Isabella Berry b1891

In December 2015, I was contacted by James Sheehan who asked, “I would like to know more about my grandmother,Isabella Berry. I know she had a younger brother,John,who went to Rhode Island,America.  Any information would be greatly appreciated.”


Isabella Berry Birth Certificate 1891

Isabella Berry was born in Blantyre on Monday 22nd June 1891 to parents John Berry and Mary Berry. (Mary also had the unrelated maiden name of Berry). The parents were married on 16th August 1890, so Isabella was a first addition to the family. Isabella was born at 29 Park Street, just off Stonefield Road in miner’s row homes commonly known as “Dixon’s Rows”.

Her father John was a coalminer born in Midlothian and would have worked at either the Larkfields Colliery 4, or Dixons Collieries 1 to 3 in High Blantyre. He was a “hewer” a mining professions who loosens rocks in mines. It would have been a dangerous job, with collapse ever present. It would have been a relatively short walk for her father to get to work each day. Blantyre in the 1890’s was booming. Construction of many homes, buildings, shops and halls and despite the dark, dirty atmosphere of the coal industry all over the town, the prospect of residential and commercial expansion of Blantyre would likely have seemed exciting. It was indeed a place of changing architecture and opportunity.

A sister Mary (named after her mother), followed in 1894, then her brother John (named after the father) was born in 1899 in Blantyre, Lanarkshire, when Isabella was 7 years old.

screen-shot-2017-01-13-at-12-57-12By 1901, John Berry was 44, Mary was 37 and they were still living in the same house at 29 Park Street, with the area of Stonefield in Blantyre. The house is no longer there but would have been where now the junction of Winton Crescent is with Boswell Drive. Their home did however look out on to expansive fields, and their view unlike much else of Dixon’s Rows, would have been very green, perhaps with the exception of the nearby gas works)

Isabella was 9 years old in 1901 census, Mary was 7, John Jnr was 2 and a further brother Patrick was only 3 months old. Isabella and Mary would likely have schooled at the former Stonefield Parish Primary School on Glasgow Road.

The trail then runs cold in Scotland and England, for by 1911, the family did not appear in any UK census. It seems possible that by 1911 with Isabella only 19, Mary 17, John only 12 an Patrick just 10, that the whole family moved abroad by passenger ship.

There are other entires later in the 1920s and 1930s of an Isabella Berry travelling to USA and to Canada by ship, but I cannot ascertain if this is the same person. Perhaps James, who originally sent in the request will be able to determine “what happened next!?”

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  1. I understand my great grand-parents also lived at 29 Park Street – they were Patrick and Bridget Kelly (nee Brannan). My Father passed away in June this year and it has prompted me to research his side of the family. Patrick was a miner but I don’t know if he died in an accident as Bridget remarried and became a McCormack.

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