George Melville 1875 - 1952

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The early information I have about my Grandparents, Uncles and Aunts, other than the later family research I carried out involving dates and events, is mostly from my mother.  It is recorded as part of my remembered diary of which this is a small section.  My mother, Annie Isabella Fraser Melville (Lannon), had a great memory and collected in her head information from many sources.  Her contribution to oral history cannot be over emphasised and her availability to family members for family details over many decades is renowned.  She knew the birth, marriage or death date of about every relative and much more besides.  A great deal of information that would have been lost forever was gleaned from her parents, siblings and cousins. Being the youngest in a family of nine and the carer for her parents in their later years she was, as well as an observant individual, a family confidant to parents and older siblings. She knew things about family most of her siblings did not!


The main purpose of this booklet is to record some detail about my grandfather George Melville known often as Geordie Candy. This nickname or bye-name appears to originate during his early years in the Doll when it was said he enthusiastically ran to the small shop to ask for Candy. He clearly had a sweet tooth!


Grandfather George’s early years are not well documented but it is certain that he took employment on the land from a relatively young age in Doll, Clyne being recorded as Farm Servant at the age of 15 years of age in the 1891 census.  During those early years in Doll he resided with his mother and her parents at the family croft. Prior to taking up this employment it is clear that he had a good schooling and he produced a good legible hand when required to write.  Later he worked at Inverbrora Farm and was resident and working there when he married Annie Ross on 21st July 1898 in Inverness.  Why he chose to marry there is not clear though since his first child to Annie was expected shortly and she had relatives in the Inverness area it is possible that it was expedient to go there. One of the marriage witnesses, Maggie Fraser, was Annie Fraser's cousin.


Though this first child was legitimised by a hurried marriage he did, in fact, already have a son to an Annie Murray at Ladiesloch.  This son called George, presumably after the father, was born on 23rd July 1897 and died unmarried in Inverness on 1st May 1960.


George and Annie had their first born in Doll and probably in the house in which he was born.  Indeed the first four children Alexandrina, David George, Christina Fraser and Janettus were all born in the Doll croft house. The next four children, John Fraser, William Fraser, Cecil Alexander and Cathel Sutherland, were born in Murray Buildings, Golspie.  This residence was just off Main Street on the corner of a lane leading to the shore and almost opposite the Stag’s Head Hotel. The lane is now called Murdo’s Lane after a more recent resident. Their last born, my mother, Annie Isabella Fraser Melville, was born in a cottage on Culmaily Farm.


Sometime after his marriage and possibly at about the time of his move to Murray Buildings, Golspie George started work for Morrison’s the bakers.  He delivered bread and other goods by horse and cart for the business.  This business survived in Golspie until its demise in 1995. 


George’s employment was not to last long at Morrison's due to him returning to his former occupation as a Ploughman but this time at Culmaily Farm south of Golspie. This post too was relatively short-lived with the intervention of the First World War and having 10 years experience with the 1st Sutherland Rifle Volunteers from 1898 to 1908 he volunteered for duty initially joining the 2/5th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders.  His date of joining was 27th January 1915 and George's British Army Pension Record, in addition to his Army record, confirms that before joining the Seaforths he was indeed a member of the 1st Sutherland Volunteers for 10 years. A further entry on the record indicates that he had already resigned from the Volunteers after his 10 years of service so his move to full time solider was not consecutive with his local service.

George's full time defence role was to last for less than two years.  After initial training and service at home and in Saffron Walden, on 25 September 1916 he was sent to Guildford Barracks, Sandwich, Surrey and was attached to the 3rd Provisional Battalion.  However, a medical examination on 4th October 1916 resulted in him being declared medically unfit due to a Disordered Action of the Heart.  It is recorded that this medical problem was not the result of nor aggravated by service and additionally said not to be permanent and expected only to last about 6 months with no incapacity. His Army Discharge was under King's Regulations 393 (xvi) dating from 18th October 1916 as he was no longer fit for war service. What exactly this problem amounted to is unclear but it did result in his Army Discharge under King's Regulations 393 (xvi) as no longer physically fit for war service on 18th October 1916.  The best guess regarding his condition was that it was a case of what was known as 'soldier's heart' a condition of stress with a variety of symptoms but no identifiable physiological weakness. The condition might well be described in today's terms as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and similar in certain elements to ME including fatigue, particularly upon exertion, shortness of breath, palpitations, sweating, anxiety and chest pain.


