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John Brownlee Story

William Brownlee c.1900

John Brownlie, born 17 February 1799 baptised 10 March 1799 at Bonkle.  John was a blacksmith in Carluke, died 15 December 1873 at Brownlie Cottage, Carluke.  Married on 10 August 1827 (note that she was married at the age of 16) to Jean (Jane) Weddell, born 11 April 1811, died 9 February 1860. They are both interred in the Brownlie burial ground in Carluke Old Cemetery. The Brownlie burial ground in Carluke Old Cemetery is a piece of ground only 10 yards or more from the entrance gate of the churchyard and it was on this plot that John Brownlie’s anvil stood when he was a blacksmith. He is literally buried (in his work!) where he worked.

They had Issue:

Alexander Brownlie born 3 July 1828 in Carluke. Alexander was married by Rev James Watt, minister of the Parish of Shotts in 1860 at Bracco Farm near Airdrie to Marion King born 1832 at Merrytoun in Hamilton. Marion was the daughter of John King a farmer in Merrytoun, Hamilton. It is said that Marion was held in the arms of Napoleon II when he and Alexander Duke of Hamilton visited Merrytoun Farm in c1832. Alexander was the founder of the timber firm of A & R Brownlie of Carluke and Earlston along with his brother Robert Brownlie. This business had grown out of their Uncle James Weddell’s timber business founded in 1848. Robert and Alexander commenced business in Comrie, Perthshire where large Larch trees were purchased for sixpence each. From there they moved to Berwickshire, where they purchased their first lot of timber from James Curie a writer in Melrose on the Gattonside Braes. While working this timber, called Pit Wood, Alexander resided in a house on the side of the road that runs through Gattonside Village. In (c1856) 1859 they went to Haugh-head in Earlston where they put up the first sawmill in a field at the east end of the town behind a piece of land which was then part of Earlston common. The chimney was all that remained in 1936. When Alexander and Marion married they took out a lease of house and land at Haugh-head in Earlston. The land was a large orchard that was termed Kings Mill. This was where people, through an old law, would bring their oats to make meal. They then went on to acquire a large plot of land, later adding Purves Haugh Farm, Fans or Pans Lounond Farm, Park Farm, Bogside, Sandlingate and then two other farms in Lanarkshire. In the late 1800s they purchased the property from the Earl of Haddington of Mellerstain Estate. The property is still in the hands of the family as at 2006. Marion died 5 February 1871 at Haugh-head Earlston in Berwickshire and Alexander also died at Haugh-head on 1 June 1902. Both Alexander and Marion are interred at the Carluke Old Cemetery.

James Brownlie, born 1869 in Haugh-head in Earlstone.   Went to New Zealand and married a lady there. He was educated at Earlstone and at the Edinburgh Institution. He lost a leg in an accident in the sawmill at Haugh-head. He was to become a naval engineer but after recovering from the accident, he entered the services of Messrs. Robert Dunn & Co. of Earlstone where he learned the manufacture of tweed. He went to America then to Australia and then to New Zealand where was a partner in the Canterbury Woolen Mills in Timaru. After a partner died he sold his share to Mahogan and Caldwell and was retained as a buyer and supervisor. He retired in Timaru.

John Brownlie and Jean Weddell also had Robert Brownlie, born 19 August 1830 in Carluke, timber merchant and founder of A & R Brownlie Timber Merchants along with his brother Alexander. He died a bachelor on 31 July 1902 at Bogside Farm, Newmains and is interred at Carluke Old Cemetery.

John Brownlie born 25 January 1833 in Carluke Scotland. He was trained as a grocer in Glasgow and on 7 October 1852 sailed from Liverpool aboard the Cunard steamer for New York with some friends. After a while he set off for California via the steamship Northern Light but landed at Acupulco, and proceeded to Barbacos, then up river by native boat to Georgona and then the remainder of the journey on foot to Panama. He became quite ill and almost penniless in Panama and his Uncle James came to the rescue. They came by one another by sheer accident. James offered him a ticket for California. James left for Tobago and John left for San Francisco aboard the Winfield Scott. The journey was hard and some of the passengers died but 18 days later he arrived. On arrival in San Francisco he met with James’ brother Robert Brownlie. Together they went to Vallejo. He moved to Benicia and worked there for a while and also went to Mare Island where he worked with the Dry Dock Company who constructed sectional docks. He was helper in the blacksmith’s shop, purchased a share in a livery and transport business and eventually became the sole proprietor of a stable in Vallejo. It was in 1858 that he purchased a 500acre farm in connection with his livery and transport business. All was well until 1873 when due to his connection with the Vallejo Bank he was forced into a position of cashier by the directors and shareholders. The bank was wound up and the creditors satisfied. He visited Scotland in 1857 and again in 1867 and made a tour of the three kingdoms. He served as a notary public for two years, a supervisor for one term and as well as running his business as a real estate agent he entered the hardware business. John remained in this business until his death dying of heart failure on 29 February 1908 in Vallejo, California. During his time in business he amassed quite a fortune and was one of the largest shareholders of the Citizen Bank. He was also a director of the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce working towards the advancement of the city of Vallejo. He was married on 22 December 1874 to Margaret Ann Wakerley born 18 September 1856 in Kentucky died 1926 Vallejo, California


Read more stories from the People section
Pigots Directory 1837 (the next story in sucession)
Andrew Hamilton Looking Back
Carluke Family Names in 1751
Dixon Vallance
Dr Hunter-Selkirk
Dr Rankin by Peter

Created before 2012