William Davidson Sharp (1833 - 1896) and
Ann Brown (1834 - 1916)

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William Davidson Sharp was born in around 1833 in the parish of Kirkliston, Linlithgowshire.  William's father was also named William Sharp and earned his living as a Labourer.  There is currently some uncertainty over the identity of his mother as we have conflicting information from two sources.  William's marriage record states that his mother was Christina Orr, while his death record states that his mother's surname was Davidson (forename unknown).  It is not uncommon for parents' names to be incorrectly stated or unknown on marriage records and occurs even more frequently on death records.  In fact we suspect that William's mother was Susan Orr.  Because we have found no birth record for William, we are unable to state whether he was given his middle name of Davidson at birth or whether he adopted it in later life.

Descriptions of Kirkliston parish and the village of the same name were given in Groome's Gazetteer for Scotland in the early 1880s and is reproduced here.

The village, occupying a rising-ground on the left bank of Almond Water, has a station on the Queensferry branch of the North British, 1½ mile NNW of Ratho Junction, 3½ miles S of South Queensferry, and 10 W (by road only 8) of Edinburgh. It takes name from the parish church and Liston Manor, being distinguished by the prefix Kirk from Old Liston, New Liston, Over New Liston, Hal Liston, and Liston or High Liston, all in the same parish. Some of its houses are good and modern, yet it offers on the whole a poor appearance; and has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, an inn, and a long established distillery. A foot-bridge over the Almond was constructed in 1846 to give access to Ratho station, and is over 100 feet long. The parish church, with 700 sittings, is very ancient, having a fine S Norman doorway, and including the old burying vault of the noble family of Stair, with the ashes of the first countess, the `Lady Ashton' of Scott's Bride of Lammermoor. The Free church had a spire added in 1880. Pop. (1841) 840, (1861) 572, (1871) 647, (1881) 747.

The parish, containing also Winchburgh village in Linlithgowshire and Newbridge hamlet in Edinburghshire, includes a detached Edinburghshire section, called Listonshiels, lying among the Pentland Hills at the boundary with Peeblesshire, 4 miles SSW of Balerno and 7¾ (as the crow flies) S of Kirkliston village. Its church having once belonged to the Knights Templars, it was anciently called Temple Liston. The main body is bounded on the NW by Dalmeny (detached) and Abercorn, N by Dalmeny, E by Cramond and Corstorphine, S by Ratho and Kirknewton, SW by Uphall, and W by Ecclesmachan. Its utmost length, from E to W, is 5 miles; its utmost width is 43/8 miles; and its area is 7716¾ acres, of which 67 are water, and 5397 belong to Linlithgowshire. The Listonshiels or detached section is bounded NE and N by Currie, E by Penicuik, SE by Penicuik and Linton in Peeblesshire, and SW by Midcalder. With an utmost length and breadth of 2¼ and 2 miles, it has an area of 1892½ acres. Almond Water winds 63/8 miles north-eastward along all the Midlothian boundary of the Linlithgowshire section, which is traversed by Brox and Niddry Burns, two affluents of the Almond, whilst a third, Gogar Burn, flows ¾ mile north-north-eastward along all the Cramond boundary. The Union Canal goes 2¼ miles across the southern wing of the main body, and, after making a detour through Uphall, proceeds 15/8 mile northward through the western part of the Linlithgowshire section.

At the time of the 1841 Census (7th June), William is found residing with his grandparents George Sharp, a Wright, and Helen Sharp (maiden surname Dowie) at Jack's Houses, Kirkliston.  Both grandparents' ages are recorded as 45.   Also resident are William's uncles, George (25) and Gabriel Sharp (20), both employed as Wrights also.  William's aunt Isabella Sharp, aged 15 is also present.  William is stated to be 6 years old, although we suspect he was 8 at this time.  Jack's Houses can be seen in Image 1 on an 1854 map and appear to be in an isolated location about half a mile north of the village of Kirkliston in the parish of the same name. 

Also residing in the parish of Kirkliston at this time are who we believe to be William's parents, Labourer William and Susanna Sharp, aged 30 and 28 respectively.  We have found the marriage record of William Sharp and Susan Orr, married in Kirkliston on 2nd February 1828 and we believe that this to be the same couple.  Also resident are Susanna (12), George (10), Elizabeth (6), James (3) and Gabriel (1).   Birth records have been found for George, James and Gabriel.

