William Quarrier

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William Quarrier

Birthdate: (74)
Birthplace: Greenock, Inverclyde, Scotland
Death: October 16, 1903 (74)
Place of Burial: Mount Zion Church cemetery at Quarrier's Village.
Immediate Family:

Son of William Quarrier and Agnes (Annie) Quarrier
Husband of Isabella Quarrier
Father of Isabella Quarrier; Agnes Burges; Mary Eglin Quarrier and Francis Johnston Quarrier
Brother of Agnes Quarrier and Grace Quarrier

Occupation: Philanthopist; Shoe Retailer
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About William Quarrier

William Quarrier was born in a tenement in Cross Shore Street, Greenock, on 16 September 1829.

The entrance to the close was transferred to Quarriers Village and now forms part of the war memorial.

His father died when he was three years old and his family moved to Glasgow. William began working in a pin factory at age six, and he became an apprentice shoemaker when he was about seven and a half.

Aged seven William went to work in a factory on Graeme St. where he worked six days a week for ten to twelve hours a day fixing ornamental head tops onto pins, earning one shilling per week.

When he was eight, William's mother, Annie, had him apprenticed to a shoemaker in High Street. When this business went bankrupt, another situation was found for him in Paisley, some thirteen miles away. William became a journeyman shoemaker at the age of twelve. In the next four years he worked in various boot and shoe shops perfecting his trade until he found a situation with a Mrs. Hunter who owned premises on Argyle Street.

When William was seventeen he went to work as a shoemaker for a Mrs Hunter and began attending Blackfriars Baptist Church, where he became a Christian.

William soon had three shoe shops of his own. He married Mrs Hunter's daughter, Isabella and they had four children - Isabella, Agnes, Frank and Mary.

On December 2, 1864, William Quarrier began the work that would lead to the shoe-black brigade. The boys were issued shoe shine kits and uniforms, the funding of which had to be repaid. They would work during the day, attend reading and writing classes in the evening and Sabbath School each week.

William never forgot the difficulty of his childhood and developed a strong social conscience. This would have a huge effect on the course of his own life and the lives of thousands of destitute children in Scotland.

William Quarrier met Annie MacPherson late in the 1860's. He was particularly interested in her Canadian emigration scheme. Annie MacPherson convinced William Quarrier to put his plans for a children's home into action. November 18, 1871, the first boy stepped over the threshold of the Renfrew Lane Home. One year later this home was abandoned and the children were transferred to the Cessnock Home or the Renfield Street Home.

April 26, 1876 Nittingshill farm, near Bridge of Weir, was auctioned and William Quarrier bought it - paying £3560 for the land. This was the beginning of the Village that later carried the name of it's founder.

Tuberculosis (consumption) was a major killer in the 1800's and there were no facilities in Scotland dedicated to its treatment. William Quarrier set out to build a hospital specifically for the treatment of tuberculosis. The first hospital opened on September 3, 1896 but it wasn't until May 27, 1898 that the first patient, a woman, was admitted.

His final project was launched in 1901 - helping people with epilepsy. In 1902, Quarrier bought a portion of the Hattrick farm which joined the land the Homes were on. He never did see his Colony of Mercy as it was called completed.

Two weeks short of completing thirty-nine years of work with Scotland's children, William Quarrier died on October 16, 1903.

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William Quarrier's Timeline

September 29, 1829
Age 28
Renfrew, Scotland
Age 30
Renfrew, Scotland
Age 31
Renfrew, Scotland
September 23, 1868
Age 38
Lanarkshire, Scotland
October 16, 1903
Age 74
Mount Zion Church cemetery at Quarrier's Village.