian, Scotland, United Kingdom.
Statutory Registers Deaths, 1895, LEARMONTH, Jean, 1 November 1895. Bathgate Scotland, ScotlandsPeople, Edinburgh, Scotland. Copy in possession of author.