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bulletLennoxmill Employees
bulletHistorians: Rev. James Lapslie
bulletMiss Oswald
bulletWilliam Cuddie
bulletBishop of Argyll and the  Isles 
bulletMr. Gerald Marley


Much of the history of Lennoxtown revolves around Lennoxmill Works, because it was the major hub of industry, and almost every family had one or more members working there. Lennoxmill and the activity it generated permeated every part of the daily lives of the villagers.

Several people over the years have noted their views on the characteristics and living conditions of the locals.

One such man was John Cameron, a local historian and Justice of the Peace, who wrote in the 1890's about the pleasing traits of the workers in Lennoxmill. He commended them for their sturdy independence and intense dislike of parochial relief. He said there was an esprit de corps in the works and a feeling of brotherhood, so that when accident, disease or family distress rendered the bread-winner incapable of work, co-workers gathered round to help. Often collections would be taken and the sum generated would generally suffice to tide over a particular emergency.

The Rev Andrew Brown, minister, said of the parish population, that as far as he could see, the people had little to distinguish them from persons in similar circumstances elsewhere. The agricultural population, living, many of them in elevated and secluded situations, retained perhaps, more of the primitive simplicity than in other districts. He also reported that he did not consider the parish of Campsie a remarkably healthy locality, at least in the valley where fevers, inflammation and pulmonary disease prevailed to a large extent.

He reported that the cottages, were almost all, damp and generally ill built, and thought people were too little impressed with the importance of cleanliness in their habitations, and ventilation, as a means of preserving health.

In the villages, especially in Lennoxtown where the inhabitants had increased in a far greater proportion than the houses,  the dwellings were overcrowded; the Irish labourers having imported their custom of 'pigging' - as many persons occupy a room at night as can find space to lie in - a practice deemed by the Rev to be adverse to health and decency. 

The working conditions were also scrutinized, and although not seriously injurious to health, were found to be lacking in some respects. Many circumstances involved in manufacturing jobs disturbed him, because at the very least, he thought they were hazardous to health; practices like putting children to work at an early age; labouring in heated rooms; attending furnaces; working among cold water; breathing a hot atmosphere in which a great quantity of water vapour and other gases are suspended; and mining.

However, he did consider that the master of works in the parish exhibited a very humane regard to the health and comfort of their workers. Even so, overall, the conditions may have had an unfavourable effect of their health and longevity.

On the other hand, an advantage of the working conditions, particularly for those employed indoors, was that workers were not generally exposed to cold and wet which were the causes of illness among the agricultural population. For the most part, the inhabitants of Campsie were better paid and better employed than in most surrounding parishes. 

Cameron  however, reports in the 'Parish of Campsie', that one job in Lennoxmill was working at the 'hot end' of the blotching house, over nearly red hot plates, and having to keep stretching the cloth as it passed over the drying rollers. Two boys took the job in turns, each working for 15 minutes at a time, allowing the other to go outside to cool down. The extreme heat caused workers to feel excessively tired, and  they had to cope with Items such as metal buttons on clothing becoming too hot to touch.

Working in the lade, streaming the cloth had the opposite effect. This was pleasant in the summer months, but unpleasant and extremely cold in winter. Some jobs involved standing on boards in water for long hours. On many occasions, workers had to endure these conditions from 6am until 12pm.                                                                                                                     

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One young man, John Young,  who first went to work as a message boy in the printers warehouse in 1833, the year  the 'big lum' was built, and was in employment in the 'field' (print mill) for 26 years, said " I will ever remember one very cold night, when the thermometer fell nearly to zero. that my comrades and I were all frozen to the boards, cloth and all. Our leggings were covered in ice, and fingers benumbed with cold. My comrades and I latterly were crying, and had to be lifted from the boards to which they were frozen. When I reached home about 2 0'clock in the morning, my mother was rose, and when she saw the frozen condition I was in, she commenced crying too with sorrow. She said she would never let me go back to that job again although the family would starve, This was the year Lennox Castle was building, and we had six weeks of frost without any thaw. This exposure to cold I've had to endure for 16 hours in a stretch, for the magnificent pay of 6d per day and 1d per hour overtime. Strong, full-grown, healthy woman at similar work had then only 10d per day, and 11/2d per hour for overtime. The works at that time were allowed to work day and night. when busy. Even the youngest workers were compelled to work two or three nights per week. That was the time the firm was making good money, getting good prices in the market, and paying a third less for labour than what was then given to other print fields near Glasgow. I was sorry to learn from various sources that, years after I had left, trade had begun to decline, and that Lennoxmill, for the first time in my remembrance, was obliged to go on short time. On the whole - with very few exceptions indeed - I can testify that Mr. Dalglish was well and faith-fully served by all his employees, foremen, and managers. While their industry built up his fortune, it can never be said it was afterwards lost through any fault of theirs".

