Saturday, April 17, 2021

2021 #AtoZChallenge O is for...Old Scottish clockmakers from 1453 to 1850

  I've been researching my family history for over thirty years. Along this genealogy journey I have been supported by hundreds of books, many of which I have listed on my Librarything page. 

During the 2021 #AtoZChallenge I will be writing about two of my passions, books and family history. I'll be taking a trip down memory lane and revisiting some of those books that have enriched my genealogy experience.

After discovering from Census Records that Mr GeniAus' ancestor, James Gowans, was a clockmaker in East Linton then Galashiels we wanted to confirm this from other sources. James the Clock (as he is known in the family) wasn't famous by any means, he was just a man plying his trade in rural towns in Scotland.

I can't remember where I found a reference to Old Scottish Clockmakers from 1453 to 1850, but once I heard of its existence I went in search of a copy. The Internet Archive pointed me to a copy in The California Digital Library Collection. I have downloaded a copy of this book and have firmly saved  and backed it up in my genealogy files.

Old Scottish Clockmakers  from 1453 to 1850

On page 169 I found a one line entry for James Gowans that confirmed that he was a Clockmaker in East Linton. I'd have loved more detail but I was more than satisfied with what I found.

Page 169 - Old Scottish Clockmakers

On a visit to Scotland in 2018 or 2019 we visited the John Gray Centre where we were able to see a physical copy of the book. I can't believe that didn't take a photo of Mr GeniAus holding the book!

Trade directories or books about occupations are very useful resources for tracking down ancestors. If only there were such resources for our Ag Labs


Jennifer Jones said...

Great to find your clock maker ancestor in this book Jill.

ScotSue said...

How wonderful to find this reference to an ancestor and I am delighted that your trip to Scotland proved so worthwhile. Did you find out more about James Gowan’s time in Galashiels? There are multi volumes of a Galashiels Almanack held at the Heritage Hub, Hawick, but I think they could date from too late for information on James.

ScotSue said...

Jill, I was interested in the story of James and found your detailed family site page with full information on James ‘ time in Galashiels. I note he died in 1886 - with the Galashiels Almanack dating from 1889. You story reminded me of my research into a Jedburgh clockmaker. He became blind and died in the Jedburgh Poorhouse - a sad end to a craftsman. But in a casual Google search, I found that one of his clocks (illustrated) was being auctioned at Christie's Auction House in London - a lovely find. ’

Heather G said...

Must be something about Scottish long-case clocks - I call mine 'James' as well! Made by James Weir of Princes Street Glasgow. Not mentioned in this specific book (he worked mainly from the 1860s just outside the scope of this particular publication) but was able to trace him through trade directories, census records etc. And I did like the comment in the preface of this book, which said that if a clock is still going well after 100+ years then it is a credit to the maker's workmanship. My 'James' has clocked up (excuse the pun) more than 160 years!

GeniAus said...

Heather - thankfully the four Gowans clocks we have found are still working well past 100 years.

Sue, We have travelled to Hawick, Galashiels, Haddington and North Berwick on a few occasions. Unfortunately on our last visit to the Heritage Hub the woman with whom we spoke was less than helpful. If she would have directed to the Galashiels Almanack we would have looked for other family members, I will seek it out. Before the archives moved to the Hub we visited the former location, were well received and found information on the Purvis family.

Also in contrast the people at the John Gray Centre in Haddington were exceptional, I came away with many newspaper references to the Gowans family on that visit.

Alex Daw said...

I did not know clocks could be called names ! How wonderful to have found that book online Jill. Well done you. And you have the clocks as well. I have always longed for a chiming clock. I assume they chime?


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