Sunday, 28 May 2023

Dr Pentecost at Greenock

In 1889, Dr George Frederick Pentecost (1842-1920) of Brooklyn USA, was on a speaking tour of Britain.  He was a celebrated evangelist (couldn't have had a better name!) and colleague of Dwight L Moody.  His British tour attracted such attention that many Christians in Greenock wrote to him asking if he would conduct a mission in the town.  A notice appeared in the local newspaper.  

The meeting took place in the Pillar Hall of the Temperance Institute in Greenock, presided over by Rev Young.  Many local ministers and prominent Greenockians, including ex-Provosts Campbell and Lyle attended the meeting.


On Sunday 26 January 1890 the first meeting in Greenock took place in George Square Baptist Church where "he delivered an earnest address to Christian workers."  Later in the day he spoke at the West Parish Church followed by an evening talk in the Town Hall to an audience "which filled the spacious building in every part.  He was accompanied on the platform by ministers Robert Bell (East Congregational Church), David Boyd (Free North Church), Alexander Corbet (Orangefield Baptist Church), Peter Thomson (Crawfurdsburn Free Church) and John Young (Trinity United Presbyterian) as well several local “big-wigs”.

On Monday afternoon he was back in George Square and in the evening spoke at the Free Middle Church, again accompanied by a large number of local ministers and "prominent laymen".  A conference later in the evening was attended by about a hundred ministers and Christian workers. 

Dr Pentecost stayed in the town for a couple of weeks giving lectures in various churches, all very well attended, according to the local press.  On 18 February a notice appeared in the Greenock Telegraph advising that lectures were cancelled that day owing to Dr Pentecost's "indisposition".  There followed another two days of Bible readings and meetings before Dr Pentecost returned to America. 

Over the next few years he paid several visits to Britain and in 1892 accepted a call to Marylebone Presbyterian Church in London where he worked for five years.  After London he became minister of Yonkers Presbyterian Church in New York.  He was involved in foreign mission visiting India, China, Japan and the Philippines.  In 1914 he became minister of Bethany Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia.  He was the author of books on Bible Study.  Dr Pentecost had entered the ministry in 1862 but is seems that although his preaching time was short, he managed to reach many people all over the world.  He certainly had a big following in Greenock and spoke in many local venues attracting large crowds to hear his Christian words.  It seems appropriate to post this, as today is Pentecost Sunday (the seventh after Easter) in the Christian calendar.

Thursday, 25 May 2023

Alfred Lord Tennyson - the Greenock connection

Mary Tennyson, sister of Alfred Tennyson, married barrister Alan Ker who was born in Greenock in December 1819.

Alan Ker (1819-1885) was the eldest son of Robert Dow Kerr and Augusta Buchanan.  The Ker family of Greenock were merchants (Ker & Co) who traded and travelled all over the world.  Robert Dow Kerr and Augusta married in Greenock in 1819 and went on to have 15 children, all born in Greenock.  Ker Street in Greenock is named after this family.  The family lived at Finnart House.  Later the family moved to Clifton, Gloucestershire.

 Alan Ker attended the Grammar School in Greenock and later Glasgow University.  In 1838 he studied at the Middle Temple in London and in 1842 became a Barrister at Law.  He moved to Cheltenham, home of his brother Claudius Ker who was a doctor in the town.   It is here that he met the Tennyson family and in 1851 married Mary Tennyson.  After their marriage they moved to the West Indies where their son, Walter Charles Alan Ker was born in 1853 in Antigua.  Mary travelled back to Britain she was not particularly happy living abroad.  Walter received his education in Britain at Cheltenham College and Trinity College, Cambridge.  Read more about the Tennyson sisters here.

Alan Ker remained abroad.  From 1851 to 1854 he was Attorney General of Antigua before moving to Nevis where he was Chief Justice from 1854 to 1856.  From 1856 to 1861 he was Chief Justice of Dominica before becoming, in 1860, Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court until 1885.  He had retired from his position and was about to return to Britain when he became ill and died at Kingston, Jamaica in March 1885.  Mary Tennyson Ker died at Margate in 1884.

