Wikipedia:Featured article candidates/Margaret Macpherson Grant/archive1

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Margaret Macpherson Grant[edit]

Margaret Macpherson Grant (edit | talk | history | links | watch | logs)

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Nominator(s): GirthSummit (blether) 14:50, 27 December 2019 (UTC)

This article is about a little-known 19th-century Scottish heiress and philanthropist, who inherited a vast fortune from her slave-owning planter uncle, and lived out her life with a female partner in the small town of Aberlour. I was drawn to the story of her life when researching an article about a church she founded - the source of her wealth, her lifestyle (which was very unconventional for the time), and the tragic circumstances surrounding her death at a young age were all very compelling subjects to research, and I think that many of our readers would be similarly interested. I've worked with another editor, SusunW, to find sources and make the article as detailed and reliable as we can, and Gog the Mild has been very helpful with reviews and suggestions for improvements. We'd all be delighted to receive any guidance on how we can take this to FA status - thanks in advance for any suggestions. GirthSummit (blether) 14:50, 27 December 2019 (UTC)

Comments

In general I feel like there's not a lot of detail in this article, particularly detail specific to the subject. Below are some unanswered questions and other concerns.

  • Given the length of the article, the lead should be considerably longer
  • When/where was the lead image first published?
  • How many Proctors were involved?
  • For how long did she attend school?
  • When and why did the brother go to India?
  • What were the results of the Jamaican lawsuits?
  • Typically cattle are considered neither a crop nor produce
  • "provided she had attained her majority" - what age was majority at that point?
  • "when Orange Vale was originally developed" - which was when?
  • What was the problem with the English will with regards to Scots law?
  • Who ended up with the Grant arms?
  • How are you ordering sources without authors? Nikkimaria (talk) 16:02, 27 December 2019 (UTC)
    Nikkimaria, :Thanks for your review. I feel that I would be able to address most of these concerns by revisiting the sources and/or revising the prose. I'd appreciate any further thoughts you have on the Saunders source however, since I'd be returning to that to expand on some of your other points. It's a completed PhD dissertation, reviewed by a committee and supervised by Samuel Wilson, who I think would be considered a specialist in the field - that's what SCHOLARSHIP calls for with dissertations, is it not? We have tried exercise care and to avoid leaning on it too heavily, but information about the Jamaican estates was hard to come by elsewhere. Do you think that we are using it too liberally without additional sources? Also, with regard to the source ordering, I think that's just been done alphabetically based on the titles - is there a preferred method for doing that? Cheers GirthSummit (blether) 16:52, 27 December 2019 (UTC)
  • SCHOLARSHIP lists several factors impacting assessment of dissertation reliability, one of which is supervisor. Another is citation - has this particular thesis been cited by other sources? As to source ordering, alphabetical is fine, but should be done consistently. Nikkimaria (talk) 16:56, 27 December 2019 (UTC)
OK thanks, much appreciated - I'll try to find out whether it's been cited in other scholarly works and get back to you. GirthSummit (blether) 17:48, 27 December 2019 (UTC)
Nikkimaria I haven't done a proper citation search yet, but Google tells me that the Saunders PhD is cited as a reference here (the UCL 'Legacies of British Slave Ownership' project), it's referenced in this review essay on the subject, published in Slavery & Abolition in 2017, and it's cited a couple of times in this book published by the University of Georgia Press. Does that give you any confidence in us using it as a source, or would you want to see some metrics? GirthSummit (blether) 17:57, 27 December 2019 (UTC)
That seems reasonable, thanks. Nikkimaria (talk) 03:26, 28 December 2019 (UTC)
Nikkimaria I've made some changes to the article. To go through your points/concerns (apologies if I should have done this in-line above, please feel free to refactor if I'm doing this wrong):
  • Given the length of the article, the lead should be considerably longer
I took a look at a couple of other FA biographies, and have expanded the lead to a similar length to theirs. Do you think this is better?
  • When/where was the lead image first published?
I'm looking into that now.
  • How many Proctors were involved?
Three - I've named them in the article now.
  • For how long did she attend school?
The source isn't clear on this - it just says 'in her teens' - I've added a few words along those lines.
  • When and why did the brother go to India?
Again, the source isn't clear - it tells us that he died there, but it doesn't go into any detail about what he was doing there. I haven't been able to find anything else to allow us to expand on this.
  • What were the results of the Jamaican lawsuits?
Complicated. The source explains that it ended up as a legal mess, with multiple parties suing and countersuing each other. I' not sure how we could give a concise explanation of the final resolution without adding a lot more material about the other parties involved; my feeling is that this wouldn't really be due in an article about her life (there's probably a decent length article in the history of that court case...).
  • Typically cattle are considered neither a crop nor produce
Good call, I've reworded that sentence.
  • "provided she had attained her majority" - what age was majority at that point?
The age of twenty was specified in the will, I've added that to the sentence.
  • "when Orange Vale was originally developed" - which was when?
1780 - I've added that.
  • What was the problem with the English will with regards to Scots law?
The source isn't specific - and I'm not sure whether the lawyers were at the time. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd suggest that the principal problem was that an English document would not afford any income to an Edinburgh lawyer - a serious problem in Scots law! Seriously, I'm not sure we'll be able to get at that.
  • Who ended up with the Grant arms?
I don't know - it's not mentioned in the source. It's likely that nobody inherited them - the Proctors don't appear to have taken on the name, I don't imagine they would have used the arms. Machpherson Grant's father had to apply for Royal permission for her to use the arms - my guess would be that if nobody applied for permission to use them following her death, then they would simply no longer be used by anybody, but I don't have any sourcing that would allow me to add anything to the article along those lines.
As discussed above.
  • How are you ordering sources without authors?
I've fixed a couple of inconsistencies there - is there anything else standing out?
I'd be grateful for your thoughts on the work I've done so far - is this heading in the right direction? You mentioned initially that you feel it's short on detail about the subject. I'm not sure how much more we'll be able to do about that at present, we've squeezed as much as we can out of the sources we've been able to find - do you think we're going to be able to get over the line based on what we've got here? Cheers GirthSummit (blether) 15:04, 28 December 2019 (UTC)
It's definitely heading in the right direction, but things get tricky when there's not a lot of sourcing available - for me we're not quite there yet, but let's see what other reviewers have to say. Nikkimaria (talk) 00:40, 29 December 2019 (UTC)

