My husband’s great-grandfather William Ross was born approximately 1858 in Ireland. We know the names of his parents, but have been unable to find birth records in Ireland – that all important Townland has eluded us. We also have no information before his marriage in Glasgow in 1886.
According to family history, William Ross worked at the Clan Lines from 1885 until his retirement in December 1931. In an article about the retirement of his son Charles, we have information that William started in July 1885 with the Clan lines as a commissionaire. In the 1886 Glasgow Directory we find a William Ross living at 68 Regent Street in Glasgow, also listed at that address (or perhaps a double listing) is William Ross Sergeant. When William married Alice Halliday on 29 October 1886, he listed himself as a Commissionaire and his address as 68 Regent Street.
Kirkwood’s Dictionary of Glasgow and Vicinity published in 1884 lists the Glasgow Branch of the Corps of Commissionaires as having their offices at 68 Regent Street. It notes that the purpose of the Corps is to find suitable employment for any men who have served their time in Her Majesty’s service.
I reached out to the archives at the Corps Security in the UK to see if their records could provide any clues.
There were two men named William Ross listed in their logs. One who was a commissionaire from 14 April 1882 to 15 August 1896 who served in the Royal Scots Fusiliers, and the other a commissionaire from 02 April 1884 until 27 April 1891 who served in the Perthshire Volunteers.
I accessed records through Forces War Records in the UK to see what information they might have. On the first William Ross information showed that he was a recruit in 1871. Our William would have been 13 at this time, making this William Ross unlikely. The second William Ross had little information but indicated a South Africa War Medal awarded in 1879.
As the second William Ross looked more likely, I then went back to the civil records I already had to see if I could confirm that our William Ross matched the information from the second William Ross who was a commissionaire.
Looking at the records where our William was the informant included his marriage and the births of his first four children, as well as the censuses.
If our William is the William that was a commissionaire, we can expect to see him listing himself as a commissionaire before May 1891, but not after that time.
Here is what we have:
|Date||Event type||Occupation Listed|
|29 Oct 1886||Marriage||Commissionaire|
|12 July 1887||birth of son William Ross||Commissionaire|
|07 March 1889||birth of daughter Annie||Commissionaire|
|05 June 1890||birth of daughter Alice||Commissionaire|
|26 February 1892||birth of daughter Jessie||Office Porter|
|05 April 1891||1891 Census||Office Porter|
|31 March 1901||1901 Census||Office Porter|
These dates line up exactly for William Ross to be a commissionaire up to April 1891. The census was taken early April and the Corp’s records have him on staff until the end of April; however, it is reasonable to assume that the census taker was given the new occupation with Clan Lines.
I am therefore confident I can say that our William Ross served in the Perthshire Volunteers and was a commissionaire from 1884 to 1891 when his employment moved to the Clan Lines. This provides us with more information about his life, and perhaps gets us another step closer to finding more information about his birth and getting even further back in time.