Remembering Jutland and a Lost ‘Little’ Cousin

I have been away from my genealogy blog for a few months because, well, life happens. Events interfere and life gets unavoidably busy – even for someone like me whose current day job is to live a life of retired leisure.

Today however is special. Today, May 31st, marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland, the largest (I would be very hesitant to use the term greatest to describe it)  of the naval battles during World War I. It is also, subsequently, the 100th anniversary of my first cousin, twice removed James Little Triggs’ date of death, a casualty of that battle.

James’ grandparents were James Little and Dorothea (Dorothy) Carson of Greenock, Scotland. James and Dorothea were my 2X great grandparents.

This story starts somewhat romantically in Greenock, Scotland where a young Janet Little meets and falls in love with a sailor. John William Triggs was no doubt a strapping young man when he met Janet in Greenock, likely at a time when his ship was in the Greenock dockyard. John and Janet married at 64 Finnart Street in Greenock on December 2, 1898.

Well, almost nine months to the day later, on August 28, 1899, John and Janet welcomed twin boys into their family! The babies were Philip Triggs, named after his paternal grandfather, and James  Little Triggs, named after his maternal grandfather.

There was no time to settle for the family however and John Triggs’ work had them move to Devonport in the southwest of England where in the 1901 Census of England, James can be found living with his parents and Philip is found living, not too far away, with his paternal grandparents, the split likely an attempt to ease the burden of rearing the twins.

It wouldn’t take too long before both boys were eager to follow in their father’s footsteps. In due course, both of the twins joined the Royal Navy as Cabin Boys, at the age of sixteen.


H.M.S. Queen Mary (Photo courtesy of

And so it was that on May 31, 1916, Cabin Boy 1 James Little Triggs was performing his duties aboard the H.M.S. Queen Mary, a relatively new ship, built and launched in 1912. His twin brother Philip was performing his duties on the same day aboard the H.M.S. Iron Duke, a similarly new ship. Both brothers were also in the middle of the Battle of Jutland.

H.M.S. Queen Mary took two direct hits which caused her magazine of ammunition to explode. James Little Triggs, 16-year old Cabin Boy was lost in that explosion along with 1,265 of his shipmates. The body of James was never recovered for burial but he is memorialized at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Plymouth Naval Memorial.

Philip Triggs survived the Battle of Jutland and World War I. Philip later emigrated to Australia where he died in 1967.


Sentimental Saturday – John and Agnes Hadden’s 25th Anniversary

I know … I know … this posting is a day late. My only excuse – stuff happens.

Today, I am sharing a glimpse back in time to October 1954 and the 25th Wedding Anniversary of my paternal grandparents.

On October 10, 1929, John Gaull Hadden married Agnes Little in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Both John and Agnes were born in Scotland (John in Woodside, now part of Aberdeen and Agnes in Greenock). John immigrated to Canada with his parental family in 1923 while Agnes immigrated to Canada in 1928 on her own. They met in Toronto.

In October 1954, my parents hosted a 25th wedding anniversary party. I know that my parent’s house was not large so I suspect that it was a fairly small party.

In the photo below, likely taken by my father, my grandparents can be seen cutting the anniversary cake. Standing behind them was the party hostess, my mother Anne (O’Neill) Hadden who at the time was pregnant with her first child and first grandchild for her in-laws. I suppose that in a sense that technically means this is also the first photo of Yours Truly.

Agnes and John Hadden cutting their 25th wedding anniversary cake

Agnes and John Hadden cutting their 25th wedding anniversary cake

Sentimental Saturday – Granny

I’m posting photos from my collection of family photographs on Saturdays with a brief explanation of what I know about each picture.

This is one of my favourite family photos. It is a picture of Agnes (Little) Hadden. To me, she was Granny.

Agnes (Little) Hadden (1908-1958)

Agnes (Little) Hadden (1908-1958)

Although I remember my paternal grandmother, the memories are a little foggy and faded as I was very young when she passed away.

Granny stood only four feet, ten inches but was always described to me as quite the ‘fireball.’ She certainly kept a close eye on her children and, like most mothers, she seemed to know what they were up to even when that seemed an impossibility.

Born in Greenock, Scotland, Agnes immigrated to Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1928. Granny was famous in the family for her expression, with her strong Scottish accent,  “Me tongue is me passport.”

Sentimental Saturday – Spring Is Just Around The Corner

I’m posting photos from my collection on Saturdays with a brief explanation of what I know about each picture.

Spring is trying to arrive in my part of the world (southern Ontario, Canada) after what has been one of the coldest winters on record. With the arrival of the new season, it will soon be time to think about cleaning up the yard and assessing the ravages of the winter.

This photo of yours truly was taken about the time I was three  years old. It appears to have been taken, likely by my father, in the backyard of my paternal grandparents John Gaull Hadden and Agnes (Little) Hadden. Their home was at 53 Darrell Avenue in Toronto, Ontario. Clearly, child labour laws weren’t the same back then.

My mother, as I recall, seemed to particularly like the pants, or ‘rompers’ with small zippers at the side of each pant leg as she called them. I don’t recall getting a vote on my wardrobe selection.

HADDEN Ian working in backyard May 1958

52 Ancestors – James and Janet Little

This is going to be a short post about my 4X great grandparents James Little and Janet Little. A short posting because I don’t really don’t yet know a great deal about them.

Scottish records indicate that James Little married Janet Little, probably around 1827 or 1828. This date is based on the birth of the first child Peter about 1829. The record of the marriage of their son James, my 3X great grandfather, states that Janet’s maiden surname was Little meaning that she had the same married surname. There is no evidence, at least none that I have found, that suggests that James and Janet were related to each other in any way prior to their marriage.

