14-02-1891: Probate notice for Crawford Kier, son in law of James Ferguson.

Crawford Kier was the son in law of  James Ferguson who was a principal partner in the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company. Crawford married James’s seventh daughter, Barbara,  in North Melbourne on the 19th of May 1881. At one stage Crawford was employed in a managerial position with company.

There are certainly doubts that James Ferguson had confidence in the marriage between Crawford Kier and his daughter Sarah. In June 1885, four years after they married, Crawford was declared insolvent with the causes stated as; “Want of employment, and having borrowed money at a high rate of interest…” What is even more perplexing is that James Ferguson he had employment as a clerk with Ferguson & Urie and yet by his insolvency in 1885 he indicated he was unemployed! There were many other family members on the Ferguson and the Urie family lines who were employed with the firm and by all accounts everyone, even those not related, were regarded as family and everone was looked after and supported. What happened with Crawford may never be known. On Monday the 15th June 1885, Crawford and Barbara’s home and furnishings at “Elizabeth Cottage” on Mount Alexander Road, Moonee Ponds (near the Ascotvale Hotel) was put up for auction by the Sherriff.

Crawford, Barbara, and their three children departed Sydney for Scotland in early 1889 for a holiday (as family legend has it), but they would never return. Barbara died of Kidney disease at Bothwell, Scotland, on the 3rd of November 1889 and only a few months later Crawford died, also of kidney disease, on the 3rd of March 1890. Their three children, William, Mary and James were then brought up by James Ferguson’s widowed sister Marion Bishop (nee Ferguson), residing in Glasgow and they would never return to Australia. When their grandfather James Ferguson died in 1894 he made modest provisions for their upbringing and included the grandchildren and his sister Marion in his will of 1894.

The Argus, Melbourne, Saturday 14th February 1891, page 5.

“NOTICE is hereby given, that after the expiration of fourteen days from the publication hereof application will be made to the Supreme Court of the Colony of Victoria, in its Probate jurisdiction, by JAMES FERGUSON, of 10 Collins-street east, Melbourne, in the Colony of Victoria, glass-stainer, the duly authorised attorney under power of James Johnstone Kier, of 368 Saint Vincent street, Glasgow, Scotland, stained glass merchant; Andrew Malloch Bayne, of 28 Miller-street, Glasgow aforesaid, glass merchant; and Adam Young, of 193 Saint Vincent street, Glasgow aforesaid, writer, the executors named and appointed by the trust disposition and settlement bearing date the thirteenth day of October, one thousand eight hundred and eighty seven, of CRAWFORD KIER, sometime manager with Messieurs Ferguson and Urie, glass merchants, Melbourne, in the colony of Victoria, afterwards residing at Craigievar-house, Uddingston, Scotland, but lately of Woodlea-house, Uddingston aforesaid, glass cutter, deceased, that the CONFIRMATION of the nomination of James Johnstone Kier, Andrew Malloch Bayne, and Adam Young as executors aforesaid may be SEALD with the SEAL of the Supreme Court of the colony of Victoria. Dated this thirteenth day of February, one thousand eight hundred and ninety-one. ALEXANDER GRANT and SON, of Number 4 St. James’s Buildings, William-street, Melbourne, proctors for the said James Ferguson”.

Crawford Kier & family at James Ferguson's Ayr Cottage, Parkville, Melbourne, 1st Jan 1888.

This photo is a subset of the Ferguson Clan photo from the family history collection. The original family photo shows thirty five family members on the east side of James Ferguson’s Ayr Cottage, Parkville, 1st January 1888. This portion shows Barbara Kier (nee Ferguson) 1856‐1889 , Crawford Kier 1858‐1890, James Ferguson Kier 1886‐1964,William Maitland Kier 1881‐1936, Mary Ferguson Kier 1884‐1946.

Crawford’s own ancestry was also in the stained glass trade. His grandfather, David Kier, was a master stained glass craftsman from Glasgow and had a stained glass business in Irvine with his sons as “David Kier & Sons”. After David’s death in 1864 the business was continued by the sons as “W & J.J Kier” (William and James Johnston Kier).

