IN introducing the little work of Nathaniel Jones, it may be advisable to give the reader some idea of the condition and dimensions of our good city at the date of its publication. It may also be worth while to look back through the previous history of Glasgow, in order to note the state of manners, and the rate of progression in numbers, wealth, and civilisation. While doing so, I shall not attempt to penetrate the obscurity of the early ages, or to inflict on the reader a true and particular account of St. Kentigern’s birth, parentage, and miracles. Neither shall I open up the dreary roll of our Popish ecclesiastics, from Mungo to Archbishop Beaten, as that would be entirely out of place in a new introduction to an old Directory. I shall start with the Reformation, by stating that the number of inhabitants in the city of Glasgow at that time did not exceed 4,500, according to several authorities that need not be named.
In those days the majority of the houses were congregated about the bishop’s palace and the upper portion of the High Street; and the common people are described as living in a state of ignorance, poverty, and semi-barbarism. In troublous times men went about the streets constantly armed; and it was not by any means uncommon for clergymen to appear in the pulpit fully equipped with deadly weapons, in the shape of swords, daggers, and pistols. Intestine feuds were every-day occurrences; and wrongs were righted on the “good old rule,” by blood-letting and knocking each other on the head, in defiance of law or justice, except the law of self-preservation and the wild justice of revenge. The reformation of religion unquestionably led to a reformation of public morals, to a certain extent; but, owing to the civil commotions which followed that important era in our history, the progress of well-doing and well-being was necessarily slow.
The circulating medium was scant in the pockets of the people, and the funds of the Corporation were also at a very low ebb. At a meeting of Council held during the early part of 1609, Provost John Inglis took the opportunity of informing his brethren at the Board that the city was sorely pressed for a debt of a hundred pounds Scots, or £8 6s. 8d.; that the magistrates were in danger of “horning” for the same; and as the Corporation had not the means he had borrowed the amount required from a well-to-do burgess named William Burn.
During the year 1652, and again in 1667, the city was devastated by great fires, which reduced hundreds of houses to ashes in a few hours, and almost ruined the half of the population. Towards the close of the seventeenth century, and under the provostship of William Napier, merchant, we find the magistrates granting an allowance to the jailer “for keeping warlocks and witches imprisoned in the Tolbootlh, by order of the Lords of Justiciary”- a pretty clear proof that learned judges and local Dogberrys in those days were still subject to old-fashioned prejudices or superstitions.
At the time of the Union a census was taken by order of Robert Rodger, the Provost, and the population was found to be 12,766; while the style of living, as described by Mr. Dugald Bannatyne, was “of a very moderate and frugal cast.” The dwelling-houses of the highest class, as a general rule, contained only one public room, and even that was seldom used except for the entertainment of company. At other times the family took their meals in a bed-room, without ceremony, or servants dancing about them in attendance. After dinner – and perhaps a tumbler of rum-punch – the head of the house went back regularly to his place of business, and generally finished up the evening by a sederunt in some favourite tavern. The gradual increase of wealth, however, by the opening up of the American trade, led to a change in the habits of the better classes. Larger houses were built, fine furniture was introduced, tea, card, and dancing parties became fashionable; but, nevertheless, the ladies of those days did not think it beneath them to ply the needle, to nurse their own children, to make their own markets, or to superintend the cooking of their husbands’ dinners.
In 1715 the city was much disturbed by the outbreak of the Rebellion; but the soreness on account of the Union was almost worn off, and the citizens did not fail to show their loyalty as well as their liberality. They raised a regiment of volunteers about 6oo strong, which they drilled and maintained at their own cost; and the city was fortified by a deep and broad trench, as a measure of precaution against the inroads of rebels.
Ten years after this, the splendid mansion of Mr. Campbell, MP for the Glasgow District of Burghs, was attacked and sacked by a mob, in consequence of that gentleman voting for the extension of the malt tax to Scotland. This fine house was situated on the present site of Glassford Street; and while the mob were busy tearing it to pieces, the Provost, John Stark, and his brother magistrates, were enjoying themselves very comfortably in a public-house. A detachment of soldiers arrived from Dumbarton Castle at night; and next day, as the rioting still continued, they fired twice upon the crowd, and the result was that nine persons were killed and seventeen wounded. Intelligence of these troubles was sent to Edinburgh post-haste; when General Wade immediately started for Glasgow, and took possession of the city with a strong force of cavalry, infantry, and artillery. He was accompanied by Duncan Forbes of Culloden, the Lord Advocate of the time; and, after a searching investigation, nineteen persons were apprehended, bound with ropes, and sent off to Edinburgh to await their trial. But even this was not considered enough to assert or uphold the majesty of the law. The whole batch of Glasgow magistrates, from Provost Stark to the Deacon-Convenor, were arrested, thrown into their own Tolbooth, and afterwards sent to Edinburgh as prisoners of state. After a day’s detention in the capital, they were liberated on bail, and ultimately absolved from the charges of negligence or incapacity; but the city had to pay the piper, in name of damages, to the extent of £9,000. Shortly after this, Mr. Campbell sold his city mansion; and with the price obtained, and the compensation money, he purchased the entire island of Islay, which his descendants have since permitted to slip through their fingers.
