A Photo Surprise

Hi blog readers.

This blog post is about an amazing surprise during a British Newspaper Archive webinar a few years ago when I suddenly spotted a family photo that I’d seen bits of before but never the whole photo.

This is the photo and story that appeared in ‘The Sketch’ (an illustrated weekly journal) on 28th September 1898:

Five generations of the Murray family.

‘Here is an interesting family of five generations.

The patriarch of the five generations is John Murray, who lives at Jamestown, Buckie, N.B. [North Britain]. He was the first fisherman to discover the use of herring bait for catching white-fish, and, though now in his ninetieth year, continue to enjoy excellent health.

His son, William Murray, is sixty-nine; he follows the vocation of his father at Lossiemouth. Mr John Murray’s granddaughter, Margaret Murray, or Cowie, thirty-eight years of age, resides at Buckie; she, again, has a daughter, Margaret, in her nineteenth year, whose infant son, aged six months, constitutes the fifth generation of this unique family of fisher-folk.’

I will now describe the lives of the five people in the picture above.

John Murray is my paternal 4 x great uncle:

John Murray

John Murray’s baptism record doesn’t appear in the records of any Church though he clearly believed that he was born in 1808, hence the family photo to celebrate his 90th birthday. John Murray and Margaret Geddes, both of Rathven parish, were married on 13th July 1834 in Rathven parish.

In the 1841 census I suspect John was away fishing as there’s an 1841 census entry in Nether Buckie, now known as Buckpool, for Margaret, 24, and their 3 eldest children, Helen, 6, William (in the main photo above), 4 and Peter, 2. In the 1851 census John, 40 and a fisherman, and Margaret, 38, are living in the lane north west of the market in Buckie with their children, Helen, 16, William, 14, Peter, 13, James, 10, Janet, 7, and Margaret, 2.

In the 1861 census, the family are working away from home at Wilkhaven Shore, Tarbat, Ross and Cromarty and we have, together, John, 48, Margaret, 46, Peter, 22, James, 16, Janet, 14, Margaret, 12, Isabella, 10, John, 6, and George, 3, along with 2 domestic servants Betsy Higgerty and James Geddes. John and Peter were working as fishermen. and John (junior) was at school. In the 1871 census, John, 58, was living at Kinneddar Street, Lossiemouth with his wife Margaret, 57, and their children Margaret, 18, Isabella, 16, John, 13, and George, 11. In 1871 John was a fisherman and John, junior, and George were at school.

In the 1881 census John, 69, and Margaret, 68, were still living at Kinneddar Street and John was still a fisherman. In the 1891 census John, 79, and Margaret, 78, were living at 19 Kinneddar Street and John was now a retired fisherman.

In 1900 John died at 9 Blantyre Place, Ianstown, Buckie, aged 91 years, with a cause of death of decay of old age.

The next oldest person in the photo is John’s son, William:

William Murray

Similar to his father, there’s no record of William’s baptism in any Church records. We’ve already seen William in the 1841 and 1851 censuses. William married for the first time, on 28th December 1856, to Isabella Smith, a 20 year old from Portessie. Isabella was a domestic servant, William a fisherman and banns were according to the forms of the Established Church of Scotland. In 1861 William and Isabella were clearly near William’s parents: at Wilkhaven Shore, Tarbat, Ross and Cromarty there’s a household comprising of William, 26, Isabella, 26, their 2 daughters, Margaret, 5 (in the main photo above), Ann, 1, and Isabella Sutherland, a domestic servant. Tragically Isabella died of phthisis pulmonalis (ie tuberculosis) on 8th June 1865 at Buckie.

On 28th September 1866, William re-married to Catherine Thomson (who’s actually also related to me on a different ancestral line) at Branderburgh (now part of Lossiemouth) after banns according to the forms of the Roman Catholic Church. In the 1871 census William and Catherine are living at Kinneddar Street, Lossiemouth with 3 children, one from William’s first marriage. William’s household in 1871 consists of William, 37, Catherine, 37, Margaret, 9, John, 3, and Peter, 1. William was a fisherman and Margaret was at school. In the 1881 census William and Catherine are living at 21 Kinneddar Street, Lossiemouth with 4 of their children: the household was William, 44, Catherine, 42, John, 13, Peter, 11, Mary, 6, and Helen, 4. William was a fisherman, John was recorded as both at school and a fisherman and Peter and Mary were at school.

