Ebeth Scobbie (1884-1940)

The girl on our left in this picture is Ebeth, photographed with her siblings and parents in Scotland when she was 12 or 13. Here is some of her life story. I collected some of this material in 2016, at the time of the centenary of the tragic day on May 30th 1916 when she was widowed, aged 33, in Smyrna (now İzmir on the western Mediterranean coast of Turkey), and now a year later, in the days before posting this blog, I finally located and visited her grave in Morningside, a few minutes walk from my home.

Why was she there? What happened to her? Why am I writing about her?

Continue reading “Ebeth Scobbie (1884-1940)”

Advertisements
Featured post

Diamond and Gold and “Ruby”

Today, July 3rd,  is a day to celebrate a long-lasting marriage. Fifteen years after the 1913 garden photograph on the eve of the Great War, discussed elsewhere, a Golden Wedding was celebrated, and ten years after that, in 1938, a much larger family of descendants and their spouses gathered with a photographer for group and individual shots that are full of formality and charm. The 1938 celebration was for the Diamond Wedding anniversary (60 years) of James Scobbie (1853-1943) and Williamina (“Mina”) Black Laughland (1852-1945), who were natives, neighbours and notable lifelong residents of Newarthill, a coal-mining village in Lanarkshire. They were married by Mina’s father 140 years ago today, in 1878. The anniversary was written up in the local papers in 1928, 1938, and 1943, providing excellent detail of their lifelong relationship.

Continue reading “Diamond and Gold and “Ruby””

Inheriting privilege

So far, Noisybrain is full of “privilege”.  This is what I think about it.

At the bottom of this posting is a list of recommended people’s family / history stories chosen in part because they differ from my own initial postings. First, a surprisingly long discussion:

  1. The modern meaning of privilege (with an aside about institutional patronage and those angry, annoying, patronising internet cartoons and discussions).
  2. A family tree and genealogical perspective, both specific and general, and why this topic is so relevant to augmenting the bare bones of binary ancestry.
  3. A nod to the broader genetic or population perspective.
  4. The Scottish context, with a little history of the Highlands, Lowlands and Ireland, and a nod to the variety of the ways in which a lack of privilege played out. Us Scots are not all the same, even when we are related in a single family.
  5. A nod to the continuing diversity in privilege within contemporary Scotland, with a focus on the “Glasgow Effect”, one of the negative legacies of our economic past.
  6. A brief reminder that one of the national legacies of the British Empire and European colonialism in Scotland has been, from a global perspective, our relative privilege.
  7. A conclusion that reminds us there is diversity everywhere, even in a homogeneous family, while stating the obvious fact that there are far more extreme examples, and that it’s the latter that are more important in contemporary society.
  8. The links to blogs, books, podcasts and so on. Continue reading “Inheriting privilege”

The long summer of 1913

This summertime photograph, helpfully labelled on the back, celebrates the 35th (so-called coral) wedding anniversary of James Scobbie and Mina Laughland on July 3rd 1913, just before WW1. For photos from their diamond wedding celebrations in 1938 just before WW2 along with newspaper biographies, see the post on their diamond, gold and “ruby” anniversaries. A looming war is invisible in photographs like this, if we can resist the temptation to use hindsight to pour meaning into the expressions of the people in these gapless gatherings.

Continue reading “The long summer of 1913”

74 years officiating in Scottish forestry

Robert Paterson Galloway (1861-1936), pictured above, and his elder son Angus were both, as Edinburgh lawyers, major administrative figures in organisations representing forestry and arboricultural interests in Scotland, and provided stability and continuity as the secretary-treasurers of the Royal Scottish Forestry Society for 74 years, from 1895 to 1969. (The Royal Scottish Arboricultural Society as it was called in 1895 had been founded in 1854 and given a Royal Charter in 1887.) Robert was secretary and treasurer for 42 years! He died in 1936 aged 75, following an accident in Edinburgh in March 1935 in which he had been knocked down by a motor car.

