Thomas McVey & Parents

Kelly Scarlett used my request service on the website to ask for some ancestry information. She said, “Hi I am trying to find out more about my grandfather. James Mcvey born march 1904, in 1911 he lived at 12 calder street aged 7. We believe he went to the USA around 1927 but we dont know why. Any information would be great to hear. Also if you can find out anything about his maternal grandparents, Daniel and Agnes kellachen/callaghan seen numerous spellings on this. Thank you so much.”

Here are my notes.

James Callaghan McVey was born at 16 Hall Street, Dixons Rows, Stonefield, Blantyre on 27th March 1904, at exactly noon. The address is telling that he belonged to a miner’s family, the property owned by William Dixon.

Indeed, his birth certificate confirms his father was Thomas McVey, a coalminer. His mother was Helen Jane Callaghan, with James middle name being his mother’s maiden name.

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The property he lived in was small, basic, single storey and would have been cramped. A row of terraced homes, similar to adjacent streets. This is a picture of Park Street below around that era but the homes in adjacent Hall Street would have been identical.

1928 Hall Street Dixons rows

Late 1920s Park Street (not Hall St!), Dixons Rows, Blantyre, restored by A Rochead

Like many Blantyre men in the 1920’s he left Scotland looking for employment in the USA. Some of the pits in Blantyre were being exhausted and many men thought about jobs that did not involve going deep into the earth. Job opportunities in local papers offering a better life in Canada and America were frequent.

However, it was not an ideal time, for many men found themselves in the heart of the deep American depression, and often gave up seeking jobs to come back to Scotland. It would appear however, that James decided to stay, perhaps being one of the lucky ones to find work or love.

Exploring his mother’s side, his mother Helen Jane Callaghan had married husband Thomas McVey on 21st June 1901 in Blantyre. Helen or Ellen as she was known is noted on her marriage certificate as having surname Kellachen, a derivative meaning the same as Callaghan. She was just 19, a dressmaker when she married in St Joseph’s Church on Glasgow Road. Thomas being 2 years older.

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Ellen Kellachen was the daughter of Daniel Kellachen (b1880) and Agnes Matthews (b1882). As a child, she lived at 12 Dixon Street, in Dixon’s Rows only a street away from where she would live after her marriage. Her father Daniel was a former furnaceman for Dixon’s Collieries.

Going back a generation again looking at her parents, Daniel and Agnes, the fact they were married in St Josephs, suggests at least one of them, most likely both were Roman Catholic. They married 4 years before the current church was built, getting married in the former School / Chapel on Glasgow Road, near its junction with Stonefield Road. This also explains why finding birth certificates for the couple are much harder to find. It is highly likely both of their families came from Ireland to settle in Blantyre just as many miner’s families did in the 1880’s. I did manage to find an elderly Daniel Kellachan passing away in Blantyre in 1960 but cannot be 100% certain this was the same man. I also found an infant who died in his first 5 days in 1903 Though this infant was named Daniel Kellachan he was not the child of Daniel and Agnes.

Hope this is of interest to the family.

On social media:

Gerald Kellachan Paul ,this lady’s great grandfather ,was also mine. Spelling different but not being able to read and write , and broad Irish accent confused many a registrar.
Jean Gill Hi Gerald
Daniel Kellachan was also my great great grandfather. Would you like to get in touch with me please.
Theresa Klesel Hi Gerald Daniel Kellachan is also my great great grandfather and .jean Gill
Is also my twin sister would love to hear more cheers therese Klesel
Betty Brown Hi Paul. Wee lived in 36 Hall sister was born there, before moving up to the Orlits.
Catherine Davidson Hi i was born In 42 hall street in 1949 one of 9 children. We then moved to Farm Road in 1951. The kellechans lived in the cul de sac just of Farm Road .
Linda Mcgrory Macintyre I am still researching, but have found a Frances/Fanny Callaghan on my Grandads side. They stayed in minors rows, then moved to council house in Stonefield road. My grandad was Bernard McGrory, my gran Isabella Phillips. Very interesting – love this site.x


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  1. Hi
    My name is Paul Jones from Wellington, New Zealand.
    Daniel Kellachan and Agnes Matthews were my Gt. Gt. Grandparents and their daughter Agnes Kellachan who married John O’Neill and their daughter Winifred.
    Have some information but missing some as didn’t know about Helen.
    Would like to share info

  2. Was so helpful reading this, thanks again Be nice to get in touch with family Gerald.

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