Monthly Archives: February 2021

Alexander Jamieson Dean of Urquhart

Alexander Jamieson Dean of Urquhart

I’ve always thought that Scotland has a vast number of beautiful cemeteries. Beautiful not only in the memorials they contain and how they are laid out but what they look out on – a beautiful hillside, swathes of farmland or stunning hillsides.

Dean family headstone in Urquhart Cemetery © C Sklinar 2020

Cluny cemetery in Forres is one that I particularly feel drawn towards due to its setting. Another is Urquhart cemetery which is overlooked by fields and is where my grandparents, and aunt and uncle rest. Whenever I walk around both the old and new sections of Urquhart cemetery I see familiar names and places. The names include Douglas, Hay, Petrie and of course, Riach. The places, well Inchbroom, Innes Estate, Bogmoor and Nether Meft all bring back very fond memories of spending time with my grandfather at Rutherhill, Lhangbryde.

Alexander Jamieson Dean – could he be in some way related to a family friend who had the surname Jamieson? Anyway, Alexander Jamieson Dean was 3 months old when the census enumerator called on the family home in 1891. The enumerator that day recorded the names of nine people – Alexander (34) and Jessie Dean (24) Alexander’s parents. Then there was Robert Dean (22) Alexander’s (Snr) brother. Then there were servants ranging in ages from 35 down to John Young aged five.

Ten years later in 1901, Alexander had four siblings. As well as a domestic servant the farm had a cattleman, shepherd and horseman. Young John Young had gone – could he have been connected to one of the female servants who no longer worked on the Jointurelands farm?

During his school years, AJD attended Elgin Academy then returned to full-time work on the farm.

The peaceful time on the farm was soon to be interrupted as the summer of 1914 quickly came around.

AJM joined the Seaforth Highlands, the 1/6th (Morayshire) Battalion, raised in Elgin in August 1914 as part of the Seaforth and Cameron Brigade. The 1/5th (Sutherland and Caithness) and 1/6th both landed in France as part of the 152nd Brigade in the 561st Highland Division in May 1915 and served on the Western Front.

Alexander initially served as 4517, then after changing battalion, company or some other change to his service his number became 267076. He enlisted after 1914, as he was only eligible for the British and Victory Medals.

AJM and his fellow soldiers served in Belgium in the 3rd Battle of Ypres – The Battle of Passchendaele. Fought from July to November 1917, the bloody and muddy battle was to take control of the ridges south of Ypres.

Alexander’s death in the Army Register of Soldiers Effects is ‘on or since’ te 31st of July 1917 ‘Death Presumed’. His mother, Jessie was to receive £6 19s 6d in October 1918 followed by a War Gratuity payment of £3 in December 1919. Early in the morning of 31st July 1917, the Battle of Pilckem Ridge began. Could AJM have been killed in this battle? Pilckem is only a few miles north of where he rests in New Irish Cemetery. According to the information for New Irish Cemetery it appears that many graves were brought in to the newer cemetery, this included Pilckem Road Cemetery.

After the war Jessie (Taylor) Dean applied for a pension – I don’t think her claim was all that successful!

Section of Urquhart War Memorial

As well as being remembered on the Scottish National Roll of Honour, AJM is remembered locally in Urquhart, the village of his birth, Elgin Academy and the Morayshire Roll of Honour where his entry reads –

“DEAN, Alexander Jamieson. No. 267076, Pte., 6th Seaforth Highlanders; born at Jointure-land, 8th Dec, 1891; joined at Elgin, 22nd Sept., 1916; served in France; killed at Ypres, 31st July, 1917. Son of Alexander Dean (deceased), Jointureland, and Jessie Taylor or Dean. Occupation, farm manager”.

A Soldier Remembered in Linkwood Cemetery, Elgin

A Soldier Remembered in Linkwood Cemetery, Elgin

I sit down with all good intentions to write another section of my blog. Yes, good intentions, but it takes me longer to decide who to write about than it does to put the information into words. I have so many photographs of military-connected and interesting headstones choosing who should be next is extremely hard.

Once again it is a Scottish cemetery that is providing the headstone – Linkwood Cemetery, Elgin, Morayshire. Technically, the subjects memorial is not a headstone but a plaque. To be precise one of a set of four plaques for the MacPherson family.

