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Ardrossan - On This Day In History

Published stories from each town's past.
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Re: Ardrossan - On This Day In History

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GLASGOW HERALD
24 NOVEMBER 1820

DEATH

At Ardrossan, on the 12th ultimo, a few hours after her passage from Arran, Miss Cuninghame, only surviving daughter of the late Archibald Cuninghame of Thornton, Esquire.
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Re: Ardrossan - On This Day In History

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GLASGOW HERALD
24 NOVEMBER 1845

SHIPWRECKS

Stranraer, Wednesday – Since last Sunday morning we have had continued stormy weather, with short intermissions, the wind varying from nearly east to south-west.

During the storm several vessels have sought and found some shelter in Lochryan, and among others the ONYX of Grangemouth, Captain Hogg, bound for Ardrossan.

The ONYX landed ten of the crew of the HARRISON, of London, shipped at sea, on the 8th current; from the HELEN of Belfast, Captain Clayton, who had picked up the whole crew, consisting of twenty-two men from the wreck of the HARRISON, on the banks of Newfoundland, on the 25th ultimo, where she had become water-logged, and fore and mizen masts gone.

The men had taken to the rigging, where they remained for seven nights and six days in the most perilous condition pelted by the pitiless storm, hoping the best in the midst of despair, and subsisting on damaged biscuits and beer – a small barrel of which, with a single bag of biscuits, being all they were able to secure from the wreck.

One of the men had a tin dish, which was used as a divider, and each man was served with a single dishful of broken bread and beer once in twenty-four hours.

We understand that both vessels, the HELEN and the ONYX, were obliged to be put upon short allowance owing to the great increase of hands.

We cannot say enough in commendation of Captain Clayton of the HELEN; his humanity and noble generosity is far above our praise.

We may mention an additional circumstance which should not be forgotten – it was during a heavy squall Captain Clayton dared to save these twenty-two men from a watery grave.

Great praise is also due Captain Hogg, who generously received part of the crew of the wreck, thus relieving the HELEN’s crew from the prospect of starvation, at great risk to himself and his men.
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Re: Ardrossan - On This Day In History

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GLASGOW HERALD
25 NOVEMBER 1825

GLASGOW, PAISLEY, AND ARDROSSAN CANAL AND RAIL-ROAD

The canal has been executed from Tradeston of Glasgow to Paisley and Johnstone, a distance of 11 miles, and has for several years been yielding a considerable revenue; but the expense of forming it so far exceeded the original estimate and the amount of the subscribed stock, that this part of the undertaking is placed under great embarrassment, and it has hitherto been found impossible to complete the communication with Ardrossan by means of navigation.

Some time since it occurred to several individuals, that, as a canal had been found to be so expensive as not to hold out a prospect of remuneration to the shareholders, the communication might be completed, at far less cost and with equal utility, by the construction of a rail-road from Johnstone to Ardrossan, and it was arranged that a survey should be made and an estimate of the expense of a rail-road formed, by Mr Jardine, civil engineer.

That gentleman has now made the survey.

He reports that the line of a rail-road does not encounter any material difficulties; that a great part of it can be carried on a level; and where ascents are necessary, these can be made so gradual as to be adapted either to the use of the locomotive engines or horses.

The length of the line from Johnstone to Ardrossan is 22½ miles, and he estimates the expense at £110,000, but, as he says that, so far as he can judge, he has over-rated almost every article of expenditure, there is reason to believe that a sum considerably less will complete the work.

Its line touches near the towns of Kilbarchan, Lochwinnoch, Beith, Dalry, Kilwinning, Stevenston, and Saltcoats, and terminates at the harbour of Ardrossan.

All these towns have daily and extensive intercourse with Glasgow and Paisley; the country between Johnstone and Ardrossan contains immense fields of coal, lime, and ironstone, so that, while the internal traffic is likely to give great employment to the railroad, there is to be added the advantages which may soon be expected to accrue from exports and imports at Ardrossan harbour.

It is proposed that the Capital Stock of £110,000, shall be divided into Shares of £50 each, and shall be subscribed for on the conditions specified in the Subscription Papers.
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Re: Ardrossan - On This Day In History

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CASUALTY OF WAR
25 NOVEMBER 1917

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission record the death on 25 November 1917, of Private DAVID HAMILTON, (28), Service No. 60657, country of service being the United Kingdom, and his regiment being the Machine Gun Corps, and whose next of kin they recorded as Mrs Annie Hamilton, 141 East Avenue North, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

At this time the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald reported: -

“Private DAVID HAMILTON, Gordons transferred to Machine Gun Corp, was killed in action on 25th November. He was 28 years of age, and was the second son of Mr John Hamilton, Kilmahew Street, Ardrossan. Before enlisting he was employed in the acid department of Nobel’s factory.

