Blantyre’s Rhodes Family

Stephen Rhodes has shared these photos of his family and gave an insight into his Blantyre ancestry. He told me recently, “These are photographs from the 1900’s of my Great Grandparents, David and Marion Rhodes who lived in 65 Craig Street, Blantyre. The Family photo of David and Marion with their eleven children was taken in 1920.

In September 1995 Archie Rhodes, who was then 87 years old, met with his Sister Elizabeth’s daughter Marion Shaw to share his story, which I have since verified on the Internet. As follows:

David Rhodes was born in Dudley, Worcestershire in 1861. David’s Father Joseph was a Coal Miner in Old Hill, near Dudley, and at the age of 10 David also started work as a Miner. David’s Mother Elizabeth nee Willetts worked at home as a chain maker whilst looking after their family of 4 boys and 1 girl.

Despite being only Five Foot Four and a quarter Inches tall David enlisted in the British Army in 1882. In 1884 he was posted to Sudan as part of the Nile Expedition to relieve Major General Charles George Gordon who was besieged in the City of Khartoum by the Madhist Army. According to Wikipedia the Nile Expeditionary Force entered Sudan in January 1885 and was attacked on the 17th and 19th, repelling the enemy both times. On the afternoon of the 28th of January 1885, 1,400 men of the Nile Expedition reached Khartoum: Two days too late. An estimated 50,000 Mahdists had attacked Khartoum on the night of the 25th of January 1885 and slaughtered the entire Military Garrison, including General Gordon, and more than 5,000 of the Town’s population.

David returned home to England and in July 1885 left the Army. He decided to emigrate to America and sailed on the SS City of Rome from Liverpool via Queenstown, Ireland and arrived in New York on the 31st of August 1888.

Marion Johnstone Ferguson was born on the 23rd of August 1868 in Shuttle Row, Blantyre, the first of William and Agnes nee Johnstone’s six children. According to the 1881 Census William was a Millworker and Agnes was a Cotton Weaver. Marion started worked in the local Mill and became a Silk Weaver.

Poor working conditions led Marion to emigrate for work to New Jersey, USA. She sailed on the SS Furnessia from Glasgow via Moville, Ireland and arrived in the Port of New York on 10th of October 1889. David and Marion met at a party and married in Paterson, the Silk City, New Jersey in January 1890.

They moved back to Blantyre and lived there for the rest of their lives. David returned to work as a Miner. Over the next 21 years David and Marion had 12 Children: Joseph born late 1890, William born in 1892, Agnes born 1893, Elizabeth born in 1898, Robert born 1900, George born in 1902, Marion born 1904, Mary born in 1906, Archibald born 1908, My Grandad Frederick who was born in 1910 and his Brother David born in 1911. Their other son David died of Pleurisy in 1904 at the age of eight.


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  1. Maureen Chalmers nee Rhodes

    Hi David Rhodes was my grandad I’d love to know more about our family

    1. Hi Maureen, I’ve done the Rhodes family tree. I’ll print it out and send you a copy if you wish.
      Give me your address

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