Sunday, January 19, 2014

52 Ancestors: #3 - Eliza Hamilton Burnett (1897-1943)

My maternal grandmother was Eliza Hamilton Burnett.  Unfortunately, I don’t know a lot about my grandmother as she died when my mom was only 10 years old.

Eliza was born July 16, 1897 in Dundee, Scotland.  She was the youngest of six children of John and Helen Leighton (Marshall) Burnett.  At the time of her birth, the family was living at 36 Carmichael Street in the Hilltown area of Dundee.  Her father, John Burnett, was a police constable for the Dundee police force.  At the time of the 1901 census, Eliza was 3 years old and the family had moved to 37 Stirling Street. 

Hilltown leads up a steep hill from the city centre. It is an older mixed tenement and industrial part of the City which had many jute mills, which was the main industry of Dundee in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.   It is a true inner city location and is one of the oldest parts of the city.  Until it was sold to Dundee in 1697, Hilltown was outside the burgh of Dundee’s boundary and had itself been created a burgh of barony in 1643.

When Eliza was 17 years old she had “taken up” with her much older (26 yrs.) first cousin Robert Burn Marshall, who at that time was still married to his first wife, Margaret (Weir) Marshall.  Robert, at that time, was living at 65 Main Street, Hilltown, Dundee.  When Eliza was just 18 years old, she gave birth to my Aunt Helene (Nell), in December 1915.  Margaret passed away on April 30, 1917 and on July 23, 1917 Robert and Eliza finally married, which was a good thing as she was pregnant again with my Uncle Dave, who was born that October.  Robert was working as a ticket writer and Eliza was a housekeeper.  They were married at
Clepington Church, which was just across the street from where Robert lived at 65 Main Street.  This was the same church where Eliza’s parents were married.

Robert and Eliza had eight children together:  Helen Burnett (1915-2007), David Hume (1917-1978), Robert (1919-1989), Rachel (1922-2009), Albert Ferrier (1925-1927), Norman Wilson (1929-1987?), Ludivina Mary (1931) and my mother Rhona MacDonald (1933-2003).  The family continued to live at 65 Main Street until Robert’s death on September 12, 1935.

After Robert’s death, Eliza and the children moved to a bigger house at 50 Glenconner Drive, Linlathen, on the edge of the city.

When Eliza became ill, her son in law, William (Harry) Crossman made a death bed promise to look after her 3 youngest children, Norman, Vina and Rhona, promising to take them to Canada with him and Nell after the war ended.  Only Vina and Rhona ended up going (along with Harry and Nell) as Norman was to turn 18 and had to remain in Scotland to serve 2 years mandatory military service.

Eliza passed away on March 29, 1943 at the Maryfield Hospital in Dundee from carcinoma of the breast and acute gastritis.

©2014, copyright Alana Farrell

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