James Brawley 1891-1956

James Brawley was one of my maternal grandfather’s seven brothers. He was the second child of Daniel Brawley and Ellen Keenan. He was born on 31 January 1891 at 12 Furnace Row, Newmains.


James grew up as part of a large family. By the 1911 census they were living in Main Street, Newmains. James and two of his brothers were steel workers. He continued in this line of work until WW1. Conscription began in 1916 and it was in April of that year that James joined the Navy. The Royal Navy Register provides us with a description of James who, at that time was 5″6 1/2″, with dark brown hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion. The record also lists the ships on which he served. My mother recalls a photo of James in his naval uniform having pride of place at her grandparents’ house.

James remained in the navy until 1919 when, not content to return to life in Newmains, he decided on a new life in Canada arriving there in April 1920. The record below gives James’s religion as Protestant. I don’t know if that’s an error or if he deliberately tried to hide the fact he was Catholic.

His decision to leave Scotland clearly had something to do with a certain young lady. It was on 3 July 1920, in the parish of St Ignatius of Loyola in Montreal, that he married Elizabeth Sandford. The Sandford family were from Wishaw. There is a record of Elizabeth working in Canada as early as 1916. Elizabeth’s brother, Matthew Sandford had married James’ sister, Sarah in 1916 in Newmains.

James and Elizabeth had a daughter, Mary, on 7 April 1921. The family remained in Canada. James died in Scarborough, Ontario on 6 July 1956.

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