Cabbage Jock, A Gardener in Glasgow

John Campbells Notebook

It was in 2009 that Robert Campbell with the assistance of Elizabeth Campbell Truemner and Jason Campbell combined forces to transcribe the pages of a cherished 200+year old notebook of John Campbell that is safely kept by one of his descendants.

John was a gardener from Glasgow Scotland, born on 10 May 1781 to Archibald Campbell and Marion Dougal.  His father was a gardener as was his grandfather Duncan Campbell. John also got his gardening genes from his mother’s side of the family as the Douglas also were a gardening family. 

A Scotland garden *stock photo*

Scottish gardeners according to 1993 genealogist Duncan Beaton’s letter to researcher Robert Campbell “In the 19th century, Scottish gardeners were world-famous” They travelled the world collecting specimens of plants and worked in all the great gardens of the day”.

We think that he must have dreamed he would belong to that elite group; he wrote his first entry in the book in Glasgow in 1801 at the age of 20 years. John continued to write about his gardening in Scotland and during his many years in Upper Canada. John made his last entry in 1849 at Admaston Township, Renfrew County.

He began his gardening in February 1801 in Glasgow, soon he transferred to an estate at the Parish of Buchanan, Stirlingshire, Scotland, near the village of Drymen, not far from Loch Lomond. His wife Mary McGeogh was a young lady from Wigtownshire County in Scotland’s southwest.  About 3 years later he transferred to the Campbell estate named Drimsynie at Lochgoilhead in County Argyll.  This estate was then in the hands of a Campbell man other than his father who was also named Archibald also.  This Archibald’s wife was Lillias McLachlan.

John and Mary’s (McGeogh) son Archibald “Baldy” was born in 1807 and two other children, Lillias and Sarah, followed.  Mary died on 2 Feb 1810 leaving John with three young children to look after and he went looking for a wife finding one he married Mary McGregor on 19 Dec 1810 at Barony, Lanark, Scotland. 

John and Mary (McGregor) had five children born in Scotland John Jr, Peter, Ann, and Marion who were christened in July 1820 not long before John made the decision to emigrate to Canada, he was among the Lanark Society Settlers. They had one more child upon arrival to Lanark County. His emigration with his family is described in Mary Campbell Plaunt’s book The House Where I was Born.

Most of his notebook is devoted to John’s time as a settler in Lanark Township and then in Admaston Township John kept careful records of the dates of events because they were important to the settlers.

John Campbell’s notebook

The notebook is not page numbered; however, John did a reasonably good job of putting in dates. Day, Month. It seems that he started out each year with a full date and then occasionally added it until the new year opened. As long as the entry was made somewhere in the book, with the date, it seems that he felt secure that he could find it again.

This made for difficult to reconcile the information recorded and in understanding his move from Lanark Township to Admaston Township.

The family handed-down story tells of John and his brother Peter walking to Renfrew in the fall of 1832, climbing the Pinnacle, seeing the attractive fall colours and deciding that this would be a good area to settle. they returned to Lanark Township for the winter.

John with his sons John Jr., and Peter and their friends Archibald Patterson and John Bremner went back to Admaston in April of 1833 to build some rudimentary housing for the family, and they moved in early 1834 bringing their horses and cattle. From the notebook, we read that they spent the entire summer getting ready for the family. On Page 14 of the notebook, there is an entry of a payment to a Peter Cummings, a blacksmith for 1 day moving 3s 6p. They would travel the cut road from Lanark Township to Arnprior onward to Renfrew and out to where they had staked their lot.

In his years as a settler both in Lanark and Renfrew, John conducted a range of businesses beyond selling seeds, shrubs, and fruit trees. Sometimes he sold meat and vegetables- anything a settler could use. We learned in reading the notebook entries that he was an incessant entrepreneur and was known throughout both townships.  It is clear that John was no ordinary settler maybe his diligence to be successful earned him the nickname “Cabbage Jock”. Maybe he sold a lot of cabbage in the fall and how he got that nickname is unknown. 

John Campbell died on 1 June 1850 and is buried in the Adamson Cemetery at 60 Reid Road Admaston Township, Renfrew County Ontario. His wife Mary McGregor died on 21 April 1853 and is buried in the same plot. Cemetery location Con 4 Lot 12 Renfrew County Admaston Township

Pages of the Notebook

Photo with headstone and a brief research list Birth and Death Dates of Archibald and Marion’s family was provided by LCGS member Fran and Don Cooper.

Leave a Reply