The Ardross-man



Unexpected items that I’ve found!

Lady Grisell Baillie

I found this Victorian advert in the church about Lady Grisell Baillie


But having never heard of her, I had to find out more;

It turns out she was a Scottish songwriter with a fascinating  history.

Born on Christmas Day 1665, she died aged 80 on 6th December 1746, just shy of her 81st birthday and was buried on Christmas Day 1746.

800px-lady_grisell_baillieGrisell was the eldest daughter of Sir Patrick Hume, a staunch Scottish patriot.

In 1677, when Grisell was just 12 years old, she carried letters from her father to Robert Baillie who was in prison for plotting to assassinate King Charles II of England and his brother James.

Baillie’s idea was that the Catholic King and his brother would be killed and a Protestant heir would take their place on the throne. (Guy Fawkes had a similar idea when he tried to blow up King Charles II grandfather, James I, in the famous Gunpowder Plot of 1605).

The King’s men soon became suspicious of Hume as in the same year, 1677, Grisell was asked to be one of the Maids of Honour at the wedding of Mary (the Protestant daughter of the King’s brother James) to William of Orange. And although Grisell turned down this offer, the King wanted Hume arrested for questioning.

Hume hid in the crypt of Polwarth Church in the Scottish Borders while his daughter, Grisell, smuggled food to him and when news broke of Baillie’s execution in 1684, Hume fled to the Netherlands (home of William of Orange) where his family later joined him.

Catholic King James VII of Scotland (II of England) meanwhile took the throne following the death of his brother Charles II in 1685 but Protestant nobles called for the King’s Protestant son-in-law, William of Orange, to land an invasion army from the Netherlands.

When, in 1688 William did just that, King James fled for France and was replaced by his eldest, Protestant daughter Mary and her husband and invader, William of Orange.

This was to become known as The Glorious Revolution.

The Catholic former king, James, didn’t give up so easily though and made one big attempt to recover his throne from Protestant William and Mary. He landed in Ireland in 1689 with a small army in 1690 and there followed the Battle of the Boyne where James and his “Jacobite” army were defeated by William’s “Williamite” army. James returned to France where he stayed with his Catholic cousin, King Louis XIV (he of the Palace of Versailles and French Revolution fame) until his death.

Sir Patrick Hume and his family including Grisell returned to Scotland in 1690 after James’s ultimate defeat in Ireland and in 1692, Lady Grisell aged 27, married George, the son of the executed Robert Baillie. It was said that Grisell fell in love with George when she first met him aged 12 as she smuggled letters from her father to his.

Some of Lady Grisell’s songs were printed in Allan Ramsay’s Tea-Table Miscellany. The most famous being “And werena my heart light I wad dee” which originally appeared in William Thomson’s Orpheus Caledonius (otherwise known as A Collection of the Best Scotch Songs) which was published in 1725.

Lady Grisell was also memorialised by the Scottish poet, Joanna Baillie (not a known relation but she claimed to be a distant relative) in a poem first published in 1821 in Metrical Legends of Exalted Characters.

What a colourful history lesson.


Soap by Royal Appointment

I saw this advert in the pamphlet Life & Works which I found last year –

It starts off Appointed by Special Royal Warrant – Soap Makers to Her Majesty the Queen

Obviously this is Queen Victoria as the date on the pamphlet is May 1893.


The nice thing about some of these Victorian adverts is that some were written as a short story instead of just the “buy me” type of advert we get today.

This story – “A Daughter’s Happiness” is delightful;

“There is no incident in a mother’s life more deeply moving than when she is alone for the last time with her daughter, shortly to become a wife, the training of whom for a useful happy life has been her constant care. There stands the young bride, full of hope and confidence in the future, scarcely giving a thought to the happy home she is leaving, and scarcely asking herself whether she will be equally happy in the home she is seeking for herself. In a few minutes the carriage will bear her away, and she will have passed from her mother’s care to that of the man to whom she is confiding her whole future happiness. In these few minutes of waiting the mother lives again the years that have flown past since her daughter was a wee toddling babe, and asks herself if she could possibly have done more than she has done to secure her daughter’s happiness. At such a time, the mother finds the deepest satisfaction in knowing that whilst her daughter is fully accomplished for the ballroom, and for all the social duties of life, she is equally well trained in all the details of household management. These things are not trifles, as some would suppose; the happiness of a household depends on cleanliness and comfort; with these the cottage is a HOME; without them the palace is a wilderness. HAPPY is the wife who has been taught that the easiest, surest, safest, and most economical way to ensure cleanliness and comfort in her household is by the regular use of SUNLIGHT SOAP.”

