George and Elizabeth Forrest
"A town and parish in the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire Formerly a place of much political importance, a burgh of barony with high magisterial powers, and a seat of considerable trade and marketing, it has fallen into great decadence, and now presents an antique and irregular appearance. Its streets are narrow, some of the houses look as if they still belonged to the Middle Ages, and the townsfolk with few exceptions are weavers, mechanics or labourers "
"It has a Post Office under Lanark, with money order, savings bank and railway telegraph departments, branches of the Commercial and Royal banks, 7 insurance agencies, the Douglas Arms inn, gas works, the parish church, a Free church, a UP church, a public school, and fairs on the third Friday of March and October. The kirk of St. Bride, founded in the 13th century seems to have been a large and stately edifice, now represented only by a small spire and the choir "
The Covenanters in the times the of persecution had close connection with the town, being better sheltered in its neighbourhood than in most other districts, and in April 1689 the Cameronian Regiment was here embodied in defence of the Protestant government of William and Mary, under the command of the second son of the Marquis of Douglas
Population - (1841) 1313; (1881) 1282
(In the Parish)
" the rocks belong to the Carboniferous formation, and comprise very fine coal, including valuable Gas Coal The coal is extensively mined, both for home use and for exportation, and limestone and sandstone are quarried Fully three-sevenths of the rental are from arable land, nearly one half is from pasture, and the rest is from minerals The chief residences are Douglas Castle, Carnacoup, Springhill and Crossburn "
Three new public schools - Douglas, Rigside and Stablestone - with respective accommodation for 250, 130 and 300 children had (1881) average attendances of 161, 96 and 82
(Parish) population - (1841) 2542; (1881) 2641
In the 1880s Glespin was a tiny settlement two and a half miles west of Douglas, consisting of a few farms and a scattering of houses along the A70 road, which was previously known as Stablestone (The OS map calls it "Tablestone", but the Primary school is "Stablestone".) Along the lower slopes of the high ground south of the village a number of small coal pits had been developed (were being developed) by the early 1880s, and this led to a number of "miners' rows" being built. One of these was "Craigthorne Cottages". These, along with the Primary School which was built at the same time, changed "Stablestone" to "Glespin".
Coal from the local pits would have been taken to the Iron Works at Muirkirk by rail on the Lanark-Muirkirk line which ran to the north of the village and passed through Inches station a mile and a half west of Glespin.
Although several coal pits are still shown on the 1923 OS map of the area, there is no trace of Glespin's miners' rows. It seems likely that by that time they had been replaced by houses built by the local authority on the north side of the A70. The miners' rows may have been on the same site, or possibly on the flat land closer to the Douglas Water and along the road to Crawfordjohn (On this road lie the farms of East and West Glespin, which may have given the "mining village" its name) There may also have been miners' rows west of the village, closer to the pits near Carnacoup House.
Inches Station is shown on the 1923 OS map, and a "mineral railway" linked it to coal pits on the slopes of Chapel Hill and Lees Hill, south of Carnacoup and Glespin respectively. At this point the main road and the railway passed through a narrow gap made by the river between steep hills, and the station was located on a very narrow site. It seems probable that any housing would have been located to the east of the station where the valley floor is wider, near Carnacoup.
The OS Map shows 5 pits on the hillside above Carnacoup, and George Forrest may have been the "Engine Keeper" at one of them.
There are now no traces of either the coal pits in the Glespin-Carnacoup area, or the miners' rows.
This was a small farm located about a quarter of a mile above the road from Glespin to Crawfordjohn, two miles south of Glespin. Standing almost exactly on the 850 foot contour-line, it would have been a sheep farm in the 1880s. It was an isolated place, a mile from Glentaggart cottage to the north, and three quarters of a mile from Andershaw farm to the south. The house was a stone single-storey building with attics.
Today, the building is derelict, a roofless shell, surrounded by extensive plantations of Forestry Commission conifer trees.
"A village and a parish on the SW border of Kyle district, Ayrshire. The village, a pleasant little place, stands on the right bank of the Doon, 9 furlongs SE of Dalrymple station on the Ayr and Girvan section of the Glasgow and South-Western (railway), this being 4 ¼ miles SSE of Ayr, under which it has a Post Office. Near it is a pirn mill 1, supplying the Paisley Anchor Thread Company."
Population: 1861 - 261; 1871 - 309; 1881 - 300.
"(In the parish, length WNW-ESE 7 miles, breadth NE-SW varies from 1 to 4 miles; area 7960 acres, of which 127 are water) The soil on a few of its eminences is barren clay, on most it is loam, and on the lands along the streams and lochs, gravely loam. Some 1900 acres are hill pasture or meadow, about 500 are under wood, and all the rest of the land is arable "
"Dalrymple barony, belonging in the 13th century to a family of its own name, from which are descended the Earls of Stair, passed in 1371-77 to John Kennedy of Dunure, ancestor of the Marquis of Ailsa and Earl of Cassilis, who is at present chief proprietor"
"Mansions are Skeldon and Hollybush, and 4 proprietors beside the Marquis hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 2 of between £100 and £500, and 6 of from £20 to £50 2 "
"Dalrymple is in the Presbytery of Ayr and synod of Glasgow and Ayr; the living 3 is worth £394. The Church, near the village, was built in 1849. There is also a Free Church (1863) 4 and Dalrymple public school and the Dalmellington Ironworks school at Kerse; with respective accommodation for 150 and 165 children, had (1880) an average attendance of 129 and 135 5"
Population (parish) 1881---1322.
1 Pirn Mill - A "Pirn" was a small spool of sewing thread, or a spool for holding the weft yam in the shuttle (Concise Scots Dictionary) i.e. the bobbin used on weaving looms
A Pirn Mill was a mill where weavers' bobbins were made (CSD)
2 These figures are equivalent to present-day "Council Tax" valuations. In 1881 property valued at even £20 per year was quite "substantial" The first-ever national survey of wages in Britain (1886) reported that in Scotland typical wages were £70 a year for shipyard workers, £62 for building workers and £46 for Print workers. Agricultural workers and domestic servants earned still less. Farm workers would have some kind of accommodation provided as part of their wages, and would also be paid "in kind", while most domestic servants, especially in rural areas, received their "keep" as part of their earnings.
(Industrial wage levels were about 5% below equivalent levels in England)
A later report in 1906 showed that the average weekly wage for "industrial" workers in Central Scotland was 36s 4d. Between 1872 and 1900 male schoolteachers earned between £121 and £143 per year, while female teachers had between £62 and £72.
(figures from 'A Century of the Scottish People 1830-1950. T C Smout.)
3 The minister's Stipend, which included accommodation in a manse and, in rural parishes, a "glebe" for the minister to use for cultivation and/or grazing a few animals, though by the 1 880s this was becoming less common. Church of Scotland stipends were fixed by the "Heritors" in each parish. They were the most "influential" (= wealthiest, landowners, and "professionals" such as local lawyers) parishioners, and they also had considerable "say" in the appointment of ministers to the parish. This was one of the major reasons for the "Disruption" of 1843, when the "Free Church" broke away..
4 More than two thirds of the Ministers at the General Assembly of 1843 left the Church of Scotland to form the Free Church, with different regulations and organisation (e.g. "Heritors"). New churches were built in most Scottish Parishes, and before the 1872 Education Act made "Parish Boards" responsible for education, Free Church schools were also built.
5 Compare these figures with the total population - average family sizes were higher than those of today. School attendance was made compulsory (up to the age of 13, in "Elementary" schools) by the 1872 Act, but in rural areas like Dalrymple it was frequently less than "regular", due to interruptions caused by such things as bad winter weather, epidemics and the seasonal use of children for harvesting (or older children looking after younger ones to allow mothers to take part in harvesting and add to the family income)
Dalrymple (2) (from Rev Robert Wallace's Report for the Second Statistical Account of Scotland. Written in 1837)
(Since the First Statistical Account in 1791) " when the number of souls was only 380 the population has greatly increased, partly from the erection of the village of Dalrymple In June 1831 the number of persons under 15 years was 337
betwixt l5 and 30 238
30 50 197
50 70 105
upwards of 70 37
Of these 703 live in the country and 261 in the village.
The number of families is 100
The average of births 1829-1836 32
"Mr Campbell of Cumnock, who was upwards of 20 years schoolmaster of Dalrymple says" you will not fail I am sure to give the peaceful inhabitants of Dalrymple, that character for decency, sobriety, and orderly conduct, to which they are so justly entitled".
" Farm servants get from £10 to £16 per annum, besides a free house and garden, two pecks of oatmeal and two of potatoes a week, and their coals; women get from £5 to £8, with board and lodgings; labourers from 1s to ls6d with, ls6d to 2s without victuals. Blacksmiths either charge a certain sum for each piece of work or agree with farmers at so much per year."
