Monday, 28 July 2014

The White Lady

There are many articles both in print and online about this quite famous memorial in the Glasgow
Southern Necropolis none of which have been particularly well researched, so hopefully, the
following information will reveal some previously unknown details.

The monument is located in south part of the Central Section of the Cemetery to the right of
the main path from the gates and is part of the Southern Necropolis Heritage Trail.

The ‘White Lady’ was born Magdelene Blair,
29th June 1850 in the Gorbals.

She was one of seven children born to
Archibald Blair, a Coppersmith and Magdalene Ireland,
who married on 29th December 1843 at West or Old Parish, Greenock

Her siblings were:
Helen Ireland Blair, born 7th October 1844, Glasgow
Catherine Blair, born 6th June 1846, Cathcart
Margaret Blair, born 5th August 1848, Glasgow
Agnes Blair, born 29th August 1852, Gorbals
Duncan Blair, born 23rd August 1854, Gorbals
Janet Blair, born 18th March 1857, Tradeston, Glasgow
(sourced from the IGI,

Little can be found about Magdalene’s early life, until in 1880 when she
married John Stewart Smith, a carpet manufacturer.
Their marriage took place on 19th October at 96 Regent Terrace, Glasgow
(Magdalene’s home)
Her husband was John Stewart Smith, age 40 of 23 Carlton Place,
son of Thomas Morton Smith and Margaret Smith nee Kitely.
Magdalene’s age is stated on their Marriage Certificate as 25,
and her occupation is Fancy Goods Dealer.
Her father Archibald in listed as deceased.

In 1881 however, father Thomas is found living with John and his new
bride, still at 23 Carlton Place:
John Stewart Smith, Head, age 40, Carpet Manufacturer
(employing 13 men, 3 boys, 6 women and 5 girls)
born Kilmarnock
Mrs. (Magdalene) Smith, Wife, age 25, born Glasgow
Thomas Smith, Father, age 71, late Carpet Manufacturer's Manager,
born Kilmarnock
Samuel Smith, Brother, age 38, Carpet Manufacturer, born Glasgow

Still at 23 Carlton Place in 1891
John S. Smith, Head, age 50, Carpet Manufacturer,
born Kilmarnock
Magdalene Smith, Wife, age 40, Milliner, born Glasgow

The Glasgow Post Office Directory 1891-92 lists the following which indicates
where John (and younger brother Samuel) carried out their business:

South York Street was re-named Moffat Street and can be seen on the 1912
Ordnance Survey Map to the left of St. Andrew’s Suspension Bridge on the south side
of the River Clyde opposite Glasgow Green.

On the Bird’s Eye view below, Moffat Street is marked by red arrows.

Thomas Martin Devine’s book ‘Glasgow 1830 to 1912’
lists the following: 

John and Magdalene continued to live at 23 Carlton Place
and are found on the 1901 Census:
John S. Smith, Head, age 60, retired Carpet Manufacturer,
born Kilmarnock
Magdalene Smith, Wife, age 50, Millinery Shopkeeper,
born Glasgow

An article can be found on the firm of J.S. & S. Smith here:

Not very much of the detail remains on the inscription, but the details
from his Death Certificate read:

At 23 Carlton Place
of Prostatic Enlargement (Chronic), Retention of Urine & Cystitis
John Stewart Smith, retired Carpet Manufacturer, aged 68
Married to Magdalene Blair
Son of Thomas Morton Blair (deceased) & Margaret Smith nee Kitely

JOHN S. SMITH, Carpet Manufacturer, Nursery Mils, S. York Street
Died 24th January 1909 Aged 68 Years

Almost four years later, Magdalene re-married.

Her second husband was widower Charles James Reid, age 67,
100 Bothwell Street, Glasgow
Son of Charles James Reid, Gas Office Official & Agnes Reid nee Scott
(both deceased)
Magdalene is listed as age 62, a Milliner and a widow,
residing at 92 Langside Avenue, Glasgow
The Marriage took place at 193 Bath Street, Glasgow

The details of her tragic death is published in the Glasgow Herald
30th October 1933 issue:

"Killed on way from Church - Glasgow Lady knocked down by Tram

An elderly Glasgow woman, Mrs Magdalene Reid (82) 92 Langside Avenue, was
knocked down and instantaneously killed by a tram-car last night at Queen’s Drive
near Queen’s Park gate, Glasgow, while she was returning from church.
Her housekeeper, Mary McNaughton was also knocked down and
sufferered (d…….?) injuries. She was removed to the Victoria
Infirmary. A long line of tramcars were held up for some time at the scene
of the accident."

Her Death Certificate has the following details:
On October 29th 1933 at about 8 p.m.,Magdalene Reid, age 82, 
residing at 92 Langside Road,
 died at Queen’s Drive near Langside Road or in ambulance between
there and Victoria Infirmary
Widow of
1st - Widow of 1st John Stewart Smith, Carpet Manufacturer
2nd Charles Reid, Printing Type Metal Traveller
Daughter of Archibald Blair, Gas Engineer and Magdalene Blair nee Ireland
(both deceased)
Cause of Death: Fractured Skull (Fatal Accident)
Informant: M? Scott, Nephew, 21 Hallside Street, Glasgow.

Her death being classed as a Fatal Accident went before the Procurator Fiscal and it
was recorded in the Register of Corrected Enries attached to the Death Certificate with
the details “Injuries sustained through being struck and knocked down by tramcar
per verdict of jury.”

The Monumental Inscription on the base of the stone reads:
Widow of John S. Smith
Accidentally killed 29th October 1933, aged 82 years
Devoted housekeeper of the above for almost
25 years died as the result of the same accident
4th November 1933 aged 55 years.

The announcement of Mary McNaughton’s death appears in the Glasgow Herald
on the 6th & 7th November issues, 1933.
“McNaughton – At the Victoria Infirmary, on 4th November 1933, the result of an accident
on 29th October 1933, Mary McNaughton, youngest daughter of the late Peter McNaughton.
Funeral from house of the late Mrs. Reid, 92 Langside Avenue, Langside
on Wednesday 8th November at 3 p.m.”

Her Death Certificate has the following details:
Mary McNaughton, age 55, Housekeeper (Domestic Servant)
Died 4th November 1933 at the Victoria Infirmary, Glasgow,
Usual residence: 92 Langside Road, Glasgow
Daughter of Peter McNaighton, Carpet Factory Timekeper
and Janet McNaught nee Guthrie (both deceased)
Cause of death: Fractured Skull (result of an accident)
Informant: Sister, Sarah Mackie, 41 Srathcona Drive, Glasgow.

Also attached to her death certificate is a note of an entry in the Register of
Corrected Entries. but details were not viewed and they most likely are the same or
similar to that of Magdalene.

Bird's Eye view of 92 Langside Avenue

Above photo courtesy of Dave Forrest photography

So ........ the ‘White Lady’ isn’t very mysterious after all!

(but the white highlighting on certain lines above are!)

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