Page 15 Charles Douglas the tailor’s Children

Charlie Douglas the tailor

My deepest thanks to Anne Richardson for this photo. It shows Charlie Douglas and his wife Mary Dow with three of their children.  He seems to be quite a tall, quite slender man. At first I thought we had Alex but looking more closely I believe this to be Charlie the younger with sister Bessie.

Charlie seems to have had a fine head of brown hair and a big moustache. The photo is likely to date to around 1904 but I will check this.

Jean Douglas and her Russell Descendants

Charles Douglas and Mary Dow’s daughter Jane Clark Douglas (known as Jean) was a paper ruler when she married a journeyman  electrician named Walter Russell in 1923 (SR 644/11). She was only 18 so perhaps it is no surprise that the marriage was not a success. The couple were separated when Walter was killed in an air-raid on the night of April 7/8th 1941, killed by falling masonry (SR 626/0B 0031). According to Dad he was the only casualty that night. This was at Seedhill Road in Paisley. Jean or Jean and Walter were living at Marmion Street in Kelvinside at the time. Walter was an air raid warden. Jean worked in a factory producing gas masks during the war and Dad thinks this caused her to develop asbestosis. Jean had black hair.

Jean was married twice, her second husband was called Hugh Gowans Borland. Hugh and Jean married at Hillhead in Glasgow in 1945 (SR 644/13/054). Hugh had been born in Maryhill in 1909 (SR 644/14/0690). Mum and Dad went to visit her in Glasgow after returning from Singapore in 1958. At the time Hugh died in 1969 Jean was very ill in hospital and not responding well. However she must have rallied for a time as she died the next year,  in 1970. Of her three children I understand from Dad that Douglas Russell was a jazz player who bought a hotel in Great Yarmouth in the 1950s. He called it the Clan D Hotel and it was decorated in an accentuated Scottish fashion. Douglas Russell married a Doris White and they had children Irene, Carole, Gary and Lorna. Bill Douglas and his family were in Great Yarmouth at the time of England’s brtilliant World Cup win. Colin and Iain have described how they had the beach and playpark to themselves as the rest of England watched the match. Like Denis Law, Uncle Bill did not want to watch the event.

Jean Douglas and Walter Russell (courtesy of Jean Davis).

I believe some of Douglas Russell’s children and or grandchildren still in the Great Yarmouth area and would love to hear from them.

Mary Douglas Russell was born in 1923 and had four daughters to Maxwell Wright Anderson Donald (he was born in 1919) whom she married in 1942 at Kelvin Old Parish Church. He was an iron moulder and was known as Maxie. They had four  daughters and two sons, Jean, Georgina, Jim, Ruth, Maxwell Wright Anderson and Maxine. Georgina is living in South Africa with her husband.

Maxie was in the 1st Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. This battalion was attached to the 19th Indian Brigade from April 1944 until June 1945 and it saw action in Italy. In the last month of the war in Europe the ASH took part in a major offensive in Northern Italy. Some have criticised the campaign on the grounds that the war was nearly over whilst others note that up to 300,000 Germans were tied up in Northern Italy which must surrely have helped hasten the end in Germany itself.

There can be no doubt of the courage shown by Maxie, however, as he was commended for a Military Medal. The citation is below (courtesy of Jean Davis). His daughter tells me that Maxie down-played his own contribution, saying that another man should have had it. I’m sure that is not the case and that Maxie inspired his comrades.

Jean Mitchell Russell was born in August 1926 and married John Carmichael Kerr. According to Charley Carpenter they had 9 children. He was known as Ian to the family. Jean died in 2001.

