Monday 30 August 2021

Ropemaking machinery from Port Glasgow

There's something about old industrial machinery that is just fascinating!

These wonderful old machines can be found at the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine, but a notice informs that they were once in use at the Gourock Ropeworks in Port Glasgow.

Such an interesting set of machinery - it's difficult to imagine how noisy and probably dangerous all this would have been when operational.

The Gourock Ropeworks building is still standing in Port Glasgow and has been converted into apartments.

Former Gourock Ropeworks Building, Port Glasgow

This wonderful illustration is from a mural at the Maritime Museum.

It was great to see some rope-making machinery that came from a local works ... even if I did have to travel to Irvine in Ayrshire to view it!

For other posts about Ropeworking in Port Glasgow -
The Port Glasgow Rope and Duck Company tells about the Glasgow Tobacco Lords who started ropemaking in Port Glasgow
Port Glasgow and Mayflower II tells of how ropes from Gourock Ropeworks were used on a replica of the Mayflower in 1957

Sunday 29 August 2021

Former Greenbank Church, Greenock

 This is the former Greenbank Church on the corner of Kelly Street and Newton Street in Greenock.

Designed by Hippolyte Jean Blanc (1844-1917) it was opened in 1882 as Greenbank United Presbyterian Church.
  It is described as an example of the Early Pointed Gothic Revival style.

The congregation of this church had a very rich and interesting history.  They started out as a breakaway group from the Port Glasgow Secession Church, holding services in a tent at Cartsdyke in Greenock.  In 1758 they had raised enough money to build a church in Market Street (now King Street) and Smith’s Lane, described as a "plain and comfortable edifice" and "the wee kirk".  In 1803 they moved again to what was called the "Canister Kirk" (described as “octagonal”) which seems to have been on East Shaw Street (near where the Hospital used to be at Inverkip Street).  This cost the grand sum of £1202.  In 1845 they moved again to a new church at George Square (George Square United Presbyterian Church) on the corner with Princes Street which unfortunately burned down in 1880.  The intrepid congregation then agreed to build a new church, and the site on Kelly Street (also known as Greenbank Terrace) was chosen.  The foundation stone was laid by former Provost Abram Lyle in October 1881.

The new building was opened in October 1882.
  The masonry work was carried out by A Galbraith & Co of Glasgow and joiner work by Hunter & Sinclair of Glasgow.  Plumbing work - Peter Bell & Co, glazier work - T Britton, plaster work – James McCreadie, slaters - David Phillips & Sons and upholsterers - Robert Blair & Sons, all Greenock tradesmen.

At the side is the church hall which was added in 1933 by local architect Alexander Stewart McGregor.

The minister at this time was the Rev James Brown Thomson (1850-1910) born in Penpont, Dumfries and who lived at Bentinck Street in Greenock.

In 1929 due to church mergers, it became Greenbank Church of Scotland.  In 1955 the congregation united with St Mark's Church on Ardgowan Street and used that building.  They became St Mark's Greenbank Church.  In 1987 it united with the Old Kirk on Nelson Street and that became St Luke's Church of Scotland (now known as Westburn Parish Church).

When the building was vacant after the 1955 church union it became the Greenbank Institute for the Deaf.

Latterly the building was used by the Elim Church.

Unfortunately, it now lies empty.

Joining with InSPIREd Sunday.  Come on over to see lots more churches from around the world.

The Mansion House Well

This is probably one of the oldest structures in Greenock.  It is the old Mansion House Well and now is located in the (appropriately named) Well Park in Regent Street, Greenock.

There's a date of 1629 on the well along with the initials HH.  It is thought that this may commemorate the marriage of the local laird, John Shaw (1597-1679) with Helen Houston.  On the other side of the well are the initials IS - probably for John Shaw.  There are flat plaques on the other sides of the well, but they are too eroded to make out what they once contained, but perhaps were the arms of the Shaw and Houston families.  