Their son, Walter Charles Alan Ker (1853-1929) was said to resemble the Tennysons in looks.  He became a barrister but spent his time translating and editing books.  He married in Julia Susan Christiana Holmes (1862-1900), daughter of Robert Holmes of Moycashel, Westmeath.  The couple had a daughter, Dorothy Mary Ker (1886-1965).  The family lived at Vicarage Gardens, Kensington, London.

A Kensington Mystery!     However all was not well in the Ker household.  On Boxing Day 1900 the body of Julia Susan Christiana Ker was found floating in the Thames.  She had been missing since 7 December.  

The body was found by John Harved, a picture frame maker of 30 Stowe Road, Shepherd’s Bush.  He stated that he had been standing talking to someone near Biffen’s Boat Yard at Hammersmith Bridge on Thursday morning about 9.30 when he noticed something floating down the river from the direction of “The Doves”.  He went down to the boat raft and rowed out into the stream catching the body on an oar as it swept past.  The body was then conveyed to the shore and the police were sent for.  When asked how the body was dressed he described a black dress and jacket with a fur boa round the neck and that she was wearing gloves.  When questioned whether the the dress was grey, he relied that it had been black but that “there was a lot of mud.”

PC Robert Sears 683 T stated that he had been called to the riverside at 10 o’clock on the Thursday morning when the body was brought ashore.  He called for Dr Musson and the body was removed to the mortuary.

One of Julia’s friends, Margaret Butterworth of 47 Camden House Road had known her for two or three years and had heard that she “suffered mentally” and described her as “a very delicate woman”.  She said that when Julia returned from Yorkshire she had remarked that she looked very well, to which Julia had replied “Yes, in my body.”  When asked about her home life, Margaret stated that - “ Her home life was very happy, and her husband was kindness itself to her.”  Margaret had last seen Julia on 21 November.

Walter Ker stated that his wife had been suffering from “hysterical delusions” or “aberration of mind”.  She had been admitted to a “home” in  Ilkley, Yorkshire which she had left on 17 November 1900 and returned to her home in Kensington.  Her doctor Sir John Williams had given a good report on her health and all had assumed she had completely recovered and she was in good physical health.  On 7 December Walter Ker returned home and was told by his niece who was living with, them that Julia had gone out and had not returned.  No one knew where she had gone.  When asked by the coroner if he had ever heard her threaten to take her own life he said that he had not, but he believed that she had told her sister who had not taken her seriously and indeed had laughed at her.

Kate New, a servant with the Kers said that she had seen her mistress go out about 4.30 in the afternoon but she had not said where she was going.  She was wearing a grey costume (suit) and seemed very well.  When asked by the coroner  if her mistress “seemed strange at times”, the woman replied “Oh, yes, sir.”

Dr W E C Musson of 61 Bridge Avenue described her clothing the same as Harved and stated that two old letters, a gold wedding ring and a purse containing £1 4sh 5d had been also been found with the body.  He had performed a post mortem examination and found no external signs of violence upon the body which had been in the water for at least two weeks.  He stated that “the brain was congested, but there was no water in the lungs.  The valves of the heart were affected and might cause sudden fainting at any time.  There was an abrasion on the right side of the head, caused just before or immediately after death, which, in his opinion, was due to asphyxia and shock from immersion.”

The coroner Mr H R Oswald said that there was no evidence to show how the deceased came into the water and the jury returned an open verdict.

Walter Ker and his daughter Dorothy Mary Ker (1886-1965) continued to live at Vicarage Gardens until his death in 1929.  He left the residue of the property in trust for his daughter, Dorothy, for life, with "the remainder to her issue as she may appoint, or failing appointment to her children equally or on failure of issue", then he directed the trustees to cause to be erected in the parish or other church at Greenock a tablet bearing the following or a similar inscription:-

Sacred to the memory of Alan Ker, the eldest son of Robert Dow Ker of Finnart in this burgh, who was successively Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Jamaica from 1860-1884.  As a Judge he was distinguished for an inflexible firmness of principle and independence of character, as a man for his earnest solicitude for the welfare of his fellow-men, which was the guiding star of his life, and to which he sacrificed his private interest and his ease and comfort.  He was born on December 7th 1819 and died at Kingston, Jamaica, on March 20, 1885, being accorded the honour of a public funeral – R.I.P. The memory of the just is blessed.

