My maternal grandfather, Hugh Brawley was one of 12 children. Tragically two of those children died in infancy. Of the remaining ten siblings, half of them left Scotland during the depression of the 1920s. My last post was about his brother John Brawley and this week I’ve been looking more at the sister who emigrated.
Sarah Brawley was the fifth child born to Daniel Brawley and Ellen Keenan. She was the second daughter and was named after her paternal grandmother. The first daughter, Agnes died in November 1892 when she was just weeks old. She was born in the family home at 8 Store Row, Newmains on 3 January 1896. But although she was born in her parents’ home she wasn’t raised there.
The 1901 census shows her parents and siblings living at 3 Main Street, Newmains while Sarah is living with her grandparents at 12 Brown Street. You can click on the link below to view an old map of Newmains. The two homes were close by so she could see her family every day.
I don’t know why Sarah didn’t stay at home. I know they were very small houses and as the only girl (until the birth of Agnes in 1908) maybe there just wasn’t room. Also living at 12 Brown Street were her aunt Elizabeth who separated from her husband and her uncle Patrick who was only 11 years older than Sarah. Certainly 1901 was not a great year for her family as her father had to seek help from the parish after a period of illness left him unable to work.
My mum tells me that when her father spoke about Sarah he called her by her full name Sarah Brawley and not “our Sarah”. It was as if she wasn’t considered a sister as she didn’t live with her brothers.
In 1916 Sarah married Wishaw man, Matthew Sandford. The image below is from the St Brigid’s parish marriage register. Her bridesmaid, Bridget Higgins became her sister-in-law when she married Patrick Brawley in 1918.
Between 1916 and 1925 Sarah and Matthew had four children; William Michael (1916), Daniel (1918), Matthew (1920) and Helen Filomena (1925).
With four children to take care of and jobs in short supply Matthew and Sarah must have felt that their only option was to join those family members who had found new opportunities in Canada. Sarah’s older brother James uwas the first to go. In 1920 he had married Matthew’s sister Elizabeth Sandford in Montreal. James went to Canada shortly after leaving the military at the end of the Great War.
In July 1826 along with her four children Sarah sailed from Greenock on board the White Star Line ship “Doric”. Matthew had gone ahead to find work and a place for his family to live.
A fifth child, Frances was born in Canada. The family settled in Ontario. My mum remembers letters coming with Toronto, Ont as the return address. As children they thought it sounded funny.
When war broke out the Sandfords were of course affected. Local boys went off to fight. When Sarah hears one of their neighbours was to be in Scotland she told him to call on her brother Hugh who would look after him. You can read more about that here.
Sarah’s son Daniel joined the navy at the outbreak of war. Matthew enlisted along with two friends and hoped to be posted with them. Instead he found himself in Hong Kong and after the fall of Hong Kong in 1941 he was taken prisoner. The article below describes Sarah’s reaction to the news.
Matthew did survive the camps and he returned to Canada at the end of the war to be reunited with his parents. What an incredible day that must have been. Daniel also came home safely.
Sarah and her husband remained in Toronto. They celebrated the marriages if their children and welcomed grandchildren into their lives. They were married for 56 years and passed away within months of each other.