The Homeplace – Girvan
GIRVAN ~ In 1668 when Girvan was granted a charter confirming the right to form the burgh and parish, the village of Girvan had less than 200 inhabitants. In the late 18th century Girvan became a satellite town for textile manufacturers in Glasgow and Paisley, with weavers locating in Girvan. By the 1840s there were around 2,000 weavers working in the town compared with only 100 by the end of the eighteenth century.
With the mechanisation of the cotton industry in the late-eighteenth century and the rapid construction of more mills, the demand for weavers had reached record levels by the early nineteenth century. Girvan was just one of many towns and villages in the south-west of Scotland that expanded to accommodate the large population of weavers that flocked to the area in search of work.
Although the late-nineteenth century saw the decline of Girvans domestic weaving industry, it also witnessed the birth of the town as a holiday destination. With the advent of the railway, people from Glasgow and the surrounding area flocked to Girvan to enjoy the sun, sea and sand.
The following is excerpted from Lynne McCubbins entry for CUB Report, 2006.
Daniel McCubbin, my 5th great grandfather, was born about 1742 in Kirkoswald. He was a Master Mason who had four known children by Margaret McGhie – Helen, James, John and Thomas, who were born in Girvan. Following the birth of Thomas in 1777 it would appear that Daniel remarried Mary Eaglesome and had a further eight children.
Daniel and Margaret’s son John married Margaret McKissock and it is from their children that my McCubbin Tree really takes off. Their youngest son Peter (my 3rd great grandfather) married a young girl by the name of Janet Hannah from Ballantrae. I guess Peter is the first ‘great’ that I have an affinity with. Like his father he was a Weaver and resided in Wilson Street in Girvan for at least 30 years. This little row of cottages still exist and I’ve had the pleasure of wandering down it and imagining what life was like for Peter and his family.
Peter and Janet were married for 24 years before she died in 1859. Her youngest son Thomas was only 6 years old. I have always felt sorry for Thomas as he never married and died in the Poorhouse in Glasgow in 1909. John, the eldest ended up in Paisley and I’m sure there must be descendants up that way somewhere. Next was James, who headed for a new life in New Zealand. He arrived in Otago about 1862 and married Isabella Campbell from Islay, whom he’d met on the ship. From what I understand there are no male descendants left from that line. Brother Peter died at the young age of 22 in Ardrossan.
The three remaining children had families and I have traced a great many branches and twiglets – not much contact with living descendants but they must be out there somewhere! Margaret had two children before marrying Thomas Quail – Janet Hannah and Hugh both went on to have families. Brother Matthew moved to Ayr and married Ann Pettigrew in 1874 – two years later both she and his baby daughter had died within weeks of each other. Six months later he remarried to Margaret White – they had five children together. One son Matthew died in France during the last months of WW1.
William, my great great grandfather married Sarah Peacock – their marriage was short-lived too, Sarah died in 1881 leaving three young children, David Peacock (7), Peter (4) and William (3). David became the sailor who jumped ship and was the reason for my starting genealogy in the first place (it’s all his fault!). Peter died young aged only 19 from TB. So the direct line dwindled away and was left to my great grandfather to continue. William Jr. married Jemima McCracken (it’s her veggie garden at Sawney Bean’s cave). He was a Master Mason, who built (along with others naturally) a famous department store in Glasgow in the 1930’s – it’s still there today. William and Jemima had three children – Peter, William, my grandfather and Jean. I never met my grandfather of Peter but I knew Jean and she only passed away in 2000. A second cousin 4 times removed of mine was Hugh McCubbin. In 1911, the year of his death he donated a fountain to his hometown of Girvan.
