Interpreting Cultural Sources Stage 1 Research – KINNEAR -03.01.15

Through my research at looking at what my personal heritage is, I have looked for someone who I may have inherited skills, mannerisms, personality traits from. Not always intentionally, yet I can see that that is what I have become more aware of in what I need in order to understand who I am. I have mentioned my initial experiences of learning about William Kitson the potter. Great Grand-Fathers seem to have initially more that I can relate to that other members I have found out about. My Paternal Great Grand-Father was an inventor. James Kinnear was a Scotsman who’s Scottish lineage goes back hundreds of years. He came to Sheffield, South Yorkshire in about 1890 but why? I can only see that as an inventor of artificial limbs and any other body parts that may have been lost, the appeal of Sheffield, stainless steel could have been a component he would have wanted to explore. He was an inventor of great note and in the Edinburgh International Exhibition of Industry 1886, where he exhibited received ‘the highest medal and diploma of merit, plus other awards in 1882, 1887 and 1888’. He in fact sold all his exhibited prosthesis to Aberdeen University to Regious Professor Surgery, Dr Alexander Ogston, who became the Surgeon to the Queen in Scotland. Kinnear was obviously of a creative mind and I know stories of his eye matching – painting an artificial eye to match exactly the natural eye of the patient – was a source of pride in our family. Artistic tendencies which oddly I have found a love of painting eyes, my predecessors skills I didn’t know about until someone saw my obsession and commented about great Gran-Father Kinnear.  I have also been obsessed from childhood with inventing something, having a set of patent forms in the drawer ready for when the muse arrives. Again, not until my  40’s did I know of Great Gran-fathers success in inventing. I wrote to the Intellectual Property Office in Cardiff who hold records of recorded patents and she could find hundreds linked to Kinnear but all had lapsed so they had no drawings or details of what in fact his prolific inventing produced. I am going to write to Aberdeen University to see if I can find any information from them. My curiosity is piqued. The man seemed to have the world at his fingertips yet I know that his wife and his daughter spent some time in a Sheffield workhouse, penniless. He died in 1901 and sometime between then and 1911 is when they found their fortunes changed and penniless. I am at present looking at which Workhouse they could have been sent to and the local records office in Sheffield reopens next week – after the Christmas/New year holidays and I can take my research to them for help. It makes you realise how fragile our lives are. Their fortunes turned on the tide and left them in dire straits unable to support themselves. In later census reports I see they both worked as servants for families, Helena, James’s wife working for a Manufacturing Agent residing in Sheffield.  Whilst there story is rich in success and tragedy I do feel their lives to be far more tumultuous than the Kitson family. Kiston’s life was as an outsider and harsh, yet filled with love. In contrast the Kinnears have success yet I do not feel the family be warm and loving. My Mother’s memory is of my Grand-Mother Elizabeth, James’s daughter being timid and often beaten by my father. Although Elizabeth was a small frail framed woman, she did in fact live until 103. I never saw her from the age of 8, when I became estranged from my Father. I am saddened that I never got to truly know who she was. nor ask her about her life story.

Their story unfolds.

james Kinnear

james Kinnear

Helena kinnear

Helena kinnear


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