Wednesday 28 April 2021

James Stewart, Merchant Greenock & Newfoundland

This interesting grave stone marks the final resting place of James Stewart and his family.  It can be found in the Duncan Street Cemetery in Greenock.

The inscription on the stone reads -
Sacred to the memory of James Stewart Esquire of Clydebank Merchant
Chief Magistrate of Greenock 10 November 1837
Born 13 November 1785 - Died 11 November 1837
also to the memory of Joanna Shaw his widow
Born 22 December 1793 - Died 27 November 1848
And of their children William Stewart
Born 31 January 1830 - Died 27 October 1838
Joanna Stewart 
Born 10 May 1833 - Died 10 November 1839
John Stewart#
Born 22 July 1834 - Died 9 April 1842

James Stewart (1785-1837) was a merchant in Greenock and Newfoundland.  He and his brother William formed  J & W Stewart - a successful import/export business trading with Newfoundland.  They owned many ships which were involved in this trade.

In 1825 James Stewart married Joanna Shaw in Greenock.  They had several children but as the gravestone shows three died in infancy.  The family lived at Clydebank House on the Low Gourock Road (now the Esplanade).  James Stewart was a senior magistrate in Greenock and at the time of his death was Provost elect for the town.  Two sons survived him – James Stewart and Daniel Shaw Stewart. 

The other partner in the business (J & W Stewart) was James’ brother William Stewart (1792-1875) who also had a house (Seafield) on the Low Gourock Road (Esplanade).  William married Eliza Paton in Greenock in 1832.  They had no children.  As well as his business interests, William was also interested in buying property.  He had numerous properties in Greenock as well as Blackhouse Estate and St Fillans House (St Philans) both near Largs.  On his death, he left the bulk of his estate to his nephews.

James Stewart of Garvocks and Blackhouse, MP for Greenock

James Stewart’s sons followed very different paths -  His elder son, James Stewart (1823-1898) of Greenock took over his father’s interest in the business of J & W Stewart.  In 1855 he married Margaret Parker Darroch (1831-1859) daughter of Duncan Darroch of Gourock and his wife Susan Parker.  They had two daughters – Susan Caroline Stewart (1858-1955)  and Margaret Parker Darroch Stewart (1859-1928).  His first wife Margaret died in 1859.

In 1868 James married Margaret Sandilands Stirling, daughter of William Stirling and his second wife Olivia Salmond.  William Stirling was West Indies merchant and a partner in the firm of Stirling Gordon & Co.  The Stirling family lived at Kenmure House, Glasgow .  James and Margaret had several children.

James Stewart took an active interest in the affairs of the town and was Chairman of the Greenock Industrial School and a member of the Greenock Harbour Trust.  He was instrumental in forming the local Volunteers and became a Major.  In 1878 he was elected Member of Parliament for Greenock (Liberal) but retired from political life in 1884 (He does not seem to have been very activive politically).  He purchased the estates of Routenburn and Quarter near Largs and the Garvocks Eastate at Loch Thom.  By the 1891 census he had retired to the Blackhouse Estate near Largs.  He died at Edinburgh in 1898.

The younger son of James Stewart (senior) - Daniel Shaw Stewart (1833-1892) did not go into the family business.  He became a Captain in the 11th Hussars and married (1858) Anna Dowson Earle (1838-1919), daughter of Joseph Earle (1803-1860) and his wife Anna Sim.  Joseph Earle was a timber merchant who lived with his family at Kensington Palace Gardens in London.  Daniel later moved with his family to West Park, St Andrews where he died in 1892.

Sunday 25 April 2021

Former St Andrew's Free Church, Greenock

Now a furniture warehouse (Pypers Superstore), this lovely building was constructed in 1835/36 as St Andrew's Church, West Stewart Street, Greenock.  The building was paid for by subscription and a grant from the Church of Scotland.  

(You can see in this photograph where there was once a small steeple.)

After the 1843 Disruption in the Church of Scotland (when many ministers left the Established Church of Scotland to form the more evangelical Free Church) the congregation followed the example of their minister, the Rev John James Bonar (1803-1891) who left the Established Church of Scotland.  The congregation acquired the building and set themselves up as St Andrew's Free Church.  John James Bonar was a very popular minister with an active congregation which counted among its number many influential townsmen.

In 1879 the congregation were made an offer they couldn't refuse!  A local businessman - Robert MacSymon, grocer, offered a large sum of money for the church premises.  Being situated just off West Blackhall Street, it was the ideal site for his new commercial warehouse.

The congregation took the money and decided they would  raise funds to build a new church in Greenock's west end.  A site at the corner of Margaret Street and Ardgowan Street was acquired and a new church was built.  While construction was underway, the congregation worshipped in a hall in Nelson Street.  Their new church was opened in May 1881.  Rev J J Bonar and his brothers Andrew (Glasgow) and Horatius (Edinburgh) who were also ministers, preached at the opening service.  

St Andrew's Church in Margaret Street designed by  David Barclay was demolished in the 1970s.  You can see photographs of the Church here on the Inverclyde Heritage Hub's Facebook page.

Meanwhile, back in July 1880 after extensive alterations, Robert MacSymon opened his New Italian Warehouse in the former church in West Stewart Street.  It was fitted out with all the latest shop fittings.  There was even a waiting room for ladies!  One section of the shop was devoted to the sale of teas, coffees, sugars and spices with tea cutter, coffee grinder.  Other groceries were also sold.  The building was decorated in magnificent style as this article from the Greenock Telegraph shows -

The building also incorporated offices and had its own stables for the horses and delivery carts.  Stores could be moved to and from the shop by a hydraulic hoist.  Sounds like a remarkable place!  Throughout the years this lovely building has been through lots of changes of use.  At one time it was used as a music hall.  I'm sure many of us are just grateful that it still exists.

Joining with InSPIREd Sunday.

Sunday 4 April 2021

St Patrick's Church, Greenock

This is the beautiful St Patrick's Church, Orangefield, Greenock.

Designed by Gillespie Kidd & Coia it was completed in 1935.

The striking stone sculpture of Christ is by Scottish sculptor Archibald Dawson.

There are some fabulous aerial views of the church as well as some photographs of the interior on the Canmore site here.

Joining with InSPIREd Sunday.

Saturday 3 April 2021

River traffic

It was a perfect day in Greenock yesterday.  On my walk along the Esplanade I got some photographs of the survey vessel Fugro Frontier.

The views across the River Clyde were spectacular.

Fabulous day for a walk.