Oh my, how times have changed!

I find it frightening to think that this was a woman’s lot right up into the 1970s – you get married and then serve your husband, keep the house and be a good wife.

Aren’t you glad that we live in these modern times of equality?

A little ray of sunshine

I came into the hall building the other day and noticed something lit up on one of the toilet doors in the corridor. It was a beautiful little image of the huge circular window in the main hall.

A little ray of sunshine had obviously shone through the window, carrying the image down through the entire length of the hall, through a small crack in the door, across the corridor and onto the the lower half of the toilet door.

It made my day 😀

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.

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

DSC01720     DSC01724

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. 🙂

Knock About Frocks

In previous posts (Life & Work, Sale of the Century) I mentioned that I had found a pamphlet dated May 1893 containing sermons and advertisements in rubble that fallen from the gallery area of Barony St. John’s church.

One of the adverts was for The John Noble Knock About Frocks


This marked an era of mass produced dresses where women could buy garments “off the peg” at affordable prices instead of being made to measure.

A trawl of the internet found some other John Noble garments and adverts like this one in an 1895 edition of The Daily News –

And this one from 1897 –


Further research into when John Noble Ltd of Brook Street Mills, Manchester was set up showed that they were established in 1893.

The garments were made of various fabrics including cheviot (a soft, luxurious but hard-wearing wool flannel weave) and a more hard wearing serge (a type of twill fabric that has diagonal lines or ridges on both sides, made with a two-up, two-down weave) which would no doubt be used for work wear / everyday dress wear rather than formal wear.

Unusually though, these affordable dresses were very fashionable incorporating all the latest styles (note the state of the art puffed ‘leg of mutton’ sleeves in the adverts above from 1895 and 1897 as opposed to the straighter sleeve in my advert from 1893) and could be purchased in a variety of colours including bronze, ruby, cinnamon and even electric blue.


But the part of the advert that really caught my eye and made me laugh is –
Observe closely the style, cut make and finish of these costumes. Of imitations there are many, but there is nothing in the world to equal The John Noble Half Guinea Costumes for stylish appearance, durability and actual money value  and intending purchasers are asked to remember that these garments are guaranteed made absolutely without any sweating of the workers
It seems sweatshops and cheap, forced labour were a worry even back then.

Temperance Tennyson

Hidden behind an old cupboard in the Barony St. John was a pile of papers which dated back to the early 1900’s (some 1906, 1907, 1909, 1916, 1924, etc.)

In amongst this paperwork was a small card about 3″ x 2″.

It is cream in colour and on one side shows an invitation to a “Special Meeting for Women” and admits the bearer and a friend to a meeting in nearby Saltcoats on Monday January 31st.

I’ve had a look at the calendar and 31st January fell on a Monday  in 1898, 1910, 1916 and 1921 so I’m thinking it’s either 1910 or 1916 as the majority of papers were from between those dates.

img_2302 img_2301

The reverse (or front) of the card advertised a series of “thrilling lectures” from Tennyson Smith  at Saltcoats Town Hall and so I set about finding out more about this gentleman.

Mr. Tennyson Smith was an Englishman and a noted temperance and Prohibition orator who traveled around the world delivering “a series of thrilling lectures on the drink question” according to an article I found in the Granby Leader (Colorado, USA) from 1916.

img_2378And according to the South Wales Daily News of October 12th 1895, Mr. Tennyson Smith was “obliged in 1890 to leave England on account of his wife’s health, he went to Australia; and first in Adelaide, subsequently throughout the whole of the South Colony, he continued temperance work achieving marked success. His services being sought by the other colonies, , he made an extended tour of Queensland; and afterwards went to New Zealand…..Since his return to England, he has been warmly welcomed in different parts of the country, his meetings being crowded to excess.”

I found another article in the New South Wales (Australia) Riverine Herald from 1894 which read as follows:

Mr Tennyson Smith’s Crusade

“Last evening the congregation at the Tjeiri Perimee Hall on the occasion of the Presbyterian Church service, gave an indication of what was to follow, and, as soon as the service was concluded, numbers who had been waiting outside, poured in to hear Mr Tennyson Smith deliver Dr Talmage’s famous sermon.

There was scarcely standing room, and, though Mr Tennyson Smith had already introduced himself to the Echuca public at the children’s service in the afternoon, there was apparent that expectation which is always observable when something unusually good is expected.

