M2/105146 Pte. David Wishart (1884 – 1951)

Tree: WIS0072

David Wishart was born at 20 Commissioner Street in Crieff on 15 July 1884. He was the fifth of seven children of a railway signalman from Marykirk called William, and his wife, Magdalene Carnegie White. David’s mother died when he was four and his father remarried several years later to Maggie Ann Kelly, who was William’s junior by nine years. By 1901 the family had moved to 2 Meadow Place on King Street. At the time David had left school and was working as a general labourer and when he was 21 he married a local domestic servant named Margaret Sommerville on 5 January 1906. Four children (two girls, two boys) were born between 1907 and 1915 and by 1911 David was living with his family at 30 East High Street and working as a baker and grocer’s vanman.

Following the outbreak of war in August 1914 David enlisted in the army in June 1915 and joined the Army Service Corps. He was sent to France on 12 September of that year and served as a chauffeur in Motor Transport. Unfortunately, David’s service papers have not survived, however, trouble was brewing back home with his wife with the situation coming to a head when David returned from the front on leave and made the decision to apply for custody of his children. The local and regional press carried the story, including the following as reported in the Perthshire Advertiser (25 March 1916.)

Sheriff Sym in Perth Sheriff Court has issued an interlocutor in the action brought forward at the instance of David Wishart, private, Army Service Corps, Motor Transport, British Expeditionary Force, at present residing at Pittentian Crossing, Crieff, against Margaret Somerville or Wishart, his wife, residing at Crieff. The pursuer asked the Court to ordain the defender to deliver to the pursuer his four children, at present in the custody of the defender, and, failing her doing so, to grant a warrant to officers of the Court to search for and take possession of the children and deliver them to the pursuer, and to interdict the defender from thereafter molesting or in any way interfering with the pursuer or his children.

The Sheriff finds it necessary that an interim order be made with reference to the care and custody of the children, and that the pursuer has a title to ask such an order; grants warrant to officers of the Court to take possession of the children mentioned on record, and to remove them to a place of care and custody to be pointed out by Mr John Campbell, agent for the pursuer; therein to remain until further orders of the Court; directs that a report as to the children and the suitability of the place of care be put in process within one week after the removal of the children to said place of custody, and such report should be made by Mr G. A. Mackenzie, Inspector of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, at the expense of the pursuer.

In a note, his Lordship states that a husband and father alleging that his wife had been misconducting herself and had neglected the children of the marriage to the suffering and injury desired to have them removed from her care. He produced certain prima facie evidence that he had just reason of complaint as to the state of the children. He was at present with the British Expeditionary Force. He stated that he was recently home of leave that he might give instructions in that matter. The allegations made are denied, and were said to lack specification, and charges were made against the husband himself. What must be done at present, so far as law went, was to remember the position and responsibility of a father as head of his house, and as far as fact and expediency went, to remember that the thing to do was to make an interim order for the safety and health of the children pending a more permanent arrangement when the merits as to custody were more fully inquired into. Had the father been able to be at home still it was thought that he could have arranged for his children without judicial authority.

After the hearing, David’s children were put in the custody of his father. Concerns were raised by Margaret’s advisors as to the suitability of his property for children being that it was so close to the railway, however, the Sheriff overruled these and ordered that they remain with their grandparents until such time as when their father could return from the war and look after them himself. In the meantime, David began divorce proceedings against his wife and was granted this in March 1917. The Perthshire Advertiser reported on the 14th:

Lord Anderson, in the Court of Session yesterday, tried a defended action of divorce by David Wishart, sometime residing at Perth, now of the Motor Transport Army Service Corps, against his wife, Marguerite Sommerville or Wishart, residing at St Fillans.

Pursuer, whose evidence was taken some time ago, stated her married the defender at Crieff in January, 1906. There were four children. Pursuer joined the army in June, 1915, at which time the parties were living in Perth. Defender returned to Crieff, where pursuer alleged she became addicted to drink and led a loose life.

The defender, on record, denied the pursuer’s allegations. His Lordship granted a decree of divorce.

After the armistice, David was demobilised from service on 4 April 1919 and returned to Crieff, where, on 9 October 1920, he remarried his ex-wife who had given birth to another son in July 1919. It is assumed the lad was David’s, and perhaps relations between the couple had thawed considerably in the time between the divorce and the new baby. Curiously, on his birth certificate, it was stated that Margaret had remarried David that year in Stockton-on-Tees which appears to be a way to cover up the fact that the youngster was technically illegitimate.

Two more sons were born in 1921 and 1923 and David worked until retirement as a railway porter. Margaret died in 1948 and David at the Crieff Cottage Hospital on 12 September 1951. He had been living at 56 East High Street and suffering from chronic kidney disease and is buried in the Ford Road Cemetery with his wife and two of their sons.

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