Stories

David McKay (1818 - 1893) & Jane Flanagan (1825 - 1889)

David McKay was born in around 1818 in Co. Down, Ireland. His parents were probably Farmer John McKay and Margaret Donaldson (or Donnelly).

He met Co. Down-born Jane Flanagan, daughter of John Flanagan and Mary Beattie. David and Jane married in Anacloan, Co. Down on 16th May, 1845.

ANACLOAN, or ANNAGHLONE, a parish, in the barony of UPPER IVEAGH, county of DOWN, and province of ULSTER, 3 miles (S. E. by E.) from Banbridge, on the river Bann, and on the road from Banbridge to Castlewellan, containing 3426 inhabitants. It comprises, according to the Ordnance survey, 6544½ statuteacres: the lands are fertile and in a high state of cultivation; there is no waste land, and only about 200 acres of bog, which is daily becoming more scarce and valuable. The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Dromore,and in the patronage of the Bishop: the tithes amount to £188. 3. 8. The church is a neat small edifice in good repair. The glebe-house was built by aid of a gift of £200 and a loan of £600 from the late Board of First Fruits, in 1818: the glebe comprises 204 acres.In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, comprising also that of Drumballyroney, and containing a chapel in each parish. There are places of worship for Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Ulster and the Seceding Synod; the former of the third, and the latter of the second class. There are three schools, affording instruction to about 190 boys and 100 girls; also four private schools, in which are about 90 boys and 60 girls. Near the church is Tanvally fort, one of the largest and most perfect in this part of the country, and within sight of it are many others of smaller dimensions.

A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837)

Not long after they married, David and Jane moved to Glasgow in Scotland and very soon their first child John McKay was born there in around 1846. No birth record has been located.

Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, had always been a natural destination for Irish immigrants. However the rate of influx increased considerably during and after the Irish potato famine of 1845-1850, when a potato blight swept over Ireland. During the famine, many landlords evicted tenants who could not pay their rent and many of the evicted tenants emigrated to mainland Britain to seek work and a better life. Scotland saw a seven percent increase of Irish immigrants in 1851 alone. The Irish immigrant population was concentrated in a few cities, such as Glasgow, where almost a quarter of the adult population in 1851 was Irish-born.

It was against this background that David and Jane McKay came to Glasgow following their marriage. At the time of the 1851 Census (31st March), the McKay family was residing at 87 Centre Street in Glasgow's Gorbals area. David was a 30-year-old Boiler Maker and Jane was 25. Residing with them were their children John (5), Mary Ann (3) and William Grier (1).

1858 Map showing Centre Street1858 Map showing Centre StreetNational Library of Scotland

A boilermaker is a tradesman who fabricates steel, iron, or copper into boilers and other large containers intended to hold hot gas or liquid, as well as maintains and repairs boilers and boiler systems. Although the name originated from craftsmen who made boilers, boilermakers in fact assemble, maintain, and repair other large vessels and closed vats.

The boilermaker trade evolved from industrial blacksmithing: in the early nineteenth century, a boilermaker was called a boilersmith. The involvement of boilermakers in the shipbuilding and engineering industries came about because of the changeover from wood to iron as a construction material. It was often easier, and less expensive, to hire a boilermaker who was already in the shipyard - fabricating iron boilers for wooden steamships - to build a ship. This overlap of skills could extend to anything large and made of iron--or later, steel. In the UK, this effective monopoly over an important skill of the industrial revolution led to boilermakers being labeled 'the labour aristocracy" by historians.

David and Jane's 4th child Margaret McKay was born in around 1852 in Glasgow. No birth record has been located.

At the time of the 1855 Property Valuation, the McKay family had moved to the north side of the River Clyde to 46 Catherine Street in Anderston.

