Kirkcaldy family bids to discover truth behind mystery death

Francis Funkie and his wife Janet Keddie who worked for the Haig family on their Windygates estate
Francis Funkie and his wife Janet Keddie who worked for the Haig family on their Windygates estate

A Kirkcaldy grandmother who has been tracing her family tree, has been left perplexed by a mystery in her interesting family’s past.

While looking into her past with her cousin Margaret, Sandra Collins of the town’s Davaar Drive, discovered close links between her descendants and the Haig family of Windygates, of which famous WW1 Field Marshal Douglas Haig, was a member.

Her great, great, great grandfather Francis Funkie worked as head gamekeeper for the family at their estate in Windygates, now Cameron Hospital and its grounds, while his daughter Janet was the family nurse and stories have been passed down over the generations of her younger sister Euphemia taking the toddler Douglas and his sister out for pony rides in paniers strapped to the pony’s saddle.

But it is the mystery of what happened to Francis Funkie’s father back in the early 1800s which has really captured Sandra and her family’s imaginations.

“It was while we were looking into Francis and the role he played on the Haig Estate that we came across a very brief mention of his father in the Fife News.

“We had always been told he’d been murdered, but we have never managed to get to the bottom of what exactly happened,” explained Sandra, who grew up in Methil and moved to Kirkcaldy when she married.

“The newspaper carried an account of Francis’ death, as he worked as the head gamekeeper on the estate, and was held in high regard by his employers.

“It goes on to mention a bit about his background, stating ‘He was of German origin, and regarding his ancestors many a stirring tale might be told – none moreso, perhaps, than that attending the death of his father, who unhappily was shot in Glasgow when wearing the uniform of his master, a military officer, who was held in low estimation by the regiment to which he belonged.’

“We believe his father Kristoffer may have been sent out as a decoy, wearing his master’s uniform to draw them off the trail of his master, but despite trying to find out more at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, we have been unable to do so, and it’s a real mystery,” said Sandra.

“We know that he was born in Germany in Westfallen, but we are not sure of the exact year in which he was shot, so we haven’t been able to find out more, which is a pity, as it’s a great story!”