Scots Overseas – Ferguson & Urie, Men of Ayrshire – Australia’s Stained Glass Pioneers

James Ferguson (1818 to 1894) born in Wallacetown, Ayr and James Urie (1828 to 1890) born in Kilmarnock, were emigrants to Melbourne, Australia and made their fortunes there from manufacturing and installing stained glass windows. When he died in 1894, Ferguson left a fortune of £ 24,317 (£1.2 million in present day value) and Urie in 1890 left estate valued at £47,606 (£2.9 million PDV).

The source of information about the lives of Ferguson and Urie in Australia is the detailed memoir of the Ferguson & Urie company compiled by Mr Ray Brown of Melbourne: ‘Colonial Victoria’s Historical Stained Glass Craftsmen 1853-1899’

James Ferguson and James Urie in 1887, Melbourne
James Ferguson and James Urie in 1887, Melbourne

The Ferguson and Urie families were Ayrshire born and bred. A James Fergusson married Janet Kay in Newton on Ayr on 19 December 1812 and the couple had seven children including James Ferguson Jnr born in Newton in Ayr, St Quivox in 1818. Another son, David Ferguson, was born in Newton on Ayr in 1825. Newton on Ayr and Wallacetown, where the Fergusons later lived, are located north of the River Ayr directly across from the town of Ayr. Newton on Ayr, in the parish of St Quivox, came to history’s attention in 1315 when Robert the Bruce came to live there to gain treatment for what may have been leprosy. Bruce certainly established a lazar house in Newton. Wallacetown, although a quoad sacra parish, also came under the St Quivox local boundary. In 1851, the total population of the St Quivox parish was 7,146 souls.

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