Do YOU need help with tracing your Blantyre ancestors? Perhaps you want to know more about them, where they lived or what they did? Or want to ask about a building, news event or something else? I’m here to help, first come, first served…for FREE (as long as there’s a Blantyre connection)

Just tell me the full name of the person you want to know more about and who they were married to.   If you have more information, especially dates (e.g births, marriages, deaths even better!) Requests are particularly successful for investigation before 1935. Click the blue SUBMIT button and your question will be added to the Question Archive.  NOTE, it may take several weeks to investigate & reply, but I’ll get there! Regards, Paul.

“We should all know where we’ve come from, before we plan on where we’re going”

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  1. Since my husbands request for assistance (Jim Leishman) we have made quite a lot of headway on the Leishmans in Blantyre. I could possibly help Lorna who was looking for information ( 2016) on James Leishman and Helen (Ellen) Morrison. I would be quite happy for her to contact me if I can be of help.

    1. Do you still need help with this Lynn? It was some time ago and I’m only getting round to this page this week….

  2. Hi. I’m looking for any information on Thomas Rankin Thorburn – a Blantyre man who died in WW1. I’m trying to pull together info before the 100th anniversary of his death on 4th April 1918. Is he commemorated on the war memorial? Or mentioned in any local newspapers? Thanks for your help. Nicky

    1. ** REQUEST 76 THOMAS RANKIN THORBURN b1878-d1918 **

      Hi Nicky. So sorry for taking this long to answer this query. I have now looked at this enquiry and discovered something very sad, in addition to Thomas’s death.

      Thomas Rankin Thorburn was born at Kirkton on 13th April 1878. A High Blantyre boy, he was the son of William Thornburn, a joiner and Amelia Monour. His father came from the Isle of Mull. His parents had married in July 1877 the year before and therefore the family looks to have arrived in Blantyre between August 1877 and April 1878.

      In 1891, the family were living at Greenhall Lodge in High Blantyre, renting from the Wardop Moore family, living on that private estate. His father was self employed and young Thomas would have been schooled at Hunthill Road nearby.

      By 1901, 22 year old Thomas had become a joiner and was still living with his parents at Hillside Cottage in a house at the bottom of Sydes Brae. In that house also were the Douglas family. Neil Douglas being the colliery cashier and whose name was immortalised in the renaming of Douglas Street nearby.

      By 1911, the Thorburn family were prospering and could afford a move to a nice house, “Zambesi” on Station Road. Along with 4 grown up brothers and a sister, the whole family including the parents lived at this house. Thomas’s father worked as a wagon builder , though Thomas himself was a builder and joiner, like his brothers.

      Duty called when WW1 started and despite being 36 years of age in 1914, he signed up for service with the Royal Engineers. Thomas was a Sapper by the time he was shipped out of Britain to help fight the war in the Southern Mediterranean.

      In 1917 whilst home on 10 weeks leave, he married Sarah Atkinson at his home at Zambesi on 9th April. During that summer, Sarah became pregnant and gave birth to their daughter Matilda Deans Thorburn at Burnbrae Farm on 3rd March 1918.

      Thomas died near the end of the war on 4th April 1918, just one month later whilst on duty in Egypt. Sadly, I have worked out from these dates that he never got to see his only child. He was 40 years old and is indeed remembered on the High Blantyre War Memorial at the Cemetery entrance.

      I have scheduled a little post for 1st July 2020 and hope you find this interesting.

  3. Hi Paul, I’m trying to find out about John Fraser, (Blacksmith at Priestfield,) and his family. I’d be grateful for any info you could give me.

    1. Hi Robert
      John Fraser was my gt grandfather if you write to me care of my email maybe I can help you. I was wandering if you have any photos of john fraser and his wife mary by any chance.

      1. ** REQUEST 75 JOCK FRASER b1840 – d1917 **

        Not a lot to go on here, so I had to start right back at the beginning. I did manage to uncover quite a bit about this man, who should not be confused with John James Fraser, the labour candidate in Blantyre during the 1930’s.

        John Fraser was born in 1840 in Thornhill, Dumfries-shire, to Hannah Young, age 22, and Alexander Fraser, age 22. He grew up in Dumfriesshire and married on 30th June 1863 to wife Mary Germery, who was 5 years his junior. During their lives, the couple had 7 children.

        It is thought John, (known as Jock) came to Blantyre with his family sometime just after Dixons set up business in Blantyre around 1872. His arrival in Blantyre looks to be between August 1872 and end of 1873 and specifically he began a long career working with Dixon’s Collieries in High Blantyre. It is likely he answered the call by Dixon’s for workers of specific trades. It coincides nicely with many miners and colliery workers leaving Dumfriesshire for the Central Belt Collieries.

        They arrived at High Blantyre and were given a rented property at Priestfield Row, right next to the colliery. This would have been where Hillhouse Road is now near the entrance to the Technology Park.

        Life would still have been difficult for Jock and his family. However, Colliery blacksmiths worked almost exclusively on the surface. Much of their work involved heating metal goods in the forge so that they could be shaped or worked. They may have helped shoe pit ponies as well as working on the bracings for the pit. In most deep mines, with gas a constant danger (especially in Blantyre!), metal goods heated to high temperatures underground could have caused explosions and so there was a forge above ground near the pithead. General smithy work also included forging work connected with plant or chains, or heat treatment of drawbars and chains, or capping and recapping of ropes, etc.

        He moved to Dixons Rows in Carfin Street, Blantyre during the 1880s, a move no doubt tied to his work. However, this was not home for long and a move back to High Blantyre was on the cards.

        By 1901, he was living at Kirkton Cottage on Sanders Laun, the former name of Douglas Street. Renting a house that only had 2 rooms with windows, he lived there with family. One of his daughters married into the Clark family.

        In 1911, Jock Fraser was 70 years old, still working at Dixon’s Collieries in High Blantyre and living at the blacksmiths house at 2 Douglas Street, right at the corner of Main Street at High Blantyre Cross, near the graveyard. With his was wife Mary, 65 and two of their grown up children, a son John (32) also a blacksmith and daughter Williamson, a domestic servant (44).

        I’ve managed to obtain a photo. He’s pictured around that time here in this photo, the man with the whiskers. The Photo was taken at Dixons’ Pit, this particular location now where the entrance is to Priestfield Cemetery. There is a possibility that the man standing to him on the right his son also John Fraser.

        Jock Fraser died at home at 2 Douglas Street on Boxing Day in 1917, aged 77 towards the end of WW1. He had pneumonia and left behind Mary, now a widow. Mary died the very next year.

        I hope the interesting stories of these hard working people can be kept to the forefront of Blantyre history, for after all , these are the workers who built Blantyre, who worked in such terrible conditions and I for one am glad Jock probably spent much of his time above the ground!

        I’ve scheduled a little post to appear on the site on 30th June 2020. Hope this helps.

  4. Looking for Any info on the Taggart s who lived in station road pre 1948. Also info on James and Michael Taggart who’s name are on the war memorial. My mum is Ann Cousins (New Taggart) daughter of John Taggart born 1910. Many thanks in advance


      This proved to be an interesting investigation.

      Mary TAGGART was born in 1891 the daughter of James Taggart (a school janitor) and Elizabeth Laidlaw. Mary Taggart was a school teacher, a profession she was working in by 1911, at the age of 19. That year, she was still living at home at 36 Craig Street and was the eldest of many siblings, Mary, Catherine, Michael, James, Elizabeth, Robert and John. It is noted in the census that 2 of Mary’s siblings had sadly died. Some of her siblings were weavers.

      War affected the Taggart family greatly. In 1914 and 1915, her brothers James and Michael Taggart died in WW1 at Flanders and at Sea.

      As a young woman in the 1930’s, she moved to new spacious homes at 62 Station Road, overlooking the public park. This would have been a desirable place to live. The park was being set out with a pond, the memorial arch and trees planted. Her home was near the train station and her place of work at St Joseph’s School.

      Mary was found dead at home in 1947 as her death certificate shows.

