Smuggling

Surrounded as it was by the expanse of the Clyde estuary Cumbrae was perhaps the most logical place to station a revenue cutter early in the 18th century.  Although the island did not boast a particularly safe anchorage, something which was later rectified, the island was central to the activity of smuggling.  The island was however a sentinel guarded the passage into the Western heart of the Scottish mainland.

The island’s centrality eventually lead to the stationing of the Royal George revenue cutter on the island in the latter part of the 18th century where it remain until 1820 when it sailed away never to be replace.

There is no real evidence suggesting that Cumbrae was the heart of smuggling activities across the Clyde, although, given the times, those with a fishing boat may well have indulged.  Rather, as far as Samual Ford was concerned, the sudden influx of a large revenue crew worked in his favour in a rather unexpected way.

The influx of a large crew needed to sail the Royal George resulted in turn a demand for house.  The solution, which appears to have only happened only on Cumbrae, was a distribution of land to those connected with the Royal George.

When the government initiated what was called the ‘preventative service’, it effectively sold the rights to investors, most of whom were farmers simply because farmers had the finance needed for such a large investment.  The deal proved beneficial to the investors and the number of preventative cutters, later called revenue cutters, increased as did the famers, and the governments, coffers.

But the benefits did not end there.  The crew of the revenue fleet, called mariners rather than seaman, could expect to double their wages through the distribution of the proceeds from seized contraband and impounded vessels.  The result was, for the island of Cumbrae, a distribution of those proceeds across the island.

The question i have addressed in my latest posts has been the issue of initial problem, namely smuggling which you can find here.

 

 

Millport Then and Now

Kames Bay, Millport. (daimadan)

In my research, I have literally stumbled across the website daimadan dot com and found it loaded with photographs of areas around the Clyde.  I suspect the images are contained somewhere else, (Scottish National Archives perhaps) but cannot find any reference to their location through the daimadan website.

The collection looks to have taken about 1860 through to 1880 and I have added them to the page Millport Than and Now.

 

The Wright Inheritance

In writing a historical story one is continually confronted with the changing nature of the material accessed.  As a result of new information being accessed the story itself must change.  Following my recent purchase of the publication by J.R.D. Campbell, Clyde Coast Smuggling, I have found it necessary to review any number of historical facts concerning James Ford’s father, Samuel Ford.

The information provided by Campbell has alerted me to readjust the location of Margaret Ford’s residence at the time of the 1841 Census.  Not only have I had to rethink my previous assumptions, but the valuable information concerning the distribution of the ‘feu plan’ of 1781/2 confirms what I had hitherto suspected, that Samuel Ford’s marriage to Margaret Wright had important social and economic implications.

For instance, the fact that the ‘feu plan’ confirms that One Thomas Hunter was given a plot of land along Stuart Street which tallies with the record of the 1841 census where Hunter, now aged 79 is still in residence, supports my readjustment of the Ford’s residence on Stuart Street.

Further, Campbell’s publication confirms that the residence occupied by the now widowed Margaret Ford and her family was initially granted to Alexander Wright, grandfather of Margaret Ford.  Remembering that Margaret Ford’s father, Robert Wright was the son of Alexander Ford and a mariner on the revenue cutter the Royal George, it appears and is probably true, that Alexander Wright bequested the property to Samuel Ford on his marriage to his son’s sister, Margaret Wright.

Such benevolence would explain why an otherwise unknown quarry labourer came to be known a feuar, an owner of property in Millport.

The full details can be found on the page The Wright Inheritance.

Photographs added

I have added a new page devoted to photographs of the descendants of James Ford.  This project has increasing become necessary as the accumulations of photographs increase.

The reason I have been spurred on to act is that I have been given the copy of a valuable photograph, that of Grandma Ford, Margaret Ford/Wight of Millport.  Margaret Ford’s photograph may be accessed here.

For this, I must thank Lyn Heading, herself a descendant of Susanna Ford, elder sister of James Ford.  Susanna Ford married James Purdie and immigrated to South Australia 1849 and settled in One Tree Hill and Smithfield area.

You will also find other photographs added as time permits.

 

Where is Samuel Ford hiding?

It is frustrating, to say the least, that there appears no record of Samuel Ford’s parent or where he may have been born.  But is that the end of the matter?  Surely Not.  What can we glean from the record that might assist in tracking down the Illusive Samuel Ford?

I added some thoughts on the matter.  For my latest additions see Chasing Samuel Ford.

 

Robert Muir .. felon at large

James Ford married Elizabeth Muir in Waikouaiti (later became Otago) New Zealand in 1864.  Elizabeth’s father, Robert Muir was a contractor working in the area and was present at the marriage.  It appears that James was working for Robert in road construction in the surrounding district at the time.

Robert Muir was declared ‘fraudulently insolvent’ and a police warrant was issued for his arrest.  Further details can be found on the James Ford New Zealand page.

I have been trying to find the actual reference to the felony and have just received the following image of the Otago Police Gazette dated May 1, 1866 from the researcher at the Hocken Collections at the University of Otago.  I have included the full page along with an enlarged image of the relevant reference to Robert Muir.

The reference gives a good description of Robert Muir and a reference to a brother in law name Ford.