In the 18th Century, several Inches families lived in the Stormont district of the Tay valley north of Perth, an area that encompassed the parishes of Little Dunkeld, Kinclaven, Cargill, Caputh and Clunie. The Inches were a sept of Clan Robertson and the name may be associated with the river islands and oxbow loops that are known as ‘inches’. The River Tay near Kinclaven has adjusted its course many times in recent centuries and there are numerous examples of these marshy, flood-prone cut-offs. One such loop, which has been filling in with flood deposits since around 1761, is known as Bloody Inches. The word is thought to derive from the Gaelic innis or island. However, the official Clan Robertson website gives the derivation as Ingel or Engel, which in turn are derivations of the word Angel, referring to the Germanic tribe that invaded England in the 5th Century.
The earliest Inches records come from a family history drawn up by Fiona Inches. They show that a Gilbert Inches was born around 1700 in the farmtoun of Leduckie, on steep slopes above Butterstone in Caputh parish. He married Agnes Fulerton who bore him the twins David and John in 1726 and Christian in 1728. Gilbert was born in Craigievally, probably a nearby settlement, in 1730. Gilbert the father died in 1732 – Agnes was described as his relict when her daughter Jean was baptised in January 1733.
Gilbert (b 1730) was a Linen Weaver who lived in the adjacent parishes of Cargill, Caputh and Little Dunkeld.
Until 1500, when they were divided, the two parishes were one and seem to have continued to be administered as such down the ages – births in the Murthly area of Little Dunkeld were regularly recorded in the Caputh registers. Accordingly, movement between the two parishes was probably relatively unrestricted.
Gilbert is said to have married Jean Pullar and had four children by her. David was born in Cargill in 1760, followed by John in 1761, James in 1764 and Mary in 1766, all in Colry, a mill near Murthly.
When Jean died, Gilbert married Margaret McLiesh in 1772 and moved to Westhill, near Murthly Castle. Two more children were raised here - Robert in 1773 and Catherine in 1775. Archibald was born in Byres, also near Murthly Castle, in 1778, followed by Charles in Colry in 1780.
John Inches (b 1761) was a both a Weaver and Ploughman in his time.
He married Jean Miller on 3 February 1784 at Caputh Parish Church. 5 days later, the Minister noted that the Kirk Session had received a confession, by John, that he was guilty of the sin of ante nuptial fornication with Jean Miller. They were both ordered to appear before the congregation so that they could be rebuked for their “sin and scandle”. John was later fined 3 shillings.
He and Jean had 3 sons and 3 daughters.
Margaret is listed as being baptised in 1787 in Clunie parish.
Robert was born in Kinclaven, according to the IGI, around 1789.
John, who may have been Robert’s twin, was born around the same time.
Helen was born at Innernytie Farm, Kinclaven in 1791, followed by Jean in 1792 and James in 1795.
Remarkably, of the six, only Robert and James married - in 1861, Margaret, John, Helen and Jean were all to be found living together near Perth, along with their 85 year-old step-aunt, Catherine, also unmarried.
Born around 1789, Robert was a Master Shoemaker.
He married Ann Reoch, the daughter of a Cooper from Auchtergaven, around 1812 and had at least 2 of their 8 children in Bankfoot in Kinclaven parish.
They moved to Balbeggie, a village 5 miles to the north of Perth, where they are said to have purchased 1¼ acres of land on the main turnpike road, where they may have built a house.
Ann (1810), John (1812) and Margaret (1816) were all born in Bankfoot, a newly founded planned village on the bank of the Garry Burn.
Thomas, the founder of a Tasmanian lineage, was born in Balbeggie in 1819, followed by Robert in 1821, the originator of a Californian branch, Jean in 1823, James in 1826 and David, the source of a Canadian family, was born in 1828.
John Inches (b 1812) was the only male child to be born in Bankfoot. Like his father, he was a Shoemaker and probably moved to Dundee to find work in the early 1840s. It is there that he would have met Betty Ogilvie, a Ploughman’s daughter from Kettins, They married in central Dundee in 1843 and had three children – Margrat, who probably died in infancy, John (b 1852) and Betsy (b 1856). By 1851 the couple occupied a 3-room shop in Barrack Street, just across the road from a firm of coachbuilders. John appears to have had a prosperous business that employed 6 men in its heyday. He died of rheumatic fever in 1878, after which his wife moved to Edinburgh with her unmarried son John, a Coachbuilder. By 1901 she had moved to Glasgow to be with her daughter Betsy Stewart. There were 11 people in the three-room-and-kitchen flat in St Andrews Road and she shared a box bed with her unfortunate granddaughter Jane Stewart.
Thomas (b 1819) is said to have left school at the age of 14. At some time in the 1830s, he must have walked the few miles to the shipbuilding yards of Perth where he sought an apprenticeship. By 1841, he and his brother Robert were onboard the Marquis of Bute, as Assisted Immigrants bound for Port Phillip in New South Wales. From there he sailed to Tasmania, eventually settling near Hobart and establishing himself as a Shipwright. He married twice, having nine children, most of whom remained in Tasmania. He died in 1908.
Robert (b 1821) is thought to have married Isabella Smith before leaving for Australia. It is not known where the family spent the next nine years before sailing for California in 1850. Robert worked in San Francisco until the mid-1870s, when he became a farmer in San Mateo County. He died in 1895.
David (b 1828), another Shoemaker, married Mary Smith in Dundee and raised seven children, including two boys - David in 1856 and Robert in 1860.
David Inches’ children
David (b 1856) was a factory mechanic who married Isabella Thomson in 1878. Some time between 1881 and 1884, they emigrated with their two sons David and John to Canada. They lived at first in Quebec, where Minnie was born, thence to Ontario for the birth (and death) of Ernest and on to Manitoba, where Norman was born. They seem to have settled in Vancouver for a time, although David and Isabella were also found in Los Angeles in 1920.
Robert (b 1860) was a carpenter who married Annie Findlay in 1882. Helen, Isabella and Robert were born in Dundee between December 1880 and May 1886. The family emigrated to Canada before February 1888, when Annie was born in Sudbury, Ontario. James, Agnes, Mary, Arnold and Margaret were born in quick succession. Robert (b 1886) had a son, Robert Walter, in 1918 who appears in a 1945 document issued in California suggesting he was a Japanese Prisoner of War being repatriated to Canada. He died in California in 2002.