(The main farm products in 1837 were oats, wheat, and cheese. Barley, potatoes, turnips, beans, peas, carrots, beet, cabbages, flax etc. were grown "mostly for family use")
"....Dalrymple is the only village in the parish It formerly consisted of a few thatched cottages huddled together round the churchyard; but about the beginning of this century, the Marquis of Ailsa granted feus in a more eligible situation, and in a short time the present neat village, which is much admired by every stranger, was erected. A carrier from the village goes to Ayr every Tuesday and Friday, and returns on the same days; and as there is no post office in the parish, he carries also letters and newspapers "
" The London, Edinburgh and Glasgow mail coaches to and from Ireland pass every evening about half past nine or ten, with in a mile and a half of the village; and during a great part of the year, the Ayr and Dumfries stage coach goes on one day and returns the next, for several miles, through the upper part of the parish "
" There are two schools; the parochial, which is situated in the village; and Hollybush school, about the centre of the parish. The branches taught at these schools are English reading and grammar, writing, arithmetic, bookkeeping, Latin, Greek, French, geography, mathematics, &c. 1 The parochial schoolmaster's salary is £30, which, with school fees, £25, and £8 in compensation for a house and garden, and perquisites from his office as Session Clerk, makes his income from £60 to £70."
"The teacher of Hollybush school has a free school and dwelling house, and a good garden, from Mr Hunter, the proprietor of Hollybush."
"The average number of scholars at the parochial school is 60; and at Hollybush school, 45; and both schools are very well conducted "
"(In the village ) there are a Friendly Society, a Musical Society, a Burns' Club and a Curling club "
(The rules of the Friendly Society 2 stated that " if, by the providence of Almighty God, any member be disabled from work, by sickness or any evident misfortune he, without any regard to his circumstances, shall receive the sum of 6s per week when confined within doors, and when able to walk about shall receive 4s per week; and when any member dies, the surviving members are obliged to contribute each the sum of is towards defraying funeral expenses - to attend the funeral if desired - and if there are no relations, the preses is to act as chief mourner. ")
"..in 1836 a General Agricultural Association for Ayrshire was instituted at Ayr, and the minister and several of the farmers of this parish are members "
" In May 1831 a savings bank was established in Maybole for it and the neighbouring parishes there have been 63 contributors from this parish the average amount yearly invested is £73, and the amount withdrawn is £41 "
" There are at present 12 persons receiving parochial aid; and the average sum allocated to each is 6s6d per month; there are several also who are supplied occasionally according to their necessities; and three orphans who are maintained from parochial funds. The annual amount of contributions for their relief is about £70, of which from £30 to £40 arise from church collections and the rest is obtained from the landed proprietors "
" The fences, which consisted formerly of large unshapen stones gathered from the fields, are now in great measure superseded by hedges of thorn, beech and privet, which, with clumps of plantations scattered throughout the parish.. are highly beneficial in affording shelter to the cattle in wet and stormy weather Of upwards of thirty farm houses and steadings, about one half have been erected in the course of this century, with considerable taste they are built of rubble stone, slated, and roughcast with lime, sand and gravel 3 "
"....The line of the projected railway from Ayr to Girvan passes through the southern part of this parish "
1 A wide range of subjects for a one-teacher school. The emphasis would have been on the basics for most pupils. In a farming community like Dalrymple attendance levels would have fluctuated with the seasons, and there was no legal compulsion to attend in the 1830s.
2 Reasonably prosperous rural communities like Dalrymple relied on organisations like this to deal with most of the "welfare" problems., though, as the Account shows, there was also a limited amount of Parish Poor Relief as well. Further evidence of how the parish was fairly well-to-do for the time appears in the details of Maybole's (then) new Savings Bank
3 Evidence of the "new" developments taking place in Agriculture as the so-called "Agrarian Revolution" began to reach the more successful farming regions of Central Scotland. Many of the farms would still be rented from local landowners who would have been responsible for the costs of building and land-improvement. The (new) "Agricultural Association" is further evidence of the changes being introduced by the 1830s.
(From "The Story of Dalrymple", John S McChesney)
" Transport improved considerably with the coming of the railway. In 1847 a (proposed) rail link from Ayr south through the Doon valley was never completed, only reaching the Dalmellington Iron Company's works at Waterside The line was opened in May 1856 for goods, in August for passengers, a station being established at Hollybush in the parish The line from Ayr to Maybole was built around the same period (and) the station called Dalrymple located at Carcluie was opened on 1st November, 1856 "
" The Public School in Barbieston Road was erected in 1875 by the School Board with a large schoolmaster's (sic) house adjacent (It) was replaced by the present Primary school in 1962."
"....Coal was worked on a small scale, selling at around five pence per load in 1791. There was a coal pit five miles from the village in 1837, when coal was sold at 13 shillings per ton delivered. "
( The start of an iron works at Waterside / Dalmellington in the 1840s led to the sinking of larger pits in the east of the parish - Two at Kerse employed 161 men by 1913, and there were others at Bowhill, with the Houldsworth pit as one of the deepest in Ayrshire employing 400 men in 1908. Note - these were developed after 1884, so are not mentioned in the Gazetteer's description of Dalrymple)
" Dalrymple Village Hall was erected sometime in the 1870s. It was in great demand for marriages, socials, concerts and other events It was closed in 1964."
"A hamlet in Maybole parish, Ayrshire, 31/2 miles NNE of Maybole town, under which it has a Post Office."
"A town and a coast parish of Carrick, Ayrshire. The town, lying 3 ¾ miles inland, and 290 to 350 feet above seas-level, has a station on the Ayr and Girvan section of the Glasgow and South-Western Railway It stands on the slope and partly along the skirts of a broad-based, flattened hill with SE exposure, the summit of the hill intervening between it and the Firth of Clyde The lower streets of the town, called Kirklands, Newyards and Ballony, are not within the limits of the Burgh of Barony 1 and consist almost wholly of artisans houses and workshops, tidier and better than similar buildings in many other towns. The main street runs nearly due NE, and, with the exception of a short thoroughfare striking off westward at right angles from its middle, occupies the highest ground within the burgh. A considerable space, lying between it and the low-lying suburbs, is disposed to a small extent in the ancient burying ground with the relics of the collegiate church 2; to a greater extent in four or five incompact and irregularly arranged streets; and to a yet greater extent in fields and gardens which give all the intersecting thoroughfares a straggling or detached appearance, and impart to the whole town a rural, airy and healthful aspect "
"As capital of Carrick the place more anciently wielded more influence and contained the winter residences of a large proportion of the Carrick barons. As seat too of the courts of justice - the place where all cases of importance were tried - it derived not a little outward respectability from the numbers and wealth of the legal practitioners who made it their home In connection with its collegiate church and its near vicinity to Crossraguel Abbey, it borrowed great consequence from the presence of influential churchmen who possessed more resources of power and opulence than the rest of the nobility "
" the ancient residence of the Ailsa or Cassilis family, the principal branch of the Kennedys 3 stands near the middle of the town a lofty, well-built, imposing pile the Earls of Cassilis wielded such power that they were known as the "Kings of Carrick" and the castle of Maybole was known as their 'palace' "
" Though the town has not one modern public civil building, it abounds in commodious and comfortable dwelling-houses. The present parish church, at the NE end of the town is a plain edifice of 1808 with 1192 sittings. The West church at the SW end was built about 1840 at the cost of Sir C D Fergusson, Bart. The Free Church dates from Disruption times, and a new Gothic UP church was built in 1880."
"An Episcopal Mission is worked in conjunction with Girvan, and the fine Roman Catholic church of Our Lady and St Cuthbert was erected in 1876-79 "
" The public school, whose cost exceeded £5,000, is a handsome two-storey structure of recent erection, and a Roman Catholic school was built in 1882 at the expense of the Marquis of Bute "
"Maybole has a Post Office, with money order, savings bank, insurance and telegraph departments; branches of the Royal and Union banks; offices or agencies of 15 insurance companies 4 3 hotels, a mechanics institution 5 a working mens' club a combination poorhouse 4 for six of the Carrick parishes, farmers' and horticultural societies, water and gas companies etc. Thursday is market day, and fairs are held on the third Thursday of April and October."
"Hand loom weaving has declined , and boot and shoe making and the manufacture of agricultural implements are now the staple industries. Five large shoe factories turn out 200,000 pairs per annum, representing a value of nearly £90,000. Immigrants from Ireland and their offspring have long been so numerous as almost to outnumber the native inhabitants 6 "
"As a Burgh of Barony since 1506 the town is governed by a senior and junior magistrate; whilst as a police burgh it has a provost, (the two magistrates), and 9 commissioners. The police force is a detachment of the county police. The burgh court sits on the first Thursday, and a justice of the peace court (i.e. the 9 Commissioners, several of whom would serve on the bench in a rota) on the first Wednesday, of every month."
Population in 1881: 4494, of whom 2284 were females.
Houses in 1881: 602 inhabited, 26 vacant, 3 building.
" In the parish there are three public schools - Fisherton, Maybole and Minishant - with respective accommodation for 100, 650 and 90, and average attendances (1883) of 94, 640 and 84."
1 Burghs of Barony were created by the Crown. They were entitled to hold annual Fairs and weekly markets, to have a "court" (originally run by the local "baron" then latterly by local magistrates) to deal with lawbreaking in the area, and to establish their own regulations about "trades", apprenticeships, shops etc. They became the important "local centres" thanks to this semi-independence from the direct authority of the Crown. Originally a medieval idea, Burghs of Barony remained the main towns in a region (along with "Royal Burghs" controlled by the Crown) into the 19th century
2 A Collegiate Church was one set up and funded by a local noble, for the purpose of praying for his soul (i.e. as a kind of fire-insurance policy) before the Reformation
3 They built Culzean Castle in the late 18th century to replace "Maybole Castle as their main residence.
4 Before the Welfare State, "Insurance Companies" were used by many people to put money aside regularly and build up funds to be available for periods of illness and unemployment, as well as old age. There was great fear ( and much social embarrassment) about "ending up in the Poorhouse" Most towns had local offices of several Companies.
