Nance Lauder
Nance Lauder (age 30)
Hamilton Scotland, 1903
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Lady Nance Lauder was born "Ann Limerick" on June 12, 1873, at 10 Portland Place, Hamilton, Scotland, the oldest of 17 children born to James Limerick, coalminer, and Mary Kerr.  Fourteen of the children survived into adulthood.

In the family bible she's listed as "Annie" Vallance. In the 1891 Census she appears as "Annie L. Vallance, daughter of James L. Vallance, Underground Colliery Manager".  Her age is 17, and her occupation is noted as weaver.

At the time of her marriage Annie Vallance was a small, slender woman, about 5' 1" in height.  Vallance family recollections describe her as having beautiful, red hair ... although Sir Harry only goes so far as to mention her "mass of dark curls" in his autobiography, Roamin' In The Gloamin:

"I early fell under the spell of two bonnie blue eyes and a mass of dark curls when the former flashed a look at me from a Salvations Army "ring" in the Black's Well one Sunday afternoon.  I was smitten on the spot.  I was captured and enraptured.  It was love at first sight -- first, last and only.  Annie Vallance -- Nance!  If ever a bonnie lassie knocked a fellow "tapsalteerie" fourteen-year-old Annie Vallance did me!  I couldn't eat the first night I saw her, I couldn't sleep, and the next day I couldn't work.
Nance's father,
James "Jamie" Vallance
Hamilton Scotland, 1903
I managed to get an introduction through one of her young brothers (Tom).  To consolidate my position, so to speak, I got a job at Number 7 Pit in the Quarter, a village close to Hamilton.  The underground manager was Nance's father, Jamie Vallance.  He was a stern, dignified but straight-forward man.  No liberties were tolerated by "Jamuck".  For months I did everything I could to earn Jamie's good opinion.  Nance would now be about seventeen and I about twenty.  I was determine to get married."

According to research conducted by Debrett Ancestry, official records in Hamilton Scotland show that Annie's parents (James Limerick Vallance, age 18, and Mary Kerr, age 16) were married on February 21, 1873. However this date is contradicted on the birth certificate of their son James -- Annie's younger brother / my great grandfather -- which notes the date of marriage as February 19 ... two days earlier. Either way, with Annie's birth occurring on June 12th, the same year as her parents' wedding, it seems likely that Annie's mother was four or five months pregnant when she married James Limerick!
Nance Lauder, about 1920
There's another discrepancy if you haven't already noticed. The future Lady Lauder was born with the surname "Limerick", but by age 17 had adopted the surname "Vallance".

Debrett researchers uncovered, but did not solve, a 100-year-old mystery with the discovery of the family's name-change from Limerick to Vallance. The circumstances surrounding the change are still unclear, but there are several possible explanations:

Ann's father, James, was born on 17 May 1855, the son of Thomas Limerick, handloom weaver, and Catherine Swanstone. Very little is known about James' parents. A "family history" compiled in the 1960's by Annie's younger brother Matthew suggests that Thomas Limerick was drafted into military service and died in the Crimean War, even going so far as to place him in the famous "Charge of the Light Brigade" regiment. Another account has Thomas surviving as a prisoner of war, relocating to Russia, and starting a new family there: the Vallenski's. Both scenarios are highly unlikely, as Thomas Vallance does not appear in any military records from the time. Regardless, it seems he was either dead or missing by about 1855.

Even less is known of James' widowed mother, Catherine Swanstone. She was born around 1829, possibly in Glasgow. Records provided by Gregory Lauder-Frost suggest she died of consumption on August 15, 1863 in Hamilton, age 34, leaving behind three young children: Thomas (age 13), James (age 11) and Nellie (age 4).

This is where the story becomes hazy. The three Limerick children may have been "adopted" by a family named Vallance, taking their surname. Their paternal grandmother's maiden name had been Vallance, so the host family may even have been related, perhaps an uncle.

At the time of his marriage to Mary Kerr in 1873 James was still using the surname "Limerick". However, by the time his fifth child (my great grandfather) was born in 1880, birth records note the father's name as James Limerick "Vallance". It's a mystery that may never be solved.

Ann's father James was a miner, eventually rising to the position of "coal mine manager" at Pit Number 7, Quarter Colliery, near Hamilton.  He was known as "Jamie" or "Jamuck", and he was young Harry Lauder's employer.
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James Vallance died January 2, 1936 at Wellington Cottage, Auchamore Road, Dunoon of "cardio vascular degeneration" and is buried near Glenbranter, the former estate of Sir Harry Lauder.

Ann's mother Mary Kerr was born 21 April 1856 in Hamilton, the daughter of William Kerr (b. 1831) and Ann McMunn (b. 1834). On 21 February 1873, age 19, she married James Limerick. The wedding took place at 10 Hope Street in Hamilton. She died March 11, 1937 at Dunoon, Argyle, Scotland and is also buried at Glenbranter.

Ann Lauder died on July 31, 1927.  According to her younger brother Matt, she had undergone surgery to repair damage originally sustained while giving birth to her only child, John.  Following the surgery she contracted pneumonia and died age 54.

She is buried with her parents near Glenbranter estate.
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