Joseph Strachan, my great grandfather, was born about 1833 most probably at Shewalton Colliery, Ayrshire, and married Jeanie Haddow (also Jane) born about 1834 in Stevenston. They had 9 children and Joseph was a coal miner.
They lived in Ayrshire, eventually settling in Crookedholm, and were to experience a lot of tragedy due to the early deaths of so many of their children.
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Joseph Strachan about 1833 – 1895
No baptism record can be found for Joseph, but he must have been born at Shewalton Colliery, and his census entries confirm this. He can be found in the 1841 census at Shewalton Colliery with his parents, three older siblings and four younger siblings – he was the fourth child and eldest son of his parents Robert Strachan and Margaret Haggerty. Joseph would have started working in the coal mine at a young age – possibly as young as 7. The family moved to Kilwinning some time between 1842 and 1846, and Joseph’s mother Margaret died in Kilwinning in 1846. In 1850 his father remarried, and Joseph acquired a stepmother, Susan Cran. The 1851 census has Joseph with his father, stepmother and siblings at Moncur Row, Kilwinning – both father Robert and son Joseph are coal miners. I’m not sure where Moncur Road was, but there was a Moncur it close to Mid Moncur to the east of Kilwinning.
Joseph married Jean Haddow in Kilwinning in June 1854, though their marriage entry in the parish register gives little information.
By 1861 they had had three children, but their second child Margaret had died at two years old. The birth and death registration of these children showed that the family moved regularly, no doubt to try and achieve better working and living conditions. Starting in Kilwinning they then moved to Dreghorn, to Hurlford, and then back to Kilwinning. In 1861 they are at 35 Benslie or Bensley Square, Kilwinning – home to many a Strachan relative – and have their surviving two children with them. Benslie Square was not in Kilwinning town, but was out to the east, on the way to Kilmaurs.
Between 1863 and 1870 Joseph and Jeanie had four more children, but also lost two as daughter Jeanie born 1866 died in 1867, and a second daughter named Margaret born 1868 died in 1869. The birth and death registrations show the family moved from Kilwinning to Riccarton in about 1868, then back to Kilwinning again, but were in Crookedholm by 1870.
They are in the 1871 census at Crookedholm, though no address details are give. The census has them with three children, Robert, Flora and John, as their eldest Amelia was working as a domestic servant in Irvine. Joseph is a coal miner, as are their neighbours.
Son Henry (my grandfather) was born in Crookedholm in 1873 but in 1878 their youngest child Colin was born at Taiglum in the parish of Stair. This is the miner’s village that became known as Drongan, and is between Coylton and Ochiltree, south of Kilmarnock. It seems they chose not to settle there, though, as by 1881 they are back in Crookedholm, where they were to remain for the rest of their lives, In 1881 Joseph and son Robert are both coal miners, no occupation is given for daughter Flora, and three children are still at school. Jeanie Hood Strachan age 6, described as daughter in the census, is actually their granddaugter, as she is the illegitimate daughter of their eldest child Amelia.
In 1887, their daughter Flora’s baby died at Braehead, Crookedholm and in 1899 their son Colin gave his address as 6 Braehead when his son was born: this is likely to have been where Joseph and Jeanie lived. Sadly, Joseph and Jeanie lost another child when their son Robert died in 1890 at age 29.
1891 sees them in Lamont’s Land, Crookedholm, Joseph at age 60 now a coal trimmer, daughter Flora age 25 an invalid since childhood, son Henry a coal miner and son Colin at school. With them is granddaughter Jeanie Strachan, age 8, the illegitimate daughter of Flora.
Then in 1893 their daughter Flora died at her parent’s home of inflammation of the spinal chord. Of their nine children, only four were now still living. The 1895 Valuation Roll shows them as tenants of house 6, Crookedholm, owned by Elizabeth Dunlop, wife of James Lyon of Hurlford. Nearly all their neighbours were coal miners.
Joseph Strachan died in 14 December 1895 at Dunlop’s Land, Crookedholm of Cardiac Disease Dropsy, at the age of 62. Today that condition would most likely be referred to as congestive heart failure. He may also have had oedema: swelling in the feet and lower legs.