We now come to the year 1736, when old “John M’Ure, alias Campbell, Clerk to the Registration of Seisins, and other Evidents for the District of Glasgow,” published his quaint history of the city. At this date the population would not exceed 15,000 persons, living in ten streets and seventeen lanes, and on an area of ground scarcely three quarters of a square mile in extent. It was well provided with bridges, however, there being twenty altogether, and of stone – twelve being within the liberties, and eight without. Of these twelve, one was over the Clyde at the foot of Stockwell Street, three over St. Enoch’s Burn, and eight over the classic Molendinar. M’Ure informs his readers, in glowing terms, that the city was surrounded by corn-fields, kitchen and flower gardens, and beautiful orchards, abounding in fruits of all kinds, “which, by reason of the open and large streets, send furth a pleasant and odoriferous smell.” In a final burst of enthusiasm, the old historian says: “It is the most beautiful city in the world for its bigness, and is acknowledged to be so by all foreigners that come thither.”
Among the principal buildings, after the Cathedral and the College, mentioned by M’Ure, the most notable was the town’s “great and magnificent hospital,” situated on the banks of the river a little to the west of Stockwell Street, where the Fish Market is now situated. It is described as superior to Christ’s Church or the London Charter House; and nothing “of that kind at Rome or Venice comes up to the magnificence of this building.” It was, in short, the admiration of all strangers, and without a parallel in Europe. The Town-house or Tolbooth is also described as “a noble and magnificent structure-sixty-six foot in length, and from the south to the north twenty-four foot eight inches.”
The reader may be a little surprised to hear that the Tolbooth was also a public-house in the good old times, and that the jailer was in the daily habit of leaning over his half-door, on the outlook for drouthy customers! We have then a description of the “Bremmylaw harbour and cran,” regarding which the worthy Clerk says.-” There is not such a fresh-water harbour to be seen in any place in Britain: it is strangely fenced with beams of oak, fastened with iron batts within the wall thereof, that the great boards of ice in time of thaw may not offend it; and it is so large that a regiment of horse may be exercised thereupon.”
Several sugar-houses, tan-works, lands, and lodgings are also described, including “the great and stately tenement of land built by the deceased Walter Gibson, merchant, and late Provost of Glasgow.” This tenement occupied the north corner between Prince’s Street and the Saltmarket, and stood “upon eighteen stately pillars or arches, adorned with the several orders of architecture.” Walter Gibson was the son of John Gibson of Overnewtown, and rather a remarkable man in his day. He commenced business as a maltster – made some money – took to herring-fishing and merchandising; and at length freighted a Dutch ship with 3,600 barrels of herring, which he sent to France, “and got for each barrel of herring a barrel of brandy and a crown.” He was also the first merchant that brought foreign iron to Glasgow, and stood first on the list of the great company carrying on trade “with Virginia and the Carriby-islands.”
At the same period, the number of shopkeepers in the city did not exceed 155, including ” Robert M’Nair and Jean Holmes in Company” – the worthy partners of said firm being “sleeping partners” in another sense, or, in other words, man and wife! From being small hucksters originally, Robin and Jean became extensive merchants and sugar-boilers, and ultimately owned the largest amount of house property in the city.
In 1745, when the rising in the Highlands took place under Prince Charles Edward, the city of Glasgow raised two battalions of volunteers, each 6oo strong, for the service of the Government. When the Pretender reached Edinburgh in triumph, he made a demand upon the Glasgow magistrates for all the arms in the city, and £15,000 in hard cash; but, through the exertions of Provost Cochrane, this sum was modified to £5,000, with about £500 worth of goods. After the romantic march into England, and the disastrous retreat from Derby, Prince Charles, with the main body of his army, made his appearance in the west of Scotland, and entered Glasgow on Christmas-day. He took up his quarters in the house of Mr. Glassford – the gutted mansion of Mr. Campbell-and remained in the city for ten days. His Highland followers are described as bare-headed and barefooted fellows, with matted hair, grizzly beards, tanned skins, famished aspect, and peculiarly savage and ferocious looking in their rags. After exacting heavy contributions in shirts, hose, short coats, shoes, blue bonnets, and provender, the Prince took his departure; and it is said that the city would have been sacked and burned to ashes by the Highlanders, had it not been for the manly resistance of Lochiel.
