Mentalists (or memories inspired by Twiggy)

Twiggy

Twiggy – no relation

Twiggy was on “Who Do You Think You Are” last night, and was talking about how her Mum had problems with her “nerves”.  Which is olde worlde speak for an assortment of mental disorders, something that folk didn’t talk about back then.

Which, naturally enough, got me thinking about my Mum and her family.  Before she was married, my Mum spent some time in the hospital with her “nerves”, as had her mother before her.  In fact, I’ve got a letter somewhere from my Granny to my Mum asking her to bring some bits and pieces from home while she was in the hospital.

My Mum was never hospitalised after she was married, although I remember many instances of ups and doons, and she was peculiar, to say the least, until the day she died.  Of course, any mentalism she had was overshadowed by the arch mentalist in the family, my Aunt Bette, my Mums sister.

Elizabeth Robinson (pictured left)

Elizabeth Robinson (pictured left)

As mentioned before, Bette was actually sectioned when she lived with us in the late seventies, and your official white van came to cart her away to Craighouse.  Although the van was actually grey, fact fans.  Suffice to say, the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree in my case, not helped by my Dads family having its own share of nutters, including my Gran, who never learnt my name, despite me being forced to stay with her every Saturday night from the ages of 4 to 9.

And they wonder why I ended up the way I am!

Mum and Gran - a pair of mentalists

Mum and Gran – a pair of mentalists

A Robinson montage

Some snapshots from the Robinson family album.  The captions are in my Mums handwriting.  So there is Grace Muir Robinson (Mum), Edward Dudley Wiltshire (cousin), Elizabeth Robinson (aunt), Eva Robinson (aunt), Mary Agnes Evelyn Muir (grandmother) and  Edward Robinson (grandfather).

Robinson family montage

Robinson family montage

 

 

Cousin Edwards ration book

Here’s a couple of pages from my cousin Edwards ration book. Edward was the son of mad Auntie Bette, who arrived from America one day with a wee black baby in tow. A couple of days later she nipped oot for a paper and headed back to America sans Edward. My Mum ended up looking after him, and everyone roond Crewe Toll thought she was the one who had the wee black baby. Although he was well looked after, he was always a restless soul, wandering the world, until he ended up in Leith ten years back, dying of an alcohol related disease a few years back. If only he’d used up his egg ration!

My Mum, Gran and Edward, along with Grace, from Sri Lanka, one of many students who lodged with my Gran in Pennywell.
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The meat and eggs were from P Henderson, Butcher, 104 Easter Road (which I used got my stuffing from every Christmas till the shut down a few years back). they must have had a van as it’s a long way from Pennywell Road.
Fats, Cheese, Bacon and Sugar were from the Leith Prov Co-op Society Ltd, Crewe Road van number 3.

Edward Dudley Wiltshire

Birth 1947 in Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland
Death 2007 in Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland

 

Edward Dudley Wiltshire

Death 2007 in Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland

William Joseph Muir in Edinburgh

William Joseph Muir was my Great-Grandfather, on my mother’s side. His daughter, Mary Agnes Evelyn, was my mother’s mother. He was born in Ireland in 1857, but at age 4, was living at 9 Incle St, Paisley. I haven’t been through, but it probably looked better than this, 140 years ago.
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By the time he was 24, he was living and working in Edinburgh as a bootmaker. In 1881, he was living in Long Acre, off the Cowgate in Edinburgh with a young lady called Bridget Enright, who was 28. Bearing in mind that she was also Irish, and that Williams mothers maiden name was Mary Enright, I assume this was probably a cousin. Long Acre is long gone, but would not have been dissimilar to this picture of the old Cowgate.
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On the 3rd January, 1889 he married Catherine Healey. Sadly, their marriage record is so faded, that I can’t work out where he was staying. Luckily his wedding was on 3rd January, because on the 26th October of the same year, out popped his first born. By then, they were living in 31 Montgomery Street, which runs between Elm Row and Easter Road. They were living at the good end, in what was new built property. It’s been a gapsite for as long as I can remember, but the house standing on the left is No 27, so they would have been in a tenement. Two years later, when William was born, they had moved next door to No 31. Which also is where the gap is.
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But then the good times start to roll. When my Gran arrived in 1894, they were living in a maindoor in East Preston Street, which is in the much haughtier Newington.
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By the time sister Grace arrived in 1897, they had moved to a huge flat in Melville Terrace overlooking the Meadows. Plush!
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By the time of the 1901 census, they had moved to a maindoor flat in Marchmont Road. A flat I passed a thousand times, as my school was just around the corner. Although I didn’t know it at the time.
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According to the 1903 Edinburgh business directory, he was still living in the Marchmont Road flat, but had two shops. One just around the corner in Marchmont Crescent, and another, right in the heart of the fancy Edinburgh New Town, in William Street. At this point, he must have been an extremely successful bootmaker!

