I have discovered that many of my ancestors were illiterate and their official documents were signed with just a cross with the words his/her mark. I wonder if it embarassed them to admit they couldn’t even sign their own name or whether they never gave it a second thought. One of the main names in my research is Brawley. Or is it Brawly? Or Brolly? Or Brollay? Or Bralley? Or any of the other variations that I have seen on birth, death and marriage certificates?
My great grand aunt, Elizabeth Brawley was born in Clyde Ironworks, Lanarkshire, Scotland on 5 November 1861, She was registered as Elizabeth Brollay. Neither of my great great grandparents, James Brawley and Sarah McLaughlin (or McLauchlan or McLaughlan) could read or write. I suppose the registrar on the day just had to guess at the spelling. Elizabeth, or Lizzie as she was known, was the second of ten children and the only daughter.
By the 1871 census (where she is recorded as Elizabeth Braully), the family were living in Newmains, Lanarkshire. Thirteen year old bother, John was working as a miner while Lizzie and six year old Daniel (my great grandfather) went to school. Four year old James and two year old Hugh were at home with Sarah
In 1881 Lizzie was employed as a wool weaver and was still living with her parents. She lived with her parents even after her marriage to Charles McCafferty in 1883. The marriage register shows that at that time she was employed as a domestic servant.
In fact, Lizzie remained with her parents until their deaths. There is no trace of Charles after the 1891 census and I haven’t found a record of his death. In the 1901 census she was with James and Sarah, her little brother, Patrick and niece, Sarah. Sarah was my grandfather’s sister and she lived with her grandparents due to lack of room in her own house.
This is the strange thing about Lizzie. My mother knew her but she knew her as Lizzie Brawley. She had no idea that there had ever been a husband. My mother’s recollection of her is as a rather eccentric woman. Apparently, later in life, she lived with a younger man who was described rather unkindly as ‘retarded’. And according to my mum Lizzie was not especially nice to him. And nobody seemed to know who he was.
Lizzie died in 1946. Her death certificate was signed by her nephew, Matthew Brawley who was the adopted son of her brother Matthew.
Lizzie is buried with her parents in Cambusnethan Cemetery. Their grave is unmarked but the cemetery records show her as Elizabeth Brawley. No mention of McCafferty.
There’s a lot I don’t know about Elizabeth. I’d like to know what happened to Charles. Did he go off and leave her? I’ll keep looking.
Charles McCafferty died age 84 on 17 January 1946. At the time of his death he was living in Coatbridge in a hostel for single males. His death record shows that he was married to Elizabeth Brawley.