      However, Mary’s strange death prompted an entry to be corrected against her death certificate following a further investigation. A supplementary document issues some further details stating Mary was found passed away in her bed at her house at 62 Station Road at 3.50am on 4th March 1947, last seen alive just after midnight the night before. The cause of death noted as being “Extensive Burns”.

      With no foul play noted, a newspaper report in the Scotsman the next day revealed more. A neighbour had discovered a nighttime fire coming from Mary’s living room and alerted others who broke the door down. Mary was found lying passed away on a settee/bed in the said living room. Mary was single and sadly, being alone in the house looks certain to have meant that help did not arrive when she most needed it. Whilst all this sounds horrific, she may have already been overcome by smoke by the time fire took hold. She was only 55 and had been a teacher for nearly 40 years.

      At the time of her death, both parents were deceased, her father passing only 2 years earlier. Miss Mary Taggart is remembered here in this article.

      Will save info about James and Michael Taggart for another day, towards remembrance in November. Meantime, I’ve scheduled a post to appear on the website here for 29th June 2020. Hope this is of interest.

  5. Could you find out a out my address 159 AUCHINRAITH ROAD please it would great to get the history on my house we reckon it was built around 1903-05


      Hi Alan. Sorry this has taken an age to reply to. Im trying to get through more of these requests as quickly as i can over this summer. I’ve found out more for you!

      This needed some careful handling from the off. There’s an Auchinraith Terrace and made more complex by the house at 159 Main Street being called “Auchinraith Cottage”. This request was about Auchinraith Road.

      The official name of this house is “Inezlea” a name which existed for many decades at the property, though unsure if it’s still called that today.

      It was built by the Roberts family. The Roberts family came to Blantyre, specifically to the Stonefield area sometime between 1875 and 1879. William Roberts is noted as a spirit dealer, together with John Roberts at Glasgow Road in 1879’s Naismith’s Directory. He was the first owner and constructor of the Priory Bar on Glasgow Road. The Roberts family however, were primarily a family of joiners, with brothers forming “J&W Roberts” (John and William) and they built a significant number of houses in Blantyre around their own homes on Herbertson Street, mostly in Auchinraith Road.

      Inezlea was one such house. Built in 1905, right from the start the family ensured it belonged to Agnes Roberts, the wife of William. It is safe to say, this family was likely fairly wealthy, involved in several businesses and able to expand their financial interests by building more homes.

      The origin of the name Inezlea was relatively simple to trace. The name Inez is a girl’s name of Portuguese origin meaning “pure, virginal”. In English, that name translates to Agnes, a woman’s given name, which derives from the Greek word hagnē, meaning “pure” or “holy”. The Latinized form of the Greek name is Hagnes, the feminine form of Hagnos, meaning “chaste” or “sacred”. ‘Lea’ means a meadow or land that is sown with grass. Together, Inzelea, literally means “Agnes’s meadow.” I think thats nice how such thought was given.

      Whilst this was Agnes’s house, she didnt ever live there. It was a business interest and always let out, certainly beyond WW2.

      Built of sandstone, the house is the left side of a semi detached mirrored property. It faces out on to Auchinraith Road and has a lower bay window and upper dormer. Whilst narrow on the front, it is deceptively large behind and has both back and front garden. It has been modernised over the decades. The Roberts family certainly knew what they were doing when they built this house. Accomplished building skills, attractive to look at….this was a far cry from Merry’s Rows just down the road!

      In 1920 William Roberts died in Blantyre, aged 70 and Agnes continued to own the house which at the time had no house number, (but was situated beside then number 93). Mrs Agnes Roberts, the widowed wife of William continued to live in the ground floor home at Herbertson Street.

      In 1925, Agnes, widow at 14 Herbertson Street was the owner with David Roberts of 16 Herbertson Street managing the house for her. She rented it out to Miss Mary McIntyre for £30 per year. Sometime between 1925 and 1930, the house numbers were all restructured to provide modern postal addresses and Inezlea became 159 Auchinraith Road, situated between Lavender cottage at 157 and Strebora at 159.

      During the 1930’s and 40’s, the house was owned by sisters Agnes and Maguerite Roberts. During the war it was let out to James Taylor, who was renting the property for a hugely reduced rent of £23 and 15 shillings per year.

      I have not explored the Post WW2 history of this house. Today, Alan Smith, the owner of ‘Granda Alan’s Confectionery’ business lives there. It remains a well built, nice looking desirable house and a legacy the Roberts family would have been proud of.

      I’ve scheduled a post on Blantyre Project to appear on 27th June about this. If you ever want to find it again, just search for ‘Inezlea’ on this website. Cheers.

  6. Can u look into 159 and 161 Main Street high blantyre for me please. My great grandparents home (159) and the one next door was their cousins. Built them themselves.

    1. ** REQUEST 72 – 159 and 161 MAIN STREET **

      Well, I do have a few notes on this house. There is an added complexity though, as this property like many on Main Street has had several names and addresses!

      Lets go back to 1891 first, a time when this was still a field. During that year, two men living in Blantyre were working as stone masons for Aitkenhead Builders in Hunthill Road. Mr Thomas Thomson was 36 years old. Born in 1855 in Motherwell, Thomas lives in Jacksons Land in Barnhill, near the Templetons Blacksmiths. The other man, was Mr Thomas Grimson, an older stonemason at 42 years old, originally from Motherwell, but then living at Hunthill near the builders.

      What is certain is that sometime between 1892 and 1894, the two Thomas’s decided to build themselves homes. Acquiring land from Bellsfield, they built these two semi detached cottages. The one on the left Thomas Thomson named “Auchinraith Cottage”. The one on the right owned by Thomas Grimson was called “Feorling Cottage”. Both sat directly opposite the road from the Nurseries. Each cottage was nicely and solidly constructed and you can still see fine stone features on both cottages to this day, some 128 years later.

      Thomas Thomson is not be confused by Thomas S Thomson, who owned many properties, houses and shops at Commercial Place at the bottom of Stonefield Road.

      As postal address were given out in the early 20th Century, these properties became 35 and 37 Main Street (note 159 was the small derelict cottage at the end of my own driveway up near Douglas Street). Their original names existed on Valuation rolls until the 1920s. Whilst Thomas Grimson lived in his own cottage, Thomas Thomson didnt. Instead he let out the left hand cottage to his cousin, David Turbit. The Turbit family were renting only and Thomas Thomson moved with his family to the North Lodge of Calderwood Castle, just off Stoneymeadow Road during his retirement.

      These cottages were at the time situated between Manns Land to the right and Murdochs Land to the left. After Thomas Thomson died, his widow, Helena moved to her inherited cottage on the left and was there in 1925. Just a couple of years later, postal addresses changed and these two properties were renumbered as 159 and 161 Main Street, recognisable addresses which exist today. By the second world war after Helena passed away, the cottage was occupied by son, William Thomson.

      The cottages likely always had slated roofs, rather than thatch and have in modern times been re-roofed and new windows and doors. The old door was rather ominous looking like a coffin shape! The doors open out to the pavement. At the back during the 20th Century were glass or greenhouses and a back garden view out across fields over to Dixons Collieries in High Blantyre.

      The homes today are well kept and desirable. I’ve scheduled a post online to appear on 23 April 2020.

  7. Hi Paul. I follow your page with great interest everyday. We live off Blantyre Farm Road, been there for 23 years or so. Recently started a family history search beginning with maternal line as there was more of them and looked the best option. But obviously now want to follow my late father’s line but we have failed at the first hurdle. Family myth tells us James Leishman miner from Blantyre married Agnes Jamieson (D 1965) James died in 1915 before third son, my Da Robert was born in September 1915. Agnes then moved to Carstairs Street Dalmarnock Glasgow with three boys and took cleaning and laundry jobs. Two youngest were put “in care” for a while before she could reunite them. We can’t find any record of them in Blantyre. Wonder if you can help with some guidance on where to look. We’re going to the Mitchell library and we use Scotland people resource for the maternal side so we know the way to do it generally, but I’ve seen some great posts of yours with genealogy puzzles. Thanks, Jim Leishman, Townfoot Farmhouse. 07557163587.


