Black was elected Provost of Greenock in 1899.
He was a well-loved and well respected Greenockian. This photograph shows him, an imposing looking man, in his official
Provost robes and with his chain of office.
He died in 1901 at his home, Copthorn, Eldon Street in
Greenock. He had lived most of his life in
Greenock and had been active in a successful law practice first with his father, also called
John Black and then with his son – George Hedger Black. The story of the Black family of Greenock
goes back much further.
are two gravestones in the Inverkip Street Cemetery in Greenock in memory of
members of the Black Family of Greenock.
One reads -
by John Black, writer in memory of Archibald Black Harbour Master, and Isabel
Douglas his spouse. Elizabeth McPherson
spouse of John Black Ship Master, Archibald Black their son. John Black Ship Master died 26 January 1841
aged 74 years.
stone mentions three generations of the Black family.
The first of the Greenock Blacks was
, Harbour Master of the town.
Archibald was married to Isabel Douglas and they lived at 3 Crawford
Street in Greenock.
(Crawford Street ran
parallel to West Blackhall Street and now just a short stretch remains beside
the old Glebe Sugar House and Aldi.
Check out this old map
to see where it used to be.) As
Harbour Master, Archibald Black would have had a demanding job controlling the
arrivals and departures of ships coming from all over the world to the port of
He would also have had
responsibility for the upkeep of the quays and ensuring access for ships to
discharge their cargoes.
Also mentioned on the stone is Archibald
and Isobel's son John Black. He is described as a Ship Master. He was born in 1767. He married Elizabeth McPherson and they had
two sons - Archibald (b1795) and John, born in 1797. John Black, Ship Master died in 1841. His wife Elizabeth and their son,
Archibald are also mentioned on the stone.
next generation of Blacks did not take to a seafaring life.
John Black (1797-1856) became a writer (lawyer)
In 1820 he married Jane
MacNaughtan (1798-1876) who was the daughter of Peter MacNaughtan (clothier)
and Amelia Buchanan.
The family lived at
Shaw Place in Greenock, which would have been handy for John's legal office in
The couple had four
sons - John (1821-1902), Patrick MacNaughton Black (1823-1883), Robert Stewart
Black (1826-1842) and Andrew Inglis Black (1828-1868).
As well as being involved in public affairs
John Black was a freemason and member of Lodge Greenock St John.
MacNaughtan Black and Andrew Inglis Black became brewers in Greenock and owned
the Holmscroft Brewery in Captain Street taking over from David Buchanan.
Patrick MacNaughtan Black started his working
life in the office of James Fairrie & Co, sugar refiner. He worked for them in Liverpool for a
while. He married (1869) Isabella
Campbell, daughter of the Reverend George Campbell of Tarbat in
Ross-shire. The couple lived at Union
Street in Greenock. Brother Robert
Stewart Black died aged just 16. Andrew did not marry and died in 1868. He is buried in Inverkip Street Cemetery.
Black (who would later become Provost), the eldest son followed his father and studied law - serving his
apprenticeship in his father's office.
He became a partner in 1842. The
company was named John Black & Son.
In 1856 John Black senior died at the age of 59. He was buried in the Old West Kirk graveyard - a
large number of townspeople followed his cortege (according to the local
newspaper) - "The company which followed was large and included most of
the clergy, magistrates, members of the Council, and other influential
inhabitants of the town."
gravestone can still be seen in the grounds of the Old West Kirk
This church once stood at the
very north end of Nicolson Street but was moved in the 1920s to a new site at
the east end of Greenock Esplanade.
bodies in the churchyard were removed and reburied at a site in Greenock
Cemetery, South Street.
no longer mark where there are burials.
Jane (MacNaughtan) Black was buried alongside her husband.
The stone reads –
Black writer in Greenock, born 28 May 1797. Died 31 Aug 1856. A loving husband. A fond father. A generous friend. Jane MacNaughtan, wife of John Black. Born 8 April 1798. Died 1 December 1876.
his father's death, John Black carried on business as a lawyer in
Greenock. In 1849 he had married Frances
Hedger (1828-1888), daughter of George Hedger a London diamond merchant. The couple had two sons and three
daughters. In 1884 his son George Hedger
Black joined him as a partner in his legal practice. He handed it over to George in 1892. Baillie John Cameron joined the practice a
couple of years later and it was known as Black & Cameron. Frances (Hedger) Black died in 1888.
|Provost John Black|
Black was very involved in local matters.
He was a member of the Parochial Board and became a member of the town
council in 1887.
He was Chief Magistrate
in Greenock became Provost in 1899.
died in 1901 at his home at Copthorn, 8 Eldon Street. His elder son John Robert Black born in 1850 and who was a doctor in Greenock had died just a few months earlier and it was said that the shock of this had
led to his decline.
Black was buried in Greenock Cemetery with full civic honours. The service was held in Union Street United
Free Church and a Masonic service was conducted at the graveside. Like his father, John Black was an office
bearer in Greenock St John's Lodge 175 and many of his fellow Masons attended
in full dress. All flags in the town and
on ships in the harbours were flown at half-mast. Many shopkeepers closed their shops from 1
till 3 as a mark of respect. The town
bell tolled at minute intervals. The
funeral cortege was led by the Volunteer Pipe Band. The Greenock Telegraph reported that the
cortege was so large that took nearly half an hour to pass the church door. Provost Black left a widow, a son and two
daughters as well as grandchildren to mourn his loss. His home of Copthorn was sold not long after
Provost, John Black had also been Chairman of the Greenock Harbour Trust, a
position I'm sure his great-grandfather, Archibald Black, former Harbour Master
would have approved.
My thanks to Greenock Burns Club for permission to use the photographs of members of the Black family.