Page 16 The Dows, Dinnings and Baxters

Mary Dow was only 38 when her husband, Charles Douglas the tailor, died in 1907. She had 6 children to raise; the eldest had just turned 10, the youngest was one. This may have seemed like history repeating itself: her own father had only been 44 when he died, his youngest child was 9 at the time.

Charles was buried in Glasgow and Mary was buried with him when she died. Mary continued to live at 930 Argyll Street, as shown on the 1911 census. There were 7 windows. Mary had been a sewing machinist, living with her parents in Richard Street when she married.

Mary married again in December 1912 (SR 644/11 0018), to a journeyman boilermaker named William Adam. He had lived at 239 Stobcross Street at the time of the wedding. William Adam had also been widowed and he moved into the tenement at Argyll Street. James and Margaret Dinning were witnesses. Looking at the transcription of the Dinning family on the 1891 census at Richard Street I find that they had a lodger- a 26 year old boilermaker, William H Adam. I hadn’t realised this connection earlier because I had not looked at the original but at the Ancestry transcription which had mangled the name of the lodger. So now we know that Willie Adam had a long connection with one branch of the family. He was from Cambusnethan in Lanarkshire.

Willie Adam had joined the Paisley branch of the Union Society of Boilermakers and Iron Shipbuilders on March 28th 1888 at the age of 23.

The Valuation Rolls  for 1915 show a Mrs Mary Douglas living at 631 Dumbarton Road; however this may be another person as William Adam was recorded as living at 930 Argyll Street from 1915-1920. They were at the same address in  1923 as daughter Jane married from there. The electoral roll for 1924 places William H Adam, Mrs Mary B Adam, Elizabeth, John, and Mary (ie May) in th 15th Ward.

Dad remembered Willie’s father as “the man o’ the hoose.” Dad was sent out to buy the paper for him. Dad remembers coming home from school to hear “the man o’ the hoose’s dead”. This would have been in 1934. He was 80 years of age (SR 64/22/0321) and Dad must have been 13.  William Adam had been the tenant at a house in Gilmour Street, Eaglesham in 1925, paying £6-5-0 in rent. The house number is not listed but I believe it was No. 1 or 3  (VR 114/101/57). The rent had risen sharply since 1920 when it was £5-15-0.

Dad remembers going to visit her in Eaglesham, presumably at weekends or holidays. The visit from Springburn involved a city tram then bus then a long walk uphill to Polnoon Street. Mary Dow died in 1952 of coronary thrombosis.

Picture of the Dow family, from Ishbel and Douglas McEwan:

The picture worries me a little: Father Alexander died in 1884 so it must date to 1884 or earlier. If the baby is the youngest child, Elizabeth, born in 1875, then where is Mary? Mary would be around 7 years of age and the girl standing is surely older than that- it must be Margaret (born 1862). We have Mary missing then- and an extra boy! The boy sitting in the centre is surely 2 year old Robert: so who is the boy sitting on the left?

ANSWER- another Dow boy called John Robb Dow. He was born in December 1870 (because his record is found in 1871 group) at Milton, Glasgow, (SR 644/07/0083) and died aged 8 in 1879 (SR 644/10/0276).

Mary is still missing from the photo but I am happy with the identification of the group. I’m also happy to accept that the mystery man on the home page has been identified: I am confident that this is Alexander Dow.

Map of part of Glasgow, showing William St, Shaftesbury Street and Richard St

Family Tree of the Dows:

Family Tree of the Dinnings:

The Baxters

Elizabeth Baxter was born in Haddington around 1838. She put a mark on the birth registration of daughter Mary in 1869 so we know she could not write her name and probably could not read. Her parents were both dead by 1859; they were Alexander Baxter and Margaret Duncan. They married at Kirkliston, West Lothian, on 14th November 1832.

Elizabeth Baxter died in Glasgow in 1920 (SR644/11 0256). According to her death certificate her father was Thomas Baxter, a quarryman. She was living at 3 Alexander St. Her son Thomas registered her death.

From what I have found at Scotlands People Centre Elizabeth was the youngest of 8 children born in Haddington. Her father Alexander was usually described as a labourer or carter on the birth and baptism entries. The entries are detailed in that they give the dates of both events and names of two witnesses. The first was a boy named James in 1813 and then William in 1820. The family lived at Kirkliston in Haddington at this time. The family moved to the Longstone in Colinton by 1826. The last two children were born at Prestonpans.

Information on a family tree on Ancestry suggests there was another child.  I do not like to take information wholesale from other people’s trees without knowing something of their methodology so I have not added this information yet.  There were four boys and five girls. The middle child, Thomas, married a woman named Anne Jones Gibert in Newington on 14th October 1859 (SR 685-05) and they moved to America where descendants named Montgomery live now. Thomas was living at Tranent according to the wedding certificate and Anne lived at Grangeston, Edinburgh. He was a labourer and she a servant.

A quite detailed biography of Anne Jones Gilbert and information on her family may be found at She was born in Newton, Mid-Lothian in October 1825 and married Thomas Baxter on 14th October 1859 in Edinburgh.  She already had a 10 year old daughter named Margaret to another man. Anne and Thomas Baxter sailed from Liverpool to USA in November 1859, arriving on 2nd December at New York City. They were onboard a ship called the Harvest Queen.

Thomas worked as a gardener according to the US 1860 census.

They had 5 children by March 1870 when he died suddenly of a heart attack. Only an index to the death certificate could be viewed but Ancestry has a handwritten list, US Federal Census Mortality, which contains this:

Thomas was living at 623 South Street at the time of his death.

According to their children were Thomas, Alexander, William, Annie and Jessie. Anne may have remarried to David Forrest. She lived her last years in New Jersey at the home of daughter Jessie and her husband Frederick Berner.

Thomas Baxter and Anne Jones Gilbert had the following family. I have not been able to view their birth certificates but some of their marriage records list the parents and DOB, 1870 and 1880 census records provide further information as do some death certificates. This is sufficient for me to accept their vailidity.

