Four Generations of Women


4 generations026

This is a photo of my mother on her wedding day on 10 October 1956 in Glasgow.  In fact this is four generations of women in my family.  In the centre is my great-grandmother (Jemima Chapman b 1886);  sitting down is her daughter, my grandmother (Elizabeth Chapman b 1905); on the left is her daughter, my mother (Janet Brown b 1933) and on the right her sister (Elizabeth Brown b 1932).  The young girl is my cousin (Elaine Robertson b 1954).

This is a happy-sad photo for my mother I am sure.  Happy because it was her wedding day and she was surrounded by her family, but sad because her mother died unexpectedly just a few days later when mum and dad were on their honeymoon.  Gran Brown was a furrier and I was told that this contributed to her untimely death.  I am sure she also had a weak heart but am unsure if these two facts are connected.

I never got to meet her but sometimes my mum would say I looked just like her.  I would like to meet her now.  I am sure she could shed light on some of the mysteries of my family.

My great-grandmother passed away in 1977 and Aunt Elizabeth died in 2001.

Another piece of the puzzle fits


I had an old  piece of brown paper left over from documents given to me by my mother.  It was an extract of a birth of a daughter – Janet – but she didn’t fit anywhere in the family tree.  I sent off to Scotland’s People for the actual birth certificate and this is the story I have managed to piece together.

My great-grandmother, Jessie, was born in 1866 to a poor family in Glasgow.  By the age of 15 she was a Cotton Weaver and by 27 a Thread Mill Worker.  She married my great-grandfather, James Brown, in 1893 and they had three children – James (my grandfather), Jessie and Jane.  Jessie’s husband, James, (my great-grandfather) was an Armourer in the Royal Navy and was based at Portsmouth.  Sadly he was lost at sea in 1915 and his body never recovered.  He was 48.

A year later, Jessie discovered her youngest daughter, Jane, was pregnant.  She was just 18 and unmarried.  It would not have been a good situation to be in then.  James had died without a will so I imagine that life for Jessie and Jane was already tough.  In 1917, Jane gave birth at home to a daughter, Janet.  There were complications and Jane died ten days later in hospital.  The baby survived and was brought up by Jessie, my great-grandmother.

I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for Jessie to lose her husband and youngest daughter within a couple of years of each other, and then to have to bring up her grand-daughter alone.

I delved a little deeper to find out what became of Janet.  She married a man called Victor Rankin.   I felt a jolt!  Victor Rankin?  I remember my mother talking about him.  She spoke of him a lot and said what a lovely man he was; he was always so good to his wife.   So I think this story had a happy ending.

I plan to return to the UK in 2015 and I want to visit Portsmouth to see a memorial to the sailors lost at sea during the war.  My great-grandfather’s name is on it.  And I know where Jane was buried at just 19.  I want to go there and put flowers on her grave in Glasgow.  I look forward to doing that.


2 worn-outs, their 2 eager children, a trusty dog...... and a boat. What's down the road?


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