Fegan and McLindens of Blantyre


pawnbrokeDave Barry contacted me in October 2015, saying, “Dear Paul, Although not a native of Blantyre, I’ve unearthed some family history from the area, and have written the attached brief summary. While researching my great-grandfather, a grocer in Holytown who died aged 32, ruined by the crash of the City of Glasgow Bank in 1878, I came across the stories of his more fortunate brother and sister. Besides any addition this all might make to local history, I hope that it could prompt any information from anyone else. Thanks for the wonderful Blantyre Project. Believe it or not, during the summer we were approached on a boat at the Great Barrier Reef by a lady originally from Blantyre (west of Scotland accents stand out!), and we soon got talking about your Project – she remembered you from school, and looks at the website from time to time. Dave Barry”

The following words by Dave Barry,

This is the story of the Fegan and McLinden families, who emigrated to Lanarkshire from County Down in Ireland in the mid-1800s and established several prosperous generations in and around Blantyre. Perhaps surprisingly, there are very few descendants locally today, and it would be great to hear from anyone who can add to the story. The following is merely a brief summary.

In the 1830’s and 40’s, Fegans learned the pawnbroking trade in Hamilton, and the next generation began to set up on their own in the 1860s, in Holytown, which was then a mining boom village. Sarah Fegan and her husband Henry McCarey moved there from Down, establishing a pawnbrokerage (181 Main Street) that lasted in the family well into the 20th century, run finally by their daughter Margaret Farrell, who died in Holytown in 1958.

Expanding operations, their son Henry Jr opened a pawnbrokerage at 214 Main St., Bellshill. His son Henry became a dentist in Edinburgh and settled in Cheshire, while his nephew John McCarey was a steel worker in Bellshill; I believe John’s descendants might still be in the area.

The Blantyre branch of the pawnbroking enterprise was under the wing of Sarah’s brother Hugh Fegan, who in ~1870 arrived in Holytown via Pennsylvania, where presumably he had amassed savings working on the new railroads. By 1875, Hugh and family had moved to Stonefield, where he became proprietor of several properties: a site comprising a house, shop and store unit which was the family home and pawnbroking business, a shop (leased to a draper, William Frame) and a stable located near Coopermindales. In 1891, the family lived in a house in Gladstone Place, adjacent to Grimson’s Buildings.

Of Hugh’s eight children, two went on to continue the business for several more decades. They were John Fegan, who lived at 114 Glasgow Road, Blantyre, until his death in 1941, and his sister Agnes, who lived there too, married to a pawnbroker, Charles McElhone, until her death in 1927; Charles remained at 114 Glasgow Road until his death in 1947. Perhaps the business ended at that stage.

Linkage to another prosperous Blantyre family, the McLindens, came through marriage of Hugh Fegan’s daughter Lizzie to Hugh McLinden Jr of Mayberry Place, Blantyre. The rise of the McLindens was quite remarkable. In 1861, the newly widowed Hugh McLinden, an immigrant from Down, and his three sons Denis, John and Hugh (aged only 13) were miners in Allanton Colliery, 16 miles east of Blantyre. Within the next 10 years, Denis had moved to Causeystones in High Blantyre, and was already displaying enterprise; he was a coal miner contractor, employing 45 men. In 1891, living in Auchinraith in Blantyre, Denis had diversified, plying trade as a spirit salesman. Notably, his son, Hugh Jr (who later married Lizzie Fegan), was a tailor’s apprentice, and it was in this profession that the family’s fortunes were to develop; by 1901 Denis was trading as a clothier 294 Glasgow Road and lived in Station Road, Glen Park. The connection with Station Road was maintained by James, brother of Hugh Jr, who was a coal hewer and lived there for many years until his death.

The Fegan and McLinden families became closely associated. In 1911, Hugh McLinden Jr lived at 114 Glasgow Road, by 1915 he was a tenant in Jachin Villa, Station Road and by 1925 he lived in Fife Crescent in Bothwell, where his wife Lizzie died in 1935. In 1925, Hugh Jr owned and occupied a workshop at 114 Glasgow Road, his wife Lizzie owned a house at the same address, which she let to her sister, the pawnbroker Agnes Fegan McElhone, and a pair of shops at 116 and 118 housing the family firm, Denis McLinden and Son, Tailor. Next door (120 and 122) were a shop and a shop-and-store pair owned by the estate of the late Hugh Fegan and still housing the pawnbroking business, run now by the McElhones. I don’t know if any descendants of these McLindens still live in the area.”

Cleary Dave has put a lot of effort into retelling this story, which I hope is interesting to all, not just the Fegan and McLinden families who may be reading it. I can’t add much more detail to such a well researched article. I did note though in 1879, Hugh Fegan is noted as being a pawnbrooker at Grimsons Buildings within Naismiths Directory of that year. Coopermindales and Gladstone Place, both streets in Blantyre are now no longer there.

On social media:

Katie Polockus BestWife Hughes Wow, what an interesting post and very well researched smile emoticon

Marianne Stark Aitken My mother was friendly with an elderly lady in the 70’s name of Lizzie McLinden I recall she passed early eighties…..long shot I know


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  1. really enjoyed reading this as we now live in 294 Glasgow Road !

  2. Jachin Villa , where did the name come from?, noticed it yesterday while walking in the area

  3. Thank you, my grandfather was John Mccarey the steel worker who lived jin New Stevenson then Mossend , my family still live in Mossend

    1. Terrific to make contact through this medium. We’re now sharing info on our common ancestry.

  4. Marianne,
    Thanks for the memory of your mother’s friend Lizzie McLinden. I have a number of McLindens listed in the family tree, but not much knowledge beyond the early 20th century. There was a Lizzie McLinden born 1883 who married a John Burns, but I don’t know what became of them.

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