Seeing Lorna Hughes post a message online asking for some of her Blantyre ancestry, it reminded me of a family tree I had previously looked at. Lorna said,“My grandfather and greatgrandfather lived in Blantyre and were both fireman miners, I would love to find out more about their lives circa 1890-1930 ish, they were both named James Leishman and i want to trace my family tree.”
Helen Morrison was born in Blantyre in 1846. She was the first and eldest child of William and Margaret (herself a Blantyre woman). By the aged of 15, in 1861 she had already left school and was employed as a Dye worker. She lived at Larkfield with her parents William (40) and Margaret (40). As well as a live in lodge William Martin (23), it was a busy household with sisters Margaret (13), Annie (5), Janet (2), baby Mary (3 months) and a nephew Andrew Robinson (5). As a dye worker, Helen (or Ellen as she preferred) may have worked in the Village Works Mills. In 1864, a sister Agnes was born.
Helen was still living at home in Larkfield in 1871, aged 25, still employed as a dye worker. However, things were about to change in that year, for she had met James Leishman and they married in 1872.
Born in Stonehouse in 1844, James was a miner who had arrived in the Blantyre area for employment. He had obviously fallen for Ellen, a Blantyre girl and following their marriage, they had a daughter Margaret born on 9th July 1873, a son James born in 1876, a son William born in 1878 and a son John born in 1880.
In 1881 James Leishman was a coal miner living at Forrest Street. This may have suggested he worked at Craighead colliery or nearby. Together with Ellen, whom by then was 35, they made a home there with their growing family which was expanded further with the arrival of son, Gavin in 1885.
Employment opportunity at another colliery, this time in High Blantyre may have been a reason for moving home. By 1891, with James and Ellen in their mid 40s, the whole family lived at Lyon’s Building, on Hunthill Road, High Blantyre. This former building was directly across the road from the High Blantyre Primary School, which in 1891 would have been handy for children William, John and Gavin.
Their other son also James Leishman born in 1876, was by 1891, 15 years old and still living at home at Lyons Building, but like his father had chosen coal mining as a profession. Living at High Blantyre suggested by this time he was working in the nearby Dixons Pits, not a quarter mile away.
Focusing on his story now, which is the likely line of Lorna’s ancestry, I saw in 1901 he was living at “Minshall” in Blantyre, a place unknown to me, although sometimes the census information can be inaccurate or with incorrect spelling. James is noted as being a coal miner aged 25 and with him were sons James Leishman (aged 3 , born in 1898) and other son Peter Leishman (aged 1, born in 1900). However, there is no hint as to who he had married and had these children with on the census, for in 1891, there is no partner for James living at that address. This could be for several reasons. Assuming a marriage in the mid to late 1880s, James’s partner may have died in childbirth or by accident sometime after the birth of Peter. Or, she could have left entirely, or indeed was simply at another address or in hospital on the day of the census. The census entry is made all the more strange, for James and sons are living with his brother and his wife. I have a suspicion that the woman who married James was Janet Clark, but I am left with a feeling that something had occurred here that was upsetting to the family circumstances. If Janet had left or died, James at 25 would have been young enough to remarry and have further children, which we know he did, as Lorna mentioned there were girls in the family including Lizzie and Agnes. If Janet was simply missing on the 1901 census, they may have gone on to have had further children in the early 1900s.
It is here the trail runs rather cold, but its hoped that the story is advanced enough to the point in time of 1901, that Lorna may be able to work out what happened next. I attach the family tree to put things in context.