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History of the Town of Greenock
Part 15


In bringing this work nearly to a close, we cannot but allude to the only institution in Greenock incorporated by Royal Charter, and which has been the means of doing much good to the trade of the Clyde, from the attention which has always been paid to communications, &c., emanating from this body.

The Chamber of Commerce was instituted in 1813 by a Royal Charter. The first directors were

The object of this institution is to consider of, and suggest, such plans and systems as may contribute to the protection and improvement of those branches of commerce and manufactures with which they may be connected, or think conducive to the interest of the country.

The labours of this society, which have been considerable, considerable, embrace a great variety of business connected the public affairs, or with the peculiar concerns of the trade of Clyde.

An important class in every community are the medical practitioners; and here they stand very high as to professional skill and acquirement. The following are the names of those who practised here, from the earliest period to the time of Dr. Ewing :-

Dr. Cunningham, who survived the two following, (Mr. W. Wilson and Mr. Love,) died in 1769. Mr. Love published a paper, entitled ''Observatians on the Effects of Lignunm Guacum in Cancer," in the 5th volume of the Medical Essays, printed in 1735. Mr. Wilson was father to Mr. Nathan Wilson, who succeeded him in practice, and was himself succeeded by his son William. Mr. Cavimi Fullarton died in 1795 and Mr. David Colquhoun in 1807. Dr. John Colquhoun succeeded his father, and died in 1817. Mr. P. Bruce, and Dr. Ewing, both died young.

The following are those at present practising here:-

The writers in Greenock were, for a number of years, united into a society, by the name of '' The Society of Writers in Greenock; and upon a branch of the Sheriff Court being established in Greenock, they obtained a Charter, or Seal of Cause, from the late Sir Michael Shaw Stewart, incorporating them, under the name and style of " The Faculty of Procurators in Greenock." This charter is dated 29th Jan. 1816, and under it a variety of bye-laws were made by the faculty, as to the admission of procurators, yearly contributions for the support of widows, &c., which were acted upon until within the last two or three years, when, some of the members becoming dissatisfied with the regulations of the faculty, the widows' fund, which had been accumulated to about 600, was latterly divided ; so that the society may now be considered as virtually dissolved. The faculty had a good law library, which is still supported by a great majority of the procurators.

The following is a list of writers at present amongst us :-

The following facts connected with Greenock have been chronologically arranged from 1739 to 1802; and though not em- bodied in the history itself, may be of sufficient consequence to interest the reader. It was intended to bring them down to the present time ; but as this would cause repetition, it has not been done.

1739.—Dreadful hurricane, when 14 vessels were driven on shore, and one easel, the happy Union, came with such violence above M'Gilp's Point, (Open Shore,) as to knock down the gable of it Mrs. Weir's house, while the family were at breakfast. This occurred on 13th January. Five boats smuggling brandy were cast on shore, and all hands perished.

1746.—General Campbell orders twelve pieces of cannon, to put lnverary in it state of defence.

18th July.—Elizsbeth Orr arrived from Moraidx. Saw an Irish wherry land 30 rebel officers; who, on landed, were greeted by the populace with "Vive le Roi," imagining Prince Charles to be of the party. They immediately sung, "And a-begging we must go."

August.—Every house in Greenock searched by constables, in consequence of information being sent to Edinburgh that Prince Charles was here.

1750.—On the 30th of January, they had the highest tide at Greenock that had been known these fifty years.

1751.-29th January. A duel fought behind Mr. Macfie's sugarhouse, between Lieutenant Legge and Mr. Russel, when the latter was killed on spot.

His Majesty gave the Royal assent to the following Bill on 22d May:-

"An Act for levying a duty of two pennies Scots, or a sixth-part of a penny Sterling, on Scots pint of Ale and Beer, which shall be brewed for sale, brought into, tapped, or sold within the Town of Greenock, and Baronies of Easter and Wester Greenock and Finnart, and liberties thereof, in the County of Renfrew; for repairing the Harbour of the said Town and for other purpose therein mentioned."

