Select Page
Week 10: Strong Woman

Week 10: Strong Woman

Catherine Grey Whitehill

I have been fascinated by the story of my great x2 grandmother, Catherine Whitehill, born in Glasgow on the 31st May 1847. She had a tough life judging by where she lived, yet she raised 9 children to adulthood in 3 cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, at a time when infant mortality was high.

For a long time, we weren’t sure who her parents were as they are given at her marriage as John Whitehill lithographic printer journeyman decorator (deceased) and Elizabeth Whitehill M.S. Christie (deceased) but she grew up with the mother and children of Catherine Grey and Alexander Whitehill and was known as Catherine Grey Whitehill. Alex had died in the cholera epidemic in December 1848 when she was less than two years old and her mother had died ten years before the marriage, so maybe they didn’t know or maybe there was an error recording the parents’ details … maybe confusion as her brother John was a printer … then the appearance online of the Old Parish Registers showed up her birth registration.

Catherine grew up in Rottenrow, her father was a weaver and her mother a yarn winder. Catherine is listed as a muslin warehouse girl aged 13 in 1861, was a steam loom weaver in 1871, and when she married James Simpson in 1873, she gave her occupation as a woollen power loom weaver. Her address in 1871, where she was a boarder, was 174 Main Street in Calton. There are several textile factories close by as well as several potteries.

Power loom workers were usually girls and young women. They had the security of fixed hours, and except in times of hardship, such as in the cotton famine, regular income. They were paid a wage and a piece work bonus. Even when working in a combined mill, weavers stuck together and enjoyed a tight-knit community. The women usually minded the four machines and kept the looms oiled and clean. They were assisted by ‘little tenters’, children on a fixed wage who ran errands and did small tasks. They learnt the job of the weaver by watching. Often they would be half timers, carrying a green card which teacher and overlookers would sign to say they had turned up at the mill in the morning and in the afternoon at the school.

 

At fourteen or so they come full-time into the mill, and started by sharing looms with an experienced worker where it was important to learn quickly as they would both be on piece work. The mill had its health and safety issues, there was a reason why the women tied their hair back with scarves. Inhaling cotton dust caused lung problems, and the noise was causing total hearing loss. Weavers would mee-maw as normal conversation was impossible. Weavers used to ‘kiss the shuttle’, that is, suck thread through the eye of the shuttle. This left a foul taste in the mouth due to the oil, which was also carcinogenic.

Tarbet Street

James married Catherine Gray Whitehill at 116 Rottenrow Street after banns – according to the rites of the United Presbyterian Church. This is the same address as that of her older brother John in 1871 and 1881 so maybe the source of the possible confusion over her father’s name. Both bride and groom gave the same address – 24 Bluevale Street. One of the witnesses had the same name as James’s first wife. I found the marriage fairly early in my research and it was the first time I had found a widower among my ancestors. When I found James’s first marriage to Isabella Chalmers, I was very sad as she had died in childbirth aged 21 just four months after their marriage but then it struck me quite forcefully that had Isabella not died, I would not be here!

Two months later, the first of their 9 children was born – my great grandmother Catherine Grey Simpson. They were living in David Street in Bridgeton at the time, very close to Annfield Pottery. James and Catherine moved around every couple of years but more or less stayed in the same area of Glasgow until they appear in Edinburgh and then later in Clerkenwell.

While writing this article, I wanted to check something, so randomly wandered around google and came across Scottish Indexes, and put Catherine’s name into the search box – and found she had twice been in the City Poorhouse Asylum, Glasgow. Admission Records will be sent for to find out more detail when it is possible to get them, but her first admission was on 9 July 1869 while still single, aged 20, and her second was ten years later, six months after the birth of her fourth child. At the time, Catherine, the oldest was 5 years old and they were living close by in Tarbet Street.

Move to Edinburgh

Sometime between the summer of 1883 and the summer of 1887, when her son John was born, the family uprooted themselves and went to Edinburgh.

Annfield Pottery was founded by John Thomson in the East End of Glasgow sometime between 1816 and 1826, and managed by himself and his three sons. John Thompson died in 1873 and the sons continued the pottery until it closed down between 1883 and 1887. 

This would fit in with the dates of them moving to Edinburgh. Hugh, Catherine’s older brother was already living in Edinburgh. When John was born they were living at 51 Arthur Street, Canongate and James was recorded as working as a printer (glassworks). They were not far from the Holyrood Glassworks.

Moving on again ….

Corner of Rottenrow and Taylor Street c.1891

By April 1890, the family had moved on again and were in Clerkenwell, where they had two more sons, Andrew and William. Travelling south with 7 children, the youngest was 3 and the oldest about 15 years old, would be pretty daunting these days, but then? How did they travel? Did they walk? Or were they able to afford to take the train? The route between Edinburgh Waverley and London King’s Cross was well established by then. The journey took about 8 and a half hours by then, travelling at around 50 mph. This was the time when the Flying Scotchman offered travel for 3rd class passengers, as until 1887, there was only 1st and 2nd class available.

Railway rugs were needed by train travellers, usually on their legs or shoulders, to protect them from draughts in the carriages. While first class passengers rode in enclosed carriages, second and third class passengers could have no such assurance. Indeed, most third class carriages were completely open to the elements, save for the carriage roof.

