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The Ardross-man

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August 2017

Mutter window update

In a previous post (James Mutter’s windows) I told you all about the history behind two of the stained glass windows in the Barony St. John church building and how they were commissioned by James Mutter to remember his father, William Mutter and mother Jane Rankine upon their deaths in 1885 and 1884 respectively.
  
I have now received an email from a Sheena Harling (nee Parker) from the Midlands who said;
“A friend in Stevenston sent me your recent article on the Mutters. I was interested as my father was born at Meikle Laught  in 1913 and the farm had been rented from the Mutters from 1908 by my grandfather, William Parker.
My cousin of the same name sold it in 2006. His father, another William Parker, had bought it, I think from Mutter descendants or Trustees about 1948. The farm was unusual in that it did not belong to the Earl of Eglinton like so many other farms in Ardrossan Parish.  I have also researched the history of the farm.  I grew up near Dalry  but now live in the Midlands not far from Lincoln.
William Mutter senior came from Dalkeith and was born there in 1805. You maybe knew this. His wife, Jane Rankin, came from Maybole. They married in 1837. His parents were James Mutter and Ann Mitchell.
He died in 1886 at his house in Crescent Park, Ardrossan which he named Meikle Laught.
According to the 1881 Census, James, the son, was Portuguese and Ottoman Consul. It seems a large area to cover but I have not seen the original Census entry – only a transcript, so that may not be quite accurate.
I have researched the Parker family extensively over the last 20 years as family history research is my hobby.  My Granny Parker’s maiden name was Robertson and her father was the original John Robertson who set up the ham-curing business which is just round the corner from the Church. Our “family” Church was St Cuthbert’s in Saltcoats.
I also have a connection to the Barony Church as my aunt (my mother’s sister) and family lived for about 50 years at 4 Arran Place and my cousin sang in the Church choir in the 1950s. I did not know the Church had closed but I am pleased that you have found a good use for it. Your charity sounds very worthwhile. I wish you well with it and your renovations.”
What a lovely email!
But then I got another email from Sheena;
“I have done a bit more digging on James Mutter, b 1841. He was baptised on 15 June, in Gorbals, Lanarkshire. (From Scottish Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950). I have not found his exact birth date. The address in the 1841 Census was Abbotsford Place.
By 1851 the family have moved to  Grove Park, Maryhill, Glasgow, and father, William, is a distiller. His brother, William was born in 1851 and James is a scholar aged 10.
In 1861 James is a Commercial Clerk (Calico Printer) – his employer? and lodging with a family in St George’s Road, Glasgow.
By 1871 he has become Ottoman Consul and is living with parents in Crescent Park, Ardrossan. How he got from being a clerk to a Consul, I cannot imagine.
(Ardross-man: I was intrigued by this and found out that the Ottoman Empire in 1871 was a huge area as you can see by the map below. It covers Bosnia  and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Turkey and parts of Greece. It was sometimes known as Turkish Ottoman as its capital was Constantinople (Istanbul). Turkey itself did not become an independent country until 1923.)

In 1881 he was Ottoman and Portuguese Consul and living in Ardrossan.
I looked in the “London Gazette” where such appointments are made but the only announcements I could find were in 1893 and 1894 when, on the orders of the Queen (Victoria), he was made Turkish Consul at Glasgow on February 24 1893, reported in the London Gazette.
(Ardrossman: Again, I’m a bit confused here as he was already the Ottoman Consul in 1881 and this includes Turkey so why would he then be made Consul of Turkey in 1893??)
And in the “Edinburgh Gazette” in 1894 he had been made Portuguese Consul at Glasgow.
In the 1891 Census he seemed to combine the job of Consul for Ottoman (Turkey), Portugal and Brazil. He was aged 50 and unmarried but had his own home in North Crescent, Ardrossan, with a cook and housemaid.
In June 1895 he married Alice Mary Graham of Lambhill, Glasgow and they had a son, William Graham, in September 1896. His wife died the same month aged 35, presumably in childbirth or soon after. As James died in 1911 in Glasgow, I wonder who looked after Graham, the son?
I decided to see what happened to his brother, William Arthur, b.1850 in Maryhill, Glasgow. By 1881 he is a Wine Broker. Then he appears to have emigrated to Australia where he married Frances Annie Shiel in 1886 in Victoria. Nine years later he died in Coburg, a suburb of Melbourne, on 6th Dec,1895. I found his Obituary, attached, in a local newspaper. So he had a son also. In Memorium notices appeared in the next couple of years.  
From the Obituary he seems to have been a respected man. His death was also announced in the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald in January 1896.
This is probably more than you want or need to know but feel free to use the information. I enjoy the research.”
I hope you agree, this is extremely interesting research. Many thanks Sheena. It beggars belief that any one person would be Consul to the Ottoman Empire, Portugal and Brazil at the same time, never mind that he came from Ardrossan. 😮
But just as I began to write this update, I got another email – this time from Sheena’s cousin, William Parker who commented;
“I always enjoy reading your column in the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald and found this week’s information of particular interest. Meikle Laught, which is referred to in this week’s column, is the name of a farm on the road between Dalry and Saltcoats. My grandfather, William Parker, became a tenant of Meikle Laught Farm in November 1905.
On his death in 1944, my father, also William Parker, took on the tenancy.
In 1948, my parents purchased the farm and the family continued the business there until I, William Parker No 3 and my wife sold the farm in 2006 after 101 years with the family farming there.
In documents that I hold it appears that William Mutter took ownership of the farm in 1853. I recall my parents referring to William Graham Mutter (his grandson) – as being their laird prior to them purchasing the farm. It would appear that ownership of the farm was passed down the generations to the grandson perhaps through inheritance. Whether or not any of them actually did any farming of the lands I don’t know but there was a tenant whose name was Speirs prior to my grandfather.
My documents refer to William Mutter as a merchant and ship owner so it may be that he purchased the farm in 1853 as an investment, rented the farm and named his house in Crescent Park, Ardrossan – Meikle Laught. My information suggests that James Mutter (his son) was living in Crescent Park in 1904-05.I have a photograph (shown) signed W Graham Mutter and dated 4/9/1916. He is in a service uniform and would be about 20. By 1930 he has ownership of the farm and is living in Glasgow. By 1942 he had moved to Brockenhurst in Hampshire.
In Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald’s database of intimations a death is recorded of Ronald Graham Mutter (19) in Germany in May 1945 son of Graham and Enid Mutter.
I thought you might be interested in a little more information about the family who gifted the windows.”

