Witches and Warlocks of Renfrewshire

There are many tales of witches and wizards from biblical times to the present-day, but nothing in comparison to the actions of the reformed churches after they denounced the Church of Rome, accusing it of being in league with the devil himself. From a misunderstood text in the old testament (Exodus 22.18) “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” the church in Scotland embarked on a dark and evil pathway towards legalised murder in the guise of piety. Acting on this slender foundation, an Act of Parliament was passed in 1563 that would lead to thousands of men women and children tortured in the most heinous manner, strangled and burnt at the stake.  Less fortunate individuals in England were burned alive. Accounts of these trials and executions that we find on record in Scotland total 4400 victims. Europe wide the estimate was 50,000. Many were not recorded and the exact number will never be known.

Renfrewshire was late in taking up the challenge of eradicating Witches and nearly one hundred years passed before it raised its ugly head in the Shire. The year 1664 saw John Hamilton minister of Inverkip charged with taking a bribe of 50 merks from an alleged witch he was protecting. He was discharged and the poor woman in question died in prison before her trial. For the next thirty years Inverkip had the reputation as a centre of black magic. Other towns of note were Greenock with Kilmacolm and Inchinnan a close third.

Paisley was rather slow with its involvement in witchcraft, but they made up for that in 1676 when Sir John Maxwell of Pollock died. Five witches and a warlock were accused of procuring his death using a wax image, sticking pins in it, and melting the image at a fire. Five were found guilty and garrotted then burnt on the Gallowgreen on the 20th February 1677.

The most notorious witch trials that took place in Scotland relate to the bewitching of Christian Shaw, daughter of the Laird of Bargarran, a small estate on the road between Bishopton and Erskine Ferry. Christian’s father had paid a visit to America at the time of the Salem witch trials and it is thought Christian, having overheard a conversation, took revenge on a servant claiming that the servant bewitched her. The case was reported to the Privy Council in January, 1697. Wholesale arrests were made throughout the county of Renfrew, the victims were handed over to the pricker, stripped naked and had their body checked for places that did not bleed when punctured with a large darning needle. If found, these blood-free spots were immediately declared to be the Devil’s mark. The accused victims’ fates were sealed. A total of twenty one men and women were put on trial. Of these, three men and four women were held to be involved in the bewitching of Christian Shaw and sentenced to death by throttling and burning on Gallowgreen on 10th June, 1697. One of the commissioned judges was William Cunningham of Craigends (see April Advertizser), who was later made an honorary burgess of Paisley. When the Bargarran witches had been disposed of, Christian Shaw made a remarkable recovery and went on to be a very successful business woman.

The 1563 Act was repealed in 1736, with the last execution of a witch in Scotland taking place at Dornoch in 1722.

© 2020, Peter Crawford

William Cunninghame, 8th Laird of Craigends

Over one hundred years before John Cuninghame, 13th Laird of Craigends kept a diary, William the 8th Laird, too, kept a diary. Unlike the 13th Laird’s very personal diary, William Cuninghame’s diary was mainly in the form of an account book of his household expenses, but it still gives an interesting insight into his life and activities.

At the time of writing, William was heir to his father, Alexander, and was known as Master of Craigends. He married his first wife, Anne, daughter of Lord Ruthven, in April 1673. William and Anne lived in the old Craigends House with Laird Alexander and his wife. Although the couple had no children, William was trustee to Anne’s son, William, from her previous marriage to Cuninghgame of Cuninghamehead.

William’s diary is complete from November 1673 until December1680. Every item of William’s household expenditure is meticulously itemised and dated.  He regularly paid his father the cost of boarding in the household. Boarding expenses ‘for horses and all’ amounted to over five hundred pounds sterling each year. William also gave money to his wife, ‘the lady’, for her expenses, and paid his own personal servants. William and Anne made regular visits to Anne’s family at Freeland in Perthshire and William, on occasion, travelled to Edinburgh to attend to legal matters on behalf of Anne’s son. The expenses incurred on these ‘voyages’ are recorded in detail, including board and lodgings, cost of servants on the journey, stabling and feed for his horses and gratuities given to servants at inns. At home, William frequently gave money to beggars and to ‘poor men at the gate’.

