Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Edward's Curse

The Leslie family were another of my families who fled Ireland to escape the potato famine, arriving in Glasgow in the early 1850s. They were three brothers and a sister; Edward along with his wife and children, Patrick (sometimes known as Peter), Margaret and James

Civil registration only came about in Scotland in 1855. Patrick had already married a woman named Margaret Galligan in 1853, and James married Ellen Mellon in 1855. 

On the three brothers' death certificates their father was listed as Edward Leslie (1), a labourer. On Peter and James' deaths their mother is listed as Catherine Brady. However on their brother Edward's (2) death certificate his mother is recorded as Mary Docherty. It is unknown whether Edward Leslie (1) was really married twice, or simply whether the informant of Edward's (2) death was mistaken. 

In late 1855, Edward (2) and his wife Bridget Leckie welcomed a son into the world. The couple already had three children who had all been born in Ireland. They named their new baby Edward (3), obviously after his father and grandfather. 

Sadly in February 1856, aged only three months, baby Edward (3) died of diarrhoea. Incredibly tragic, this is only a small reflection of how high the infant mortality was at the time. Edward Leslie (2) died in 1886 at the age of 66.

Peter and Margaret Leslie had three children; Catherine, John and Charles. Unfortunately Catherine died aged only 21 of phthisis, or tuberculosis. 

In 1884 Charles married Agnes Carroll and together they had seven children. Their first child was a son named Patrick. In 1907 he married Margaret Wood at Larkhall. Together Patrick and Margaret had many children including one son named Edward. In the late spring of 1915, little Edward grew ill. Sadly he died of diphtheria only just 1 year old.

Charles and Agnes' second son was named Edward. In 1910, aged 20 he married Catherine McTaggart in the local Roman Catholic church at Larkhall. Only three months into the marriage, Edward was taken to the Royal Infirmary Glasgow as he was suffering with an abscess in the appendix. There he died on 8 March 1911. 

When Catherine married Edward she was already heavily pregnant. Only one month after Edward's death, Catherine gave birth to a little girl and in honour of the baby's late father, she was named Edwardina. However, tragedy struck yet again and aged only three weeks old, baby Edwardina died of congestion of the lungs. Only 19 years of age, Catherine had lost her husband and infant daughter.

Charles and Agnes' penultimate son was also named Charles. He married Jane McComb McLean in 1920. From Larkhall he moved to Buckhaven, Fife with his young family. On a return visit to Larkhall, their youngest son fell ill. His name was Edward Carroll Leslie. Aged 11 months, Edward died of acute broncho pneumonia.

The Edward Leslies who died young,
spanning the generations

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Harbertson Family Anecdotes *UPDATED*

My Great Grandfather, James Harbertson was born on 8 April 1880 at New Hartley, the son of John Harbertson and Margaret Ann Sharp. When James was only seven, his father died of cerebral disease. His mother Margaret soon remarried to Thomas Vickers, a neighbour from two doors away. 

When James was in his early twenties he began walking out with Sarah Jane Taylor, a local girl from the next village, Seaton Delaval. After marrying, the newly-weds moved to Newsham, a small mining village further north and close to Blyth. As a miner, it's likely James got a job in a colliery close to Newsham.

When James' mother Margaret was widowed the family moved back to New Hartley to live with her. I've already detailed this time period in Margaret's life in an earlier blog postAfter staying in New Hartley for a few years, the Harbertson-Vickers family moved to the nearby village of Annitsford, and settled in No. 5 Orange Street. 

Margaret Vickers was a formidable lady, and it is said she wouldn't think twice about "marking your height" by throwing her cup of tea if you vexed her!

James in his allotment.
James Harbertson was an intelligent man, or rather as the family remember him "he had a good heed-piece on." He was quite good at fixing things, and would always lend a hand to help his neighbours out. James even worked for two doctors in nearby Burradon, with his family believing he was clever enough to be a doctor himself. As a working class man, and especially a miner, James just didn't have a good enough education. He always had his white silk scarf around his neck, contrasting with his boiler suit.

James' pride and joy was his allotment, a short walk from his house. There he grew flowers, fruit and vegetables. A trait he obviously inherited from his maternal grandfather, Joseph Sharp. James' beloved shovel was adorned with his initials, which he wrote in his own special way.

Sarah Jane was a "real grafter." She was always working, which included sweeping the street, polishing the front step and endless amounts of washing. Sarah Jane would hang the washing to dry in the wide and open Orangey's Field which the Harbertsons' house backed out onto. 

Sadly, Sarah Jane suffered from severe bronchitis and it took its toll on her over the years. She would often sit outside resting, and breathing in the fresh air. 

Sarah Jane.
Note her pinny, a sign of a real grafter.

Sarah Jane Harbertson died on 23 May 1951, and James on 5 May 1960.