At the time of the 1851 Census (31st March), these two families are found residing next but one to each other in Kirkliston Village.  William is still residing with his grandparents George (64), a House Carpenter, and Helen, now recorded as 66.  William is now 17 and is a Journeyman Carpenter, clearly following in his grandfather's footsteps.   Also resident are William's uncle George Sharp (36), also a Journeyman Carpenter, and his aunt Margaret Sharp, a 30 year-old Dressmaker.  Additionally, we find two other grandchildren, Helen (4) and Archibald (3) Sinclair.  On 9th August, 1845, William's aunt Isabella Sharp had married Henry Sinclair in Kirkliston.  We are, as yet, unable to account for their absence at this time and in fact no future record of any of the Sinclair family has been identified.

Just two dwellings away, William's father, the 40-year-old William Sharp, now widowed and earning his living as a Quarryman and Labourer, was residing with his two sons, George (19) an Agricultural Labourer, and James (9), a Scholar.  His wife, Susan or Susannah, had died although no death record has been found. 

On  8th January 1853, in Kirkliston parish, William's father married for the second time.  His second wife was Williamina McDonald.

Ann Brown was born on 3rd February, 1834 in Falkirk, Stirlingshire.  She was the daughter of William Brown, Tailor, and Margaret Thomson.  Ann was the seventh of 10 children born to William and Margaret.  No record of the Brown family has been found in the 1841 Census.  However at the time of the 1851 Census (31st March), the now widowed Margaret, aged 49, was residing at High Pleasance in the town of Falkirk with her five youngest children.  Thomas T. Brown (19) was a Cooper while Ann (17) was a Dress Maker.  Marion (14), Agnes (11) and William (8) were Scholars.

On 4th June 1859 The 26-year-old William Davidson Sharp married Ann Brown, now a 25-year-old Domestic Servant, in the Burgh of Falkirk, Stirlingshire.    William's residence at the time of his marriage was given as Kirknewton, more likely the parish than the village.  Witnesses to the marriage were George Sharp, probably William's brother, and Marion Brown, most likely Ann's sister.  William's occupation at the time of his marriage was Millwright.  A millwright was a skilled tradesman who built and maintained industrial machinery, presumably originally in mills, but also in other manufacturing establishments.

On 27th July 1859, not even two months after Ann Brown's marriage to William Davidson Sharp, Ann's mother Margaret Thomson died of Consumption at High Pleasance in Falkirk.  Her son William Brown reported the death.   

William and Ann settled in East Calder, in the Parish of Kirknewton and East Calder, County of Edinburgh, about 4 miles south-south-west of Kirkliston village and started to raise a family there.

Image 2 shows an 1865 map of the village of East Calder comprised of a single street with the Church and Manse just to the south.  Also shown at the top left of the map, on the River Almond, is the East Mill, a corn mill, which is quite possibly where William Davidson Sharp would have plied his trade as a Millwright.  Another possibility is the Saw Mill, just north of the main street.

On 14th April 1860, William and Ann's first child, William Brown Sharp, named after his paternal grandfather and with his mother's surname, was born in East Calder.

At the 1861 Census (5th April), we find 27-year-old Millwright, William, residing with 26-year-old Ann in the village of East Calder with their 11-month-old son, William.

Meanwhile, his father William, aged 51 and employed as a Stone Quarrier, was residing in Winchburgh Village wih his wife Williamina (45) and new family, Thomas (7) and Isabella (2).

On 26th September 1862, Margaret Sharp, named after her maternal grandmother, was born in East Calder.  Tragically, she died only 6 months later of Convulsion Fits on 27th March 1863.  William reported the death of his baby daughter.

Helen Orr Sharp was born on 3rd January 1865, East Calder.  Her middle name supports the proposition that William's mother's surname was Orr. 

Robert Sharp was born on 24th August 1866, and on 23rd December, 1870, George Sharp was born.   Both were born in East Calder and William registered both births.

Between these two happy events, William Davidson Sharp's father William died on 13th June 1870 at Winchburgh, parish of Kirkliston.  No cause of death was entered in the death register.  However, two weeks later the following was entered in the Register of Corrected Entries 'When and Where died: 13th June 1870 on the Turnpike Road near the Canal Bridge at Winchburgh in the Parish of Kirkliston, County of Linlithgow.  Cause of Death:  Disease of the Heart: Died suddenly.'  William would have been 69 years old.