Parochial allowances were available for the inhabitants when necessary. Although not so large as the health and moral welfare of the population demanded, they were liberal compared with other parishes. Many of the local residents were generous, wealthy land owners and manufacturers, so much of the slow starvation complained of in other parts of the country, was not obvious here.

Intemperance, considered by the Rev to be the great mother of disease, as well as crime, was apparently diminished to a considerable extent, partly through the efforts of abstinence societies.

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There are a few men, namely  Lapslie, Cameron, Brown, Lees, Lee and Nimmo, to whom we are indebted for  their efforts in recording, collating, and in some instances publishing information about Lennoxtown and the Parish of Campsie.  The most notorious of these is undoubtedly the Rev James Lapslie.

Rev James Lapslie   1750-1824

In 1970, Margaret Morrison said,

"The individualist seems to thrive in Campsie, and not the least of these is Rev James Lapslie."

Lapslie was born on June 12th 1750. He was the son of John Lapslie, a tackman and tenant of Bencloich Mill, and his wife Margaret Lockhart, who died in 1754, at the age of 24.

Lapslie was a studious individual who had an excellent memory, was keenly observant, and blessed with a rustic wit. He was also very determined in his pursuit of a degree from Glasgow University, and in his bid to become a minister.

His father supported him wholeheartedly, but his step-mother had less faith in his abilities, verbally and openly declaring, "the craws would never drite on our Jamack's Kirk." He was a controversial character about whom both good and bad stories were told.

On September 10th 1792, Lapslie married Elizabeth Ann Stirling, daughter of Sir John Stirling and Gloriana Folsome at the Glorat. They had six children. Four sons, John, James, Alexander and Andrew, and two daughters, Margaret and Gloriana.

In later years he was very outspoken, bordering on the eccentric. His sermons were of "hell and damnation" and he was ruthless in his attacks on those not conforming to life as 'good Christians.'

After witnessing Lapslie's appearance when addressing the General Assembly, a Mr. Lockhart said of him. "Mr. Lapslie is undoubtedly the most enthusiastic speaker I have ever heard. He tears his waistcoat open, he bellows, he sobs, he weeps, and he sits down at the end of the harangue trembling to the finger ends, like an exhausted pythoness."

 However, in his love for, and knowledge of Campsie he was a man apart, and although not always tactful he spurred some on, helped them over sticky patches, and offered guidance.

He took a great interest in the Lennoxmill Calico Print Works and its employees, since it was the main centre of employment for his parishioners, and came into being just after his induction to the charge of Campsie Parish in 1783; the parish which he served until his death in 1824.

Many of his addresses were delivered at the meetings of the Campsie Mechanics Institute and Young Men's Association providing both lively and scholarly education for their members. It was he who wrote a Statistical Account of the Parish in 1793, a forerunner of Rev Lees 1841 Account, and Mr. Lee refers to Lapslies' work as 'excellent.'

He was considered an unmistakable figure, of great muscular power; lean, tall, bony and lanky, with a full face and a brush of white locks which he shook about as he preached. He wore a long black clerical coat, high up on his neck and almost to his ankles, knee-breeches, white stockings, a tall black hat, and he always had a staff in his right hand; the left usually in his pocket. (this description has been put together using information from many sources)

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The Thomas Muir and James Lapslie Affair

During the 1790s, many of the Lennoxmill workers supported Mr. Thomas Muir of Huntershill in his campaigns to establish democracy in Scotland, and they set up a Reform Society in Campsie in 1792.

