Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tracing a Military Man 2

Finlay Gibson is at various dates during his career at the explosives factory described as ‘searcher’, ‘cartridge foreman’ and ‘gatekeeper’. A remarkable photograph shows the very gate where Finlay would have been positioned as gatekeeper. 




The loading gates at the Nobel Factory in Ardeer circa 1900. 
The employees are all wearing Tam O’Shanters except of course for the foreman with his bowler hat.

Fascinating as I found his years at Nobel’s, the mystery was what he had been up to before that. How had Finlay had ended up in an obscure spot in Ayrshire, because his death certificate revealed he had been born in England. Several vital details were provided by this record. These in turn led to finding that long before his Stevenston phase he had been in the British Army. 

Born in the parish of St George’s East, in the district known as Borough, London, in 1841 to William Gibson and Ann Morgan Jenkins, Finlay was a parasol maker by trade. He had at least two siblings, Margaret and William jnr. 

How long Finlay practised his civilian occupation is not known, but the proceeds from parasol making were probably limited. For hundreds of young men in Victorian England, the army provided a reasonable alternative to poor living conditions in civvy street. William Gibson snr. was a soldier, and in due course both his sons would march in his footsteps, though neither very willingly - particularly the younger - judging from their army documents.

William jnr, joined, as Private No. 1265, the 2nd battalion of the 4th Regiment of Foot (the Buffs).  He would turn out to be, so to speak, a loose cannon. More about William and his colourful career in due course.


Finlay Gibson's Army Discharge papers
 give his civilian occupation  as
parasol maker





To be continued
Finlay went into the Army Service Corps, 15th Hussars, as Private No. 448, and served in colonial wars in India and Afghanistan. On 22 June 1880, he was discharged at the age of 39. His army records describe him as 5’6” tall, hair grey and eyes brown. 

From service records it was possible to build up a fairly comprehensive picture of Finlay’s career. There were clues as to his later life when his army days were over. 

These together with Census records offered a wealth of information as well as a welcome explanation of Finlay’s popping up so unexpectedly in a small Ayrshire town by 1881, as he entered his forties. 





Saturday, October 18, 2014

Souvenir Saturday: Pietermaritzburg postcart 1880s

Postcart outside Pietermaritzburg Town Hall, ca 1880s.
An interesting variety of headgear in this picture.
[KZN Museum NAM0010_014F.tif]



For an excellent article on postcarts and postal services in Natal see 

www.natalia.org.za/Files/31/Natalia%20v31%20article%20p30-33%20C.pdf

Friday, October 17, 2014

Poppies at the Tower of London: a World War I tribute

The Tower of London's Moat is Bleeding ...

Marking 100 years since the Brits’ involvement in the First World War, Cummins was commissioned to create a moving, yet beautiful installation in tribute.

http://inhabitat.com/the-tower-of-londons-moat-bleeds-888246-ceramic-poppies/paul-cummins-poppies-tower-of-london1/


Passenger list Natal: Conquering Hero 1850 a Byrne Settler ship

Natal Witness 5 July 1850

The Conquering Hero, 320 tons, Captain Cockburn, sailed from Glasgow and carried mostly Scottish settlers, arriving at Natal after a 90 day voyage, on 28 June 1850. Her passengers, like those of the Henrietta, were eye-witnesses of the Minerva disaster which could have done nothing for their confidence, especially as the Conquering Hero temporarily lost her moorings during a north-easterly. This bad start was compounded by the failure of Moreland, Byrne's Emigration Agent, to show them personally their allotments at Richmond, as planned.

William CAMPBELL was a passenger by this ship, also the JOYNER family, the SPEIRS family, John and William PEDDIE, William MCKENZIE, later the first schoolmaster at Richmond.

PASSENGERS AND EMIGRANTS 
Per ship Conquering Hero, from Glasgow the 25th March; arrived at Port Natal 28th June, after a favourable passage:

