Thomas Martin of Ottawa, Canada messaged me recently, saying, “I never new my grandparents,on dads side,who had passed away before I was born. I think I was named after my granddad, but even that I am not sure. Dad[James} too. I know little as he was killed at Newton Steel Works in 1936. I was only 8 this is not important now. I would like to know my Grandparents, their birth,work,where they lived and date of death and where granddad came from. Now in my 90th year, it is a strange request but it has some interest.”
How could I not look at this interesting request! My first task was to verify the accident that had tragically killed James Martin (father of Thomas).
The Scotsman reported on Friday 24th July 1936, “FATAL ACCIDENT AT STEELWORKS IN CAMBUSLANG James Martin, crane driver, 41 years of age, who resided at 208 Main Street, High Blantyre was fatally injured yesterday in the Hallside Works, Cambuslang, of the Steel Company of Scotland. Two hand winches were being used to hoist a seven-ton crane into its position 20 feet overhead, and while the work was being carried out, one of the hooks broke and the crane crashed to the ground. Martin was hit and was taken to the works ambulance room, where medical aid was quickly forthcoming. It was found that he had sustained fractures to the right leg and serious internal injuries. He died shortly after admission to Glasgow Royal Infirmary. Martin leaves a wife and one child.”
The newspaper clip was very helpful, for it confirms James was living in Blantyre, that he was born around 1895 or so, that he was married and that Thomas was his only child, ie Thomas, born in 1928.
James must have been well liked by his fellow workers, for they didn’t leave his widow to pay for a gravestone. Instead, the workers contributed to a fund to buy a small headstone for James, which was placed above his grave in High Blantyre Cemetery. Here it is today. The stone again is very helpful in piecing this story together for it confirms that his colleagues arranged the stone, and also at a later date in 1982 adds the name Annie Monie Martin, the wife of James, who of course was Thomas’s mother, who lived a long life until she was 82.
James Martin was living at 208 Main Street in 1930 according to the Valuation roll of that year, but does not appear in the Valuation roll for 1925 or 1920, indicating a move to Blantyre for the family between 1925 and 1928.
According to the birth certificate of James Martin below, James was a Blantyre man, born at Springfield, just off Broompark Road on 21st January 1895. He was the 5th child to his parents. Springfield at that time was known to house many mining families, most likely working for nearby Dixon’s Collieries at Larkfield. The certificate confirms he was born to Thomas Martin and to Jemima Fraser. As such, I can safely confirm here that Thomas, who sent in this request, was indeed named after his grandfather who was in 1895, a colliery roadsman. The birth certificate, being most helpful also confirms Thomas Martin and Jemima Fraser had married on 18th November 1881 at Strathaven which is in the Parish of Avondale.
Moving to the story of the grandparents, according to their marriage certificate and various census information, Thomas Martin was 31 when he married in 1881, a farm servant living in Kirk Street, Strathaven. He was born in Dumfries in 1849, the son of John Martin a farm servant, deceased at the time Thomas got married. He was also the son of Jean McCall, who lived to see her son married. Thomas had been married before and was a widower when he met Jemima.
Jemima Fraser was 26 years old at the time of her marriage in 1881. She was born in Inverness. By 1881, she was a domestic servant tablemaid living in the servants quarters at Netherfield House in Strathaven, the daughter of Alexander Fraser (master blacksmith) and Ann Gordon. Netherfield House as it is today is pictured.
Thomas and Jemima had 5 children by the 1901 census, John (18), Annie (16), Maggie (11), Minnie (7) and James (6). All the children were born in Blantyre, meaning Thomas and Jemima moved from Strathaven right after their marriage. It may be highly probably that some of the descendants from this Martin family members are still in Blantyre today!
Going back a further generation John Martin was born in 1786 in Georgetown, in Dumfriesshire, Scotland. He was a farm labourer and his wife Jean McCall was 25 years his junior. They married in Dumfries on 10th July 1842. According to the 1851 census, Thomas was their first boy, but their 3rd child. Jean was also born in Dumfrieshire, therefore the family have their roots in the Scottish Borders. John Martin died in 1865. I have mapped out the ancestry as below.