TALK of the Towns covers many topics relating to the past but one of this column’s most important functions is to reunite family and friends who have lost touch, and to help people compile family histories.

Regarding the latter, I have just received an appeal from Felicity MacFarlane from Edinburgh and her cousin Ian, who lives in Melbourne, Australia.

The appeal relates to Greenock, but starts off in Argyll.

The great great grandparents of Felicity and Ian were Christina and Hector McLean. The couple lived at Woodside Cottage, Tighnabruaich.

Christina, who died on 16 March 1888, and Hector had at least one child who was the great grandmother of Felicity and Ian.

That child was Ann who married Archibald MacFarlane, who was born in Clachan, Kintyre, on 16 September 1844.

The couple moved to Greenock and lived at 5 Fox Street, where they brought up their sons, Archibald and John Duncan. Ann was 68 when she passed away on 8 December 1911.

John Duncan MacFarlane was the grandfather of Felicity and Ian. He was installed as Right Worshipful Master of Lodge Greenock Kilwinning No XII in 1916. John Duncan died at the age of 71 on 12 March 1946. Ann, Archibald and their sons Archibald and John Duncan are buried in Greenock Cemetery, as is Archibald senior’s sister Jane or Jean MacFarlane, who came to live at the Fox Street home of her brother until her death at the age of 87 on 24 February 1933. John Duncan MacFarlane was married to Catherine (Cathy) Paterson, whose family had a drapery business — Paterson Brothers — in Greenock.

John Duncan and Catherine had two sons — Ian (Felicity MacFarlane’s father who was born on 20 February 1915) and Archie, the father of Felicity’s cousin Ian. The family home was 4 Jardine Terrace and both boys attended Greenock Academy.

Ian and Archie left Greenock as young men and both were living in Australia when they passed away.

Returning to Archibald MacFarlane of Fox Street, his death certificate stated he was a spirit merchant.

Archibald was a joiner or carpenter to trade but Felicity thinks that through the McLeans the family may have owned or managed a couple of public houses. Felicity said she recalled her father mentioning a pub called the Glengyle, but was unsure of the name.

I have been told there was a Glengyle pub which was located on the right hand side of Arthur Street as it approaches the railway arch.

Felicity said: “If any of your readers can assist us to learn more about our Greenock forebears, it would be much appreciated.” Those with information can email Felicity at As always, I am also happy to pass on a message.