25 April 2013

John McCrae: A Distant Relation

Canadian John McCrae (1872-1918), author of the WWI poem 'In Flanders Fields', was a second cousin to our ancestor James Christie (1863-1943), known to his grandchildren in Australia as 'Fuffa'. Their shared ancestors were James Christie (1770-1836) and Ann Gilmer (c. 1778-1842) of 'Pitgorno Estate', Strathmiglo, Fife, Scotland.

John McCrae 1914 (Wikimedia)


John McCrae
Born: 30 Nov 1872, Guelph, Wellington, Ontario, Canada
Parents: David McCrae and Janet Simpson Eckford
Married: Unmarried
Died: 28 Jan 1918, Boulogne, France
Sources: Family Search birth index; Veteran Affairs Canada.

Janet Simpson Eckford (mother of John McCrae)
Born: 26 Apr 1846, Monikie, Angus, Scotland
Parents: John Eckford and Margaret Christie
Married: David McCrae, 21 Jan 1870, Bruce, Ontario, Canada
Died: Unknown
Sources: Family Search birth index, marriage index; Veteran Affairs Canada.

Margaret Christie (grandmother of John McCrae)
Born: 1 Sep 1811, Strathmiglo, Fife, Scotland
Parents: James Christie and Ann Gilmer
Married: John Eckford, 24 Jun 1839, Monikie, Angus, Scotland
Died: 5 Feb 1847, buried Strathmiglo, Fife, Scotland
Sources: Family Search birth index, marriage index; Strathmiglo Church monumental inscriptions.

James Christie and Ann Gilmer (great grandparents of John McCrae and James 'Fuffa' Christie) 

James 'Fuffa' Christie with grandson Ian Hayes


James 'Fuffa' Christie
Born: 26 Dec 1863, Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland
Parents: John Christie and Agnes Kilgour
Married: Sarah Coffey, 2 Aug 1886, Carlton, Victoria, Australia
Died: 23 May 1943, Colac, Victoria, Australia
Sources: Birth certificate; marriage registration; death certificate.

John Christie (father of James 'Fuffa' Christie)
Born: 23 Oct 1833, Abernethy, Perth, Scotland
Parents: James Christie and Elizabeth Keddie
Married: Agnes Kilgour, 23 Oct 1861, Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland
Died: Unknown
Sources: Family Search birth index, marriage index.

James Christie (grandfather of James 'Fuffa' Christie)
Born: 14 Mar 1802, Strathmiglo, Fife, Scotland
Parents: James Christie and Ann Gilmer
Married: Elizabeth Keddie, 21 Feb 1830, Abbotshall, Fife, Scotland
Died: 13 Oct 1890, buried Strathmiglo, Fife, Scotland
Sources: Family Search birth index, marriage index; Strathmiglo Church monumental inscriptions.

James Christie and Ann Gilmer (great grandparents of James 'Fuffa' Christie and John McCrae)

Pitgorno House, ancestral home of our Christie family in Strathmiglo, Fife, Scotland


John McCrae's mother, Janet Simpson Eckford:
Janet's elder brother was named James Christie Eckford and her elder sister was named Anne Gilmer Eckford. Their names recall the siblings' grandparents, James Christie and Ann Gilmer.
Sources: Family Search birth records.

John McCrae's sister, Mary McCrae:
Mary's full name was Mary Christie Geills McCrae, recalling the Christie ancestry the siblings shared with their mother.
Source: Family Search birth records.

Pitgorno Estate and the Christies:
James Christie and Ann Gilmer were proprietors of Pitgorno Estate in Strathmiglo, Fife, Scotland. James 'Fuffa' Christie named his house in Clifton Hill (Melbourne) - 'Pitgorno' - after the Scottish estate that had been in the Christie family for about 150 years. There was no other place in Scotland named Pitgorno.
Sources: Strathmiglo Church monumental inscriptions; James 'Fuffa' Christie WWI records; Isabel McKenzie monograph, 'Christies and Coffeys'.

