Nittingshill Cemetery opened in 1888, some ten years after Quarriers Village was established.

On Thursday 26 September 2019, a service was held to dedicate grave markers for children buried in Nittingshill Graveyard in Quarriers Village.

Quarriers is pleased that grave markers in Nittingshill Graveyard in Quarriers Village are now in place. 155 grave markers have been installed to complement the existing memorial plaque. We are very grateful to former residents and descendants who have assisted by sharing their views and memories.

Having been approached by a group representing former residents asking for stones to be in place, Quarriers made an early commitment to putting grave markers in place as we agreed it was the right thing to do.

Following this, Quarriers undertook a ground penetration survey, lengthy and extensive research of our own archives, Scotland’s People and other national records to back up historical handwritten records. We consulted with descendants and former residents as well as specialists in regard to cemeteries, their upkeep and appropriate memorials.

Throughout this research we also found that the details of three children were not included on the plaque. When we discovered this, we took the decision to commemorate them in the same appropriate and respectful way and so included their names on the markers. Now that all markers are in place, work will start to include them on the plaque.

In speaking to descendants, former residents and staff about this sensitive and emotional subject, their recollections of the graveyard differed, as did some of their hopes about how this might best be improved. However, our guiding principle throughout has been that grave markers should be, and are now, in place on the site of each child’s burial.

Nittingshill is a church graveyard in Quarriers Village that opened in 1881, just a few years after Quarriers Village was established. Children who were cared for by Quarriers could be buried there, alongside William Quarrier, his family and local residents. Children could also be buried by their family in their own local area. From 1881 until 1971, 335 children were buried in Nittingshill Graveyard.

The following address was read at the ceremony.

Today is an important day. Today we remember each and every child buried here in Nittingshill. 

We pay tribute to all of them, and want to share the stories of the first three children laid to rest here in Quarriers Village some 131 years ago, just ten years after Quarriers Village was established and when Mount Zion Church was newly built: William Sinclair, age three; William Kean, age 10; and and Sarah McLeod, age seven.

At just three years old, when his father William and mother Jane had both died, and family were not able to take him in, William Sinclair came to Quarriers on 30 December 1887. William died on 3 April 1888.

The eldest of four children, William Kean came to Quarriers at the age of nine on 29 April 1887, along with his sisters Jessie (seven), Jeanie (five), and brother Thomas (three).  Their father William, a brewery carter, expressed a strong desire for the children to be placed at Quarriers. William died on 14 May 1888 after a short illness. His brother and sisters were migrated to Canada; Jessie in 1880, Jane in 1882 and Thomas in 1884.

Sarah McLeod was the middle child of John, a baker from Skye and Mary from Dingwall.  Sarah came to Quarriers in 1887 along with sister Bella (10), and brother Archie (five). Sarah died of heart disease on 18 May 1888. Bella returned to her mother and Archie was migrated to Canada.

We’ll never know, but we hope they were friends who perhaps played together in the village, knew each other from school and who now rest in peace.

It has been a privilege to read their stories and get to know them.

We urge you today to read the names of all the children here, wonder about their short lives and remember them.  May they know they are not forgotten.

We also like to think that William Quarrier himself, buried here beside us, watches over all his children, laid here to rest.

Remembering those who went to Canada from the Orphan Homes of Scotland

Between 1870 and 1933, a total of 80,000 children moved to Canada through migration programmes, with around 7,000 children coming from The Orphan Homes of Scotland. It is estimated that there are around 250,000 descendants of these emigrants living in Canada today.

To remember those who moved to Canada from the Orphan Homes of Scotland, maple trees were planted in Quarriers Village, and two dedicated spaces of remembrance – the Canadian Garden and Maple Grove – were created.