It was one of these simple plaques that caught my eye and yes, you have probably guess correctly that it has a military connection.

Elizabeth MacPherson died in July 1916; Catherine Duff MacPherson died in May 1895. Robert MacPherson died in 1926. But the MacPherson that interests me is John Cook MacPherson.

JCM was born on the 30th of January 1886. The son of Robert MacPherson and Catherine Duff. Robert was the Minister of Elgin.

JCM and his family were living at the Manse, Elgin in 1891. In 1901, he was living in The Manse, Monymusk with his aunt and uncle, William and Elizabeth MacPherson.

After attending local schools JCM attended Aberdeen University studying law. While at university he was a private in ‘U’ Company, Gordon Highlanders.

At the outbreak of war in 1914 JCM was working in the Solicitor’s Department of the North British Railway Company. According to some sources his health had not been the best he did still enlist in September 1914 to the 9th Battalion of the Royal Scots. Initially serving as Private 2383 he was soon to gain his commission and become a 2nd Lieutenant. In February 1915 he entered France. His medal card includes an address for his father on the reverse side – The Rev’d R MacPherson D.D., The Manse, Helensburgh. Very few medal cards include any information on the reverse.

Now commissioned to the 11th Battalion Royal Scots and attached to the3rd Battalion Gordon Highlanders. l He underwent further training and was now attached to the 1st Battalion. It was while serving with them that he was killed in action while leading the remnant of his Company for the third time to manoeuvre their way through a wire entanglement during the fighting at Loos, on September 25th 1915.

Aberdeen University – Roll of Service tell ‘His personality was one of unusual charm, and his kindly and genial manner had gained for him a wide circle of friends. In literature and art, he took a keen interest, and was Editor of “Alma Mater”. A slightly dilettante attitude concealed to some extent his more solid characteristics, but the war swept aside what was never more than an attractive pose and brought out the true nature of the man. By his friends, Macpherson will be remembered as an example of the best type which the Scottish Universities produce.

A wonderful source of information for WW1 research is De Ruvigney’s Roll of Honour 1914-1918. Now online, I am proud to say I own a set and have spent many an afternoon looking through its pages. Luckily enough JCM is included along with a picture so I can see what a handsome man he was. This entry also includes more information than his university entry.

Macpherson, John Cook extracted from Du Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour

MACPHERSON, JOHN COOK, 2nd Lieut., 3rd (Reserve) Battn. The Gordon Highlanders. 3rd s (son) of the Reb. Robert MacPherson, D.D., V.D., Minister of Elgin, by his wife, Catherine Duff, dau. of the Rev. George Cook D.D., of Kincardine; b (born) The Manse, Elgin, 30 Jan. 1886′ educ. Elgin Academy; Aberdeen, and Edinburgh Universities, where he graduated M.A. in 1910, and subsequently LL.B.; was Assistant to the Solicitor of the North British Railway Company; joined the 9th Battn. Royal Scots (T.F.) as a Private in Sept. 1914, after the outbreak of war; was gazetted 2nd Lieut. 3rd Gordon Highlanders, 6 March 1915; went to France in July, 1915, and was killed in action near Hulluch 25 Sept. following. The Chaplain Reb. Alex. M. Maclean, C.M.G., attached 1st Gordons, wrote: “When the order was given to advance, the Gordons sprang as one man from their trenches. They swept on to the German lines like a torrent. The right wing found the barbed wire smashed to atoms by artillery and walked straight into the German trenches. The centre and left-wing found the barbed wire intact, possibly because of some depression in the ground which diverted the artillery fire. The night before this was noticed, and an engineer party detailed to deal with it; but unfortunately, they got knocked out before the work was done, and in the dark nothing could be seen. The wire was five feet high and about eight feet broad – a tangled mass only a few yards from the German loopholes. The Gordons charged right up to this formidable barrier. They tried to get over it, to get under it, to get through it, but not to go back. They died there on the wire, and your son and the foremost of them. His body was found by a gallant party which crawled out in the dark the night after and brought him in… Your son is buried with other officers just behind the line in what is called Sanctuary Wood. The exact spot is registered and marked by the Graves Registration Commission. His funeral was a soldier’s funeral, very reverent and solemn.”