William Joyner 
Mundo M Joyner 
Natal Witness 5 July 1850

Amelia Joyner 
James Joyner 
Ann Joyner 
Jessie Joyner 
John Craig 
William Craig 
John Simpson 
John Dallas 
Robert Spiers (or Speirs) 
Jane Spiers 
Agnes Spiers 
Charles Spiers 
Robert Spiers 
Alexander Spiers 
James Mason 
William Robertson 
Mrs Robertson 
James Lindsay 
Catherine Lindsay 
Roderick McLeod 
Henry Newlands 
William Newlands 
Hugh Livingstone 
Mary Ann Campbell 
William Arbuckle 
Margaret Arbuckle 
Janet Arbuckle 
William Arbuckle 
Helen O Arbuckle 
Mary Stewart 
Charles Fraser 
Henry Johnstone 
James Christie 
Neil McWilliam 
Ann McGown Sharp 
John Kilgour 
Grenville Pierce 
JR Gildart 
H Fulton 
James Cormie 
Jean Cormie 
Robert Cormie 
Peter Cormie 
John McPherson 
Robert McPherson 
PH McPherson 
Alexander McPherson 
John F McPherson 
C and William Peddie 
Thomas McWilliam 
Mary McWilliam 
Christian McWilliam 
Hugh Woods 
Archibald Russell 
Robert Aitken 
M Bates or Aitkew 
Andrew Aitkew 
John Aitkew 
James Aitkew 
George Aitkew 
Samuel Strapp 
A Russell or Strapp 
Wm Strapp 
Ann Strapp 
Mary Ann Strapp 
William Campbell 
Jessie Campbell 
Marshall Campbell 
Gavin Pettigrew 
John Killock 
Roderick Campbell 
Alexander McNab 
William Anderson 
William Dow 
Margaret Dow 
Jane Blair, or Dow 
Helen Dow 
Andrew Stevens 
Thomas McWilliams 
J Simpson 
James Mcland 
Margaret McDonald 
Margaret Young 
James Mitchell 
Mary Miller 
Walter Archibald 
Agnes H Archibald 
John Coats 
Thomas McDonald 
Sarah McDonald 
R McDonald 
W McKenzie 
Jane McKenzie 
Elizabeth McKenzie 
Robert McKenzie 
Kid Millory 
P McLachlan 
H Caldwell 
Isabella Caldwell 
Marion Caldwell 
Mary Caldwell 
Jessie Caldwell 
Henry Caldwell 
John Luke Thompson 
Alexander Pattison 
A McArthur 
A and J McLean 
James Willan 
Thomas Beveridge 
RM Gibson 
Agnes Campbell


1850s

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Passengers to Natal per Flora 1846


December 9 1846 - Arrival of Flora from Table Bay, bound for Port Natal
Passengers
Major and Mrs Cooper and Servant
Lieut Burrel
Mr and Miss Burrows
Messrs
Bird
Zeederberg
Moodie
Stafford
Turner
Chisholm
Clink
Meintjes
2 Van Zyl
12 Men 45th Regiment
1 Steerage Passenger

November 1846 - Arrival of Apprentice bound for Port Natal

[This early - for Natal - passenger lists demonstrates how military arrivals are limited to the number of ordinary soldiers i.e. rank and file, though officers may sometimes be named. You can lose a lot of ancestors that way. Also that steerage passengers - whatever their race, colour or creed - were usually not named; neither were 'servants'. This particular  passenger list is taken from one of the original handwritten registers, not from a local newspaper shipping column. Neither source is ever 100% reliable.]




Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Passengers to Natal per African 1889

Natal Witness Arrivals
13 Oct 1889 Crown of Arragon, from China, via Mauritius. Cargo, tea (in quarantine).
W. Dunn and Co., agents.

14 Oct, African, U.S.S., of Southampton 1373 tons, Smyth, from Cape ports, with mails and passengers ex Mexican from England (Sept 10). Cargo general.
Passengers:

From England:

Messrs:
Verona
Jonsson 
Ayres
Spiers
Loebel
Williams
Payne F.R.G.S.
Miss Grice
Miss Carpenter
Mrs Master and Miss Kehrmann
Messrs:
Saunderson
Thompson
Hill
Miss Carpenter's maid
Messrs:
Seret
Godfrey
Gandie
Schellin
Thompson
McMurray
Mitchell
Findlay
Berchmann
Godema
Haager
Blundell
Roland
Clinton
Mee
Stevenson
Chester
Misses Lello
Daubner
Foriter
Stella
Trings
Haager
Mr and Mrs Pascoe

From Cape Town:

Messrs:
Gutredge
Wilkinson
JH Clinton

From Mossel Bay:

Mr Sheard
Miss Van Krekerk
Miss Rienecke

From Algoa Bay:

Messrs:
Distix
Philip
Lewis
Burnett

From East London:

Messrs:
Parslow
Maris
one native
H.J. Watts, agent

14 Oct Norseman, from Soderhamn (17 June)

W. Dunn and Co., agents.

14 Oct Henrick from Hamburg (23 June)


14 Oct Pasteur, of Arendal, 420 tons, Lyderass from Sundsvall (3 July)

Parker, Wood and Co., agents.





Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Passenger lists Natal: Grantully Castle 1889

Grantully Castle arrival and departure
Natal Witness 16 October 1889
Shipping Intelligence
Arrived
Oct 11, Grantully Castle, C.S.S. of London 1434 tons, Young, from England (13 Sept) and Cape ports. Cargo, general.
Passengers for Natal:
From London:


Messrs: Thomas
W and A Ross
Fielding
Fowler
Lindup
Galton
Tremlibb
Lee
Barber
Adamson
Stirling
Burtt
Rose
Beatson
Taylor
Rashdall
Capt Morrish
Mr and Mrs Mason
Mr Kerwin
Miss Obree
Major Warton
Mr and Mrs Badock and child
Messrs:
Jones
Dickinson
Leech
Trawin
King
Cook
Evealig
Steele
Daly
Mr and Mrs Slaughter and three children
Mrs and Misses (2) Davey
Messrs:
Linklater
Stevenson
Morritt
Inglis
Nicolson
Stevens
L and J Davey
Watson
Elvey
Arnold
Hopkins

From Cape Town:

Mr, Mrs and Miss De Waal
Messrs:
Hampton
Barriman
Patterson
Behr
Richards
Kinimouth
Grieves

From Algoa Bay:

Cunningham
Maller
Sutcliffe
Parker
Baldon
Edwards
Mrs Rutherford, child and nurse
Mr and Mrs Edwards and child
Messrs:
Fuller
Corry
Hunter
two Indians
one native

From East London:

Mr Hunter
Mrs Schuller
Messrs Witney
Groves

W.F. Allan, agent.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Passengers to Natal per Grantully Castle 1880

Grantully Castle arrived Cape Town 17 June 1880
Natal Witness 10 June 1880 listed passengers for Natal expected per Grantully Castle:

Sir George and Lady Colley and three servants
Col. Winsloe and valet
Capt. Rogers
Messrs:
English
Mayers
Dougherty
Whitford
Giblin
Ellis
Poole
Vonroyen
Tweedel
Perkins
Colquhon
Lucas
Morris
Granger
Capt. Burns
Messrs:
Fewtrell
Gibbs
Reed
Stepney
Mr, Mrs and Miss Allen
Capt. and Mrs Montague
Mr, Mrs, Master Shepstone, and Maid
Miss Henderson and Maid
Mrs and Master Kirkman
Miss Clarke
Miss Aldridge
Mrs Simpson
Mr and Mrs Albers
Mrs and Miss Turpin
Mr, Mrs, Miss and Master Evans


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tracing a Military Man 1

My maternal great grandfather (that is, my mother’s mother’s father) was a shadowy character from the word go. According to an aunt, in one of her more lucid moments, he had been ‘a military man’. 

Apart from that vague snippet, alI we knew was that his first name was Finlay, thus bequeathing to me, the self-appointed family historian, an annoying selection of variant spellings of the forename which cropped up not only in documents pertaining to the man himself but also applied to several descendants. Great grandfather, his parents, the Census enumerators and the British Army, seemed to prefer Finlay but he also answered to Finley and Findlay. His only son was named William Finlay. is son was named William FinHis only son HisA later descendant sticks to Finley. Mercifully great grandpa’s surname was plain and simple: Gibson.

Finlay Gibson (1841-1924)
Neither forename nor surname marked him as being of obviously Scottish descent, though it was in Ayrshire, Scotland, that he spent the greater part of his life and he lies buried in that county, in the village of Stevenston.

Stevenston’s primary claim to fame is that towards the end of the 19th c Nobel’s Dynamite Factory was located there, cushioned amongst the sand dunes on the isolated beach in the hope of minimizing or at least containing the dangers of explosion inherent in producing such a volatile material.

Despite precautions, however, explosions occurred from time to time, causing maiming and fatalities among those inhabitants who were employed at the ‘dinnamit’, as it was called in local parlance.

Many years later, when the dynamite factory was no longer in existence, I visited the area and spoke to other great grandchildren whose ancestors, male and female, had worked at the dinnamit, by which colloquial term it was then still known. They seemed amazed and pleased that someone from as far distant as South Africa should mention the word and claim this odd sort of kinship.

Women workers at the dynamite factory.
Photo: Ayrshire Libraries Forum
One man told me about his great grandmother who had, like Finlay's daughters, been a cartridge maker at the dinnamit and had to wear her hair tied up in pigtails for safety. These girls began their risky work at an early age, 11 or twelve, some of them. Finlay, though he did a stint as foreman of the cartridge workers, became a ‘searcher’.

At first uncertain what duties were covered by this occupation, it became clear to me that Finlay would be positioned at the factory entrance to search everyone going in for any sign of matches or other inflammable material carried on their person, and to make sure such items were removed. It was a vital task carrying authority and responsibility. No doubt Finlay had a vested interest in carrying out his duties well, since several members of his family were among the factory’s workforce.

Workers being searched for matches before being admitted to the factory.
Photo: Ayrshire Libraries Forum





To be continued.






Saturday, October 11, 2014

Souvenir Saturday: Pietermaritzburg early 1900s

Church Street with the Town Hall - and not a motor car in sight.