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Leith Burgh Police 1806 - 1920

Leith Burgh Police 1806 - 1920

The Leith Constabulary Gallantry Medal, 1881.

Leith Burgh Police 1806 – 1920

PC John Cameron

 

Leith Constabulary Gallantry Medal 1881

 

Introduction

John Cameron was born in 1844 in the Parish of Duthil & Rothiemurchus in Elginshire, now known as Morayshire. His father was a farmer in the rough hill land to the west of Carrbridge. He was the eldest child of five, two sons and three daughters.

 

He became a Police Constable in Leith Burgh Police after 1862.  In 1881, he was one of six officers awarded the Leith Constabulary Medal for Gallantry, having been involved in “The Extraordinary Outrages in Edinburgh and Leith” during which two men discharged firearms wounding several citizens of Edinburgh in attempted Robbery on 4 February that year. They also shot and wounded three Leith Burgh Police officers in order to evade arrest. In the course of their arrest by officers including John Cameron, one of the suspects shot himself in the head and the other only just failed to do so because his gun jammed. An account of the incident taken from contemporary pages of The Scotsman and Leith newspapers is included below.

 

John retired on pension from Leith Police about 1900 and moved back to Duthil & Rothiemurchus to live with his two younger sisters and help work the farm at Torbreck.

 

He died in 1904 in Inverallan Hospital, Grantown-on-Spey, Morayshire.

 

What follows is a chronological record of John Cameron’s life, and those of his father, mother, sisters and brother, extracted from official public records and newspapers.

 

The Early Years

Register of Births in the Parish of Duthil & Rothiemurchus 1844

John Cameron was born on 27 September 1844 at Forrigen in the Parish of Duthil & Rothiemurchus in the County of Elgin (now Morayshire).  He was baptised there on 31 October 1844. [i] Forrigen is a few miles north-west of Carrbridge, just north of Black Mount and a few miles east of Slochd to the north of the A9 Trunk road.

 

His father was Peter Cameron, a Crofter and his mother, Anne Grant. His parents had been married at Duthil & Rothiemurchus on 18 July 1844. [ii]

 

Register of Births in the Parish of Duthil & Rothiemurchus 1848

“Baptisms and Births, Cameron and Grant. Janet, daughter of Peter Cameron, Leinmhor of Foreigin (Lynmore of Forrigen) and of Anne Grant his wife was born on 1st and baptised on 29th December, 1848.”[iii]

 

‘Lynmore’ and ‘Forigen’ are the names used on the modern Ordnance Survey map. Both buildings can be seen in the attached maps from 1875 and 1902 below.

 

Janet, later known as ‘Jessie’, was the eldest younger sister of John Cameron.

 

Register of Births in the Parish of Duthil & Rothiemurchus 1853

“Baptisms and Births, Cameron and Grant. Donald, son of Peter Cameron, Farmer in Slock (Slochd)and of his wife Anne Grant was born 27 October and baptised  11th December 1853 by the Rev. William Grant, Duthil.” [iv]

 

This is the birth of John Cameron’s only younger brother.

 

Register of Births in the Parish of Duthil in the County of Elgin 1857

Bell Cameron was born on 1 June 1857 at Slock (Slochd). Her father was Peter Cameron, a Farmer and her mother, Ann Cameron, maiden surname, Grant. Her father registered her birth on 15 June that year.[v]

 

This is the birth of John Cameron’s second younger sister. Although her name was registered as ‘Bell’, she was later known as ‘Isabella’.

 

Register of Births in the Parish of Duthil in the County of Elgin 1860

Ann Cameron was born on 2 October 1860 at Slock (Slochd). Her father was Peter Cameron, a Farmer and her mother, Ann Cameron, maiden surname, Grant. Her father registered her birth on 8 October that year. [vi]

 

This is the birth of John Cameron’s third younger sister. 

 

The Census of Scotland 1861

The following were living at the Farmhouse, Slochd in the Parish of Duthil on the night of the Census of Scotland 1861. [vii]

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

Peter Cameron, (44)

Head, Farmer of 8 acres.

Duthil, Morayshire

Ann Cameron, (44)

Farmer’s Wife.

Duthil, Morayshire

John Cameron, (15)

Farmer’s Son,

Duthil, Morayshire

Jessie Cameron, (12)

Farmer’s Daughter,

Duthil, Morayshire

Donald Cameron, (7)

Farmer’s Son, 

Duthil, Morayshire

Isabella Cameron, (4)

Farmer’s Daughter,

Duthil, Morayshire

Ann Cameron, (6 months)

Farmer’s Daughter.

Duthil, Morayshire

 

There is no occupation stated for any of the family apart from Peter.

 

 

[i] 31/10/1844, CAMERON, PETER (Old Parish Registers Births 096/OB 0030 0079 Duthil & Rothiemurchus), (NRS).

[ii] 18/7/1844, CAMERON, PETER (Old Parish Registers Marriages 096/B 30 140 Duthil & Rothiemurchus) Page 140 of 158. (NRS).

[iii] 29/12/1848, CAMERON, JANET (Old Parish Registers Births 096/B 30 90 Duthil & Rothiemurchus) Page 90 of 148. (NRS). 

[iv] 11/12/1853, CAMERON, DONALD (Old Parish Registers Births 096/B 30 109 Duthil & Rothiemurchus) Page 109 of 158. (NRS). 

[v] 1857 CAMERON, BELL (Statutory Registers Births 132/1 20) (NRS).

