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In 1642 it was made into the Burgh of Barony of Crawfurdsdyke, and part of the ill-fated Darien Scheme set out from this pier in 1697. The fishing trade grew prosperous, with barrels of salted herring exported widely, and shipping trade developed.

As seagoing ships could not go further up the River Clyde, the Glasgow merchants including the Tobacco Lords wanted harbour access but were in disputes with Greenock over harbour dues and warehouses.

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The custom house needed larger premises, and in May 1817 the foundation stone was laid at the quay for a Custom House building designed by William Burn, which was completed in 1818.The coast of Greenock formed a broad bay with three smaller indentations: the Bay of Quick was known as a safe anchorage as far back as 1164.To its east, a sandy bay ran eastwards from the Old Kirk and the West Burn as far as Wester Greenock castle.The work was completed in 1710, with quays extended out into Sir John's Bay to enclose the harbour.

In 1711 the shipbuilding industry was founded when Scotts leased ground between the harbour and the West Burn to build fishing boats.

The name of the town has had various spellings over time.