ANDERSTON, a burgh, and lately a quoad sacra parish, consisting of part of Barony parish, in the suburbs of the city of Glasgow, county of Lanark, 1 mile (W.) from Glasgow; containing 3759 inhabitants. This place derives its name from its founder, Mr. John Anderston, of Stobcross, who, in 1725, formed the plan of a village, and divided the lands of one of his most unproductive farms into building lots, thus laying the foundation of a very considerable suburb to the city. It is on the north side of the river Clyde, and though of irregular form, and comparatively less modern appearance than others of the suburban districts, it contains many well-built and handsome houses; the lands to the north are chiefly garden-ground, and on the banks of the river are several pleasing villas, inhabited by some of the most opulent merchants of Glasgow. A considerable part of the population are employed in the cotton manufacture, in the iron-foundries, and in the production of machinery; many are mariners, belonging to the port, and there are several shops of various kinds, for the supply of the inhabitants.

A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846)

Anderston or 'Anderson's town' began as a weavers' village in the 1720s, with cottages laid out along Main Street, (now Argyle Street). In the 19th century the weavers' cottages and gardens gave way to streets of tenements and it was in one of these in which the McKay family lived in Catherine Street.

1858 Map showing Catherine Street1858 Map showing Catherine StreetNational Library of Scotland

On 9th June 1859, young David McKay was born just north of the River Clyde at 38 Catherine Street in Anderston. Jane McKay registered the birth and we note that she was unable to sign her name. David's occupation was given as Journeyman Boilermaker.

Although Anderston started out as a weaving village, its location on the north bank of the River Clyde led to a gradual influx of heavier marine industries. From the 1830s on, the area between Stobcross Street and the river filled with brass and iron foundries, engine shops and boiler works and rope and sailcloth works. As a result of the successful efforts to dredge the Clyde, a chain of quays was constructed westwards from the Broomielaw at Hydepark, Lancefield and Finnieston. Various branches of engineering other than marine were attracted to Anderston, but many were hampered by lack of space. Walter Neilson had locomotive works built at Hyde Park Street, which was the southern continuation of Catherine Street towards the river, before he transferred the entire operation to Springburn in 1861. There would have been plenty of work for a boilermaker in Anderston.

At the Census of 1861 (8th April), the McKay family were still residing at 38 Catherine Street. David McKay was absent on census night and Jane was recorded as head of the family. The Census Return confirms that Jane's birthplace was County Down in Ireland. John was now 15 and employed as an Apprentice Engineer. Mary was 13 and worked as a Cotton Winder. Also present was 7-year-old Margaret McKay, a Scholar. There was no sign of William Grier McKay and we must assume that had died. Also residing on census night were John Brown, a 28-year-old unmarried Blacksmith who had been born in Ireland, and Thomas Brown, a 17-year-old Iron Moulder, also born in Ireland. No doubt, the two boarders were brothers.

Alexander McKay was born the very next day on 9th April, 1861 at 38 Catherine Street, Anderston. The birth was registered by Elizabeth Flanagan who was stated to be 'Aunt to child' - clearly, Jane's sister. Alexander died almost exactly 2 years later on 8th April, 1863 at 38 Catherine Street. The cause of death was given as Hooping Cough and Hydrophobia. David McKay registered the death and again we note that he was unable to sign his name.

Jane McKay was born on 5th February, 1864, at 38 Catherine St, Anderston, and again David registered the birth.

Mary Ann McKay, died, age 19 at 38 Catherine Street, on 4th November 1867. The cause of death was Consumption from which she had been suffering from 5 months. Her older brother John registered the death.

David and Jane's next child, William Hamilton McKay was born on 2nd June,1866 in at 38 Catherine Street in Anderston.

The great great grandson of David McKay has in his possession two leather-bound large sized religious books which belonged to David and Jane McKay. One, 'Bunyan's Works' published by William MacKenzie, Glasgow, is in fairly good condition and has a leather label inside the front cover impressed 'David & Jane McKay, 1866'.

Label inside 'Bunyan's Works'Label inside 'Bunyan's Works'Family Heirloom

The other tome, 'The Life of Christ' by the Rev. John Fleetwood, DD, is in much poorer condition with the leather spine having split. The label inside the front cover has become detached and lost. Inside there are some pencil doodlings and a date has been written informally in pencil. The date is November 12th, 1827. We might speculate that this could be Jane's birth date. Nevertheless, we must also ask why David and Jane would purchase such obviously expensive books when neither of them could sign their own name. Possibly they had intended that their daughters, Mary Ann and Margaret, who would have been around 18 and 13, respectively, would read to them. Few other family pastimes would have been available in 1866.

