Scottish military death, India, McDougall

Discussion in 'Stirlingshire' started by Philippa, May 23, 2014.

  1. Philippa

    Philippa Always a lady.

    Offline
    Messages:
    763
    Likes Received:
    11,505
    Location:
    Canberra, Australia
    William McDougall married Agnes Smith on 29 March 1895, Fenwick Road, Kilmaurs.

    They had 7 children. My MIL Isabella (Isa) Mercer McDougall always said she was the youngest, and she was born in Laurieston on 4 February 1908.

    Isa had a brother, William, who joined the Army and died in India – thought to have been taken by a crocodile while crossing a river. We can only estimate a year but it certainly was between the wars and we have approximated 1937. I’m willing to take a punt on any of the peacetime years, but 1937 is a start.

    We can also only estimate William’s year of birth as being pre-1908 because Mum always said she was the baby of the family. However the woman who lived next door to them when my husband was born in 1940 said that William was older than Isa – throwing the date open to speculation. I do not have birth years for any of the other children.

    How do I go about researching William’s death? For some reason or other I thought that in Scotland military deaths were/are recorded separately from civilian deaths.
    Military records between the wars seem to be very thin on the ground which is odd because people still marry, become parents and die in peacetime. Those I have looked at (please don’t ask, but they are legion!!) seem to go into hibernation unless there’s some form of hostility in the air.

    I have just thought of the Scottish census records so will attack those soon to see if I can find anything. Other than the census, are there any suggestions? Please? I will be happy to learn anything at all about this young man.
     
  2. Daft Bat

    Daft Bat Administrator. Chief cook & bottle washer! Staff Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    5,533
    Likes Received:
    21,467
    Location:
    Northamptonshire, England.
    If the chap was taken by a crocodile, even though it was whilst crossing a river in India, I would have thought that the story would have reached the ears of the press, even back then.

    Have you searched newspapers local to where the rest of the family lived to see if there is a report of his death?
     
  3. Doug

    Doug Administrator. The Main Man. Staff Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    1,217
    Likes Received:
    3,758
    Location:
    Hoppers Crossing, Victoria, Australia
    FindMypast has overseas deaths for British Military personnel.
     
  4. Philippa

    Philippa Always a lady.

    Offline
    Messages:
    763
    Likes Received:
    11,505
    Location:
    Canberra, Australia
    Thanks, Jan - so obvious now that you've pointed it out :rolleyes: It will be interesting to see how much of the family story actually happened.

    I'll dig around and see if I can find online papers from the Falkirk area for that time.

    Doug, thanks. I've never been able to sort out (in my head) where these records are available. Is FMP a paid to view site? Don't worry, I'll find that out when I have a look. Lazy way of finding things out is to ask the question before trying to find something for myself!!!

    I'll let you know if I ever find anything. What a shame we didn't think more about this while MIL was still alive. Oh well.
     
  5. crazycatlady22

    crazycatlady22 Well-Known Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    335
    Likes Received:
    845
    Location:
    Blue Mountains, Australia
    I have checked the Australian Newspapers and it appears that the story wasn't mentioned here.
     
  6. crazycatlady22

    crazycatlady22 Well-Known Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    335
    Likes Received:
    845
    Location:
    Blue Mountains, Australia
    I checked the Times Digital Archive and it wasn't mentioned there either.
     
  7. Philippa

    Philippa Always a lady.

    Offline
    Messages:
    763
    Likes Received:
    11,505
    Location:
    Canberra, Australia
    Hi CCL and thank you for your effort on my behalf.

    If the death was as notable as it sounds it would have been reported in the newspapers covering Falkirk and Laurieston areas as all the family were resident there at the time. MIL, FIL and OH were the only ones to migrate and they came to Australia in 1949.

    I've dug around a little too and can't find birth, christening, death or anything else. I checked FMP for a military death record but the closest were from WWI and certainly don't apply, apart from being from the wrong area. I have no doubt I could have missed something, not being used to FMP but I'll keep trying. I also tried searching newspapers for Falkirk but only found relatively recent ones. Same qualifier here as I'm definitely not used to searching anything for newspapers but Trove.

    If the stories weren't so vivid and from different sources I'd be starting to wonder if he really existed. "Our Billy" was certainly an established family member well before MIL was hit by dementia and the neighbour's story was volunteered and she thought we'd be interested. The manner of death could well be a fallacy but I'm quite convinced he was a real person.

