2. William Wilkie the 1st

William Wilkie the First - 1790 - 1849

William Wilkie, whom we will call William Wilkie the First, was the son of David Wilkie and Elizabeth Hart. He was born on 16 July 1790, and baptized at Pollockshaws on 18 July . Pollockshaws was a small rural village of spinners and weavers about two miles southwest of Glasgow. This village was less than a mile directly west of the village of Cathcart. The Wilkie's, as observed earlier, had lived at Cathcart since at least the early 1700s.

A year later, on 6 May 1791, at nearby Cowglen, Janet Glen, the daughter of farmer William Glen and his wife Mary Harvey, was born. She was baptised by Mr Milne at Pollockshaws on 29 May 1791 .

Cathcart Mill 1830It is unknown how William Wilkie and Janet Glen met, but it is reasonable to speculate that his work and lifestyle was influential. William was apprenticed as a Millwright, probably around the age of thirteen, as was usual at the time. He possibly worked on the traditional wooden mills used in agricultural production, the illustration here shows the paper mill at Cathcart in 1830, but it is also possible that he served his millwright’s apprenticeship in connection with John Monteith's newly established power loom weaving factory at Pollockshaws. It was the first such mill in the Glasgow district . As a child, Janet Glen may also have been sent to work in the new mill. It would not have been unusual. Farming occupations had suffered heavily with the major upheavals in agricultural management during the late 1700s and early 1800s and Janet’s parents may have needed every penny of income that could be raised.

After their marriage in July 1814 , William and Janet Wilkie had seven children. The first was Mary who was born on 29 March 1815 . She was followed by David who was born on 17 November 1816 . Then follows a gap in the records until 1823 when Elizabeth was born . All three were born and baptized at Pollockshaws.

The family then moved north of the Clyde to Calton, previously a village of weavers but now a newly developing industrial suburb half a mile from Glasgow’s eastern boundary, where another daughter, Agnes, was born in 1825 . Three sons followed. William in 1827; John in 1832; and Conal Alexander in 1834 .

Why should William and Janet Wilkie decide to move from their rural village home to the suburbs of Glasgow? It would be safe to assume that they were influenced to some degree by the same motivations that caused tens of thousands of others to move closer to the city during the 1810s and 1820s.

We can understand these motivations if we first know something of the social and industrial development of Glasgow during the early nineteenth century.


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