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Edinburgh City Police - PC 535D William McNair

Edinburgh City Police

PC 535D William McNair

 

The British War Medal

The Victory Medal

King Edward VII Police Medal (Scotland) 1903 (‘Visit to Scotland Medal’)

King George V Coronation (Scottish Police) Medal 1911

 

Introduction

William McNair was born on 28 November 1876 in the Village of Cawdor in the County of Nairn. His father was Thomas McNair, a Shepherd and his mother, Ann McDonald or McNair. His parents were married on 16 December 1864 in Inverness.

 

William was a shepherd before he joined Edinburgh City Police (ECP) in 1901. He married Jane Shaw in Edinburgh in 1904. He resigned to join the Army in 1915 and served as a Pipe-Corporal in the Royal Scots. He rejoined ECP in 1919. He may have been a member of Edinburgh City Police pipe band before the war, but he was certainly a member afterwards.

 

William was stationed in the West End, at that time, D Division of Edinburgh City Police. He retired in in 1931 having spent all his service in the same division.

 

Retired Police Constable William McNair died in Edinburgh in 1952.

 

What follows is a record of William McNair’s life extracted from public records. There are always minor discrepancies in such records, and I have transcribed them as they are recorded.

PC 535D William McNair in 1921. He is wearing the ribbons of his medals in the order he was awarded them.

The Early Years

The following were living at Knockandubh Shepherd’s House Cottage in the Parish of Cawdor in the County of Nairn on the night of the Census of Scotland 1871.

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

Thomas McNair, (32)

Shepherd

Loch Carron, Inverness-shire

Ann McNair, (33)

Wife

Inverness, Inverness-shire

Kenneth McNair, (6)

Shepherd’s Son

Cawdor, Nairnshire

Ann McNair, (3)

Daughter

Cawdor, Nairnshire

Alexander McNair, (1)

Son

Cawdor, Nairnshire

 

Census of Scotland 1881

The following were living at Achagour Cottage in the Parish of Ardclach in the County of Nairn on the night of the Census of Scotland 1881.

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

Thomas McNair, (40)

Shepherd

Strath Conan, Inverness-shire

Ann McNair, (43)

Wife

Loch Ness, Inverness-shire

Ann McNair, (12)

Daughter, Scholar

Cawdor, Nairnshire

Alexander McNair, 10)

Son, Scholar

Cawdor, Nairnshire

Margaret McNair, (9)

Daughter, Scholar

Cawdor, Nairnshire

Mary McNair, (7)

Daughter, Scholar

Cawdor, Nairnshire

William McNair, (5)

Son, Scholar

Cawdor, Nairnshire

Thomas McNair, (3)

Son, Scholar

Ardclach, Nairnshire

 

Census of Scotland 1891

The following were living at Dalcharn in the Parish of Cawdor in the County of Nairn on the night of the Census of Scotland 1891.

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

Thomas McNair, (50)

Shepherd

Urray, Ross-shire

Annie McNair, (52)

Wife

Dores, Inverness-shire

Alexander McNair, (21)

Son, Shepherd

Cawdor, Nairnshire

Maggie McNair, (19)

Shepherd’s Daughter

Cawdor, Nairnshire

William McNair, (14)

Son, Scholar

Cawdor, Nairnshire

Thomas McNair, (13)

Son, Scholar

Ardclach, Nairnshire

George McNair, (9)

Son, Scholar

Cawdor, Nairnshire

John McNair, (7)

Son, Scholar

Cawdor, Nairnshire

 

Census of Scotland 1901

The following were living at the Gardener’s Bothy, Holme Rose in the Parish of Croy and Dalcross in the County of Inverness on the night of the Census of Scotland 1901.

 

Name & Age

Occupation

Place & County of Birth

Alexander Urquhart, (16)

Gardener’s Apprentice, Domestic

Croy, Inverness-shire

Robert Williams, (17)

Gardener’s Apprentice, Domestic

Kirkhill, Inverness-shire

William McNair, (23)

Shepherd

Cawdor, Nairnshire

 

Shortly after the Census, William McNair moved to Edinburgh and joined the City Police.

Edinburgh City Police Records 1901

The records of Edinburgh City Police record that William McNair, (24), born 28 November 1876 at Cawdor, Nairnshire, joined the force on 29 May 1901.

 

He was described as being “5’ 9.5”, with dark hair, grey eyes and a dark complexion. His previous occupation was ‘Shepherd’.  He was given the collar number 535 D and posted to the West End, then D Division with stations at Torphichen Place and Gorgie.

 

It was probably soon after that William joined the police pipe band.