    Now to see if the census records from about 1908 reveal anything.
     
  8. Philippa

    Philippa Always a lady.

    Offline
    Messages:
    763
    Likes Received:
    11,505
    Location:
    Canberra, Australia
    I'm an idiot.

    The man who married Agnes Smith in Kilmaurs was MALCOLM McDougall, not William.

    If this is the way I approach all my research, no wonder I hit so many dadblamed brick walls!!!!!!!!! :mad:
     
  9. Jellylegs

    Jellylegs Well-Known Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    1,201
    Likes Received:
    2,343
    Location:
    Maidstone, Kent
    FMP have a death registration of a William McDougall (age 24), died 1938 Fyzabad in the GRO Army Death Indices 1881-1955.

    I had a few spare Scotlands People Credits, so had a look. He was accidentally drowned in the River Gogra, Fyzabad on 10 April 1938 - age 24 years 9 months (so born 1913). This info is from the Returns of Deaths made to the Registrar-General for England, so is not a copy of the death certificate.

    He may be the chap you are looking for - not sure if a copy of his death certificate would give you any more info :(
     
    Ma-dotcom and mugwortismy cat like this.
  10. Philippa

    Philippa Always a lady.

    Offline
    Messages:
    763
    Likes Received:
    11,505
    Location:
    Canberra, Australia
    Oh Jellylegs, this is amazing. Just spoke to Bill (OH) about it and he said it just has to be his uncle. He's absolutely dumbfounded - said he never thought we'd find out ANYTHING. So from both of us - THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!

    I'll do a bit more digging around (like the census as I had intended) and see what I can find. With a birth year and death date I have more chance of hitting the right entry.

    If I were to take the plunge and order the death certificate, would it give me the names of his parents?
     
    Jellylegs likes this.
  11. Jellylegs

    Jellylegs Well-Known Member

    Offline
    Messages:
    1,201
    Likes Received:
    2,343
    Location:
    Maidstone, Kent
    Unfortunately, I don't know the answer to that, never having ordered a death certificate from the GRO Army Death Indices :(, so you may have to bite the bullet and order it. I will have a look around to see if there is anywhere that says what is included.

    While I was on Scotlands People, I had a look at the 1911 census. It says that Malcolm and Agnes had been married 16 years, had 6 children born alive, and 6 still living. William was not one of them, but if it is him we have found, then he wouldn't be there. The children were:- Maggie (16), Thomas (13), Ag(ness?) (10, a female), Malcolm (8), Davidina? (5) and Isabella (3).
     
    Ma-dotcom likes this.
  12. Philippa

    Philippa Always a lady.

    Offline
    Messages:
    763
    Likes Received:
    11,505
    Location:
    Canberra, Australia
    Well this little exercise has turned up a couple of bits we didn't know.

    I had all the children's names but not years of birth - that's now fixed. Agnes could well have been Agness - I've seen that spelling before but not taken too much notice. Davidina? Now that really is interesting. One of the girls was only ever called (in my hearing, and Bill's) Ina. The mother Agnes' father was David. Very short steps to Davidina and then Ina.

    JL you are fantastic!!! (+)(^^)(+)
     
    Jellylegs likes this.
  13. Philippa

    Philippa Always a lady.

    Offline
    Messages:
    763
    Likes Received:
    11,505
    Location:
    Canberra, Australia
    Have just sent an email to the GRO to see if I can find out a little more of what would be covered by the certificate and will now wait to see the outcome.

    Having had no interaction with them before I really don't know how helpful they will or can be. I guess in a lot of ways it depends on just who picks up the email.

    Now to sit and wait.

    JL, we are indebted!!!!!
     
  14. Philippa

    Philippa Always a lady.

    Offline
    Messages:
    763
    Likes Received:
    11,505
    Location:
    Canberra, Australia
    I read but obviously don't absorb.

    Have just had to resend my original message to GRO because I'd omitted the "GQ" in the subject line in the first one. At least it's the weekend and the process won't be delayed because I was (again) a bit of a twit!!!
     
  15. Sis

    Sis Rootles out resources!

    Offline
    Messages:
    3,976
    Likes Received:
    15,009
    Location:
    Beckenham, Western Australia
    If I were to take the plunge and order the death certificate, would it give me the names of his parents?[/QUOTE]
    Just found this at FMP, if it helps.
    The amount of information listed varies, but the British Nationals Armed Forces Deaths records usually include the following information about your ancestor:
    • First name
    • Last name
    • Year
    • Place
    • Country
    • Age at death
    • Year of birth
     
    Jellylegs likes this.
  16. Philippa

    Philippa Always a lady.