In the 1891 census William and Catherine were living at 42 Kinneddar Street, Lossiemouth with 2 of their daughters as a household of William, 53, Catherine, 53, Mary, 15, and Helen, 14. William was a fisherman and Mary and Helen were both domestic servants. In the 1901 census William and Catherine were still living at 42 Kinneddar Street with a servant, the household comprising William, 63, Catherine, 63, and Agnes Dowie. In 1911 William was a 75 year old retired fisherman and a widower, living at 42 Kinneddar Street, Lossiemouth with his daughter Helen, 34, his son-in-law Alexander Cambell, 37, and his grandchildren, Jessie, 9, James George, 7, Catherine, 5, and Alex, 5 months. Alexander was a fisherman and Jessie, James and Catherine were at school. William died at 42 Kinneddar Street on 10th March 1913 from apoplexy (probably a stroke).

The next oldest person in the photo is John Murray’s grand-daughter Margaret:

Margaret Murray

Margaret was born on 8 May 1859 in Buckie to William Murray and his first wife Isabella. We’ve already seen Margaret in the 1861 and 1871 censuses. On 27th September 1878 19 year old Margaret married a 20 year old fisherman, Alexander Stewart, at Kinneddar Street, Lossiemouth after banns according to the forms of the Church of Scotland. In the 1881 census Margaret and Alexander were living at 15 James Street, Lossiemouth with this as the household: Alexander, 23, fisherman, Margaret, 21, and Margaret, 6 months (in the main photo above). Tragically Alexander died at sea, off Aberdeen, on the 7th of August 1885. In the 1891 census Margaret was living at 57 Queen Street, Lossiemouth with this household: Margaret, 31, with her daughters Margaret, 10, Isabella, 8, and Alexandrina, 5. Margaret was a grocer and all 3 of her daughters were at school. Margaret re-married on 15th December 1893 at Queen Street, Lossiemouth, after banns according to the forms of the Baptist Church, to a 47 year-old fisherman from Portessie, George Cowie. Margaret was quite the entrepreneur – I guess perhaps she had to be in order to keep her family especially when widowed -when she re-married in 1893 she was a grocery merchant.

In the 1901 census Margaret and George had moved from Lossiemouth and were living at 65 West Church Street, Buckie, with 3 generations as this household: George, 55, Margaret, 41, Margaret (Stewart), 20, Alexandrina (Stewart), 18, Alexander, 6, James (in the main photo above) (Stewart), 3, and Catherine, 6 months. James was Margaret’s grandson and Margaret and Alexandrina were Margaret’s children by her first husband. In the 1911 census Margaret, George and 2 of their children had moved to the west coast to Mallaig (of course another Scottish fishing port) with this as a household: George Cowie, 65, Margaret, 57, Alexander, 16, Catherine, 10, and Amelia Flett, a domestic servant. George and Alexander were fishermen and Catherine was at school.

Margaret died on 24th March 1922 at 35 Ritchie Street, West Kilbride, Ayrshire from apoplexy (a stroke, the same as Margaret’s father William) and hemiplegia ie paralysis (presumably from the stroke).

The next oldest in the photo is John Murray’s great grand-daughter Margaret:

Margaret Stewart

Margaret Stewart was born 27th September 1880 in Lossiemouth. We’ve already seen Margaret in the 1881, 1891 and 1901 censuses. On the 22nd of February 1907 at 67 Oswald Street, Glasgow, 24 year old Margaret married a 20 year old journeyman slater, William Martindale, who was living at Osborn House, Largs. Margaret was living at 222 Elliott Street, Glasgow. This marriage was away from any Church and took place by warrant of the sheriff-substitute of Lanarkshire in front of witnesses Alexandrina Stewart and Mary Elliott. Thus 67 Oswald Street was probably a solicitor’s office. Such a form of marriage usually was due to wanting a quick wedding (often in wartimes there were such marriages via a sherriff’s warrant) or a quiet wedding. We already know that Alexandrina was Margaret’s sister.

In the 1911 census William and Margaret were living at 34 Gateside Street, West Kilbride, the household being: William, 25, Margaret, 29 and their two daughters, Alexandrina, 3, and Margaret, 2. William was a slater and an employer. Margaret died on 20th February 1955 at Silverae, Orchard Street, West Kilbride from a cerebral thrombosis (ie a stroke, similar to the previous 2 generations).

