Robert Brackenridge & Mary Wright

Just a few weeks before his father’s tragic death, Robert Brackenridge had celebrated his twenty-third birthday. Like his late father, Robert was employed as a colliery engine keeper and resided at Little Up. Following the death of his father, however, there is a twenty year period when his activities are unknown. Not until his marriage in 1896 do we as yet have an official record that bears his name.

On 11 November 1896, Robert Brackenridge married Mary Wright, a dressmaker, in a civil ceremony at the Blythswood district register office in Glasgow. Raised in a community of miners, Mary Wright lived in one of the company row houses adjacent to the Silverton Colliery in Hamilton where her father, John Wright, worked as a colliery waggoner. Present as witnesses to the civil ceremony were two of his cousins, William Brackenridge, a colliery engine stoker of Marshall Land, Bellshill, and Lizzie Pettigrew Brackenridge, a boot saleswoman, of Dicks Land, Bellshill. Addresses for Robert (age 42) and Mary (age 29) were Dicks Land (Bellshill) and Silverton Colliery (Hamilton) respectively.17

Robert and Mary Wright Brackenridge c. 1920

Robert Brackenridge and Mary Wright had three children: John (my father), was born on 27 May 1897 at 67 North Road in Bellshill. Two daughters, Christina Mary (Chrissie), and Janet (Jenny) were born in 1899 and 1901 respectively.18 Their half-sister, Jean Wright Brackenridge, about five years older than John, helped her mother with household chores and attended to the needs of her younger siblings.

Most working-class Scots left school at fourteen to enter the industrial labor market. Following that pattern, John Brackenridge began a five year apprenticeship as a bricklayer at the Mossend Steel Mill where he learned his trade under the direction of his uncle Thomas Brackenridge, who was a hardtaskmaster but a good teacher. At the same time, he continued his education by attending evening continuation classes at the Uddingston Grammar School. In the 1915-16 session, he received first prize in a course on Building Construction, a book on Building Construction by Charles F. Mitchell. On his 21st birthday in 1918, he joined the Masonic Lodge, Dalziel 406. He maintained that lodge connection throughout his life.

17 Marriage Record in Register House, Edinburgh. At the time of her marriage in 1896, Mary Wright’s father was deceased and her mother, Jane Beveridge Wright, had remarried to a man named Hamilton.

18 Christina was born 24 February 1899 and Jenny

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