    Offline
    Messages:
    763
    Likes Received:
    11,505
    Location:
    Canberra, Australia
    Thanks, Sis. Seems it would just be a confirmation of that Jellylegs found earlier. Botheration. Had hoped for a bit more but may have been spoiled by the amount of information contained in most Australian certificates.

    I've just had to reword my enquiry to the GRO because they seemed to miss the crux of my initial enquiry. Hopefully tomorrow will bring a better result. On second thoughts I should have waited until the beginning of the day rather than writing at bedtime - my questions may have been clearer. Too late, so fingers crossed they'll understand my second attempt. :confused:

    Goodnight all - and thank you so much for your interest. 'Tis appreciated.
     
    Sis likes this.
  17. AnnB

    AnnB Editor in Chief who is Hot off the Press!

    Offline
    Messages:
    3,211
    Likes Received:
    14,157
    Location:
    North Devon, England
    The National Library of Scotland seem to hold Falkirk newspapers, so an e-mail to them may be worthwhile nls.uk/family-history/newspapers

    They say on the website "If we have a newspaper you are interested in you can contact us to arrange to come and see it or to ask a question. If we don't have the newspaper you want we may be able to direct you to another library which does have it."

    Ann
     
    Philippa likes this.
  18. Philippa

    Philippa Always a lady.

    Offline
    Messages:
    763
    Likes Received:
    11,505
    Location:
    Canberra, Australia
    Thanks, Ann. Definitely worth an email.

    This man seems surprisingly determined to avoid being found. You'd almost think it was planned. :(
     
    AnnB likes this.
  19. Philippa

    Philippa Always a lady.

    Offline
    Messages:
    763
    Likes Received:
    11,505
    Location:
    Canberra, Australia
    I know it's been a while but I have to prove I am not ungrateful for the information you found for me and let you know I have followed up some of it.

    Spoke to a lovely lady in the National Library of Scotland and their copies of the Falkirk Herald start in 1939 - a year too late. She went through the microfilm of obituaries they hold (which includes 1938) but nothing showed up. I'm not surprised as the family was not at all obituary oriented - I think (and Bill agrees) that they would have considered such an action as being 'above their station'. Considering the manner of young William's death I think an article about it would be more likely, particularly as it would (logically) be an uncommon occurrence for a small place like Laurieston/Falkirk.

    Spoke to the Falkirk Herald and they don't have an archive as their space is inadequate. They did tell me that a copy of every edition of the Falkirk Herald is held in the British Library in London. This library has a newspaper digitisation program in hand but the FH has no idea of how far it's progressed.

    Next stop - British Library, London.

    Thank you all again. If I do ever find an article in the paper I will certainly post it here.
     
  20. Philippa

    Philippa Always a lady.

    Offline
    Messages:
    763
    Likes Received:
    11,505
    Location:
    Canberra, Australia
    Just to show I've not ignored or neglected the wonderful information I've been given, here's the latest update.

    Have been in touch with a number of hoped to be sources of the Falkirk newspapers but the results have all come back negative. My latest avenue of hope is to contact the Falkirk Historical Society (or some such) which is based in the former "big house" of Callendar Estate in Falkirk. (Bill is very familiar with Callendar House. As a kid he (and his mates) used to "walk the walls" enroute to wherever, and in conker season grabbed chestnuts from the trees in the estate. Don't know if the conkers, being forbidden fruit, were better than legal ones or not, but he said it was an annual project!!)

    If this latest contact possibility comes back and says no then I'm left with pretty well nowhere to go. Ho de hum.

    I have only just realized that one thing I never thought to ask of the kind people who searched for me was this: Was there any mention of the army unit that William M was with when he drowned? As we speak Bill is searching the web (or trying to) in an attempt to identify the badge he had as a kid which he is sure came from his uncle. These search engines can be so good (when they feel like it) but sometimes Mrs Murphy and her minions take over and absolutely everything containing any or all of the words used in the search criteria bobs up for consideration. (He's just given up in disgust so I'll see if I can help him tomorrow - obviously the result list was a trifle overwhelming :) )

    Will keep you informed!!!
     
    Doug, Ma-dotcom, Sis and 2 others like this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice