James Traynor

Joint memorial with W. Campbell, C. Francis & J. W. Mackay (q.v.):

45010 Private J. Traynor The Cameronians (Sco. Rif.) 10.2.1919, U338.

On this memorial are recorded the names of those members of His Majesty’s Forces who gave their lives for their country in the Great War 1914-1918 and are buried in this cemetery but whose graves are not marked by separate headstones.

U338 is the reference to the location of Traynor’s actual grave in the southern half of the main cemetery.

CWGC: Private J. Traynor, 16th Bn Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), Service Number 45010.  U338

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This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 26-29b.-Campbell-MacKay-Francis-Traynor-1024x768.jpg

According to his death certificate James Traynor died in Oakbank War Hospital in Glasgow on 10 February 1919 from influenza (7 days) and pneumonia.  He was 19, his usual residence was 65 Thistle Street, Edinburgh, and he was the son of Michael Traynor, cleansing supervisor (deceased) and Mary Traynor M.S. Traynor. This last fact seemed a little suspicious but not impossible, and as James’s death was registered by an Orderly at the hospital, rather than by a family member, it might have been a simple error due to lack of information.

On the face of it, James’s story was looking fairly typical of the sad stories of many others who served in the armed forces during World War 1 only to die during the 1918-19 flu epidemic.  It was only when trying to find James’s birth that problems became evident.

The CWGC website did not include much information but Bereavement Services at Mortonhall checked the list of burials in lair U338 which showed that James’s father, Michael Traynor, was also buried there, and that he had died at 65 Thistle Street on 22 January 1916, aged 62.  Michael’s death certificate showed he was a Cleansing Overseer, married to Mary Jordan, and his parents were Michael Traynor, general labourer (deceased) and Annie Traynor M.S. Cochrane (deceased).  His death was registered by his son John Traynor, who seemed more likely to know his mother’s maiden surname than the hospital orderly registering James’s death.

James’s first name and service number led to an entry in the index to WW1 Pension Records available on Ancestry which confirmed his mother’s name was Mary and together with the Thistle Street address in the death registrations for James and Michael allowed the family to be traced in the Valuation Rolls on Scotland’s People:  Michael Traynor was listed as the Tenant Occupier of House No 108/A Rose Street in 1905 and House No 65 Thistle Street in 1915.  By 1920 Mrs Mary Traynor was the Tenant Occupier of 65 Thistle Street.

Armed with this information, tracing the family through the censuses was relatively straightforward once allowance had been made for the fact that Traynor had a variety of spellings in the nineteenth century.  The censuses showed that both Michael and Mary Traynor were born in Ireland c. 1855 and that John was their eldest child and James the youngest.  Mary was said to have had ten children of whom five were still living in 1911.  In fact it turned out that she had eleven children, six of whom died in or before 1905.

Looking for James’s birth registration brought investigations to a surprising halt.  There were very few Traynor births in Edinburgh at the right time and most of the names and dates did not match the census information.  There was, however, a baptism record on Scotland’s People for twin boys at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Broughton Street: James and Walter lawful sons of Michael Trainor & Mary Jordan born 23 May, baptised 30 May 1881, and living at 6 Baxter Close (the family’s address in the 1881 census). The sponsors for the two boys included Walter Jordan and James Jordan who were probably Mary’s brothers.  

Another problem was that there was no record of Michael Traynor marrying Mary Jordan.  In view of the spelling problems with Traynor, it seemed sensible to look for a Mary Jordan marrying a Michael.  This produced the marriage on 24 August 1877 at St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, Cowgate, after banns, of Michael Corcoran (Mason’s labourer, bachelor, aged 22, residing at 98 Cowgate, son of John Corcoran, mason’s labourer {deceased} & Winifred Corcoran M.S. Trainor) and Mary Jordan (spinster, 22, also residing at 98 Cowgate, daughter of Charles Jordan, mason’s labourer, & Catherine Jordan M.S. Jordon). The marriage was performed by Edward J Hannah and the witnesses were Francis Rourke and Ann Jordan.  Michael, Mary and the witnesses all signed with a cross.

Further delving revealed that Mary’s parents were Charles Jordan and Catherine Jardine and that the births of Michael and Mary’s children had been registered as Corcoran rather than Traynor, as had the deaths of the twins, James and Walter, in 1881.  Armed with the Corcoran surname, it turned out that one of the twins’ elder brothers, Michael, had been born on 18 July and baptised at St Mary’s R.C. Cathedral on 27 July 1879, as the son of Michael Corcoran and Mary Jordan with Walter and Catherine Jardine as the sponsors.  However, when he died in 1882 aged 3, his death was registered as Michael Traynor.

So there was a very confused and confusing family:  with one exception the children’s births were consistently registered as Corcoran, beginning with John in 1877 and ending with our James in 1899, but the family used Traynor/Trainer/Trayner in all the censuses.  The recent addition of more R.C. records to the Findmypast website has enabled the baptisms of the other children to be traced and again with one exception they were baptised as Corcoran.  The exception was Mary (1889-92) whose birth was registered as Mary Cochrane and who was baptised at The Sacred Heart of Jesus, Lauriston Street, as Maria Cochrane. The deaths of three of the four children who died before 1900 were registered as Corcoran – the twins in 1881 and Mary, who died of Catarrhal Pneumonia in the Sick Children’s Hospital in 1892 aged 3½.  The fourth death, another daughter Mary, born in 1896, was registered as Mary Cochrane when she died in 1897 aged 1.  After 1900, however, the family settled down and consistently used the surname Traynor, beginning with the death of Michael Traynor (1891-1905) being registered as Traynor.

There was also the problem that Michael Traynor or Corcoran’s parents were said to be John Corcoran, mason’s labourer, and Winifred Corcoran M.S. Trainor when he married but Michael Traynor, general labourer and Annie Traynor M.S. Cochrane when he died.  Were Michael’s parents in fact married and should he have been a Traynor or a Corcoran or even a Cochrane?  

Both Michael Traynor or Corcoran and Mary Jordan were born in Ireland c.1855, too early for any official records.  Michael appears to have moved from Ireland to Scotland in the 1870s as he has not been identified in the 1871 census when he might have been found helpfully with other family members.  Mary was living in the Cowgate in 1871 with her parents, brothers and sister and her sister was born in St Giles registration district in 1866 so the Jordan side of the family had moved to Scotland by the mid-1860s.  

James Traynor’s birth registration as James Corcoran showed that he was born at 3 Jamaica Street on 1 May 1899, the son of Michael Corcoran, Scavenger, & Mary Corcoran M.S. Jardine, who had married in Edinburgh on 24 August 1877.  He was baptised at St Mary’s R.C. Cathedral on 10 May 1899 as James lawful son of Michael Corcoran & Mary Jardine with James & Anna Bella Jardine as his sponsors.  In 1901 and 1911 he was listed as James Traynor and was at home with his parents in Jamaica Street in 1901 and Thistle Street in 1911.  No information has been found about his army service other than what is available on the CWGC website and the memorial in the Grange Cemetery.  His brother Charles was also at home in 1911 aged 17 and was described as ‘in the army’ but no further trace has been found of him.  John Traynor (1877-1937) served in the navy as a stoker 1897-1907, and married Catherine Paterson; they had a son, yet another Michael (1910-76), who registered his father’s death.