Jeanie Haddow about 1834 – 1910
No baptism record can be found for Jeanie, but she was born in Stevenston, Ayrshire, the daughter of John Haddow, coal miner, and Amelia Murphy. The 1836 Stevenston minister’s census has John Haddow and Amelia Murphy at Mill Hill with three children, the youngest of which would have been Jeanie. The family is in the 1841 census at Town Head Street, Stevenston, including Jean Haddow age six.
By 1851 the family had moved to Kilwinning and were living on Kenneth’s Row, Corsehill – Jean Haddow is age 16. She would have met Joseph there as both their father’s were coal miners, as was Joseph, and they married in the parish of Kilwinning in 1854.
Jeanie was widowed when Joseph Strachan died in 1895, and tragedy struck again in 1899 when her eldest child Amelia died after childbirth. Jeanie had now outlived six of her nine children. In 1901 she is living at Schoolhouse Road, Crookedholm with her son Colin, a coal miner, and her granddaughter Jane Dunlop, age 18 and a wool spinner, who was the daughter of Flora.
Jeanie Strachan nee Haddow died on 2 May 1910 at Crookedholm age 74, of “senile decay”.
Her sons John and Henry were by then living in Lanarkshire, but must have returned to Crookedholm at the time as the informant for her death registration was her eldest remaining child John Strachan of Tollcross. Jeanie’s son Colin was still living in Crookedholm.
Children of Joseph Strachan and Jeanie Haddow
1. Amelia Strachan 1855 – 1899, married to Robert Anderson
Amelia, named for her maternal grandmother, was born on 14 July 1855 at Dreghorn. As she was born in the first year of official registration of BMDs in Scotland, her birth certificate is particularly detailed. She is named Maillie on her birth certificate, either the registrar not understanding the name Amellia, or perhaps her parents said her name was Milly. She was born at Kirkland Row, Dreghorn, to Joseph Strachan coal miner age 22 and the certificate states he was born and registered in Dundonald, married in 1854 at Kilwinning with one child (Amelia), and that Jean Strachan maiden name Haddow was 20 years and born in Stevenston, Amelia being her first child. The birth certificate also shows that Joseph could not read or write as he signed with his X mark.
Amelia is with her parents in 1861 at Bensley Square, Kilwinning, and in 1871 is a domestic servant in Irvine, in the household of Thomas Syme, grocer and travelling draper.
Then in 1874 Amelia gave birth to an illegitimate daughter Jeanie Hood at Crookedholm, father John Hood coal miner: Amelia is called Mary on the birth certificate but it is definitely Amelia’s daughter: the father has acknowledged the birth but there is no marriage for them.
Amelia married Robert Anderson, coal miner, at Sorn in 1877. Amelia’s brother was born near Sorn in 1878 so the family must have moved to the area at some time after 1873. Again, Amelia is named Mary and is a mill worker living at Catrine, where there was a cotton mill.
In 1881, Maly Strachan (as she is listed in the census) is at Mauchline Road, Hurlford with her son Alexander Anderson age 1: her husband Robert Anderson was visiting his parents in Sorn and her daughter Jeanie Hood is with Amelia’s parents, Joseph and Jeanie Strachan. In 1891 Mary (as she has been listed) and Robert Anderson, coal miner, are at 58 Riccarton Road, Hurlford with children Alexander and Joseph and Amelia’s daughter Jeanie, who is a muslin sewer.
Amelia gave birth to a son Robert Anderson on 19 February 1899 at Academy Street, Hurlford – the baby survived but sadly Amelia did not. Half an hour after the birth Amelia died of “shock following parturition”. Amelia outlived her father but when she died, her mother had experienced the loss of six of her nine children.
Robert Anderson remarried to Mary Finlay in Rutherglen, but continued to live at Academy Street, Hurlford as he there in 1901 with wife Mary, his three children with Amelia, a daughter with his second wife, and his sister-in-law.
Children of Amelia Strachan:
Jeanie Hood, born illegitimate in 1874, married coal miner William Orr at Hurlford in 1897 and in their early years of marriage they moved to Kilmaurs, Crossford in Lanarkshire and then back to Riccarton. Their eldest child was called Amelia. Janet Orr nee Hood died in 1948 age 75 and her death was registered at Kilmarnock.