[vi] 1860 CAMERON, ANN (Statutory Registers Births 132/1 31) (NRS).

[vii] 1861 CAMERON, PETER (Census 132/1 4/5) Page 5 of 6 (NRS).

Leith Constabulary Medal for Gallantry, 1881 (Obverse).

The Census of Scotland 1871

The following were living at the No.7 Slochd in the Parish of Duthil on the night of the Census of Scotland 1871. [i]

 

From 1870, Duthil was no longer in Morayshire but transferred to Inverness-shire.[ii]

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

Peter Cameron, (55)

Head, Farmer of 12 acres arable.

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Ann Cameron, (54)

Farmer’s Wife.

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Jessie Cameron, (19)

Farmer’s Daughter.

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Isabella Cameron, (13)

Farmer’s Daughter, Scholar.

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Annie Cameron, (10)

Farmer’s Daughter, Scholar.

Duthil, Inverness-shire

 

John Cameron had by now, moved to Leith and joined the Burgh Police. I cannot identify where Donald Cameron is in the Census of this year as it is such a common name.

 

Leith Burgh Police

The earliest date John would be eligible to join Leith Burgh Police would have been his eighteenth birthday in September 1862. By the Census of 1871 he was a Police Constable living as a Boarder at 149 Constitution Street, Leith, not far from Leith Police Station. Unfortunately, the only known Leith Burgh Police personnel records are those of officers who transferred to Edinburgh City Police on 2 November 1920.

 

The Census of Scotland 1871

The following were living at 149 Constitution Street, Leith on the night of the Census of Scotland 1871. [iii]

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

John Thomson, (26)

Police Constable

Fordoun, Kincardine

Helen Thomson, (29)

Wife

Logie Coldstone, Aberdeenshire

William Thomson, (5)

Son, Scholar

Fordoun, Kincardine

John Thomson, (3)

Son

Leith, Edinburgh

Alexander Thomson, (1)

Son

Leith, Edinburgh

John Cameron, (27)

Lodger, Police Constable

Carr Bridge, Inverness-shire

William Low, (28)

Lodger, Draper’s assistant

Garvock, Kincardine

John Kane, (22)

Lodger, Coachman

Aberfeldy, Perthshire

Jane Kane, (28)

Lodger, Coachman’s Wife

Old Machar, Aberdeenshire

Henry Kane, (1)

Lodger’s son

St Andrew, Edinburgh

Robert Burnett, (22)

Lodger, Engineer’s Labourer

Peterhead, Aberdeenshire

 

It was not unusual at this time for police officers to take in lodgers to supplement their income.

 

‘The Outrages in Edinburgh and Leith 1881’

In February 1881, PC John Cameron was involved in “The Extraordinary Outrages in Edinburgh and Leith” during which two men discharged firearms and wounded several citizens of Edinburgh in the course of Robbery. They also shot and wounded two Leith Burgh Police officers. In the course of their arrest by officers including John Cameron, one of the suspects “blew his brains out” and the other only just failed to do so because his gun jammed. 

 

The events caused quite a stir in Edinburgh and Leith and there was a clamour for public recognition pf the six officer’s bravery by the Leith town Council. A fund was set up by the Provost (Mayor) of Leith and fund raising concerts arranged. The subsequent sum raised was sufficient to have six silver medals created and these were presented to the officers along with the sum of thirty guineas at a ceremony later in the year. The medals were individually named to each officer as shown below:

 

The obverse (front) of the medal has an inscription of the Arms of Leith and "John Henderson, Provost" The inscription on the reverse of John Cameron’s medal reads:

 

"Presented with Thirty Guineas Stg., by the Provost, Magistrates, Town Council, Public of Leith and others, To Police Conble. Jno Cameron, for an act of conspicuous bravery in arresting two armed men who had shot at and wounded several persons in Edinburgh and Leith on 4 Feb. 1881"

 

NB: (A full account of the incident taken from contemporary pages of The Scotsman and other newspapers will be inserted here after publication in the journal of the Orders & Medals Research Society in July 2021.)

 

The Census of Scotland 1881

The following were living at the Torbreck, in the Parish of Duthil on the night of the Census of Scotland 1881.[iv]The location of Torbreck is almost due south of Slochd, just west of the Allt Slochd Mhuic and the General Wade Military road that runs parallel to it.

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

Peter Cameron, (66)

Head, Farmer of 11 acres, some of which is arable.

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Ann Cameron, (65)

Farmer’s Wife

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Jessie Cameron, (29)

Farmer’s Daughter, General Domestic Servant

Duthil, Inverness-shire

 

Janet (Jessie) was still unmarried and living with her parents.

 

The Census of Scotland 1881

The following were living at 12 George Street, Leith on the night of the Census of Scotland 1881. George Street was off Ferry Road and North Fort Street. [v]

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

James Wilson, (31)

Joiner, Shipbuilding Yard

Motherwell, Lanarkshire

Margaret Wilson, (27)

Wife

Bothwell, Lanarkshire

James Wilson, (7)

Son, Scholar

Motherwell, Lanarkshire

Margaret Wilson, (5)

Daughter, Scholar

Motherwell, Lanarkshire

Lilias Wilson, (4)

Daughter

Motherwell, Lanarkshire

Jessie Wilson, (2)

Daughter

Motherwell, Lanarkshire

John Wilson, (10 months)

Son

Leith, Edinburgh

James McEldowney, (23)

Customs Officer

Ireland

John Cameron, (36)

Police Constable

Grantown, Inverness-shire

 

John Cameron’s place of birth is given as Grantown (on-Spey), Inverness-shire. Grantown is a few miles north east of the Parish of Duthil but is a reasonably large settlement.