      Hi Jim. Sorry this has taken so long to get round to. My goodness! This was difficult to investigate. So many dead ends. I simply just could not find a marriage at any time for James Leishman to Agnes Jamieson (certainly at any time that would fit with this enquiry). Be aware there was a James Leishman and Agnes in the early to mid 19th Century in Stonehouse, whom I believe were ancestors of the people in your enquiry.

      So, with no luck on a marriage, I decided to retrieve what i believe to be your dad’s birth certificate as a starting point, perhaps using this to work backwards. Robert Leishman was born on the 5th September 1915, at the height of WW1. The birth was recorded in Scotstoun & Yoker in Glasgow (which believe me made it difficult to find!) and it’s noted that Agnes Leishman, his mother was a domestic servant at Victoria Drive in Glasgow.

      I found it strange though that Agnes signed the certificate clearly able to read and write, yet did not put an entry into the certificate for the father of Robert. Certainly, an indicator of a story behind all this! She may have taken the surname of the father anyway in order to claim support. Furthermore, Robert is noted as being ‘illegitimate’, i.e born out of wedlock, yet Agnes is named Leishman, suggesting a marriage did exist. (Victoria Drive was directly across the river Clyde from where Braehead Shopping Centre is now.)

      I found Agnes at 62 Well Road, Glasgow during 1915, an address I don’t think exists anymore. She was renting a small house for £6 and 15 shillings per year and was noted as having no profession. She may have moved to Doncaster Street in Glasgow by 1920.

      Sometime between 1925 and 1930, the family moved to Carstairs Street, in Dalmarnock and was absolutely still there in 1940 during WW2. The valuation rolls used to find these addresses won’t reveal the children, only the person renting or occupying. For household members , you need a census. There is a 23 year old Agnes Leishman, noted as being single, a domestic servant in Yoker for the Gemmell Household in the 1911 census, but I’m unsure if that’s her.

      As for Blantyre connections? I’ve tried my utmost to find a connection prior to 1915, but although there are Leishman and Jamiesons both in Blantyre at the turn of the Century, I’m unable to find anybody thats fits with this timeline, though there is another Leishman story in Blantyre around 1900 that has a mystery of a missing matriarch leaving behind James Leishman and 2 sons. Possibility? Further reading is in my notes here:

      There certainly is a mystery here or at least a story. I think you’re going to find a story of hardship for Agnes in the immediate years before and after WW1, something your family information about the 2 children going into care will support. I feel things were tough for Agnes and her young family. I could not presume anything and this being your mystery Jim, I hope there are a couple of leads in this reply to assist.

  8. trying to find my gran first hubby got him William Thomson born1897 died 1939 had a brother david born 1902 trying to find if he married and when he died and if he had anymore brothers sisters


      Hi Ina. I’ve now looked at this and hope you find this interesting.
      David Thomson did indeed have several brothers and sisters. He was born on 20th January 1902 at School Lane, High Blantyre. He was the son of John Thomson (a coal miner) and Hannah Frazer.

      I was unable to find a year of David’s death, but I did notice that he travelled across the Atlantic in the 1920s and I believe settled in either Canada or America. Passenger lists will be able to confirm that. Whilst I’ve not been able to confirm the year of David’s death, or indeed what happened to him when researching this, I found the story of his parents fascinating and hope you don’t mind me commenting on this further, as i believe the death of both of his parents was a driving factor in his decision to leave Britain. There is of course a possibility he came back and passed away elsewhere outwith Blantyre. Turning to his parents and a time earlier than this:

      John Thomson was born on 10th October 1865, a Larkhall man and he married Hannah Fraser in Blantyre on 13th August 1886. A first child John F Thomson b1888-d1954 arrived in 1888. Daughter Jessie was born in 1890, Mary in 1892, Hannah in 1894, William in 1897, Thomas in 1899 and finally, the youngest, David in 1902. So David had 6 brothers and sisters, four of whom died in Blantyre much later in life.

      The Thomson family first lived at 12 Calder Street where they were in 1891, then moved to School Lane by 1901 and settled down eventually at 48 Broompark Road, a former house , prior to the one with that address today. I have mapped out their ancestry as attached:

      Hannah Thomson (nee Fraser) passed away at 48 Broompark Road on 29th January 1919. She was only 49 years old. For 6 months prior to her death, she had been suffering from Endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart. Signs and symptoms would have included fever, chills, sweating, malaise, weakness, anorexia by rapid weight loss. This so soon, after the trauma of having at least one son fighting in WW1.

      Hannah’s illness in 1918 and into 1919 would have put a strain also on her family, of that there’s no doubt. Her family would have rallied around her. The eldest child John, by then in his 30s and youngest, David being 17. Her son was present and signed the death certificate, something I found strange considering her husband John Snr was still alive.

      Upon investigating further, I discovered that all may not have been well with her husband at that time. Perhaps caring for his wife had taken its toll on him too. He may not have worked as a coal pit stoker in the mines for some time. For, just 2 months later on 22nd March 1919, John Thomson died. He was just 53.

      He had been ill also for some time with Atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries, at the time thought to have been caused by smoking. This can restrict blood flow and ultimately, it was a bleed to his brain which killed him, likely in the form of stroke. However, it was the place of his death that should also be noted. He passed away in Bothwell at the Kirklands Asylum, indicating that he may have suffered some sort of breakdown, depression or anxiety following the death of his wife.

      Tragically, the 7 children lost both their parents in the space of 52 days.

      Finally, you will be aware that William Thomson served in WW1 and married Williamina Liddle on 31st December 1919. In the 1920s, he may have travelled to Canada with David but clearly William came back to Scotland. He is buried in High Blantyre Cemetery following his death in 1939.

      I’ve scheduled a post for 27th January 2020 along with some documents to illustrate. All the best.

  9. My Blantyre connections:
    Grandfather Robert Coats Young, b Lindsay’s Land, Stonefield Rd., Blantyre 16 Feb 1902;
    His parents Alexander Hamilton Young & Janet Russell Mauchline m there 1 Dec 1893;
    Janet R Mauchline b there 14 June 1872, worked @ Mills as a weaver. Her parents, Thomas Mauchline, b 3 Sept 1832 @ Works, to John Mauchline & Janet Stewart, m there 31 Dec 1863 to Janet Russell Gartshore (b Old Monkland 1843 to James Gartshore 1814-? & Janet Russell 1816-?). Janet Stewart Mauchline d 17 Feb 1882 Aucheraith.
    Also my 3great grandfather was James Coats, b 1810, d 1882 both in Cambuslang. Parents David Coats & Jane Forrest. I’m coming to Blantyre area in Sept 2018, would like to find graves if possible & where Lindsay’s Land is located. Thanks much


      Hi Beth – I’ve missed you coming to Blantyre but have a little more info, better late than never, I’ve scheduled a post for 26th January 2020. It says,

      “Here is Robert’s birth certificate, which you may have already. His ancestry is mapped out here: Whilst looking at this, photos of your great grandparents were uncovered. Alexander Hamilton Young, a billposter and Janet Mauchline, who was born at Newlands at Blantyre Works.

      Alexander Hamilton Young was born on 5 December 1867 in Cambuslang, Lanarkshire. He married Janet Russell Mauchline on 1 December 1893 in Blantyre, Lanarkshire. They had nine children in 19 years. He died on 7 November 1945 in his hometown at the age of 77.

      Regarding Lindsay’s Land, it’s my understanding this was an early name for the former 2 storey long tenement building at the bottom of Stonefield Road, which started with Valerios (Mickey’s Cafe). Alexander Young lived in an upper house above a neighbouring shop to Valerios in 1905. The valuation roll of 1905 confirms this. Today, modern homes are on the site, the shops and former houses now long since demolished.

      The article that day will explain more. You can find it easily by searching this site for Young-Mauchline. Hope this helps a bit.