Dorothy Mary Ker died in 1965.

Saturday, 6 May 2023

State of the Art

What a terrible state the lovely little art works down at the Waterfront area of Greenock are in!

This is "Ebb and Flow" which I described in my blog here.  The little seal has gone.  It had been broken and now it has completely gone.  The explanation about the mosiacs on the benches has also gone!  This area is not far from where cruise ships berth when they are visiting Greenock.  Here's a photograph of how it used to look.

The Yardmen, representing Greenock's shipbuilding heritage has been vandalised.  Now it is just a shadow of its former glory.  Here is a photograph of how it used to look.  See more photographs and read about it here.

How it looks now -

It must be very disappointing for the artists who put so much time and talent into producing these works for everyone - both locals and visitors - to enjoy.

Thursday, 4 May 2023

John Galt and the Coronation bunfight

John Galt (1779-1839) Greenock author, always raises a smile in his writing especially his characterisation and the pomp of ceremony which he readily and wryly describes.  Galt was actually in London at the time of the Coronation of George IV in July 1821 and gave a very down to earth account of the proceedings.   In his collection of stories -  “The Steamboat” - published by Blackwood in 1822, there is a short story entitled “Preparations for the Coronation” about a Scot, Mr Duffle, visiting London for the great event.  His opening sentence sets the tone of the work: - “London being, as is well known, a place of more considerable repute than Greenock, or even Port Glasgow …”!

Galt’s Mr Duffle describes his adventures in London and discussions with the various characters he meets during his visit for the Coronation of King George IV.  One conversation he has with “… a man in a suit of shabby black, of a clerical cut …” who gives his opinion - “The ceremony has survived the uses which gave it sanctity in the eyes of the people.  It will now pass like a pageant of the theatre, and be no longer impressive on its own account, but merely on account of the superior quantity of the silk and lace that may be shewn in the dresses.  Some things just don't change!

Mr Duffle takes his place in the grandstands to witness the arrival of the lords and ladies attending the King and then the arrival of King George IV himself “who entered with a marvellous fasherie, as I thought it, of formalities … for I could see he was now and then like to lose his temper at the stupidity of some of the attendants.  But it’s no new thing for kings to be ill served; and our Majesty might by this time, I think, have been used to the misfortune, considering what sort of men his minister are. 

After the ceremony, Galt goes to the balcony to view the banqueting hall.  Of the actual feast Galt writes of the dishes:- “… the King tasted but little of them; it was therefore supposed that he had got a refreshment behind the scenes”.  After the King and nobles leave, the general company were invited to come and enjoy the leftovers!  Or as Galt puts it:- “But the best part of the ploy was after his Majesty had retired,for, when he departed, everyone one, according to immemorial privilege, ran to plunder the table …” including Mr Duffle.  He  “was content with a piece of a most excellent bacon ham, and a cordial glass or two of claret wine, and a bit seed-cake.  The crowd seized not just the leftover food and drink, but ornaments and table decorations.

John Galt, Writer

In his later writing “Remarks on the Steamboat”, Galt reflects:- “If anything were calculated to inspire laughable contempt for the melodrama of earthly grandeur, it was the hurly-burly in Westminster Hall subsequent to the King’s departure.  I can neither repress my derision at the commotion, nor conceive why it was permitted, thought “the swinish multitude” were in court dresses.  But there is a stronger infection in folly than in wisdom, and, though I despised the pastime, I could not resist joining in the game.  In the plunder of the tables I got hold of a golden Britannia as big as a doll, with which I made proud a Bishop’s lady and gave to another “gorgeous dame” of high degree, a really beautiful basket of crystal, and bestowed gilded vessels on longing ladies.  But what added to the delight was the discovery that all the magnificence was as artificial as courtesies!  The goblets and imagery, the plates and epergnes, at the coronation festival of the greatest monarch on the earth, were gilded wood and pewter trenchers!  This, however was wise, and showed the improved intelligence, alias the political economy of the age; but wherefore cheat the eye?  At the time, the coronation afforded me inconceivable pleasure, for I could only see things, bating the occasion, worthy to provide heart-easing laughter; the remembrance, however, like many other sweets, sours in the rumination.  It did more to lessen my respect for the tricks of state than anything I ever witnessed."

