Mary Ann Cupples, my 4th great-grandmother, was born around 1820 in Falkirk, Stirlingshire, however I have been unable to find her date of birth which is frustrating since I have that information for her siblings.
Mary Ann’s parents, Alexander Cupples and Elizabeth Shaw, moved to Falkirk from Cumbernauld prior to Mary Ann’s birth and she was likely the first of their children to be born there. There is a significant gap between the births of Mary Ann and the previous child, James, who was born in April 1816.
Mary Ann married Robert James Gray on 7 March 1836 and they welcomed their first child, Elizabeth, my 3rd great-grandmother, in 1838. Sadly, Robert seems to have died before 1840 as Mary Ann married her second husband, George Fearns, on 25 January 1841. Mary Ann and George had a daughter, Mary, who was born on 29 October 1841. I had a really hard time finding Mary’s birth record, however I finally found it in the Catholic Parish Records which leads me to suspect the Fearns family were probably Catholic.
By the time we meet Mary Ann on the 1841 UK Census, she has been widowed again and is living with her parents, along with her eldest daughter, Elizabeth. Since the census was taken in June that year, Mary Ann would have been pregnant with Mary at the time.
On 4 May 1846, Mary Ann married her third husband, Robert McMurray, and they went on to have seven children. In the 1851 UK Census, Mary Ann and Robert are living in Camelon with three children, however there is no sign of Mary Ann’s eldest daughters, Elizabeth Gray and Mary Fearns.
Elizabeth, aged 13 years, appears to be living with her widowed grandfather, Alexander Cupples, along with a younger cousin, James McGhee, and is probably keeping house for them. Mary, aged 9 years, is living in Denny and working as a domestic servant in the household of a paternal aunt. Although it wasn’t too unusual for children born from a previous marriage to stay with grandparents or other relatives, I’m getting the impression Mary Ann may have not been very close to her eldest daughters.
Mary Ann’s third marriage was more lucky than her first two and the family are listed as living in Falkirk on the 1861 UK Census and have added three more children, however the eldest daughter, Agnes, died of measles, aged 7 years, on 5 February 1856. A third daughter, born on 5 July 1856, was named Agnes after her deceased sister which may seem a bit ghoulish to us but was common practice back then.
Robert, born in Ireland to William and Elizabeth McMurray, was mainly employed as a labourer in the iron foundries. Robert moved his family to Alloa, Clackmannanshire, for a short time as they can be found there in the 1871 UK Census living on Craignard St. The youngest son, John, born on 19 December 1861, died of measles on 5 May 1864, so that makes two children Mary Ann lost to measles.
Mary and Robert’s eldest son, William, married Jane Harrison on 25 August 1865 and their first child, Robert, was born on 2 September 1865. While he may have been the first grandchild for Robert, he certainly wasn’t Mary Ann’s first grandchild as her eldest daughter, Elizabeth Gray, had given birth to a son, Thomas Greenaway, in 1859.
Robert and Mary Ann had moved back to Falkirk by the time the 1881 UK Census was taken, however they are living alone at 35 Kerse Lane as most of their children are now living out of the area. Mary Ann and Robert’s second oldest daughter, Elizabeth McMurray, married David Gibb in Alloa on 12 December 1873 but she would die of tuberculosis on 8 February 1877.
Robert died of general debility on 24 February 1885, and Mary Ann, aged 71 years, is listed as a widow living on her own at Kerse Lane in the 1891 UK Census. However, her younger sister, Isabella, also a widow, was living at the same address, albeit a different house. Mary Ann’s youngest daughter, Agnes, who had been living with her husband and children in Bo’ness, West Lothian, died of kidney disease, aged 27 years, on 9 May 1891.
By the time Mary Ann died on 25 August 1896, she had outlived all but three of her children. Her eldest daughter, Elizabeth Gray, had died a month before her mother in July 1896. Of the living children, the eldest son, William, was the only one still living in the Falkirk area which makes it hard to understand why Mary Ann died alone, aged 69 years, in the Falkirk Poorhouse. The death record lists her parents as unknown which indicates the staff at the poorhouse had no real information to go on other than the identity of her husband. Seems like such a sad end to a sad life.