Menin Gate CWGC image

In the extracted letter to JCM’s father, it tells that JM was buried at Sanctuary Wood. I now have been hit by the curiosity bug as the CWGC have JCM having no known grave and being remembered with thousands of others on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres. The CWGC details for the memorial doesn’t mention anything about why this information differs. However, when I looked at Sanctuary Wood Cemetery information there was the answer.
There were three cemeteries at Sanctuary Wood before June 1916, all of which were made between May and August  During the Battle of Mount Sorrel, these cemeteries were all but destroyed. Hence, JCM being remembered in Ypres. There were traces of the second cemetery later found and this formed the start of the present day cemetery.

After JCM’s death, his father went on to receive over £47 in 1916 followed by £5 War Gratuity in 1919.

The Scotsman of Wednesday 6th October 1915 includes the death notice for JCM, followed by the Aberdeen Press and Journal issue of Saturday 4th November 1916 tells that Aberdeen

J C MacPherson from the University Roll of Honour

University was compiling a Memorial Number of ‘Alma Mater’ worth of Aberdeen University and its glorious war record. No fewer, at the time, that 42 admirable portraits had been given of graduates and students who had made the supreme sacrifice. JCM was one of 2,852 University staff, students and alumni who served in the First World War, of which 341 lost their lives.

As well as being remembered in his University Roll of Honour, JCM has an entry in The Morayshire Roll of Honour, along with a page in the Libindex.

Does John Cook MacPherson have a place in your family tree?

Another Walk Around Sugar Lane – Camidge & Umpleby

Another Walk Around Sugar Lane – Camidge & Umpleby

I don’t know about you, but I thoroughly enjoy a walk around a cemetery. Well, saying that it has to be a nice day. I have, however, been around Sugar Lane on rather wet and windy days. It is not a pleasant experience, especially when copying information and trying to photograph. The writing I can cope with… just – it’s the raindrops on the camera lens that are a tad annoying.

Who is the focus of this walk? It is hard to decide. After looking at over 1,000 photographs, I homed in on a headstone mentioning two unusual surnames – Camidge and Umpleby. Names that you would not find in the top 50 English surnames. Nevertheless, these are the names, but to whom do they belong?

The people named on the headstone would be an ancestor to home in on, whose lives any family historian would find interesting.

Firstly, Charles Joseph Camidge. Born York in 1901 to Matthew Camidge and his wife Mary Ann Shaw. Matthew Camidge (1758-1844) a musician is included in Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. Matthew, like his father John, was a musician and composer. Educated at Cambridge, he returned to York. Both Matthew and John originated the York musical festivals – on a small scale beginning with Handel’s Messiah at the Belfry Church. Just for interest, Matthews will is on Ancestry in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. It is quite hard to read but does cover a few pages.

Back to Charles Joseph in 1861, he was living at the Vicarage, Wakefield with his wife Charlotte. His job, the Vicar of Wakefield. While the Vicar of Wakefield he consulted with Sir Gilbert Scott when in 1857, a report had been completed concerning the condition of the church. It was found that the tower and spire were decaying at an alarming rate and the work should be carried out first. Scott also suggested that if the church was to be re-seated it should be done in oak. Well, we all know what has happened to the seating! With the work completed at a cost of over £20,000, the church was formally re-opened in 1874. Newspapers of the time reported that the restoration included the re-casing of the tower in 1859, the erection of a magnificent spire in 1860. The removal of the galleries and substituting open stalls for large family pews. Several painted glass windows were also included as was a valuable reredos and new heating and lighting systems. Not bad value for £20,000. Can you imagine how much the work would cost now? And would it take longer than 17 years?

I wonder what CJ thought of the opening ceremony?

‘Charles Joseph Camidge, formerly Vicar of Wakefield and Honourary Canon of Ripon Cathedral but late of Leamington, died on the 10th of February 1878 at Leamington’. His Probate continues to tell that it was proven in Birmingham and that Charlotte, his relict was the sole Executrix.

So that’s CJ’s short story. Let me tell you about another name on the large stone darkened by age and industry – Rev. Matthew Camidge. Who is he? Matthew is CJ’s older brother.