With no "national insurance" until the first rudimentary system was introduced by the Liberal Government in 1906-8, "Poverty" was supposed to be dealt with by local parishes (which frequently worked in groups to reduce the costs), and by the 1880s "outdoor relief' had been abandoned since it was so difficult to control and regulate. instead, the long-term unemployed and seriously "poor" (usually those with no family to support them, those who were unable to work due to physical or mental health problems, and the aged) had to "live" in some kind of "poorhouse" funded by the parish or a group neighbouring parishes.
5 These were common in many of the more prosperous Scottish towns and cities during the later years of the 19th century. They were roughly equivalent to small modern "Night Schools" or "Further education centres", where classes were provided in a variety of subjects, usually in the evenings, for a moderate fee. There would also be a small lending library.
"Self Help" was popular with families and individuals keen to "better" themselves at a time when the older "labour-intensive" industries were already beginning to give way to newer ones where workers had to be increasingly "skilled" e.g. in Maybole, shoemaking factories replacing earlier home-based weaving
Education beyond that provided by the (then) "new" Elementary schools legally required after the 1872 Education Act was fee-paying, so "working families" either could not (or chose not to) afford secondary schooling, even though the fees in most "Higher Grade" schools were considered (by the schools) to be moderate. Mechanics Institutes offered an alternative at less cost, where students could decide their own courses and how often they attended.
6 In the years after the Irish Potato Famine of the 1 840s, Ireland's population dropped by one third. As well as the very high death rate during the famine years, large numbers emigrated. Most went to USA ( as the only "English - speaking country which was not Britain", but by the 1870s and '80s large numbers were also moving to North West England, London and West-Central Scotland, where they became (for the most part) unskilled workers, willing to accept lower wages. In cities like Glasgow and Liverpool they were often seen as "aliens" because they were Catholic, and as a "threat" to "local" workers.
It appears that the researchers who gathered information for the Gazetteer found a degree of Anti-Irish prejudice, even in Maybole, where presumably there was a fairly large number of "Irish" people working in the boot and shoe factories or on local farms. There would also have been a considerable number of Irish "navies" involved in the construction of the local railway a few years earlier. The Irish population in the area was certainly big enough by the 1870s to justify the building of Maybole's Chapel (The Bute family which funded this was noted as one of Scotland's wealthiest Catholic families at that time.)
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Late Victorian Scotland
For families like the Forrests and the Summers in the 1870s and '80s, work and living conditions were improving. Compared to life in a city like Glasgow twenty years earlier, they had far better prospects, thanks to the reforms introduced by Parliament and local authorities. Education offered them a better chance of achieving the goals which so influenced their lives - respectability in the community and financial security, but they lived at a time when a multitude of new ideas, ideologies and social attitudes joined with changes to the British economy to encourage a kind of restlessness in many of them, and they became much more mobile in their pursuit of work and ambition than their parents had ever been.
Britain and the World in 1886
In villages like Douglas and Dalrymple most "news" was local and parochial, spread by talk and gossip. Daily Newspapers were almost all broadsheets - popular "tabloids" to cater for the new mass readership created by the 1872 Education Act were only just beginning to appear - and restricted to more affluent readers. For most families the regional weekly paper was the only one regularly bought and read. That said though, weeklies like the "Hamilton Advertiser" and the "Kilmarnock Standard" tried to cover "national" and "world" events to some extent, even if they concentrated on local affairs, and the level of reporting and editorials was high.
Recent reporting on political events in Britain would have centred on the consequences of the Parliamentary Reform Acts of 1884 and 1885, in which the Liberal government extended the franchise to almost all males over the age of 21, and reorganised electoral constituencies throughout the country. There would also have been coverage of the Government's continuing programme of social reforms, and perhaps mention of how Chancellor Bismarck had introduced (apparently) radical new policies giving Germany the world's first limited Old Age Pension scheme and state Insurance against unemployment (Such measures did not begin in Britain until 1908.)
As significant perhaps would have been the outcome of the 1881 London Dock Strike, and by 1886 the first Trade Unions for "unskilled" workers were beginning to be formed. (Previously, only skilled workers had legally been able to form or join Unions. Nevertheless, in 1886 all Unions were still liable to be sued by Employers for "damages" caused by Industrial Action, and this limited their powers considerably)
Probably the most frequent topic covered by articles and editorials was still the state of the British economy. Ever since the mid 1870s, there had been an increasingly serious "economic recession", which had quite significant effects even in places like Douglas and Dalrymple. For too many years Britain and its governments had assumed that the world leadership in manufacturing and trade which had come from Britain being the first country to undergo an "Industrial Revolution" would continue. This kind of complacency had paid little heed to the rise of rival nations with better organised industries and more modern technology until, around 1875, Germany and the United States became very serious competitors. A number of British industries were, by the mid 1880s, experiencing a serious drop in world sales, and at the same time, British farming was feeling the effects of new developments in shipping (faster steam ships and refrigeration) which, together with the completion of transcontinental railways in North America, led to a huge increase in the amount of "foreign" foodstuffs being imported to Britain. British farmers simply could not compete with the lower prices of American beef and Canadian wheat, and agriculture was increasingly experiencing declining sales, falling prices, and a need for considerable capital investment to "modernise" methods of production. Together, these difficulties were leading to growing rural unemployment, and a notable decline in the number of "small" farms.
In wider terms, the recession was pushing governments (particularly Liberal ones - the Conservative Party was far from enthusiastic about such matters) towards the idea of "government regulation" over the economy. Previously, the principle of "laissez faire" had applied, and Governments had stayed clear of the economy, preferring to let "market forces" control it.
Both direct and indirect taxes were still comparatively low in 1886, and it would be twenty years before serious changes would be introduced by Lloyd George as Chancellor in his so-called "People's Budget" of 1909. By that time, the principle of "government regulation" would be far more important, and Lloyd George would attempt to increase taxation on higher incomes to help pay for the "new" social welfare ideas like a National Insurance scheme and Old Age Pensions.
An equally controversial issue was what Prime Minister Gladstone himself called "the running sore of Ireland". Committed to solving the Irish Problem, Gladstone had introduced radical reforms during his First Ministry in the 1870s, but these had simply increased unrest. The Chief Secretary for Ireland (Cavendish) and the Head of the Irish Civil Service (Burke) had been sensationally assassinated by terrorists in Dublin's Phoenix Park in 1881, and since then terrorist activities by the mythical "Captain Moonlight", and by the US-financed "Fenians" had steadily worsened. "Boycotting" - the non-payment of rents and (often violent) isolating of land-owners-had spread throughout Ireland, and Fenian "outrages" had taken place on the British mainland. In Parliament, Irish MPs, led by the charismatic Charles Stewart Parnell, were deliberately disrupting the Government by using "philibustering" (the tactic of making interminably long speeches to delay Commons business) and there was a growing call to "finally settle the Irish", which would eventually lead Gladstone to attempt Home Rule for Ireland in his Third Ministry a few years later.
(So sensational was this proposal that it would split Ireland and the Liberal Party, and in the long run provoke the Ulster Protestants into open rebellion - matched by planned mutiny of the British Army garrison in Ulster - on the eve of the First World War.)
In Europe, the Balkans were a major problem area in the 1880s. Wars of independence by Serbia, Bulgaria and what is now Rumania against being part of the (Turkish) Ottoman Empire had almost dragged the "superpowers" of Russia, Austro-Hungary, Germany and Britain into a major war in 1877, and a last-minute international conference in Berlin (the Congress of Berlin ,1878) had only found a temporary solution. For all that the British Prime Minister (Disraeli, Conservative) had claimed that they had established "Peace with Honour" at Berlin, the situation was still very volatile by 1886. What made things worse, in the opinion of many critics of the Government in Britain, was the fact that Britain was becoming increasingly isolated in diplomatic terms. Bismarck would shortly form an alliance between the "Three Emperors" - of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia - and British critics felt that the old policy of British "splendid isolation" would be far too risky, particularly since it depended crucially on the power of the Royal Navy throughout the world, something which was becoming impossibly expensive to maintain, whatever the popular Music Hall song (first heard during the 1877 Balkan crisis) said: "We don't want to fight, but by Jingo if we do, we've got the men, we've got the ships. and we've got the money too "
Further afield, Russia was seen as dangerously unstable politically (in 1886, yet another group of young revolutionaries was planning what would be a successful assassination of the Tsar. One of the students involved would, with others, be executed for his part in the crime. His name was Ulyanov, and his death would have a profound effect on his younger brother, who in time changed his name to Lenin) In spite of its internal chaos though, Russia was a major threat to Britain because of its determination to win control of Afghanistan - a policy which, if successful, would bring Russia to the edge of "British India".