      1. Hi Paul Thank you for your reply and I look forward to reading the 26 Jan 2020 article you refer to about my Young family. You will be posting it on what would have been my mother’s 98th birthday, a bonnie lass born in Cambuslang on that day. Again, thanks. Beth

  10. Millars of Blantyre
    I am researching my family tree, my surname is Miller but our line goes back to the Millars in Blantyre George Millar 1795, his father was Hugh Millar b1757 from the Cotton Mill, Mother was Agnes Seaton and Hugh’s father was James Millar who was Weaver from Barnhill Blantyre. Does anyone else know about the Millars? I would love to know if anyone else is researching this too. Thank you.

    1. ** REQUEST 68 MILLAR **

      Hi Jenny – I’m sorry, i’m not subscribed to many databases earlier than 1800 and it sounds like you have a good start on investigating your ancestry. The Barnhill area makes some sense, as it is known the Miller or Millar family lived at Milheugh for many hundreds of years, over several generations. The estate of Milheugh (now owned by the council) was in ownership of the Miller family for a long time and they also owned portions of Barnhill. Some relatives of the Miller family are buried at the old High Blantyre Kirk at Kirkton Cross. Sorry, this won’t be much help, i imagine, but this is one I will struggle for accuracy. Hope somebody reads this and is able to help with the Millar line…..Paul

  11. Hi there, I was hoping to find more info on a relative of mine that was a school master in Blantyre. His name was Thomas Scott and he listed that he was teaching in the town on his marriage certificate 1797. Just wondering if I could get more info on him/school 🙂 Thanks!

    1. ** REQUEST 67 THOMAS SCOTT **

      Amy – thanks for your message. Can I check the date? 1797? over 220 years ago? Is this correct? There was literally only 1 school back then. I’ll wait to hear from you in case this is a typo.

  12. I am trying to find out about the mc ALeenans from John st .my great gran and grandad came from Ierland
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Paul, can u find some info about the Mc Aleenanes from John St.
      They came from Ierland and leased land from the engineering company for 99yrs. They lived next to the killin Hoose.


        Hi Betty. The name McAleenan or MacAleenan first arrived in Blantyre between 1890 and 1895 when Labourer Bernard McAleenan took up residence at Broompark Place at Larkfield. He was still there in 1905, when by that time, an Edward McAleenan had also come to Blantyre, living at Victoria Street.

        However, I think you will be interested in Patrick McAleenan for it was him who later went on to have some success with home ownership in John Street. I do hope he is a relation of yours for this article focuses on him.

        Born in Ireland in 1868 to parents Matthew McAleenan (b1837) and Margaret McAloy (b1840), Patrick McAleenan married Mary O Hare or Hara on 2nd November 1890 at Barrowmeen, Ireland. Moving to Scotland in 1891 or 1892, work was first sought in the Coatbridge area, where the couple welcomed the birth of a first son, James in 1893.

        Coming to Blantyre

        Patrick arrived in Blantyre sometime between in 1894 or 1895 finding work as a stonemason. He rented a former house for £7 a year at Annsfield Place on Stonefield Road (not to be confused with Annfield Terrace on Glasgow Road). He lived in one of 8 homes which were situated right on Stonefield Road between Hall Street and Park Street. The houses built by Robert Aitkenhead, a builder of High Blantyre are no longer there. The house he rented looks likely to have been one of the largest in the block, as rents in the other houses were less. Annsfield once sat where now the flats are at Camelon Crescent, directly across from Wolcott Drive.

        The small family grew in 1895 when daughter Rose Ann arrived and Patrick Jnr followed in 1897, then Bernard in 1899. These three children were born in Blantyre. By 1901, the couple had 4 children and had been in Blantyre for 6 years and Patrick had by then secured regular employment as a labourer working for the County Council.

        As a Catholic family, they would likely have welcomed the construction of St Joseph’s Church at the turn of the Century.

        During WW1, Patrick ceased labouring and in his late 40’s became Blantyre’s ‘Inspector of Sewage’, a regular job working for the County Council. Think of this as a “drain inspector”. As such, his job was helping to make the environment cleaner and improving the quality of lives of ordinary Blantyre folk. His place of employment was at Blantyre Braes, beyond the railway line at the end of John Street. He was renting and occupying land there, land which belonged to the Blantyre Engineering Company.

        WW1 and Beyond

        Following the end of war, Patrick appears to have bought this small plot of land outright, and despite its proximity to the refuse destructor and adjacent slaughterhouse, he proceeded to build 3 houses at the end of John Street. Sunbeam Cottage, Carrick Cottage and another house (unnamed). It is unknown how he funded their construction but may have been through inheritance after the death of his own father. These 3 homes were all occupied by April 1920. (Be careful if researching these homes, for the postal addresses changed in the 1920s and then again in the 1930s as John Street expanded). They would have been used to the sound of locomotives from the nearby railway.

        Patrick and Mary lived at Sunbeam Cottage and eldest son James lived next door at Carrick Cottage renting from his parents. It must have been pleasant for them to have immediate family as neighbours.

        Patrick McAleenan died on 10th August 1920 at 8 John Street, Low Blantyre, sadly just 4 months before his son Patrick Jnr, married. He was only 53. His three houses passed directly to his wife Mary, now a widow. Mary would have seen some considerable change in the area as the Public Park opposite her houses was laid out and behind her, a large foundry opened, exposing John Street to much industry, something that continues to this day.

        Mary McAleenan died 20th January 1938 at 54 John Street, never living to see the Second World War. Unusually, her daughter Rose Ann directly inherited the McAleenan properties and eldest son James continued to rent from his younger sister beyond the War.

        I’ve scheduled a post about this on the website for 25th January 2020. Hope you found this interesting.

  13. Hello, i was born in Welsh drive in 1956, i was wondering if you could tell me when Welsh drive was built and any photos of same would be wonderful.

    1. ** REQUEST 65 WELSH DRIVE **

      Hi Tam. Sorry this has taken a time to reply! Welsh Drive was built in the mid 1920’s as part of the overall Crescents housing estate. The street was originally lit by gaslight and was likely named after the Calder Street Secondary headmaster John Welsh, who had died in 1927. I cannot find entries earlier than that year. It would have been certainly a BIG upgrade in housing for the 63 mostly mining families who moved during the slum clearances of the 1920s. To have running water, a toilet and bath inside the house, with high ceilings and more than 1 bedroom would have seemed palatial!

      Sorry, I don’t have photos of the era, but do have one of nearby Hardie Street of similar appearance.

  14. My second great grandfather, Charles Hemphill,was born in Castlederg Tyrone Northern Ireland on 4/21/1831 and was married to a Martha Hunter. Their first child was born in Blantyre in 1858. My great grandfather, George Hemphill, was also born there on 9/20/1873. I’ve been told that he came to America as a young child, returned to Blantyre and then back to America when he was about 19. Charles was still in Blantyre in 1893 but returned to Castlederg at some point where he died in 1912. But I can find nothing about the family during their time in Blantyre. I’d appreciate any information.

    1. Sheryl, I wondered if you have tested your DNA? We have a Hemphill Surname Project at Family Tree DNA and we are always looking for both male and females to test. The YDNA of Hemphill males has been traced to Scotland and Ireland. I would be willing to pay for a test of a male Hemphill from Scotland or Ireland.

      1. Pat, I submitted my DNA for testing through several weeks ago. I’m looking forward to the results.

        1. Sheryl,
          There are a number of the Hemphills who have tested at Ancestry and have later moved their results to Family Tree DNA to see results from both companies.

      2. Pat

        I too am a Hemphill descendant from castlederg. My Robert and Mary Hamilton came to Australia in 1856. His brother Wallace went to the USA and Charles to Blantyre. I too am interested in learning a out Blantyre as either hamiltons or Russell’s probably originated there and possibly Charles went to one of his relatives farms
        Cheers graham in sydney

        1. Hi Graham,
          If you know of any Hemphills who would consider testing, I would appreciate your passing along this information about the Hemphill Surname Project at Family Tree DNA. Males can order a Y test which would be very helpful and either males or females descended from a Hemphill can order a Family Finder test
          Thank you for your response,


            Hi Sheryl. The Hemphills were a family who did a fair amount of travelling between Ireland, Scotland and America most likely seeking a better life and good employment.

            Charles’ family left Ireland and sailed to America where it was there that he married Martha Hunter, an American woman. Martha was born in Kentucky in 1836 and married Charles on 8th November 1857 in Booneville, Cooper, Missouri. Right away this was an “International marriage” with immediate family on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The pull to go back as much as they could to see families may have been very strong.

            At a time with just 33 states in America, 1857 and 1858 was a powderkeg, with slavery the hot topic. The politics were divisional, the rise of confederates, and just prior to Abraham Lincoln becoming President, all the signs were there of an impending civil war. To newly weds, it may have seemed like the ideal time to go to Europe.

            It’s unknown why they chose Scotland to travel to, but it is known why they chose Blantyre. This was absolutely for work. Charles and Martha settled at Blantyre Village Works, where an established, thriving cotton mill on the edge of the River Clyde in Lanarkshire needed more workers. They settled down in the workers village in ‘Middle Row’, which had good living standards by comparison to some other homes in the town. They arrived in Blantyre in the same year as famous explorer David Livingstone came back to briefly visit his home town. Charles was employed as a labourer.

            Middle Row was two blocks of single storey homes and one at double storey aligned in a north south configuration, part of which formed one side a quadrangle at Blantyre Works.

            Children followed, all born in Blantyre. Daughter Mary Ann in 1858, Charles Jnr in 1863, Martha in 1865, Matthew in 1869, George in 1873 (your great grandfather) and Elizabeth in 1877. Mary Ann got a job working in the nearby mills when she was around 14 years old and was still working there in the 1880s.

            The children would have been schooled in the Blantyre Works School.

            The Hemphill family is mapped out here for you.

            In 1870, the Hemphill family travelled to America and is missing from the 1871 UK census. This may only have been an “Extended holiday visit” for they did come back in 1871 (after census) and with George being born in 1873, I think he missed that trip. This was after the civil war. America had become “the land of the free” and it would have been much safer than in the previous decade. The journey by ship would have been long and their mill and labourer wages would likely only have allowed a third class ticket with small, cramped cabins for several weeks.

            Coal was discovered in Blantyre around this time and many immigrant workers arrived to work in the mines. he Hemphill family would have seen that growth in their town and would have been equally horrified when over 200 men and boys were killed in the Blantyre Mining Disaster in 1877.

            In the 1881 census, the large Hemphill family is still noted in Blantyre and strangely with them was a 6 month old baby, Mary Findlay. No sign of the Findlay parents. However, these were difficult times for Blantyre cotton mills. The start of a decline in the industry and being made redundant would have been common for many village residents.

            In 1884, some of the family travelled back to America and it looks certain that in 1891, George, aged 18 or 19 joined them. I’m not subscribed to passenger manifests, but paid searches would verify this.

            I cannot find any record of Charles Hemphill in Scotland after 1884. However, his wife Matha died in Texas in 1904 and you’r right in saying he died full circle, back in Ireland in 1912.

            There is a John and James Hemphill in the 1891 census in Blantyre but I’m unsure if they were related to this line. The Hemphill name was gone completely from Blantyre by 1895.

            I have scheduled a post on this website about this on 20th September 2019 containing illustrations. Hope this helps.

          2. Paul

            Thx for message – only just recd. I am now puzzled as my hemphills were married near castlederg.(Charles and Marty hunter). Seems odd to me as it made sense to go to Blantyre if thee were hamiltons/Russell’s/hemphills there

            In Australia, there are two hemphills(Johnston and John) both descendants of castlederg clan.


  15. I would love to find out where my great grandfather came from jock forrest who lived opposite the hoolets nest in little weavers cottage in bardykes road. Bar hill area He was born in the mid 1850s and died in 1950s in herbertson street in Blantyre I think he might have been in his late nineties. He had two wife’s may or Mary who died in the 1890s in childbirth after third child and went on to Marry a jean legatt not my great great grandmother and had another ten or more children. There are a lot of forrests in Blantyre. Jock my great great grandfather and his brother Andrew owned land in high Blantyre ? and around udson area as I met my grandads elderly cousin Jean forrest o’ Neil about twenty years ago and said she saw the property papers as a child. anyway of finding out? My grandfather was Robert known as Bob born in late 1880’s he died in 1962 or 1963? My father was born in 1933 and passed away 2006. Also was he related to john Clarke forrest ? the sheriff of Hamilton named in the two streets in Blantyre john street and forrest street? Happy to contribute financially to your research. Also my mother julia Liddell was born in 55 hunthill road in 1936 in Blantyre died 2010 to single mother Agnes Liddell who died in 1938?in hartwood hospital as single mothers were treated badly back then she did have another daughter margaret born in 1934? My mother had two aunts Anne and julia Liddell whose married name Paton passed away 1963? and uncles Tommy? I did read somewhere that men with names of Liddell and Forrest (miners) were listed who went in to carry out the dead in the 1877 mining disaster in Hamilton advertiser back copy.


      Hi Christine. Finally got round to this! Like the Jackson family name, there were a LOT of ‘Forrests’ in Blantyre, indeed it’s one of the most common surnames in Blantyre’s history. Whilst this complicates researching, I’ve tried hard to find the correct people and detail. There’s a lot to digest in your combined requests, so I’ve taken each in turn.

      1. The Life of John (Jock) Forrest
      2. Forrest Land Ownership
      3. The Life of Robert (Bob) Forrest
      4. Relationship to John Clarke Forrest
      5. Agnes Liddell
      6. Liddell & Forrest Rescuers in 1877 Disaster

      The Life of John (Jock) Forrest
      John (Jock) Forrest was born on 3rd December 1859 in Hillside (or Wellside), Cambuslang. He was the son of Andrew Forrest (b1825-d1900), a casting contractor and Jane Riddell. (b1837 East Kilbride).

      Andrew, the father was married previously to a woman named Mary Shaw (b1827). They married on 25th July 1846, but she died in 1855. It would seem that Jock had at least 6 older half brothers and sisters, none of whom lived longer than 1900, some dying in infancy. Andrew remarried to Jane Riddell on 28th January 1859 in Cambuslang.

      Jock Forrest lived his young life in Cambuslang with his parents and siblings. His immediate family of 7 siblings were sister Margaret arriving in 1862, Thomas born in 1865, Agnes in 1867, Jane in 1870, Robert in 1871, Ann or Annie in 1874 and finally Andrew in 1877.

      By 1881 at the age of 21, Jock had moved away, going out in the world to Paisley working as a farm servant. I found evidence that his brother Andrew Junior moved to Barnhill in Blantyre and married Lillias Main. (Andrew Forrest Junior and Lily Main had eight children, Robert, Janet, Agnes, John (Jock Jnr), Lily, Jennifer, Andrew and Margaret. Lily died just 4 years later in 1953 aged 74, Andrew on 16th July 1967 at the rip old age of 90. They are buried together at High Blantyre Cemetery. I have a photo of them in 1949 at their wedding anniversary. Your granddad’s cousin Jean O Neil is also in the picture i’ll put up soon on a post.

      John found work in Old Monkland as a farm hand and move away from Paisley, meeting and marrying a local girl in the area, Mary Mair in 1884. It would appear he moved to Blantyre beween 1885 and 1890. Sadly Mary died suddenly in Blantyre in 1894 whilst in childbirth with their 3rd child. She was only 32. Married only 10 years, but now with a young family to look after, Jock married again very quickly.

      Only the very next year, on 7th June 1895, Jock remarried, this time to Janet Leggat or Leggate at Denniston, Glasgow. Jock had been working in Blantyre at Craigknowe Farm and this new lassie Janet was the domestic servant there. She may have been able to offer some comfort to him in his grief, or even found time to look after his children whilst he worked. Following their marriage, they moved to Barnhill, perhaps to be closer to Jock’s siblings who had already se up home in the area. The 1901 census records him there with Janet Leggat living at Barnhill. Jock was by then employed as a Highway Roadsman. They were living in a house that had just 2 rooms. In 1911, they were living at the thatched cottage at 22 Bardykes Road at the top of the Pech Brae. With them were 9 children, 8 of whom were from his marriage to Janet. His oldest son, aged 20 from the previous marriage lived with them too. He may have had further children beyond 1911.

