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.
There are many more old photos and memories going onto my Mum’s blog, It was always sunny. As 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.