Family History part ii

Following from my success of tracking down my great grandfather and great grandmother, I thought I’d do a little more digging to round out my findings.

This involved finding my grandfather’s birth record, and also the birth record for Miss A – who had been present when my great grandfather died and who I’d been calling Annie.

Well Miss A was indeed Annie and she would have been forty when he died. Given that Clementina died young, I’d guess that Annie might have been the oldest (living) daughter who, as was common in the nineteenth century, took over the running of the house on her mother’s death, and probably never married.

Obviously, to confirm this I need to find Annie’s death record and check for other siblings, but it seems like a reasonable hypothesis in a hand waving sort of way.

However, my great grandparents married in 1871, and Annie was born in 1877, which, given natural fecundity, probably means that there were other siblings, even if they died young.

Also Annie would have only been 12 when Clementina died, and that does seem to be bit young, even for the 1880’s, so it’s possible that she had older brothers and sisters, and as they married she moved into the role of housekeeper as the last daughter standing.

My great grandparents marriage record holds other surprises. Up to now, every connection comes back to Dundee, but no, they were married in Forfar, a town twenty kilometres or so out of Dundee.

Clementina’s father is listed as a linen weaver, which makes sense as Forfar was a centre of the linen weaving industry in the mid nineteenth century. More interestingly my great grandfather, who was also James, like my grandfather, is listed as living at Clocksbriggs, which is a location out of Forfar, near Rescobie Loch.

Google maps shows it to be a wooded location not far from the Rescobie Loch. At first I thought it might be a farm or a smallholding but when I looked at the 1885 Ordnance Survey I discovered that there was a railway station on the old Aberdeen railway at Clocksbriggs – something that explains why my great great grandfather was working as a stonebreaker – at a guess what it meant was he was a maintenance worker for the railway track and broke up stones to make replacement ballast.

Unfortunately, the staff records from the Aberdeen railway and its successors do not appear to have been digitised, so for the moment that will have to remain an interesting hypothesis and noting more.

Equally, my great grandfather had obviously decided that he wasn’t going to be a manual worker like his father, and had learned to be a boot or shoemaker – early on he describes himself as as a shoemaker on official documents, but later on as a boot maker.

Whether these were workboots for coal hauliers or elegant dress boots for ladies, or perhaps both, I don’t know, but he was obviously determined to better himself, and sometime between their marriage and the birth of Annie they’d moved to the nearest big city – Dundee – and set himself up in business, eventually ending up with his own shop …

[Update 29/12/2018]

Well, a little more digging showed that James (my grandfather) married Catherine Marshall Gracie, a domestic servant, in 1906.

At the time James’s occupation was given as a grocer’s assistant. As far as I can tell they had two children – another James Bush Mathieson in 1907 followed by a David Gracie Mathieson in 1909.

Catherine died of tuberculosis in 1913.

As an interesting little aside her father is described as a ploughman, quite a skilled occupation, when she was married in 1906, but by the time of her death, he had made the change from horse to internal combustion and is described as a lorry driver.

While I havn’t found my grandfather’s death certificate, I did find his death notice in the Dundee Courier, showing he died in late October 1923, and had been unwell for sometime. By that time he’d become the manager of one of the Dundee CoOperative and Wholesale society’s shops, and was consequently a man of some importance in the community …

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About dgm

Former IT professional, previously a digital archiving and repository person, ex research psychologist, blogger, twitterer, and amateur classical medieval and nineteenth century historian ...
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