Up till 1760, the severity of the ancient manners prevailed in full vigour: no lamps were lighted on the Sunday evenings, innocent amusements were denounced, and people were actually prevented from walking on the day of rest. In order to enforce this regulation, the magistrates employed certain persons named “compurgators,” whose duty was to perambulate the streets and public walks during divine service every Sunday, and to take offenders into custody if they refused to go home when ordered. A party of these men, on duty at the Green, thought proper to apprehend Mr Peter Blackburn – a prominent citizen, and ancestor of Mr. Blackburn of Killearn; and the result was that Mr. Blackburn prosecuted the magistrates before the Court of Session, and put an end to the “compurgatory” system of Sabbath-keeping. This Mr. Blackburn was a member of the famous “Hodge-Podge” Club, along with the father of Sir John Moore, and other celebrities, and figured in the rhyme-register of the club (written by Dr. Moore) in the following fashion:-
Rough Peter’s the next who is about to appear,
With his weather-beat phiz, and his heathery hair.
His humour is blunt, and his sayings are snell-
An excellent heart in a villanous shell!”
The Dissenters of those days were equally bigoted in opinion and intolerant in their behaviour, when they had the power. A mason named Hunter, who was a member of the Antiburgher congregation of North Albion Street, was so far left to himself, or to the wiles of Satan, as to build the Episcopalian Chapel at the Green in the ordinary course of his business; and as the poor man refused to express sincere contrition for his great sin, he was formally excommunicated.
It may easily be supposed, therefore, that “play-acting” in those days would be regarded by the “unco guid” as an utter abomination; and so in truth it really was. No theatre existed in the city; but strolling companies of players occasionally exhibited their histrionic powers to the lieges in Burrel’s Hall, situated in the upper portion of the High Street. In the course of 1752, however, a wooden booth was erected within the precincts of the Castle yard, and attached to the ruined walls of the Episcopal Palace; but this unpretending temple of Thespis was afterwards attacked by an excited mob, and almost battered to pieces with stones. In fact, people going to the play-house at this period had to be guarded home, to protect them from popular violence, if we may trust the evidence of tradition.
In spite of this feeling, five gentlemen – viz., W. M’Dowall of Garthland, W. Bogle of Hamilton Farm, John Baird of Craigton, Robert Bogle of Shettleston, and James Dunlop of Garnkirk – agreed to erect a theatre at their own expense; but not a single feu-owner within the city boundaries would grant a site for such a purpose! The spirited projectors had therefore to cross St. Enoch’s Burn, and after considerable difficulty they obtained a piece of ground in Alston Street; but the proprietor charged them a double price for it, because it was intended for “the devil’s temple!” In due time the theatre was built, and was ready to be opened in the spring Of 1764, and the celebrated Mrs. Bellamy was announced for the occasion; but, previous to the opening night, the theatre was wilfully set on fire, and the whole scenery, with Mrs. Bellamy’s wardrobe and jewels (valued at £800) were destroyed.
About this time, and for a number of years afterwards, the “tobacco aristocracy” were in the zenith of their fame. Not a few of these magnates had made immense fortunes by the American trade, more particularly in tobacco, which was imported in large quantities into Glasgow, and then dispensed over the kingdom. They owned a considerable fleet of ships and brigantines, about 200 tons burthen each, and something like the annexed figure when in full sail. In the times preceding the American war of independence, the “tobacco lords” were in the habit of “pacing the plainstones” on the north side of the Trongate, clad in scarlet cloaks, cocked hats, bushy wigs, knee breeches, and silk stockings, They were the “cream of the causeway;” and no tradesman or shopkeeper dared to address them off-hand, or encroach upon the promenade ground, without leave, under pain of the highest displeasure. Red cloaks with hoods were also quite common with the ladies of those days; while pattens and sedan chairs were used for purposes of locomotion. Every now and then the public hangman might be seen whipping criminals through the streets at the cart’s tail; while the pillory and the scaffold were very frequently in use.