At the 1871 Census (3rd April), the 37-year-old William, still a Millwright, is residing with his 36-year-old wife Ann in East Calder.  From the sequencing of the census returns, it appears that they lived fairly close to the Manse and the United Presbyterian Church, the latter of which became the Church Hall of the current church.  Also resident were their children, William (11) and Helen (6), both Scholars, and Robert (4) and George (3 months).

On 28th February 1873, Ann gave birth to twins Mary Stark Sharp and James Sharp, who completed William and Ann's family.

By the time of the 1881 Census (4th April), William and Ann had moved their family to Linlithgow Bridge, most likely to ensure continued employment for himself and his family.  The 48-year-old William was now a Millwright in a Paper Mill, Ann was 47 and their daughter, Ellen, now 16, was a Paper Mill Worker.  Robert (14) was an Apprentice Millwright at a Paper Mill, and George (10), James (8) and Mary (8) were Scholars.

Linlithgow Bridge, a village partly in Linlithgow parish, Linlithgowshire, and partly in Muiravonside parish, Stirlingshire, at the bridge across the Avon, ¾ mile W of the town of Linlithgow.  The bridge was built about 1650 by Alexander, Earl of Linlithgow, and the pontage was in 1677 granted by Charles II. to his descendant George, Earl of Linlithgow.  A quarter of a mile farther up the Avon is the viaduct that carries the North British railway across the river, there being twenty-three arches, of which the centre ones are 90 feet high. Close to the village is a papermill, which affords employment to a large number of the inhabitants. Pop. of village (1861) 560, (1871) 503, (1881) 479, of whom 359 were in the Linlithgowshire portion. Houses 118, of which 87 were in the Linlithgowshire portion.

Eldest son, William, was not resident with them.  However, a 20-year-old William Sharp was in lodgings at 104 Duke Street, Edinburgh and employed as an Iron Turner.  This would likely be William Brown Sharp.

In Image 3, the 1865 map shows the village of Linlithgow Bridge, east of the River Avon, where William and Ann and their family resided at the time of the 1881 Census.  At the top right of the map is Loch Mill, the paper mill where William, Robert and Ellen worked.

Some time after this, but still in the 1880s, William and Ann relocated their family to Camelon, Falkirk.

Camelon, a village and a quoad sacra parish in Falkirk parish, Stirlingshire. The village stands on the northern bank of the Forth and Clyde Canal, 1¼ mile W by N of the town of Falkirk, near the site of a Roman town. It long presented a squalid, woe-begone appearance, but began about 1866 to undergo material improvement; and it now has a post office under Falkirk, with money order and savings' bank departments, a local savings' bank (1867), 2 nail factories, 3 iron foundries, a church (1840; 660 sittings), the Falkirk cemetery, and a public school (1876). The ancient Roman town stood on the river Carron, which winds ½ mile to the N; figures generally in modern notices of it as Old Camelon; is identified by some antiquaries with the Roman Ad Vallum; and, having this peculiarity that it lay just outside Antoninus' Wall, was connected therewith by an iter leading onward to the country N of the Forth. It appears, on good evidence, to have been a seaport, under circumstances when not only the river Carron was navigable beyond its site, but the Firth of Forth covered great part of what is now the Carse of Falkirk; and, between the retiring of the Romans and the 9th century, it is said to have been continuously occupied as a town by the Picts. An anchor was exhumed at it in 1707; two stones bearing unmistakable marks of the Roman chisel were discovered early in this century, built up in the front of one of the houses of the present village; and twelve gates of brass are fabled to have pierced the walls of the ancient city. In 1851, too, the cutting of the Polmont Junction railway exposed a sewer, which, being excavated about 1868 by the late Sir Jas. Simpson and Dr Hill Burton, yielded fragments of glass and of pottery, partly of Samian ware. The quoad sacra parish is in the presbytery of Linlithgow and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale; its minister's stipend is £120. Pop. of village (1841) 1340, (1861) 1308, (1871) 1838, (1881) 1550; of q. s. parish (1871) 3286, (1881) 2724.—Ord. Sur., sh. 31,1867. See Roy's Military Antiquities (1793); pp. 61,107, of Glennie's Arthurian -Localities (1869); and Nimmo's Stirlingshire (3d ed. 1880).