John Galt had a wonderful eye for detailing the absurd and seeing through the conventions and characters of his day.  Throughout his description of the Coronation he constantly compares the proceedings and characters to those in King Crispin processions, very popular in his day.

Monday, 17 April 2023

Port Glasgow's Ayrshire family links

This picture, part of an information board at Irvine Harbourside, shows Scots poet Robert Burns with his good friend Richard Brown (1752-1825).  Burns once wrote about Brown – “He was the only man I ever saw who was a greater fool than myself when WOMAN was the presiding star;.” – not bad coming from a man who was well known as a womaniser.    Burns also acknowledged that Brown encouraged him to write poetry.  Brown was six years older than Burns and a seafaring man.  The pair used to go for long walks in Eglinton Woods and Brown would regale Burns with tales of his adventures at sea.

Irvine Burns Club

Captain Richard Brown married Eleanor (Helen) Blair daughter of David Blair.  The couple moved to Port Glasgow from Ayrshire.  Brown sailed from Port Glasgow to the West Indies for John Campbell Sen & Co of Glasgow.  Robert Burns and Richard Brown corresponded over the years.  While in Port Glasgow the Brown family lived at Bay Street.  They had five children.  They had two sons - Richard  and Alexander.  Richard was described as a merchant of Port Glasgow while Alexander was described as shipmaster, like his father.

Their eldest daughter, Jean Brown (1768-?) married James Cleland of Port Glasgow in 1806.  The couple had at least 12 children.  One of their sons, Richard Cleland became Captain of  Cunard Line ships.

Their second daughter, Ann Brown (1788-1827) married Port Glasgow merchant William Hamilton (originally from Ayrshire) in 1810.  William Hamilton left money in his will for a new "Free Church" in the town.  It was called Hamilton Free Church in his honour and built at Princes Street (since demolished).  There is still a church bearing his name in Port Glasgow - Hamilton Bardrainney Church.

Third daughter Eleonora Brown (1792-1858) married Captain Robert Gilkison of Port Glasgow.  The Gilkisons were another Irvine family of seafarers.  One of their sons, Robert Gilkison settled in Dunedin, New Zealand.  A daughter Eleanora Blair Gilkison (1821-1868) married James Allan (from another Ayrshire family) of the Allan Line (shipping).  Many of the Gilkison family are buried in the crypt of Port Glasgow Parish Church.

Through Richard Browns's daughters it is possible to see just how closely these Ayrshire families who moved to Port Glasgow were linked through marriage.  Almost all of them were connected with ships and trade.  Some remained in Port Glasgow, but many travelled far and wide, settling all over Britain and abroad.  Richard Brown's grandchildren were always reminded of their links with Robert Burns as this extract shows.

Richard Brown was an early member of Greenock Burns Club

Sunday, 16 April 2023

Kings of Port Glasgow

This gravestone in Port Glasgow churchyard marks the burying place of many of the Kings of Port Glasgow (lair 27).  Murdoch King, a shipmaster married Ann Kelburn in 1753 in Port Glasgow.  They had 10 children - 6 sons and 4 daughters.

Two of their sons Daniel King and John King went to sea like their father.  The brothers married sisters, Ann and Maria Bird whose father, Thomas Bird owned the Sherwood Park Plantation on the island of Tobago in the West Indies.  The wives inherited part of the estate when their father died, bringing a lot of money to the King family. 

