Smugglers, Feuars and the Millport Plan 1779

I have finally completed putting together a number of loose ends which surround my great,  great, grandfather’s life on Cumbrae.  His memorial located in the Mid Kirkton Cemetery acknowledges that Samuel Ford was a feuar.  But what exactly is a feuar, and what part had it to play in the life of Samuel and the island community on Cumbrae?  I seek to draw these aspects together in Smugglers, Feuars and the Millport Plan 1779.

In order to complete my research, it was necessary to gain access to the original Fue Plan of Miln Port 1779.  Because of the restrictions applying to COVID, I was not able to locate this plan until recently. Ayrshire Archive Centre forwarded me a copy of the plan but in order to do so, I had to sign a document that the image is used for family research purposes and restricted to my ‘extended family’.  As you will see in reading Smugglers, Feuars and the Millport Plan 1779, Millport did not exist until the Feu Plan of 1779.   The Plan created a community and those involved may well be acknowledged as part of an extended family. Regardless of the technicalities, I would urge caution in using the image of the Plan.

 

A Ship Has Been Sighted: The Story of Samuel Ford

I have decided to publish the material I have collected over the previous fourteen years concerning the Ford/Wright genealogy.

As things turned out the Ford heritage is very much tied to Margaret Wright who married Samuel Ford on Cumbrae sometime in 1815.

The new addition to the site, including an appropriate change of name, is downloadable on the proviso that the material is used for educational or family history purposes only and that it is not used for any commercial purpose.

The Story of Samuel Ford may be found here.

Feuar or not but a Thank You note

After much searching and with help from the National Library of Scotland I have now confirmation that Samuel Ford is not recorded in the Register of Sasines so technically he was not a feuar.

This raises more questions.

We know that both Alexander Wright and his grandson, William Wright, are recorded in the Register of Sasines and that hereditary title to Tenement No 40 went from Alexander to William bypassing Robert Wright who would have been the legal heir in the normal course of events.   Yet the Wright memorial make no mention of either being a ‘feuar’.

Nor does the information correspond with the fact that ‘Mrs Samuel Ford’ is recorded as the ‘owner’ of her Crichton Street residence in the 1855-56 Valuation Poll.

It would seem that Cumbrae recognised Samuel Ford as an ‘honorary’ heir to the Stuart Street property which the inscription on the Ford memorial apparently recognised.

I have include a paragraph from my book manuscript which I think summarising events.

The Ford inscription is therefore not some sort of benign act of vanity on the part of Samuel Ford.  Nor was it a saccharine coated award bestowed by a gratuitous community for services rendered.  Rather, the inscription was a recognition, an acceptance, that Samuel Ford was worthy of being held in the same esteem as those who held heritor title.  It was a honour bestowed on one of their number, an appreciation extending beyond any utilitarian reason by those who themselves had little to offer other than the word ‘friend’.  The word ‘feuar’ inscribed on Samuel Ford’s memorial is therefore Samuel’s response to that recognition, a ‘thank you’ note written as only a quarrier would, in stone, a tribute to a community that saw fit to accept an outsider as one of their own.

Copyright John Ford 2020

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.