Family tradition had suggested that George had been a Military Policeman during his Army service. David Bews, Thurso, an expert on matters military states that the Military Police as such did not exist at that time.  What did exist was the Military Foot Police under the Provost Marshal.  It may have been that someone saw he was in the 3rd Prov Bn and assumed that it was the 3rd Provost Battalion i.e. Police. An alternative possibility is that he was used guarding Home (UK) installations and also used as escorting prisoners, deserters and even wounded to and from locations. In most cases it was the ordinary army soldier and not the MFP who were sent to escorts and those and those came from home battalions like the Provisional Battalions.


In the picture above and the group one below George is shown carrying cane and in the lower photograph dressed in trousers and having a braided cord from his shoulder to a pocket.  Army expert David Bews explains those items of uniform and it is best to present the information as received from him.


'In the group photo he is not wearing a kilt. It was usual for those not going to the front line ie 1st Bn, to wear trousers. The braid around his shoulder is probably tied of to a whistle or knife.

What he has in the two photos is a “walking out stick” also known as a “swagger stick”. These go back centuries and the reasons for their introductions are varied. The official reason (British Army and Marines) are…


When leaving Barracks that all soldiers would carry a swagger stick which prevented the soldiers from putting their hands in their pockets when off duty. The problem with this is, a) they had two hands and only one stick, b) that back before the kakhi uniforms they did not have front pockets in their uniforms and lastly, c) when carrying the stick in the right arm it prevented a soldier from saluting an officer.


The main reason they carried them stemmed from being posted to India and China, where as soon as they left their Barrack they were swarmed with beggars, muggers and pickpockets. At first the soldiers took their 12” bayonets with them to deter the beggars and thieves. However this did result in a few stabbings, especially when they got drunk. Whilst the military did not mind the odd Indian and Chinaman being stabbed or even killed, it did become a problem when the soldiers were stabbing themselves when too much alcohol was involved. So whilst they had to allow the soldiers to protect themselves, they had to find a way of preventing them killing each other. So they invented the “walking out stick” which they took with them when walking out of barracks. To make it a more effective deterrent they added a weight to the end on the stick and over time it was usually made out of inexpensive silver and had his regimental badge on it. Plus if a fight broke out in a bar between soldiers, it usually only resulted in a few lumps and bruises.'

Upon his return to Sutherland George took up the employment on the land. He worked at Culmaily Farm firstly as a farm servant and then as a ploughman.  It would appear to be at this time that the family moved from Murray Buildings to the farm cottage at Culmaily.  This cottage was, as noted earlier, one of a block of three situated at the turn in the A9 trunk road just to the south of Drummuie Farm.  The building is still there but now instead of housing three large families it is a single summer home for a visiting family.


The picture below left shows George Melville with his wife Annie and daughter Annie taken at Culmaily. Look carefully at the right hand side of this picture and you will see a face looking through the bushes - this is son, Cathel! The picture to the right is also taken at Culmaily and shows George with some members of his family. From left to right they are Annie, Cathel, Alexandrina, Cecil and, of course, his wife Annie (ms Fraser). The motorbike, it is thought, belonged to Alexandrina's husband, Charlie Wilson.


George's home at Culmaily was the end property in a small block of three situated on the left hand side of the main road to the south from Golspie and about half a mile past the entrance to Drummuie farm.  George and family occupied the end nearest to Culmaily Farm and it comprised a livingroom kitchen with adjoining curtained of bedroom for him and wife, Annie.  The children slept in the attic area which ran along above their part of the building and over part of the central house to the midpoint chimney.  The other end house was of similar dimensions leaving the middle house with a small ground floor only. 