When Nathaniel Jones published his first Directory, in 1787, the city was still within very narrow limits, and the population could not have exceeded 5o,ooo, being little more than a tithe of its present number. The sites of Laurieston, Hutchesontown, Tradeston, and Bridgeton, were cornfields or kitchen gardens; hares and partridges were occasionally shot on Blythswood Holm and Garnet Hill; the site of the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway Station supported a thriving plantation and a rookery; and children waded safely across the Clyde where the harbour now is, and where great iron ships and steamers of more than 2,000 tons burthen are now riding safely at anchor. In the business parts of the city, shops were lavishly decorated with all sorts of sign-boards, and gilded articles representing the wares to be had within. Golden fleeces, and fish, and boots, and breeches dangled in middle air; and sometimes the lettering of the signs was a treat to the curious. In the Gallowgate, for example, there was stuck up the following intimation: “Messages run down this close at 2d a mile!” A little further on might be seen: “New laid eggs every morning, by me, Janet Stobie !” Over an eating-house in a sunk flat, hungry passengers were invited to:
“Stop and read, to prevent mistakes,
Joseph Howel’s beefstakes.
Good meat and drink makes men to grow,
And you will find them here below.”
Among the inns or hotels of the period were the ” Saracen’s Head,” Gallowgate; the ” King’s Arms,” Trongate; the “Bull Inn,” Argyle Street; the ” Crown Inn,” Gallowgate; and the “Leaping Horse,” on the south side of the Trongate. The “Saracen’s Head,” in particular, was a favourite place of resort for travellers and citizens of distinction. It was patronized by the Lords of Justiciary on circuit, and by the nobility of several counties, including the sporting Duke of Hamilton. It was in this famous hostelry that Dr. Samuel Johnson took up his quarters after his tour through the Hebrides; and on his arrival, after seating himself in front of the fire, he put a leg on each side of the grate, and with a mock solemnity said: “Here am I, an Englishman, sitting by a coal fire!” Coaches, flies, diligences, stages, and caravans started from the different hotels for London, Edinburgh, Stirling, Paisley, Greenock, and other towns, at various hours, and made the passages with commendable regularity, considering the state of the roads. The Greenock “Fly” (a woodcut of which is here given) took five hours in going – I can scarcely call it running – from Glasgow to Greenock; while the Dumbarton coach made its passage in about four hours.
Among the favourite “houffs” of the fuddling fraternity may be mentioned “Lucky Black’s” tavern, the “Three Tuns,” the “Black Boy,” and the “Boot,” which is simply a corruption of “Bute,” as the tavern was originally called. Mrs. Black’s tavern was situated down a long narrow close at the head of the Gallowgate, and was a thatched house of two stories. She drove a “roaring trade,” especially in the winter evenings, and was famous over the city for sheep’s heads, black puddings, and “a skirl in the pan.” The “Black Boy” was also kept by a buxom widow, who ultimately doffed her weeds, and became the landlady of the “Buck’s Head,” where an “ordinary” was kept daily, at the moderate charge of eightpence per head. The landlord of the “Three Tuns” was ” honest John Greig,” a character in his way; and the same may be said of John Neilson, the Boniface of the Boot.”
In looking over the tiny Directory of Mr Jones, many names will be found just as familiar in the mouths of the citizens now as they were eighty years ago. It will be seen, at the same time, that immense changes have taken place during that period. The “merchant princes” have deserted their domiciles in the business parts of the city, and have moved towards the west, or into the country altogether. The population has increased nearly tenfold; the city itself has invaded the country in all directions, and by thousands of acres at a stretch.
But notwithstanding the increase of population, the multiplication of public works, and the pollution of the river, the rate of mortality has continued to decline. In 1787, the number of deaths within the city boundaries amounted. to I,759, or one in every 28 of the population; whereas, in 1866, the proportion was exactly one in every 34. In those days small-pox was one of the most deadly scourges that afflicted humanity; and accordingly we find that out of 1,759 deaths, during the year above named, 383 resulted from small-pox alone, or nearly a fourth part of the aggregate mortality. In 1866, out of 12,826 deaths, not more than 101 were the effect of small-pox, or one in every 127. The general result shows, that in 1787 one person out of every 130 died from this terrible disease; while in 1866 the proportion of deaths had declined to one in every 4,336.
Eighty years ago the General Post-Office was in a small shop in Gibson’s Wynd, or Prince’s Street, and the business was conducted by one master, two clerks, and two letter-carriers; while the number of the latter at the present time is at least forty times more. The Custom House was managed by two men, and the Tolbooth by the same number; and, to crown all, the street Directory has swelled from 84 Pages to 85o, and has increased in weight from a little over one ounce to nearly two pounds and a quarter!
It would be quite superfluous to go more particularly into the contents of “Jones’s Directory,” as it is now before the reader, and he may prefer to make his own comparisons. It may not be out of place, at the same time, to add a few notes regarding some of the names to be found in the pages of Jones, and to mention the simple fact that my information has been chiefly drawn from the works on Glasgow written by’ M’Ure, Cleland, Reid (Senex), Pagan, and Dr. Strang.