  1. Thomas Ritchie Baxter, born Philadelphia 27th Sept 1860- died Philadelphia 2nd Nov 1925
  2. Alexander Baxter, born Philadelphia around 1862, killed 6th December 1896
  3. William Baxter, born March 1865
  4. Annie Baxter, born 1860s
  5. Jessie Baxter, born c1870

Thomas Ritchie Baxter was living with his parents on the 1870 and 1880 censuses.

The above 1870 extract seems to show that 3 other Scottish people were living with them. This seems to include, “Forrest Devitt.” I do not know if enumerators asked and residebts wrote what they heard or if residents completed the returns themselves in writing- but could this be the David Forrest referred to above?

There is no surviving information from 1890, it seems. In 1880 he was said to be a clerk in stores. This indicates a certain level of literacy and numeracy. By 1900 he was living at 425 Reed St as a boarder and was described as a salesman. Thomas married rather later than the average person, wedding a German-born woman, Josephine Elizabeth Wittmer on 16th December 1904. A church record only was available to view. At the time Thomas was living at 2013 South Fourth St, she at 1011 Ritner St.

In some places her given name is Elizabeth (eg the wedding, 1910 census) but at other times it is Josephine. In 1910 they lived at 427 Chestnut St and Thomas was now working as a woodworker. They had two children, Anne Montgomery Baxter aged 4 and baby Thomas who had been born within the last month.

By 1920 they were living at 229 Main St and Thomas now was working as Justice of the Peace.

Thomas died on 2nd November 1925 in an accident, presumably at home, where he fell downstairs.

The second child of Thomas Baxter and Anne Jones Gilbert was William. The census entry for 1880 suggests that his birth was in 1863. This states that he worked in a store.

In fact, William was William Gilbert Baxter. Although one census indicates a birth in April 1865 several sources say it was March. An index shows that he married Lydia Ann Biddle in 1895.

In 1900 the couple were living at 124 Delaware Avenue, Riverside, Burlington, New Jersey. William was working in a watch case factory. Their niece Annie Robb lived with them.

They continued at the same address for a decade at least. By 1910 Annie was an inspector in the factory and Willie promoted to foreman. The 1915 census showed them at the same address but William was a grocery bus driver.

However when the federal census took place in 1920 he was a polisher. They had moved to House 315 in the same street. Also living there was his wife’s mother and two boarders. Annie had gone.

A US City Directory for 1929 showed William at 320 Fairview St in Burlington. He was now an inspector.

William Baxter died on 18th April 1930 in Burlington and was buried at Mount Moriah Cemetery in Philadelphia.

The couple do not seem to have had any children.

The third child was Alexander Baxter as he was said to be 17 in 1880 when he worked at a cotton mill. Alexander died on 6th December 1896. His address was given as 1519 Ellsworth St at that time and he was described as a color (sic) mixer. I could only view the index to his death.

Thomas Baxter and Ann Jones Gilbert had a daughter named Annie. She was shown as being at school on the 1880 census. She had been born on 13th March 1868. Once again, I have not seen the birth certificate for myself. I am indebted to the Stimson-Simmons Family Tree on Ancestry for clues which helped me locate the information and records below.

In 1870 and 1880 Annie was with her mother and family on the federal censuses. She married Robert Blair Montgomery, ffrom Ireland, in 1890 in Philadelphia. I have only seen the index to this information.

The 1900 census showed them living at House 109, South 5th Street, Darby, Delaware, Pennsylvania. It shows children David, Robert, William and Jessie had been born. Husband Robert worked as an edge gilder. Note that Annie’s birth is shown as March 1868.

In 1910 the larger family lived on the same street but in House 314. Although this could reflect renumbering my suspicion is that it was a larger house for the larger family. Children Albert, Frederick and what looks like Thomas R have been added. Later records show that this last child was Thomas A. The three eldest boys were now working; even though William was only 14 he was earning a wage in a cotton mill.

Robert and Annie continued to live at this address for the rest of their days. In 1920 they shared their home with 4 children; David, William, Frederick and Thomas:

By 1930 there were only two sons at home:

Robert Blair Montgomery died of arterio-sclerosis and high blood pressure on 19th September 1933. According to the death certificate he was working as a janitor at Darby Schools. Thomas worked as a policeman and said he worked a 66 hour week, according to the 1940 census. Annie still lived in the house but now Thomas’s wife and children were present.

Annie died on 19th July 1944. It was her son David who registered the death.

Thomas Baxter and Ann Jones Gilbert‘s final child was Jessie. Jessie surely had no memory of her father.

I am aware that she married Frederick Berner but once again cannot access the marriage record myself. The 1900 census shows them with children Florence and Frederick. Annie Baxter, Jessie’s mother is also shown in the household.

August 2023: Both my father and myself have a lot of links through DNA with people descended from the Baxters but there are a lot of records to go through still! I have been working through the DNA hints on Ancestry to check that the amount of DNA in common is roughly compatible with the degree of separation expected according to the records available and things are looking good.

I have yet to pursue the paths of Thomas Ritchie Baxter’s children, Annie (Baxter) Montgomery’s and Jessie (Baxter) Berner’s children.

Elizabeth Baxter’s sister Janet married a labourer named James Watt in 1844. Both were living in Prestonpans at the time. They had several children whom I have located birth details for. The eldest was James in Prestonpans in March 1844, followed by Alexander in June 1846. Next was Agnes in July 1858, then Isabella in August 1861. The youngest child I have found was Thomas, born in July 1864. The last three births were in Tranent, Haddington.

The 1841 census has Alexander Baxter, a 45 year old agricultural labourer,  and his 46 year old wife Margaret  living at Prestonpans, East Lothian. With them were children Margaret who was 12, Catherine, 10, Isabella who was 8 and 4 year old Elizabeth. All these children were said to be have been born at Prestonpans.

On the 1851 census Alexander was living with his own children, 24 year old labourer Thomas and 13 year old Elizabeth at a house at Well Wynd, Tranent. Alexander was said to have been born at Kirknewton. Elizabeth was a labourer. It is quite likely that she never attended school if she was already working at this age and could not write her name. This was the home of his daughter Janet (26) and her husband James Watt. Watt was a labourer who had been born at Prestonpans whilst Janet was born at Colinton. Their children James and Alexander were scholars, aged 7 and 4. Both had been born at Prestonpans. There was also a 2 year old Henry who was born at Tranent.

