a Binnie Family

'Tattie Kirk' Falkirk - Click for a better image
The Binnie name has several variations in spelling, including Benny and Bennie, sometimes changing between generations and back again.

The surname of Binnie or Binny is evidently a contraction of Binning, which appears to have been originally French, Benigne being the name of several persons of learning and distinction both in France and Italy.

The first archbishop of Dijon was named St Benigne. In the county of Linlithgow there is an eminence called Binnie Crag, which rises to the height above four hundred and fifty feet.

In 1307, during the wars of independence under Robert the Bruce, a peasant named Binny, styled the William Tell of Scotland, by a successful stratagem, obtained possession of the castle of Linlithgow, which was held by an English garrison under Peter Lubard. This daring exploit is related by Tytler in his History of Scotland,

The earliest record would seem to be of John Bennie who married Isobel Ronald in 1694 in Carriden, near to Borrowstouness (pronounced Bo'ness), although this is not a proven link, so please treat with caution.

They had a son, John Benny born in 1710 in Carriden which is on the coast of the Firth of Forth in West Lothian, Scotland. He married Agnes Ramsay of Linlithgow, daughter Matthew Ramsay and Margaret Aitken. They had four sons and five daughters, all born at Carriden, Bo'ness.

Their son, Andrew Bennie married Elizabeth Squair in Linlithgow in 1779. She was the daughter of John Squair and Margaret Adam.

Their eldest son, John Bennie was born in 1780 at Firestone, near Broxburn. He married Marion Nichol, daughter of Alexander Nichol and Catherine Glen. They married in the Parish of Bathgate. John's occupation was variously described as 'cadger' and 'carter. Census information for 1841 and 1851 places them in Linlithgow. The couple died within days of each other in December 1856 at Strawberry Bank.
Strawberry Bank
Strawberry Bank

Strawberry Bank is sandwiched between the railway and the Union Canal. Linlithgow remains much as it was then. Birth place of Mary Queen of Scots, you can still wander the palace by the side of Loch Linlithgow and St Michael's Church, founded in 1138 by charter by King David. The present nave was finished in 1426, the chancel 50 years later, and the apse in 1531. Other places of BINNIE residence can also be found, such as New Well Wynd (the latter word meaning lane or alley) and High Street, all within close proximity to each other.

Much of what they knew would be recognisable today; the palace, the dovecote, the tunnel beneath the railway and the bridge over the canal.

New Well Wynd
New Well Wynd

John's son Christopher was born in Uphall in 1818 and married Jean Smith, daughter of shoemaker, Thomas Smith, and Agnes Rule. Her first name is also given as Jane and Janet in other records.

Christopher was an iron moulder, one of the major industries in the Falkirk area, along with the manufacture of pit props (wood from Scandinavia via Bo'ness), mining, brickworks, pottery, papermaking, soap, hosiery, beer, water, and, of course, farming.

He lived at various addresses in Grahamston in Falkirk around what is now Grahamston Station. Without access to old maps, I can only assume that what is now Meeks Road is associated with what was then Meeks Avenue, and that Russel Street (one l) is the Russell Street mentioned in the 1871 census. Given where he lived and his occupation, it is possible that he worked at at the famous Carron Iron Works (see BBC film clips). Iron moulding stayed in the family down the years. My grandad moulded iron to make me a money box in the shape of a bear.

Moulders in Falkirk
Moulders in Falkirk

According to the census information, Christopher gave Edinburgh as his place of birth. They had eight children, although two are just listed as unknown. There is a record of the second being buried at the age of 18 months, but none of a baptism. Christopher died in 1874, but his wife Jean emigrated with her daughters' families first to Canada and then to Wadena County, Minnesota where she was buried. I am grateful to Darlene Matthes for the PDF and Brad Reinhart for this information and for more detail about Falkirk. You can also use this link for a brief history of the town.

Their third son, James, was born in 1855. He married Mary Bell, daughter of Henry Bell . He also continued to work in iron moulding, while his wife's father was a blacksmith. They had two sons, Christopher and my great-grandfather, Henry Bell Binnie. They had at least four daughters – Agnes, Marion, Ella and the youngest, Jane Smith Binnie, named after James' mother.

Albert Road, Preston
Albert Road today

Some time after the 1881 Census, the family left Scotland for Lancashire. It must have been between 1882 and 1888 when his sisters Agnes and Mary were born. Certainly, James' second daughter, Marion was born in Lancashire in 1890, while Ella was born at 8 Albert Road, Preston in 1893, the same house in which they were living at the time of the 1891 Census. The area was quite rural and not particularly built-up, as can be seen from Brown's 1889 map of the area. By April 1896, they were living in Ashton-under-Lyne where Ella died, having contracted whooping cough.

Mary BELL died at Mansfield Street, Ashton, in May 1902 and James moved to West Bromwich in the Midlands along with his youngest daughter, Jane. He remarried in 1906 to Ann Peters, née Cox, in 1906 and can be found on the 1911 census. James died in West Bromwich in 1919 aged 64 and Ann the following year aged 67. I have not yet found any further record of Jane.

Henry Bell Binnie
Henry Bell Binnie
Although I do not know exactly when Henry Bell Binnie moved south, he was old enough to have acquired a strong Scottish accent which my father still remembers, especially when Henry was in his cups.

He married Emma Jane Shorrocks whose father Thomas had been born in Liverpool. His family was originally from Wigan, but as with the Binnies, his family had moved around Lancashire, presumably in search of work in the burgeoning cotton, coal and engineering industries. You can read more about the Shorrocks and Caldwell families.

Ironically, they ended up living on Clive Street in Waterloo, an area on the road from Ashton to Oldham. I say this because I decided to embark on this project, having been at my uncle Ronnie's funeral and later at the 'paras pub', the Woodman Inn. The car par was full, so we cut off to a side street. Yes, you've guessed it — Clive Street.

However, their first home was in Dukinfield, at 75 Cecil Street, close to Dukinfield Park. They were living there in 1898 when their eldest child, Ella, was born, perhaps named after Henry's young sister who had died of whooping cough at the age of two just two years previously. However, the birth took place at 92 Victoria Road, the home of Emma's parents, Thomas Shorrocks and Emma Caldwell.

Henry and Emma had six children, as far as I can tell. They eventually lived at 298 Higher King Street (as it was then) in Dukinfield Cheshire. Their son James and daughter Mary lived opposite at 399 and 395 respectively. Both attended the wedding of grand-daughter, Jean Binnie to Jeremiah Rhodes in 1949, but Emma died before I was born in 1953 and Henry in 1957.

Jim Binnie
James Binnie

Henry's son, James Binnie, was born in Waterloo in 1900. He too worked with metal as a fitter and married Deborah Prestwich. He was self-taught on the piano and the spoken-word has it that he was working as an MC when he wooed Deb. In any event, they married at Old Chapel Unitarian Church in Dukinfield in 1924. Deborah's sisters had married either at St Michael's and All Saints in Ashton when they lived near there, or earlier at St Peter's. I was told that they chose to marry at the Old Chapel because he played for their cricket team, although his siblings, Mary and Walter, also married there. There is more about James in his obituary from the Ashton Reporter.

James and Deborah had two children, another James Binnie born in 1924 and Jean Binnie who married Jeremiah Rhodes in 1949. She died in 1985.

Most of the information on my BINNIE pages came from the work of Christine Glover, She is an independent researcher living in Falkirk. Much of what you see is the result of just two days work which was probably my best investment in family history. Certainly cheaper than petrol and hotel costs to try myself and probably more effective. Also, my fourth cousin, Brad Reinhart, who provided the Minnesota information.

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