Archive for the ‘Balfour’ Category

William Balfour CAMPBELL was born at Leslie on 20 July 1894 and was the youngest child of John and Julia (nee Balfour) Campbell. Julia was my great grandmother Ann (nee Balfour) Watson’s elder sister, therefore William Balfour Campbell and my grandfather David George Watson were first cousins. David George was born on 21 January 1894, six months before his cousin.

William was commissioned into the British Army on 4 December 1914. This photo of him shows him wearing the uniform of the Gordon Highlanders.

photo william balfour campbellI wrote to the Gordon Highlanders Museum to see if they could tell me more about the photo. Today I received the following reply from Museum research volunteer Bert Innes:

While there is no known photograph of William Campbell  held in the Museum archives, the officer in the photograph is most certainly a Gordon Highlander

The jodhpurs or plus 4 type trousers, which were either of dark  cloth or Regimental Gordon Tartan; the boots, gaiters and spur devices and the uniform tunic with rank badge(s) are of the period.  The officer is wearing the Gordons’ glengarry headdress with the silver or white metal Regimental Staff cap badge.  Shown on the lapels of his Highland officers’ pattern tunic is the “SPHINX” “collar dogs” or badges.

It is difficult, from the stance of the officer, to give his rank with certainty, but this is shown on his left tunic sleeve cuff.  You will note the one “pip” or cloth diamond shaped badge of rank, with the possibility of one other “pip” hidden from view.  This officer was either a 2nd Lieutenant (one “pip”) or Lieutenant (two “pips”).

The Museum is aware of William Campbell’s military service of which I believe you are likewise.  I note his impressive group of medals were offered for sale a few years ago.

The above mentioned medals are shown below.

William-Balfour-Campbell-meThe photo of these medals came from a fabulous blog called British Army Medals – take a look at it if you have an interest in war medals. Thanks very much to the writer of the blog Paul Nixon for allowing me to use the image. This is the information he had on his blog post about William Balfour Campbell.

Medals held:
1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal and MiD, General Service Medal 1918 (clasps Kurdistan and Iraq), India General Service Medal (clasp Waziristan 1921-24).

This from the medal dealer’s write-up at the time of purchase in March 2008:

A fine Officer casualty ‘MID’ group of 5: Major W.B. Campbell, 2nd Battalion 8th Punjab Regiment late 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders

– 1914-15 Star (Lieut W.B. Campbell, Gord Highrs)
– British War Medal 1914-18 (Capt W.B. Campbell)
– Allied Victory Medal. With oakleaf emblem for a Mention-in-Despatches (Capt W.B. Campbell)
– GSM 1918. GV first type with 2 clasps ‘Kurdistan’ & ‘Iraq’ (Capt W.B. Campbell)
– IGS 1908. GV type I & clasp ‘Waziristan 1921-24’ (Capt W.B. Campbell, 2-8 Punjab R)

Note: The group professionally court mounted by Spink

William Balfour Campbell, was born 20 July 1894, at 120 High Street, Leslie, Fife, Scotland. His father was described as being a ‘Railway Engine Driver’. His family later moved to St.Andrews, where the family resided at 158, South Street. Notwithstanding the prevailing social discrimination that worked against giving men from ‘working class’ backgrounds a commission, the onset of the Great War quickly challenged old attitudes to class and William Campbell was commissioned into the British Army on 4/12/1914, and appointed to serve with the 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders. He first entered France and Flanders on 4/10/1915. He remained in France until 2/4/1916, on which date he was wounded in action by ‘GSW’ near St.Eloi, while serving as the battalion ‘Bombing Officer’ in charge of the ‘Grenade Section’ – a singularly hazardous appointment in any B.E.F. battalion. Indeed his section had been in action in the early hours of 2/4/1916 in a series of counter-attacks to regain a prominent position on the salient. 1/Gordon’s battalion war diary for the period refers;

” Three attempts were made in early morning to get back point 64 which the enemy was still holding. Canadian and Royal Scots bombing parties took part but attempts failed owing to the enemy occupation of a shallow trench in rear from which he could bomb 64 thereby preventing our occupation. There was some heavy shelling during the day. 2nd Lt. W.B. Campbell was wounded.”

William Campbell served just over 6 months in France and Flanders, before being invalided back to Scotland suffering from the wounds he had received in action. While in Scotland recovering, he applied for a transfer to the Indian Army. On 31st July 1917, his application was accepted. He embarked on a troopship for India on 11 October 1917 as a probationer for the Indian Army. He subsequently served in Mesopotamia from 15/5/1918 through to 1920. He was Mentioned-in-Despatches (MID) for his distinguished services in Iraq, the MID notification being published in the London Gazette of 9/9/1921. He appears to have retired from the Indian Army, with the rank of Major by 1930

With various copied research papers, including his Officers papers for the ‘British Service’ and the application/referrals for a commission in the ‘Indian Army’

Condition: GVF

The above text supplied by Aberdeen Medals.