Occupations & Accomplishments
Generations of McCubbins were involved in weaving or some form of the textile business. John, born 1773, son of Daniel was a Cotton Hand Loom Weaver. His sons Andrew and Peter also. Five of Peters grandchildren were Thread Mill Workers. Further generations were Dressmakers, Milliners, Tailors, Power Loom Weavers, Cotton Warpers. The hand skills began to branch out to Masons, Blacksmithing and Master Shoemaking. A Lithographic Printer and a son became a Book Binder. One adventurous lad skipped the traces and became a Coachman and Innkeeper. One, whos father was a Linen Manufacturer, made his success starting as a Mercantile Clerk. This was Hugh McCubbin, born 1833. He worked his way up to being a South African Merchant, out of Liverpool. He was apparently active in civil politics. The Liverpool Legion of Honour by B Guinness Orchard published in 1893, describes Hugh McCubbin thus “McCubbin (Hugh) of Millbank House, West Derby is an active Conservative worker in that division, who comes forward as one of the nominators of candidates at election times, and was for several years a member of the City Council. He is now a Lancashire County Councillor. His office is at 11 Orange Court, and Gores Directory describes him as a general merchant. I believe he is specially interested in mining enterprises and the metal trade.”
If you ever visit Girvan, this is the man whos image you will see on the fountain mentioned by Lynne McCubbin.
Going to South Africa
James McCubbin and Mary Rowan, of Dailly, Ary, Scotland, were the progenitors of some of the South African McCubbins. Hugh McCubbin, who began it all, born 1833, made a number of trips to and from South Africa on cargo ships during the 1870s and 1880s, appearing on several passenger lists. He did not settle there, however his younger brother, Thomas, did so.
Hugh and Thomas were working as partners trading between the UK and South Africa as H & T McCubbin, Agents.
Thomas emigrated to Durban, South Africa where he prospered. Both Hugh and Thomas had sons who settled in South Africa.
(see CUB Report 2012, Two Brothers from Girvan)
Going To New Zealand
James McCubbin (NZ06) was born in 1837 in Girvan Ayrshire. He emigrated to Dunedin, New Zealand where he married Christian Isabella Isabel of Argyle. He was a baker by trade and worked in Dunedin, where the two eldest children, John and Isabella, were born. They moved to Milton where they had five more children, James Cuthbert, Janet Hannah, Margaret Annie, Willimina Christina, and Peter Neil. It would appear that Mataura became their home sometime in the 1880’s where James became manager of a bakery. Business grew and expanded and soon deliveries were made by four horse drawn carts.
James and Isabella are buried in the cemetery at Mataura as are James Cuthbert and Williamina. There are still descendants living descendants in New Zealand.
Going To Canada
Robert McCubbin, born 1808 in Girvan, emigrated to Ontario, Canada. His son, Alexander John McCubbin, was born 1850. Before he was a year old, Alexanders father had died. Alex went on to marry Kate Williams and they had ten children. He was a Blacksmith. A son, Norman John was born 1878, in District of Vaughn, York, Ontario. Norman moved to North Bay about 1900 with his family of two boys and five girls.
Was in business with W.J. Parsons in the Nipissing Stores until 1905, when he started in business for himself on Front Street in men’s furnishings. Prominent in Masonry, and great interest in music. President of the North Bay Choral Union. 1908 marriage to Miss Annie, daughter of Rev. J.W. Stewart, a pastor of the Methodist Church. Normans photo is in Galleries – People. His son, Harold Bruce McCubbin took over the business until about 1980.
Roberts brother,Daniel McCubbin, was born in Girvan, 1810, He married Agnes Colquhoun, 1836, Barony, Lanark, Scotland. He appeared on the census of 1841 in Dunbartonshire; living with wife Agnes and two daughters, Jean and Helen. A Clerk. He emigrated in 1849 to Ontario, Canada and settled on a farm near Parkhill, north of London, Ontario. Relates descendant, Paul McCubbin, The farm was called “Glendrishaig” which I was told was named after an area in Scotland where the family originated.