The well is beautifully constructed with four stone pillars with a pyramidal shaped covering and it is thought that there once would have been a stone ball at the apex.  The well once stood in the grounds of the Mansion House which was home of the Shaw family.  After uniting through marriage with the Stewarts in the 1750s, the family chose to live at Ardgowan.  The mansion house became the estate office and parts of it were rented out.  In the 1850s Sir Michael Shaw Stewart gifted the garden land to be used as a park by the people of Greenock.  The house was demolished in 1886 to make way for the extension of the railway line to Gourock by the Caledonian Railway. 

John Shaw (Elder) (Wester Greenock and Finnart) succeeded to the estate after his father, James Shaw's death in 1620.  His mother was Margaret Montgomerie.  John Shaw and his wife Helen Houston had a son, Sir John Shaw who married Jean Mure and a daughter Margaret Shaw who married Alexander Stewart, 4th Lord Blantyre.

During his time as laird, in 1635 in the reign of Charles I, John Shaw (sometimes written Schaw) was granted a Charter under the Great Seal which meant that Greenock became a Burgh of Barony.  It granted the right to hold a weekly market and two fairs annually.  Greenock still has a holiday in July known as "The Fair" and used to have a winter fair in November.  The Charter also conferred the right to elect a number of inhabitants to run the town and keep order.  The Charter was ratified by Parliament in 1641 and was an important part of Greenock's history and development.  John Shaw (Elder) was described by George Williamson as "a man of high culture and taste" (Old Greenock, 1888).  

Mansion House, Greenock
While the mansion house may have gone, at least we still have this little well to remind us of a part of Greenock's early history.

Saturday 28 August 2021

Reflections at the marina

The weather has been beautiful here in Greenock recently.  Took these photographs at the James Watt Dock Marina on Monday evening.

Beautiful to see the hugh crane reflected in the waters of the Marina.

Lots of boats and yachts berthed there.  The reflection of their masts made beautiful patterns in the water.

A beautiful, calm sunset.  Joining with Weekend Reflections.

Sunday 22 August 2021

Tourist Information Greenock

Quite a few cruise ships are due to visit Greenock in the coming months.  If you are planning to stop off at Greenock for a visit - whether by ship or just for a day out, I would like to suggest a couple of resources which might help with your visit.  (Current on 30 March 2022.)

Victoria Tower, Municipal Buildings, Greenock

First of all a map - essential of course!  You can download a local map from the Inverclyde Council website here.  It is a bit out of date but it gives you the necessary information for finding your way around.  Please note that passengers from cruise ships are now using a different exit from the one pointed out on the map (it is no longer on Patrick Street).  Find Cathcart Street on the map and you should be able to get your bearings.  Greenock Central Railway Station is just a short walk away from there.  You can get to Glasgow from Greenock Central - click to see map and timetable.  McGills buses also run a regular service to Glasgow and Largs (901/906) - timetable here.

Men of the Clyde sculpture, Clyde Square, Greenock

There are lots of things to see and do in Greenock.  The McLean Museum and Art Gallery part of the Watt Institution on Kelly Street and Union Street is well worth a visit.  It is open Wednesday - Saturday from 10 till 4.  Check out the website for current information.  You can also explore many of the Watt Institution's resources online.

Watt Institution, Union Street, Greenock

Inverclyde Council also provide a variety of publications and guides to help you enjoy your visit to the area.  You can find them here.  There are a variety on notable local people like James Watt, John Galt and Highland Mary (Robert Burns' sweetheart). 

Former Tobacco Warehouses, Container Way, Greenock

If you enjoy walking, you can find a guided walk for Greenock's Esplanade - a lovely, flat walk with plenty of benches along the way which give you time to sit and enjoy the fabulous views.  Download leaflet here.  (Try an ice-cream from the Esplanade Cafe - delicious!)  

Local history and heritage more your thing?  Download here then you can follow the Greenock Town Trail which maps out some buildings and places of note in the town.  The Greenock Historic Quarter booklet is also available to download from other sites.  The smaller Inverclyde towns of Gourock and Port Glasgow are just a short bus ride away.  Check out my Port Glasgow Heritage Walk for more information.

