Fatal Blow at the Village, 1910

The Blantyre police had a busy night on Saturday 28th May 1910 with enquiries well into the Sunday following the death of a Blantyre miner.

Thomas Robertson was that miner, aged 51 years, a father and husband who resided with his wife and family at 18 New Lands, at the Village, Low Blantyre.

In connection with the unsavoury circumstance was John Irvine, a miner of nearby 2 Waterloo Row who was taken into custody. The police report states that the deceased, Thomas Robertson had earlier caught two boys stealing, grabbing them by the collar of their jackets and jocularly knocked their heads together, and afterwards pushed allegedly pushed them to the ground.

One of the boys was the son of the man Irvine, who was looking out of his house window and witnessed the incident, as this stranger knocked his son’s head against another boys skull. Irvine left his home and confronted Robertson, asking him for an explanation of his conduct. The explanation of stealing was not accepted and the men’s exchanges became heated. Thomas Robertson is said to have replied that he would do the same to him and assumed a fighting attitude. At this stage it is said that Irvine struck Robertson with his fist on the chin or behind the ear, causing him to fail suddenly to the ground. It was a blow and a half by all accounts as the children watched on in horror as Robertson lay there on the village pavements, lifeless. Help was fetched and neighbours at once carried Thomas into his own house, which was only a few yards away but he never regained consciousness.

Dr Thomas Grant was called and declared life was extinct. The police on hearing what happened took Irvine into custody. He was found in his own home having walked quietly away from the scene earlier. He was arrested without struggle and quietly walked alongside the officer to the police station. I was unable to find any sentencing of Mr Irvine, but I suspect this is a story which did not end well for him or his family. The story, which is timeless and could have happened anytime, only highlights what can happen when arguments escalate when one is brought into defending the actions of other family members.

A painting by Harry Rankine of the nearby buildings in the village in 1910 helps illustrate this era.

1920s Painting by HT Rankine


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  1. Found a report of the John Irvine trial in the Hamilton and Lanarkshire Weekly News dated 30 July 1910. In May he had been sent to Jail in Glasgow pending his trial. He appears to have been found guilty, but was then basically sentenced to time served. It makes interesting reading, and his wife could have delivered the killing blows.

    1. Thanks William. Thats some good detail to add to the story. Appreciated.

  2. Hi Paul,
    Would you consider selling the paintings of the gate house? If not selling could they be copied, I would love to have a copy of these two as they figure greatly in my family history, my grannie’s house looked down on these views and I spent time in her sitting room watching out the window as a child. My friend Sandra lived in the gate house and her Mum used to make us treacle toffee to eat while we had dusters tied to our feet to polish the floors in the house. Such great memories. Thanks for your consideration.

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