1752.—October.--There was, about the middle of the month, the largest take of herrings ever known off Port-Glasgow and Greenock. Above 200 boats were employed in that fishery. The fishes came up the frith in such shoals, that, in one morning, Captain Noble, of Farm, caught in his yare to the value of twenty guineas and upwards.

East and Mid Quay first causewayed.

1756..—Weights for weighing tobacco got from Bristol, and a tax laid upon each hugsbrad to defray expenses.

1757.—Damage was done in several places, on evening of March 23d, by a storm, accompanied with thunder and lightning. At Greenock several vessels were drove from their anchors, and stranded.

1758.—Died at Greenock, 1st .July, Captain C. Craig, of the Ingram merchantman. As the ship Betty was firing her guns on arrival from Jamaica,

Captain Craig, then accidentally walking on quay, was unfortunately shot through the belly by the wadding of one of them, and died in an hour alter.

1760.—.Edinburgh, February, 23.—This morning, an express from Captain hay, regulating captain at Greenock, advises, that the French squadron, under Mr. Thurnot, left Islay on Tuesday and on Wednesday entered the frith of Clyde, where they cruized for some time, and at last, upon a signal given, bore all away for the Irish coast; adding, that Lieut. Paterson, whom he had despatched in a wherry to observe the enemy's motions, had sent him notice, that on Thursday morning he came up with their squadron on the Irish coast, and saw thence land at Carrickfergus a number of men, to the best of his observation not above 100, nor under 1000.

The Ingram, Campbell, from Lisbon for Greenock, with wine and salt, taken February 20th, near Ailsa, by M. Thurot. The captain and crew were put ashore at Carrickfergus, and the ship sent for Bergen in Norway.

On May 20, the corpse of the late Duke of Argyle arrived at Greenock from London; and on Thursday morning, May 21, was put on board the barge of the family, which was decorated with standards and escutcheons, and the armorial bearings of the family. The barge was attended by thirteen other barges, all properly decorated, in which were the relations and friends of the family, who attended the corpse to Kilman, the burial-place of the family, where it was deposited. During the whole time of the procession this day, minute guns were fired from Dumbarton Castle, and from the ships at Greenock and Port-Glasgow, and on the river. The procession by water was peculiarly grand and solemn.

1765.—Great distress, in consequence of the high price of meal, when the Magistrates and Sessions purchase for the poor.

Merchants agree to pay one halfpenny on the hogshead of tobacco, to keep sheds in repair.

Edinburgh, March 20.—Yesterday, Matthew Jack, cooper, and Humphrey Ewing, porter, both in Greenock, Greenock, were tried before the High Court of Justiciary, for abstracting the King's weights, and substituting light weights in the scale, at weighing tobaccos for exportation, thereby to defraud the revenue of debentures to be granted on exportation. An unanimous verdict was returned, finding them guilty.

1766.—September 4.—The accounts we had formerly from Captain Aitken of Irvine, and Captain M'Cunn of this place, of a sunk rock near the entry of the north channel, are now confirmed by Captain Dunlop, of the Bogle, who arrived this day from Virginia and gives the following account: That on the 29th ult., about four in the afternoon, he fell in with a small rock, bearing N. about a quarter of a mile; and, by the best computation they could make, lay about 60 leagues W. of Fillinghead, on the west coast of Ireland. Its top was ragged, and about the length of the ship's keel, and appeared about seven or eight feet above water; and, by an observation they had that day at noon, was exactly in the latitude of 55 degrees. They had a brisk gale at WNW., running six or seven knots, when they lost sight of it, which was in twenty minutes. It bore N W. by W. distant about two-and-a-half miles.

1767.—May 25.—A few days ago, some people in this place, in searching for coal near Gourock, discovered a promising vein of copper ore, a little to the southward of Sir John Stuart of Castlemilk's house; several pieces of which they have brought hither, and, by a chemical operation, it proves to be very good. As it is found only two or three feet below ground, it is imagined that what they have seen is no more than branches from an extensive mine, lying seemingly in a direct line from Kempoch Point, near Goumock, to Longcraig, upwards of a mile south-east.

