Helen Wood Davidson

Family friend and once my neighbour, Lillias Addison contacted me in February asking, “Please could you find out about my mother’s family, Davidson. Her name was Helen and she had a sister Annie and brothers John and William.”

Here are my notes now researched.

Helen Wood Davidson was born on 19th March 1912 at 3.15am at 16 Douglas Street, High Blantyre. She was the daughter of John Dugald Davidson, an accomplished joiner and Lillias Lockhart. The “Wood” part of her name was after her granny’s surname born in 1824. John D Davidson was present at Helen’s birth. Little Helen’s birth certificate was registered by her father on 8th April 1912 exactly a week before the Titanic sank in the mid Atlantic.


Birth Certificate of Helen Wood Davidson – 1912

Going back a generation first, her father John Dugald Davidson was born in Govan, Glasgow on 30th November 1867 the child of John and Helen (Ellen) Wood. He married Ann McPherson in Glasgow on 3rd November 1893 in Glasgow. Annie, as she preferred was pregnant when she married. At the end of 1893, the couple settled in Blantyre and moved into accommodation at Gardiner’s Place near the junction of Main Street and Broompark Road. It’s quite probable John worked at Davidson’s sawmills in Blantyre and the sawmill may have belonged to a family member.

On 14th April 1894, whilst visiting Hendrie’s Place, (a former building that once stood on the north side of Main Street near Causeystanes), Annie McPherson went into labour. She gave birth to little Jessie Davidson in Blantyre that day  with John present.


Birth Certificate of Jessie Davidson – 1894

However, John and Annie’s first child arriving, was not a happy occasion as you may imagine. Annie had been seriously ill with tuberculosis and on the following day, after she gave birth to Jessie, she sadly died aged only 28, weak from being so ill and from the labours of childbirth. Just 5 months after he had married, in April 1894, 25 year old John Davidson was a widower with one small newborn child! However, it wasn’t long before he had caught the eye of Lillias Lockhart, a young local woman from Saltcoats.

Lillias Lockhart was born in 1876 in Ayrshire and was the grandmother of Lillias Addison who made this ancestry request.

On 16th July 1897 at Thornhill, Blantyre, John D Davidson married Lillias Lockhart when she was 21. She was 6 years his junior as John was 28 and the couple decided to reside at John’s home in High Blantyre at Gardiner’s Place, along with Lillias’ new little stepdaughter, Jessie.


Davidson – Lockhart Marriage 1897

Another daughter for John followed in 1899, named Annie. A touching and fitting tribute to his late wife. Then a first son, William on 17th February 1900.

In 1901, the couple were living at Gardiner Place, John D Davidson by then a joiner aged 32. Wife, Lillias was now 26, a housewife looking after the three children and pregnant with another son, John Lockhart Davidson who would be born later the next year. Note, the 1901 census says she was 20 then, but her marriage certificate in 1897 says she was 22. I would suggest at this point it was likely an error was made on the census, as was commonplace.

In 1910, the family moved from Gardiner Place to 129 Main Street, then the following year in early 1912, to 16 Douglas Street.

In 1911 census, when she was at 129 Main Street, she is correctly noted as being 35.

The first decade of 1900’s saw many Davidson family members born in Blantyre. The name was no longer uncommon in Blantyre. No less than 20 births to Davidsons are recorded in Blantyre between 1900 – 1915.

Following 1915, John Dugald Davidson changed profession and became a draper at shops on Glasgow Road at numbers 166, 167 and 169, a situation which continued until 1922 when he passed away. The business then transferred to his son, John Lockhart Davidson (d1975)

Lillias Davidson (nee Lockhart) died in 1950, aged 74 in Blantyre. I’ve mapped out the Ancestry as follows:


Helen Wood Davidson, b1912, married in 1940 to John McDonald and of course they had Lillias in 1947, and the rest as they say is history! (I found an entry for Helen Wood Davidson passing away on 2nd April 2004 overseas in America, aged 92, but will leave this up to Lillias and her family to confirm, given its sensitivity within modern history.)

I have a good photo of Lillias and her mum Helen Wood McDonald (nee Davidson) outside the Anderson Church in 1957. This was amongst my family photos, taken at the wedding of my aunt.


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

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