William’s name appears in the University of St Andrews Roll of Honour and Roll of Service published in 1920.

rollofhonourroll00univ_0009rollofhonourroll00univ_0064 william balfour campbellThe * beside William’s name indicates that he was a member of the University OTC (Officers Training Corps).

By September 1921 William held the rank of Captain in the Indian Army. He appears on the following passenger lists in 1921, 1922 and 1924. Click on the images to enlarge them.

william balfour campbellTNA_BT27_0982_00_0003_P_0002FTNA_BT27_1054_00_0055_P_0001FWilliam never married and died, aged 54 years, at Carnoustie, Angus, Scotland on 10 May 1950. He died of chronic bronchitis, asthma and coronary thrombosis. It would appear he died alone as his death registration says he was found at 3.35pm and was last seen at 8.40am.  Grey Lodge was noted as his usual residence – I wonder if this was perhaps a boarding house. william balfour campbell death notice.

death william balfour campbell




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family and dog photo

Campbell family – back row: William Balfour, Julia Mitchell and John jnr; front row: Julia and John snr. The dog must have been a much loved member of the family.

My great grandmother (Ann Mitchell BALFOUR who married William WATSON) was one of nine children born to William and Helen (nee MITCHELL) BALFOUR. Ann’s sister Julia married John CAMPBELL on 16th January 1885 at Ferry Port on Craig, Fife, Scotland. (Click on image above and below to enlarge)

julia john marriage

Julia and John snr had three children. Julia Mitchell was born at Collessie on 18 November 1888; John jnr was born at Collessie on 7 November 1890 and William Balfour was born at Leslie on 20 July 1894.

John snr worked as a railway engine fireman when Julia and John jnr were born but was a railway engine driver by the time William Balfour was born.

In 1911 the family was living at 158 South Street, St Andrews. Image below is from Google maps. # 158 is the Home Start shop in the picture.

158 south st st andrewsJohn was still working as an railway engine driver; daughter Julia was a domestic servant; John jnr was a railway porter and William Balfour was a teacher student.


julia deathOn 18 June 1915 Julia died of a cerebral thrombosis, age 60.  I am presuming that some time after Julia’s death John moved in with his daughter Julia who had married on 9 February 1915 and was living at 56 William Street in Tayport with her husband Andrew LONIE who was a private in the 1st Battalion Highland Light Infantry. John was living at 56 William Street when he died, aged 76, on 21 March 1933. Cause of death – drowning. The following newspaper articles reveal what happened to John.

john campbell drowned cropped Click on the image below to enlarge.

john campbell snr death

john campbell snr roce death

In case, like me, you don’t know what a “precognition” is here’s how the Police Scotland website describes it:

A precognition is a distinctive feature of the Scottish legal system.  It is the face to face interview of a witness who may be called to give evidence at a forthcoming criminal trial, civil proceedings or in respect of insurance claims.  It is done to evaluate the evidence that the witness will give while under oath at the trial.  The precognition requests that we receive are to interview our officers or support staff as potential witnesses in a case.

Solicitors and insurance companies tend to employ Precognition Officers to do the precognition on their behalf.  This gives the solicitor the opportunity to offer their client full advice on how best to respond to the charges they are faced with as well as establishing the strength of the case against them.  And, it allows insurance companies to explore the circumstances of a claim that they are dealing with.

Little more is known about the lives of Julia and John Campbell, but I have managed to find out more about their children, particularly William Balfour, to be revealed in the next blog.


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My great, great grandfather was William BALFOUR.  I posted photos of him here and here. While searching the Find My Past website recently I came across his death notice that was published in The Dundee Courier.

william balfour death notice

BALFOUR – At Church Road, Strathkinness on the 10th inst., William Balfour, late of Tayport. Funeral to New Cemetery, Tayport, on Saturday, 13th inst., leaving Strathkinness at 12.30p.m., arriving at Tayport at 2 p.m. Friends kindly accept this intimation and invitation. (New Zealand papers please copy.)

I wonder which New Zealand papers the death notice was published in? Might need to do a search of the Herald sometime in the future.

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What do you make of these two articles found on the Find My Past website recently?  Thanks to Joy for the tip about these.  It seems as though William Watson was cautioner (guarantor/surety) for Archibald Balfour (his brother-in-law) who was renting a farm at Glenvale, Portmoak, Kinross. The first article is dated 16 May 1906 – that’s just a couple of weeks before William and Archibald left Scotland for New Zealand. I’m a little bit confused as the article says Archibald was ‘willing to remain on the farm’ yet we know he emigrated to New Zealand with William and their families on the 31st May 1906.