In April 1890, they were living at Dundee Buildings in Clerkenwell where Andrew was born. The Survey of London describes the buildings as ‘rough’ at that time, quoting Booth’s notebooks. The buildings were on the south corner of Berkley Street and St John’s Lane, just south of St John’s gate. (I was in the vicinity in January 2020 and had no idea how close I was to where they lived – unfortunately I was late for where I was going in one direction and then rushing to get a train when I returned later that day, so didn’t even stop to take a picture of St John’s Gate.)

…. and the building of private model dwellings (Dundee Buildings, described as ‘rough’ in the 1890s) on the south corner [of St John’s Lane] with Berkley Street. Contrasting with the small shopkeepers in the lane were the denizens of the increasingly run-down and crowded backland: by the 1890s typically costermongers and unskilled labourers. In the summer of 1898 Charles Booth’s investigators found it rather squalid, noting a ‘fearful stench’ from a Gorgonzola factory as they walked up the lane, and a man in Francis Court toting a bloody bag of sheep’s necks, which he was off to hawk at twopence a pound.

Compton Buildings, Goswell Road, c. 1910 Survey of London: Volume 46, South and East Clerkenwell

Model dwellings were “buildings or estates constructed, mostly during the Victorian era, along philanthropic lines to provide decent living accommodation for the working class. They were typically erected by private model dwellings companies and usually with the aim of making a return on investment hence the description of the movement as “five per cent philanthropy.

In July 1893, when their youngest child, William was born, they were living in the newly built Bartholomew Buildings and by 1901, the family had moved to another model dwelling in the area, 343 Compton Buildings, on the corner of Compton Street and Goswell Road. They were still living in the buildings in 1911, at number 306, along with the 3 youngest boys, Elizabeth and Margaret. The others were all married by this time. Booth’s maps at the time show that the area was probably less “rough”.

James died in 1st February 1918 aged 71 from bronchitis and a cerebral embolism at 305 Compton Buildings, his son David, who was living at 190 Compton Buildings, being the informant.  Catherine died on 20th May in Archway House, Archway Road, Upper Holloway of arteriosclerosis. Her usual address was 188 Compton Buildings. Again, David was the informant. Archway House was the hospital which was previously known as The Holborn Union Infirmary.

 

TIMELINE

DATE EVENT ADDRESS  
7 June 1872 Marriage 24 Bluevale Street (both) 116 Rottenrow Street, Central
6 September 1872 Catherine 10 David Street, Bridgeton near Annfield Pottery
24 April 1874 David 10 David Street, Bridgeton  
3 May 1876 Alexander 102 Rottenrow, Blackfriars  
8 May 1878 Elizabeth 5 Tarbet Street, Blackfriars  
4 January 1880 Margaret 5 Tarbet Street, Blackfriars  
26 July 1883 James 76 Rottenrow, Blackfriars  
2 June 1887 John 51 Arthur Street, Canongate, Edinburgh  
1890 Andrew 11 Dundee Buildings, Clerkenwell, Middlesex, England  
April 1891 Census 10 Dundee Buildings, Clerkenwell  
1893 William 216 Bartholomews Buildings, Clerkenwell, Middlesex, England  
March 1901 Census 343 Compton Buildings, Clerkenwell  
April 1911 Census 306 Compton Buildings, Clerkenwell  
February 1918 Death of James 305 Compton Buildings, Clerkenwell  
May 1927 Death of Catherine 188 Compton Buildings, Clerkenwell  

SOURCES

British History Online – London Survey:

Charles Booth’s London

Wikipedia: Model buildings companies

Wikipedia: List of existing model dwellings

Wikipedia: Race to the North

Mee-mawing was a form of speech with exaggerated movements to allow lip-reading employed by workers in weaving sheds in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The noise in a weaving shed rendered hearing impossible so workers communicated by mee-mawing which was a cross between mime and lip-reading. To have a private conversation when there were other weavers present, the speaker would cup their hand over their mouth to obscure vision. This was very necessary as a mee-mawer would be able to communicate over distances of tens of yards. It was said that each mill had its own dialect.

Week 30: The Old Country

Week 30: The Old Country

Because we moved around a lot when I was small, it wasn't until I was about 7 years old that we settled in one place when my parents bought a new build bungalow in Rockdale Drive, Grayshott. Four years later they moved on to nearby Headley and then on to...

read more

Week 27: Solo – choice or circumstance?

Catherine Godfree, born in 1844, was the youngest child of George and Mary Ann Godfree of Great Rissington. She had three older brothers and seven older sisters. Five of the sisters married and had large families, two sisters married but had no children, while two of the brothers never married and the one that did had emigrated to Australia following the death of his father.

read more
Week 10: Strong Woman

Week 10: Strong Woman

I have been fascinated by the story of my great x2 grandmother, Catherine Whitehill, born in Glasgow on the 31st May 1847. She had a tough life judging by where she lived, yet she raised 9 children to adulthood in 3 cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, at a time when infant mortality was high.

read more
Week 15: From Fire to Form

Week 15: From Fire to Form

A quick query of my family tree software shows me that of those who have an occupation entered, I have 32 smiths or related occupations of whom 8 are blacksmiths, 2 gunsmiths, 3 silversmiths, and 4 whitesmiths and also some charcoal burners.

