Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sawney Stinson

I may have stumbled upon the answer to Alexander Stinson, Senior’s country of origin.

In 1785 Alexander, Senior was among about 500 Buckingham County residents to sign a petition to the Virginia House of Delegates objecting to an assessment on the people to support the ministry.

However, he did NOT sign as “Alexander.” He signed as “Sawney Stinson, Sen.” I’ve always assumed that Sawney was, indeed, our Alexander, because of the other Stinson signatures surrounding it: Alexander, Jr., Cary and George. (No idea why Alexander’s other sons, David, John, and Joseph, didn’t sign the petition.) I’ve never paid much attention to the Sawney mystery, assuming it was some sort of anomaly.

But recently, on a slow genealogy research day, I casually “Googled” the word Sawney. To my delight I found this entry from Wikipedia: “Sawney was an English nickname for a Scotsman, now obsolete, and playing much the same linguistic role that "Jock" does now. Variations included Sanders and Sannock. The name is a Lowland Scots diminutive of the favourite Scottish first name Alexander.” Eureka!

There's also significant family lore that Alexander's grandsons (by Cary) who emmigrated from Buckingham to Alabama were named George and "Saunie". (Thanks to cousin Nina Stinson Kellog for sharing her family history notes.) And Frances Stinson's self-published family history "Alexander Stinson Sr. of Buckingham County, Virginia (With Some Descendants) states the grandsons' names were George and his brother, Alexander.

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