Tuesday, 24 January 2012

James Stark ….from humble beginnings

James was born 24th December 1858 at Heatherinch in Collessie, Fife ... to Jessie/Janet Crombie …my great grandmothers’ older sister …well one of them …there were seven daughters of whom Isabella was the youngest… and one son …the oldest of the siblings.

Although illegitimate, his father, Thomas Stark, was there at the time he was registered and thus he was given his surname but in 1861 James was living with his mother and grandfather, Alexander, at Cupar Muir, on the family small holding. Alexander died three years later but had acknowledged him as his grandson on the census.

His mother Janet married an Alexander Lumsden in 1867 and had more children. In 1871 James was down as ‘Stepson’…. but by 1881, still living with them, he was entered as a boarder on the census,maybe because he was over twenty- one, with the trade of Mason.
Three years later he was married to Janet Millar and soon after, his first son James, was born. Sadly his son James died in the Great War having joined the London Scottish. This was a Territorial Regiment …a battalion of this regiment was the first TA regiment into action in 1914 …and another battalion went to Palestine, taking part in the capture of Jerusalem …it was here that he lost his life and was buried. His younger brother George also lost his life, in an accident, leaving only their little sister Jessie Crombie Stark … she married in 1922.
James Stark’s marriage to Janet lasted over 50 years and their Golden Wedding was recorded in the local papers but his death in 1937 was also recorded in The Glasgow Herald.

All of the above sounds like a pretty normal family of the times but this man of humble beginnings rose to great heights. He created a prosperous building concern, then in 1911 became a Provost, followed by a Justice of the Peace and finally was made an Honorary Sheriff in 1926. By the time his obituary was published in 1937, he had also gained an OBE from the King.

During the war he sat on many committees, he received the Belgian Medal for his war efforts in particular, establishing a home in Glasgow, for Belgian refugees and worked hard to raise funds for the Cupar War memorial…his personal efforts raised over £5000….this would be over £150,000 in today’s terms.
In 1922, Earl Haig and Provost Stark unveiled the memorial seen on the lay out above…now known as 'The Angel' by the locals.
This is the same Earl Haig who was Commander in Chief of the forces, in WWI and who gave his name to the fund that runs the Poppy Day Appeal today. It is said that they were friends … probably due to their work on committees.

(BTW ….In Scotland a Provost is a little like a Mayor and a Sheriff is between a Magistrate and a High Court Judge but the latter being an honorary position, he would not have had actual duties …The Angel has pillars now, by the steps,as seen in the photo I took. They were added to commemorate the Cupar dead of WWII.).

Take Care xx