Thomas’s paternal grandfather, also Thomas, was born about 1834 in Balmaghie, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland. His wife was Mary Ann Burgess, born about 1836 in Kirkpatrick Durham, Kirkcudbrightshire. In 1861 they lived at Drumhumphry, a school in the parish of Kirkpatrick Durham. Thomas was a labourer. We were unable to find them in the 1871 census but in 1881, although still married, Thomas and Mary were at different addresses in the Dalbeatie area. Thomas was with their son, George (Thomas Jnr’s father) and Mary was at Hillhead House with 6 other children. Mary was a sick nurse.
The couple had at least 8 children, Mary, born about 1858, George William Lawrence (Thomas Jnr’s father), born in 1859, Annie, born about 1862, John, born about 1864, another Thomas, born about 1866, Jane, born about 1872, William, born about 1875, and Agnes born about 1878. Thomas Snr died on 11 November 1877.
Thomas’s maternal grandparents were William Ballatyne and Margaret Keith. William was born in Paisley about 1822 and Margaret in Neilston, Renfrewshire about 1823. William was variously described as an iron turner fitter, a foreman engine smith, and an engine fitter before a career change after moving to Manchester. In 1851 William and Margaret lived at 18 Reid St, Calton, with their first child, also William, born about 1850. In 1861 they lived in Netherlee, Cathcart, and in 1871 at a public house, also in Cathcart. They had 6 children, William, Mary, born about 1855, Matthew Shields, born about 1856, Janet, born about 1859, Margaret, born about 1860, and Agnes Keith (Thomas’s mother), born in 1861.
By 1881 they had moved to Manchester and lived at 7 Laburnum Terrace, Barlow Lane, Levenshulme. William was now a foreman in a cake and biscuit warehouse. Charles with Bessie and Maude 50
George William Lawrence McGuckian was born on 7 September 1859 in Kirkpatrick Durham. In 1861 he lived at Drumhumphry with his parents and older sister, Margaret, born about 1858. Agnes Keith Bannatyne was born on 8 November 1861 in Cathcart, Renfrewshire. Their marriage was registered in Chorlton in 1882. Margaret was born on 15 June 1883 and was baptised on 30 December 1883 at Manchester Cathedral. Thomas was born about 1885 and there do not seem to have been any more children. In 1891 George, two of his siblings, William and Agnes, and Margaret and Thomas were living at 1 Orchard Terrace. The head of the household was Ann McGuckian, aged 55, described as George’s mother – presumably this was Mary Ann (nee Burgess). A public tree on Ancestry states that in 1891 Thomas’s mother, Agnes, was living at 65 Broom Lane, Levenshulme, and working as a sewer in a print shop. In 1901 George was living in Didsbury, possibly Beaver Rd, with Margaret and Thomas. George was a carpenter/joiner.
Thomas was born in Manchester about 1885. He seems to have lived mostly with his father until at least the age of 15. He attended Didsbury National School, now Didsbury Church of England Primary School. In 1911 he was a boarder at 35 Maskell St, Chorlton-on-Medlock, and was a bricklayer.
On 1 October 1914 he enlisted at Derby into the Notts and Derby Regiment, otherwise known as the Sherwood Foresters, service number 17604. On 23 October 1914 he was discharged because a medical condition made him “not able to become an efficient soldier”. On the attestation forms he gave his next of kin as his mother, Agnes, of 21 Orchard St, West Didsbury. He appears to have re-enlisted under the name of McGregor and he served as a gunner with the 34th Battalion, Heavy Artillery Group, Royal Garrison Artillery, service number 47723. To confuse matters further his surname appears as McGucking on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, although they also state that he fought as McGregor. He died on 1 September 1916, aged 31. He was buried at Becourt Military Cemetery, Becordel-Becourt, Somme, grave reference I. N. 12. His name appears on the memorial outside Didsbury Church of England Primary School on Grange Lane.