- I started off by searching ScotsOrigins for John Cairns Townsend. Result - nobody of that name was listed in the birth records.
- I then searched the 1881 Census for John Townsend, particularly those born about 1873/4. I found 2, both aged 9 and living in the Glasgow area. One was the eldest child, with 3 younger sisters named Mary, Jeannie and Helen. The other had an older sister Sarah and brother Robert. Neither mother had Cairns for her maiden name, and neither father was a miner. Neither mother died young. Unless he had lied about everything except his surname, neither of these can have been him.
- I did consider the possibility that he had been lumbered with an embarrasing first name that he later changed to John, but gave up on that one as too difficult to trace or prove.
- I then tried the Linlithgow/Bathgate theory. After drawing a blank in both of the towns of those names, I tried the parish of Bathgate in the former county of Linlithgowshire, (now West Lothian). I used the 1881 Census, when JCT should have been about 7 years old.
- I searched first for Kathleen, as that was not a common name in that area (unlike John). I did not find very many, and none belonging to families that fitted. (Note - when I eventually found her, the Census enumerator had spelt it Cathern).
- Then I tried Townsends - that is also not a common name in that area. The only Townsend (of any first name or sex) living in West Lothian was one William Townsend, an English labourer aged 21, lodging in the town of Uphall in the parish of Bathgate in 1881 with a couple named Ashwood. William Ashwood was a shale miner born in Ireland, and his wife Jane was Scottish. They had no children living at home in 1881, when they were both 37. It did not seem likely that William Townsend was either JCT or JCT's father, or that JCT could have been a child of the Ashwoods.
- There was only one Townsend marriage in West Lothian - William Townsend (as above) to Lena Hodgens at Uphall in 1884. JCT would have been about 10 at that time, so these can't have been his parents.
- Then I searched for Cairnses living in West Lothian in 1881. There were 110 of them, with no Kathleens, but 2 Catherines and 1 Cathern. Cathern Cairns was 14 and lived in Uphall, close to William Townsend. She had a sister Roseann (12) and a brother John (7), but no Beatrice or Joan. There was another family called Cairns living next door. Both fathers were shale miners, but not brothers. This family lived at 145 Greendykes Road, Uphall. (In fact, Greendykes Road is actually in the next town - Broxburn).
- This turned out to be the only 7 year old John Cairns in West Lothian - but there had been no definite proof of his age. There were only 2 Rose Cairnses, (both called Roseann) and no Beatrices.
- Further searches revealed only one other pair of Cairns families living next door to each other in the Bathgate area, at Tweed Street in West Calder. Each family had 4 children, and both had a daughter called Catherine (in fact, this accounts for all 3 Catherines on the list). Neither family had a 7 year old boy, and none of the other children's names were John, Rose or Beatrice.
- Given that this family matches the passed-down legends quite closely, and (more importantly) that no other family does, I concluded that this was the right one.
- According to the Census, the household in 1881 consisted of: Patrick (39) born in Ireland, Mary Ann (36) born at Denny in Stirling, Cathern (14) and Roseann (12) both born in West Calder and John (7) born in Whitburn. Cathern was already working as a domestic servant.
- Rose Ann's and John's birth records were found easily enough in the Index. However, there was no trace of a Cathern (under any variation of spelling) born in West Calder that year - the only Cairns girls born there were Mary and Margaret. (Eventually it turned out that she had been born at Denny in Stirling).
- Searching the 1891 Census revealed that William Townsend no longer lived in West Lothian, and the birth records show that there were no Townsend children born there.
- In 1891, the Cairns household in Uphall consisted of widower Patrick (50) and John (16), who was now a shale miner himself. (Note - he probably started as a pony boy at 14).
- A Mary Ann Cairns died at Uphall in 1887 aged 40. It was necessary to look at the death certificate to check that this was the right one.
- A Catherine Cairns married John Warnock at Uphall in 1886. No Catherine Warnocks of the right age were anywhere in Scotland in the 1891 Census, nor in the death records. However, the names of Catherine Cairns and John Warnock both appear in the index to an emigration record in Ontario.
- A Rose Ann Cairns married Francis MacFarlane at Uphall in 1890.