Private Hamilton, who was liked by all who knew him, leaves a widow and two children. They will be sympathised with in their loss.

In a letter to Mrs Hamilton, the chaplain says: -

Five of them were in a dug-out and a shell came right in killing four and wounding the fifth. They were killed instantaneously so were spared all suffering.

I conducted a funeral service for the four of them yesterday morning. They were buried in a proper cemetery, and the graves will be carefully tended.

His commanding officer spoke highly of him and was extremely sorry he had been killed.

I am grieved to have to convey such sad news to you, and trust you will find some little consolation in the fact that he died doing his duty.”
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Re: Ardrossan - On This Day In History

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GLASGOW HERALD
26 NOVEMBER 1855

TRADE REPORT

The shipments of pig iron from Ardrossan Harbour for the week ending Thursday, 22nd instant, were: -

Coastwise, 3098 tons; Foreign, 630 tons; Total, 3728 tons.
Last edited by Penny Tray on Fri Nov 26, 2021 5:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ardrossan - On This Day In History

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GLASGOW HERALD
26 NOVEMBER 1855

TRADE REPORT

The shipments of pig iron from Ardrossan Harbour for the week ending Thursday, 22nd instant, were: -

Coastwise, 3098 tons; Foreign, 630 tons; Total, 3728 tons.
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Re: Ardrossan - On This Day In History

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GLASGOW HERALD
27 NOVEMBER 1826

FIRE AT ARDROSSAN

We have to record another instance of fire occurring under circumstances which render it impossible to account for its origins in any way than as the work of an incendiary.

On Saturday morning last, about two o’clock, the inmates of the upper storey of a house in Glasgow Street, Ardrossan, were alarmed by the appearance of smoke in their apartment, and for which they could not account for any other way than arising from a store-house below, occupied by Duncan Ramsay, a grocer and innkeeper in Ardrossan, and in which he keeps articles in the way of his business, and sometimes a quantity of hay for his cows.

Upon examination it turned out that this store-house was on fire, and no time was lost in giving an alarm to the owners and the people in the neighbourhood, and the fire was extinguished after about fifty stoops of hay were consumed, and part of the roof injured.

Although the Sheriff and Procurator Fiscal have strictly investigated the matter, nothing has transpired to warrant the apprehension of any person.

It was ascertained that no person had been in this store after one or two o’clock on the Friday preceding until the fire was discovered, and the door had been locked during the interval.

The igniting matter must, therefore, have been introduced either at the bottom of the door or through a wicket in the wall, by either of which the hay inside could easily be lighted.

Had not some particular engagement kept the family living above the store-house out of bed till the fire was discovered, not only must they have met with a lamentable end, but several valuable houses adjoining would, in all probability, have become a prey to the terrible element.

A strict look-out has been appointed, and it is hoped that a discovery will be made, and an exemplary punishment inflicted on the person guilty of this offence.
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Re: Ardrossan - On This Day In History

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GLASGOW HERALD
27 NOVEMBER 1857

DEATH

At 10 Montgomerie Street, Ardrossan, on the 25th instant, Major Martin.


[Curious as to who Major Martin might have been, I found the following from a SPINK medal sale. It's a bit long but hopefully of interest to someone now or in the future: -

Auction: 19002 - Orders, Decorations and Medals
Lot: 277
Sold by Order of a Direct Descendant


'… a very zealous and active Officer.'

Colonel H. Tolley, C.B., on Major A. Martin

The outstanding Field Officer's Gold Medal pair awarded to Major A. Martin, 45th Regiment

Martin shared in the glories of the Peninsula War and wrote his name into its history on several occasions - notably when selflessly commanding the Forlorn Hope at Cuidad Rodrigo having already been 'dreadfully wounded' and latterly when displaying 'the special characteristics of the 45th - steadiness and stubborness' at Orthes

His finest hour came when the command devolved on him during the Battle of Toulouse; for his excellent service on that bloody day he became part of a small band of Captains to be rewarded with the Field Officer's Gold Medal

Field Officer’s Gold Medal 1808-14, for Toulouse (Captn. Alexr. Martin, 45th. Regt.) complete with gold riband buckle; Military General Service 1793-1814, 7 clasps, Roleia, Vimiera, Talavera, Cuidad Rodrigo, Nivelle, Nive, Orthes (Alexr. Martin, Surn. 45th Foot), with silver riband buckle, both fitted with top riband bars, with long pins as originally worn, nearly extremely fine, with shaped and fitted custom glazed frame which they have been housed for well over a century (2)

MAJOR ALEXANDER MARTIN (c.1782-1857), 45TH (1ST NOTTINGHAMSHIRE) REGIMENT OF FOOT.

