Friday, January 3, 2020

Jemima Durie

Durie tartan (personal)
Crown copyright, source: Scottish Register of Tartans;
I’m not ashamed to admit it … I play with elves. For the past seven Christmas seasons, I’ve posted daily pictures of my elf on the shelf named Athya (pronounced like Cathy, but with an A instead of a C). Athya was named for my husband’s grandfather, George Durie Athya. At my request last summer, my son and daughter-in-law gave me a baby elf for my birthday. The baby needed name so it made sense to continue with the Scottish family name and he was given the name Durie. After Christmas was over, it dawned on me that family members wouldn’t necessarily know where the name came from so I decided it was time to dedicate a blog post to a Durie family member to start off the year 2020. Meanwhile, if you’d like to see photos of the elves, click here.

Jemima Durie, daughter of James Durie and Jane Braidwood, was born in the District of Clyde, Glasgow, County Lanark, Scotland on July 26, 1856. There were at least nine children born to James and Jane—Mary Durie, Agnes Durie, Elizabeth Durie, George Durie, Jemima Durie, Andrewina Durie, John Durie, Robert Durie, and Jane Durie. Jemima is the only family member that I have researched at this point so it’s unknown to me how many of the nine survived into adulthood but you’ll see below I’ve taken a guess at some of them. Jemima was my husband’s great-grandmother.

In 1861, Jemima and her family lived at 62 Brown Street in the District of Clyde of the Glasgow St. George civil parish. Her father was an engine smith, a person who “made parts for and repaired engines using the tools of a Smith—similar work to that of a Blacksmith” according to the Hall Genealogy Website of Old Occupation Names. The 1861 census record recorded six children in the home: Mary (11), Elizabeth (10), George (8), Jamima (4), Andrewina (2), and John (3 months). Agnes, who was born about 1851, before Jemima was born, was not enumerated so has most likely died.

By 1871, Jemima and her family had moved to 22 Pitt Street in the Blythswood District of Barony, County Lanarkshire, Scotland. Her father was now an engine fitter, a job where he was “mainly responsible for properly fitting the engine and other electrical parts required in the engine room of a ship” according to Marine Insight. This 1871 census record shows six children in the home: Mary (21), Elizabeth (20), Gane (18 – George), Lemma (14 – Jemima), John (10), and Robert (8). Andrewina was not enumerated in this record. Since she would have been 12 now and too young to leave home, she has most likely died. A brother named Robert was born after the 1861 census was taken.

Jemima married James Athya, son of James Athya and Jane Wylie, at Lancefield Street in Glasgow on March 23, 1877. The marriage record listed her as a spinster, working as a cotton power loom weaver at the time of her marriage Their family would grow to at least nine children—Jane Athya, Margaret Wylie Athya, Elizabeth Athya, Isabella Athya, Robert Durie Athya, John Athya, George Durie Athya, David Athya, and Mary Athya. My husband’s uncle once told me he thought there may have been 13 children, but I haven’t found evidence of that yet. Jemima’s oldest daughter Jane was born in Glasgow about 1877 so I believe the pregnancy happened quickly after the marriage took place and that baby Jane was born by the end of that year.

By 1880, the family had moved to Liverpool, England where were both Margaret and Elizabeth were born, Margaret in 1880 and Elizabeth about 1883. They moved back to Scotland and lived at 5 Reid’s Lane in Wishaw where Isabella was born about 1886. Times must have been tough for the Athya family at that time, enough so that on November 30, 1886, Jemima submitted an Application for Parochial Relief in the Parish of Cambusnethan, Lanarkshire, Scotland. She noted that she was of protestant faith and a housewife. Parish inspectors were scheduled to visit the home at 10:35 a.m. on December 1, 1886. Jemima told the Parochial Board that her husband had left her four days ago to look for work. As a housewife, she didn’t work so they had no income at that time. The application noted that Isabella and Robert were both born in Wishaw, while John, David, and Mary were born in Mossend, Lanarkshire, Scotland. George was born in Glasgow.

Portion of the Application for Parochial Relief

In 1891, Jemima, James, and their children Margaret, Elizabeth, Isabella, Robert, and seven-month-old John lived in the Civil Parish of Bothwell, County Lanarkshire. The census record transcription shows the address as No. 10 Back Ac Square. I tried to find this address on a map to better understand it, but haven’t had any luck so far. James worked as a joiner, a skilled carpenter.

