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History of Montrose
Chapter XXII. - The Meal-Mob, Foundries, Population

THE riot and uproar that took place in this quiet town, on the eventful day of the Meal-Mob, will be in the recollection of many of the old inhabitants. It rose to such a height that the Sheriff had to be sent for, and the riot act read in three different parts of the town, and a great band of special constables were sworn in. It was in Provost Thom’s time; but it might have been said that Meg Inglis was Provost that day, for every thing went on by her direction. She summoned the crew, and had the fish wives of Ferryden drawn up in line of battle, parading the town, and tooting their horns. Rob Ruxton was the ringleader among the men, and went up to Brechin, blowing his horn, to bring them down to help the fray. For the part he took, he was sent to the hulks, and some say transported for seven years. He went to conceal himself somewhere over the water, but had not gone far enough, and was discovered. There being no free trade in com in those days, the price of meal, which was then more than now, the staff of life had risen very high, and was out of reach of the common people. Sometimes when there was no riot, there would have been such crowds waiting for supplies at the meal-market, that, to get their turn sooner, some threw their meal pocks over the heads of the mob, with their money tied up. John Davidson, auctioneer, being at that time at Hatton Mill, was sent by his master with a cart-load of meal to Dundee, where a meeting had been held the day before by the dealers, who let it down 2s. a peck. On his return home, his master told him he must immediately go to Montrose with another load. But being wearied with his journey, and having got neither meat nor sleep from the time he had left home, he said he could not go; the horse too wanted rest and meat; but after waiting an hour, he sets off, and supplies the dealers, James Croal, James Reid, and another. By that time a mob had begun to gather, and the women hung into him, and nearly tore the pockets off his jacket; but having a strong horse, he got out of their reach, and when delivering the meal, the women, overhearing him tell the ne a s from Dundee that the meal was cheaper there—for he made no secret of it, as it was nothing to him, being only a servant—they got so enraged, that they were like to tear the man in the New Wynd to pieces. The hurry went on ever after, and the mirth and fun grew fast and furious, till it ended in real earnest—stones were thrown and windows broken; the streets and wynds leading to the shore were barricaded with boats and carts laid across to prevent com being shipped. “Tillygorum” was to ship potatoes at the time; but the women pelted Mm with them, and Rob Ruxton hit him with a brick on the back; others of them were put in jail, both men and women. The riot act was read, and special constables sworn in, who met in Provost Bumes’s garden, where they got bread and cheese and porter; and the boys from the school got in, and at it they went, and helped themselves to the bread and cheese. Johnnie Baillie, farmer, Barnyards, old Montrose, took refuge in Calvert’s school from' the fury of the mob; a stone was thrown in at the window after him, and he was let out at the back window, and through the Bowling-green, to get home. D. Scott, Balwyllo, going home on horseback, was set upon by a woman at the MalL He dismounted and went in pursuit, and.when he got up with her, gave her a good whipping. A farmer wag going down the fish-market Wynd after his carts, when Meg Inglis seized him, and forced him in at the upper door of the fish market, and sharpening the knife that she sheeled the mussels with, threatened to stab him; she, however, pardoned him. Mrs Black, a tenant farmer in her own right at Old Montrose, had to ride home through the Back-sands for fear of being mobbed. When Provost Thom read the riot act on the Windmill Hill, Meg Inglis said, “Awa' wi' ye, Provost; will ye read it, looksye, afore me very &c, " She quenched his oratory with a mouthful of gutters. The Provost ordered the constables to do their duty; but Meg and her forces routed the whole brigade.

The author of the folio ing song (which I think numbered about twenty verses), was Andrew Rough the gravedigger, who was not a little vain of his composition, and was always ready and willing to sing it when asked:—

(Air—"Tam Glen.”)

“A reward o’ twa hunder shillins,
Was offer’d for’im dead or alive;
But I’m sure my dear friends had you seen him,
For him you wud scarcely gien five!

"But a rascal for greed o’ the siller,
Tauld whaur the poor tailor was hoddin,
An’ a party o’ sodgers gat'd owre,
An’ they catched the puir brute at the Boddin.”


There are three Foundries in Montrose, viz.: (1.)—The Montrose Foundry Company, which employs about 50 men and boys, and has in connection with it Mr Jack and son, who have great skill in machinery. Its near proximity to the ship-building yard of Messrs Joseph Bimie & Co., may be a great advantage to that Company, as they intend adding iipn ship-building to their present flourishing business. All who wish well to the prosperity of Montrose, must hail such an enterprise, which tends to give enlargement and scope to its vast capabilities, as a shipping, commercial, and manufacturing town. (2.)—The Links Foundry, Messrs Joseph Kerr & Co., who employ about the same number of men and boys, and manufacture articles from a plough-board to a steam-engine. (3.)—The Melville Lane Foundry, carried on by Mr Douglas and Sons, themselves all workmen, besides others, in all amounting to 12.


Extracted from Council Records.

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