read more
Week 24: Handed Down

Week 24: Handed Down

I have already got a post about my "hand-me-downs", so I have recycled that one this week. It traces the story of Suie Gillett, my maternal great grandmother and shows how easy it is to get things wrong when tracing your family history! The Gillett Spoons Since I...

read more

Week 6: Same Name

When I saw this prompt, I immediately thought of Jessie Ann Lewcock, who baptised and buried five babies, three of them called Seth, their father’s name. Only her two oldest children survived to adulthood, a daughter, Grace Agnes, and Lewis named for her brother. Her...

read more

Week 23: Wedding

Marrying the sister of a deceased wife was illegal in Victorian England. " ...under the Marriage Act of 1835, which had the support of the established Anglican church, it was prohibited for a widower to marry his wife’s sister on the grounds of a passage in Leviticus,...

read more

Week 16: Air

Flying, civilian pilots and air crew, RAF & Fleet Air Arm, ornithologists, fresh air .... When I saw this week's prompt I wasn't sure I had anything to really write about and was intending to write about fresh air as most of the world including me are under...

read more

Week 9: Disaster

William George Lewcock 1839-1887. St George's Churchyard, Hanworth. William George Lewcock died on the 3rd May 1887 leaving a wife and 8 children, three of whom were under twelve years old. If we have connected the twigs and branches correctly, he is a very distant...

read more

Week 12: Very “historical” fiction

While I am doing my research I am mentally visualising the people I am looking at in the census or on a certificate and trying to imagine what their life was like; their house, the street, what they were wearing and how they spent their time. Because I read, and still...

read more
Week 5: So far away … from “home”

Week 5: So far away … from “home”

........ a light hearted look at genetic heritage. Both my grandmothers were Essex girls, but that is nothing to do with why I support West Ham! The theme tune for Sports Report (right click for the appropriate background music) brings back memories of being...

read more
Week 11: Serendipity

Week 11: Serendipity

Researching our family history depends on careful research over time, but is often progressed by a large slice of luck! I have had two major ones - both when I was looking for something else, one for my paternal line and one on the maternal. Maternal lucky find My...

read more
Week 8: Prosperity

Week 8: Prosperity

George Godfree was my great x2 uncle, the sixth child and second son of George and Mary Ann, nee Smith, Godfree of Great Rissington. His father died in 1850, leaving the farm to Mary, "if she wants it", and then to George's older brother. Like many other younger sons...

read more
Week 7: Favourite Discovery

Week 7: Favourite Discovery

I can't write in great detail about my favourite discovery as it involves living people, but it was very early on in my genealogy research days when I was one of the first members of Genes Connected as it then was. My family had lost touch with a paternal first cousin...

read more
Week 4: Close to Home

Week 4: Close to Home

​When I decided to take early retirement and come back to England after 32 years living and working in Belgium, I toyed with several places to live. I wanted to be nearish the coast, my parents were living near Ely at the time so investigated Norfolk and Suffolk but...

read more
Week 3: Long Line

Week 3: Long Line

I was wondering which ancestors to choose this week, but ​I have decided to interpret Long Line as Long List. As soon as you start your family history research, you start collecting bookmarks, favo(u)rites – whatever your browser of choice calls them. The list gets...

read more

Week 2: Favourite Photograph

This is a hard one. Should it be the picture of Sarah Jane Tompkins née Godfree, a maternal great x2 grandmother, which I see every day as it is hanging over my mantlepiece? She also appears at the top of every page of this website. Perhaps it could be the group one...

read more

Week 1: Fresh Start

Where to begin? I could write about my personal disappointment about the UK's fresh start tomorrow, or I could write about my own fresh start when I first took advantage of FOM in 1976 and moved to Belgium to work or when I came back to England in 2008. However, I...

read more

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

For some time, I had spotted references to Amy Johnson Crow's genealogical writing challenge, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, and often thought it would be a good idea but simply never got round to it. This year I saw another reference and as it was at the end of December, ...

read more

Schooldays

The de Fraine, Tompkins and Gillett families often sent both their sons and daughters away from home for a few years of education, and I have several times spotted familiar surnames on lists of pupils, which when I have tracked them through other census returns and through birth registrations have turned out to be related to the name I was originally looking for.

read more

The Bradley Diamond Wedding 1952

We do not know who most of the people are in this picture of the guests at their Diamond Wedding Anniversary celebration in 1952.

Were Catherine’s Simpson siblings or her Whitehill cousins there? Perhaps William’s siblings were guests.


1. Irene Lewcock née Harrison
2. Lesley Lewcock
3. Nicholas Bradley
4. Alma Bradley née Neave
5. Violet Bradley
6.
7.
8.
9. Alan Bradley
10. Alice Lewcock née Bradley
11. Winifred Bradley née Gibbs
12. Dawn Lewcock née de Fraine
13. Caroline Lewcock
14. Catherine Bradley née Simpson
15. William Eli Bradley
16. Robert Bradley
17.
18.
19. Margaret Bradley née Gardner
20.
21.
22.
23.
24.
25.
26.
27.
28.
29.
30. Betty Lewcock née Rich

31.
32.
33.
34.
35.
36.
37.
38.
39.
40.
41.
42.
43.
44.
45.
46.
47. Derek Coles
48. Alan Lewcock
49. John Lewcock
50.
51. Frank Bradley
52.
53.
54. Donald Bradley
55.
56.
57.

