The Hunter Family

My mother Jessie McWilliam Hunter married my father Andrew Boa at the Marlborough, Glasgow, on 18th April, 1939.

When Jessie was 13, her mother died of breast cancer at the age of 48. She and her sister Grace went to live with genteel, straight-laced and humourless Aunt Mary at 83 Irvine Road, Kilmarnock. When, some ten years later, Jessie told her aunt she wanted to marry Andrew Boa, Mary warned that if she went ahead, she would be cut out of her will. She did. She was.

Jessie's father Robert McWilliam Hunter was born in Kilmarnock at 9 Portland Street on 2nd February, 1881. When he was 24, his father built the house at 83 Irvine Road, called originally 8 Grange Knowe. In the summer of 1911 he married Jean Wallace Kelly at the Art Galleries, London Road. They were both aged thirty.

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Bob Hunter was a kindly, gentle man who worked initially as an engine fitter in Govan shipyard - a job he disliked - and later as a fruit salesman in the Fruit Market, Candleriggs, Glasgow.He died of a heart attack, four days before Christmas, 1951, aged 70.

Bob's father, Alexander Napier Hunter, was born two days after Christmas, 1856.


Walking behind Alex is Jimmy Findlay, the husband of straight-laced Mary.Jimmy dealt in wholesale bananas.

On 28th February 1879, at the age of 22, Alex married Jessie McWilliam , who was 18. Alex was already a foreman engine fitter. His father had died when he was eight, and his mother had died in August, 1878. The young couple moved in with Jessie's parents to a two-roomed flat at 9 Portland Street, Kilmarnock, right in the centre of the town.


By 1900 their "room and kitchen" held parents Alex and Jessie, three sons - Alex (aged 20), Bob (aged 19), Jimmy (aged 16), and one daughter - Mary (aged 10).

Around that year they moved to 83 Irvine Road, a substantial 6-roomed red sandstone semi-detached villa. They must have sighed with relief! The house cost 500.


Jessie died there, aged 63, of cardiac failure, two days before Christmas, 1924. Alex lived on until 1935, dying of myocarditis at the age of 78.

He probably remembered little of his father. He was Alexander Hunter. He died of typhoid in 1861, when his son was only eight, leaving his widow, Isabella Byers with four sons and four daughters. The eldest, Sarah, was almost 15, the youngest, Mary, was one year old.

Alex and Bella had a pawnbroker's business at 4 Strand Street, Kilmarnock, and lived next door at number 6.Alex was registered as a pawnbroker in 1850, when Sarah was born, a year after their marriage, but at some point he became a commercial traveller (registered thus on his death certificate in 1865.)


Alex's father was James Hunter, who was born in 1800. James was a pattern setter. He died at the age of 84, at 61 King Street, Kilmarnock, seen below. On 24th April, 1884, he took acute pneumonia, and died four days later.


Alex's mother, Helen Beverage, was born in September, 1798.She died a month before her 76th birthday, on 16th August, 1874, of apoplexy.James lived on for almost another ten years.As can be seen below, little is left of the house at 9 Langlands Brae, Kilmarnock, where Helen died!


James and Helen's fathers were both stone masons, born probably in the 1770s.

James's parents were James Hunter and Agnes Laidlaw.

Helen's parents were Hugh Beverage and Janet Smith.