Cemeteries - there's a booklet detailing walks in our cemeteries here.  Find out about some of those who were important in Greenock's past and are buried there.  There are also lots of posts on this Blog telling about some of these people. 

Use the "search this blog" section in the right-hand column of this blog to find out more information about a variety of subjects of interest in Inverclyde.  

If you have any questions about what to see and do on your visit or would just like some more information or advice, then please get in touch with me.  Use the "get in touch" form on the right column of this blog.  I'm happy to help.

Enjoy your visit!

Sunday 8 August 2021

One week's shipping in Greenock - 1787

From the Caledonian Mercury of 4th October 1787 comes a fascinating glimpse into what went on in Greenock's harbours the previous week.  Ships arrived from Ireland, the Caribbean, the Baltic and many other ports bringing a variety of goods into this busy port.  This gives us just a small example of Greenock's domestic and overseas trade in the those far off days.  Much of the spelling in the original newspaper report is very different and place names have changed over the years.  I have tried to give modern spelling where necessary.

The busy international port of Greenock.

Here's a list of the ships arriving in port in just one week -

28 September 1787 - Peggy, Captain Lamont arrived from Belfast (Ireland) with goods.

29 September 1787 - Home, Captain Peterson from Grenada (Caribbean) with sugar and rum.  Greenock’s first sugar refinery was started in 1765 and was at the north end of Sugarhouse Lane.  Sugar refining was so important in the 19th century that Greenock acquired the name "Sugaropolis".  Sugar refining continued here until the 1970s.

John, Captain McLellan from the Highlands with kelp.  Kelp, a seaweed, was collected and burnt to form an ash which was used in the making of soap and glass, among other things.

Elizabeth, Captain Mackay from Konningsburgh (Baltic Sea port) with goods.  The Baltic was important in the area for the importing of wood for shipbuilding and hemp for the ropemaking industry which was important part of Greenock and Port Glasgow's economy.

Helen, Captain Mackellar from Sligo (Ireland) with goods.

Montgomery, Captain Julian from Conway with timber.  (Conway – not sure where this is, but the timber would be used in the shipbuilding industry.  Get in touch if you have any information.  I'd love to know more.)

Active, Captain Gray from Liverpool with goods.

Peggy, Captain Mackinlay from Ballachulish (Loch Linnhe, near Fort William) with slate.  Slate became important for roofing taking over from thatch which had previously been used.  Greenock’s rising trade meant the need for more houses and warehouses, so slate was needed for these.  From Greenock it would also be sent to Glasgow.

Four busses from the herring fishery .  Greenock stared off as a fishing port.  Herring were so important to the area that Greenock’s old coat of arms featured the fish with the motto “Let herring swim that trade maintain”.

Porcupine frigate.  Royal Navy ships were used a lot after the American Revolution (1775-1783) to protect convoys of merchant ships from Greenock, travelling to the Caribbean.  Ships ran the risk of attack from American Privateers as well as other pirates.

30 September 1787 - Little Kate, Captain Boyd from Barbadoes (Caribbean) with sugar.

Bell, Captain Mackellar from Drogheda (east coast of Ireland) with meal.

Two busses from the herring fishery

1 October 1787 - Recovery, Captain Baxter from Bordeaux (France) with wine and brandy.  Wine and spirits were brought into Greenock and from there sent out to other British ports especially Glasgow.  There were a lot of wine and spirit merchants in Greenock in the late 18th and early 19th century.

Jenny, Captain Lamont from Colerain (Ireland) in ballast.

2 October 1787 - Glasgow, Captain Slater from Kendal with goods.

Savage, Sloop of War. (See picture below.)

Prince William Henry, Cutter.  Often Royal Navy cutters were used in the war on smuggling which was rife on the Clyde coast.