      By 1925, Jock was approaching retirement at 66 years old, although still noted that year as working as a roadsman. His eldest son, John who lived with the family worked as a grocer, running a small shop, located immediately next door to the cottage, on the same side of the road, but opposite the Barnhill Tavern. The shop was owned by William Dixon, leased to John Forrest and was a small building attached to the side of a former tenement.

      When the buildings were demolished John moved to 92 Station Road.

      Jock also outlived his second wife, having a very long life. He passed away on 14th February, Valentines Day 1955 at 10 Herbertson Street, age 95. His doctor noted on the death certificate he had been suffering from “senility”, what we now know as dementia and that he had died from a heart attack. John Hayburn of Cambuslang is noted as being Jock’s grandson, a witness on his death certificate.

      I’ve scheduled a little post about Jock on 17th September 2019 on the website and will address your other questions below tomorrow.


        John Clark Forrest (JCF) is known to have owned land from the junction of Stonefield Road right along Glasgow Road to at least and including the Stonefield Farm (which became Hasties). He also owned the fields that became Stonefield Public Park and land that stretched as far west up to an including the site that St Joseph’s Chapel was built on. The Forrests bought 59 acres of Stonefield fields in 1851, much of it swampy and needing drained, it was bought for a cut price of just £2,700 rising from a starting price of £2,000 due to a biding war A prudent investment given the population that was about to arrive in Blantyre. It’s fair to say that by the early 1860’s, JCF owned much of what was to become Low Blantyre. This continued until his death in the 1890’s, by then also owning Blantyre Bowling Club land, the tollhouse and much of Auchinraith.

        I did not find much ownership by Forrests in the 20th Century other than land still owned by the Trustees of John Clark Forrest. I could not find connection or ownership of land by Andrew or Jock Forrest. They were always leasing according to each valuation roll. However, Robert Forrest owned the house at Barnhill outright, prior to Jock living there, some of the family being at Barnhill since at least the early 19th Century.

        Andrew Forrest Junior was secretary of Barnhill Quoting Club in 1909. The Blantyre Lawn Tennis Club was established just before WW1, bought from the trustees of JCF. In 1930, the Blantyre Bowling Club was being leased from Jane Wilson Forrest, a trustee of the late John Clarke Forrest.

        Mrs. Jane Wilson Forrest along with Trustees of John Clark Forrest owned mineral rights at Forrest Street and parts of Auchinraith, which during 1930 were leased out to coalmasters Messrs Merry & Cunninghame Ltd. In the same era, she also owned a workshop at John Street, grazing land at Auchinraith, including grass parks of East Park and West Park and a grass park at Victoria Street. She was clearly an influential property owner for as well as this, she also owned a grass park at Station Road, Poultry Run land at Station Road and Clayholes. She also owned fields at Blantyre Braes, the football park at Craighead (leased out to Blantyre Celtic to play), land at John Street, land at Westerpark and Auchinraith. That same year she owned land at 19 Calder Street near the Miners Welfare and Calder Street School and also a house at 240 Glasgow Road directly opposite the junction of Victoria Street. She also owned the former Woodhouse at 19 Station Road. In 1930, she also owned the Blantyre Bowling Club Green at Stonefield Road and was leasing it out to the Blantyre Bowling Club.

        JCF owned land at Udston and indeed made that his home. The Trust of the late John Clark Forrest is still active, although quiet in recent years


          John Clarke Forrest (JCF) was born in 1832 in Shotts. It was the Clarke side of the family, i.e his mother (Janet Craig Clark’s) side that originally had Blantyre connections, farming Auchinraith Farm in the 19th Century.

          This line of Forrests came from Shotts to Blantyre and hence I don’t think they had any connections with Jock Forrest’s Cambuslang family. However, JCF did live in Cambuslang a short time before moving to Hamilton. To check this, I mapped out JCF’s ancestry and do not see any immediate connection to Andrew. I can confidently say they were not brothers, uncles or first cousins. Andrew Forrest was born 7 years before JCF. If there is a connection to Andrew/Jock and JCF, it is a distant one. John Clark Forrest married in 1859 in Carnwarth and shortly after acquired the lands of Stonefield, including the farm. He died on 28th August 1893 at Udston, Hamilton.


            Andrew Forrest is listed amongst the survivors of the 1877 disaster. John Clarke Forrest was Provost of Hamilton at the time of the disaster. JCF helped oversee the creation of a National relief fund for the widows of the disaster. In 1927, Mr Hugh Brown penned his recollections of the disaster, amongst those words mentioning Andrew Forrest. The detailed account can be read here:

  16. Jane Davies (nee Crighton)

    Hi Paul, my grandparents on my father’s side died before or just after I was born so I don’t know very much about them. My grandfather was John Crighton who died in 1934 I believe, & my grandmother was Agnes Stevens who died Christmas 1935 when I was just 3weeks old. They lived in The Oaks, Broompark Road where my father, Alexander was born, the youngest of 8 children as far as I know. He was married to my mother, Annie Nimmo (of the Nimmos of Auchentibber) on 21September 1934. I’d like to find out more about my grandparents & their parents etc. Thanks Paul.


      Hello Jane. Sorry for only getting round to this now. I hope you find it interesting. When I read of the Crichtons of Blantyre, I immediately recall that this may have been a large family. I wasn’t wrong. However, the Crightons origins weren’t in Lanarkshire.

      When your grandfather John Crichton was born on 9 September 1859 in Benvie, Angus, his father, Alexander (1812-1866), was 47 and his mother, Mary Robertson (1826-1915), was 33. The family lived in Liff, in Angus, in the north of Scotland. After the death of his father in 1886, John moved to Cambuslang.

      John Crighton married Agnes Steven on 20 June 1890 in Hamilton, Lanarkshire. A big family as I mentioned.

      They actually had nine children in 16 years (not 8). After 1895, the couple and their growing family moved from Cambuslang to Hamilton. However, they only spent a short time in Hamilton most likely due to the sad death of their 2 year old daughter Annie Steven Crichton in 1898. Around 1900 perhaps seeking to remove themselves from sad memories, they moved to Maxwell’s Buildings in Blantyre. In 1901, John was working as a plumber but by 1911 was working to install gas in homes.

      Some of his siblings ended up in Perthshire and London, but John stayed in Blantyre for over 3 decades, passing away on 28 November 1934 in Blantyre, Lanarkshire, at the age of 75.

      Your grandmother Agnes Steven was a Hamilton woman, although she did spend half her life in Blantyre. When Agnes was born on 8 January 1868 in Hamilton, Lanarkshire, her father, George, was 25, and her mother, Agnes, was 22. She married John Crichton on 20 June 1890 in her hometown and as above, she moved to Blantyre around 1900. By 1911, the family had moved to 45 Broompark Road, as you say at the Oaks. Her son, John Junior became a postman in 1911 at nearby High Blantyre Post Office.

      Your gran Agnes Crighton (nee Steven) died on Christmas Day 1935, age 67 outliving her older husband by just over a year.

      I’ve scheduled a little post on the page for 16th September 2019.

  17. On 11 June 1944 , Corporal Robert McFall of the Royal Marines was killed in action in a battle in the village of Rots in Normandy .Cpl McFall was from Blantyre . I am trying to trace any of Cpl McFall’s family , so they can be invited to a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the battle , to be held in Rots , on 11 June 2019 .If you can help in identifying any family members , I will be most grateful .
    I believe Cpl McFall’s name appears on a war memorial in Blantyre .


      Hi John. I’m sorry it’s taken so long for me to pick this up. I look at ancestry requests strictly in order they come in and realise this was likely time sensitive in trying to find relatives. Robert’s name is indeed on the WW2 Memorial in Blantyre Cemetery, just off Cemetery Road, High Blantyre. I’d love to know more about how he died if you have that information. I’ll put a public post up on Facebook this evening asking for any relatives to get in contact. A discussion has opened up here:

  18. Hi Paul, I am trying to find any information on Robert Mcfall who appears on the WW2 memorial k.i.a. June 1944, born 1921, R.M.C. 46,
    He died in Rots, France. A tribute is being written about the fallen of the 46 and I am helping with tracing living relations. Do you know who complied the names? I would be grateful for any help you could give or any ideas.


