My Strachan ancestors were coal miners from Ayrshire, Scotland. More detail is provided on other pages within this section, and my Strachan ancestors are also mentioned in quite a lot of my blog posts: to read them, click on the word Strachan in the Tag Cloud on the right.
GGGG Grandfather Thomas Strachan (1749-1812 but not proven)
The furthest I can get back is Thomas Strachan, who married Susannah Alexander in the parish of Irvine in July 1771. The baptism records of their children give his occupation as coal hewer. He is most probably the Thomas Strachan baptised July 1749 at Muirkirk, illegitimate son of Agnes Patrick and Thomas Strachan. Who his father Thomas was remains shrouded in mystery as nothing can be found in the surviving records.
Thomas Strachan and Susannah Alexander had ten children whose baptism records remain. Their first eight children were baptised in Irvine, but sometime between 1790 and 1793 the family moved to the south of the Clyde area of Glasgow – most probably for work in the coal mines in the Govan area – as the youngest two children were baptised in the parish of Gorbals.
There is a burial entry in the Gorbals parish register for 1812 for a Thomas Strachan age 70. This could well be my ancestor as people weren’t very accurate about ages in those days. However, most of his sons were working as coal miners back in Ayrshire by the early 1800s, so Thomas and Susannah may have moved back there themselves and the Gorbals burial might be for a different Thomas.
GGG Grandfather John Strachan (1774-1840)
John Strachan was baptised in Irvine in July 1774, and must have moved with his family to Gorbals in the early 1790s. As he would have been well into his teens by then he would have been working down the mines for some years. John Strachan married Agnes Neilson in Gorbals in April 1794 and they had a very large family of 14 or 15 children (I’m unsure about the last one called Ann). As they had nearly all of their children baptised, it’s possible to track their movements as they went from mine to mine.
John and Agnes’s first three children were born in Gorbals, but in 1802 they had a daughter baptised in Campsie, Stirlingshire. They were back in Gorbals when their son Walter was born in 1804, but were in Banton, near Kilsyth in Stirlingshire when their son John was born in 1806. Their next son was my direct ancestor Robert and unfortunately no baptism record exists for him. However, their next child Peter was born in 1810 in Greenend, Coatbridge, Lanarkshire. In 1811 son Henry was born in Coltburn, near Muirkirk in Ayrshire, and in 1814 daughter Jean was baptised in Riccarton, Ayrshire. The family then stayed put for quite a few years as their remaining children were all born and baptised in Riccarton.
Some time after 1821, the family moved to Shewalton Colliery in the parish of Dundonald, where several of John’s extended family also lived and worked. In the 1820s his wife Agnes died, and John Strachan married Jean Wallace in 1827 at Dundonald. John and his second wife had two daughters, born in 1829 and 1833. John Strachan therefore fathered at least 16 children.
There is a burial entry for a John Strachan in 1840 in the parish of Irvine, which is close to Shewalton Colliery. He would have been aged about 65.
GG Grandfather Robert Strachan (1807-1877)
Robert Strachan was born about 1807/08, location unknown, and become a coal miner like his father and grandfather. In 1827 he married Margaret Haggerty at Dundonald. They had 9 children, all born at Shewalton Colliery, and the family are still there in the 1841 census. They moved to Kilwinning soon after, however, as that is there Margaret Haggerty died in 1846 from fever, most probably typhus.
In 1850 Robert Strachan married his second wife Susan Cran in Kilwinning and they went on to have 6 children. So Robert had at least 15 children: given the number of offspring the Strachans tended to have I must have an awful lot of distant cousins!
In the 1851 census, Robert Strachan coal miner is living at Moncur Row, Kilwinning with his second wife Susan, and 5 children. In 1861 he is at 24 Kenneth’s Row, Kilwinning, again with his second wife and several children as well as a granddaughter. In 1871 he’s at 20 Kenneth’s Row, Kilwinning but is listed as a coal miner disabled, with his wife and four children who are all working, the sons as coal miners and the daughter as a bonnet knitter.
Robert Strachan died in May 1877. His death certificate gives place of death as Kenneth’s Row, Kilwinning, and the cause of death chronic bronchitis. He was buried at Brigend Cemetery, Kilwinning.
Great Grandfather Joseph Strachan (1833-1895)
No baptism record can be found for Joseph Strachan, but given census and other records, he must have been born in around 1833 at Shewalton Colliery. He moved to Kilwinning with his parents and was living with his father and stepmother in 1851. He married Jeannnie Haddow in Kilwinning in June 1854. They had 9 children.
In the 1861 census, Joseph Strachan coal miner is living at 34 Bensley Square, near Fergushill, Kilwinning with wife Jean and two children, their daughter Margaret having died at age 2 from teething fever. By 1871 the family had moved to Crookedholm, Kilmarnock: Joseph Strachan coal miner is with his wife and three of his children. They may have briefly moved during the 1870s, as in 1878 their son Colin was baptised in Tarbolton, parish of Stair, but by 1881 they were back in Crookedholm, where Joseph is in the census with his wife, 5 children and a granddaughter (the latter is called daughter on the census but she wasn’t). In 1891 their address is given as Lamont’s Land, Crookedholm and they have 3 children and another granddaughter with them (again the granddaughter is down as a daughter when she wasn’t.)
Joseph Strachan died in 1895 at Dunlop’s Land, Crookedholm age about 62, from cardiac disease and dropsy.
Grandfather Henry Strachan (1873-1918)
Henry Strachan is the grandfather I sadly never knew as he died before I was born. He was born in March 1873 in Crookedholm, Kilmarnock. He married my grandmother Helen McCrae (Nell), who also died before I was born, in 1896 at the Commercial Inn, Hurlford. They had 11 children, one who died in childhood. My father was their youngest.
In the 1901 census, Henry and Helen Strachan are at Old Factory House, Crookedholm. Henry is a coal miner and their three eldest children are with them, the eldest attending school.
At some time between 1906 and 1908 the family moved to Lanarkshire. They first lived in Tollcross, where Henry’s younger brother also lived. The move was most likely to have been for work: coal mines in Ayrshire were beginning to run out but there was plenty of work in the mines to the east and south of Glasgow. By 1911 they had settled in Cambuslang, and were living at 14 Mansion Street with 9 children and 2 adult boarders. How did they all manage in a two room tenement? Life certainly wasn’t easy in those days.
In 1912 Henry Strachan purchased a plot ay Westburn Cemetery, which is the same year his young son William died of measles. The family’s address at the time was 54 Gilbertfield Buildings, Halfway, Cambuslang. The address means Henry was most likely employed at the Gilbertfield Mine, which in 1910 employed 315 men underground and 82 above ground. the 1915 Valluation Roll lists Henry Strachan as the tenant of 54 Gilbertfield Buildings, Overton Street. It was owned by United Collieries and Henry paid £9 12s rent.
Sadly, Henry died in 1918, three days before my father’s second birthday. He was only 45 and died of pneumonia and arteriosclerosis.
Helen Strachan nee McCrae died in 1944 at the age of 68. As a widow she lived in both Cambuslang and Toronto, Canada, where some of her children had migrated.