Sailed from Greenock that week -

28 September 1787 - John, Captain Leitch for Belfast with good.

29 September 1787 - James and Peggy, Captain Miller for Barnstaple (North Devon), coals.

Jenny, Captain Green for Youghall (County Cork, Ireland), coals.

1 October 1787 - Hopewell, McArthur for Liverpool with goods.

2 October 1787 - Betsey, Forrest for North Carolina (America) in ballast.  Many local merchants had both trading links and family links with North Carolina.  Many of these continued even after the American Revolution.  Trade is trade, after all!

Nancy, Weir for Rotterdam with tobacco.

Hero, Denny for Rotterdam with tobacco.  The tobacco trade was of special importance in Greenock and Port Glasgow.  Before the American Revolution, Port Glasgow was the main receiving port in Britain for cargoes of tobacco.  It was then transported all over Europe.  Many Scottish merchants had “houses” in Rotterdam – receiving tobacco and other goods, especially from the Caribbean. 

This view of one week’s trade in Greenock shows just how busy the port was.  Harbour Masters like Archibald Black would have had a busy time organising the comings and goings of these ships and collecting harbour dues.  Customs Officers would have been busy keeping track of cargoes and receiving duties on cargoes.  Ships Captains – many of whom may have been based in Greenock would have meetings with ships’ agents regarding where cargoes were to be sent and where their next voyage would take them as well as taking time to visit family at home.

Along with the goods coming in and out it is also important to remember the sailors who would be getting some shore-leave after many weeks at sea.  With money in their pockets, no doubt those who did not have family in the area would be looking for a good time and head for Greenock’s closes and lanes where they would find ale houses and other places selling cheap drink - shebeens.  Brothels and gambling dens would no doubt also do good trade. 

Just looking at one week’s shipping in and out of here gives a wonderful insight into just how busy and bustling a port Greenock was.  

Thursday 5 August 2021

Forfeited Finnart

If you think of Finnart in Greenock what probably comes to mind is a quiet residential street, but once upon a time this area of Greenock was owned by men who were involved in some fascinating times in Scotland's history.

James II

Finnart was once a separate estate reaching from the West Burn in what is now the centre of Greenock, all the way to Gourock.  In fact, Jardine's Burn was once called Finnart Burn (Greenock and Its Early Social Environment by William Auld, 1907.)  Early maps show a farmhouse and mill near the burn which starts at Greenock Cemetery, travels on through Greenock golf course and enters the Clyde at the Esplanade.  It is most covered over now.  There was also a quarry in the area which was later filled in.   

Originally Finnart belonged to the powerful Douglas family and forfeited to the Crown in 1455 when the family fell out of favour with James II (the famous Black Dinner incident at Edinburgh Castle). The lands were given to rivals of the Douglas family.  The western part of Finnart was gifted to Stewart of Castlemilk (Finnart-Stewart).  Gourock Castle was the centre of their lands in the area.  

Courtyard fountain at Linlithgow Palace.

James II gifted the eastern part of Finnart (sometimes written Fynnert) to James, first Earl of Arran (1475-1529) who, in 1510, passed the land and title to his illegitimate son Sir James Hamilton (1495-1540) (often refered to as Bastard of Arran).  He was legitimised in 1512.  James Hamilton of Finnart was a fascinating man.  He was at one time Steward of the Household and Master of Works to James V.  A great favourite of the King, he was responsible for restoration work on Linlithgow Palace and Falkland Palace as well as many others.  His home was Craignethan Castle.  

Craignethan Castle

He was also involved in much intrigue at court and was responsible for the murder of John Stewart of Lennox and a few others.  Eventually, perhaps swayed by rivals, James V became convinced that Hamilton was plotting against him.  He was arrested and quickly executed for treason in 1540.  His lands, including Finnart, were forfeited once again.

James V

James V gifted the barony of Finnart to Alexander Schaw of Sauchie, whose own lands were just to the east of the Finnart .  He left Finnart with Wester Greenock to his son, John Schaw – a very well known name in Greenock.  In 1752 the lands were inherited by John Shaw Stewart.