Alexander Anderson, born in 1878, became a coal miner and was living with his father and stepmother in Hurlford in 1901. He may have been the Alexander Anderson who married Marion Williams Swan in Kilmarnock in 1908, and could be the Alexander Anderson who died at Mauchline in 1965 at ahe 86.
Joseph Strachan Anderson, born in 1882, also became a coal miner and was with his father and stepmother in Hurlford in 1901. A family tree on Ancestry states he married Mary Jane McLean Kerr, had a son Joseph Strachan Anderson born 1909, and died in 1953 age 70 at Riverside Road, Kilmarnock.
Robert Anderson, born in 1899 and whose birth lead to Amelia’s death, is with his father and stepmother in Hurlford in 1901 age 2. He migrated to Canada in 1921 to join his uncle Adam Barbour of Geneva Avenue, Toronto. His ocean arrival form states he was born in Hurlford, his occupation was a clerk and his father was Robert Anderson of Riccarton Road, Hurlford.
2. Margaret Haggerty Strachan 1857 – 1859
Margaret Haggerty Strachan, named for her maternal grandmother, was born on 21 August 1857 at Hurlford and died at the age of 2 on 11 September 1859 at Kenneth’s Row, Kilwinning from teething. This is unlikely to have been the cause of death – more likely it was from some kind of fever that caused convulsions.
3. Robert Strachan 1860 -1890
Robert Strachan, named for his paternal grandfather, was born on 7 March 1860 at Kenneth’s Row, Kilwinning. He is with his family in 1861 at Benslie Square, Kilwinning and at Crookedholm in 1871 and 1881. He was coal miner, of course. In 1882 he married Elizabeth Cairns, a cotton mill worker and daughter of a coal miner, at 11 Corran’s Row, Crookedholm, which was probably his parent’s home.
Robert’s son Joseph was born in January 1886 at Riccarton Road, Hurlford. Then tragedy struck. According to Robert’s death certificate, he died on 20 January 1890 at the Ayr District Asylum from general paralysis of the insane, from which he’d suffered for 3 years. He was 28 years old, and his death was registered by the steward of the asylum.
General paralysis of the insane was the medical term given in those days for the final stage of syphilis, which caused dementia and muscle paralysis. Before the realisation that the condition was linked to syphilis, and before the discovery of penicillin, it was a common cause of death and nearly always followed incarceration in an asylum for the insane. Having discussed this with a number of keen family historians, it would seem that there is unlikely to be a family tree where this doesn’t appear as a cause of death. Given that Robert did not have any children after 1886, it would seem that the 3 years referred to on his death certificate could have been the period he spent at the Ayr Asylum. His medical papers may be available at Ayrshire Archives but are not online: one day when I’m up in Ayrshire I’ll see if they contain any further details.
His wife Elizabeth remarried not long after Robert’s death, to John White, and lived in Galston. Her son Joseph Strachan is listed as Joseph White in the 1891 and 1901 census, and John White had children from his own previous marriage.
Children of Robert Strachan:
Joseph Strachan born 5 January 1886 at Hurlford would have been about one year old when his father entered the asylum and had just turned four when his father died. Later that year he acquired a stepfather, John White, and is with his mother and stepfather in 1891 in Galston, and again in 1901 age 15, by which time he was a coal miner. In 1909 he married Grace Carel at Loudon and had a daughter born the same year in Galston, but she died in infancy. In 1911 Joseph and Grace were living in Loudon Row, Galston. There are a number of births in Galston that could be their children, and there is a Joseph Strachan who died in 1936 at Newmilns, which is just east of Galston.
4. Flora Strachan 1863 – 1893
Flora Strachan was born on 9 August 1863 at Lamont’s Row, Kilwinning. Her census entry in 1891 says she had been an invalid since childhood, but there are no records indicating what her disability was. In 1871 she’s with her parents and siblings at Crookedholm, in 1881 is also with them at Crookedholm age 17. In 1882 she gave birth to an illegitimate daughter, Jane Dunlop Strachan at her parent’s house on Corran’s Row, Crookedholm: the father is not named but Robert Dunlop is given as the father’s name on Jane’s marriage certificate. Flora describes herself as a domestic and agricultural servant.