Family Tree of the Baxters:

Generation VIII: Alexander Dow, Elizabeth Baxter         Generation VII:

Alexander Baxter, Margaret Duncan

1. Thomas Dow, 1860-1926                                  1. James Baxter, born 1813

2. Margaret Dow, 1862-1931                                2. William Baxter, born 1820

3. Alexander Dow, 1864-1947                              3. Janet Baxter, born 1824          

4. James Dow, 1867-1885                                       4. Thomas Baxter, born 1826

5. Mary Dow, 1869- 1952                                  5. Alexander Baxter, born 1829

6. John Robb Dow, 1870-1879                         6. Catherine Baxter, born 1831

7. Robert Dow, 1873-1940                                   7. Isabella Baxter, born 1833

8. Elizabeth Baxter Dow, 1875-1908             8. Elizabeth Baxter, 1838 – 1920

From Ancestry: register of Robert Brown Dow’s effects:

Mary Dow as a young woman (from family collection)

Mary Dow’s parents were Alexander (a joiner) and Elizabeth Baxter. They had married in Blythswood in July 1859 when he was 23 and she 22. They were both living at 36 Maitland Street.

His parents were Thomas Dow, a dresser, and Jean Ferguson. The mothers of both were dead by then (SR 644/06). From the 1851 census we know Thomas was lodging, with his daughter Janet, at 90 Commerce Street in Govan, Glasgow. He was already a widower at this stage. Janet was an unmarried powerloom weaver, born at Rothesay. They were still there in 1861 (Census 644/09 055/000).

Thomas and Jean had six children that I have found, born between 1830 and 1851. The second child was Alexander. Son Thomas (a tinsmith) married a domestic servant called Ann McMillan in Glasgow in July 1864. She came from Shaftesbury Street in Glasgow. Thomas and Annie lived at 23 Shaftesbury Street on the 1871 census. They moved to New Zealand where Annie died on 19th March 1890. Thomas changed job after 1900 and became a gas inspector. He died on 9th July 1911 in Dunedin. I have not found anything about how they travelled to New Zealand but there are electoral rolls for 1890, 1896 and 1900 as well as 1905/6 to give more detail to the story. This was enough to tip me off that the couple had children Ann (Annie), Christina and Jane (Jean). Christina had been born on 1st May 1865 at Anderston in Glasgow. Jean acted as housewife to her father and was unmarried by 1906. Jean was born as Jane Dow at Anderston in Glasgow on 18th May 1867. There was probably a daughter Margaret who was a dressmaker. The family lived at Section 35 Caversham Rise, Otago until after 1906 as in 1911 Thomas and daughter Jean lived at 311 George Street, Dunedin North. Also present was a Jemima Fergusson Dow.

Daughter  Janet  also died in 1911 having married an Andrew Cleghorn in December 1889. They – or she- had children Janet and James Hart. In 1869 her father said she was an unmarried mother.

On the 1841 census Thomas and Jean were living with 10 year old Margaret and 4 year old Alexander at King Street, Rothesay, in Bute. He was a cotton power loom weaver. I had not found him previously because the ages were approximated. From the 1851 census we know Thomas and Jean Dow lived at 24 Bridge St, Rothesay. The writing is hard to read but it indicates that Thomas was born around 1804  in Pollokshaws, Renfrewshire. He was a powerloom weaver. Jean was possibly from Kilbarchan in Renfrewshire and may have been born around 1810 as her age is given as 41 and that is her stated birthplace. They had six children, with daughter Margaret a powerloom weaver born around 1820 and son Alexander an assistant in a spirit store. The three youngest children were born in Rothesay, Bute (Census 558/00 007/000) . This indicates that the family had moved from Glasgow to Rothesay between 1837 and 1849.

Ancestry records barebones of Margaret’s family: she and Duncan McDougall had children named Catherine (Katie), Elizabeth, Margaret, Jean, Thomas and Duncan. Margaret died in 1911- in fact, three of Thomas and Jean’s children died that year- and her death was registered by Katie.

Jean Ferguson seems to have died between the 1851 census and the introduction of statutory registration in 1855.

^ In December 1869 an Alexander Dow was a spirit dealer, living at 3 Greenhill St in Glasgow when he married a Catherine McLachlan of 42 Greenhill Street. This cannot be “our” Alexander, however, as he was married to Elizabeth in 1859 and remained with her.

Thomas Dow died on 11th May 1881 of chronic bronchitis at the City Poorhouse aged 75 (SR644/06/0669). This would place his birth around 1806. He is described as a pauper, formerly a cotton weaver. His own parents were James Dow (another cotton weaver) and Margaret Peacock who had married on 5th June 1802 (SR 644/06). Their marriage was at Eastwood in Glasgow (OPR 562/00 00/30 0341). He was at the Poorhouse at the census a few weeks earlier (SR 644/06 092/00 004). It’s address was 322 Parliamentary Road. I have asked the Glasgow Archives staff at the Mitchell Library if they have any information on Thomas from their records. I now have copies of these records. Thomas applied for admission on 9th June 1869. He was described as being 65 years of age and as having been born at Cow Loan, Pollokshaws on 17th December 1803. This adds a little to our knowledge of him, then, giving a precise date and place for his birth. Cow Loan was later known as Pollok Street.

The admission application provides information on the whereabouts of Thomas’s family at this time. Alexander was a joiner, living at 28 William Street, Cowcaddens.

Margaret was married to a Duncan McDougall, a cotton spinner, living in Cheapside Street.

Thomas was a tinsmith, married, and living at 23 Shaftesbury Street, Anderston.

James was a labourer in Australia.

Janet was a single millworker with a child to support.

