Joanne Annett who lives in Australia contacted me back in April 2016 with a request looking for some of her Blantyre ancestry. She emailed:
Hi Paul – Would appreciate any help you can give me on tracing my family history. My father & both grandparents were born in Blantyre & there names are:
Joseph Cables B 8/09/1931
William Cables B 17/07/1909 D 1990
Annie Cables (nee Hart) B 2/03/1911 D 2001
I am visiting Blantyre from Australia in May this year & would love to be able to visit any historical sites. Would you be able to advise where to visit – e.g cemetery, WW1 memorials or any coal mining sites. Appreciate any help you can give me. Thanks. Joanne
Here’s the response I was able to provide back to Joanne.
“Hi Joanne – Thanks for your email. I’m sorry I have just got round to this request in July, as I’ve had so many similar emails recently, and it would appear your Blantyre visit has likely come and gone already. Having surnames and dates of birth is a great start and got me off to a flying start with this task.
Joseph Cables: Of your grandfather, I would say that I think the date of birth you gave me is slightly wrong and that he was born on 17th May 1909, rather than July. I have confirmed this with various ancestry sources, but both son and wife’s name match, so I’m sure I have the right person.
You will likely know much about your father Joseph Cables (b1931) already, and for your interest, it would appear from passenger records he travelled back and forth across the sea from Australia to the UK, presumably to see his own parents who clearly lived to very elderly years. I have attached your dad’s record from a passenger list from 1958 where he travelled back to England from Austalia on board the Orcades. Interestingly, he was travelling alone, noted as his usual place of residence was Australia and his intention of visit to England was to be on a “permanent” basis. As you’re in Australia, you will be best placed to comment on what happened next!
William Cables: So, lets roll back a generation to your grandparents, William Cables and Annie Hart. Looking at your grandfather’s side, William was born on 7th May 1909 at 57 Dixon Street, Blantyre. This is very telling, for the address informs us that he belonged to a mining family, his father must have been employed by William Dixons Collieries. When William was born his father, Joseph (Senior), was 22 and his mother, Jane, was 22.
On 13th July 1931, your grandfather William Cables married his sweetheart Annie Hart. They were married in St Joseph’s Church on Glasgow Road, again indicating further information this time revealing at least one of them was Roman Catholic. How fitting that they married there, not only a hundred yards from William’s home but in a church that also carried the same name as your father and William’s own father. The family must have felt a great affinity to this church.
Joseph Cables Snr: Your father Joseph took his name from his own grandfather. Your great grandfather, William’s father was also Joseph Cables Snr. Joseph Snr was born on 26th February 1887 at 9 Govan Street, which was just around the corner from Dixon Street. Again it is telling that the baby must have been born into a coal mining family from that address, as the homes were tied to the colliery. In 1901, he was 14 years old living at 27 Hall Street in Dixon’s Rows with his 35 year old father (another William) and younger sister Margaret (10). Their mother was deceased by that time and the family were boarders of the McInally family. At 14 years old, Joseph Snr had already left school and was working as a pit labourer inside the Dixons coal mines.
Joseph Snr married Jane Higgins (b1887) on Hogmanay 31st December 1907 in St Joseph’s Church. As you know above, along came William Cables their son in 1909 and Peter Cables (b1914-1974), your grandfather’s brother in 1914 at the outbreak of WW1. Peter passed away in 1974 in England. Jane was an incomer to Blantyre from Maryhill. For reference to allow you to go back another generation, her parents were Arthur and Margaret.
In 1914, war loomed in Europe and Joseph Cables Snr like many Blantyre men signed up and left his wife and 2 young children to head off to fight. Joseph Snr was however, only married for 8 years and he died a hero’s death fighting for his country in France in the First World War. Sadly, he died on 7th May 1915, injured by gunfire at Flanders on the very same day as his son William’s (your grandfather’s) 6th birthday. He fought with the 2nd Battalion of the Cameronian Scottish Rifles and had attained the rank of sergeant. He is buried in Sailly-sur-la-Lys Canadian Cemetery in France.
Jane Higgins: This may have taken a terrible toll on Jane, his wife, for she fell into ill health and your great grandmother Jane Higgins died on Valentines day 1921, only aged 34. She died at Bellshill Hospital. This would have meant that by the age of 12, your grandfather William would have lost both his mum and dad and I think this part of William’s life is worth exploring more when you can, for it would be interesting to know who took him in and cared for him.
Its clear your grandparents moved from Blantyre to England at some point and of course there is the connection that your dad travelled to and settled in Australia. If you have a photo of your grandparents, I’d love to put that against this story. I hope this is all of interest and making some sense.