Comments: I've read through this a few times, and it's looking pretty good to me. Here are a few detailed comments on "Early life and family" to be going on with. Just a few things to iron out so far, I think. I hope to return to review the rest of the article. Sarastro (talk) 17:26, 15 January 2020 (UTC)

  • Sourcing looks good for this section, and spot checks on a few of the references revealed no issues whatsoever.
  • "Following their marriage on 30 April 1825,[3] her parents had their first child, Alexander Grant Macpherson three years later.[4]": Three little issues: 1) We use FamilySearch as a reference to a birth/baptismal certificate. I've no particular issue with this, but I'm never sure how much we should use these kinds of primary sources. If no-one else has any problem, neither do I, but how sure can we be that this is the right person. 2) Clicking the link to FamilySearch takes me to a sign in page. If registration is required to view it, I think that should be indicated in the reference. 3) The sentence is a little strangely constructed using "following" and "later". My inclination would be to replace "three years later" with a date such as "in 1828".
SusunW has access to this source - perhaps she would be willing to comment on this? GirthSummit (blether) 13:36, 18 January 2020 (UTC)
Glad to answer Girth Summit limited use of primary sources is acceptable on en.WP and in this case, we used this record, the birth record for William Grant, and the will. Had no idea one could not see the link, though agreed, I have a free account with FamilySearch. The record lists his name "Alexander Grant Macpherson, sex M, christening date 18 Apr 1828, place of christening Aberlour, Banff, Scotland, date of birth 27 Mar 1828, and parents Alexander Macpherson and Anne Grant." Pretty straight forward stuff, no OR or interpretation required. Modified text as per request and affixed subscription required template. SusunW (talk) 14:57, 18 January 2020 (UTC)
  • "...and her mother, despite being the daughter of a farmer,[6] was from the influential Grant family, and the marriage was considered to be beneath her station." Perhaps I'm being a little dim (which is certainly very possible) but why "despite being the daughter of a farmer"? I don't think being a farmer and being from an influential family are mutually exclusive. And looking at the reference that is given for this, there's nothing that actually says Annie Grant (her mother) was the daughter of a farmer. Instead, it says that Macpherson Grant's uncle was "the son of an agriculturalist". This is presumably her mother's brother, but this is not entirely clear from the source (even though it has to be him really!). If there is no better source for this, perhaps explain this in the reference somehow? Someone checking blindly might question the sourcing (which would be kind of annoying as the sourcing is right, but is not obviously right... if that makes sense?) But in any case, I'd be inclined to cut "daughter of a farmer" completely as I don't think it adds much to the sentence and sets up the contradiction that probably isn't a contradiction.
So, a couple of the sources comment on the idea that her mother had married beneath her (and it came up in the trial when she died intestate - the Proctors, who inherited her estate, were relatives on her father's side, so the estate was leaving the Grant family). I think we were trying to explain that she was from an influential family, but not a particularly wealthy branch of it. You're probably right that this isn't adding very much though, and we are indeed relying on the assertion that her uncle was the son of a father to assume that her mother was too, so I've removed this statement. GirthSummit (blether) 13:36, 18 January 2020 (UTC)
  • "Her brother travelled to India, where he died in 1852, leaving Macpherson as the only surviving child": A little nit-picky, but maybe specify that she was her parents' only surviving child.
Good point - there were other children alive at the time! I've clarified.
  • We have quite a bit on Alexander Grant here, and I wonder are there any sources that comment on him? He seems to have got rich off the proceeds of slavery, which I wonder do we need to make more explicit? The easiest way may be to find something that comments on him, or gives an opinion. No worries if not, we can't add what the sources don't say. However, when we say "Grant claimed compensation for the loss of his slaves", it looks as if he was being particularly awful in claiming compensation, but this was what everyone did. Perhaps we need something on this, just so it doesn't look like his actions were unusual at the time, no matter how jarring it sounds today. Sarastro (talk) 17:26, 15 January 2020 (UTC)
I've reworded this a bit - is that better now? GirthSummit (blether) 13:36, 18 January 2020 (UTC)
I've taken the liberty of adding a couple sources which verify that indeed it was a government scheme. The ODNB merely says that he "involved in compensation awards", which could have been from anywhere. Feel free to revert if you disagree. SusunW (talk) 15:28, 18 January 2020 (UTC)

