Charles Chalmers Bryce

Thursday, February 4th, 2021

John Blacklock

Saturday, December 5th, 2020

By Morag T Fyfe

The Morning Post newspaper of 27th August 1846 carried the following article first published in the Glasgow Courier.

DREADFUL CASE OF SUICIDE. – On Monday, an elderly man named John Blacklock, a clerk in a writer’s office in this city, committed suicide by cutting his throat with a razor in a most deliberate and shocking manner, at his lodgings, Guildry-court, Bridgegate. The unfortunate man, it appears, had been confined to the house for a few days with illness, but not apparently of a serious nature, and there had been nothing in his manner during that period which could afford the slightest indication to the inmates of the house of his meditating an attempt on his own life; nor were his circumstances such as could be considered likely to produce depression of mind. Yesterday morning he seems to have intimated to his landlady a desire to be served with a cup of tea about eleven o’clock; and on her entering his room about that hour to supply him with the beverage, in accordance with his request, he (being then in bed) manifested some irritability of temper at being disturbed. In about an hour afterwards the attention of the people of the house was attracted by a noise in the room, and on entering, the unhappy man was found extended on the floor in the midst of his blood, which streamed from a dreadful wound across his throat, evidently inflicted by means of a razor which lay beside him. Medical aid was immediately procured, but life was quite extinct. The motive which had impelled the unfortunate man to the act of self-destruction appears quite inexplicable to every one with whom he was in any way connected here. We understand he was a married man, but living separate from his wife, whose place of abode is in Ayrshire.

The burial register of the Glasgow Necropolis records the burial of John Blacklock aged 64 on 26th August 1846. He was buried in 2nd Iota which denotes a common grave with no headstone.

Ebenezer Bell

Saturday, December 5th, 2020

By Morag T Fyfe

In the Burial Register for the Glasgow Necropolis is the following intriguing entry:-

4th August 1835. Ebenezer Bell, late clerk to Mr John Todd. Aged 72 years. Cause of death: accident (caused by injuries sustained in the blowing up of the Earl Grey steamer). Buried by son James Bell in Compartment Delta, lair seven (Single Grave).

In Glasgow Necropolis records the term ‘Single Grave’ is used for what is more usually called a common grave. Twelve burials took place in this grave between June and August 1835.

It turns out that the Earl Grey was a wooden steamer of 105 tons built in 1832 by Duncan & Co and owned by David Napier. She plied between Glasgow and Rothesay under the command of James Johnstone.

On the evening of 24th July 1835, while tied up at Greenock Quay, her boiler blew up killing six people and injuring about twenty more. Ebenezer Bell’s name is not among the Glasgow Herald’s list of those severely or slightly injured. Nonetheless his death, on 1st August, is intimated in the death notices of the paper.

As a result of the accident a competition was organized by the Trustees of the River Clyde for some practical means of preventing such an explosion in the future. The prize of 100 guineas was split between J B Neilson and George Mills who both produced designs for a safety valve.

Three years after Ebenezer’s death James Bell purchased a lair in compartment Omega in which he buried two infant children. The present stone on the grave seems to date from the death of James in 1883 and does not mention his father.

James Bell was a printer and with his partner Andrew Bain founded the company Bell & Bain in 1831 which is still in existence.

Glasgow Herald. 27th July 1835, 31st July 1835, 3rd August 1835
The Clyde from its source to the sea, by WJ Millar. 1888


Baxter Family

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

The Baxter family and their unlucky association with water

By Morag T Fyfe

Based on an article which first appeared in Grave Matters 5, Autumn 2018.

Fresh water
There is a poignant entry in the Burial Registers of the Necropolis against 27th June 1844 which records the accidental drowning of Jane Arthur Craig, aged 18 years, wife of Walter Baxter, Esq. Jane’s death caught the attention of several newspapers both Scottish and English including The Scotsman, Caledonian Mercury, Greenock Advertiser, Glasgow Herald, Perthshire Courier, the Morning Post and Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper. The reports are virtually identical and presumably copy that in the Glasgow Herald which was the earliest to be published, on 24th June. A typical one is as follows:

On Saturday last, a most melancholy accident took place near the Falls of Clyde. On the morning of that day a small party of friends left Glasgow for the purpose of visiting the Falls and spending a holiday, amongst whom were Mr and Mrs Walter Baxter, of Buchanan Street. After having seen the two lower Falls, the party separated, one portion proceeding upwards to visit the Bonnington Fall, while Mr and Mrs Baxter and a friend remained behind. They seated themselves on the banks of the river waiting the return of their friends, when Mrs Baxter expressed a wish to see Wallace’s Cave, which was below, and in the immediate vicinity. She accordingly went to the spot, accompanied by the friend already alluded to, and having surveyed the locality, requested that he would call her husband to participate in the sight. Leaving Mrs Baxter seated by the river’s brink, the gentleman retired a few paces to call her husband, and, on his return, found that in the very brief interval that had elapsed, Mrs Baxter had disappeared. Whether the unfortunate lady had fainted and unconsciously fallen from the top of the rock, or whether she had risen and approached too near the brink and fallen into the flood, must forever remain a mystery – for the only trace left behind her was her handkerchief, lying upon the rocky seat which she had occupied when her friend proceeded to call her husband. A search was immediately made for the body, which was not, however, discovered till early the following (Sunday) morning, and within a few yards of the place where the accident happened. Mrs Baxter had been married only nine months before.

Jane Arthur Craig was born on 24th October 1825 to James Craig and Margaret Aitken Blackburn. She and Walter Baxter married on 13th September 1843, a month before her eighteenth birthday. Walter was a partner in Isaac Baxter & Son, Italian warehousemen, the firm later diversifying into confectioners, grocers, oilmen and wine merchants. The couple set up home in North Montrose Street, Glasgow and when Walter remarried in 1845, he and his second wife, Jessie Fulton Knight, continued to live there until they moved to Blythswood Square. At his death in 1869 aged 58 Walter was buried in the family lair in compartment Alpha which had been bought originally for Jane’s burial twenty five years previously.

Sea Water
The death of Jane Craig was not the Baxters’ only unhappy association with water and drowning. In 1878, nine years after Walter’s death, the family grave stone records that George Knight Baxter, aged 27, a son of Walter’s second marriage, drowned at sea. The loss of the sailing ship Loch Ard on which George served as second mate was widely reported in the British and Australian press at the time and features on a number of web sites today.

Sailing Ship Loch Ard

Sailing Ship Loch Ard

The Loch Ard was a three masted iron sailing ship built in 1873 by Charles Connell & Co. of Glasgow for the Glasgow Shipping Company (also known as the Loch Line) and their Australia trade. On her last voyage she sailed from the Thames for Melbourne on 2nd March with a crew of thirty seven and seventeen passengers. Approaching journey’s end she was wrecked on 1st June at what was described at the time as Curdie Inlet on the coast of Victoria, Australia. Current web sites describe the location as Mutton Bird Island about 15 miles to the east in an area of spectacular cliffs. Of the fifty four persons onboard only two survived and only four bodies were recovered for burial. George was not one of them.

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