The Misses Kirsop

The painting below was donated by the Agnes and Jessie Kirsop to Glasgow Corporation in January, 1915


Figure 1 “Portrait of a Lady” by Sir John Watson-Gordon, PRSA. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.

Agnes Wotherspoon Kirsop and Jessie Brown Kirsop were the youngest of seven children of John Kirsop and his wife Mary (nee Brown) who were married in Gorbals in 1846(1). The first four children were born there, but by the time that the other three came along the family had moved to 12, Corunna Street, off Argyle Street, which was then classed as Anderston but would now be classed as part of Finnieston. There in 1871, according to the census (2), the family consisted of the parents, three unmarried daughters, Elizabeth, Agnes and Jessie.

John Kirsop was a Master Hatter who had a hat and cap manufactory at 106, St. Vincent Street (3). Later, under the control  of their brother, the firm, now John Kirsop and Son(Ltd) moved to 49/51, Renfield Street in 1927-28. This firm was later, in 1956, taken over by the House of Fraser and wound up(4).

John Kirsop came of a long line of hatters. he was  related to the Kirsops who had premises in Argyll Street in the early 19th century and to their uncle, Richard Nixon, who had premises at the corner of the Argyll Arcade, and was appointed hatter to King George 4th (5).

The three principal wholesale hat manufacturers in Glasgow in the second half of the 19th century had been trained by the Nixon establishment.

The family moved further west to 3, Victoria Crescent, Partick, and then in 1891 to 15, Westbourne Terrace. Agnes was the only daughter at home then.

John died in 1898, when his estate was valued at over £21,000. Mary, his widow, died in 1908.

By 1911(6) Agnes, Jessie and Elizabeth were back at Westbourne Terrace, where, in the census of that year, they were  described as having independent means.

In 1915, Jessie was in rented accomodation in 9, York Drive (7), which was in 1929 renamed as Novar Drive(8). As far as I can find out, Agnes did not join her there until 1927(9).

The painting which the sisters donated, according to the minute of Friday, February 20th, 1914, of the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts, appeared on a list of works for sale(10). There was no  mention there of price sought or achieved, and the purchaser was not named in the minute.

The sisters donated the painting  to Glasgow Corporation in January, 1915 and the gift is recorded in a minute of the Corporation of 6th January, 1915 thus” Miss Agnes Kirsop, 9, York Drive is offering, on behalf of herself and her sister, to present to the Corporation the portrait of an old lady by Sir John Watson-Gordon, PRSA.”(11)

The sisters continued to live in various addresses around the West End until their deaths. Jessie died in Gartnavel Royal Asylum in 1930, and Agnes died at 28, Ashton Road in 1940 (12).



(2) Ibid

(3) Glasgow Street Directories – Mitchell Library


(5) (Index of Firms(1888) ).


(7) Voters Roll 1915 – Mitchell Library

(8) Post Office Directories – Mitchell Library


(10) Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts Minute Book 1914 – Mitchell Library

(11) Glasgow Corporation Minute Book 1915 – Mitchell Library




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