Our earliest known Elliott ancester was Archibald, born about 1781 in County Cavan, Ireland. While today Cavan lies within the Republic of Ireland, in those days it was part of the Ulster Plantation and was heavily colonized by people from Scotland and England. Archibald farmed land near the town of Arva within the parish of Killishandra.
 The Achesons' connection to Cavan started in 1612. See Killeshandra and the Ulster Plantation.
Archibald did not own his farm but paid rents to the local landlord: Archibald Acheson, 2nd Earl of Gosford, an Irish-born Scotsman whose family had roots in the Glasgow area. The Achesons had been bringing Scottish farmers and weavers (mostly from Lanarkshire) to Ireland since the early 1600's to work their lands in Armagh and Cavan. Archibald Elliott was descended from these economic migrants, or may indeed have been a migrant himself, since we have no evidence of where he was actually born apart from his statement on the 1841 Irish Census that he was a "native" of County Cavan, and that could be an ambiguous statement.
In 1808 Archibald married Mary Anne Johnston (b.1791) and they had 4 children and 1 grandchild, as listed in the 1841 Census:
Mary Anne's unmarried sister Hariett (b.1798) was also living with them, as well as a three-year-old child named William, who is chiefly of interest to this history because he is the direct ancestor of the Elliotts who migrated to Olds, Alberta, Canada in 1927.
 It's entirely possible that Archibald did not tell the whole truth to the census-taker, but he would have risked a hefty fine if found out. The 1841 Census of Killeshandra has many relevant details concerning the Irish Census of June 6, 1841.
You can also view the actual census record at the National Archives of Ireland.
William (b.1838) presents us with a mystery. He is listed on the census form as Archibald's grandson, and who his actual parents were is not indicated. Was he the illegitimate child of one of Archibald's older unwed children? Was he an orphan who was adopted by the family? We feel relatively certain that he was not the child of family members who were away from home or deceased, because the 1841 Census form had spaces to record all family members, even those dead or not present, and these spaces are not filled in for Archibald's household. The mystery deepens when we consider that the only other two shreds of documentation we have that refer to William's parents— his marriage registration and his death registration— record Archibald and Mary Anne as his parents, not grandparents. It seems quite possible that William himself did not know that Archibald and Mary Anne were not his true parents, or at least that is what he wanted people to believe, for reasons we can only guess at.
 The "Primary Valuation" or "Griffith's Valuation" was a survey of property in Ireland that took place between 1847 and 1864; it is an important genealogy reference. See Archibald Elliott's record.
In 1857 the Griffith's Valuation of Ireland shows an Archibald Elliott leasing "houses, offices, and land" in the townland of Derreskit, about 8 miles away from Arva where old Archibald's family had lived in 1841. Next door to this Archibald, and renting a house and garden from him, is one William Johnston. While we cannot identify these men precisely, it is quite possible that this Archibald is old Archibald's son (old Archibald would have been at least 76 years old by now, and very likely deceased, given the hardship of those years), and this William Johnston may be a relative of young Archibald's mother Mary Anne... or perhaps not. Johnston (and especially William Johnston) was a very common name in County Cavan in those days, while Elliott was not at all common, which is why we are keenly interested in anyone named Elliott (especially those named Archibald or William and especially those with a connection to the Johnston family) in the records of County Cavan.
Although technically he appears to be Third Generation, we refer to William as Second Generation because of the near-impossibility of discovering who his real parents were, and because that is how William thought of himself throughout his life— as Archibald's son, not his grandson.
 See Killeshandra and the Famine.
1857 is also the year that young William Elliott, grandson of old Archibald, next appears in the official Irish records. On November 9 (aged 19) he married 18-year-old Mary Ingram in Lowtherstown (now known as Irvinestown), County Fermanagh, about 40 miles northwest of his home. William would have been 9 years old when the Irish Famine arrived at his home in County Cavan in 1847, and while he lived in a relatively prosperous area (and the north was not hit as hard by the Famine as the rest of Ireland), it appears that there was hardship nevertheless. It is logical that young William would have journeyed to nearby Fermanagh to seek his fortune, where there was a seaport, a bustling industry, and many other people who shared the surname Elliott.
