The Watsons of Aberdeenshire, Scotland

[Including: Browns, MacGregors, and Wilsons]

O sing to me the auld Scotch sangs I’ the braid Scottish tongue. The sangs my father loved to hear, The sangs my mither sung, When she sat beside my cradle, Or croon’d me on her knee. And I wadna sleep, she sang sae sweet The auld Scotch sangs to me.

My grandmother on my father’s side was a Watson: Ariel Lavern Watson, born February 22, 1900. Her father was James Keillor Watson and his parents “Jack” and Mary were from Scotland.

This photo shows all the generations: Great-great grandmother Mary Watson (1842-1939); Great-grandfather James Keillor Watson (1876-1936); Grandmother Ariel Watson Billings (1900-1995); and my Aunt Ariel Billings Goodridge (1921-2001). The picture was taken around 1921 in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada.

Before researching the Watsons, I gathered facts my grandmother had given me 30 or so years ago. I knew Jack and Mary had come from Scotland in 1873 and that a child was born enroute. My grandmother gave me the names and birth/death dates of all their children as well as the names of their spouses and children. I also had many Watson pictures from the early 1900s.

I began looking around online and posted the names I had. The first response I had [within one day of posting] was from Debi Burgess. See the story of the MacGregor photos. I now had scads of photos–without names!

I then finally got to the St. Thomas, Ontario cemetery, where I met Lesley Cairns and found some facts that allowed me to go generations back in the Watson tree. Story and photo posted here.

The first discovery was an Alexander Watson, same dates as my Jack, buried with Mary Watson. They were obviously my great-great grandparents and I now had his real name to research. Then Lesley pointed out that their son, John Kelman Watson, may have been named after his mother’s side of the family, since the middle name of the son was often the mother’s maiden name.

I went home and looked on the LDS site,, and was thrilled to find Alexander Watson married Mary Kelman in Aberdeen, Scotland. They had several children in Scotland, all of whom matched the children and dates my grandmother had given me. I later found many of them in the 1901 Elgin County census and, again, dates matched, and the country listed as origin fit what my grandmother had told me, since the children born before 1873 were from Scotland, and after that from Ontario.

Isn’t genealogy great?

Photos – See Watson Photos Page

My grandfather William Albert Billings married Ariel Lavern Watson, 1920

Alexander Jack Watson, my great-great grandfather, April, 1908 in St. Thomas, Ontario.

Genealogy Reports
William Watson, patriarch of my Watson family, from Mains of Cardno, Fraserburgh, Aberdeen, Scotland.
I just updated this report (February 2024). Since the last one I published, I discovered “Jack” is Alexander Watson, and I have found his parents, siblings, grandparents and more. I have also discovered that his wife was not Mary Ellen “Mason,” but Mary Ellen Kelman, and I have found information on many of her ancestors as well. See the descendant report.

Here is the family group sheet for Alexander Watson, 1 Sep 1841, Tillan North, Tyrie, Fraserburgh, Aberdeen, Scotland, my great-great grandfather who emigrated to Canada with his family group.