Document of the Month - July
Will of Mrs Anna Wermelskirch (nee Lowis) - 3 July 1874
Stirling Council Archives holds a small bundle (A0070) of 19th-century records concerning Anna (or Anne) Wermelskirch (nee Lowis). Anne’s translated will from July 1874 is our Document of the Month for July. The original will was written 143 years ago and registered with the Royal Court of Justice in Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland). This document is a copy of the will made after Anna's death on 23 Oct 1882, Liegnitz (now Legnica, Poland). From 1871, both Breslau and Liegnitz were part of the unified German Empire.
Although this will was written in another country, it has many similarities to a Scottish will at this time. Wills and testaments can be valuable resources for family historians. For example, Anna has listed all her heirs, revealing names of children, grandchildren, who they married and occupations. She also lists some personal items that she wishes to remain in the family and not be sold after her death. These include a Crucifix, portraits of herself and her husband and an old silver plate.
You may wonder why Stirling Council Archives has the will of a lady living in the German Empire. Again, detail from the will provides the link to Scotland. Her deceased brother, Robert Lowis, was from Plean.
Other earlier documents which are part of the same collection also reveal that Anna lived in Scotland at least until her marriage to Johann Georg Gottfried Wermelskirch (22 Feb 1803, Bremen – 20 Dec 1872, Erfurt). She was the daughter of Ninian Lowis and Isabella Monro of Auchenbowie, married in 1789. Ninian served for the East India Company as Captain of the Woodcot from 1786. Prior to that, he had also served on the Halsewell, General Eliott.
The Scots Magazine reports that Ninian died at home in George Square, Edinburgh, on 27 March 1825. Both Ninian and his wife were buried in St Cuthbert's Parish Churchyard, Edinburgh.
Stirling Council Archives holds Sasine Abridgments which show the succession of property following his death. This included Northfield in the Parish of Dunipace and Westertown of Plean in the Parish of St Ninians. Today, Northfield is just south of Easterton Farm on the other side of the M80. These farms can be found on the old OS maps held at the Archive or are available to view online from the National Library of Scotland's website.
In 1826 Anna married Johann Wermelskirch, Reverend of the Reformed Church at Posen in Prussian Poland. Johann had travelled to Scotland, possibly as part of a Dresden Mission. They left Scotland sometime after marrying.
Emigration records from the Bremen State Archive reveal that Anna, Johann and their five children emigrated from Bremen to Dresden and Erfurt c.1842. Johann and his mission had been forbidden to set up a mission institute in Prussia so instead established one in Saxony.
“In 1842 tensions eased with Wermelskirch’s expulsion from Saxony on the grounds he was a ‘separatist’ and not Saxon-born or trained. The seminary came under government regulation.”
Johann died in 1872, which likely explains why Anna created a will not long after. The will and other items from the collection are all available to view in our search room in Stirling.