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One Branch of the Rowntree Family in the WW1 Era.

Rowntree Family

The Meeting of the Clans

Scottish Holidays

There are probably only a few examples of occasions when members of four or five families come together for some periods of time, such as holidays. Records show that this happened within the Rowntree and associated families and interestingly on the West Coast of Scotland although the Rowntree connection with the area is only through marriage. Over the last few centuries it was inevitable that Quakers seemed to have developed a clan like set of relationships. Quakerism, a result of the reformation, stood alone in many respects like Jews and although not immigrants did suffer from persecution and discrimination. It is no wonder that they grouped together in similar trades and professions and then formed their own schools. One such school was Bootham started in 1823 in York. This school attracted any number of established Quaker families amongst which are included:

Details of these families and their Bootham connection are documented elsewhere so it only needs to be said here, that by the end of the First World War all four families were connected by marriage.

Record show that these family enjoyed opportunities of coming together for holidays gravitating towards the West Coast of Scotland. This article has been assembled from the perspective of the Rowntree Family particularly from archives of Colin Rowntree and his son Paul, however it should be understood that the Rowntree Family has not direct link to Scotland since it roots as understood from the book Rowntrees of Riseborough are specifically Yorkshire. For whatever reason, probably work, the patriarch of this branch of the Rowntree Family, Fred Rowntree, the architect, went to Glasgow for a short while in the 1880’s and married Mary Anne Gray, of the established Quaker biscuit Company in the area. By 1901 they had settled in Hammersmith London. The Thorp Family was an established Leeds Quaker family and by 1914 Ralph Thorp, the architect, had married into the Rowntree family and settled near Fred and may have work with him for a while. The Cruikshank family was rooted in Scotland and had married into the Gray family on two occasions, historically, once in 1808 and later sometime about 1880 in marriage between Edwin Cruikshank and Edith Mary Gray, the sister of Fred Rowntree’s wife.

By the end of the First World War the four families were settled in London and Glasgow and producing a number of Gray/Rowntree grandchildren. 

The details of this can be seen from the Rowntree and Gray family trees.

After the war it seemed that the opportunity arose for Scottish holidays and the culture of the Rowntree West Coast holiday was created. Whereas it is the case that Colin Rowntree was born in Glasgow in 1891, by the age of nine he had moved with the family to Hammersmith. The attraction towards the West Coast, apart from its inherent beauty was that the Gray family had links to the area and that Dr Arnold Harris Gray practised in Tayvyalich. 

Since this first comment it has been noted in a letter from Mary in Perranport to Colin during WW1 that she refers to Daltote with the remark as to how similar the two places were and wonders as to whether they will ever go to Daltote again. So sometime before there were married Colin and Mary must have been to Scotland perhaps with the Rowntree Family as a whole.

Much can be derived from two letters from Colin Rowntree, from Daltote, Achnamara, to his wife Mary in either 1921, or a little later, and from two photographs which are of about that time but probably not the same year. 

Sadly the letters have no date, at all, but suggest to us that Mary was staying at home at Strand on the Green with the two children Michael and Paul and that Paul was over 16 months old. Reference is made Willy and Rosie and their baby of 16 months. These would have been William Gray, director of Gray Dunn and his wife Rosalie nee Campbell with their daughter Mary Rose, born in 1921. The reference to 16 months makes the letters probably 1922.

otes Notes on one photograph suggest 1919 and Michael is included so Colin and Mary would have been there and the other photograph includes the daughter of Dr Arnold Gray, Margaret, aka Pud, who settled for her life in Tavyalich. This second photograph includes William Cruikshank and his small son, Stephen.

Archives show that Scotland was not Colin’s only holiday destination, Cornwall being very popular however the the vicinity of Tavyalich continues to be a draw on later generations. The story of the Rowntree family going north, lock stock and barrel, on holiday, remained part on the anecdotal history and in later years Paul took his family to the area camping on many occasions and later there was a repeat of the gathering of the clans at Keillmore House when Paul and Gwen and many members of the family stayed or joined for a day. Some of Paul’s ashes were scattered at the Fairy Isles.

The letters are significant on two counts. First they give some idea of the beauty of the area and mention a number of places which have then been visited by the family over the years, and second because of the reference to any number of family members who can with a little effort be identified.

The other regular occasion, apart from Weddings and Funerals,  when the clans met was for the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. The boat passed 5 Hammersmith Terrace and so this was an opportunity for the family to meet up and be fed by the Thorp-Knight Family. When Betsy Thorp got married to John Knight and Civil Engineer involved in large scale projects, They settled at 5 Hammersmith Terrace and Betsy’s parents stayed on for the rest of their lives.

Those attending the event included Colin Rowntree descendants, Douglas Rowntree descendants, Srephen Cruikshank and of course the Thorps and Knights. As will be seen from the article on Chiswick, by 1911 some of the Gray family had arrive south and moved into No.10 Hamersmith Terrace and Edith Mary Cruikshank nee Gray lived at 27 Dukes Ave. W4 with her offspring.
So, in effect, three Gray sisters were living in Chiswick

The significance of Chiswick as a locality for the Rowntree and related family is discussed in a separate article.