Monthly Archives: September 2013

Why no posts this week

In case any followers are wondering why I’ve not been posting anything this week, I’ve been laid low by a particularly nasty cold virus. Am starting to feel better so normal service should be resumed soon.

It has, however, made me wonder how ancestors coped with minor ailments that meant taking a few days off when there were no wages if you weren’t at work, and no-one else to provide meals, look after young children, change babies’ nappies, etc. I’m sure they must have been a lot more dependent on the wider family, neighbours and community than we are today.

23 September

Just two today: a Morgan named after the local doctor, and a Strachan descendent who died at age 2.

23 September 1817
Birth of Nathaniel Laurence Morgan at Longside, Aberdeenshire, son of my ggggg aunt Isabel Sangster and Peter Morgan. Nathaniel was named after the son of the local doctor! He’s proved rather tricky to research, but he appears to have married three times. I can’t find him in the 1841 census, but in December 1841 he married Anne Irvine at Cruden, and they had a son Thomas Morgan born at Old Deer. Anne died and Nathaniel may have then married Isabella Knox at Cruden in 1846, who also died. In 1850 he then married Helen Milne at Cruden. He is in the 1851 census at Kinloch, St Fergus, Banffshire, a farm servant, with wife Helen, a stepson, and son Thomas. In 1861 his wife Helen, a ploughman’s wife, is at Main Street, Old Deer with 87 year old Isabella McGilloway but Nathaniel can’t be found. There is no sign of any children. In 1871 Nathaniel and Helen are at Main Street, Old Deer along with Helen Morgan, their 10 year old granddaughter, daughter of Thomas: Nathaniel is an agricultural labourer. They are still in Old Deer in 1881 and still have their granddaughter Helen with them. Nathaniel Morgan, day labourer and widower of Helen Milne, died in February 1888 at Broad Street, Peterhead, at the home of his stepson Alexander Insch.

23 September 1867
Birth of Janet Thompson King at Irvine, Ayrshire, daughter of my gg aunt Jean (Jane) Strachan and James King. Janet King died age 2 in 1869 at Irvine.

22 September

Today is someone on the Fraser tree who had an undignified ending: she dropped dead in a water-closet (lavatory), a fate she shares with Elvis Presley. She also married at the very young age of 16, something she shares with Elvis’s wife. Also today: a Hamilton/Strachan miner who never moved far from Kilmaurs, and a Haddow ancestor from Stevenston who moved to Govan in Lanarkshire and sadly died in childbirth.

22 September 1851
Birth of Robert Hamilton at Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, son of John Hamilton and Janet Strachan and grandson of my ggg uncle Thomas Strachan and Elizabeth Nisbet. Robert is with his parents and siblings at Knockentiber, Kilmaurs in 1861, his father and older brothers all coal miners. His father died in 1869 and in 1871 Robert is at Kilmaurs Road, Kilmarnock with his widowed mother, who is a spirit dealer, and 2 younger siblings, and is working as a coal miner. In 1876 he married Elizabeth Martin at Kilmaurs, in 1881 is at Knockentiber as an ironstone miner, with his wife and a young daughter. He remained at Knockentiber as he’s there in 1891, this time a coal miner again and with 5 children, and in 1901, still a coal miner, with 8 children. He died in 1921 age 69 at Kilmaurs.

22 September 1855
Birth of Margaret Pirie aka Fraser at Yonderton, Cruden, illegitimate daughter of my ggg aunt Janet Fraser aka Jessie and blacksmith John Pirie. In 1861 Margaret age 4 and her mother are at Mosside croft near Hatton with William Fraser and his wife Christian Hutcheon, Margaret’s grandparents: the croft was home that year to parents Williams and Christian, 2 daughters, 1 son, 5 illegitimate grandchildren all age 6 and under, and deaf and dumb boarder John Black. Quite a house full. In 1870 Margaret Pirie, domestic servant, got married at Hatton at the age of 16 to Alexander Smith, a blacksmith who was 22 years older than Margaret. in 1871 they are Burnthill Smithy Croft, near Hatton (Burnthill being where Margaret’s grandfather has been born illegitimate back in 1805) along with her 75 year old father in law, her unmarried mother, her stepdaughter also called Margaret, her brother James, now a blacksmith, and her half brother James Matthew, an apprentice blacksmith. It would seem that her early marriage provided both work and a home for her own family. They remained in Hatton, and by 1881 had 2 children, by 1891 had 4 children and by 1901 only had the youngest still with them. Alexander Smith died in 1903 and in 1909, by then living in Aberdeen, Margaret married another blacksmith, Peter Forrest, at Marine Terrace, Aberdeen. Margaret Forrest also Smith, also Pirie also Fraser died on 234 July 1920 age 63: her death certificate has cause of death syncope (which simply means sudden death) and the inquest report notes she was living at 65 Bon Accord Street, Aberdeen and was found dead in a water closet off the bleaching green on Bon Accord Street. A water closet is a toilet so it wasn’t the most dignified of endings.

