William James was born January 27, 1833. He was the youngest child of Thomas Shiels and Barbara Jean (Cranston) Shiels and was only six years old when his father died. He lived with his mother at the family home called East Mains near Biggar, Scotland.
After Thomas’s death, William’s mother went on to become a teacher and she continued to live with William and his family for the rest of her life. William is shown on one census record as an agricultural labourer although family tradition states he was a bootmaker.
On January 14, 1859 he married Agnes Brown, daughter of David and Margaret (Shiels) Brown, of Libberton, a village near Biggar. David was a mole catcher. Agnes was born June 1832. William James and Agnes had nine children, six boys and three girls, Thomas (1859), Margaret (1860), David (1862), Barbara (1863), John (1864), George (1865), Adam (1867), William (1872) and Agnes (1878).
William James and Agnes stayed in Scotland all their life although many of their children and grandchildren emigrated to North America. William James died on April 14, 1911. Agnes died December 5, 1917. Both are buried at Coulter.
David Shiels 1862-1877 (G2)
David Shiels was born January 1, 1862. He was the third child of William & Agnes (Brown) Shiels. David died at age 15 on Feb 5, 1877 and is buried at Coulter, Scotland.
Barbara Shiels 1863-1843 (G2)
Barbara Shiels was born January 28, 1863. She was the fourth child of William & Agnes (Brown) Shiels. Barbara never married and worked as a housekeeper in Edinburgh for about 15 years.
She lived at East Mains after returning from Edinburgh and lived there the rest of her life. Barbara was a very keen gardener and grew plenty of herbs. There is a copy of Barbara’s last will and testament from 1929 and an update from 1943 that provided a great deal of information on the family. Barbara died on November 11, 1943 and is buried at Coulter.
To see the detailed histories of the remaining descendants of William and Agnes, please follow the links below or use the drop down menus on the left.