The following is an abbreviated version of a presentation made by Dr Charles Hoy to a meeting of the Scottish Borders Family History Society some years ago in Melrose. He is also a member of the Northumberland and Durham Family History society.

Problem to be addressed: how can we be sure that a suspected family member is in fact an ancestor in our line or not?

Three methods are available towards a proof of such relationship.


1. INDUCTIVE – going from the particular to the general.

When do we stop and agree that we have indeed made a finding. What is sufficient evidence? What is both sufficient evidence and necessary evidence to be certain in such a case?


2. DEDUCTIVE - going from the general to the particular.

Example: we know that lots of people emigrated from the Scottish Borders in the mid nineteenth century, and we can't find any HOY family in the Scottish Borders today – so we assume that they must have emigrated  

Problem – findings are limited; so do we make more deductions?

Example – "we have this evidence that they have the same surname (often with a slightly different spelling) and both appear on a census roll at the same address or whatever, so we conclude they are related".  Is that sufficient evidence?


3. HYPOTHETICO-DEDUCTIVE – make a hypothetical inference and then check it out with deductive arguments.

Checking it out from previously deducted arguments is a powerful methodology.  An alternative may be DNA checking.  See example below:



One problem in family history research is being convinced that we have evidence for any claim we make about a particular ancestor. As this web site has shown for some years we have been concerned for the truth of evidence, and earlier we suggested that the John Hoy who was a soldier was probably the John Hoy born 1707 to Isabell Bartoun and John Hoy. This met with evidence from Chelsea Hospital Records (1730-1812) in that a John Hoy aged 40 with 8 years' service was discharged on 5 Oct 1747. However, we now believe that it was the John Hoy born 1718 who became the soldier, and that the recorded dates from Chelsea Hospital were inaccurate!!  Why ?

In the case of John Hoy in Melrose, we have a number of "John Hoy"  born to Isabell Bartoun. Indeed there were three sons called John, born in 1707, 1712 and 1718. It was thought to be unusual for a first born son to be named for a deceased older sibling, and very unusual for it to happen twice? Since then we have had evidence of this in other families, including that of Thomas Houy the clockmaker from Kelso – who had repaired a watch from William Hoy tenant of Hume Mill in August 1800. (Hawick Archive Hub ref: SBA/183/2/1/1 to 2/1/7 in 1801 for receipt books). It is now recognised that the practise may not have been that unique, in particular where both the father and the mother had a father whose given name was John.

For confirmation that the John Hoy (soldier) is the John Hoy born 1718 and who married Esther Martine, we need to look for a Hannah who married George Martine. This is from working backwards for the names of the mother and father of Esther Martine, if we follow the usual Scottish name order pattern from John Hoy and Esther Martine's own children. It is likely, but not proven, that she would have been born in the Melrose/Gattonside/ St Boswells (Lesudine)/Ancrum or Kelso areas. Finding this Hannah would compound the evidence firmly, however, this information has yet to be found.

So, If John Hoy (soldier) was born in 1718, son of John Hoy, gardener, Gattonside then the following is taken as true:

He would have been aged 21 in 1739 when he joined the army – based on discharge papers from Chelsea Hospital (WO 116/4).

We have evidence of the christening of George, son to John and Esther Hoy, soldier, Col Fleming Reg (36th Reg of Foot) in Kent. 942.23/C1V26G (SLC FHL).

We have evidence of the christening on 27 Apr 1746 of John son to John Hoy a soldier and Esther Martine in Melrose, - (possibly en route to the battle of Culloden?  Link to map of Culloden.  John Hoy may have been injured there?)

On 5 Oct 1747 John Hoy was discharged as outpatient from Chelsea Hospital – with written evidence that John was born at Newris, Teviotdaleshire.(see line highlighted with  below).


On 8 Oct 1749 a daughter to John and Esther Hoy was christened Hannah, St Botolph Without, Aldgate, London: Nightingale Lane (not paupers).

1749-1752 no Hoy listed as renter at either Nightingale or Sunyard in parish.

May 1750: death of John Hoy (in tiny letters)

May 1751: death of Hannah Hoy (in tiny letters)

1749 -1753 there is no rental or tax listing for John Hoy

1754 John Hoy residing at Sunyard. £2 rental.

1755 John Hoy residing at Sunyard. £2 rental.

14 Sept 1755 Christened son William to John and Esther, St Botolph Without Aldgate, London, residing at Sunyard (MF 0370 931. FHL SLC)

1756 John Hoy, Sunyard: now empty no rent entered.

(Sources for the above – Films MS 9232/2, 1730-67 Burials (Guildhall Library, London).

