THE GRAY SCOTCH STEEL MATCH PLOUGH

This historic plough came to the Museum from the Clubine family, and has a long history in the Elmvale area. It is a single furrow walking plough, entirely iron and steel. It is marked three times, on the plough beam, on the coulter and on the plough share: “J. Gray, Glasgow near Uddingston”. It also bears a very rare mark on one of the bracing cross bars “Glasgow”. This is not a maker’s mark, but a mill-mark used by the mill that made the iron bars that Gray used to build the plough. Such marks are rare, as they were usually destroyed in the manufacturing process.

The firm of John Gray, apparently a successor to George Gray, was a prominent manufacturer of ploughs and other agricultural implements in Scotland in the 1850s and 1860s. The successor firm was established in New Zealand. The British manufacturers developed their steel ploughs at the same time as John Deere and the Oliver company were developing American steel-share ploughs. The British firms remained competitive because, until well into the last half of the 19th century, American manufacturers had to use English or Swedish steel, as the American product was inferior. If the steel had to be imported, it could be imported as a plough as cheaply as in stock form, and Britain was well supplied with expert and cheap skilled labour. The Gray ploughs had an added advantage in that they could be dis-assembled for shipping.

Scotch steel ploughs were originally sold for regular use, but many of them, including this one, were long ago retired from regular use and used only for ploughing matches. This particular plough has a long history in the Elmvale area, with a clear history to the 1920s, and a traditional history that may extend to the 1860s.

By long tradition, the plough originated with the Paterson family. Robert Paterson (ca. 1813-1874) had been involved in competition ploughing in his native Scotland, in the 1830s, before coming to Canada. His family still preserve a medal inscribed: The Duke of Hamilton Prize Medal, To the Best Ploughman. Given to R. Paterson 1837.” He settled in Scarborough Township about 1849, renting a farm from the Davidsons, ancestors of Allan Lambie, who will demonstrate this plough for us. Robert soon made plans to move to the Elm Flats, and in preparation for his families move, had a house built which still stands at 9 Bertram Drive, Elmvale (the oldest building still standing in the village). The family moved to their new home in 1862 or 1863, and this plough may well have come to Elmvale with them. Typical of prosperous Scottish lowland farmers, Robert Paterson was interested in improving farming practice and ploughing matches were a part of that movement. Some early matches were held in his fields, now a developed part of the village.

By tradition, it is said that of Robert’s sons, only one was interested in farming: his son John Paterson (1848-1889). John inherited the home farm and he added the large addition to the front of the house, still standing, Probably he inherited the Gray plough as well (Robert’s farm implements were valued at $456.00, a very considerable sum, on his death). Sadly, John was killed in an accident on Queen Street in Elmvale, just in front of his house, when his horse started off with a threshing separator while John was shutting the gate, running over the owner. As John was still a young man and his eldest son only 7 years old, the farm operation was not carried on by his family. We believe that, in the distribution of the Paterson implements, the Gray plough was purchased by John Kidd. John Kidd was an Irish settler in Flos Township and he arrived about 1863. He married Eliza Argue and moved to a farm on the 9th line in the Allenwood area. John died in 1923 but the plough had probably already passed to his son Charles Kidd, who certainly owned it when he died in 1926. The plough was sold at Charles Kidd’s sale to George McGinnis, descendant of another pioneer Elmvale family. Mr. McGinnis, a regular ploughing match competitor, kept the plough for many years and, after his death, his widow sold the plough to Mr. Clubine. Mr. Clubine had competed in matches for most of his life, but he did not use this plough. On his death, his son transferred the plough to the Huronia Museum in Midland.

Allan Lambie has kindly offered to demonstrate this plough today. Allan is from an old Elmvale Scottish family with a long tradition in match ploughing. Today he has set aside his usual match plough (his grandfather’s Massey Harris) to try the steel match plough. Allan’s family had a history similar to the Patersons, and his Davidson ancestors rented a farm to Robert Paterson when he first came to Canada. The Lambies settled in Flos Township about 1865.

Many thanks to Gary French for this article.

