James CH Balmain

and the 

The Balmain Family




Geof Dawson

Kent, England

James Charles Halyburton Balmain was born in Philadelphia, USA in 1853 of Scottish parents.  [Charles J Smith, Edinburgh]

He died, aged 84, on 23 June 1937 in Edinburgh

-  He was widower of Kate Field.

-  His father:  George Balmain, stationer

-  His mother:  Anne Eleanor Balmain  (nťe Halyburton)

[Death Certificate]

Thank you to Geoff Dawson, great grandson of JCH Balmain, who wrote:

"We have a portrait of Kate Field in my parents' house.  I think it was done by JCH.  The portrait is absolutely stunning - she's really beautiful. 

JCH Balmain had two sons and a daughter, Roy, Kenneth and Louise.  Roy was awarded the Military Cross.

We are struggling to find out is the origin of the name Littler.  I am Geoffrey Roy Littler Dawson.

Geoffrey was my grandfather on my fatherís side, Roy was the name of my motherís brother Ė but Littler is the puzzle, although I have a feeling thereís an American connection somewhere."

Geoff Dawson, formerly Edinburgh, now Kent, England:  February 22, 2009


Can anybody suggest the origin of the name 'Littler'?

If you have any suggestions, please email me, then I'll forward your message to Geoff Dawson.

Thank you.    -  Peter Stubbs:  February 22, 2009




Geof Dawson

Kent, England

Geoff Dawson also wrote:

Balmain Family

"I am the great, great grandson of James C H Balmain.  My mother, Eleanor (known to the family as 'Billie'), was his grand daughter.

I am trying to create a family tree and do more research into the background of the family.  My grandmother was Louise who married James Mackay.  They lived at 6 Salisbury Road in Edinburgh.

I would be really interested in any further information you can give me on the Balmain family, web links  Ė  anything which will allow me to build up a detailed family tree."

Geoff Dawson, Kent, England:  February 18+21, 2009

More Information?

If you have any information that you would like to share with Geoff, please email me, then I'll pass it on to him.

Thank you.    -  Peter Stubbs:  February 21, 2009




Bill Banks

Thank you to Bill Banks  for providing more details about JCH Balmain and his family.

Bill wrote:

Balmain Family

"Iím Bill Banks and am researching my wifeís family. My wife, Terry, is the grand-daughter of Kenneth Field Balmain and, therefore, great-grand-daughter of JCH Balmain.

Your web-site notes about JCH Balmain are really interesting and will help with our researches. I was pretty excited to hear that there existed a picture of Kate Field.  Iíll have a look through our family archive material to see if I can find any clues about the origin of 'Littler'."

Further Information

"I can give a bit more factual information about JCH Balmain:

according to the US census records, his father (George) was Scottish (from Edinburgh) but his mother Ann Eleanor (and her mother, Hannah) was English, not Scottish as it says above.

-  JCH Balmain and Kate Field had 5 children, not 3.  The extra two were:

-  a son, George Halyburton.

-   a daughter, Anne Eleanor who married Frank Haliday Allan

All three sons served in WW1. Kenneth was in the RAF and he also served in WW2.  How lucky can one get? He. also. was a talented artist and photographer.

Roy Frederic Balmain MC was a captain in the Royal Field Artillery but died of his wounds, age 23, at Dadizeele near Passendaele on 1 October 1918, just 5 weeks before the war ended."

Bill Banks:  December 4, 2013




Geoff Dawson

Kent, England

Thank you to Geoff Dawson for writing again, giving the results of some of his recent research.

Geoff wrote:

Balmain Family

My Investigations

"I was very interested to read the information on your website from Bill Banks in his Message 3 above.

When I first contacted you in 2009 I had only just started my research.  Since then, I have spent many hours investigating and I now have some further details which answer most of my original queries."

The name, Littler

"My parents were John Littler Dawson and Eleanor Kate Balmain Mackay. The origin of the name 'Littler' comes from my fatherís side of the family.  His great grandmother was Julia Marion Littler (1851-1929)"

Holy Bible

"I have this miniature-sized copy of The Holy Bible (about 10cm by 6cm Ė very small) which was given to me by my grandmother, Louisa Annie Balmain (1887-1967), one of the 5 children of JCH Balmain and Kate Field.

©  Reproduced with acknowledgement to Geoff Dawson, Kent, England

As you can see from this photo, the inside cover has the handwritten inscription:

'George Halyburton Balmain from Mother. August 24th 1906'.

I can only guess the reason for the gift Ė it was just after his 16th birthday Ė but 'Mother' is of course Kate Field, so this is a handwritten note from Kate Field, my great-grandmother to one of her children."

Roy Frederic Balmain

"Roy Frederic Balmain was, I believe, actually christened Robert Frederick Balmain Ė the spelling changes seem to have occurred after he joined the Services.

I have his awards, including his MC, and in addition, also a hand-written letter from his CO to James CH Balmain offering condolences and explaining the circumstances of the action which resulted in his death.  Itís a moving tribute."

