Victor Small

In 1889, mainly to avoid import duties, Coats, the thread-makers, had opened a thread mill in St. Petersburg, then the capital of Imperial Russia. And to start it up and run it the company brought in, as it had already done in the USA and Canada, and would do, for example, in Italy and Brazil, personnel from mainly Scotland, especially football-mad Paisley, its headquarters, and the cotton- (and footballing-) towns of Lancashire. One such from the latter as General Manager from 1889 from the mill's opening to 1908 was Joseph Hadfield from Ashton-under-Lyne by Manchester. And Joseph had a daughter, Clara, born in Ashton but brought up in Russia, who following the death of his first wife in childbirth in 1920, was in 1924, again in Ashton, to marry Victor Small, he with both Scots background and sporting, indeed footballing pedigree. 

Victor was the son of a Dundonian, Henry Small, who like his own father was a mechanic to trade, and whose work had taken him to a factory, notionally in Leslie in Fife but with the village of Auchtermuchty, in the parish. It also had caused him to meet not one but two girls clearly from 'Muchty. One was his first wife,  Clementina Henderson, who passed away at aged just forty-one. The other was his second wife, Emma Collins, Victor's mother.

Henry Small had married Clementina in 1861 and seems in late-decade to have taken himself, her and two of their children to St. Petersburg. They had been born in 'Muchty. Their third would arrive in 1869 in Russia, where in 1872 Clementina would sadly die. His five children with Emma's five off-spring would then be born in St. Petersburg with one exception, but her birth was in Finland. Of the five Victor was the youngest, born in 1885. It meant that he, after the Coats influx of 1889 took place, as a natural sportsman, a tennis-player, later captain of the St. Petersburg "Scottish Cotton Mill Workers" ice-hockey team, was introduced and took to football, in 1901 at just fifteen or sixteen featuring at inside-left in one of the city's very earliest teams, Nevka.

Henry Small would die still in St. Petersburg in 1915.  He is buried in Uspenskoye Cemetery. Shortly after Victor, like many other Diasporans, would return to Britain and in 1916 enlist, be trained and, in 1917 as a Second Lieutenant, join the Scottish Rifles, posted to Nigg in Ross-shire. But he would soon, from July to December 1917, be seconded to the British Military Intelligence Mission in Petrograd (St. Petersburg as was), continuing in Russia until 1919 for the British Secret Intelligence Service and then was based in London from 1920 for MI6, although officially a Mechanical Engineer.

And from there we know Victor married in 1919 in Hampstead in London but with his first wife, Edith passing away just a year later in childbirth but with their daughter surviving. He was then to remarry, with Clara having a second daughter, had been promoted to Captain and from 1939 to 1953, so sixty-eight, stay in Haverstock Hill in London, recorded as a Textile Machinery Engineer. But he would pass away back in Lancashire, where much of the rest of the family would also settle, his death in Southport in 1965 at the age of seventy-nine, a football pioneer, albeit until now unrecognised in his Scots homeland and unacknowledged still in St. Petersburg and thus Russia as a whole.

Birth Locator:

1885 - St. Petersburg, Russia


Residence Locations:

1891 - St. Petersburg, Russia

1901 - St. Petersburg, Russia

1911 - St. Petersburg, Russia

1919-20 - 15, Springfield Road, Hampstead, London

1939-52 - 119, Haverstock Hill, Hampstead, London

1945-1948- 9/11, Chatley Court Hotel, Belsize Grove, Hampstead, London

1955 - 16, Callander Road, Edge Hill, Liverpool

1962-5 - 102a, Leyland Road, Southport, Lancashire


Death Locator:

1965 - Southport, Lancashire


Grave Locator:



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