Now to the youngest in the photo, John Murray’s great, great grandson, the baby James:

James Stewart

James Stewart was born on 22nd February 1898 at 65 Church Street, Buckie. James was illegitimate, ie his parents were not married, and his birth certificate has no father’s name. We’ve already seen James in the 1901 census with his mother and grandparents. In the 1911 census James is not with his grandparents or his mother. From then on unfortunately James is a mystery to me. If anyone has James in their family tree please get in touch!

Sources: The photo and article from the British Newspaper Archive website, 1841 to 1901 census entries from the Ancestry website and birth, marriage and death certificates and the 1911 censuses from the Scotland’s People website.

Smith at the Crosslee Mill

This blog post is about my maternal 4 x great grandfather, John Barr, and what happened to his place of employment, the Crosslee Mill.

John Barr was born on 20 January 1791 in Shettleston, Glasgow to James Barr and Agnes Cummin and John was baptised 3 days later in Barony parish. James, a coal hewer, had married Agnes in 1787 also in Barony.

John married Agnes Lees in an irregular marriage on 28 March 1808 in Paisley. A regular marriage was a couple marrying in Church by a minister after banns had been read for 3 consecutive Sundays. An irregular marriage was also known as a marriage of declaration because the couple simply made a declaration in front of two witnesses.

John Barr and Agnes Lees had 11 children together and the description of John’s occupation in each of these baptisms tells us a lot. We know from these baptisms that from 1809 until 1815 John was in the 71st regiment, latterly a sergeant, and from 1817 to 1835 John was a smith at Crosslee mill in Renfrewshire. Crosslee mill has a rather chequered history which I shall cover in the latter half of this blog post.

71st Highlanders at Vimerio in 1808.

The 71st Regiment had 2 battalions whilst John was with them, the 1st serving abroad in numerous campaigns and the 2nd at home. I suspect John was in the 2nd battalion as he had numerous children in the west of Scotland whilst serving with the 71st although I’m currently unable to prove that theory. I’ve searched for mention of John in the army records on The National Archive website and the Find My Past website but have been unable to find a candidate to match John. I’ve commissioned the experts at the Royal Highland Fusiliers museum (which is the most recent regiment coming down from the 71st) to see if they can find any of John’s records for me.

John does appear in one census with his family. In 1841 John was living at School Wynd in Barony parish with his wife and children: John was 50 and a machine mechanic journeyman (journeyman being the stage above apprentice), Agnes was also 50 and four of their children were living with them: Robert aged 15, a machine mechanic apprentice (following his father), David was 14 and a cotton weaver, George was 12 with no occupation noted and Agnes was 20 and a cotton weaver. George would eventually also enlist, served with the Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment and would meet and marry his wife Mary Anne Marchant in Lincoln, Ontario in 1861.

John died between 1841 and 1851. In the 1851 census Agnes is living in Pollockshaws, she’s a widow and a pirn winder (a pirn being a yarn package inserted into a shuttle) living with her daughter Agnes, now a bobbin winder, and her son David, now a labourer.

The rest of this blog post I shall devote to Crosslee Mill to which John devoted at least 18 years of his working life.

Crosslee Mill was a cotton mill which originally opened in 1793. During it’s heyday it employed 300 people in a six storey building and was the largest mill on the River Gryfe. The mill burnt down in 1858 and was replaced by a factory which again was itself replaced by a concrete structure in the 1920s. From the 1920s until 1985 when it was demolished it was owned by Nobel Explosives/ICI and then TH Lawsson trading as Lawtex who manufactured umbrellas. Nowadays there is one remaining mill building which has been redeveloped as office space.

The destruction of the mill, which John would have known, in 1858 was extremely dramatic and was reported in almost 40 UK newspapers.

I shall share the report of the destruction of John’s former place of employment directly from the Thursday 29 July 1858 edition of the Northern Daily Times as it had the most detailed account of all the newspapers:

EXTENSIVE FIRE AT CROSSLEE, RENFERWSHIRE

On Sunday afternoon, about two o’clock, the large cotton-spinning mill at Crosslee, about six miles west from Paisley, was discovered to be on fire.

The mill was six storeys in height, and one of the largest in this country. When the fire was first observed the flames were bursting from some of the windows of the third flat. An express was instantly despatched to Johnstone and Paisley for the fire engines from these places, which were sent off without delay, but before either of them arrived the fire had completely gutted the centre flats, including the floors and joisting, and the weight of the machinery in the upper flats had brought down the walls – the front wall falling outwards, and the back wall falling inwards, carrying the roof along with them, and the whole was an undistinguishable mass of flaming ruins.