The application, then, is like a mini-census for us. It provides housing information and clues to weddings. It then sets out where Alexander had been living over a lengthy period of time. This was done in order to establish exactly which county ought to pay for a pauper, to check that what they have said is verifiable and to check whether they were applying elsewhere for support. I had not been sure what to expect- in some ways the documents exceed my expectations. I would have liked a description of the applicant too, but there we are.

The period covered in this case extends to over 10 years. I won’t write all the places as there are around 16. He seems to have stayed 6-7 months in most cases. Nine residences saw Thomas for 5-9 months. He lived at 112(?) Gallowgate for a year and was 2 years at Commerce Street in Govan and at Thistle Street in Govan for 2 years as well.

At the bottom the application Mr Williamson, the assistant inspector notes that “being old and in ill health he is not able to work. I think his family might be able to support him.”

Another application was made on 21st October 1870, ie, over a year later. Possibly Thomas had indeed been looked after by his family in some way during the intervening period but the second application shows that if so they, too, had struggled to help him. Thomas was living at 44 Havannah something where he was lodging with a Mary Adams. The author of this document believed in spirally letters as an artform. The visit took place the next day at 10:40am. Thomas was a Protestant and suffered from influenza. His wife Jean Ferguson was a native of Kilbarchan and dead 16 years. If correct that would mean she died the year before statutory registration.

It contains the same information as the previous form regarding his family, except that James is now said to be in New Zealand and Janet’s whereabouts are unknown. The inspector notes “He says that he is well known to Mr Lemon (?) inspector of poor Eastwood. This suggests that Thomas had been struggling for some time.

The next page tells us that he had been with Ms Adams for a month and had had various lodgings in Glasgow for 16 years. It adds, “He has been twice an inmate of Barrhill within the last 12 months and was also an inmate of Govan Poorhouse 5 or 6 years.”

He was admitted to the poorhouse and left on the 25th, only 4 days later, at his own request. On the 31st he reapplied and left again on the 21st November.

The rest of the page describes a pattern of Thomas entering and leaving the poorhouse on several occasions. He stayed for a few days or a week each time (June 1873, Feb-March 1873, December 1880-Jan 1881). On one occasion he applied to enter, was given permission, but did not appear. This was in May 1873. Thomas had applied with his wife. This is interesting because Jean Ferguson was dead. I bought a copy of the application of the woman in question and it also raises questions about quite who she was- there are a few names that she has used and different husband’s names given.

The application of 25th February 1878 says he was at 55 Duke Street and a Dr Mather had seen his “back low left Debility.” It then says family all in New Zealand. This is quite untrue.

The admission on 17th December 1880 was from a lodging at McAlpin Street and was because of bronchitis. Dr Robertson had certified this. The family had now reappeared: Alexander at 3 Richard Street and Margaret was a widow at Soho Street. James and Thomas were in New Zealand. Janet had not resurfaced- residence unknown, it says. Thomas had been at Abbey Poorhouse for 6 weeks on the account of the parish of Eastwood, left on 9th December (I believe). In red ink it notes “11/5/81 Died in poorhouse Friday.”

Jean Davis tells me that Thomas had two sisters, named Christina and Janet. Christina went to Australia. contains a lot of information on the history of Pollokshaws, including the fact that weavers in 1836 were paid £10- and that stone cottages some 17 feet square, covered with thatch or tile had been built in the 1790s. Perhaps Thomas was born in such a cottage. The area was becoming industrialised and the main road had a gravel surface. The village had become a town but was apparently a pleasant place.”From 1801, when the parish population was 3850, the number of inhabitants rapidly increased until in 1850 there were some 8800 residents.” (from above website).

                                       Alexander Dow and Elizabeth Baxter’s Family

In 1861 Thomas’s son Alexander and his wife Elizabeth Baxter were living at 34 William Street, Barony, Glasgow. They had been married less than two years. With them was their first child Thomas (less than one month old according to the census) and Alexander’s elder brother Thomas who was a tinsmith. Also living there was a teenaged boarder named Dugald Fletcher (Census 644/08 081/000). Alexander was a joiner.

They were still living at William Street in 1871, now with six children. A Janet Duncan, described as a sister in law, is also there. At 53 she was 20 years older than Elizabeth and the name Duncan suggests that she was illegitimate. Her birthplace was Kirkliston in Linlithgow (Census 644/07 094/000).  There were 19 occupants at this address in 1875. Rent varied between £7-10 and £8-15.

In 1881 Alexander and Elizabeth were living at 3 Richard Street, Glasgow. Richard Street is parallel to William Street. They had been there since at least 1875 when Alexander paid £12 rent (VR 102/230/199). Presumably this was a better dwelling than the previous one, then. There is an anomaly with the death certificate. According to it, Alexander was Thomas’s son and Thomas’s wife was Jean Ferguson; however, when Alexander died at 46 years of age at home (of broncho-pneumonia, after two months illness) in 1884 his own son, (another Alexander^) said that Alexander’s mother was called Margaret Duncan. It is likely that he was confused and gave the name of his maternal grandmother by mistake (SR 644/10). ^Alexander Dow was a joiner at 3 Richard St, paying £12-10 in 1885 to the trustees of John Kirkwood in rent.

In 1891 the family home was still at 3 Richard Street, Elizabeth as widowed head with children Thomas, Mary, Robert and Elizabeth. The latter was a sewing machinist. Alexander Dow and Elizabeth Baxter had eight children in all.

The eldest, Thomas, was a glass stainer who apparently married Susan Keelan. I could not find their wedding on Ancestry or Scotlands People but he is described as a widower on the 1911 census when he was living with his mother again, and his wife’s name is given clearly on his death certificate.

Their second child, Margaret (1862-1931) married a man named James Dinning. He was a boiler maker at the time of their marriage. More on their family follows elsewhere on this page.

The third Dow child was Alexander, born in 1864 at 146 Port Dundas Road, Glasgow. He married Catherine Jenkins Virtue in 1889. They certainly had one son, William Virtue Dow, who died in 1979 in Glasgow (603/00 0658).

James married in 1896. After Mary was born came two more children, Robert and Elizabeth.   Robert married Sarah Smith in Anderston, Glasgow in 1898. I understand from Ishbel McEwan that he was known as Bertie and she as Sally. Bertie was a trumpet player and performed at a summer season in Rothesay. They had two daughters.

