Margaret Andrew ~ local teacher


Margaret Sproul Andrew was born on 29th April 1876 at 53 Herriet Street in Pollokshaws on the southside of Glasgow. She was the eldest of the surviving children of John Andrew and Janet McLean She was named after her maternal Grandmother and known to the family as Maggie.
There were seven children in the family altogether. After Margaret came John b1878, Jeanie b1881, James 1b884, Janet b1888, William b1891 and Gavin  b1896. Another baby, George, had been born in1874 but died  in 1875, 9 months before Margaret’s birth.

    Margaret’s ancestry has been traced back to the early 1700s and almost without exception, have all originated from areas no further than 15 miles from Pollokshaws.

A G-Grad-uncle, Adam Sproul(e) did venture further, though. He founded a whole dynasty of Sproues living in Australia -Tasmania in particular! Click on his name to find out more about this interesting ancestor.

The O marks Pollokshaws and Thornliebank. Margaret lived the majority of her life

in this area. Starting from the left, Lochwinnoch was the birthplace of Margaret Sproul in1828. Houston, a small weaving village to the east of Bridge of Weir and west of Paisley, was the home of the Neilsons. The Sprouls mainly originated from Paisley and again were involved in weaving. The Donalds came from Glasgow although probably originated from further north. They settled in Thornliebank. Mary Wallace was from Kilmarnock, The Bairds and McLeans from Eaglesham and the Andrews and McLeans from Mearns. The Chapmans originated from Bothwell, just north of Blantyre.

Andrews and Donalds

It has not been possible to trace Margaret’s paternal ancestry as far back as the maternal line. Her father, John Andrew, was the illegitimate son of Jane Donald and John Andrew snr. The last record of John Andrew snr, was in the 1851 census. This record gives his age as 31 indicating he was born in 1819/20 and his occupation as ‘joiner’. He was born in Mearns, Renfrewshire and was lodging in Thornliebank with the blacksmith, John  Finlayson and his young family. As his death is not recorded the most likely explanation is that he died before the statutory records began in Scotland in 1855. It is possible that he emigrated and died abroad, but the fact that Jane named her son after her lover and that the father is named on his marriage certificate, would suggest that he died either before his son was born or shortly thereafter. If Jane and the baby had been abandoned or the relationship meaningless, then the baby would surely have been brought up with the Donald surname. It is not until John jnr’s marriage in 1874 that we establish that he was ‘deceased’.

The young John was brought up by his Grandparents, George Donald and Mary Wallace and continued to live in Thornliebank. His mother, Jane, married a widower, Thomas Fleming, in 1857 and went on to have 5 children with him.

  In the 1871 census John jnr ,aged 19, was employed as a printer at the calico printworks in Thornliebank. This was the major employer in the village and was where his Grandfather, George Donald, worked. In 1874 he married Janet McLean and the young couple went to live with the McLeans at 51 Herriet Street in Pollokshaws where in 1876 Margaret was born. In the 1881 census they were still living with the McLeans but had moved to 102 Eaglesham Street in Pollokshaws. By 1881 John was working as a wages clerk in the printworks and by 1884 they had moved back to Thornliebank. By 1901 the family were living at 10 Maxwell Terrace in thornliebank. Although modest by today’s standards, this terrace was known as ‘Toff’s Row’ by the locals. The Andrews had certainly come up in the world. By 1911 John had left his job in the printworks and was treasurer ant the local Co-operative Society.

John Andrew


Another person of note in this tree is Mary Wallace. Her father, William, married a Jean Donald and it is not known if she was a relation of George, Mary’s husband. This is entirely possible. Mary seems to have been a woman of indomitable spirit, looking after two grandchildren in addition to her own and coping with a difficult husband. This is doubtless why the name Wallace had been perpetuated through the generations rather than the name Donald.

bove: Maxwell Terrace in 1929

Top right: 1 10 Maxwell Terrace today

Right: Thornliebank Co]operative society

           Main St, Thornliebank

McLeans, Bairds, Sprouls and Chapmans

Janet Chapman McLean, Margaret\s mother, was born in Mearns, Renfrewshire. The Mcleans had originally come from the nearby village of Eaglesham, and the Baird line has been traced back to the late 17th century in Eaglesham.

Janet’s father, John, was a joiner and in the 1851 census he and his brother William, also a joiner, were lodging in Mearns. On 25th September 1852 John McLean married Margaret Sproul and Janet, born the following year, the eldest of their nine children. In the 1861 census their address is given as ‘Private House’ Mearns and by 1871 the family had moved further into Glasgow to Shawlands. At the time of her marriage Janet’s occupation was a powerloom weaver.

John McLean’s wife, Margaret Sproul, was the daughter of James Sproul and Janet Chaoman. The unusual surname, Sproul, has many variations including Soroull, Sprowll, Sprewll and Spreul which makes rather difficult to search. James Sproul was a bleacher and was born in Paisley. In 1841 the family were living in Harriet Street Pollokshaws whuih at this time was in Renfrewshire and was in the parish of Eastwood. In 1851 the address is at Netherplace Field in Mearns. By 1861 James and his wife had moved into Paisley and James was working as a woolen shawl finisher. Paisley shawls were at that time the height of fashion and very much in demand.  In 1871 James’ occupation was a muslin finisher and they were back in the Pollokshaws area.


By the age of eight the Andrew family had settled in Thornliebank and Margaret would have gone to the newly opened  Thornliebank  School. Margaret was a bright pupil and gifted musically. She stayed on at the school as a pupil teacher completing her training there in 1895. It was in the February of that year that he school building was burned down and temporary accommodation for the 500 pupils found in the Public Hall until the school was rebuilt, on the same site, two years later.

Now aged 22, Margaret was furnished with three letters of reference from the teaching staff and one from the local minister of the church where Margret sang in the choir. These letters were found when her home was cleared in 1962 and have been transcribed.

       Photos: Top Thornliebank school after fire in February 1895.

                      Bottom Thornliebank Primary school today a ‘B’ listed building.

Courtship and Marriage

It is not known with certainty that Margaret moved to Bristol to teach there. A letter written in October 1899 from her Thornliebank minister, the Rev John Charlston, in which he says “You did right in giving my name for reference. I hope that an opportunity may be given me of being of more use towards your getting a post under the Glasgow Board.” would imply that she had been teaching in Bristol and was wanting back to Glasgow. He concludes the letter by saying “Hoping that you will be at home “next century” & that your sweet voice will soon be heard in the Choir again.” This would also suggest that she had bee away for some years. It was during her time in Bristol that she met and fell in love with James Ferguson and it is known from family sources that much of their courtship was by correspondence.


   The couple were married on 9th April 1901 in Thornlibank Parish Church by the Rev John Charleson. Margaret made a list of her wedding presents and this list survives today. Follow link to view.

After their marriage James and Margaret returned to Bristol to live and it was here that their first three sons were born. They returned to Glasgow between 1904 and 1906 where they had four more children. Although she did not return to teaching she very much ruled the family. she instilled in them a love of music and sent them all to sing in the English Church choir where she felt they got a good musical education. With this excellent interest in their education all seven children had successful careers. To continue finding out about  James and Margaret’s children visit  The Ferguson Descendants page.

Left: Margaret (Sproul) McLean 


Right : Her daughter, Janet  (McLean)

            Andrew 1853-1916