The disappointing aspect about Samuel Ford is that we don’t really know that much about him. The following contains the bare bones of the life of Samuel Ford taken from primary sources.
The Old Parochial Record
The only real evidence we have comes from the Old Parochial Records (OPR) and from the Ford memorials at the Old Kirton Cemetery in Millport. As far as the OPRs are concerned we only have two relative documents. The first, the document above, records Samuel working as a quarrier and married to Margaret Wright who was born 30 May 1792 together with five of their eventual ten children. Conspicuously no date is recorded for Samuel’s birth leaving a distinct blank in the record.
The second document, below, records the birth of the next five children with a reference to Page 15 (above) on which the elder children births are recorded.
The other important source of evidence for Samuel Ford is contained in the Mid Kirton Cemetery in Millport. The memorial in the cemetery provides evidence of Samuel’s age.
Above is the a photographs of the Ford memorials in the Mid Kirton Cemetery in Millport. For a more detailed photographs see the Memorials page.
Samuel Ford’s memorial is inscribed;
Erected by Samuel Ford Feuar Millport and Margaret Wright his Wife in memory of their son Peter who died 28th July 1825 aged one year
The said Samuel Ford, who died 15th Nov. 1836, aged 50 years also his daughter Margaret who died 3rd October 1858 aged 36 years.
The said Margaret Wright who died 13 June 1882 aged 90 years.
Here we learn that Samuel died aged 50 on 3rd October 1836 which gives his birth year as 1786. But even armed with this piece of evidence a search of the OPRs failed to reveal anything further about Samuel. Further, the Scotland People website cautions; Many people did not bother to register, particularly if they had to pay a fee or tax, as was the case 1783 -1794 a period of time which firmly embraces Samuel’s likely birth.
Importantly, we learn that Samuel Ford was a feuar, that is an owner of property. That he was a feuar is significant and is a matter I explore more fully here.
The other frustrating fact is that I can find no record of the marriage of Samuel Ford and Margaret Wright. Given the social imperatives of the time and the fact that the local parish rector had the responsibility of recording births, deaths, and marriages it is almost inconceivable that they were not married.
But there is more to Samuel’s life than births and deaths or missing birth dates. In fact we can learn of whole lot more about Samuel from other sources which I have included in The Story Behind the Story of Samuel Ford.
Samuel Ford is recorded as a quarrier and the island of Cumbrea was the source of stone material which was needed for the increase in population following the stationing of the revenue cutter at Millport in the 1750s. The mariners of the revenue cutter needed dwellings for themselves and their family and the expanding town of Millport needed a properly constructed harbour to accommodate expanding traffic and a sea wall along Stuart Street to protect the tenements from the storm surges.
Quarrying was a big business on the island of Cumbrae which extended beyond the island itself. As the industrial Revolution collecting speed there was need for quality stone for the construction of canals and ports. Later railways took over the burden of transportation and stone was needed for ballast in railway line construction, bridges and viaducts.
This snippet from the Statistical Accounts of Scotland Vol. V, 1845 gives some idea of the importance of quarrying on Cumbrae.
The interesting comment concerning ‘incomers’ not being included in the population might explain the fact that the 1841 Scottish Census on Cumbrae records only one ‘quarrier’ in its report. Perhaps these ‘incomers’ only worked when particularly quantities of stone was required and departed when those requirements were met. Samuel Ford is not mentioned in the 1841 census having died in 1836 but his wife is recorded. Details of her 1841 census record are contained here.
While I cannot trace any record of the birth of Samuel Ford, nor of his marriage to Margaret Wright, we do know more about Margaret than we do about Samuel. A record of Margaret’s birth as appears in the OPRs is shown below.
From the record we learn that Robert Wright was her father who was a mariner on the Royal George cutter which we learn from other records was the revenue cutter stationed at Millport until 1820. We also know the date and place of Margaret’s father birth and of his marriage to Janet Gillies. Of interest is that Margaret Wright’s birth is recorded as 30 April 1792 which differers (30 May 1792) recorded on the first of the two OPRs with respect to her children births (above top).
Such inconsistency is not uncommon as the above records are themselves but copies of other records. The due diligence of the scribe is of upmost importance and in many instances across the OPRs they have simply got it wrong.
The photograph above is supplied by Lyn Heading and interesting in that it links time and place. In another piece of information from the West Coast Director published 1886/7 supplied the name of the photographer one D. Alexander operating as Cumbrae Photographs Studio at 7 Cardiff Street Millport. The writing indicates that Margaret Wright/Ford is probably 87 years of age which agains fits within the historical time frame, recalling that Margaret died in 1982 aged 90 years. These several details are supported by Margaret’s death certificate below.
That the death certificate records Margaret’s father, Robert Wright had worked as a weaver is consistent with the fact that the revenue cutter was retired from service at Millport in 1820. Robert, like many others in Millport, no doubt supplemented his mariner’s pension by weaving.
Margaret Wright’s Ancestors
Unlike her husband, I can trace Margaret Wright’s ancestors back to the mid 1600s.
Tracking backwards in time from Margaret’s birth we find her father, Robert Wright marries Janet Gillies 1784.
Robert Wright was born 1763 to Alexander Wright and Margaret Cowan.
Robert’s father, Alexander Wright marries Margaret Cowan.
Alexander Wright was born 1730 to William Wright and Mary Greg
The above record reads; William Wright, mason in Kilmarnock, and Mary Greg, both their 1st marriage had their 1st child born on Sabbath June 27 – 1730, and baptised Alexander on Thursday June 11 – 1730 by Mc Hall (indecipherable).
William Wright born 1705 to john Wright and Marion Tanahill.
The above record reads: John Wright labourer in Waterside [a rural area north-east] of Kilmarnock and Marion Tannahill, both their first marriage, had their 3rd son born Sabbath April 22 and baptised William on Thursday May 3rd by [names illegible] Kirk Stewards.
The final record has John Wright born 19 March 1672, his parents are John Wright and Janet Allan.
The salient point is that the family have been recorded as living in the west coast area of Ayrshire bordering the Firth of Clyde for over 200 years something which is highly unusual for very ordinary working class people in that era.
Copyright John Ford 2020