Identifying Another “Boarder”

John S. Faulds, about 1910A recent series of posts on lodgers who are possibly relatives hit close to home in my search for information about my wife’s great-grandfather. In three consecutive Scotland census reports he is listed first as boarder, then as son, and finally lodger. It took some digging to sort this out.

John Faulds (1870-1951) emigrated from Scotland to the United States in 1893. The passenger list for his arrival in New York from Glasgow shows that he was a baker. No doubt he entered that profession when he settled in the Chicago area. However, his interests soon turned to the equipment side of the baking industry, and he went to work for the Middleby Marshall company, which was founded in 1888 in Chicago to make commercial bake ovens and equipment.1 Credited along with John Marshall, a licensed engineer, John Faulds received U.S. patents for improvement in bake oven designs in 1900 and 1909. The first patent was filed in 1899, only six years after John arrived in the United States. In 1932, he used his expertise in equipment and mechanical design to launch his own company, the Faulds Oven and Equipment Co. His continued oven improvements resulted in five more patents, in his name only, for bake oven designs. The company stopped making ovens in the 1970s, but as of 2016, there were at least eleven Faulds ovens still in use in Chicago, and several in Washington State.2 Many of these in are in pizzerias due to the fact that they can hold thirty pizzas at a time, using a stack of revolving oven trays similar to a Lazy Susan.

John S. Faulds (age 11) in Galston, Ayrshire, Scotland. 1881. The man on the left is thought to be David Faulds.John got his start in baking early in life. We have a picture of him at age eleven at the Galston Cooperation Bakery in Galston, Ayrshire. He is wearing an apron and holding loaves of bread. We decided to find out more about the Faulds family in Scotland and, stimulated by the 2022 NEHGS course Researching Scottish History, we made a digital bee line to

We knew from his naturalization papers and a U.S. passport application that John was born on September 10, 1870, in Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland, and that his father’s name was David Faulds. Working backwards from his arrival in 1893, we found John Faulds at age twenty-one in the 1891 Govan, Lanarkshire census, working as a baker and lodging with other bakers. He apparently had left home and had struck out on his own, as confirmed by his departure for the United States three years later.

The 1881 census for Galston, Ayrshire (where the photograph was taken) lists him as a ten year-old son in the Faulds family, with father David, a baker, his mother Margaret and an older sister Martha. The previous decennial census, 1871, shows the Faulds family in Irvine, Ayrshire, with David, Margaret and Martha, but no John Faulds. This is John’s birth place, and the census was taken in the Spring, so he should be listed there at an age of less than one. But hold on—right under Martha’s name is listed a six month-old male child named John Smith, “boarder.” Was this our John, or another child entirely?

The term “boarder” in this census might be a reflection of the term “boarding-out”, the practice of that time of placing orphaned or deserted children in good homes with foster parents. Perhaps John Smith fell into this category. After much searching, we put together a trail of records that clearly shows that John Faulds and John Smith were one and the same.

The statutory registry of birth for John Smith records him as being born “illegitimate” to Catherine Smith in Irvine on September 10, 1870. Two and a half months later, the Sheriff Court (civil) found one John Humphrey, photographer of King Street Kilmarnock, to be the father of a male child born to Catherine Smith on September 10, 1870, and ordered him to pay his share of “inlying, nursing, clothing and alimenting expenses” for said child. Furthermore, he was to continue paying for the support until the child obtained the age of twelve.

However, four months after that court case, John Smith is listed as a six month-old boarder living with David Faulds’ family. It is not clear what the processes were that placed John Smith in the Faulds home. There was no legal procedure for adoption in Scotland until 1930. What is clear is that on documents from his later life, John listed David Faulds as his father. He may not have known of his true origins—or perhaps he did, but still chose to claim the father who raised him. Of the many records we have for him, most show no middle name or initial, except for two federal records which show a middle initial “S,” possibly reflecting the surname of his mother. In any case, we use this middle initial in our genealogical records to distinguish him from a son, grandson, and great grandson who each share the name John Faulds.

Questions still remain. How soon after birth was John placed in the Faulds family, and when did this happen relative to the court ruling? Who nursed John? Who was Catherine Smith, and what happened to her? The birth and court records have no information, such as age, address, or other family names, that would connect her to any one of the many Catherine Smiths recorded in that area. It is possible that Smith was not her real surname at all.