Mary's father, David Ingram, was a butcher. Her mother's maiden name was Christina McKnight. This information comes from Mary's death registration.
William and Mary lived in Fermanagh for about 5 years and had two children there: John (born 1859) and Mary Jane (born 1861). They moved to Paisley, Scotland, at some point between the birth of Mary Jane and the birth of their second son, James Ingram, in 1864. From that point on we have ample documentary evidence of the family, and they would flourish in Paisley.
The children of William and Mary are as follows:
William held several occupations over the years, which we read about in his childrens' birth and marriage records. In 1864, shortly after arriving in Paisley, he was an agricultural labourer. By 1867 he was a clay grinder. For the next 20 years he worked variously as a brickwork labourer, brickfield labourer, and fireclay labourer. From 1887 to 1893 he was a joiner's (i.e. carpenter's) labourer, and after that date he is simply referred to as "labourer". In his final year of life it appears he got a job at the Paisley threadmill, as he was a threadmill labourer according to his death registration. (Long after his death, in 1940, he was recorded as "brickwork foreman" on his youngest son's death registration.)
William died aged 70 on August 25, 1908, at his home in Paisley. Cause of death was "Debility of age".
Mary bore 8 children that we know of between 1859 and 1877, all of them reaching maturity. On one of her daughter's marriage registrations she was referred to as "Annie", which suggests that her full name may have been Mary Ann. She survived her husband by 6 years, dying of "Senility and Syncope" (possibly a stroke) on January 3, 1914, at the age of 75.
Note: The Irish records all report the family name as Elliott: two L's and two T's. After their arrival in Scotland, the name frequently appears as Elliot: just a single T. After about 1920, and especially after moving to Canada, the name was standardized in its original form with two T's.
John was born in 1859 in County Fermanagh, Ireland. This year is derived from both of his marriage registrations as well as a letter that his youngest son Archie sent to a nephew in the 1980's. However, the 1901 Scottish Census, as well as John's death registration, point to 1862 as his year of birth. Because of the authority of Archie's testimony, we take 1859 as correct.
John would have been between 3 and 6 years of age when his family moved from Ireland to Paisley, Scotland. The first job John held that we know of was in 1887: he was a brickfield labourer. (This was around the same time that his father ceased being a brickfield labourer and took up carpentry.) This was also the year that John, aged 29, married 30-year-old Agnes Scott (1858-1888), the daughter of William Scott, a shawl weaver, and Agnes Gibb. They were married according to the forms of the Free Church of Scotland.
After their marriage John and Agnes lived with his parents. After 6 months, on April 4, 1888, Agnes died of a post-partum infection ("Puerperal Peritonitis"), possibly the result of a miscarriage. We have no record of a child from John and Agnes' brief marriage.
Twenty months later John married again, on December 31, 1889. His bride was 21-year-old Margaret Milligan of Ayrshire, who was employed at the Paisley threadmill. Both John and Margaret gave their addresses as "Chain Road, Paisley" on their marriage registration, which suggests that they were already living together at the time of their marriage, or perhaps that they were merely neighbors. (Whichever was the case, it is clear that their first son, William, was conceived well before the marriage took place.) They were married according to the forms of the Episcopal Church of Scotland (Anglican Church), which we believe to have been the Elliotts' original family denomination.
Margaret Milligan was born February 16, 1869, in St. Quivox, Ayrshire, the daughter of Francis Milligan and Margaret Frew (later McKinnon). Margaret Milligan and her younger sister Grace are especially noteworthy because they both married Elliott brothers, John and William. Grace and William will be detailed below.
See the Milligan Family History for Margaret's ancestors.
