In October 2015, Lisa Winters contacted me saying, “We’re looking for Robert Duncan’s ancestors. He was briefly married to our grandmother, Mary Bradley from 1915 -1918. We think he died during WW1.”
Knowing the best chance of finding modern day ancestors here on this page, would be to tell the story of Robert, I accepted the challenge and set about to find out more about Robert Duncan. Here’s what I found.
Robert Duncan was born on January 21, 1891, in Blantyre, Lanarkshire to Sarah Murrey, age 31, and William Duncan, age 36. At the time of his birth, he just made it into the Census for that year which confirmed the new born baby was living at 26 McAlpines Building, on Glasgow Road. He was a third child, behind brothers James 11 year older and Andrew, 6 years older. His parent came to Blantyre between 1880 and 1885.
Like many young men, when War arrived in 1914, Robert enlisted into the army, aged 23 at Lochgelly, Fife.
Robert Duncan married Mary Bradley on August 2, 1915, in Lanarkshire, when he was 24 years old, presumably whilst back on leave. They married at St Joseph’s Church on Glasgow Road. At the time of the marriage, Robert was living at 1 Craig Row, which was the first house at the junction of Auchentibber Road and Craig Rows. The row is no longer there today. Mary, originally from Hamilton, lived at Dixon’s Rows at 42 Dixon Street and was a pit head worker. She was 22. Their marriage certificate is attached.
Tragically, their marriage was only to last 3 months, (most of that with Robert away at War!). He died at sea on board the Hospital Ship Anglia or Arylia on 17th November 1915. Robert was a gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery. He was injured in battle in Europe and was being transported home.
On that day HMHS Anglia was returning from Calais to Dover, carrying 390 injured officers and soldiers, including Robert. At around 12:30pm, 1 nautical mile (1.9 km) east of Folkestone Gate, HMHS Anglia struck a German mine and sank in fifteen minutes. The nearby torpedo gunboat HMS Hazard helped evacuate the passengers and crew. Despite the assistance of the nearby collier Lusitania, 134 people were killed in the sinking which sadly is pictured here. As this picture was taken, Robert was minutes from drowning. In October 2014, there were calls for the wreck of the ship to be designated a war grave and protected under the Protection of Military Remains Act, 1986.
In 1915, his widow, Mary received just £1 and 8 shillings of war gratuities upon his death.
Mary (pictured) eventually remarried in 1918, emigrated to the USA in 1928 and remarried again in 1955 going on to have a sizeable family. She died on December 4, 1965, in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, at the age of 75.
Update: Mona Shepherd is a relation of this family and is asking anybody reading who may be related, to please contact her directly. She writes, “I have been searching for my Uncle Robert Duncan Bradley’s family. He was born Oct 1914 in Blantyre Scotland to Mary Bradley Duncan, my grandmother. She was Born 1890 in Scotland and married Robert Duncan who was born Jan 21 1891 in Blantyre. I saw an article on your site and a Lisa Winters was mentioned in that article, i am not sure how she connects with Robert Duncan, she might be related. If anyone out there has any information on any of my family i would appreciate it if you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you again for all you do for everyone. Mona Shepard”
On social media:
Mona Shepard Thank you Lisa Winter. I am Mona Shepard the Granddaughter of Mary Bradley/Broadley the picture of her at the stove. We appreciate the information you posted on my family. We are looking to see if there were any children of Robert Duncan and Mary Bradley, or any other information you can help with. We are very excited to find this information, and pictures.
The Blantyre Project Mary Broadley was also the grandma of Nancy Riise Kvamsdal who lives in Norway. Mona, I’m assuming then Nancy would be either your sister, cousin or 2nd cousin. I can send you her email address if the link is not recognised yet. It would be great to put people in touch with each other like this.
Mona Shepard Thank you, Nancy is my second cousin and we are in touch. IF you can help me, who is Lisa Winters, she has been very helpful, and we thank her. This is really wonderful getting this information. I love to see the, parents grandparents and Great grandparents. If you have any other information on her or Robert Duncan, We would love to see it. It is greatly appreciated. Mona Shepard
Mona Shepard Another question, we are thinking Mary Broadley.Bradley, had another child, I am not sure who the father was. My mom Harriet Bridget Broadley,/Bradley. She was the first child born, I am thinking there was another child born to Mary in 1914 or 1915. We have no information on this child. Janet Massey was born later in 1919. If you have any information on this, it would help us greatly. Thank you again.