The Homeplace – Ayr, Ayrshire
AYR – “Ayr’s streets date back to the 1200’s, indeed its two main streets, the High Street and the Sandgate form the origins of the settlement which served the castle built by William the Lion, King of Scots in 1197 and granted the town Royal Burgh status in 1205 a status it held until 1975. The King permitted traders to set up market here free from tolls and ‘all other custom’ and from then on the settlement flourished.”
Robert The Bruce established Scotlands first parliament in Ayr, in 1315 at Saint John The Baptists Kirk. But it was Cromwells rule that left a more indelible mark on the town, building walls to fortify his command in 1652, and supplementing the kirk latterly with Saint Johns tower.Remnants of Cromwells citadel are dotted around the town. Funded by Cromwells purse, Alloway Kirk, or Auld Kirk was brought to life in the verse of Robert Burns Tam o Shanter. Burns father William served as an Elder in the Church of Ayr. It was in the the town of Ayr where a dynasty of Tailors in the McCubbin family began. Father taught tailoring to son, son taught his own son and on down the line. From Ayr, to America and Canada, they carried their skill and prospered.
I. Alexander Charles McCubbin (McCubbine) married Jean Smith, 1765 in Ayr, Ayr, Scotland. He was a Tailor as listed on several birth registrations of children. He married Jean Smith in 1765 in Ayr. He died 1819 in Ayr, a Tailor, Cause of death given was frailty. He was listed as a Deacon on wife’s death reg. The couple had nine known children, between 1766 and 1782, all born in Ayr. David (i), William, Janet, David, (ii) Jean, Alexander, John, Mary and Alexander.
John, the fourth son, was born 1777. He had a total of seven children, between two wives. He married Jean McHutchison, c 1796. He was listed as a Clothier and Tailor on his childrens registrations. John and Jean had three known children before she died about 1802 (possibly in childbirth), 1. Alexander, 2. Mary Mackquahae, b. 1796, 3. Jannet, b.1802.
1. Alexander, son of John McCubbin and Jean McHutchison, was born 1798. He married Agnes Stevenson, 1830 in Ayr, St Quivox & Newton. Alexander was a Butler. They had seven known children, between 1832 and 1842, a) Jane, b) William Steven, c) John, d) Agnes, e) Elizabeth, f) Alexander and g) John.
William Steven was a Bankers Clerk. He died of Typhoid Fever, 1861. John was a Travelling Hatter and a Church Officer. He married Barbara Henderson and had a son, William Stevens.
2. & 3, Mary Mackquahae and Jannet, daughters of John McCubbin and Jean Hutchison were both born in Monkton & Prestwick. At a very young age, their mother apparently died, and their father John married Janet Melvine c.1804. The couple had four children, all born Monkton & Prestwick, 4. William, b.1804, 5. John, b 1807, 6. Samuel, b 1809, and 7. Thomas, b 1812.
Thomas, born 1812, has a rich family history, thanks to a great-great-great-great-grandaughter interested in the genealogy of her ancestors. Gail collected the family pictures, the story written by her mother and recollections of her father, put them all together into a website of memories.
5. John, son of Alexander McCubbin and Janet Melvine was born 1807. He was married to Janet Baird. In 1851, he was a Master Miller, employing four men at Irvine Mills. He died 1856 in Clyde Grain Mill, 14 Commercial Rd, Glasgow, at age 49; of Bodily Injuries from an explosion of Steam Boiler – Instantaneous Death. Occupation a Flour Miller. Buried Southern Necropolis. Usual residence 197 Cumberland St, Glasgow. Married.
6. Samuel, born 1809, appeared on the census of 1861 in Lane Ends, Hapton Inn, Lancashire; a boarder and Gardener. Unmarried.
7. Thomas, listed as McCubbine, on birth reg in 1812, Monkton and Prestwick. He married Sarah Hazle, 1836 in Maybole, Ayr. He appeared on the census of 1851 in Kirkport, Ayr, age 39, a Clothier, living with wife Sarah, 38 and Janet, daughter, 12, a Scholar, Alexander, son, 9, a Scholar, John, son, 3, and niece, Elizabeth McCubbin, 12, (born Dumbartonshire), a Scholar. He died 1897 at 21 Barns St, Ayr, at age 85; of Cardiac Failure due to general debility, a Tailor & Clothier, Widower.
a) Janet, daughter of Thomas McCubbin and Sarah Hazle, was born 1838 in Kilmarnock, Ayr. She married John Young, 1863 at 40 New Market St, Ayr. Groom a Clergyman. Banns of Free Church.