Week 30: The Old Country

Week 30: The Old Country

Because we moved around a lot when I was small, it wasn't until I was about 7 years old that we settled in one place when my parents bought a new build bungalow in Rockdale Drive, Grayshott. Four years later they moved on to nearby Headley and then on to...

read more

Week 27: Solo – choice or circumstance?

Catherine Godfree, born in 1844, was the youngest child of George and Mary Ann Godfree of Great Rissington. She had three older brothers and seven older sisters. Five of the sisters married and had large families, two sisters married but had no children, while two of the brothers never married and the one that did had emigrated to Australia following the death of his father.

read more
Week 10: Strong Woman

Week 10: Strong Woman

I have been fascinated by the story of my great x2 grandmother, Catherine Whitehill, born in Glasgow on the 31st May 1847. She had a tough life judging by where she lived, yet she raised 9 children to adulthood in 3 cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, at a time when infant mortality was high.

read more
Week 15: From Fire to Form

Week 15: From Fire to Form

A quick query of my family tree software shows me that of those who have an occupation entered, I have 32 smiths or related occupations of whom 8 are blacksmiths, 2 gunsmiths, 3 silversmiths, and 4 whitesmiths and also some charcoal burners.

read more
Week 24: Handed Down

Week 24: Handed Down

I have already got a post about my "hand-me-downs", so I have recycled that one this week. It traces the story of Suie Gillett, my maternal great grandmother and shows how easy it is to get things wrong when tracing your family history! The Gillett Spoons Since I...

read more

Week 6: Same Name

When I saw this prompt, I immediately thought of Jessie Ann Lewcock, who baptised and buried five babies, three of them called Seth, their father’s name. Only her two oldest children survived to adulthood, a daughter, Grace Agnes, and Lewis named for her brother. Her...

read more

Week 23: Wedding

Marrying the sister of a deceased wife was illegal in Victorian England. " ...under the Marriage Act of 1835, which had the support of the established Anglican church, it was prohibited for a widower to marry his wife’s sister on the grounds of a passage in Leviticus,...

read more

Week 16: Air

Flying, civilian pilots and air crew, RAF & Fleet Air Arm, ornithologists, fresh air .... When I saw this week's prompt I wasn't sure I had anything to really write about and was intending to write about fresh air as most of the world including me are under...

read more

Week 9: Disaster

William George Lewcock 1839-1887. St George's Churchyard, Hanworth. William George Lewcock died on the 3rd May 1887 leaving a wife and 8 children, three of whom were under twelve years old. If we have connected the twigs and branches correctly, he is a very distant...

read more

Week 12: Very “historical” fiction

While I am doing my research I am mentally visualising the people I am looking at in the census or on a certificate and trying to imagine what their life was like; their house, the street, what they were wearing and how they spent their time. Because I read, and still...

read more
Week 5: So far away … from “home”

Week 5: So far away … from “home”

........ a light hearted look at genetic heritage. Both my grandmothers were Essex girls, but that is nothing to do with why I support West Ham! The theme tune for Sports Report (right click for the appropriate background music) brings back memories of being...

read more
Week 11: Serendipity

Week 11: Serendipity

Researching our family history depends on careful research over time, but is often progressed by a large slice of luck! I have had two major ones - both when I was looking for something else, one for my paternal line and one on the maternal. Maternal lucky find My...

read more

Procrastination … again

I am procrastinating,  yet again, and experimenting with Scrivener.  I think recent vet's bills (a Cocker Spaniel with Pseudomonas, spaniel owners will understand) will mean I won't be paying for it until just before the trial runs out, but I can already see it will...

read more

RootsTech is coming back but postponed until 2021

  We all hoped and yesterday it was confirmed, that RootsTech is coming back to the ExCel next November. It's not clashing with Comic Con this year so hopefully food will be more accessible during the day. I felt that I had missed a great deal last time so I have...

read more
Week 8: Prosperity

Week 8: Prosperity

George Godfree was my great x2 uncle, the sixth child and second son of George and Mary Ann, nee Smith, Godfree of Great Rissington. His father died in 1850, leaving the farm to Mary, "if she wants it", and then to George's older brother. Like many other younger sons...

read more
Week 7: Favourite Discovery

Week 7: Favourite Discovery

I can't write in great detail about my favourite discovery as it involves living people, but it was very early on in my genealogy research days when I was one of the first members of Genes Connected as it then was. My family had lost touch with a paternal first cousin...

read more
Week 4: Close to Home

Week 4: Close to Home

​When I decided to take early retirement and come back to England after 32 years living and working in Belgium, I toyed with several places to live. I wanted to be nearish the coast, my parents were living near Ely at the time so investigated Norfolk and Suffolk but...

read more
Week 3: Long Line

Week 3: Long Line

I was wondering which ancestors to choose this week, but ​I have decided to interpret Long Line as Long List. As soon as you start your family history research, you start collecting bookmarks, favo(u)rites – whatever your browser of choice calls them. The list gets...

read more

Week 2: Favourite Photograph

This is a hard one. Should it be the picture of Sarah Jane Tompkins née Godfree, a maternal great x2 grandmother, which I see every day as it is hanging over my mantlepiece? She also appears at the top of every page of this website. Perhaps it could be the group one...

read more

Week 1: Fresh Start

Where to begin? I could write about my personal disappointment about the UK's fresh start tomorrow, or I could write about my own fresh start when I first took advantage of FOM in 1976 and moved to Belgium to work or when I came back to England in 2008. However, I...

read more

Bradley Gallery

These photographs all seem to have been taken at the same time. We can recognise Kate and William Bradley, Frank and Alma Bradley and Alice and Frank Lewcock. Who are the other people? Where were the pictures taken? What was the occasion?