Alexander Martin is thought to have been born in England in about 1782: his age at death, in 1857, was recorded as being 75. However, in the 1841 Scotland Census his age was recorded as 50 and in that of 1851 it was recorded as 59; in both censuses he was noted as being born in England. Since he was first commissioned in 1802, and is unlikely to have been commissioned at the age of about 11, it seems probable that his age on the two censuses was incorrectly recorded. In a regimental Inspection Return of 1822, his age was recorded as being 38 - implying a year of birth of about 1784. His Death Certificate recorded that his father, Alexander, had been a soldier and that his mother's first name had been Sophia, so he may have been the Alexander Martin with parents of those names who was baptised in St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster, in November 1786. Other than those few sparse and inconsistent details, his family background appears unknown, as are details of his education.

He was commissioned Ensign in the 45th (1st Nottinghamshire) Regiment of Foot on 31st March 1802; his commission was purchased vice a promotion in the regiment and his social condition was recorded as 'gent.'. When Martin joined his regiment it was stationed in in Ireland. On 26th March 1803, after nearly a year as an Ensign, Martin was able to purchase promotion to Lieutenant, vice a retirement. The 45th remained in Ireland until December 1805 when it left, disembarking early in January 1806 at Ramsgate and subsequently encamping at Brabourne Lees in Kent. At that time, Martin was Lieutenant in the Company commanded by Captain William Smith but in February 1806 he transferred to that commanded by Captain Leonard Greenwell, in whose company - the Light Infantry Company - he remained for the next two years. The resumption of war with France in 1803, and with Spain after 1804, necessitated the raising of 2nd Battalions in many regiments of the Line, among which was the 45th. It was with the 1st/45th that Martin first experienced active service.

Into action in South America

Late in 1806, the 1st/45th participated in an expedition sent to South America as reinforcements for troops that had captured the Spanish ports of Buenos Aires and Montevideo. Buenos Aires having been quickly recaptured by the Spanish, the reinforcements were required in order to retake the city. After landing, in June 1807, Greenwell's Light Company of the 1st/45th was combined with other regiments' Light Companies to form a Light Infantry Battalion within a Brigade commanded by Colonel Robert Craufurd. Craufurd's Brigade formed the right flank in the attack on Buenos Aires on 5th July and achieved its objectives, penetrating deep into the city and capturing several buildings. However, the British were unable to hold the city against overwhelming Spanish forces and a truce was agreed, after which the British re-embarked and sailed for Montevideo. It seems probable that Martin was in the thick of the fighting in Buenos Aires since his Company commander, Greenwell, was among those wounded and Martin briefly made a prisoner-of-war. The Battalion returned to Ireland late in December 1807.

Peninsula campaigns

The 1st/45th embarked for Portugal in mid-July 1808, Martin being among the officers of the Battalion present at the time and still one of the two Lieutenants in Captain Greenwell's Light Company. The Battalion was present at the battles of Roliça and Vimeira in August 1808, Martin's involvement in both actions being confirmed by the eponymous clasps on his Military General Service Medal. The 1st/45th was among those British troops which remained in Portugal after the evacuations from Corunna and Vigo, over-wintering in Lisbon 1808-09.

On 1st April 1809, Martin was promoted Captain but in the 2nd Battalion; his promotion came without purchase, vice the appointment of a regimental officer to the Staff. For the remainder of the war, there was frequent 'cross-posting' between the 45th's two battalions - officers of one doing duty with the other - and so it was that Martin remained in the Peninsula and was present at the battle of Talavera in July 1809. By January 1810 he had returned to England to serve with the 2nd/45th in Nottingham, where he commanded the battalion's Light Company. The 2nd/45th moved from Nottingham to Guernsey in May 1810 and remained there until June 1811 when it was posted to Hilsea Barracks in Portsmouth; three months later, Martin accompanied a draft from the Battalion to join the 1st/45th in Spain.

