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.
The first occupant of 5 Moray Place was also the first of three grocers to live there; Gavin Wilson was resident between 1862 and 1865. He was a hamcurer & provision merchant, of Wilson, Ferguson & Co at 62 Little Street in Calton.
He was born in 1822, the second of five children, to William Wilson & Mary Cleland in Mauchline, Ayrshire. He moved to Glasgow in the 1840s and joined the grocery trade. His sister Janet married Hugh Slimmon in 1846 and Gavin moved in and boarded with them and their family for many years. Slimmon was himself a wholesale grocer at 48 Hutcheson Street.
Gavin moved to Moray Place in 1862 but moved out again in 1865 and was back with the Slimmon family in the 1871 census. The Slimmon family ended up at Duneaton Villa, 15 Albert Drive, Pollokshields, as did Gavin, and he died there in 1915 .
My research originaly suggested he was unmarried, and didn’t like life alone in Moray Place, but the current owners (see comments) tell me the deeds record that the property was bought in the name of his wife, Annie Ferguson or Wilson, for £510. I can find no trace of Annie, but also no trace of a business partner called Ferguson either. He only briefly traded under that name before disappearing from the PO Directories around 1866; perhaps subsequently he just worked for the Slimmons. So I sense an intriguing tale, but can’t take it further at present.
When investigating the Frazer family’s 85-year occupation of 4 Moray Place, I forgot a minor detail — their early 1870s lodger, one BH Remmers.
Who was he? Turns out he was the most interesting character of the lot!
Bernhard Heinrich Remmers was born in June 1843 at Hohenkirchen, in the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg (now northern Germany).
He first appeared in Glasgow in 1870, in his late twenties. He was living at Struan Terrace on Victoria Road, and working for Neuffert & Carr, corn factors, an Edinburgh firm with offices on Hope Street. He appears to have travelled back and forth between the UK and Europe, appearing in print in 1872 when co-signing a letter to the papers complaining about the terrible state of the Belgian cross-channel paddle steamers, and in particular his crossing to England on the Comtesse de Flandre .
He returned to Prussia soon after, and married Bertha Berneaud in July 1872 in Stettin (now Szczecin, Poland). A year later they were back in Glasgow, and living with the Frazers in Moray Place, when Bertha gave birth to the first of their four children. Their second was born in Strathbungo the following year.