George Melville was ploughman at Culmaily for 21 years but in 1939 he had to give up work there due to illness.  He had suffered a burst ulcer while at work in the fields.  He was taken to the Lawson Memorial Hospital and operated upon.  Though he made a recovery from this illness he was no longer fit for the rigors of farm work and was forced into partial retirement.  This partial retirement resulted in George taking work on local farms of a casual nature and then the post of gravedigger at Golspie churchyard, a job he held until about 1946.  Grave digging continued in the family with George’s son Cecil carrying out the work for some years and son-in-law, Matthew Lannon, also helping in the churchyard at times. 


George’s wife, Annie, died at Golspie on 14th January 1944.  She was ill for a time and their daughter, my mother, Annie Isabella, returned from the WRENS in Dunfermline to look after her in her illness.  George himself died on 2nd October 1952 at Main Street, Golspie in the house that the family had moved to after George’s enforced retirement from Culmaily Farm.  By the time of the move the family just comprised George, Annie, daughter Annie and the remaining unmarried son, Cecil, who remained in the family house until his marriage in 1949 to Jessie Alexander.


This is not the place for a detailed biography of George's family, spouses and their children but the brief mention of them below might serve to put George and them in the context of the whole Golspie Melville 'Clan'.


Two of George and Annie’s daughters, Alexandrina and Christina, trained as nurses in Edinburgh.  Both married there and lived and died in the city.  Alexandrina worked all her life in mental nursing and had no family.  Her sister, Chrissie, worked in general nursing and had time off to have two children.  And, of course, my mother, their third daughter, and last born, Annie, worked in Golspie and married, as noted above, to Matthew Lannon.

George Melville, extreme right, in this photograph taken at the marriage of my parents in Dingwall in 1945.  Also in the photo, left to right, Joey Melville (ms Angus, Castletown), David Melville (Castletown), Barbara Melville, David George Melville (Wordie), Don Melville and Mary Melville (ms Sutherland).

My first journey south of Inverness, in the early 1950s was to Edinburgh to holiday with Auntie Chrissie.  We stayed at her house in Regent Place and toured the city attractions and visited family and friends.  Alexandrina lived in a flat in Dalry Road and this, and Regent Place, were places I remember well.  We also visited David George’s daughter, Jessie who was with her husband in Edinburgh.  Other visits were to the Crokes, friends of my father, in Leith and the Learmounths who knew my mother from war time and lived in Bo’ness.


Aunts Chrissie and Alex were very fond of Princes Street and particularly the gardens.  They went together to concerts there and would enjoy sitting on the famous street's seats watching the 'World' go by.  It was an easy journey up from Regent Place for Chrissie through taking a bus from London Road while Alex had a simple bus journey from her Dalry Flat by way of nearby Gorgie Road.


The Regent Place home, number 21 in the short street, was a small terraced house with a small front garden.  The rooms were small. A living room, tiny kitchen, a small back bedroom to the rear of the house and a slightly larger front room.  The street runs down a gentle slope from London Road almost opposite Abbey Church which no longer exists.  At the top end the street reaches London Road by steps and so the only vehicle entry came in via the loner end close to number 21.  It was a pleasant and quiet spot with easy access to the city or to Leith.  The house is still in the family with one of Melville Hope's children now the owner.


Dalry was a very different accommodation.  A rather dingy flat in an equally unattractive vicinity though with the area now cleared and new housing built the effect is quite different.  I remember the less than impressive entrance to the block with its drab walls and shabby appearance. The flats were built round balconies or galleries on an open central area.  The flat inside was little better and though obviously kept clean and tidy by my Aunt the walls had the yellow coating of nicotine produced by years of smoking by my Aunt Alex and husband Charlie.  I say husband though, in fact, no marriage has ever been found for the couple.  Were they unmarried or was there a simple error made in not having their marriage recorded? - there is not much more searching that can be done so we may never know!

The Dalry Road flat was left to my mother as she had always been the one to keep in touch with Alex and the who generally put her up in her home on Alex's visits north.  The house sold for only £500 and though this would be valued at rather more than that in today's money it was still a meagre return on a city property.