Anne Eleanor Balmain

"As Bill Banks correctly says, Anne Eleanor Balmain, who was one of the 5 children of James CH Balmain and Kate Field, married Frank Halliday Allan.

They had two children, one of whom, Eleanor, still lives in Edinburgh. She has been a fantastic help to me in answering numerous questions with regard to the family history and lending me various documents. Iím hoping to visit her later this year as she tells me she has dozens of original photographs, many of which she believes may have been taken by James CH Balmain."

Geoff Dawson, Kent, England:  January 14, 2014



Geof Dawson

Kent, England

Geoff Dawson, great grandson of James C H Balmain  wrote again, telling me:

James C H Balmain

Family History

"Iíve recently retired and so have now put a little time aside into starting the research into my family tree.  Iíve started on my motherís side which is Mackay / Balmain.

-  Iíve found out a lot of interesting information about the Balmain side which, if youíre interested, Iíll be more than happy to share with you, once Iíve tidied everything up into some logical order.

- I've found and have copies of the marriage records and death certificate for James C H Balmain but at the moment Iíve drawn a total blank on his birth.

- I know his parents were George Balmain and Ann Eleanor Halyburton. (I know that she was born in Scotland in 1809, but that's as far as Iíve got.

- You say on your website James CH Balmain was born 1853 in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA but at the moment all my searches in the USA records to find confirmation and details of his birth there have drawn a blank. Iíve also Ė just in case Ė searched the Scottish records and again drawn a blank.

-  I'd like to find documents relating to the time James CHB spent in the USA  This is the last piece of information I need to complete the Balmain family tree so you can appreciate Iím really keen to try and find it."

Geoff Dawson, Kent, England:  22 January, 2013

Reply to Geoff Dawson

If you know of any information relating to the birth of James C H Balmain or to the time that he spent in USA, please email me to let me know, then I'll give you Geoff Dawson's email address so that you'll be able to contact him with the news.

Thank you.

 Peter Stubbs:  February 21, 2009



Geof Dawson

Kent, England

Thank you to Geoff Dawson for writing again about a year after sending his Message 5 above.  Here, Geoff has sent 4 photos from his Balmain family collection.

Geoff wrote:

Photos of Kate and James

"Last weekend, I was able to have a look at some of the photos which my family still have that have been handed down from my grandmotherís side of the family (Louisa Annie Balmain 1887-1967).

Photos 1 and 2 below are of Kate Field and James C H Balmain. They were taken, we believe, on the occasion of their engagement. On the reverse of the photo is the wording : 

'Kate Field. James C H Balmain. Engagement 1883'.Ē


Kate Field

Kate Field,  photographed on the occasion of his engagement to JCH Balmain in 1883

©  Reproduced with acknowledgement to Geoff Dawson:  26 February 2014


James C H Balmain

JCH Balmain, photographed on the occasion of his engagement in 1883

©  Reproduced with acknowledgement to Geoff Dawson:  26 February 2014

Watercolour of Kate Field

"Here is a watercolour of Kate Field. The reverse of the photo is marked:

'Kate Field Balmain. Born 21/12/1855. Died May 1917'."



Kate Field

Watercolour Painting of Kate Field, wife of JCH Balmain

©  Reproduced with acknowledgement to Geoff Dawson:  26 February 2014

"Iíve re-checked the birth date Ė my records show Kate born on 21/12/1858, so this may be a simple error.  The watercolour is not signed (and weíve not been able to look at the reverse) but colleagues have told me it is of a high quality.

I know from records that her son, Kenneth Field Balmain, was known as a photographer but he also exhibited landscape water colours.. Iím lateral thinking here, but just wonder if Kenneth might have done this watercolour of his mother."

Princes Street

Looking to the East from Waverley

"This photo is of Princess Street.  It is undated but we believe it was taken by James CH Balmain. The photo is 36cm by 36cm in size.  The reverse of the photo is marked

 'Princess Street Ė East End'."



Princes Street

Photo by J C H Balmain  -  Princes Street looking east from Waverley

©  Reproduced with acknowledgement to Geoff Dawson:  26 February 2014

UPDATE: I think this may, in fact be the 1859 view of Princes Street by G W Wilson

Geoff Dawson, Kent, England:  26 February 2014



James Charles Halyburton Balmain
Photographer with studio in Edinburgh



Balmain Family

JCH Balmain  -  recreation

JCH Balmain  -  photography

George Haliburton Balmain

Studio addresses and dates

Cramond *

Maule's Department Store *

North Berwick  seaside *

North Berwick  model yacht

North Bridge elephant parade  

Princes Street  West End  

Princes Street  East End  

St Giles Cathedral *

Portrait  Wood Family 

 * Possibly by Balmain: found in the Yerbury Collection.
   The Balmain business was
taken over by Yerbury.


Pencil Portrait



Kenneth Field Balmain
Photographer who lived in North Berwick, East Lothian, Scotland

Son of James CH Balmain

Photographs of Edinburgh and North Berwick