NS2777 : The gravestone of Alexander Knox

taken 8 years ago, near to Greenock, Inverclyde, Great Britain

The gravestone of Alexander Knox
The gravestone of Alexander Knox
The stone is NS2777 : Behind the Old West Kirk; see that item for context, and for why the picture is a side-on view. For more details about the kirk itself, see NS2777 : The Old West Kirk.

The lighter stone on the right says only: "In Memory of / Alexander Knox / Crawfordsdyke / Born 1722 / Died 1774". However, the darker stone is the one in which I was mainly interested. It has a Latin inscription (the only one in the kirkyard), which says:

"1769 / Hoc / Est Solum Sepulchrale / Alexandri Knox / Cerͤvisiarii in Vico / Crawfordsdyke / Patet / In longitudinem Octo / In latitudinem totidem / Hoc est / Sexaginta quatuor / quadratos Pedes".

There is a raised "E" over one word: "CERͤVISIARII" (elsewhere, that Latin word is sometimes spelled with the "e", and sometimes without). Because the gravestones have, like the church itself, been relocated, the inscription appears to describe a tomb that is no longer there; in my translation: "This alone is the sepulchre of Alexander Knox, brewer in the village of Crawfordsdyke. It extends eight (feet) in length, and exactly as many in width, in other words, sixty-four square feet."

[For another view of the stone, see David W. Edgar's page LinkExternal link on the kirkyard. That page has photographs of many more old gravestones than I have submitted, and gives their inscriptions; it also interprets the symbols that appear on some of them.]

The stone identifies Knox as a brewer or maltman ("cervisiarius" or "cerevisiarius", a non-Classical word: compare the equivalent Spanish word "cerverzero", for a beer brewer, and "cerveza"). His brewery was in the village of Crawfordsdyke; that area, now called Cartsdyke, has been subsumed by Greenock, of which it is presently a suburb. The inscription places emphasis on the dimensions of the plot that was associated with this gravestone.

In his book "Old Greenock" (1888), George Williamson writes that "Mr Knox was one of the proprietors of the brewery. He was survived by his wife, Mary Allason, and his son Alexander, who acquired part of the property on which the brewery stood. The son's tablet, with an English inscription, adjoins his father's, but it is rapidly becoming undecipherable through decay".

[It should be borne in mind that, as noted above, the stones (and the church as a whole) have been moved since those words were written. Nevertheless, the lighter tablet on the right does appear to commemorate Alexander's son of the same name; perhaps it is a replacement for the badly decayed stone mentioned in the quotation.]

The brewery passed into the ownership of James Watt (not the well-known engineer of that name), who acquired it from Knox's widow. James Watt was succeeded by his nephew William. As Archibald Brown writes in "The Early Annals of Greenock" (1905), William "assumed as partner a Mr. Gourley from Glasgow, but in course of time they came to grief. The premises were then occupied in turn as a sugar refinery, meal mill and bakery, and afterwards as a soap work, but none of these enterprises succeeded. The property was in the market for sale for several years, and ultimately it was bought by the late Mr. James McLean, who afterwards sold it to the Harbour Trust for a large sum of money".
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NS2777, 149 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Monday, 4 July, 2011   (more nearby)
Thursday, 21 July, 2011
Geographical Context
Burial ground, Crematorium 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 2731 7712 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:57.3581N 4:46.0589W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 2731 7712
View Direction
EAST (about 90 degrees)
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The Old West Kirk 

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