This picture dates from the early 1960s. I understand that extreme left is Jean Douglas (Jane Clark Douglas) and extreme right is her second husband, Hugh Borland. Going right from Jean is Mary Douglas nee Bennett, Martha Douglas nee McGarrigle, Martha’s brother George, Charlie Douglas with his two grandsons and a neighbour named Willie Fraser. Willie was Martha’s brother in law and was a postman. He had been widowed when Martha’s sister Margaret died before the age of 30. My thanks to Colin Douglas for these details. Bill Douglas had been working in Stevenage, Herts for 2 years and decided the time had come to give his family the chance of living away from the pollution and cramped conditions of Glasgow and they moved the night this photo was taken to a house with garden in a new town representing a new world.

When grandad Charlie came visiting he liked to work in the garden with Uncle Bill; they had no garden in Glasgow but grandad did have an allotment.

Below: Douglas family photo, taken at Eaglesham. Mary Douglas nee Bennett holding Dad, Alec McEwan, a lady named Kate Peacock, Bessie McEwan nee Douglas, Alec Douglas, Mary Douglas and Alec’s wife Peggy (Margaret) nee Dey. Uncle Bill Douglas is being held by Bessie.

Below: 33 Polnoon Street, where the McEwans lived. Ishbel McEwan was born at this house.

Elizabeth (Bessie) and  the McEwans

Charles Douglas and Mary Dows’ eldest daughter Elizabeth Baxter Douglas was known as Bessie. She was born in December 1898. Bessie married Alexander Currie McEwan (a tailor) in June 1931. They married at 943 Argyle St, Glasgow. At the time she was described as a tailoress. Alex was a tall man, around 5 ft 11 ins tall. Bessie stood around 5ft tall and had red hair.

They were to have two children, Isabella (known as Ishbel) and Douglas. The family lived at Eaglesham at first, moving to Osborne Street in the Glasgow Cross area in 1934. I have walked to that area so many times in the last 20 years or so, to the wargame shops there, but never realised there was such a connection! Ishbel worked as a librarian at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow and Douglas was a social worker. Ishbel died in November 2022 in hospital in Glasgow, very shortly after leaving her home in the Mount Vernon area. She had become increasingly less mobile over a period of years and had just moved to a care home in the Bersden area. Douglas had trained as an accountant and was a meticulous person, famous for his cooking and baking as well as his singing. He made a difference to many young lives as a social worker and Sunday School teacher, as well as acting as an elder from November 1968 in the Sandyhills Presbyterian Church. Douglas was a Sunday School Superintendent in 1978-79.

Ishbel, too, played her part in the church and both were very highly regarded. Ishbel wrote a book in 1993 called Now G0… And Note It In A Book. Ishbel was a Congregational Board Member from 1975, Douglas a deacon from 1964 onward.

Douglas moved to the care home in Bearsden before his sister and outlived her for some month before passing on 26th June 2023. I was unable to travel to Glasgow to attend Ishbel’s funeral due to coronavirus but was able to be there for a moving service for Douglas, at least.

Bessie was a talented tailoress, making the dresses for herself and relatives. Bessie died in 1974. Dad remembers that whilst he liked to play, Ishbel and Douglas always came straight home from school to do their homeworks before enjoying themselves.

At the outbreak of the war they were evacuated to Forebrae Farm near Methven to stay with their mother. They would visit Auntie Annie McAllister at Crieff.

Bessie McEwan nee Douglas (from Ishbel McEwan)

Above: 1 Polnoon Street, Eaglesham. John Douglas lived here.

Mary (Maisie) Russell and her husband Maxie Donald from Ishbel McEwan

Below: Douglas Russell and Ian (John) Kerr, his brother in law. Douglas became a jazz musician and later owned a Guest House in Great Yarmouth. My thanks to Jean Davis for this image.

The picture below comes from Jean Davis and shows Jean Clark Douglas and her three children to Walter Russell.

Five of Mary Dow and Charles Douglas’s children: Charles (standing), Alec (seated), Bessie (standing right), Jean (left) and Mary (seated at front).

The picture probably dates to around 1905 or 1906 before John was born.