 

 

[i] 1871 CAMERON, PETER (Census 096/B1 4/6) Page 6 of 12) (NRS)

[iii] 1871 CAMERON, JOHN (Census 692/2 27/ 2) Page 2 of 18 (NRS).

[iv] 1881 CAMERON, ANN (Census 096/B1 4/6) Page 6 of 9 (NRS).

[v] 03/04/1881 CAMERON, JOHN (Census 1881 692/01 012/01 004) (NRS).

PC Thomas McConville, one of the six Leith Burgh Police officers awarded the Leith Constabulary Medal for Gallantry in 1881.
Inscription on reverse of Leith Constabulary Medal for Gallantry, 1881.
Inscription on rear of PC John Cameron's medal.

Register of Marriages in the District of Duthil in the County of Inverness 1885

On 12 March 1885, at Aviemore, after Banns according to the Forms of the Free Church of Scotland, Donald Cameron, (31), a Head Gamekeeper of Flowerdale, Gairloch, Rosshire, married Christina McLean, (31), a Domestic servant of Avonlochan, Duthil. [i]

 

The witnesses were William and John Grant, and the ceremony was performed by the Reverend Ewan Macleod, Minister.

 

Donald’s parents were Peter and Ann Cameron. Christina’s parents were Alexander McLean, a Day Labourer and Isabella Fraser or McLean.

 

Register of Marriages in the District of Duthil in the County of Inverness 1885

On 23 April 1885, at Slock (Slochd), Duthil, after Banns according to the Forms of the Free Church of Scotland, Murdo MacNeil, (24), a House Carpenter of Gairloch, married Annie Cameron, (23), of Slock, Duthil. [ii]

 

The witnesses were William and John Grant, and the ceremony was performed by the Reverend Ewan Macleod, Minister. Interestingly, the same witnesses as her brother, the month before.

 

Annie’s parents were Peter and Ann Cameron. Murdo’s parents were George Mc Neil, a Sawmiller, (Deceased) and Margaret Jones or McNeil, (Deceased).

 

Register of Deaths in the District of Duthil in the County of Inverness 1887

Peter Cameron, (72), a Crofter, (Married to Ann Grant), died on 24 January 1887 at Slock (Slochd), Duthil. He was the son of John Cameron, a Crofter, (Deceased) and Mary Cumming or Cameron, (Deceased). His death was registered by his son Donald Cameron of Flowerdale, Gairloch, Rosshire.[iii]

 

Register of Marriages in the District of St Andrew in the Burgh of Edinburgh 1887

On 1 June 1887, at 4 Meadowbank Place, Edinburgh, Isabella Cameron, (27), a Domestic servant of 11 East Claremont Street, Edinburgh , married James Angus, (21), a Baker Journeyman of 18 Rose Street, Edinburgh. [iv]

 

James’ parents were Alexander Angus and Isabella Simpson or Angus.

 

The Census of Scotland 1891

The following were living at the Gamekeepers House, Gairloch in the County of Ross and Cromarty, on the night of the Census of Scotland 1891. [v]

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

Donald Cameron, (38)

Gamekeeper

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Christina Cameron, (36)

Wife

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Johan MacLennan, (20)

Servant

Daviot, Inverness-shire

 

The Census of Scotland 1891

The following were living at Torbreck in the Parish of Duthil and Rothiemurchus in the County of Inverness,  on the night of the Census of Scotland 1891. [vi]

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

Ann Cameron, (74)

Farmer

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Jessie Cameron, (40)

Farmer’s Daughter

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Jane Grant, (8)

Boarder, Scholar

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Jane Stewart, (60)

Boarder, Annuitant

Duthil, Inverness-shire

 

The Census of Scotland 1891

The following were living  at 9 Bangor Road, Leith on the night of the Census of Scotland 1891. [vii] Bangor Road is off Great Junction Street. 

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

Mary Sturgeon, (28)

Tailoress

Holytown, Lanarkshire

William Sturgeon, (5)

Son, Scholar

Hamilton, Lanarkshire

James Sturgeon, (3)

Son

Leith, Edinburgh

John Sturgeon, (1)

Son

Leith, Edinburgh

John Cameron, (46)

Lodger, Police Constable

Duthil, Inverness-shire

 

The Census of Scotland 1891

The following were living  at the Carpenter’s House, on the night of the Census of Scotland 1891. [viii]

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

Murdo McNeil, (31)

House Carpenter

Gairloch, Ross-shire

Annie McNeil, (27)

Wife

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Margaret Chisholm, (86)

Grandmother (of Murdo)

Gairloch, Ross-shire

 

Register of Deaths in the Southern District of Gairloch in the County of Ross 1895

Murdoch McNeil, (37), Joiner (Master), married to Ann Cameron, died on 26 April 1895 at Portnahale, South Gairloch. His parents were George McNeil, a Sawyer and Mary Jones or McNeil, both deceased. His brother, Roderick McNeil registered his death. [ix]

 

Leith Burgh Police 1897

The Edinburgh Evening News of Friday 12 November 1897 reported on a case of a hotelier allegedly selling alcohol illegally on a Sunday at number 13 The shore, Leith. PC John Cameron was one of the officers giving evidence for the prosecution. 

