My great grandparents, Robert Armstrong Rae and Margaret McGarrity had their first child just two months after their marriage in April 1899. They were the parents of my paternal grandfather and their marriage took place at their home in Craigneuk, Lanarkshire. The bride would have been quite obviously pregnant and this may have caused some disapproval among family and friends. Births so soon after a wedding are not uncommon in my family tree so no big surprise. What did surprise me was a record I found in the cemetery records for Globe Cemetery in Motherwell
I visited North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre to try and locate the graves of the Rae family ancestors. On the list was 6 month old Thomas Rae who was buried in August 1898. His parents are recorded as Robert Rae and Margaret McGarrity. So, Sarah was not their first child? Next I checked the death records to find the cause of death. While the address from the cemetery records matches the death record, the parents do not. The parents on this document are Archibald Smith Rae and Sarah Rae whose maiden name was also Rae. Archibald registered and was present at the death.
I then checked the birth records which show Thomas Rae born 28 February 1898 and the parents are Robert Rae and Margaret McGarrity.
From other research I’ve done I know that Archibald Smith Rae is, in fact, Archibald Smith. He was married to Robert’s sister, Sarah (except she wasn’t actually his sister but he thought she was – a story for another time). Thomas wouldn’t be the first illegitimate relative that the couple cared for and I can only assume this is what happened here. Margaret and Robert gave their child away and he was to be raised as Thomas Smith.
I don’t understand why false details were given to register the death while the real parents are recorded in the cemetery records. It was illegal to knowingly provide false information when registering births, deaths and marriages so why would Archibald risk that? Margaret and Robert went on to have a big family and they named my grandfather Archibald Smith Rae after the man who helped them when they needed it most.
3 thoughts on “An Unwanted Child- Thomas Rae 1898- 1898”
He may have been an unwanted child to two, but you have made him a sympathetic child to many. Thank you.
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Thank you. That’s a lovely comment
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