John and Margaret's children were as follows:
Between 1887 and 1901, John's occupations were reported as brickfield labourer and fireclay labourer. After that he was simply a "labourer". The 1911 census clarified his occupation as "Roadman", employed by the Town council. He worked at ths job until his death.
John died at the age of 53 (or 56) on April 9, 1915 at the Royal Alexandra Infirmary in Paisley, after suffering for a week with a perforated gastric ulcer. He died 9 months after the outbreak of World War I; his two eldest sons had enlisted in the Army and were preparing for active combat duty.
The 1911 Census tells us that as of that date, Margaret had given birth to 10 live children, 7 of which were still alive. Margaret (1899-1901) is one of the three missing children; we don't know the names of the other two.
Margaret survived John by almost 14 years and would live to see her eldest son's family depart for Canada in 1927. She died on February 16, 1929 (her 60th birthday) of Nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys).
Mary Jane was born about 1861 in County Fermanagh, Ireland, and would have been an infant when her parents moved to Paisley in the early 1860's. Early in life she worked at the Paisley threadmill; on July 15, 1881 (aged 21) she married William Melville (b.1857), an Iron Driller, son of William Melville (a boilermaker's labourer) and Jane Cochran. They were married in the Scottish Episcopal Church. William died the following year and there are no known children from their marriage.
Mary Jane resumed working at the threadmill and four years later, on December 28, 1886, she married Thomas Teis (b.1858), a blacksmith. Thomas and Mary Jane had three daughters:
Mary, the eldest daughter, died at the age of 10 of Meningitis.
Maggie and Bessie were twins, and Bessie died of diarrhea after just 8 months. Maggie lived on until 1979. Her surname may have been McDowell at some point, but she had changed it back to Teis before she died.
Mary Jane reached the age of 86, dying in Paisley on January 25, 1946, of Myocarditis, Bronchitis, and Syncope.
James Ingram was born on November 14, 1864, in Paisley. On December 13, 1893 he married Elizabeth Wallace (born June 17, 1865), daughter of John Wallace (iron and coal miner) and Margaret Strathern. They were married in the Scottish Episcopal Church. For some reason, on their first son's birth registration their date of marriage is given as December 30, 1892, which contradicts the date on their marriage registration.
They had 4 children:
James Ingram worked as a Fireclay or Brickwork Labourer and died February 18, 1909, at the age of 44. Elizabeth lived until 1945.
Sarah Ann was born April 1, 1867. She married Alexander Morrison, a Starch Bleacher[?], who died sometime prior to 1949. They had at least one daughter, name unknown, who had a daughter, Dorothy Thomson. All we know is that this Dorothy Thomson was the informant on her grandmother's death registration. Sarah Ann died on March 13, 1949 (aged 81) of Myocarditis and Senility.
Grace was born on July 4, 1871, in Loudoun, Ayrshire, the daughter of Francis Milligan and Margaret Frew (later McKinnon). At the time of her marriage (aged 18) she was working in the Paisley threadmill. Grace's older sister Margaret married William Elliott's older brother John. They have been detailed above.
See the Milligan Family History for Grace's ancestors.
William and Grace had at least 5 children, which we learned about from the 1891 and 1901 Scottish Census.
Their first daughter, Mary, was born on June 17, 1890, less than 3 months after they got married. This raises several interesting coincidences between William and his brother John:
If these events were the cause of any family scandal, it is lost to history.
Later in life William claimed to have served in the Army with The King's Own Scottish Borderers. We have not found his military records to confirm the date, but the years prior to his marriage at the age of 22 seem likely.
After his marriage, William's career path was not unlike his brother John's. From 1890 to 1899 he worked as a Fireclay Worker (and in the 1891 Census he called himself a coal miner). Then he was a joiner's (carpenter's) labourer, and by 1904 he was working in the threadmill, which appears to be where he worked (apart from a brief stint in the Army during WWI) until he died.
