Downie Family


Agnes Sorbie was born 26th October 1863 in Stonehouse. She was the eldest of Thomas Sorbie and Jane Robertson's nine children and the granddaughter of Andrew Sorbie and Jane Millar; married 14th November 1841. Andrew, born 1814 was the 5th son of Thomas Sorbie and Janet Thomson, from whom many of today's Sorbies are now descended.

 Thomas and Jane moved with their family from Stonehouse to Lesmahagow around 1868 and then finally settled in Blantyre in 1880. It was here that Agnes married Robert Downie on 28th September 1883. He was a coal miner and had come to Scotland from his native Ireland, although the exact place of origin is uncertain.  Born in 1854, Robert was the son of Thomas Downie and Elizabeth McAllister. 

Agnes and Robert had five children, Jean, Elizabeth, Thomas, Helen and Agnes; all born in Blantyre. Thomas, the only boy was born on May 19th 1888 and spent his early life growing up at the family home of 5, Calder Street. Most of the Victorian housing in this area has been demolished, but the local school is still used by present day children

Calder Street school in Feb 2001

Thomas married Margaret Irvine in Livingstone Church Hall, Blantyre on 14th July 1908. Margaret was a Domestic Servant from the neighbouring town of Hamilton. They had four children; two girls and two boys including Francis Irvine Downie in November 1921 who was born in Broompark Road.

In 1929 the decision as made to emigrate to North America. Thomas went first, sailing from Glasgow on the passenger liner, 'S.S. Athenia' which landed in Quebec, Canada on 27th May. Incidentally, ten years later,  this vessel had the distinction of being the first sunk in World War Two. It was torpedoed by U-boat 'U30' in the North Atlantic on 3rd September 1939, only hours after war had been declared. 112 lives were lost out of 1,103 civilians aboard, in what seems to have been a case of mistaken identity. 

Margaret Downie and three children followed the following year . They sailed on the ship 'Letitia' that landed in Canada on 8th June 1930. It seems they made straight for Toronto were Thomas was waiting for them. Their eldest child Isabelle, now aged 19, remained in Blantyre and married a local man. It appears they later emigrated with to the U.S.A. and settled in Phoenix, Arizona.

In June 1941, Francis married Agnes Sommerville in Toronto which was Agnes' birthplace. They had two children, Mary Ann and Frank Leslie. Agnes Downie died in 1989 and Francis in 1996, both in Ontario, Canada.

Francis and Agnes Downie

Frank Downie, who became a salesman, married Diane Lillian Deeth also in Toronto, on 23rd April 1973. They had three daughters; Nicole, Michelle and Lindsay.

Frank Downie born 1948

 Nicole married Timothy O'Connor, who himself has Scots/Irish ancestry, on 8th July 1995 in Brampton, Ontario. They have two girls, Emily Nicole and Faith Margaret. Nicole is an active member of our 'Sorbie e-mail group' and extremely interested in her Downie lineage. She is in regular contact with Debi Sewell in Maryland U.S.A. who is also a descendant of the Sorbie/Downie line and is her 3rd Cousin.

Nicole and Family - Pictured in 2003