We think it might have been the christening of Robert Bradley, which would make it around 1948.  

Week 10: Strong Woman

Week 10: Strong Woman

I have been fascinated by the story of my great x2 grandmother, Catherine Whitehill, born in Glasgow on the 31st May 1847. She had a tough life judging by where she lived, yet she raised 9 children to adulthood in 3 cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, at a time when infant mortality was high.

read more

Week 16: Air

Flying, civilian pilots and air crew, RAF & Fleet Air Arm, ornithologists, fresh air .... When I saw this week's prompt I wasn't sure I had anything to really write about and was intending to write about fresh air as most of the world including me are under...

read more

The Bradleys of Shropshire

  Bradley is far from an unusual surname and tracing them has been difficult, especially when births and marriages cannot be found!! This research follows the line back through certificates, census returns and parish registers. Neville Lewcock, grandson of...

read more

Lewcocks (and Lucocks) who served in WW1

  Lives of the First World War - WW1 Digital MemorialFrancis James Lewcock and his mother, Amy Elizabeth, are two of the Lewcocks who are remembered on this website.Amy Elizabeth LewcockLieutenant Francis James LewcockThere are other Lewcocks and Lucocks who...

read more

Alice Mary Bradley 1900-1993

  The paternal ancestry of Alice Mary Lewcock née Bradley. Carpet weavers, draymen and glassworkers from Shropshire to Walthamstow via Kidderminster and Camberwell. Alice Mary Bradley married Francis James Lewcock, son of James and Amy Lewcock. She was the...

read more

William Eli Bradley

William Eli Bradley and Catherine Simpson married on 5th June 1892 at St. Peter’s Church in Clerkenwell. They both gave their address 305 Bartholomew Buildings. William's occupation is glasscutter, Catherine's isn't stated, which was not unusual at that time....

read more

The Bradley Diamond Wedding 1952

  We do not know who most of the people are in this picture of the guests at their Diamond Wedding Anniversary celebration in 1952. Were Catherine's Simpson siblings or her Whitehill cousins there? Perhaps William's siblings were guests. 1. Irene Lewcock née...

read more

Kidderminster weavers

  Sarah Gamson, future wife of Joseph Bradley and grandmother of William Eli, was the daughter of Thomas Gamson and Sarah Nott. She was born in Kidderminster on the 3rd December 1837 and baptised on the 26th of December at St Mary’s, in Kidderminster. Thomas and...

read more

Bradley Gallery

  These photographs all seem to have been taken at the same time. We can recognise Kate and William Bradley, Frank and Alma Bradley and Alice and Frank Lewcock. Who are the other people? Where were the pictures taken? What was the occasion? We think it might have...

read more

Catherine Gray Simpson

Catherine Gray Simpson, future wife of William Eli Bradley, was born on the 6th September 1872 at 10 David Street in Bridgeton, Glasgow, the oldest child of James Rae Simpson and Catherine Gray Whitehill.

read more

The Whitehills of Rottenrow

  Catherine Gray Whitehill's parents as named on her marriage certificate were John Whitehill and Elizabeth Christie.  In the census returns after her marriage, her year of birth is consistently given as 1847, unfortunately just before official registration began...

read more
Dear Sir

Dear Sir

It used to be extremely disconcerting to walk into a bank in the early 70s and to be asked by the teller if you were related to “the Lewcock who wrote those books”, with the emphasis on those. At that time Francis James Lewcock’s books on banking were still required...

read more
Printer and entomologist

Printer and entomologist

George Albert Lewcock was born in 1841 in Farnham in Surrey, the son of James who was a baker and confectioner, continuing the family business started by his father Samuel.James died in 1848, leaving a young family and his wife, Jessamine remarried the following year...

read more
Skeleton by marriage?

Skeleton by marriage?

When I registered for the 1911 census, I was really only expecting to confirm what I already knew, to see if some of my ancestors were still alive to narrow down dates for searching for their deaths and perhaps bring some of the distant twigs up to date. What I didn’t...

read more

Catherine Gray Simpson

Catherine Gray Simpson, future wife of William Eli Bradley, was born on the 6th September 1872 at 10 David Street in Bridgeton, Glasgow, the oldest child of James Rae Simpson and Catherine Gray Whitehill.

Catherine Bradley née Simpson 1872 – 1956

Catherine Gray Whitehill was James’s second wife – they married on the 7th June 1872 at 116 Rottenrow, according to the rites of the Presbyterian Church and Catherine was born in the following September. James was working as an apprentice printer in a pottery and Catherine as a steam loom weaver. They both gave their address as Bluevale Street, Glasgow.  This road is to the north east of the Annfield Pottery.