At the 1871 Census (3rd April) the McKay family are found residing at the new address of 32 Catherine Street and David was stated to be a 48-year-old Boilermaker, while Jane's age was given as 44. Their daughter, Margaret McKay, was a 19-year-old unmarried Cotton Weaver, born in Glasgow, and young William Hamilton McKay was 4 years old. There is no sign of young David who would have been 11 or young Jane who would have been 7. We have been unable so far to establish the fates of these children, however we assume they had died.

At the same time, eldest son 24-year-old John McKay was visiting the family of John and Isabella Flanagan in New Monklands. His occupation was given as Plumber. Tracing John Flanagan's death record, we find that his parents were John Flanagan and Mary Beattie. This is the source of our assumption that Jane Flanagan's parents were John Flanagan and Mary Beattie and it appears that David and Jane McKay's eldest son was visiting his uncle. John Flanagan had been born in Co. Down in around 1806 and had arrived in Glasgow before 1841 when he appeared in the Census (7th June) as an Ironstone miner residing at Riggend in Airdrie, New Monkland. It may well be that John's presence in Scotland was partly responsible for his sister Jane's move to Scotland. By the time of the 1871 Census John was a 65-year-old Railway Pointsman.

Soon after this, the McKay family moved south of the River Clyde again to 46 Scotland Street, Tradeston, Glasgow, where Mary McKay was born on 20th July, 1872. She was David and Jane's ninth child and had been named after her older sister who had died 5 years earlier. Tragically, young Mary died at the age of 21 months on 27th April 1874 at 192 Scotland Street. The cause of death was given as Convulsions and David McKay registered the death.

According to the Glasgow Voters' Roll, in around 1879 David McKay moved his family to 17 Aitkenhead Road, Govanhill. Aitkenhead Road did not exist at the time of the 1875 Property Valuation and we can safely conclude that when the McKay family moved there in 1879, it would have been a recently completed building.

The most likely place of employment for Boilermaker David McKay at the time would have been the Glasgow Locomotive Company at Polmadie.

The Glasgow Locomotive Company was opened by Dubs & Co. in 1863. Henry Dubs (1816-1876 ) was born to a farming family in Guntersblum near Darmstadt, Germany . He was apprenticed to a machine tooling business and by the age of 21, having gained further experience in Mainz and Aachen, Germany, he was working as a machine shop manager. He moved to England and was appointed as works manager of the Vulcan Locomotive Co. Foundry near Warrington, Lancashire, in 1842. Here, he was increasingly involved in locomotive building. Between 1842 and 1858 he appears also to have worked for another Lancashire locomotive builders, Beyer, Peacock in Manchester. It seems that he lost his job as works manager in 1857, for reasons that may have had more to do with his managerial style than his technical abilities. Dubs was not, however, without energy or friends, and in 1858 he was appointed as works manager to the Clydeside, Scotland, engineers and locomotive builders, Neilson & Co, where he was soon to be made a partner of the company.

However, it soon became clear that Neilson and Dubs did not have a good relationship and Dubs gave up his partnership and established his own locomotive building company, which Neilson stipulated should not be any closer than three miles to his new Hyde Park Works in Springburn.

The site Dubs chose was in Aitkenhead Road in Polmadie, on the south side of Glasgow, which opened as the Glasgow Locomotive Works in 1864 . Dubs's new company, Dubs & Co , proved very successful. Dubs had inspired sufficient loyalty and respect to enable him to take a number of workers with him when he left Neilson & Co. In addition, a number of Neilson's customers started to place orders with Dubs.

Although making locomotives was its main business at this time, Dubs & Co also manufactured traction engines and steam cranes. His company was notable too, in that, in January 1866 , it was the first to employ women in its drawing office as tracers. Henry Dubs died of cancer in 1876 , at the age of 60. During the years after Dubs' death, the company expanded its export business and together with competitors Neilson, Reid & Co , made Glasgow the largest centre of locomotive building in Britain. In 1888, Manchester locomotive builders, Sharp, Stewart & Co , moved its premises to Springburn, Glasgow, and eventually, the three companies amalgamated as the North British Locomotive Co. in 1903 . At that time, Dubs & Co was valued at £313,000 and was the second largest locomotive works in Britain, employing 2,423 people.

