Franics Love (1781 – 1860) Stevenston-born poet.
Francis Love was born in Stevenston on 19 April 1781 to Robert Love, a coachman and Elizabeth Lockhart. During his lifetime Francis was well known in the West of Scotland, particularly in Masonic circles, as a poet and song writer.
Francis was associated with the Stevenston Thistle and Rose Lodge for 59 years, holding all the various offices. He was well respected not only in Stevenston but also in neighbouring lodges who showed their esteem by conferring honours on him and presenting him with gifts. His Ayrshire friends in Glasgow held an entertainment for him and presented him with a silver mounted snuff box containing money.
He was an active member of 4 different charities in Stevenston, devoting time to furthering their interests. Francis was an ardent admirer of Robert Burns and paid tribute to him in songs and verse. Though Burns is now universally admired, this was not the case in the beginning of the 19th century when his admirers were unpopular and Burns’ faults were enlarged out of all proportion. In 1848 Francis delivered a poem to the Irvine Burns club in support of Burns, which includes the verse:
“Though Robin had his fau’ts we ken
He was the whale o’ social men!
A’ you that’s fau’tless just come ben
An’ cast a clod at Robin”
Francis’ philosophy was that of the Old Testament – “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
Most of Francis’ poems and songs had a local flavour, “The Lassie O’ Ardeer” and “Oor Ain Guid Toon” for example, but some had strong political connotations. “The Kilmarnock Burgh Election Ballad” and “The Toon Meal Pock”, outlined the conditions of poverty in Stevenston at the time of the formation of the Anti-Corn Law League in 1839.
Francis, a weaver throughout his life, married Agnes Cockburn and had 10 children, some of whom moved to America. The family are recorded in Rev. David Landsborough’s census of 1819, 1822 and 1836 living at Cow Roading, Stevenston and in the official 1841 and 1851 census living at New Street, Stevenston. Francis died on 11 July 1860 at Townhead Street, Stevenston. A monument was erected to his memory in Stevenston High Kirk Churchyard, funded by the various lodges in Ayrshire.
A book of his poems was published posthumously in 1863 and due to public demand a second edition was issued in September 1886 by the Stevenston Thistle and Rose Lodge.
Stevenston – the Kernel of Cunninghame by James Clements. Available to read at the Heritage Centre
Miscellaneous Poems and Songs by Francis Love, Weaver, Stevenston. Available to read at the Irvine Townhouse