My ancestor, William Slight, was born about 1829/30 in Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland to James Slight (a Mason) and Elizabeth Boyd.
From the 1851 England Census he was 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. For example, I have been unable to find him in the 1841 Census and while I am confident he had one sister (Susan), a brother possibly called James eludes me, and I do not know when his parents died.
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 he may have too.
However, I have not been able to uncover any apprenticeship, guild admission or employment records for him in Scotland so am hoping someone may be able to provide me with some ideas about where to look next?
Following a theory that William Slight may have worked for the same company as Thomas McLeod, while both were in Edinburgh I found that the latter engraved a map of Arbroath before 1842 - any thoughts on who published this map might help zero in on what surviving company records William Slight should be looked for in. John Bartholomew and Sons seems a likely candidate but are there others?