Lapslie was an intimate friend of the Muir family, enjoying their hospitality, sometimes for weeks on end, and he was financially supported by them for 2 years. However, he was a determined enemy of the 'Black nebs' as the friends of political reform were known, and when the Government instituted a political prosecution  against Muir, Lapslie turned on him and went to great lengths to furnish the Crown with evidence against Muir. He also encouraged others to speak out against him. Although not cited as a witness by the crown, he went to Edinburgh and voluntarily presented himself as a witness. Muir objected to Lapslie, and after discussion, the court sustained the objection, and asked Lapslie to stand down. Muir was sentenced to transportation to Australia for 14 years. 

 After the political prosecution of Thomas Muir,  Lapslie came in for the most unenviable  notoriety, and it was said that he never prospered afterwards. A blight seemed to fall on his whole life, and his influence for good and his usefulness were overtaken by personal worries and family problems.

 However, his wit was always to the fore, and he had a ready answer in any argument. On one occasion in 1793, a miller named Forrest said that if it had not been for the black coat , he would have thrashed him there and then. Lapslie's reply was to accept the challenge right away, take off his coat and throw it to the ground saying, "You lie there divinity, here stands Jamie Lapslie." It goes without saying that he was the better man. 

He was also known to leave the pulpit just after the first psalm had been sung, walk across to some adjoining cottages, and entreat or order people to leave and go to church.

There are many other anecdotes concerning Lapslie, for example, about him taking out his false teeth when visiting, about his capacity to drink tea, and about his predeliction to 'greet', even being moved to tears by his own sermons. His 'greeting'  was thought to add zest to his public performances, and the ease with which he could turn on the tears was amazing. His brother-in-law, Joseph Stirling said of him, "Mr. Lapslie is an awful man for 'greeting.' Man, he would greet reading an Almanac."

His association with the Muir case inspired the satirists, and gave the rhymesters a popular theme. A portrait of him appeared in the press, and the accompanying comments were, "in settling accounts, he is the dreichest of the dreich, and nothing in the shape of a gift ever came amiss to him." He was held up to contempt everywhere because of his ingratitude to the Muir family. Ballads about him were sung in Campsie and even in the streets of Glasgow.

"My name is James Lapslie,

I preach, and I pray,

And as an informer,

Expect a good pay."

Lapslie died suddenly, possibly of a stroke, in the *Star Inn, Glasgow on November 11th 1824 aged 74 years. Just as he was about to be interred in the burial ground at the Clachan, his funeral was interrupted by debtors, who would not allow the burial to continue until the debts were settled. His father-in-law, Sir John Stirling, settled for him. He had been the minister in Campsie Parish from 1783 until his death. A total of 41 years!

*Ironically, his place of death, the Star Inn, Ingram Street, Glasgow, was the very place where, on October 3rd 1792, The Glasgow 'Society of Friends'

 was formed, and of which Thomas Muir was vice-president.

Muir was charged with sedition in 1764, and transported to Botany Bay for 14 years.

Ingram Street Glasgow.jpg (34351 bytes) 

View of Ingram Street (Glasgow)

(From Glasghu Facies: a View of the City of Glasgow, by J.F.S. Gordon, Glasgow 1872)

This view looks along Ingram Street with the steeple of the North West church on the right. The Star Inn was where the Reform Association met, and the Society of Friends formed. It was led by Thomas Muir.

Originally known as Back Cow Lane, the street was formerly laid out in 1781 and named after Archibald Ingram, one of the famous Tobacco Lords, who had been Provost of Glasgow in 1762. Famous buildings included the Assembly Rooms and Ramshorn Church.


An Opera in 3 acts has been written about the Muir /Lapslie affair. It is called 'Friend of the People', in reference to Muir's 'Friends of the People' clubs to  promote reform. The World Premiere was held in Theatre Royal Glasgow, on November 6th 1999, and was directed by Christopher Alden.

The Rev Andrew Brown, said of Lapslie, "Mr. James Lapslie, succeeded November 27, 1783, and died 11th November 1824. He was a native of Campsie and though not without many faults, a man of genius and of extensive and various information. The Old Statistical Account of this parish written by him, is not inferior to any article in that work. He had an uncommon flow or natural eloquence; and many of his striking observations are still remembered and repeated by the people."

