Ramsay’s Buildings – Saturday 24th June 1871.

FATAL ACCIDENT 1871.

Ramsay's Buildings.

An incident which resulted fatally, occurred on Thursday 22nd June 1871 at the cooperation gas works in Hamilton where a man named John Sparrow, residing in Ramsey’s buildings was injured, which then resulted in his death. It appeared that the execution of repairs to raise an empty gas holder some feet. John along with three other men were working at one of the three cranes in use for the purpose, when one of the fastenings of the gasholder attached to the chain used for the suspension of compensating weights gave way. The weight crashing to the ground drove the loosened end of the chain outwards, striking Mr Sparrow on the head and fractured his skull.

For the first three days, hopes were entertained of his recovery, but then inflammation set, and he sadly died on the Thursday morning. Mr Sparrow, who was known as an extremely sober and industrious man left behind a wife and a daughter.

I have spent quite a few years now reading over fatal enquiries and during the late nineteenth century Hamilton had more than its fair share of them. This poor man today is probably forgotten about and had no sons to carry his name, so I decided to see who John Sparrow was and what became of his family and here’s what I found.

The first document which I found was in the Hamilton Advertiser archives, where it was reported that John’s eldest daughter had died at her house at 11 Ramsay’s buildings. She died of Scarlet Fever when she was only 14 years old. Now, I must mention here a little bit about Ramsay’s buildings. These were a row of tenements that were built on John Street and they stretched between the junction of High Patrick Street and Haddow Street.
They were damp, had no running water and were rat infested. Ramsay’s buildings were stinking with sewage and it was usually people on really low paid jobs who were unlucky to call this place home. The people who lived on these old John Street tenements were always unwell because they lived here.

Site of Ramsay's Buildings..PNG

So sadly, little Jane Sparrow died at Ramsay’s buildings and the fact that they lived here could have been a contributor in her catching the disease.

John Sparrow and his wife continued to live at the same house after his daughter’s death. In 1867 John was recorded on his daughters death certificate as a Mill Worker and when I looked at the 1871 census I found out that John was now working at the Hamilton gas works, where sadly he would be dead as the result of his accident in only a few months from now. John would have left the mill and started work at the gas works probably to earn more money and to make a better life for his family.

John Sparrow was born in Hamilton c1928 and he married his wife who was called Janet Naismith. They married in Hamilton on the 6th of June 1852. When john died, he was only 43 years old. He was the son of Robert Sparrow, who was a Cotton Weaver and Janet McDonald. He died on the 22nd of June 1871 at his home, 11 Ramsay’s buildings.

His cause of death was written as a fractured skull. His wife’s brother, James Naismith was the person who registered his death.

I found information from the minutes of the Glasgow committee that in the first week of July, John’s wife was given £20 to pay for the funeral and other expenses. It was also recorded that this payment was a slight expression of sympathy for Janet and his daughter.

The 1871 Census also told me about his wife Janet, she too was born in Hamilton and his surviving daughter who was also called Janet was 16 years old and she had a job working as a silk weaver.

John’s wife Jane went on to marry again and I found that in the year 1877 (She married in the same year as her daughter) she was still living at 11 Ramsay’s Buildings. She was 50 years old and she found comfort in another widower who was called William Lang. William Lang was a joiner who was 56 years old and he lived in the Old Town. They married on the 16th of November 1877 and the wedding took place at 11 Ramsay’s buildings. So, in this house, two sad occurrences happened with the death of her oldest daughter and her first husband but now a happier time with the wedding.
John’s daughter Janet went on to marry a man named James Scott and they married in 1877 and continued to live in Hamilton. She died at the age of 74 at her house 60 Portland Place.

John Sparrow’s name is long forgotten, but I hope that this story keeps his memory alive and I do hope that his daughter went on to have a family of her own and if she did, perhaps some of her grandchildren or great grandchildren will read this and get in touch.