Connel Family at Pathfoot

Jenny Hutton wrote to me a while back saying, “Hi Paul. I am researching my ancestors from Millheugh Mill. I was very interested in hearing about Pathfoot. My ancestors were living in Pathfoot in 1790 probably before this but this was where their first child was born. They were John and Margaret Connel. John is on a later child’s baptism record as Miller of Millheugh Mill.”

“Pathfoot”, which was an old weavers house at the end of the Medieval path leading to the Dysholm Ford on the Rotten Calder, just off the Peth Brae.  As the cottage became ruined, and the 2 cottages were built nearby on the brae, the old house name became the area itself, Pathfoot. Given that John and Margaret were in this area prior to the 2 Peth Brae cottages, there’s  good chance they may have lived in the older cottage.

Milheugh Mill 2

1799 Sketch of Milheugh Mill by Jean Claude Nattes

There were 3 mills nearby on the Rotten Calder. Dysholm was nearby, as was an old mill and a more ‘modern’ mill built opposite it at the bottom of the brae. All three mills are now long gone. There’s a good chance John worked in the old, original mill, situated at the bend on the river which was thought to have been centuries old. It is known this mill was derelict by the early 1800’s.

1880 milheugh mills

1880 Photos showing TWO mills bottom of Peth Brae

In 1727, there is evidence that a new Milheugh mill was built. Situated by the south side of the road at the foot of the Peth Brae, and directly opposite the older, ruined mill, this new mill was powered by a lade which ran across Milheugh. Built of stone, the masonry was more modern and regular and likely had a slate roof. A large water wheel hung from the Western side of the building. An 1864 account describes the mill “A ruin on the side of the “Rotten Calder” having the date 1727 on its east side. It was formerly a Lint Mill. The property of Mr. Bannatyne of Millheugh House.” and “For these last 90 years, as stated by A. Jackson Esqr. of Blantyre Park, a Mill has always stood where the Ruin now stands, & it is most likely that the name is derived from the Mill.” It is known that Alexander Corse was the miller of that mill in 1760.

As for the name Connel or Connell? It IS an early Blantyre name. Births with that surname can be found in Blantyre Parish as early as 1715, over 300 years ago, at a time when the population of Blantyre’s hamlets would collectively have been only a couple of hundred people. However, there are only 3 male births registered in the 1700’s for the name Connell in Blantyre Parish, none of them John. Perhaps he was born in another area and came to Blantyre to settle? There’s no doubt that Blantyre in the 1790’s would have been exciting. The construction of the large cotton mills and village to the north would have been daily news at the time.


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