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Christina Muddie ThomMatron of Drake House Hostel
Full name of worker at H.M. Factory Gretna (and any other names they are known by) : Christina Muddie Thom
Date and place of birth: 21st June 1873 Elgin, Morayshire
Date and Place of Death: 8th January 1946 Nursing Home, Strathaven.
Childhood : Large family, death, illness and emigration of siblings
Parents : John Thom and Annie nee Fisher
Parents occupations : Commercial traveller-cloth/net manufacturer
Schools / universities attended and years of attendance: West End School, Elgin- left summer 1890. Trained as Governess pupil Westby House, Lytham St Anne’s 1891? Trained as a nurse Victoria Infirmary, Glasgow 1920-21
Occupation: Governess then matron at Gretna then nurse
Place of residence at Gretna: Drake House hostel, 47-61, Dunedin Road, Eastriggs
Marital status: Single
Travels: None known
Awards/recognitions: None known
On the board of the Scottish National Institution for the Education of Imbecile Children
Trivia / any other information:
Books published (Title, year of publication, publisher):
Books written about the individual or mentioning the individual (Title, year of publication, publisher):
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Christina Muddie Thomson 1873-1946
Miss Christina Muddie Thom was a mature, 45 year old matron of Drake House hostel , Dunedin Rd, Eastriggs according to both the electoral register and the valuation rolls for Eastriggs in 1918-1919. We know from the valuation rolls that she had an assistant and we also know that she had a maid, Georgina Little. ( already researched based on anecdotal evidence from a ‘Little’ family member).
Christina’s is a fascinating family story. She was born in Elgin on 21st June 1873 to John Thom and Annie nee Fisher. John was a commercial traveller in the cloth/drapery business, the son of an Aberdeenshire farmer. Annie was the daughter of a Glaswegian stevedore although she had been born in Stirlingshire.They married at 105, Hill Street, Garnet Hill, Glasgow on 14th January 1864. Annie at the time was living at 118 New City Road , Glasgow and John at 5 Roshall Street, Glasgow. They went on to have 12 living children in 21 years although it is possible more were born but did not survive. The 1911 census normally gives this information but it was not evident for the Thom family.
John and Annie were married over 4 years when their first surviving child was born, Mary Eadie Thom born in 1869. The children arrived at regular intervals following Mary’s birth. Before the 1871 census, Annie Fisher Thom was born on 14th January 1871. Mary and Annie were both born at Old Machar, Aberdeen.
The 1871 census places the family at 12 Bank Street, Old Machar, Aberdeen. The family moved from Aberdeen to Elgin, Morayshire shortly after this as that is where the rest of the children were born. Christina was the first to be born in Elgin on 21st June 1873, Margaret Jeanneta ( Nettie) in 1875. 1876 saw the death of their first born, Mary at the age of 6 . Her death registration gives cause of death as convulsions. Christina aged 3 has already witnessed the arrival of a new sister and the death of an older one. The family address on the registration is Henderson’s Cottages, Port Elphinstone, Aberdeenshire. It is unclear why they were back in Aberdeenshire and can only surmise.
A son, John Fisher Thom ( Johnnie) was born in Elgin in 1877, James D Thom ( Jimmy) in 1879, William Stewart Thom ( Willie) January 1881, Frederick Robert Thom( Freddie) 1882, Randolph Charles 1884, Herbert Alexander July 1886, Alexander Lawson May 1888 and finally Edith in 1890.
So, Christina was the 3rd child and became the second eldest after the death of sister Mary. She had 10 younger siblings by the age of 12. A beautiful family photograph of the young family is included in the attached folder , taken about 1883 before the arrival of the youngest 4 children. Freddie is the baby in the photograph.
We know that in 1881 at the time of the census return , the family are living at 4 Francis Place, Elgin. John is a commercial traveller -cloth, aged 29, Annie is 36, Mary of course is missing as she died in 1876. Daughter Annie Fisher is 9, Christina is 7, Margaret Jeanetta is 5, John 3, James Duncan 1 and William Stewart 2 months. The family employ two domestic servants aged 20 and 17 respectively.