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Miss Oswald

Although Miss Oswald, the grand-daughter of the Laird of Kincaid, was originally from Lennoxtown, she also lived in Kirkintilloch. After the death of her mother and sister, she made a will bequeathing all her means to build two schools - one in Kirkintilloch, and one in Lennoxtown, to promote 'the educational interests of the two parishes.' The schools were established and duly named after Miss Oswald. However, building costs used up all of the money she had bequeathed, and the responsible Kirk Sessions struggled to maintain the schools. 

Eventually, in 1872, the schools were gifted to their respective local school boards. 

The school bell at the Lennoxtown Oswald school, had been donated when the Auld Kirk in the Clachan closed. It was, in turn, passed to the Milton-of-Campsie Parish Church when the Oswald school closed. It remains in use to this day.

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William Cuddie

When the Parish Church was opened in 1828, a new precentor called William Cuddie, was appointed. He was a very fine singer with an excellent tenor voice. He formed a small choir, gave the members a little tuition, then introduced them to sing in the church, where they caused quite a sensation.

His leading singer was a woman called Maggie Hill, a villager who was employed in Lennoxmill. Her powerful contralto voice could be heard all over the new church. Cuddie organized concerts in Lennoxtown and surrounding areas; in these he was always accompanied by Maggie, his prima donna.

Alexander Norris, a weaver, who played the violin and could read music, did a great deal to promote the cultivation of music in Lennoxtown, and when Cuddie's choir started, he followed by instituting a musical club, the members of which were mostly connected with Lennoxmill print works. The club gave an annual concert which helped to promote an interest in music throughout the village.

The playing of Penny Reels was a custom in Lennoxtown at one time. A room was hired, usually by a fiddler, who supplied the music, and young men and women would come to the room, pay a penny to dance and have fun. It wasn't considered shocking or shameful to attend the Penny Reels.




Modern day sons of the parish who surely deserve recognition.


Bishop of Argyll and the Isles

bishop_murray.jpg (8554 bytes)

Msgr. Ian Murray, vicar general of the archdiocese of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh, was appointed by the Vatican,  as Bishop of Argyll and the Isles on November 3rd 1999.

The Bishop was born in Lennoxtown, December 15th, 1932, and was ordained a priest in 1956.


St. Machan's Primary School

St. Ninian's High School

St. Mary's College, Blairs

Royal Scots College, Valladolid, Spain

Ordained Priest:                                                March 17th, 1956

Valladolid, Spain.

Assistant Priest:

St. Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh.

St. Kenneth's, Lochore

St. Columba's, Edinburgh.

Parish Priest:

St. Bride's, Cowdenbeath.                                                  1978 - 1985

St. Ninian's Edinburgh.                                                       1985 - 1987

Our Lady and St. Andrew's, Galashiels.                            1994 - 1996

St. Francis Xavier's, Falkirk and Slammanan.                 1996 - 1999

Ordained Bishop

Nominated Bishop of Argyll and The Isles, November 3rd, 1999, and ordained by Keith Patrick O'Brien, archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, at Oban, on December 7th, 1999.

Vice-rector, Royal Scots College, Valladolid, Spain            1963 - 1970          

Open University (B.A.,Hons).

Chaplain, Catholic Students at University of Stirling         1970 - 1978

Rector, Royal Scots College, Valladolid                               1987 - 1988

Rector, Salamanca                                                               1988 - 1994

Prelate of Honour                                                                  1989

Vicar-general, St. Andrews and Edinburgh                         1996 - 1999


Members of the Bishops' family still live in the Parish of Campsie.

Sincere thanks to the Bishop and the Catholic Media Office for their kind permission to use the above picture and information on this Web site. The Catholic Media Office retain copyright of the picture. It should not be copied or used without their express permission.

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Mr. Gerald Marley M.B.E


Mr G Marley.jpg (28050 bytes)

During the summer of 1943, with the world at war, a piece of history was created in the village of Lennoxtown when eight local men founded a football team. They named it Campsie Black Watch after a local junior side, which had played for Lennoxtown during the 1890s. Reasons for its inception during such troubled times remain a mystery, but it was a commonly held belief that the men were trying to provide weekly entertainment for villagers to help them forget the horrors of war.

Now in February this year, 2006, some 63 years later, Mr. Gerald Marley has just celebrated 50 years as manager of that team, and his name has become synonymous with Campsie Black Watch.