Cuidad Rodrigo - forlorn hope - severe wound

It appears that Martin took over command of the Grenadier Company of the 1st/45th on arrival at Battalion headquarters in Spain in the autumn of 1811. A Battalion's Grenadier Company was expected to lead any assault on a fortified position and did just so at Ciudad Rodrigo on 19th January 1812. The 1st/45th was allocated the role of spearhead of the 3rd Division's assault. Although the walls had been breached by British artillery fire, there was still a glacis to be crossed and deep ditches to be negotiated, all in the face of exploding mines and withering fire from artillery and musketry. Under such circumstances, it was usual for the commander of the assaulting force to ask volunteers to form a 'forlorn hope' (from the Dutch: verloren hoop or 'lost troop') to lead the assault. Although few could expect to survive such a suicidal venture, there was glory in participation as well as probable promotion and prize money for the survivors - on the basis of 'the fewer men, the greater share of honour'. According to the account published in 1840 by Colonel James Campbell (in January 1812 a Captain in the 1st/45th), there was no shortage of volunteers among the officers and men of the 1st/45th for the forlorn hope at Ciudad Rodrigo but, 'the Captain of Grenadiers (now Major Martin), who was there dreadfully wounded, put an end to all difficulties by requesting leave to lead as he stood with his company at the head of the column.'

His command inspired the men and that evening they shared in 100 guineas from Picton, calling them to do him '…the honour to drink to the future success of the Third Division.'

It is evident, from all accounts, that Martin's wound, received in the breach at Ciudad Rodrigo, was 'severe', even 'dreadful', but no accurate account has yet been traced of exactly what it form it took - it should perhaps be noted that he failed to sire any issue in later life. When submitting his entry for volume five of Philippart's 'Royal Military Calendar' in about 1820, he recorded that he had, 'received a gun-shot wound through the body'. The Commissary John Edgcumbe Daniel wrote in 1820 that Martin had been, 'left in a hopeless state among the dead, his recovery was considered a perfect miracle', so it seems likely that he sustained a torso wound, probably from one or more musket balls. Whatever his wound, it necessitated more than a year's convalescence, first in Portugal and then in England. By March 1813, though, he was well enough to be stationed with the 2nd/45th at Lewes Barracks in Sussex and in September that year he returned to the 1st/45th in Spain.

Back into action

By the time that Martin re-joined the 1st/45th, Wellington's Army was poised to invade France and the Battalion participated in the battles of Nivelle and Nive to force the frontier; Martin was once again at the head of his grenadiers,. At the subsequent battle of Orthes, on 27th February 1814, the battalion was opposed to nearly the whole of the right of the French army and was hard-pressed for a time, but it held on with, as the regimental historian Colonel Dalbiac recorded in 1902, ' … the Grenadier company, under Captain Martin, gallantly repelling every effort of the French to dislodge them. At no time, perhaps during the whole war had the special characteristics of the 45th - steadiness and stubbornness - had been more splendidly displayed than they were on this occasion.'

At the subsequent battle of Toulouse on 10th April 1814, command of the 1st/45th devolved upon Martin when the Colonel was killed and his second-in-command wounded, so it fell to him to extract the Battalion from a battle in which it had been bloodily mauled. As a result of his leadership at Toulouse, Martin became one of the small number of Captains to be awarded a Field Officer's Gold Medal.

The 1st/45th returned home, to Ireland, late in July 1814 and remained there until January 1819. The apparent ending of the war with France in 1814 resulted in the disbandment of the 2nd/45th and in November 1814 Martin was recorded as en route from Plymouth with a draft of NCOs and men from the 2nd Battalion who were being transferred to the 1st Battalion in order to bring it up to strength. Late in December 1816, Martin bought a Majority in the regiment from Major David Lecky, who retired by sale of his commission. In January 1819, the regiment embarked for Ceylon (Sri Lanka), landing at Trincomalee early in July. By December 1819, Major Martin was stationed in Colombo, moving to Galle in March 1820 and remaining in the fort there until June. From February 1821, and for the remainder of his service with the 45th in Ceylon, Martin was commandant of the detachment at Badula (Badulla), in the hills south-east of Kandy. It was while he was there that Colonel Henry Tolley C.B., while completing an Inspection Return on the 45th in March 1821, recorded that, in his opinion, Major Martin was, ' … a very zealous and active Officer.' In November 1824, Martin embarked at Galle for Britain, granted leave for two years' absence. In the event, he did not return, retiring by the sale of his Major's commission to Captain Thomas Hilton in June 1825.

The sale of his commission would have netted Martin a reasonable sum and, as a result of his wound at Ciudad Rodrigo, he already had a permanent pension of £100 per annum (equivalent to about £58,000 in 2019): this would have enabled him to live comfortably in retirement.

