Criminalised Neglect

News report of one of my great grandfathers, William Styles (1879-1957), being charged – aged 9 – with not being looked after properly. Nice one, Victorians.



Cereal Gourlays

I believe the correct adjective derived from the name Ceres is, technically, Cererian. But as we’re talking about the town rather than the goddess or the dwarf planet, and cereal is also a possible derived adjective …

In 1888 (or MDCCCLXXXVIII) the antiquarian the Reverend Charles Rogers DD LLD (1825-1890) privately published 60 copies of a book “Memorials of the Scottish House of Gourlay“, available at the internet archive.

There’s a short chapter about Gourlays who lived in the town of Ceres which I’ve tidied up a bit from the OCR scan. I’ve renumbered the (originally page placed) footnotes and have turned them into end notes, and the lines and original paging are gone (but still available if anybody wants something more like a transcript) and it now reads like this:

Families in Ceres.

A branch of the family of Kincraig settled in the parish of Ceres early in the seventeenth century. On the 18th May 1629, Thomas Mortoun at Pitscottie, a deacon of the parish church of Ceres, and his wife Margaret Gourlay, had a child baptized, one of the witnesses being Sir John Hope of Craighall.[1]

On the 7th October 1674, Thomas Gourlay, tenant in Baldirran, parish of Ceres, received sasine of an annual-rent of £80 out of the lands of Baltullie and the lands of Kirkland.[2] His testament-dative was on the 19th February 1683 given up by his widow, on behalf of Thomas Gourlay, their only son, — his free gear being valued at £959, 1s. 8d.[3]

John Gourlay, farmer in Kinninmonth, parish of Ceres, died in December 1695. In his inventory, given up by his widow, his “free gear” is valued at £369.[4] John Gourlay married, in June 1674, Elizabeth Carstares, of the parish of Kilconquhar.[5] His son John, farmer at Denhead in the parish of Ceres, died prior to the 10th November 1723.[6]

John Gourlay, farmer at Denhead, had by his wife, Helen Black, an eldest son Robert, who was born 27th October 1704.[7] He succeeded to his father’s lease of Denhead farm, and on the 14th November 1737 received in feu the mill lands of Craigrothie.[8] He married Barbara, daughter of William Beath, residing at Kilmuck, parish of Scoonie, and by her had four sons, William, John, Oliver, and David.[9]

Oliver, the third son, was baptized on the I8th August 1740. Having some years engaged in legal pursuits at Edinburgh, he returned to his native county. In April 1774 he had sasine of the lands of Newton Leys, Bonnybanks, Newbigging, and others, in the parish of Ceres; and in April 1779 he obtained the lands of Balhilly, Craigrothie Mill, and the Mains of Scotstarvet.[10]

In acquiring these and other lands, Oliver Gourlay was led to believe that by a course of high farming he would attain opulence. Ardent in his enterprises, he in 1780 invited the Town Council of St Andrews to construct a superior road between their city and his estate, assuring them that thereby they “would eternize their names.[11] Impressed by his agricultural activities, capitalists extended to him a large credit, so that prior to 1803 he was enabled to purchase the estate of Kilmaron, near Cupar-Fife, of which the modern rental was upwards of £3000.[12] But Mr Gourlay failed in his agricultural adventures, and disposing of his lands, he retired from public concerns. He died on the 10th October 1819 in his eightieth year.[13]

Oliver Gourlay married in 1774 Janet, only daughter of Thomas Fleming, tenant in Nether Friarton; she died 10th October 1827 at the age of seventy-three.[14] Of the marriage were born two sons, Robert Fleming and Thomas; also five daughters, Catharine, Barbara, Janet, Helen, and Margaret.[15]

Robert Fleming Gourlay, the elder son, was born on the 24th March 1778.[16] After studying for several sessions at the University of St Andrews, he began a political career by printing a pamphlet on Reform, and covertly distributing copies throughout the county. As his opinions were extreme, and his mode of propagating them obnoxious, it was determined to charge him with sedition. From this difficulty Mr Gourlay made an escape by removing to England and there renting a small farm at Deptford in Kent. Subsequently emigrating to Canada, he there acquired a large tract of land, on which he endeavoured to induce his countrymen to make settlements. On the resources of Canada he published a work in three volumes; also a number of pamphlets. Returning from America, he made a progress throughout Great Britain setting forth his views on public affairs, more especially on emigration. Having experienced some inattention at the hands of Henry, afterwards Lord Brougham, he in the lobby of the House of Commons attacked him with a horsewhip, an escapade which led to his being sent to prison. During a long career he committed many other extravagances; but in private life he was generous, humane, and circumspect. He died on the 1st August 1863, at the age of eighty-five. In the family burying-ground at Ceres, he has been careful to denote his descent from “Ingelramus Gourlay, who came from England with Prince William about the year 1174.

Robert Fleming Gourlay was twice married, but his race is extinct in the male line.

End Notes

  1. Ceres Parish Register.
  2. Fifeshire Register of Sasines.
  3. St Andrews Com. Register.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ceres Parish Register. Elizabeth Carstares was a member of the landed family of Carstares of Kilconquhar, to which belonged the celebrated Principal Carstares of Edinburgh.
  6. Ceres Parish Register.
  7. Ceres Parish Register.
  8. Fifeshire Register of Sasines.
  9. Ceres Parish Register.
  10. Fifeshire Register of Sasines.
  11. St Andrews Town Council Records.
  12. Parliamentary Returns — Lands and Heritages, 1874.
  13. Tombstone Inscription in Ceres churchyard.
  14. Tombstone Inscription in Ceres churchyard.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ceres Parish Register.