 

Register of Deaths in the District of Duthil in the County of Inverness 1899

Ann Cameron, (84), widow of Peter Cameron, Crofter, died on 6 July 1899 at Slock (Slochd), Duthil. 

 

Her parents were William Grant, a Crofter and Jessie Cumming or Grant, both deceased. Her son, John Cameron of 9 Bangor Road, Leith, registered her death. [x]

 

By the Census of 1901, John Cameron, a 'Retired Police Constable', was living with his sister Jessie Cameron at Torbreck in the Parish of Duthil.

 

The Census of Scotland 1901

The following were living at Torbreck in the Parish of Duthil in the County of Inverness on the night of the Census of Scotland 1901. [xi]

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

Jessie Cameron, (50)

Farmer

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Ann McNeil, (40)

Sister, Farm servant

Duthil, Inverness-shire

John Cameron, (56)

Brother, retired Police Constable

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Ann Mac ?, (13)

Boarder, Scholar

Moy, Inverness-shire

Jane Hunter

Boarder, Widow

Duthil, Inverness-shire

 

The Census of Scotland 1901

The following were living at 2 Tyvaird, Gairloch in the County of Ross and Cromarty, on the night of the Census of Scotland 1901. [xii]

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

Donald Cameron, (48)

Gamekeeper

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Christina Cameron, (47)

Wife

Duthil, Inverness-shire

Jessie Cameron, (26)

Daughter

Daviot, Inverness-shire

Alexander McLean, (81)

Father-in-Law, formerly a Meal Miller

Gairloch, Ross-shire

Grace Mackenzie, (17)

Servant

Applecross, Ross-shire

 

Register of Deaths in the District of Inverallan in the County of Elgin 1904

John Cameron, (60), Farmer, Single of Slock (Slochd), Duthil, died on 20 October 1904 at Inverallan Hospital, Grantown-on-Spey, Elginshire. He was the son of Peter Cameron, a Crofter and Ann Grant or Cameron, both deceased.

 

His sister Jessie Cameron, of Slock, registered his death. [xiii]

 

John Cameron, a ‘Retired Police Constable’,  had never been married but had intimated that it was his wish that his sister be the Executrix of his estate. 

 

On 30 December 1904,  at Inverness Sheriff Court, “A. J. Mackenzie, Solicitor, Inverness” , who appeared on behalf of the ‘Deponent’, Jessie Cameron, presented an Inventory of the Personal estate of John Cameron to Thomas Mackintosh, JP, (Justice of the Peace) for Elginshire. [xiv]

 

Jessie on being solemnly sworn and examined, Deponed that:

 

“The said John Cameron died at Grantown-on-Spey upon the Twentieth day of October, Nineteen hundred and four and had at the time of his death his ordinary or principal domicile in the County of Inverness in Scotland. That the Deponent is Executor nominate conform to last Will and Testament of the deceased dated Twenty eighth day of September One Thousand Nine Hundred and four which is now exhibited and signed by the Deponent and the said Thomas Mackintosh of this date as relative hereto: That the Deponent has entered or is desirous to enter upon the possession and management of the Deceased’s estate as Executrix aforesaid.” 

 

Jessie and Thomas Mackintosh JP then confirmed that the personal and moveable Estate in the Inventory did not exceed the sum of four hundred pounds and signed the deposition stating that “All of which is truth, as the Deponent shall answer to God.”

 

The Deposition is certified  as an Extract on three pages by Norman Russell, Sheriff Clerk Depute.

 

Among the items listed as “Sums in Bank” on the third page were the following:

 

Cash in House, Household Furniture

£3.17/0d

Amount lodged on deposit with Savings Bank, Leith

£204.16/0d

Amount lodged with Edinburgh Savings Bank Special Investment account

£102.5/10d

Balance of pension due to the deceased by the Town Chamberlain of Leith

£8.10/1d

Total

£319.8/11d

 

The End of the Story

As of June 2021, it has not been possible to trace the deaths of  John Cameron’s brother and two of his sisters, Jessie (Janet) and Annie McNeil.

 

Register of Deaths in the District of Duthil in the County of Inverness 1939

On 6 January 1939, at Rose Cottage, Carr Bridge in the County of Inverness, Isabella Angus, (81), died. She was the wife of James Angus, a Retired Baker.  Her parents were Peter and Ann Cameron, both deceased.

 

Her husband James registered her death. [xv]

 

Please contact the website if you can identify the place and year of death of Jessie (Janet) Cameron, Donald Cameron, and Annie Cameron or McNeil. Thank you. 

 

 

[i] 1885 CAMERON, DONALD (Statutory Registers Marriages 096/ B1 2) (NRS).

[ii] 1885 CAMERON, ANNIE (Statutory Registers Marriages 096/ B1 3) (NRS).

[iii] 1887 CAMERON, PETER (Statutory Registers Deaths 096/B1 5) (NRS).

[iv] 1887 CAMERON, ISABELLA (Statutory Registers Marriages 685/2 191) (NRS).

[v] Ancestry.com 1891 Scotland Census.

[vi] Ancestry.com 1891 Scotland Census.

[vii] 05/04/1891 CAMERON, JOHN (Census 1891 692/02 029/00 023) (NRS).

[viii] Ancestry.com 1891 Scotland Census, Gairloch.

[ix] 1895 MCNEIL, MURDOCH (Statutory Registers Deaths 066/2 17) (NRS)

[x] 1899 CAMERON, ANN (Statutory Registers Deaths 096/B1 14) (NRS).

[xi] 1901 CAMERON, JOHN (Census 096/B1 4/6) Page 6 of 7) (NRS).

