Notes about the Alexander surname
The Alexander family that I have researched originated in Glasgow, Scotland. In the nineteenth century, this family was barley and salt merchants and later ham curers. My branch of this family emigrated to Toronto, Canada around 1863 where they established a grocery store on Queen Street West. The later generations of the Canadian Alexanders formed a printing and engraving business in the late nineteenth century which still exists today.
According to Wikipedia, the Alexander surname is common in Scotland (which accounts for the pain that I have experienced trying to research this family). The name is the anglicized version of the Gaelic name MacAlasdair.
As I mentioned above, the surname Alexander is common in Scotland. The frequency of this surname coupled with the small pool of acceptable forenames in Scotland (Jessie, John, William, etc.) has made tracing the origins of this family difficult. The below image shows the distribution of the Alexander surname in the 1881 UK census.
Important branches on my tree
- John Alexander and Lilias Stevenson. This is the farthest that I have been able to trace this family. John Alexander was a salt and barley merchant in Glasgow. He and his son David died in 1847, likely of the typhus epidemic circulating in Glasgow at the time. I don’t know who John’s parents were, but I know that he had a brother named James whose wife Grace also died in the typhus epidemic and was buried in the same grave as John and his son David.
- William Alexander and Janet Park. William was the eldest son of John (above). He and his wife Janet emigrated to Canada in 1863. William worked a variety of jobs before he established a grocery store on Queen Street West. He was killed in an accident at the Toronto docks in 1867, only four years after the family immigrated. Janet Park Alexander ran the family grocery store until her death in 1881.