The Hunter Family
An historical and photographic perspective

Hand Loom Weaving c. 1747
Hand Loom Weaving c. 1747

Andrew Hastie and the Calton Weavers

Andrew Hastie may have been born Nov 16, 1755, in Calton, Lanarkshire and his parents may have been James Hastie and Elizabeth Graham (unconfirmed information). According to his grandson Adam Hunter in Commemorative biographical record of prominent and representative men of Racine and Kenosha counties, Wisconsin, containing biographical sketches of business and professional men and of many early settled families - J.H Beers and Co., Chicago, Illinois, 1906, ( ), Andrew Hastie was a weaver. Calton was a famous weaving center just outside of Glasgow.

Calton Weavers

The Calton weavers were a community of handweavers established in the community of Calton, then in Lanarkshire just outside Glasgow, Scotland in the 18th century.[1] In 1787 the weavers went on strike. Troops opened fire on the demonstrators and six weavers were killed.[2] In the early 19th century, many of the weavers emigrated to Canada, settling in Carleton Place and other communities in eastern Ontario, where they continued their trade.

In the summer of 1787, the journeymen weavers of the Calton started to agitate for a wage increase. The dispute grew bitter, with the strikers cutting the webs from the looms of weavers who continued to work at the old rate, and making bonfires in the street from the contents of warehouses. On the 3rd of September the city magistrates, with a force of officers, went to the Calton but were driven back by the mob. A detachment of the 39th Regiment marched, and a pitched battle occurred at Parkhouse, in Duke Street. The riot act was read, and a volley of musket fire killed three of the weavers and injured others. Further disturbances were quickly suppressed by the troops.[19] This was the earliest major industrial dispute in Scottish history. The Calton Weavers became Scotland's first working-class martyrs.[20]

In October 1800 there were food riots in Calton. In 1816 a soup kitchen was established in Calton which led to a riot that again had to be put down by troops. By the 1830s the Calton handloom weavers were among the most destitute of the skilled working class. Not just men but women and children worked the looms in their struggle to survive. During the frequent depressions of that period many were forced to pawn their bedding and clothes to avoid starvation.[21] Powerloom factories threatened the weavers. In 1816 two thousand rioters tried to destroy such factories in Calton and stoned the workers.[11]

An 1812 inquiry into wages was told that 1792 regulations pricing weavers' work had not been adhered to. Wages had fallen from 18 shillings for six days work to 8 shillings.[22] In 1834 an inquiry found that there was full employment but the large numbers meant that all were very poor. The average working day was said to be 13 hours, with 6 shillings 5 pence being earned for a six day week, from which a frame rent of 1 shilling 5 pence was deducted.[10] Although women had long worked as weavers, journeymen weavers regarded women as competition. In 1810 the Calton association of weavers had moved that no new female apprentices could be taken except from the weaver's own families. In June 1833, male cotton spinners struck against female spinners at Dennistoun's mill in Calton, using violent means to drive them from the workplace.[11]

Calton Weavers Massacre

The late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries saw a series of violent disturbances in Britain, as workers strived to defend their pay and conditions in the face of industrialization, and people of all classes campaigned for a more democratic society.

Textiles were a major industry in Scotland at the time. in 1787 there were 19 cotton-mills within 25 miles from Glasgow, with cotton weaving being centred in Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire. A weavers' village had been founded in Calton in the east end of Glasgow in 1705, and by the late eighteenth century the area had become famous for its weavers' workshops.
However, economic circumstances were against the weavers. New industrial processes threatened their traditional craft-based work practices, and the American War of Independence had reduced the supply of cotton from the plantations of the American South. These factors, together with the ever-present drive by their employers to reduce costs, led to a strike by Glaswegian weavers in 1787.

The strike lasted for twelve weeks, with protests centering on Glasgow Green in the east end of the city. Previous disputes had been settled in a civilised manner, by negotiation, but on September 3rd, 1787, the city fathers sent the army in to break the strike. Six weavers were killed, with 6000 people attending their funerals. The strike's leader James Granger was captured and sentenced to flogging. Allegedly after the massacre, many of the weavers enlisted in the regiment (the 39th) responsible for the killings.

The events of that day are commemorated in the first panel of Glasgow History Mural, a series of 8 paintings by Glaswegian painter Ken Currie which was commissioned to mark the 200th anniversary of the massacre and to represent the struggles of Scottish workers through the past two centuries. The mural is on display near the site of the massacre at the People's Palace, Glasgow.

In the years following the massacre, agitation by workers continued, and weavers went on strike again in 1812 for nine weeks. This strike was defeated by a network of spies, informers and agents provocateurs set up by the city leaders; however the economic circumstances and the lack of democratic government remained a source of dissent. Following the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the years 1819-1820 saw further protests: a group of weavers marched from Strathaven in South Lanarkshire to Glasgow, claiming they intended to capture the city. Their leader James Wilson was hanged and beheaded.

Calton Weaver

I'm a weaver, a Calton weaver,
I'm a rash and roving blade;
I've got siller in my pouches,
I'll gang and follow the roving trade.

O whiskey, whiskey, Nancy Whiskey
Whiskey, whiskey, Nancy O.

As I came in by Glesca city,
Nancy Whisky I chanced to  smell,
I gaed in, sat doon beside her,
Seven lang years I lo'ed her well.

The mair I kissed her the mair I lo'ed her,
The mair I kissed her the mair she smiled,
And I forgot my mither's teaching,
Nancy soon had me beguiled.

I woke early in the morning,
To slake  my drouth it was my need;
I tried to rise but I wasna able,
Nancy had me by the heid.

"C'wa, landlady, whit's the lawin' ?
Tell me whit there is to pay."
"Fifteen  shillings is the reckoning,
Pay me quickly and go away."

As I went oot by Glesca city,
Nancy Whisky I chanced to  smell;
I gaed in, drank four and sixpence,
A't was left was a crooked scale.

I'll gang back to the Calton  weaving,
I'll surely mak' the shuttles fly;
I'll mak mair at the Calton weaving
Than ever I did in a roving way.

Come all ye weavers, Calton weavers,
A'ye weavers where e'er ye be;
Beware of Whisky, Nancy Whisky,
She'll ruin you as she ruined me.

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