[xii] Ancestry.com Scotland Census 1901, Gairloch.

[xiii] 1904 CAMERON, JOHN (Statutory Registers Deaths 128/2 31) (NRS).

[xiv] 1904 CAMERON, JOHN (Wills and Testaments, Reference SC29/44/46, Inverness Sheriff Court) Image 565 – 572.

[xv] 1939 CAMERON, ISABELLA (Statutory Registers Deaths 096/B1 2) (NRS).

Leith Burgh Police 1806 - 1920

PC John Coghill is the uniformed officer wearing the 1903 medal immediately behind the middle detective.

King Edward VII Police (Scotland) Medal 1903

 

Leith Burgh Police

 

PC John Coghill  

John, son of William Coghill a Farm Servant and Jane Dunnet or Coghill, was born on 2 September 1876 in the Parish of Thurso in the County of Caithness.

Lizzie, Elizabeth Manson, the daughter of Alexander Manson a Farm Servant and Jane Banks or Manson, was born on 16 September, 1877 in a farm near Watten, Caithness.

The couple were married on 20 May 1898 in the Parish of Dunnet in the County of Caithness “After Banns according to the Forms of the Established Church of Scotland”. Both were listed as ‘Farm Servants’ on the Marriage Certificate.

Their first child, Margaret was born in Caithness.

John Coghill had joined Leith Burgh Police by 1901 because in that year, his daughter Jane (Jeannie) was born in 2 Hamilton Street, Leith near the former Royal Garrison Artillery Barracks at Leith Fort and his occupation on her birth certificate is ‘Police Constable’.

In the Census of 1901, John and Lizzie are living at 13 Hawthornvale, Newhaven, Leith, right next door to Newhaven Police Station.

All but one of the other five flats at No 13 was occupied by Police Constables too.

Constables William Craig, James Sutherland, Gilbert Thomas, Henry Hollingsworth and Harry Henderson (the only Leith born officer) were the other flat occupants. Several had ‘boarders’ which is probably indicative of the low police wages of the day.

In so far as I have traced the records, I can state that John and Lizzie had three more children while living at Hawthornvale. Elizabeth was born on 4 September 1902 but in a tragically regular occurrence of the times, her death from tuberculosis is recorded in the District of North Leith on the 14 October 1903 when she was just 13 months old. A first son, John was born on 17 February 1905 and again the birth is registered in the District of North Leith. Another son, William was born on 3 May 1907.

What makes this record interesting is the repeated use of family names. John and Elizabeth’s children are named after their grandparents, William and Jane and their parents, John and Elizabeth. The other name given, Margaret is probably from Elizabeth’s side of the family. This is a social convention that was common in Scotland and elsewhere in the British Isles up until the 20th century and is a useful means of confirming identities when tracing families.

I have been unable to find any trace of John and Lizzie and their family after 1907. There are no known records of Leith Burgh Police before the amalgamation in 1920. It is often possible to trace Leith officers in the Edinburgh City Police Weekly Records after 1920 but not in this case.

Since I had bought the medal from New Zealand I decided to try there. After a visit to New Zealand House in Haymarket, London and a conversation with the helpful and courteous staff I tried the following website. www.bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz

The site is very easy to search but unlike the UK sites you cannot view the records online, you can only purchase the records. There were only four possible correct records shown in my search results but the details were not sufficiently close for me to take the risk of buying them. So, the mystery still remains.

 

If you have any information on John and Lizzie Coghill after 1907, please contact me via 

 

enquiries@scottishpolicemedals.co.uk.

Thank you.

 

Update: 12 September, 2015

 

Margo Mackay, a relative of John Coghill, recently got in touch and very kindly sent me the picture below of the Leith Burgh Police Swimming Team in 1905.

 

A few weeks later, Margo sent me a copy of the document proving that John Coghill,(30),  his wife Elizabeth, (29), and their children Maggie, (10),  Jeannie, (7), John, (2) and William (3 months) had sailed from Liverpool on 23 July,1907 to Sydney in Australia.

 

John’s occupation was listed as ‘Farmer’. It could be that he thought there was more need of farmers than police constables in Australia at that time?

 

The family lived in Yarram Yarram near Gippsland in rural Victoria. In the Voters Roll for the first few years there, John Coghill's occupation is listed as 'Labourer'. After a few years and up until his death, he is listed as an 'Engineer'.

 

Margo also sent me details of a 1940 newspaper cutting as follows:

 

 

COGHILL.-On September 30, at Alfred Hospital, (Prahram) John Coghill, of Yarram, beloved husband of Elizabeth. and loving father of Margaret (deceased), Jean (Mrs, Clark). John, William. Elizabeth (Mrs Pringle), Alexander, Jess (Mrs Speed),

 

 

John Coghill died aged 64 on 30 September, 1940, in the Alfred Hospital in Prahram, a suburb of Melbourne. His parents are listed as William Coghill and Jean Dunnet.

 

I am indebted to Margo Mackay for taking the time to send me the information that solved the mystery and completed the story of John Coghill’s life. Thank you Margo.

PC John Coghill's King Edward VII Police Medal (Scotland), 1903.
Leith Burgh Police, winners of Scottish Police Life-Saving Championships 1905. Back row, PC O'Malley (Reserve), PC Sinclair, PC Coghill, Front row, PC Falconer, DC Thom,(Instructor), PC Watt (Captain).

Leith Burgh Police 1806 - 1920

PC Duncan McDonald, Leith Burgh Police.

