A complex affair, 1915

This tale starts with the unhappy subject of divorce. In February 1915, Thomas Closs, a tram conductor from Airdrie was filing for divorce from his estranged wife, Blantyre woman Euphemia Logan.

Euphemia was the daughter of Mrs Logan who ran the Victoria Bar in High Blantyre though by the time of the divorce request in early 1915, Euphemia had fled Scotland and was living in Canada.

Thomas and Euphemia had married on 10th March 1900. As the new Century rang in hope and happiness for the future, unfortunately their marriage had very little of this. Despite the birth of one son in the marriage, the couple quarrelled often and were not a good match.

In court, Euphemia was missing, resumed abroad and it fell upon Thomas to relay the details as to why he wanted a divorce to be granted. Now, stick with me here. The reasons he outlined are somewhat questionable by todays standards, but considered good ground back in the day.

Thomas explained to the court that Euphemia was very inattentive to her household duties. Frequently, she did not have his meals ready, forcing him to go out and buy his own. She stayed out late at night, quite often he had no idea where she was. When he came back from work, she would be seen in the street talking to groups of men. During the quarrels, she became violent and often struck him. She often left the house for long periods of time, going to her sisters in Clarkston or her mothers at High Blantyre, doing this four times in just 8 months. He stated any accusations of him ill treating her were false.

Euphemia was not present to give her side of events and so it was left to her family and a friend to defend her version. It was reminded to the court that in 1909 Thomas had been charged with assaulting Euphemia in Airdrie, Thomas being the only party with a criminal record.

Thomas’s defence came back quickly stating that the day before that happened, Euphemia had cleared out the house with the help of her mother, Mrs Logan. She had gone to Thomas’s mothers house and left the baby on the doorstep for the grandmother to look after, effectively abandoning the child. The infant was attended to by doctors due to the exposure he suffered on that doorstep.

Euphemia’s mother gave evidence and noted that Euphemia had only gone back to Thomas in 1909 when he blackmailed her into thinking he would give up their house, leaving her homeless.

If this is not complex enough, in 1912, things got more difficult. That year Euphemia got pregnant to a High Blantyre man named Morrison. The child was born on 2nd June 1912 and was to be given up by Euphemia. A neighbour, a Mrs Hunter expressed interest in adopting the baby and at 2 weeks old, arrangements were made by the Parish Council Inspector for rhe “transfer”. Morrison paid 5s a week for upkeep of the baby but only for a short time before stopping the payments.

When the baby was 5 months, Mrs Hunter made arrangements to give the child back to Euphemia, whose relationship with Morrison had broken down by then. Euphemia had plans to go to Canada with her baby.

With birth certificates provided, and this evidence heard, Judge Lord Ormidale granted Thomas Closs his divorce and gave him full custody of his own son, the first baby from the marriage.

Pictured from that very year is the Victoria Bar (now the Cornerstone) at the High Blantyre Cross on the left hand side, a barman standing at the door.

1915 Kirkton Cross, High Blantyre. Photo shared by A Bowie

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