Shiels Family Prelude:
Most family history is based on stories passed down from generation to generation. The Shiels Family is no different. The early stories were recorded in the mid 1940’s when Jack Shiels of Cranbrook, Ontario wrote a journal of the family history back to the 1600’s. Follow this link to see a copy of Jack’s original story.
Jack’s version leads us from the early 1600’s with Micheal & Jessie (Scott) Shiels through Dan & Bessie (Brown) Shiels, Thomas Jeff & Jane (Saxton) Shiels to Thomas & Barbara Jean (Cranston) Shiels. This is where the detailed history began.
Through modern research tools, we have been able to verify the journey and update it where necessary. We have used Jack’s version where possible and have corrected names and dates to coordinate this with our research.
Throughout this site, we will trace everything back to Micheal Shiels as the first generation and will list him as G1. His children will be G2, his grand-children will be G3 and so on.
There are many branches to a tree and as the author of this document, I will show my direct ancestors as (Dan Shiels Ancestor) to make tracing easier.
G1: Micheal Shiels 1671 & Bessie Brown
History records show that Micheal Shiels was born in Kildaire, Ireland in 1671. Family tradition states that Micheal Shiels went from Kildare, Ireland to Scotland. He came for the harvest and he liked the country, the whiskey and the Scottish Lassies so well that he decided to stay. He came to an area near Biggar, Scotland.
Michael’s first job was working for a man named Dan Scott and he received 10 pounds a year. Before the year was up, Michael had fallen in love with Dan’s niece Bessie Brown and they were married on November 24, 1716.
Forthcoming marriages were supposed to be proclaimed on three successive Sundays, however, in practice, all three proclamations could be made on the same day on payment of a fee. Michael Shiels paid 14 shillings on this date.
Michael and Bessie had one son Dan (1719), named after Bessie’s uncle, and seven daughters; Bridget (1717), Annie (1721), Margaret (1723), Nora (1725), Betty (1727), Sarah (1729) and Susan (1731). Nora was a teacher and a very successful governess. Annie married a farmer named Jim Dunn but they had no children. The remaining girls worked on the farm and never married.
G2: Daniel Shiels 1719 & Jessie Scott
The only son to carry on the family name was Dan. Dan served a seven-year apprenticeship as a stone mason. He was a gay sport until he was thirty and met Jessie Scott. Jessie was a fine woman and a great lover of music.
Records show that they were married on Jul 8, 1749 in South Leith, Midlothian, Scotland. Records also show that Jessie was born in 1730. With these records verified, Jessie would have been 19 years old. Family tradition stated that Jessie was older, however if Dan was 30 years old, he would have been born in 1719. Although we do not have a verified birthdate for Dan, 1719 would be reasonable based on the verified birth dates of the other children.
Dan got a good job as Agent for the Duke of Buccleuch with a good salary for the 18th century. Dan and Jessie had two children, a son, James born in 1750 and a daughter Elizabeth born March 13, 1751.
Elizabeth was baptized on March 20, 1751. She married John Kay and they had one daughter Isabella Kay, born December 22, 1781 in Corstorphine, Midlothian, Scotland. Isabella married Alexander Ramsey in 1811 and they had one daughter Elizabeth in 1817. Elizabeth married John Hardie in 1841 and they raised a large family of 7 children.
Dan was also a good mechanic and lived to be nearly ninety years old. Jessie died in 1766 when James was only sixteen.
G3: James Shiels 1750 & Janet Younger
The only son to carry on the family name was James. He was born in 1750 in South Leith, Midlothian, Scotland. James married Janet Younger at Peebles on Dec 2, 1768. Janet was born Aug 5, 1750 in South Leith, Midlothian, Scotland.
James & Janet had two sons, Robert born Jan 29, 1769 in Skirling and Thomas, born May 12, 1771 in Kilbucho.
Thomas married Jane Saxton, however we have no further details on this branch at this time.
G4: Robert Shiels 1769-1845 & Annie Dickson
Robert was born Jan 16, 1769 in Skirling, Scotland. He was the oldest child of James Shiels and Janet Younger.