James and Sarah Jane Harbertson's

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

11 November 2015 - Armistice Day

On this Armistice Day I'm thinking about my maternal Grandma's cousin, Stoker Fenwick Morris. He was the son of Hannah Bell (Taylor) and Matthew Morris

In Flanders Fields

Fenwick died under tragic circumstances only a matter of weeks after enlisting in the Royal Naval Reserve, and the centenary of his death falls on 30 December 2015. I will publish a short biography on that day.

In total Hannah Bell and Matthew lost three sons to the war.


Friday, 6 November 2015

The 1939 Register

On Monday 2 November, the much anticipated 1939 Register was released through Find My Past. The register was taken on 29 September 1939, only a matter of weeks after the Second World War was declared. From the Register, Identity Cards were issued to each and every citizen and it also played a part in the formation of the National Health Service. 

Due to the 100-year rule, the names and information of those born after 1915 has been redacted. The Register was actually updated for some people up until 1991, so there are some results for people born after 1915 if they have since died. 

Sadly Find My Past were not able to publish the Scottish Register, so I am not able to find my paternal grandfather and his family yet. 


I had some difficulty locating my paternal grandmother's family, the Storeys, at first. She and all of her siblings were born after 1915, so I did not expect to find them, however her parents were born in 1887 and 1893. I knew that the family would be living in New Sandridge, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea. I eventually did find them under STONEY, so I have e-mailed Find My Past to try and rectify this mistranscription. 

I found my Great Grandparents, Robert Mavin and Mary A Minnie Storey living exactly where I knew they were. Three of their four children are present, although blanked out due to being born post-1915. One son of theirs I know to have been in the Royal Air Force, so he is possibly the one child missing. 

Robert M Storey is listed as a 'Master Builder', and his wife Minnie is down as 'Unpaid House Duties'. Minnie's birthdate is given as 5 September 1892, so is a year out.

Living across the road from Robert and Minnie, was old Adam Storey - my 2x Great Grandfather. Like with Robert and Minnie, I knew exactly where Adam would be. His dear wife Jane Mavin had died eight years before, so Adam is described as a Widower on the Register. He is also a 'Retired Fishsalesman'. 

Another person is living with Adam, although I can't be sure who that is as they are redacted. I think it might be one of his granddaughters who was known to care for him. 

The Register also gives Adam's birthdate as 11 September 1853 which is fantastic. I was originally told this birthdate by my grandmother. Adam was known as the Grand Old Man, but sadly I was not able to prove his birthdate before, as it appears his birth was never registered by his parents. 


I next turned to my maternal grandparents, Albert Victor and Sarah Jane Quinnin. I found them where I knew they'd be, living at 41 Jackson Street, Annitsford. Their first two children are with them, although redacted due to them being born in 1937 and 1939, respectively. Both of these children have died in recent years. 

My Grandma was actually born in June 1916, so under the 100-year rule she should have been redacted. My guesses are that somehow my Grandma's information was updated to say that she died in 1984, or it's just a simple mistranscription. 

My Granddad is a 'Public Works Labourer' which fits with what I knew already, and my Grandma is noted as 'Unpaid Domestic Duties'. 

When looking for my Great Grandparents I had no idea where they would be. They were actually living in 5 Wallridge Cottages, Matfen where they ended their days. I imagined that the family had first moved there in the mid-1940s, so this was a surprise to me. 

My Great Grandfather Martin was a 'General Labour', with my Great Grandmother Margery described as 'Household duties unpaid'. Two of my great uncles were living with them, with my uncle Martin (Barty) described as a 'Quarryman Heavy Worker'. My uncle Alex is described as an 'Invalid'. Family members who remember uncle Alex described him as resembling my Granddad in height and build, and showing no signs of a physical disability. He did however die when he was only 49. 

One possibility is that Alexander was described as an 'Invalid' in order to save him from the war and conscription by his parents. This is total guess and personally I'd say not likely in this case, but still a possibility.


I knew where my other maternal Great Grandparents would be, and true enough I found James and Sarah Jane Harbertson living at 5 Orange Street, Annitsford. 

James is described as being a 'General Labourer' with Sarah Jane undertaking 'Unpaid Domestic Duties'. There are four people living with my Great Grandparents who have been redacted, but luckily I know who they all are. They are two great uncles and a great aunt (all deceased). The last is a granddaughter of James and Sarah Jane who was cared for by them. She is still living.  


There was a such a big hype during the lead-up to the release of the 1939 Register, which was slightly dampened when Find My Past announced their plans for the Register to be made available through the purchasing of credits. Myself, like many others were disappointed that the 1939 Register was not being made available through a subscription. The credits are also very expensive on top of the subscription, some actually saying they were exorbitant. 

The 1939 Register is still a fantastic resource however, and I've enjoyed going through and attempting to find aunts, uncles and cousins. It certainly fills a gap between the lost 1931 Census and the 1951 Census, the first taken after the war.

Hopefully in the near future the 1939 Register will be included in one of Find My Past's subscriptions and I will be able to find more family members.