St Andrew’s
Church, Moscow via Wikipedia

Matthew in 1861 was the incumbent at St John’s Church, Wakefield. Before this, he had been the British Chaplain in Russia to St Andrew’s Church (Moscow). The Chapel established in 1828 replaced a previous chapel burnt in 1812. Matthew had as his congregation both English and Scottish subjects with 200 people regularly attending services. At this time approximately 400 British Subjects were living and working in the City. The date of Matthew returning to the UK is sometime after 1851but before 1861. In the 1851 census, Matthew is in Kimbolton, Nottinghamshire, a visitor in the home of Thomas Charlewood, Vicar of the village. He gave his occupation as Chaplain to British Factory Cons******, Russia.

Matthew’s Probate reads ’16 November. The Will with a Codicil of the Reverend Matthew Camidge late of St John’s, Wakefield in the County of York Clerk deceased who died 2 November 1863 at Wakefield aforesaid was proved at Wakefield by the oath of the Reverend Charles Joseph Camidge of Wakefield aforesaid Clerk vicar of Wakefield aforesaid the Brother and sole Executor’. Effects under £1,500.

The next on my list is David Umpleby. Who is he? What connection does he have with the Camidge family to be included?

With a little bit of digging the connection was found. David married Charles Joseph and Matthews sister, Mary Ann or Marianne. The couple married in 1823 at St Michael le Belfry, York. Marianne died in September 1863 aged 71. Researcher beware there are some family trees on Ancestry that have her death year incorrectly recorded.

David Umpleby, only appears in the one census – 1841, as he dies in 1843. When the enumerator walked his round he called on the Umpleby household. Their home was Highfield, Lancaster. Where David like his brother’s in law, was a Clerk in Holy Order, a Vicar. Marianne had two female servants (F.S.) and one male servant (M.S.). also recorded on that night was one 19-year-old Elizabeth Maude and 11-year-old John R Pedder. What their relationship to the Umpleby’s I have not looked any further to find out.

Camidge / Umpleby Headstone © C Sklinar 2020

There are other’s named on the headstone which reads

‘In hope of the resurrection to Eternal Life through our Lord Jesus Christ Here rest the mortal remains of William Henry Camidge, younger son of Charles Joseph Camidge, M.A. and Charlotte his wife, who died 10 Sept. 1839 aged 17 years. Marianne Umpleby, widow of the rev. David Umpleby, M.A. who died September 29th 1863 aged 71 years. Rev Matthew Camidge, M.A. British Chaplain in Russia. who died November 1st 1863, aged 68 years. Rev Canon Camidge, M.A. Vicar of wakefield and Rural Dean who died February 10th 1878 aged 76 years. Charlotte Camidge, widow of the late Canon Camidge, M.A. who died September 7th 1887 aged 77 years.

A headstone can tell you a little or a lot. But there is always more to be found.

If you want to hear music from the Camidge family you could always search Youtube.

Alexander Riach Masson

Alexander Riach Masson

When researching a families history or researching a One-Name Study, there is always one or two people, maybe more, that calls out to you – some even shout…Find Me!

One such name that shouted out the other day sparked my curiosity not because of his name but of where he was when he died.

Who am I talking about? – His name is Alexander Riach Masson.

Masson although I’d come across the name on a couple of occasions with links to the RIACH family. It was his middle name that caught my attention.  Alexander’s middle name, Riach is his mother’s maiden name.  The Scottish Naming Tradition can be such a help when looking for the maiden name of a wife and mother.

I already knew Alexander’s mother’s name from the family headstone inscription.

So, what did Alexander do in life and who were his parents?

Alexander, born in 1889, was the son of James Masson (1845-1931) and Elizabeth Riach (1851-1926). The marriage of James and Elizabeth took place in Kinloss, Moray, in March 1874. Alexander was probably the youngest of their five boys born between 1875 and 1889.

When looking at the 1881 census for Findhorn James gave his occupation as Seaman and Elizabeth gave hers as Seamans Wife. The time for the 1901 census came around, Elizabeth and Alexander were living at 4 Kirkwood Street, Govan, Lanarkshire with her sister. In 1911, Kinloss was home again to the family.

The Masson family from Findhorn seem to have a long connection with the sea. Many being holding either Master’s or Mate’s Certificates. James, Alexander’s father in later years, became a Master Mariner.

Elizabeth Riach was the daughter of James Riach (1804-1877) and Justina Nicholson. The united families – Riach’s and Masson’s were to be found around Bellie and Findhorn area.

The years past but the Great War was still a painful memory. Both James and Elizabeth had died.  Alexander had gone to sea, like his forebears and another war was on the horizon.

Somehow Alexander ended up in Calcutta, as he was on board the SS Calabria bound for Liverpool via Freetown and Belfast.

S.S. Calabria

The Calabria, a Steam Passenger Ship, built by A B Wesser completed in 1922. Originally, launched as the Wesser she was sold in 1935 to an Italian company and renamed Calabria.

In 1940 Italy declared war on France and Great Britain. At this time the Calabria was in dry dock in Calcutta. On the 11th of June, the Calabria was seized by British Authorities with plans to rename her Empire Inventor. In December of the same year, she set sail for Liverpool loaded with 4,000 tons of iron; 3,050 tons of tea and 1,870 tons of oil cake. Her Master was David Lonie who commanded 128 officers and crew plus 230 supernumeraries, who were travelling to crew other vessels – these were mainly Indian but did include four Hong Kong crewmen and one Danish merchant officer. Her Chief Engineer was Alexander Riach Masson.

The Calabria left Freetown, the capital of Sierre Leone, with convoy SLS-56 but fell behind. Although behind the rest of the convoy she continued her journey through perilous waters.

Slyne Head, Galway

On the evening of the 8th December 1940, some 295 miles west of Slyne Head, Galway, she was spotted by the German U-boat U-103 commanded by Viktor Schultze, a career sailor and highly decorated Commander. He was the recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves.

At 20:58, blacked out and under wartime regulations, she was torpedoed followed by a second six minutes later. The moon, between half and full moon, on a clear night, would have given off- enough light for U-130 to see her against the sky.

The Calabria sank with all hands. According to the crew and passenger list, the eldest on board was Santan Martins, aged 79. Some reports say he was the eldest merchant seaman to be killed at sea during the Second World War. The youngest on board the Calabria was 18 years old, Cadet Leslie Charles Norris.

Alexander was 50 years old when he was lost at sea. But like many others who lost their life at sea, he is remembered on the Tower Hil Memorial. Alexander also included in the Merchant Navy Roll of Honour 1914-1945 and the Roll of Honour Merchant and Fishing Fleet 1939-1945 and the Kinloss War Memorial.

Can you guess one thing that SS Calabria and U-boat U130 have in common?  They were both built by A G Wesser.

The family headstone in Kinloss tells that Alexander was not the only Masson son to die during this period in history:-

Masson / Riach headstone, Kinloss Burial Ground © C Sklinar 2020

In loving memory of ELIZABETH RIACH
beloved wife of JAMES MASSON Master Mariner who
died at Findhorn on the 13th November 1926, aged 75 years.
Also, the above JAMES MASSON who died at Findhorn 13th Aug. 1931, aged 86 years.
And their sons THOMAS Marine Engineer died at Cardiff 13th Jan. 1937, aged 57 years.
ALEXR. RIACH Marine Engineer lost at sea through enemy action 8th Dec. 1940, aged 51 years.
JAMES Seaman, A.M.M. died of wounds through enemy action at Darwin, N.A. (Northern Australia) 4th Jan. 1942, aged 61 years.

Alexander, of South View, Findhorn left over £2000 in his will.

James Masson also served

S.S. Zealander during the attack in 1940

Alexander’s brother James travelled to Australia in 1896 as an apprentice on an unassisted immigrant. Somehow during WW2 James ended up on SS Zealander.

On February the 19th 1942 the Japanese Airforce bombed Darwin. Quite a few bombs fell close to the Zealander – one eventually fell through a hatch and exploded, causing a serious fire. Later Japanese planes attacked with cannons and machine guns. The ammunition hold exploded, while the pumps were disabled by another bomb. The order to Abandon Ship was given.

The Zealander sank to the bottom of the harbour with only its masts visible above the water. Two members of the crew died from sounds but the remaining 142 survived.

Was James Masson one of the two seamen who died of wounds?  It sounds like he could have been.