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[for James’ parents and siblings see page ‘ORMSBY’ at top of screen]

James Muir ORMSBY, born on 06 June 1901 at Brickrow Farm, St. Quivox, Ayshire, Scotland was the fifth child and first son born to John ORMSBY and his wife Helen Ramsay MUIR.  The choice of the name ‘James’ easily satisfied Scottish naming traditions as the baby’s father’s father was James [James ORMSBY] as was his mother’s father [James MUIR]. Finally a son – the heir apparent!

Little less than a year before James’ birth, on 30 July 1900 at Brickrow Farm, his three (3) year old sister Mary Manson Muir ORMSBY died of scarlet fever, a contagious childhood disease.  At the time of James’ birth, the Ormsby household was filled with four young children under the age of six (6), likely the parents were concerned that more of their brood would be felled by the dread disease.

Unfortunately James’ life was cut short, although not by scarlet fever. He died on 26 July 1902 at Brickrow Farm when he was just over a year old. Cause of death was ‘tabes mesenterica’ (duration two months) and meningitis (duration three days). The Orsmby family was without an heir.

Right: Cause of death from James’ death registration.

Tabes mesenterica is a wasting disease of childhood, accompanied by fever, which can be caused by drinking milk from cows that have been infected by tuberculosis. Mandatory pasteurisation laws were not passed in Scotland until the 1980s.

Why had James died, probably from drinking infected cows milk, when the other Ormsby children escaped this fate? Was James the only one to drink cow’s milk? Or just from that particular cow, although it is highly unlikely that only one cow in a herd would be infected. Was James not being nursed by his mother? Perhaps his mother Helen was not able to nurse her baby James? This situation could have added the emotion of personal responsibility as well as grief to a young mother who in the space of two years had lost two babies.

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