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.
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.
I have, after much thought, decided to change the name of the website. While the name James Ford Ancestors reflected my initial research my study has now expanded well past James Ford and his family. Cumbrae was a small island situated in the middle of the Firth of Clyde in Scotland which witnessed the increasing volume of sea traffic that sailed forth beyond the estuary and over the horizon taking people and goods to parts of the world which had only been discovered a few decades earlier.
As a result my own investigations have undergone something similar. Not that I have discovered any new continent, rather, I found that the lives of my ancestors hold more than simply names that can be attached to family tree. Their lives are far more interesting and in this respect, far more challenging for the researcher. What propelled them to buy a ticket for a four month voyage to a far away land on a sailing ship that had every chance of not reaching its destination? One such list identified 775 shipwrecks on the Australian run. What possessed my ancestors to undertake such a perilous undertaking? And, once arriving in Australia, what then? There was no social security system in place, little in the way of medical care, and the land was roamed by gangs of ex-convicts preying on the weak and vulnerable.
My research has therefore expanded as my interest rose. It has therefore seem good to reconsider the name of the website in relation to my renewed interest.
As I only recently changed the name to The Wright Inheritance why change again to A Community of Feuars.
When Samuel Ford married Margaret Wright on the island of Cumbrea it seems that the marriage not only bought some security and prestige to the family, the union also linked the family with a community of like minded people, the feuars. And it was this community of feuars that forms a narrative thread that runs through the generations down to the present day.
I have also found that in the process of writing and publishing my own book on the ancestry of Samuel Ford I needed to register an International Standard Book Number (ISBN). In order to obtain an ISBN I then had to register the name thinking that the title A Community of Feuars: Heritage of Samuel Ford best reflected my research at that time. In the interim it appears that Google Books has found my registration and published the information on their Books website again proving how quick the internet can retrieve information.
However, in order to circumvent enthusiastic search engines and their algorithms the title of the forthcoming book will remain In Company of Feuars: Heritage of Samuel Ford. A preview of the cover appears below.
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.