IN EARLY July 1879, a young buxom woman from Banff arrived at Stirling railway station.

She accosted the station police officer and asked him for directions to a good lodging house where she could stay for a few days.

Being a helpful gentleman, he said she could stay at his house.

He enquired about the purpose of her visit and she told him she had come down to the area under a set of very unusual circumstances.

It was the evening of Wednesday, July 9, and as the two of them sat in the officer’s house, she told him her story.

She said her name was Sarah Booth and that she had received a letter from Alva the previous day.

It was from an anonymous source informing her that the father of her child, William Eadie, had been married the Friday before and was to emigrate to America with his new wife the following day, the 10th.

Angered by the letter, she had gathered a bag and headed straight to Stirling in order to take out a warrant against him as he had paid no maintenance towards their child.

The officer told her he would do all he could to help her.

The next morning Booth went to a local solicitor’s office while the officer kept a watchful eye on the trains heading from the Hillfoots into the station.

At this time, the Alva line stopped in the village as the local estate owner James Johnstone had refused permission for it to be built on his land and continue on to Tillicoultry and beyond.

The train arrived at 10.30 and it did not take him long to notice luggage with the name ‘William Eadie, passenger to New York’ tagged onto it.

He boarded the train and began his search for the couple. He found them in the third class carriage, all loved up and with eyes only for each other.

Feeling that he alone would be unable to apprehend them, he jumped back onto the platform and watched the train leave, bound for Glasgow, the couple remaining onboard, oblivious to what was happening.

The officer then rushed to the solicitor’s office in Barnton Street where he relayed his findings.

A fugae warrant, one issued against anyone who owes money to a creditor but is in danger of flight in Scotland, was taken out against Eadie and rubber stamped by the local Sheriff.

A sheriff officer, along with Booth, caught the next train for Glasgow.

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser:

ON ARRIVAL in the city of Glasgow, the name William Eadie meant nothing to the staff at Queen Street railway station.

They suggested they take the little steamer from the Broomielaw, which was about to depart for Greenock with passengers who were going to embark on a ship which was to take them to America.

As they took their positions up on the bridge between the paddles, the bell rang, and the Eadies, walking arm in arm, came across the gangway onto the deck of the steamer.

Booth spotted then and cried out to Sheriff Officer Harley, ‘Look, that’s the man!’

Harley rushed down to the man in question, tapping him on the shoulder, and asking him if he was indeed William Eadie.

When he confirmed he was, he asked what it was about. Harley pointed to Booth, and when Eadie saw her, a wave of realisation swept over him.

The quay was crowded but soon the young man was in handcuffs being led away. His wife could not believe what was happening and asked him ‘Oh Willie, what have you done?’

All four headed back to Stirling on the first train they could get. At the Sheriff Court Eadie stood in front of the Sheriff and acknowledged Booth’s child was his own.

He also admitted he had not paid any maintenance to her for either herself or the child.

He was imprisoned but the next day, an uncle of his wife’s arrived from Alva, and following negotiations with Booth, paid £25 in lieu of all claims. However, it was not over yet.

The money was about to be paid when another woman appeared and claimed he was the father of her child, too, and had not paid her a penny.

She was also from Alva, and although her child was seven years old, she had heard he was leaving for America so had decided to come forward and throw herself into Eadie’s mix.

In the interim, she had married but still wanted to be compensated before he left. She felt, like the woman from the north-east, it was only fair he contribute to her child’s upbringing.

This news made his wife’s uncle furious. He refused to now pay the Banff woman her compensation due to the scandalous way Eadie had conducted himself over the years.

As a result of the non-payment, Eadie was once more thrown back into jail.

Meanwhile, the Eadies’ luggage found its way to America. Most likely it was returned to Scotland on the next boat.