Sir Michael Street in Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland is the seat of my paternal grandmother’s family – the Littles. Number 22 Sir Michael Street to be specific. This little street, originally called Allisons Lane after John Allison, a mason and early land owner was subsequently re-named Sir Michael Lane then Sir Michael Street after Sir Michael Stewart of Blackhall, the third baronet. Located in the core of Greenock, it was home to at least three successive Little generations.
James Little and his wife Dorothea (nee Carson), my great great grandparents, can be found in 1901 ‘sharing’ the address with the Canning, Galbraith, and McDougall families. While Dorothea would today be described as a ‘stay at home mom,’ James was employed at the local shipyards as an iron driller. Their son, John, then 20 years of age, worked in a marine engine shop while their 18 year old daughter Sarah and Dorothea’s sister, Rebecca worked as spinners at the local rope works. Their youngest children James, 12, and Dorothea, 9, both attended school along with their cousin, Rebecca’s daughter, twelve year old Annie Carson.
The undated photo above right, shows the neighbourhood likely around 1900 and specifically shows Tobago Street as seen from Sir Michael Street. It was on Tobago Street that Dorothea Carson had lived with her first husband Thomas Comiskey. They had married in April 1869 at 4 Sir Michael Street but just four months later, Thomas died of variola (smallpox). In 1878, she had married James Little and, after living a few streets away, they moved back ‘home’ to Sir Michael Street to raise their family.
It was from 22 Sir Michael Street that James and Dorothea’s daughter Janet married John Triggs in 1898 and from the same house that my great grandfather James (jr.) as a 17 year old married 16 year old Margaret Mitchell in 1906. It was also from the family home on Sir Michael Street that my grandmother, Agnes Little left Scotland in 1928 for a new life in Canada.
The house at 22 Sir Michael Street no longer is standing, torn down no doubt to make way for more modern structures but the legacy of the Little roots on Sir Michael Street live on.