Dumfriesshire Downies header


Christopher Gordon and Margaret Peddie family group

Christopher Downie and Margaret Peddie

and Christopher Downie and Isabella Gordon

Christopher Downie was born on 2 November 1853 in Annan, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, the tenth child of John Downie and Jane (Jean) Gordon. His father was a cotton weaver and later general labourer probably also born in Annan and his mother was born in nearby Middlebie. His birth record has not been found but his family bible, still in the hands of a descendant in Zimbabwe, gives his exact date of birth.

Christopher spent most of his working life with the Caledonian Railway Company, rising to become stationmaster in Lanark.

On September 7, 1875 he married Margaret Peddie, daughter of Mathew Peddie, a Newsagent and Stationer, and Janet Wallace in Cambuslang, Lanarkshire, the town where she was born. Christopher's occupation was given as Railway "Gaurd", showing that poor spelling is not just a modern thing.

John Wallace Downie, the first child of Christopher and Margaret, was born on 28 December 1876 at 114 Kidston Street, Hutchesontown, Glasgow. The couple had moved to 24 Lilybank Street in Tradeston, Glasgow by the time of the birth of their second son, Christopher Gordon Downie, on November 26, 1878. On both birth certificates Christopher's occupation was still Railway Guard but he was to be promoted before the birth of his next child in May 1880.

In the 1881 Census for a cottage in Glenboig, New Monkland, Lanarkshire (Medrose Cottage according to the family bible), the family of Christopher Downie consisted of himself (now a Railway Stationmaster at Glenboig Station), his wife Margaret and three sons: four year old John Wallace, two year old Christopher Gordon, and the ten month old infant William James Downie, who had been born on 22 May 1880 in New Monkland. Also recorded as residing at the Downie cottage are Margaret's eighteen year old sister Agnes Peddie, an unemployed domestic servant, and a twelve year old nephew Matthew Gass, born in Carlisle, England to William Gass and Christopher's older sister Janet.

Sadly, William James was to die at Glenboig at the age of five on 19 September 1885, less than a year after the birth and death of his younger sister Maggie Reid Downie in 1884: born 3 October and died at the age of only six weeks on 14 November 1884. The Downie family bible records that, of the remaining four children born to Christopher and Margaret in Glenboig, two boys survived infancy: a second William James Downie, born on 19 September 1886 and Alexander Matthew Downie, born on 24 December 1889. Janet Wallace Jane Downie (1 November 1882-24 October 1885) and Elizabeth Downie (18 -24 June 1890) both died young. Tragically, their mother Margaret (Maggie) passed away at Glenboig Station House on 1 August 1890.

In the 1891 Census, taken on 5 April, Christopher and his four sons were living at No 4 Station Houses, Glenboig. The eldest son, John Wallace Downie, was now aged 14 and working as a boy porter, while Christopher Gordon Downie was a scholar. Matthew Gass, now a clerk, was also still in the household. The two youngest sons William James and Alexander Matthew, aged 4 and 3, must have been looked after by the servant, Mary Bell Young.

Three days after the 1891 Census was taken, on April 8, 1891, Christopher became Stationmaster at Lanark, a post he held for nearly 23 years. He married again later the same year, on 24 November in Edinburgh, to Isabella Gordon, a 39 year old domestic servant, daughter of a deceased Stationmaster, John Gordon and his wife Grace Thomson. At that time, his address was West Port, Lanark. Isabella, who was born on 26 October 1849 at Dryfesdale, Dumfriesshire, may have been Christopher's cousin as her father was born in Middlebie, where Christopher's mother Jean Gordon was born. However, the marriage certificate does not give the relationship so that is no more than speculation.

Christopher and Isabella (Bella) moved to 13 Bannatyne Street, Lanark before the 1901 Census, when they are recorded with Christopher's two youngest sons, both still at school. During 1893 the "great Railway Strike" took place and at the same time there was an accident at the Buchanan Street Tunnel. Downie received the thanks of the Directorate of the Caledonian Railway Company for his services at the accident. He also received the special thanks of the North British Railway Company for "his timeous assistance in the disaster at Glengaber Branch."

Christopher was a well known and respected figure in Lanark, a member of the Lanimer committee (Lord Cornet in 1904), and a prominent Freemason, holding the posts of Secretary and Right Worshipful Master of Lodge Old St John 21 in Lanark.