William was a frequent visitor in Kilbarchan village.  In 1675 he appointed James King, to erect a ‘leaping-on-stone’ (used to assist in mounting a horse) close to the Parish Church. He gave regularly to the Parish Church, paid for repairs, and contributed to the parish schoolmaster’s salary. As staunch Presbyterians, the Cuninghames were opposed to the imposition of Episcopacy on the Church of Scotland. William’s diary entries include financial support given to Presbyterian ‘outed’, ministers expelled from the church for their beliefs.

Like all country lairds, William went hunting. This pursuit entailed expense for saddles, bridles and shoeing horses. His other leisure pursuits included bowling, curling, tennis and the ancient game of bullets. With the exception of tennis, which was played in Paisley, he appears to have engaged in these sports with his servants or tenants. His main expense was the money he lost in wagers, including twelve shillings ‘lost in tennice with Rossyth, in September 1675.

William dressed well and made numerous payments to tailors and shoemakers. His wardrobe included, a coat and breeches of purple cloth, fixed with ties made from fifteen ells of purple ribbon; suits adorned and fastened with silver buckles and buttons, and silver-buckled shoes. He wore a periwig and used bone and timber combs, a little pocket brush and a supply of sweet hair powder for his hair. His sword and scabbard were held in place by a belt.

William became the Laird on the death of his father in 1690. He married his second wife, Christian, the daughter of John Colquhoun of Luss, and had five children, including a daughter Lilias (b 1791). Lilias, is still celebrated in the village today in the annual historic pageant known as Lilias Day. William died in 1727 and was succeeded by his eldest son Alexander.

© 2020, Helen Calcluth

John Cuninghame, Laird of Craigends (1759-1822)

John Cuninghame, 13th Laird of Craigends, inherited Craigends estate in 1792. In 1800 he married his second wife, Margaret, the daughter of Sir William Cuninghme-Fairlie of Robertland. John and Margaret had five sons and six daughters.

His memorial stone in the entrance tower of Kilbarchan old Parish Church extols his kindness, wisdom, sincerity and his trust in God. It also makes mention of a protracted and painful illness which he bore with fortitude.

Despite suffering from frequent debilitating bouts of gout and arthritis John led an active life. His diary, written from 1814 to December 1815, provides a detailed account of his life.

John was responsible for the running of Craigends estate. This involved the organisation of haymaking, harvest-time, sheep shearing, tree cutting and pruning vines, engaging the mole-catcher, attending cattle fairs in Johnstone. In the winter of 1814, when the dam at Locher Mill burst its banks, he contracted William White to inspect the dam and make repairs. He held a regular Rent Court where he collected rent from his estate tenants. He also had a substantial income from Granville Estate in Jamaica and lodged his West-India income in a bank in Paisley.

John was a Justice of the Peace and a Commissioner of Supply for the County. In this latter capacity he was responsible for ensuring local roads and tolls were in good order. He had also a keen interest in a surveying and new building.  He visited the site for Napier’s new house on Milliken Estate and took his eldest son, Willie, to see George MacFarlane’s plans for his proposed new house at Clippens.

Religion was important to John, and the family regularly attended services in both Kilbarchan Church and Houston and Killellan Church. Margaret was especially friendly with Ann Monteith, the wife of the Houston minister.

John’s and Margaret’s social circle included the Napiers of Milliken, the Porterfields of Duchal, the Alexanders of Southbar, the Flemings of Barochan, the Napiers of Blackstoun and the Maxwells of Pollock. These family friends dined together, travelling from house to house by horse and chaise. On the 28th of November, 1815, soon after the marriage of William Milliken Napier to Elizabeth Stirling of Kippendavie, John was invited to meet the new bride. He found her “very agreeable tho’ not such a beauty as I had been led to believe she was”. The men enjoyed salmon fishing, shooting partridges and hunting with hounds. John hunted with his friends at Skiff in Johnstone, Kilmacolm, Barochan Mill, and Formakin Mill.

John had a close involvement in the home life of his children. He showed great concern when the children had chickenpox and promptly sent for doctor Pinkerton. He noted in his diary that Johnnie, aged ten, fell through the ceiling of the coal house, but thankfully was not badly hurt, and that Lillie fell off a chair and bruised her eye and cheek. On a visit to Paisley he took his daughter, Fanny, for a haircut.  He also recorded each of the children’s birthdays and arranged a holiday for them in Largs. His elder boys were tutored by Mr. Robert Smith, until the 2nd of March, 1815 when he was ordained as minister of Lochwinnoch Parish Church.

Entries in this unique personal diary ended on 26th December 1815. John died in 1822 and his eldest son, William, at the age of twenty-one, became the next laird.

