This is the story of my great aunt, Agnes Brawley. She was my maternal grandfather’s sister but they never met as she died 7 years before he was born. Until very recently I wasn’t even aware of her existence. I only found her while searching for another family member. My mother hadn’t heard of her either. She did have an Aunt Agnes but she was my grandfather’s younger sister and wasn’t born until 1906.
Agnes was born on 9 October 1892 in the family home at 12 Furnace Row, Newmains, Lanarkshire. Her father, Daniel, was a furnace filler. Coltness Iron Works was one of the main employers in the area and the reason my family came to the village a generation before. Her mother, Helen Keenan who was known as Ellen had been a bleachfield worker prior to her marriage. Agnes was their third child and was named after her maternal grandmother, Agnes Haughey. Her elder brother, Daniel, was born in 1887 followed by James in 1891.
The record of her death shows that Agnes died of accidental suffocation on 29 November 1892. Even at a time when infant death was not uncommon, her passing must surely have rocked the family. The circumstances are truly tragic as can be seen from the record.
She and her parents and one of her brothers were asleep in the one bed when she was accidentally overlain. The one bed would have been through necessity, the houses in Furnace Row not offering much in the way of space or comfort.
Agnes lived for just a few weeks but I’m sure the birth of their first daughter must have brought joy to my great grandparents. And it may be that her death changed them forever. Was she ever spoken about? Did my grandfather ever hear the story of his sister or was it something that was never discussed? Did my grandparents feel guilty or blame each other? I have no way of knowing and I feel so sad when I think of her life cut short like that. I really just wanted to write this to record in some way that she was once here.