The story of 6 Moray Place concerns two Glasgow family firms; first the slippery business of the Fergusons, specialists in soap, oil and lubricants, and second the bunnetry of the Grays, hat and cap manufacturers. The following is research based on the database entry for 6 Moray Place. The Ferguson family is well documented on Ancestry.co.uk by the user GKang, with pictures from user Ian Faris, and the following includes a summary of that work .
John Alexander Ferguson
John Alexander Ferguson. Source: Ian Faris, Ancestry.co.uk
John Alexander Ferguson was born to William Ferguson, a smith and farrier, and Mary White, both of Muirkirk, on 27 February 1819 at Garscube Road in Port Dundas. Mary died in 1825 and William remarried. Of thirteen children, 10 of whom were boys, John was the oldest surviving son.
John married Elizabeth Ferguson, daughter of David Ferguson and Mary Ann Galt of Girvan, in Nicholson Street in September 1846, and they had nine children over the next seventeen years. They lived in the Gorbals and Tradeston in the 1850s. Addresses included Crown Street, and in 1861 at 8 South Apsley Street, but business was good and shortly after they moved to the newly built property in Moray Place, where their final child Alice was born.
Some letters survive; Elizabeth added a note to a letter of her husband’s in 1848, which gives some idea of how difficult life could be in the Gorbals, even for the better off.
This article is in response to a query from the new owner of the ground floor flat at 68 Nithsdale Road. 68 originally referred to the tenement flats above, and the ground floor flat was historically a shop, No. 70.
The Old Shiels Road became Nithsdale Road when Pollokshields was developed, but once on the Strathbungo side of the railway, was named Nithsdale Street. A new road was created from Strathbungo Station (which opened in 1877) to Pollokshaws Road, and is now known as Nithsdale Road. In 1877 when newly laid out it was named Matilda Place, as required by the feu document of 1860. The name most likely derived from Sir John Maxwell’s late wife, Matilda Harriet Bruce, daughter of Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, he who misappropriated the Elgin Marbles. Matilda had died in 1857.
The land of Strathbungo was originally bought from Sir John Maxwell by John McIntyre and William Stevenson. McIntyre died in 1872, and the title deeds state that at year’s end 1874 the land on the north side of the new road passed from his estate to his younger brother, Andrew, on condition that a tenement was raised on the site. Andrew McIntyre (1835-1881) was a builder and brickmaker, whose brickworks was in Moss side .
11-17 Moray Place was the second terrace constructed along Moray Place, and said to be a poorer imitation of Greek Thomson’s style for the first, though its architect is unknown. It was completed soon after the first terrace however, within a year of 1-10.
No 13 was taken by William Stevenson, the 35 year old quarrymaster of Baird & Stevenson. It was Stevenson, with John McIntyre the builder, who had purchased the land of Strathbungo from Sir John Maxwell and began the development of the area.
The house remained in the Stevenson family for the next 60 years, and this article largely concerns the dynasty built by William Stevenson and his sons.
Many are aware of the two-tone nature of Glasgow’s buildings – blond sandstone in the 19th century, increasingly replaced by red sandstone in the 20th, allowing buildings to be roughly dated before or after the 1890s. However few are aware that, blond or red, the odds were the stone was supplied by the Stevensons. No one person can claim to have made a greater mark on Victorian Glasgow’s architecture and appearance than William Stevenson; Glasgow University, the City Chambers, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and countless others were built from Baird & Stevenson stone. Yet apart from a brief contemporary obituary in the Barrhead Times, virtually nothing has been written about William Stevenson, and he seems completely forgotten. So here is his story.