Retirement - journey's end

He is recorded as having married twice, although the date and place of his first marriage has not been traced. His first wife was Ellen, or Eleanor, second daughter of Hugh Lyle of Jackson Hall, Coleraine, Co. Londonderry; the marriage appears to have been childless. At some point, Martin appears to have lived in Belfast - his will records him as 'formerly of Belfast' - but by 1837 he and his first wife were living at Mayville Cottage in the Ayrshire coastal town of Stevenston. By 1842, the couple had moved to Montgomerie Street, Ardrossan, where Ellen Martin died in August that year. Martin's second wife was Frances Hilton Miller, a daughter of John Miller, a prosperous Glasgow merchant with extensive West Indian interests. Frances was some forty years Alexander's junior and they married in Glasgow in January 1844; the marriage was also childless. Their property in Ardrossan was large enough to incorporate a stable and a coach house and to accommodate four servants as well as the family. Martin was sufficiently prosperous to settle £5,000 on his young wife at the time of their marriage.

It appears that Major Alexander Martin enjoyed an intellectually active retirement, while living on the Ayrshire coast. Students of the marine natural history of Scotland may be familiar with his name and reputation as an 'enthusiastic seabed sampler'; he was recorded in 2012 as a 'dredging companion' of two notable local natural historians, Professor J.H. Balfour and The Rev. David Landsborough, and in 1847 as, ' … a gentleman well-known as a lover of natural history, and as a successful collector of objects of zoological and botanical interest.' His military history as well as his interests were clearly known to Charles Kingsley, who memorialised him in 'Glaucus' in 1855 thus:

' …the gallant old Scotch officer mentioned by some writer on sea-weeds, who, desperately wounded in the breach at Badajos [sic], and a sharer in all the toils and triumphs of the Peninsular war, could in his old age show a rare sea-weed with as much triumph as his well-earned medals, and talk over a tiny spore-capsule with as much zest as the records of sieges and battles.'

Major Alexander Martin died in Ardrossan on 25th November 1857 and was buried in the Necropolis in Glasgow. His second wife survived him until 1878.

Reference sources:

Primary sources:

The National Archives:
Monthly Returns, WO 17; Muster Rolls and Pay Lists, WO 12; Inspection Returns WO 27.

Secondary sources:

Campbell, J., A British Army … (London, 1840).
Dalbiac, P.H., History of the 45th: 1st Nottinghamshire Regiment … (London, 1902).
Daniel, J.E., Journal of an Officer in the Commissariat Department of the Army … (London, 1820).
Moore, G., 'Major Alexander Martin and Lieutenant John Leavach …', Ayrshire Notes, Vol. 43 (2012), pp. 31-34.
Philippart, J., The Royal Military Calendar …, 5 vols. (London, 1820).
London Gazette 1802-25.
Wylly, H.C. (comp.), History of the 1st & 2nd Battalions The Sherwood Foresters …, 2 vols. (Frome & London, 1929).

Internet sources:

Ancestry.com; Arran Coast.com; Find My Past.com; Scotland's People.com


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Re: Ardrossan - On This Day In History

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GLASGOW HERALD
28 NOVEMBER 1836

DEATH

At Ardrossan, on the 21st instant, Mr George Young, aged 74 years. He was the first single proprietor that finished a house there; and remained at the harbour of Ardrossan till death, being upwards of 28 years.
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Re: Ardrossan - On This Day In History

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CASUALTY OF WAR
28 NOVEMBER 1916

Died on service, Private JOHN FLEMING, (28), Service No. 4377, 9th Battalion Royal Scots – Theatre of war, France and Flanders – son of John and the late Agnes Fleming, 47 Montpelier Park, Edinburgh, and later Ardrossan.
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Re: Ardrossan - On This Day In History

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GLASGOW HERALD
29 NOVEMBER 1915

FATAL RAILWAY ACCIDENT

On Friday night, while crossing the Caledonian railway line at Ardrossan Harbour, JOHN BARBOUR, Glasgow Street, Ardrossan, was knocked down by a goods train and instantaneously killed. He was 82 years of age, and was at one time draughtsman in Messrs Barclay’s yard at Ardrossan, and afterwards was foreman carpenter for many years in the Ardrossan shipyard when it was owned by Messrs Barr & Shearer.
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Re: Ardrossan - On This Day In History

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GLASGOW HERALD
30 NOVEMBER 1829

ARDROSSAN COURSING CLUB

The Ardrossan Coursing Club Cup was run for on Thursday the 28th instant, over the Earl of Eglinton’s grounds in the barony of Ardrossan.

In the final class, Mr Wylie’s SPORT beat Dr. Brown’s NIMROD, and won the Cup.
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