Scots Roots


William Gillon (1840 – 1915)
William Gillon

William Gillon

On July 16th 1915, William Gillon, J.P. died at his home in Campbeltown having been in failing health for some time.  He became seriously ill on Wednesday, 14th July and never recovered, passing away on the Friday morning at three o’clock.

William is the elder brother of James Gillon, J.P. of Armadale (see James Gillon article) and the son of Alexander Gillon, a miner in Coatbridge, and Janet Sneddon.

Born at Gartsherrie, Coatbridge, on 12th October 1840, by the age of 10, William had left school and joined his father down the mines.

He was a religious man and liked to write poetry. He became the first precentor* in Armadale Free Church and served there for four years and then, for a season, was precentor in Bathgate Free Church.

In July 1864, he married Mary Anderson and they had three children, Alexander, Allan and Janet, in Bathgate before 1870 when they uprooted themselves and moved to Campeltown in Argyllshire where Mary had been born.

By this time William had had enough of mining and decided to take up the business of grocer and seedsman in Campbeltown. The business went from strength to strength and over the following years, William and Mary had a further five children, Agnes, William, James, Mary and Ralph.

William led a busy life, particularly in church circles – he was the senior elder and for many years acted as session clerk at Lochend Church; he was superintendent of the Sabbath School for over 40 years; he was the founder of the congregational Dorcas Society, which had its beginning among the children of the Sunday School; and he was president of the Lochend Band of Hope.

A large part of William’s time was devoted to visiting the aged, the sick, and the infirm, and his calls were always welcome.

He served on both the Town Council and the School Board and for many years was a Justice of the Peace for the County. He was also, at one time or another, on the Management Board of several local institutions or societies, such as the Cottage Hospital and the Bible Society.

Mary Anderson

Mary Anderson

He was an author of some repute, and poems from his pen frequently appeared in the Press. He set many of his hymns to appropriate tunes, and occasionally set the compositions of other authors to suitable music. Many of his hymns were composed for special occasions and were distributed at the Sabbath School and elsewhere.

William’s obituary in the West Lothian Courier of 13th August 1915 concludes:

“By Mr Gillon’s removal, the town has lost a citizen than whom no one was more beloved or more highly esteemed. He was a man whose presence had at all times an elevating influence, one who by precept and example set a worthy standard before his fellows that will keep his memory green for many years to come, and the fruits of whose consistent life, a life of quiet and unobtrusive Christian service, cannot be appraised by his contemporaries and must long remain.

Mr Gillon was predeceased by his wife, who died on 31st May, 1914, and is survived by four sons and three daughters, to whom sincere and widespread sympathy will be extended in their fresh bereavement. Two of the sons, it may be mentioned, are presently serving in His Majesty’s Forces, James being with the Army Service Corps in Egypt, while Ralph** took part with General Botha’s  Northern Force in the recent operations in German South West Africa.”

William was buried in Kilkerran Cemetery, Campbeltown on Monday, 19th July 1915, before a large crowd.  Lochend Church bell was tolled during the funeral hour.

*The precentor is the person appointed to lead the congregational singing.

* *Ralph was killed in action the following year, July 1916, in France.

Kilkerran Cemetery, Campbeltown

Kilkerran Cemetery, Campbeltown

Copyright © Scots Roots Research 2014

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