On 29th December 1887, 22-year-old Dressmaker, Helen Orr Sharp residing in Camelon, Falkirk, married 24-year-old Thomas Rowland, a Bricklayer of Bo'ness.  He was the son of Samuel Rowland, Brick Contractor, and Jane Rae.  Helen gave her father's occupation as Engineer (Master).

On 15th June, 1888, at Camelon Manse, Parish of Falkirk, William Brown Sharp, now an Engineer, aged 28 and residing in Camelon, married 24-year-old Jeanie Baird Cowan of Pleasance Gardens, Falkirk, daughter of Alexander Cowan, Grocer, and Marion Allan.  Witnesses to the marriage were Robert Sharp, William's brother, and Jeanie Murdoch.  William Davidson Sharp's occupation at the time of the marriage was given as Engineer.

On 26th February, 1890, at Camelon, Falkirk, Robert Sharp, also an Engineer, aged 24 and residing in Camelon, married 24-year-old Janet Murdoch, Saleswoman, of Camelon, daughter of Alexander Murdoch, Newsagent, and Janet Mundie.  Janet Murdoch would most likely be the sister of Jeanie Murdoch, the witness at the earlier marriage.  Witnesses on this occasion were James Murdoch, probably Janet's brother, and Mary Mundie, likely a cousin.  William Davidson Sharp's occupation was again given as Engineer.

At the time of the 1891 Census (5th April), William Davidson Sharp and his family were residing at Orchard Cottage, Cart Road, Camelon, Falkirk.  William, now aged 57, gave his occupation as Engineer and Machine Maker and, significantly, he was recorded as being an Employer.  William had gone into business for himself.  His wife, Ann, was 57.  George, now aged 20, and James, 17, also gave their occupation as Engineer and Machine Maker.  Both were recorded as Employees.  Mary Sharp was 17 and a Dressmaker.

Sharing Orchard Cottage with William and Ann and their family was their eldest son William Brown Sharp, now aged 30, and his family.  His wife, now apparently called Jane, was 26, and their two sons were William (1) and Alex, aged 1 month.  William's occupation was given as Engineer and Machine Maker.

We believe that Cart Road in Camelon was renamed Union Road at some time in the 1890s, possibly in recognition of the Union Canal which joined the Forth and Clyde Canal very close to this location.  Image 5 shows a modern photograph of what we believe to be Orchard Cottage in Union Road.  The building accommodates two dwellings which are today numbered 22 and 24 which we know for sure were the residences of James and George Sharp respectively in the 1920s.

At this time the newly-married Robert Sharp was residing with his wife Jane and their 3 month old son, William Davidson Sharp, named after his grandfather, at the Co-operative Buildings, Camelon, Falkirk.  Robert also gave his occupation as Engineer and Tool Maker and was an Employee.  Image 6 shows a sketch of the Co-op Buildings located at the corner of Camelon Main Street and the Hedges which was the next street to the east from Cart/Union Road.  The map suggests that the Co-op Buildings shown post-dated the map.

Meanwhile, Helen Orr Rowland was residing in Muirhead, Parish of Chryston, Lanarkshire with her 27-year-old husband Thomas who was a Bricklayer and an Employer.  Their children Samuel (2) and Ann (9 months) were also resident. 

It appears therefore that William had started his own engineering and machine making business and all 4 of his sons joined the venture with him. The business was called Wm Sharp & Sons, Engineers. This development would most likely have been associated with the family's move from Linlithgow Bridge to Camelon.

On 4th December, 1893, Mary Stark Sharp, twin of James, died at Camelon at the age of 20 of Phthisis, from which she had been suffering for 13 years.  She was buried in Camelon Cemetery.

On 4th November 1896, William Davidson Sharp, aged 63, died of Cerebral Apoplexy at Orchard Cottage in Camelon.  His eldest son William registered the death.  William was buried on 6th November 1896 in Camelon Cemetery in the same grave as his daughter Mary who had died three years earlier. 

At the time of the 1901 Census (31st March), The widowed Ann Sharp, aged 67, was residing at Union Road, Camelon, with her as yet unmarried sons, George, 30, and James, 28.  Both sons gave their occupation as Engineer and Machine Maker.  Both were recorded as Employers.  Clearly, they were now running the engineering business started by their late father.