1773.—On Wednesday morning, January 20, a dreadful hurricane, accompanied with a little rain, did a great deal of damage in several places in Scotland; being the greatest that has been felt since the high wind in January, 1739. At Greenock the storm was very severe, where several ships were driven ashore and bilged, and some lives lost.

1775.—Town officer imprisoned and dismissed for allowing a prisoner to escape. Bailie Gemmell writes Lord Cathcart to get the Magistrates made Justices of the Peace.

Magistrates and Council write Lord Cathcart, to know the truth of a Collector and Comptroller being appointed here, and if it will be prejudicial to the interests of the port.

March 25.— Notwithstanding the disturbances in America, the spirit of emigration still unhappily prevails. This week a considerable number of labourers and useful mechanics from Monteith, Kippen, &c., some of them members of the Perth and Stirling Company, are gone down to Greenock, in order to embark for North America.

About the end of May, four vessels, containing about 700 emigrants, sailed for America from Port-Glasgow and Greenock, most of them from the North Highlands.

June 3.—Yesterday, before the sailing of the Monimia for New York, the officers of the customs divested the emigrants of all their fire arms, swords, and daggers, before they went on board by which prudent conduct, the owners and freighters of the vessel were saved from the penalties inflicted by the Act 29 Geo. II., for exporting aims, gunpowder, &c.

1776—Additions made to West Burying-ground.

A ship sailed lately from Greenock for America, with shoes, stockings, plaids, belts, &c,, for a regiment of emigrants now raising by government in America, to be called the "Royal Highland Emigrants." Coats, arms, and ammunition, are sent from London.

About the middle of January, a government agent contracted with some merchants of Glasgow and Greenock for upwards of 7000 tons of shipping, to carry troops to America, and for bedding, water-casks, butcher-meat, &c.

1777.—The Katie, Captain Clarke, and the Alison, Captain Jamieson, two of the three armed vessels fitted out at Greenock, put to sea on the 19th of May, and returned on the 26th, having seen none of the privateers during their cruise. The third vessel was left behind, owing, it is said, to a troublesome fellow to whom she belonged, who was going to run away with her, after the committee had manned and fitted her completely.

1778.—Many towns in Scotland, on account of the revolt of the American Colonies, assisted in promoting the recruiting service, by offering bounties to persons residing within their limits some limited as to time, and as to certain officers with whom to enlist. Amongst these was the town of Greenock, which offered two guineas a man for the Athol Highlanders, in the company of Lord Cathcart, or that of his brother, Mr. Charles.

Fifty-six French prisoners, the crews of prizes which had been carried in to Greenock by Scottish privateers, arrived at Glasgow on the 18th, and at Edinburgh on the 23d of November, under a guard at the Western Fencibles. They were lodged in apartments fitted up for them In Edinburgh Castle.

On information that our enemies intended to distress the west coast, a train of artillery—five nine-pounders and two six- pounders—was sent from Edinburgh Castle for Greenock, Sept. 5th; and 200 small arms, with the like number of cartouche-boxes, &c., to arm the inhabitants of that town who voluntarily offered their services. At the same time, several bodies of troops marched to the same place.

Before the middle of October, nine privateers fitted out on the Clyde had sailed, and five more were almost ready to sail, carrying in whole upwards of 200 guns and 800 men.

1779.—Magistrates and Town Council most strenuously oppose the Catholic Claims. Afterwards Lord George Gordon visited Greenock, and received a gold box for his exertions in that cause. On the night of his acquittal the town was illuminated.

1781.—Wells first opened on a fair-day. Lamps first lighted.

1784.—Postage of a single letter from Edinburgh to Greenock, threepence.

