Hugh McKerrow Wallace 1879-1958

A lady named Debbie left me a request for help on the main Blantyre Project website saying, Hughie Wallace my great grandfather was a farmer’s son, and a farmer’s grandson, and worked on the family farm until he joined the British Army to fight in the second Boer War (1899 to 1902). After the army he returned to Scotland and to the farm. The farms were mostly on the hills and valleys between Blantyre and Auchintibber. He then and started an apprenticeship with the local blacksmith. In the early 1900’s Hughie Wallace met and married Elizabeth McKinlay. They had two children James Wallace, my grandfather and his sister Jean. Jean married Fred Gray, was widowed and then married Sam Nimmo.

I am trying to work out where the blacksmith was located and /or the Wallace farm. Also during the war my Aunty Jean had a wee shop and I don’t know if it was in Blantyre or Hallside ..any help would be appreciated.”

Hugh McKerrow Wallace was the son of James Wallace b1845 and Helen Allan Russell b1842. Originally from Kirkintilloch James moved to Auchenitbber as a farrier. Wife Helen was working as a domestic servant in Hamilton on Kennedy’s Farm. Hugh was born in 1879 and would grow up to become a farrier like his father. This family had lived in Auchentibber throughout the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s. They lived at Wallace’s land and had strong associations with the sport of quoiting.

In February 1900 at the age of 21, Hugh had already been a member of the 2nd V.B.S Rifle Volunteers for 3 years. He had volunteered his services as a farrier in the Royal Horse Artillery. On the first Wednesday in February 1900, just 1 month after saying goodbye to the 1890s, Hugh was ready to say goodbye again. This time he was leaving for Aldershot and expecting to sail out to South Africa the following week.

At Auchentibber, the community rallied and he was presented with a powerful pair of field glasses, sportsmans knife, and a pipe and tobacco from a few friends who met to bid him farewell and to wish him good luck. Inspector Gracie of Blantyre made the presentation and spoke in the highest terms of Hugh’s patriotic behaviour and of the volunteers in their country’s hour of need. He said ‘Farrier’ Wallace took an honoured name to the front and knew he would never do anything to dishonour it. Mr Wallace suitably replied and a pleasant hour was spent afterwards bidding farewell from close family and friends. War took place in South Africa from 1899 to 1902. Hugh did survive the African conflict and was discharged from Army duty in 1902.


When he was 24 years old, Hugh was married on 26th June 1903 at the Masonic Hall in Kirkton High Blantyre. At that time, he was a journeyman Blacksmith. (A “journeyman” was a skilled worker who has successfully completed an official apprenticeship qualification in a building trade or craft. They were considered competent and authorized to work in that field as a fully qualified employee of somebody else.) He lived at Muirfoot in Auchentibber prior to his marriage and likely served as a blacksmith to the various mining contractors in the Auchentibber area. Wallace’s Land was situated on the western side of Parkneuk Road but is now demolished.

His bride was Elizabeth McKinlay, a domestic servant from Auchinraith, High Blantyre or “Lizzie” as she preferred. Lizzie was the same age as Hugh and was the daughter of James McKinlay, a coal fire inspector and mother Jane Brown.

In the 1905 Valuation roll, the couple were living at Kirkland Place, in Auchinraith at the home of Lizzie’s family. His child James Jnr was born on November 23, 1903, in Motherwell, Lanarkshire. Another 2 children Minnie and Jeannie would follow.

Hugh, Lizzie and children visited America in 1906 but are thought to have returned to Blantyre before 1911 at which time they were living at 13 Hunthill Road.

The proximity to the High Blantyre Dixon’s collieries of both these addresses is telling that James may have been employed working for Dixon’s Collieries as a blacksmith perhaps at Pits 2 or 3. However, a later census in 1911 reveals that he worked as a horse shoe blacksmith, rather than at the collieries. Therefore, there is a strong possibility that Hugh Wallace worked for Mr Templeton, the blacksmith at nearby Broompark Road. Indeed the Templeton family are known to have had associations with the Wallace family throughout the 19th Century.


