The AITKEN family were from fishing stock, so many of the ancestors are based primarily around the Leith area.

Helen Mitchell AITKEN (1902-1996), the daughter of John Strachan AITKEN and Helen REID, was born in Leith in 1902.  She married James QUINN (see QUINN page).

Her parents were John Strachan AITKEN and Helen Mitchell REID. They married on 7 Jun 1895 in |North Leith.

From their marriage certificate, their years of birth can be determined by subtracting their age from the year of their marriage.  John Strachan AITKEN was born abt. 1875 and his parents were James AITKEN and Jessie HAY.  Helen Mitchell REID was born abt. 1875 but only her mother’s name appears on the marriage certificate, so it is likely she was the illegitimate daughter of Helen REID.

The birth certificate of John Strachan AITKEN confirms his parents’ names as James AITKEN, coachman and Janet HAY.  (Janet was often known as Jessie).  They were married on 7 Jun 1872 in North Leith.

Helen REID’s birth certificate was more difficult to source, as she was born in Redcar, Yorkshire, England in 1875 and the spelling of Helen was ‘Hellen’. She died in Leith in 1934.  A year later, her widowed husband committed suicide and died in 1935.

On the 1911 census, John AITKEN and Helen (Nellie) REID are living at 66 Coburg Street in Leith with five children.  According to the information on the 1911 census, there were six children, but one died.


As noted on the birth and marriage certificates, John Strachan Aitken’s parents were James AITKEN and Janet (Jessie) HAY.

They were married in 1872.


On the 1881 census, James and Jessie are living at 12 Bowling Green St, Leith South with three of their children:

John age 6; James age 3; Jane age 9 months.

On the 1891 census, James AITKEN and Jessie HAY were living with their four children at 19 Graham Street, Leith North.

Children: John age 16; Jane age 10; Robert age 6; David age 1.

James’ parents’ names are John AITKEN and Catherine NIDDERY.  Jessie HAY’s parents are Alexander HAY and Jane MILLAR.

Working back from the ages noted on the marriage certificate, James was born abt. 1849 and Jessie was born abt. 1849.  As this pre-dates the 1855 mandatory registration, it is hoped the information will be available in the OPRs (Old Parish Records).

James AITKEN was born on 15 Jul 1848 and fortunately, the OPR also shows other siblings born to  John AITKEN and Catherine NIDDERY:

James’ parents were married at Tulliallan in 1836:

James’ death may have been on a service returns certificate, as he doesn’t appear in the deaths in any Scottish records.

On the 1851 census, John ATKEN and Catherine NIDDRY were living with their five children at Guild Hall Street, Dunfermline.

Children: John and David (twins) age 14, b. 1837; Catherine age 8,b. 1843; James b.1848, age 2, b. 1848; Margaret age 1 month b.1851.

On the 1861 census, John ATKEN and Catherine NIDDRY were at Crossford, Dunfermline with three of the children:

David age 15;James age 12; Margaret, age 10

His father, John Strachan AITKEN was born 10 Feb 1815 in Dunfermline and died 11 Nov 1861.


This John Strachan AITKEN’s parents were John AITKEN and Catherine TOD who married on the 27th Jul 1807.