- Up to this point, I had been working from the index on ScotsOrigins, and had not seen any certificates yet. It was not possible to discover Mary Ann's maiden name. I found 12 Marys born at Denny that year, and 6 Patrick Cairnses who had married Marys, but no name appeared on both lists. (I had tried many different spellings, including Mary Ann, Marion, Marian, Maryann, Marianne, Maria & Marie). Maybe she had lied about her age to the Census taker ? It was time to see a couple of certificates.
- John Cairns's birth certificate says that he was born on 26 March 1874 in Garibaldi Row, Fauldhouse, when his father was an iron miner, and that his parents were married on 30th October 1860 at Denny, Stirlingshire. His mother's maiden name was Burke.
- Mary Ann Cairns's death certificate says that she died on 7 May 1887 at 6.30 pm in Holmes Row, Uphall. It gives her parents as Thomas Burke and Bridget nee Hodgson. They do not appear on the list of parents of Marys born at Denny 40 years before, so maybe her birthplace was wrong on the 1881 census - or possibly her widower got it wrong here.
- Now looking through the index for the marriage: - no marriage of Patrick Cairns to Mary Ann Burke took place at Denny in 1860. The closest match was that of Patrick Kearns to Mary Anne Burke at Kilpatrick in 1859. (I looked at every marriage taking place in Denny in 1860 to see if any names like that appeared).
- No marriage of Thomas Burke and Bridget Hodgson is on record in Scotland either. However, there was a marriage of Thomas Burke to Elizabeth Walker in 1848 at Denny in Stirling. This might have been a second marriage of Mary Ann's father, if her mother died young ? There was also a Thomas Burke to Bridget Hudson in 1853 at Denny in Stirling - some years after Mary Ann's birth. (Eventually, this turned out the be the second marriage of Mary Ann's widowed mother). Several Thomas Burkes were born in Scotland, but no Bridget Hodgsons. In fact, only 12 Hodgson girls were born in Scotland from 1810 to 1830, none of them called Bridget.
- The Kearns wedding certificate revealed that both Patrick and Mary Ann had been illiterate in 1859, and all spelling is probably due to the Registrar. They were married on 11 Nov 1859 at Milngavie Catholic Chapel, and registered at New Kilpatrick in Dumbarton. Patrick was 20, son of John Kearns and Rosana Shiels. Mary Ann was 17, daughter of William Burke (deceased) and Bridget Hutson. They both lived in Strathblane at the time. As that is the only record that fits even approximately, it is assumed to be the right one. Their children's birth certificates should confirm this.
- I then went to New Register House to see some certificates. (This involved looking at a lot of possibles, without having to take a separate £10 gamble on each one).
- Catherine Cairns was born 9 Sep 1866 at 7 am at Denny, Stirlingshire. (Not West Calder as stated in the 1881 Census). Patrick signed this one (rather wobbly), but put his marriage date as 8 Nov 1859 at Strathblane.
- Catherine married John Warnock on 11 Jan 1886 at Broxburn Catholic Church. He was a miner, aged 23. She was a domestic servant, aged 19. Rose Ann was her witness. The Warnocks were not living in Scotland in 1891.
- Rose Ann was born 21 Sep 1868 at 10 am at Bankhead, West Calder. Her father was then an ironstone miner. He signed this one (still a bit wobbly), but put his marriage date as 8 Nov 1856 at Milngavie.
- Rose Ann married Francis McFarlane on 4 Sep 1890 at Broxburn Catholic Church. He was a miner, aged 25. She was a domestic servant, aged 20. John was her witness.
- The 1891 Census gives Francis (23) and Rose Ann (20) McFarlane, lodging at 76 Brownrigg, New Monkland. He was a miner. Her birthplace is given as Crofthead in Lanarkshire rather than Bankhead in Linlithgowshire, but given the inaccuracies in the other Census records, it could possibly be the same couple.
