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Robert Ferguson

My Great Grand Father on my mother's side Robert Ferguson a man of mystery. I have not been able to trace his birth, but looking at the details recorded in the 1881 Census I believe he was born in Ireland in 1882. AS will be seen from the following I have not succeeded in tracing his death, again I believe the reason is that he returned to Ireland after the death of his wife Rosie Downie

What I do know is obtained from the register of marriage and also the register entry of death for Rosie Downie.

Robert Ferguson age 21, Furnaceman, of 2 Chester Street, Shettleston (near Glasgow) Father Hugh Ferguson (labourer) Mother Esther Ferguson (MS Gillies) Deceased married Rosie Downie age 20, of 15 Riddrie Place, Provanmill, father John Downie (labourer) Deceased, Mother Margaret Downie (MS Rogers) on 31st October 1903 at 15 Riddrie Place, Provanmill, near Glasgow. (Source: 1903 Marriage Register Area 644/3 Entry 485)

The marriage produced one known child, Robert (Roch) Ferguson born 24th August 1904, Glasgow, Scotland.(Source: 1904 Birth Register Area Shettleston Entry 128) my Grandfather. The marriage was a short one, no-one in my mother's family can relate the events, but judging from comments made by them, my late Grandmother went to a great deal of trouble to retain a family secret taking it to the grave with her.

The register of deaths for the year 1912 records the events of Rosie Ferguson's death. It is this record, and that of the death of her daughter that gives a clue as to the mystery. At the age of 28 Rosie Downie died of Pulmonary Tuberculosis on 13th May 1912 at 25 East Hope Street, Glasgow. Her certificate states:

Rose Ferguson married to Robert Ferguson, Labourer, at 2:30 PM on 13 May 1912 at 25 East Hope Street, Glasgow age 28 years, father John Downie, Labourer (deceased) Mother Margaret Downie MS Brittain (deceased) cause of death Pulmonary Tuberculosis as certified by A J Cosgrove, Surgeon. Death registered by Robert R Downie (brother) 1141 Garnquad Road on 14th May 1912. (Source: Death Register Area 644/2 Entry 313).

The first thing that struck me was - Why did the brother (Robert Downie) report the death and not the husband? The second is the statement Married to - does this indicate that Robert Ferguson was dead? If it does I think it should have read Widow. Further research revealed a certificate of death for a child on the same day and the same address, but the child's name was Rosie Bourke. It is this certificate that builds up a picture of the secret or scandal.

On 27th May 1912, one Walter Bourke Telephone Wireman of 15 Riddrie Terrace, Glasgow, reported the death of his daughter Rose Bourke. the child was born on the 8th May 1912 and died after 4 hours of life at 5 PM, 25 East Hope Street, Glasgow, cause of death given as Premature Birth. Mother's name given as Rose Downie, Bleacher (wife of Robert Ferguson Labourer (Deceased). (Source: Death Register Area 644/2 Entry 337)

Taking the two certificates, and the information contained in them, I speculate that the marriage between Robert and Rosie had broken down, she had moved in with Walter Bourke, and as a result of the premature birth of their daughter Rose she contacted the illness that killed her. I may be wrong, and that Robert was dead, hence the reason why Rosie's death is recorded by her brother. However despite intensive research I have not been able to trace the record of Robert Ferguson's death - but then he may have moved back to the land of his birth Ireland.

In either case one cannot help feeling sorrow at the tale woven by the two certificates, but in today's world there would be no shame or scandal, however in my Grandmother's time it would be shocking to say the least

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