Barran

I want to return for a moment to the earlier members of this branch of the family. In the Glenorchy Parish Registers are various marriages and baptisms entered between the years of 1753 and 1848 which are quite difficult to follow, as there were several Fletchers living during that period with the same Christian names. For instance, there are two Fletcher with the name of Angus, both of whom had wives named Elizabeth. One of these is shown as being the son-in-law of Donald Fletcher of Barran, his home being given as Inverveigh, which is in the vicinity of Bridge of Orchy. He had two daughters, Effie, born in December, 1819, and Mary, born in April, 1823. Now, in these Parish Registers there is an entry of marriage between Duncan Campbell, Merchant, of Kinchreckine, and Euphemia Fletcher of Barran. They were married on 7th December, 1840, and their gravestone in Dalmally churchyard indicates that he lived until 1880 and she until 1913. I have not pursued their family details, as of course they were Campbells, but I quote this as an intance of family connections which can prove quite intricate to unravel. In so many cases, also, in the old Parish Registers, dates do not agree with other records, nor do christian names appear in the same form in all the registers. Where there is a Peter, it may well be that he is also referred to as Patrick; a Jane can be Jean, and as above, although apparently baptised as Effie she was in all probability Euphemia. In the old Clan Society papers there is a reference to one of the original members, Dr. John Campbell, who is stated to be the son of Euphemia Fletcher of Barran – seemingly his father was Duncan Campbell the Merchant. Although the Dalmally Parish Registers are by no means complete, there are entries in the book of the Clan Campbell Collection which give details of the family of Duncan and Euphemia, with dates of birth of most of their children. John is not included, however, although he must have been born somewhere about 1856, and was the youngest of the family. It would be interesting to know whether there are any descendants of this family living today – it is highly probable that there are. In the Clan Society members list John Campbell is said to be of Dalmally, his home being at “Craigroyston”. This was also named as the house where Miss Jeannie Fletcher Crerar died, another Society member, and she is buried in the churchyard at Dalmally. ?The use of the name “Craigroyston” for the house at Dalmally is yet another indication of the connection between the Fletchers and the MacGregors, for one of Rob Roy’s strongholds was Cragrostan (or Craigroyston) near Inversnaid, on Loch Lomond.

The section of my enquiries with regard to the Barran branch of the Fletchers proved to be extremely difficult, and I was not able to discover very much about the earlier generations, Donald Fletcher, born in 1776, was married to Janet MacNaughton of Glendochart. His grave is in Glenorchy Churchyard, at Dalmally, the headstone having been erected by his two sons, Archibald and Peter, on which he is described as “tacksman of Barran, who died 14th August, 1837, aged 71 years.” In addition to these two sons there were also four, or possibly five, others. John, who died unmarried, Angus, Colin, Miles, and possibly Donald. Some of them emigrated to Australia to take up farming, and Archibald, the eldest, is believed to have married a girl named Janet and had a son, and I believe, a daughter.

One thing which is certain is that the son of Archibald, Duncan Fletcher, was born in Crieff, Forthshire, on 13th March, 1820. As for the daughter, she is referred to in some of my papers as Jessie, and it is said she married a Mr. B. MacIntyre, a farmer. It is a known fact that Katherine Victoria MacIntyre, who I believe to be their daughter, one of a large family, was Matron at Wigan Infirmary from 1890 to 1916. She was known to her family as Kate, and was a cousin of Emily Elizabeth Fletcher, who was at the Infirmary with her. Kate recruited Emily as a trainee nurse when the Hospital was short of staff, and Emily trained from 1890 to 1916. She was Assistant Matron in 1910 and left the Infirmary in August 1914 to join the Territorial Nursing Service. She served until July, 1919, having been awarded the Royal Red Cross, First Class, in February 1917, which she received from King George V. After Emily was officially demobilized in March 1920, she helped to organise three War Pensions Hospitals in Birmingham. She died from a cerebral haemorrhage a little over a year later, in April 1921. Kate MacIntyre was in touch with other members of the family, and visited Sarah, Emily’s sister, in London, during the Great War, when my mother also met her.

Kate MacIntyre lived the last years of her life at Hunters Quay, near Dunoon, and died in February, 1930, aged about 80. In October 1931 there was a ceremony held at the Royal Infirmary at Wigan, to unveil three stained glass windows in the Chapel, in her? memory. Other gifts were also received, including some vases, inscribed “E.E.F. 1902-1914”, and an invalid chair, which were donated to the Infirmary in memory of Emily Elizabeth Fletcher.

It appears that Janet, the wife of Archibald Fletcher, was either left a widow or deserted by her husband quite early in her life, her son, Duncan, having to support her for some years.

