Thomas Francis Donald

Thomas Francis Donald 1853 – 1932

Knox, John, 1778-1845; The Clyde from Dalnottar Hill

The Clyde from Dalnottar Hill:  John Knox

Donated by T. F. Donald October 1921

Copyright Glasgow Museums Collection

Thomas Francis Donald came from an established Glasgow family. His  great grandfather and his grandfather were among the chief importers of tobacco in the city of Glasgow.(1)

Thomas Francis Donald was a Chartered Accountant and Stockbroker.  His father, Thomas Donald, was the County Clerk of Lanarkshire. His mother was Frances Maxwell.  (2)

“There are few families now in existence in Glasgow who are more connected with the Glasgow of olden days than the Donalds” (3)

Mr Donald worked in 104 West George Street (a building which also housed Leslie Hunter, the artist).  He lived in 14 Huntly Gardens (4) and in later life moved to Dargavel House, Bishopton , the seat of the Maxwell Family. He lived here until his death. Dargavel House is now a B listed building, which became part of the Royal Ordnance Factory and is now owned by BAE Systems. (5)

Thomas Francis Donald achieved great success in his chosen career. He was noted for his thoroughness, and was widely respected. He was a member of the Glasgow Stock Exchange, twice holding the position of chairman. It was noted that he never gave any client thinking of having a “flutter” any too rosy a picture of his prospects. “His honesty was merciless” He was a keen sportsman, a member of the Royal Northern Yacht Club, where he held the position of secretary and treasurer from 1887 until 1896. He was also a member of the Mudhook Yacht Club. He was a golfer, taking up the game in 1864. He would therefore have been in the forefront of the expansion of golf in Scotland which occurred in the second half of the nineteenth century. This expansion was due to two events – the discovery of the gutta percha ball and the expansion of the railways. This made golf  more accessible and led to the formation of golf clubs in Scotland. One of these clubs was Prestwick, created by Old Tom Morris in 1851.(6) In 1920, Thomas Donald became  the Captain of Prestwick golf club.  (7)

Thomas Donald was an active member of Glasgow society and was secretary to the Knot of Bachelors. He was a member of, and treasurer to, the Western Club. (His great great grandfather had been a founding member.) He was chairman of the Western Club from 1924/25 and wrote a brief history of the club to mark the club’s centenary. He occupied the chair at the Club’s centenary celebrations. (8)

He was a member of the Hodge Podge Dining Club, many of whose members came from the Western Club. This club was established in 1750, originally as a discussion group, but members quickly decided to abandon discussion in favour of Whist, which was played between 5 p.m. and supper at 9 p.m. The club exists to the present day, meeting in the Western Club every six months. (9)

The Baillie summed him up thus:

“Mr Donald is a Glasgow citizen of credit and renown…. He comes of excellent stock…. and the traditions of this stock are excellently maintained in his person. Success on the local bourse has left him abundant time and opportunity to cultivate the higher graces of life… His offices speak volumes for his savoir faire, and for the high esteem in which he is held by the circles of which he is a member. Mr Donald’s reading is extensive and peculiar. It ranges from volumes on the abstruser sciences down to the latest cookery book. Consequently, among his intimates his conversation is uncommonly bright and interesting. Even his censure is accepted with as good a grace as is the approval of another.” (10)

Thomas Francis Donald

Thomas Francis Donald

The Baillie July 8th 1886

His obituary in the Glasgow Herald summed up Thomas Donald : ” He warmed, if ever a man did, both hands before the fire of life….He had a good knowledge of literature and was well versed in family history. He contributed frequently to the columns of the Glasgow Herald. He also wrote a good deal otherwise, chiefly on antiquarian subjects. his love of music was very real and he was a member of Glasgow Amateur Dramatic Club. He had a most happy knack of light verse. He was a connoisseur in cuisine and no one could arrange a dinner or ball to better effect. It is a matter of regret that he was not painted by Raeburn, for he was one well fitted for that master’s brush. His strong features and ruddy, clean shaven face would ….have gone well with a white stock and a canary waistcoat. With him there passes an intimate knowledge of nineteenth century Glasgow.” (11)

In all that has been written about Thomas Donald there is no mention of particular interest in art, or of art collection. It is possible to surmise that his yachting experiences on the Clyde led to his interest in the particular painting which he donated.  It is also notable that the timing of his donation coincides with his move from Glasgow to Bishopton. He is buried in the Necropolis. (12)

References

(1) The Baillie July 8th 1896

(2) Scotland’s People Census 1861

(3) Old Country Houses of the Old Glasgow Gentry: Glasgow James Maclehose, 1878

(4) Post Office Directories

(5) http://www.canmore.org.uk

(6) http://www.prestwickgc.co.uk

(7) Glasgow Herald March 1st 1932

(8) Donald T.F. Western Club 1825 – 1925 (1925) : Glasgow, Maclehose, Jackson and Co. 1925

(9) Strang, John  Glasgow and its Clubs: London and Glasgow, Richard Griffin and Company, 1857

(10) The Baillie July 8th 1896

(11) Glasgow Herald March 1st 1932

(12) Necropolis Interment Register 1932, Mitchell Library Archives

Other Sources

Scotland’s People Census 1851-1911

Paisley Reference Library

Paisley and Renfrewshire Gazette

Castles and Mansions 1890

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