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, 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.
Summary of Children
Elizabeth Gray (1838-1896)
Elizabeth, known as Betty, was Mary Ann’s eldest daughter from her first marriage with Robert James Gray. After Robert’s untimely demise, Betty can be found on the 1841 UK Census as living with her widowed mother and her grandparents. By this point, Mary Ann had already married and lost a second husband, George Fearns.
After Mary Ann’s third marriage to Robert McMurray, Betty continued to live with her widowed grandfather, Alexander Cupples, until her marriage to Thomas Craig Greenaway on 13 May 1859. Betty and Thomas had eleven children and remained in the Falkirk area where Thomas was employed as an iron moulder. Betty died, aged 58 years, on 4 July 1896 of congestion of the lungs and Thomas died on 9 December 1904 of syncope.
Children: Thomas (1859–1924); Robert (1861–1862); Robert Cupples (1863–1948); Alexander Cupples (1865–1866); Mary Cupples (1867–1930); Helen Craig (1869–1937); James (1871–1948); Elizabeth (1874–1952); William Laird (1876–1969); Alexander Cupples (1878–1953); Jane Cupples (1880–1961)
Mary Fearns (1841-1913)
Mary, born on 29 October 1841, was Mary Ann’s daughter from her second marriage to George Fearns who I believed died before his daughter was born. Mary may have been raised by her father’s family as I have no evidence of her ever living with her mother.
Mary married James Gibson in Polmont on 15 December 1862 and they went on to have five children before his death on 23 April 1876. Mary then married John Gilmour on 1 March 1880 in Stirling and they had two daughters. Mary died of heart disease, aged 71 years, on 20 July 1913 in Pollockshaws, Glasgow.
Children (1st Marriage): Mary (1864-?); Margaret Campbell (1866–1946); Robert Fearns (1868–?); Mary (1870–?); Elizabeth (1872–1936)
Children (2nd Marriage): Helen (1884–?); Isabella (1887–?)
William McMurray (1846-1913)
William was born on 10 July 1846 and was the first child born to Mary Ann’s third marriage to Robert McMurray. William married Jane Harrison on 25 August 1865 in Falkirk and they had ten children. Jane’s death entry indicates she died after childbirth but I can find no record of a child being born around the time of her death so I’m assuming it was a complicated miscarriage.
After Jane’s death on 7 January 1886, William married his second wife, Agnes Paterson, on 6 March 1891 in Calton, Glasgow. They had no children. After Agnes died on 26 December 1893, William married his third wife, Margaret Taylor, on 29 June 1900. They had no children. William died of peritonitis on 5 May 1913.
Children: Robert (1865–1886); Mary Burt (1867–1936); Elizabeth (1869–1869); William Harrison (1870–1874); William (1872–?); William Harrison (1874–1918); John (1877–1922); Alexander Cupples (1879–1960); Peter Graham Harrison (1881–1890); James (1883–1887)
Agnes Cupples McMurray (1848-1856)
Agnes was born in Falkirk on 29 September 1848 and she died, aged 7 years, on 5 February 1856.
Elizabeth McMurray (1850-1877)
Elizabeth was born in Falkirk in 1850 (I haven’t found her birth record yet) and married David Gibb in Alloa on 12 December 1873. As far as I can tell, David and Elizabeth had only one child, Robert, who was born on 7 October 1874 and he later emigrated to Canada with his family. Elizabeth died of tuberculosis on 08 February 1877 which left her husband, David, a young widower for the second time.
David’s first wife, Alison, had died giving birth to their second child, Isabella, in 1872, who had also died a few weeks after her birth. Their son, Alexander, had been born in 1871.
After Elizabeth McMurray’s death, David married his third wife, Barbara Law, however she died of tuberculosis after only six months. David married his fourth wife, Eliza Kirkaldy, in 1880 and they were together for more than forty years, however they don’t seem to have had any children.
Alexander Cupples McMurray (1855-?)
Alexander was born in 1855 (exact date unknown) and he married Euphemia McDonald on 13 March 1885. Alexander and Euphemia had six children before her death, aged 25 years, from acute anaemia on 1 September 1894 in Dennistoun, Lanarkshire.
After Euphemia’s death, Alexander married Margaret Greenaway in Falkirk on 9 November 1894. I’m also related to the Greenaways and there are several Cupples/Greenaway marriages throughout the generations. If you recall, Alexander’s older half-sister, Betty Gray, married Thomas Craig Greenaway and Margaret was the illegitimate daughter of his sister, Isabella.
Alexander and Margaret had two children, however they seemed to be living apart on the 1901 UK Census as Alexander is boarding in Camelon. Margaret is with her mother and stepfather in Alloa. I’m assuming the separation was for work reasons, or Margaret was visiting in Alloa, as their second child was born in 1902 which implies the marriage hadn’t ended or maybe they had reconciled.
I can’t find Alexander’s date of death but Margaret was listed as a widow on her death entry on 23 April 1944. Their son, Alexander, emigrated to New Zealand.
Children (1st Marriage): Mary Ames Bates (1885–1956); Robert (1887–1888); Elizabeth (1890–?); James (1891–?); Rachel Stewart (1892–1895); Euphemia McDonald (1894–1957)
Children (2nd Marriage): Alexander Cupples (1896–1943); Isabella Greenaway (1902–1963)
Agnes McMurray (1856-1891)
Agnes was born in Falkirk on 5 July 1856 and she married James Chalmers on 7 July 1876. Agnes and James went on to have five children and they lived in the same street as Agnes’s parents for awhile. The family eventually moved to Bo’ness, however Agnes died in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary from kidney disease on 9 May 1891.
Children: John (1878–1939); Robert (1879–?); Mary (1881–?); Margaret (1885–?); Elizabeth (1887–?)
Robert McMurray (1859-1932)
Robert was born in Falkirk on 3 August 1859 and he married Susan Grant in Bo’ness on 4 March 1881. Susan and Robert had five children and the family remained in the Bo’ness area. Robert died of cancer on 13 January 1932 and Susan died on 4 March 1881.
Children: Christina Grant (1881–1884); Robert (1884–1938); Alexander Grant (1886–1939); Mary Cupples (1886–1971); William (1891–1962)
John McMurray (1861-1864)
John was born in Falkirk on 19 December 1861 but died on 5 May 1864. He was the second of Mary Ann’s children to die from measles.