Jenny McNelis contacted me in April 2017 (yes, I know over a year ago!), with the following:

“My grandfather was Samuel Dobbins, Born1877 in Durham. His father was Alex Dobbins and mother Elizabeth. They are all listed on 1881 census as residing at Baird’s Rows, Blantyre along with other children Alex 12 Henry 7 and Elizabeth 2.

My father said little about his father Sam – I believe he died around 1938. Dad grew up Coatbridge/Motherwell area though I think some family may have stayed in Blantyre. I don’t think he knew his grandparents so maybe they died quite young he seemed to think his grandfather (Alex ) was Irish but no more info. I’d be interested in finding out anything more about their life in Blantyre if it’s possible at all and then maybe try to find what led them there.”

I was able to reply with the following:

Jenny – I think you’re right, the family only lived in Blantyre a short time in the 19th Century. They’re not in any valuation roll for 1875, 1885 or 1895, although a William Dobbins appears in Stonefield in 1905 and a James Dobbins in 1920 at 100 Craighead Rows (Bairds Rows).

As you mentioned little was known about Samuel, I thought I’d fill in some extra information. Samuel Dobbins, your grandfather was indeed born in Durham in 1877, and lived a short time in Blantyre in the early 1880’s. I’m quite sure the family would have moved after the death of his father, no longer being accommodated in miner’s tied cottages at Bairds Rows. The miners at those homes would have worked at either Craighead Colliery or walked along to Bardykes.

Samuel was son to Alexander Dobbins and Elizabeth McGowan (although she had been married previously to a man named Adamson, who left her a widow).

Samuel though, became a gas fitter. He would have been much needed in the parish as the evolving industry fitted new lighting. He lived longer than wife Janet Mitchell and you’re right he died in 1938, on 24th March to be precise. Sadly, he passed away at Hartwood Asylum at Shotts, although his usual residence before that was at New Stevenson Road in Carfin. I have attached his death certificate. With pneumonia, he died primarily of a heart attack.

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Life was indeed tough for widows. There was little or no sympathy from colliery owners and they would have acquired their tied cottage fairly fast. It was most common in those days to remarry quickly to ensure the family could continue to be supported. That said, this appears to be a fairly sizeable family and as the children got older, they would likely have been in working positions quickly to look after their mother.

I hope this helps fill in some gaps. I’ll be writing about Bairds Rows a little later this year as part of my Glasgow Road North book.

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