Family Group Sheet
Family Group Sheet
NameMACDUFF, John Robertson , GGG Grandfather
Birth12 Oct 1801, Keir, Dumfries, Scotland
Death17 Oct 1871, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, UT
Burial19 Oct 1871, Bountiful Cemetery, Davis County, Utah
OccupationMiner, Lime Burner, Shoe Maker
Misc. Notes
John Robertson and Ellen Hancock MacDuff were the first to open their home to the missionaries in the Nottingham district. The missionaries at that time were John Micholson and the late President Joseph F. Smith. They belonged to the Church of England. They joined the church very early in their married life and were very active in its service. Their home was always open to the missionaries and scores of Elders partook of their hospitality. (1850)
When J.R. MacDuff met his future wife Ellen, he was a widower, having had the misfortune to lose his wife and three children with black smallpox, which at that time, was raging in many parts of England. The all died within a few days of each other. Ellen was a widow with a little son named Charles. Her former husband's name was Joseph Burns who died about nine years before her marriage to John R. Charles Burns grew to manhood and came to this country and resided in Bountiful for many years before his death.
Their house was a plain stone and brick two story cottage, roofed with tile such as is common in the country districts of England. A large fireplace and built-in oven with old fashioned irons and kettles suspended threw a cheerful glow and warmed and partially lighted their combined living room and kitchen. For it was before stoves were in common use, and candles were the only means of lighting.
A little garden patch and meadow with a brook running through it was in the rear, and here their children could spend many happy hours. The brook a little lower down widened out and became deeper making a splendid place for baptisms. Some of the first baptisms in this part of England were solemnized here. Mary Ellen along with her brothers and sisters recalled that many times they went in the evening and held lanterns while this sacred ordinance was performed. The reason for holding the baptisms at night, was that greater privacy could be had, as it was near a busy highway and during the day people were constantly to and fro.
Ellen MacDuff as well as her children, both boys and girls had beautiful voices and had trained themselves to sing together. At meetings and socials, in the old country as well as when they came to Utah, lacked nothing in the way of a musical program when they were present. "Oh ye mountains high, where the clear blue shy arches over the vale of the free," was ever the goal for which their hearts yearned and for which they were ever striving, consequently it was necessary that all should work to get the means. J.R. was well educated for that time, and was especially trained in bookkeeping and accounting. By this time he had made his worth known to his employers and had been given a position in the office of the company. When his company learned that he was intending to go to America, they offered him many inducements to stay with then, but nothing could swerve him from his purpose of gathering to Zion. To be nearer his work, they moved into Chesterfield where he was also active as a local Elder and branch president.
As the children grew older, they also helped to work so that they all could go to Zion. As the older ones married, the younger ones worked doing whatever they could. One worked in the pottery business, then later in the bobbin factory. There she was subjected to the sneers and jeers of her associates because she had faith in an unpopular religion. They spent few days in school, but they made the best of it, and learned to read and write at home. It was a small beginning, but they kept themselves well informed.
In February of 1861, their daughter, Mary Ellen was married to William Varley in the Chesterfield Alms House, also known as the Church with the crooked spire and soon after departed for America to join the saints in Utah. They endured many hardships crossing the ocean and were six weeks on the Atlantic Ocean. They crossed the plains with ox teams in Captain William S. Warrens company and arrived in Utah in September of 1861.
Three years after the sailing of their daughter and son-in-law, J.R., his wife, and two youngest children emigrated to Utah. They crossed the ocean in an old sailing vessel named the "George B. McLelland", after one of the generals of the North in the Civil War, which was then near its close.
To avoid possible molestation by vessels of the South, they took a northern course and ran into field of icebergs. Whichever way they looked they could see these great mountains of ice as they slowly wended their way southward, soon to be melted by the warmer waters of the gulf streams. There was great danger of running into them especially when they were nearing the foggy banks of Newfoundland and extra caution was used to prevent it. Suddenly one night after the passengers had retired to their beds below there was a grating and a tremendous lurch of the vessel which threw many from their beds and spread confusion everywhere. Twice this was repeated then the vessel gradually sank back, rolling from side to side as though she were about to turn over. Women and children were crying, men were hurrying to and fro and the greatest confusion prevailed. The thing that they feared most had happened. The ship had struck an iceberg and it was feared that a dent had been made in her that would let in the icy water and send her to the bottom of the sea.
After the confusion had been somewhat alleviated, the mate of the vessel was sent with a lantern to examine carefully all parts of the ship for possible leaks. He passed through the place where the little girls Ada and Jane were. They were peering through the curtains with their white faces resting between their hands, "Little girls," he said, "aren't you afraid," and almost in unison, they said, "No, were not afraid. The Lord didn't bring us here to be drowned in the sea." Then the mate, in a burst of joy, swung his lantern round and round and cried out as loud an he could, "Hurrah, this vessel won't sink, there's faith enough here to save any ship!"