22 September 1880 (born about 1841)
Birth of my gg aunt Flora Haddow at Stevenston, Ayrshire, daughter of John Haddow and Amelia Murphie and sister of my great grandmother Jeanie Haddow. Flora is at Kenneth’s Row, Kilwinning in 1851 with her parents and siblings. (Along with lost of other people on my family tree. Was there anyone living in Kenneth’s Row then that I’m not related to?) She’s still at Kenneth’s Row in 1861, age 18 and a muslin sewer. In 1870 she married at Govan, Lanarkshire, to James Gray, a contractor carter. The marriage certificate says Flora was a domestic servant living at Blantyre Works, and it has her mother’s name correctly but for what ever reason it says her father was Alexander Haddow coal pit overman: he was actually John Haddow. It also has her age as 23 when she was 29. In the 1871 census, James and Flora Gray are at Marlow Street, Govan and living in the same building is a John Davidson from Stevenston, who may be the connection that took Flora to Govan. Flora’s age is again 6 years out: was she making herself out to be the same age as her younger husband? She died in 1880 at Holm Street, Glasgow, of “childbed and suspected pulmonary apoplexy”: her death certificate has her parents as John Haddow coal pit overman deceased and Amelia Haddow ms Murchie, and has Flora’s age as 33 although she was actually 39. In 1881 John Gray, carter foreman, is in Glasgow with 2 children age 9 and 7, so it looks as if the child Flora died giving birth to also died.

21 September

Posted late due to the internet being on go slow last night. Today is about good old Uncle Harry – the supposed black sheep of the family which means I can’t help but think of him fondly. So what if he was a communist and a bigamist – it makes him interesting. Back in my radical student days of the 70s, I was proud to have an uncle who’d been in the Spanish Civil War! The 21st also sees a Marshall descendent from Ayrshire marry a railway locomotive engineer, move to Kent, and live in Clapham, south London as a widow. My ancestors get around, that’s for sure.

21 September 1850
Birth of Christina Jardine at Galston, Ayrshire, daughter of Francis Russell Jardine and Marion Craig Marshall, and granddaughter of my ggg uncle Alexander Marshall and Christina Wallace. She is with her parents in Kilmarnock in 1851 and 1861 and in Galston in 1871, and worked as a cotton weaver. In 1873 she married James Clark Campbell at Galston. They moved to Kent and in 1881 are at Wilsborough, near Ashford, where James Campbell worked as a locomotive engine fitter, and they had 2 children, one born in Kilmarnock and the youngest born in Springburn, Glasgow. They also had 2 lodgers who were also engine fitters from Ayrshire, so it looks as if a railway locomotive works had been on a recruitment drive in Scotland. By 1891 they had moved to Ramsgate on the Kent coast: James was by then a foreman and they had 6 children, 1 born in Ashford and 3 born in Ramsgate. They are in the same location in Ramsgate in 1901, James still a locomative engine fitter foreman. James Clark Campbell died between 1901 and 1911, as in the 1911 census Christina is at Netherford Road, Clapham a widow living with 5 unmarried adult children and a lodger (who was later to marry one of her daughters). Her unmarried sons were both working as engineers, and two of her unmarried daughters were clerks. I think Christina has to be the Christina Campbell who died in 1929 age 78 and whose death was registered in Wandsworth (which is next door to Clapham).

21 September 1901
Birth of my uncle Henry Strachan at Crookedholm, Ayrshire, son of Henry Strachan and Helen McCrae. This is what I wrote about him on the “Story of Henry Strachan and Helen McCrae” page… Well, every family has one! Harry, as he was known, was called “the black sheep of the family” by my father. He was born not long before my grandparents moved to Lanarkshire, and is at Mansion Street, Cambuslang in 1911 age 8 and at school. Thanks to his grandson Rob and some online research, I now know a fair bit about him, and why my father called him the black sheep. As a young man Harry moved back to Kilmarnock, taking over some kind of coal business belonging to a McCrae uncle, and in December 1921, when he was 20, he married Mary McGinty in Kilmarnock. They had a daughter born one month later but the baby died at a few weeks old. The next few years is a bit of a mystery: in 1932 Harry is recorded as saying he had not been in contact with his wife for at least 7 years, but Mary seems to have had more children in the 1920s. So were they Harry’s children or not? Harry went to Canada, however, in 1929, and on the passenger list said he was single. He met Mary Campbell there, and she gave birth to their son in Toronto in January 1931. Henry, Mary and their son came back to Scotland in October 1931 going to Newcastle, where Mary Campbell was from. They married in February 1932 at Blytheswood, East Kilbride and a daughter was born in May 1932 at Cambuslang. The marriage had, however, been bigamous and Henry was taken to court in October 1932, found guilty and sent to Barlinnie prison. A report from the Glasgow Herald says: “Bigamy by a Miner: sentence of imprisonment was passed at Glasgow Sheriff upon Henry Strachan (30), a miner, who pleaded guilty to a charge of bigamy. Mr G Anderson, Deputy Procurator-Fiscal, said that the accused was lawfully married in 1921. Last year he went through a form of marriage with a woman whom he met in Canada. An agent said that some months after his legal marriage in Kilmarnock Strachan left his wife, following a quarrel. He tried to get in touch with her afterwards, but he found she had left Kilmarnock. He then took the step of applying to a political party the ILP for advice, and it seemed that the official of the ILP advised him that as he had not heard from his wife for seven years he was free to marry again. In these circumstances, the agent added, he appealed to the court for leniency.” If that is true, then it seems his first marriage only lasted a few months. It’s not known how long he spent in prison but it probably wasn’t very long. Harry and Mary had three more children, making five born by 1935. Harry was also very much caught up in the “Red Clyde” movement, joining the Communist Party and then, according to a family story that several of us have heard from different people, he volunteered with the International Brigade and went to Spain to fight with the Popular Front during the Spanish Civil War. This would have been sometime during 1936-1939. It seems his relationship with Mary Campbell broke down at this time, and his mother helped to look after his children. Mary was in London during the war, where she married, and then returned to Tyneside and lived with one of her daughters. Henry Strachan aka Harry died in 1961 at Rutherglen at the age of 59 of coronary thrombosis: he was living alone and his sister Helen Aitken registered his death.
Jock, Sophia, Henry
Harry is the one standing at the back, with his mother, brother John and sister in law Sophie seated.

