Little is known about his early life at this point (research continues). It is possible that he was from Learmount, Londonderry in Northern Ireland, as this is what a William John Ross when he signed the Ulster Convenant in 1912. However, there were also William Rosses signing the Ulster Covenant in Glasgow from Monaghan and Ballymena. The latter is interesting as there are some DNA matches who locate their Rosses to Ballymena. Another research trip to PRONI in Belfast is definitely in the works.
His arrival in Glasgow is not unusual as many Irish protestant immigrants were moving from Ireland to Glasgow during the 1860s and 1870s7. It is also substantiated by the DNA of his g.grandson Paul, which indicates family from the Ulster Ireland and Scotland regions, and from the 1930 US census of George Ross (son), which indicated a birthplace of his father as Northern Ireland8.
Family rumour indicated that he was a soldier, possibly a mercenary.16 We now know that William joined the 90th Foot Perthshire Volunteers.17 It was most likely he joined them in Dublin as the 90th was in Dublin from 1875 to 1877. The regiment did move to Limerick for a short stay in 1877 before it proceeded to Aldershot. Then in January 1878, the regiment was sent to Cape Town and South Africa18 where it took part in the Kaffir war and the Zulu war. There is a record of a W. Ross, private at that time, who received a medal for his part in the 1879 Zulu war and this is very possibly our William.19
We also know that he was a commissionaire from 02 April 1884 to 27 April 1891.17 He worked as a commissionaire for the Clan Line starting in July 1885 and continued working there, as an office porter, until he retired in 1931.20
By the time he married his wife Alice Halliday in 18865, he was living on Regent Street in Glasgow, very near George Square. He was working for the Corp of Commissionaires and living at their housing. During that time, George square was surrounded by Georgian townhouses and was a mercantile centre and a public space. Perhaps that is where he first met Alice, as she was living just down the street. They were married at her place of residence by the banns of the Scottish Free Church.
William’s father was an agricultural labourer5; however, William, knowing how to read and write, was able to become a commissionaire and subsequently office porter for the Clan Line shipping offices in Glasgow. He was doing this work when he married and continued until he retired1,2,3. Descriptions of occupations during that time period indicate that he was first a commissionaire then an office porter.
William and Alice continued to live in Glasgow and Rutherglen throughout their married lives. During this time they had eight children, three girls and five boys1,2,3. One son, Halliday, died tragically within 2 weeks after he was born having a bout of meningitis9. Another son, James died at 17 from bronchial pneumonia10. The remaining three boys. Willie, George and Charles, all lived to be married and have children, and all worked in the shipping industry according to family information. Shipbuilding and marine engineers were the what Glasgow was most famous for during that period14.
Two of the three daughters, Annie12and Alice13never married. Annie worked as a cotton weaver and Alice as a teacher. Their third daughter Jessie, a dressmaker, married at 44 after William had already passed11.
William died on 03 February 1932 at the age of 736. His cause of death is listed as gangrene of the foot with a notation that he was senile at the time.
1Census. 1901. Scotland. Rutherglen. 654/15/15, p 15. http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk: accessed 2017.
2Census. 1911. Scotland. Rutherglen. 654/11/24, p. 24 http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk: accessed 23 October 2017.
3Census. 1891. Scotland. Glasgow. 644/3 24/6, p. 6. http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk: accessed 11 December 2017.
4Monumental Inscriptions. Scotland. Rutherglen cemetary, Rutherglen. 03 Feb 1932. ROSS, William. https://billiongraves.com/grave/William-Ross/12868728: accessed 10 December 2017.
5Marriages (CR) Scotland. Bridgeton, Glasgow. ROSS, William and HALLIDAY, Alice. 644/1 265/34, p. 133. http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk: accessed 2017.
6Deaths (CR) Scotland. Rutherglen, Lanark. 3 February 1932. ROSS, William. 654/34. http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk: accessed 10 December 2017.
8Census. 1930. United States. Hampton Township, Allegheny, Pennsylvania. http://www.ancestry.ca: accessed 2017.
9Deaths (CR) Scotland. Rutherglen, Lanark. 23 August 1900. ROSS, Halliday. 654/269. http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk: accessed 2017.
10Deaths (CR) Scotland. Rutherglen, Lanark. 9 July 1901. ROSS, James. 654/442. http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk: accessed 2017.
11Marriages (CR) Scotland. Rutherglen, Lanark. 24 February 1937. PATTIE, Robert and Ross, Jessie. 654/54. http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk: accessed 2018.
12Deaths (CR) Scotland. Rutherglen, Lanark. 6 December 1964. ROSS, Annie. 654/200. http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk: accessed 2018.
13Deaths (CR) Scotland. Rutherglen, Lanark. 7 May 1950. ROSS, Alice. 654/136. http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk: accessed 2018.
15Directories. Scotland (1886) Register of Parliamentary Votes, Burgh of Glasgow, 1885-1886. P.35 Collection: The Mitchel Library, Special Collections. http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 6 September 2018.
16Ross, Brian. (2018) Ancestry. Email to Kathie Ross, 30 September.
17Corp of Commissionaires Log Book, [as searched by ] Sollesse, Diz. Corp Security Archives. [information received via email] 19 June 2022.
18Delavoye, Alex M. (1880) Records of the 90th regiment, Perthshire Light Infantry : with roll of officers from 1795 to 1880. London: Richardson & Co. https://www.forgottenbooks.com/en/readbook/Recordsofthe90thRegimentPerthshireLightInfantry_10488378#1 : accessed 19 June 2022.
19The South Africa Medal (1877) Roll. Forces War Records. Collection: Justmedals Victorian and 19th Century rolls. https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk : accessed 19 June 2022.
20A Happy Retirement, Newspaper unknown. Title of article “A Happy Retirement”. ROSS, Charles. Retirement 01 January 1962.