A few introductory remarks by the Rev. R. Brown, chairman, some singing by a combined choir and the congregation, and Mr Tennyson Smith indulged in some pertinent and straight-out hitting, as a preface to the piece de resistance. He was very forcible in his denunciation of those who were in the habit of sitting in the church pews and “singing themselves to bliss.

He wanted people to show their Christian spirit by helping their follow creatures and personally exerting themselves to aid in the cause of temperance: Mr Tennyson Smith’s style of delivery bespeaks an elocutionist of ability and, though his voice is not over strong, his re petition, from memory, of Dr Talmage’s discourage was wonderfully good. The sermon, in itself, is very powerful and very striking, and it contains one of the clearest arguments against the liquor trail that could be given effect to on a public platform. The congregation listened with the greatest interest, and the three-quarters-of-an-hour of time occupied seemed to pass but too quickly.

What a thriving town Echuca must be,” he sarcastically observed, when making a passionate exhortation to those present to come forward and take the pledge;

You have 48 houses of accommodation for travellers — that must surely be a good sign.

Mr Tennyson Smith is full of energy and lore, and his appeal, “Who will be the first to come forward ?” being answered by a young man from the back, amidst great applause.

A large number signed, the ordeal being freed from monotony by the singing of well-known hymns, interspersed with stirring remarks by the lecturer.


Another article in the same newspaper reads;

“For the sake of others” is the title of Gough’s most famous oration to be delivered by Mr E. Tennyson Smith, the popular Temperance orator, in the Temperance Hall this evening, and in view of the splendid reception accorded the lecturer and the favourable impression created on the crowded audience last evening there is no doubt another full house will greet Mr Smith on his re-appearance.  This particular oration has a peculiar charm in as much as it was this very lecture delivered by the great master himself which won Mr Tennyson Smith over to the ranks of total abstainers and started him on his life’s work which has proved so successful as to earn for him the title of “The Second Gough.”

The oration includes some of those wonderfully thrilling passages such as the description of a ship on fire, the coach driver’s terrible drive down hill in California and his appalling cry “I can’t find the brake” and the wreck of the lifeboat.

These illustrations are given with all the dramatic fire and realism for which the lecturer is noted, while the oration sparkles with those inimitable humorous stories for which Gough was renowned and which must be heard to be appreciated. In this respect the lecture will form a striking contrast to the more sombre and stately style of Dr Talmage’s discourse given last night. The mission will continue each evening till Thursday, when Mr Tennyson Smith will give his popular dramatic representation, “The trial of a notorious criminal,” undoubtedly the most interactive and entertaining evening of the series. Full particulars of the various meetings will be found in another column.

AN UNEXPECTED RESULT. A most interesting incident occurred during Mr Tennyson Smith’s mission to Shepparton one which promises to be of considerable importance. On the night of the “Trial of Alcohol,” in which Mr Tennyson Smith appears as “Council for the Prosecution,” the question was asked as usual, “Is anyone prepared to say anything in defence of the prisoner, alcohol ?” In response Mr Carpenter (a moderate drinker) held that the crimes committed by alcohol were largely the fault of the Temperance party. He said that; they did not provide places which would prove a counter-attraction to the hotel and asked, where are the young men of Shepparton to go to discuss football, etc., and urged that the prisoner, alcohol, might be acquitted, as the blame lay rather with the Temperance party. Although the argument for the acquittal of the prisoner was rather weak, it was received with much applause by the moderate drinking section of the audience, and it was evidently considered that a considerable blow had been struck at the lecturer. A great surprise was, however, in store for them, and a considerable disappointment for the supporters of the Liquor sale, when Mr Tennyson Smith used his opponents argument as a weapon to strike a blow at the trade. The lecturer on rising to reply said that with sadness he pleaded guilty on behalf of the Temperance party, to the charge made by Mr Carpenter, he confessed that it was a difficulty here, as in other places, as to where young men could congregate for social intercourse, but he said why should we not solve the problem so far as Shepparton is concerned. Why not start a Temperance Club, he then gave a few particulars of the first Temperance Club started in New Zealand, which was largely due to his efforts, and as the outcome of a mission and which, he said, was today a financial success. Said the lecturer – “Now, I will give a guinea to start a subscription list for such a club in Shepparton, who will give another?