John McCrae's grandfather, mother and her siblings at Pitgorno Estate:
Census records for 1851 show John McCrae's grandfather (John Eckford), his mother (Janet Simpson Eckford) and her siblings, residing temporarily with their Christie relatives at ‘Pitgorno Estate’, Strathmiglo, Fife, Scotland. This was after the premature death in 1847 of Margaret Eckford (nee Christie), who was John McCrae’s maternal grandmother.
Source: 1851 Scotland Census, ancestry.com

Many other records show the connections between each generation of our Christie family in Scotland, including: birth, baptism and marriage records of the siblings of each generation; census returns that show the family together in various times and places; monumental inscriptions at Strathmiglo, Fife; records showing the Christies’ proprietorship of the Pitgorno Estate; and more. The last of the Christies of Pitgorno was Fuffa’s grandfather, James Christie, who died in 1890.

The Remembrance Poppy was inspired by John McCrae's poem, 'In Flanders Fields'


Second cousins, John McCrae (Canada) and James 'Fuffa' Christie (Australia), were both servicemen in France during WWI. This entry is made on ANZAC Day, 25 April 2013.

Download source records, images and more in one zip file here.

Most up-to-date family tree is here.

With thanks to Christine Butterfield for original documents.


  1. PITGORNO is still shown on the OS Perth to Alloa map and is beside WELLFIELD STEADING just NW of Strathmiglo.
    My wifes family are Christies and a David Christie (1805-1870) was married to a Rachel Kilgour (1805-1863) Both died at CASHFEUS, STRATHMIGLO.

  2. Thanks for your comment! I've updated the entry to reflect your information. I believe Pitgorno House is now part of Wellfield Farm. One of my Christie ancestors (John) married Agnes Kilgour in 1861. She was of the 'Bowhouse of Pitlochie' at Kinglassie. There are a couple of David Christies in my tree but none in the time frame you mention. It would be interesting to know more about your family since they were so close to the Pitgorno family in Strathmiglo. Cheers!

  3. Hi Marie. sorry for the anonymous entry but I was a bit rushed at the time. My name is Sandy Boyd and my wife is Alice ms Christie and we are doing a FT on Ancestry but you can find us on our website for hedgehogs at www.wormithedgehogs.co.uk.
    I was a self employed heating engineer until I retired in 2005 and Wellfield was one of my clients. It was a Mr G Johnston who lived in the farm house (Pitgorno House) and it was their AGA oil fired cooker that I serviced.They wanted some hedgehogs to release there until it was pointed out the reason they had none was because of the oil seed rape in the field at the rear of the house and the fact that they used slug bait on it which was killing the hedgehogs that ate the slugs. His brother also lived in what was possibly the original farm house at the rear of the steadings.

  4. That's a wonderful service to the hedgehogs you are involved with, and to the education of us humans too. I've never seen a hedgehog (being in Australia). The closest I've come is an echidna but I see from Wikipedia that the species are not related. How wonderful to be chatting with you who have known Pitgorno closely. A cousin is visiting Fife around the end of May and may try to contact the current occupants about a visit if possible. I'll write separately to you by email so that we can easily stay in touch about your wife's family. Best wishes to you both.

  5. Hi MarieC,
    A fellow descendant here. I landed on this page when trying to explain to my daughter (10) that the poem Flanders Fields her class is learning was written by a relative descended from the Christies of Pitgorno. Your family tree captures that beautifully.

    You must read this booklet I think called Eckford and Bruce Pioneers - maybe there is a copy online? I can see some references but nothing to download. Or someone could help! I only have a very poor photocopy.

    Nigel Richardson

  6. Thanks for the response, Nigel. I only found the information about the Christie/McCrae connection unexpectedly, as it had not previously been known to our family. Are you descended from James Brown Richardson who married Elizabeth Christie in Strathmiglo in 1868? Our ancestor James Christie and his sister Agnes received finance/sponsorship from that family to travel from Scotland to New Zealand in 1880. I've looked up the booklet you mentioned but can't find it online. If you'd like to chat more via email: mcravenmusic (at) gmail (dot) com

    1. Just a few years later! Noticed my earlier comment and I dont remember replying from my side. Anyway, yes we are descendants of James Brown Richardson who married Elizabeth Christie.
      Finally found its sort of available online, I think you can ask for a pdf copy here in the link below, if not I can try and photocopy the relevant bits but my copy is very faint in parts. I'm "nige (at) mail (dot) com"
      Also I have a photo of an oil painting. James Christie 1770 - 1836. Painting currently continuing down the line with my eldest brother!