In 1915 he wanted to join the war effort but was too old for the infantry so he was accepted into the Royal Army Service Corps and was sent to France to work in the Supply Section. His health probably wasn't very good, because after just 16 months he was discharged (on January 17, 1917) for being "no longer physically fit for War Service." His discharge papers indicate, however, that his military character was "good" and further that he was "A good labourer. Sober and reliable." He received the Victory Medal, the British War Medal, the 1914-15 Star, and the Silver War Badge.
After his discharge William may have gone back to work at the Paisley threadmill; he died of tuberculosis three years later at the age of 50. He was buried with military honors in the Paisley Woodside Cemetery.
Grace lived on another decade and died of bowel cancer in 1931. Francis, her only child about whom we know anything further, was still alive in 1931 because he was the informant on Grace's death registration.
We only know of one child of Bessy and John: James Osborne.
Archibald was born on November 23, 1877, at his parents' home in Paisley. He served as a private in the King's Own Scottish Borderers, though we don't know the dates. By 1905 he was employed as an Engineer's Storeman, and on October 27, 1905 he married Catherine Clark (b.1878) in the Church of Scotland. They had one child that we know of: John Ingram Elliott, born June 12, 1906 in Paisley.
Catherine died prior to 1918, and on June 18, 1918 Archibald married Mary McKay, a threadmill worker, in the United Free Church. At this time Archibald was working in the threadmill as well, and by the time of his death from tuberculosis on January 22, 1940, he was a mechanic at the threadmill.
William was born at 6 in the morning on March 28, 1890, at his parents' home: Burnfoot Cottage, Chain Street, Paisley, just 3 months after his parents were married. We know from his sons' memoirs that William had a "good education" that gave him a decent job at the threadmill. We don't know exactly what this "good education" involved but his son John says he attended University and that he worked as an engineer. Most of the documentary evidence we have describes William merely as a "Threadmill Worker", though the 1911 Census gives us a little more information: he was a "Tenter" at the threadmill, meaning he tended to the machinery, making him some kind of skilled mechanic or engineer.
On June 1, 1909, 19-year-old William married Robina Woods at Holy Trinity Church (Scottish Episcopal) in Paisley.
Robina was born on June 9, 1890, at her parents' home, 67 Canal Street, Paisley. Her father, John Woods (1859 - 1915), was a carter, born in Paisley. Robina's mother Elizabeth Kean (1858 - 1948) was also born in Paisley.
William was a private in The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders during World War One, and was wounded at Gallipoli on July 12, 1915. He was discharged from the Army at the end of 1915 and found himself unable to resume his old job at the threadmill, and so became an estate gamekeeper. Between 1916 and 1927 he moved from one Highland estate to another, his growing family following him as he went. In 1927 he took advantage of the Soldiers' Settlement Program and received a homestead (designated SE 13-33-3-W5) west of Olds, Alberta, Canada, embarking with his family from Port Glasgow on March 25. There he farmed for a few years until about 1936 when he moved to Calgary and worked as a janitor. He died on September 14, 1949 (aged 59), at the Olds Municipal Hospital, of gall bladder cancer.
Robina and William separated at some point after they moved to Calgary, and Robina went on to manage an apartment building there. She survived William by 14 years, dying on April 27, 1963 (almost 73 years old), at the Holy Cross Hospital in Calgary, of stomach cancer and pneumonia.
On almost all official documentation, Robina's family name is spelled with an 'S': Woods. There are exceptions: on her marriage registration (1909) and the birth registrations of her first three children, her name is spelled Wood. This has created some confusion over the years because her maiden name was used as a middle name for some of her children, and sometimes they spelled it Woods, at other times Wood. We cannot know for sure, but we imagine that the mistake started on the day of their marriage, when perhaps William put down his bride's name without the 'S' by accident. Or perhaps it was just carelessness on the part of the Renfrewshire county registrar; we have seen many examples of that over the years.
