My 3rd great grandfather, William Slight, was born about 1829/30 in Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland to James Slight (a Mason) and Elizabeth Boyd (daughter of a Mason).
In the 1851 England Census he was recorded as working in Southampton as an "Engraver at Map Office" which means at the Ordnance Survey. He married Louisa Dorothea Hope Moore in 1852 at South Stoneham a few miles from Southampton and their first child (Elizabeth) was born in 1853 at Southampton. In late 1854 the family of three left Plymouth aboard the Shand and arrived in early 1855 at Portland, Victoria.
I know lots about the Australian part of their lives but would like to learn more about William's early life in Scotland. I am now confident that he had a sister (Susan) and a brother (James). They appear to have been orphaned not too long after 1839 when James was born but I do not know when or where either of their parents died. I have not been unable to find anyone from the family in the 1841 Scotland Census.
My understanding is that Map Engraving was a highly skilled profession and I suspect that in the late 1840s he would have worked for a company in or near Edinburgh St Cuthberts because:
- his sister Susan Boyd Slight married there in 1852;
- his future wife Louisa was a Kitchen Maid in the household of Lord Fullerton there in the 1851 Scotland Census; and
- in 1851 he was lodging in Southampton with the family of another Map Engraver called Thomas McLeod who had married there in 1839.
Prior to this period, I believe the Ordnance Survey "outsourced" maps of Scotland to Edinburgh companies but, when it moved office to Southampton in the early 1840s they brought that function "in-house", which was why some (many?) Edinburgh map engravers followed the work there.
David Law, who was also lodging with Thomas McLeod in 1851, "was one of many Edinburgh engravers who studied at the Trustees' Academy" so I suspect that William may have too.
However, I have not been able to uncover any apprenticeship, guild admission or employment records for him in Scotland, or anything to say definitively that he was living in Edinburgh, so am hoping someone may be able to provide me with some ideas about where to look next?
I also have a theory that William Slight may have worked for the same company as Thomas McLeod (while both were in Edinburgh) and I found that the latter engraved a map of Arbroath before 1842 but I have not yet found who published this map to help zero in on what surviving company records William Slight should be looked for in.