During the covid lockdown, John Campbell of Chester, England sent me some very interesting information on the Mann and Campbell families of High Blantyre. With permission, I’ve utilised much of his research here and where possible added to it wherever I could, to put things into context and to make it more interesting for you, the reader.
There’s no more a prominent, strong Blantyre surname than “Mann.” Andrew Mann was born on 10th January 1832 in Blantyre. His parents were Robert Mann (1801-1862) and Isabel Craig (1799-1877) of Priestfield. The father, Robert had been a farm servant, a handloom/silk weaver and a miner. Both parents were born, lived and died in Blantyre.
Just 5 years left of the Georgian era before Victoria took the throne, this was a year when Cholera gripped Britain. Interestingly, Andrew was born on the same week that the Jamaican ‘Christmas Slave Rebellion’ ended. More than 300 of the slave ‘rebels’ were publicly hanged for their part in the rebellion by the British, which brought about a global sympathetic sentiment, widely thought to have triggered significant movements which ultimately led to the abolishment of slavery.
In Blantyre the 1830’s was a time where many were employed either in agriculture or weaving. The Blantyre works Mills being a source of employment and with the creation and expansion of the Village. During the 1830’s the Mann family left Priestfield and moved to Auchentibber, High Blantyre, in particular, the area around the junction of Auchentibber Road, named Muirfoot. (the foot of Blantyre Muir). The population in this little community was no more than a few hundred people at the time and like Andrew’s father, many of them were gainfully employed as miners. There were many lime pits, quarries and small scale mining operations, though no large scale coal mining at that time.
The 1841 Census shows Andrew Mann aged 9, living at Muirfoot with his parents, an elder brother Alexander aged 11 (b. 1829) and two younger sisters Janet aged 5 (b. 1835) and Margaret aged 2 (b. 1838).
Like many of these mining operations, the quarries were quickly exhausted in Auchentibber and it appears employment opportunity as a weaver further down the hill at High Blantyre tempted the Mann family to move. By 1851, they were living at BackRow (Priestfield or ‘Swiss’ Cottages) former homes which in those days would have overlooked expansive green fields, with little hint of industry. 19 year old Andrew was a hand loom weaver, just like his father that year and still lived at home with this parents.
Marriage and Family
In 1859 Andrew Mann married Bethia Renwick from Hamilton, the daughter of John Renwick (a handloom weaver of Hamilton) (1802-1882) and Elizabeth Somerville of Blantyre (1800-1879).
Bethia Renwick was born in 1834 and was one of a family of at least nine children. In the 1841 census she is named as Elizabeth, in 1851 as Bathea and in 1871 as Betsey. There are references to her occupation in the 1851 census and in her marriage register entry. The census entry looks like Netter (a net maker) or Nettir; the latter is more likely, bearing in mind the location and the fact that other family members were weavers, and is another name for a knitter. Bethia’s elder sister Jean and younger sister Agnes are also shown as having the same occupation in the 1851 census. The marriage register entry almost certainly reads Dressmaker. The marriage took place on 27th May in Low-waters, Hamilton, where Bethia Renwick was resident.
Andrew is described as a power loom tenter which was a person who maintained and repaired a power loom and probably also someone who supervised a group of weavers. He may well have worked at the Blantyre Mills down by the River Clyde where David Livingstone had worked as a boy.
Around 1860, his parents moved across the road to School Lane, just off the High Blantyre Cross at Kirkton. Andrew and Bethia upon their marriage moved in next door, to houses immediately adjacent to the schoolmaster and Andrew’s parents. Indeed, their garden wall, still separates my own property at Croftfoot to this day.
Their first child, Elizabeth Mann arrived in 1860 and there is no doubt she would have been schooled in the adjacent schoolhouse, long before larger schools were built in Blantyre. Andrew and Bethia Mann had four more children Robert (b. 1861), Isabella (b. 1863), Bethia (b. 1865) and Jane (b. 1870). The 1860s would see great changed in that area of Blantyre with many new buildings built, several shops and the demolition and rebuilding of a new church nearby.
