Sunday, March 29, 2015

52 Ancestors #13: From Tragedy to Tragedy

Ancestor: Elizabeth Muir (BRODIE) Lively (1874-1910)

When I was thinking last week about how much women's lives have changed and how difficult it was to think of an ancestor who was similar to me, I thought of all the tragedy in my tree and how it seemed to fall on women more heavily than on men. Elizabeth Muir (Brodie) Lively lived a short, sad life. I cannot begin to imagine how she coped. It's no wonder women are TOUGH!

Elizabeth was born on 29 November 1874 in the Causeystanes area of Blantyre parish, Scotland, to William and Henrietta (Cassels) Brodie. Her father was a coal miner; and not long after Elizabeth's birth, he went to work for William Dixon, Ltd., owner of several coal mines in and around the town of Blantyre. He moved his growing family into Dixon's Rows, company-owned housing, which was described in a 1910 report on the condition of miner's housing as a "most miserable type of house." The work mothers and their daughters had to do to keep homes clean is unimaginable to me. These homes typically had two rooms and families with as many as 12 or 13 children lived on top of each other, a great breeding ground for disease.

Dixon's Rows, Blantyre; image courtesy of Auld Blantyre

Elizabeth married James Lively on 31 December 1891. James was a coal miner and also lived in Dixon's Rows. Their first child was born five months later and over the course of the next 10 years, James and Elizabeth had 5 children. Their second child, a son they named James, after his paternal grandfather and father, was born on 21 November 1893. He died three months later of inflammation of the larynx and congestion of the lungs.

Glasgow Road c1910; photograph courtesy of Blantyre Project

Tragedy next struck Elizabeth 12 years later. Her husband James, was walking along Glasgow Road and was run over by two horses pulling a lorry. He survived for five terrible hours after sustaining injuries to his three of his ribs and one lung. It had to have been a terrible death. Life must have been horrible for Elizabeth after her husband and the family's bread winner was killed. William Dixon evicted widows when their husband died, even in mining accidents. I don't know where Elizabeth went to live as she was dead by the time the next census was enumerated in 1911.

Elizabeth died on 14 June 1910 at her sister's home on 8 School Lane in Blantyre. She died of pulmonary phthisis, or tuberculosis, and she had been sick for five months. I'd like to think she and her children were living with her sister, but I am not so sure. Elizabeth was listed as a pauper when her father registered her death. Mary (Brodie) Moore had five children of her own and one died the same day on which his aunt, Elizabeth, died. It was a house doubly steeped in mourning.

Two of Elizabeth's sons were living with her father in Dixon's Rows in 1911. And her daughter married the next year. One son, John Sneddon Lively, Elizabeth's youngest child, was only 8 years old when his mother died. Where he went, I have no idea.

Tragedy wasn't finished with Elizabeth's family yet, however. Her third child, William Lively, was drafted into the British Army and arrived in France on 31 March 1918. After training for a few days at the 40th Infantry Base Depot, he was transferred to the 1/4 Battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment on 19 April 1918. Little more than a month later, he was dead at the age of 19. recently added UK, Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929. It the only reason I knew about brother John.

William Lively's Soldiers' Effects Record; courtesy of

I am only glad William's mother was not alive to learn of his fate. At least she was spared that.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge optional theme Different.

Elizabeth Muir (Brodie) Lively was born on 29 November 1874 to William and Henrietta (Cassels) Brodie. She was named after her maternal grandmother, my great great grand aunt. She married James Lively on 31 December 1891 in Blantyre, Scotland, according to the forms of the Evangelical Union Church. The couple had five children. James Lively was killed in 1906 and Elizabeth died four years later on 14 June 1910 at her sister, Mary's house in Blantyre.

Killed in Action During the Spring Offensive
Dixon's Rows: "A Miserable Type of House"

1 comment:

  1. A lovely tribute to Elizabeth. It is sad that some families have to bear so much tragedy.