Using ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk and Ancestry.co.uk, I have traced my direct Hamilton line back to Thomas Hamilton and Marion Tudhope, who were born in the late 1740′s. There is more information on my great grandfather and my Scottish ancestors on my family history website, Hamilton-Family.co.uk.
I began the research with some information e-mailed to me from a fairly close relative. It mentioned my great-grandfather, James Hamilton, was born in Hamilton or Armadale, Scotland, in 1903 (although I later found he was actually born in 1902) and had two sisters, “M. Black and P. Rankin.” who “Emigrated to New Zealand approx. 1937″. I was also sent a scan of my great-uncle’s birth certificate.
I ordered a copy of my great grandparents marriage certificate, which would hopefully give James’ fathers name.
James married Florence Dolman in 1928 in Shotton, Flintshire, Wales. The certificate revealed James’ father was Andrew Hamilton, a gardener – not too surprising, given the Scottish naming patterns, as my grandfather was also named Andrew.
Through more research on Scotland’s People, I found James did have a sister “M. Black” – Margaret Thornton Gray Hamilton married Duncan Black in 1926. His other sister was Janet Fleming Hamilton, who in 1928 married William Dunn. Their father Andrew was a gardener, later worked as a confectioner, before returning to gardening later on in his life. A family tree I found on Ancestry.co.uk belonged to a descendent of Margaret and Duncan Black – and this confirmed they had left Scotland for New Zealand – although it was a few years earlier than 1937.
The last piece of evidence confirmed I had definitely found the correct family – through finding James’ parents Andrew and Margaret’s death certificates, I found they were living at 8 Woodside Walk, Hamilton, Lanarkshire, in the early 1930′s. This was the address on my great uncle’s birth certificate, it explained why he was born in Scotland – James must have returned to Scotland to help look after his parents. His mother died in 1932 at 8 Woodside Walk, and James was the informant on her death certificate. He recorded his address as “Oaklands, Weaver Avenue, Rhyl, North Wales”. His father Andrew died in 1933, less than 3 months after my great uncle was born.
While I’ve discovered plenty of information, there are a few mysteries I haven’t been able to solve.
My great aunt, who married my grandfathers other brother, told me about a plaque they had and kindly sent it down to me:
“JAS [James] HAMILTON & SONS. DAIRY ENGINEERS. GALLOWGATE, GLASGOW, S.E.”
With all the detail on Scottish birth, marriage and death certificates, along with the census records, I’ve found no information to suggest ancestors on the Hamilton side ever lived or worked in Glasgow. Who were James Hamilton & Sons dairy engineers? Are they related, and if so, how? If they aren’t related, why did my great uncle have the plaque?
My great aunt also told me a story which led to another mystery I’d like to solve. She said they had their honeymoon in Scotland (in the 1950′s), and they met James’ nephew, who was also called James Hamilton. He was a butcher and lived in Harthill. Going on my research, James wouldn’t have a nephew named James Hamilton – he had two sisters who were both married, one of them who had left for New Zealand about 25 years earlier.
However James’ father Andrew did have four brothers – three of which married and had children. Maybe this butcher in Harthill was James’ cousins son, nephew would have been easier to say than “first cousin once removed”! Alternatively I suppose it’s possible that the butcher was a son of James’ sister Janet?