Bruce Johnson's Family History Website

The McGovern 's and the McGinleys

John McGovern was born around 1845,  probably in Ireland. I have no actual proof of his origins at present.  John McGovern was an iron puddler, a hard job stirring the searing hot molten iron. He lived with his wife Mary at Holytown in Lanarkshire and their son Patrick was born in 1871. It seems likely the family were Irish, but Patrick was later married in the Evangelical Union Church,  Bellshill, so the family were protestant Irish, or it was a mixed marriage.


Rodger McKinley was born in Ireland c1845 and married Mary McNamee.  Their first child , Mary McGinley was born c1870 and by then they lived in Mossend, Holytown, Lanakrshire Scotland.  Four other children followed, Samuel Jane Kate and Rodger.

By the time of the 1901 census Mary (McNamee) McGinley was deceased and Mary was caring for her father.  

Her partner and future husband, Patrick McGovern was already living with the family and is listed as "Son in Law" and younger siblings as well as having 2 children of her own

Mary McGinley had two illegitimate children (Patrick and Rose) by her partner Patrick McGovern,  before finally marrying him in 1905.  
Rose McGovern, my Grandmother, was born 1901 and married Joseph Doran August 27th 1920 at the Congregationalist Church, Bellshill.

Glasgow's Irish Community 1841 to 1900

Ireland was struck badly by the failure of the potato crop in the autumn of 1846 due to potato blight. This became known as the Potato Famine or in Irish as An Gorta Mor (The Great Hunger) It was in this period that the already high emigration of Irish to Great Britain and USA turned into a deluge. Many of those fleeing the famine  headed for Glasgow.

The Chadwick Report of 1842 had condemned Glasgow as the most insanitary town in Britain. There were Typhus epidemics (unkindly called “Irish Fever”) in Glasgow in 1832, 1837, and also in 1847 and yet again in 1851-52. There were Cholera epidemics in 1832, 1848-49, and 1853-54. The main cause of this was the overcrowding into tiny flats without sanitation. The River Clyde was not only the source of drinking water, but it was also the bathing area and the sewer. The City Fathers were moved to begin the Loch Katrine project to bring fresh drinking water to the city.
In the late 1840’s and until much later there was only one drain in Main Street Bridgeton, and that was open, and run down the middle of the street for its whole length, until the raw sewage ran into the Clyde at Rutherglen Bridge. The stench from that drain alone must have been horrendous and remember most buildings at that time, never mind the individual tenement flats, did not have toilets. It was later when tenement flats began to have shared toilets on landings, and some tenements never had inside toilets. Most never ever had baths inside. Thankfully most of these tenement buildings were demolished between the 1950’s and the 1970’s.
In 1848 there were Bread Riots in Glasgow. It was also in 1842 that the rail link between Edinburgh and Glasgow opened. However at this stage trains ran very slowly and it would have taken up to 4 hours to travel between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The population of Glasgow by 1841 was 270,000 and some 16% of these were Irish born. Already, what is now called “Paddies Market “ near the Saltmarket, was flourishing and was then called “the Irish Market” as all kinds of Irish goods were sold there. Remember this is before the worst Potato Famine years, from 1846, when the mass exodus from Ireland took place. You can imagine then that the Irish were not popular amongst the indigenous Scots and there were many complaints then similar to those made about todays immigrants to the UK.

When we think of todays drug culture and teenage violence it is hard to imagine that even the most violent towns of today were tame compared to average city living in the 19th Century. Then it really was dangerous to walk the streets, particularly at nights, as there was no street lighting until late in the 19th century. Bridgeton only had police from 1847 when it became part of Glasgow and even the more developed adjoining village of Calton had few police in those days and Calton is now virtually in the centre of Glasgow. Calton was and still is an Irish quarter and from the 1840’s a Catholic Irish quarter of Glasgow.

There were many attempts by the authorities to civilise the population. Alcohol was seen as a main cause of much of the violence and there were many Temperance Societies trying to highlight the evils of drinking too much.  Even as early as 1830, we could see the signs of the sectarianism that plagues Bridgeton to this day, as by then Main Street had already been built upon both sides with 2 and 3 storey tenements occupied by weavers, printers and other tradesmen. It boasted two separate Irish communities - "Dublin Land" near Swan's Tavern and "Wee Belfast", some two storey buildings at Ann St (later Laird St) occupied by Protestant Northern Irish weavers. This again shows that the Irish had been settling in Glasgow in significant numbers long before the Potato Famine.

The last public hanging in Glasgow was in 1865, with William Doran officiating as prison chaplain. This last public hanging attracted an audience of over 100,000 people. They had come to watch Dr. Pritchard swing for the murder of his wife and mother-in-law. There are still men who believe it was a miscarriage of justice.

To follow the story on from this page
Click Here

Contact Me