© 2020, Helen Calcluth 

(See also previous article on John Cunninghame of Craigends (1759 – 1822) 

Renfrewshire’s Slave Legacy: 6

In past issues, we have seen how some of Renfrewshire’s leading landowners were awarded large sums in 1834 for the loss of Africans on their sugar plantations. This was the result of a series of connections dating back to the 1640s, when ships from the lower Clyde sailed to Nevis and St Kitts. From the 1660s, pioneers such as William Colhoun had become sugar planters. Their influence brought out young men such as William McDowall and James Milliken as overseers. These men became successful planters and came home from the Caribbean in the 1720s and purchased Renfrewshire estates. They became ‘fixers’, among fellow landowners, demonstrating the vast wealth possible from owning sugar plantations. They arranged lucrative marriages and positions for sons and daughters on sugar plantations.

Other leading Renfrewshire families who received slave compensation in 1834 included the Stewarts of Blackhall and Ardgowan. The Stewarts owned large tracts of the county from Inverkip to Mearns. Through the influence of established planters such as the McDowalls, by the 1740s the Stewarts had acquired the ‘Roxburgh’ sugar plantation on Tobago. Most of the slave-owning families were linked through marriage. In 1786 the Stewart heir, married Fanny Colhoun, the widow of Sir James Maxwell of Nether Pollok, daughter of the McDowall’s slave overseer. Later, Sir Michael (Shaw-)Stewart married the daughter of Robert Farquhar, heir of the Harvey of Castle Semple sugar fortune.

Sugar success spread quickly across Renfrewshire. In Cathcart Parish, the ‘Sugar Campbells’, the seventh largest plantation owners in Britain, purchased what became Linn Park from the McDowalls. In 1843 they were awarded compensation for the loss of 1,062 Africans. In Neilston Parish, John Wallace of Kelly & Neilstonside was a planter in Jamaica. In Kilmacolm, the Porterfields of Duchal shared in the sugar plantations of the Cunninghams of Craigends. In Inchinnan Parish, William Alexander of Southbar had plantations on Antigua, Grenada and St. Vincent. In 1834 he was awarded £21,181 for the loss of 850 Africans. In Mearns, apart from the Stewarts of Blackhall, the Allasons of Greenbank engaged in slave trading and the Hutchesons of Southfield were awarded compensation for the loss of Africans on their Jamaican plantation.

Overall, despite the popular association of Liverpool and Bristol, with slavery, the Glasgow area received more compensation for losing slaves than Liverpool. Because many planters purchased estates around Glasgow, this had a very large effect on Renfrewshire. The leading Renfrewshire landowners covered in this series owned thousands of Africans. Most owned plantations for generations. Due to over-work, violence, disease and replacement, the number of Africans passing through their hands amounted to several times this number.

In conclusion, there are few parts of Renfrewshire where the farmland wasn’t improved through the labour of enslaved Africans, who were personally owned by the landed elite. (Readers can search the slave compensation records for themselves at www.ucl.as.uk.)

© 2019 Stuart Nisbet

Linn Bridge

Renfrewshire’s Slave Legacy 5 The Maxwells of Pollok

The McDowalls of Castle Semple and Millikens returned from the Caribbean in the 1720s and showed the vast income possible from sugar plantations. Thanks to their experience, they became ‘fixers’ among Renfrewshire’s main landed families, arranging positions for sons as overseers, and marrying daughters to sugar planters.

The Maxwells of Nether Pollok (now Glasgow’s Pollok Country Park) were one of the biggest landowning families in Renfrewshire. They are not often linked to mercantile pursuits, but have a long slave owning heritage.

Pollok House

The connection started with Robert Colhoun, grandson of one of Glasgow’s original merchants or ‘Sea Adventurers’ who was a St Kitts planter in the 1660s. Robert sailed to St Kitts in 1724 as the McDowall’s slave overseer. By the 1750s he owned two sugar plantations next to the McDowalls. A training position was arranged on Robert’s plantation for James Maxwell, a younger son of Nether Pollok. In 1762, due to the death of the heir, James suddenly became Sir James Maxwell the new heir to Nether Pollok. While on St. Kitts, Sir James had courted Robert’s daughter, Fanny. Sir James came home and married Fanny Colhoun, the daughter of McDowall’s slave overseer. Large sums poured into Nether Pollok from Fanny’s dowry from her late father’s sugar plantations on St. Kitts, and the Dutch sugar island of St. Croix.