Like its industrial output, Germany's military power and reputation dominated continental Europe in 1886. Denmark, Austria-Hungary and France had all been spectacularly defeated in the 1860s and early '70s. By the mid '80s, numbers of British observers were beginning to wonder what would happen if Imperial Germany ever decided to develop a major fleet as well. (The British army was one of the smallest at that time, in spite of all its colonial commitments) When Wilhelm II became Kaiser in 1890, one of his strongest ambitions would quickly become the building of a German High Seas Fleet which he intended to be superior to the Royal Navy
The United States was still an "isolationist" country, busy trying to recover from the massive effects of the Civil War (1861-5) and to complete its "westwards expansion". As new railways and the "Indian Wars" continued in the 1 880s, there was also a massive expansion taking place in American industry and commerce, and American products were beginning to seriously threaten several British industries, just as cheap US grain and beef were damaging British farming.
Britain's claim to be the "world's greatest superpower" was beginning to ring hollow. It depended on past greatness as a manufacturing and trade, and on the Empire upon which "the sun would never set". By the 1880s both the commercial empire and the colonial empire were under threat. Maps in British school atlases showed the "Empire" in lurid red spreading across much of the world, and there was much talk in the country about the need to establish still more British colonies in Africa. The "Race for Africa", the last remaining part of the world not yet fully "colonised", was well under way as France and Germany competed with Britain to establish colonies in East Africa and to control the lower reaches of the River Nile, but Gladstone and many Liberal MPs were becoming increasingly unhappy at the financial cost and, even more, the "moral" aspects of the British Empire. Though their qualms were at odds with popular opinion (and with the belief pioneered by Livingstone that Britain must provide "darkest Africa" with the "Three Cs" - Christianity, Civilisation and Commerce) the Liberal Party was beginning to split into Right (for) and Left (against) "wings" over the question of the Empire.
When General Gordon was "murdered" in Khartoum by Sudanese rebels against
British rule, he became an instant martyr, and British popular opinion (including, very
violently, Queen Victoria) blamed Gladstone. In 1886 - a year later - the death of
Gordon was still a topic of outrage throughout the country.
(In fact, Gordon had deliberately refused earlier offers of assistance when the Mahdi's forces began to besiege Khartoum - he was a religious extremist, a monomaniac, if not also a megalomaniac - and when General Wolsey was finally ordered to mount a relief expedition, it took far longer than expected to follow the Nile south to Khartoum, and arrived one day after Gordon's death)
Five years earlier, Boer rebels in South Africa had gone to war against Britain and won a spectacular victory at Majuba Hill (Boer tactics were helped by almost incredible errors made by British commanders, and the British force was almost completely wiped out) That too had been blamed on Gladstone's lack of enthusiasm for the empire, and public feelings were further outraged when he (logically in terms of his beliefs about colonialism) proposed to grant independence to the mainly Boer region of Transvaal. After such alarming events, the death of Gordon was "the final straw" for many of Gladstone's critics, in the Government and the country as a whole, and a General Election had recently defeated his government in 1886.
In Douglas and Dalrymple during the 1880s there were two worlds. There was the world which existed only for short moments in the columns of the "Advertiser" or the "Standard", the world where General Gordon died and Boer farmers somehow defeated the British army, where the Balkans and Ireland, Germany and East Africa were as far away as the Moon, where what was said in the House of Commons mattered less than the minister's Sunday sermon: a world which could only be read about in the evenings after work, like the childrens' bedtime tales or letters from emigrant relatives in very different distant lands.
The real world most days was a far smaller one, where wages and the cost of bread, staying healthy enough to stay in work were what mattered, and ambitions were limited to preserving present respectability and finding security for the future.
Political Parties and Trade Unions
As the ( male) franchise expanded, political "Parties" became more significant during the second half of the century. The Liberals and the Conservatives (in Scotland "Conservative and Unionist" Party) were the only ones represented in Parliament until Keir Hardie was elected as an "Independent Labour" MP. The first "Labour" MPs were elected in the 1906 election. Until then, it was very difficult for "working class" men to reach Parliament since MPs were unpaid;. This explains the strong link between Trade Unions and early "Labour" MPs, who were "sponsored" by Unions.
Trade Unions were banned altogether by the Anti-Combination Acts which dated back to the fears caused in Britain by the French Revolution. These were repealed in 1829, but for a long time Parliament (which still represented the "propertied classes") was very nervous about "organised labour". Initially, only "skilled workers" were legally permitted to form Unions, but any kind of "industrial action" remained illegal. Not until the 1880s were all workers legally allowed to form/join Trade Unions, and while industrial action too became legally permitted, there were still restrictions like the law which made Unions liable for any "damages" to employers caused by industrial action. This was only removed by the "Liberal Reforms" of 1906-14.
Such restrictions encouraged support for the principles of Socialism and Marxism ("The Communist Manifesto" was published by Marx & Engels in 1848), but until MPs were paid, "socialists" found it almost impossible to be elected to Parliament, so that "workers" who did take an interest in elections could only look to "Liberal" candidates.. Until 1848, many turned instead to popular "radical" movements like the Chartists (1830s and 40s) who called for wide Parliamentary and Social Reforms, or the Anti-Corn Law League which wanted to abolish import duties on foreign foodstuffs, thereby reducing food prices in Britain. In the second half of the century the widening franchise and gradual reforms reduced the significance of such organisations Support for (and Government worries about) "radical reform" transferred to Socialism, Marxism and even Anarchism (which preached the replacement of Parliamentary Government altogether)
Significant Acts of Parliament
1832 Parliamentary Reform: first extension of the franchise. Still limited to wealthier property-owners
Althorp's (Factory) Act 1833: no child under 9 to be employed in cotton mills children 9-13 maximum 8 hour day
Mines Act 1842: banned women & children from underground work
Factory Act 1847: restricted employment of women & young persons (13-18) in factories & mills to a maximum of 10 hours per day
1867 Parliamentary Reform: extended franchise, but still based on ownership of property or equivalent income
England & Wales 1870
Scotland 1872: compulsory school attendance ages 5-13, but included exemptions for "half-time" work. In 1883 leaving age was raised to 14, but children over 12 could work as "half-timers" if they had reached "Standard III" in reading, writing and Arithmetic, and leave altogether if they had reached "Standard V'
The franchise was extended to all adult males in 1884, and there were further reforms to working conditions and wage levels during the 1870s and I 880s. The Liberal Government of 1906-14 introduced the beginnings of Social Welfare, with Old Age Pensions, Industrial Insurance and Accident compensation, Unemployment Benefit and Labour Exchanges, but there was no attempt to reform Health until the Beveridge Report of 1944, and the franchise was only granted to women in 1918. (Even then it was limited to women over 20 until further reform in 1928)
Conditions in Glasgow in the 1850s
In 1858 a Glasgow man wrote a description of life in the older parts of the city, which at that time had not yet been "improved" in any way. Calling himself "Shadow", Alexander Brown was actually a letterpress printer who by day worked for a firm at 108 Argyle Street.. He used a "snapshot" technique (Photography was then new and increasingly fashionable) to create a series of vignettes of the dark side of city life. His reports were published under the title "Social Evils: Their Causes and Remedies-Midnight Scenes and Social Photographs".
"Shadow" was willing to offer his personal opinions and comments on what he saw,
"That social evil exists in Glasgow to a most sorrowful extent, is only too apparent to the most common observer who walks our streets, and truly horrifying it is to him who would take the trouble of descending into the lower depths of society, who would visit, whether by night or by day, the dens of the vicious, or the pestiferous dwellings of the poor Statistics however exact, and description however vivid, can give no idea of the deplorable condition in which these classes are placed. " 116-7
and he was anxious to provide his personal explanation for the problems,
"Respecting the cause of social evils, we are accustomed to have the whole attributed to the one great sin of the age, Intemperance Drunkenness is emphatically the crying sin of these times To a consideration of the evil of dram drinking, there may also be added, the still more pernicious and deadly habit of using opium as a narcotic, in an adulterated form the druggist's shop is wont to be frequented by numbers of artisans going to their work The practice, however, we admit, is of long standing, but we are assured that it has now assumed a more aggravated form.
In the lower districts of the city there is hardly a chemist, we believe, who will not bear out this statement " 118
Among the worst of his findings were
"The Bridgegate -
Nearly every shop on both sides of the street is a public house Here, then, at the doors of these poor people, do our magistrates, and apparently without discrimination, license wholesale, houses for the sale of intoxicating drinks Better at once, we say, dig the graves of these poor, tempted, helpless creatures. Rags, poverty disease and death are the appropriate emblems of the district. "43
"A Low Shebeen:
It is situated in a dark close, resembling a subterranean passage to some untraversed cavern. As we enter, our footsteps are heard, and, anticipating our errand, a ruffianly looking fellow emerges from a cellar, locks the door, fumbles about, and pretends to be giving security to the shutters The door is forthwith opened, and to our astonishment there stands before us on a damp earthen floor nearly half-a dozen women, most of them in middle age, and one or two comparatively aged They are poorly-clad, pale, hungry looking and emaciated. The place is lit by a candle stuck against the wall giving it a desolate appearance. A new deal counter divides the apartment. At one end, near the door, a high temporary partition is raised, to form a sort of "snug" in side, where seats are placed for three or four persons before a small fire. We glance about for "the bottle" or for vestiges of any kind by which the shebeen keeper plies his nefarious calling, but to no purpose. At the extreme end of the counter we discover a wine glass, but nothing more "48-9
Alcohol was clearly a major problem, as "Shadow" claimed. In an appendix to his book, a Glasgow doctor (Strang) offered these findings and opinions
" The plain facts are these - that while there are about 250,000 galons of foreign and colonial spirits, a very small quantity of wine, and a comparatively (to England) smaller quantity of porter, ale and beer drank throughout the whole breadth and length of Scotland, there is however, unfortunately in accordance with the almost universal taste of the Scottish people, little less than seven millions of gallons of whisky consumed annually within the limits of our northern kingdom. When this last beverage is measured by the whole mouths in Scotland who may take or reject it, the average quantity available for each amounts to 2.4 gallons annually or a trifle more than a quarter of a gill per day to every man, woman and child in the kingdom."