Duncan Fletcher was a studious child, eager to learn, although he never attended a proper school. He says in one of his letters that as a boy he was left destitute, without any earthly friend except his poor Mother. He undertook hard manual labour, and for about ten years he worked on the land. at about the age of fourteen he began to take an interest in religious matters, and in about 1835 he became a communicant in the United Presbyterian Church, under the ministry of the Rev. W. Ramsay, and for some time he led the singing, of which he was very fond. In about 1848 he removed to Glasgow, after spending several years at hand-loom weaving, and through his own efforts was able to gain admission to a session at Glasgow University, becoming competent to teach ordinary subjects, as well as knowing a little Latin, Greek and Mathematics. On Sundays he conducted a Sunday-school about six miles from Glasgow, as well as preaching. He was very conscious of the destitution he found in Glasgow, and became a teacher in the Charity School which was supported by the Second United Presbyterian Congregational Church.

In January, 1854, Duncan Fletcher offered his services to the London Missionary Society, and I have been fortunate to obtain copies of many of the letters he wrote to them in this connection. He wished to be sent to China, although was eventually appointed to the West Indies. He had since 1853 been a student in the Bedford Institute, under the care of the Rev. J. Jukes, and he was ordained in London in 1855. In the same year he married Miss Mary Ann Kilpin, of Bedford, and in December 1855 they embarked in the “Cambrian” for Jamaica. Incidentally, on their marriage certificate Duncan is described as a widower, although I can find no details of his previous marriage.

In Jamaica the Rev. Duncan Fletcher gave himself whole-heartedly to the work of the Missionary Society, and became a staunch supporter of the Hon.George William Gordon, a coloured member of the legislature. Gordon was noted for his violence of speech against the poor conditions under which the negro peasantry of Jamaica were forced to exist, and on the 11th October, 1865, the Morant Bay rebellion broke out, causing the deaths of twenty Europeans. Gordon was accused – quite wrongly and unjustly – of instigating the rebellion, and was convicted by a court-martial and executed. In February, 1867, the president of the court-martial and Colonel Nelson who had confirmed the capital sentence, were committed for trial at Bow Street on a charge of murder. However, the jury found them not guilty, and they were released.

Meanwhile, Duncan Fletcher and his wife, Mary Ann, began to raise a family, their first two sons being born in Kingston, although they were actually stationed at Chapelton. They lived in Jamaica for about six years altogether. Duncan’s strong views and forthright way of speaking did not always make for good relations with those with whom he worked, but his poor health was the main factor in his eventual resignation from Chapelton. Because of illness he returned to England for a short while in 1860, when he stayed at the home of Mary’s mother, Mrs. Kilpin, of Newtown, Bedford, during which time he wrote a strongly worded pamphlet on the subject which was so abhorrent to him, the slavery of the natives in Jamaica. He returned to the West Indies for a further period as soon as he was fit, but through incessant work his health again broke down, and he returned to his native land in 1862.

In 1863, Duncan and Mary went to Ireland, to Carrickfergus, in connection with the Irish Evangelical Society, where they remained for two years. They then moved to Moy, from where Duncan resigned in 1873, as he had decided to accept a pastoral charge in Essex. He had been there only two weeks when he again suffered ill health, and his work was brought to a premature end. In November 1873, vhen he was visiting London, a sudden attack caused him to be admitted to St. Luke’s Asylum, Old Street, N.1, and on 2nd December he died. Be was buried at Abney Park Cemetery, near the grave of his brother-in-law, Mr. J,.K. Kilpin, the Rev. William Tarbotton, Secretary of the Irish Evangelical Society, being one of the clergymen taking part in the service. I am sorry to say the actual grave is no longer in existence.

Before his death Duncan Fletcher wrote a book about the Hon. G.W. Gordon, which was published in 1867. He also wrote several other works, including a book on the geography and history of Jamaica.

The family of Duncan and Mary Ann Fletcher totalled seven. First came Duncan Kilpin, born in 1859, then Archibald (my grandfather) in 1860. Next was John Joseph Kilpin, in 1862, and Donald, and three girls, Mary, Sarah, and Emily Elizabeth.

Duncan Kilpin Fletcher, the eldest son, became a grocer, and had a shop at Castle Road, Bedford. He is remembered vividly by his grandson, who recalls going with him in a pony and trap to collect eggs from farms in the neighbourhood. These would be sold in the shop for one penny each – except for the cracked ones – Duncan used to knock off the tops of these with his knife and swallow the contents whole! He is described as a bearded, dignified figure, a local preacher and Sunday-school Superintendent. He insisted on the family attending morning Sunday-school, then morning Service, afternoon Sunday-school, and evening Service. He married Helen, daughter of George Carruthers, and they lived at Kempston, Bedford. Duncan died in Sheffield at the age of 60, at the home of his eldest son, and there is a memorial tablet in the Kempston Chapel of the Bunyan Meeting which was unveiled in July 1919,

Duncan and Helen had six sons. The eldest was George Duncan, 1881-1957, who married Nellie Burns. Then came Alfred, born about 1884, and Arthur Gordon. The fourth son, Tom Murray Kilpin Fletcher was killed in action during the 1914-18 War. The fifth, Archibald lived only to the age of twelve, and the youngest, Fred, was born in 1896 and married Beatrice May Thompson. He died in 1955 and she in 1962.