In 1887 Flora gave birth to a second illegitimate child, Joseph Irvine Strachan, again father not named but his surname could have been Irvine. Flora was a mill worker picker at the time. Baby Joseph died at 37 days old, from infantile marasmus (failure to thrive, often caused by malnutrition).
Flora is still with her parents in 1891 at Lamont’s Land, Crookedholm, age 25, along with her eight year old daughter Jeanie, who is erroneously listed as the daughter of her grandparents (and which has misled a number of people putting their tree together via Ancestry).
Flora died in 1893 at the age of 29, at her parent’s home at Dunlop’s Land, Crookedholm, having suffered from inflammation of the spinal chord for 2 years and bedsores.
Children of Flora Strachan:
Jane Dunlop Strachan was born 7 December 1882 at her grandparent’s home in Crookedholm, and in 1891 she is with her mother and grandparents in Crookedholm. Her mother died in 1893, and in 1901 Jane age 18 and a wool spinner is living at Schoolhouse Road, Crookedholm with her widowed grandmother and her coal miner uncle Colin Strachan. Jane married coal miner James McIlwraith at Fowler’s Hall, Crookedholm in 1902, and in 1911 they are at Cadger’s Road – the census says they have had seven children of whom only three are living: James born in Hurlford, David born in Stirling and Thomas born in Motherwell. Jane McIlwraith, other surnames Strachan and Dunlop, died in 1944 and her death was registered at Crookedholm and Hurlford.
Joseph Irvine Strachan was born 10 May 1887 at Crookedholm father unknown, and died on 16 June 1887 at Braehead, Crookedholm of infantile marasmus.
5. Jeannie Murphy Strachan
Jeanie Murphy Strachan was born on 11 June 1866 at Kenneth’s Row, Kilwinning and died there on 19 February 1867, at 8 months old, of gastro enteritis.
6. Margaret Strachan
Margaret Strachan was born on 14 March 1868 at Dykehead, Riccarton and died on 1 April 1869 at Kenneth’s Row, Kilwinning, at age 1 year, of bowel complaint and consumption.
7. John Strachan
John Strachan was born on 10 April 1870 at Crookedholm, and is with his parents in Crookedholm in 1871 and 1881. He was a coal miner. In 1890 he married Lucy Alice Robertson at Railway Buildings, Hurlford, the home of Lucy’s parents.
In 1891 they are at Dunlop’s Land, Crookedholm and in 1895 were at Selfish Hill, also known as Cadger’s Row, Hurlford, when John was the informant for his father’s death. They are at Cowan’s Row in 1901, John a coal miner and with 4 children. The family moved to Tollcross, Lanarkshire at some time between the birth of a child in 1906 and another in 1910.
In 1911 they are at 49 Causewayside Street, Fullarton (between Tollcross and Cambuslang) and John is working as a roadmaker at a coal mine. The census states they have had ten children, seven of whom are still living: daughter Susannah age 19 is a oil and colour worker, daughter Jeanie age 18 is a waste worker at an engine works, four children are at school and the youngest is four months old. They also have a lodger, Bella Cowen age 18 who also works at the engine waste stores so was probably a friend of daughter Jeanie.
John Strachan died in 1941 at the age of 70, at Delburn Street, Tollcross, from coronary thrombosis.
Children of John Strachan:
Due to the relative recency of their birth, they have not been extensively researched:
1. Susannah Jennings Strachan born 1891 married Thomas Simpson in 1914 at Shettleston, Lanarkshire.
2. Jeanie Haddow Strachan born 1892 married William Dunlop Bowie in 1918 at Shettleston.
3. Joseph Strachan born 1895 died 1897.
4. Robert Robertson Strachan born 1896 died 1898.
5. Amelia Strachan born 1898 married Thomas Bulloch in 1925 at Shettleston.
6. Elizabeth Robertson Strachan born 1900 but I’m not sure which marriage could be her.
7. John Strachan born 1903 was informant at his father’s death in 1941 and was living in Tollcross at the time; not sure which marriage could be his.