"If we look at the consumption of spirits in this light, it certainly does not appear so great as some imagine, more particularly when it is recollected that little else of an exhilarating kind is made use of by the great bulk of the middle and working classes."
"Limiting however the number of drinkers to a third part of the gross population, the amount consumed by this third is at once raised to 7.2 gallons per annum, and which gives a daily consumption to each consuming individual of 0.63 parts of a gill - a
quantity, also, by no means prodigious when the consumption of beer and porter alone in London is remembered, amounting, by a late statement of the Quarterly Review, to "1,614,675 barrels, or nearly a thousand millions of tumblers per annum;" or when the more striking fact is mentioned that in Paris, where scarcely a tipsy man is to be seen, it is shown that on average each inhabitant consumes 24.3 gallons of wine, 1.2 of alcohol, 0.3 gills of cider and 2 gallons of beer!"
"That Glasgow consumes more spirits in proportion to its inhabitants, I do not believe; for while the vice of drunkenness is perhaps fully as much exhibited by those comprising the substratum of our labouring, or rather idle, community, than elsewhere, yet the quantity consumed by the large body of respectable mechanics, and by the middle and higher classes, is considerably less."
"Assuming however, that we are right in our belief, and assuming again that a like quantity is consumed in Glasgow as in other parts of Scotland, then it follows that the consumption of whisky annually taking place within the limits of our population of 396,000 amounts to about 950,000 gallons at proof, which, taking the profits of dealers and retailers into account, may cost the consumer at least 13s per gallon, and if so, will hence amount to an annual charge against this community of 617,500 pounds."
From the 1860s, improvements began in the city (though they were not directly related to "Shadow"'s book - other "improvers" were also worried enough to demand change
Among the significant changes were:
As to the problem of alcohol abuse,
" in the 1830s, the population (of Scotland) was drinking, on average, the equivalent of a little under a pint each of duty charged whisky a week" (Smout p 133)
At that time there were no legal restrictions on the buying of drink, and drunkenness among quite young people and women was taken for granted. There were considerable amounts of (illegal) poteen, with over 7000 detections of illicit distilling a year in Scotland 1833-5, and instances of "whisky" made from meths, sugar, water and "two drops of the Essence of Prune"
The Forbes-Mackenzie Act 1853 closed ordinary licensed premises on the Sabbath and closed pubs at 11 p.m. on other days of the week, but Temperance movements held that drink was supreme cause of crime and degradation, and from the 1860s onwards there was a gradual rise of broader view that it for the working classes it was as much a symptom as a cause of their desperate conditions of living and working.
The Temperance Movement in Scotland
1829 Magistrate John Dunlop from Greenock and publisher William Collins from Glasgow (also a keen evangelist) founded organisations in their towns to swear against drinking spirits. Membership rose to over 3,300 in the first year, but they had only limited success due to fact that they were against (only) spirits, and not calling for full-scale abstinence. In the 1830s Joseph Livesey formed a total abstinence movement in Preston, and it spread quickly among skilled workers and small tradesmen in Northern England and Scotland. Livesey called for both a "Short" pledge - not touch drink personally, and a "Long" pledge - not to offer it to anyone else.
By the 1850s the Scottish Temperance League insisted that mass voluntary teetotalism was the only way to reform society and the United Kingdom Alliance wanted compulsory closure of all drink outlets i.e. nation-wide Prohibition.
(In 1853 - 150 UP ministers were total abstainers; +100 Free Church ministers, but only about 20 Church of Scotland ministers.)
The Band of Hope was set up as a childrens' movement, and the Rechabites were established as a Friendly Society ("Motto - Peace and Plenty, the Reward of Temperance") Along with another organisation, the Order of Good Templars, they held concerts, soirees and lectures, in "Temperance" hotels & tea-rooms but by the 1840s, the per capita consumption of duty-paid spirits in Scotland was actually about 2% higher, though it did begin to fall more noticeably thereafter, and by 1860s was 33% lower on average.
The Methylated Spirit Act in 1855 restricted the manufacture and sale of meths for consumption, and a Royal Commission on Exciseable Liquors in Scotland (1859) gave police greater powers to raid and close unlicensed shebeens and working-class drinking clubs. At the same time there was a steady increase in duties payable on spirits, and between 1853 and 1860 these rose by 200%
The problem really only began to decrease in the 20th century. Worries about the effects of alcohol on the "War industries" during the First World War led to reform of pub opening hours, but it was taxation which had the biggest effect of all, though after 1913 Scottish Local Veto Polls were introduced (if 10% local population wanted one, 35% people on the local voters roll had to vote and 55% of those must be in favour of change - i.e. to ban or issue local licenses). In 1920, influenced by the introduction of "Prohibition" in the United States, there were 584 polls in Scotland, and 41 areas voted for local prohibition or limitation e.g. Kirkintilloch, Kilsyth, Lerwick, Stromness, Cathcart, Kelvinside, Pollockshields.
In 1922 the only ever" Prohibitionist Party" candidate, Edwin Scrymgeour, defeated Churchill at Dundee in General Election. He tried to introduce a national Prohibition Act in 1923 but failed (defeated 235:14 in Commons).
In the long run taxation proved to be the biggest reason of all for decline in the consumption of spirits in Scotland (by 1930s down to 25% of 1900 figures) The 1909 Budget introduced a tax of 34% on a gallon of spirits In 1860 duty had been only 1O s per proof gallon, and in 1900 it was still only 11s; but it rose steadily in Budgets after 1909 (1918 30s; 1920 72s6 etc.), and has continued to do so.
Consumption of spirits (proof gallons) per head of popn per year
1830-39 - 2.55; 1860-69 - 1.61; 1900-09 - 1.60; 1930-39 - 0.35
(Figures from Smout, chapter VI)
The Population of late Victorian Scotland
Estimated Total Births Deaths Marriages
3,825,744 124,462 10,035 76,867 26,855 (in 1884-5)
Glasgow's population in 1884-5 was 674,095
Scotland's Working Population 1850 - 1900
Metals Textiles Other Agriculture Mining Services
& Clothing M'f'g & Fishing
1851 60.8 366.4 66.2 347.6 48.1 380.8
1901 210.4 299.2 147.7 237.3 127.9 879.6
Figures from A.K. Cairncross "The Scottish Economy" 1954
quoted Smout p87
" The Scottish artisan believed in Thrift, Sobriety and Education, not because he was brainwashed by the upper classes but because these beliefs were functional in his life. They enabled his family to survive in the economic jungle of a society with minimum welfare provisions. In fact, along with this working class ethic of respectability went an emphatic rejection of middle-class condescension "
(Smout p 249)
Central Scotland's economy was changing by the 1880s. Farming and textiles had been the main employers in many parts of the region during the first half of the 19th century, and they had been "labour-intensive", with large numbers of people, especially in rural areas, employed on the land or in home-based textile-making linked to the main "textile towns" like Glasgow and Paisley. The development of heavy industries like Coal-mining, Iron and Steel, Engineering and shipbuilding in West-Central Scotland came with the spread of the railways in the 1840s and 50s and numbers of industrial-urban areas increased rapidly, as did smaller - usually more "isolated" - pockets of local coal and iron production.
With industrialisation came increased movement of people - particularly younger people - from the countryside into the new manufacturing towns, attracted by what appeared to be "better prospects" of regular working hours (however long) and regular wages (however limited). Over the same period, farming was also changing as the development of steamships and refrigeration led to an increase in the amount of imported foodstuffs such as grain from North America , and food prices became relatively cheaper As a result many British farmers found it increasingly difficult to remain competitive, and by the 1870s and early '80s many were introducing new methods of production. (In 1840, 22 "man-days" were needed to produce 1 acre of barley. By 1914 only 12 were required.) As successful farming began to depend more and more on capital investment, large turnover and low production costs, smaller farms in areas with climatic or soil restrictions declined in number, and this still further reduced the labour force required.
At a personal level, better communications and a greater knowledge of the world beyond their local area which came from universal "elementary" education after 1872 helped many young people to develop more self-confidence about the idea of "moving", and made them far more willing to do so than their parents could ever have been. By 1893 a Royal Commission on Labour reported that for many young people farm work was " a rough, dirty, badly paid job, with long hours and few holidays" (Smout p 60) , and in 1900 the number of male agricultural workers in Central Scotland had fallen by almost 50% compared to the 1850s.
Life for the migrants to the industrial towns and cities was often very difficult. Long hours, low wages and poor working and living conditions were aggravated by the absence of any kind of state welfare services until the "Liberal Reforms" of the early 1900s. introduced the first limited Old Age Pensions, Labour Exchanges and National Insurance.