Dubs & Co. NameplateDubs & Co. Nameplate

When you consider that Neilson & Co. operated a Locomotive Works from Hyde Park Street in Anderson prior to 1858, and that Hyde Park Street was the southern extension of Catherine Street where David lived for at least 15 years, it is not unreasonable to speculate that David might well have been employed in that very locomotive business.

1892 Map showing the location of the tenements and Locomotive Works on Aikenhead Road.1892 Map showing the location of the tenements and Locomotive Works on Aikenhead Road.National Library of Scotland

At the time of the 1881 Census (4th April), the family was still residing at 17 Aitkenhead Road and Boilermaker David was stated as 60 and Jane's age was given as 52. William H. was now 14 years old and employed as a Commission Agent's Office Boy. Also resident on census night was Irish-born William Hamilton, an 80-year-old widow and retired Cotton Warper, recorded as a cousin of David. Quite possibly, young William could have been named after him. There was no sign of Margaret McKay who would have been 29.

Govanhill, just south of Glasgow, began as a small colliers' village built by William Dixon, a native of Tyneside, for his workers in the little Govan Colliery and of which he was sole owner from 1820. In 1839, his son, also William Dixon, started the Govan Iron Works and the glare in the sky at night from the five blast furnaces of 'Dixon's Blazes' was a famous Glasgow landmark. By the 1860s the coal was worked out and the now third generation, William Smith Dixon, feued out the Govanhill estate for tenement housing. The Govanhill tenements were generally of superior construction. Houses were required to have at least two rooms and were all to have internal sanitation. Govanhill remains today the best preserved area of working class tenements in the city.

According to the Voter's Roll, in around 1881/82 David had moved again to number 11 Aitkenhead Road and remained there until around 1887 when they moved to number 43 Aitkenhead Road.

The north-east junction of Cathcart Road and Aikenhead Road.The north-east junction of Cathcart Road and Aikenhead Road.https://www.caingram.info/Scotland/Pic_htm/govanhill_then.htm

The photo shows the junction of Cathcart Road and Aikenhead Road. The close entrance to No. 11 Aikenhead Road can be seen between the Provision Merchant and the Furniture and Bedding shop. It was less than a 5 minute walk down Aikenhead Road to Dubs & Co's Glasgow Locomotive Works. Of course the photo was taken many years after the McKays lived there.

However, the family was soon to move from Aikenhead Road.

Jane McKay nee Flanagan died, age recorded as 62, on 22nd October, 1889 at 34 Govanhill Street, Govanhill. The cause of death was given as Disease of Heart. Her son, William, registered the death and, frustratingly, he gave Jane's parents as Robert Beattie, Farmer and Mary Beattie, m.s. Wilson.

Jane Flanagan's 1889 Death RecordJane Flanagan's 1889 Death RecordScotland's People

This is clearly contrary to what we have concluded so far. Jane's mother was indeed Mary Beattie, however that was her maiden name - not her married name. And surely Jane's father would have been a Flanagan. The reference to the name Beattie will arise again, but only when William has a hand in it. We believe that Jane's parents were John Flanagan and Mary Beattie, as per Jane's brother John's death record.

When the McKay family moved to 34 Govanhill Street it was very close to the Aikenhead Road tenements and still a very short walk from the Locomotive Works (see map above). As Govanhill was developed the street numbering was readjusted and the current '34 Govanhill Street' would not have been the dwelling in which the McKays resided. We believe the that address at the time the McKays lived there was at the south-west corner of the intersection of Govanhill Street and Batson Street.

There is no indication on Jane's death record that David had retired and he would have been about 71 at the time of her death. If David retired he would have to live on whatever savings he had managed to put away or be assisted by his son William.

The first state pension in the UK was the Old Age Pension. The law was passed in August 1908 and the first pensions paid on 1 January 1909 to around 500,000 people aged 70 or more. It was 5/= (five shillings or 25p) a week and was paid in full to individuals aged 70 or more with an annual income of £21 a year or less reducing to nothing at an annual income of £31 a year. A higher pension of 7/6 (62.5p) was paid to a married man. At the time only one in four people reached the age of 70 and life expectancy at that age was about 9 years.

1947 Aerial View of Govanhill showing location of the Locomotive Works and the Aikenhead Road tenements.1947 Aerial View of Govanhill showing location of the Locomotive Works and the Aikenhead Road tenements.https://canmore.org.uk/collection/1437792

The 1947 photograph shows the former Glasgow Locomotive Works (at this time renamed as the Queens Park Locomotive Works) at the bottom right with the long row of tenements of Aikenhead Road just above to the left.

On 31st December, 1890, William Hamilton McKay, then a 24-year-old Commercial Clerk, residing at 34 Govanhill Street, married 20-year-old Powerloom Weaver, Jeanie Stewart Brown at her family home of 67 Farie Street, Rutherglen, Lanarkshire. William claimed to be the son of David McKay and Jane Beattie (NOT Flanagan). Jeanie was the daughter of Irish parents John Brown, Hammerman, and Margaret McKillop and she had been born on 5th May, 1870 at 66 William Street, Anderston.

1890 Marriage Record of William Hamilton McKay and Jeanie Stewart Brown1890 Marriage Record of William Hamilton McKay and Jeanie Stewart BrownScotland's People

We are firmly convinced that Jeanie's father was the same John Brown, the 28-year-old Blacksmith who was residing with the McKay family in Anderston in 1861. He had married 22-year-old Irish-born Margaret McKillop in 1862 and raised a family, initially at 66 William Street in Anderston - very close to Catherine Street (see Anderston map above) - and then in Rutherglen. Clearly the McKays and the Browns had kept in touch over the intervening 30-odd years.

At the 1891 Census (5th April), the widowed David McKay, age recorded as 69, was still residing at 34 Govanhill Street. Living with him were his recently married son William H. (23) and new wife Jeanie (20). Intriguingly, a 13-year-old Scholar, Mary McKay Wilson, born in Renfrew, Renfrewshire, was also resident and was stated to be the granddaughter of David McKay. We are driven to the conclusion that this would be the daughter of Margaret McKay last heard of at the 1871 Census. No record has been found that could confirm or otherwise this conclusion.

David McKay died on 15th December, 1893, in 34 Govanhill Street, Govanhill, Glasgow. The cause of death was given as Gangrene of Internal Surface of Left Cheek and of Soft Palate of Right Side; Debility due to above; and Old Age. His age was given as 66, but was probably closer to 73. His son, William, registered the death and, once again, declared David to be the widower of Jane Beattie.

1893 Death Record of David McKay1893 Death Record of David McKayScotland's People

We have been unable to confirm William's claim that his father's parents were named John McKay and Margaret Donaldson. However there is a record of a David McKay born in Dromore, Co. Down on 10th October, 1818 to parents John McKay and Margaret Donnelly. Given William's track record in the name game, this has got to be strong possibility.

William H. and Jeanie McKay returned to Rutherglen and it was there that their daughter, Jeanie Beattie McKay and their younger son, David McKay were born.

William Hamilton McKay died on 14th February, 1940, at 30 Farmeloan Road in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire. William's eldest son, John Brown McKay, registered the death and gave William's parents as David McKay and Jane Flannigan. However convinced William was about the maiden name of his mother, it did not extend to his son.

Of the nine children born to David and Jane McKay, at least 6 died without issue and most of them as infants. No trace has been found of David and Jane's daughter Margaret who was born in around 1852 in Glasgow and last accounted for in 1871. Their eldest son John, born in 1846 in Glasgow, had married Holytown-born Mary MacKay (no relation) on 27th December, 1881 at 11 Aikenhead Road. He worked for most of his life as a Plumber and died aged 56 at 14 Victoria Gardens in Rutherglen on 19th September, 1902. Shortly after his death his widow Mary emigrated to Canada with the rest of their family and she died aged 72 in the General Hospital, Hamilton, Wentworth, Ontario on 14th June, 1929.