Nothing, therefore, could be done to save the main building, but a detached building comprising the picking room and store, was preserved from the devastating element. The engine-house and its contents were likewise saved. The fire continued to burn all afternoon and all Saturday night, and was watched from various points about Paisley with much interest till a late hour, and it was not fully extinguished on Monday afternoon.

The mill, machinery, and cotton destroyed, is altogether estimated at about £60,000, but the proprietors are insured, we are told, in three different offices. The catastrophe will throw upwards of 500 people idle, for whom there is no other employment in the district. Indeed, in that respect, it may be regarded as a terrible calamity. The proprietors are Messrs William Stevenson and Sons, a well known and highly respectable firm; and it is much feared that the mill may not be rebuilt.

Sources: Church records and census records on the Scotland’s People website, National Army Museum website, ‘Paisley – Oor Wee Toun & Environs’ Facebook page, British Newspaper Archive website.

The Life’s Belongings of Elizabeth Gamble

This blog post is about the life’s belongings of my Irish 2 x great grandmother, Elizabeth Gamble, which were in her tenement flat in Glasgow on her death.

Elizabeth Gamble with my maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Cadden.

(Often when family history research discovers probate records for an ancestor all that is discovered is the total monetary sum of the belongings that an ancestor has left behind.  We are blessed in my family that the detailed inventory of Elizabeth Gamble’s belongings has survived).

Elizabeth was born on 20 January 1867 at Polintamney near Ballymoney, County Antrim, Northern Ireland to James Gamble, a farmer, and Martha Adams.

The family farm at Polintamney.

On 24 July 1895 Elizabeth married John Stevens, a Scottish salesman, at the 1st Presbyterian Church in Ballymoney.

1st Presbyterian Church, Ballymoney.

In the 1901 census Elizabeth was living at 8 Rathcool Street, Belfast with her husband, their 2 children and Elizabeth’s sister Jane.

8 Rathcool Street, Belfast.

In the 1911 census Elizabeth was living at Enagh near Ballymoney with her 3 children.

In the mid 1920s Elizabeth emigrated to Glasgow, Scotland with her family – John Stevens had died in Hartwood Asylum in Scotland in 1905 (I’ve blogged previously on John’s final illness).

Elizabeth died at 74 Shakespeare Street, Maryhill, Glasgow on 10 August 1951 from senility and cardiovascular degeneration and is buried in Tollcross cemetery.

74 Shakespeare Street

Elizabeth had a four room tenement flat at 74 Shakespeare Street and I’ve always found it fascinating that we know about her belongings in such detail.  As you will see below, I’ve also been blessed enough to inherit a piece of Elizabeth’s furniture!

Contents of parlour:

Carved oak enclosed sideboard with mirror back
Mahogany inlaid 2-door bureau bookcase
Oak flower pot pedestal
Inlaid walnut oblong table on pillar and claw
Painted wood stool
Spring mattress
Hair mattress
Bed valance
Old bolster
4 oak dining room chairs with loose seats in rexine
[Rexine is an artificial leather fabric:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rexine ]
Easy chair in rexine with loose cushion
Mahogany hand chair in American cloth
{American cloth is a glazed or waterproofed cotton cloth: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/american-cloth }
Kitchen chair
Bordered Axminster carpet
Linoleum surround
Axminster rug
Copper cased kerb [the kerb would have been used to edge the fireplace hearth]
Copper companion stand
Copper fire screen
Oak overmantel
Blue glass floating bowl
Glass piano castor
Allerton decorated stoneware jug [Charles Allerton & Sons made earthenware and china from 1859 to 1942 at Longton, Lancashire]
Stoneware dish and cover with fruit decoration
Decorated stoneware flower pot
4 tumblers
Antique wineglass
Antique wineglass with white twist stem
Glass cruet
Glass wine bottle
Glass flower tube with metal base
Glass water jug
Glass sugar and cream
Tinted glass wine bottle and 6 small glasses
Blue glass flower vase
8 pieces fruit condiments
Glass biscuit barrel with odd lid
3 small glass bowls
Glass butter
Shell shaped pyrex dish
EP [electro-plated] 4-bottle cruet
2 decorated stoneware teapots
1 decorated stoneware sugar basin and cover
Decorated stoneware sugar and cream
2 small jugs
Decorated stoneware fruit bowl, small
Small decorated china sugar bowl
Invalid’s cup
Allerton stoneware mug
Decorated stoneware teapot stand
Antimony circular box
Decorated stoneware 2-handled trinket tray
Glove box
Small bottle on wood stand
Small green stoneware fern pot
Blue and gilt egg shaped vase centre piece decorated with flowers
Red and gilt Vienna china ewer with figure band
Pair gold cotton and silk window curtains and valance
40 piece yellow, white and gilt china tea set with floral bases
Glass goblet
Antique wine glass
Glass tankard
Glass decanter
4 glass fruit bowls
Glass vase
Glass cake comport [a comport being a small, rimmed plate on a pedestal]
Glass plate
Glass flower tube
Wine glass
3 tumblers
Glass flower bowl
Blue and white stoneware jug
Decorated china plate with pierced rim
Antique lustre jug
Imari fluted bowl [Imari being a type of Japanese porcelain]
21 pieces decorated stoneware dinner ware
8 pieces odd dinner ware and bread plates
Decorated stone ware cake comport
Decorated china cream jug
Old gramophone
Lot old pictures
Axminster rug
Quilted bed mat
Table cover
Wool tea cosy
Huck towel [Huck fabric is a thick, loose, soft cotton or linen toweling woven in a birdseye or honeycomb pattern]
Pillow case
Old blanket
Wicker work basket
2 leather hand bags
Art silk bedspread [Art silk probably means artificial silk]
Pair blue cotton curtains and valance
Pair green cotton curtains and valance
3 window screens

