Sgt. William Findlater and Dear Aunt Elsie

Way back in November 2009, when this was just a wee bairn of a blog, I shared a family story about dear Aunt Elsie Gaull Findlater. The crux of the story was that Aunt Elsie had lived in Canada alongside other family members like her brother ‘Georgie’ and older sister Jessie, but that Elsie returned to Scotland when her father was elderly and ill, to look after him. Once back in Scotland and following her father’s death, Elsie was said to have been pursued by an evil man who married her and then, in order to take over the Gaull family farm, killed her.

Elsie’s cause of death is listed in 1952 as a “cardiac failure.” This is hardly the violent death the family story evokes. But what if, as has been suggested to me by another Gaull family member, she was starved? Could heart failure stem from starving?

It seems that Elsie had good times in her life but these, it seems, often ended somewhat tragically. Elsie married William Findlater on July 10, 1913. William was the fifth son of Lewis and Mary Findlater of Kemnay in Aberdeenshire. Both were a bit older for newlyweds in their era – William was 32 years old and Elsie was 28 years of age. About a year after they married, William enlisted with the Gordon Highlanders, and was assigned to the 7th Battalion.

By 1918, William, then a Sergeant, sadly became a casualty of World War 1, passing away at “home” rather than on the front so his family were able to bury him in the Kemnay Parish Churchyard. In 1920, William was posthumously awarded the Territorial Force Efficiency Medal, signifying that he was a member of the Territorial Force prior to September 30, 1914 and had served in the operational theatre outside of the United Kingdom.
Elsie, a widow at the age of 33 (pictured above right aboard the ship ‘Cape Trinity’ in 1925), moved to Canada and shared an address at 67 Pickering Street, Toronto, Ontario with her brother George. Eventually as the story has it, Elsie returned to Scotland, married John Duncan and at the age of 67, passed away.
Oh, what life might have offered to so many had it not been for the ‘Great War.’

Leave a Reply