The death of John Hoy, May 1750 – both entries in very tiny printing, follows the pattern: month, followed by day burial took place, indication of relationship, i.e. son, dau, wife, location in parish. After the last full entry there are two columns headed by the name of a churchwarden. Beneath each warden quite a few names for the month, but no day or other information specified.  


The archivist suggested the significance is that these entries might be paupers who could not pay the burial fees. Archivist also stated that the rough transcripts included status poor/very poor. For Hannah Hoy the entry did not say poor.  There are no records for 1749-1752, so no check for John Hoy possible then. Furthermore the churchwarden's notes for the needed period do not exist. Other churchwarden notes under MS 9235/4 are primarily fiscal, and had no useful information.

Rental and Tak Listings are incomplete (missing years 1745/6, 1747/8, 1750/51, 1753/55, 1759/60 and for the documented years, the pertinent division is "2nd part lordship part" which was sometimes missing (1755).

Tax Listings are more complete, wanting only 1747, 1753. 1757 and 1767. They gave yearly rent, name of renter or owner, tax.  If empty it is so stated and last occupant so named.

Much later on, John Hoy (soldier) is mentioned, significantly in the Melrose Heritor's Register: 4 March 1797. Meeting recommended to the Clerk that John Hoy be paid 6s 8d for room rent, but as John Hoy was a King' s pensioner no need for him to get any more money. He was also mentioned in Kirk Session Records from October 1790, then in July 1795, and in Sept, Oct, Nov and Dec1796, and on 29 Jan and 19 Feb and 5 March 1797. PH2 Kirk Session comprise two books – one payments to and from accounts, the other the Minutes authorising it.


John Hoy was paid 1s at a time, on the dates as above, through the Melrose Heritor's Record.  'No rule' for John Hoy to be paid as he was a King's pensioner, but he WAS paid 6s 8d on 4 Mar 1797, and paid 1s the next day afterwards 5 March. There are then no more entries for him in the Kirk Session of Melrose Heritor's Records.  John Hoy died 18 October 1798 aged 80, at Melrose.


From the above detailed research carried out by Bill Boyles using a large number of sources, including a talk with the Army expert Archivist at the Scots Genealogist in Edinburgh Terrace, we can conclude that if John Hoy (soldier) was the John Hoy born in 1718, son of John Hoy, gardener in Gattonside, then Newris could be a house or location in Gattonside at that time perhaps?  An alternative interpretation is that the pronunciation of the word Newris was actually referring to Norris – the possible name of a farm in today's Roxburghshire. The archivist thinks some soldiers fibbed about their age – otherwise it was just the clerk who didn't hear the age right? He only enlisted in 1739, so aged 21 or so, and in the army for 8 years, invalided out aged 29: physical appearance could be the same for a soldier with convulsions aged 29 as for one aged 39 to look at ? If he is the John Hoy who married Esther Martine from Melrose with first known named child born George in 1744 (John Hoy then aged 26) and another John Hoy born in 1746 in Melrose, could there have been an unregistered John Hoy born before George in 1744, who had died in infancy? We firmly believe Esther Martine was the daughter of George Martine, so the name fits for a second boy – George Martine was Treasurer at the Kirk in Melrose. Another explanation comes from a long time resident of Kelso who reported that Newris may be a mis-spelling for Maris as in "The Maris" the local name for a house/houses beyond Maxwellhough on the road to Yetholm.  Who knows exactly?


One problem lies with Hannah – not a common first name in the Scottish Borders – but it could have been George Martine's wife's name?  We do not have any record of her name.  She could have been English, the border is very near – no record of any marriage for a Hannah Martine - despite a complete record of marriages in Melrose at that time – she is just not there.  But there is further possible evidence from the Melrose Kirk Session record, in that it is the same John Hoy (born 1718) who aged 16 was admonished for kicking over the Minister's Haystack in Melrose.  The family in Melrose could then have been happy to get him into the army and away from the Borders – for good?


So we believe, but cannot yet prove beyond doubt, that John Hoy (soldier born 1718) was the father of William Hoy Christened 1751, who was definitely my direct line ggg- grandfather.



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