Tuesday 26 August 2014

Even More About Using Old Maps

In previous posts I mentioned that I had found, or thought I found the location where my wife’s grandfather and great-grandmother lived in 1881 – John Street in Glasgow. A closer look – as summarized in my post of August 12, 2014 – which I should have done before, revealed that the John Street on which they resided was actually in the burgh of Govan, now a district of greater Glasgow. Govan was across the Clyde River from the City of Glasgow. I got carried away by the fact that Alexander Cooper’s first wife lived very close to John Street in 1881 and made the assumption (Never do that!) that Alexander also lived in the area and met her there.

Part of the problem in identifying a location is in finding the right aged map. In this case, there was only one John Street which seemed reasonable, the one in Glasgow City. The census records showed they were in Govan which I had not paid enough attention to. More recently I have searched for many of the old maps covering Govan in order to narrow down where the family lived and many pieces have come together nicely.

On the Library of Scotland website I found several vintage maps of Govan including – from 1882, 1896 and 1912 – that spanned the family’s history in the area. I compared the street names given on census, marriage and death records. The NLS website is a wonderful source of maps of Scotland. You can see many different maps, from the 1700s onward, over the same area. By clicking on the map group menu, you can observe the development of an area over the decades.

On a present-day map I used from Bing Maps, only a handful of the street names remain the same from the 19th century. Most of the buildings are now gone and have been replaced by new commercial and residential complexes. Some of the positions of the old roads appear to be the same but many do not continue through intersections that were present many decades ago. It is possible that the area was bombed during World War II but I have not yet found a map of the area that shows such devastation.

Street names where family members lived:
1882 & 1896
Present Day
Albert Street
Albert Street
Orkney Street
Fairfield Street
not labelled
not present
Greenhaugh Street
Greenhaugh Street
Robert Drive
Hamilton Street
Hamilton Street
Nethan Street
John Street
White Street
Harthill Street
Main Street
Main Street
Clydebrae Street
Roodspark Street
not labelled
not present
White Street
White Street
Golspie Street
1896 map of Govan area – Ordnance Survey 25 inch (image downloaded August 15, 2014 from National Library of Scotland
1912 map of Govan area from John G. Bartholomew’s Plan of Glasgow (image downloaded August 15, 2014 from National Library of Scotland
Present-day Govan area (image downloaded August 25, 2014 from Bing Maps

There are three major landmarks that I can identify to orient myself with respect to the old residential streets – Elder Park (on west side), St. Constantine’s (Govan) Parish Church and the Govan railway station. From that I can now recognize where the old addresses were located. Members of the family lived in the Govan area from at least 1866. Their names can be found on a number of different documents which, together, show how the family moved around in response to changes in their lives:

1.      1866 Marriage (May 18th) – Ann Couper and James Jackson married at the Govan Manse; James indicated as living at 6 Victoria Street, Govan; Ann shown living at 1 Ibrox Terrace, Ibroxholm, Govan (about six blocks southeast of Victoria Steet)’ Elizabeth Couper was a witness to the marriage
2.      1871 Census (April 2nd) – Elizabeth and Alexander Couper living with Elizabeth’s sister, Ann Jackson and her family at 22 Hamilton Street, Govan; John Blackburn, future husband of Elizabeth, living at same address, presumably in a multi-family apartment building
3.      1871 Marriage (April 4th) – Elizabeth Couper and John Blackburn married at 22 Hamilton Street, Govan; both shown to be living at 22 Hamilton Street, Govan
4.      1881 Census (April 3rd) – Elizabeth and Alexander Couper Blackburn living at 4 John Street, Govan
5.      1881 Census (April 3rd) – John Blackburn living at 7 Main Street, Govan
6.      1881 Census (April 3rd) – James and Ann Jackson family living at 91 Roodspark Street, Govan
7.      1885 Military Attestation Form – Alexander Cooper join Scottish Rifles; next of kin indicated as “John” who was living at 2 Albert Street, Govan
8.      1885 Death (November 5th) – John Blackburn died at Western Infirmary, Glasgow; usual residence indicated as 8 Greenhaugh Street, Govan
9.      1891 Census (April 5th) – Elizabeth Blackburn living at 18 White Street, Govan
10.  1891 Census (April 5th) – Ann Jackson family living at 25 Albert Street, Govan; she was a widow
11.  1892 Marriage (April 29th) – Elizabeth Blackburn and James Ross married at 30 Mason Street, Glasgow City; James indicated as living at 13 Fairfield Street, Govan; Elizabeth living at 16 White Street, Govan; after their marriage the couple moved to 30 Mason Street, James’ former residence; address shown as his usual residence on his death record in 1895; Elizabeth living there in 1901 according to the census
12.  1897 Death (November 20th) – Ann Jackson died at 25 Albert Street, Govan

Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy and is a past Editor of Chinook, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated. Census records are the property of The National Archives and published under their Open Government License. Census image was downloaded from Ancestry.