On 12 July

Four events today: an early Strachan ancestor who can’t be traced beyond birth, a Yorkshire Grist female who had a very complicated life, a daughter of a Strachan who was widowed and then died leaving behind 6 children, and a McCrae great uncle.

6 July 1772
Birth of my gggg aunt Elizabeth Strachan at Irvine, daughter of Thomas Strachan and Susannah Alexander. Sadly, there is nothing concrete known of her after that. She would have been about 19 when her parents and siblings moved to Gorbals, so if she was still living she might not have gone with them – but there is no marriage in Ayrshire that could be her. There is a birth in Gorbals in 1794 of Janet Barr to John Barr and Betty Strachan, but nothing else can be found for that couple. There is a marriage in 1804 for Elizabeth Strachan and Peter Strachan in 1804, and this couple had children James and Peter in Old Monkland and Elizabeth in 1816, but nothing to say this is the right Elizabeth. So Elizabeth remains an enigma.

12 July 1840
Baptism of Eliza Grist at Darfield, Yorkshire, daughter of my gggg uncle William Grist and Emma Wood. In the census she consistently gives her birthplace as Smithley, which is close to Worsbrough. Her aunt Sarah Grist married Thomas Oxley, and their daughter Margaret (Eliza’s cousin) married Joseph Green of Worsbrough. Eliza, however, had a complicated life – piecing it together proved a challenge I couldn’t resist. As there’s a lot to say about her I’m giving her a separate post of her own. But briefly – she married very young, had two children, appears to have been abandoned by her husband who took up with someone else and then migrated to USA, had an illegitimate child father unknown, had another illegitimate child with James Moss who at some stage disappeared, saw her eldest two daughters married but then both died in the 30s, and took in a boarder who eventually married her youngest daughter. Eliza died at the age of 66.

12 July 1847
Janet Hamilton was born at Gargieston, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, daughter of John Hamilton and Janet Strachan and granddaughter of my ggg uncle Thomas Strachan and Elizabeth Nisbet. She’s with her parents and siblings, father a coal miner, at Corsehill Square, Dreghorn in 1851 and with them is a visitor plus Catherine Strachan age 13 servant, who is probably the daughter of Peter Strachan and cousin of Janet Hamilton’s mother. In 1861 Janet is with her family at Kilmaurs, which is where she married James Watson in 1866. Her father died in 1869 and in 1871 she is with her husband, an iron turner, and 3 children at 64 Kilmaurs Road, Kilmarnock – next door is her mother, widow Janet Hamilton nee Strachan, a spirit dealer. In 1881 James and Janet Watson are in Kilmarnock with 3 of their children, and Janet’s mother is close by with Janet and John Watson, children of James and Janet. In 1885 James Watson died of pheumonia and in 1886 Janet Watson nee Hamilton died of tuberculosis. They left 6 children who probably initially lived with their grandmother, but then in 1889 Janet Hamilton nee Strachan died. In 1891 the 6 children, aged from 24 to 6 years, are living together at 16 Gilmour Street, Kilmarnock, the eldest Janet Watson as head of the household, three working and the youngest two at school. Sad they were orphaned so young but good they were able to stay together.

12 July 1915 (born 6 April 1884)
James McCrae, my great uncle, was born on 6 April 1884 (and missed off my 6 April post) to my great grandparent John McCrae and Mary Ann McInairney (or McInerney), at 24 High Street, Kilmarnock. In 1891 he’s with his parents and siblings at 7 High Church Lane, Kilmarnock, his father and two older brothers all coal miners. In 1901 the family are back at 24 High Street and James, age 19, is a coal miner’s drawer, most probably working with his father. His father died in 1904, and in 1911 James McCrae is with Samuel and Sarah Downie at 26 New Street, Riccarton – this is his older sister Sarah McCrae. James did army service during WW1 joining the Seaforth Highlanders in 1914 and then joining the Royal Scots Fusiliers in March 1915. On 12 July 1915 he married Mary Langan, a hosiery worker. The marriage was by declaration in front of witnesses Matthew McCrae, his brother, and Matthew’s wife Annie McCubbin, and took place at the Sherriff Court House, Kilmarnock, signed by warrant of the Sherriff Substitute of Ayrshire. James was probably on leave with not enough time to have banns read. According to his army service papers, he had a daughter Isaballa born illegitimate in 1910 in Glasgow, mother Mary Langan, and they had another daughter, Mary Ann, born in Kilmarnock in 1917. He saw service in France but was discharged unfit in 1916 due to a recurring ankle sprain. I can’t find a death that looks like him in the Scottish records and nothing in the migration documents available, so don’t know what happened to him after 1917.

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