William Inglis was the son of another father and son Cornet pairing: William senior in 1827, and William junior in 1868, so there was quite a time between them – 41 years.
William senior, merchant, didn’t get married until late – in 1841 he was a 40 year old grocer at 64 High Street, unmarried and with only a 25 year old Mary Harkness for company.
But of course, she was only a servant, and not that type of girl [except that maybe she was - 10 years later she had moved to 72 High Street, still an unmarried woollen shirt seamstress, with her teenage daughter]
Moving on – by 1851 William was still at 64 High Street, but had married [and gave his age now as 54] to 42 year old Jessie Best from a hotel which she ran with her widowed mother at 16 Buccleuch Street, and they had a two year old William Inglis – a Cornet’s son and future Cornet.
William senior was now a “Grocer and Spirit Dealer” and during this period 64 High Street developed into the Half Moon Hotel – this card was found around 1996 during alterations to the British Heart Foundation, at the bottom of O’Connell Street
The card was found with a handwritten weekly menu
Breakfast : tea, 3 cups; Fried Smoked Haddock, Toast (Brown Bread), Toast and Marmalade
2.00 pm: tea, 1 cup; 1 cake (Chocolate Shortcake)
Tea: tea, 3 cups; Steamed White Fish and Sweet Corn, 1 Soda Scone and Plum Jam, Sponge Cake
Supper: tea, 3 cups; Poached egg and Toast, Cookie with Jam, 1 cake (Chocolate Shortcake)
You’d be glad of a coffee after all those cups of tea.
Unfortunately, the marriage didn’t last long – William died in May 1851, when he would have been 64ish; and Jessie moved as a widow along to 78 High Street [where the Green Cafe is now] where she lived with unmarried 30 year old John Inglis – a carter and farmer of 10 acres, and 9 year John Taylor, the son of her sister Elizabeth. John Inglis is a bit of a mystery – Jessie is described as his mother, but I can’t find any other trace of him.
But importantly for the Cornet’s story, her 11 year old son William Inglis wasn’t there – he was living in Kirkton Schoolhouse as a scholar and a boarder.
William Little had been the schoolmaster at the school , with his wife Mary, for 20 years or more. It is highly probable that sending William to school at Kirkton was Jessie’s way of ensuring that William had a good education, and a healthy upbringing.
By 1881 William was back at 64 High Street as a Hotelkeeper; three servants with him but no wife and no children – I need to follow him up to 1891, to see what happened to him
What was Hawick like in 1868? What was going on?
One big story was the closure of the oil refinery in the Haugh, after a short but contested life. I have found no pictures of the refinery, and it was shortlived, so does not appear on maps – except that its site was soon occupied by the Gas Works, as in the 1877 map.
[ Except that there is a plan in the National Archives of Scotland , Register House, Edinburgh which would be worth a look at in the Search Room - the reference is
RHP20423 Plan of Teviotside Oil Works in Hawick 1876 ]
This was the first development of the “Bleachfields” section of the Under Haugh on the Wilton side of the river – there was no development of Commercial Road until 1871-74.
The owner John Wield from Blacketlees, Annan was an unmarried 23 year old Chemist & Druggist in 1861, lodging at 4 Bridge Street with a widow and 2 daughters aged 25 and 23; but by 1871 he had built and run and failed and been bankrupted and sold his Oil Refinery but had salvaged enough to be living at Wilton Grove – handily situated as you can see from the map, just across the road from the Refinery / Gas Works.
This was an exciting time to be in the Scottish Oil Industry – Paraffin Young was building the West Lothian shale oil industry
In 1848 Scottish chemist James Young experimented with oil discovered seeping in a coal mine as a source of lubricating oil and illuminating fuel. When the seep became exhausted he experimented with the dry distillation of coal, especially the resinous “Boghead coal” (Torbanite). He extracted a number of useful liquids from it, one of which he named “paraffine oil” because at low temperatures it congealed into a substance resembling paraffin wax. Young took out a patent on his process and the resulting products in 1850, and built the first truly commercial oil-works in the world at Bathgate in 1851, using oil extracted from locally mined Torbanite, shale, and bituminous coal.
