James Moffat

James Moffat born in Wilsontown, Carnwath - Lanarkshireon 10th August 1818. Son of James Moffat and Mary Bell. He was not born into a wealthy family, his father dying while he was young but rather through hard work and good business sense he was what we would refer to as a "self made man"

Trading in retail and in wholesale, supplying ships with stores. He also imported Brandy from France. Noted on the census for 1861 as "Grocer & Wine Merchant Employing 1 Man & Apprentice"  In 1871 his address was 64 Glen Avenue and his occupation was Wine Merchant.

Another vessel the barque "Newark" was jointly owned by Mr Moffat and Mr William Alexander Robertson - merchant of Glasgow and lastly the steam ship "Strathleven" registerd in the Shipping Register of Glasgow, his share was valued at £800 in 1884.

Mr Moffat died on 16th February 1884. The manager of his grocery business Mr James Addison who was lodging in Scarlow Street at the time is noted as the witness on his death certificate. Mr Addison bought the premises and stock of the store after his death paying the sum of just over £300 on 22nd March 1884.  By the 1891 census he was listed as Grocer & Wine Merchant having continued to run the business from Fore Street. In the image you can still see Mr Moffat's name on the store front.

The rest of his estate realised nearly £40,000 which was used to erect and endow an orphanage for poor children whose parents were not in receipt of parochial relief. The Carnegie Orphanage was built on Mr Moffat's ground at Carnegie to the east of the town. Opened on 19th January 1885. The home was restricted to only taking in Protestant children and had room for 30 boys and 30 girls who were housed on separate sides of the building.

Neither the orphanage or the library mentioned here are still in existence today.

1818 - 1884
He owned shares in the Great North of Scotland railway and also in the Kilmacolm Gas company, properties in Holm Street and Pitt Street Glasgow.
His fortune increased when he became a ship owner. Owning shares in the old wooden Qubecker  "Bruce" registered in the Register of Shipping Port Glasgow which was sold to John Sinclair Denniston of Greenock for the value of £275 on the 7th April 1884.

In 1876 he had a ship built for him by John Reid & Company Port Glasgow -  the sv Carnegie. At the time of his death this ship was sailing from San Francisco to Europe with a "low sale of freight" but it was noted that "no profit" was expected to be returned from the voyage. The ship was sold in 1884 and was eventually destroyed by fire in 1907 near Stockholm.

He was also a landlord owning property in King Street, Falcnor Street, Church Street and Princes Street Port Glasgow. These appear to be homes . (a list of tennants available on request) He owned timber ponds and these were rented out to John Morris and Robert Hunter. Much of land owned at Carnegie Park before his death was let as market gardens.

Mr Moffat bequeathed legacies to some relatives and the sum of £3500 to infirmaries and other charities.
He also gifted the town the sum of £3000 to erect a public library, The Moffat Library was the first in Port Glasgow. It opened in 1887 and was in use up untill 1958.

His personal effects and furniture were sold at auction by John Hunter McCloy licensed auctioneer of Glasgow and raised £225 on 24th March 1884. After reading all these details maybe note should be taken of what did not raise any value at the sale. A family picture painted by Robertson as well as his snuff boxes and watches, a collection of books which amounted to six volumes. A small picture of a woman and child and his set of bowling green bowls the only things in the list that give us an insight into the man.

He came to Port Glasgow in 1842 and was in the employment of Mr Duncan McDougall (1802 - 1848) grocer, Shaw Place Greenock, who had at that time the contract for supplying groceries to the navvies engaged on the Glasgow and Greenock Railway. Mr McDougall had a store for this purpose at Carnegie, and Mr Moffat was out in charge there - and it was a source of much gratification to him when years later he purchased the Carnegie Estate and the old buildings in which he had served in his earlier days.

By 1881 he was living in Westvale, Glen Avenue Port Glasgow and his occupation was listed as "Grocer Employing 3 Men & 1 Boy And Ship Owner". He never married.

It was noted "if perhaps not a literary man was a reading man, and there was no more regular member of the old Town's Library than he. When in 1872 this library, through the exertions of ex-Provost Fullarton and Mr Maclelland was removed from the Town Buildings and made the nucleus of the library in the front room of the Town Hall, Mr Moffat continued to be a constant reader."

He had a seat at the Council Board for nine years, and was a member of the Harbour Trust for many years.

This page last modified on Friday, February 25, 2011

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