On Friday 8th August 1890 the Elgin Courant, and Morayshire Advertiser reported the local “ Junior Certificates”. Included is “ Christina M Thom, West End School, Elgin. Geography and History 54. Scripture 44, Mathematics 40.” 16 year old Christina left school and went to Lancashire to learn how to become a governess.
The 1891 census includes the 17 year old Christina M Thom as a governess pupil at Westby House, Lytham. The following website lists a multitude of private boarding establishments in desirable Lytham St Anne’s including Westby House. The need for such schools enhanced by the number of men serving in the army at the time.
The census for the rest of the Thom family now lists John as a net manufacturer living at 30 South Street Elgin. The children including 19 year old Annie are all scholars except for Alexander and Edith, 2 and 11 months respectively. A local 14 year old girl is employed as a general servant.
The Glasgow Evening Post of Friday 10th May 1895 includes Christina M Thomas in a report regarding the “ Education of Imbecile Children”. Seemingly Christina is a director with a vote for the Scottish National Institution for the Education of Imbecile Children, determining which children are nominated for admission. It indicates that she had maintained an active role in education following her post in Lytham as Governess pupil.
Shortly after this, on 11th March 1898, sister Annie Fisher married Thomas Longmuir Bennie of Glasgow , in Spain. We later learn that he was a miner and they lived in Seville.
Later in 1898 brother James Duncan joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders attesting in August aged 19. Tragically he died in September that year. His death registration states tuberculosis as cause of death, his occupation drapery merchandiser and his address as 61, Albert Drive, Cathcart, Renfrewshire .
The following year, Annie had a son in Seville, Thomas Longmuir Bennie ( junior). Her husband died soon after the birth of their son and his death was announced in the local Glasgow papers “ of Monte-de-herias miners”.
Both Christina, her parents and her surviving siblings experienced a great deal of emotional turmoil.
We can only surmise that Annie and baby returned home to Glasgow.
By the time of the 1901 census , the Thom’s still at Albert Drive, Cathcart, now described as Lanarkshire not Renfrewshire, John senior is described as being in the paper trade at 59, Annie senior is 56.Christina at 27 is a governess. Margaret J now 25 is a teacher, John F, 23 a draper, William s , 20 a commercial traveller, Randolph C 16, a grocer, Herbert A , 14 a clerk, Alexander now 12 and Edith 10 are both scholars. Annie’s baby, Thomas L Bennie, now 2 is living at this address with his grandparents as is a 48 year old lodger.
We find widowed sister Annie Bennie nee Thom on a separate return as an assistant housekeeper at The Waverley Temperance Hotel, 127, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow | Glasgow History
This website offers some insightful photographs of Sauchiehall Street including one of The Waverley Hotel in 1901 with busy trams passing by on their way to the International Exhibition held at Kelvingrove Park from 2nd May to 4th November 1901. Stuart Cranston’s Waverley Temperance Hotel was originally in Buchanan Street but outgrew the premises therefore moved to a new site. As Annie is included in the census for the hotel she probably lived in.
The following year there was more upheaval in the Thom household when younger brother William Stewart became engaged in Glasgow in 1902 and then departed for South Africa aged 22 in 1903 . There are numerous ships passenger listings that include Willie.
Sister Margaret Jeanetta married James King of Greenock on 15th January 1904 in South Africa so it is possible that Willie went to S Africa to see his sister.
In 1906, brother Frederick emigrated to Canada. His emigration papers describe him as a superintendent. Willie returned home for a short stay the same year sailing from Natal to London as a salesman.
Margaret made a visit home with her son in 1907, according to passenger lists and the same year 25 year old Randolph returned from Montreal to Glasgow , steerage. He had possibly been to visit his brother Frederick.
In 1908 , Willie married his fiancé in Glasgow and in April in Glasgow widowed Annie remarried David Blanche a widowed distiller. In April the same year, Herbert emigrated to Canada , Montreal. Brother John Fisher , 31, must have sailed to Canada in previous years as he died in 1909 , according to his death certification he died of typhoid and pneumonia in hospital. He was a soldier of the 1st Scottish Horse Imperial Yeomanry and had a Presbyterian burial in Montreal.
