James Turner of Thrushgrove 1768-1858

Figure 1. Macbeth, Norman; James Turner of Thrushgrove (1768-1858), a Former Magistrate of the City. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.

Jessie Turner bequeathed a portrait of her grandfather James Turner by Norman Macbeth to Glasgow City Council in 1927. Jessie was born in 1837 in Laurieston, Glasgow to William Turner, an ironmonger and Elizabeth Paterson, whose family were from Ayr.(1) They married in 1834 in Glasgow.(2) Williams’ parents were James Turner, a tobacco spinner, and Jean Hardie (3) who married in 1797 (4) and it is James who is the subject of the portrait.

James was born on 29th April 1768 in Glasgow (5) and became a wealthy tobacconist, living at Thrushgrove House in the district of Garngad, an area which became a centre of social unrest in the early nineteenth century. 

In Recollections of James Turner Esq of Thrushgrove 1854 by J Smith, he is described as ‘rather under the middle size, of firm make and benevolent aspect. …an adorable portrait by Mr Macbeth gives an admirable idea of what he was when an octogenarian.’ (6) James Macbeth was born in Greenock and  spent some time in Glasgow and Edinburgh as a portrait painter. He became a full member of The Royal Scottish Academy in 1880. (7)

James was the son of William Turner, a shoemaker in Glasgow. (8) He appears to have been a very obstinate boy as he refused to go to school. His father resolved to punish him by making him a tobacco boy. James served with several tobacconists before entering the employment of a Mr Hamilton as an errand boy at sixteen pence a week. Mr Hamilton  regularly read to his employees and James decided that he should be able to read and write. Although some of his education would have been from home, he benefited from his employer’s benevolence. Following  a nine years apprenticeship James continued as a Journeyman. In 1798 he set up his own business as a tobacconist and tobacco spinner with a shop at 275 High Street near the University. (9)(10)

Figure 2. Site of tobacco shops at 275 and 104 High Street Glasgow, shop at Gallowgate and Duke Street prison, Street Guide to Glasgow (probably 1920’s) owned by author

On 4 June 1797 James married local girl Jean Hardie (11) and rented their first house using part of his savings of around £100, a larger than average amount for a newly wed at the time.

The business flourished and he moved to premises at The Cross Well, farther down High Street at number 104, and he remained there till 1831 when he retired.(12)(13) The couple had a total of eleven children, only three surviving at the time of James death; George, William and James. In 1813 he was able to afford his own small estate of Thrushgrove on the edge of Glasgow at Garngad, now Royston. (14) The property ran from Castle Street to Garnock Street and the area was later intersected by Turner Street (in memory of James Turner), Villiers Street, Cobden Street and Bright Street, also named after men who shared Turner’s radical views. (15) He lived there till 1838 (Jane died in 1837) when he moved to London Street followed by St Andrew Square and East George Street, and finally to Windsor Terrace. (16)

Figure 3. Approximate site of Thrushgrove Estate, Street Guide to Glasgow (probably 1920’s) showing Turner Street centre of highlighted area

It was in the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars that James Turner came to public notice. There was great discord in the country, high unemployment, and dissatisfaction with living conditions and the lack of representation in local and national government. There was universal outcry for parliamentary reform, and public meetings became a common occurrence. In 1816 both the town council and the owners of land normally used for meetings refused permission for a meeting to demand political reform. It was during this emergency that James Turner came forward and offered the radicals the use of the fields of Thrushgrove, as it lay just outside the jurisdiction of the magistrates of Glasgow. 

 It is believed that upward of 40,000 attended the meeting on 29 October 1816, which lasted from twelve till four pm. It was the largest radical gathering ever seen in Scotland. The City Council was so afraid of trouble that the 42nd regiment was drawn up in arms within the barrack square in Gallowgate in readiness. However order prevailed throughout and physical intervention was not required.

James chaired the meeting and his speech included calls for an overhaul of The House of Commons and voting rights for citizens to elect members of Parliament and representatives of town councils.