Mrs Elizabeth Dow was the tenant in 1895, now paying £13-0 in rent (vr 102/465/84). The steady rise in rent over the years suggests the area was a popular one.

I know  Elizabeth Dow aged 63 lived in Anderston, Glasgow in 1901 (Census 644/10 039/00 029). She described herself as a widow living on her own means. With her was her daughter Elizabeth B McDonald and son in law Donald McDonald. He was a grocer’s shopkeeper, she a shirt machinist. Daughter Elizabeth worked from home. Donald had been born in Glasgow. There was also a grandchild, one year old Elizabeth. It was this Elizabeth McDonald who registered the death of Charles Douglas the tailor in 1907.

Elizabeth Dow was paying £9-19-0 in rent on the Valuation Roll for 1905. In 1911 Elizabeth still lived at 4 Richard Street. Her grand daughter Elizabeth McDonald was still with her, but the other occupant now was son Thomas, the glass stainer. His wife had died and he had moved in with his mother (Census 644/11 038/00 025).  In 1915 Elizabeth Dow was still the tenant at 4 Richard Street, paying £9-18-0 (VR 102/1078/155).

Robert Dow was living part of the time at 3 Polnoon Street in Eaglesham in 1905 (VR114/81/80). He paid rent of £6-15-0. Also there was Charles Douglas, the tailor who lived in Cleveland Street in Glasgow.  Robert’s normal address was 47 Prince Albert Street, Crosshill, Glasgow. Robert was a pawnbroker. He paid £16-0-0 in rent for the Glasgow residence (VR 102/576/628).

Image of a power loom. The weaving industry was a major employer in Pollokshaws in the 19th century, the town growing from 4600 to 6800 inhabitants in the 1830s.

Picture below shows the Dinning family, from Douglas and Ishbel McEwan. Robert stands back left, James is looking confident in the middle. James won the DSM in 1918. Robert was lost on the first day of the Somme, one of 20,000 British soldiers.

Ishbel McEwan tells me that Maggie Dow who married James Dinning was a professional singer, presumably before she married. Her stage name may have been Margaret Darwin.

Robert Dow Dinning was a sergeant in the 16th Highland Light Infantry, service number 14352. Scotlands People has a copy of his informal will and an inventory of his effects. These amounted to £15-10 in a bank book, £8-0 from the War Office and £100 from the Royal London Auxiliary Insurance Company Ltd. Well done to him for taking out insurance! I presume he had done this in peacetime, perhaps influenced by the situation his Auntie Mary was left in when her husband Charles Douglas died so young.

Robert’s will left £40 to his father and £20 to a woman named Clara Bogle, whom he described as a friend. The rest was left to his mother. Robert appointed his uncle Robert Dow of 4 Wilton Street off New City Road and his father Alexander as executors.

Find My Past has provided a little more information about Robert- he was admitted on May 6th 1911 to Glasgow 1 branch of the Union Society of Boilermakers and Iron Shipbuilders, number 75009. The record notes him as being dead on 4th June 1917 (MSS.192/BM/2/2/12).

Find My Past also had some military papers on Robert. One relates to 1st May 1908, ie long before the outbreak of the war. The address, 3 Alexander Street, leaves us in no doubt that it is the same Robert Dinning. Robert was working for Hudson Ltd of Kelvinhaugh Street, Glasgow. It seems that Robert was in the Reserves from 11th June 1907 to 30th April 1908 as a volunteer sapper in the (1st Lanarkshire) Royal Engineers. He was examined at a military workshop with regard to his trade skills (presumably this would impact on his pay) and found to be a “very good” boilermaker, the top grade. Robert was then in the Telegraph Company of RE from 1st April 1908 to 1st April 1910.

I presume that this was all part time work and that Robert continued to work for Hudson in the meantime, gathering extra money from attending training camps, making friends and having adventures. Presumably he was aware of the possibility of war at some stage but whether he took it any more seriously than the rest of the reserves we cannot know. The training would undoubtedly have put him above the calibre of many of those who volunteered when the war began.

Robert attended 2 weeks Annual Training at Barry Camp from 17th July 1908 until 25th July 1908. Next year he was at Glasgow Camp from 16th July until 30th July.

Another document on Find My Past suggests he arrived in France on 23rd November 1915, listing him as a private in the 16th battalion HLI (14352). This information comes from the Glasgow Pals.

The Glasgow Pals website contains a lot of information about the HLI in WW1, including the Battle of the Somme. Robert is likely to have died in the fighting at the Thiepval Redoubt or the Liepzig Redoubt.  His medal card from The National Archives seems to confirm that his body was never found with “P Dead” written on it. The address is

The picture below, from the McEwans, may show James Dinning or Robert Dow Dinning with a comrade:

An excellent book by Martin Mace and John Grehan, Slaughter on the Somme 1st July 1916 (Pen and Sword Military, 2013) gives detailed accounts from military documents of each battalion on that day. According to the authors the 16th and 17th HLI were to lead an assault on the Leipzig Salient, supported by the 2nd King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

The 17th HLI crept out ahead of the barrage end time of 7:30 which helped them immensely. They were also fortunate in that the barrage had wrecked the barbed wire. Thus they overran the Leipzig Redoubt.

Robert’s battalion, however, fared much worse. They were to attack a strongpoint known as the Wonder Work. The battalion came under machine gun fire even before the barrage lifted. Small parties on the right made it to the enemy lines to join the 17th HLI but the centre and left were pinned down in No Man’s Land.

The authors note that 25 officers and 755 other ranks had taken their place in the front line on the night of 30th June/1st July. By the end of the day there were 5 officers and 221 men remaining uninjured.

Newspaper clipping from the Sunday Post (thanks to British Newspaper Library on Find My Past) tells of his parents receiving the Military Medal. My father had thought that his brother James Dinning had won it but obviously that was not the case. Sadly, he was unable to remember the issue when I tried to tell him of my discovery in February 2019.