The family’s slave-owning heritage continued. In 1815, Elizabeth, the granddaughter of Sir James and Fanny Colhoun married Archibald Stirling. Thanks to the family’s Jamaica sugar plantations, where Stirling had spent most of his life, he was reputedly the richest commoner in Scotland. At the abolition of slave ownership in 1834, Stirling was awarded £12,517 for the loss of 690 enslaved Africans on his plantations. When the Maxwell male line died out, Archibald and Elizabeth’s son, William, became heir to Nether Pollok. Despite the slaving heritage of the Stirlings, the family adopted the double-barrelled ‘Stirling-Maxwell’ surname, to save losing the ‘Maxwell’ title.

Sir William Stirling-Maxwell purchased much of the art which now graces Pollok House. Their grandson, Sir John Stirling Maxwell, founded the National Trust for Scotland at Pollok in 1931. The Stirl.ing-Maxwells were one of Renfrewshire’s biggest landowners. Like many of Renfrewshire’s landed elite, they were also slave owners. Each acre of land in the family’s ownership was improved through the labour of one of their enslaved Africans.

© 2019 Stuart Nisbet

Renfrewshire’s Slave Legacy 4: The McDowalls and Harveys of Castle Semple

The McDowalls of Castle Semple started out in the Caribbean in the 1690s. Like their friends, the Millikens, who were partners and relatives by marriage, their careers were different from what we are told in the history books. Rather than soldiers, they went out there as slave overseers, and worked their way up to sugar planters.

At any one time the McDowalls were responsible for the control of at least 1,000 Africans, on their own plantations, and through managing others. They also dabbled in slave trading. In 1726 their overcrowded slave ship, named after Milliken’s daughter, overturned, drowning 272 Africans.

At home the McDowalls served in all the leading positions, as patrons of the parish kirk, Rectors of Glasgow University, and MPs. In the third generation James McDowall was Provost of Glasgow, and chairman of the society opposing the abolition of slavery. After 1800 the family firm went bankrupt. However, in 1834 the fourth generation of the McDowalls still held onto sugar plantations on Grenada and St. Vincent. The Slave Compensation records show that the family were awarded compensation for the loss of 427 Africans.

For more than a century, the McDowalls used their sugar money to improve Lochwinnoch Parish. In 1818 they were celebrated for contributing the most in the county towards building new roads and bridges. The McDowalls and Millikens were pioneers in showing the potential income from sugar plantations. The income from a 150 acre sugar plantation in the 1780s was many times the income from a similar sized Renfrewshire farm.

After 1810, Castle Semple passed to the Harveys, another sugar planting family. The Harveys had two plantations on Antigua in the late 1730s and expanded south to Grenada, with a further five sugar plantations.

The Harvey name was important enough to hold onto, even when their plantations passed to relations. The family created a succession of double-barrelled names including Rae-Harvey and Shand-Harvey. By the 1830’s, Castle Semple was owned by Major James Lee-Harvey. In 1834 the family were awarded £26,392 for the loss of their slaves. It is interesting that the compensation was for the loss of a total of 1,204 African men, women and children – more than one African for every improved acre of their Castle Semple estate at the time.

A future article will explain how the McDowalls and Millikens became ‘fixers’ among Renfrewshire’s landed elite. They showed others the vast income possible from owning plantations. They also arranged positions for sons as overseers, and married off daughters to sugar planters.

© 2019 Stuart Nisbet

McDowall’s Sugar Mill, Grenada

Renfrewshire’s Slave Legacy 3: The Cunninghams of Craigends

For several centuries the Cunninghams were among the top landowners in Renfrewshire. Their core estate was at Craigends, and they had further property in Kilbarchan village. The Cunninghams also owned many other lands in the parish. These included along the Black Cart (around Over Johnstone), along the Locher (Kaimhill, Clippens and Windyhill) and, also, up the Gryfe to Bridge of Weir, Thriplee, and Craigends  Denniston, then across into Erskine parish. All of these lands were managed and improved with slave money. Along with the Millikens’ coat of arms the Cunninghams’ coat of arms graced Kilbarchan parish church.

The Cunningham’s neighbour, James Milliken, returned from the Caribbean in 1729. Two years later, Cunningham acquired the 3,500 acre Grandville plantation in Westmoreland, Jamaica, and used it to fund improvements at home. When the 11th heir, Alexander Cunningham inherited Grandville in the 1780s from his father, he also used the income to improve his lands. He abandoned his old garden and built a new three acre walled garden, with orchard, hotwall, and melon and peach houses.

