As I’ve been pouring over Blantyre census information these last few years, I’ve started to get an eye for patterns. Perhaps a trend here or there, familiar names and bookmarking interesting things to look at. One such thing has turned out to be quite the scandal, which I’ll tell here as best as I can.
James McCormack was born in Ireland in 1861. In 1884, at the age of 23 years old, he scandalously got 13 year old Jane, (a girl from his village) pregnant. This must have been hidden away in such times and I’m sure Janes family would have gone to great lengths to make sure neighbours didn’t know!
In 1889, when James was 28, Jane was by then 18 years old and of age to leave home. So together they both left Ireland taking their 5 year old daughter little Annie Eliza McCormick with them. It is noted they had married around this time. The family found themselves in Blantyre at Shuttle Row, at the home of James’s brother William McCormick. Both James and William were employed as Pit Labourers. That same year in 1889, Jane was pregnant again, and at the age of 18 gave birth to her second child, young William James McCormick.
The 1891 census shows the family as James McCormick 30, Jane McCormick 20, Annie Eliza McCormick their daughter aged 7, son William J McCormick aged 2, and also William McCormick (James’s brother) aged 22. The family next show up in 1895 Valuation roll, still at Shuttle Row with James paying £2 a year rent and William his brother paying £3, 10 shillings, indicating he was likely living in slightly larger or better premises.
Unfortunately then the trail runs cold. There’s no mention of the family in Blantyre after 1895/1896. Not in any future census and I can only presume they returned back home to Ireland. What happened? Did the scandal catch up on them in Blantyre and drive them away again? Did they simply miss family and needed to return home to Ireland? Did their own families forgive and forget and accept them openly? An uncomfortable story for me to look at, but interesting nonetheless. Such a tale would certainly be a crime punishable by jail these days. Was it so back then in Ireland? So many unanswered questions and I hope somebody out there is able to tell us, just what happened next!
On social media: