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.
Harry is the one standing at the back, with his mother, brother John and sister in law Sophie seated.