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Glenbuchat Heritage

3 Alexander Walker’s Move to the Moray Coast
The Glenbuchat Image Library
3 Alexander Walker’s Move to the Moray Coast

Click for Alexander Walker Introduction

In 1841 and 1851 Robert Ogg, Alexander’s Stepfather and his family including Alexander is noted as staying in Hill Park, Rathven, Banff shire. (See map above) As noted above, “Alexander he started his apprenticeship as a gardener to Sir James Gordon of Letterfourie before 1841 and after its successful completion, he spent a year studying botany and mathematics at Rathven school.”

Sir James Gordon of Gordon and Letterfourie, Bart., Premier Baronet of Scotland died at Letterfourie House, on 24/12/1843. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir William Gordon of Gordonston and Letterfourie, Bart., a Captain in her Majesty's 66th Regiment of Foot.

Alexander was 23 when Sir James died therefore must have started his apprenticeship before then. We also know that he had moved to the area by 1841. He would therefore have known Sir William Gordon

The House of Letterfourie (Pictures above) was designed by the famous Robert Adam and dates from 1773; it is an elegant structure set at the foot of the Hill of Maud near Buckie in Rathven parish. (See the tune ‘The Braes of Letterfourie’)

The 1841 Census has an Alexander Walker at the age of 15 (probably actually 21) as living at Letterfourie as a Gardner Apprentice but his birth date is wrong at 1826 rather than 1819. However it is probably him as therefore cannot be many gardeners at Letterfourie of that name.

1841 Census
Name: Alexander Walker
Age: 15 Estimated birth year: abt 1826
Gender: Male
Where born: Scotland
Civil Parish: Rathven
County: Banffshire
Address: Garden Of Letterfourie
Occupation: Gardener Ap
Household Members: Name Age
Alexander Walker 15
John Macdonald 15


By 1851 Alexander appears to be staying back at his father’s address at Hillpark. This was the year that he moved to Newe Castle. Note that he now puts his occupation as ‘Gardner, Musician & occasional mathematical instrument designer.’ The other person of note in the Census and staying with the family is James Tailor aged 13 who is noted a being a visitor, musician & gardener. He was Alexander’s pupil and played with him on a number of occasions including one of Alexander’s first appearances at Strathdon at the Lonach Gathering as noted in the newspaper article below.

1851 Scotland Census about Alexr Walker
Name:Alexr Walker
Age:31 Estimated Birth Year: abt 1819
Relationship: Son
Father's Name: Robert Ogg
Mother's Name: Margt Ogg
Gender: Male
Where born: Rhynie,
Civil parish: Rathven County: Banffshire
Address: Hillpark
Occupation: Gardener Musician Mathematical Instrument Designer
Household Members: NameAge
Robert Ogg (61) Head, Fmr Of 30 Acres born Aberdeen, Strathdon (stephather)
Margaret Ogg (68) Farmers Wife born Aberdeenshire – Glass (mother)
Alexander Walker (31) Son, Gardner, Musician & occ mathematical instrument designer born Aberdeenshire - Rhynie
Margaret Cowie (5) Granddaughter born Aberdeenshire - Premnay
James Tailor (13) Visitor, Musician & Gardener born Banffshire - Keith
Isabella Harper (15) House Servant born Banffshire – Aberlour

Isabella Harper is the house servant in the 1851 census.
The following is from her family history: (From “George Badenoch (1840 –) and Isabella Harper (1834 – 1887)”)
“As for the Ogg family she (Isabella Harper) was working for in 1851, Robert was an elderly farmer of 30 acres, living with his wife Margaret and 31 year old son Alexander Walker, who for some strange reason had a different surname (mother remarried). Alexander was described as a ‘gardener, musician and occasional mathematical instrument designer.’ He sounds like an interesting fellow, and various websites have something to say about him. Alexander Walker was born in Rhynie, Strathbogie, Aberdeenshire in 1819. In addition to his musical skills, he invented instruments for levelling and land surveying which he intended for the Great Exhibition of 1851. This brought him to the notice of Sir Charles Forbes of Castle Newe and Walker was employed there as a gardener.

He also led the Castle Newe Band and many of his compositions reflect his life in the North-East. In 1870 he emigrated to America. Just four years later the Alexander Walker Collection was published in Aberdeen. He collaborated with Scott Skinner and the young Skinner may well have been influenced by Walker.

So that’s who Isabel Harper worked for, and they were also being visited at the time by a 13 year old musician called James Tailor, who never went on to become anybody important in the music business, and who was from Keith – it may or may not be important that that was the place Isabel had been working ten years earlier. James Taylor appears later at the Lonach Gathering with Alexander.”

The census and text mentions James Tailor (13) who was a Visitor, Musician & Gardener born in Keith Banffshire. James must have been a pupil of Alexander’s as he appears in a newspaper article about the 1851 Lonach gathering’


In 1851, before he had moved to Newe, but by which time he was probably arranging his job with Sir Charles Forbes he appeared at the dance at Watsons Inn Strathdon (later the Newe Arms, then the Colquhonnie Hotel) following the Lonach Gathering. (See newspaper report above)

4. Alexander Walkers move to Mayen House



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