 

Royal Visit to Scotland 1903

William McNair was on duty for the Royal Visit of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in 1903. All of the Edinburgh City Police were awarded the King Edward VII Police (Scotland) Medal 1903. The medal is better known as ‘The Visit to Scotland Medal’. He can be seen wearing the medal ribbons and medals in the pictures below.

 

Register of Marriages in the District of St Andrew in the Burgh of Edinburgh 1904

On 11 November 1904, at 25 Saxe Coburg Place, Edinburgh, after Banns according to the Forms of the United Free Church of Scotland, William McNair, (27), a Police Constable of 9 Orwell Terrace, Edinburgh, married Jane Shaw, (23), of 7 St Colme Street, Edinburgh.

 

William’s parents were Thomas McNair, a Shepherd and Ann McDonald or McNair. Jane’s parents were John Shaw, a Blacksmith and Margaret Nicholson or Shaw. 

 

The witnesses were Thomas McNair and Lizzie Shaw, and the ceremony was performed by George Steven.

 

King George V Coronation (Scottish Police) Medal 1911

King Edward VII died in 1910 and a representative group of Edinburgh City Police officers, including Chief Constable Roderick Ross, attended the funeral in London. The following year, King George V was Crowned and later that year, visited Scotland with Queen Mary. Once again, all the Edinburgh City Police were awarded the King George V Coronation (Scottish Police) Medal 1911 and William McNair can be seen wearing the ribbon and medal in the pictures below.

 

Edinburgh City Police Records 1915

The records of Edinburgh City Police show that PC 535D William McNair “Resigned for the purpose of joining the Army” on 31 May 1915.

This is a similar group of medals to those awarded to PC William McNair. From left to right, British War Medal, Victory Medal, 1903 Medal and 1911 Medal.

War Service in Royal Scots 1915 - 1919

It is not confirmed, but I believe he was Private No. 53166 in 13th Battalion Royal Scots, part of the 45 Brigade, 15th (Scottish) Division in France and Belgium. The 13th Battalion took part in many of the major offensives and battles from Loos in 1915 through to the end of the war. At the end of the war, William was a Pipe-Corporal in the Battalion Pipes and Drums.

 

Edinburgh City Police Records 1919

The records show that on 28 January 1919, PC 535D William McNair was “re-appointed with 3 years and 241 days Army Service together with former police service counting towards pension and placed in 1st Class, 1stGrade Constable @ 47.10d. Army service 1 June 1915 to 27 January 1919.”

 

William continued to work in the Murrayfield district of west Edinburgh and played in the pipe band for many years.

Piper William McNair of Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band, front row, 2nd from right to the right of Pipe-Sergeant William Sutherland.
Edinburgh City Police pipe band leading the force to a Church Parade at Liberton in 1930. From L to R, front row, Pipe-Major William Sutherland, Pipe-Corporal John McKinlay, Piper William McNair, Pipe-Sergeant Hance Gates.

The End of The Story

A newspaper cutting from 1931 records the following:

 

“THIRTY YEARS’ SERVICE – EDINBURGH CONSTABLE RETIRES

 

Ex-Constable William McNair, Western Division of Edinburgh City Police, who recently retired on pension after 30 years’ service, was met by a representative gathering of his colleagues in Gorgie Police Station and presented with a gold watch and albert, and a gold wristwatch for Mrs McNair. 

 

The presentation was made by Superintendent A. Finlay Low, who referred to Mr McNair’s long and faithful service, all of which was performed in the Murrayfield district. 

 

Mr McNair was a member of the City Police Pipe Band for many years.”

 

Register of Deaths in the District of Haymarket in the City of Edinburgh 1947

Jean McNair, (67), Married to William McNair, Police Constable (Retired), died on 13 June 1947 at 174 Craigleith Hill Avenue, Edinburgh. Her son, John S. McNair, registered her death.

 

Register of Deaths in the District of Haymarket in the City of Edinburgh 1952

William McNair, (75), Police Constable (Retired), Widower of Jane Shaw, died on 26 March 1952 at 174 Craigleith Hill Avenue, Edinburgh. His son, John S. McNair, registered his death.

 

I am grateful to Stewart Gardiner for the pictures of Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band.

PC 535D William McNair towards the end of his service.
Piper William McNair in Edinburgh City Police pipe band uniform.

STOP PRESS See one of only two 'Visit to Scotland' 1903 medals issued to a Metropolitan Police Officer - DS David Liddle

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Completely Updated

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News: New roll of all Scottish officers awarded KPM 1909 - 1954 (From Ian Hall) 

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