A little more: Took a look at the "Inheritance" section, and did some light copy-editing rather than making a list here. A couple of little issues, but nothing major. I'm inclined to support this, assuming that the other sections are of a similar quality. But I'll stop here for now until the nominator responds, just in case my changes or suggestions induce angry spluttering! Sarastro (talk) 09:12, 16 January 2020 (UTC)

  • I corrected a few spellings where I think we should be using the British variety (jewellery, labourers), but I may have missed some. It may be worth checking for more.
Thanks - nothing's jumping out at me, but I'll read through it again with fresh eyes and see if I spot anything. GirthSummit (blether) 13:36, 18 January 2020 (UTC)
  • "For example, when Orange Vale was originally developed in 1780,[23] its main crop was coffee, which was supplemented by selling or hiring out its slave labourers until 1813.": I'm not sure this is quite correct. As written, we are saying that its coffee was supplemented by hiring out slave labour. I'd suggest something like, "For example, the original main source of income for Orange Vale from 1780 was its coffee crop, supplemented by selling or hiring out its slave laborers until 1813." I'd also be inclined to start the next sentence with "After 1850..." Sarastro (talk) 09:12, 16 January 2020 (UTC)
Reworded - is that better?
Thanks very much for these comments Sarastro1, I'll have a go at responding either this evening (UK time), or over the weekend. Cheers GirthSummit (blether) 07:45, 17 January 2020 (UTC)
Sarastro1 Thanks again for reviewing - I've been through your comments above and changed what I can, SusumW may want to comment on the first one since she has access to that source. Cheers GirthSummit (blether) 13:36, 18 January 2020 (UTC)

Support: I've done a little more copy-editing, but nothing major. There was one little sourcing issue, which I think I fixed, but please do look at the edit summaries to make sure you're happy with everything. I did a little more source checking as well, and there are no issues. The only thing I wondered was if we know what happened to Charlotte Temple after Grant's death? Nice work overall. Sarastro (talk) 18:37, 18 January 2020 (UTC)

Thanks Sarastro1. I wasn't able to find much about Temple after her marriage, except the thing about their son being killed in the First World War. It seems like Yeatman was quite a common name in Dorset, I remember coming across a lot of references to Charlotte Yeatman, but they were either clearly not her, or I couldn't be sure enough. GirthSummit (blether) 08:37, 19 January 2020 (UTC)