J. Hunter & Son

Joiners and builders

J. (sometimes ‘James’) Hunter & Son was a firm of joiners and builders in the coastal village of Skelmorlie, Ayrshire. James Porter Hunter (1825–1898) was the son of a labourer in rural Dundonald, and aged 15 was already a handloom weaver. He left this trade, to become a wright, working as a journeyman in Rothesay on the Isle of Bute in 1851. He married in nearby Dunoon where four of his children were born in the following decade. 1

Around 1860, the family returned to Ayrshire, and James built his own cottage, Silverwood, one of the first houses on the ‘High’ Road, Upper Skelmorlie. He was perhaps assisted by his father and brother-in-law, who were both stonemasons. By 1871, the cottage was let to summer visitors (the village became a popular resort following the arrival of the railway in 1865). Almost a decade later, Hunter advertised an additional property to let which had 'modern' gas and plumbing. Both houses were let until at least the 1890s with advertisements appearing in the Glasgow Herald. 2

Two sons, Charles and Robert, served apprenticeships as joiners and worked with their father. Robert inherited the firm (initially as Hunter & Son) on James’s retirement in 1893: his elder brother had emigrated to the United States. 3 John Honeyman was originally named an executor of James’s will in 1879, but declined to accept the role in 1898. 4


1: West Coast Almanac 1886, Rothesay and Lochgilphead: Higgie & Paterson, p. 32; Royal National Directory of Scotland 1911, Slater's Directory / Kelly's Directories, Manchester & London, p. 310; birth, death and census information, www.ancestry.co.uk [accessed 8 October 2012].

2: Census information, www.ancestry.co.uk [accessed 8 October 2012]; Walter Smart, Skelmorlie: The Story of the Parish, Skelmorlie: Skelmorlie & Wemyss Bay Community Centre, 1968, p. 42; Francis H. Groome, Editor, Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, London: William Mackenzie, 1895 (new edn), vol. 6, p. 350. Advertisements include Glasgow Herald, 16 June 1871, p. 7; 31 March 1880, p. 4; 13 May 1889, p. 4; 22 August 1896, p. 2.

3: Census and will information, www.ancestry.co.uk and www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk [accessed 8 October 2012];Glasgow Herald, 13 February 1893, p. 1.

4: James Hunter, Skelmorlie, Will, Reg. 8 November 1898, Ayr Sheriff Court SC6/46/27, pp. 169, 173, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk [accessed 8 October 2012].