Piper Archibald MacMillan Murdoch!

“The Last O’ The Lot An The Best O’ The Bargin.”

Named after his mother Sarah MacMillan, Archibald MacMillan Murdoch was my 2nd great grand uncle.  Archie was born on 3 Aug 1866 in Ballymoney, Co. Antrim, and baptized in the Ballymoney First Presbyterian Church, a church that my family continue to be affiliated with.  He was the youngest of seven children, comprised of four males and three females, born to John Murdoch and Sarah MacMillan.  His oldest brother William was my 2nd great grandfather.  Records indicate the probability that he had a twin named Arabella.  However, other than a Baptismal Certificate, records for Arabella are proving difficult to find.  This might suggest that she died at a very young age.

Ballymoney, Co.

At some point in time, a date that I still need to confirm, Archie had moved to Scotland.  I discovered him living in Dennyloanhead, Haggs, Stirlingshire, Scotland after finding his marriage record.  On 30 June 1893, “After Banns according to form of the Church of Scotland”, and in the presence of Christopher Cardner and Joan M. Thomson, Archibald MacMillan Murdoch, of  Dennyloanhead, was married to Lillias Johnston McArthur of Parkfoot, Haggs; by Rev. Alexander Robertson, Minister of Haggs.  Sadly, both John and Sarah were deceased at the time of their sons marriage.  The record does reveal that John was a “Dyer Journeyman”.  Lillias was the daughter of William McArthur, a spade maker journeyman, and Margaret Clark Walker.  The “Piper” was working as a furnace man in a foundry in Haggs.

RocketLife doc 1

As described in a 1921 publication “Dennyloanhead, as the name implies, means the head of the loan from Denny, and a finger-post erected there informs us that it is 294 miles from John l’ Groats”.  

RocketLife doc 2

The 1901 census finds Archie and Lillias living on Bonnybridge Road in Denny and their little family had grown.  Sarah, their eldest, was born in 1897 and John in 1898.  Lillias remained at home to raise their children while Archie was a Pithead Worker .  I’m sure this entailed working hard and long hours for little money.  “The Scottish Board of Trade Census of Wages conducted in 1886 records that pithead runners earned an average weekly wage of 19s 3d. The report states that these men generally worked from 54 to 57 hours per week, exclusive of meal times.”

RocketLife doc 3

In 1911 the family was residing at 59 Craigmount Drive, Mary Hill, Glasgow.  The 1911 census information would suggest that the family moved to Glasgow after 1902 and the birth of their third child Lillias who was born in Dennyloanhead in 1902.  The census also reveals that four children were born to Archie and Lillias – while only three survived.  The birth years of the other children might suggest the baby who didn’t survive was born about 1900 – another Twisted Limb to follow.

Another nugget of information was revealed and proved earlier stories I had heard from other family members…  Archie was a self proclaimed musician!  The census showed that Archie was no longer working in any kind of capacity as a labourer, but was a musician on his “own account”!

RocketLife doc 4

This is where things became even more interesting for me…  I discovered a document entitled “Then and Now” which was delivered as a lecture at a Meeting of the Dennyloanhead Church Guild, held in the Muirhead Memorial Hall, on the Evening of October 19, 1921 by Rev. David Keir, M.A., of the United Free Church, Dennyloanhead.  Upon perusing the document I discovered none other than The Piper, Archibald MacMillan Murdoch!

RocketLife doc 5…”Among the new tenants who entered into them after they were renovated was a man who was an enthusiastic piper, Mr. Archibald Murdoch.  Archie and I were good friends, although for a reason different from that given by a caddie who claimed acquaintanceship with Mr. Arthur J. Balfour, the distinguished statesman.  This caddie, on being asked by a golfer what he meant by being acquainted with Mr. Balfour, replied, “Just this; I’m wearing a pair of Mr. Balfour’s troosers.”  While Archie and I were acquaintances and friends, our bonds of friendship were not formed in any way such as that; for he could not wear either my hat, or coat, or “troosers,” and I could not wear his kilt.  A good many years ago he removed with his wife and family to Glasgow.  Archie was a rhymester as well as a piper, and some time after his removal to the city, I received from him a picture postcard, with the following verses beautifully written and embellished with hand-painted representations of the shamrock: –  

RocketLife doc 8

I hope that the Glesca’ fouk will keep reachin’ their coppers and silver into Archie’s pockets in return for his stirring music.”

On 18 July 1933 Archie sent a postcard from Glasgow to, his nephew and my great grandfather, Thomas Murdock of Union Street, Ballymoney, Co. Antrim.  The note Archie wrote to “Tommie” was signed as follows:   “I remain Tommie, your loving uncle. Piper Archibald MacMillan Murdoch The Last O’ The Lot An The Best O’ The Bargin”  

RocketLife doc 6

On 28 Jan 1944 at the Oakbank Hospital and in the presence of his daughter Sarah, The Piper passed away – nine years after the death of his wife Lillias.

“Hoy Tommie. Hoo dae I look at sixty seven, I’m thinkin’ actually fit, An’ if I’m no on the road Tae Heaven LORD HELP THE HALF O’ THE RODDIN FIT”    

I dare say my 2nd great grand uncle Piper Archibald MacMillan Murdoch, not only looked great in a kilt, but was quite a character… another ancestor I would have loved to meet!

Copyright (c) (2014) (https://colleenjmurdoch.wordpress.com). All Rights Reserved. 

About CJ Murdoch

Looking For "Dead People"! My Journey Back In Time - Tracing my ancestors and researching the counties, cities and towns where they resided. Taking a “Glimpse” into their lives and stories and the times in which they lived; all in an effort to learn about their “Dash”! “I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of his friend. He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning – to the end. He noted that first came the date of her birth and spoke of the second with tears, but he said that what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.” I have always been interested in researching my family tree and “hanging out” in cemeteries. Like most of us... I didn't ask enough questions when elderly family were still living. Oh, what I would give for 24 hours and a camera with my ancestors… just to sit and listen! I'm researching many family lines, including: Murdoch, Wilson, Berry, Love, Scott, Beattie/Beatty, Hendren, Sweeney, Robinson and Elvin; just to name a few. My families are predominantly from counties Antrim, Donegal and Londonderry. However, it seems that many of them, both maternal and paternal lines, originally hailed from Co. Donegal. I was born and raised in Northern Ireland and now live in Ottawa, Canada, making frequent trips back home to visit with my family. Of course those visits also include treks to the many burial grounds of my ancestors. My most recent trip back home was during the summer of 2019! Looking forward to August of 2020 when I will return. If you are interested in help tracing your ancestors I’d love to hear from you!
This entry was posted in Co. Antrim, Family History, Geneaology, Glasgow, Ireland, Scotland and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Piper Archibald MacMillan Murdoch!

  1. gpcox says:

    Such wonderful photographs to go along with Archie, the musician’s tale!


  2. Elaine says:

    Hi Colleen
    I came across your wonderful blog when searching for my great grandmother Sarah MacMillan Murdoch. Piper Archibald MacMillan Murdoch is Sarah’s father – he’s my 2 x great grandfather. I was absolutely amazed to see you had covered his story in such detail and never before had I seen a photograph of him – wow! I hope we can share info and look forward to hearing from you.
    Best regards

    Liked by 1 person

    • CJ Murdoch says:

      Hi Elaine, absolutely fantastic to hear from you. I’ve sent you an email with documents attached. Colleen


      • Elaine says:

        Many thanks Colleen, I have just responded to you. Seeing Piper Archie’s pic is wonderful – I will print this and keep it in his wee book of poetry – thank you!
        We have much info to share and I am looking forward to it 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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