Daniel King and Ann Bird had three children - (1) Celia King who married Andrew Scott of Larchgrove. They emigrated to Australia in 1839 and settled at Mount Buninyong in Victoria.  The area of Scotsburn is named after the family. Celia and Andrew had four children, all born in Glasgow before they moved to Australia.  (2) Maria King (1800-1837) married in 1827 in Glasgow, John Park Fleming (a successful lawyer), they had four children.  One of their sons, John King Fleming (1837-1916) emigrated to Australia in 1858 and married Helen Hastie, the eldest daughter of the Rev Thomas Hastie of Buninyong (where his mother's sister, Celia had settled with her family).  He owned property in Australia and died at his residence Kelvinside, Aberdeen, New South Wales.  After Maria's death in 1837, John Park Fleming married (in 1839) Elizabeth Tennant, daughter of John Tennant of Wellpark, the famous Glasgow brewer.  (3) Anne King  married Isaac Toby, an officer in the Royal Marines and they lived in Portsmouth where he was Barrackmaster.  As well as spending time in Tobago, Daniel King also spent time in Dunkirk as a shipowner.

John King is described in marriage announcement as "master in his Majesty's royal navy".  John married Maria Bird in 1805 in Port Glasgow.  Their three children were all born in Plymouth, probably when John King was stationed there.  (1)  John Bird King (1806 -) born at Durnford Street, Stonehouse, Devonshire (now part of Plymouth).  The sponsors at his baptism were Celia McLeod, his grandmother, Captain Nathaniel Cole, Royal Marines and Thomas Savory, purser Royal Marines, proxy for Thomas Bird of Tobago, uncle.  (2)  Henry Curzon King (1811 - 1830) born at Stonehouse and died of a fever at Jamaica.  He was named after Admiral Henry Curzon who was one of the sponsors at his baptism.  The others were Ann Bird King (his aunt) and Normand McLeod.  (3) Thomas Bird King (1813 - ) born at Jubilee Street, Plymouth. Maria King (nee Bird) died in 1817 at Sherwood Park in Tobago.

After Maria died, John King married Margaret Foster of Carnegie Park in Port Glasgow in 1819.  Margaret's father was James Foster and her mother was Jean Carnegie, who had married in 1778 in Port Glasgow.  John and Margaret had five children - (1) James Foster King (1820) married in 1855 in Port Glasgow Maggie Park Turner, daughter of Douglas Turner of Alderwood.  (2) Murdoch Kelburn King (1822-1886) married in 1850 at Port Glasgow, Mary Burrell, daughter of Archibald M Burrell, Provost of Port Glasgow.  Kelburn King moved to Hull where he became surgeon.  He was also President of the Hull Philosophical Society.  The family lived at Sculcoates.  (3) John Carnegie King (1824).  (4) Patrick Allan Carnegie Foster King (1826).  (5) Jane Carnegie King married Dr Henry Llewellyn Williams of Beverley, Yorkshire in 1848 in Port Glasgow.

The names Kelburn and Carnegie are areas in the eastern part of Port Glasgow.  Check out this map to see more details.  The areas were named after the families who owned land in the area.  Much of their wealth came from trade with the East and West Indies.  The Carnegie family were associated with the island of Penang, or Prince of Wales Island as it was known at the time.

Tuesday, 11 April 2023

Sir Gabriel Wood and the compensation claim

This interesting notice appeared in many newspapers both in Britain and overseas in 1891 in connection with Sir Gabriel Wood (1767-1845), founder of the Mariners' Home in Newark Street, Greenock.

Former Sir Gabriel Wood Mariners' Home, Greenock

It reads:- HEIRS WANTED - Wanted, the next of kin, or heirs, of the late Sir Gabriel Wood, Commissary General of the Forces, some time residing in Greenock, in Scotland and latterly in Bath in England where he died without issue on 29th October 1845.  Sir Gabriel Wood was a son of Gabriel Wood, merchant, Greenock, who died in Greenock in 1822.  In 1796 he was Vice-Consul for the State of Maryland.  He afterwards resided in the West Indies, and before finally returning to Great Britain was resident in various places in Canada as Commissary-General of Accounts for British North America.  He had a number of brothers and sisters, some of who went abroad, and they may have descendants living.  Should any of the relatives of Sir Gabriel Wood be alive and will communicate with the subscribers they will receive information which will be of advantage to them.  J. C. Smith, Macdonald & Crawford, Solicitors, Greenock, North Britain.

