James Brodie 1851 -1877

This is the tragic story of one of the miners who lost his life in the Blantyre Pit Disaster of 1877. 

James Brodie, was the son of John Brodie (shepherd) and Mary Turnbull. Born in 1851 in Lanarkshire. 

Coming to Blantyre between 1871 and 1874, the timing fits well with new opportunities for coalminers being offered by Dixon’s who were sinking pits in the area. He would have been around 20 -23 by then.

In 1875, it is known James was a single man, by now in Blantyre renting a house at High Blantyre for the sum of £4 per annum. He was by that time a coalminer and likely working for Dixons Coalmasters given his proximity to the collieries. 

There is a significant irony that James lived beside a field, which in 1875 was laid out and opened as the new High Blantyre Cemetery. He would have seen work commence on that and the irony being, in just two years time, he would be buried in there too!

When James was 25, he married an older woman, Elizabeth Brown (31). The couple wed in Blantyre on 27 April 1877. Elizabeth had been working as a dye workers at the struggling Blantyre mills and one can imagine James walking the distance from High to Low Blantyre to court this woman.

They married at Middle Row, at the home of the bride’s parents at the Village near Blantyre Works after their wedding banns were read out by the Church. They began their married life by moving to James’s home at Causeystanes, High Blantyre. The fathers of both James and Elizabeth did not live to see them married.

James was just 25 years old when he died in pit 2 at 8.45am on the morning of Monday 22nd October 1877. He had gone down the pit at Like many others, his body lay there in the darkness until rescuers could make a way and clear the obstructions. 

He is noted in a published list the day after the disaster as being one of the men presumed missing thought to have been on shift. He was eventually brought up from the pit by the rescue parties on 7th November 1877 with his funeral held that same day.

He is buried in Section C Lair 152 in High Blantyre Cemetery.

The Widow

We must spare a thought for Elizabeth, James’s widow.

Elizabeth was only 31 when he died and she had only been married for 6 months. She was now a widow with no children and with an ageing mother still at Blantyre works. She would continue to live in Blantyre only a few short years. On 2nd March 1880, Elizabeth’s mother Jane Moir died in High Blantyre. 

Elizabeth remarried shortly after in Blantyre on 12th October 1881 to James Gray. With no more family ties in Blantyre, she moved to Glasgow and the couple had a son the following year. It seems likely the family moved to Glasgow between 1881 and 1882. Marrying may have stopped her entitlement to the widow’s pension, raised by contributors to the Blantyre disaster fund. Her new husband died in 1913 and Elizabeth on 10th March 1924 in Dunoon.

Although we don’t have any photos, we remember the life of James Brodie here today.

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