On 21st June 2015, I was contacted by Australian lady Marg Boardley (nee Sommerville) who emailed, “I’m visiting from Australia and came across your Blantyre page. My great aunt, Helen Smail Sommerville gave her address on her marriage cert in 1917 as Blantyre Lodge, Blantyre. Do you have any record of her working there? She married Thomas Campbell Hunter and lived in Greenock once she married. Her father was Andrew Smail Sommerville, mother Marion Moffat.”
A quick check revealed that Thomas Campbell Hunter was born, lived and died in Greenock. No immediately apparent Blantyre connections, so I focused on Helen and her family. However, census information previous to 1911, came up with no results for Blantyre. It looks like Helen was an incomer to Blantyre sometime after 1911, when she lived near Lesmahagow. If Helen did go and live in Greenock in 1917, she must only have worked at Blantyre lodge between 1912 and 1917 and unfortunately, i had no way of checking this.
However, my search was fruitful in other ways, as access to ancestry databases flagged up several photos of this family, which I would later find out from Marg, some were new to her. There is nothing better than being able to pass a person family photos they haven’t seen before!
My reply to Marg enclosed the above photo showing Helen’s 1917 wedding party at Blantyreferme. I replied, “Helen, married on 4th July 1917, I think at Blantyreferme, which still exists today. I think this is the Hunter – Small wedding photo of that particular day, with Helen sitting at the bottom left. As a check I have the correct family, they had Thomas, Marion and Andrew (3 children). I don’t think they had Blantyre connections, other than Helen coming to work at the Lodge House. The date of 1917 is interesting, as around this time the Lodge was starting to get fairly run down and indeed was demolished not too long after. Helen Smail Sommerville Hunter-bride (sitting front, left) Minister/Clerk (back, left) Nessie Sommerville-sister of bride (left of center) Andrew Sommerville-father of bride (sitting, center) Adam Sommerville-brother of bride (back, center) Marion Moffat Somerville-mother of bride (center) Jemima Rogerson-Brother’s girlfriend (right) Thomas Hunter-groom (sitting, front left).
I was able to send several other photos to Marg. The picture of the couple sitting on the fence, the male holding a hat. This is Helen and Thomas at Dunsyre, Scotland. Thomas b1875 was 42 years old by the time he married Helen in 1917. I’d say the photo is around 1930. Thomas was born, lived and died in Greenock, Scotland.
Next is an older photo of a man standing and woman sitting. This is Thomas and Martha Hunter, the parents of young Thomas (who married Helen). Martha’s details are: Birth 4 April 1840 in Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland Death 5 Jan 1914 in 3 Hope St., Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland
It would appear neither of them lived to see their son Thomas get married. The saving grace is they never lived to see a World War, and indeed ‘young’ Thomas, at the outbreak of war, was too old to go and fight. I think this photo below looks around 1900.
Next, is a more modern photo taken in the 1960’s. This is Helen S Sommerville. Her details are: Birth abt 1891 in Liberton, LanarkshireDeath 16 July 1972 in Renfrewshire, Scotland
Pictured at Greenock is May (Marion), Helen and Mattie (Martha) Hunter. Helen lived a long life, 81 years.
Next, in the photo with 2 adults and a child. These are Helen’s parents. Andrew and Marion Sommerville. Pictured with a young family member (Mima, i think Helens cousin). Andrew was born in 1860 and lived until he was 85 at the end of WW2. I’d say is photo is around 1930.
Finally, its only appropriate i draft out the family of Helen. Here is her line working back the way all the way back to the mid to late 1700s.
I hope you find all this interesting and of some use. Enjoy the rest of your trip in Scotland, Paul.
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The Blantyre Project telling people stories in this detail opens up a whole world of ancestry possibilities! My favourite thing to do in Blantyre Project.
Patricia Hutcheson Docherty Absolutely amazing great work
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This has me thinking The Names are all in family tree at different dates Somerville/Corbets live Dalton Between Blantyre and Cambuslang John Somerville 1839 second wife was Jane Fleming Campbell 1851/1905 Houston/Walkergate her father Thomas Hunter 1794 1858 Clackmannan/Paisley Poorhouse This May help with Somerville which so miss recorded
Hi, Marg. I believe that we are cousins. I am Helen Sommerville Hunter’s granddaughter, daughter of Andrew. As a child I was very close to “Aunt Nessie” and Uncle Andy Rogerson who lived near us in Connecticut. I visited her in Biggar before she died. I live in Canada with my husband Bob Dougherty. Our kids are grown and we have grandchildren. Do you know my grandmother’s exact birthday? I am very interested in my family history. I was thrilled to find the Blantyre Project and see the family photos! Some photos my sibs and I had never seen before. Cheers! Meredith Hunter
Hi Paul. MARG BOARDLEY getting in touch again. Still working away on my SOMMERVILLE FAMILY. I understand that Helen, s sister, Agnes’s Barrie SOMMERVILLE also worked at Blantyre lodge. She married I. William Twaddle IN 1921 BLANTYRE. then Andrew Roberson. The lived in the USA for several years then moved back to Biggar/Carluke.. Love the project.