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Summary of the James Small Stewart Story

James Small Stewart was born in Dalry Ayrshire in 1869. Coincidently this was the year the Suez
Canal was opened. During our trip to Scotland in October we were able to explore my ancestry as
well as walk in my grandfather’s footsteps. In 1881 the family was living in North Street Dalry.

North Street Dalry in 2010

The Stewart family is well represented in Kilwinning Ayrshire. Both of James Small Stewart’s
grandparents were married in the new Kilwinning Abbey Church by Rev Archibald Campbell whose
bust appears in the church. Furthermore Dirran Sawmill, owned by Neil Small, was the main
supplier of timber to Kilwinning and appear in the account of the Abbey Tower in 1816. James’
great uncle, Neil Small appears to have supplied the timber for the replacement Abbey Tower as
having “covered” the steeple. The tower can be seen on the next page.

Rev A Campbell The Abbey Church beside the ruins of the old Abbey

During our visit were took time to worship in the Abbey Church as my great-grandparents would
have done many years ago.

Kilwinning Abbey Moira Heron and James Miller on the Abbey Tower

James Miller kindly opened the Kilwinning Abbey Tower when we were in Scotland and gave us a
private tour of the remarkable piece of Scottish history. Another new friend Moira Heron, who runs
the local Ayrshire website took time out to guide us around southern Ayrshire
including Dundonald Castle where many of the Stewart kings resided.

James Small Stewart left school and worked in the local coal mines like many of the family. He
was methodical and learnt clerical work. In 1889 James married Elizabeth and quickly started his
family with a daughter Elizabeth, and a son Robert. But as coal mining became less profitable the
Fife Coal Company put James off work and he found himself unemployed. So he decided to go to
Cape Town, South Africa with his cousin John Stewart who was working as a merchant.

He came home to Scotland in June 1893 and he joined the Masonic Lodge (Elgin No 91) and did
his degrees on the one day. It appears he then returned to South Africa to seek his fortune. His
Lodge Wallet has been noted in September 1893 that he visited Buffalo Lodge 1824 at East
London, South Africa.

He did not attend Elgin Lodge 91 again until December 1893 after which attended regularly until he
applied for a Demit in Aug 1894. His one absence during this time was when his father died and
he was handling his affairs. We visited his Lodge in Leven in October 2010 and met John Kirkaldy
and Walter McLean who gave us a very informative visit.

Colin Stewart, John Kirkarldy and Walter McLean outside Elgin Lodge 91.

James Small Stewart returned to South Africa after August 1894 when he left the Lodge. There is
no evidence to suggest he joined the Lodge either in South Africa or later in Brisbane, Australia.
We do know he joined the Scottish Association in Mafeking, South Africa because his presence
was mentioned in the Bechuanaland News in October 1896. He sent money via mail to his wife
and children but travelled up to Salisbury in Rhodesia. He became sick in January 1901 and was
looked after by an old school mate. However at this point in 1901, the Boer War was starting and
he left South Africa and went to Brisbane, Australia to start a new life. Why he didn’t return home
to Scotland is a mystery.

His first wife Elizabeth died in 1962 and is buried in Scoonie, Fife. His son, Robert James died in
1969 and is buried in East Wemyss.

He was divorced by his first wife Elizabeth and married his second wife Lillian. But Lillian
developed TB and died suddenly in Stanthorpe Queensland. We have found records of his
employment and addresses in Brisbane where he worked as an Accountant. He married for the
third time to Alsie Wright in 1914. In 1915 they had their first child a daughter Jean Small Stewart
and in 1925 they have a son, Robert. James Small Stewart died in Brisbane late in 1925 and his
10 month old son never got to know his father.

We gratefully acknowledge the helpful assistance of James Miller for opening the Kilwinning Abbey
Tower for us; John Kirkaldy for his research of my grandfather’s Masonic Lodge membership in
Leven; and Moira Heron for showing us around Ayrshire. Thank you.

Colin Stewart