Gordon Mason :


The story behind just one of the graves….

Plot 117 Agnes Carmichael Wilson 1830-1906

Agnes was born in c1930 Co. Derry, the daughter of James Wilson and Jane King.

She married William Wilson but appears (At Boghead, near Kirkmuirhill) without him in the 1861 census. With her were their 3 young children (Mary 4, Robert 3 and James 1 ). All three children are listed as having been born in Ireland, and so we can say that they were newly arrived in Scotland. Living with them were Agnes’ elder sister Mary Ann, and their younger brother James. Agnes was employed as a ‘Flowerer’, basically meaning that she was hand pollinating strawberry and tomato plants within the local greenhouses.

Living close by was her mother Jane King with another sister, Jane, with her husband and their children.

James went on to marry 3 times, and established his large family in Stonehouse.

Agnes and her sister moved to Carmunnock, where they found work variously as Domestic Servants or as farm labourers. By 1881, the sisters were still together, with young Mary and her 3 daughters. Mary had a son, before leaving to marry and produce another 5 children, but the elderly sisters remained and raised Mary’s older children. By 1901, only the elderly sisters remained, though one of the grandchildren, now 22, was living and working locally in Domestic Service.

Mary Ann died in 1902 whilst living with their brother James in Stonehouse. He himself died in 1903.

In 1904 aged 74, Agnes was admitted to hospital. Initially placed in Woodilee, she died in Hartwood on 12 Oct 1906. She now rests with Elizabeth White (nee Craig). Both Mary Ann and Agnes had Arteriosclerosis, and this was given as Agnes’ cause of death along with Emphysema, heart failure and lung congestion.

Her daughter Mary died in the same year. Nothing is known of Agnes’ sons James and Robert who had arrived with her from Ireland, but many of Mary’s children married and had children. Counting just one of these, my Grandmother had 16 children, all bar one of whom married. They produced at least 30 grand children, uncounted Great grandchildren and great great grandchildren. They are scattered across the globe from Australia to the Americas, but many of us remain here in Scotland. Only guesswork could estimate the number of people across the globe who can now trace their decent to Agnes Carmichael Wilson, there must be several hundred of us. 


I've been trying to piece together events leading up to Agnes' death, looking at timelines and other family events around the same time. I held a sense of abandonment for Agnes regarding her admission and subsequent death, particularly since the death certificate made no mention of next of kin. In the 1901 census Agnes and her sister Mary Ann were still living together in Carmunnock, ages given as 74 and 78 respectively, with both listed as 'former farmworkers', likely meaning that they had limited or no income. Whilst a 22 yo grand-daughter, Jane, was living and working in the village, she disappears from the record possibly having married or emigrated. Agnes' daughter Mary was living with her husband in Bridgeton, with a large family. By 1902, Mary Ann had died whilst living with their brother James, who died in 1903. Another sister Jane, and their mother Jane King Wilson had lived relatively locally, had also died by this point, leaving Agnes' daughter Mary as her nearest kin. The answer may lie in the fact that Mary was fighting cancer, whilst also trying to raise her younger children. She died only 8 days after Agnes. In an era before the NHS and Social Care, it may be that whilst Agnes was in hospital the family gained some respite to care for Mary in her final months beleiving that Agnes was safe and looked after. Its difficult to look at their death dates without coming to the conclusion that there must have been some strong emotional connection where one event influenced the other. Mary's eldest daughter, another Agnes, was my grandmother. In registering Mary's death, she maintained the tradition of being inconsistent in official records. She gave Mary's age as 40 (she was at least 8 years older) and noted herself as her sister rather than daughter.


Typical of the inconsistencies in her records, Agnes' father is listed as James, not William as mentioned on the death cert above. James is the name given as her mother's husband, and the father of both her sister and brother according to their death certs. Going by the Census returns of 1861, 1881, 1891 and 1901, Agnes would have been born around 1830, making her 76 when she died.