MACLEHOSE SISTERS

On 27 March 1908 Miss Sophia MacLehose wrote a letter to the Provost of Glasgow Corporation asking him to accept on behalf of the Corporation a present of a picture, which was entitled Ben Ledi painted by Charles N. Woolnoth (1820-1904), she and her sisters Sophie Harriet, Louisa Sing and Annie Russell were making. [1]

At the time of the presentation that was made to the Kelvingrove Gallery, the sisters were living together at their late brother’s house named Westdel, in Dowanhill, Partick. The red sandstone villa was designed by Edinburgh architect George Washington Browne and was built for Robert MacLehose, their brother who lived there with his wife, Seymour Martha Porter. Furthermore, during 1898-1901, the Glasgow architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh was responsible for designing the second-floor bedroom of their house. It included a dormer window and adjoining bathroom. This was one of Rennie Mackintosh’s first recorded ‘white room’.  The house still exists, but the room was dismantled. Furniture and fittings from the room as well as the original plans are held in the Hunterian Museum. [2]

THE FAMILY MACLEHOSE

As our donors’ name is very much entangled with their family, it is found that here a short introduction to their family may be suitable here.

The ‘MacLehose’ name had a special meaning in the publishing world, it is appropriate to start with the father of the donors, James MacLehose.  According to the 30 March 1851 Scotland Census [3], the father, James MacLehose, was the son of Thomas MacLehose, a weaver. James was born on 16 March 1811 in the District of Govan of the Burgh of Lanarkshire, Glasgow, Scotland.  In 1823, he was apprenticed for seven years to George Gallie, the Glasgow bookseller. In 1833, he made his way to London to Seeley’s, a well-known publishing house. Then, in 1838, he returned to Glasgow, where he began his business at 83 Buchanan Street with his business partner, Robert Nelson as ‘J. MacLehose & R. Nelson’. In 1841, he took over the business and continued in his own name.  In 1850, he married Louisa Sing, the eldest daughter of Mr John S. Jackson, a Manchester banker. The census records show that they lived at 1 Kelvingrove Place, Glasgow and Mr James MacLehose’s occupation was recorded as Bookseller and Stationery. It is interesting to note that David Livingstone, a missionary and explorer, and a friend of our donors’ father had visited his friend on the morning of his first visit to Africa as a missionary. The two breakfasted together. [4] 

The 1861 Scotland Census [5] shows that their first daughter Sophia Harriet was born in 1852 and then, their second daughter Louisa Sing in 1853. This was followed by Robert in 1854, Jeanie Maclean in 1855, James Jackson in 1858, Norman Macmillan in 1859 and finally Annie Russell, in 1862. [6,7]  James MacLehose was appointed as the Glasgow University’s bookseller in 1864, and then as publisher to the University in 1871. [8] Having assumed his sons Robert and James into the business which had become known as ‘James MacLehose and Sons’ in 1881, James MacLehose senior died on 20 December 1885. [9]

His sons Robert and James both graduated from Glasgow University with MA degrees and continued the publishing business. [10] The other son Norman MacMillan MacLehose also graduated from Glasgow University with an MA in 1882 and became a surgeon. [11] On 6 March 1886, Norman Macmillan MacLehose married Olive Macmillan, daughter of the late Alexander Macmillan, publisher in London, and they lived in London. Robert MacLehose married Seymour Martha Porter and in 1896, James married Mary Macmillan another daughter of Alexander Macmillan, hence, cementing a long great friendship between the two great publishing houses of Great Britain. Norman MacMillan MacLehose died on 30 August 1931. [12]

Our donors, the Misses Maclehose

Our donors studied at the ‘Glasgow Association of Higher Education for Women’ from 1879 to 1883.  They studied Logic, Moral Philosophy and Physiology in the class lists from 1877 onwards.

A name which is mostly associated with the ‘Glasgow Association of Higher Education for Women’ at the end of nineteenth century was one Janet Campbell (always known as Jessie Campbell) who promoted the need for higher education for women in Glasgow.  She proposed that lectures be given by professors from Glasgow University and these lectures were very successful and continued until 1877 when the ‘Glasgow Association for the Higher Education’ for Women was formed. [13]

In spite of being deprived of a University education, it is clear that the MacLehose women received a very good education as we see from their contributions. The eldest daughter Sophia Harriet and her sister Louisa Sing were both authors in their own rights. Sophia was the author of two books:

(1) Tales from Spencer.

(2) From the Monarchy to the Republic in France 1788-1792.

Both of these books were published by their family firm:

Glasgow, James MacLehose and Sons, Publishers to the University, I90I

These books are still available and can be bought from bookshops.

Sophia Harriet MacLehose died on 22 June 1912. [14] 

In 1907 a book entitled Vasari on Technique written by Giorgio Vasari, an artist, architect and a biographer of the artists of the Renaissance, was published in London by J M Dent & Co. The book was printed at the University Press by Robert MacLehose & Co. Ltd. and for the first time translated from Italian into English by Louisa Sing MacLehose, the translation being done during her stay near Florence.

Due to the fact that her brother Robert MacLehose passed away just before the book was published, there is a note from the author, his sister, on the first pages of the book.

The original book written by Giorgio Vasari was first published in Italian in the 1550s. Louisa Sing MacLehose’s translation into English was reprinted in 1960. Furthermore, Louisa S MacLehose was thanked by the editor of the Scottish Historical Review (issue October 1913) for her translation of some letters, written in 1543, from Italian into English. [15]

Louisa Sing MacLehose died on 7 April, 1917. [16] Her home address at the time of her death was recorded as Westdel, Dowanhill, Partick, and Glasgow.

The third eldest daughter of the MacLehose Family was Jeanie MacLean. She was born on 6 Sep 1855 and she last appears in the 1881 Scotland’s Census when she was 25. There is no record of her been married. But there is a record of her death in Ancestry.com pages of as ‘Death 30 October 1888 • Antwerp, Belgium’ [17] and no other references were given.

Annie Russell was the youngest of the MacLehose Family. She was born in 1862. She appears on the English census during a visit to London. She she also travelled to New York in 1924. She travelled back via Montreal, Quebec. On her return she stayed at Westdel.

Annie R MacLehose died on 1 December 1950 in Edinburgh in the Church Hill Hotel Edinburgh. [18]

References

[1] 1908 minutes of the Glasgow Corporation, Mitchell Library.

[ 2] Design for a fireplace, for the upper bedroom, Westdel, Glasgow c.1898,

http://www.culturegrid.org.uk/static/showResource/2929199

Also see additional Notes below at the end of the References.

[3] 1851 Scotland Census.

[4] Memoirs and Portraits of 100 Glasgow men,

http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/mlemen/mlemen101.htm

[5] 1861 Scotland Census.

[6] 1881 Scotland Census.

[7] 1891 England Census Record.

[8] The University of Glasgow Story,

http://www.universitystory.gla.ac.uk/site-map/

[9] op cit. [4]

[10] ibid. [p. 345]

[11] op cit [8]

[12] Notice of Norman Macmillan MacLehose

Ancestry.co.uk (MacLehose Family)

[13] Jessie Campbell

https://www.worldchanging.glasgow.ac.uk/gallery/?id=UGSP00479

[14] op cit .[12]

[15] http://www.electricscotland.com/history/articles/papal.htm

[16]op cit [12]

[17] ibid.

[18] ibid.

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