The 1911 Census has the couple now aged 32 living at 13 Hunthill Road and now with 2 children, James their son aged 7 and Jeanie, their daughter aged 4. The census indicates a tragedy had taken place for it states that Lizzie had given birth to 3 children by 1911, although only 2 were surviving. Little Minnie had passed away. Next door at the same address was 56 year old Jeannie Corbet, and despite being herself, was in a larger part of that house, with 3 rooms.

The children would have gone to school at nearby High Blantyre School on Hunthill Road.Hugh, Lizzie and Jeanie were all born in Blantyre, but son James was born in Motherwell, but likely out of circumstance only rather than the family living there.

By 1915, the Wallace family were still at 13 Hunthill Road although they may have visited America again before 1920. Sometime between 1925 and 1930 when they moved to 288 Glasgow Road to a house called “Thornhill Place.” 

His previous army experience and skills made him a suitable candidate to enlist for service when war broke out in 1914. He enrolled on 11th August 1914, listing Blantyre as his home. Hugh Wallace served in the military that year when he was 35 years old until discharged.

I have heard that Jeannie Wallace had a sweet shop in Blantyre during the 1930’s, but I’m unable to confirm the location.

Hugh McKerrow Wallace passed away at 23 Auchinraith Road on 5th November, 1958, aged 78. His death certificate notes he was a retired blacksmith and outlived his wife. His elder brother John lived a long life after emigrating to Australia. His son James during 1958, was living in Woodland Crescent, Cambuslang.


From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017


On social media:

Margaret Nimmo Lehmann Sam Nimmo was my Great Uncle
The Blantyre Project thank you to Robert Stewart for this accompanying photo.

Image may contain: plant, grass, tree, outdoor and nature
Janet Cochrane Hugh Wallace would probably shoe my grandfather’s horses his mother may have worked for my great grandparents at the Kennedies. Maggie Wallace or Miss Wallace as we had to call her lived at Muirfoot when I was at school. She was the dinner lady cleanSee more
Moyra Lindsay Hi Janet, it’s Moyra Stewart as was !
Moyra Lindsay Debbie, my mum worked with Jean Wallace in Bowies fruit shop in the Masonic buildings in Glasgow road around 1934-38 owned by Mrs Young. Jean walked from Auchintibber and back every day and they worked very long hours. My mum used to say that a young man would walk Jean to the foot of Sydes Brae then she met another at the top who walked her home. She liked Jean very much. I wish I had asked her more.
Debbie Miller Thank you Moyra that is another piece of the puzzle … and isn’t it the way we don’t ask our parents enough until we realise the history they carry …often too late by that. I am doing my family tree so my children with always know where they come from…family history is wonderful I’m back to the 1600’s so far
Jim McSorley Fantastic story and well researched
Garry Lee Fantastic research Paul,
Debbie Miller Amazing information I really appreciate it I have added all the info you sent me to our family tree …thank you again
Debbie Miller This is the updated headstone 2 years ago I had it cleaned up and added other information on it after the death of my mother who was also Elizabeth McKinlay Wallace ( married name Young)

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  1. Hi John not sure why I didn’t reply to this. The Wallace family that lived in Hallside was my grandparents James and Winnifred Wallace, they lived there with their four children Hugh, Marion, Elizabeth (my mother) and Timothy ..during the war when the steelworks were a target Marion and Ted were sent to High Blantyre to live with Jean Wallace and my Great grandmother…was never sure why my mother and Hugh never got sent away then too.

  2. Debbies comment about a sweet shop in Hallside seems valid there was a family Wallace lived in Hallside who had a shop in there, the shop was opposite the Co-op shop and the building ran parallel to the roadway.The shop was previously run by a Mr jack Donnelly it lay vacant for some time and then was re-opened by a Mrs Wallace who lived in the village.The time would have been the late 1940’s.

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