On the other hand, “King street photographer” John Humphrey is well-identified in records.3 John Humphrey was born in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland in 1840. In September of 1868, he married Mary Gemmell. Nearly four months later, their first child was born. Mary died in early January, 1869, apparently from birth complications. One year and nine months later, John Smith was born to John Humphrey and Catherine Smith. In April of 1871, John Humphrey married Helen Boyle, and their first child was born six months later. My wife’s good ol’ blood line great-great-grandfather was responsible for three children born to three different women in under three years. He married the first and third, but not Catherine, and died at age 49 due to alcoholism.

At the moment, we are not moved to do more research on John Humphrey—but we would like to know more about Catherine. In those times, she surely would have paid the bigger price of the two for having a baby out of wedlock. What was her fate?



1 Middleby Marshall is still making ovens today, but has expanded into making equipment for other areas of food service.

2 See

3 The court record identifies him as John Humphrey, Photographer King Street Kilmarnock, defender. An internet search on “John Humphrey Kilmarnock” takes one to several websites where examples of his tin-types and “cartes de visite” (visiting cards with photographs) can be found.

About Philip Grover

Philip Grover is a retired chemical engineer who got involved in genealogy by helping his mother enter her extensive family research into Personal Ancestral File for Mac. Little did he know then what a slippery slope that minor involvement would become. After getting deeply involved in doing his own research, he realized how disinterested family members can be in genealogical charts, lists, and diagrams. His focus since has been making his family history more interesting and accessible, and toward that end he has self-published three books of family history.

12 thoughts on “Identifying Another “Boarder”

  1. Philip – You have surely met your goal of making family history more interesting. I have just read your other posts, as well. You definitely do put “meat on the bones” with getting the back story and presenting it in a well-written fashion. Keep up the good work!

  2. I found this story very interesting. My great-grandfather (born out of wedlock in 1855) was recorded in records as an “apprentice baker” in 1871, an unemployed flesher (butcher) in 1881, a blacksmith’s hammerman in 1891, and a “jobing flesher” in 1901. Unfortunately, no evidence found about his birth father – though there was suspicion that he was the same man who fathered his sister/half-sister. I know that he was born at Catrine, Ayrshire, in 1855 but his aunt registered his first name as “James” instead of “Charles” (which must have been the birth mother’s choice for name). I don’t know why so many occupations. Most of his life, he spent in Kilmarnock, so maybe he ran into your relative. He had a large family – 12 or 13 children. There appears to be one girl in a family portrait that I cannot find. Maybe she was “boarded out” …. Thanks for the story and the idea.

    1. That would be a good reason for John ending up in the Faulds family. On John’s birth record, Catherine Smith did not make an entry in the area for “mother’s maiden name”, itself a reason to suspect she was using a false name. I looked in census records for both Margaret’s family and husband David’s family and did not find a Catherine in either. I have made attempts to look in church records, but have not been successful finding anything there. She remains elusive.

  3. Janice, I should have mentioned the website I used to identify the biological father of John. You might try They have a menu item called “Fathers Found” which identifies fathers who have been taken to court for child support. That is how I found the name and court records. They charge a fee for identifying a father and obtaining records, but no charge if a father is not found.