The oldest son, David George commonly known as George and often by the bye-name Wordie, served his time as a mason with Moore the builder in Golspie.  In the mid to late 1930s he joined the company of Wordies, from whence he got his nickname, and drove their delivery horse and cart taking goods to shops in the Golspie area.  He later joined the railway and worked at Golspie and Brora stations.  One job he had was to go by bike, possibly moped or scooter, to the Iron Bridge between Golspie and Brora to open gates through the field and over the railway to allow high vehicles to pass.  He would indicate to waiting children that a double decker was on its way and all would watch it pass in the Main Street.  Such a vehicle was relatively uncommon on the road through Golspie in the early post war years.


George married Jessie Sutherland and had a family of six.  They occupied 28 Seaforth Road, Golspie for many years, a well built and nice semi-detached council house on the corner of the street and the Back Road. The garden was always well kept and of good size with a reasonable stretch of ground from the front round the Back Road side and into a tidy back section.  As with most properties at that time it there was a productive vegetable plot.


Janettus, fourth child and second son, generally known to all as Neddie or the 'Big Fellow', worked at Dunrobin Farm having first tried his hand at mental nursing.  He went south with his sisters who thought that such a career would suit him.  However, he was not happy and the strain of working with disturbed patients of about his own age upset him.  He returned to Golspie to take up work as a mason firstly with Moore’s and later with the firms of James Sutherland and Son and Alexander Sutherland and Sons.  He joined the latter after the business of James Sutherland, commonly known as ‘Meem’s’ went into liquidation.  Neddie was foreman with both businesses and built up a formidable reputation as an energetic worker who knew the building business well.


Though Neddie was well known and respected in the construction world it is through his work with the voluntary fire service that he is best known.  He was firemaster in Golspie for many years and very much involved in the community work carried out by the local fire service.  The parties for young and old started in the early fifties at his time with the service still provide an excellent Christmas outing for young children and senior citizens.  Though they may not be as socially necessary now as they were in the early days, when such occasions were few and far between, they are nevertheless appreciated by the community.


Neddie was sent for by neighbours when their chimneys went on fire. He was on hand to give advice and decide whether or not the whole brigade should be called.  My mother was always worried about a chimney fire and I can only recall it happening once.  The fire burnt fiercely and I had to run for Neddie.  The chimney breast cracked and the noise upstairs was very loud. However, Neddie was of the opinion that in time the flames would die down without further action.  They did but not before a period of great anxiety.


Neddie married Mary Sutherland but had no family. He resided at 31 Lindsay Street, Golspie and had a garden laden with flowers, vegetables and fruits which were admired by all.


John Fraser Melville, the fifth child, married Lucy Alexander in Inverness in 1933 and they had ten children.  John worked with the railway all his life after finishing his schooling at Sutherland Technical School on the outskirts of Golspie.  He was at first employed at Golspie Station before moving for a number of years to Boat of Garten.  He then was employed at Rogart and the Mound Stations.  He brought up his family at the Mound, four miles south of Golspie, in a house overlooking the Mound Station.  He later moved to Millicent Avenue in Golspie for a few months and finally to nearby 5 Seaforth Road where his son John and his wife, Maryann, now reside.


Visits to the Mound, by bus and occasionally by train, were a highlight.  The wooded area was excellent for all sorts of games and there was complete freedom to play from the shores of the Fleet to the lower slopes of the Mound Rock.  Trains were few and far between and road traffic very light.


There were two butchers in the family, William Fraser Melville and Cathel Sutherland Melville.  William worked as a butcher for Cameron of Kirkton, Grants of Dornoch and Ardgay Butchers. He lived in Dornoch with his wife, Nellie, and brought up four children.  Cathel the, second youngest, also worked for Cameron, Kirkton.  He married Joey Angus from Castletown, Caithness and had one son, David.  Cathel was tragically killed in Germany as World War II was coming to an end.


