Select Gregg Miscellany
accounts over the years:
- Greggs and Greigs Today
- MacGregor and Gregg
- The Enterprising Greg Family
- William Gregg the Quaker
- William Gregg and His Two Mentors
- William Gregg of Gregg’s Club Coffee
Greggs and Greigs Today
MacGregor and Gregg
The MacGregors were an ancient
Scottish clan based at Glenorchy, Argyllshire in western Scotland. Their early history was fairly lawless and in
1588 they were involved in the killing of John Drummond, the King’s
forester. Further atrocities ensued and
this resulted in King James VI of Scotland decreeing in 1603 that the
MacGregor should be abolished. All
who bore the name must renounce it or die.
year Alasdair MacGregor and eleven of his men were captured
outside St. Giles kirk in Edinburgh by the tollbooth. Anyone
the name was executed on the spot, with women and children sold into
the American states.
proscription of the name, some MacGregors sought
the protection of neighboring clans,
taking on their names; some moved away from the Highlands; and others
took on a
similar-sounding name such as Gregg.
Many of these Greggs were to be found in Ayrshire.
The Enterprising Greg Family
originated in Ayr in Scotland. But John
Greg relocated to Belfast in 1715. With
his younger son Thomas he was involved in provisioning the West Indies
During the Seven Years War (1756-1763), they engaged in
privateering. Afterwards they invested
in land and plantations on the island of Dominica.
John Greg the younger was resident in
Dominica from 1765 and was the first Government Commissioner following
island’s secession to the British in 1763.
He owned the Hertford and Hillsborough sugar estates.
The Greg family was
heavily involved in the slave trade.
Enslaved people on Hillsborough plantation rose up during the
Maroon War in 1814. Their punishments were brutal and included both
and transportation. The family owned the
Hillsborough estate until 1928.
Thomas Greg’s son Samuel settled
at Quarry Bank near Manchester where he
started a cotton spinning mill in 1782 based on slave-produced
cotton. He became a
prosperous and enlightened merchant of
his time and his family one of the great names of Manchester in
and 19th centuries. It
would perhaps have been interesting
to learn more of his attitude to his family’s West Indian estates
last days of slavery. He did supply the enslaved Africans on the
estate with clothing and blankets made at the Quarry Bank mill.
of his sons were notable – Samuel Greg, mill owner and philanthropist;
Hyde Greg, economist and antiquary; and William Rathbone Greg,
philosophical writer. The last was named after William Rathbone,
reformer. The Greg and Rathbone families
were close friends and Samuel Greg’s daughter Elizabeth married William
Rathbone junior. Their grand-daughter
was Eleanor Rathbone M.P.
William Gregg the Quaker
William Gregg was known as the Immigrant Friend. He had met William Penn in the lead mines of
Ireland when Penn was visiting Waterford in Ireland in 1678. Penn converted many Scottish-Irish settlers
to the Society of Friends, including Gregg.
William and Ann and their
four children came to America sometime after October 1682 with the
Friends Group. He made the voyage on the
ship Caledonia, arriving at Upland,
now Chester, in Pennsylvania. He had
with him the silver-studded, ivory-headed cane inherited from his
William went down the Delaware River to Centerville between the
Brandywine and Red Clay Creeks. He was granted 200 acres of land in
1683. William is known to have built a log
a location called Strand Mills in 1684.
He died three years later when he was about forty five. He was buried on his own plantation near
Wilmington, New Castle County, Delaware.
William Gregg and His Two Mentors
Gregg has been called “the father of the textile industry in the
South.” His textile mill helped to
establish the town of Graniteville, South Carolina.
He had two principal mentors in his life, his
uncle Jacob Gregg and his early employer Asa Blanchard.
was born in Virginia in
1800, the son of William and Elizabeth Webb Gregg.
However, his mother died when he was four
years old and he was reared by a neighbor woman until he was about ten. He was then sent to live with his uncle,
Jacob Gregg, a successful watch and spinning-machine maker in
Virginia. A few years later, his uncle
established a cotton mill in Georgia, one of the South’s first. But the mill did not survive the War of
the war Jacob
encountered economically tough times and could no longer support the
William. He apprenticed William under
his friend Asa Blanchard. Mr. Blanchard
was from Lexington, Kentucky and, like Jacob, had skills as a
time spent with Mr.
Blanchard was exceptional and the two shared an extremely strong
and friendship which would stay with William Gregg throughout his
life. While revisiting Mr. Blanchard in
Kentucky, Gregg constructed a silver pitcher out of the first coins
had earned individually. This pitcher
began to serve as an heirloom to the Gregg family and was passed down
first son to first son.
William Gregg of Gregg’s Club Coffee
William Gregg arrived in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1861 and set up shop
there at Moray Place. Primarily
a merchant who also roasted and ground coffee, he developed a growing
products. Gregg’s Eagle Starch and
Gregg’s Club Coffee became household names in New Zealand.
Eventually his enterprise was shifted to
Forth Street, the current site of the Dunedin factory.
However, his speculation
in gold shares and slap-dash accounting bankrupted him in 1894. He had ‘too many irons in the fire,’ such as
buying land up and down the country, running a chicory farm, and
starch, wax vestas, and sulphates.
Undaunted, he somehow managed to repurchase
the slimmed-down firm and even persuaded the Australian firm of Robert
to extend him credit. It became an
company in 1897 with Gregg as managing director.
In his final years he struggled
with sickness, eventually dying of apoplexy at the age of 65 in 1901 at
residence in York Street.
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