In 1866 Young’s patents ran out – and an exhibition at Penicuik in 2008 illustrated the sort of developments which occurred in towns in the South of Scotland. It is likely that Wield used his chemical knowledge and his business drive to set up a refinery to produce paraffin for lighting and heating; or possibly even gas as those patents ran out.
The plant and equipment was considerable -this was no small undertaking for a young man of 28: 12000 gallons of oil, “large numbers” of boilers, two 9ft by 5 ft stills, a “very large” quantity of lead and iron pipes up to 6 inches; 166 casks of tar, 400 thirty gallon Paraffin casks etc etc – and the capital required to set this up must have been equally great.
But there had been problems since the outset in August 1866, with a very suspicious Council
and in a very short space of time , Wield was bankrupt and out of business
So that was it -bankrupt in February 1868, and plant and equipment sold off in December 1868.
In November 1868 the land and buildings were up for sale …..
HAWICK- VALUABLE PROPERTY FOR SALE. To be SOLD by Private Bargain, ALL and WHOLE that Portion of the UNDER COMMON-HAUGH OF HAWICK, extending 1 acre 2 Roods 21 Poles 7 yards, or thereby, with the BUILDINGS and other HERITABLE OBJECTS thereon, lately occupied by Mr. John Wield, as a Paraffin Manufactory……… The Plan will be shown, and several Portions of Ground pointed out by Mr. YOUNG, the Manager of Hawick Gasworks. The Scotsman, 18th November 1868.
… with Mr Young of the Hawick Gasworks showing people around. I have no evidence at all, but the Penicuik exhibition includes the story of the Selkirk Gasworks which had been in existence since the 1840’s
[and on 11 November 1869, Joseph Smith Manager of Gas Works, Hawick was still advertising eqyipment for sale “To Oil Refiners, For Sale 2 Stills of 1500 gallons, 2 superheaters, 2 pumps, 12 oil retorts“
How much would be got from the sale? A – probably similar – refinery in Kirkintilloch was reported in the Glasgow Herald as being for sale on 3 September 1868 for £5,000 [about £200,000 at today's value - but comparing values is very tricky]
*Speculation alert* So maybe the Hawick Gas Works – possibly under the management of the Young family from Selkirk – had responded to John Wield’s proposal for a paraffin refinery on some sort of “shared services” or downstream processing basis. I need a chemical engineer to sort this out – but I can imagine that the gas works heated coal to drive off the gas , and were left with coke [I remember coke being collected from the gas works in Mansfield Road] and various oils and chemicals [as in coal tar soap]. John Wield could have offered to distill their oil/tar waste products – maybe using the coke to heat his stills – and produce the lighter paraffin oil. The “boiling” of the oil/tar would probably produce vapours, and various sticky residues which the Sanitary Committee would be concerned about. However, a report to the Police Committee in 1870 on factory discharges to the Teviot says of the Gasworks “there is nothing discharged from these works into the River, Gas Tar and other refuse is collected and sold”. So maybe John Wield did try to refine this Gas Tar on site, rather than transport it elsewhere.
Where did his capital come from? One clue might be that he had married Christina Mary Turnbull aged 20 in 1866 – the only daughter of James Turnbull of 11 High Street, General Draper, employing 2 men, 2 boys and 5 women. A big draper might have accumulated enough capital, or enough credit, to support a son-in-law in what was a dot.com venture of its day. If the Kirkintilloch works were sold for £5000, and Hawick was similar in scale, then £5000 is worth aproximately 40 times more nowadays – father in law might well have been able to pay the equivalent of a mortgage on a house for his son-in-law. *speculation alert finishes*
Update – the Hawick Gas Works go back to at least 1838.
Hawick in 1846 is described as consisting of “one principal street, and of several smaller streets and lanes diverging from it on both sides; some new streets have been formed, and a handsome range of buildings called Slitrig-crescent, and another named Teviot-crescent. The streets are well paved, and lighted with gas“
and going back, the Caledonian Mercury of 1 October 1838 reported that “John Scott Superintendent of Hawick Gas Works has now in his posession a stalk of oats fully seven feet long, bearing one hundred and ninety four ears or pickles”
William Inglis Cornet must have known the oil refinery well – something so big and so modern and so smelly must have had an impact on the town – and his year was the last year that Hawick had an oil refinery.