12 thoughts on “THE GRAY SCOTCH STEEL MATCH PLOUGH

  1. To whom it may concern, I found this to be a very interesting article. Do you happen to know what Mr. Clubine’s first name was? My mother’s maiden name is Clubine and it would be interesting if I could place this in my family history.

    Ian Fulks

    • I am the son of the man who owned the plough and donated it to the Midland Museum .If you wish any information on on the Clubine family who left New Jersey in 1793 and came to Upper Canada,please contact me

  2. Hello there I am not quite sure If this is going to be of any use,or help, its just some old stuff.
    Its really for Mr Gary French who wrote the article.THE GRAY SCOTCH STEEL MATCH PLOUGH
    I have I think what you might call a flyer or catalogue it’s dated 1850 and says:
    R. GRAY AND SONS,
    AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT AND MACHINE MAKERS
    UDDINGSTONE GLASGOW
    Bellow this are some small plates with ploughs:

    Gray’s Improved Sub-soil Plough,
    Gray & Son’s Parallel Lever Sub-soil Plough,
    Gray & Son’s Parallel Lever Sub-soil Pulveriser.

    I could go on but I am not sure if you would be interested.
    If you are then you can get in touch I know nothing about this stuff. My father was born in Uddingston and I have had this folder for year’s.
    By the way I spent some of the happiest times in my life in Canada Novascotia Halifax all round there.
    Yours sincerely
    Richard Murphy
    ps. Never refer to a Scottish persons or products as Scotch ( Scotch is Whisky) Scott’s lol.

  3. Hello.
    Thank you very much for your comment regarding the plough on our blog. I have forwarded you comment to our Curator, Jamie Hunter, as well as Gary French, the author of the article.

  4. I have a Gray Udingston single furrow plough (Stamped no. 9).
    It is in 4 pieces. I have the handle, the mouldboard, the long steel “neck” and the coulter.
    I would like to assemble it. I would like a good photo / diagram of one to assist me.

    This plough reportedly stopped the town circa 1870 when it arrived near Beechworth Australia. (Wooragee)

    Any help would be apreciated.

    Thanks

    Rob

  5. Hi,

    I got a chance to take some detailed photos of the plough today. My email is williamjosephgibson@gmail.com send me an email and I will send you a series of photos of our plough.

    Bad luck today when I, a volunteer who works on the blog, stopped by the museum in that a gang of people were away on vacation or out in the community. So I dont know if there is any other information to offer you other than the photos. Check back in a day or two and see if there has been any other comments posted.

    thanks
    Bill Gibson

  6. Hello! My wife Heidi is a direct descendant of Robert PATERSON, whose plow is featured in this article. You mention that his family still has the 1837 medal – which branch would this be? Are there descendants still in the Elmvale area? My mother-in-law is originally from Abbotsford, B. C., and her mother was from Hamilton, but her grandfather (George PATERSON) was born in Flos Township. We are now in Geneva, Kane County, Illinois, and we’d love to be in touch with any distant cousins! Sincerely, Adam D. Gibbons (adamdgibbons@hotmail.com)

  7. I currently have a John Gray Plough in relatively good condition, I was wondering if anyone had an idea how much it is worth to the right collector? I have a gentleman interested in purchasing it for $200.00 but I am not sure if this is a reasonable offer on such an antique with soo much history. Can someone please contact me regarding this inquiry? Infamousarchitect@gmail.com

    Regards,

    Robb

  8. I don’t know if this will interest you or not.. My Grandmother who is now 97yrs old is the Grandaughter of William Grey who was the brother of John and George Grey of Greys Ploughs in Uddingston, Lanarkshire.. Until recently examples of Greys Ploughs e.g the George Plough were exhibited in the Hamilton Museum, Lanarkshire.. My Grandmother is unsure if any of the Grey family are still living as contact was lost when she was only a child after her father died near the end of the First World War.. He contracted Spanish flu while in the Merchant Navy stationed in Portland Maine U.S.A and to her knowledge is buried there in the Naval Cemetary along with several of his colleagues.. My Grandmother would love to know more about the Grey family and what became of them before she dies.. My name is Karen Haig I live in Blyth, Northumberland, England and would love to be able to help her with this.. So if anyone reading this knows anything I would be grateful for any information thank you

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