In the 1880s and '90s " People often lived amid unsanitary and dangerous conditions. Miners in particular had no option but to live in company houses which were among the most inadequate and disgusting of all Scotland's miserable housing stock (those) provided by William Dixon and Company at Auchinraith (were) 42 single-roomed and 41 double-roomed houses, containing 492 people; there were no wash-houses or coal cellars (coals were kept under the bed); there was an open sewer behind, with 12 doorless "hen roost privies" (so called because you could not sit down): there were 2 drinking fountains between 150 and 200 miners died every year in Scotland from pneumoconiosis alone - and.. accidents though they killed far less than disease, were an omnipresent threat in the pit like that at William Dixon's colliery at Blantyre in 1872 which claimed over 200 lives but it was the everyday tension at work that few outsiders appreciated (One writer) spoke of the 'number of hairbreadth escapes that daily pass without comment, the acts of real heroism that are performed as a matter of course in the day's work There are few old colliers who have not met with some accidents in their lives' "
(Smout pp 103-4)
In mining and other major industries job security was a further problem. Accidents and injuries rarely received much in the way of "compensation" or "sick pay", and unemployment, even for a limited period, almost always meant loss of all income. In many cases it also guaranteed a loss of accommodation since workers' houses were owned by the employer.
As the British economy became increasingly affected by competition from newer, more efficient, industrial countries like Germany and the United States, levels of unemployment and job insecurity grew in many parts of the country in the 1880s and '90s. Until the start of the First World War in 1914 Industrial unrest and emigration increased as the larger industries attempted to update their technologies and methods of production to become more competitive in world markets. (Many smaller companies found this very difficult. As a result numbers of less-skilled workers were forced to become more "mobile", and willing to move to new jobs and new areas of the country in order to remain in work.
In spite of, and perhaps because of all these changes, the dream of many working class families was that they could reach "security", with income enough to afford to buy a small house, and that the next generation - the grandchildren of farm workers and domestic servants - might progress still further. They believed fiercely in the virtues of "thrift and self-help", confident that " a skilled man might in some circumstances hope to pull himself up by his bootstraps to the status of a small employer ", and most of all they were certain that education could be " a ladder to a more secure position for their children."
(Smout pp 241-2)
Class in late Victorian Scotland
Average real annual income % of total working
per individual age of population
Incomes over £1000 £3,952 0.33
Incomes £100-£1000 £145 21.72
Incomes up to £100 £50 10.50
All figures are for
Manual Labour class Male workers
Higher Skilled (+£50) £47 2s 8.69
Lower Skilled (£40-£50) £29 13s 22.28
Unskilled (under £40) £20 10s 11.78
from R.D. Baxter's "National Income of the United Kingdom" 1867, quoted Smout, p 111
"The vast majority nearly a million 'productive persons' (in Baxter's Survey), 70% of the total, were at the foot of the economic and social pyramid lower-skilled and unskilled workers. They earned less than £30 a year The next 20% were considered to be the bottom of the middle class and the top of the working class, though in economic terms there was little difference between them, their annual income being £47 2s to £50 This represents the quintessentially Victorian echelon of the small businessman and the skilled craft worker, respectable, struggling to keep their economic foothold, feeling that they had much in common with one another but nothing with the poor in the abyss. Above them were the two top groups, the most economically secure, the 10% who received nearly half the national income was a small and dizzy pinnacle of 5,000 very rich men (wealthy professionals, big businessmen, large landowners) who .. . enjoyed a personal annual income 200 times as large as the 427,000 people at the bottom of the pile "
(Smout p 110)
Crime in late Victorian Scotland
Number committed for trial 2719
Number tried 2163
Number convicted 1916
Number of Death Sentences 3
Penal Servitude 179
Male Female Total
Against person 717 118 835
Against property with violence 428 68 496
Against property without violence 628 262 890
Against property (Malicious) 64 2 66 (= Vandalism?)
Forgery etc. 37 5 42
Others 156 12 168
Figures for Scotland in 1883, quoted Gazetteer
Coal, Iron and Steel in late Victorian Scotland
In 1882 there were 470 collieries in Scotland, employing 53,340 miners, and producing a total of 20,818,134 tons
There were 149 Blast Furnaces, located in 23 Iron Works
22 Iron Mills and forges, with 380 "Puddling Furnaces"
74 Rolling Mills
all producing cast and wrought iron goods
57 Open Hearth Furnaces, producing Steel (They were still a relatively recent development in 1882, and steel was slowly replacing iron in many related industries by that time.)
Mining in the Muirkirk area
As early as 1786 iron smelting furnaces were operating at Glenbuck and Muirkirk, then still referred to by its older name or "Garan". Limited mining technology at that time meant that only shallow seam mining was feasible, but there were large deposits of Blackband and Clay band Ironstone embedded in coal strata in both these areas. The earliest furnaces may still have used charcoal as fuel, but the development of the coking coal process meant that local coal supplies were soon brought into use. Geographical isolation made transport difficult and expensive, but " The success of smelting with coke established a new principle of erecting blast furnaces in districts where both coal and iron stone occurred: even if these districts were remote from centres of population the cost of carriage of their iron to markets could be offset by the low cost of coal and iron "
From the mid 1840s onwards, there was a "mania" of railway construction in Central Scotland.) In 1848 the Caledonian Railway company completed a line from Carlisle to Law, where it linked to the North British company's line from Wishaw - Coatbridge to Glasgow. In 1855 a private company opened a line from Carstairs to Lanark, which was taken over by the Caledonian Company in 1859. In 1864 it was extended to Douglas, and to Muirkirk in 1873, where it linked to the Glasgow and South Western line which ran west to Auchinleck, Cummnock, Kilmarnock and Ayr.
By the 1840s the Baird Iron Company in Gartsherrie began to expand into Ayrshire. Trading as the Eginton Iron Company, it bough control of the main blast furnaces, including the one at Muirkirk in 1856. Muirkirk specialised in the production of malleable iron, i.e. iron cast and moulded to required shape at the furnace, as opposed to pig iron which was left as ingots, to be reheated and shaped elsewhere as required. A typical product from Muirkirk was the large number of cast iron pipes used to construct the main water supply pipeline from Dungavel Reservoir to Strathaven.
Iron "puddling" of this type was expensive in terms of cost and labour, and as steel supplanted cast iron from the 1860s onwards, relatively small furnaces like the one at Muirkirk became increasingly uneconomic. For this reason, the Muirkirk works did not reopen after the disruption caused by the Miners' Strike in 1921, although coal mining continued at Kames until the early 1960s, and open-cast mining was reintroduced at Glenbuck in the 1980s.
Mining in the Douglas - Glespin Area
The "First Statistical Account" (published in the 1790s) refers to the "Douglas Coalfield, extending into the adjacent parish of Carmichael" supplying all the parishes south of a line drawn across the County from Douglas to Dolphinton at that time, so it was one of the earliest fields to be established in Lanarkshire. At that time most mines would have been either "in gaun'ee" (= "Adit" mines where coal seams reached the surface and were cut into by river valleys) or shallow mines, due to the limited technology then available.
The development of Pumping Engines and winding Engines (powered by steam
until late in the 19th century when it was replaced by electricity) allowed much deeper seams to be mined, and expanded the Lanarkshire coal industry to the area from Hamilton to Airdrie - Coatbridge. By 1851 Lanarkshire, excluding Glasgow, had 139 collieries employing 15,580 men, and at that stage the "Clyde Valley" coalfield was developed - by the early 1890s it had 257 mines in operation.
Mining in the Hamilton area
Hamilton became a major coal mining town after 1850, and coal replaced textiles (cambric - weaving, cotton and lace) as the main employer in the town and its surrounding area. The earliest mines were set up around Quarter in the 1840s, and led to the development of Quarter village. Ferniegair pit opened in 1859, and there too a mining village quickly developed. (As late as the 3rd Statistical Account-in the late 1940 the village had a population of 1,307, though the local mine had closed by that time.) By the 1870s and '80s, there were 40 pits operating in and around Hamilton, and well into the 20th century a large percentage of the population were involved with the mining industry at such pits as Earnock, Green field, Clyde, Allanshaw, the Bent, Eddlewood, Cadzow and the Ross. The last of these closed after the General Strike in 1926, and by the early 1930s the town was officially classified as a "distressed area".