I will,” “I will“, “and I will,” were the exclamations in several parts of the hall, followed by rounds of applause. Tho following day Mr Tennyson Smith conferred with Mr Carpenter, as representing the moderate drinkers, and Mr .J. H. Smith (chemist), and other temperance friends as representing the temperance party and suggested a “social” should be arranged (as was done in New Zealand) on the following Wednesday, and that he would return to Shepparton to be present, when the matter could be discussed and a committee formed to carry out the project. This was decided upon. Meanwhile information was collected as to ways and means, and a preliminary meeting held at the house of Mr J. H. Smith (chemist), when resolutions were formulated. The “social” took place on Wednesday, July 25th, and was a great success, the special feature being that fully as many moderate drinkers as teetotalers were present.

Mr Gregson (banker), was voted to the chair. Resolutions were passed that a club should be formed, two separate committees of ladies and gentlemen being elected to carry out the project. Another was made by the committee of the Mechanics’ Institute to hand over the building, etc., to the committee on the most advantageous terms, and it appeared advisable to the club to he connected with it. Over £12 has already been subscribed and about, fifty persons gave in their names to join. The subscription being fixed at 2 shillings per quarter. We shall watch with considerable interest the development of this scheme and trust our Shepparton friends will know it a great success, be that other towns may be induced to follow suit in this”forward” movement.”

What a wonderful insight into a time gone-by.

Victorian Adverts 2 – Cure-alls

In a previous post (Victorian Adverts 1) I described some advertisements found in a pamphlet dated May 1893 which was rescued from some fallen masonry from the gallery area of Barony St. John’s church.

Some of the adverts were for magical cure-all medicines which seem to be favoured by the Victorians.

The first cure-all is Mellin’s Emulsion which the advert says was a mix of Cod liver oil and Hypophosphites (whatever they are) which was “very palatable“, “easily digested” and thankfully “perfectly safe“.

Mellin’s Food for Infants and Invalids  is described as “For infants, growing children, convalescents, consumptives, dyspeptics and the aged. A perfect nutriment in acute illnesses and all wasting diseases.”

I also managed to find this old coloured advert from 1880 on the internet for the emulsion –

img_2325  mellins

And these pages from an 1891 booklet to accompany Mellin’s Food for Infants and Invalids.


Another product advertised is Smedley’s Chillie Paste  claimed to cure Rheumatism, Gout, Lumbago, Bronchitis, Sore Throats, Neuralgia and Sciatica among other illnesses.

It contained oils from chilli peppers and although chillies had been used to treat inflammation for over a century in the USA, the chilli was still very much a novelty in Victorian Britain.

Smedley’s Chillie Paste was so popular that it later became known as “The King of all Cures” (once Edward VII came to the throne upon the death of Queen Victoria in 1901) as this colour advert I found on the internet shows –

img_2323  smedley

Lascelles’ Pills seemed to be taken “for the most obstinate cases” if the chilli paste didn’t work so I dread to think what might be in them. :-/

Allcock’s Porous Plasters also intrigued me and my investigations showed that Thomas Allcock (1815–1891) was the inventor (in 1854) and subsequent founder of the Allcock Manufacturing Company.

Thomas, although born in Birmingham, England, emigrated to the USA in 1845, settled in New York and opened a drug store. He was later called up and served as an artillery officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War (1861-1865).

I love the heading on my advert which says “Here you have a remedy that has made millions of ladies bless the maker of Allcock’s Porous Plasters” 😀 and this alternate advert which I found (on the left) which says that Allcock’s Porous Plasters can cure almost anything and could even be used to stop a cough. 🙂

img_2319  allcocks

Symington’s Edinburgh Coffee Essences were produced in bottles alongside Symington’s Dandelion Coffee Essence by Thomas Symington & Co. of Edinburgh around 1880 which ties in with the 1893 date of this pamphlet.

img_2328    crop

Symington’s coffee essences preceded the more popular and still going Camp Coffee in bottles produced by Robert Paterson of Glasgow from 1897 onwards.

Thomas Symington’s posters advertised that by adding boiling water to his essence, you could have “a cup of coffee in one minute” – the world’s first instant coffee.

Between 1880 and 1890, the Victorians recognised that the caffeine in tea and coffee could cause an increase in heart rates as well as stomach upsets and sleeplessness so Thomas Symington rose to the challenge and developed an alternative hot drink using dandelion roots –Symington’s Dandelion Coffee Essence.

The health benefits of dandelion coffee were promoted as almost a cure-all aiding everything from stomach upsets to gout and even bad tempers. 🙂

Both Symington’s products were sold throughout the British Empire and into the USA, winning many medals and prizes for their exceptionally high quality along the way.

Symington’s continued to be sold until 1975 when the company was acquired by G R Lane Health Products and is apparently still available today from specialist health stores.


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