In 1891 a firm of Solicitors in Baltimore had contacted the “Mayor of the town of Greenock” asking for information about a one time Maryland resident, Gabriel Wood.  Gabriel Wood is best known in Greenock as the founder of the Sir Gabriel Wood Mariners' Home in Newark Street, Greenock.  He was born in Gourock in 1767 to merchant Gabriel Wood and his wife Ann Stuart (Stuarts of Castlemilk, owned Gourock estate).  Gabriel Wood worked for the Government and in 1796 he accompanied Sir Robert Liston (1742-1836) to America where he was vice Consul for the State of Maryland. 

While in Maryland he set up business as Gabriel Wood & Co, owning several ships.  He was a partner in the firm of Findlay, Bannatyne & Co, running the Baltimore branch of the company trading between Britain, America and the West Indies.  Several of his ships had been captured by the French during what is know as the “Quasi War” with France.  A claim had been made by the American Government against the French Government for the value of all vessels owned by American citizens captured by the French.  Somehow Gabriel Wood was listed as due compensation for his lost ships.

From the Barbados Mercury 1810

He returned to Britain in 1806 and was shortly afterwards sent to the West Indies as Commissary General of Accounts.  In 1811 he was stationed in the Mediterranean, returning to Britain in 1816.  His next appointment was as Commissary General of Accounts in Canada, but had to return to Britain in 1823 because of ill health.  He received a knighthood in 1825.  In 1830 he married Louisa Augusta Fanning, eldest daughter of General Edmund Fanning (who had inherited land in Prince Edward Island from her father). The couple did not have any children.  After his marriage he resided mostly in Bath until his death in 1845.  In his will he bequeathed a sum to be used in establishing a Home for Mariners.  Lady Wood  and Sir Gabriel’s sister, Frances Ann Wood were responsible for the establishing of the Mariners Home.  Presumably, over the years, the compensation claim had been forgotten.

However, in 1891 the Baltimore solicitors were looking at unclaimed funds and had contacted authorities in Greenock.  When the notice of "Heirs Wanted" appeared none of the immediate family were still alive.  The beautiful Mariners' Home was their legacy in Greenock.  It was reported that the Solicitors dealing with the matter received over 200 letters from people claiming to be heirs of the Wood family.  Only one was true - a man named Gabriel Watson from Paisley was able to prove to the American Government that his great grandmother was a sister of Sir Gabriel Wood’s father.  The money, compensation for those ships captured almost 90 years previously, was split between Watson and the Mariners' Home.  The Mariners' Home received the sum of £778 from the American Government.

Wood Family grave in Inverkip Street Cemetery, Greenock

Sunday, 9 April 2023

Greenock's East End in the 60s

Take a trip back in time to the 60s and early 70s when Greenock's east end was undergoing massive demolition and redevelopment.  Ingliston Street, Belville Street, Lauriston Street, Garvald Street and St Lawrence Street all underwent massive changes.

The tenements on Belville Street were replaced with "high flats" - now also demolished and several well known landmarks like Belville Place School and the East Congregational Church on St Lawrence Street were also closed.

Click the link to check out the video Greenock's East End in the 60s on The Greenockian You Tube Channel.

Saturday, 8 April 2023

A succession of Crawfurds

As this memorial tablet shows, sometimes the laws of succession of lands and titles can be a bit tricky to work out.  The tablet has a prominent place in the former Old West Kirk on the Esplanade in Greenock, which houses the Crawfurd family vault.  The Crawfurds owned the lands of Cartsburn or Crawfurdsburn in the east end of Greenock. 

The tablet reads:- Here are deposited the remains of THOMAS CRAWFURD of Cartsburn who departed this life 3rd February 1743 in the 81st year of his age.  Also Ann, his daughter and Margaret Semple his fourth wife. Also Archibald Crawfurd of Cartsburn who departed this life 13th January 1783 in the 74th year of his age and Margaret Cunningham, his spouse who departed this life 23rd August 1787. And Thomas Crawfurd of Cartsburn their son, who departed this life 24 September 1791 In the 46th year of his age.  This monument was erected to their Memory by Christian Crawfurd of Cartsburn, Daughter to the first, and Aunt to the last mentioned Thomas Crawfurd 1792.

