Esther Clark has uncovered the shocking social conditions South Ayrshire MP Sanny and his 11 siblings endured growing up as iron miners in Rankinston.

Despite being only three when Sanny died in 1946, the Ronaldshaw Park grandmother vividly remembers his strong presence empowering workers around him.

Esther said: “He managed to become an MP although he was terribly poor. Ordinary people then had nothing. They were like slaves. I am proud because of what he fought for.

“People were always calling to my birthplace Kerse Cottage — even in the middle of the night. I remember hearing words like ‘peace time’ mentioned. He spent so much time fighting for compensation for men who were injured. Sanny was a pacifist and lost four of his brothers in World War 1. Three of his siblings also tragically died of natural causes as childrne. So much happened to him and someone suggested I should write them down.” His refusal to bow down to cruel mine owners even led to the politican’s arrest.

History and politics graduate Esther also discovered how his family walked from Dalry to a new home in Rankinston — carrying their belongings.

Other revelations include how her descendants arrived in Scotland at the time of the potato famine.

Her findings have been published on the Ayrshire history website.

Her influential family’s legacy definitely did not end with Sanny.

Her daughter is former North Ayrshire and Arran MP Katy Clark while her mother was South Ayrshire councillor Agnes Davies.

Womens’ rights campaigner Agnes — who spent her final years in Coylton — was headteacher at Dalrymple and Minishant primary schools.

Mother-of-three Esther, 73, is now calling on other amateur historians to delve into their family trees to garner material for a book on Great War’s impact on Ayrshire.

The former social worker said: “Lots of people have a fascinating family history and they just don’t know it. I had no idea some of my descendants hailed from Ireland.

“I think it is a good time to work on a project as we have just had the 100 year anniversary of the outbreak of World War 1.” If you are interested in getting involved in the research, email

To see Esther’s work, visit: