Dear blog reader
This blog post is about David West, an artist from Lossiemouth, the 5th cousin of my paternal great, great grandfather John Murray.
I was inspired to blog about David West because the Lossiemouth Heritage Association blogged about David recently but unfortunately their sources hadn’t been checked correctly and they managed to combine 2 different artists.
As is my usual family history blogging style, I’ll outline David’s standard family history events, birth, marriage, death and census entries, then I’ll quote David’s extensive newspaper obituary which contains much excellent detail of David’s life.
David was born on 12 November 1868 at Branderburgh, now part of Lossiemouth, to James West, a master mariner, and Margaret Reid. In the 1871 census the West family are split between different households, 2 in King Street and 1 in Smithfield, all Lossiemouth. In the 1881 census David was a scholar living at the Deaniry in Lossiemouth with 3 of his siblings in household headed up by a couple in their 70s, William and Margaret Humphrey.
In the 1891 census David was describing himself as a landscape artist and was visiting a couple, John and Isabella Russell, at Wester Covesea farmhouse near Lossiemouth. In the 1901 census David was living at ‘The Studio’ in Lossiemouth and was describing himself as an artist.
On 15 April 1908 David married Jessie Christie at St Gerardine’s Church, Lossiemouth. I shall look at firstly the official government record as per David and Jessie’s marriage certificate and secondly the newspaper report of their wedding.
On their marriage certificate David gave his occupation as RSW (which stands for the Royal Society of Scottish Painters in Watercolour), was living at Chilkoot, Lossiemouth and at age 38 married 24 year old Jessie Christie who was the daughter of William Christie who was hotel keeper of the hotel in Stotfield (now part of Lossiemouth) that Jessie was living at when she married.
The Aberdeen Press & Journal dated 17 April 1908 gives a more human account of the wedding you might say:
‘An exceedingly pretty wedding was celebrated in St Gerardine’s Church on Wednesday afternoon, the contracting parties being Miss Jessie Christie, second daughter of Mr William Christie, of the Stotfield Hotel, and Mr David West, artist. The Church was beautifully decorated for the occasion. There was a large number of guests and the general public was also well represented. The bride was given away by her father; and her bridesmaids were Miss Coney Christie, sister of the bride, and Miss Gray, a niece of the bridegroom. Mr West was supported by Mr John Peterkin. The marriage ceremony was performed by Rev Norman McLeod, minister of St Gerardine’s, assisted by Rev J W Robertson, High United Free Church, Lossiemouth. The music and hymns were appropriate to the occasion, and Mr Boothroyd, Elgin, presided with much acceptance at the organ. After the ceremony, the guests adjourned to the Stotfield Hotel, where a sumptuous luncheon was served, and the health of the couple heartily pledged. Shortly afterwards, Mr and Mrs West left by motor for the south. A dance was held at the Stotfield Hotel in the evening. Presents to the bride and groom were numerous’.
In the 1911 census David and Jessie were living at Chilkoot in Lossiemouth, with David describing himself as a painter (artist). In the 1921 census David and Jessie were still at Chilkoot, with their two eldest children, Hamish, 7 and a scholar, and Ronald, 2.
David suddenly died on Glasgow in 1936 after having a seizure at an art exhibition. Similar to David and Jessie’s wedding, I’ll look at David’s death certificate first and then David’s extensive newspaper obituary.
David’s death certificate confirms that David West, an artist painter, married to Jessie Christie, died on 8 October 1936 at 152 Bath Street, Glasgow (usual residence Chilkoot, Lossiemouth), parents James West, master mariner, and Margaret Reid with a cause of death of probably natural decay and cardiac failure. I find that cause of death very interesting because David’s unofficial cause of death is a seizure. Possibly the seizure description came from witnesses.
This is David’s gravestone in Lossiemouth cemetery:
David’s obiturary in the Aberdeen Press and Journal, dated 9 October 1936, is incredibly detailed about his life:
‘LOSSIE ARTIST’S DEATH.
MR DAVID WEST’S SEIZURE AT ART EXHIBITION.
FAMOUS SEASCAPE PAINTER
Mr David West, Chilkoot, Lossiemouth, the well-known north of Scotland artist and seascape painter died suddenly yesterday morning in Glasgow.
Mr West had a seizure while visiting the Royal Art Exhibition there, where he had several of his works on view. He was sixty eight years of age.
LIFE OF ADVENTURE
A son of the late Captain James West, Lossiemouth, who was in command of a sailing schooner which plied between the Moray Firth and the Baltic, Mr West had a varied life full of adventure.
He was educated at Lossiemouth and Aberdeen Grammar School, and on leaving school he went to sea in his father’s ships. As a young man he saw a large part of the world.
In 1898 he took part in the memorable Klondyke gold rush.
Always fond of his native Morayshire, he returned to Lossiemouth and set up a studio. His exceptional ability in oil painting was not long in being recognised, and when still in his twenties he had won for himself wide repute as a landscape painter. As a painter of the sea, the sandy wastes and the sky along the Moray Firth coast, and of old sailing boats, he was unsurpassed.
Some of Mr West’s pictures of typical Moray land and seascape scenes have been on view at the Aberdeen Artists’ Society exhibitions and in many parts of the counrty.
Recently the Duchess of Northumberland, while on holiday in Lossiemouth, visited his studo and purchased two typical Moray seascae works.
Morat Firth people resident in foreign parts treasured his pictures.
Some years ago Mr West went to America, and sold a number of his pictures there. Since then Americans visiting this country have sought out his studio to make purchases.
He was on the council of the Royal Scottish Water Colour Society.
During the Great War Mr West served in an ambulance corps.
Keenly interested in the affairs of the community, he took a big share in the public life not only of Lossiemouth, but also in that of the county. His wide experience and knowledge were invaluable in the administration of the town, and during his term of office in Lossiemouth Town Council and Moray Education Authority he was a thoroughly respected member.
A scratch golfer in his youth, Mr West always retained connection with the Moray Golf Club, although latterly he could not take part in active competition.
As a rod and line angler he was a recognised expert, and spent much of time fishing in the rivers Spey and Lossie.
Mr West had been failing in health for some time.
He is a survived by a wife, who is the daughter of the late Provost Christie, Lossiemouth, and two sons, the elder of whom is in the R.A.F. abroad, and the younger is still at Elgin Academy.
Dr J R Levack, Aberdeen, is a cousin.’
Finally, I can’t show you any of David’s paintings here due to copyright but David’s paintings are truly gorgeous. Please just Google ‘David West artist’ in order to admire David’s amazing talent.
Sources: Scotland’s People website for birth, marriage, death and census entries, Find a Grave website for David West’s gravestone and British Newspaper Archive for David West’s obituary.