On 7th April 1910 when Christina was 37 , her father died – recorded on his death registration as caused by cystitis and septicaemia aged 68. He died in Glasgow Infirmary but his usual address is given as 51 , Apsley Place, Commercial traveller. Apsley Place is now a modern block. Willie is recorded as the informant of his father’s death but he left for South Africa shortly afterwards.
We have no definite evidence of Christina’s whereabouts during this time but there is no evidence of her travelling to either Canada or South Africa to visit her siblings.
Further family events occurred in the years preceding WW1. Margaret visited her mother with her two sons in 1912. Her mother’s address is given on the passenger list. Herbert married in Canada in 1913, he is described as a clerk on his marriage record. Frederick married a Glasgow girl in Montreal in 1914 and they went on to have a son. Subsequent Canadian census returns give some of this background.
Leaving their mother behind with Edith and possibly Alexander- it is unclear where he was during the war, Randolph attested on 22nd November 1915 to the Cameron Highlanders and his service records who that he served in France until 17th April 1917 and Christina began employment at H M Factory Gretna.
Edith married park supervisor Robert Smillie of Ploockshields in 1917.
We know that Christina served as a matron at Drake house Hostel, 47-61 Dunedin Road, Eastriggs as described in the introduction. She would have been 45 when the electoral register was compiled. A teaching background was very common for matrons and welfare supervisor employed at the time by the ministry of munitions. We also know that she had an assistant and a maid.
As her work at Gretna was winding down or finishing completely in 1919, her nephew, Willi’s son, died aged 10 in South Africa. Her brother Randolph was posted to France again until 18th November 1919. He had been arrested in August 1919 for “ overstaying his leave” by 24 hours and was fined accordingly. Randolph was discharged the following ywear on demobilisation.
Christina had encountered a lot of death and suffering in her 47 years and decided to train as a nurse at the Victoria Infirmary , Glasgow. The date of training given in the 1928 nursing register is 1920-21. Her address in the same register is 53 , Eldon Street, Greenock which happens to be her sister Annie’s , now Blanche, address ( 1911 census).
1921 saw Randolph who had been living with his mother since the end of the war, emigrate to Canada. His entry papers say that he was going to take up a position as a dairying clerk near his brother. This would possibly be Frederick.
In 1926 , Christina’s sister Margaret died in East London, Durban, S Africa aged 49 of lung and bone cancer ( SA death certification)
Willie made frequent journeys between Durban and home, he was home between May and October 1930. Their mother died on 18th June 1930 of cardiac failure aged 86. Willie was the informant of his mother’s death. Christina was 56 at this time.
There is a possible red herring in the form of Kelly’s Directory for Liverpool 8 ( Toxteth) in 1938 which lists a Miss Christina M Thom at 127 Hartington Road. It is not impossible as she was familiar with the area from her days in Lytham St Anne’s.
In 1939 her sister Annie Fisher Bennie/ Blanche died in may followed swiftly by her second husband, David Blanche’s collapse at Central Station, Glasgow of heart failure in November and reported clearly in the local paper. Annie’s son Thomas had obviously been drawn to South Africa and it is recorded that he died in the Transvaal , S Africa in 1941 although further details are unknown.
At the age of 73, having had 2 fulfilling careers, Christina Muddie Thom died on 9th January 1946 at Colliesdene , Strathaven ( a nursing home ) of intestinal carcinoma that she had suffered for 5 years. Her death registration indicates that her brother Alex was the informant. Her usual address 18? Millbrae Crescent, Glasgow-retired nurse.
Her brother Herbert died in Canada and is buried in Montreal alongside the other siblings who died there. Willie died in Durban, Edith died but it is not clear where but most likely Glasgow, Alexander died in Gourock – a retired engineer so had most likely been involved in the Clyde shipyards. Perhaps this is what occupied him during WW1. He left a widow.
Finally, in 1966, Frederick died in Montreal.