Cecil Alexander was the last of the family to marry and leave the family home.  He wed Jessie Alexander in 1949 and lived in Golspie at various addresses. The Neuk, behind houses on Station Road, is the first house I remember him living in and later he had a fine stone house in Alistair Road, Golspie.  He was employed in a variety of jobs having first been a gardener at Culmaily for Major Roberts.  He followed this with work as gravedigger, mason’s labourer and coal delivery driver.  His early ‘grounding’ in the garden stood him in good stead in the future as he continued to garden around Golspie until long after his retirement age.


My mother, Annie Lannon (ms Melville), ninth child in the family, had a number of jobs over the years. She worked for O M Fraser in his shop after leaving school and for a time in the Golf Links Hotel for a couple of owners.  Her main occupation was cleaning and she was employed at a number of private houses over the years including the Church Manse on Fountain Road at the time the Reverend Alston was the minister.  Other cleaning jobs included work in Golspie High School and the Council Office on Main Street beside the Post Office.


During the Second World War Annie volunteered for the WRENS and was accepted for service in Dunfermline.  This posting was relatively short lived as after about 6 months she had to return home to look after her terminally ill mother.

Significant Dates in the life of George Melville, 1875 - 1952



Date                Address                                   Occup.                         Age                 Source


26/12/1875      Doll, Clyne                                                                 Birth                Birth Cert


1881                Doll, Clyne                             Scholar                          5                    Census


1891                Doll, Clyne                             Farm Servant              15                    Census


23/07/1897      Doll, Clyne                             Ploughman                  21                    Birth Cert. of

                        Illeg. Son born                                                                                     George Murray Melville, illeg., son

                        at Ladiesloch                                                                                      to Annie Murray




1898 - 1908                                                     1st Sutherland             22 - 32             Army Record



21/07/1898      Inverbrora Farm                   Ploughman                  22                    Marriage Cert.

                        Mar. Inverness


30/11/1898      Doll, Clyne                             Ploughman                  22                    Alexandrina's

                                                                                                                                      Birth Cert.


05/12/1900      Doll, Clyne                             Ploughman                  24                    David George's

                                                                                                                                      Birth Cert.


1901                Doll, Clyne                             Ploughman                  24                    Census


27/05/1903      Doll, Clyne                             Ploughman                  26                    Christina's

                                                                                                                                     Birth Cert.


04/11/1905      Doll, Clyne                             Farm Servant              29                  Janettus's

                                                                                                                                    Birth Cert


Sometime between 1905 and 1910 George and Family moved from Doll, Clyne to Murray Buildings,

Main Street, West End, Golspie.


For a time after moving to Golspie George worked for Morrisons, Bakers delivering goods.



22/01/1910      Golspie, Sutherland                General Labourer       34                    John Fraser's

                                                                                                                                        Birth Cert.



1911                Main Street, Golspie              Ploughman                  36                     Census

                        Murray Buildings


27/05/1911      Main Street, Golspie              Ploughman                  36                     William's

                        Murray Buildings                                                                                 Birth Cert.


01/09/1913      Main Street, Golspie              Ploughman                  38                    Cecil's

                        Murray Buildings                                                                                Birth Cert.


26/11/1914      Main Street, Golspie              Ploughman                  39                    Cathel's

                        Murray Buildings                                                                                Birth Certificate



1915 - 1916     Home (meaning UK),             Private in 5th Bn. Seaforths              Army Record

                        Guildford and Saffron Walden


1915-16           Main Street, Golspie              Labourer                                             Valuation Roll

                        Murray Buildings



Sometime between late 1916 and March 1923 George and Family moved to Culmaily, Golspie



23/03/1923      Culmaily, Golspie                  Ploughman                  47                    Annie's

                                                                                                                                      Birth Certificate

1939                Culmaily, Golspie                  Ploughman                  63                    Family Info.

                        Burst Stomach Ulcer


1939           From about 1939/40 onwards until retirement gravedigger/caretaker at Golspie Cemetery.  By April 1940 back in     Golspie   at East End, Main Street.


02/12/1952      Main Street, Golspie              Retired Ploughman     76                    Death Cert.