8. Mary Robertson Strachan born 1905 married William Davie Love in 1933 at Shettleston.
9. Robert Robertson Strachan born 1910 married Margaret Armitage in 1937 at Shettleston.
10. One other who died in childhood, date and name unknown
8. Henry Strachan
This is my grandfather Henry (aka Harry) Strachan, who was born on 25 March 1873 at Crookedholm and will be the subject of the next “Story of a Strachan” – but in brief:
He married Helen McCrae at the Commercial Inn, Hurlford in 1896, and they were living at Old Factory House, Crookedholm on 1901 with their eldest three children. In 1905 the Valuation Roll has Henry Strachan collier as a tenant of a house on Cowan’s Row, Crookedholm and was paying rent to Portland Colliery. He was living next door to Henry Strachan pitheadman; this was his uncle Henry, Joseph Strachan’s younger brother.
The family moved to Lanarkshire some time between 1906 and 1908, first living at Tollcross and then moving to Halfway, Cambuslang. In 1911 they are 14 Mansion Street, Cambuslang and in 1912 had moved to 54 Gilbertfield Buildings, Overton Street, Halfway, so Henry must have working at the Gilbertfield Colliery. Henry Strachan died in November 1918 (3 days before my father’s second birthday) of pneumonia and arteriosclerosis.
Children of Henry Strachan:
To be covered in Henry’s story – their children were:
1. Joseph Strachan 1895 – 1991
2. Mary Ann McInairney Strachan 1896 – 1980
3. John McCrae Strachan 1898 – 1973
4. Jeannie Haddow Strachan 1900 – 1995
5. Henry Strachan 1901 – 1961
6. Matthew McCrae Strachan 1904 – 1987
7. Helen McCrae Strachan 1906 – 1999
8. Colin McCrae Strachan 1908 – 1971
9. William McCrae Strachan 1911 – 1912
10. Amelia Strachan 1913 – 1990
11. Robert Strachan 1916 – 1991 (my father)
9. Colin Haddow Strachan
Colin Haddow Strachan was born in the parish of Stair on 1 August 1878 – his birth certificate states he was born at Taiglum (Drongan). In 1881 and 1891 he is with his parents in Cookedholm and he became a coal miner.
In 1899 his son Henry was born illegitimate to Agnes Porter, and Colin’s address is given as 6 Braehead, Crookedholm. His son died at the age of five months, and in 1901 Colin is living with his widowed mother at Schoolhouse Road, Crookedholm. Colin then married Agnes Porter in 1901 at Guard Lane, Kilmarnock.
Later that year they had a daughter born at Sandbed Street, Killmarnock. A son followed in 1903, born at 15 Douglas Street, Kilmarnock, and then a daughter in 1908 born at Crookedholm, but she died at nine months old.
Their fourth child, Elizabeth Black Strachan, was born on 26 February 1910 and Colin’s wife Agnes died six days later of puerperal scepticaemia. Baby Elizabeth was taken in by a neighbouring childless couple, John and Mary Gibson, as she can be found with them in the 1911 census in Crookedholm described as adopted daughter. Colin lived at 41 Mill Lane, Crookedholm with his remaining two children, Robert and Agnes.
In 1913 Colin married Maggie Graham, who worked at a lace factory, in Galston. I haven’t yet researched whether they had children but they probably did. Colin Strachan died in 1953, his death registered in Hurlford.
Children of Colin Strachan:
Again, due to the relative recency of their birth, they have not been extensively researched:
1. Henry Strachan born 1899 died 1900 of teething fever.
2. Agnes Porter Strachan born 1901, married Thomas Connar and died in 1980.
3. Robert Kerr Strachan born 1903 died 1955 at Kilmarnock – there are several marriages for a Robert Strachan in Hurlford and Kilmarnock at the right time so I’m not sure which one could be his.
4. Elizabeth Black Strachan born 1910 was adopted in infancy by John Gibson, coal miner, and Mary Andrew of Crookedholm. There is a marriage in 1926 in Kilmarnock of Elizabeth Black Strachan to William John Clark.