 

James’s first wife, Isabella née Chalmers, a bread seller, had died in childbirth (no medical assistance) in August 1868, soon after their marriage in Bridgeton the previous April, when they both gave their address as 9 William Street, Mile End. He was a pottery apprentice. At the time of her death, they were still living in William Street. In 1871, James was back with his parents in St John’s, Blackfriars in Elgin Street.

 

Although Catherine’s family seemed to have stayed in the same street (Rottenrow), James’s parents, David and Elizabeth, moved frequently, so the timeline and map should help to keep track of their movements!

 

The locations marked on the map are only approximate and have been worked out with the help of the Ward Maps of Glasgow which date from 1913.

 

Glasgow Timeline

 

Glasgow in 1878

 

Tracing records in Scotland before 1855 when registration became compulsory (in Scotland) is not easy. However, the later marriage and death records give the names of parents, including the mother’s maiden name where known, which at least gives many clues and/or confirmation.

 


 

 

 

The Whitehills

 

Catherine’s parents as named on her marriage certificate were John Whitehill and  ….. … read more ….

 

 

 


 

David and Elizabeth Simpson

Shipping in the Clyde by John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836 – 1893) Wikimedia Commons

James was a pottery worker, as were his parents, David and Elizabeth, and his two brothers, Alexander and David. David senior is listed as a journey man potter in 1861, and a transferrer or printer on pottery on other census returns. Elizabeth was also a transferrer. David junior was a muffel [sic] boy in 1881 and Alexander was a bowl maker.

 

David was the son of Alexander Simpson and Janet Rae. They had married on the 7th June 1795 in the parish of Barony. Their son Alexander was born on 4th July 1796 and baptised two days later, also in Barony. David’s year of birth is always given as 1813, but I have found no trace of his baptism as yet, neither have I found any evidence of other children or death registrations for either of them apart from Alexander.

 

David Simpson and Elizabeth McKirdy are recorded as living in the same household in June 1841, at East Hamilton Street, Greenock. [Map: Greenock 1842]. At the time, David was listed as a printer and Elizabeth a transferrer. As he is later recorded as working as a printer in a pottery, it is likely that he was one then. At this time, there were two potteries in Greenock known as Greenock Potteries/Clyde Pottery, which were an amalgamation of Clyde Pottery and Ladyburn Pottery. Clyde Pottery can be seen on the 1856 OS Map of Greenock. The road is now known as Pottery Street which runs off East Hamilton Street near the junction of Port Glasgow Road [Modern map: Google].

 

Their oldest son, Alexander, was born in August 1841 and christened in August of the following year at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church – the column in the register to state whether he was legitimate is conspicuously empty.

Marriage record 1843

They married in June 1843 in the Church of Scotland at East Parish Church, in Greenock.

 

A son Joseph was christened in 1844, also at St Mary’s.  Their youngest son, David, was christened at St Patrick’s RC Church in Anderston in 1854. I have found no christening record for James and no further record of Joseph. There is a long gap between James, who is consistent in giving his year of birth as 1856 and David, so there may have been other children who I haven’t found as yet!!

 

David and Elizabeth are described as being in a mixed marriage in the registers, so David must have been a protestant since Elizabeth had been christened in the same RC church on April 2nd 1814 when she was a month old. Her parents were given as James McKirdy and Catherine McKirdy. (Catherine’s maiden name is given McKirdy on Elizabeth’s death certificate and also the christening of her sister Jane two years later.) As yet, the Catholic Marriage registers are not available online, so the trail goes cold here for the moment.

Baptism record 1814

The original St Mary’s RC Church was not built until 1816, so Elizabeth will have been christened at the Greenock Mission, its predecessor. The Mission had been founded in 1808 in a rented hall, Star Hall, for a congregation of about a hundred, who were mainly incomers from the Highlands and Ireland, and visiting seamen from the busy port.

 

We can imagine what a motley crew our spiritual ancestors were: boatmen, dockers, fishwives, servant lasses (these would consider themselves a cut above the rest), factory workers (including quite young children), street musicians, pedlars, beggars. There would also be a sizeable floating population (literally!) of visiting sailors from foreign parts, fishermen from as far away as the Isle of Barra down to sell their dried cod and ling, possibly some seasonal agricultural workers from Ireland, employed at some of the outlying farms: Bow Farm, Strone Farm, Holmscroft, Drums …………. and all the other varieties of human being that would pass through a busy seaport…..…….. (St Mary’s Catholic Church, Greenock).

 

…  with the Industrial Revolution beginning, and the consequent greater demand for food, local agricultural labour had to be augmented, and many of the extra hands at harvest time were immigrants from Ireland. Industry itself demanded more labour, and Catholics from the Highlands of Scotland as well as Irishmen helped to provide this additional labour….. (Colin Milne – The History of Gourock 1858-1958)

 

Whether it will ever be possible to trace Elizabeth’s origins is doubtful, even if and when we find her parents’ marriage. McKirdy (and variants) is a common surname in the Isle of Bute and Argyllshire, as it is in Antrim, Northern Ireland. Others’ research into the McKirdy surname suggests several complete lineages to follow up, but much of the online information is contradictory and some it probably far fetched.