Farming in late Victorian Scotland
For the Gazetteer, James Landells, sub-editor of the "North British Agriculturist", wrote
"At no previous time was British agriculture so well equipped as at present with all necessary appliances for extracting the utmost that the land can yield, and never before has it been in a worse plight. The farmer is undoubtedly heavily handicapped in his profession, and what with high rents, stringent clauses in his lease, somewhat harsh Land Laws, high and unequal railway tariffs, and bad seasons, he has not been able to hold his own with the foreign competitor "
"In the prosperous times of around 1873 (i.e. before the economic recession began in the mid 1870s) when there were good seasons and bountiful harvests, there was a good inclination to possess farms and the reckless competition which took place forced rents up to an unnaturally high level the inevitable reaction came, sooner perhaps than was expected, and, with a severity that has been keenly felt It has brought many farmers to ruin. Between 1852-79 rents increased by more than 50%, and the farmer's labour bill went up by a corresponding degree. Since then things have gone from bad to worse "
1871-1880 Average price per bushel Wheat 6/43/4 Oats 3/111/2 Barley 4/83/4
December 1884 Average price per bushel Wheat 3/31/2 Oats 2/83/4 Barley 3/51/2
"Up till 1876 labourers' wages had risen by about 30% during a period of about 15 years.... and labour still forms a heavy item of farmers' expenditure "
" Although a good deal has been done in recent years to improve Farm Workers' conditions and provide better house accommodation, much more might be accomplished, for it is deplorable that a fourth of the people in Scotland ( i.e. farm workers) live in houses of one room "
Communications in late Victorian Scotland
Thomas Croall, the Scottish Correspondent for "Railway News" in 1884 reported for the Gazetteer that " the Parliamentary roads and bridges (i.e. those built with Government, as opposed to local, funds) carried out in the present century, and the enterprise of various counties, or individual populations have covered Scotland with a network of good roads; while the necessities of the modern tourist traffic have caused many old roads to be improved, or new ones to be made All "Toll Roads" (built by local towns or councils and financed by tolls charged to all travellers passing through Tollgates) ceased in 1883 "
(In 1850 there were 5768 miles of "turnpike" roads in Scotland, with a total of 1060 tolls upon them)
" Canals are no longer of great significance, other than locally "
" There are five main Railway companies covering most of the country - Caledonian; Glasgow & South - Western; Great North of Scotland; North British; and Highland "
" Tramways have been developed in and around main cities during the 1870s. Animals are still the main source of power but experiments have been carried out with the 'Hallide Cable System' on the Go van section of the Vale of Clyde Tramway "
The Telegraph was the main form of long-distance message communication. Most telegraph lines followed the railways (a commission was paid by Telegraph companies to the Railway owners), and only a few followed roads (where no convenient railway existed) Telephone systems had "partially begun in 1879-80" according to Croall's report, and in 1884 there were over 1,000 subscribers to the "National Telephone Company", mainly in Glasgow (2/3 total) and Edinburgh,. (This reflects the link between the new telephone system and business), but " Owing to the heavy royalty claimed by the Post Office under the legal direction that a 'telephone' is a 'telegraph', and the almost prohibitory conditions for trunk wires between towns, the progress of telephony has been much retarded throughout the kingdom "
Health in late Victorian Scotland
Annual Mortality per 100,000 from infectious diseases in Scotland
Tuberculosis 361 77
Respiratory diseases 308 172
Typhus 106 0.6 (killed Prince Albert in 1861)
Scarlet Fever 66 4
Whooping cough 66 11
Diphtheria & Croup 64 9
Measles 40 9
Smallpox 17 nil
(Smout p 120)
Statistics on health reflect several other related factors, such as housing conditions the quality and amount of food in the diet, the amount of parental care, income, and the general environment. Also relevant are the overall standards of Public health, the level of Medical Knowledge, the cost of medicine, the number of doctors and hospitals in the community and what can be called the "social Conscience" - i.e. - how willing society is to tolerate avoidable death and high illness rates among its less privileged members.
Late Victorian Health and Welfare were still regarded as being the responsibility of the individual rather than society as a whole. Health matters, unemployment and Old Age were covered by some kind of personal insurance schemes among better-off families, but the poorest levels of society had little or no provision made for them.
In 1870 male life expectancy averaged 40 years, and female was 43.5 years. The annual death rate (for all reasons) was around 22.3 per 1,000. Infant mortality was 120 per 1,000 live births.
From the 1870s onwards, new Laws and local By-laws (e.g. the Public Health (Scotland) Act) slowly improved the environment by introducing sewage and water regulations and replacing the worst housing. In addition, the discovery of the importance of vaccination against disease, and the significance of diet and malnutrition , also helped change the old pattern (particularly in urban areas) of "regular" epidemics, such as typhus and cholera. (In 1861, 54% of all child deaths in Glasgow were due to these two diseases. Other annual "killers", almost as common and affecting all ages, included Tuberculosis, bowel disease, measles, and smallpox)
" the history of the Scottish standard of living, whether measured as real income or by health and nutrition, is extremely sobering. That there were gains for the majority of the population (from the 1870s onwards) as well as for the lucky minority is beyond doubt, but until about the time of the First World War, these seem to have been remarkably small in terms of family welfare. Most of the gains seem to have gone into the pockets of the middle class and adult male workers, whose real wages (= earnings in terms of what they could purchase) certainly rose by a significant amount, especially if they were skilled. If the gains for the family as a whole had been as large as the gains in the main breadwinner's earnings however, one would have expected to find a much better health overall health record, a better record in infant mortality "
"What held the working class back in the 19th century, if it is accepted that male earnings rose, is an open question. Certainly, compared to previous centuries, more workers received more of their wages in money and less in kind, thus conferring choice, but not all choice was either wise or family-minded. Bad health however was continually traced by doctors not to bad people but to bad housing, and to conditions in the towns in which an ever-increasing proportion of the population came to reside. The efforts of the authorities to ameliorate that urban environment, while real, seem only to have been just enough, even in conjunction with rising incomes, to prevent infant mortality from becoming decisively worse before 1900 "
(Smout pp l30 - 131)
In 1884, 450 Parishes in Scotland had "Poorhouses" for the destitute. Most were financed and run jointly by neighbouring parishes, as is shown by the fact that there were only 64 actual buildings in the country. These provided accommodation and "indoor relief" for 15,618 people, though the actual number of the "poor" was much higher, since many chose to avoid the humiliation of applying for "indoor Relief".
(Figures from Gazetteer)
Education in late Victorian Scotland
One of the most important aims of John Knox and the other Reformers in the 16th century had been to establish a school in every parish as a means of confirming and securing the Reformation. Two centuries later, Adam Smith argued in his seminal book, the "Wealth of Nations" ,that in any civilised society " a man without the proper use of the intellectual facilities of a man " (was) "mutilated and deformed in an essential part of the character of human nature " (quoted Smout p 110) though he felt that "common people" could not - and need not - be so well educated as those of "rank and fortune".
By the early 19th century most parishes in Central Scotland had some kind of "elementary" school funded by the local church, a tax on local wealthy families and small fees charged to pupils who could afford to pay them, but it was never intended that any but very small numbers of pupils would progress beyond basic literacy and numeracy. In other parts of the country, and in the more isolated rural regions of Central Scotland itself, basic education was more likely to come from what were called "adventure schools". These were held in outbuildings made available by well-meaning farmers (usually during the winter months only), where a self-proclaimed "teacher" would give instruction in reading and writing in exchange for his "keep" before moving on to another location.
A survey in 1818 revealed that for Scotland as a whole nearly two thirds of the children being "educated" were in some kind of "adventure" rather than parish schools. By the 1 850s and '60s the situation had improved in Central Scotland at least, mainly because the Free Church had established schools in large numbers of towns, and the Church of Scotland had felt obliged to follow its rival's example by improving Parish schools. In addition, there were numbers of "private" schools for children of wealthier families, and these ranged from large establishments in the main cities and towns to much smaller examples, like those claiming to be for "genteel young ladies and gentlemen".
Even so, records for the 1860s show that under half of all children between the ages of five and ten in Glasgow were attending any kind of school, and a similar situation applied elsewhere. Only after the 1872 Education Act made attendance up to the age of 13 compulsory (later raised to 14) did the situation begin to change. (In Glasgow, for example, the number of pupils attending schools increased by 23% in a single year after the Act, and the population Census returns show that by the 1880s 90% of the men and 79% of the women being married could sign the register.) "Secondary" education was confined almost entirely to children from "better off" families, mainly in cities and larger towns, though elsewhere the local "Elementary" schools did provide some kind of "higher Grade" teaching for more able pupils prepared to resist the pressures to find employment to boost the family income. Nevertheless, the son of a minister was considered to be "one hundred times more likely" to go on to University compared to the son of a miner, and the fact that " so few of humble origin, out of the great multitude, actually succeeded in climbing the class ladder on the rungs of educational opportunity tended to confirm the middle-class in their comforting delusion that it was moral weakness that kept the poor where they were "
The total number of graduates from the four Scottish Universities in 1884 was 1,073
There were 7 Teacher Training Colleges in Scotland in 1884 - all with Church connections. 3 were linked to the "established" Church (i.e. Church of Scotland); 3 to the "Free Church", and one to the Episcopalian Church.
Leisure in late Victorian Scotland
Even by the 1880s, leisure time was scarce for working families due to employers regulations and the pressure of living costs. Surveys showed that an industrial working-class family spent up to 40% of its weekly income on food, and an agricultural family might spend as much as 48%, in spite of receiving wages "in kind" (presumably because of higher costs in rural areas with fewer shops and expensive transport and lower wage levels) By then most workers in urban and industrial areas had a half day on Saturdays, though a full six day week was still expected from agricultural workers.
Nevertheless, the hours in industry and retail remained very high. Most miners and workers in other heavy industries like iron and steel, engineering and shipbuilding had a working week of at least 44 hours, while mill workers averaged between 50 and 60 hours. Other jobs were still longer bakers in Glasgow were often expected to work up to 80 hours, and even shop assistants could expect to work at least a 53 hour week one Glasgow china shop asked 69 hours), while drivers of railway engines regularly had 12 hour shifts for five or sometimes six days every week.
