Brought up in Galloway

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Mary-Jane Mills was born at Kirkbean on 20th August, 1880. Before her marriage to Walter Boa on 30th June, 1910 at the Royal Restaurant, Dumfries, she was table maid to the Duke of Buccleuch's factor.

She was a warm, gentle, kindly person.

She had eight brothers and sisters:
James, born in 1864, died aged 10 months.

Robert, born in 1866, became a teacher. In his CV - called "Testimonials In Favour Of Mr Robert Mills" - his headmaster at Blackness Public School, Dundee, says in 1890:

"The classes he managed were large, averaging from 80 to 100 pupils, and as it was the first year of opening they were of somewhat a mixed character. He succeeded well in moulding them into a whole, and attended carefully to their progress and attainments.

MR MILLS, in addition to being a good teacher, is a young gentleman of considerable scholastic distinction, and is well qualified to impart instruction of either an elementary or advanced nature."

Mary-Jane's next brother, Sandy, was a gamekeeper.

Her sister, Helen, born two years later, married William Jardine, to whom she always referred as "Jardine."

Her next two sisters, Jenny and Nan, both married farmers.

Almost exactly two years after Mary-Jane's birth, another son was born. It was decided to call him James, the same name as the first child, who had died almost twenty years earlier.

The last of the family was Violet, named after her mother, who by then was 45.

Mary Jane and Walter's first child was also named Violet.On 25th April 1914, Andrew Boa was born. Ten years later,Mary Jane had abdominal pain, and took to her bed.Shortly afterwards, 10 year old Andrew was puzzled to hear a baby crying.His brother Walter had just been born. Mary Jane had not realised that she was pregnant - she assumed that at her time of life, she was likely to put on weight. (She was 44, almost the same age as her mother when she had her last child.)


Mary Jane died at 2 Burns Avenue, Kilmarnock, aged 72, on Christmas Eve, 1952.
Her parents were

Nichol Mills and Violet Milroy.

They lived here at Carsethorn, on the Solway, when they married on 5th February, 1864. (Violet was already pregnant.)


Mary Jane's mother,

Violet Milroy,

was born in 1844. She became a farm servant at Kellwood, Dumfries. On 28th June 1913, she died of pneumonia at Woodside Cottage, Kirkbean. She was 68.

Violet's father, James Milroy, was born at Troqueer, Kirkcudbright in 1814. He became a hedger at Kellwood, Dumfries. On 28th January 1878, at Gas Entry, Langholm, he died of emphysema, from which he had suffered for a number of years. He was 64.

James's parents were Peter Milroy, a farm labourer, and Mary Wilson.

Violet's mother, Henrietta McNaught, was born at Kirkunzion, Kirkcudbright, in 1811. On 24th June 1871, she died of bronchitis, at 10 Winterhopehead, Dumfries. She was 60.

Henrietta's parents were John McNaught, a labourer, and Agnes Alexander.

Mary Jane's father,

Nichol Mills,

was a forester, born at Mainsriddel on 23rd May, 1828, the final child in a family of eight. The village lies near Kirkbean. It is a quiet spot, like Carsethorn.


By 1861, Nichol and his sister Sarah were living at Carsethorn, next door to their Uncle Nichol, their mother's brother. His house is seen below, its windows now painted blue. The other neighbours, according to the 1861 census, were an innkeeper, a servant, a pupil teacher, a ship's carpenter, a fund holder and a hotel keeper.


Nichol and Violet moved at some point after their marriage at Kellwood, Dumfries, in 1864, to Woodside Cottage, Kirkbean, seen below.


Nichol died there of apoplexy, at the age of 76, on 7th August, 1904. Violet died of pneumonia, nine years later.

James Mills , Nichol's father, was born in 1776. He was 52 when Nichol was born .James was a farmer at Mainsriddel. He died at Wreaths, Kirkbean,on 15th January, 1852 at the age of 78.

Sarah Whitehead , Nichol's mother, was born on 6th November, 1785, at Ladyland Farm, Kirkbean. Sarah was the eldest of the family.

Her brother, Nichol, born in 1787, became a ship's captain, and lived in the 5-roomed house at Carsethorn, seen above (the windows now painted blue). He did not marry until he was 40. His wife Elizabeth bore him a son in 1834, but the child died at birth. Their second son, Robert, was born on 18th January, 1836, when Elizabeth was 46. Robert died unmarried at the age of 40.

Sarah had a sister, Elinor, born in 1788, and a brother, Homer (!), in 1790. Both children died at the age of 11 months.

The next child, Robert, was born in 1792. Like his brother Nichol, he became a ship's captain, but was lost at sea in May 1830.

Sarah's only surviving sister, Helen, was born in June, 1794. In July, their mother, also called Helen, died, leaving their father, Robert with four children under the age of eight.

Robert Whitehead , Sarah's father, was born in 1740. He was a farmer at Ladyland, Kirkbean, seen below.


His wife, Helen Herbertson , died in childbirth on 17th July, 1794, but Robert lived on until the age of 83, dying on 28th December, 1823.

The Whiteheads are buried by this obelisk in Kirkbean Churchyard.