Generation IX: Family of Charles Douglas and Mary Dow

1. Charles Alexander Douglas, 1897-1969

2. Elizabeth Baxter Douglas, 1898-1970

3. Alexander Dow Douglas, 1901-1977

4. Mary Dow Douglas, 1903-1945

5. Jane Clark Douglas, 1904- 1970

6. John Galloway Douglas, 1906-1949

Mary Douglas was born in 1903 and died in 1945. She had diabetes much of her adult life. She died at Polnoon Street in Eaglesham. Mary (known as May) was unmarried and had no children. She was around 4ft 10ins in height and auburn-red hair.

The youngest son was John Galloway Douglas, born in 1906. John was born with one kidney. He became an electrician. Presumably he was involved in wiring of some sort on the day he fell through the roof of one of the family-rented houses in Eaglesham, as recalled by Dad. John married Barbara Reid in Glasgow in 1936 but they had no children. His death certificate describes him as a general labourer. John was around 5ft 2 inches tall and had  browny-red  hair.

He died in July 1949 of congenital cystic disease of the right kidney combined with having no left kidney, renal failure and “mental debility” at Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride. His usual address was 1 Polnoon Street in Eaglesham and he is buried in the cemetery there. Dad recalls him as having a baritone voice and that he sang in the church choir.

As a child Dad overheard grown-up talk about Uncle John being beaten up one night at a billiard hall where he worked. Whether this was an attempted robbery or just yobbish behaviour he could not say.

Quite what the mental debility was is a mystery: family members speak of no debility and John was capable of performing a technical job and of forming relationships. Perhaps there was a short term debility as the kidney disease reached it’s final stage?

Generation X: Family of Jane Clark Douglas and Walter Russell

1. Mary Russell, born 1923

2. Jean Russell, born 1926

3. Douglas Russell

Generation X: Family of Alexander Charles Douglas and Margaret Dey

1. Alexander Charles Douglas

2. Margaret Douglas

3. Mary Douglas

Alexander Dow Douglas

The second son of Charles Douglas and Mary Dow was Alec Douglas. Alec was a tall man by Douglas family standards and had red hair. He was a singer, like his brother Charlie. Dad has told me that he coached children in a choir. Alec  was a tram driver for Glasgow Corporation. According to Dad, Alec wrote an autobiography ,which I would love to see.

He married Margaret Dey in Hillhead, Glasgow in 1929 (SR 644/12/0027) and they had three children: Alec (born in 1930), Margaret and Mary Dow (known as May) in 1934. Alec died in 1977 in Glasgow. May is still living but brother Alec died around 2012. He lived in Luton. May married John Bones in Blythswood, Glasgow in 1961. Dad tells me he was a football referee.

Margaret may have come from Lord Street in Belfast. Dad remembers going to visit his Granny Mary Dow Douglas Adam who was living in their house somewhere in the Glasgow area. According to him, Mrs Dey was also there and in poor health.

Alexander McEwan with three brothers in law, Charlie, Alec and John;  taken at the back of 1 Gilmour Place, Eaglesham

Map from a Facebook page showing the location of bombs in Paisley the night Walter Mitchell died.

There had been a very heavy air-raid a week earlier at Clydebank but this, ironically, had only one fatality.

Generation X: Family of Elizabeth Baxter Douglas and Alexander McEwan

1. Isabella McEwan

2. Douglas McEwan

A Musical Family

Whether Charles Douglas the tailor was musically talented we do not know for sure, but the McEwans tell me there was a piano at their Argyll Street home. This went to Eaglesham later.

My grandfather was a singer in a choir. He had a bass voice. Neither Dad or I inherited this. May was a contralto singer like her mother. Bessie was a soprano. Alex took choir. Some grandchildren have inherited the singing talent: Douglas McEwan is a tenor singer. Douglas Russell was a trumpet player.

Perhaps this talent comes from the Dow side, with Mary Dow’s sister having been a professional singer.