He appeared on the census of 1871 in Williams East, Middlesex North, Ontario; listed as a Farmer and head of household. He died, 1897, at age 86; listed as a ‘Gentleman’. Daniel and Agnes had six children, Jean, Helen, Daniel, Mary, Ann, and John. Descendants of their youngest son John, born 1861, relate that John married Helena Crummer, 1892 in Adelaide Township. He too was a Farmer. Helena died in childbirth – their daughter Lena lived, but was born deaf. John remarried Annie Gillies and had 3 more children, Robert, Isabelle and John Gillies. Gillies was a dentist in the war and established a dental practice in Chatham, Ontario. See Photos in the Gallery on the Photo page.
THOMAS MCCUBBIN – born 1845 was in a photo with soldiers of the OC Durban Light Infantry (his own rank being a Major) in 1882. He was recorded in the soldier list for the Boer War as soldier #7, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Durban Light Infantry between 1899 and 1901. He was awarded several medals. (see CUB Report 2012, Two Brothers from Girvan)
THOMAS McCUBBIN (son of Thomas born 1845) – was born 1878 in South Africa. He was recorded in the Boer War soldier records as a Lieutenant in the Durban Light Infantry. He later served in the suppression of the Natal Rebellion 1906.
MATTHEW McCUBBIN – Debt of Honour Register, In Memory of: Matthew McCubbin, Sapper, 412748 412th Lowland Field Coy., Royal Engineers who died on Sunday 2 June 1918, at Vimy Ridge, France. Age 41. Matthew was the son of Matthew McCubbin and Margaret White. Husband of Jessie Cairns. He was a Mason when he enlisted. He is buried at Thelus Military Cemetery, Vimy Ridge.
Matthew and Jessie had eight children: Jane, Peggy,(Mansbridge), Jessie,(McCulloch), Dougal, Hannah,(Jamieson), Matthew, May (Little), and Lizzie (Cunningham). Dougal died young. Matthew was survived by his wife and seven children, between the ages of one and sixteen. His grave is featured in the Gallery on the Cemetery page.
Facts of Interest
The following article, which easily mirrors the McCubbin experiences, appeared in the Ayrshire Post of Friday, 14th July 1916, shortly after the death of Robert Brown of Prestwick, who was at that time regarded as being the oldest working hand-loom weaver in Scotland.
I was only eleven years of age when I was put to the lim, where I worked for three and a half years. Fifty years ago handloom weaving was the calling followed by thousands of Ayrshire people of both sexes. In the North Ayrshire town I am writing about there would at that time be seven or eight hundred weavers. These were not weavers in factories or mills, but each and all working away on their own at wabs they had got from weaving agents in the town or in Paisley and Glasgow. The weaver owned his own limstead and all its appurtenances, and there were sometimes six limsteads in the weaving shop, the rent of which was paid to a factor or landlord.
Harness weaving produced many kinds of cloth with the patterns woven in colours, such as what were called Paisley shawls, without which no bride of those days could be considered to have a complete trousseau.
Weavers had to work hard to make what was called a good wage in those days, but most of them contrived to make both ends meet, with often a little over for a rainy day.
The weavers all made their own time, that is, they could start when they liked and stop when they liked. They could throw their legs off the saitrie when anything unusual was to be seen or heard, and afterwards make up for lost time by working later or starting earlier.
In the shop where I worked there were four weavers. Three of us could do a little at the signing, and although I say it wha shoodna, we often cheered ourselves and visitors with harmonised snatches of songs and glees, working heartily all the while. This was typical of what went on in many shops; and when everything was going well the weaving shops were very cheery spots indeed, especially when the weavers were lichtin and friends dropped in to site on the end of the saitrie for a crack*. Even courting was done in this manner.
The weavers, at least the male portion of them, were great politicians, and the discussions which went on during the meal hours at The Head Street, Newhouses and other places were often interesting and educative.
*Craic or Crack is a term for fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation.
Contributors: Lynne McCubbin (Scotland), Matt Little (Canada), Paul McCubbin (Canada), Catherine Kretschmann (Canada), Eion Campbell, (NZ), Anne Clarkson, (South Africa), Liz Ridout (England)