Grandfathered Out

Shields Evening News, 5 November 1938
J M Sampson Obituary Article Just had a spare half an afternoon in the town of my birth and I thought I’d visit the library and have a poke around in the index cards for the Shields Evening News. I knew my grandfather had died in November 1938, so I thought I’d have a look for the name and – after a bit of discovering that the cards actually were in alphabetical order, but only after year order (unmarked on the cards) – found a card with his name on it. Referencing the edition on 4th November 1938. And somebody had written on it, in red ink, as a later addition, some remarks about his wife and son (my father), including the magic word ‘photo’.
Library Index Card
I hadn’t suspected that there’d’ve been a photo. Obviously that was going to be worth a look. I’ve never used those film readers before, only the microfiche readers, so I find a passing staff member and she loads the machine and finds the right page and column where there is only the standard one paragraph obit notice. No photo nearby, or anywhere as it happens. She decides to look at the next day’s publication, with the same page and column reference, and there it is. Good job she was there then, I’d’ve probably just assumed it was a mistake and have given up. She corrects the entry on the index card.
Turned out the photo was one I already had though. Oh well. The article was interesting enough anyway.
Then, as a followup, I found him (on the UK ancestry website) in the wills and probate dataset. Since I don’t have a subscription to this I used my own library (in Newcastle), which does have a subscription, to access the record, finding that he left nearly two thousand pounds to his wife, my grandmother. Now, in 1935 that was equivalent to (with a bit of help from the currency converter at the national archives) about 60 thousand pounds at today’s prices. But by 1940 its value had dropped to just over 50 thousand. So something funny was clearly going on at the time. I can’t imagine what it could have been.
1939 Probate Entry

In 1901 …

The 1901 census transcript for the Victoria Jubilee Infirmary, situate on Hawkey’s Lane, North Shields, contains a large number of transcription errors. A couple of them are occupational hazards. There are four Hopital Nurses under Janet K Tasker, aged 26, who is the Matron Of Instution.

But mostly it’s the diseases. There’s a 68 year old Plymouth born retired Watchman, Francis Park, with an Absess In Thigh. It was tempting to take this one stage further and claim that there was an Abbess in his sheltering thigh, but I have resisted. Young Joseph Yarrow, an 11 year old, has Taborculosis Outis. I hoped he got better, but it would seem not (in 1916 there’s a general registry office entry recording the death of a 16 year old Joseph Baird Yarrow in Tynemouth).

Joseph Thomas, born in France, is a 37 year old sailor with a sprained abdomer and a Danish born sailor, John P Jorgensen – aged 30 – is in for rhematism. The Alnwick born 46 year old coachman (not domestic, mind you) William Elliott has an ulser of leg, and another Danish born sailor, the 39 year old Charles C Kludt has an ocalp wound.

Yarmouth born 33 year old fisherman Mr William Hodge has cillulitis. Durham born Mrs Mary J Smith is 39 years old with a fractured febia & ?ala. Both little William Kelley – a 6 year old from Durham, and the Newcastle born Jane F Scott, 26, have desease, William of hip and Jane of heart. A fractured tibis explains the presence of George W Bradbrook, another 6 year old Gateshead born inmate.


It’s occasionally peculiar, what you find when you’re just rootin’round the web. One of my search terms was "Kathryn Bone" (having an ancestor from the Bone family, this is not as arbitrary as it seems) and I turn up a genealogical page referencing a Kathryn Marcele Bone, born in Indiana in 1964 who married a Terry Watts, born in Pennsylvania in 1961.

What was notable about this pair was that they were both entered as died on 31 December 1986 in Ash Flat, Arkansas. And that they have an infant born only a couple of weeks before their death. So naturally I’m intrigued and – without much hope of finding anything online because 1986 is a little ‘pre-web’ – I have a look for Ash Flat, Arkansas, 1986 and Terry Watts.

Pretty much immediately I turn up a murder case with Kathryn and Terry as the victims. Yikes. Now I’m rubbernecking. I was expecting maybe, at most, some sort of traffic accident or something (which means I wan’t really expecting anything because such a report would probably not have been networthy, being so old and so everyday).

It turns out that this murder was actually being discussed recently, 20 years after, because it had only just been resolved. Somebody had received the death penalty for the murder and – as of January 22 2009 – this appears to have been still under appeal and there’s a heated discussion about it (involving relatives and associates of the involved parties).

It’s of some peripheral interest that notoriety appears to breed possessiveness, the alleged perpetrator being described in one report as ‘a Kentucky man’ and in another as ‘a Florida man’.

About the (Old) photos

Great Great Aunt Mary Mary was the lady’s maid at Styford Hall. Somebody wrote on the back of her CdV how old she was when it was done. Somebody (else?) has – rather annoyingly – scratched it out. Which is a shame – it would have dated the card pretty well, assuming the reporter was trustworthy.
Great Grandfather Henry
Henry and his sister Mary were two of the seven children of the Coachman, William Brown, who worked for the Grey family at Styford Hall in the 1860s to the 1890s
Great Grandmother Margaret
Margaret’s picture was taken in Stirling, Scotland, from where she was in transit in her journey from Fife to Northumberland. Mary was already there at Styford Hall when she arrived to take up employment as a maidservant.
Nineteenth century CdVs (Cartes de Visite) – which pretty much equates to ‘Victorian‘ since she was bequeened in 1837, just a few years before photography arrived – were for pretty much anybody. They can be dated, especially if you have the original with its back. See Ron Cosens for more information (and services) on these visiting cards and more general victorian photographs.