Perhaps due to the church being demolished, or more likely due to pursuit of better employment, between 1863 and 1865, the Mann family moved briefly to Paisley (where their daughter Bethia was born). In Paisley, Andrew Mann worked at the Underwood Mill where he must have been in charge of a team of weavers. Underwood mill (Underwood Road (was Underwood Street) by Kerr Street) was founded in the 1780s and rebuilt in the 1860s as a thread mill; later it became an Arrol-Johnson car factory and was partly destroyed by fire in 1971.
1866 Andrew Mann was presented (presumably on leaving the mill) with the portable writing desk shown in the photograph below. The inscription reads:
They then moved to Glasgow where by the 1871 Census they were living at 255 London Road in the Calton district of Glasgow (on the North side of the Clyde to the East of the City Centre) where daughter, Jane was born.
Below are two studio photos of Andrew Mann and Bethia.
The family are pictured around 1867 here:
During 1874, Andrew became property owner by constructing Mann’s Land in High Blantyre, tenements which were rented out, though not occupied initially by him. It prompted a move back to Blantyre.
Back to Blantyre
By the time of the 1881 Census, the family had moved back and were living in Forrest Street. Andrew Mann is described now as a Grocer and Powerloom Tenter. His eldest daughter Elizabeth (21) is described now as a Shop Keeper, his son Robert (19) as a Powerloom Tenter, his daughter Isabella (17 ) as a Cotton Mill Weaver, his daughter Bethia (15) as a Shop Girl and his youngest daughter Jane (10) as a scholar. He would also have had an income from his rented properties.
Forrest Street would have offered relatively easy access to get to the Mills and the growing commercial area of Low Blantyre in the 1880’s, certainly would have been an interesting place to live.
Below is a photo of Andrew Mann with his daughter Jane around 1880 and also a photo of a small stool possibly made by Andrew Mann for his daughter with her initials marked with nails.
However, with the closure of the mills in the 1880’s, some of his family would have been out a job. Andrew’s timing to change profession was well calculated. He is noted thereafter as being a ‘provisions merchant’. In 1884, he brought a court action to Mrs Jackson of Old Place for £122 worth of damage to his property, which he said was caused by the mineral coal workings below. The damage had started around 1882 and had become worse. In later decades, well after his death, ultimately the building was demolished for the same reason.)
By 1885, he owned not just Mann’s Land, but also a shop there and another house in School Lane, (presumably that of his father)
In the 1891 Census, Andrew Mann is described as a Provision Merchant living with his wife Bethia, and daughters Isa(bella) (A Provision Merchant’s Assistant aged 27) , Bethia (a Bakers Shopwoman aged 25) and Jane (now a School Mistress Assistant aged 20). In the 1891 and 1901 Censuses he is back living at a property in ‘Manns Land’ on the East-Kilbride-Hamilton Road or High Blantyre Road. Back to High Blantyre and to his roots, life come full circle. Mann’s Land was a former two storey tenement on the south side of the road, directly across from Matthew Campbell’s Nursery.
Later that same year, 1891, Bethia Renwick died aged 58 at Auchinraith in Blantyre. In the 1901 Census Andrew Mann is present with his daughter Isabella and a boarder, Janet Mann, probably a relative though not a close one.
In 1893, Andrew sat on the board for the formation of a new circulating library which was accommodated within the Blantyre Old Parish Church Halls constructed that year, not far from School Lane.
By 1895, he had split his fathers house and was renting it out to two occupants in School Lane. He had also acquired another shop and was by then well known as being a grocer. I suspect retirement would have been on his mind around this time too. He was by this time collecting around 14 rents every month, mainly from miners working at the adjacent Dixon’s Pits.
Andrew Mann’s Death
On 13th September 1910, Andrew Mann died aged 78 at the aptly named ‘Renwick Cottage’, close the Matthew Campbell’s Nursery at the top of Auchinraith Road, High Blantyre. This was a man who certainly made his impression on Blantyre and in terms of the property legacy he left. It is evident he was diligent and a family man, good qualities indeed for anybody from Blantyre!
Speaking of Andrew Mann’s character, John Campbell, a descendent told me, ” Andrew Mann had a series of occupations throughout his career and their nature and variety suggest that he was quite an ambitious man. Looking at the photographs of Andrew Mann, one of my daughters in law said that he looked like a very kindly man. I would like to think that she was right. It seems to me as if the presentation of the writing desk, shown above, by his weavers at Underwood Mill shows a genuine regard for him.”