So who were all these fine ladies dressed up for a photo (in a time bereft of camera phones, selfies and hastily taken photos)

According to the Nicol, from left to right we have Auntie Annie, Auntie Margaret, Auntie Claire, Auntie Theresa, Auntie Catherine and Auntie Mami. These were the daughters of Hugh and Bridget who married at 17. The connection to Grandmere is as per the family tree doc above. So these aunties were in fact Grandpere’s Aunties, though I understand they may have been known as ‘Aunties’ by my 8 uncles.

Anne Mitchell tells me that the McGinness family came from Ireland in 1850 (was this emigration linked to the Great Famine I wonder?). Hugh McGinness (born 1851) was in the wool trade and seemed to have done quite well for himself, Brigid was from Edinburgh.

Hugh and Brigid had 12 children, 6 boys and 6 girls although Nicol Gorman recalls there being 13 siblings not 12. Anne Mitchell recalls an Auntie Clara who have recorded below but I presume is not on the photo above! Again the sharp eyed amongst you will wonder where the boys are in this picture – alas not here, but perhaps we will find photographic evidence sometime, somewhere!

The 6 girls in the photo were our 6 mystery aunties. According to the lovely Anne Mitchell we have the following details of these Aunties:

(Note: Anne Mitchell is our widely acclaimed font of all knowledge. Anne deserves separate a page for herself and family but see Auntie Margaret’s listing below to see where Anne came from!)

Auntie Annie (far left)

Born 1880, died 1970

Annie was a Sister of Charity though a teacher by vocation, becoming a nun at the age of 30. She could apparently vamp all the music hall tunes of the day on the piano and was a wicked mimic with a wonderful sense of humour. Even when she became deaf she could apparently still have the community of nuns at Mill Hill convent in stiches!

Auntie Margaret (second from left)

Born 1883, died 1967

Anne Mitchell’s maternal grandmother, married Patrick John Whelehan (born 1884, died 1959) in 1910.

As an aside Patrick’s father was a Michael Whelahan who was captain and one of the founder members of the Hibernian Football Club alongside his brother-in-law Andrew Stanton. Check out this link in Wikipedia for further details,

Margaret and Patrick had two children, one of them Michael (born 1911, died off Tobruk in 1941 – he married Margaret (Daisy) McEon in Feb 1941, no children) and Patricia Margaret (born 1917, died 1972 who married Ronald Dingwall Kennedy from Wick (born 1912, died 1975). Patricia and Ronald married in the Chaplaincy in Edinburgh in 1939. Ronald had his medical degree from Edinburgh University the previous year and did a locum in Fleetwood for 2 years where both their children were born, the children being Anne Patricia Mitchell (born 1940 and very much alive!) and Michael Andrew born 1941.

Auntie Claire (third from left)

Born 1892 and died in her 70’s. According to Anne Mitchell Auntie Clara was more like a sister than an auntie to Kitty (Catherine Gorman, Grandpere’s sister above). Nicol Gorman recalls that Claire was a teacher at a convent in Brentwood., though she may also have been an Ursuline nun in Belgium (Louvin or Numer possibly)

Auntie Theresa (fourth from left)

Born 1889 (d?)

Little is recorded on Auntie Theresa that has come my way as of yet but she was a Sister of Charity in Glasgow. However, recent discussions with Pete Gorman (Jan 2022) suggest she may be the Sister Theresa that Grandmere had asked him to visit at a convent in Macau, a short boat trip from Hong Kong. Pete remembers visiting her a few times during one of his regular work visits to Hong Kong. He describes getting the boat from Hong Kong to Macau to the convent (well outside the normal tourist areas!) at which she was a Sister and spending time with her. I have a feeling that this might be the very same Sister Theresa that then moved from Macau to a convent outside Edmonton Alberta just a few miles from where Jood Gorman’s sister Geraldine (Gelly) lived. Over the years Sister Theresa received visits from visiting Gormans (Jood, Tracy) and others. If this is the case then it is a very very small world indeed! Edmonton is where William Crawford Rackham ended up (see separate entry) following his adventures with the Hudson Bay Company.

Auntie Catherine (fifth from left)

The eldest daughter, Catherine, was born 1870 and died in her mid-90’s. Catherine married James Gorman (b. 1871 d. 1955) . She was, according to Anne, tiny but determined and still ruling the roost in her 90’s!

James and Catherine had two children, Catherine (Kitty) b. 1986 and died 1984 whose fiancĂ© died in WW1 and James Gorman who married Louise Barbara Rackham – the Grandmere of our family tree!

Auntie ‘Mami or ‘M.E.’) (far right)

Auntie ‘Mamie’ (Mary Ellen) was born in 1878 died 1959, remaining unmarried. She was quite a character and very stylish, wearing a heliotrope scarf at her throat. She moved out to South Africa around 1954/55 and Anne Mitchell remembers riding horses with her – the horsey crowd called her Miss McGinness and offered her orange juice – to which she replied “call me Mamie and I’d like a whiskey please!” which made her a great hit!

Who were the 6 sons I hear you ask?

Of the sons we have less information at the moment but we do have a few dates and names (thankyou Anne Mitchell..) as follows:

  1. Hugh McGinness born 21st September 1872. Hugh married Rebecca Monaghan on 29 Sept 1898. He died in 1909 and she in April 1916.
  2. John McGinness born 8th October 1874. John married Catherine Laughlin at St Columbas’s Gray St on 28 June 1898. He died in Portobello 2nd June 1952 and was a retired steelworker.
  3. Tom McGinness born 25th March 1876 (died 25th December 1945). Thomas married Gertrude Theresa Fox on 22nd Nov.1897 at Upper

    Gray St, Newington he died 25 Dec 1945. They had 3 children: Thomas (b 1900); Gertrude Theresa b 1905 (who married William Cunningham b 1900 in Dunbar on 28th April 1924, they emigrated to Canada a few weeks later.) and Kathleen/Catherine Mary b. 22nd May (who married John Crawford on the 12th August 1933 at St Francis, Lothian Rd)

  4. James McGinness born 15th February 1882 (died 22nd June 1945 in Springburn Glasgow). James married Ellen Hart in Sept 1900 in Glasgow, they had 6 daughters.

  5. Charles Frederick McGinness born 21st June 1886 (died 15th July 1961). Charles married Margaret Croan on 6th March 1907, with witnesses that included James Gorman (presumably Grandpere) and Margaret McGinness (Anne Mitchell’s grandmother). Charles and Maraget had 3 daughters called Nan (at teacher), Maureen (also a teacher and the youngest, died in 2011) and Kathleen, and two sons Francis b 1917 and Kevin (b 1921? ). Charles was an electrical engineer).
  6. Andrew McGinness born on 2nd April 1890 died 1939 from myocarditis. Andrew was married to Rachel McLeod and had a son called William (Billy) who was married to an Italian woman – they had a son called Dennis who spent some of this chlidhood in Mill Hill Convent where his Gr Aunt Annie was a nun.

Next Steps

  1. Can we find out a little bit more about the Sisters of Charity and the Mill Hill convent?