Tag Archives: Kilwinning

Robert Strachan Story page now added

At last I’ve finished “The story of Robert Strachan b. about 1808 and (1) Margaret Haggerty b. 1808 and (2) Susan Cran or Kirkwood born about 1819”. It can be found under the STRACHAN tab above. I’ve added scans of relevant documents and a few old maps. If you read it and think you’re connected to anyone mentioned, do add a comment and say hello.

It’s taking time to work my way through all the research I’ve already done, and when I work on something I always find a reason to do a bit more research. So getting everything onto this blog and web site will no doubt take care of the next few years – but what’s retirement for if it’s not for going things you love doing!

On 28 April

Only one birth to report today, of a 1st cousin 3 times removed.

28 April 1822
Birth of Catherine Adam at Stevenston, Ayrshire, daughter of my ggg aunt Margaret Haddow and her husband Francis Adam. I’d not researched her beyond knowing her birth, so had a look to see if anyone on Ancestry had done some decent research, and fortunately someone had, and I also found her in the census. In 1841 she’s with her parents, father a coal miner, in Stevenston with a lodger John Dean, a coal miner, and also a Dean family living next door. In 1 May 1841 Catherine Adam married John Dean – who I assume was the lodger and had been the boy next door – and in 1851 they’re living at Kenneth’s Row, Corsehill, Kilwinning. I’m beginning to wonder if anyone lived in Kenneth’s Row that I wasn’t related to! It’s an address that crops up over and over again. No children for John and Catherine, though, and they remained childless. In 1861 they’re at Dalziel, Lanarkshire, but were back home in Stevenston in 1871. In 1881, age 67, John Deans has changed occupation and is a game keeper, which is certainly different to coal mining and an understandable change at his age. Catherine died in 1888 at Stevenston, aged 65.

On 26 March

26 March 1809
Elizabeth Firth was baptised at Royston, Yorkshire, daughter of Joseph Firth and Hannah Fisher. Joseph Firth was my gggg grandfather, and Elizabeth’s sister was Sarah Firth who married my ggg grandfather William Green of Worsbrough. That makes Elizabeth my gggg aunt. I haven’t researched her beyond her baptism so have no idea what became of her. 


26 March 1843
Sarah Ann Green was baptised at St Mary’s Barnsley, daughter of Joseph and Mary Green, bleacher of Barnsley. Joseph was the brother of my ggg grandfather William Green of Worsbrough. No idea what became of Sarah Ann as I have yet to research her.

26 March 1861
Alexander Strachan was born at Corsehill, son of my gg grandfather Robert Strachan and his second wife Susan Cran, making Alexander my half gg uncle. He’s with his parents in the 1861 census at 24 Kenneth’s Row, age under 1 month, but he’s not with them in 1871 when he would have been 10 and I can’t find him anywhere else, nor can I find a death record for him. He’s a mystery.

26 March 1868
Amelia Murphy Haddow died at Lamont’s Row, Kilwinning age 2. She was the daughter of Hugh Richmond Haddow, who married Marian Mackay. Hugh was the son of my gg grandparents John Haddow and Amelia Murphy, so Amelia Murphy Haddow was obviously named after her grandmother. Hugh and Marion had a second daughter in 1874 and named her Amelia Murphy Haddow, to the name lived on. Amelia became a recurrent name on my Strachan family tree: my father had a sister called Amelia, more commonly known as Milly.

Hmm. Doing this is reminding me that there are a lot of people on my family tree that I know very little about, though I’m glad there’s still plenty more research for me to do.

My Haddow ancestors from Ayrshire

I’ve just added details to the Haddow page, which tells of my Great Grandmother Jeannie Haddow and her parents John Haddow and Amelia Murphy. I was glad to discover Amelia, as this told me why the name Amelia has run in the Strachan family: I had an aunt Amelia, known as Milly, who migrated to Canada. She was my father’s favourite sister and he missed her.

So that’s all the pages for my grandparents and great grandparents lines done now. When I have time I’ll write up what I know about the families that connect to my great great grandparents through marriage, and add more detail about the lives of the ancestors I’ve already put on a page.

Today, however, it is Sunday and it’s lovely and sunny outside, a very welcome change after the snow and rain of last week, so ancestors will have to wait as the garden is in need of some urgent maintenance.

Benslie or Bensley miner’s row, near Kilwinning

Picture found on the internet and I’m not sure when it was taken, but Benslie Square (sometimes Bensley Square on the census) were purpose built miner’s cottages that were demolished in the 1930s. I suspect the picture was taken not that long before then. They were situated off the B785 east of Kilwinnning, next to Benslie Wood, where there is now a small cul de sac called Benslie Row, and were owned by the coalmaster company Archilbald Finnie and Son. They were built in the early 1840s.

An article written by Chris Hawksworth for Ayrshire Notes volume 41 says about Archilbald Finnie, born 1783 at Kilmarnock, “He had taken over the tack for the Fergushill pits near Kilwinning by 1836, and by 1841 he had started building miners rows at Bensley to accommodate his workers at the expanding Fergushill pits, which were a quarter mile from the rows” and that “The Bensley miners’ rows were expanded in 1857 as Archibald’s mining interests in the Fergushill area flourished. In 1854, he also arranged with the owners of the adjacent Doura mine to work the particular coal seams he had started mining at Auchenwinsey into the Doura estate property”. He encouraged good upkeep of his rows by awarding prizes to the families who had the best-kept cottages, but in 1861 dismissed and evicted those miners who went on strike and made other coal masters agree not to house them. But he also built the Fergushill Church, a school and the Sprinside Institute, and started a savings bank for miners.

A report into miner’s rows produced in 1913 says this about Bensley or Benslie Row: “(Owned by) Messrs. A. Finnie & Son. Benslie is a village about 400 yards further up the main road, belonging to the same colliery company as Fergushill. There are 57 houses in all, stone built, with an earth-closet for every four houses. There are neither washing-houses nor coalhouses. There are two double apartment houses at 1s 6d a week rent; the other double houses are 1s  3d per week. There are 14 single apartment houses at 1s a week rent. All have a small garden in front, but few cultivate them. There is but one pump of spring water, which is said to be good. The paths are unpaved, with the consequent muddy fronts.The village is about 67 years old.”

In the 1861 census my great-grandfather Joseph Strachan was the tenant at 34 Bensley Square. He was a coal miner age 28 with his wife Jean and children Amelia age 6 and Robert age 1. There had been a daughter Margaret Haggerty Strachan born in 1857 but she had died at less than one month old. They hadn’t been there long as son Robert was born at Kenneth’s Row, Kilwinning and they wouldn’t stay there long as their next child, Flora, was born at Lamont’s Row, Kilwinning.

Bensley miners' row, Kilwinning