- The Censuses for 1841, 1851, 1861 and 1871 are not computerised, and have to be searched the hard way. I searched all of them for the relevant dates and areas, but only found one relevant entry:
- The 1851 Census gave the following household at 60 Millers Lane, Denny:
Bridget Burke (widow) aged 30, housekeeper, born Ireland
Mariane Burke (10), born England
Catherine Burke (4), born Denny
Michael Burke (2), born Denny
This explains why I have had so much trouble tracing Mary Ann's birth in Denny in 1845. In any case, she can't have been born in 1845 and married in 1859 (at 14). She must have been 40, not 36, at the time of the 1881 Census. Neither Catherine's not Michael's births were registered in Denny, nor was their father's death. (Registration was not compulsory before 1855).
- Bridget Burke's death certificate says that she was married twice, to William Burke and to Thomas Burke, both printers, both deceased. She was a Lodging House Keeper in Denny, and died on 9th March 1876 at 1 pm, aged 51, of chronic bronchitis, which she had had for 6 weeks. Her parents were John and Mary Hudson, both deceased. Her daughter Mary Ann Cairns was with her at the time of her death, and signed the register with an X.
- Bridget Hudson married Thomas Burke on 6 Sep 1853 at Denny in Stirling.
- Suspecting that there might have been older children born between 1859-1866 who had left home before the 1881 Census, I searched the birth records of all Cairns children (of any spelling variation) born during that time.
- I found one other child of the same parents, Bridget Cairns, born 15 Nov 1863 at 10.30 pm in Denny.
Patrick spelt it Carens. (He had learned to write between 1859 and 1863). He got his marriage date right on this one - probably for the last time. In the 1881 Census, she was working as a servant to a family named Hood in Edinburgh.
- Bridget Elizabeth Cairns (18, domestic servant) married Charles McFalls (20, shale miner) at St. Patrick's Church (R/C), Edinburgh on 30 Apr 1883. He signed with an X, but she had been to school.
- They had 9 children. For all of them, Charles signed with an X, although Bridget could write.
- Catherine born 2 Jul 1884 at 7 pm in 42 Simpson's Row, Uphall
- Elizabeth born 9 Apr 1886 at 9 pm in 42 Simpson's Row, Uphall
- Mary Ann born 9 Jul 1888 at 6 am in 8 Holmes Row, Uphall (the house where Mary Ann Burke died in 1887)
- James born 14 Jul 1890 at 6.10 pm in Shanks Square, Greengairs, New Monkland
- Bridget born 22 Oct 1892 at 11.30 pm in Meikle, Drumgray, New Monkland
- Mary born 3 Feb 1894 at 8 am in Meikle, Drumgray, New Monkland
- Charles born 31 Jan 1896 at 11.30 pm in Darngavel by Airdrie
- Sarah born 1 Jun 1898 at 3 pm in Mossbank Row, Darngavel by Airdrie
- Patrick born 3 Apr 1900 at 3.30 am in Mossbank, Darngavel by Airdrie
- The family seem to have moved to New Monkland around 1889, when Charles switched from shale mining to coal mining. It seems that Patrick had been living with or near them in 1888, and again in 1899, but not during the 1891 Census. Patrick also changed from shale to coal.
- Mary Ann McFalls died 25 Nov 1889 at 7.15 am aged 16 months, of gastric & intestinal catarrh in 3 Shanks Square, New Monkland
- Patrick Cairns died 7 Mar 1899 at 11.45 am aged 56 at 12 Mossbank, Darngavel by Airdrie of cardiac disease. He is described as "widower of Mary Ann Burke", so it was not a stepmother that JCT ran away from. (Note - there were quite a number of Patrick Cairnses whose death records could have been his. I had to look through quite a few).
- Sarah McFalls died 9 Nov 1899 at 9.40 pm aged 16 months, cause illegible.
- James McFalls died 25 Jan 1900 at 1.45 pm aged 9, of meningitis at 12 Mossbank, Darngavel by Airdrie.
- Patrick McFalls died 3 Apr 1900 at 3.30 am aged 3 months, of hydrocephalus at 12 Mossbank, Darngavel by Airdrie.
- Bridget McFalls died 14 Feb 1905 at 7.30 am aged 42 of epileptic convulsions in Darngavel by Airdrie.
- The 1891 Census shows the family in New Monkland
Charles McFalls (28), coal miner, born Bathgate
Bridget (25), born Denny
Catherine (7), Elizabeth (4) born Broxburn
James (8 months) born Greengairs
John McFalls (22), brother, coal miner, born Bathgate.
