History of John Fleck 1840 to 1921

Original copy written by: ??

My great-great-grandfather, John Fleck, came from Sterlie Farm at West Kilbride. He married Ann Crawford of North Whitlieburn and their first farm was the Gulls' Walk on the shore at Hunterston. Later they came to Largs.

Their eldest son, my great-grandfather, John Fleck, married Margaret Jack of Forthend, which is behind the tenement in Bath Street, Largs, alongside of the Clark Memorial Church. It has recently been repaired and modernized and is quite a nice little house. He had a coal merchant's business in Gallowgate Square. They were married in 1832 and it is her engagement ring that I have. She died at the birth of my grandfather, John Fleck, and later great-grandfather married Elizabeth Blair, who grandfather always considered as his real mother.

Great-great grandfather Fleck died when grandfather was 12. Grandfather Fleck had been promised by his grandfather (my great-great-grandfather) that he would inherit his gold watch and 50 pounds a year. But no proper will was made and grandfather was cheated out of his inheritance by the meanness of his uncle, James Fleck and his wife Janet Crawford, with whom great-great-grandfather had made his home.

Grandfather left school at an early age and apprenticed as cabinet maker with his Uncle James for 3 years and then he left and went to Fairlie to apprentice with the shipbuilder who built the Shamrock and other famous racing yachts. When he married Christina Hopkirk he sailed in the yachts in the summer as a ship's carpenter and in the winter worked in Duff's Carpentry in Largs until they decided to move to Paisley. Mother was 7 when the move to Paisley took place.

Grandfather started his yachting career with Captain Archibald Wright in the "Swallow" and "Lisbia" which were owned by Dr. Penny of Glasgow. In 1866 he joined and was for fifteen seasons with Captain William C Cairney, serving a portion of the time in each of the following well known yachts: "St. Ursula", owned by Mr. Tennant, Wellpark, Glasgow; "The Goshawk", owned by Mr. Wylie of London and the "Bluebell" owned by Mr. James Stephenson (Stevenson?), Largs. During this period he took part in many important yacht races. He was also for a short time in Lord Kelvin's "Lalla-Rookh". For many years afterwards he was captain of the "Nancy Lee", owned by George Coats, Lord Glentaner. He sailed around the British Isles and the Mediterranean, teaching the younger Coats boys to sail. In the winters he worked as carpenter at the Coats Mill until no longer able to work. The Coats family were very kind to him when he became ill and sent him to the baths in England at their expense for treatment.

The family remained in Paisley until 1914 and then moved to Ayr, where he died. The family then moved back to Largs.

Grandfather sailed in the Mediterranean with James Stephenson (Stevenson?) who managed the Stephenson Chemical Works, in his yacht "The Bluebell". Stephenson owned an island in the Mediterranean where he picked up certain lava products used in the Chemical works.

He also sailed with Lord Kelvin of Glasgow, inventor and professor at Glasgow University (Sir William Thompson before receiving title). Sir William invented several gadgets for use of the navy. One was tried out in the Canary Islands where the father of the girl he loved was Governor at the time. It was a system for sending messages from ship to shore (original ship-to-shore telephone?) and it was arranged he would send a message from the ship to her on the island. The message was "Will you marry me?" and she did.

Grandfather also sailed to Russia, Sweden, Norway and many times to Italy. When the Coats Mill went public, George Coats gave him ten shares. They thought a great deal of him and Grannie.

Grandfather's grandmother, Ann Crawford, was one of the Crawfords of Brisbane Glen, their two farms known as North and South Whitlieburn. Crawfords have farmed there since Largs was first discovered, around 1500.

Lord Glentanar's "Nancy Lee" was a pleasure and racing yacht. "The Bluebell" was a schooner.

John Fleck, eldest son of John Fleck and Ann Crawford, was born in 1806 and married Margaret Jack on November 14th 1832. Their son, John Fleck, was born May 31st 1840. Margaret Jack Fleck died October 22nd 1840. Great-Grandfather John Fleck married Elizabeth Blair about 1841.

There are two stones in West Kilbride Cemetary, one Robert Fleck of Sterlie 1801 and one William Fleck of Faulds 1802. They would be the same family as John Fleck of Sterlie Farm.

Children of John Fleck and Christina Hopkirk Fleck:

Mary Lamont Fleck 18 Dec 1866 Died at Gogobank, Largs. Worked most of her life as a dressmaker in Paisley

Elizabeth Blair Stevenson 12 Oct 1868 1937 Married William Stevenson who was a manager in Coats Mill, Paisley. They lived at Fairlie. No children.

John Fleck 18 Aug 1870 9 Oct 1963 Trained as a carpenter but liked farming. Operated Lounsdale Farm near Paisley. Emigrated to Canada and lived at Mowbray and Manitou, latterly Balmorel. As a carpenter worked on many of the buildings around Manitou and district. Married, four children

Christina Hopkirk Barr 8 Oct 1872 22 Mar 1966 Married William Barr manager in Coats Mill Paisley. Spent most of married life in Bratislava where he was manager of the Coats Mill there. They retired to live at Cerna, West Kilbride. One daughter.

Robert Hopkirt Fleck 12 Sep 1874 29 June 1899 Training as a chemist. Died of kidney disease.

Annie Russell 10 Sept 1876 3 Apr 1967 Married William Russell, carpenter. Emigrated to Stratford, Ontario, then moved west to Mowbray, The Pas, Winnepeg, with time spent in Gimli, Lockport and Stony Mountain. No children

Margaret Hopkirk Johnston 15 May 1879 2 Jan 1979 Married William Johnstone, storekeeper, and lived at Mowbray until after his death, then moved to Winnipeg. Worked with sister Mary in dressmaking shop in Paisley. Two children

Agnes Fleck 23 Oct 1882 29 Mar 1975 Lived at home with parents, later with sister Mary in Largs. After her death and that of sister Teenie, she moved to Burnside, Glasgow where she lived with her niece Tina (daughter of Christina) until her death.