b) Alexander McCubbin was born 1842 in Ayr and died in New York. He married Alison Brash, 1875 at Eastfield House, Leith, Scotland; Groom, age 31, residing at New Market St, Ayr, a Tailor & Clothier. Father a Clothier. Bride, age 23, residing at Eastfield House, Leith. He appeared on the census of 1891 in 21 Eglinton Terrace, Ayr, a Clothier, age 48, with wife Alison, 39, dau Agnes, 15, Sarah, 13, Thomas, 11, Alison, 9, Alexander, 7, John, 5, James, 1. One of their daughters, Victoria had died of Diphtheria, age 3. Alexander and Alison lived in Ayrshire until the late 1800’s when they moved to New York. In 1900 he and his family were living in Manhattan, New York. Alexander was listed as a Clothier, children – Annie a Clerk, Sarah a Type Writer, Thomas a Clerk, Alison an Art Student, Alexander a Student, James at school. Sarah married Savage Brown, 1908, in New York. Alison, married Ira McBride in 1908, NY,
(c) John McCubbin was born on 5 May 1847 in Ayr. Unlike his brother, Alexander, who left Scotland for America, John remained close to home. He was crippled an confined to a wheelchair. He married Elizabeth Stevenson, 1876 in Sundrum Mains, Coylton, Ayr; age 28, a Clothier, Bride age 28, residing in Ayr. In 1901, he was a Tailor & Clothier living at Barns St, Ayr.
(1) Thomas Hazle McCubbin son of John McCubbin and Elizabeth Stevenson, was born 1877 at 42 New Market St, Ayr. He appeared on the census of 1901 in 23 Barns St, Ayr, Ayrshire; age 23, a Tailor & Clothier, living with parents and brother John. Great grandaughter Gail relates:
Tom learned tailoring from his father and worked at his trade in London, England and then had a shop in Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. There, he became engaged to Elizabeth (Lizzie) Shirra Dougall and in the spring of 1910 Tom left Scotland to make his fortune in British Columbia. Arriving in Prince Rupert, Tom and another Scotsman, Alex Finnie, batched together. They used to catch fish in the harbor and buy a loaf of bread to feed themselves as neither one had employment for a while.
Tom finally got work in Kitselas working for Jack Patterson in his general store there and eventually bought the business. In 1912 his fiancee, Lizzie Dougal arrived from Scotland. Daughter Beth recalled, They set off by river boat for Nicholl, [later called Pacific]. Mum told me she had on her light grey wedding suit (hobble skirt). They had to portage around the canyon and a fire burned through the trail leaving black logs to climb over. By the time Mum arrived at her new home, her skirt was black to her knees and in tatters. Lizzie had started the life of a frontierswoman.
They had three children, John, Norma and Beth.
Tom started the Thomas H McCubbin General Store, in Pacific. The family lived beside the store. In addition to the store Tom was postmaster, mining recorder and notary public.
“The people of Pacific lived a fairly self-sufficient life-style. Everyone planted their own gardens, dug wells for water, and used gas lamps for light. Heating was by woodstove, resulting in a number of house fires. Fire was the biggest enemy in Pacific.
People made their own entertainment. Adults played cards frequently in the evenings. The men always enjoyed a game of pool at Nels pool-hall (Nicholl Hotel) and games of poker too. There was a community hall and very enjoyable dances were held there. People came by train and speeder from miles around.
The children out in Pacific also had a wonderful time. There was a good-sized slough about a mile and half long, near the river, fed by a couple of tiny streams. All summer long they swam and boated here, and in the winter played and skated on the ice. They built rafts and paddled them and on numerous occasions fell overboard. In the winter, the slough was used for skating, related McCubbin. Christmas concerts were held in the waiting room at the train station because it was so big; all the parents were able to watch. The first year children attended school was in 1916. Their teacher was Mr. Wheeler.
Garth Griffiths was one who moved to Pacific in the 1930s to teach in the one room school. To him Pacific was defined by three people in particular: Nels Thompson, his sister Mary and Tom McCubbin. He recalled that Pacific was also, literally, a one-horse town and Nellie was the horse, Tom McCubbin’s of course. Nellie was irritable, but it would do anything for Tom.
The continuing adventure of their lives can be read on great grandaughter Gails website.
