Let’s backtrack a little to Mr. James McLelland. James if you recall was renting a house at McLelland’s Buildings and also happened to be the son of William McLelland, the owner of neighbouring McLelland’s Land explored earlier. When William McLelland (miner and carter) died in 1906, James unfortunately went “off the rails” somewhat and lets just say, he was in the newspaper often, for not the best reasons.
On Wednesday 20th February 1907, James found himself standing in Glasgow Sheriff Court, turned out in his best suit. The accusation against him was serious for stealing £108 (about £15,000 in today’s money), along with a gold watch, 2 gold rings, 2 silver albert chains and a purse from his mother, who was a widow, living at Springwell. An agent for James, stated to the court that the accused’s father had been a carter and died 6 months earlier, leaving considerable property and over £300 in money. (nearly £50,000 today). The family were distrustful of banks and the sum of money was kept at home at McLelland’s Buildings, in their home within an 8 day clock in the front room.
About 3 weeks before the court date, the brother of James had appeared in court charged with taking £100 from the pot without permission. The problem was since the death of the father, the widowed mother had been drinking heavily and the pot of cash was depleting. A curator of the money had been appointed in courts at an earlier date, the intention being on resolving through legal process who was entitled to what. However, James and his brother, worried by this situation took it upon themselves at different times to help themselves to a share, before any legal authority instructed them. Looking at this situation, it must have been very difficult for them to see such a large sum of cash being kept at home and not to touch it.
One evening, James had got very much the worse for wear with his mother in a drinking session and it is then whilst under influence that he abstracted the money and the articles. He then fled to Edinburgh, but was later caught, the money returned with exception of £16 spent. James pleaded guilty telling the court he thought he had only taken his legal third share, leaving two thirds to be split between his brother and mother. The matter in court actually proved quite complex, for in truth, there was a high likelihood that a third of the money did belong to James, or indeed soon would. The judge explained this to him and asked if he wished to change the plea to not guilty. James did and was sentenced on the diminished plea.
However, even as early as July 1900, James’s brother John McClelland had broken into a house in Burnbank and stolen items, being jailed for 40 days. It is not unnoticed that this was long before the father’s death.
From the book, “Blantyre Glasgow Road – The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017