Peter MacKay


Slate merchant and master slater Peter MacKay (c. 1824–94/5) followed the traditional and major industry of his birthplace, Easdale, Argyll, and was in Greenock from at least 1858. 1 In the 1870s and 1880s, he was based at 9 Chapel Street, in the town, but in 1886 the Caledonian Railway compulsorily purchased his yard to extend their line. MacKay received £7,625 compensation, and relocated to other addresses, including Sugarhouse Lane. His removal sale included Staffordshire ridge tiles, revolving chimney cans, five tons of Portland cement, 120 tons of Grey Bangor Moss slates and 140,000 other Welsh slates. He also sold Scottish products, including Garnkirk fireclay ornamental dressings, and used Luss slates. 2

Three of MacKay's sons trained as slaters, but only Daniel, the youngest, seems to have stayed with the firm, which was styled Peter MacKay & Son from 1895. 3 MacKay left the substantial sum of £13,726, but in 1902 Daniel fell into debt, abandoned his wife and absconded to New Zealand. 4 She unsuccessfully sued Peter's executors for support, as Daniel 'was incapable of steady work owing to his dissipated habits'. 5 The firm vanishes from local Post Office directories in 1902.

Peter MacKay won major contracts connected with Greenock's principal industries as a port and sugar refining centre, working on sugar stores for the Harbour Trust (1871) and on the extension of the Sugar Exchange (1889). 6


1: Census information, [accessed 24 June 2012]; Edinburgh Gazette, 13 April 1858, p. 745.

2: Greenock Post Office directories, 1875–90; Glasgow Herald, 22 April 1886, p. 6; 9 August 1886, p. 11.

3: Census information, [accessed 25 June 2012]; Greenock Post Office directories, 1895–1901.

4: Glasgow Herald, 1 April 1895, p. 9; Scotsman, 9 December 1903, p. 13.

5: Scotsman, 9 December 1903, p. 13.

6: Glasgow Herald, 26 April 1871, p. 6; 4 September 1889, p. 6.