a man of block letters

Stories my great-aunt told me

Communicating with others is part of my DNA.  Two hundred fifty-eight years ago, my maternal ancestor, James Blaw, was born in a small town on the eastern coast of Scotland.  Culross was most notable in the Seventeenth Century for the production of iron skillets called girdles (sic), on which scottish-girdle-griddle-1-595x332wheaten flour was baked in hearths in homes throughout Scotland.

For at least the prior three centuries, since a Blau from the Netherlands settled there and spelled the family name Blaw, they had resided on or near the Firth of Forth. Other close relatives had settled in the region.  Over several generations, a Blaw had been employed as a royal-chartered or burgess, girdle maker,.  As it was the eldest son of each generation to inherit both burgess title and the Castlehill estate, each of the others had affiliated in other trades, the military or emigrated to other lands.  Some went to the British colonies in America.  Others to Australia.

James Blaw was the younger son, and apprenticed to the King’s printer in Edinburgh, George Grierson. At the time when Britain was encouraging Scottish-born tradesmen (Protestants) to resettle in Ulster (now Northern Ireland), he emigrated with Grierson, changing his name spelling to Blow.

55886132_1_xAs printer, though family lore and some historical record indicated that it was the first,  James Blow produced the first or second Bible ever to be printed in English in all of Ireland.  Other descendents married well and ventured into papermaking and the linen industry by the Nineteenth Century.  It was through James Blow’s eldest son, Daniel,  my  bloodline developed.

While I can point to a familial curiosity for literature, the sea, and education,  I am unsure how I never had mindset toward business.  Yet the Blow family line and more directly through the Ward forebears,  between James Blow’s great-granddaughter and a relative of Marcus Ward, skill at business was very much in the family.



  1. Very cool! You come from very interesting stock indeed.

    I wish I had an interesting family history. Alas, it consists mostly of dirt farmers who had too much to do during the day to ever consider putting pen to paper to document their lives. Sadly, almost nothing exists of my family history beyond about 80 years ago.

    Happy Easter!

    Liked by 1 person

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