The Presbyterian Church at Strathalbyn, South Australia, commissioned the Scottish stained glass firm W & J. J. Kier to create a stained glass window for their church in 1870!

The South Australian Advertiser, Adelaide, Monday 8th August 1870, page 2.

“The Glasgow Mail says:- ‘We have had an opportunity of inspecting, at the works of our townsmen, Messrs. W. & J. J. Kier, a memorial windows which they have just completed, and which is to be forthwith dispatched to Adelaide, to be erected in the Presbyterian Church, Strathalbyn, South Australia, in memory of the late Dr. Rankine. It is what is called a two-light window, the subject-in-chief of one of the compartments being a full-length figure of our saviour, and of the other a similar figure of St. John the Evangelist. At the base of the canopy are the inscriptions – ‘In Memory of Dr. John Rankine, late of Blackwood, South Australia. Died at Helensburgh, Scotland, March 15, 1864;’ and – ‘Erected by his sorrowing widow, Mary M. Rankine.’ On a lozenge-shaped shield forming the apex of the window is the family crest, with the motto, ‘Fortiter in Recte.’ As a specimen of what it purports to be true ‘stained’ glass art, as opposed to glass painting, or any other composite device, this window will compare favorably with anything of the kind hitherto produced in Scotland – and indeed, for the matter of that, we are quite convinced there is nothing finer to be seen in the Cathedral.”

Unfortunately it would seem that the stained glass window was never actually erected in the church and was summarily sent back to Scotland.

Southern Argus, Port Elliot, SA, Friday 9th June 1871, page 2.

“THE MEMORIAL WINDOW TO THE LATE DR. RANKINE.- We understand that the authorities of the Presbyterian Church in Strathalbyn have decided not to put in the memorial window lately presented by the widow of the late Dr. Rankine, and which arrived in the colony some few weeks since, and it will therefore, in accordance with Mrs Rankine’s instructions, be immediately returned to Scotland.”

On the 4th October 2012, Mr Brian Simpson from Strathalbyn wrote:

“Dear Ray,

Your email has been forwarded to me, as an amateur local historian with an interest in your subject. This is indeed a sad story!!! The window apparently arrived on board the “Glen Osmond” in late-Sept, 1870, & was seen by the members of the Session (the committee in charge of St Andrews Church, Strathalbyn), & promptly sent back to Scotland! The church & the town thereby lost what could have been its most valuable icon. The minutes of the Session meeting do not record what in particular they objected to. Perhaps they were affronted that the Rankine crest was placed above the figure of Jesus, rather than below? They refused to take the matter to a general meeting of the congregation, despite the fact that many were very interested. This precipitated the resignation from the Session of William Rankine, brother of John (fellow founders of the township of Strathalbyn in 1839).

Presumably, the window was returned to Mary Rankine (John’s widow) in Glasgow, at the earliest opportunity. I wonder who paid for its return journey? This story has fascinated me for years, & I have often wondered what became of that very valuable window. I have visited Scotland several times in the last several years, & had hoped to be able to track down that window. I wrote to the head offices of three branches of the Presbyterian Church in Glasgow, & to a museum/gallery of historic church windows, etc, in Glasgow. All replied in the negative. Perhaps the window is still in the possession of descendants of the Rankine family? I continue to wonder at the intransigence & stupidity of the Session at the Strathalbyn Presbyterian Church in 1870. Presumably, very few people ever saw that window to know what all of the fuss was about. The Session had previously agreed to accept the window, & were presumably looking forward to its arrival with great anticipation. What went wrong we will never know.  If you ever do locate the window, I & the rest of Strathalbyn, would be very pleased to hear about it. Good luck with your search. It hurts me every time I think about that lost opportunity!

Kind regards, Brian Simpson” – STRATHALBYN

Many thanks to Brian Simpson for his research and response on the subject of the Kier stained glass window.

Related posts: 14-06-1894: Probate lodged for the Will of James Ferguson

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