We know something of their work and characters, because Robert was the subject of a glowing testimonial in the Transactions of the Royal Scottish Arboricultural Society to celebrate its 60th year, in 1914. His son Angus (1895-1971) likewise was lauded in an obituary in Forestry: An International Journal of Forest Research in 1972 both for his service as secretary and treasurer for the RSFS (for 9 years jointly with his father) and also as the first holder of the same roles for the Society of Foresters of Great Britain for 27 years from its founding in in 1925 till 1962.

Continue reading “74 years officiating in Scottish forestry”

Morningside Wedding, Morningside Funeral

Ebeth Scobbie married at 28 and was widowed at 33. As Mrs Ebeth Newton, she married again at 46, to a successful and well-regarded Edinburgh solicitor, Robert Galloway, also a widow. He was 69. Their wedding in 1930 was at Greenbank Church (near Robert’s home) in the south of Edinburgh.

I assume Ebeth and Robert found happiness with each other – they had just each lived through a dozen or so years of widowhood, right through the 1920s. I wonder if their ages were a big talking point back then: there was a 23 year age gap, which I assume was  unusual. Is that Angus (Robert’s son) scowling in the background?! Or does just he just have a serious face? Well, Angus was just 11 years younger than Ebeth… and they were in the same generation, given that they had both “seen action” in the war. Maybe he was uncomfortable.

Continue reading “Morningside Wedding, Morningside Funeral”

“longing to see you”

Scotland knew of David’s death within a couple of weeks, presumably by telegram. Everyone knew Ebeth was in limbo. What information flowed over the next two years, we don’t know. But we do know about something about 1916, how help was offered, and it was a treat to read some of the bizarrely baroque official consular and diplomatic language involved on the one hand, and the reserved but emotion-packed words in others. Drafts, CC: lists, pencil annotations and typewritten forms survive. Just how did things work back then? During a war! After 100 years here are the few official papers. Like fossils, preserved (unlike most) in the national archives.

Continue reading ““longing to see you””

“Broughty Doctor Dies at Smyrna”

At the time of his death, Dr David McKenzie Newton had been a medical missionary for around a dozen years, and was the superintendent at Beaconsfield Memorial Hospital. It seems he also had a wider role, being identified also as “the college physician” by Smyrna’s International College in Paradise near Smyrna, an American educational institution which had been run by missionaries for 25 years.

His death (30 May 1916) from typhus, a family of bacterial infections carried by lice, aka “jiggers”, was probably caught in the course of his work tending patients, including Turkish soldiers, and due to the terrible conditions discussed elsewhere. His death was reported in contemporary newspapers and reports, and the aftermath was the subject of governmental communications (hence, luckily, preserved in the National Archive), as the Church of Scotland and the families of David and his widow Ebeth attempted to help her in her perilous situation (see here).

Continue reading ““Broughty Doctor Dies at Smyrna””

Ebeth Scobbie (1914-1994)

“Ebeth” is a relatively unusual contraction of Elizabeth: compare Liz, Lizzie, Beth, Lisa, Liza, Betty, Libby, and even Lizbet and Eliza… Normally, for a favourite family name like Elizabeth, close relatives would have differentiating versions, but the Scobbies seemed to like it: using it for aunt and niece. It’s not clear if this is because the younger Ebeth’s birth and early childhood occurred while her aunt was in Smyrna, or not. It seems that her mother, also Elizabeth, was called by her middle name, Bertie.

I like this portrait – I think there’s a little bit of attitude. My memories of Ebeth contextualise her as being one of the four sisters of my father. From my perspective it was rather surprising that “sisters” could be silver-haired pensioners (them being half a century older than me). They were impressive, kindly, and had natural authority. More surprisingly perhaps, I was under the impression that my aunts were English, partly because two (had) lived there, but just as much from their posh accents. In fact, all were just speaking “1920s Laurel Bank”, an accent that was decidedly not Glaswegian.

Continue reading “Ebeth Scobbie (1914-1994)”

A WordPress.com Website.

Up ↑