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Willie Spears (1812–1885)
Willie Spears (1812–1885)
Willie Spears (1812–1885)
Willie Spears (1812–1885)
Willie Spears (1812–1885)
Willie Spears (1812–1885)
Willie Spears (1812–1885)
Willie Spears (1812–1885)
Willie Spears (1812–1885)
Willie Spears (1812–1885)

© the artist. Photo credit: Andrew Mackie / Art UK

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William Spears (1812–1885), a successful fisherman, led a revolt against the tithes on fish levied by the Church of Scotland. The fight was a long 20 year battle with Spears spending time in jail before being bailed out from the local people. The fight resulted in the agreement of broker deal which allowed fishermen to buy out the tithe for £2,000. They were reluctant but Spears was worried that someone would end up being killed. Furthermore, the harbours were missing out on government funds for improvements. However, once the bank loan was paid off plans were drawn up for harbour improvements. Sadly, six weeks later the great fishing disaster of 1881 occurred, taking the lives of 189 Berwickshire fishermen. It is suspected that had these improvements been made sooner, the disaster would not have happened.





Accession number


Acquisition method

commissioned by Eyemouth Community Council

Work type



Eyemouth Community Council


Eyemouth Community Council

Work status


Listing status

not listed

Unveiling date



at all times


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Located at

Intersection of High Street and Chapel Street, Eyemouth

TD14 5HE