A family history

Some time ago, I came across the Glasgow University project A History of Working Class Marriage which was appealing for photographs of couples and families from the 1860s to the 1970s. I knew that my Mum had albums of old photographs, and together we chose some to scan and send. They can now be seen on the project’s Photos, love letters and diaries page, and not only that, the process has inspired my Mum to start writing about her early life and I’ve set up a blog for her. She has also been interviewed for her memories by one of the researchers. Here are the photographs which started it all off.

Above left are my great-great-grandparents Carson, seen here with Jenny Bell, a child from a branch of the family which had emigrated to America. On the right are John and Janet Sinclair, my great-grandparents. John Sinclair (b. 1866) came from Islay and worked as a ploughman around the west of Scotland, eventually ending up at the Carsons’ farm, The Green, in Kilmacolm. He married one of their daughters, Janet (b.1864), although not until after John, their first child and only son, was born in 1886. They are shown above, around 1888, with John and Meg, the eldest of their seven daughters, all of whom were born before 1901.

The Sinclairs lived on various farms until, in his fifties, John gave up farm work and returned to Kilmacolm as chief road mender. They moved into the Bridgend Toll House, which came with the job, with the youngest three girls. The four older girls had all moved on. Meg emigrated with her husband, Donald McPhail (below left, c 1910) to Western Australia and Belle and Jen went to Saskatchewan, Canada. Kate married before the 1914 war in which her husband, Stewart McClure, was given the MM – shown below right about 1918 with elder daughter, Nettie (Janet).

The three girls left at home all married between 1925 and 1931. Left to right, Christina, my grandmother, married my grandfather, Percy Stroud in 1925. Mary married Tom Stevenson in 1927 (I suspect wearing the same dress as her big sister) and is also shown in a “courting” photo. Her bridesmaid is the youngest sister, Annie, who married Bob Maskell in 1931. Wedding fashions had obviously moved on by then!

My grandparents had two daughters: my mum, another Chris, and my Aunt Annabel, and they had a double wedding to John Mitchell, my dad, and Jim McInnes. This photo was taken at the Tontine Hotel, Greenock on the 15th of August, 1956. My Mum and Dad had been engaged for 6 years. Dad worked on a farm when he left school, then in Hasties in Greenock before training for the Methodist ministry – 3 years as a student in Leeds and 3 years as a probationer in Findochty. The church did not allow marriage until after ordination. Basically, they didn’t pay enough to allow the men to “keep” a wife! On the extreme right are my grandparents, Chris and Percy, and on the extreme left are Anna and Bob Maskell who stood in as “parents of the bride” for my aunt. Anna and Chris turned up in the same dress – but different colours, apparently.

A double wedding
A double wedding

There are many more old photos and memories going onto my Mum’s blog, It was always sunnyAs I started a blog for my Dad last year when he gave up preaching, John Mitchell – called and sent, I now have two octogenarian bloggers in the family! I’m so proud of them both.

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Anabel @ The Glasgow Gallivanter

I'm a proud Glaswegian who loves to go gallivanting both at home and abroad. Join me in my travels, both historic and current. Credit where credit's due: photography mostly by my more talented other half, John.

5 thoughts on “A family history”

  1. Hi Anabel – I was pleased to see you have Carson ancestors because it may mean we are related! My maiden name is Carson and it’s not one you run across that often in Scotland. When I first came I was constantly having to spell it as everyone thought I was saying Curzon. My Carson relatives came from Co Armagh, so I’ll have to look into the ancestry a little more to see if we are distant cousins!


    1. Oh really, maybe we are related then! Nothing is known before the Carsons who were Mum’s great-grandparents so I don’t know where the family originated. They could have been Irish, but I’ve just looked the surname up and apparently it IS Scottish originally, so who knows? We can claim a loose kinship anyway. I’m only discovering most of this information now – it’s great that it’s al being documented.


      1. I’m delighted to be able to think of you as my Carson cousin in future! My dad grew up not knowing any of his Carson relatives but later in life got in touch with one and started going to big family reunions! My maternal grandmother was born in Glasgow, so no doubt I have plenty of distant relatives in the UK as well. That’s why I feel so at home here, I’m sure!


  2. How funny to find you Anabel! (Heather from the GWL history walks here.) I followed a google link to this blog because I too am researching my family history and saw you had something about a wedding at the Tontine, Greenock, where my grandparents married in 1925. This was a great read – that double wedding pic is great. You are lucky to have so many photos.


    1. Hello Heather! Blogging is a small world. My mum is 91 now and still writing the blog we started as a result of this post. This blog has been defunct for a couple of years, so it’s interesting to know it still gets read occasionally.


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