John McTaggart b1795 – d1875

Robyn Prince sent me a message saying, “Hi Paul.  I’m from Australia. I have a connection with Blantyre Farm.  My ancestors lived and worked there.  Their names are: John McTAGGART born c1794 who married in 1813 to Mary BAILLIE (born 1796).  John was a gardener at Blantyre Farm.  Are you able to find any more information on John and Mary’s life at the Farm for me as they were still living there in 1861, their ages being 67 and 66 respectively.”

I was able to reply with, “Hi Robyn. Good to hear from you from the other side of the world! I’ve had a look at this today and tried to put some more details around your ancestors story.

John Orr McTaggart, the son of Peter McTaggart and Anne Orr was born in Govan, on the south side of Glasgow on 14th September 1795, some 10 miles away from Blantyre. He was baptised on 20th September 1795 in Ayrshire, the home county of his parents and grandparents.

He lived in Ayrshire until an adult, when on 14th October 1813 he married Mary Baillie in Shotts. They had six children in 18 years. The children were born in Ayrshire, in Glasgow and later in Lanarkshire by the 1830s. Their youngest, a son Robert was born in Kirkintilloch, Glasgow in 1841.

Prior to 1841 and the availability of census information, what happened to the family is scarce. However, there is a suggestion that John, as an adult was young ‘master’ of the East India Ship ‘Sir David Scott‘ (pictured). The family may have moved around, and there’s a likelihood that John was often away at sea. However, things became difficult for the East India company, when in 1834, following pressure from the British Navy, they ended their illegal trading of slaves and had significant taxes imposed on them to transport more normal day to day commodities. John would have been used to travelling by sea but there is no direct evidence the ship he worked on ever carried slaves. Like many employees, I suspect John was made redundant as the company struggled and streamlined. The ship he served on was broken up and dismantled in 1838. He needed a new career or job and with six children may have felt it time to be home more.

This is a time before census information, and points towards the family coming to Lanarkshire in the 1830’s. By 1841, the whole family were living at the rural, but affluent village of Bothwell, just 2 miles from Blantyre and John now 44 years old, was a gardener, the first time we encounter him in that profession.

Across the River Clyde, the village of Blantyre was immersed in weaving, a time before the discovery of coal. The various grand homes and farms of Blantyre required upkeep and maintenance and many people were employed in such domestic activities.

By 1851, the family had moved again, this time to nearby Uddingston and at Pow Burn Toll, this was close enough to walk to Blantyre Farm (or Ferme) or cut across the railway bridge, even quicker! I suspect he was employed at Blantyreferme by this time or had become aware of opportunities there. Blantyre Farm is pictured in 1859 showing just how rural this was.

In 1861, the census does show John McTaggart (67) at Blantyre Farm with wife Mary (66) and son Robert (20) who was a blacksmith. Having a blacksmith on the site would have been incredibly useful, especially for shoeing horses, sharpening or mending farm equipment in days before mechanisation. The rest of the grown up family had now moved away. They may only have been at Blantyre Farm for a few years. During the 1860’s the family moved from Blantyre to Cathcart in Glasgow and his wife Mary died there in 1870.

John Orr Taggart died on 15 November 1875 in Cathcart, Renfrewshire, having lived a long life of 80 years. Their family tree is mapped out here.

Interestingly, the eldest son, John McTaggart (Junior) born 1823 – d1905 left Scotland to live in Australia and I suspect it is from him (pictured) that you (Robyn) descends from. I hope this is helpful and provides some insight.


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  1. The couple in photo is my gr gr gr grandfather John mctaggart and his wife Elizabeth nee Warnock they both died a
    At Ballarat Vic Australia

    1. Hi Robert-I’m Robyn Prince from Australia. Saw your reply to my McTaggart article. Are you in Australia also? I’m descended from John Jnr’s( m.Elizabeth Warnock) youngest brother Robert. Would you be interested in making contact & if so, would you care to give me your email address?

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