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Birth and Buckhaven

Thursday, 26 November 1891 was no ordinary day. In the United States of America, forty-four states were marking Thanksgiving with a holiday. In Europe, miners in the large coal-mining area around Lens and Loos-en-Gohelle, in the Pas-de-Calais region of northern France, continued their dispute with their owners over wages. In the newly formed police burgh of Buckhaven, Methil and Innerleven, schools were experiencing large numbers of absentees during a nationwide epidemic of influenza.

Attr: National Library of Scotland Maps at https: //maps.nls.uk

Robert Birth Registration 1891 – Attr: Crown Copyright, National Records of Scotland

Robert Anderson Dunsire lived in a family of two boys and three girls at Station Road. His older brother, Thomas, was a coalminer when the 1891 census took place. His sisters Katie and Lizzie were at school, and Bella and Grace were still at home, so wee Robert had many loving, caring hands and attention around him.

1891 Census - Attr: Crown Copyright, National Records of Scotland

The Police Burgh of Buckhaven, Methil and Innerleven was on the cusp of exciting growth. The first meeting of the burgh commissioners took place on Monday, 29 June 1891. When the police burgh was formed its population was stated as 6,247.

Over the next twenty years the population grew dramatically. By the 1901 Census, the population was around 8,000 and by 1911, it was the third largest burgh in Fife, with a population of 14,813. The major driver for this population growth was the expansion of mining in the area, with miners coming from Lanarkshire, for example, to areas like Denbeath, where new housing was built by the Wemyss Coal Company. The name of the burgh was not to be shortened to the more familiar name of Buckhaven and Methil till October 1923.

There were further additions to Robert’s siblings in Buckhaven with a sister, Margaret Warrender Dunsire, born in 1893, and John Anderson Dunsire also born at Randolph Street, Buckhaven, in 1897.

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