A continued look at James Clark’s time as owner of Crossbasket. Extract from the book “History of Crossbasket Castle” by Paul Veverka (c) 2015
1862 – On 9th January 1862, James Clark was amongst the audience of an important presentation and lecture in Glasgow’s Queens Rooms. The Herald newspaper of the following day gave a detailed description of the lecture, which was presented by Henry Dunlop on the subject of the Cotton Trade and the surprise of the current American Civil War. Henry told a distinguished audience that despite the evil of slavery being abolished in the UK, it could not rely on any further cotton coming from America and must presume so, if the American South fell. Henry went on to say the Cotton Industry was in a state of emergency in the UK and how they would have to look at changing things internally in the UK, or seek a better quality of cotton from places such as Egypt or India. The subject was clearly of interest to James, who made effort to attend.
On Thursday 18th September 1862, The Glasgow Herald reported on a court case, where a break in had occurred at Crossbasket. James Cameron and Charles McKedrick were found guilty of wrenching away one of the iron stanchions from the skylight window of a store room on 22nd July and carrying off several yards of flannel and cotton cloth, besides numerous other articles of clothing which were taken from a washing house on the same premises. The penalty was severe. For their efforts, they were sentenced to seven years and six years hard labour. It had been proven by neighbours that they saw the accused leaving the premises in the dead of night and hiding the clothes in a dry stane dyke on Stoneymeadow Road. The neighbours had given the information to police, who camped out and watched the dyke, by camouflage for a full three days before apprehending the two individuals on the spot, red handed.
1863 – James’s beloved second wife Agnes Barclay died on 30th April whilst visiting Woodcroft, Hamilton. She was only 39. James never recovered from this blow. She left three surviving sons, Robert, James, and Walter (merchant in Glasgow); and four daughters, of whom Agnes (younger) married John Henderson, barrister-at-law; Margaret married his brother, Robert Henderson married John McKie Lees, advocate, one of the Sheriffs of Lanarkshire; and Mary married M. Pearce Campbell, of J. & W. Campbell & Co.
A lifesize likeness of the late Agnes Barclay from waist up was commissioned and inlaid into the garden terrace large stone wall. The statue was placed mid way down the stone steps to the garden, above head height on the left, overlooking the river dam, a spot she was fond of during her happy 8 years at Crossbasket. The statue is not present there today.
1864 – In March, James sat on the committee for the building of Glasgow Central Station, a project he became heavily involved with.
1865 – In March, the gardener at Crossbasket placed an advert selling “A small green house” 12 foot by 11 foot. This is a good indication of the new, larger Victorian greenhouse being built, something we will talk about later in this book.
1866 – On 24th April, Susan, sister of James got married at Crossbasket. She married Patrick Smith, Esq of Manchester with Rev. Paton Gloag from Blantyre performing the ceremony.
1867 – On Friday 14th June 1867, a presentation took place at Crossbasket. Mr. John Taylor, parochial teacher of Bowmore, Islay was presented with a purse of sixty sovereigns together with a valuable gold watch and items for Mrs. Taylor as a present to show the affection from his former pupils from Islay and upon his retirement of office after fifty four years. James Clark then entertained the party and which included not only his old teacher, but some of his previous, fellow pupils to dinner. Such a kind act, but I suspect too, it was James’s discreet way of showing his old teacher what he had accomplished in life.
Later that year, a Scots Bill was presented to Parliament suggesting the amalgamation of various railway companies to benefit trade throughout the UK. During the debate, Mr. James Clark gave his opinion, stating on 29th June 1867, that he resided at Crossbasket but was largely involved in business in Glasgow. His firm carried out a great amount of business in all parts of the world. He had considered the benefit of this bill and arrived at the conclusion that it would vastly be in the benefit of all traders in the West and South of Scotland, that the bill should proceed.
On 25th October 1867 he sold their 7 year old chestnut mare horse and a 5 year old bay horse. The reason for James selling his only mode of transport, would soon became apparent.
By now James’s familiar figure, his tall form and massy head disappeared from public life. ‘Change’, and only a few old or attached friends sometimes saw him. On 31st December, 1867, he retired from James Finlay & Co. He decided to go on a long tour of Australia, something that gave him some of his old tone back.
1868 – The Misses Clark and his son Walter maintained Crossbasket whilst widowed James set off on his adventure. The daughters attended the Volunteer movement meetings on behalf of their father whilst he was abroad. It is almost certain he went to Australia with his son John Kerr Clark.
1870 – Thomas Annan, pioneering early photography captures Crossbasket whilst photographing Glasgow and Lanarkshire’s grand homes. It shows from left to right, the tower, the mansion house and the grand Victorian 3 storey extension built earlier by James Clark. The photograph in Figure 45 of this book is well known and liked personally be myself, enough to use as a cover for this book. I have other reason to like this photo.