Was a native of Stewarton, and commenced business on his own account as a hawker or pedlar. Then he opened a shop in the High Street of Glasgow, at the yearly rent of five pounds; the half of which he sublet to a watchmaker for fifty shillings! In these small premises he contrived to carry on a profitable and yearly increasing business in French yarns particularly, until he was appointed agent for the Royal Bank of Scotland, when the watchmaker’s half of the High Street shop was converted into a bank office. Some time after this, Mr. Dale erected the cotton mills at Lanark, went into turkey-red dyeing, weaving, and other enterprises; in all of which he was remarkably successful. From less to more he realized a handsome fortune-became a preacher of the gospel in the “Candle Kirk,” father-in-law of Robert Owen, and a Glasgow magistrate. He lived respected by all who knew him, and died universally lamented as an able merchant, a just magistrate, and one of the most benevolent of men.
Was the son of a Perthshire minister, and became pastor of the Wynd Church in 1776. He was blamed for taking a share in the anti-popish agitation of those days, which resulted in the destruction of a Catholic chapel and a considerable amount of property. He was a tall, dark-complexioned man, with a commanding appearance and an enormous wig, and he made himself somewhat unpopular among the poorer classes, by looking strictly after parties claiming relief at the Town’s Hospital. At length the worthy doctor got the cognomen of Buff the Beggars,” and the common cry in the streets was “Porteous and the deil, Buff the beggars weel!” During the excitement of the French Revolution, Dr Porteous preached a sermon before the Glasgow Volunteers, in which he compared the orgies of the revolutionists to scenes in the bottomless pit, “when Satan gave the signal and all hell rose in a mass!” He was the first minister of St George’s Church, and got for a second wife, the aunt of General Sir John Moore.
Was Town Clerk of Glasgow from 1781 till 1803, and for several years Captain-Commandant of the Light Horse Troop of Volunteers. When a very young man, Mr Orr fell in love with a beautiful young lady, the intimate acquaintance of his sister, and a very ardent correspondence was the immediate result – the lover concluding, one of his epistles by signing himself “Your affectionate husband, John Orr.” Years passed on, and Mr. Orr ceased to talk of marriage. An action in the Court of Session was raised against him; and, after a protracted litigation, the lady was declared his lawful wife. He steadily refused to live with her, however, or to acknowledge her as his wife. She entered the Court of Session once more, obtained a divorce, and got married a second time; while Mr Orr remained single throught life, and died in 1803, in the fifty-ninth year of his age.
A gallant old soldier who had seen a good deal of service in foreign parts, and who was much given to fighting his battles over again. It was his daily habit to “promenade the plainstones” opposite his own house in the Trongate, clad in a suit of snuff-coloured brown, his long, spare limbs incased in blue striped stockings, knee breeches, shoes and buckles. He sported a long queue, a kold-headed cane, cambric ruffles, powdered hair, and a cocked hat, which he always took off with French politeness when saluting a friend. He was commonly called “the Beau,” and was esteemed by all who knew him as “a prince of worthy fellows, and a pretty man also.” He lived with two maiden sisters, was a regular member of the Coffee-room, and dearly loved a bowl of good punch, seasoned with limes from his own estate in Trinidad. At last he sickened and died; and John Wilson in the Noctes sang of him thus:-
“Oh! we ne’er shall see the like of Captain Paton no mo!”
(Or “Bob Dreghorn,” as he was called all over the city) occupied a large house fronting West Clyde Street, and was in the daily practice of walking up Stockwell Street to the Cross. He was a tall, gaunt figure, dreadfully marked by small-pox; with a large crooked nose, and a pair of eyes that looked in opposite directions. He had a great antipathy to mischievous boys whom he belaboured with his walking-stick whenever any of them came within reach of the “Dragon’s” arm; and had as great a partiality for servant girls with bare feet! He was, in short, the embodied ideal of ill-nature and ugliness: mothers used to frighten their children by the mention of his name; and yet he was known to be a kindly-disposed man. One morning in 1806, he was missed from his usual walking-ground; and on inquiries being made, it was discovered that poor Bob had died by his own hand. The story ran that his house was haunted; and so strongly did this feeling prevail, that it remained empty and forsaken for many years afterwards.
Was generally regarded as one of the most accomplished scholars that ever occupied the Greek Chair in the Glasgow University. He expounded the ancient classics with an enthusiasm that has never been surpassed; and, moreover, he was an ardent admirer of the drama and of Edmund Kean. The learned professor was the son of a cooper, and the students on that account dubbed him “Cocky Bung.” While in the theatre one night, he became so absorbed by witnessing Kean’s “Shylock,” that he also commenced to act the part in dumb-show, to the amusement of the audience; and a witty ex-Provost made note of the circumstance in rhyme, as follows:
The very Jew I’ve surely seen
That Shakespeare painted, played by Kean,
While Plaudits loudy rung;
But what was all his acting fine,
To the diverting pantomime
Displayed by Cocky Bung?”