James was born about 1801 in Dumfriesshire whereas Janet was born about 1810 in Fifeshire. After their marriage, James and Janet settled into life first in Dumferline in Fife where most of their children were born. They then settled in Hutton and Corrie Parish, Dumfriesshire, an area just to the north-west of Lockerbie, Scotland, known infamously for the 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. There, they raised their family of seven known children, consisting of three boys and four girls.

James worked in the area as an agricultural labourer until his death sometime in the latter part of the 1860’s. Janet continued to live in Dumfriesshire until her death in 1886.

52 Ancestors: James ‘Jimmy’ Little (1889-1944)

Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small genealogy blog suggested a weekly blog theme of ’52 Ancestors’ in her blog post “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.” I decided to take up the challenge of the 52 Ancestors blog theme as a means to prompt me into regularly sharing the stories of my ancestors. So over the course of 2014 I will highlight an ancestor, sharing what I know about the person and perhaps more importantly, what I don’t know.

Greenock, or in the Scottish Gaelic Grianaig, is located on the south shore of the River Clyde. Historically, shipbuilding has been one of the primary industries in Greenock, taking advantage of the town’s location close to the Firth of Clyde and the ocean beyond. 

And so, it was to Greenock that James and Dorothea Little moved in order to allow James to find work in the shipyards , first as a labourer but eventually as an iron driller, when his work as a forester had come to an end. It was also here, in Greenock that most of their six children were born, including their second son and my great grandfather James.

James, or Jimmy as he was commonly known, was born on 3 January 1899 at 51 Crawford Street. The row house at this location now has an address of 51 East Crawford Street, something I find unusual as I can find no West Crawford Street so for now the street name change is a mystery. 

James was the fifth child and second son for James (Sr.) and Dorothea. With the exception of their first child, a daughter named Margaret, they followed the traditional Scottish naming convention as each of their children were born. Their first son was named John after, in this case, both grandfathers so when their second son was born, he received his father’s name.

My great Grandfather, Jimmy Little, appears to have lived a stable life. Records show that he went to school as a child, and then followed in his father’s footsteps and found employment in the shipyards as an iron caulker, apprenticing in that trade as a teenager.

It was also in his teens that Jimmy found love with a young lady named Margaret ‘Maggie’ Mitchell. Maggie also lived in Greenock, about a mile away from Jimmy’s Sir Michael Street home. When Jimmy was just 17-years old and Maggie only 16-years old, they discovered they were going to be parents. They married on the 22nd of March 1906. Their first child, a son they named Edward Sweeney Little was born four months later in July. 

Despite life’s early introduction to marriage and parenthood, they persevered and enjoyed what appears to be a good and stable life together, Jimmy working in the shipyards, Maggie rearing their five children.

The block of houses on Sir Michael Street in Greenock, Scotland where James and Margaret Little resided with their children (from Google street view screen capture)

On the morning of 9th of June 1944 in Larkfield Hospital, Jimmy died as a result of chronic nephritis and myocarditis. He was only 55 years of age at the time of his death.

52 Ancestors: Dorothea Carson (Abt 1847-1916)

Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small genealogy blog suggested a weekly blog theme of ’52 Ancestors’ in her blog post “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.” I decided to take up the challenge of the 52 Ancestors blog theme as a means to prompt me into regularly sharing the stories of my ancestors. So over the course of 2014 I will highlight an ancestor, sharing what I know about the person and perhaps more importantly, what I don’t know.

This week I am turning the spotlight on one of my paternal great-great grandmothers, Dorothea Carson.

At the corner of Patrick and Ardgowan Streets in Greenock, Scotland, there stands a small church. Looking down Patrick Street, you can see the mouth of the River Clyde and the various Greenock shipyards along it’s banks. It was in this church that on 6 April 1869 that Dorothea Carson stood beside her maid of honour Margaret Forrest and married Thomas Commisky. 

The marriage record of the event describes Dorothea as being 22 years of age. Both she and her 21-year old groom Thomas recorded that they lived at 4 Sir Michael Street in Greenock. Thomas listed his occupation as contractor’s carter. He appears to have learned his carting trade from his by then deceased father Terrence who is listed in the marriage record as having been a master carter. Dorothea’s parents are listed as John Carson, a contractor, and his wife, Sarah Ann Jones.

As happy as the wedding day was for Thomas and Dorothea, it wasn’t to last long. Just four months later, on 11 August 1869, Thomas died of smallpox. Dorothea was left a young widow with a baby girl, a daughter that she and Thomas had in January 1869 before they were married. They named their daughter Annie. 

I don’t know what happened to Dorothea following the death of Thomas as neither she nor Annie appears either under the name of Commisky or Carson in the 1871 Census of Scotland. But Dorothea may have been used to tough times. Dorothea was born between 1846 and 1848 in Ireland, at a time when the infamous famine was ravaging that country. Dorothea first appears in the Scottish records in the 1861 census as a young teenager, working alongside two presumed Carson sisters as cotton mill workers. Dorothea and her presumed sisters, Susan and Janet, were boarders in the home of an Irish farmer in Bridge of Weir, Renfrew, Scotland.

It is known, however, that on 30 April 1878 Dorothea married for a second time in Kilbarchan, a small village outside of Bridge of Weir in Renfrew County. Her new husband was James Little. Although the record of this marriage states that James was a 30-year old forester, it is more likely that he was closer to 37-years of age.

Over the years, James and Dorothea settled into life together with James working in the nearby shipyards and Dorothea working working as a confectioner. On 2 April 1911, when the enumerator came to their door conducting the 1911 Census of Scotland, they recorded, I suspect with some pride, that they had been married for 33 years, had seven children (I know the names of six) of whom five were still alive. Just one week later however, James Little died. Dorothea followed James in death on 18 December 1916, a victim of Brights Disease.