In 1901, Jemima, James, and their children Robert, George, David, and Mary lived at 50 Hope Street in Motherwell, located in the Dalziel Parrish of County Lanarkshire. Youngest son John was no longer in the home. He would have only been 10 or 11 years old so since he’s not enumerated, I’m assuming he’s died since the last census was taken. Jemima’s husband James continued his work as a joiner. A couple in their mid-30s named John and Rosina Beck lived with them. John Beck was a draper, a retailer in the clothing business.

Margaret Athya Close
On May 8, 1912, Jemima’s second daughter, Margaret (Maggie) and her family left Glasgow aboard the S.S. Grampian, headed for Quebec, Canada. Maggie’s husband John Close was a miner and upon arrival in Canada, they settled at Joggins Mines in Nova Scotia where they lived for two years. The outward passenger list listed Maggie’s daughter as Jemima, not Ina as I had been told. When I looked at the 1911 Bellshill, Bothwell District, Scotland census record, she’s listed as Jemina, close enough that it appears she was named for her grandmother Jemima Durie Athya. Maggie listed her mother as the relative in the country from whence alien came on the ship manifest when they left Canada for America.

Jemima’s husband James died in Glasgow sometime in 1913 at the age of 57. Jemima and James had been married for 36 years.

Scotland entered World War I in 1914, an event that would have heavy consequences for the Athya family. All three of Jemima’s sons served—Robert and George with the Cameron Highlanders and David with the Second Highland Light Infantry.

Chalk drawing of George, David, and Robert Athya

Sadly, Jemima would receive the most devastating news a mother can receive—David was killed in action at France & Flanders on May 10, 1915. Family lore is that he was most likely killed during the second Battle for Ypres, standing in a Belgium trench between his brothers Robert and George but we have no proof of that. The Evening Times Roll of Honour ran the following story and photo:
Official word has been received by Mrs. J. Athya, 8 Garngad Road, Glasgow, that her son, Private David Athya, 2nd Battalion H.L.I., was killed in action in France on May 10. Deceased enlisted when the war broke out. Previous to that he was employed in Messrs Stewart and Lloyds. Other sons are in the firing line.

Credit: Evening Times Roll of Honour and The Mitchell Library, Glasgow, Scotland

David was awarded the Victory, British War, and 15 Star medals for his service in France. These medals were most likely given to Jemima. David’s name is inscribed at the Le Touret Memorial in Pas de Calais, France. Jemima received a Dependent’s Pension of five shillings a week from June 3, 1917 to May 3, 1918 after having been listed as David’s dependent and certified as wholly impaired.

On October 30, 1920, Jemima said goodbye to her son George as he left Glasgow aboard the ship S.S. Columbia. George was on his way to America to join his sister Maggie in Steubenville, Ohio. That was probably the last time Jemima saw George.

Jemima lived at 192 Dalmarnock Road in the Bridgeton District of Lanarkshire, Glasgow from at least 1919 until her death in 1924 or 1925, most likely in Glasgow.
The Durie family, from the Scottish Lowlands, can be traced back to the 1200s. Below is a map showing the Scottish Lowlands (in light green) and the Scottish Highlands (darker green).

Map of the Scottish Lowlands and Highlands, Jrockley [Public domain];


  • Applications for Relief, North Lanarkshire, Scotland, Poor Law Applications and Registers, 1849–1917.
  • Durie Family History—a Resumé, The Durie Family;
  • Glasgow, Barony Civil Parish, County Lanarkshire, Scotland Census, 1871.
  • Glasgow, Bothwell Civil Parish, County Lanarkshire, Scotland Census, 1891.
  • Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland, Electoral Registers, 1857–1962 (1919, 1921, 1924).
  • Glasgow, St. George Civil Parish, County Lanarkshire, Scotland Census, 1861.
  • Hall Genealogy Website, Old Occupation Names;
  • Kantharia, Raunek, “The Not-So-Famous Marine Jobs: Shipfitters,” Marine Insight, November 12, 2019;
  • Motherwell, Dalziel Civil Parish, County Lanarkshire, Scotland Census, 1901.
  • Page 1—UK, WWI Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914–1923 (1917).
  • Victorian Occupations, London Census 1891 Transcription Blog;

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