This notability kept a rum-cellar in Wallace’s Closs, Bell’s Wynd, and was known in the city by the sobriquet of “The General,” on account of his tall, erect figure, and “lordly bearing” on the streets. He was one of the founders of the Camperdown Club, and was never known to change an opinion which he had once fairly adopted. He detested changes and innovations of all kinds, even in dress, and stuck to knee breeches and white worsted stockings long after the oldest man in the city had discarded them. In 1803, the “General” was appointed Master of the Glasgow Police, an office which he held for two years. He was much respected by his fellow citizens, and died in the eighty-seventh year of his age.
A “merchant councillor” in 1787, and Lord Provost of the city in 1793. During the reign of Mr. Hamilton, a monetary panic overspread, the country: banks failed by the score, firms broke down by the hundred, and the greatest distress prevailed everywhere. In this emergency Provost Hamilton went to London, and applied for Government aid, to save the manufacturers of Glasgow from ruin, and the application was successful. He was a thin, spare, skeleton of a man, a real scarecrow provost; and when arrayed in his dark velvet suit, it was said of him that he “looked like Death running away with the mortcloth!” While in London on his benevolent mission, he was held to be a palpable evidence of a famishing city; and having accomplished the object of his journey, the worthy chief magistrate returned and adopted measures for relieving his distressed fellow-citizens. During Mr Hamilton’s tenure of office, the Tron Church was rebuilt, and the ancient Cathedral was repaired and re-seated.
A successful West India merchant, a leading partner in the great firm of Stirling, Gordon, and Company, a high Tory, and first president of the celebrated “Pig Club.” – Mr. Gordon was a jolly-looking well-made man, of a lordly bearing; and, like the “General,” he long stuck to knee breeches and worsted stockings. He occupied a large mansion and fine garden on the site of the Prince of Wales buildings in Buchanan Street, where he surrounded himself with a cricle of the leading Tory gentlemen or the period, and dispensed a princely hospitality. Mr. Gordon was emphatically a citizen of credit and renown; and, after a long life of mercantile activity, political consistency, and wide-spread benevolence, he died on the 2nd December, 1828, universally lamented in spite of his political opinions.
Was the son of Robert Carrick, minister of Houston, and entered the counting-house of the “Ship Bank” at the age of fifteen, under the auspices of Provost Buchanan of Drumpellier. Step by step, slowly but surely, Robin Carrick rose to be managing partner of the concern, and one of the most important personages in the city of Glasgow at the time. He was a short, dumpy man, in his latter days with thin grey hair, tied into a pigtail behind and with a keen scrutinizing expression of countenance. His every-day attire consisted of a long blue coat hanging down to his heels, a striped woollen waistcoat, knee breaches, white ribbed stockings and a pair of capacious shoes. He sat behind his desk on a three-legged stool, in the “sweating room,” or manager’s sanctum where he received his customers with a bland smile, even when refusing to discount their paper. On these occasions the invariable saying was, “it’s not convenient;” and once uttered, it was never known to be recalled. Mr. Carrick was elected Dean of Guild in 1803, and died in 1821.
Was minister of the Chapel of Ease in the latter part of the last century, and was rather a notable sort of character. He is said to have had a specific grace for every sort of dinner; and when the spread happened to be sumptuous, he usually began with “Bountiful Jehovah!” Mr M’Leod had an arch way of telling a story; and when Dr. Chalmers came to Glasgow, and was in the heyday of his popularity, he remarked: “Weel, I mind mysel’ when I cam first to the Chapel o’ Ease, folk were paying tippence a piece for a seat on the poopit stairs – every dog has its day.”
A leading Glasgow merchant, father of, Kirkman, and grandfather of Mr A. Finlay of Castle Toward, late M.P. for Argyleshire. During the progress of the American war, Mr. James Findlay, in conjunction with ex-Provost Ingram and Mr. Gray of Carntyne resolved to raise a regiment of volunteers in Glasgow for the service of the Government. With this object in view, the trio met somewhere in the Gallowgate, and proceeded as a recruiting party towards the Cross. Mr. Gray walked in front, as the sergeant, wielding a formidable sword; Provost Ingram brought up the rear; while Mr. Findlay marched in the centre, playing the bagpipes! On reaching Peter M’Kinlay’s tavern, the party marched up stairs, and were soon joined by a number of their friends from the Coffee-room, anxious to learn their success in the recruiting line, when Mr. Ingram remarked, “there’s a sergeant and a piper, but I am the regiment!” The recruiting was continued, however; and before many days elapsed, the “regiment” turned out 1000 strong, and afterwards became the 83rd of the line.