(2) John Jack Stevenson McCubbin second son of John McCubbin and Elizabeth Stevenson, was born 1884. He was an Acccountants Clerk, age 16, in 1901, living with parents at 21 Barns St, Ayr. He left for Canada to join his brother Tom, and arrived in Prince Rupert, BC, in 1911 According to his war papers, he worked as a Mechanic. He joined the army and served oveseas. He came back to Pacific after the war with tuberculosis, and spent the summer in a tent near Toms store. He left for California where he married a nurse, Gwendolyn Profit in Los Angeles, CA. He died 1926 in El Cerrito, CA, at age 42.
Occupations & Accomplishments
They were Tailors. They used the skill acquired through years of practice, patience teaching their sons, and their ability to work with cloth and client. They were likely in incorporated trades, which included hammermen, weavers, wrights & squaremen, shoemakers and coopers in the town of Ayr. Being in a guilded occupation with embodied form, with deacons, deacon-convener, and trades’ house, they and their children were able to get ahead in the world. Alexander Charles McCubbin was a deacon.
Heres a bit about a Scottish tailor, who gives us a whimsical insight into the life of one tailor:
Mansie Wauch is a tailor, an enthusiast, and a devotee of his trade; he sees all things with the eye of a shaper of cloth: he eats, drinks, loves, and fights, with the true heart of the true tailor. That he is a tailor, is the groundwork and substratum of his character; all other parts of the man are but the facings, trimmings, and linings which make up his individuality.
Not all descendants were Tailors. Anxious to try their own in the world, we find them employed as a Bank Clerk, Master Miller, Travelling Hatter, Accountants Clerk, a Gardener, a Butler. They all seemed to have had the opportunity to go to school, one young woman, Alison, even attending art school.
Going to America
It would have been such an exciting time for the young family of Alexander McCubbin and Alison Brash. Ship passenger records show this family traveling between Glasgow and New York City. First we find Alexander, alone, on June 22, 1891 on board the ship, City of Rome, bound for New York City via Glasgow. Alexander likely sent word, to his family, Yes! Come soon. Five months later, boarding the ship Anchoria, in Glasgow bound for New York, were Mrs. Alexander McCubbin, with girls, Annie,16, Sissy Sarah,13, Alison, 9, and boys, Thomas, 12, Alex, 8, John, 6 and James 2. A new and engaging life in Manhattan lay ahead of them.
Going to Canada
Unlike his uncle Alexander, who was by then, settled in the busy city of Manhattan, New York, Thomas Hazle McCubbin set off for Canada in 1910. Gail relates,It was hard to imagine the courage and spirit of adventure that led this thirty-two year old man to leave his family in Ayr and venture into the wilds of British Columbia.
The trip across the Atlantic took about two weeks, with crowded sleeping quarters showing the effectiveness of the Canadian Immigration campaign and the strong desire of the British middle and lower classes to attempt to better their living conditions.
The train across Canada was probably even less comfortable than the ship with nothing in the way of sleeping accommodation or food provided. From Vancouver the journey would be by steamship to Prince Rupert which was about three thousand people.
John Stevenson MCCUBBIN signed his Attestation Papers on 12 Feb 1916 with the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force, 102 Battalion. He was age 31, single and working as a Mechanic when he enlisted. He gave his brother Thomas of Pacific, as next of kin.
Facts of Interest
Robert Burns The Ploughman Poet
Close by the Burns home, our tailors of Ayr would, no doubt, have listened and learned the poetry and song of Robert Burns.
A few miles south of the town of Ayr, in Alloway, is the cottage of Robert Burns. Born in 1759, he spent his youth working his father’s farm. In spite of his poverty Burns had a precocious talent for kinetic, humorous poetry. In his too brief lifetime, the Bard of Scotland wrote hundreds of heroic, romantic, or humorous songs and poems about his native land and people. The best known, of course, is “Auld Lang Syne.” The most stirring, however, must be “Scots Wha Hae,” which celebrates the valor of the Bruce and his Scots at Bannockburn. One of his most famous sayings was “Man to Man the world o’er, Shall brothers be for a’ that”
Robert Burns dearly loved his Scotland, and was so loved in return that the village where he was born began planning its monument to him a mere seven years after his death. Within five years more, sufficient funds were raised that construction could begin on his birthday in 1820. Finally, the monument was opened to the public in 1823. It is now surrounded by the lovely Burns National Heritage Park, which spreads over several city blocks and includes gardens, a museum, a 16th century church, and the 1757 cottage where Burns was born.
While Burns was a toddler, a short distance away, Alexander Charles McCubbin was learning the tailors craft and soon to start his own family.
Contributors: Gail Blagdon, Canada