Also living at Union Road, Camelon, were William Brown Sharp, Mechanical Engineer, now aged 40, Jane, 36, and their three Scholar sons, William (11), Alexander (10) and Robert (7).  We suspect that, although not expressly stated in the census return, the two families were still residing in Orchard Cottage.

Very close by in Burnside Terrace, Camelon, Robert Sharp, now 35 and an Engine Fitter, resided with his wife Jane, aged 35, and 4 children, William (10), Alexander (8), Nettie (5) and Robert (2).

Helen Orr Rowland, now 36, was residing at "Glencairn", Provanhall Road, Swinton Village, Baillieston, Lanarkshire with her husband Thomas who was now 37 and a Brickmaker and Builder.  Their children were Samuel (12), Ann (10), William (8), all Scholars, and Robert (4) and James (3).    

On 5th June, 1901, at Lime Road in Falkirk, James Sharp, aged 28, married 29-year-old Bethia Allan residing at Hallside Cottage.  She was the daughter of William Allan, Plumber, and Agnes Allan.

On 11th June, 1907, George Sharp, aged 36 and residing at Union Road, Camelon, married 31-year-old shop assistant Mary Scobbie at her family home in Carron Road, Falkirk.  Mary's parents were James Scobbie, Insurance Agent, and Catherine Dickson.  A Witness to the marriage was Samuel Rowland who would have been the 18-year-old son of James's sister Helen. 

On 20th March, 1909, William Brown Sharp, Engineer, died at age 48 of a Cerebral Haemorrhage at Union Road, Camelon.  His brother, Robert, registered the death.

On 26th March, 1916, Ann Sharp, widow of William Davidson Sharp, died at age 82, at 24 Union Road, Camelon.  Cause of death was Senility.  The death was registered by her son George.  Ann was buried in Camelon Cemetery with her husband William and daughter Mary.

Robert Sharp, Master Engineer, died of Nephritis on 31st July 1919, at The Hedges, Camelon.  The death was registered by his eldest son, William Davidson Sharp.

On 6th January, 1922, James Sharp, Mechanical Engineer, aged 48, was killed in an accident at the Corporation Power Station, High Station Road in Falkirk.  He suffered a fracture of the base of the skull and subsequently died by drowning.  His son, William Davidson Allan Sharp, registered the death.  His usual residence at the time was given as 22 Union Road, Camelon.

On 15th May, 1929, George Sharp, Engineer, died of Arteriosclerosis and a Cerebral Haemorrhage at 24 Union Road, Camelon.  His brother-in-law, David Scobbie, registered the death.

The fate of Helen Orr Rowland (nee Sharp) has not yet been established.

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Related Images

  • Image 1: 1856 Map showing the location of Jack's Houses about half a mile north of the village of Kirkliston.  » Click to zoom ->

    Image 1: 1856 Map showing the location of Jack's Houses about half a mile north of the village of Kirkliston.

  • Image 2: 1856 Map showing East Calder  » Click to zoom ->

    Image 2: 1856 Map showing East Calder

  • Image 3: 1856 Map showing Linlithgow Bridge and the Loch Mill paper mill.  » Click to zoom ->

    Image 3: 1856 Map showing Linlithgow Bridge and the Loch Mill paper mill.

  • Image 4: 1856 Map of Camelon.  » Click to zoom ->

    Image 4: 1856 Map of Camelon.

  • Image 5: Orchard Cottage, Union Road, Camelon, Falkirk.  » Click to zoom ->

    Image 5: Orchard Cottage, Union Road, Camelon, Falkirk.

  • Image 6: Co-operative Buildings, Camelon, Falkirk.  » Click to zoom ->

    Image 6: Co-operative Buildings, Camelon, Falkirk.

  • Image 7: 1898 Map of Union Road vicinity  » Click to zoom ->

    Image 7: 1898 Map of Union Road vicinity

  • Image 8:  Early twentieth century photo of Union Road, Camelon looking north towards Camelon Main Street.  » Click to zoom ->

    Image 8: Early twentieth century photo of Union Road, Camelon looking north towards Camelon Main Street.

  • Image 9: The east side of Union Road taken in 2009.  » Click to zoom ->

    Image 9: The east side of Union Road taken in 2009.

  • Image 10: The headstone of William Davidson Sharp, his wife Ann and daughter Mary in Camelon Cemetery.  » Click to zoom ->

    Image 10: The headstone of William Davidson Sharp, his wife Ann and daughter Mary in Camelon Cemetery.