Dundee Courier, Wednesday 16 May 1906

Dundee Courier, Wednesday 16 May 1906

The Courier, Wednesday August 1 1906

The Courier,
Wednesday August 1 1906

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David George WATSON

(Warning – this post contains quite a few images and may load slowly if you only have a dial up connection. Apologies.)

Fifty three years ago today my grandfather, David George WATSON, died aged 64. I was only 14 months old so have absolutely no recollection of him. I do have him to thank for my middle name though. When I was born he asked Mum and Dad to give me the name Balfour, his mother’s maiden name.

Nana received 131 sympathy cards when Grandad died (I counted them all!) Here’s just a few of them.

Among the many sympathy letters Nana received were these:


Pop Bullock

My Dear Jean. I tried to see you day at Dear Dave’s funeral. Well I known you from 1919. A long, long time so I look on you more than a friend. Well Jean, Please cheer up I only to well know how you feel. Well you got a fine lot of boys to comfort you.

Poor little Elsie broke down at the graveside had to go away. Elsie is a grand girl. I just wrote a short note of comfort to her and Terry. Also Jean I know her from a sweet snowy headed baby. So I can call her as I always know her (Elsie). Cheer up Jean. Time will heal. Of course you expected this. Please do not reply. I will have a talk with you some time. It’s awful lonely here. Folks only call to borrow something. So again Cheer up.

Your sincere old friend, Pop Bullock

This letter is from David George’s cousin, Jess BALFOUR.


66 Limbrick St
Palmerston North

Dear Jean & Family

Just a few lines to say how very sorry we all were on learning the sad news of Dave’s passing. Did he go suddenly at the end. I could see when visiting you that day he looked a very sick man, but with strokes I have seen folks looking very ill & then recover, just depends on what kind they are. You will all miss him very much but if he wasn’t going to improve, I think it a blessing he was taken, as it is hard to see our loved ones suffer, but it does make a big gap in the home when they are taken. One thing Jean you have all your family around you which is a blessing & they will be a comfort to you at this sad time I am sure.

How did your son Dave get on with his operation. Has the sight of the eye been damaged at all. Very unfortunate that to happen. Xmas will soon be on us again not a very happy one for you folks. Still we must just go on & look ahead to brighter times. Nance Ross came up that evening after she had your ring Jean, it was rather a shock as I never expected to hear that news so soon after I had seen you all, but one never knows what is ahead of us, just as well sometimes.

Mother & Nellie are well also the rest of the clan. I have settled down again after my nice holiday up north. Glad I saw you all then. How are all the Boys. They had a merry time that day, hope my boy friend Jock is well. We didn’t arrive at Ruva’s until 9pm for dinner. She had cooked a hot meal. Jim told us it was to be a cold one, however Ruva was very nice about it & kept it warm & we said blame the Boys keeping us out until that hour. Well my dear I will close for now. Trusting you are keeping up to it all Jean. Marvellous the strength we seem to get from above to help us on.

All send their love and lots from Cousin Jess.

I imagine Jess was quite right when she said Christmas would not be a happy one for Nana and her family. I can’t imagine how awful that Christmas in particular must have been for her.

Finally, here’s a couple of photos.

David George WATSON

Jean Charlotte (nee WILSON) and David George WATSON

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This is a photo of my great, great grandfather William BALFOUR (1831 – 1912). I don’t know why, when or where the photo was taken. I am curious as to why he had his photo taken holding a saw.  The photo was possibly taken in either Ferry Port on Craig or St Andrews, both places are towns in Fife, Scotland where William lived with his wife Helen.

In the County of Fife Valuation Rolls for 1881 – 1882, William and Helen are listed as owners of a house and garden in Taypark Crescent, Ferry Port on Craig. Maybe this is a photo of William in Taypark Crescent. According to the Valuation Rolls, William and Helen paid an annual Feu Duty or Ground Rent of two pounds ten shillings and threepence to Rev. C. Halliday. [The term ground rent is currently applied to a lease for land upon which the tenant constructs a building. While the landlord continues to own the land, the tenant owns all of the structures and pays rent for the ground only.]

The photo below is of the main street in Ferry Port on Craig (also known as Tayport) – Castle Street.

To see more photos of Tayport go to this website http://www.tayport.org.uk/

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I wrote about the Corinthic passenger lists previously and included some poor photocopies of the lists. I have stumbled upon some more Corinthic passenger lists held by the National Archives, London. They are much easier to read than the previous lists I posted, plus they are in colour!  [Click on the image to enlarge.]

These copies give the contract ticket numbers. They also show that the Watson/Balfour/Smith/Robb parties were contracted to land at Auckland, yet on the previous copies I posted Wellington was shown as the destination.

I am off to Palmerston North tomorrow on a genealogy hunt and won’t be back home until late Friday so this will be my only post this week. Regular posts resume next Monday.

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