A merchant councillor, a popular member of the “Hodge-Podge Club,” a poet of no mean order; younger brother of James Dunlop of Garnkirk, and son of Colin Dunlop of Carmyle. In 1794, Mr. Dunlop was elected Lord Provost of Glasgow, and afterwards became Collector of Customs at Port-Glasgow, where he died in 1820. He was the author of the two beautiful songs, ” Here’s to the year that’s awa,” and “Dinna ask me gin I lo’e ye,” besides other pieces of considerable merit. In 1778, while still a Glasgow town councillor, he took an active part in the promotion of a New Police Bill, and was lampooned by a local satirist in the following style:-
The plan was in the Council moved
By an effected fop,
Who came from off the Turkish Dun,
And so nicknamed Dunlop;
Who struts still in the foremost rank,
Dull councillors among;
Because he apes the turkey’s dance,
And eke the peacock’s song.”
Was minister of the Ramshorn Kirk, or St. David’s, from 1785 till his death, in 1827. He was an eloquent preacher, a modest, kind-hearted man, and the author of several works, including a “History of France,” of which he was not a little proud. Being anxious to ascertain what other people thought of his favourite work, the worthy doctor stepped into Stirling’s Library one day, where he was not known, and addressing Mr. Peat, the librarian, said, “Pray, Mr. Peat, is Dr. Rankine’s History of France in?” Mr. Peat turned round on his seat and very curtly replied, “It was never out!” The Doctor took the remark in good part, and went home to his “lodgings” a sadder and a wiser man.
A physician in extensive practice at the head of Stockwell Street, in 1787, and was the grandfather of Charles Wilsone Browne, the husband of the widow Swinfen. On the 10th January, in the year above named, Dr. Wilsone was knocked down in Argyle Street at night, and robbed by two men named Veitch and M’Aulay, who were tried and sentenced to death for the crime. At two o’clock on the 30th of May, they were taken out of the Tolbooth at the Cross, and up the High Street to the place of execution in the Castle Yard; but so great was the crush of people on the street, that a halt was made, and refreshments served out to the prisoners at the “Bell of the Brae,” and a whole hour was spent in reaching the Castle Yard. Both prisoners were duly executed, along with a man named Gentles, who suffered death for robbing a bleachfield.
Was minister of the Barony for sixty-nine years; and for twenty-five years of that long period he preached to his congregation in the crypt of the Cathedral – a spectacle which Scott graphically describes in his “Rob Roy” In 1787, Dr. Burns lodged in Castle-pens Land, on the east side of the High Street, and died in 1839, at the advanced age of ninety-five.
An eminent merchant, and one of the most popular Lord Provosts that Glasgow ever had. At this time he resided in the second floor of an old tenement in Argyle Street; and yet he was rather proud of himself as a provost. On one occasion, while apologizing for some mistake on the part of an official, his lordship said, “even I myself have made a mistake!” a saying that was not soon forgotten. Mr Colquhoun was the originator of the Chamber of Commerce, in 1783; and in 1789 he settled in London, where he became Chief Police Magistrate of the metropolis.
Was appointed Professor of Divinity in the College about 1783; and his lectures were considered remarkable for their learning, liberality, and prolixity. One of his students, on being asked what he had heard during a certain session, replied, “The illustration of an attribute and a half;” while a second youth remarked that the Doctor had “hung nearly the whole session on one horn of the altar!” Dr. Findlay had a thin, attenuated figure; but his appearance was venerable and striking, especially on the streets, as he was invariably dressed in clerical attire, surmounted by a cocked hat and a full storied wig. He died in 1814, at the great age of ninety-three.
An engraver in the second flat of Craig’s Land, at the head of the Old Wynd, was the father of the late Provost Lumsden, and grandfather of our present chief Magistrate. In 1797, James Lumsden, junior, was erected a knight companion of the “Coul Club,” under the title of Sir Christopher Copperplate.
Was a merchant bailie in 1787, and Lord Provost of the city in 1790. It was chiefly through the exertions of Mr. M’Dowall that the Royal Infirmary was erected, and the industrial prison, or Bridewell, established in the city. It was also during his reign that the Trades’ Hall was built, and the Flesher’s Haugh, as well as John King’s Park, was added to the Green.