Born and raised in Milton-of-Campsie, Mr. Marley, a 74-year-old father of three, has enjoyed enormous success with his team, which, under his management, has become one of the most successful juvenile clubs ever. His achievements and success were recognized in 2000 when he was awarded the M.B.E. for his services to football.

Over the course of his time with the team, record after record has been broken. They have appeared in the Scottish Cup Final 11 times, winning it 9 times; have gained 24 League titles; are record holders of the Lady Darling Cup, and have helped many players go on to great success in Senior football, some having gained International honours. 

A prolific storyteller, Mr. Marley gladly relates tales of his days as a player, when the club were able to pay travelling expenses to players for the first time (before his management). Each player was given 2/- which enabled them to buy their 1s 2d return ticket to Glasgow to matches, and a fish supper with the change on the way home.

He also recalled a time as a new manager, when funds were low and football strips were badly in need of replacement. The Possil team Allender United had ceased to be and had gear to sell gear which Campsie Black Watch purchased for the princely sum of 25.

To me, a female with no knowledge of football, he was the epitome of courtesy, patience and discretion when I was trying to gain some insight into the workings of his club, and, although happy to discuss his team, he humbly avoided discussing any of their major achievements, preferring to steer me towards a book containing such information.  He is a very grounded man, completely unassuming  and unpretentious.

Mr. Marley is a modest man with a quiet dignity; a man who has earned the highest respect from some of the most successful people in football, namely Jock Stein and Sir Alex Ferguson, yet found the time to coach school children at 3 local schools -- when he could so easily have moved to professional ranks. 

On the occasion of his 50th anniversary as manager, Mr. Marley was congratulated by Sir Alex Ferguson who said, "I would like to congratulate Gerry and send my respect and regards to a fantastic character. When you think of the people who work with youngsters at the bottom of football, and I don't mean that disrespectfully, I mean the people who work week in week out for over 40 years, they are the inspiration to us all. Most don't get the praise they deserve, but they should as they contribute so much to the game we all love. They go unrewarded but not unrespected. When I was a young manager at St. Mirren. Gerry gave me some good information and advice and helped people like myself. He always helped me when I needed it, and that was priceless. I can only thank him for all his help. What he's done for Campsie Black Watch over 50 years is amazing. People like him are what make the game."  

In his book, 'Campsie Black Watch Football Club', William Ruddy tells of a time back in 1956, when the team committee had been faced with the prospect of replacing  Mr. Alex Ewing who was emigrating to Canada. He said "The committee now had the job of replacing a very successful secretary and after much persuasion Gerry Marley agreed to take on the job. Little did they realize at the time that a legend had been born. He took  over at troubled times, the team had just had a lean season, and financially funds were low."  Indeed,  few, if any, could have guessed that a legend had just been born, a legend that would lead his team to success, which is unparalleled in British football.  

He has played a crucial role in the success of Campsie Black Watch and has campaigned avidly at every opportunity over the years to improve their circumstances. Most recently he was involved in negotiations to secure more appropriate changing facilities for his team; and was rewarded with new premises adjacent to the football park (see: The future. New premises for Black Watch).

Gerry Marley and Campsie Black Watch have played a big part in the history of Lennoxtown, and any investment in them must surely be viewed as an investment in the community. Regardless of the success or failures of local industries, this team has consistently brought multiple honours to the village during Mr. Marley's reign as manager, and Lennoxtown has basked in the reflected glory of his success.

There is little doubt that he could have secured his own future financially if he had accepted offers made by prestigious clubs. Instead, he preferred to stay in the community focusing his time and energies on helping to coach youngsters - a job he loved, but which held no financial rewards. 

His has been a remarkable success story; a testament to his life-long service and loyalty to his club, despite being sought after by highly paid professional clubs. He freely admits Im addicted to this club. Im here almost every day, and as long as Im well Ill keep going. This year is my 50th year and Im as enthusiastic as ever.

Bill Shankly once said, 

Some people believe football is a matter of life or death. Im very disappointed with this attitude. I can assure you, it is much, much more important than that.

My feeling is that Mr. Marley would heartily agree with this sentiment.

 Campsie Black Watch is where his heart is the heart that is the motivating factor behind the treasure that is Campsie Black Watch


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