The inlaid walnut oblong table which was in Elizabeth’s parlour and which is also my desk.

Contents of bathroom:

Ewbank carpet sweeper
Wicker corner soiled clothes basket
Enamel basin
Wood wringer board
Wash board
2 GI [galvanised iron] pails
Wicker basket
Shovel
Linoleum to cover
Old piece runner
Oblong wall mirror in painted frame
Wringer

Contents of hall:

Oak wardrobe with mirror, door and 3 drawers
Oak hall stand with mirror back
Coal shovel
Lot books
Old Axminster rug
Old GI pail
Enamel basin
Small coal shovel
Sweeping brush
Set steps
9 stainless tea knives
Dessert spoon
Butter fork
Wool blanket
2 small water colours
2 small oil paintings
Turkish towel
Red chenille table cover
Plastic door screen

Contents of kitchen:

Oak utility chest 2 drawers with 2-door undercupboard
Mahogany Pembroke table [A Pembroke table is a drop-leaf table with fine tapering legs https://antiquesworld.co.uk/antique-pembroke-tables/ ]
Bamboo table
Oak oblong occasional table on 4 turned supports
Decca Electric Wireless Receiver in Walnut case
2 kitchen chairs
Base rocking chair and 2 cushions
Old easy chair in rexine with 2 cushions
Saratoga trunk [a large travelling trunk usually with a rounded top https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Saratoga%20trunk ]
Axminster rug
Linoleum to cover
Metal kerb
Enamel hearth
Suitcase
Fibre trunk
Electric radiator
Chiming clock in inlaid oak case
Stained wood wall rack
Glass flower
Enamel bread tin and cover
2 basin
Bread board
2 trays
2 lacquered trays
Aluminium kettle
Aluminium tea pot
Stoneware toby jug
Bevelled frameless oval mirror
2 wall mirrors in painted frames
White wool blanket
2 Turkish towels
White linen bedspread
Huck towel
Rubber Holland window blind [A Holland blind is perhaps better known as a roller blind nowadays]
Small piece blanketing
Pillow case
Tray cloth
Crochet supper cloth
Pair lace curtains
5 sheets, various
Rubber ring
Quilted bed mat
Paid cotton curtains
Pair screens

My great, great grandmother’s clothes are simply listed as ‘Deceased’s wearing apparel and personal effects and a dark musquash fur coat.’

My mum remembers going to 74 Shakespeare Street a couple of times and we have 2 letters written by Elizabeth Gamble plus letters written by my grandmother from Shakespeare Street as she stayed over with her grandmother.  The above list of belongings helps to add much colour to memories and letters.

A colourised photo of (left to right) Elizabeth Gamble, Elizabeth Cadden (my maternal grandmother) and Sarah Gamble (Elizabeth’s sister).

I also wonder where all these items might have come from – in addition to living in Ballymoney, Belfast and Glasgow, Elizabeth Gamble also rented a house in Rothesay before World War 2.

Elizabeth Gamble probably with one of her grandsons.