- The 1901 Census of Darngavel village in the parish of New Monkland gives:
at 12 Mossbank Row, Darngavel
Charles McFalls (40), coal miner, born Bathgate
Bridget (35), born Denny
Bridget (8), Mary (7), Charles (5) all born New Monkland
Where were Catherine (17) and Elizabeth (15) ? Maybe they were the girls in the mysterious photo ? They would be about the right age. If only they were in Dunfermline in 1901, that would close the circle and prove the connection.
- The next generation were very time-consuming to trace, as McFalls is a common name, and every certificate has to be examined to check the parents' names, which are not in the index. It later turned out that some of the children had been registered as McFaulls and McFaulds.
The only marriage that I found is: Charles McFalls (24, coal miner) married Mary Rafferty (19, baker's assistant) on 16 Jul 1920 at St. David's Catholic Church, Whiterigg by Airdrie.
- Later browsing revealed another child of Patrick and Mary Ann Cairns: Mary born 14 Apr and died 18 Nov 1872 in Fauldhouse, Whitburn. She died of bronchitis aged 7 months.
- Finding the family on the Censuses of 1861 and 1871 was difficult, not knowing their address at the time.
In 1861 they might have been at Strathblane, (where they were married in 1859) or at Denny (where Bridget was born in 1863), but it seems that they had moved again.
In 1871 they should have been either at Bankhead in West Calder (where Rose Ann was born in 1868) or at Garibaldi Row, Fauldhouse (where Mary was born in 1872).
A search of the Parish of Whitburn revealed that they were living at Crofthead.
It also revealed that Mary Ann had been born in Manchester, and that Bridget (aged 7) was already at school, although education did not become compulsory until 1872.
To cut a long story short:
JCT's Parents: Married 11 Nov 1859 at Milngavie
Father: Patrick Cairns, born about 1840 in Ireland, died 7 Mar 1899 in Darngavel by Airdrie, was a miner of ironstone, shale and coal, son of John Kearns and Rosanna Shields (spelling varies) of Ireland.
Mother: Mary Ann Burke, born about 1842 in Manchester, died 7 May 1887 in Uphall, daughter of William Burke and Bridget Hudson from Ireland.
Mother's siblings Catherine (born 1847) and Michael (born 1849).
JCT's Grandmother: Bridget Burke nee Hudson, born about 1825 in Ireland, died 9 Mar 1876 in Denny, was a Lodging House Keeper in Denny, daughter of John and Mary Hudson of Ireland. Twice widowed. Married to William Burke then to Thomas Burke, both printers.
JCT's nephew and nieces:
- Bridget Elizabeth born 15 Nov 1863 in Denny, working as servant in 1881,
married Charles McFalls 30 Apr 1883, and had 9 children, died 14 Feb 1905 in Darngavel by Airdrie.
- Catherine born 9 Sep 1866 at Denny. Married John Warnock 11 Jan 1886, and possibly emigrated to Ontario.
- Rose Ann born 21 Sep 1868 at Bankhead. Married Francis MacFarlane 4 Sep 1890, and possibly moved to New Monkland.
- Mary born 14 Apr 1872 in Fauldhouse near Whitburn.
- John born 26 Mar 1874 in Fauldhouse near Whitburn, later became JCT.
JCT's descendants do not have any Scottish blood (on that side anyway), but probably have cousins living in the Glasgow area, and possibly also in Ontario.
- Catherine born 2 Jul 1884 in Uphall
- Elizabeth born 9 Apr 1886 in Uphall
- Mary Ann born 9 Jul 1888 in Uphall. Died aged 16 months of gastric & intestinal catarrh in New Monkland.
- James born 14 Jul 1890 in New Monkland. Died aged 9 of meningitis at Darngavel by Airdrie.
- Bridget born 22 Oct 1892 in Drumgray, New Monkland
- Mary born 3 Feb 1894 in Drumgray, New Monkland
- Charles born 1896, married Mary Rafferty 16 Jul 1920
- Sarah born 1 Jun 1898, died there aged 16 months, cause illegible.
- Patrick born 3 Apr 1900 in Darngavel by Airdrie. Died there aged 3 months, of hydrocephalus.
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