Willie Adam

Mary Dow and William Adam had one son. Willie Adam was a friend to my father growing up; Dad looked on him as a cousin, perhaps not fully understanding the nature of the relationship. William Harcourt Adam was born in Anderston in 1916. The reference is SR 644/11/0100. Unfortunately the registration cannot be viewed online and has to be ordered. Given the year of birth there can be no doubt that he was not born to Adam’s first wife.

Young Willie married Mary Graham and they may have had a daughter. He joined the army when WW2 broke out and landed on D Day. He died in action at Caen on 13th June 1944. He is buried in a military cemetery there, one of thousands to die in the attempt to take this vital town. It had been earmarked for capture on D-Day itself but a cautious approach allowed the Germans the opportunity to dig-in and prepare defences.

Ranville War Cemetery index records that William Harcombe Adam had joined the 5th battalion, the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders. He was a corporal. His service number was 2934190. He lies at III B 15. Uncle Bill and my brother Mervyn have both visited his grave.

William Harcourt Adam, 1916-1944 (from Bill Douglas)

The picture below, from Ishbel and Douglas McEwan shows Willie Adam senior:

Generation  VI : Family of Thomas Dow and Jean Ferguson

1. Margaret Dow, born c 1830 – died 1911

2. Alexander Dow, born c1832- died 1884

3. Thomas Dow, born c 1840- died 1911

4. James Dow, born c 1845

5. Janet Dow, born c 1848- died 1911

6. Robert Dow, born 1850

Michael Wittmann. In July 1944 Willie Adam was fighting on the British side in the desperate and heroic struggle to take this crucial town. Controversy still exists over the subject as to whether Montgomery had let down his American allies by failing to take the town much sooner or whether he was taking the heat off them by drawing the Germans away.

Montgomery has also been criticised for being overly cautious as a commander but it may be that he was showing realism regarding Britain’s declining manpower pool. He may have been reasoning that Britain simply couldn’t afford two or three huge battles of the WW1 type. The Normandy campaign was certainly on a par with those major battles.

By the time Britain and Canada advanced on Caen the Germans had bolstered their defences and they had the remarkably powerful and well protected King Tiger tanks in support. Michael Wittman was a decorated German war hero, a tank commander. He played a major role in holding back the Allies at Caen until his death in August.

You can read a lot about him in military history books, on Wikipedia and he pops up, or at least the tanks do, in wargames. The photo above comes from

The Dinnings

Alexander and Elizabeth‘s second child, Margaret (1862-1931) married a man named James Dinning. He was a boiler maker at the time of their marriage. According to family legend, as related by my father, a Dinning won the Military Medal in World War One. Presumably this was a son. Dad says he was another James Dinning and he remembers him as an active man who made things happen, eg he would get a party started by singing a song. He also says he was the only WW1 veteran he knew who was ready to jump into action when the next war began.

In 1891 the family lived at Richard Street. James was a boiler riveter and caulker, born in Ayrshire. He and Margaret were both 29. Children were Alexander, 5, Robert 2, James was a baby and there was a boarder, William H Adam, a 26 year old boilermaker from Cambusnethan. He was to later marry Mary Dow after Charles Douglas’s death.

The Dinnings on the 1901 census comprised father James, 39, who was a boilermaker rivetter and his wife Margaret, also 39. Children Alexander, 15, was a baker’s van Boy and two year old Frances. The others were all at school: Robert, James, John and Elizabeth.

The 1914 and 1915 burgh electoral register lists father James, boilermaker, Robert Dow Dinning, same occupation, and James Dinning junior, apprentice pawnbrorker, as living at 3 Richard Street.

I have found medal rolls for only seven James Dinnings, 3 of whom did not survive the war. One was in the Royal Engineers and I have not found his medals, two of the others (Highland Light Infantry and Tank Corps received the standard Victory Medal and British War Service Medal; the final James Dinning transferred from the 1st Ayrshire Yeomanry (a private) to the Royal Scots Fusiliers (a corporal). He had three medals- the two as above and the Mons Star, awarded to those present in 1914.

However, his service number (295063) links to J Dinning of the 12th Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers, who received the Distinguished Service Medal for an action on 31st October 1918. His rank is given as Pte (Lce Cpl). It was at Audenarde, ie the Oudenarde where Marlborough’s army defeated the French 300 years earlier. His own Lewis gun section (which he commanded) having their gun put out of action, Dinning bayonet charged the enemy machine gun responsible and then did the same with a second enemy machine gun, killing the enemy and capturing the guns.

Unfortunately this brave soldier’s service record has not survived. This means we cannot be sure when he enlisted: was he a professional soldier who joined the Ayrshire Yeomanry in peacetime or did he join almost as soon as war was declared? To be eligible for the Mons Star he had to be in France by 22nd November 1914, which would follow 6 weeks basic training at home if he had just joined up. We may safely assume this was the James Dinning born in 1891. ScotlandsPeople index records the death of a James Dinning in 1887, the elder brother of the same name.

Picture below of James Dinning comes from Ishbel and Douglas McEwan:

Distinguished Service Medal (from

Map showing the action at Caen in 1944, from

The Dinnings lived at 3 Alexander Street between 1910 and 1925. Patriarch James was paying £17-10 in rent in 1915 and this increased to £22-10 in 1920 and then again to £26-0 in 1925. His son James junior, the war hero, became a junior pawnbroker and moved into room s in the same tenement. He was paying £15-10 in 1920 and this increased to £17-10 in 1925. By this time he was married and had a son, Robert Dow Dinning, named after the brother he lost at the Somme.

The 1911 census included questions to help the government with future housing and current health needs. From this we know the couple had had 9 children born alive and that 6 were still alive. This means there is another birth for me to identify.

I have taken the following information about Barnhill Poorhouse from Given the strict discipline it may be that Thomas just chose to leave even if he was not fit to work or able to look after himself:

In 1885, Malcolm M’Neill (Visiting Officer for the Board of Supervision) reported on conditions at Barnhill. The “Class C” diet he refers to comprised meal and milk for breakfast and supper, and bread and meat-broth for dinner.