      Hi Joan. I’m sorry it’s taken so long for me to pick this up. I look at ancestry requests strictly in order they come in and realise this was likely time sensitive in trying to find relatives. Robert’s name is indeed on the WW2 Memorial in Blantyre Cemetery, just off Cemetery Road, High Blantyre. I’ll put a public post up on Facebook this evening asking for any relatives to get in contact. A discussion has opened up here:

  19. Hi, I hope you can help Me, I have very little information, my father’s name is Ian bell, he was born at 90 Victoria road in 1934, his mother’s name was Margaret nimmo bell, I’m looking for any info on them at all, I don’t know he had any siblings or other family members, anything would be greatly appreciated, Thank you


      Hi Pauline. I have some details about this. William Bell was born in Blantyre in 1881 in Blantyre, the son of Peter Bell and Elizabeth Neil who had arrived in the area only a couple of years before. As a young adult he was a vanman living at Lounfoot, High Blantyre, (near the bottom of Douglas Street).

      By 1903, he had met sweetheart Maggie Nimmo, a farm servant girl at Parkhall, East Kilbride, perhaps though William’s deliveries to the farm. She was the same age and that year, both 23 years old, they married in the public hall in East Kilbride, choosing to move to Blantyre to settle down.

      Margaret or Maggie as she preferred was the daughter of John Nimmo a miner and Janet Biggans. Both Maggie and William’s fathers were deceased at the time the couple married, so their mothers would have been the only parents at the wedding.

      A daughter Elizabeth Neil Bell arrived very quickly in 1903, then in 1904 a son John Andrew Bell, the names all associated with William and Maggie’s own parents.

      The family lived in a bothy next to a stable in Broompark Road although by 1915 had moved to a house at 72 Main Street in High Blantyre on the north side of the road.

      By 1913, another daughter Maggie Nimmo Bell was born.

      During the mid 1920’s, new homes were built by the council at Victoria Street. William and Maggie Bell moved there before 1930 taking with them their young daughter Margaret, who was still a teenager.

      Young Margaret Nimmo Bell became a motor bus cleaner in the early 1930s after leaving school, perhaps for the nearby Central Garage further down Victoria Street at its junction with Glasgow Road.

      In 1933, at the age of 20, Margaret became pregnant and on June 13th 1934, a baby boy, Ian Bell was born. Margaret’s parents William and Maggie both died in 1946, William in Blantyre at Victoria Street and Maggie in Bothwell.

      What is interesting is that their daughter, Margaret according to this birth certificate was unmarried when she got pregnant with Ian, choosing not to put the fathers name on the birth certificate. The fact she called the baby Ian though could be a clue to the fathers name? There could be many reasons for her not putting the fathers name on the certificate….. Ian’s birth dad may have died before he was born, or Margaret simply didn’t want to record the fathers name, or dare i say it, didn’t know for sure who the father was. The father missing from the birth certificate is unusual and would need investigation of paternity cases just in case the father ever wanted access.

      We have to urge caution in such stories, for there may be a simple explanation. However, without the fathers name on the birth certificate or any family story remembered about what happened in 1934, and given Margaret Nimmo Bell died in 1973, aged 60, it may be very difficult even impossible to ever track the paternal side of Ian’s ancestry.

      The Nimmo ancestry should not be confused with another Nimmo family, unrelated from Auchentibber.

      A post about this will appear today along with documentation, since i’m off on leave. Hope this helps.

  20. Julie Angela Angell

    Hello Paul, I am trying to find some contact details for my mother. She would’ve been 17-18 years when I was born. My DOB. 07.06.1965. In Stirling. My full name at birth, Julie Angela Park.
    Her birth name was Sarah (known as Sally) Symington. She remarried and became Craig. She has 2 sons named Tommy & George, who would be about 42 & 37 years old respectively. I have one address, but I think that would’ve been my Grandparents. (Symington)
    2 Lochaber Path, Blantyre.
    I live in the NE (England) now and have thought often of just driving up and wandering about the streets, until I found your ‘people search’ for family genealogy and wondered if you could help at all.
    Anything would be greatly appreciated,
    Thank you,


      Hi Julie. Wish i’d seen this earlier as i’ve been taking each incoming request in turn. But finding ones own mother is certainly pushing as a priority. I’ll ask this on the Facebook page right now. This is obviously modern history and Im not subscribed to anything which would help, but I would hope somebody in the many thousands of reader of the page would be able to trace or comment more about this person. I hope your search has happened successfully already.

      I’m hoping a discussion will open up here:

      1. Julie – I am reliably informed that Sally still lives in Lochaber Path. You may wish to continue this yourself. Such a sensitive subject may be best dealt with in another more private way. I wish to protect your privacy and indeed anybody else involved in this matter.

  21. Hello Paul
    I’m trying to find out anything about my grandmother, Mrs Nelly Clark, possibly also known as Ellen and possibly nee Heffernan. She lived at 27 Parkville Drive until her death in around 1977 and before that in Hunthill Road, I think. She had seven children, James, John, Martin, Kathleen, Helen, Margaret, May. She was born around 1896/7 and guessing married around 1915. Thank you.


      Hi Kate. Finally getting round to this now. This is likely something worth asking on the page in general, especially as there’s a possibility of relatives living nearby or still in Blantyre. They may have photos? I can help of course with early history.

      Your Blantyre ancestry is actually on the Clark side, as the Heffron (not Heffernan) side arrived from Kilbirnie in Ayrshire. I’ve focused on your gran as requested. Nelly Heffron was born in 1894, the daughter of John Heffron a coal-miner and Margaret Tomlins. (your great grandparents). She may have been born in Ireland as I cannot find a UK birth certificate. A Catholic family, they were certainly living in Ayrshire during the first decade of the 20th Century. Nelly met and fell in love with Martin Clark, a coalminer from Blantyre. I’m unsure how and where they met.

      Martin was four years older than Nelly and on 31st December, Hogmanay 1913 they married in St Josephs Church on Glasgow Road, Blantyre. Martin had been living at 12 Watson Street, its proximity to Dixons Pit 4 suggesting that may have been where he worked. (Martin was the son of James Clark and Catherine McGowan).

      The couple settle down at 61 Hunthill Road, just a stone throw from Martin’s former home. It would have been near his work and in 1915 despite being 26 years old, it looks like he escaped the war draft, perhaps being more needed in the mines at that time. He was renting a home with an annual rent of £6 and 10 shillings that year.

      The Clark family lived at 61 Hunthill Road for quite a long time. It would have been a tremendously special place for children to grow up. Right at the edge of the Calder Woodland, expansive fields and trees for them to play around. I’ve had a look at the Auchentibber School Register and can’t see the Clark children there. I suspect they were schooled at St Josephs School/Chapel on Glasgow Road.

      In the late 1930’s just before WW2, the family moved to Parkville Drive at Springwells. This may have been due to work, following the closure of Dixon’s Pit 4. This was a spacious council house, rented from the local authority in 1940 for £17 and 10 shillings per year.

      I hope this gives a little insight into their lives. I’ve scheduled a little post on 14th September 2019.

      1. Wow – Paul, this is wonderful! Thank you SO MUCH – I marvel at how you have found this all out and am overjoyed to have more background about my Grandmother. Best wishes, Kate

  22. Hi Paul,

    Here are the ancestors I am researching.

    Robert Nairn & his wife Janet McDonald, were both born in Stewarton, Ayrshire, Robert in 1762 & Janet in 1770. They were married in 1798 in Stewarton. Janet was Robert’s 3rd wife!!. They went on to have 8 children. Janet, the eldest B. 1799 married John Robison(Robertson)at Hamilton in 1824. They had 5 sons,
    1 Robert B.1826 at Uddungston. Married Ellen Rennie.
    2 John-Gilbert B.1828. Married Alice Smith, but I am unable to find their marriage. He died in Blantyre.
    3 William B.1832 at Blantyre.
    4 Daniel B.1835 at Blantyre.
    5 James B>1839 at Blantyre.

