Sheddens of Windiehouse

The attached three charts show the descendants of James Shedden (bc 1580) and Janet Blair.

The Sheddens of Windiehouse do not feature in any of the accepted Shedden genealogies but they may well link up with a generation or so further back. Although not included in Robertson’s “Ayrshire Families” they were considered suitable to marry into these families, viz John (b 1748) m Beatrix Shedden and John m Margaret Shedden. In fact they were quite well-to-do. In particular, Thomas Shedden b 1704 (great-grandson of James Shedden (bc 1580) and Janet Blair) who was described as a “great grazier” and innkeeper. The latter occupation may be considered demeaning but according to the Session Minutes this did not stop the heritors on the Beith Kirk Session from adjourning to Thomas Shedden’s at the conclusion of their session meetings.

A gravestone in the old Churchyard in Beith records the death of Robert Shedden, “merchant Whan St, Beith , who died 10 Nov 1765 aged 8- years”. This suggests he was a brother of the above John (b 1707). He had 15 children by two wives but his sons did not live up to his exemplary moral standards. The Beith papers, held in the archives of Glasgow University, contain an “Elegy for Robert Shedden, Merchant in Beith and Treasurer to the Kirk Session, b 16/12/1711 d 10/10/1795”. The first paragraph of this elegy is as follows:

Our Father our friend and brother Robert Shedden is now no more. His Journey thro’ life was long but now it is ended. The years of his pilgrimage were fourscore and four and now they are finished, Seventeen Hundred and Eleven gave him birth – Seventeen Hundred and Ninety five saw him interred. He was born to no inheritance but he inherited a sound constitution and firmness of mind. His integrity procured him credit and credit procured him health. Prosperity never made him vain and adversity never made him peevish. Doctor Witherspoon* made him an Elder and near half a century was he a member of Beith Session.

John Witherspoon was the minister at Beith from 1745 to 1758 and minister at Laigh Kirk (Low Church) in Paisley from 1758 to 1768. He then emigrated to America where he became President and head professor at the Presbyterian College of New Jersey in Princeton (later Princeton University). Witherspoon was a signatory of the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of New Jersey and through his writings and his teachings to students (many of whom went on to important government positions) had a tremendous influence on the young republic.

Of note is Robert Kerr, who married Ann Shedden (b 1781) daughter of James Shedden (b 1747) and granddaughter of the above Thomas (b 1704). He had a chart of the Sheddens of Windiehouse from which I was able to surmise the possible descent of the Flesher Sheddens (see below) from John Shedden (b 1729), Laird of 1/2 Dochra. Moreover, in the Cairn of Lochwinnoch (Paisley library) it is claimed that my ancestor, Thomas Shedden (bc 1750 Beith), had an uncle Robert who was the church treasurer (presumably the long lived Robert (b 1711). If this is true then the Flesher Sheddens do indeed descend from James Shedden (bc 1580) and Janet Blair. Also of note is Lt. Thomas Shedden (b 1777), son of James Shedden (b 1747), who emigrated to Canada and has descendants in USA. A death notice in an Ontario paper indicated that one Captain Thomas Shedden of Windy House, Trafalgar, died on 29 November, 1836. Trafalgar Township was later incorporated into the City of Oakville.

Alex Shedden claims to be descended from the Windiehouse Sheddens. The undernoted genealogy charts of the Flesher Sheddens (so-called because of the occupation of the Lochwinnoch Sheddens) illustrate this descent.