James McLellan, Blacksmith



Danny Mearns a member of Friends of Cambusnethan Priory found this plate whilst digging in a field below the Priory in September 2017. Posting it online, he wanted to know a little more about it. From my own reference book, I was able to provide the following:

McLellan, Mr. James – Born in Hamilton in 1844 in Hamilton, James Mcelllan was the son of Robert McLelland and Jean Chalmers. James became a master Blacksmith, based in Auchentibber, High Blantyre.

In 1879, according to Naismith’s Directory James was a blacksmith at Auchinraith. The spelling in the directory is McLellan. However, in the 1881 census he is referred to as McLelland, the surname has a ‘d’, the names often interchangeable. That year, James McLellan, a 37 year old blacksmith and his 41 year old wife Annie Martin (b 1842 in Blantyre) lived at Newfield at Netherfield Cottages, Parkneuk Road, later to become Daisyknowe cottage. The cottage post 1910 became Braehead Cottage. (The cottage was sold for demolition in 2015 and as of Summer 2017 is currently for sale again). Boarding with the McLellan’s next door, were 2 blacksmiths William Bryson, aged 20 and John McLardie, aged 22 (who was born in Australia).

The closure and decline of Auchentibber quarries may have forced a move to more populated places, for in 1891 James and his wife moved further down into Blantyre to Beggs Land at Kirkton, High Blantyre. The name Beggs in Blantyre in 19th Century was associated with blacksmiths of that name. Beggs building was located on the south side of Main Street at the corner of Cemetery Road.

By 1891 James had taken on two apprentices in Andrew Baird and James Irons, both living with the McLellans, suggesting his business was doing well and a need for his craftsmanship. Being a master blacksmith likely meant people would come from afar for his quality ironwork.

Sometime in the 1890’s he moved away from Blantyre but returned post WW1 to 14 Hunthill Road, where he lived with Annie until his death on 28th March 1923, aged 80. James never had any children and his widow outlived him. His close friend Thomas Sneddon of Douglas Street signed the death certificate.

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From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017

Featuring Blantyre Project Social Media with permission. Strictly not for use by others on or offline, our visitors said,:

Robert Stewart I have a record from 1921 and James spelt his name ‘McLelland’.
Blantyre Project McLellan and McLelland are often interchangeable.
Blantyre Project his death certificate has McLelland, proving that both McLellan and McLelland were used for this family. This was the case also for McLelland’s Land, at Springwell, the family also adopting both names in various birth/death/business documentation.

Christine Wallace Graham Smith – here’s the info about Danny’s find at Friends of Cambusnethan Priory – don’t know if he’s seen it?

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