  1. The House appeared to me clean and orderly throughout.
  2. My attention was attracted by the large amount of bread etc. stored in the Infirm Wards, and on enquiry I learned that the issue is made but once daily instead of with each separate meal. The Committee should consider this subject and in my opinion should direct the issue of each ration complete at the meal hour, and the removal after a reasonable interval of the unconsumed food.
  3. The women in the washhouse still receive tea and bread in addition to class C diet — an unnecessary, and in some respects, mischievous indulgence.
  4. The diet of the children is wisely varied, and their appearance is satisfactory, but I must still urge the substitution of sweet milk for butter milk in the whole of this class.
  5. When the furnishing of the test wards is undertaken I should propose to the Committee the abolition of the double bed to contain mother and child, and the introduction of a small crib for each infant, placed beside, or at the foot of, the mother’s bed.

According to Barr (1972), strict discipline was observed in Barnhill. Able bodied inmates were required to make up 350 bundles of firewood per day and stonebreakers were expected to break 5 cwt. per day. Any inmate not producing the stated amount was put on a bread and water diet in solitary confinement for 12 hours. Disorderly conduct such as swearing or breaking of rules, resulted in being put on a diet, excluding milk and buttermilk, for a period of three days.

Image below of Abbey Poorhouse, Renfrew, comes from the same site.

Below, image from Pinterest of an old cottage at Pollokshaws:

Alexander Dow the joiner and his Family

Alexander Dow who married Catherine Jenkins Virtue was a joiner. Douglas and Ishbel McEwan were able to tell me off the top of their heads that the family business was at 340 North Woodside Road, Glasgow. By using on-line street directories I found that Alexander was there from 1921/22 with one son. They described themselves as joiners and cabinet makers. Several other directories are available on-line, allowing me to see that the business continued certainly until 1941/42. The seven entries from 1936/37 onwards describe Alexander Dow and sons as wrights and carpenters.

Their home address is also listed: until 1924/25 this was 84 North Hanover Street, then it became 8 Trefoil Avenue, Shawlands. In 1941/42 it was listed as 243 Maxwell Road.  Father Alexander died of cerebral thrombosis in 1947 at 84 North Hanover Street.

I have not been able to locate the family on the 1921 census so far but know that Catherine Jenkins Virtue died on 31st March 1932 at home.

The Hanover Street address was very useful because that led to a Glasgow Roll of Honour on-line, which listed two Dows of that address killed in WW1. The register of effects of one led me to the names of his family.

Those killed in the war were John R Dow, a private in the Black Watch and his brother Robert Brown Dow who was listed as a sergeant in the Machine Gun Corps. I found from Ancestry that Robert had been born in Saltcoats, Ayrshire. He died on 4th July 1917 of wounds. The register of effects suggests he died at the General  Hospital at  St Omer.

Robert was entitled to the standard two medals. His number in the Machine Gun Corps was 1055. However, he is also listed as being in the Royal Tank Corps at the time of his death, number 206113. The effects shows payment of £6-3-11 to father Alexander and later £7-10 was paid to him, too. Brothers Alexander and James received £1-3-8 each, sister Jeannie B[uchanan] and brother Thomas B received £1-3-7 each. Father Alexander also received £12.

The 1901 census shows the family living at Seggie Place, Manse Road, Dalziel, Motherwell. Alexander was a joiner, foreman, at the time. Eldest son Alexander was born in Greenock around 1890, Jeanie Buchanan was born at Saltcoats (I found her birth was on 25th June 1891 at Ardrossan), Robert was also born there. John who was 6 and 4 year old James were born in Wishaw, Lanarkshire and 1 year old Thomas was born at Motherwell.

The Valuation Rolls show Alexander Dow, joiner, paying £22 in rent for part of 84 North Hanover Street in 1915 (VR102/1072/48) and £4-10 for a workshop at the same building. In 1920 he was paying £28-5 but there was no workshop. I presume business had expanded in the meantime and he had acquired premises elsewhere.

Alexander and Catherine’s eldest son Alexander was born at Ardrossan, Saltcoats, Ayrshire in 1890. He was living with his parents at Union Street, Ardrossan at the time of the 1891 census. Father was a house joiner at the time.

Son Alexander went to America in 1923 according to the 1930 Federal census. He was living with his Irish born wife Matilda and his son (also Alexander) in Pennsylvania. They married at Anderston, Glasgow in 1917.  Their son Alexander was born in Scotland. According to the 1930 census Alexander’s wife and son followed him in 1925 to America. Indeed, I have seen documentation of this on Ancestry. He was working as an assembler at a battery company. The family home was at 618 Fanshawe Street. The house value was given as $30, which contrasts with $5000 in the next street. I am not sure if it was rented or owned. At this time wife and son were classed as aliens but Alexander had begun the process of claiming citizenship, “first papers”. Alexander died on 17th January 1936 at Norristown, Montgomery, Pennsylvania. His grandson Roger has informed me that Alexander died at a very young age.

I am indebted to Roger Dow in Philadelphia for the information that his grandmother, Matilda, was born Matilda Wyle Elder in what became Northern Ireland. She was known as Tilly. They went on to have a son, Alexander Grant Dow, discussed below. Roger tells me that his grandfather bore the middle name Ulysis and he thinks possibly Virtue.

Their son (Alexander Grant Dow) became an American citizen through the District Court at San Francisco in April 1944. He was there whilst servng with US Navy. He served from 31st July 1943 to 10th February 1946, when he was discharged at Bainbrige, Maryland. He had joined at Philadelphia. His address when he joined up was 6531 Rising Sun Avenue, Philadelphia. His service number was 8181853. Alexander saw domestic service until 20th January 1945 when he was sent overseas. When he applied for veteran status in 1950 Alexander’s address was 5000 Akron Street, Philadelphia.

Alexander married Elizabeth Henrietta Hoefer and the address at Rising Sun Avenue was where they were living. Whether he was lodging with them or vice versa is not clear. Alexander died aged 81 on either 6th or 8th November 2001 at Levittown, Pennsylvania. He was cremated.

