3 Upper Row, St Abbs

The residents of 3 Upper Row from at least 1881 to 1913 were William Wilson was a fisherman, and his wife was Jane nee Colven.

William and Jane married on 30th Oct 1857 and there was no disguising that Jane was heavily pregnant.

Their little daughter Elizabeth arrived on 16th Dec 1857. They went on to have ten more children:  James in 1859, John in 1862, Williamina Margaret in 1864, Jane in 1866 (she died aged 9 years), Isabella in 1869, William in 1872, Peter in 1874 (he died aged 7 years in 1881), Janet in 1876, Robina in 1879, and Jeanie in 1882.

At the Herring Commission August 1877 William spoke, saying that he had been a fisherman for 29 years. He explained how the ‘garvie’ fishing (young herring) and early fishing had been blamed for the falling off on the inshore fishing.

By 1881 the Wilson family were living at 3 Upper Row. Thankfully William was not amongst those who lost their lives in the ‘Black Friday’ on 14th October 1881.

In 1883 there were 70 fishermen in Coldingham, and over 30 of them were crab fishers. They took about £1000 worth of crabs from their waters each year. However, in December 1883 William complained that twice in the last year upwards of 40 of his crab creels, planted about a mile and a half from the shore, had been dragged away by trawlers in the night. He was keen to exclude trawlers from territorial waters.

For a few years William held the record for the largest catch of fish in any one boat, 126 crans, caught off the Farne Islands and landed in Eyemouth. His record was beaten in 1887. William also spoke up on behalf of local fishermen, heckling Mr Marjoribanks (MP for Berwickshire from 1880 to 1894) about his record when Chairman of the Harbour Commission, and his reluctance to use government money to fund small harbours like the one at the Shore, and asking for his support in excluding trawlers.

William and Jane remained at number 3 – later 3 Sea View – for the rest of their lives. William died in 1906 and Jane in 1913.


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