James McCowan Bibliography
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For the Drama
With I Hope a New Face
The Story of a Newcomer to a New Land

and for
The Essay Contest

The James McCowan Memorial Social History Society
In Cooperation With
The Scarboro Heights Record

The Janet McCowan Community Studies Essay Competition

Your Community
In a World History Context

The James McCowan Memorial Social History Society is offering a prize for the best essay on the following subject:

Discuss the impact of the agricultural revolution in Lowland Scotland on the development of rural Scottish communities in pre-Confederation Canada.

Lesson Plans

Learning Objectives -- Building A Country

  • To identify some signs and effects of over-population
  • To identify some of the forces that can initiate socio-economic change
  • To recognize that value systems evolve over time
  • To acknowledge that value systems contribute to community-building


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D.B. McCowan, To Sustene the Personis: The Agricultural Revolution, James McCowan Memorial Social History Society, 1994.
-Especially the Introduction and pages 16, 22-25, 27-29
-Cumnock, Ayrshire, 1600-1800

BBC-Radio Scotland, 3 Part Series The Lowland Clearances (CD)

P. Aitchison and A. Cassell, The Lowland Clearances: Scotland's Silent Revolution, 1760-1830, Tuckwell Press
-Sets the life of James McCowan (pg. 127-141) within the larger context of socio-economic change

D.B. McCowan, Neigh the Front: Exploring Scarboro Heights, James McCowan Memorial Social History Society, 2001.

D.B. McCowan, When the Ground Fails: An Economic Watershed, James McCowan Memorial Social History Society, 1996.
-Especially pages 47-48, 56, 62-63
-Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire, 1600-1800

D.B. McCowan, The Rise and Fall of a Coal Entrepreneur: James McCowan, 1773-1834, Unpublished Manuscript, 1991.
-beautification of Auchanbeg
-James' library and the "information revolution"
-James' ambitious brother, David

D.B. McCowan, Catching Up with the Market Economy, Unpublished Manuscript.
-sequestration of Stockbriggs Estate and impact on tenants
-detailed case study in socio-economic change

D.B. McCowan, The McCowans of Cumnock, Lesmahagow and Scarborough, 1985.
-pages 1 to 9

D.B. McCowan, John Torrance of Lanarkshire, Scarborough Historical Notes and Comments, November, 1987.
-Torrance leased a farm to McCowans: ref A Man and His Home page 21
-An important figure in the emigration from Lanarkshire to Scarborough

D.B. McCowan, A Man and His Home: William Porteous McCowan, 1820- 1902, Scarborough Historical Notes and Comments, 1988.
-Especially pages 4-6, 13-25
-page 15: value of education
-pages 20-22: values taught and probable anti-reform in politics when left Scotland (re his possible opposition to the Great Reform Bill in 1832)
-page 24-25 notes 3-9: legal battles
-page 25, note 13: Alex Muir and Jane McCowan baptised together
-page 35, notes 99-100: cholera and typhus fever deaths in the family
-page 36 note 109: value of his furniture

D.B. McCowan, Immigration from Lanarkshire and Dumfriesshire, 1797-1850, Scarborough Historical Notes and Comments, 1988.

D.B. McCowan, Coalmining at Auchanbeg, Lesmahagow, 1700-1922, The Scottish Genealogist, March, 1990.

D.B. McCowan, A Lakefront Estate Residential Development, 1890- 1940, Scarborough Historical Notes and Comments, 1989.
-Especially p. 25
-Determination to succeed

I. Marshall, A Field Survey at Coalburn, Lanarkshire, Association of Certificated Field Archaeologists, 1990.
-Especially page 8

D.B. McCowan, Fairs and Frolics: Scottish Communities at Work and Play, James McCowan Memorial Social History Society, 1993.
-Page 6-7
-importance of competition and personal development

D.B. McCowan, How the Works is Going..., unpublished manuscript, 1989.
-Especially pages 2-3, 6-7.

D.B. McCowan, The Successful Teacher, 1830-1988...,
-pg 2: early education
-pg 5: John and Alex Muir
-pg 7: poem on the death of Mrs. Robert McCowan, mother of seven, ages 2 to 14

Letters to James McCowan in Auchanbeg from friends and relatives
-Dec. 6, 1800 from David McCowan, re sailing to Trinidad
-October 1, 1819 from John Black, re funeral of James' mentor, James Whiteford
-July 1, 1820 from his brother David McCowan re his creditors (there are half a dozen or so other letters from him in this respect)
-Aug. 31, 1804 from Mr. Stodhart, James' brother-in-law re the death of James' first wife
-and others

-Unfortunately, other collections of old McCowan family letters have disappeared.  On October 24 1943 Ashley McCowan, as a trustee of the St. Andrew's cemetery, wrote to a descendant of the Crone family who had lived in the house that Harold McCowan tore down in 1914: "I asked (Aunt Annie McCowan) about the letters I had given her and she said she had destroyed them I am sorry to say." The next generation of McCowans remember a desk-full of old papers in the loft of the driving shed beside the new barn. In the bustle of selling the farm and tearing down the shed, it is likely that this batch of papers disappeared too.

Other Papers and Letters
-Articles of Lease of the Farms on the Estate of Stockbriggs, ca 1830
-Petition for the Sequestration (bankruptcy) of James McCowan, Feb. 11 1831
-Inventory of James McCowan's property, Feb. 11 1831
-Letter by James McCowan, Springbank, Scarborough, Aug. 20 1834 (includes account of cholera in the household)
-James McCowan's account book, 1817-1831
-Personal libraries of James McCowan and William P. McCowan
-several large collections from the Court of Session, Edinburgh, Scotland, relating to Stockbriggs estate and tenants (including James McCowan)

J. Avigdor, Rebuked and Absolved: Speculations on the Early Life of James McCowan, unpublished manuscript
-family life

Letter from Patrick Cadell, Keeper of the Scottish Record Office, 92/11/9, re Glasgow area Coal cartel in the early 19th century

Margaret Heron Carr, James McCowan Family From 1833, 1993.
Especially pages 12-15.
-descendants in Scarborough, Portage La Prairie and elsewhere (a good deal of oral history)

Scottish Record Office, The Coalminers, 1983

John Strawhorn, The New History of Cumnock:
-pages 33-51: coal and life in general in Cumnock during the late eighteenth century

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Refer also to this page for a finding aid to source data on this web site:

Also these Pages for more general history: