Mary Taggart (b1891-d1947)

Working my way through some more ancestry requests. Andrew Cousins asks, “Does anyone have any information on Mary Taggart, born Blantyre 1891 and died in 1947? I believe she was a school teacher who worked at St Josephs and lived in Station Road”

This proved to be an interesting investigation.

Mary TAGGART was born in 1891 the daughter of James Taggart (a school janitor) and Elizabeth Laidlaw. Mary Taggart was indeed a school teacher, a profession she was working in by 1911, at the age of 19. That year, she was still living at home at 36 Craig Street and was the eldest of many siblings, Mary, Catherine, Michael, James, Elizabeth, Robert and John. It is noted in the census that 2 of Mary’s siblings had sadly died. Some of her siblings were weavers.

War affected the Taggart family greatly. In 1914 and 1915, her brothers James and Michael Taggart died in WW1 at Flanders and at Sea.

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As a young woman in the 1930’s, she moved to new spacious homes at 62 Station Road, overlooking the public park. This would have been a desirable place to live. The park was being set out with a pond, the memorial arch and trees planted. Her home was near the train station and her place of work at St Joseph’s School.

Mary was found dead at home in 1947 as her death certificate shows.

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However, Mary’s strange death prompted an entry to be corrected against her death certificate following a further investigation. A supplementary document issues some further details stating Mary was found passed away in her bed at her house at 62 Station Road at 3.50am on 4th March 1947, last seen alive just after midnight the night before. The cause of death noted as being “Extensive Burns”.

With no foul play noted, a newspaper report in the Scotsman the next day revealed more. A neighbour had discovered a nighttime fire coming from Mary’s living room and alerted others who broke the door down. Mary was found lying passed away on a settee/bed in the said living room. Mary was single and sadly, being alone in the house looks certain to have meant that help did not arrive when she most needed it. Whilst all this sounds horrific, she may have already been overcome by smoke by the time fire took hold. She was only 55 and had been a teacher for nearly 40 years.

At the time of her death, both parents were deceased, her father passing only 2 years earlier.  Miss Mary Taggart is remembered here in this article. Her home, at 62 Station Road is pictured below as it looks now:

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Featuring Blantyre Project Social Media with permission. Strictly not for use by others on or offline, our visitors said:

Blantyre Project It may not be a nice subject but it’s highly likely that people have passed away in almost all older houses in Blantyre prior to current owners occupation.
Joy McLennan Swell house, gardens…sadly, smoking caused her death.
Elizabeth Weaver How strange that a teacher was still awake – “last seen alive” – after midnight the day before she died. That was unusual back then – most people went to bed very early when they had work (or school) the next day. It was a Tuesday morning when she died – I happen to know because I was born on the Saturday 4 days later! I note the newspaper says she was found on the settee, too – not her bed? Maybe she’d been ill? It does make one wonder whether there was more to the story. Poor soul anyway, to die so comparatively young in her nice newish house.
Scott Craig My Granny Elizabeth Laidlaw Daly (later Craig) was Catherine Taggart’s daughter and lived at 62 Station Road too. When I was really young she showed me an old photo of her Aunty Mary who died in a fire in the very same house!

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  1. Paul thank you for the time you have put in for this article. So much more information than I was expecting. Anyone reading this who has information on James and Michael I would be very interested to hear from you. To think I moved back to Scotland In 1969 as 4 year old to East Kilbride and down the road (literally) I had family that I never had a chance to meet. Thank you once again

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