Robert Coats of Blantyre Ferme Cottage


In May 2016, I was contacted by Vicki Wolf who messaged, “My grandfather’s family lived on Blantyre farm in the 1890s. My grandfather was Robert Coats born in 1892 to William and Catherine who also had two other sons and a daughter.

I’m visiting the area on June 6-7 ( from Canada) and hope to try and find where they lived near the river Clyde. I have a map similar to one on your website. My grandfather came to Canada and then fought in WWI and I have a copy of a reference letter from Smellie and Sons who were his employer at that time.”

This is the kind of message I like. From people who have clearly done a little research and with a clear interest in their Blantyre ancestry. It always pushes me to research or add something for them and so, a week later I was able to respond with:

Hi Vicki – Good evening and hopefully I can add a little more for you. First to “Smellie and Sons”. This business still exists today and has never changed location. The old building is still situated in Hamilton at Address: 4 Lower Auchingramont Rd, Hamilton, Lanarkshire ML3 6HW Phone:01698 282007. It was once a market, but has been for much of the 20th Century been an Auction house for furniture. It will be open on Monday 6th June and Tuesday 7th June when you visit, and I would recommend a visit to see the place “in action”. Co-incidentally, when I was a teenager, I was friends with the son of this business owner. The sons now live in Blantyre and are prominent landowners. 

OK, lets get closer to your ancestry line…..Robert Coats, William and Catherine. Coats is a real important name for the history of Blantyre. Once written as Cottis, Coattis, or Coates, it can be traced back to the 16th Century. Robert Cottis was the prior of Blantyre in 1508 until 1536, which is the earliest mention I can find of this name. There is an area of Blantyre near to Blantyre ferme called Coatshill, named after Coats Farm or Coatshill. Today, Coatshill is an expansive housing estate built in 1957, but was prior to that, all fields. Coatshill Farm fields bordered Blantyrefarme (ferme) fields.
You will probably already know that Robert was William (b1868) and Catherine’s (b1867) eldest son. The family were all still in Blantyre in 1901. They lived at Blantyre Ferme Cottage, and William was a farmer, then aged 33, Catherine a year older. There were 4 children all under 8 with them that year and William was employing 13 year old Jessie Miller of nearby Newton to look after the children as their nanny. This was common to have live in domestic servants at the time, and indicated that Catherine likely would have been kept busy in the nearby Blantyre ferme.
William’s own father Robert had been a farmer at nearby Blantyre ferme, so WIlliam didn’t actually move too far to Blantyre ferme cottage nearby to the main farm. Robert your grandfather (b1892-d1969) had siblings Thomas Brown (b1895-d1984) and Elaine Brownlie (b1900-d1928) and John (b 31 May 1898). I hope I have this correct.
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Now let’s move to Blantyre Ferme Cottage. Unfortunately, the cottage is no longer there. Nobody has written about it before, so I hope this does it some justice.  I’m at work on 6th and 7th June else i would have tried to find the location with you. I hope this is of interest and helpful. Have a good holiday when the time comes!
Blantyre Farm Cottage – was a moderately sized isolated, detached house on the banks of the River Clyde in the 19th and 20th Century. Built in 1830, it was located east of Blantyre Ferme, situated right on the banks of the River Clyde. Due to the proximity of the river, it was more locally known as Clydeside Cottage.
It was very isolated and private. In 1859, it was described as, “a small cottage of modern date, on the side of the Clyde. There is an inscription on the west side of it, to the effect that “Dame Nature” portrays each stage in life round this Cot: [Cottage], It is much better known as Clydeside Cottage, from being on the banks of the River, The proprietor, however, does not recoginise any name but that given by his own authority.” 
In 1865, according to the valuation roll, Mr Patrick Scott of nearby Blantyreferme, who leased the cottage out to an unnamed tenant for £3 per annum, owned it. In 1901, William and Catherine Coats lived there with their 4 children and Jessie Miller, a 13-year old nanny. Their son Robert would later move to Canada and fight in WW1. In 1930 the cottage was owned by coalmasters A.G Moore LtdToday, the cottage doesn’t exist and the demolition date is unknown. Similarly, there are no known photos of it either. The scene is very different and ironically the greenery of living trees and grass belonging to Mother Nature has claimed not only the area around the cottage, but actually covers the area where the cottage once stood. To visit this scene is quite difficult, as the whole location is quite overgrown.
Vicki (eldest grandaughter of Robert Coats of Blantyre Farm), later told me, “I actually knew John when I was a little girl – Uncle Jack we called him and he looked a lot like Robert. I may also visit the Strathaven area too as I understand William and Catherine moved the family there in about 1908 maybe.  They lived on a farm called Windyedge, then spent two years in Lethame Cottage and in 1911 William moved the family to Crosshill Farm and started a dairy business. I was trying to ascertain our family tartan and the best I can come up with from something my mother had left me is that it may be Buchanan. So I will be on a mission to find some tartan to bring home for my children.  Like William and Catherine, I also have four children and also had a splendid nanny when they were young.  They are now 27, 25 and twins 23.  The girls are huge Outlander fans and so are most envious that their mother is getting to travel about the highland regions that figure in that series. All for now – and again many thanks for you helpful info.”
On social media:
Janet Cochrane My great great great grandmother was Elizabeth Coats who married James Wallace in Oct 1775 I do not know if she is related to this family

Betty McLean Good research and I would like to add in reference to Smellie and Sons. Allan the brother of the owner lives in America and retired from the Steel Industry. He and Alex studied under the same supervisor for their PhD at the Tech in Glasgow, now the University of Strathclyde. oth families are close friends and enjoy cruising together

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