Posted on

Andrew Carnegie – Keith Morgan

I have recently been given an account of the ancestry of Andrew Carnegie of whom few readers will be unaware. Andrew Carnegie was born in Dunfermline in Scotland and in 1848 the family emigrated from Scotland to America, where Andrew prospered to become one of the world’s richest men in the world and a noted philanthropist.


Little was known of Andrew Carnegie’s earlier ancestry until recent research was carried out by Keith Morgan, who has sent me a copy of his publication for which I am most grateful and from which he has permitted me to pass on the information below. Of greatest interest to me is that there are significant Burnett connections.


Andrew was the great grandson of James Carnegie who was almost certainly the son of Janet Lauder and David Carnegie. Janet was the daughter of Helen Ogilvie and Sir Robert Lauder, both being descended from the many generations of the famous clans. David was the son of Sir John Carnegie and Mary Burnett, daughter of Sir Thomas Burnett of Leys. Additionally, Janet had more than one close relationship with the Burnetts through marriage. Janet and her son James’ survival during the decades of persecution after Culloden was made possible by the Burnetts especially the Dowager Countess of Kincardine, grand-daughter of Sir Thomas Burnett of Crimond.


Sir John Carnegie died in 1729. David was then eleven and he was subsequently brought up by three Tutors and Curators under his father’s will. These were Mary Burnett of Leys (his mother), George Lauder of Pitscandlie, (Janet’s brother and whose wife was Mary’s sister, Jean), and another James Carnegie, (his father’s brother). David Carnegie fought in an exceptional “solo” capacity for the Jacobites at Culloden. He was injured but managed to escape to a trading post in Gothenburg, associated with his family. He died there in 1746 or 47 aged 28.


Keith Morgan states that, having searched the literature for Janet and her partner for one and a quarter decades, he is of the view that Janet Lauder and David Carnegie were the biological parents of James. George Lauder, Janet’s brother, would have been involved in tutoring David from 1729 and it is inevitable that Janet watched him grow up until he came of age when the family would have celebrated Christmas, Hogmany and his majority over the Christmas break. Normally this went on until Epiphany. It could well be that up to this time David had lived in Montrose with his dowager mother and had started to work for or with his Uncle George. It is further considered likely that Janet initiated David into the facts of life and, at 40, became pregnant with his child. Possibly this was her dearest wish. The timing of this fits in with the birth of James in about September 1739. In the literature, both David and Janet died unmarried.


Absolute proof maybe not, but sufficiently robust circumstantial evidence to support the Burnett relationship with this great man although we should accept that it is a small world when it comes to establishing blood relationships


Copies of Keith Morgan’s publication, The Andrew Carnegie Ancestry, are available from David Fleming, GRAMPIAN BOOKS, South Ardo, Methlick, Ellon, Aberdeenshire, AB41 7HP Scotland. Tel 01651 806165

James C. A. Burnett of Leys