Many thanks to both William and Sheena for this wonderful update on my Mutter’s window post.

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Dr. Richardson’s Magneto Galvanic Battery

As mentioned in a previous post, I found a wonderful pamphlet titled “Life & Work” with the sub-heading “Ardrossan New Parish Church” which had been hidden beneath the floorboards of the Barony St. John Church since 1893. ( The church was known as Ardrossan New Parish Church until 1929 when it became Barony Church then when the local St. John’s Church got demolished, it took their parishioners and in 1987 changed its name again to Barony St.John.)

This advertisement taken from the pamphlet is so good (in a weird and wonderful kinda way) that it deserved its own post; Dr. Richardson’s Magneto Galvanic Battery

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It was advertising an electro-therapeutic medical medallion, based on the 1880 patented design of Edward P. Caldwell.

It came in two designs, a heart shaped centre and a cross shaped centre, and was sold by A.M. Richardson & Co. through local agents in 1883. According to the advertising leaflet, which was published in 1893, they had sold over 3 million battery medallions over the previous 10 years. 

The blurb claims that the battery was “scientifically tested and guaranteed genuine” and gave “renewed life and energy” by “purifying the blood and improving the circulation striking at once at weak and nervous debility”.

The centre pages of the advert has the headline “The blood is the life, but electricity is the life of the blood” and it appears the amount of medical conditions it cured were almost endless;

Brings happiness and freedom after nauseas medicines fail. Relieves Neuralgia, Rheumatism, Pain in the Back, Nervousness, Chest Colds, Indigestion. Gives strength and vitality to the Nerve forces, uniform and healthy circulation to the blood.

“.…develop agreeable, curative currents throughout the body, the intensity of the currents being demonstrable by galvanometer. The Batteries are excited through mere contact with the body by the moisture of the skin, aided by the natural body heat.

DSC01721 DSC01722Richardson's_Magneto-Galvanic_Battery

Immediate relief is afforded in all cases of impaired or impeded Nerve action, as in Bronchitis, Rheumatism and Neuralgia, and in all cases of sluggish and dormant Organic action, as in general Debility, Biliousness and Constipation.

It also had many testimonials claiming that it also helped Loss of Appetite, Kidney Complaints, Liver Complaints, Lumbago, A Weak Chest, Quinsy and Dizziness, Depression and Nervousness”.

Basically, this magneto-galvanic battery pendant claimed to cure almost everything.

I’ve searched the internet and cannot find any information as to when these products went out of production or if any cases of false claims made against Dr. Richardson or his company. If any readers know anything more, please let me know.

Watch out for more eccentric items advertised for sale in the Victorian era including Y&N corsets, knock-about frocks and a post about Pears Soap that you’ll be shocked to read.

Bye for now.

Saltcoats Time

You may remember I told you all about how the Great Western Railway ordered that all the different local times throughout the country, set by the sun, should be synchronised under a single standard time, “London time”, for their train timetables (see The Definition of Time post). This was back in 1840 and led to the standard Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) that we all know and use today.

Well, I was walking Ben in Saltcoats today and I noticed that they had a giant sundial on the harbour.

   

But what really interested me about the sundial was the plaque at it’s base. It read; 

Your watch tells you the legal time based on the Greenwich Meridian. This sundial shows Saltcoats own local time by the sun. 

It seems that people definitely felt aggrieved when local time was replaced by “London time” or “Greenwich time”.

I wonder how long there has been a sundial at Saltcoats harbour. (But I much prefer our clock tower at the Barony St John in Ardrossan. 🙂

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