John Davie
1792 - 1879

Born in Port Glasgow around 1792 John Davie was born and brought up in Chapel Lane and it is said never left the town.
Starting his working life as an apprentice tailor he worked from home as many did before he went on to open a shop in Church Street which in 1861 employed three men and one boy. He married Janet and they had six children.

Tailors in Port Glasgow were well respected and his profession and connections with the Hamilton Church where he was for many years and elder made him widely known about the town.
An affectionate notice appeared in the local press when he died in 1879 which is included here.

John jnr his oldest son born c1821 followed his fathers footsteps in becoming a tailor. John jnr continued in business after his fathers death and in 1891 was still living in Port Glasgow having left 47 Church Street and now living at Cyldevale house.

In Macarthur's History of Port Glasgow he quotes text taken from an article printed in 1907 attributed to Mr Davie. The article entitled  "Port Glasgow 60 to 70 years ago - A Peep Into The Past" . I have reproduced some more of it here.

The population of Port-Glasgow in 1801 was 3.865 and 1831 it was 5,192 and in 1841 was 6,938. In 1851 was 7,019. Now it is estimated at about 17,000 but it must be borne in mind that the boundary was extended westwards from the Glenburn to Boundary Street which are contains a very large population. Practically all the new properties erected since 1841 were erected in the extended boundary or on the hillside

There were no police officers in these days. A jailor and an officer were the only guardians of the peace and there was no need for more - the inhabitants as a rule were well conducted. The officer acted as the town drummer and bellman.

There was a pond at the Mirren shore, the site of which is now enclosed as a timber yard by Robert Duncan & Co. That pond was greatly taken advantage of by us boys for sailing our boats in. The boat most in favour was the "Scliffy" because it was easily and cheaply made: It consisted of piece of wood 12 to 14 inches long by 4 or 5 inches broad and 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick. We were not very particular and with a piece of triangular tin stuck in her bottom peak downwards she resembled very much the racing yachts of the present day and with a brown paper sail nothing of their size

could touch them. We had no difficulty in getting tin for the keel as the pond was a free coup where the cuttings from the tinsmiths shops were tipped. Some winters the pond would be frozen over but being salt water the ice was not good: at the same time I have seen skating on it.

Other extracts from this article have been added throughout the site making reference to the schools in the town and the water supply at the time - it's a fascinating look at the towns past.

This page last modified on Saturday, February 05, 2011

We had to attend school on Saturdays same as other days up to 12 O'clock. We had only from three to four weeks summer holidays and had a task to learn to repeat from memory when the school re-opened. Some of the scholars had the 119th Psalm to commit to memory. The last task I had to commit to memory during the holidays was the 52nd, 53rd and 54th chapters of Isaiah.

There were frequent battles between Knox's and Wood's scholars. I remember Woods boys used to irritate Knox's by shouting Jamie Knox's kittlins locked in a box: daurna keek oot the door for Woods game cocks. Of Course Knox's boys would retaliate with something equally offensive, and then the battle began. Buchanan's and Nicol's schools were also frequently at variance. Nicol's boys occasionally played a trick on Buchanan's which generally came off successful. The windows of Buchanans school were hinged on the outside (The old schools room is there still with the windows and shutters just the same as then). After having carefully secured the door a boy was stationed as each window one at the entrance gate and another at the inside corner, to see that all was clear: Everything being ready at a given signal all the shutters were closed simultaneously, putting the school in complete darkness, greatly to the annoyance and irritation of the dominie but inexpressible delight of the boys outside.

We had no Christmas or New Years holidays except New Year 's Day, what would the present generation say to these arrangements?

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