 

By 1851, David and Elizabeth had moved east from Greenock and the family were living at 163 Main Street, Finnieston. The Verreville Glass and Pottery Works were nearby, as was the newly built St Patrick’s RC Church, Cranstonhill, where David was christened. According to Aileen Smart, “Many of the congregation came from Ireland or the HIghlands of Scotland”. In 1861, they were living further north in Bogside, Maryhill, Springburn. I haven’t yet managed to find out where Bogside will have been or the locations of the Hydepark & Springburn Potteries which were operating there between 1837 and c.1879.

Glasgow 1871 The Old Closes & Streets of Glasgow (1868-71) Thomas Annan, photographer Wikimedia Commons

In 1871 they had settled in 8 Elgin Street (now Turriff Street), St John, Bridgeton, Glasgow.

 

Glasgow had a large pottery trade at this time – in 1868, there were 14 potteries in the city employing over 5000 full time staff. As well as making fine china, these potteries also produced large quantities of sanitary ware which was exported to America and the British colonies, as well as other materials such as stoneware, fire bricks and building bricks. It seems unlikely that we shall ever know which potteries the Simpsons worked for once they had relocated to Glasgow, although it looks as though, like many other pottery workers, they moved frequently.

 

When David died of bronchitic asthma in 1873, from which he had suffered for years,  he was living at 113 Drygate, Glasgow and Elizabeth’s address when she died of congestion of the lungs was 41 Marlborough Street, Bridgeton.

 

David’s oldest son, Alexander, married Maggie Hyslop McGeorge in 1875. They had two children, David and Isabella. Alexander died of phthisis (certified 2 months) in 1880. The address was: 107 Rottenrow Glasgow, just round the corner from Tarbet Street. By 1881, Margaret and the children were in Dennistoun.  Their son, was a farm labourer, so had escaped the factory life, but died of typhoid fever, aged 16, in 1892. In 1901, Margaret and Isabella were in Main Street, Shettleston near Glasgow with Agnes (born 1894 and described as an adopted daughter). Margaret was a cotton factory spinner and Isabella a warper. Isabella married John Stobo, a mattress maker, in Barrhead in 1922 when she was 43 when Agnes was one of the witnesses as Agnes Herbert Simpson. Margaret died of senility, aged 88, at the same address in Barrhead, Isabella reporting the death. Isabella, already widowed, died of a heart attack in Barrhead in 1958. A Douglas Simpson, acquaintance, registered her death.

 

David’s youngest son, David, married Isabella Hamilton Patterson in 1885 and they had two sons, Alex(ander), born 1887, and David, born in 1889. In 1891, they were living at 138 Albert Street in Barony and David was an earthenware printer then. So far, I have found no trace of them after this.

 

In 1881, Catherine, James and their five oldest children were living at 5 Tarbet Street, Blackfriars in Glasgow. His occupation then was an earthenware printer and his younger brother David was living with them.

Transferware produced by J and MP Bell c1860

James and his family moved to Edinburgh between 1883 and 1887. By that time, he and Catherine had had 6 children, 3 boys and 3 girls – Catherine was the oldest child and was aged between 11 and 15 years old. Their next son, John Whitehill Simpson was born in Arthur Street, Canongate in June 1887. On John’s birth registration, James’s occupation was a printer (Glass works). The Royal Holyrood Glass Works was situated in the Canongate, a little north of Arthur Street. Catherine’s brother Hugh had first been in Edinburgh in 1871, when he was working as a printer pressman and boarding in Canongate. He and his family were also nomadic and were back in Edinburgh when James and Catherine moved there …..… read more ….

 

By 1890, the Simpson family had upped sticks completely and were in London, where their next son, Andrew was born in Clerkenwell where they had settled. It was a courageous move to make with such a large young family, but presumably they needed to find work.  James found work as a glass warehouseman and in 1891 Catherine was also working as a warehouse girl.

 

Another boy, William, was born in 1893. They lived in at least three different places in Clerkenwell between 1990 and 1911, but all near each other. James was working as a warehouseman in a glassworks in 1911.

 

The descendants of James Rae Simpson and Catherine Gray Whitehill

 


 

 

 

The working life of a Glaswegian Potter

 

Glasgow had a large pottery trade at this time – in 1868, there were 14 potteries in the city employing over 5000 full time staff. As well as making fine china, these potteries also produced large quantities of sanitary ware which was exported to America and the British colonies, as well as other materials such as stoneware, fire bricks and building bricks.(2) It seems unlikely  that we shall ever know which potteries the Simpsons worked for, but it may well have been Bells. Their removal to London appears to coincide with the death of John Bell.

