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The Blairs

PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2014 11:22 pm
by margaretliderth
My Great Grandfather Malcolm Blair born 1849, he was Master of a coastal vessel called MARY, he married Sarah Annie Cooling in England. Sarah came to Campbeltown with son George H born 1876 and then had 2 daughters Mary Annie Blair and Jeannie Leyden Blair.
Malcolm died but I have no record of where and when but Sarah and the children lived at 12 Lorne Street before she remarried a man called Fred Bruce and then moved to Liverpool. On the census George at 14 was a trumpeter with
A and BM please does anyone know what the letters stand for. I would love to find more info on what happened to Malcolm and George.

Re: The Blairs

PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 1:14 pm
by skrik
Hello Margaret. There is a Malcolm Blair buried in Campbeltown's Kilkerran New cemetery. He died in 1888, aged 39 years.
Have a look at the website -

Re: The Blairs

PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 1:22 pm
by Tom B
margaretliderth wrote:
A and BM please does anyone know what the letters stand for. .

Could it be A & SH ? Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders - i.e. the army

Re: The Blairs

PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 3:31 pm
by Shona
Hello, welcome to the forum, Margaret.

I'm sure you know most of this, but I'll post it so it can be picked up by search engines.

Malcolm Blair married Sarah Annie Cooling in Pembroke Dock, January February March quarter of 1881.

When the census was taken later that year, the couple are with Sarah's mother Weston Road, Portishead.

Mary Cooling, head, widow, 51, former laundress, b St George's
Annie Cooling, dau, married, 21, seaman's wife, b Portishead
Elizabeth Cooling, dau, single, 18, b Portishead
George Cooling, grand son, 4, b Portishead
Edith Cooling, grand dau, 3, b Long Ashton
Elizabeth Davis, sister, single, 37, laundress, b Portishead
Emily Davis, niece, single, 25, dressmaker, b Long Ashton
William Davis, nephew, 5, b Bristol
Malcolm Blair, 30, married, seaman, born Campbeltown

This suggests that George and Edith were both illegitimate. There is a birth registration for a George Henry B Cooling in the July August September quarter 1876, in Bedminster, Somerset. The B may stand for Blair. Have you ever ordered the birth cert to see if it names the father. Ditto for Edith who was also born before Malcolm and Sarah Annie were married.

Sarah Annie Blair was at 12 Lorne Street in 1891.

Sarah Annie Blair, 31, housekeeper, b England
George H Blair, 14, trumpeter, b England
Mary Annie Blair, 5, b Campbeltown
Jeannie L Blair, 3, b Campbeltown
Charles Denny, 36, boarder, seaman

Where is Edith?

Looking at George, he did serve with the army.

Find My Past have 10 pages of his military records. Here's a summary. George Henry Blair, born in Portishead, enlisted in Campbeltown on 3 February 1891. He described himself as a schoolboy aged 14 years and 5 months. This ties in with the birth registration above. He was smaller than 5ft, had a fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. His religion was Church of Scotland, but this was crossed out and RC written in. He served 'at home' until the end of 1894 and then in India. Indian didn't agree with him and in 1898, he was sent home because of the effect of the climate. It seems as if he was also in prison for a short period. He was at the military hospital in Nettley and finally discharged on 13 October 1898. George was described as 'bad', 'irregular' and 'intemperate'.

Re: The Blairs

PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 3:33 pm
by Shona
skrik wrote:Hello Margaret. There is a Malcolm Blair buried in Campbeltown's Kilkerran New cemetery. He died in 1888, aged 39 years.
Have a look at the website -

That stone also commemorates Donald Blair, died 1893, aged 88 years, and Flora Blair, died 1926, aged 80 years.

Re: The Blairs

PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 3:46 pm
by Shona
There are two men named Malcolm Blair born in Campbeltown in the 1840s.

Malcolm, son of John Blair and Margaret McKeich, b 6 Nov 1842, bpt 16 Nov.
Malcolm, son of Donald Blair and Catherine McWilliam, b 31 July 1849, bpt 1 Aug.