Photo, likely to be of Robert Dinning (left), provided by Ishbel and Douglas McEwan:

Mary Dow is on the left; this photo is known in the family as “The Four Generations” as it shows Mary with her daughter Jean Russell nee Douglas, grand daughter Maisie Donald and great grand daughter Jean Davis.

Generation IX: Family of Charles Douglas and Mary Dow

1. Charles Alexander Douglas, born 1897

2. Elizabeth Baxter Douglas, born 1898

3. Alexander Dow Douglas, born 1901

4. Mary Dow Douglas, born 1903

5. Jane Clark Douglas, born 1905

6. John Galloway Douglas, born 1906

Generation IX: Family of Mary Dow and William Adam:

William Harcourt Adam, 1916-1944

Photo below of Maggie Dinning, who was a professional singer (from Ishbel McEwan)

John Dinning and the War

John was old enough to be conscripted into the army in WW1. His health may have been a factor against it but he would still have been called up. It is a question of whether the papers were destroyed in WW2 or not.

I have found papers, intriguingly, of a John Dinning who joined up at Hamilton with the Canadian Army. This might be our John, perhaps an indicator that he wanted to make a future overseas.

Elizabeth Baxter Dinning

Elizabeth married a blacksmith called William Ewing in 1923 and they had two sons, James Dinning Ewing in 1924 and, William Ewing in 1928. In the 1950s the family lived at 42 Cloverhill Road in Glasgow. James married Fiona McColl and William (an aircraft engineer)  married Eileen Burns. He had children.

The grave of Charles Douglas and Mary Douglas nee Dow, later Adam

Generation IX: family of Margaret Dow and James Dinning

1. Thomas Dinning, born 1883

2. Alexander Dow Dinning, 1885-1921

3. James Dinning, 1887-1887

4. Robert Dow Dinning, 1888 – 1916

5. James Dinning, 1891-1957

6. John Dinning, 1893 – 1945

7. Elizabeth Baxter Dinning, 1895-1976

8. Frances Newell Dinning, 1898-1973

Fanny Dinning married Bobby Edmiston in 1920 and they had 3 daughters. One died of TB in 1944. I would love to hear from the daughters of the other two.

John Dinning

In December 2015 I found a little on John Dinning on Find My Past. He joined the Union Society of Boilermakers and Iron Shipbuilders on July 9th 1912 at the age of 18 (MSS.192/BM/2/2/16) and is included in the books for 1912, 1916, 1917-18. His membership number was 1388A.

Ancestry has proven very useful in helping me find out about the youngest Dinning boy. There are half a dozen documents available to view there. It seems that he married in 1919 to a woman named Robina (or Rubina) Muir, known as Ruby. He was a draughtsman and in summer 1923 he emigrated from Glasgow to Canada, landing at St John’s New Brunswick but with an onward address at 77 Kenneth Avenue, Toronto where his aunt Mrs Margaret Morrison lived. John sailed on SS Athenia, second class, and had $50 with him. He had paid his own ticket. However, he immediately tried to gain entry to America, aiming for Detroit, and was refused entry. This may have been because he had a history of heart disease, though he told the doctor it had not stopped him working.

John was described as 5ft 7 ins, medium complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. There is a common theme to the men in my family, it seems, regarding height.

His wife and 3 year old son James, meanwhile, succeeded in gaining entry. They sailed the next month on SS Saturnia. On 17th December 1924 John succeeded in crossing the border. 637 West 60th Street, Chicago was his destination, to join his wife. This was their address for the rest of his life.

In 1930 he applied for naturalisation and this was granted. Next year he returned home to Scotland, I think on his own; his address when he made the journey to New York was 4 Brechin St, Glasgow.

The 1930 Federal Census shows that the Dinnings were living with Ruby’s brother and his family and with a family named Sims. All were Scottish and all were brothers in law of each other. John appears to have been unemployed at this time, whether he had been laid off or was ill we do not know. Certainly he applied in November 1936 for social security support. Ruby only became an American in 1937, and I think James also did at this time.

John received a draft card in late 1942. I presume this was not a serious attempt to enlist him as he was 49 and had a history of heart disease: I assume it was a preliminary stage. In any case John died in April 1945 aged only 51.

His son James married in June 1945 to Sophie Dzerkowsky at Cook County, Illinois. He died in Florida in 2001 but was buried at Willow Springs, Illinois so I assume they had Florida as a winter home.

Action at Caen

The following information is taken directly from Wikipedia:

On 9 June, General Bernard Montgomery, Commander of all ground troops in Normandy, ordered that Caen be taken by a pincer movement. The eastern arm of the attack would consist of I Corps’s 51st (Highland) Infantry Division. The Highlanders would cross into the Orne bridgehead, the ground gained east of the Orne during Operation Tonga, and attack southwards to Cagny, 6 mi (9.7 km) to the southeast of Caen. XXX Corps would form the pincer’s western arm; the 7th Armoured Division would advance east, cross the Odon River to capture Évrecy and the high ground near the town (Hill 112).

Over the next few days XXX Corps battled for control of the town of Tilly-sur-Seulles, defended by the Panzer-Lehr Division and elements of the 12th SS Panzer Division; the allied forces became bogged down in the bocage (hedgerows), unable to overcome the formidable resistance offered. I Corps were delayed moving into position, so their attack was rescheduled for 12 June. When the 51st Highland Division launched its attack, it faced stiff resistance from the 21st Panzer Division in its efforts to push south; with the Highlanders unable to make progress, by 13 June the offensive east of Caen was called off.

                                             The City Poor House

The City Poorhouse was opened in 1845, based on the old Lunatic Asylum. It housed 1500 inmates. Conditions in Poor Houses were notoriously bad, as made famous by Dickens, but this one must have been very bad as two reports next year condemned it. Press reports led to an enquiry in 1887.

                                            Weaver’s Cottage, Kilbarchan

From Thomas Dow may have lived and worked in such a dwelling. This was built in 1793, so was probably better than houses built 50 years before. This cottage is open to the public.

John Dinning arriving in Canada, 1923 (from Ancestry)