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Issue 38 - Annie Lennox

History & Heritage

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Scotland Magazine Issue 38
April 2008

 

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Annie Lennox

Annie Lennox has been a star for 30 years, the latest in a long line of fine Scottish singers. Dominic Roskrow reports

When Annie Lennox burst out of the punk rock scene with The Tourists there was little indication that she would join the elite group of fine singers from Scotland. But it’s well possible that had she not joined a rock band, she would have accomplished success in classical music.

But it was rock that called her, and after an initial burst of success she went on to form the internationally-acclaimed Eurythmics with former partner Dave Stewart, and she has since established herself as one of Scotland’s greatest ever musical stars.

She was born as Ann Lennox in Aberdeen on Christmas Day 1954, an only child. Her father, Thomas Allison Lennox was a boilermaker and her mother, previously Dorothy Farquharson, had been a cook before her marriage. Annie showed prodigious musical talent at school and at the age of 17, left her home town after gaining a coveted place in The Royal Academy of Music in London. Despite being considered a very able student, Annie never felt entirely at home in that bastion of classical studies and did not complete the course. Her success lay in a different direction. But where did this musicality come from?

None of her ancestors were professional musicians. Thomas Lennox was also an Aberdonian by birth, but his father, Archibald, although domiciled in the town by the time of his 1924 marriage, was originally from Lanarkshire. The son of a butcher, Archibald was born in Bonkle in the parish of Cambusnethan and the known Lennox line goes back through the generations to James Lennox, a farmer in Glassford whose birth, although unrecorded, had taken place around 1760.

The Ferguson line was well rooted in Aberdeenshire rural life. Annie’s maternal grandfather, William Ferguson (1895-1961) hailed from Braemar, and her grandmother, Dora Paton, was a native of Peterhead. When they married in 1929, William was a gamekeeper and Dora was a dairymaid.

As far as is known, William Ferguson was the only child of George Ferguson, who was employed as a saw miller at Invercauld, Braemar, and his wife, Sophia Farquharson. A slight hint of deception lies here, as George described himself as a 44 year old bachelor when he married Sophia at Corgarff in 1895, when in fact he was a widower and she was his second wife.

He died in 1931; his death certificate showing that he had been married firstly to Lizzie Clark. He himself was illegitimate so perhaps was accustomed to secrecy but illegitimacy did not carry much of a stigma in that area in those times. In some circles it was even considered a positive asset to marry a woman who had living proof that she was capable of producing children who could provide cheap labour on the family croft.

Little is known of George Ferguson’s father, the earlier William, but his mother, a poultry maid named Isabella McHardy, never married. Her death, at the age of 83 was quaintly ascribed to an ‘attack of gastritis due to over feeding.’ She came from Tomintoul, which vies with Wanlockhead as being the highest village in Scotland. It was here where her son, George was brought up by his maternal uncle, Charles McHardy, and his wife, Ann. This couple had three daughters and at least three sons, and a headstone in Braemar churchyard which records the family shows that one, Alexander, died in Africa aged 30 years. Charles and Ann lived until 1920 and 1926 respectively.

When Annie Lennox first left Aberdeen and went to live in London, did she know that her father’s maternal grandparents also had connections with that area? Charles Henderson and Alice Manners had been married in West Ealing in 1890 and it is believed that Alice may have been English.

Charles was a victim of heart disease at the relatively young age of 41 when his daughter, Jeannie, was just two years old.

Alice remarried the also widowed George Duncan, in Aberdeen in 1912. This marriage took place in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Aberdeen, the episcopalianism being perhaps a legacy of her English mother.

Annie Lennox is now based in England so that particular family line has come full circle.

Contact This article has been prepared with the help of Scottish Roots of Forth Street Edinburgh, who undertook the search for Scotland Magazine.

For further details on genealogy email: stuart@scottishroots.com