Marchmont (the white painted shop);
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William Street; (the deli called Herbie)
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However, the good times didn’t last. By the time he died in 1914, aged just 57, he was living in Bread Street, a huge fall from the heights of 1903.

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I remember my Mum telling me that was the last shop the family had, so who knows what happened. Naturally, I can speculate. Apparently, two of the sons, whose details I haven’t found yet – Andrew and George – were a wee bit on the simple side, so having grown men who couldn’t run the business wouldn’t have helped. And then there’s the fact that his cause of death is given as nephritis, which is inflammation of the kidney. If he’d been ill for a while, it would have affected the business. Who knows. However, William Joseph Muir remains the success story of the family. From the slums of Paisley to the high and mighty in Edinburgh’s New Town.

I found some old business directories, and turns oot that at one point he had 19 (nineteen!) shops on the go in Embra, so his fall from grace was even greater than I thought.

Here are a couple of scans from the Edinburgh Post Office directories from 1898 and 1902, with his various business addresses marked in the red boxes. Looks like times were good for a while there!

1898
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1901
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Granny Robinson’s domestic service

My Gran, Mary Agnes Evelyn MUIR, married Edward ROBINSON in 1916 at the Sacred Heart in Lauriston, Edinburgh. Her Dad was a shoemaker, who had shops around town, but like many of her generation, she was in domestic service when she got married.

One of his shops was just along the road in William Street (its now Herbies sandwich shop – pic at bottom), so it was probably one of his customers who gave her a job.

Spookily, I moved to a new office, just before I started doing all this family history stuff, and had, unwittingly, walked past her old place of work a good few times. She was in service, in Walker Street, in the building pictured below. It’s the house with the black door, pictured below. She lived in, while in service, so one of those pokey wee windaes on the top floor would have been hers.

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Herbie West End sandwich shop

The Robinson grandparents

My mammys mam and dad.  The one legged, shoemaker Grandad and his wife.

Edward Robinson Birth 1892 in Glasgow, Lanarkshire Death 01 Apr 1962 in Edinburgh St Andrew, Midlothian, Scotland and Mary Agnes Evelyn Muir Birth 31 Jan 1894 in 16 East Preston Street, Edinburgh Death 02 Jun 1959 in Ayr

L to R, cousin Edward (Bettes boy), my Mum, Gran and Granddad, Edward and Evelyn Robinson

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Gran – Evelyn Robinson, with one of Evas children in Pennywell Road

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L to R, my Mum, Gran and Granddad, Evelyn and Edward Robinson

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Edward and Evelyn Robinson

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My Mum, Gran and Edward, along with Grace, from Sri Lanka, one of many students who lodged with my Gran in Pennywell.

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Not grandparents at all, these are my great grandparents, on my mother’s mother’s side, the Muirs. Another family mystery to be solved there, what with my Gran being the black sheep of the family, and what happened to the considerable wealth her mother acquired in property and cobblers shops. As well as Evelyn, my Gran, there were two sons, Andrew and George. George died before my time, but I remember visiting my Uncle Andrew at Greenleas old peoples home, as a boy. My Mum and I were the only people at his funeral in the early eighties.

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Here’s one of my Gran, Evelyn Robinson, in her nursing class. She trained as a nurse during WWII.

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On the back of this picture it says “Granny” and “Mum” in my Mums handwriting. So I’m assuming it is my Great-Grandmother on the Robinson side. Which would make it;

Catherine HEALY (RIN: -12813098), daughter of James HEALY and Catherine MADDEN , was born 12 October 1869 in Glasgow. She died 31 October 1946 in 29 Panmure Place, Edinburgh, Scotland.

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This formidable woman is a bit of a mystery, as only the words “Daddys Sister”. However, age, and circumstance would seem to indicate that it’s one of my Great Grandfathers sisters, as yet unidentified.

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