Morrisons from Ireland to Blantyre to NZ

Penny Morrison of Australia emailed me in September 2015, commenting, “My Gr-gr granfather William Morrison was born in 1842, Blantyre. William and his wife came to Gisborne, New Zealand in 1872. Williams father John Morrison and his mother Mary Ann Moore arrived, in Blantyre, from Co Antrim, in about 1834. John was a brick-maker. Would he have worked in a local brickworks? The census don’t say exactly where they lived although on the 1851 & 1861 census, says they live at Winter House. I would very much appreciate any help you can give me in finding more about their life in Blantyre.”

This is the sort of enquiry I like. Lots of dates and information for me to build upon, although it sounds like a fair amount of research has been done already. Looking at Ancestry records, I was able to add some more details, focusing especially on their time in Blantyre.

John Morrison was baptised around 1807 in County Antrium, Irleland. He was the son of John Morrison (1768-1844) and Margaret English (b1765). In 1832, when John was 25 years old, he married Mary Ann Moore in Ireland, a few years younger than him, aged 17. The young couple, then emigrated from Ireland to Scotland between 1834 and 1837, seeking employment in Bothwell, North Lanarkshire.  They would go on to have 11 children, and the first born, a girl Mary Ann Morrison was born in 1834. Their 5th child was William Morrison, born on 31st January 1842 at Blantyre. From the dates of the previous children’s births it would appear the Morrison family moved from Bothwell to Blantyre sometime between July 1840 and Winter 1841.I suspect it was 1840, as there is no entry for them in Blantyre on the 1841 census.

Screen Shot 2015-09-26 at 13.18.20John, in 1851, was noted as being a 42 year old tilemaker (a brickmaker). He is noted as living at Winter House with his wife Mary Ann, 37 and 7 children aged between 4 months and 12 years old! Quite a handful! The likely location from the 1859 map, is that he worked at Stonefield Brickworks, which was located just off John Street. Back then , there were open fields around and nothing like the built up properties we have today. The address, Winter is unknown to me, but it may be an error on the census, as was common at the time. The nearest property to Stonefield Brickworks was the Winks Inn, which has more than a resemblance to the census entry. The Winks Inn and Pub was located at the bottom of what was to become Church Street. The work would have been long and laborious and very manual. He would have been able to walk to work in only 2 minutes from his home, which would have been Mary Death cert 1835a plus point in those trying days. The nearby hamlet of Stonefield on an undeveloped Glasgow Road would have offered him a couple of shops and another Tavern.

Tragedy was to befall John and Mary, when in 1855, Mary died, aged just 41 on 22nd February. Just 3 days earlier she had given birth to an unamed son, who only lived for 3 hours. Still grieving, she caught bronchitis and died from it. She is buried in the Old Church of Kirkconnel, Dumfriesshire. Interestingly on the certificate, John is then showing as “an inspector of drains”, a departure from his brickmaking, at least at that time.

Left as a single father with 11 children, John hired a housekeeper in 1856, a 23 year old woman named Grace Loughton. Love flourished and in 1858, Grace and John had a child together, little Thomas. The census incorrectly lists Grace in 1861 as being Grace Latin. In 1861, 48 year old John Morrison is showing still living at Winks/Winter with Grace 20 years his junior, together with their child Thomas and 4 of the 11 children from John’s previous marriage. This surely begs the question, where were the other 7 children, as not all were grown up by that time? The answer may simply be on the day of the census, they were at another property visiting, or simply not at home. In 1871 when John was 55, he married Grace, who became Grace Loughton Morrison. The had another 2 children, before John died on 8th April 1884 from cardiac failure, a condition perhaps caused by a life of manual labouring with bricks. He was 68. Grace outlived him by a good while until 1895.

Of course, I cant leave it like that. Let’s go back to your great, great grandfather William. He was born in Blantyre on 31st January 1842. Baptised in Bothwell on 13th February 1842. In 1860, by the aged of 18, he sought a more adventurous lifestyle and was working as a ship’s fireman on the Cunard line, a prestigious passenger ship service operating Transatlantic routes. He would have been very accustomed to long voyages at sea.

Aged 22 on 17th October 1864, he married Catherine Lamb at Blantyre. Catherine was a power loom weaver, aged 25 and was known to have travelled trans atlantic routes in the 1850’s. It is maybe there that the couple met, on board those long voyages, something in common as being from the same hometown? Following their marriage they spent the rest of the 1860’s living at

Catherine Lamb Morrison 1904

Catherine Lamb Morrison 1904

Blantyre with William occasionally taking up residence at St Enoch’s Glasgow, presumably as a shipmate working away from home, which would have been required for his job. However, it was not for them, for on 29th November 1872, aged 30, William and Catherine embarked on an emigration voyage from London to New Zealand. The voyage took 4 months and they arrived at Auckland on 3rd April 1873 on board the ship, “The Durham.” William, as Penny mentions, took up residence in Gisborne, New Zealand until his death on 28th August 1903. The couple had 7 children, 5 of whom were born in Scotland. Catherine slightly outlived William, until 1904.  (pictured)

I hope this is of interest, to all Morrison families.


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  1. Hi Sheila,
    I have been focused on another branch of my tree & hadn’t noticed your reply. Thank you for the info. I was aware of their son Alexander but not Thomas. Do you have any idea of what happened to Thomas & Hannah? The girls would have been quite young when they died. Do you have any info on Agnes &/or Jean. I am unable to find anything about them?
    I would love to maintain contact with you. I live in Wellington, NZ not Australia as posted.
    Kind Regards

    1. Please contact me at

  2. Catherine Lamb is my 3rd great Aunt, the sister of my gg grandmother
    Margaret. There were two other sisters Agnes & Jean. All born Blantyre. There were also two brothers Thomas & Alexander who both died as babies. They are the children of Thomas Lamb & Hannah Henderson. They left for USA in the 1840’s but Thomas And Hannah both died in the 1850’s and the four girls returned to Scotland. Thomas is the son of Alexander Lamb who fought with Wellesley in France. They are descended from the Lambs of Pettinain & Carmichael.

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