In mid March 2016, I was contacted by James Bridges who wrote, “Hi Paul. I work at an auctioneers in Guernsey, the Channel Islands – we have just had a gold pocket watch consigned with an interesting inscription related to the Stonefield Independent Co-Operative Society, dated 1889 and presented to Mr. F. McDade. The inscription is beautifully engraved as you can see. I didn’t meet the client who brought it in unfortunately, but according to my colleague, McDade was a relative. He took a photo of the inscription for posterity before leaving it with us. The watch will be included in a sale which is coming up on April 27th, so it will be with us until then if you have any further questions.”
The watch was presented to F McDade on 28th July 1889. Turning my attention to Mr. McDade, I knew of McDades land, which was located at 22 Forrest Street. In 1930, it was owned by Mary McDade, the sole beneficiary of the McDade’s Trust. Clearly, I had to go back further in time.
The closest census to 1889, is 1891, but although there were 13 male McDades in Blantyre at that time, none of their forenames started with an “F”. Perhaps this watch was being presented to Mr. McDade on account of him leaving Blantyre? Going back to the 1881 census, there is one male in Blantyre with a name beginning with “F”, a Frances McDade. He lived at Causewayshot, Glasgow Road and at the time was 25 years old. With him was his 15 year old sister and 59 year old mother who was a widow. Now, if this was the same person who was presented a watch 8 years later, Frances would have been 33. He was a teacher, born in Renfrewshire, but was not in Blantyre in 1891. This is of course speculative, but no other leads were apparent.
On the subject of Stonefield Independent Co-op, According to the 1930 valuation roll, they owned and were tenants at the bakehouse at 239 Glasgow Road. They also owned a drapery shop at 231 Glasgow Road, which doubled as a bread shop, 2 stables at 233 Glasgow Road, an office and 2 houses at 235, houses at 237 and 239, a fleshing butchers shop at 241 and a grocery and ironmongers at 243. They also owned the Bethany Hall at 266 Glasgow Road, which they had done so since 1925 until around 1931 when it later became an unemployment exchange.
The Independent Co-op, should not be confused with Blantyre Co-operative Society, which was a different organisation.