As reforms in working conditions slowly increased the amount of "leisure time" during the last two decades of the 19th century, the main beneficiaries were male workers. In contrast, working-class wives with families " gained nothing at all: the children still had to be minded, the shopping done, and the house cleaned, for nothing entered the market to save labour for the housewife until the 1950s and '60s (and) "The air of pinched desperation and the symptoms of chronic illness that doctors so often noticed among mothers in poor familles surely had much to do with the fact that for them the house was a perpetual prison " (Smout p 181)
For large numbers of the men, the public house was the main area for leisure. As the Glasgow Municipal Commission on the Housing of the Poor heard from a Medical Officer of Health in 1903, " The man has finished his day's work and has had his ill cooked tea His education has stopped short of making reading a pleasure to him. The children are noisy There is little room to move. Perhaps there is a washing hanging around to dry now and then he might talk to his wife. Or he might play with the children. But for every day, all the year round it is impossible. He puts on his hat and goes out The public house is warm and bright-and where else is he to go? "
(quoted Smout p 139)
More "respectable" and "socially ambitious" families did have alternatives to the pub. The local church might offer worthy lectures on improving subjects like mission work in Darkest Africa, and there might even be an accompanying "magic lantern" show, though these were more commonly found at the "Pleasant Sunday Afternoons" which many churches organised for young people during summer months. There might be a local Mechanics Institute with low cost evening classes, or one of the increasing number of "lecture and discussion societies" like the "Mutual Improvement Association", usually held in the new Library or Museum which many towns considered essential to display their rising success and prosperity. Perhaps too there would be a "Ramblers' Association" or even a "Cycling Club", though their outings were likely to clash with Sunday afternoon church attendance.
The half-day Saturday led to a considerable increase in the importance of Sport. Football rapidly became a major "spectator sport", especially in the main cities and larger towns, but even remote communities like Glenbuck had local teams. Rugby was more "middle class", mainly because of its links to fee-paying Secondary schools, and Golf too was largely restricted to better-off families with time and income enough to join one of the (many) new local courses which were being established, even in quite small towns like Strathaven and Muirkirk.
Popular "working class" sports were Bowling and Quoits, and Horse Racing also drew large attendances. (It was quite common at "local" tracks as well as larger Racecourses like Ayr. - e.g. - for a number of years Race Meetings were held during the first week of the Glasgow "Fair" at Westfield in Strathaven). An added attraction for many was the fact that when the Government passed the 1853 Gaming Act to outlaw betting shops, it failed to ensure that the new Law applied to Scotland as well as England and Wales. Although it was finally extended to Scotland in 1874, the pattern of widespread "local" betting was well established by that time, and it continued (illegally) in many areas.
Local "Rambling Clubs" were set up in many areas, as were (the then new, and increasingly fashionable) Cycling clubs, but they too were largely restricted to better off families.
Paid holidays were far from common in most "working class" jobs, so "going away for a holiday" was rare for all but "middle" and "upper" class families. Nevertheless, the rise of the railways (with relatively low "Third Class" fares) and the introduction of excursion steamers on the Clyde and Forth estuaries made "day-trips" on Summer statutory holidays like "Fair Monday" increasingly popular, and numbers of "resort towns" copied the English idea of building "pleasure piers" (e.g. Dunoon, Rothesay, North Berwick) to cater for the day-trippers. In 1882 Parliament passed a law to extend Sunday closing to all passenger vessels on the rivers and estuaries of Scotland and counter the "great and growing evil" of selling intoxicating liquors. Pubs and hotels were, of course, closed on Sundays.
Elsewhere, "local" holidays became increasingly common. "Hiring Fairs" had always been important in farming areas since farm labourers were usually "hired" for (only) a year at a time, but by the 1880s they were being extended to become "Agricultural Expositions" as well, particularly in areas where some kind of local "Farmers Associations" had been established to encourage the spread of the "new" ideas and methods of cultivation and stock-rearing which had become more and more important to combat the increasing amount of (cheaper) food imports made possible by the development of refrigerated (fast) steamships trading with the United States and the Empire.
In industrial areas, special "local holidays" like Miners' Gala Days also increased, while numbers of local "historical occasions and events" were made excuse for some kind of "holiday" (e.g. Lanimer Day in Lanark, and "Common Riding" days in the Borders) For children, most churches were beginning to organise "Sunday School Trips" every summer, and from time to time there were also "special occasions" which applied to the whole country, such as the celebration of Victoria's Jubilees in 1887 and 1897.
Religion and the Church in late Victorian Scotland
In 1880s, the Church was still central to the lives of most people in Scotland. " The commands of the Church were assumed by churchmen to be the standards which the population strove to follow in their daily behaviour " (Smout p 182). and the findings of a religious census back in 1851 - that a third of the population attended morning service and a fifth attended afternoon service (in many cases the same people, no doubt) - still applied. In most towns, and in rural areas especially, it was important as a kind of focal point for social intercourse and activities, and the local church and its minister ( not to say church matters in the country as a whole) attracted considerable interest ( and often criticism as well) from the majority of the population, even if this was perhaps due to the absence of rival "counter attractions" as much as deep religious belief.
Every Sunday "A universal stillness fell over Glasgow and Edinburgh (except in the unredeemed slums) at the time of divine service, and pervaded small towns and villages from dawn to dusk " (Smout 183), but the Sabbath " at home was a dismal ordeal for the younger generation. All newspapers and books of a secular character were carefully put out of sight. After breakfast, preparations were made for the Church. Black clothes were taken from the wardrobe and carefully brushed, clean linen was taken from the chest of drawers, boots were polished, and when everything was ready the whole family was marched to Church for the eleven o'clock service. After a meal (usually prepared on the Saturday) was served on our return from the Kirk, we were marched off again for the afternoon service at two o'clock. The evenings were long and dreary. Sometimes we would read Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress' or "Good Works" or, in summer time, we had a sedate walk to the cemetery. "
(WM. Haddow "My Seventy Years", quoted Smout p 183)
The Church of Scotland still had the biggest membership and influence, though there were nearly 3,000 congregations of "seceeders" as well, descendants of breakaway groups which had quarrelled with the established Kirk. Almost two thirds of the ministers at the 1843 General Assembly had followed Rev Thomas Chalmers in the "Disruption" which led to the formation of the Free Church , and there were other, smaller, splinter groups like the United Presbyterians and the Congregationalists. Methodists, Baptists and Quakers had become established in Scotland during the 18th century, but their numbers were small, as were those of more extreme evangelical groups like the Plymouth Brethren. Roman Catholics had increased in numbers with the rise of Irish immigration
In spite of its dominance the Kirk was beginning to be concerned about declining attendance in cities and larger towns by the 1880s. To some extent this was due to the fact that it was losing its social significance in the community as the roles it had
previously handled, like Poor Relief and Education, were now provided by Parish authorities, but at the same time growing numbers of the "working class" strongly agreed with Keir Hardie's bitter comment that it was impossible to be a Christian on a pound a week. Activities like football and cycling were becoming strong counter-attractions for many people tied to a six day working week, and there was growing interest in political ideologies like Socialism and Marxism or the revolutionary new ideas of Darwin on evolution, from a population far more literate since the 1872 Education Act. As a whole series of investigations commissioned by worried General Assemblies found, many of
" the working class could no longer see the point of the kind of church they were faced with in the towns and villages of Scotland"
Among those who could - the "upper working class and lower middle class" families as they would have been labelled in the 1880s - numbers of young people wanted a more evangelical approach than the Kirk seemed able to offer. The recently established Salvation Army attracted some of them, while others were drawn to a whole series of powerful "crusades" (like the tours of the Americans Moody and Sankey, and the "Hallelujah Chariot" campaign) which swept the country. In addition, they avidly read the recently-published accounts of the heroic activities of men like Livingston, and developed a passion for "Mission work" which would "bring the light of Christianity to the Dark regions of the Word". Together with the appeal of "the Empire" which was deliberately encouraged by stirring tales in the popular press and novels during those years, mission service helped to feed dreams of escape from tedious respectability into a more rewarding - and certainly more exciting - future.
Register House, Edinburgh Mrs M Dignall ASGRA
The (New) Statistical Account of Ayrshire Dalrymple Parish
"The Story of Dalrymple", John McChesney
"Ayrshire Coal Mining and Ancillary Industries", George E Sleight, MlMin E
The Baird Institute, Lugar street, Cumnock Mrs A Geddes, Heritage Services Librarian
The (New} Statistical Account Of Scotland - The County of Lanark, Hamilton Parish
The Third Statistical Account of Scotland - The County of Lanark, Hamilton Parish
"Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland" (Ed Francis H Groome) 6 Volumes
Thos C Jack Publisher, Edinburgh & London, 1884
"A Century of the Scottish People; 18301950" TC Smout, Fontana, 1988
Ordnance Survey Sheet 79 Lanark, 1923 revised edition
Ordnance Survey Sheet 72 Girvan 1965 revised edition
Victorian Ordnance Survey Maps of Scotland Sheet 22 "Kilmarnock & Troon" (Caledonian Books, Ellon, Aberdeenshire) Sheet 23 "Hamilton & Wishaw"