Today: my grandfather’s birthday, and a Strachan ancestor who disappeared from the records for 35 years.
9 May 1807
Birth of Thomas Strachan at Riccarton, Ayrshire, son of my gggg uncle Robert Strachan and Jean Kelly. Nothing else can be found for him so the assumption is Thomas died when young.
9 May 1895
Happy birthday Grandad! My grandfather James (Jim) Fraser – who I knew well and remember with great fondness – was born at Aikenshill farm, parish of Foveran, Aberdeenshire, son of William Fraser and Helen Hay. His father William, from Cruden, was working there as a farm servant. In 1901 Jim was with his father, mother and 3 siblings at Mill of Brogan, parish of Slains, where his father was the head cattleman. Very sadly, his mother Helen died in 1903 when Jim was 8 years old, and shortly afterwards the family moved to Hatton village. Jim acquired a stepmother, Helen Ann Morgan, in 1907. I’m not sure what he did before the war – he mentioned caddying at Cruden Bay golf course – but in 1911 he’s not with his family but there is a James Fraser age 15 born Foveran at Turner Hall Farm, Ellon working as a farm servant horseman. His days as a farm servant were limited, though, as in September 1914 he joined the Gordon Highlanders and went to Bedford for training. His battalion landed at Boulogne in May 1915, and in 1916 they were on the frontline at the Battle of the Somme. Jim was shot in the left wrist in November 1916 at Beaumont Hamel and repatriated to an army hospital in Leeds, at Beckett’s Park next to Kirkstall. On his discharge in 1917 he stayed in Leeds and went on a training course, becoming a painter and decorator. He took lodgings in Kirkstall, round the corner from where Clara Green was living with her parents and siblings. Jim and Clara married in 1919, lived in Kirkstall and had 2 daughters, the youngest being my mother Dorothy. Jim never went back to Aberdeenshire to live but took his family for holidays on the Fraser croft while his father was alive, and relatives often came to stay in Leeds. Before his retirement Jim worked for Samuel Smith’s brewery, decorating pubs. He died in 1971 in Leeds.
9 May 1896
My ggg aunt Jean Strachan, widow of Hugh Jamieson, died at Irvine Poorhouse. She was the daughter of John Strachan and Agnes Neilson, born in Riccarton, and married muslin weaver Hugh Jamieson in Kilmarnock in 1837. They don’t appear to have had children, and Hugh Jamieson died in 1861. Jean then disappears as despite a thorough search I can’t find her in any further census. But she died in 1896: her death certificate has her as the widow of Hugh Jamison and daughter of John and Agnes Strachan. She died at Cunningham Combination Poorhouse at Irvine of cardiac disease. I wish I knew where she went to after her husband died.
Today includes the anniversary of a major turning point in my grandfather’s life.
11 April 1773
Baptism of Mary Green at Worsbrough, daughter of my ggggg grandparents Joseph Green and Alice Rock. Mary died in September 1774 age 17 months.
11 April 1804
Baptism of Agnes Hunter at Lesmahagow, Lanark daughter of Robert Hunter and Margaret Haddow, who were from Stevenston, Ayrshire and returned there shortly after the birth of Agnes. Robert was the brother of Margaret Hunter, who married Robert Haddow. I still need to sort out the Haddow/Hunter tangle as lots of the same/similar names are confusing to say the least!
11 April 1823
Birth of John Bisset at Longside, illegitimate son of my ggg grandmother Christian Hutcheon. His mother married William Fraser when John was nearly 5. In 1851 John was with William and Christian at Mosside croft, described in the census as a pauper formerly agricultural labourer. From this I assume he was ill or disabled, and that he then disappears from the records could mean he died before 1855.
11 April 1915
Birth of Charles Welton Green, my mother’s cousin, at Kirkstall. He married and had children, one of whom reads this blog.
11 April 1917
My grandfather James Fraser, from Aberdeenshire, was discharged from the Gordon Highlanders after being wounded at Beaumont Hamel, France during the Battle of the Somme. He was sent to a hospital in Leeds, Yorkshire and on discharge decided to stay in Leeds and enrol on a painting and decorating course. He took lodgings in Kirkstall, just round the corner from where my grandmother was living with her parents, and the rest I’m sure you can imagine. Amazing to think that if it wasn’t for that bullet in his wrist I wouldn’t have been born.
This is a studio photograph of my mother Dorothy Fraser (seated on the left) who became Dorothy Strachan and died in 2010, and her older sister Marjorie, daughters of James Fraser and Clara Green. My aunt died earlier this year at the grand age of 93, so this is a tribute to an aunt who will always be fondly remembered. And to those of you who know me, yes I do look rather like my mother!
I love this photo as it’s informal as opposed to the usual highly posed studio ones. It was taken at Beckett’s Park, Headingley which is up the hill from where most of them lived in Kirkstall, Leeds. I’m not sure who everyone is but I can pick out:
– Third from the left crouching is my grandfather James Fraser
– Standing with her hands on her hips abd back to the camera is my great-aunt Edith Green who later married Joseph Martin (funny how can I pick her out from the way she’s standing!)
– With the cricket bat is my grandmother Clara Fraser nee Green
– The rather plump lady towards the right in the hat is my great-grandmother
– Second from the left in the cloche hat is my great-aunt Ethel Jessop nee Green
And this one was taken on the same day.
– Sitting on the grass third on left is my great-aunt Ethel Jessop nee Green
– The couple standing on the right are my grandparents, Clara Fraser nee Green and James (Jim) Fraser
– The first child from the left is my mother’s cousin Margaret Jessop, who became Margaret Johnson.
– Next to Margaret is my aunt, my mother’s older sister.
– Second from the right, in front of her parents, is my mother, Dorothy Strachan nee Fraser.
This is a photo of my grandparents, Clara Green of Kirkstall, Leeds and James Fraser of Mosside croft, Hatton, Aberdeenshire. It was taken to mark their marriage in 1919 in Kirkstall, and Clara is making sure her wedding ring is on display.
It was obviously taken at a photographer’s studio, and I expect my grandfather’s hat and stick were the photographer’s props.