Alcorn – Mann Ancestry

Well here’s a rather interesting piece of Blantyre history with a family emigrating to Australia and forming what became known as ‘Blantyre’, Queensland, Australia!

Marion Turner sent me this email saying, ” I have an article from a 1902 newspaper about a family gathering of people called ‘Alcorn’.  It says that Mr William Alcorn his wife and a family of eight sons and one daughter arrived by ship to Brisbane from Canada on 19th January 1869.  (I have since found out by searching on Ancestry shipping lists that they actually sailed from London arriving here on 24th January 1869.)  

The article goes on to say that the family settled in the Fassifern district and called their farm “Blantyre” after his wife’s birthplace.  As his wife’s name is not mentioned in the article it was another search to find her death which led me to her maiden name.  Searching Scottish records, I found her on the 1841 Census with her parents and siblings.  Her name was Margaret Mann age 17, estimated birth year: abt 1824, born: Lanarkshire Scotland, Civil Parish: Blantyre, Address: Blantyre Works Waterloo Row, Occupation: CPL Weaver. Household members were James Mann 53, Mary Mann (McCane) 50, Isabella Mann 25, Margaret Mann 17 and Andrew Mann 15.  

 So whether they had ever lived in Canada or not I don’t know?  If they did they then must have returned to UK to emigrate to Australia as they sailed from London.  I did try to find a marriage for Margaret Mann to William Alcorn in Scotland but had no luck.

Anyway back to Queesland… when the Alcorn family moved to this farm the area was called One-eye Waterhole which is the translation for the Aboriginal name Milbong.  It appears that at some point the Blantyre name seems to have taken over.  There were quite a few letters to the editor of the local paper regarding this and quite a bit of ill feeling as most seemed to be happy to keep the name One-eye Waterhole.  One letter even stated that people should be very happy to call it Blantyre as it was the birthplace of the great David Livingstone but from my research that had nothing to do with it.  It seemed to be reasonably prosperous area and a railway line was constructed through there and also a school.  Both have long gone with
no sign of them ever being there.  I have found out that when the school closed  the building was removed to a historical village which is quite a long distance away.

I didn’t try to search William Alcorn so whether he is a Scot or Canadian I don’t know.  Maybe Margaret went to Canada and met and married him there.  I now know where Blantyre Queensland got the name and that was my main aim.  I knew it would have been a connection to Blantyre Scotland as the place names here in Australia are echoes of our UK ancestors.  I grew up in Brisbane in a suburb called Kelvin Grove and it is quite obvious it is called after Kelvingrove in Glasgow. I have a question for you, could you tell me what is a CPL Weaver which was Margaret’s occupation?”

I was able to reply with:

Thanks Marion. I have found this family in some notes and mapped out their ancestry as attached. I even have some photos for you! William Alcorn is clearly shown married to Margaret Mann.

Firstly though, CPL stands for Cotton Power Loom (Weaver). I know exactly where the power loom building once stood and would be pleased to show you that if you ever come to Scotland.

The Mann family were very prominent in Blantyre in both the 19th and 20th Centuries, given the size of the family. One character (William Mann, an older brother of Margaret) lived in a house over the wall in my back garden, literally 50 yards from where I’m writing this in my front room!

When Margaret Mann was born on 21 August 1821 in Blantyre, Lanarkshire, her father, James, was 33, and her mother, Mary, was 29. She married WILLIAM ALCORN on 30 August 1849 which looks likely to have taken place in Canada, having left Blantyre by that time. They had nine children in 13 years.

I’m positive Margaret moved given neighbouring rise of cilvil war in the USA in the late 1860’s and certainly following the death of her brother and mother. It sounds like she needed a fresh start by going all the way to the other side of the world! (again!). What an inter continental, adventurous lifestyle she must have lived.

She died on 10 January 1881 in Ipswich, Queensland, at the age of 59, and was buried in Harrisville, Queensland. In those 59 years, she had lived for long periods of time in Europe, Canada and Australia, but as you pointed out, she may just very well have introduced the name ‘Blantyre’ to Australia. She is pictured below.

Note for others: Marion’s other link with Blantyre is that her Mother (Marion Denholm) was born at Greenhall Lodge in 1908 and she was the youngest daughter of Thomas Denholm who was coachman for Colonel Wardrop Moore. The family migrated to Australia in 1910.

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

Gord Fotheringham By jings paul you do wonders with nothin to go on
Jessie Caldow Amazing research Paul, and so interesting!
Selina Fleming Amazing Paul well done again.
Margaret Liddle Well done Paul

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