Margaret Keenan 1868-1886

My 2nd great aunt, Margaret Keenan was just 18 years old when she died on 18 September 1886. She was the 7th child of Irish immigrants, Patrick Keenan and Agnes Haughey and the closest in age to my great grandmother, Ellen Keenan. Ellen was my mother’s paternal grandmother. She was also the sister of Mary Keenan about whom I posted recently.

Margaret was born in the Parish of Cambusnethan on 16 March 1868. She appears on both the 1871 and 1881 census records living with her family in Newmains. The next record I found for her was her death record which shows she died within her family home at 14 Furnace Row, Newmains. Her mother, Agnes was present at the time of death and it was she who registered the death using an X as her mark in lieu of a signature.

It is the word “pauper” on the record written where her occupation should be recorded that caught my eye. Being recorded as a pauper meant that she had to have applied for poor relief at some point.

The poor relief applications for Cambusnethan Parish are held at the Lanarkshire Heritage Centre in Motherwell. On request, the very helpful staff will bring you the original registers which often contain information not available elsewhere.

In the case of Margaret, I discovered that she applied for poor relief at 230pm on 7 April 1885. I would imagine that for a 17 year old girl bring interviewed by the poor house inspector would have been a very daunting prospect.

On the register Margaret is recorded as single with no dependants. Her occupation is given as bleachfield worker and her religion as Roman Catholic.

Per the normal procedure, a home visit was carried out by the inspector who visited 14 Furnace Row at 1115am on 8 April.

Furnace Row, Newmains

I don’t know if having a poorhouse inspector visiting your home would have been a cause for shame. Had the family tried to provide for Margaret until they could no longer manage?

The register also lists previous addresses. Margaret had been at Furnace Row for two years. Prior to that, in her early teens, she had lived away from home at a bleachfield works in Paisley. The fact that she had been home for two years away from the bleachfields would suggest that she had been dependant on her parents for some time.

The inspector assessed Margaret as wholly disabled due to strumous disease. I had no idea what that might be but an online search showed it to be scrofula; a disease with glandular swelling, probably a form of tuberculosis. You can check online. It’s a nasty disease.

The decision from the inspector was to provide Margaret with 2/6. Payments of 1/6 were to continue but at some point she was admitted to Motherwell Poorhouse. I’m relieved at least that she did not die there but was at home with her family.


My Favourite Photograph (update)

The theme of this week’s 52 Ancestors Challenge is ‘My Favourite Photograph’.

I previously posted about this photograph which was sent to me by my second cousin, Frances. The photograph was taken about 1912.  The lady is my 2x great grandmother,  Sarah McLauchlan (1839-1916), my great grandfather, Daniel Brawley (1864-1935) his eldest son, Daniel Brawley (1887-1971) and young Daniel’s daughter, Margaret Corrigan Brawley (1912-1998).

I first made contact with Frances shortly after I started my research and it came about through a simple internet search.  I had not even been aware of her side of the family. More than 10 years before Frances had posted on a genealogy site looking for information on Daniel Brawley.  I contacted her and we began corresponding by email which led to Skype chats and eventually we got to meet when she came to Lanarkshire and I was able to give her a bit of a family history tour.  It was so nice to meet her and amazing to see the family resemblance which had been apparent on our video chats but undeniable in person.

I was then invited to a big family reunion which came about after one of her aunts died in Canada.   The son wished to bring his mum’s ashes back to Scotland and hold a memorial service for the family in Scotland.  I have to admit I was nervous meeting all those cousins but it was such a lovely afternoon.  They were all interested in my research and I was able to solve a bit of a family mystery for them.

There are very few photographs of my ancestors in existence (that I know of) and this was the first time I had seen a picture of Sarah or Daniel.  Frances had a copy because young Daniel is her grandfather and the baby is her aunt.  I would love to uncover more but in the meantime I am so happy to have this and to have made such a fabulous connection and friendship with my cousin.




Hugh Brawley 1869-1895

Hugh Brawley was born on 3 March 1869 in the village of Calderbank, Old Monkland Parish Lanarkshire, Scotland.  He was the fifth child of my great, great grandparents James and Sarah Brawley.  Hugh’s birth was registered by his father who put his mark in lieu of a signature.

James Brawley was employed as a blast furnaceman and as a child Hugh moved home as work required between the Old Monkland area and the village of Newmains in Cambusnethan Parish where the family finally settled. By 1885 they were resident at 12 Brown Street, Newmains in a house owned by Coltness Ironworks. The conditions within the home were poor.  A large family cramped into one room. The children were required to work from a young age. In the 1881 census Hugh was recorded as a scholar but this would have been the last year of his education.   Young Hugh would have witnessed the deaths of two of his siblings, Patrick and Matthew who died in 1876 of Scarlet Fever.  Both boys died within days of each other.  Both less than four years old. Small wonder then that Hugh had dreams of leaving Lanarkshire for a fresh start in America.  Two of his brothers had already headed across the Atlantic to start new lives.  In 1888 Hugh did the same.  He boarded the SS Manitoban bound for Pennsylvania arriving in December of that year. It  was in Avoca, Pennsylvania where he had found work as a labourer that Hugh met domestic servant, Alice Shannon. The couple were married in October 1893 in Lackawanna County.  Their twin daughters Sarah and Ellen were born in February 1894.  In 1895 they were living in Starks Park, a mining settlement in Moosic. Sadly there was no happy ending for Hugh and Alice.  In December 1895 Hugh was involved in a mining accident at the Old Forge Colliery, Avoca and was hit by falling rocks. He later died of his injuries.  He was 26 years old.