William Russell & Elizabeth Steven, 1903

Rhona Johnson lives in France and has found some photos of her Blantyre ancestors, sending them over. She told me, “I’m sending you photos of my ancestors. I think this photo would be taken about 1903. William Russell (1856-1939) and his wife Elizabeth Steven (1855-1921), both from Blantyre. William Russell was a baker and in the 1861 census as a boy he is at 11 Cross Row. In 1891 at Newlands and in 1901 at Burnside Cottage. 

My gran Elizabeth McClimens (born 1910 Blantyre) remembered visiting them (her grandparents) at Burnside Cottage. There was a hall with a parlour on the left and kitchen behind plus two other rooms. My gran remembered the fireplace with a tinkling glass ornament. She asked her grandmother what it cost and was told ‘siller (silver) and fair words’”

Always wanting to add a little extra for people who send in photos, I was able to add:

The Russells married on 21st December 1881 at home at Newlands, Blantyre. They were next door neighbours. William’s father was a dye worker at the mill and Elizabeth’s father was a master gardener, perhaps working for Monteith. Both William’s parents did not live to see him married.

The Russells were still at Newlands, Blantyre in 1895 with William making a living in the Village area as a baker. He was renting a house from Joseph Francis Monteith for £6 and 10 shillings per year. Many people lived at Newlands not far from the suspension bridge, which is thought to have been cleared along with a large proportion of the mill buildings around 1903. The destruction of the property or the proposal of that beforehand, is likely what prompted the family move to Burnside Cottages between 1896 and 1901.

The couple went on to have a large family, which I’ll post about soon.

Meantime, I have a little question. Does anybody know what the papers are for ,which the couple are holding in the photo? I had thought marriage certificates, but in this photo, they are older than in their early 20s when they married. I have a feeling its something of importance to be included in a photo, rather than a prop.

Screenshot 2020-04-26 at 13.28.57


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  1. Stewart Walker-McClimens

    Hello Rhona,
    My name is Stewart Walker-McClimens & came across your comments on the blantyre project website. Your grandmother Elizabeth was my father’s sister, my Aunt Lizzie, married to Uncle Andrew Mains. Many thanks for the photo’s which are the first time I have seen them. Fabulous to see my grand mother Jane and great grandparents for the first time (my father had very few photographs). I “inherited” some Sunday School prize books one of which was awarded to Jane. Would be lovely to hear from you and perhaps fill in some gaps.

  2. Thank you so much Paul. These additional details are very precious. I hadn’t thought about the papers! I hope someone can identify some of the post boys from the WW1 photo!

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