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The Ephemera of John Smith
by Adam McNaughton

Introduction Transport Political Church Trade Entertainment Crime Education Medical CityAffairs


List of charges for the public washing house of Glasgow, 1822

Page 2 of a two-leaved document printed on pages 1 and 2 only.

The right to run Glasgow's Public Washing House on Glasgow Green was leased by auction each year to the highest bidder. The times of opening and the charges, however, remained in the control of the Town Council. The value of the tack had fallen considerably with the formation of water companies.

The charges listed tell of a two-day job to wash, bleach, synd (rinse) and blue (starch) the clothes. James Cleland's improvements to Glasgow Green had included providing piped, filtered water on the washing house green. The eastern part of the Green included open bleaching with no piped water.

Washing and tramping in the large tubs had to done inside the washing house. The Council did not want the women kilting up their dresses above the knees in public view. Women who brought large tubs of their own were not charged for house-room.


Theatre-bill for benefit at Theatre-Royal, Queen Street, Glasgow, 1826

Playbill advertising a benefit performance for the Relief of the Industrious Poor. Ink inscriptions from the obverse show through. Creases indicate that the bill was folded for delivery.

The national slump of 1826 hit Glasgow hard, and was not confined to the textile industries. The Committee for Relief of the Industrious Poor had been formed only a week before this initiative. The haste of the arrangement would explain why no programme of plays is advertised.

A series of managers had found the Queen Street theatre, Scotland's largest, difficult to fill even with visiting star performers. The current manager, Frank Seymour, would have no objection to a charity benefit which would cover its costs and perhaps introduce new patrons.

Clara Fisher in 1826 had passed her child prodigy stage and had not yet become the sensation of the American stage. At the age of fifteen, however, with nine years experience on stage, she could still draw a crowd in Glasgow.


Foundation document for rebuilding of Partick Mills, 1828 (detail)

Poster-size document on yellow paper with engraved text on both sides.

Although it appears to be a poster, this document has text on the reverse, listing the names of the Master Court of the Incorporation of Bakers, the Building Committee and the contractors. It was presumably issued to those present at the ceremony.

The early papers of the Incorporation were destroyed in Glasgow's great fire of 1652. There is therefore no Seal of Cause recording the beginnings of the Guild. For this reason the Bakers place special importance to the award of milling rights to bakers by the Regent Moray in 1568.

The metal plate commemorating this repair found its way into the keeping of the Clerk of the Incorporation after the fire at the mill in 1886. The mill was rebuilt by John Ure and named "Regent Mills". It was sold to SCWS in 1903.


List of ballad-singers and criers employed by William Carse, Glasgow, 1832

A list of names, followed by a message addressed to the officials who issue licences for speech-crying. It is printed in broadside format rather than as a letter. The creases show that it was folded for delivery.

Carse presumably ran off enough copies of this list to supply one to each magistrate who was to decide on the licensing of broadside sellers. Carse's business depended on the itinerant criers he sent out with their bundles of ballads or news-sheets.

He is careful to point out that his proteges have a Glasgow birth or residence qualification. The Magistrates would have sent paupers from elsewhere back to their own parishes.

Ballad-selling was obviously near the bottom of the job market. Carse makes it clear that he is not harbouring able-bodied beggars, by listing the infirmities of his work-force. Among the other printers using people of this profession were Thomas Duncan and Mrs Muir.

Use the toolbar below to see more of Smith's ephemera, following the themed links

Introduction Transport Political Church Trade Entertainment Crime Education Medical CityAffairs


Text by Adam McNaughton and web editing by Julie Gardham September 2004

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