There are still a few reminders of Finnart in the west end of Greenock – there’s Finnart Street which runs from Nelson Street in the east to Newark Street in the west and contains many fine houses.  There used to be a Finnart School (now Ardgowan Primary School) and there was also Finnart Church on Madeira Street which later joined with St Paul’s Church to become Finnart St Paul’s Church. 

Strange to imagine that this quiet residental area of Greenock had such an interesting history.

Tuesday 3 August 2021

Hood's Well, Port Glasgow Station

This is Hood's Well in Port Glasgow Railway Station.  It would be easy to overlook on the westbound platform and is enclosed within a protective fence - usually unlocked when the station is open.

The well was formed to collect water from a stream running down the face of the rock which had been cut into to build the station.  The well was named after a former Station Master.  His name was John Hood (1805-1865) and he was Port Glasgow's first Station Master.  When the Glasgow and Greenock Railway first opened the line in 1841 he was appointed to the position of Station Master.  Originally from Cardross, John Hood had been a boot and shoemaker in Greenock.  He had married Agnes McNaught in 1824 in Cardross and the couple had several children. 

On taking up his new position with the railway in 1841, the family moved from Greenock and lived in Gillespie's Lane in Port Glasgow with children Duncan, Mary, Agnes and Margaret. John Hood was an elder in Port Glasgow's Parish Church and before moving had also been an elder in West Blackhall Street Chapel in Greenock.

New Parish Church, Port Glasgow

The well once had a ladle attached and provided water for thirsty passengers.  It was also used to water the many plants and flowers which he had growing in tubs all around the station.  John Hood won prizes at local flower shows for his lovely flowers.  He obviously took a great pride in his work and environment.

John Hood was described as a "quiet and unassuming" man who kept Port Glasgow Station "in fine order".   He seems to have been well respected by his employers, the Caledonian Railway Company (amalgamated with Glasgow & Greenock Railway in1851) and well liked by the travelling public.  In 1848 a number of people met in the Black Bull Inn, Port Glasgow to show their appreciation and present him with "a gold watch and appendages and a handsome silver snuff box as a mark of their high estimation of his official abilities, and as a tribute of their respect for his valuable services to the public."

He died at home in October 1865 after a short illness and was buried in Port Glasgow Cemetery.  His widow, Agnes McNaught Hood died in 1877.

Monday 2 August 2021

A mysterious death in East Quay Lane

On the evening of 17 March 1859, Mrs Hannah Armour of 13 East Quay Lane in Greenock opened her door to a young woman seeking a place to stay overnight.  With her was a young fair haired girl aged about 4 years old.  The young woman was described as "apparently well educated and wearing a black silk dress cloak and straw bonnet and a profusion of rings".  She gave her name as Mrs Janet Loudon and said that she had come from visiting family in Dumfries where her father was a farmer in Upper Nithsdale.  Her daughter, Jessie Ann, had become unwell and she was breaking her journey because of this. East Quay Lane led from the railway station in Greenock down to the harbour and was home to many lodging houses.  Mrs Armour had a room that she let out to travellers.

Janet Loudon and the girl were given accommodation for the night.  Mrs Armour noticed that the young girl seemed very unwell and was vomiting severely.  Having children herself, she suggested that a doctor be sent for.  The woman said that this often happened with the child and that she was liable to convulsions.  She refused any medical help for the child.  The next morning, the young woman, who appeared to be pregnant, announced to her landlady that, tired after her long day travelling, she had fallen asleep but when she awoke she became aware that the little girl had died - sometime between four and five in the morning.

Mrs Armour advised her that she would need to register the death with Mr Robert Campbell the registrar for the Middle Parish of Greenock.  This she did, giving the child's name as Jessie Ann Loudon aged four and a half, and that William Loudon, draper was the father.  Janet Loudon gave her maiden name as Young.  The cause of death was "Died suddenly.  Disease unknown." and it was noted that no medical attendant had been present.  The place of burial was to be the church yard of Dumfries.  Janet Loudon told Mrs Armour that she would continue her journey to Dumfries as soon as possible. 