Meeting lost cousins: a wonderful day in York

Yesterday I met up with Cathy, blog follower and 4th cousin, and her husband Glen while they spent a couple of days at York. We had a fantastic day which was spent talking non-stop over coffee and then talking non-stop over lunch. They are a lovely couple and we got on like a house on fire. There’s something about knowing you’re related, however distantly, that creates an instant rapport. Cathy and I share ggg grandparents John Strachan and Agnes Neilson: Cathy is from their son Samuel Strachan and I’m from their son Robert Strachan, so we’re both from a long line of Ayrshire coal miners. Cathy and Glen are now spending a few days in Ayrshire visiting our ancestors’ homeland.

Here we both are at Lendal Bridge in York. That’s me on the left, in green, and Cathy on the right in red.

20 September

An all female day today: a Strachan who went to Nova Scotia but didn’t stay long, a Strachan aunt, and a Fraser who married an insurance inspector.

20 September 1812
Birth of Susanna Strachan at Riccarton, daughter of my gggg uncle Peter Strachan and Mary Monroe. In May 1932 Susanna married David Findlay at Riccarton. They then went to Nova Scotia, where their two eldest children were born, but were back in Scotland by 1836 and had a further 8 children born in Kilmarnock, Riccarton and Shewalton. Susanna Strachan died before 1849, as in that year her husband remarried, and may well have died in childbirth as her youngest child was born in 1848.

20 September 1896
Birth of my aunt Mary Ann McInairney Strachan at Crookedholm, daughter of Henry Strachan and Helen McCrae. At age 4 she’s with her parents and brothers at Old Factory House, Crookedholm and by 1905 had moved with her family to Cowan’s Row, Crookedholm (see post with picture of Cowan’s Row at URL). The family then moved to Lanarkshire, first to Tollcross and then to Cambuslang, and in 1911 Mary age 14, working as a domestic servant, is with her family at 14 Mansion Street, Cambusland. She married James Tennant McBride at the Co-operative Hall, Halfway, Cambuslang in September 1919: at the time James McBride was a coal miner and Mary was working at a butcher’s. They had 3 children who I won’t name as two are still with us. This photo taken in about 1936 is of Mary (on the right) and her children with my father, Mary’s youngest brother Robert, and I think the woman in the middle is Sophia, wife of Mary’s brother John (Jock) Strachan.
Mary McBride and family 1936
Mary lived all her life in Cambuslang and I can remember visiting her when I was young. She died in Cambuslang in 1980.

20 September 1922 (born 1902)
Jessie Ann Fraser was born in 1902 in Ellon, Aberdeenshire, daughter of my half gg uncle James Fraser and Isabella Rennie. in 1911, age 9, she is with her family at Rosebank, Hatton, her father a roadman for the County Council. Jessie was married in 1922 in Aberdeen to William James Connan, and insurance inspector, and she died in 1971 at age 69 in Aberdeen.

Interesting statistics: average age of death

I’ve been playing with the statistics feature of the software I use for my family tree, and it comes up with some fascinating stuff.

For my Strachan tree, the average age of death is 47. Hardly anyone died at that age, though: the average age is low because so many died within the first three years of life. In fact, around 13.5% of the deaths happened before the age of 3 and 20% had died by the time they were 10 years old.

At the other end of the scale, 3.5% of them made it into their 90s, 9.2% signed off in their 80s, and 15% popped their clogs during their 70s. That makes 27.7% reaching what we could call old age.

My Strachan tree dates back to the 1700s with most of the people on it living during the 1800s. Given that nearly all the men were coal miners and many of the women gave birth to an awful lot of children, and considering the crowded and unsanitary conditions in which they must have lived, my Strachans appear to have been a pretty tough lot.