King George V Coronation (Scottish Police) Medal 1911

 

Leith Burgh Police

 

PC Duncan MacDonald 

  

  

Duncan MacLennan MacDonald was born on 21 February 1887 in the Parish of Duirinish in the County of Inverness. His father was John MacDonald, a Farm Manager and his mother, Marion Beaton or MacDonald.

 

He joined Leith Burgh Police on 1 February, 1907 when he was 19.

 

He is in the 1911 Census living as a boarder at 18 Lorne Street, Leith.

 

He was promoted to Sergeant (124) on 22 April, 1920 and on 2 November that year, became part of Edinburgh City Police when the two forces amalgamated.

 

In 1921 when he married Margaret Macaskill in Glasgow, his occupation was ‘Police Sergeant’ and his address was 11 Ballantyne Road, Leith. By that date, Leith Burgh Police was part of Edinburgh City Police.

 

The Berwickshire News, Tuesday 28 August 1923

 

The Berwickshire News of Tuesday 28 August 1923 carried a report on the Burnmouth Swimming Club's Annual Gala which had taken place the previous Saturday at the towns harbour.

 

A comprehensive report mentions all of the comepetitions and winners and includes the follwing report:

 

"...Another interesting exhibition was that provided by Sergt. Duncan Macdonald and P.C. Peter Sinclair, Leith Police A.S.C. These two well known swimmers, who are ex-British Life-saving champions, gave a fine demonstration of that useful accomplishment. It was warmy applauded..."

 

(Please also see the article on PC Peter Sinclair below).

 

PS Duncan Macdonald retired on pension 22 February, 1932.

 

When he died aged 60 on 27 August 1947 at Edinbane, Duirinish, his occupation was given as ‘Police Sergeant – Retired’. 

 

His police personnel record to confirms that this medal is his only entitlement from his service in Leith Burgh Police and Edinburgh City Police.

Leith Burgh Police 1806 - 1920

PC Alexander McDougall of Leith Burgh Police wearing the Ceremonial uniform of Edinburgh City Police as 605 E shortly before his retirement.

King George V Coronation (Scottish Police) Medal 1911

 

Leith Burgh Police

 

PC Alexander MacDougall 

 

Alexander MacDougall was born in Rattray in the County of Perth around 1872. 

 

He joined Leith Burgh Police in 1896 and took part in the Royal Visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Edinburgh in 1911 and was awarded the GVR Coronation (Scottish Police) Medal which he is wearing in the picture above. The uniform is the Ceremonial Dress of edinburgh City Police. It is likely this picture was taken around the time of his retirement.

 

He became part of Edinburgh City Police in November 1920 when Leith Burgh Police amalgamated with Edinburgh City Police. 

 

He retired on pension in 1927. He died on 30 April 1949 and his widow was entitled to a Police Pension.

Leith Burgh Police 1806 - 1920

The Newhaven Division of Leith Burgh Police after 1904 but before 1912. (See below for some of the names).

Leith Burgh Police

 

Newhaven Division between 1904 and 1912

 

The picture can be dated from the medals worn by six of the officers. It is the King Edward VII Police Medal (Scotland), 1903, more commonly known as 'The Visit to Scotland Medal'. It was awarded to those police officers and St Andrew's Ambulance Association members who were on duty in Edinburgh, Glasgow and elsewhere, for the Royal Visit to Scotland in 1903. The medals were presented to the Leith Officers at a ceremony outside the City Chambers, Edinburgh in 1904.

 

Front Row, looking left to right, PC 35C Henry Hollinsworth, Sergeant Mackay, Inspector Neilson, Sergeant Robertson, PC 28 C Gibson. Standing, extreme right, PC 72 C Thomson.

 

Also in the picture, is PC Findlay Kennedy Low whom I think is standing in the back row, second from the right. I am am basing that suggestion on comparison with the other picture of him sent to me recently by his Grandson, Don Henry, from Canada.

 

PC Low is in the Census of 1911 living as a Lodger at 264 Leith Walk. He was on duty in Edinburgh  for the Royal Visit of King George V and awarded the Scottish Police Coronation Medal in 1912. He can be seen wearing the ribbon of that medal in his Canadian Police  uniform in the picture below. it is the medal on the left of the picture and it can be seen in colour further below.

 

PC Low resigned from Leith Burgh Police in 1920 and emigrated to Canada landing in Quebec from the ship 'Cassandra' on 22 May 1920.

 

Findlay served in the Ontario Provincial Police in Toronto for many years and then as Chief of Police in Chatham, Ontario.

 

Findlay, (53),  died on 5 March 1939 in Toronto, Canada. He was the son of Findlay and Jean Low of Forfarshire (Angus) in Scotland.

 

Findlay Kennedy Low, Chief of Police, Chatham, Ontario, Canada. (Picture courtesy of his Grandson, Don Henry, Canada).
PC Hugh Robertson, Leith Burgh Police.

King George V Coronation (Scottish Police) Medal 1911

 

Leith Burgh Police

 

PC Hugh Robertson   

 

 

Hugh Robertson was born on 11 May 1856 in the United Parishes of Mid and South Yell in the County of Orkney and Shetland.

 

He was a Merchant Seaman and married to Charlotte Sinclair before joining Leith Burgh Police between the Census of 1881 and his marriage on 3 June that year since his occupation then was 'Police Constable'.

 

In the Census in 1891, he is a Police Constable living at 10 Primrose Street, Leith. In 1901, he and the family are living at 2 Hawthornbank Terrace, Leith.

