Howies in Scotland

The Howies who came to America (my great grandmother and 2nd great grandparents) hailed from a parish called Old Monkland, Lanarkshire, Scotland. A Scottish Parish usually described a village, group of villages or hamlets and the adjacent lands. They were originally ecclesiastical, areas of land whose inhabitants were compelled to pay a proportion of their produce or income (teinds) to support the Church. During the 17th century Scottish parishes gained civil functions (with burghs and sheriffdoms) for the purposes of taxation.  Between 1845 and 1860 elected parochial boards were formed in most parishes, called civil parishes, to govern the areas. Many classes of historical record are arranged by parish, including valuation rolls, tax records, church records, poor relief records and education records. Around 1891-1900, the Boundary Commission rationalized parish and county boundaries. (c The Scottish Archives Network Ltd.; © University of Portsmouth).

Old Monkland was created in 1845 and abolished in 1975. In 1801 Old Monkland’s total population was 4,006. In 1901 it was 53,248. In 1801 Lanarkshire’s total population was 146,696. In 1901 it was 1,339,327. Towns developed in the area because of its position in the center of Scotland’s chief mineral field. Coal was a chief source of fuel, so collieries grew up in Old Monkland as they had in the Sunderland-Newcastle area in England. Fire, smoke, and soot, with the roar and rattle of machinery were its leading characteristics. Many Howies were born in Braehead (aka Kirkwood), a collier village in Old Monkland parish, Lanarkshire, 2 miles SW of Coatbridge, east of Glasgow. Population in 1871 was 491, and by 1881 it was 667. (Frances Groome, Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland; © 2004 Gazetteer for Scotland).

The first census to report on how well people were housed was that of 1891, but the only statistics gathered were on the number of rooms and the number of people in each household ( [more on this at a later date]

Luckily, the Howie men were regularly employed in the collieries, and the women often found work sewing or weaving. For Scots unable to work, the government erected the Old Monkland Workhouse, which provided communal room and board to the indigent who had to work within the Workhouse to pay for their upkeep. The present site houses the Coathill Hospital, but in the 19th century, separate buildings housed kitchens, dark and dank, crowded dormitories, utility or mechanical buildings where the men worked, and even classrooms for the sad children forced to accompany their parents to this jail-like setting.

A fever hospital (later to include an asylum for ‘milder types of lunatic’) was erected on an adjoining site to the southeast. In 1865, the management of the poorhouse was severely criticized by the Board of Supervision following the death of a five-year-old boy called Thomas Cumnock. Cumnock and four other sick children were locked alone overnight in a probationary ward without a nurse within call. Cumnock became seriously ill in the night and died lying between his two bedfellows aged eight and ten. His condition, acute inflammation of the pleura, had gone undetected both by the pauper nurse who cared for him, and by the poorhouse medical officer who had diagnosed only a case of itch.


1. Grace Howie born 26 August 1870 in Braehead, Lanarkshire, Scotland, married Thomas Lewis Labin, had one child, Richard Labin, Sr. and died 17 July 1944 in PA. Her parents were 2. Robert Howie, born 1830 in Riccarton,Ayrshire, Scotland, married 2a. Mary Pope (b. 30 March 1828 in Old Monkland, Lanarkshire, Scotland, died 1883 PA) on 23 March 1851, and  died after 1883 in PA. From this generation on, all Howie ancestors were born and died in Scotland. His parents were 3. Robert Howie born  7 March 1794, married 3a. Margaret Harper (b. 1799) on 10 June 1815, and died after 1851. His parents were 4. William Howie born in Riccarton 17 July 1762, married Janet Paton (b. 30 January 1773) on 14 June 1793 and died after 1807 in Ayrshire. William’s parents were 5. William Howie 11 May 1731, married 5a. Jean Gilbert (b. 1733) on 21 August 1761 and died after 1783. His parents were 6. James Howie born 16 December 1701, married 6a. Jean Whyte (b. 1705) on 21 August 1718 and died after 1731. His parents were 7. James Howie born 1677 and 7a. Martha Thomson (b. 1681), James died 29 Jan 1755. James’ parents were 8. James Howie born 1620 in Dundee and 8a. Isabel Howie (b. 1630 and died after 1677), cousins, and he died 14 November 1691. His father was 9. John 1586-1666. John’s father was 10. John Howie 1560-1614 in Ceres.


1. Mary Pope’s parents were 2. Nisbet Pope born in Old Monkland, Lanarkshire 22 November 1804, married 2a. Jane Aitken (born 1800) on 26 June 1824 in Polmont, Stirlingshire and died after 1851. His parents were 3. James Pope born 1765 and 3a. Grizzel Snaddon (b. 30 May 1763).

© Copyright 2015 Linda L Labin, PhD