 

It is hardly surprising that diseases of the lungs caused the deaths of David, Alexander and Elizabeth, but David working until 60 years old may have been. In 1862 the Government of the day sent a Royal Commission to report on the “Employment of children in trades and manufactures not regulated by law”. The Commission’s first report was published in 1863 and concerns the pottery trade as well as several others. Glasgow Potteries

Week 10: Strong Woman

Week 10: Strong Woman

I have been fascinated by the story of my great x2 grandmother, Catherine Whitehill, born in Glasgow on the 31st May 1847. She had a tough life judging by where she lived, yet she raised 9 children to adulthood in 3 cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, at a time when infant mortality was high.

read more

The Bradley Diamond Wedding 1952

  We do not know who most of the people are in this picture of the guests at their Diamond Wedding Anniversary celebration in 1952. Were Catherine's Simpson siblings or her Whitehill cousins there? Perhaps William's siblings were guests. 1. Irene Lewcock née...

read more

Bradley Gallery

  These photographs all seem to have been taken at the same time. We can recognise Kate and William Bradley, Frank and Alma Bradley and Alice and Frank Lewcock. Who are the other people? Where were the pictures taken? What was the occasion? We think it might have...

read more

Catherine Gray Simpson

Catherine Gray Simpson, future wife of William Eli Bradley, was born on the 6th September 1872 at 10 David Street in Bridgeton, Glasgow, the oldest child of James Rae Simpson and Catherine Gray Whitehill.

read more

The Whitehills of Rottenrow

  Catherine Gray Whitehill's parents as named on her marriage certificate were John Whitehill and Elizabeth Christie.  In the census returns after her marriage, her year of birth is consistently given as 1847, unfortunately just before official registration began...

read more

The Whitehills of Rottenrow

Catherine Gray Whitehill’s parents as named on her marriage certificate were John Whitehill and Elizabeth Christie.  In the census returns after her marriage, her year of birth is consistently given as 1847, unfortunately just before official registration began in Scotland in 1855. I have not found a marriage between these two names, although a John Whitehill did marry an Elizabeth Marshall at about the right time. This couple appear with their children from 1841 to 1881 with their children, including Jean – born 18 August 1847. They had a 7 year old granddaughter named Elizabeth Gray (Whitehill) with them in 1881.

The only Catherine Gray Whitehill born anywhere near 1847 to be found in the records currently on ScotlandsPeople, or any census returns, appears with Catherine Gray Whitehill in 1851 and 1861. This Catherine was the widow of Alexander, a weaver.

They married in Glasgow on the 20th March 1829. Catherine’s death certificate from 1864 names her parents as Peter Gray and Catherine.

Alexander and Catherine appear together in 1841 living in Rottenrow with 3 of their 6 oldest children: James, Isabella and John. Margaret, Alexander and William presumably having died.

  1. Margaret (9 May 1829 – before 1841)
  2. James (23 July 1833 – before 1881)
  3. Isabella (23 May 1834 -1875)
  4. Alexander (10 May 1836 – before 1841)
  5. John (9 August 1837 – after 1901)
  6. William (23 July 1840 – before 1841 )
  7. Thomas Maitland (6 February 1842 – before 1851)
  8. Hugh Stewart (20 April 1845 – 1927)
  9. Catherine Gray (31 May 1847 -1927)

All the other Catherine Gray Whitehills who appear in the Scottish records are descended from Alexander and Catherine. Whoever Catherine’s parents were, assuming that the details on her marriage certificate are correct, she certainly appears to have been brought up with Catherine and Alexander’s family. 

Catherine is listed as a muslin warehouse girl aged 13 in 1861. Catherine was a steam loom weaver in 1871, and when she married James Simpson in 1873, she gave her occupation as a woollen powerloom weaver. Her “mother”, Catherine, was a yarn winder, and Alexander Whitehill, her “father” a weaver both at his marriage and in 1841. Alexander Whitehill, a weaver of Rottenrow died of Cholera in December 1848 – there was a severe epidemic in Glasgow at this time.

Catherine’s mother died in 1864, of paralysis (2 days), and in 1871 she was boarding in Calton at 174 Main Street. There are three cotton factories to the west of Main Street marked on the map from 1878. There was also a weaving factory on the opposite side of the road from the Barrowfield Pottery and a cotton works marked a little further north on the 1878 map.

Like Catherine, her youngest brother, Hugh, also left Scotland and eventually settled in England: Hugh Stewart Whitehill 1845-1947

Week 10: Strong Woman

Week 10: Strong Woman

I have been fascinated by the story of my great x2 grandmother, Catherine Whitehill, born in Glasgow on the 31st May 1847. She had a tough life judging by where she lived, yet she raised 9 children to adulthood in 3 cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, at a time when infant mortality was high.

read more

The Bradley Diamond Wedding 1952

  We do not know who most of the people are in this picture of the guests at their Diamond Wedding Anniversary celebration in 1952. Were Catherine's Simpson siblings or her Whitehill cousins there? Perhaps William's siblings were guests. 1. Irene Lewcock née...

read more

Bradley Gallery

  These photographs all seem to have been taken at the same time. We can recognise Kate and William Bradley, Frank and Alma Bradley and Alice and Frank Lewcock. Who are the other people? Where were the pictures taken? What was the occasion? We think it might have...

read more

Catherine Gray Simpson

Catherine Gray Simpson, future wife of William Eli Bradley, was born on the 6th September 1872 at 10 David Street in Bridgeton, Glasgow, the oldest child of James Rae Simpson and Catherine Gray Whitehill.

read more

The Whitehills of Rottenrow

  Catherine Gray Whitehill's parents as named on her marriage certificate were John Whitehill and Elizabeth Christie.  In the census returns after her marriage, her year of birth is consistently given as 1847, unfortunately just before official registration began...

read more