 

In 1911, the family are living at 18 Hawthornbank Terrace in Leith.

 

He and Charlotte have been married for 29 years, had nine children together, only four of whom were still alive at the date of the Census.

 

By the time Leith Burgh Police amalgamated with Edinburgh City Police in 1920, Hugh Robertson was retired as his name is not part of the register of those officers who transferred to Edinburgh City Police on 2 November, that year.

 

He died aged 81 years on 14 January 1938 at 57 Albany Street, Leith. His occupation on the Death Certificate is “Police Constable – Retired). He was survived by Charlotte who died in the Western General Hospital, Edinburgh on 21 April, 1944. Their son, Hugh Robertson,registered both deaths. 

 

The picture above is of the Newhaven Division of Leith Burgh Police in 1912. It is likely that Hugh Robertson is one of the officers since his address then was in Hawthornbank Terrace, Newhaven.

Leith Burgh Police 1806 - 1920

PC Peter Shearer Sinclair's Royal Humane Society Bronze Medal with Edinburgh City Police in 1930 and his 1903 and 1911 medals with Leith Burgh Police.
Leith Burgh Police, winners of Scottish Police Life-Saving Championships 1905. Back row, PC O'Malley (Reserve), PC Sinclair, PC Coghill, Front row, PC Falconer, DC Thom,(Instructor), PC Watt (Captain).

King Edward VII Police (Scotland) Medal 1903

King George V Coronation (Scottish Police) Medal 1911

Royal Humane Society Bronze Medal 1930

 

Leith Burgh Police 

PC Peter Shearer Sinclair

 

Peter Shearer Sinclair was born 27 January 1883 at Hundy on Stronsay in the County of Orkney.

 

Peter Sinclair joined Leith Burgh Police on 27 March 1902 and was awarded both the 1903 and 1911 medals while serving in that force.

 

The Orkney Herald of Wednesday 27 November 1907

 

In an article on Edinburgh City Police Swimming Club and its relian on Orkney men for its success, the following appears:

 

"In 1905, the Leith Police S. C. won the 'Waddell Shield', captained by a Stronsay man, Peter Sinclair, who is quite a fish in the water, and takes a lot of beating, either in a race, or at the life-saving tests..."

 

The Team Photograph can be seen above.

 

The Amalgamation of Leith Burgh Police & Edinburgh City Police 1920

 

On 2 November, 1920, Leith Burgh Police amalgamated in to Edinburgh City Police becoming first 'E' Division and later, 'D' Division.

 

However, right up until 1975 when Edinburgh City Police became part of Lothian and Borders Police, 'D' division was simply called 'Leith'.

 

Peter Sinclair became PC 622 "D" in Edinburgh City Police.

 

The Berwickshire News, Tuesday 28 August 1923

 

The Berwickshire News of Tuesday 28 August 1923 carried a report on the Burnmouth Swimming Club's Annual Gala which had taken place the previous Saturday at the towns harbour.

 

A comprehensive report mentions all of the comepetitions and winners and includes the follwing report:

 

"...Another interesting exhibition was that provided by Sergt. Duncan Macdonald and P.C. Peter Sinclair, Leith Police A.S.C. These two well known swimmers, who are ex-British Life-saving champions, gave a fine demonstration of that useful accomplishment. It was warmy applauded..."

 

(Please also see the article on PS Duncan Macdonald above).

 

Peter was awarded the Bronze Medal of the Royal Humane Society for attempting to save the life of a young man who had jumped in to Leith Docks on 5 May 1930.

 

The young man was James Campbell, (17), a Butcher’s assistant of 2 Portland Terrace, Leith. His body was recovered from Leith Harbour at Commercial Street about 30 minutes past midnight on 6 May 1930

 

On 20 May 1930, the Edinburgh City Police weekly Record has the following entry under ‘Meritorious Conduct’:

 

Police Officer

Comments

PC 622 Peter Sinclair

Highly commended for courageous conduct in attempting to rescue a man from drowning in Leith Harbour.

 

 

The minutes of the Royal Humane Society Committee Meeting of 17 June 1930 and chaired by Admiral C. J. Eyres, D.S.O record the following:

 

Number

Name… Occupation… Person who saved or attempted to save  Life

Age

Subject – Name Address and Occupation

Age

50226

Peter Sinclair Police Constable

 

47

James Campbell

17

Time & Place

Particulars

Exertions of the Claimant

11 p.m. 5th May, 1930 Harbour, Leith

The lad had thrown himself into the harbour 20 yards out and 9’ deep, tide going out and quite dark.

Sinclair jumped in but failed to reach him before he sank and then dived but could not find him

 

Remarks

Pecuniary Awards

Case sent by the Chief Constable of Edinburgh

On 22nd July 1930, a Bronze award was sent by post to the Chief Constable of Edinburgh

 

           

 

 In ‘The Scotsman’ newspaper on Page 10 of the edition of Friday June 27 1930, the following appeared:

 

CARNEGIE AWARDS

 

Brave Edinburgh Constable

 

LEITH DROWNING SEQUEL

 

The monthly meeting of the Carnegie Hero Fund Trustees for the United Kingdom was held at Dunfermline yesterday – Mr James Norval, the chairman, presiding. Among the awards made were the following:-


 

Police Constable Peter Sinclair, City Police, Edinburgh, on 5th May 1930 sustained injury while endeavouring to rescue a man from drowning in the harbour at Leith. The constable swam a distance of 20 yards to the man, who, however, disappeared before he could be reached, and although Sinclair dived twice and swam about for 20 minutes the man did not reappear.

