View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Tuesday 13 July

A fairly bright day with a lot of high cloud, but also pleasant sunshine. The amount of flies around signifies that high summer is here. The mercury is at 17C / 63F, which is quite pleasant and average for this part of the world. Tomorrow will probably be broadly the same, as a frontal zone passes far to our east.

Spent the morning resolving the query that I reported in my previous query. By the way, anyone for some parsnip cake?


Genealogy is a subject that I have brushed against during my researches into the military history of the Isle of Lewis. I recently received a genealogy query that I could resolve with sources that I have at my disposal.

Someone was looking for a Canadian soldier, surname Murray, who had died in the First World War, leaving behind a widow, Christina, and three young children. Christina died not long after the end of the war, and the children were adopted.

The question was: is there a Canadian soldier from WW1, who died in the conflict and was married to a Christina.

I looked up the listings for anyone called Murray on the website for Veteran Affairs Canada, which displayed all that were killed in WW1. I then cross-referenced those against attestation papers, which are displayed on the website for Library & Archives Canada, using the service numbers. And after more than 100 searches, I finally found the man I was looking for:

On the website of Veteran Affairs Canada, James Watson Murray is quoted as being the husband of a Christina Murray. His attestation paper does not mention the name of his wife, but he is marked down as married. James Watson lies buried at Contay; further details on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.

I summarise the information:

James Watson Murray
Son of Robert Murray, of Aberdeen, Scotland, born on 18th April 1882.
Trade or calling: Decorator
Last address: 15 Markham Place, Toronto (attestation)
Last address: 2903 Lafontaine St., Maisonneuve, Montreal.(CWGC)
Name of spouse: Christina

Signed up to the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force on 5 April 1915 in Toronto.
He was assigned to 3rd Canadian Infantry (Central Ontario Regiment) with registration number 172080.

Upon medical examination, on 30 March 1915, James Watson was found to have the following characteristics:
Height 5 ft 4 in (1.62 m)
Chest girth when fully expanded 34 in (85 cm)
Range of expansion 1¼ (3 cm)
Complexion: dark
Eyes: blue
Hair: dark brown
Religious denomination: presbyterian
Has 10 tattoo marks on forearm
A scar on left hip

James Watson lost his life on 9th October 1916 at the age of 34.
This newspaper article reports his death.
He lies buried at Contay British Cemetery, grave IV. A. 9.
This picture shows his gravestone.