The Thomas Crawfurd (1662-1743) named on the memorial is the second of Cartsburn. He succeeded his father in 1695.  (Read about the first Crawfurd of Cartsburn here.)  He was married four times.  First in 1682 - Rebecca Barns (1659-1694), the daughter of Provost John Barns of Glasgow who had business interests in Greenock.  They had a daughter Marion (1688-?) who married Patrick Hunter of Hunterston.  Second in 1695 - Bethia Robertson (daughter of Archibald Roberton of Bedlay), Third in 1717 - Beatrix Clark and fourth in 1729 - Margaret Semple (daughter of William Semple of Cathcart).

Thomas Crawfurd and Bethia Robertson had the following children - (a) Thomas Crawfurd (d.1732).   He became and advocate and married Cecile Forbes (daughter of John Forbes of Knappernay).  Thomas died before his father and without issue.  (b) Archibald Crawfurd (1710-1783)- succeeded his father.  (c) Christian Crawfurd (1705-1796) - succeeded her nephew. 

Third of Cartsburn - Archibald Crawfurd (1710-1783) succeeded his father in 1743.  He married in 1739 - Margaret Cunninghame (daughter of John Cunningham of Caddel and Thorntoun, Ayr). They had one son, fourth of Cartsburn – Thomas Crawfurd (1746-1791) who succeeded his father in 1783 and died in 1791.  Read more about Thomas Crawfurd here.  He wrote to Scottish poet, Robert Burns, in 1788  inviting him to visit Cartsburn.  Thomas was unmarried and died without issue. 

Thomas was succeeded in 1791 by his aunt, fifth of Cartsburn - Christian Crawfurd (1705-1796), daughter of Thomas Crawfurd and Bethia Robertson.  She married Robert Arthur (d. 1779) in 1743 at Greenock.  Robert Arthur was a merchant from Irvine who had business dealings with George Moore of the Isle of Man (among others).  The couple had four children - Bethia (1744-), Thomas (1745-), William (1746-) and Christian (1749-).  Arthur Street in Greenock is named after this family.

At her death in 1796, her only surviving child was her daughter, Christian Arthur Crawfurd and that's where the story starts to get interesting!

Friday, 7 April 2023

The death of the Comet 2023

Like a giant shroud, a white curtain surrounds the decaying remains of Port Glasgow's once proud replica steamship Comet.  The wreckage is being removed this week (April 2023).

The ship had been rotting away over the last few years (see previous post "Wreck of the Comet") and as nothing was done to try and remedy that, it became an eyesore and had to be removed.

You can read here more about the original Comet built in Port Glasgow in 1812 by shipbuilder John Wood and the replica which is now being removed, built in Port Glasgow in 1962 to mark the 150th anniversary of the building of the original.

Here's a reminder of how the smart the Comet replica once looked.

Thursday, 6 April 2023

Robert Millar - Port Glasgow's first minister

The first minister of the parish of Port Glasgow from 1697 until 1709 was the Reverend Robert Millar.  At this time worship services were held in the “meeting house” (or sail loft) in the town near the harbour and the Minister was provided with a dwelling paid for by the feuers of the town.

Robert Millar  (1672-1752) was the grandson of Andrew Millar of Girvan and son of Andrew Millar (died 1686), minister of Dailly, Ayrshire who had been imprisoned in the tollbooth Edinburgh and Blackness Castle for refusing to read the Proclamation in connection with the Rye House Plot. He was liberated in 1685. 

Robert Millar was educated at the University of Glasgow and licenced by the Presbytery of Paisley. He was called to Port Glasgow on 22 March and ordained on 18 August 1697.  In 1702 Millar married Elizabeth Kelso (1679-1759). Elizabeth was the daughter of John Kelso of Kelsoland, Collector of Customs at Port Glasgow.  He had sold Kelsoland, Largs to James Brisbane of Bishopton. The couple had several children, some of whom were born at Port Glasgow.  After Port Glasgow, Robert Millar was translated to the Abbey Kirk, Paisley in 1709.   He was the author of the “History of the Propagation of Christianity and the Overthrow of Paganism” published in 1723.  