Which one of these two men married Sarah Annie Cooling? In the 1881 census, Malcolm says he was 30, which points to him being the son of Donald and Catherine.

Right. Just checked the 1881 census for Donald Blair - he was 74, living on Main Street and described as a ship owner. In 1891, he is described as a seaman.

The other one married a women named Agnes. In 1881 Malcolm and Agnes were living with a clutch of kiddies at 25 Saddle Street, he was a weaver. But by 1891, this Malcolm is a fruiterer and confectioner.

Re: The Blairs

PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 3:49 pm
by Shona
Malcolm Blair's seaman's records are on Ancestry. Looking at them briefly, he got his mate's ticket in March 1874 at the age of 25. So born in 1849, which ties in with the headstone in Kilkerran Cemetery, as well as him being the son of Donald, the seaman/ship owner, and Catherine.

Re: The Blairs

PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 3:53 pm
by Shona
There is a death registration for a Malcolm Blair in Liverpool in the first quarter of 1885. Wonder who he is? Perhaps Malcolm and Sarah Annie had another son who died young? As Sarah went to live in Liverpool after she married Fred Bruce, there may be a connection.

Re: The Blairs

PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 7:33 pm
by margaretliderth
Hi Everyone, What a super site, I am so glad I stumbled upon you, Thank you to everyone who posted information about Malcolm and George.I am so happy to be able to finally put a death date and place of my Great Grandad who was buried along with his father and sister, he was only married for a short time I always wondered if he had died at sea.
George was a different kettle of fish, his sister, my Grandma always referred to him as the blacksheepI
I have a lot of information from Ancestry about the rest of the family but have always drawn a blank with these two so your postings made me really excited.
I will persue the A and SH to try and find out more about his time in the army and his prison record.
I am hoping to visit Cambeltown in the near future, I have been a couple of times but it was before I was into the Ancestry thing.
Scotland is in my blood, love the Highlands and the Islands, I look forward to reading more on your forum.
Thanks again
Regards Margaret.

Re: The Blairs

PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 9:22 pm
by Shona
Happy to have been of help, Margaret.

By the way, George's military papers on Find my Past say he enlisted with the Royal Artillery.

I've looked Sarah Annie Blair's marriage to Fred Bruce. It begs the question, what was a shoemaker from Oxfordshire doing in Campbeltown?

Re: The Blairs

PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:04 pm
by margaretliderth
Thanks Shona, reading poor George's troubles, he should never have been accepted into the army should he.
By coincidence my paternal grandfather also served in India and was also in the Royal Artillery, I have all his records and I will hopefully be going to the RA museum( 40 mins on the train) soon to find out about what they were all doing in India. My granddad served in the Boer War and the 14-18, receiving medals and mentioned in dispatches not like my Great Uncle George!

Re Fred Bruce, never did find out what he was doing in Scotland, repairing shoes I guess but he was younger than Sarah and took on her three children, I remember him living near Wigan with his daughter and her family.

Re Edith, she stayed with her Grandmother in Somerset and then married a man from Birkenhead on the Wirral.

Thanks again Margaret

Re: The Blairs

PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:30 pm
by Sheik Yir Erse
A and BM could be Argyll & Bute Militia?

Re: The Blairs

PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 6:33 pm
by margaretliderth
Hello Shona, Really saddened to read about George, what a horrible time he had, obviously he was never able to cope with life in the army and certainly not India, wonder why he didn't follow his father and grandfather as a mariner?
The address of his Mother, as his next of kin was given as Burnside Street, did he ever reach there after his discharge.
I am sure, if he had died he would have been buried with his family, there was enough of them, but nothing.
I did mention going to the Royal Artillery Museum at the weekend but, after ringing them on Friday I found I needed to book an appointment with an archivist during the week, if I wanted information about my ancestors, so I will have to do that.
I am going to start looking into Malcolm's siblings now, only do this when I cannot get into my garden!