George and Nellie Fletcher had two children, Kenneth Burns, born in 1907, who married Josephine Sampson and has two daughters, and Mollie Carruthers, born in 1913, who later became Mrs Manterfield. Alfred and his wife, Edith, had two children, Christine and Duncan. Arthur’s wife was named Constance, and they had three sons, the eldest, Ronald Stanley Kilpin, became a schoolmaster, the next son, Alec Arthur, lives in the United States with his wife, Jennifer, and the youngest, Roy Carruthers, made a career in the Army, retiring as Colonel. He has two children, Craig Gordon Christian, born in 1951, and Lisa Mary, born in 1954. Fred Fletcher and his wife, Beatrice, had one son, Murray. He was born in 1923, and he and his wife, Pauline, live in Bedford, He is a House-master and Rugby coach, and they have three sons, David Stanton, born in 1950, Guy EMurray Kilpin, born in 1952, and Mark Robin, born in 1957.

The second son of the Rev. Duncan Fletcher and his wife was my own grandfather, Archibald. He was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1860. At the age of tventy-five he married Tessie Margaret Hutt, daughter of Henry Hutt of Oxford Lodge, Reading, this house having since been demolished, I am told, to make way for shops. They first lived at Caversham, Reading, and then moved to Bournemouth where they stayed until about 1900. They then Iived in Bristol for a year or two, after which the family moved to Birmingham, which was to be their permanent home. Archibald Fletcher was by this time in the advertising business, and both he and Tessie became well known members of the Mosely Road Conregational Church. He was for seven years Secretary of the Church, after which he became Honorary Secretary of the Birmingham and Midland Union of P.S.A. Brotherhood, Sisterhood and Kindred Societies, of which there was a membership in the year 1910 of over twenty thousand. Tessie was equally interested and active in the P.S.A. Movement and was Honorary Secretary of the local Sisterhood branch.

Archibald and Tessie raised a family of five, their eldest son, Archibald Henry, 1886-1934, becoming a gifted musician, well known in Birmingham as an organist and choirmaster, as well as a composer and conductor. I can remember him as a keen philatelist, and he had a large collection of recorded music. In his younger days he was an enthusiastic sportsman, and a long distance cyclist. He served in the 1914-18 war, married Ellen Wilkes, and they had two daughers, Kathleen, 1911-1970, and Hilda, born in 1915, both of whom married and had families of their own. Hilda and her husband emigrated to Australia in about 1942.

The second child of Tessie and Archibald was a girl, Dorothy Mary, 1887-1953, who never married. She spent her life, however, caring for orphaned children, and was a beloved member of the staff of the National Childrens’ Home at New Oscott, near Birmingham, retiring only a few years before her death.

Ralph Campbell Fletcher, born in 1889, was Tessie’a third child. He married Barbara Yeates Milne and they had one daughter, Stella Campbell, who like many of the other members of the family, took up nursing. He died in 1952, having served in the Army in the 1914-18 war. A very meagre description of a warm-hearted person, a talented Shakespearian actor, who appeared with some of the best known of his contemporaries such as Matheson Lang and Donald Wolfit. He wrote many plays and poems, and several books, none of which achieved the success they deserved, and only a few of which remained after his untimely death. Most of his works, the majority in manuscript form, were sadly lost to his family when he died.

My own Mother, Winifred Margaret, was the fourth child of Archibald and Tessie, and was born in 1891. Then came the youngest, Milfred Horace, born in 1896, He was educated at King Edward’s Grammar School, in Birmingham, and served with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in the 1914-18 War. He was twice wounded in the Battle of the Somme in 1916, and two years later he married Elizabeth Jackson, of Larne, Ireland, who had nursed him whilst he was in hospital. Their daughter, Barbara, was born in 1929, and now lives with her father in Hampshire. He was in business in Birmingham for some time, and since retiring to the south has taken up various hobbies such as bowls, snooker and gardening.

To return to the family of the Rev. Duncan and Mary Ann, their third son, John Joseph Kilpin Fletcher, who was born in 1862, attended Hackney College from 1882-1885, and during this time he assisted at the marriage of his brother Archibald. He later took up missionary work, like his father before him, and was stationed at Davyton, Jamaica, from 1855 to 1890, after which his movements are not clear, although it is said he went either to the United States or to Canada. He had a family consisting of five children and at least six grand-children.

John’s next brother was Donald, born about 1864, died in 1954. He and his wife, Lizzie, were very staunch Salvationists, as was their son, Donald. Then came the three daughters, Mary (known as Minnie), Sarah J., and Emily Elizabeth. Sarah died in 1934, having been a nurse for some years, and you have already read about Emily earlier in this chapter, in the paragraphs concerning her cousin, Kate MacIntyre.

This then was the branch of the Fletchers who descended from Donald, tacksman of Barran. For those of you who may be curious as to the location of Barran, this was apparently a small farmstead along Teatle Water, just south of Dalmally. It is still marked on the one-inch map of the area, but there does not seem to be any means of access, except on foot. It is not far from the monument which was erected to the ancient poet, Duncan Ban MacIntyre, who incidentally, was not related to Kate as far as I can tell.

© 1973 Margaret Mason

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