She did not sink, a company of God's people were aboard going to the place divinely appointed to them, and his watchful care was over them. The next year while the George B. McLelland was making a voyage across the ocean, she was caught in a storm and went down carrying all on aboard with her.
After six weeks voyage they landed at Castle Gardens, New York. It was near the close of the Civil War. Just before their arrival a great battle had been fought and the sick and wounded were being brought from the front. Ellen MacDuff as well as her two young daughters remembered very vividly the feelings of gloom and scenes of sorrow that were occasioned by these sad home comings.
Previous to Ellen's emigration, Mary Ellen MacDuff Varley and her husband William Varley, as well as Mary Ellen's brother Malcolm, came to Utah in 1861. Charles Burns and his wife Martha came in 1868. (Charles Burns was Ellen's first child from a previous marriage.)
After arriving in New York, they traveled by carts and steamboats for two weeks before they reached winter quarters. There they waited six weeks for the ox teams to come from Utah to take them to their destination in the Salt Lake valley. The captain was William S. Warren who was also the captain of the ox teams that their daughter Mary Ellen and husband, and also their son Malcolm had when they crossed the plains in 1861. Captain Warren afterwards lived in Parowan, Iron County, Utah.
It took eleven weeks to cross the plains and come from winter quarters to Utah. It was at the time of the Civil War and most of the Indians were on the warpath. Frontier settlements had been plundered and burned and many settlers had been killed. More that once they came upon ranch houses that had been pillaged and burned and the settlers massacred.
Ellen MacDuff especially remembered a place in which a whole family had been murdered. Evidently the Indians had been scared away by the approach of the Mormon emigrant train and fled in haste. Around the table, where they had evidently just been seating themselves to their mid-day meal were their bodies, scalped and shot through with arrows while on the table was the meal, untouched.
On account of the danger from warring Indians, the companies of Saints at that time were especially large in order to protect themselves. At on time they were joined by a company of ten or twelve mule teams with gold seekers going to California. They traveled with them for a number of days and finally becoming tired of the slow pace that the oxen were able to make, they forged on ahead. The next day the Mormon train came to a place where the California emigrants had all been massacred, their wagons burned and mules stolen. Not a man, woman, or child lived to tell the story. There they lay pierced with arrows, horribly mutilated, and rotting on the scene.
Such scenes as these, made a lasting impression on all their minds. But not all was horror. They remembered seeing the great herds of buffalo as they grazed on the plains. At one time, their train was stopped for hours waiting for the buffalo to pass as they wended their way to the river for water.
At night, even though they had been walking weary and foot sore, fording streams and picking up the buffalo chips to cook their evening meal, they surrounded the camp fires and sang: "Come, come ye Saints, no toil or labor fear, but with joy wend your way." Music, dancing, and other merrymaking was often indulged in, but promptly at 9 o'clock a prayer was said, thanking God for his blessings bestowed during the day and invoking his aid on to tomorrow. Soon the fires died down and the camp, save for a few pickets left to guard the cattle, was wrapped in slumber.
The next morning, bright and early, the camp bugle was sounded and everyone was up and preparing for the days trek. The first wagon to arrive the night before was the first out in the morning. So large was their train that as much as an hour elapsed between the departure of the first and last wagons.
Arriving in the valley at the age of fourteen, Ada was stricken with mountain fever, a disease which often attacked the emigrants before they became used to the climate. They were in a new strange country and a living was to be made, consequently, the girls had to find employment. They worked in the fields gleaning, picking potatoes and at housework for those better situated in life than they were.
The two young girls, Ada and Jane, grew to be lovely young ladies and both married and had sons and daughters of their own. Jane married William Butler and Ada married Henry Rampton.
The MacDuffs and children were true Latter-Day Saints, believing in all the principles of the Gospel with a sincere and trusting faith. To them, it was the biggest thing in life and held the most glorious promise for the life to come. They never failed to impress its truth upon their children and grandchildren, encouraging them to read and know for themselves. It's poetry and music especially appealed to Ellen. She knew and loved to sing the songs of Zion and taught them to her family. By precept and example endeavored to implant in their hearts a sincere faith in the mission of Joseph Smith and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Compiled by James Earl Stacey--270 East 1st South, Bountiful, Utah.
Other sources:
1. Old Brampton Parish Registrar & Chesterfield Parish Registrar by correspondence.
2. Marriage Bond (1831), photocopy from city library, Lichfield Staffordshire, England, by correspondence.
3. Marriage certificate (1839) from Supt. Registrar, Nottingham, Notts, England, by correspondence.
4. "Desert News" (Salt Lake City), 25 Oct 1871 (Vol 20, page 448) & 19 Aug 1885 (Vol 34, page 496), microfilm @ Ricks College.
5. Notes from C. Ray Varley (great grandson of J.R. MacDuff).
Marriage15 Sep 1839, St. Paul's, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
SpouseHANCOCK, Ellen , GGG Grandmother
Birth19 Jun 1812, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England
Death11 Aug 1885, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, UT
BurialBountiful Cemetery, Davis County, Utah
FatherHANCOCK, Joseph (~1776-1845)
MotherJACKSON, Mary (~1782-1832)
Other spousesBURNS, Joseph
Ellen Hancock MacDuff, died on August 11, 1885.
