Mr. James Brownlie or Brownlee (Snr) was born Sunday 22nd June 1845 at Blantyre and lived to very old age. He was born in the old Hoolit’s Nest Inn, which was then owned by his father, Mr. William Brownlie. Indeed the Brownlie family had already been resident in Blantyre above 300 years.
His first school was in a “but and ben” thatched one storey house directly across the road from where he was born. His teacher was Miss Elizabeth Lyon. See Barnhill School Room and Lyon, Miss Elizabeth. When Miss Lyon died the school was closed down. The twenty odd scholars were transferred to the Kirkton Hall School, at School Lane, High Blantyre. Old James recalled at that time, there were many ‘fine schools’ in Blantyre, and all of them consisted of one classroom only. In fact, there was another school just fifty yards along School Lane with Mr. Money (pronounced Moonie) as Headmaster.
As would be expected, a friendly rivalry existed between the two School Lane schools, and Mr. Brownlie tells us of a battle cry employed by the children of the Hall class as they barged passed the other scholars, “Moonie’s dugs keep up yer lugs, and let the Hall yins by ye.” His formal education ended in 1856, when, at just eleven years of age, he was sent to work for Henry Monteith & Co. in the village dye works.
Jimmy at the age of 15, in 1861 was a dye worker at Barnhill. Living at the house with the family were stepsisters Jean and Mary Inglis. Around 1871, he married Agnes Carmichael (b1840 – d1918) and they had 3 sons and 3 daughters. Between 1881 and 1891, they moved from Barnhill to McDougall’s Property at Hunthill Road.
Later in life and certainly by 1934, he resided with his son in law Alex Wardrop and his daughter at 58 Hunthill Road, High Blantyre. The youngest of his 3 sons, James went on to become Manager of Dundee Football Club during the mid 1930’s. Auld Jimmy worked until he was 82 years old, giving up his job in 1927 as a roadman for the county council.
On his 90th birthday in 1935, he was described as being known as “Old Jimmy”, a popular and well-known character. He took his daily 1-mile walk and was hale and hearty.
Old Jimmy died on 16th November 1939. An article from the Dundee Courier on Friday 17th November 1939, stated, “Mr. James Brownlie, father of Jimmy Brownlie, former manager of Dundee United, died yesterday morning at the residence of his widowed daughter, Mrs. Alex. Wardrope, Hunthill Road, High Blantyre. He was 94. Mr. Brownlie was born in the Auld ” Hoolit’s Nest Inn ” in the Barnhill district of Blantyre. He had a vivid recollection of seeing Dr. David Livingstone when he paid a visit to his birthplace in Low Blantyre village on December 30, 1856.”