A coffin was procured from Andrew Crawford who was a joiner, Westburn Street, Greenock and the body of the child was placed in it.
  In order to disguise the fact that she was travelling with a coffin (Janet Loudon informed Hannah Armour that the fare would cost more), the woman also acquired a wooden box and the coffin was placed in this.  She wrote a label giving an address in Dumfries  and this was placed on the lid of the box.  The young man who made the box offered to carry it the short distance to the railway station, but the woman refused.   A porter was called who, along with Mrs Armour accompanied the woman to the railway station.  When he asked what was in the box, Janet Loudon told him that it contained china.  At the railway station Mrs Armour saw Loudon remove the label from the lid and replace it with another.  Mrs Armour took a quick glance at the new label and noticed that it gave address in Carlisle.  The label read – “Mrs Loudon, Bush Hotel, Carlisle."  Hannah Armour saw Loudon take her seat in the train and that was the last she ever saw of her. 

Being a kindly woman and a mother herself, I'm sure that Hannah Armour was slightly perplexed at the woman's behaviour.  Indeed she was probably very surprised that a mother could sleep while her child was so seriously ill.  I imagine she thought of her strange visitor and her poor little child often.

A day or two later the box arrived by rail at Carlisle station.  A porter employed by the Caledonian Railway named William Morrison took the box to the Bush Hotel in as per the address on the lid.  Miss Bishop, barmaid at the Hotel, took the box in and paid 2 shillings to the porter, assuming that the owner would pay on arrival.  The box remained unclaimed and was put in a storage room.  Some time later it was moved to a shed in the yard (possibly because of the stench coming from it?).


Eventually it was decided to try and find the owner of the box.  Someone knew a Miss Loudon who lived near Carlisle, so word was sent to a relative of hers in the who was asked to determine whether or not the box was her aunts.  She told the hotel management that her aunt was not expecting anything to be delivered and that the box was not for her.  It was then decided that the best option would be to open the box to try and find more information about the owner.


A newspaper reported what happened next - "Inside the box was a coffin painted black.  It was ornamented round the lid, and bore a breastplate, the figure of an angel, and the representation of a flower vase - all made of tin or zinc.  The plate had no initials or marks of any description which might lead to a discovery of the parties who had sent the box.  The coffin had also attached to it handles of cotton cord - which is not a customary appendage to the coffins of persons in the poorer classes of society."

On discovering the coffin the Chief Constable George E Bent was called.  He decided to open the coffin.  The remains of little Jessie Ann were inside.  The newspaper report continues - "The face of the child was slightly inclined to the right and the body had a resemblance to a mummy. "  The lid was put back on the coffin and it, with the box, removed to the police office.  Dr Elliot and Mr Temperly, surgeons were immediately called in and examined the body.  Because of the state of decomposition of the body, all that could be determined from an initial examination was that the child was female.  There being no other clues to help the authorities identify the child, the body was given a proper burial.


Mr Bent, determined to get some facts about this poor child, had photographs taken of the coffin and box and these were sent to police offices in Scotland in the hope that they could be identified.  The incident, known as the "Carlisle Coffin Mystery" was widely reported in the national press and soon the police were being sent bits and pieces of information about who the little girl could be.


From information received, the following came to light -

A young woman named Janet Young had left home in Upper Nithsdale in 1852 and gone into service in Newcastle.  She was reported to have been a good-looking young woman with dark hair.  While there became involved with a shopman who worked for her employer.  The result of the affair was that she had an illegitimate child, a daughter.  She returned to live with an uncle in Ayrshire until the baby was born.  She then found work in Glasgow leaving her child with her relatives.