Misc. Notes
This is a short sketch on the life of Ellen Hancock. Her experiences of her life and the man she later married, John Robertson MacDuff, and how they and their family accepted the Gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is told in more detail in their combined history.
Ellen Hancock, daughter of Joseph and Mary Jackson Hancock, was born the 19th of June, 1812 at Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England. Ellen together with her twin sister Anna (Anne) was christened on the 8th of July 1812, at the Chesterfield Parish Church. Ellen and Anna were the second and third children born to the Joseph Hancock’s, as they had another child, a girl Mary Ann. Later three more children joined their family, namely, James, Jane, and Joseph. Ellen’s father was a stagecoach driver and his “runs” were from their home town of Chesterfield to the great city of Sheffield. At one time her parents lived there in Sheffield, for it was there that Mary Ann was born.
While living in Chesterfield, Ellen met a young man, also of Chesterfield, Joseph Burns. It was there in the Old Church at nearby Brampton, Derby, England, on March 20, 1831, that they became man and wife.
A few months after their marriage, Joseph left for the West Indies, in search of employment, and hoping to make a new home there for himself and his young wife. Joseph Burns never got to send for his young bride, nor did he get to return to England, for it was while he was there that he contracted Yellow Fever, and died shortly after on the Island of Jamaica. He never learned of the birth of his son Charles, on December 3, 1831. It was a great loss for Ellen to lose her husband so soon after marriage, and so far away from his home, but she stood it bravely and remained in Nottingham and worked as a dressmaker to support herself and her infant son.
Ellen’s older sister, Mary Ann, had married Charles Marsen, the 24th of December 1826, and early in their married life they joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was the Elder to baptize his brother-in-law, John Robertson MacDuff in 1845. Mary Ann and Charles had eleven sons and daughters, and after Charles passed away, July 8, 1854 at the age of fifty-six, she and her family emigrated to Utah early in the 1860’s. She passed away November 23, 1877 in Utah.
Ellen’s twin sister, Anna, married Edmund Kelsall prior to 1839 as that is when they left England to come to America. As far as anyone knows they did not embrace the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Anna and her husband had lost their first child in England, and after coming to the United States, they lost two more in infancy. They settle first in Nauvoo, Illinois and lived there for about five years and they moved on to St. Louis, Missouri, where they lived until 1850. They then moved on to a farm somewhere in Iowa. It was here that a son was born, Frederick Kelsall, who lived to marry and have a daughter, Gertrude Edmund passed away in 1881 and Anna in 1885, two years after her twin Ellen’s death. Their son’s daughter, Gertrude, is very faithful in keeping in touch with her relatives in Utah. As of the writing, October, 1960, Gertrude isstill living in Florida now and she still keeps in touch with members of the MacDuff family. Gertrude married Louis A. Bendixen and lived in Glenn Ellyn, Illinois for many years. She had only one son, Thor, and when he married, there were never any children born to them. Thus when Gertrude and her son Thor pass on, it ends the family line of Anna Hancock Kelsall.
As to Ellen’s brother James and her sister Jane, so far little is known of them. Her brother Joseph, the youngest, died in infancy. His burial date was July 17, 1820, and he was three days old.
Ellen’s life from now on is combined with her second husband John Robertson MacDuff’s story, it starts with their marriage in England and then on to Utah, and what a wonderful heritage it has given to all her descendants.
Changed to a 8-1⁄2 X 11 format by Richard R. Smuin using Microsoft Word. 5057 Taylor Avenue
Ogden, UT 84403-4356 801-479-5167 801-510-4111 Email:
1 FMACDUFF, Mary Ellen , GG Grandmother
Birth5 Apr 1840, Owins Court, Snenton Street, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
Death12 Jan 1906, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, UT
SpouseVARLEY, William , GG Grandfather (1837-1908)
2 MMACDUFF, Malcolm , GGG Uncle
Birth17 May 1842, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
Death27 Sep 1881, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, UT
SpouseLORD, Jane (1846-)
3 FMACDUFF, Sarah Anna, GGG Aunt
Birth16 Oct 1844, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
Death30 Oct 1918
Birth20 Apr 1847, Walton, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England
Death7 Dec 1847
5 FMACDUFF, Ada Alice , GGG Aunt
Birth15 Nov 1850, Walton, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England
Death11 Sep 1910, Centerville, Utah
SpouseRAMPTON, Henry (1829-1903)
6 FMACDUFF, Jane Rowan , GGG Aunt
Birth20 May 1855, Brampton (Walton), Derbyshire, England
DeathNov 1928
Last Modified 27 Mar 2010Created 23 Jan 2020 using Reunion for Macintosh
This info is base often times on multiple source - sometimes with conflicting information. Don’t use this data as the absolute truth, but rather one source of the data. Email me with additions, errors or questions.