Lost Graveyards – St Mark’s, Anderston

Anderston’s first church, Anderston Old, was opened in 1770. In 1792, a second Dissenting congregation, the Associate Congregation of Anderston, built a meeting house in Cheapside Street. They left there for Wellington Street in 1828, subsequently building Wellington Church in University Avenue in 1884. I have been unable to ascertain who moved into the premises after the departure of the congregation but the church and churchyard clearly survived into the twentieth century.

The Cheapside building was variously known as St Mark’s, Anderston Associate and Anderston Antiburgher. In the Lanarkshire OS Name Books 1858-1861 (vol. 32) it was named as the Antiburgher Meeting House (Cheapside/Picadilly) and described as “A plain built edifice the interior of which is fitted up with pews, gallery etc sufficiently commodious for about 1000 people. It is a Chapel of Ease”. A clearly irritated transcriber has written below the entry “To what church? I never saw a burial ground attached to a Chapel of Ease.”

I suspect the property may have been confused with the Chapel of Ease built by the Church of Scotland in 1799 in Clyde Street, and I am inclined to sympathise with the confusion – Anderston, like Glasgow city, had its fair share of ecclesiastical buildings in a very small area. This was due in part to the number of schisms that divided nineteenth century Scottish religion, and the arrival in the later part of the century of adherents of other religious groups, such as the Methodists, Baptists and Quakers. This, combined with a population drift from inner city areas to the suburbs, led to the fate that ultimately befell the three Anderston burial grounds.

The Cheapside burial ground may or may not have been the last resting place of the pedlar-poet, James Macfarlan, who died penniless aged thirty one in 1862. Several newspapers, including The Greenock Telegraph & Clyde Shipping Gazette, paid tribute to him and described a Monument Committee set up in 1884 to raise funds for a memorial. At his own request, he had been interred in the family burial lair of his friend, Mr Hugh Buchanan Macphail, in St Mark’s burial ground.

This led to an indignant Reader’s Letter in The Greenock Telegraph, stating that the poet had in fact been buried in the High Church graveyard in Glasgow and he himself had been present. The editor issued an appropriate apology but five months later reported on the unveiling by Hugh MacPhail and the Rev. Logan in the Cheapside burial ground of a Mossman monument in “the shape of a finely proportioned gravestone, surmounted by a half-draped lyre, on the exposed portion of which hangs a floral wreath”. The company then repaired to St Mark’s church for an address by Dr Logan on the poet’s life.

The Mossman family was a group of highly respected local monumental sculptors whose works included ‘Dearest Mother’ in the Glasgow Necropolis and other memorials in the Southern Necropolis and Sighthill Cemetery. If, as it appears, the James Macfarlan memorial disappeared under the bulldozers around 1967, the loss is to be regretted.

No burial register for St Mark’s churchyard is known. Glasgow City Archives have a record of the lair holders in 1870. It was surveyed by the LDS church in the 1950s and the Scottish Record Office has the results on microfilm. It was also surveyed by John F Mitchell in 1956 and the results are with the Glasgow & West of Scotland Family History Group, the Mitchell Library and the Scottish Genealogy Society Library.

[The photograph shows St Mark’s c. 1963 and is courtesy of Glasgow Archives.]

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