The Cunninghams were not ‘absent’ landlords who managed their slaves from the Scottish side of the Atlantic. Like fellow landowners such as the McDowalls and Millikens, they preferred to have a family member in control. William, the second son of the 8th laird, (b.1693) went to Jamaica in the 1730s. Others followed, right through to the 12th Laird, William, (b.1757) who lived and died on Jamaica. His brother John, the next heir, has a large epitaph inside Kilbarchan old kirk. This remembers John as ‘kind, candid, sincere and firm, walking humbly with his God’. There is a deep conflict between the church connections of Renfrewshire’s landed elite and their ownership of Africans.

By the 1770s, lists of chattels owned by the Cunninghams give details of nearly 300 enslaved Africans working 377 acres of sugar cane. They were captured on the west coast of Africa and carried in deplorable condition across the Atlantic. When Cunningham purchased the Africans off the slave ships, he gave them new names, including ‘Kilbarchan’, ‘Craigends’ and ‘Paisley’.

By 1834 the Cunninghams had profited from Grandville plantation for a century. In the Government compensation records at the abolition of plantation slavery that year, William Cunningham, 14th of Craigends, was awarded £3,278 for the loss of 185 enslaved Africans at Grandville (more than £200,000 at today’s value). Their overseer, Taylor Cathcart, was also compensated for loss of slaves on a plantation of his own.

Next door to the Cunninghams, Lochwinnoch Parish was dominated by the McDowall family. Next time we will see how slave money was used to improve Lochwinnoch Parish.

© 2019 Stuart Nisbet

Renfrewshire’s Slave Legacy 2: The Napiers of Milliken

The Government’s slave compensation records from 1834 reveal that many of Renfrewshire’s landed elite owned hundreds of African men, women and children on sugar plantations. Contrary to the misconception that Scots were banned from the empire before the Union of 1707, the connections started early. From the 1640s, ships from the lower Clyde ports ventured to the Caribbean.

James Milliken was born in 1669, the year after Port Glasgow was founded. One of the reasons why Renfrewshire’s slave ownership has been hidden for so long, is that those involved tried to cover up their activities. In the history books, Milliken was allegedly a career soldier who rose to the rank of major in the British army. However, Milliken’s father was a seafarer in Irvine, and his uncle was a partner in Glasgow’s first sugar house. Through their influence, Milliken ventured to the Leeward islands c.1690, as a slave overseer (not a soldier). When the French were driven out of St Kitts from 1710, Milliken acquired the 200-acre Monkey Hill plantation. This was the family’s main source of income for the next century. The Sugar Works Chimney, at Monkey Hill, St. Kitts still stands today.

James Milliken was among the first of the new sugar elite to invest in Renfrewshire. He came home from the Caribbean in 1729 and acquired half of Johnstone estate from the Houstons. He demolished Johnstone castle, and built a mansion, renaming his new estate ‘Milliken’. He expanded his estate, and became patron of the parish kirk.

Milliken died in 1741 and was succeeded by his son James II of Milliken. In the third generation, Milliken’s grandsons went on the Grand Tour, but died in Paris and Venice in their early twenties. In 1768, the estate went to their sister, who had married a Napier, and the family became the ‘Napiers of Milliken’. By the 1780s the family were the third largest landowners in Renfrewshire, dominating Kilbarchan and surrounding parishes.

Returning to our interest in the slave compensation records. In 1834 the second Napier of Milliken was awarded £2,555 (nearly £200,000 at today’s value) in compensation, for the loss of 161 enslaved Africans on his Monkey Hill sugar plantation, St Kitts. Given the death rate and through managing plantations of associates, the family had worked their way through thousands of Africans between 1710 and 1834.

Much of the money that the Napier-Millikens poured into Kilbarchan parish and its church, came directly from the labour of their African slaves. Through their sugar fortune, and the improving ideas brought home, the Millikens were described as the earliest enclosers and improvers in Renfrewshire, and the main financers of new roads and bridges.

The Milliken’s wealth and route to fortune influenced others to invest in sugar plantations. Two years after the return of the first James Milliken to Scotland, his neighbour, Cunningham of Craigends acquired a plantation in Jamaica. More about the Cunninghams next month.

