The story begins with Alexander Gavin, my 1st cousin four generations back on my father's maternal side.
My Great Granny Grace (Govans) Galloway was the grandaughter of Robert Govan, a miner who was born in Monkton near Prestwick in Ayrshire. It was Robert who first moved to Barlieth just outside of Hurlford where my Great Granny Grace and her family lived and still live to the present day.
Robert had an elder brother, James, who was born on 11 November 1800 in Burnbrae, Tarbolton, Ayrshire and it is his son that this story is all about. James was, like many others in the family, an ironstone miner.
James married Margaret Tinnock from St. Quivox near Ayr in 1827. Together they had eight children:
- James b. 1827
- William b. 1828
- Mary b. 1830
- Sarah b. 1834
- Alexander b. 1836
- Margaret b. 1839
- Jane b. 1842
- Thomas b. 1844
Alexander was born on 5 July 1836 at Old Bogside, Kilmaurs. He married Maltilda Bulkeley who was eight years his junior and from Toxteth, Liverpool. Together they had eight children:
- William James b. 1857
- John Alexander b. 1860
- James N. b. 1861
- Alice Matilda b. 1863
- Henry Bulkeley b. 1866
- Frederick Charles DSO b. 1868
- Alfred Thomas Bulkeley 1873
- Frank B. b. 1877
These children have their own amazing stories to tell, so more of them later!
Alexander died on 7 September 1920 in 5, Berkeley Square, London, W1, one of the most 'well to do' areas of the city, so how did a miner's son come to spend his final days so far from his roots?
'a man of fine appearance and dignity of bearing. As secretary, general manager and managing director successively he served the company [Dalmellington Iron Co] faithfully and well. It is a pity that a strange stiffness of manner coupled, I think, with a certain shyness, prevented any easy friendship with his workpeople. Silent, absorbed in his thoughts, he went his way through the works, speaking to few. His wife had died in 1904. He must have had a lonely life in his house, "Arddoon", on the hill above the iron works. He was my grand-uncle. My grandmother Larmer was his sister. I scarcely knew him until, during the First World War, I had to visit him on business of Dalmellington Parish Council, of which he was chairman. He treated me then with a quiet kindness which I like to remember.'
Eventually Alexander retired to Ardrossan but when his health began to fade he moved to London to be with his son, Dr. Alfred Thomas Bulkeley, a Harley Street doctor, of whom there is much to tell.
In the Kirk of the Covenant in Dalmellinton there is a stained glass window dedicated to Alexander and his wife Matilda.
Alexander was a well respected member of his local community being chairman of Dalmellington Parish Council, a Justice of the Peace, a county councillor and highly involved with the Church of Scotland.