Miss Catherine Spence Howden

A Spring Roundelay by E.A. Hornel. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (www.artuk.org)

In May1914, Miss Catherine S. Howden and her brother gave A Spring Roundelay by E.A. Hornel to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.  The painting now hangs in the City Chambers in the Satinwood Room.

Catherine Spence Howden was born in 1875in Helensburgh, (1) though her birth certificate cannot be sourced. She was the daughter of James Howden and his first wife, Helen Burgess Adams (2). She had two younger brothers James and William born to his second wife, Allison Hay. In the 1891 census the family were living at 66 Berkeley Street in Glasgow.

In 1892, she matriculated at the Queen Margaret College in Glasgow (3) in the Faculty of Arts where she studied for three years. Then in 1895, she enrolled in the Medical School there. In Glasgow University Archives there are records of her enrolment in classes until 1900 and she progressed through the years to her final year. There is no record that she graduated. Since the archives do not keep records of class tickets there is no reason given for this. In July 1899(5), her stepmother died of a cerebral tumour, having been ill for ten months, leaving two sons who were teenagers. Her family commitments may have meant she had to change her plans. In 1901(6), she is living with her father and two teenage brothers at 2 Princes Terrace, Dowanhill, Glasgow. It is possible to keep track of her through the census and valuation rolls. Her brother James died on 16th January 1908 in Montreux, Switzerland (7). Her father died in 1913 (8), leaving her a substantial legacy (9) so that she could live on private means. In 1915, she was living as proprietor (10) at 15 Mirrilees Drive and was proprietor of Lodge Cottage in Cove.

An Article in the Glasgow Herald after her death states that “During her lifetime, Miss Howden was a generous patron of art and music in Glasgow”.

The City Council minutes(11) of 1914 acknowledge the gift of A Spring Roundelay by E A Hornel presented by Miss C S Howden, 2 Princes Terrace, Dowanhill, on behalf of her brother and herself.  In the City Council minutes of February 1919(12), Miss Howden’s donation of 17 etchings and prints by Whistler, Legres, Beuer, Gordon Craig, Zorn, Haddon, Maryon and Muirhead Bone to the recently established Print Room in Kelvingrove is acknowledged. It has not been possible to trace her membership of societies in Glasgow related to Art or Music.

She died on the3rd May 1925 (13) and her death certificate is signed by Dr Marion Gilchrist, the first female graduate in Medicine from Glasgow University, who was her contemporary. Soon after her death, articles appeared in the Glasgow Herald (14) because of a further bequest to the City of Glasgow. “In all Miss Howden’s bequest consists of 117 etchings and prints, a portfolio of 21 etchings by Charles Keene-one of a set of 150-and Muirhead Bone’s 50 lithographs of Glasgow, with notes on Glasgow by A.H. Charteris, published in 1911 in a limited edition of 900 copies by Messrs James Macclehose and Sons. The collection contains such valuables as an etching by Van Dyck, one by Van Oestede, one by Durer and four by the master etcher, Rembrandt.” These were seen as a valuable addition to the print room of the Art Galleries which was then in the early stages of development. Full details of the bequest are detailed in the Council minute of June 19th, 1925(15). In her will (16) she left £5,000 to endow a scholarship at Edinburgh University in the name of her nephew Dr Andrew Adams Rutherford and a painting by Stuart Park to an aunt and uncle.

James Howden (1832-1913)

James Howden (17)(18) was an engineer and business man who displayed great talent for innovation and an enterprising business flair. He was born in East Lothian and moved to Glasgow in 1847. His apprenticeship was with engine builders James Gray and Company. He set up his own business as a consulting engineer in 1854. In 1862, he established the firm of James Howden and Company to manufacture engines and boilers specialising especially in boilers for ships. The invention for which he is remembered is the Forced Draught Engine. This enabled ships to go twice as fast on half the amount of coal and greatly contributed to trade around the world.

He married twice. He was married to Helen Burgess Adams and they had a daughter, Catherine. His second marriage, in 1872, was to Alison Moffat Hay (19) and there were 2 sons. His son James, who studied engineering at Glasgow University, predeceased him in 1908 and William was a director of the company but died childless in 1943 (20). In 1882, a nephew, James Howden Hume, joined the company and a limited company was established in 1907. Howden Hume succeeded as company chairman on his uncle’s death. Howden (21) is still based in Renfrewshire providing air and gas handling products in over 20 countries world wide.

In his will (22), James Howden left £388,251, leaving his daughter well provided.


  1. National Records of Scotland Census 1891
  2. Ancestry .co.uk
  3. Queen Margaret College www.universitystory.gla.ac.uk
  4. Glasgow University Archives
  5. National Records of Scotland Statutory Register of Deaths 1899
  6. National Records of Scotland Census 1901
  7. The Scotsman. 17th January 1908
  8. National Records of Scotland Statutory Register of Deaths 1913
  9. National Records of Scotland Wills and Testaments 1913
  10. National Records of Scotland Valuation Rolls 1915
  11. Glasgow City Council Minutes 1914. Mitchell Library, Glasgow
  12. Glasgow City Council Minutes 1919. Mitchell Library, Glasgow
  13. National Records of Scotland Statutory Register of Deaths 1925
  14. The Glasgow Herald. June 20th 1925
  15. Glasgow City Council Minutes 1925. Mitchell Library, Glasgow
  16. National Records of Scotland Wills and Testaments 1925
  17. The Bailie 3rd April 1895. Mitchell Library, Glasgow
  18. Munro C.W. “James Howden” in Slaven A. A Dictionary of Scottish Business Biography Aberdeen. Aberdeen University Press, 1986. pp165-167
  19. Ancestry .co.uk
  20. Hume D.H. Douglas Hume : A Personal Story: the Howden Heritage. Belfast,2009
  21. www.Howden.com/en/Howdenhistory
  22. National Records of Scotland Wills and Testaments 1913


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