Were teachers of writing, &c., in Buchanan’s Land, Trongate, and stood in the relationship of uncle and nephew. John, the uncle, was a bit of a poet, and among other productions wrote a poem entitled “Nonsense,” which was declared by Professor Hamilton to be destitute of a single idea – a feat which gained for the author a leaden crown from the members of the “Accidental Club.” When Mr. Taylor died, and was carried to the High Kirk burying-ground for interment, it was discovered that the undertaker had forgotten to order the preparation of a grave! In this emergency, the corpse was deposited in she south aisle of the Cathedral, and the funeral party adjourned to a public-house in Kirk Lane, and enjoyed themselves until the gravedigger did his duty. It is not a little singular that Mr Taylor had strong presentiment that “something would go wrong at his funeral.”
William, the nephew (or the “Cub,” as he was called by his companions), was much given to sarcasm or acidity in his talk – a habit which he carried to great lengths, even with his pupils. On one occasion, the day before Christmas, a boy went up to Mr. Taylor in school and said, “I suppose, Mr. Taylor, we’ll hae the play the morn to eat our goose?” The dominie at once replied, Oh ay, Robin; but there’s been sic a slauchter o’ thae animals, I wonder that you hae escaped!” Mr. Taylor was in the habit of getting “jolly,” and sometimes “glorious,” on the Saturday nights, and occasioially forgot the name of the next day. One Sunday morning after a “booze,” he awoke in bed, rung the bell violently, and ordered in his shaving water at once, as time was up for school. The servant girl, rather astonished, said, “Oh! Mr. TayIor, it’s the Sabbath-day!” “The Sabbath-day!” exclaimed the ‘Cub,’ “glorious institution the Sabbath!” as he turned round for another snooze.
Teacher in Buchanan’s Court, and afterwards head master of the Grammar School – a man of immense proportions, and known by the nickname of “Gutty Wilson.” He was a member of the corps of volunteers designated the “ancients,” on account of their personal appearance; and on one occasion, while being dressed in line by an Irish drill-sergeant, the latter exclaimed, “Very well in front; but, holy Moses! what a rear!’)
Accountant in the Ship Bank, under the redoubtable Robin Carrick. Mr. Marshall is described as a cadaverous-looking personage, with a whisky-painted nose. gaunt in figure, and about six feet in height. He was in the habit of taking burnt cake to kill the smell of the meridian drams; and when he first made this important discovery, he entered the bank in triumph with a bit, of the brown cake in his hand. Coming behind a bottle companion at the desk (as he believed), Mr. Marshall gave him a hearty slap on the back, and, presenting the piece of cake, exclaimed, “here, my old cock, is one of Robin’s deceivers for you!” The “old cock” was Robin himself! The rest is left to the reader’s imagination.
Better known as “Bauldy Wright,” was an old Highlander, and kept a small shop in the Trongate, where he sold drugs and garden seeds. He was also the proprietor and sole inventor of “Wright’s Powders,” the virtues of which have been described in the following fashion.-“If they did nae harm, they could do nae guid!”
Another old Highlander and druggist in the Trongate, who also dealt in silver plate, hardware, toys, tea, and quack medicines, including the famous “Balm of Gilead.” Angus kept a shop-man or porter named Murdoch M ‘Donald, who, according to the advertisements had been cured of every disease incident to humanity by a liberal use of his master’s drugs.
Was originally a shoemaker, and ultimately keeper of the Coffee-room at the Cross, and of the “Servants’ Register Office, second stair, left hand, Presbyterian Closs, Saltmarket.” Mr. Jones was also the editor or compiler of the following Directory, and grandfather of Mr. Jones, late librarian of the College.
An ironmonger in the Trongate, and known in the “Beefsteak Club” – of which he was a long time president – as “Tinkler Wilsone.” At a meeting of the club, on a particular occasion, Mr. Wilsone observed a member tossing off a glass of whisky, and following it up immediately by a bumper of brandy. The witty president at once exclaimed, “Good God, sir! what are you about? You have disgraced yourself and the club, by putting a fiddling Frenchman above a sturdy Highlander” The copper-nosed delinquent instantly started to his feet, swallowed another jorum of Ferintosh, and laying his hand upon his heart, said, “brand me not with being, a democrat, sir; for now I’ve got the Frenchman between two fires!”
Editor and printer of the Glasgow Advertiser (published every Monday evening), Saltmarket, No. 22. This journal was transformed into the Glasgow Herald in 1803, under the direction of the celebrated Samuel Hunter. Mr. Mennons, it will be observed, was also the printer of Jones’s Directory.
Loch-head’s Closs, High Street; better known by the appellation of “Bell Geordie,” and one of the old Glasgow celebrities whose names will not be soon forgotten. Geordie was a stout, burly man, full of caustic humour and fond of whisky – a habit which ultimately cost him his gaudy red coat. After losing his situation, poor Geordie lost his sight, and was led about the streets by a little girl, begging his bread on the scene of his former glories. Such is life!