    John Robertson died at Blantyre in 1861. Janet, his wife died in 1877 at Blantyre.

    If you have any information about any of the Robertsons I would be very grateful.

    Thanks, Isabel


      Hi Isabel. Sorry this has taken a time. I hope you find it interesting. I’ve scheduled a post on the website to appear on 13th September 2019. Theres certainly lots more to look at , but hope this gives you a pointer in the right direction.

      John Robertson was born in Hamilton in 1805 and married Janet when he was 18 years old in 1824. The couple moved to Blantyre sometime between 1828 and 1832, settling down at the Village area at Blantyre Works. There would have been plenty of work in that decade and John found work as a labourer. (We know the school/church was built in 1828, which would have needed skilled labour and may have been the very reason for his coming here. As a labourer, he would have found plenty work in expanding Blantyre.

      In the 1851 census, John was 46 years old, Janet four years older at 50. With them in their rented home was son Daniel , aged 16 employed as a tile maker and other son James, who, despite being only 13 years old was employed by Monteiths as a hand loom weaver in the cotton mills at the edge of the River Clyde. This was the year the company built a suspension bridge over the river.

      In 1861, just before John died, the family had already moved to Stonefield, Blantyre perhaps prompted by the expansion of shops and homes in the district or a change in circumstances. Sons John and James were living with the family, unusual for their ages and at least were certainly there on census day. Youngest son James was a ploughman.

      Following John Robertson’s death in 1861, the family looks to have sadly fallen on hard times. By 1871 census, a decade later, without the income of her husband, Janet Robertson, aged 70 is noted as being a “pauper”. It is telling that with her at their small rented home at Back Row, Loanfoot is son John Gilmour Robertson, aged 42, unemployed and also noted as a “pauper”. They lived in one room, which had only 1 window and I suspect were immediately beside Dixons Coal pit Bings, a noisy, dirty and perhaps undesirable place to end up.

      More can be derived from seeing the term “pauper” in this census. It meant they were both recipients of relief under the provisions of the Poor Law or of public charity. Visits from Inspectors of Poor Law may have been common. Needless to say, things would have been very difficult for this family.

      I was unable to find any link between these Robertsons and the more famous Robertsons of Springwell.

  23. Paul as per your comment, if you find the dates for Mary Ann Gilmours children’s deaths I would be grateful. I should do more research myself, I’ve never really looked at this granny’!


      Samuel and Mary Ann married on 24th October 1890 at Stonefield, Blantyre. Samuel a Hamilton man and Mary Ann from Glasgow had each been living in Blantyre with their families a short time when they met. Samuel was employed as a coal miner living at Baird’s Rows and Mary Ann , 2 years older was a dye worker living at McAlpines Buildings on Glasgow Road. They married when Samuel was 22 and Mary Ann was 24.

      They started off their married life by moving to 77 Craighead (Baird’s) Rows, a move necessitated likely by Samuel’s employment. Like any newly married couple, they must have been filled with hope for the future, looking forward to life and perhaps starting a family. Six Children followed, but so did tragedy.

      In 1891, Andrew was born to the couple, a first son. Shortly after in 1893, Annie, a first daughter. Then in March 1895, another son Thomas. However, 1895 would be a year that would be immersed in sadness.

      On 16th May 1895, young Andrew died, aged 4 years old. Then just 11 days later on 27th May, Annie also died, aged only 2. The Gilmours had lost both their oldest children within a fortnight, leaving them with Thomas, a three month old baby.

      As if this sorrow wasn’t enough, Thomas would only live until 9 months old, dying on 15th December 1895. By Christmas 1895, just 5 years into their marriage, Samuel and Mary Ann had lost all their children.

      They went on to produce more children. In 1895, Elizabeth (or Lizzie) was born. This is Moyra’s gran and she would live a relatively long life until 1972. In 1899, another boy was born, named Samuel Jnr. However, young Samuel would only live for 13 months, passing away on 15th April 1900, incredibly a 4th lost child. One more child, Alexander was born in 1901.

      The children’s lives were taken by outbreaks of (malignant) Measles, something that also affected other children in Baird’s Rows at the time. It’s important to remember what life was like prior to the onset of vaccines and just how contagious measles was. The children’s deaths would have terrified other neighbours who also had children. Measles often led to serious complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). In addition, measles infection damaged and suppressed the whole immune system, making people , especially in poorer areas more likely to contract other diseases.

      Mary Ann outlived her husband and died on 21 April 1948m aged 82 years. The family who suffered such heartache are buried together in High Blantyre Cemetery.

      I’ll schedule a post about this on 12th September 2019. Hope this is of interest.

  24. Hi Paul I am researching my ancestors from Millheugh Mill I have a previous post on them. I was very interested in your article about Pathfoot. My ancestors were living in Pathfoot in 1790 probably before this but this is the first indication and is where their first child was born.They were John and Margaret Connel. John is on a later child’s baptism record as Miller of Millheugh Mill.


      “Pathfoot”, which was an old weavers house at the end of the Medieval path leading to the Dysholm Ford on the Rotten Calder, just off the Peth Brae. As the cottage became ruined, and the 2 cottages were built nearby on the brae, the old house name became the area itself, Pathfoot. Given that John and Margaret were in this area prior to the 2 Peth Brae cottages, there’s good chance they may have lived in the older cottage.

      There were 3 mills nearby on the Rotten Calder. Dysholm was nearby, as was an old mill and a more ‘modern’ mill built opposite it at the bottom of the brae. All three mills are now long gone. There’s a good chance John worked in the old, original mill, situated at the bend on the river which was thought to have been centuries old. It is known this mill was derelict by the early 1800’s.

      In 1727, there is evidence that a new Milheugh mill was built. Situated by the south side of the road at the foot of the Peth Brae, and directly opposite the older, ruined mill, this new mill was powered by a lade which ran across Milheugh. Built of stone, the masonry was more modern and regular and likely had a slate roof. A large water wheel hung from the Western side of the building. An 1864 account describes the mill “A ruin on the side of the “Rotten Calder” having the date 1727 on its east side. It was formerly a Lint Mill. The property of Mr. Bannatyne of Millheugh House.” and “For these last 90 years, as stated by A. Jackson Esqr. of Blantyre Park, a Mill has always stood where the Ruin now stands, & it is most likely that the name is derived from the Mill.” It is known that Alexander Corse was the miller of that mill in 1760.

      As for the name Connel or Connell? It IS an early Blantyre name. Births with that surname can be found in Blantyre Parish as early as 1715, over 300 years ago, at a time when the population of Blantyre’s hamlets would collectively have been only a couple of hundred people. However, there are only 3 male births registered in the 1700’s for the name Connell in Blantyre Parish, none of them John. Perhaps he was born in another area and came to Blantyre to settle? There’s no doubt that Blantyre in the 1790’s would have been exciting. The construction of the large cotton mills and village to the north would have been daily news at the time.

      I’ll schedule a little post on 11th September 2019 for this. Thanks.

  25. Seeking date for unveiling on disaster memorial in Blantyre Cemetery and date for unveiling of memorial in Dunbeath Cemetery in Glasgow.


      Hi Jim. Thanks for your enquiry. I don’t have an exact date, but believe it was unveiled in 1883. Late in 1882, Messrs William Dixon Ltd entered into talks with the parochial authorities in Blantyre, who , in sympathy with local opinion, donated the land in the centre of the new cemetery (opened 1875). On accepting the Parochial Board’s kind offer, W. Dixon Ltd contracted Glasgow monumental mason, Mr. Robert Gray, to erect the above obelisk in Aberdeen granite. It stands on a plinth 4 feet 8 inches square and the monument itself rises fully in 20 feet in height. When it was unveiled, it could be seen from just about any vantage point in the Parish. Mr. J.M Thomson form Kilkerran in Ayrshire, one of the partners of Wm. Dixon Ltd , brought his own personal gardener to plant up the flowers and shrubs around the base.

      I’m unsure about Dunbeath as its outwith Blantyre. Hope this is of interest. Paul.

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