>A Small Boy in Aberdeen


The 1911 Census marks a significant point in my researches because it is the first to include my Dad. There is something slightly strange about seeing one’s father listed as a 4 year-old boy and especially so as all my grandparents were already dead by the time I myself was 4 and hence, although I have ‘met’ them in the censuses, they exist only as shadows in my mind.
I do not intend to dwell upon the details of the household at 56 St Swithin Street (save to say that my dad’s two aunts were both Teachers and that the Boarder at his grandmother’s house taught Science at Gordon’s College), but look instead at the occupations of the neighbours at numbers 52 to 54:
We have an employer in the form of the Manager of a ‘Coal & Lime Importers, Oil Refiners & Grain Merchants Limited Company’; another employer who was a House Painter; a third employer who was a ‘Motor Car Agent’ and whose daughter was a ‘Clerk & Typist’ in the Motor Trade; and finally a ‘Retired Gilder & Picture Framer’ whose daughter was a self-employed Piano Teacher and whose two sons were employed as a ‘Dentists Mechanic’ and a ‘House Painter’.
So this was the neighbourhood that my Stornowegian grandfather found himself inhabiting 90 years after his own grandfather had been born in a house on the shore at Direcleit, a house that the sea was known to enter at particularly high tides.
I say ‘inhabiting’ but in fact he wasn’t there on the night of the census and, as the index at ScotlandsPeople does NOT include a field for the place of birth, I am not going to trawl through all the 36 year-old John Kerrs (at £1.17 each) in the hope of chancing upon him!
What is more disappointing is that, had he been there, I am sure that he would have continued his practice from the previous Census and inserted ‘G&E’ in the otherwise blank column recording Gaelic speakers…

2 thoughts on “>A Small Boy in Aberdeen

  1. Very interesting. I looked through old Post Office directories for the house we now live in, in Aberdeen, and was fascinated by the various occupations of the late-19th-century inhabitants of our neighbourhood. There were a lot of sea captains and travelling salesmen as I recall.
    I would be interested to know what kind of a Highland / Gaelic community there was in Aberdeen in the early 20th century. When we arrived in Aberdeen in 1992 there were, I believe, many more Gaelic speakers here than there are now. I don’t know if the change is due to university choice, changes in the oil industry, or the decline of Gaelic speakers.
    Let me know if you would like a photograph of 56 St. Swithin Street, I must pass it quite often! I could e-mail one to you.

    • Thanks, Christine, and yes, I’d love a photo, please!
      The site http://www.histpop.org should be able to answer your question on Gaelic speakers – but at the moment of writing, their server(s) appear(s) to be down!
      Thanks for your continued interest & feedback,

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