Cousins-german and ‘Dressmakers’

No, I haven’t discovered relatives in Germany – though I have been to Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Berlin, Dresden and Munich!

german (1)
“of the same parents or grandparents,” c.1300, from Old French germain “closely related” (12c.), from Latin germanus “full, own (of brothers and sisters); one’s own brother; genuine, real”.
Your cousin-german (also first cousin) is the son or daughter of an uncle or aunt.
Online Etymology Dictionary

I’ve just been researching my Great-Great Aunt Susan RETTIE, sister of Adam, John, James, William (who died in infancy), and George (my Great-Grandfather).

She was born on 13 Jul 1864 in Turriff, Aberdeenshire and she is on the 1881 Census as a jute mill worker living with her parents Adam RETTIE and Harriet MIDDLETON (remember that surname).

I have so far been unable to locate her on the 1891 Census, but she then marries George MITCHELL, coal carter, on 23 Oct 1896.

1896 Marriage of George MITCHELL and Susan RETTIE

1896 Marriage of George MITCHELL and Susan RETTIE, Aberdeen, ScotlandsPeople (SR Marriages 168/02 0346)

But what’s this? Under her name it says:

Fish Curers' Worker

I then noticed that a) George was 8 years younger than her, b) they were living together at the same address (83 Rosemount Viaduct, Aberdeen) and c) George’s mother is Susan MITCHELL nee MIDDLETON. So, Susan MITCHELL was Harriet’s sister who is Susan’s Mum which makes George and Susan first cousins!

Hourglass Chart of Susan RETTIE

Hmmm, and now I find the family in the 1901 Census living at 51 Queen Street, Aberdeen with a son called George but also two young single women boarders listed as ‘Dress Makers’. Seems a bit odd to me and I have heard that this was a euphemism used to describe prostitutes.

1901 Census of the Household of George MITCHELL

1901 Census of the Household of George MITCHELL, St Nicholas, Aberdeen, FindMyPast (RG13, Piece 168, Folio 28, Page 17)

By 1911 the couple have had another son, Walter, and they are living in ‘Ironfield’ in the parish of Old Machar, Aberdeen with 2 servants. George is a Dairyman and has a Cart Boy to help him and there is also an elderly Domestic Servant.

1911 Census of the Household of George MITCHELL

1911 Census of the Household of George MITCHELL, Old Machar, Aberdeen, ScotlandsPeople (1911 Census 228/0B 001/00 015)

The next residence on the census form is ‘Findlay Farm’ and if you look at Google Maps you can see a Findlay Farm Cottage just south of Ironfield House. Both of them are to the east of Ellon Road as it trails away to the north of the city.

Susan MITCHELL nee RETTIE died aged 68 on 6 Feb 1933 at 344 King Street, Aberdeen.



  1. Theresa Casteel

    I love using google maps to try to see where ancestors once lived. I say ‘try’ because today I found a new address in the recently released 1940 US census. When I plugged it in I got a parking garage next to a relatively new business building…definately not the boarding house where our ancestors resided in April 1940.
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

  2. Jessica

    How awkward for *actual* dressmakers (and their descendants)! I love that she’s got a grandmother named “Naughty” on top of it all. Brilliant.

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