1.    Andrew Millar (1705-1768), born in Port Glasgow, bookseller in London and publisher of the first edition of Johnston’s Dictionary.  Married Jane Johnston, daughter of Andrew Johnston, engraver and print maker of London.  Her grandfather Alan Johnston was minister at Broughton, Edinburgh. Three children died in infancy. 

2.    Elizabeth Millar was born in Port Glasgow in 1708.  Married (1761) James Hamilton her father’s successor as minister of Abbey Church, Paisley.  Elizabeth died in 1798. 

3.    John Millar (died 1738) Minister of Old Kilpatrick.  Licenced by the Presbytery of Paisley in 1727.  Presented by Thomas Earl of Dundonald and ordained 1728.  In 1728 he married Lilias Clark (died 1737), daughter of James Clark minister of Tron Church, Glasgow and his second wife, Christian Montgomerie daughter of Sir Robert Montgomerie of Skelmorlie.  James Clark vehemently opposed the union with England and preached a powerful sermon which led to civil unrest in the city. 

4.    Henry Millar (died1771) Minister of Neilston.  Educated at the University of Glasgow.  Licenced by the Presbytery of Paisley in 1734.  Presented to Neilston by Thomas, Earl of Dundonald and ordained in 1737.  He inherited a large sum from his brother Andrew, publisher in London (see above).  He set up an inkle (linen tape) manufactory in Neilston.  In 1745 he married Robina (d1754) daughter of Alexander Cochrane of Craigmuir.  Children – Marion Millar (1746) married William Fulton, manufacturer at Maxwelltown in 1764.  William Fulton’s father was Humphrey Fulton who is credited with introducing silk manufacturing to Scotland.  His sons followed him in the business in Paisley.   Robert Millar (1749-1763).  Alexander Millar of Dalnair (1751-1790), advocate, married in 1783 Elizabeth Hamilton Edmonston.  Elizabeth Millar (1754) married in 1774 (at Walkinshaw) Alexander Napier (died 1801) of Blackston.  Alexander Napier was a captain in the foot guards.  On leaving the army he made many improvements to his estate of Blackston.  On his death his estate was inherited by his son William Napier, banker in Greenock.  On the failure of the Renfrewshire Bank he sold the Blackston estate to Thomas Speir. 

5.    William Millar (1718-1780), Walkinshaw & Antigua.  Bought Walkinshaw Estate in 1769 from James Walkinshaw.  Made his fortune in Antigua Millar Estate.  A description of him is given in the Cullen Project.  (Family later received monetary compensation for slaves.) 

6.    Archibald Millar (-1766), captain HMS Lyon. Smithhills, Paisley.

7.    Robert Millar - Trained as a doctor.  As a botanist, he was recommended by Sir Hans Sloan to travel in search of medicinal plants for an experimental garden to be set up in Georgia (1732) by the Trustees for Establishing the Colony of Georgia in America.  The project was designed with a view to discovering which plants grew well in that climate with a view to future agricultural successes. 

8.    Anna Millar married (1741) Peter Scott (1695-1753), Minister of Laigh Church, Paisley.  He was the son of John Scott, minister of the Outer High Kirk Parish, Glasgow.  Educated at the University of Glasgow. Licenced by the Presbytery of Glasgow 1731.  Appointed by the Town Council April and ordained (assistant and successor) 1740 admitted to the full charge in 1746.  Children – Elizabeth (1745-) married Robert Fulton, manufacturer (Maxwelltown), Grizel (1748-) married Archibald Davidson minister of Inchinnan. 

Port Glasgow's first parish minister certainly had a very interesting family with links to many other Scottish churchmen and important families.  Robert Millar was just a young man when he started at Port Glasgow and was obviously destined for greater things thus his translation to Paisley where he served for over forty years.  Meanwhile in Port Glasgow, an actual church building would not be provided until 1717 when the Parish Church was constructed.