Ellen was another protegée of Rev Gilfillan, but a very different person from Elizabeth Campbell. Bold, ever ready to stand up and speak out, she cast herself as the heroine of her own life story and the victim of injustice. Certainly she didn’t have a very fortunate life.

She was born in Hamilton, the daughter of stonemason and poet James, who deserted the family when she was still young. So Ellen was out to work in the mill at eleven years old. At seventeen she had an illegitimate daughter; the father walked out on her.

Her first poem (on the Crimean War) was published in 1854 in a Glasgow newspaper. Ellen’s mother died in 1861, and she came to live with an aunt in Dundee, working at Verdant Mill, but was dismissed following her accusations of persecution by her fellow workers. Or perhaps because she was too fond of whisky? “I ken there’s mair folk in Dundee / Wha likes a glass as weel as me.” Undaunted, she sued for wrongful dismissal, won her case and was awarded five shillings plus expenses. Ellen had poems published in The People’s Journal in1862, writing about current events and offering sycophantic tributes to employers, but also championing the poor: her best known poem was a tearjerker entitled The Last Sark.

Then in ’67 she asked Revd Gilfillan for a testimonial and managed to publish her Autobiography, Poems and Songs of Ellen Johnson ‘The Factory Girl’. which won her a £50 prize from the Royal Bounty Fund. But she couldn’t make a living from her poetry. She went to work in Tay and Chapelshade mills, then at the end of 1867 she returned, disillusioned, to Glasgow. She is probably the Helen Johnston who died from kidney malfunction in Barony Poorhouse.