 

As a result of injury to one of his hands the rescuer was afterwards off duty for a week. He was awarded an inscribed silver watch.

 

 

 

According to the Weekly Record of 11 April, 1933, PC 622 E Peter Sinclair retired from Edinburgh City Police on 10 April 1933.
 

In ‘The Scotsman’ newspaper on Page 9 of the edition on Wednesday April 19 1933 the following was written.

 

 

Gifts to Ex-Constable

 

Ex-Constable Peter Sinclair who recently retired from Edinburgh City Police after thirty years' service in the "E" (Leith) Division, has been presented by his former colleagues with a gold Albert, receiving at the same time the gift of a wrist watch for Mrs Sinclair.

 

A native of Orkney, Mr Sinclair is a well-known swimmer, and on several occasions has figured in rescues from drowning at Leith. In 1930 he was awarded the bronze medal of the Royal Humane Society for a particularly brave attempt to save the life of a youth who had fallen into Leith Harbour late at night.

 

Mr Sinclair was a member of the Leith Police tug-of-war team which carried all before it at Scottish athletic gatherings some years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

Peter Sinclair died on 16 February 1947 at Beechwood, Stronsay in the County of Orkney. He was survived by his second wife, Eliza Flett or Sinclair. An obituary which appeared in the Orkney Herald of Tuesday 4 March 1947 can be seen below.

 

 

Inscription on PC Sinclair's Royal Humane Society Bronze Medal.
PC Sinclair's RHS medal, (Obverse).
PC Sinclair's RHS medal, (Reverse).

Leith Burgh Police 1806 - 1920

PC Charles Tait, Leith Burgh Police.

King George V Coronation (Scottish Police) Medal 1911

 

Leith Burgh Police

 

PC Charles Tait

 

 

This is his only police medal entitlement.

Leith Burgh Police 1806 - 1920

Gold fob presented to ex-PC John Low of Leith Burgh Police & Edinburgh City Police on his retirement in 1926.
Inscription on the gold fob presented to ex PC John Low on his retirement from Leith Burgh Police.

Leith Burgh Police/Edinburgh City Police

 

PC John Low

 

John Low, a Ploughman and Charlotte Ford or Low were married on 13 December 1861 “after Banns according to the Forms of the Established Church of Scotland” at Herdhill near Kirriemuir in the County of Forfar.

 

Their son, John Low was born on 20 January 1873 in Barnyards, near Tannadice, just off the present B957, 1.5 miles North West of Finavon in the County of Forfar (Angus).

 

In the Census of 1881, those listed living at Tannadice in the County of Forfar were John Low, (41), Farm Servant, his wife Charlot, (40), his sons, John (7), William, (5) and his daughter Helen, (3).

 

On 24 June 1892 “after Banns according to the Forms of the Established Church of Scotland”, John Low, (19), a Ploughman, married Ann Gordon, (24, a Domestic Servant, at 44 Blackiemuir Avenue, Laurencekirk in the County of Kincardine. The witnesses were John Gordon and Helen Low.

 

It was at the same address that Charlotte Ford Low was born on 4 September 1892.

 

On 7 June 1894, at 22 South Esk Terrace, Brechin in the County of Forfar William Gordon Low was born.

 

His father, John Law was a General Carter and his mother was Ann Gordon or Low.

 

John Low joined Leith Burgh Police on 4 December 1896 and in the Census of 1901 he was living at 52 Primrose Street (off Lochend Road) in Leith along with his wife Ann and daughter Charlotte and son William. He had been a Fram Servant before joining the police.

 

Ann Gordon or Low, (40), “Married to John Low, Police Constable”, died at 22 Lorne Street, Leith (off Leith Walk) on 30 December 1908. The death was the subject of a Precognition, the result of which concluded that her death was due to Heart Failure.

 

According to the Census of 1911, John Low, (38), a Police Constable in Leith was living at 42 Buchanan Street, Leith (off Albert Street). Also living there were Charlotte, (18), William, (16) and a son, John, (7) born in “Midlothian, Bonnyrigg”. I can find no trace of John, (7) being born.

 

On 27 August 1913, “after Banns according to the Forms of the Church of Scotland”, John Low, (40), Police Constable, married Janet Hay Foster, (39), a Shop Assistant, at 167 Easter Road, Leith.

 

Leith Burgh Police amalgamated with Edinburgh City Police in 1920 and ‘Leith’ became “E” Division of the combined force until 1933. John's collar number was 606E.

 

The Police Box Beat system was introduced in Edinburgh in 1933 and the Territorial Divisions were reduced to four with ‘Leith’ becoming “D” Division from that date.

 

John Low retired from Edinburgh City Police on 7 December 1926.

 

It was customary in the late 19th and early 20 centuries to present police officers retiring from the force with an inscribed  watch and fob The watch fob presented to Constable John Low is inscribed;

 

“Presented by the Members of the “E” Division, Edinburgh City Police, to Ex P.C. J. Low, on the occasion of his retirement after 30 years.”

 

 

On 29 December, 1940 at 4 Piershill Terrace, Edinburgh, John Low, (67), a “Retired Police Constable” died. His widow, Janet Low registered his death.

 

On 29 June, 1949, at Hillhead, Hillside, Montrose in the County of Angus, Janet Low, (75), “Widow of John Low, Police Constable” died.

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