                        East End




George Melville's 'Vital Statistics' according to his Army Record


Age                                            38 years


Height                                       5 feet 10 inches


Hair Colour                             Black


Eye Colour                              Brown


Girth fully expanded              40 inches                     Range of expansion               2 inches


Vision                                       6/6


Physical Development           Very Good

Census Results for George Melville



Doll, Clyne, Sutherland

                                                Relationship   Condition        Sex      Age     Occup.             Born


Sutherland, Alexander         Head                Married           M        70        Crofter            Clyne

Sutherland, Janet                 Wife                 Married           F          65                                 Golspie

Sutherland, Catherine         Daughter         Unmarried      F          26        Dom. Serv.       Golspie

Melville, George                   Grandson                                 M          5         Scholar            Clyne




Doll, Clyne, Sutherland


Sutherland, Janet                 Head                Widow             F          80        Crofter            (Ret.)  Clyne

Sutherland, Catherine         Daughter         Unmarried      F          35        Gen. Serv.         Clyne

Melville, George                   Grandson        Unmarried      M         15        Farm Serv.        Clyne


It should be noted that the 1891census is in error regarding the Birth Place of both Janet and Catherine. This should be Golspie.




Doll, Clyne, Sutherland


Sutherland, Catherine         Head                Single              F          45        Crofter              Clyne

Melville, George                   Son                  Married           M        24        Ploughman       Clyne

Melville, Annie                     Dau-in-Law    Married           F          24                                  Creich

Melville, Alexandrina          Granddaughter                       F            2                                  Clyne

Melville, David George        Grandson                                M          4 mths                         Clyne


It should be noted that the 1901 census is in error regarding the Birth Place of Catherine. This should be Golspie.




Murray Building, West End, Main Street, Golspie, Sutherland


Melville, George                    Head                Married           M        36        Ploughman         Clyne 

Melville, Annie Fraser          Wife                 Married           F          35                                   Clyne

Melville, Alexandrina           Daughter         Unmarried      F          12        Scholar              Clyne

Melville, David George         Son                  Unmarried      M         10        Scholar              Clyne

Melville, Christina Fraser    Daughter         Unmarried      F            7        Scholar              Clyne

Melville, Janettus                  Son                  Unmarried      M           5                                    Clyne

Melville, John Fraser            Son                  Unmarried      M          1                                    Golspie

George Melville Birth, Death and Marriage Certificates



Birth - 26th December 1875


George Melville (Illegitimate) born 26th December 1875 in Doll, Clyne, Father John Melville, Ploughman, and Mother Catherine Sutherland, Single, Domestic Servant. Record signed by Catherine Sutherland and the father John Melville, Strathsteven, Golspie.  Birth registered on 27th January 1876.  It is interesting to note that John Melville, Strathsteven, accepted paternity and signed the register.



Marriage - 21st July 1898


Married after the Banns according to the to the forms of the Free Church on the 21st July 1898 at Netherwood, Inverness George Melville, aged 22 years, Farm Servant, Batchelor, and Annie Fraser, aged 22 years, Domestic Servant, Spinster. Address for both given as Inverbrora Farm, Clyne. George's father John Melville, Ploughman, and Catherine Sutherland, Domestic Servant. Annie's parents John Ross, Crofter, and Christine Fraser, Domestic Servant. Marriage Witnesses - James McIntosh and Maggie Fraser.  Marriage registered the following day, 22nd July 1898.

The marriage was most likely performed at the East Church Manse, Netherwood the service taken by Allan Cameron, Minister of the Free Church, Netherwood, Inverness.


Death - 2nd December 1952


George Melville, retired Ploughman, Widower of Ann Fraser, died 2nd December 1952 at Main Street, Golspie, aged 76 years. Parents John Melville, Ploughman, Deceased, and Catherine Sutherland, Deceased. Cause of death Duodenal Ulcer and Haematemesis (vomiting of blood) certified by Ian D Pennie. Death registered on 2nd December at Golspie by D G Melville, Son, of 28 Seaforth Road, Golspie. Registrar was James Findlay.

George Melville's Army Record