Graveyards of Glasgow: Maryhill Old Parish Church

There’s nothing much to see at Maryhill Old Parish Church Burial Ground, and I only have this one image taken by poking my phone through the firmly padlocked gates. However, I like the story behind the founding of the church, so here it is!

Maryhill’s original Parish Church was built in 1826 on land donated by Lilias Graham, owner of the Gairbraid Estate and daughter of Mary Hill who gave her name to the whole area. Lilias’s involvement did not end there – once the church was completed, the next step was to choose a minister. There were three candidates and those who rented a pew voted for their choice. There was a favourite, Mr McNaught, but Lilias preferred Mr Wilson. Her solution?  She rented every unlet pew and Mr Wilson was declared elected on 29th June, 1826.

Lilias is described as a clever, good woman and kind, generous and hospitable – but also certainly without personal attractions.  She frequently entertained friends with dinners of the more substantial kind, and after the food had been cleared she would make up a rum punch. Her guests often left rather the worse for wear, and on one occasion a gentlemen of not too good a reputation stood to his feet and cried “Come Miss Graham, I will give you a toast – honest men and bonnie lasses”. The prompt reply was “Very well, but that is neither you nor me!” Paradoxically, she and her nephew, John Dunlop, set up the first British temperance societies in Greenock and Maryhill in 1829. Do as I say, not as I do?

These stories are courtesy of Alexander Thomson who relates them in his snappily titled book of 1895: Random notes  and rambling recollections of Drydock, The Dock, or Kelvindock, all now known by the more modern name of Maryhill: 1750-1894I love the sound of Lilias!

Back to the church: Maryhill Old had a chequered history, well described by Diana Burns on the Glasgow and West of Scotland Family History Society webpage. By 1985, it was abandoned and unsafe, and around the turn of the century it was demolished. All that remains is this sad little graveyard on Maryhill Road, neglected and unkempt.

I’m sure Lilias would be distinctly unimpressed. She herself is buried in the grander surroundings of Glasgow Cathedral’s graveyard along with her father, Robert Graham, her mother, Mary Hill, and other members of the Graham family. The tombstone is very worn, but you might just be able to make out Lilias’s name in the close up.

And that’s the end of this short series, Graveyards of Glasgow, at least until I visit a few more burial grounds. I hope you’ve enjoyed it – it’s good to finish with a feisty woman who took no nonsense.

40 thoughts on “Graveyards of Glasgow: Maryhill Old Parish Church

  1. Evelyn Stevens November 22, 2020 / 19:29

    Maryhill Old Parish Church was my family church. My grandparents kept a pew in the church George Mennie originally from Aberdeen. They lived in Prince of Wales Gdns who had three daughters Isobel, Georgina (Gina) and Hilda all of whom were married in the church. Isobel married Andrew Ross, Georgina, my mother, married John Henry Cottham and Hilda married Walter Goodwin. I was christened and my cousins I believe. I was Evelyn Cottham.

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  2. rosemaylily2014 November 22, 2020 / 11:08

    Lilias certainly sounds a feisty character and full of contradictions if the rum punch and temperance stories are to be believed! Always love these old stories of a bygone age 🙂

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  3. Erica/Erika November 21, 2020 / 16:41

    Lilias Graham was a fascinating woman with a great deal of spirit. Very funny about the “Bonnie lasses.” Like you say “a feisty woman who took no nonsense.” Interesting post, Anabel!

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  4. Jessica (Diverting Journeys) November 18, 2020 / 14:37

    Loved the stories about Lilias! I’d love to be known for my witty remarks (not that my remarks are all that witty), but it seems like people who are described as “wits” are often borderline alcoholic, which is so not me. Not that I’m trying to cast aspersions on Lilias and her rum punch!

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  5. Ann Coleman November 18, 2020 / 03:03

    What a great story! I do admire feisty women…..

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  6. the eternal traveller November 17, 2020 / 22:49

    I wonder what Lilias would think of that description about the personal attraction. I suspect she wouldn’t have given a hoot about it. What a character.

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  7. BeckyB November 17, 2020 / 11:59

    She sounds just fabulous 😀

    glad you didn’t drop your phone on the wrong side of the gate, it’s the kind of thing I have been known to do!

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    • Anabel @ The Glasgow Gallivanter November 17, 2020 / 12:40

      Oh, I was very careful! I’ve never actually dropped the phone, but I’m always conscious that it’s the sort of thing I might do. I agree, Lilias is great.

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  8. hilarymb November 17, 2020 / 10:13

    Hi Anabel – it’s sad … it’s not being looked after … but a fascinating lady to read about. She utilsed her upbringing and wealth well … thanks for letting us know about her – take care – Hilary

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    • Anabel @ The Glasgow Gallivanter November 17, 2020 / 11:19

      It is sad that the graveyard is not being looked after. I’d love to go in and see who is on the headstones. Lilias is a great character I think.

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  9. Retirement Reflections November 17, 2020 / 04:19

    Hi, Anabel – This has been a very interesting series – thank you for sharing it with us. And thank you for capping it off with Lilias. I like her already!

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    • Anabel @ The Glasgow Gallivanter November 17, 2020 / 08:44

      She sounds wonderful, doesn’t she? Very witty and resourceful even if without “personal attractions”. Such an unkind description!

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  10. bob November 17, 2020 / 00:39

    Never even noticed that graveyard was there. Although cremations are more popular these days all the graveyards added together make up a huge slice of the UK countryside and each is probably it’s own special wildlife reserve, especially the quieter ones. Nice history as well.

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