On Friday, April 23, were committed to the tolbooth of Edinburgh, by warrant of the Judge of the High Court of Admiralty, .James Herdman, John M'lver, and Archibald M'Callum, merchants in Greenock. They are accused at the instance of Robert Hunter, Esq., and others, underwriters in London, with wilfully and feloniously sinking or destroying certain ships at sea, upon which Mr. Hunter and others had underwritten considerable sums; and for which offences these gentlemen mean to bring them to trial capitally before the Judge Admiral.-They were found guilty, and pilloried at Glasgow.

The Gazette of 17th July contains notice, that information has been transmitted by the Court of France to the Secretary of State, that several of his Britannic Majesty's subjects are detained in France as hostages for payment of ransoms. Notice is given, that in case such ransom bills are not forthwith discharged, prosecutions will be commenced in the Court of Admiralty against all masters, owners and others, unjustly refusing or neglecting to pay the sums of money stipulated for relief of those unfortunate persons, who have suffered so long an imprisonment. The following are the ships belonging to Greenock contained in the list:-

1787.—August 21.—The take of herrings from the Garvel Perch to Finlayston Point, and even to Dumbarton Castle, is amazing, since the 15th instant. They are sold from eightpence to one shilling per hundred, for salting, and for the red-herring house at Gourock; and the dealers in herrings come dowu here, and salt up vast quantities Iii orange and lemon boxes, which they early through the country on carts for sale.

1791.—On the 2 It March the ship Brunswick was launched from Messrs. Scott & Co.'s building-yard. She measures about 600 tons carpenter's tonnage, may carry about 1000 tons real burden, and is supposed to be the hugest vessel built in Scotland since the Union. She is built for the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia trade.

1793.—The following singular excursion was performed by Captain M'Alpine. —he set out from Greenock in a small boat with a party, and sailed up Lochlong and having got their boat carried over in a cart, about two miles from the heath of Lochlong to Lochlomond, sailed down the Loch and Water of Leven up to the Broomielaw of Glasgow, and returned safe to Greenock.

1796.—The storm on Saturday, the 23rd .January, was uncommonly severe on the west coast, accompanied with very high tides at Greenock. it was accompanied with a great deal of thunder and lightning. None of the shipping, however, we are happy to say, suffered any damage. For two days previous the tides were remarkably high, but on the 25th there was the highest ever remembered. All the quays and breasts were covered completely, and the dry dock was filled by the overflow of the waters.

The Dutch frigate, Jason, mounting 36 guns, with upwards of 200 men on board, was on the 8th inst. brought into Greenock by her crew, who bad put their officers under confinement. This frigate is part of a Dutch squadron which sailed from the Texel in February last; but, having met with damages, was obliged to put into Drontheim to refit. A great party of the Sutherland Fencibles have marched from Glasgow for Greenock, to take possession of the frigate.

1799.—A dreadful fire broke out at Greenock in a sail-cloth maker's, on the 16th March, which did great damage. Besides the houses, upwards of 600 bolls of wheat, 100 puncheons of rum, 400 bags of sugar, and many other articles, were consumed.

April 4.—The two O'Connor's, Dr. M'Niven and the other state prisoners who arrived from Ireland a few days ago, were escorted from Greenock, on their route to Fort-George, by Major Hay and a detachment of the North York Militia. They are twenty in all,—sixteen from Dublin, and four from Belfast. They are completely cropped, and all wear moustaches in the French style.

1801,—Such is the flourishing state of the commerce of the Clyde, that there were employed in the trade of Greenock alone, in the year ending 6th January last, 175,551 tons of shipping; and the revenue of customs for the same period was L. 180,341 1s. 8d. Sterling.

The population of Greenock in 1801 was 17,458.

1802.—The population of Greenock increases so rapidly, that not withstanding the many new buildings, many poor families could not procure houses at this term, and have been obliged to take op their abode in barns and out-houses.

Mr. Noel, Member of the French National institute, arrived at Greenock last week. He is, we understand, preparing for the press a "Natural History of the herring and the object of his visit to Greenock is to add to his stock of knowledge on the subject, by conversing with Mr. Hugh Crawfurd, whose known attention to the business of the fisheries pointed him out as well qualified to furnish the desired information.


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