Thursday, November 16, 2017

Our lovely "ordinary" Grandad ...


Grandad. Our dear, lovable little grandfather (decisively shorter than Grandma, also a little younger). But that’s what he was … ‘grandad’ … and as children we were so culpably uncurious about his past and his family. He was just lovely grandad. I knew solely that he came from Scone in Scotland, and that he had been a tailor. I knew that, because my main memory – the main mind picture I have of him, still – is a little man in his 60s leaning over the big dining table at their gloomy clapboard house in Miramar, with a piece of tailor’s chalk, marking out a length of tweed to make mother a coat…

Grandpa and Grandma Welsh c1951 with Kurt and John
His name was Edwin Welsh (b Gowanbrae 5 January 1887;       ) and he was the youngest of the three children of James Welsh, tailor (d Gowanbrae 21 February 1910) and his wife Jane Steel Hudgston (b Arbroath 15 July 1847).

James and Jane Welsh, Gowanbrae c 1890, with David, Maggie Jane and Edward
Miss Hudgston’s family I can trace back, on the female side, to the early 18th century, but father James? I couldn’t find him. My best candidate was a James Welch, by Robert out of Mary, born in Scone 20 March 1853. And yes! There he is, Welch, in the 1871 census, in the Cupar Angus Rd, Scone, with mother Mary, siblings Mary Ann, Helen, Alexander and John, and listed as a seventeen year-old tailor! And in 1861, in Front Road, Scone with no less than 8 siblings, father having seemingly given up the ghost after John in 1857.

Jane Welsh and daughter Maggie Jane
Robert Welch (and its staunchly Welch) is there in the 1851 census, with his wife Mary (née Taylor) and the first six of his brood. He is listed as being 33 and a handloom weaver (cotton). And there is another Robert (b 1775 Kilspindie) down the street, also a handloom weaver (cotton) with a wife also named Mary whom I suspect strongly is his father. And he is. OK, the tree is growing.
Robert Welch born Scone 16 June 1817 to Robert Welch and Mary née Boyd … and, oh dear, that looks like him in 1861, not dead at all, but confined to James Murray Royal Lunatic Asylum … too many children …
But surely this father is the elder Robert, son of William Welsh (sic) and Catharine née McGlashan baptised Kilspindie 12 November 1775 …
Enough. So Kilspindie it is … it seems there is more there than the golf course.

Now, Jane née Hudgston (b 11 West Mill Wynd, St Vigeans 15 July 1847). Great-grandma number 4. Daughter of David Hudgston (b Arbroath, 1819; d St Vigeans, 18 November 1882), flax-dresser, and later foreman at Green’s Mills, of St Vigeans, and Jane Steel Cram(m)ond (b Arbroath, 22 February 1822; d 15 August 1890) who were married 31 December 1844.

East Mill Wynd, St Vigeans
I can follow the Cram(m)ond family, in Arbroath and St Vigeans, back to the beginning of the 18th century, but the Scots, true to their reputation, make you pay to see the records, so I’ll do without. I’ll be satisfied with knowing that all the families came from Arbroath and, most particularly, the adjacent village of St Vigeans, and leave it at that.

Jane is censussed, aged 13, as a servant at the seat of the Earl of Northesk, Ethie House, but a decade later she is, like so many others in the area, a flax-spinner.

Ethie House
As for the other Hudgstons, the only times that they seem to have made the news was when Jane’s brother Alexander Paterson Hudgston, of 40 Rossie Street, retired after 54 years working as a fitter in the Dens Iron Works, and when sixteen-year-old deaf-and-dumb David, the son of youngest brother John Boath Hudgston (also deaf and dumb) found a lost wallet.

So, back to James Welsh or Welch, the tailor. In his 20s, he set up the tailoring firm of Small and Welsh at 8 Gowrie Road, Bridgend, Perth, in collaboration with neighbor William Small. Gowrie Street was later demoted to being the firm’s workshop, and the showroom moved to 67 George Street, Perth.

The family, however, were installed first in Perth Rd, Scone, then in Gowanbrae’s Murray Hall Road, and, by the turn of the century, in Queens Rd, Gowanbrae, where grandad was preparing to join his father’s firm. Brother David had become a plumber (always a useful thing to have in a family) and sister Maggie Jane was a teenage dressmaker.

Queen St. The Welsh house was second from the right.
James died in 1910, and Edwin took over his place in the firm. Then he married Maggie Anderson, the infants’ schoolteacher at Blairgowrie High School, emigrated twice … and the bit of the story that we know began.

Well, it’s a pretty ordinary Scottish story of the 19th century. No brilliant men hidden in there, as there were in the Jewish and Austrian forbears of my family. Just hard-working, hard-breeding folk of the Scottish mill and factory towns.

At least, in this day of digging, I’ve at least learned who they were and from whence they came … maybe, one day, I’ll fill in the gaps. But I’ve got the picture…

In latter days. Rudi Ganzl dit Gallas (father's mother) and Edwin Welsh (mother's father).

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