  4. Fascinating to stumble across this story.
    John Humphrey, the Kilmarnock photographer (1840-1889), was my great grandfather. His son – John Gemmell Humphrey (1868-1949) was also a photographer, but in Wick, Caithness. He was born to John Sr’s first wife, Mary Gemmell, but she died a fortnight after giving birth, age 20.
    I did some research a couple of years ago on his liaison with Catherine Smith, which occurred just after Mary Gemmell died.
    Catherine Smith – yes, that was her real name – was a daughter of Neil Smith, tailor, and Mary McInnes, born in Kilmartin, Argyll on 13 May 1844 [521/ 020/ 165]. In the 1861 Kilmartin Census [521 ED 3 p12] she was a live-in domestic servant (housemaid) age 17 to innkeeper Neil McKellan, while her recently-widowed mother, Mary Smith age 55, was living nearby with two young sons, a granddaughter and 3 lodgers. Soon thereafter it seems Catherine moved to Ayrshire as a domestic servant. The 1871 Dundonald Census shows her (“Chaterine” Smith, Unm 27 b Kilmartin, Argyll, living as a servant to her widowed innkeeper sister Mary Barbour 33 b Kilmartin and her 4 young children. [590/1 ED2 p22 household 81] Meanwhile, as you mention, her own 6-month old child John was living with the Faulds in nearby Halfway, Irvine [595 ED7 p6 hh 37].
    The aftermath of Catherine Smith’s situation was rather torturous, part happy, part tragic.
    The paternity claim against John Humphrey at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court seems to have dragged on from 1871 to 1875. Not sure why, since it appears to have been an open-&-shut case. During that time the fostering of baby John Smith was arranged with the Faulds. As you mention, John Humphrey – age 30 – remarried on 4 April 1871 (census day) to Helen Boyle of Kilmarnock. They went on to have six children, although Helen died ten years later, 2 April 1881.
    Which seems to have driven him to drink.
    As for Catherine, she picked herself up and married John Wright in Dundonald on 4 December 1873 [595 ED7 p6 hh37]:
    “1873 On the Fourth day of December At Dundonald, After Banns according to the Forms of the Established Church of Scotland (Signed) John Wright, Farmer, Bachelor 36 [residence:] Kilnford Dundonald [parents:] James Wright Farmer, Eleanor Wright M.S. Hay (Signed) Catherine Smith, Domestic Servant, Spinster, 30, [residence] Dundonald [parents:] Neil Smith Clothier Deceased, Mary Smith M.S. McInnes Deceased (signed) John Sime Minister of Dundonald (Signed) Jessie Loudon,
    14 months later, on 4 February 1875, Catherine gave birth to a daughter [Dundonald 590/1 113]:
    “Eleanor Wright, 1875 February Fourth 3h a.m. Dundonald, F [parents:] John Wright, Forester, Catherine Wright MS Smith [married:] 1875 December 4th Dundonald [Informant:] John Wright, Father [Reg:] 1875 March 13th At Dundonald, David Halbert, Registrar.”
    But this good fortune was not to last. Shortly afterward, Catherine died:
    “Catherine Wright (married to John Wright, Forester) [death:] 1876 February Sixth 1 hr 40m A.M. Dundonald, F 32 Years [parents:] Neil smith Clothier (Deceased), Mary Smith m.s. McInnes (Deceased) [cause:] Tuberculosis of Lungs, Four months, As cert. by Wm. Alexander MD [Informant:] John Wright, Widower (present) [Reg:] 1876, February 8th, At Dundonald, David Halbert, Registrar” [1876 Dundonald Deaths Registry, 590/1 004].

    As for John Smith/Faulds, I have done some research on him, but you are probably more conversant with the details. He emigrated to rural Wisconsin, then Minnesota, married Anna Sofia Newquist and developed close ties with the Swedish farming and logging community there.
    He died on 1 November 1950 at Moose Lake, Carlton, Minnesota.

    So far I haven’t been able to ascertain what happened to his half-sister Eleanor Wright.

    BTW, loved the photo you posted of John Smith. I have a great “selfie” of my great grandfather John Humphrey, but I don’t know how to post it to this site.

    John Humphrey (Toronto, Canada)

  5. Yoiks! No sooner did I send this post than it dawned on me that all my previous research on John Faulds life in the USA was WAY off base. Forget about Minnesota and the Swedish connection. I made the glaring mistake of following a ‘John Smith’ of the same age, (not John FAULDS) who emigrated a decade earlier, and of course I’ve now gladly absorbed your bakery details and the Chicago destination.
    Mea culpa. So many things re his life in America that didn’t make sense to me are now cleared up.
    However, I’m confident that the Ayrshire/Argyllshire information I posted about his Smith family background is 100% correct and will prove helpful.

  6. Thanks for the extensive report on Catherine. Despite her early demise, it is worthwhile to know her fate. I wonder how much, if any, communication there was between John Smith/Faulds and his Smith relatives after he emigrated in 1893. Both John Humphrey and Catherine were dead by then.

    I have asked the editor of these posts to send you my email address so that we can exchange photos and other information.
    Philip Grover (Concord, California)

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