In Glasgow "Janet Loudon or Young" met and married a man, described as "a tradesman", but did not tell him about her daughter until after they were married.  The couple were about to start a new life by emigrating to New Zealand and Janet was pregnant.  Her husband refused to have anything to do with her illegitimate daughter.  As a result of her marriage, her family thought that she would take back the child.  They asked her to collect the child as they were no longer able to look after her.  This she did, then it was said that she took the child to Hartlepool where her former lover and father of the child now lived.  He had set up business there after leaving Newcastle about the same time Janet did.  He had paid some money to support the child but when asked if he would take custody of the child he refused. 

Because of the resulting sensational publicity, William Loudon, draper in Hartlepool wrote to several newspapers complaining of the damage to his reputation.  I observe that, connected with the mysterious affair at Carlisle, a person representing herself as Mrs Loudon, wife of a draper in West Hartlepool, was mother of the child.  Now, being the only draper in West Hartlepool of that name, I consider myself as seriously injured from the statements which have gone to the public through your medium and beg most emphatically to deny the accusation on the part of my wife and myself, neither of us having the slightest knowledge of the circumstances.  In fact, I can prove, were it necessary, from the most convincing evidence that she was resident in West Hartlepool at the time the occurrence happened."

In desperation, Janet then went to Dumfries to beg relatives to take and look after the child - they also refused.   They described the child as a healthy, fair-haired four year old.  On 17 March 1859, she had been returning to Glasgow with the child, but stopped off at Greenock when the girl became ill and later sadly died.  She sent the box and coffin to Carlisle and presumably returned to her husband in Glasgow.


In April 1859 her relatives in Dumfries were surprised to receive a letter from her marked "London".  In this letter she stated that she and her husband were about to travel to New Zealand.  Later they received another letter, this time from New Zealand in which she informed them that she had given birth to a son.  She did not mention her daughter in any of these letters.


It also came to light that a Mrs Hoyle of the Union Inn, Citadel Row, Carlisle remembered a woman answering to the description of Janet Loudon, accompanied by a fair-haired child had stayed there sometime in 1859. (Perhaps this is where Janet met with the child's father to ask him if he would take her.  If he was from Hartlepool, I'm sure he would not want to meet with her there where there would be a chance he could be recognised.)


Having gathered all this information, particularly with Mrs Armour of Greenock's evidence of the child being unwell and vomiting, Chief Constable Bent’s suspicions were further aroused.  In February 1860, William Carrick, the Coroner at Carlisle requested that the body be exhumed.  At last, little Jessie Ann was positively identified by a "peculiarity" of her teeth - the relatives who had looked after her said that she had previously had a fall which had chipped her two front teeth.  Mrs Armour also identified the child by looking at a clipping of her hair.  Andrew Crawford of Greenock was able to identify the coffin as the one he had made for a "Janet Loudon" in Greenock in March 1859.


In late March 1860, Robert Blair, the Procurator Fiscal of Greenock, and Robert Hunter, the Chief Constable of Paisley travelled to Carlisle to view the evidence in the case - the death had, of course  occurred in Greenock under their jurisdiction.


In early April the inquest into the circumstances surrounding Jessie Ann's death was held.
  Rumours abounded that evidence of poison had been found in a portion of her stomach and this was widely reported in the press.  (All reports naming The Paisley Herald as their source.)  However, according to the Greenock Telegraph, no cause of death could be ascertained in the case of little Jessie Ann Loudon.  It would be up to the Renfrewshire authorities to take further action if they thought it was needed.


That, infuriatingly, seems to be where the story ends but it seems to me that there are so many unanswered questions!  It was very convenient for "Janet Loudon" that little Jessie Ann (if that was her real name) died after being trailed around the country only to be told she was unwanted anywhere.  Why was a medical help not sought when they arrived in Greenock, as Hannah Armour suggested?  The mother said that her child suffered from convulsions, but the relatives who had looked after the child said that she was a healthy little girl.  Why did “Janet Loudon” change the address on the box containing Jessie Ann’s coffin?  Why send the body off knowing she would never be claimed and why to Carlisle?  Did “Janet Loudon” and her new family have a happy life in New Zealand?  Did she ever give her dead daughter a second thought?  

I’d love to know more!

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