Monthly Archives: February 2014

Ayrshire “flowerers”

Ayrshire became famous for its embroidered muslin, and many of the girls and women on my family tree are described, in the census, as muslin sewers or flowerers. It was a form of “whitework”, being embroidery hand sewn onto white muslin and incorporating cutwork, and was very popular for cuffs, collars and christening gowns.

Each sewer tended to specialise in a particular pattern, so that the completed piece could be produced by several girls. The work, including the printed paper patterns, was distributed by agents and the girls worked at home, although sewing schools were also set up to teach the girls and sometimes the girls worked there. However, the piece rate pay was low and the work caused eye problems due to doing such intricate work for long hours in dim light. Work was commissioned by large firms who sold it to fashion houses all over Europe and even to the USA. The christening robe worked by Queen Victoria’s eldest son was made by the Rowat family of Dundonald.

The industry was killed off in the late 1800s when machine embroidery such as broderie anglaise meant such work could be mass produced.

Examples of Ayrshire whitework can be seen here –
An article explaining how the industry was organised can be found here –

1 and 2 February

A Haddow ancestor today who married a Hunter – as did his sister. Plus four Strachan descendants from Ayrshire: one migrated to Alabama, one died at 21, one lived most of her life in Galston and one died at age 6.

2 February 1786 (born about 1766)
Robert Haddow was the son of James Haddow and Margaret Harvie. He was born in about 1766, most probably in Stevenston, and married Margaret Hunter in Stevenston on 2 February 1786. His sister Margaret Haddow married Robert Hunter, brother of Robert Haddow’s wife Margaret. Robert Haddow and his wife had children baptised in Stevenston from 1786 to 1801. There is a burial in the Stevenston OPR for Robert Haddow in December 1815, and his widow and children can be found in the 1819 minister’s census of Stevenston. It’s highly likely that Robert Haddow was a coal miner.

2 February 1851
Birth of Jean King at either Dalry or Kilwinning, though no baptism record has been found – her date of birth comes from her death certificate. She was the daughter of my gg aunt Jean (or Jane) Strachan and James King and granddaughter of Robert Strachan and Margaret Haggerty. In the 1851 census she is 2 months old and with her parents at Main Street, Kilwinning, her father a hand loom cotton weaver. By 1861 the family were in Irvine – Jean had acquired several younger siblings and at 10 years old was earning her keep as a muslin sewer. The 1861 census says Jean was born in Dalry but in all the other census she has Kilwinning as her birthplace: the siblings who came after her was born in Glasgow, with the remaining 2 born in Irvine. Jean married coal miner William Stewart at Irvine in December 1870. In 1871 they at Notherfield, Kilwinning boarding with a married couple and by 1881 were at Sourlie New Row, Kilwinning with 3 children. The family migrated to the USA in 1885 and went to Birmingham, Alabama where they can be found in the 1900 census. Jeanie, as she is named in the census, has had 10 children with 9 of them living. Husband William is a coal miner and they have 2 daughters still at home and at school, the youngest born in Alabama. In 1910 they are at Avenue F, Birmingham, William a night watchman for a brick company and Janie stating she has had 10 children but only 6 still living. Jane Stewart died in December 1927 at Fairfield, Alabama age 76.

2 February 1856
Birth of William Gibson at Kilwinning, Ayrshire, son of Helen Strachan and William Gibson and grandson of my gggg uncle Peter Strachan and Mary Monroe. He is with his parents at Galston Road, Hurlford in 1861, his father died in 1866, and he is with his widowed mother and a brother in Orchard Street, Galston in 1871 working as an apprentice joiner. William died in May 1877, age 21, of disease of the liver.

1 February 1871
Birth of Agnes Strachan at Loudon, Ayrshire, daughter of coal miner Robert Strachan and Janet Ross Gilmour and granddaughter of my gggg uncle Peter Strachan and Mary Monroe. 2 month old Agnes is in the 1871 census at Boyd Street, Galston with her parents, many older siblings and two nephews born before she was! In 1881 and 1891 she’s at Goatfoot Row, Galston with her parents and siblings, and in the latter is working as a domestic servant. In June 1891 she married coal minerJames Harper Kidd at Galston and in 1901 they are in Henrietta Street, Galston with 2 children, one of whom was born in Dumfrieshire so they must have lived there for a short time. Agnes Kidd nee Strachan died at age 58 in 1929 at Galston.

1 February 1873
Birth of Annie King at Irvine, Ayrshire, daughter of my gg aunt Jean or Jane Strachan and cotton weaver James King, and granddaughter of Robert Strachan and Margaret Haggerty. Little Annie died at age 6, in 1879, at Irvine