William and Robina's children were as follows:
Mary was born on March 28, 1895 at the home of her maternal grandmother Margaret McKinnon (Frew) in Newton Cambuslang, near Glasgow.
 This was an early form of common-law marriage, and became increasingly popular during World War One.
She started working as a Cloth Finisher. On November 11, 1915, aged 21, she married Robert Alexander Andrews, a coal miner, who at that time was on active duty with the Scottish Rifles, 6th Battalion. (Sometimes the Andrews' family name appears as Andrew in county records.) Their marriage was "irregular", which means it did not take place in a church and without the normal fuss surrounding traditional church weddings; they simply paid a fee to the sheriff and then got married in a civil ceremony. Their marriage is notable because theirs is the only marriage in this genealogical tree that was "irregular". It is also notable because Mary's brother William acted as witness, which tells us that by this time he was already home from the Gallipoli front and was preparing to transition back to civilian life.
Robert's parents were Alexander Andrews, an Engine Keeper, and Elizabeth Simpson.
We have no documentation relating to Mary and Robert's children, but photographic evidence seems to suggest they had 3 children: a daughter born about 1916, a son (Matthew?) born about 1920, and another son born about 1920.
Francis ("Frank") was born on June 18, 1897 in Paisley. After the outbreak of WWI he followed his brother William into the Army, joining 6th Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders early in his 17th year. After getting transferred around the reserve battalions for over a year, he finally got transferred to a combat battalion and arrived in France on or before July 1, 1916, in time to participate in the Somme Offensive.
We know little of Frank's activity during the war apart from pay and medical records, but he was able to keep alive until spring 1917: on May 19 he received a gunshot wound to his thigh, and on May 21 he died of tetanus in a field hospital in Agnez-lès-Duisans near Arras, France. He lies buried, two miles from where he died, in the Duisans British Cemetery near Étrun, France. He received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, and after the war was over his mother Margaret received a "war gratuity" of £12 10/- (about $650 in modern US currency) as compensation for his service.
Matthew ("Matt") was born on February 26, 1903, at the home of his maternal grandmother Margaret McKinnon (Frew) in Old Monkland, near Glasgow. His middle name, Milligan, honours his mother's family; on his birth registration it appears as "Mulligan" but elsewhere is "Milligan".
Matthew was a baker. On March 3, 1926, he married Margaret Lang (born 1902), a sewing machinist. Her parents were James Lang, a coal miner, and Margaret Straiton, who was deceased by the time of her daughter's wedding. The Langs had at least one other daughter, Mary, who was a witness at Margaret and Matthew's wedding. The marriage took place in the Scottish Episcopal Church.
James ("Jimmy") was born on May 13, 1905, at 4 West Street in Paisley. We have very little information about him, but his nephew Bob's memoir says he was a baker like his brother Matt. Bob says that Jimmy joined the Merchant Navy during WW2 and spent the war as a prisoner: "His ship was sunk on the first trip to Russia and it was three years before it was learned he had been picked up and was a prisoner of war."
John was born on June 23, 1907 at his parents' home in Paisley. We know virtually nothing else about him. We know that he was alive in 1919 (aged 12) because he appears on a list of his late brother Frank's siblings that his mother had to send to the War Office in order to qualify for Frank's war gratuity. After that, we can find no mention of John, not even a death notice, and the family history is silent about him.
Archibald ("Archie") was born on March 25, 1911, at his parents' home in Paisley.
Archie married Ann Gunning Brown ("Nan") on October 28, 1939 in a Roman Catholic ceremony— the only known Catholic wedding in this family tree. Nan, born about 1917, was a Confectioner's Assistant at the time of her marriage. Her parents were Thomas Brown, an Ironmoulder, and Mary Bradley.
Archie worked his entire life at the Paisley threadmill. Being the youngest of his generation, he provided a link between the older generation and his nephews and nieces who moved to Canada, coming to visit them several times later in life.