© 2019 Stuart Nisbet

                                                                   The Sugar Works Chimney


Renfrewshire’s Slave Legacy 1

Between the 1620s and 1807, British ships carried around six million Africans across the Atlantic, mostly to the Caribbean. Conditions there were so bad that many died. From a Scottish perspective, relatively few Africans were traded on ships from Scottish ports. However, it has recently become clear that Scots were heavily involved in another equally traumatic issue. This was the owning of large numbers of Africans on sugar plantations.

In Renfrewshire the leading landowners formed an elite group who dominated the major social and power positions in the county as MPs, Sheriffs, and Patrons of Parish Kirks. Some were among the earliest in Scotland to improve their lands. They drained, enclosed and fertilised their lands at a faster rate than the rest of Scotland. These innovations and improvements needed finance beyond the proceeds from rent and agriculture.

This raises a simple question. Did any of their money which improved the Renfrewshire landscape come directly from slave ownership? To date, their colonial connections have been shrouded in vague, celebratory language. For example, that they ‘spent time in the Indies’; that they married into their sugar fortune (and didn’t make it personally); and that they were career soldiers (not slave overseers or planters). When William Semple visited all Renfrewshire’s landowners in 1782 to compile his History of the Shire, he found that some were quite evasive about their origins.

The estate papers and private records of various landowners give snapshots of plantation involvement through the 18th century. In recent years, personal trips to the Caribbean by the writer have tracked down the full extent of plantation ownership by some of Renfrewshire’s landed elite. Now, a more comprehensive picture has emerged. In 1834, twenty-seven years after the abolition of slave trading, slave ownership was finally banned in the British Empire.

The British Government compensated planters for the loss of their slaves (the slaves received nothing). For the first time, Government records give us a full picture of Scotland’s slave ownership. The results are surprising. Although Scotland contained only10% of the British population, it received 15% of the slave compensation money. In Glasgow and the west of Scotland, landowners received more slave compensation than Liverpool.

In recent decades Scotland has become a much more multi-cultural society. Beyond history, we owe it to those with African heritage to be honest about past connections. Over the next few issues we will look at Renfrewshire landowners who were major slave owning families and received government compensation in 1834. We will find that landowners in almost every parish were involved. Further information on slavery compensation can be found at www.ucl.ac.uk

© 2019 Stuart Nisbet

JAMES CALDWELL (1818-1909), Writer, Paisley

James Caldwell erected a grave stone in Kilbarchan Parish Church, beside the now blocked Beltrees Door, in memory of his parents and siblings. His father was a silk handloom weaver in Kilbarchan. Although James was born into a Kilbarchan weaving family James did not follow the weaving trade. He became a writer (lawyer) in Paisley and lived with his wife, Janet, and their large family in Craigielea Place in Paisley.

James Caldwell was a prominent gentleman in the Paisley and had a plethora of varied interests. He was a member of Paisley Burns Club and of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. In 1874 he was one of eleven members of Paisley Burns Club who attended a meeting held in the Mason’s Arms in Kilbarchan to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the Kilbarchan poet, Robert Allan. He acted as lawyer for Kilbarchan General Society and is likely to have been a member. He also had a keen interest in local history and collected and transcribed old manuscripts. Four handwritten letters from the correspondence of the Paisley poet, Robert Tannahill (1774-1810) were in his collection.

He maintained his long-term interest in the history of Kilbarchan. He had in his possession The Rental Mrs Napier’s Estate, 1785. This document detailed the names and feu duty paid by the hundred and nine residents who lived in houses in Kilbarchan built on Milliken lands. James Caldwell gave this document to Rev. Robert MacKenzie who included it in the appendix of his Kilbarchan, A Parish History. James had also in his possession the Kilbarchan register of baptisms and marriages. Three years after his death in 1909, this document was edited by Francis Grant of the Scottish Record Society and published as The Index to the Register of Marriages and Baptisms in the Parish of Kilbarchan, 1649-1772.  These valuable resources are still of considerable relevance in family history research today.

A less academic interest was wood turning.  In 1873 James acquired wood from the last fir tree cut down in Craigielea Woods and turned sixty cups from the solid wood to gift to his friends. He inscribed two verses of Tannahill’s song, ‘The Bonnie Woods of Craigielea’ on one side and the words ‘This caup, made from part of the Bonnie Wood of Craigielea’ on the reverse.

James Caldwell lived to the age of ninety-one and is buried in Woodside Cemetery in Paisley.

©2019 Helen Calcluth