A petition of nineteen resolutions was sent to His Royal Highness, The Prince Regent. James Turner was later charged with high treason and was imprisoned in the Bridewell Prison in Duke Street. However he was never brought to trial and was soon released. (17) The Bridewell was rebuilt as Duke Street prison around 1825 and survived till 1955, when it closed and was finally demolished in 1958. (18)

Figure 4. Thomas Sulmans 1864 Bird’s Eye View of Glasgow.      https://universityof glasgowlibrary.wordpress.com/2015/08/01

A contemporary east end poet, Sanny Roger penned the following verse amid the foment going on in the city at the time. He is better known for The Muckin’ o Geordie’s Byre. (19)

        Vile sooty rabble what d’ye mean

        By raisin’ a’ this dreadful din

        Do you no ken what horrid sin

        Ye are committing

        By haudin’ up your crafts sae thin

        For sig a meeting?

When the demand for political reform was renewed in 1830, Turner became a leading member of the Glasgow Political Union, which aimed to unite working class supporters of reform of Parliament. When the Reform Act of 1832 gave the vote only to the middle class, Turner continued to campaign for further reform and for a further extension of the franchise to include all householders. In 1833 a democratic electorate was introduced in politics and Turner was elected to the new town council as a representative of the First Ward. He remained an active member of the council until his defeat in 1847, when he became a Baillie. He continued his interest in reform and was regularly asked to chair political reform meetings, although he did not go as far as The Chartists did, in supporting universal suffrage. He remained convinced of the importance of re-establishing the links between middle class and working class reformers. (20)

James acquired many properties, mainly around High Street, Gallowgate and adjacent to the Thrushgrove Estate. Flats, shops and land were passed on to his three surviving sons on his death. In his Will, probated on 13 July 1858, he describes two shops ‘just under Blackfriars Church and on the east side of High Street’ (Blackfriars Church stood next to Glasgow University which was later demolished to make way for The City of Glasgow Union Railways College Station). 

Just to the north of Thrushgrove was land bordered by the site of Charles Tennant and the Company of St Rollox. (21) Charles Tennant discovered bleaching powder and founded a mighty industrial dynasty and the St Rollox Works soon grew to be the largest chemical plant in the world. (22) Charles Street was named in his memory and had just been formed when Turner made his Will. Some 1433 square yards of land between St Rollox and Thrushgrove is part of Turner’s bequest to his sons. (23)

On 20 May 1858 James died at the ripe old age of 90 at his son’s house in Windsor Terrace, Glasgow (24) and was laid to rest in the Necropolis, adjacent to Glasgow Cathedral. The Glasgow Herald reported in his obituary that ‘in private life he was highly esteemed by all…in personal matters he was uniformly kind and conciliatory.’ (25)



  1. Births 1837 (644/002 0050 0006 Gorbals ), https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/
  2. Marriages 1834 (644/001 0410 0514 Glasgow) https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/
  3. Births 1805 (644/0010200 0249 Glasgow) https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/
  4. Marriages 1797 (644/001 0270 0233 Glasgow) https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/
  5. Births 1768 (644/001 0150 0057 Glasgow) https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/
  6. Smith J, Recollections of James Turner Esq of Thrushgrove 1854, printed at The Examiner office, Glasgow 1854. Collection University of Guelph, Toronto.
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Macbeth
  8. Deaths 1858 (644/07 0340) https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/
  9. Smith J, Recollections of James Turner Esq of Thrushgrove 1854, printed at The Examiner office, Glasgow 1854. Collection University of Guelph, Toronto.
  10. (10) No 275 High Street, Post office Directories 1819
  11. (11) Marriages 1797 (644/001 0270 0233 Glasgow) https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/
  12. (12) Smith J, Recollections of James Turner Esq of Thrushgrove 1854, printed at The Examiner office, Glasgow 1854. Collection University of Guelph, Toronto.
  13. (13) 104 High Street, Post Office Directories 1825
  14. (14) Smith J, Recollections of James Turner Esq of Thrushgrove 1854, printed at The Examiner office, Glasgow 1854. Collection University of Guelph, Toronto.
  15. (15)http://roystonroadproject.org/archive/history/garngad_royston.htm
  16. (16) Smith J, Recollections of James Turner Esq of Thrushgrove 1854, printed at The Examiner office, Glasgow 1854. Collection University of Guelph, Toronto.
  17. (17) Smith J, Recollections of James Turner Esq of Thrushgrove 1854, printed at The Examiner office, Glasgow 1854. Collection University of Guelph, Toronto.
  18. (18)https://universityofglasgowlibrary.wordpress.com/town-plan-of-glasgow-duke-street-prison/
  19. (19)http://roystonroadproject.org/archive/history/garngad_royston.htm 
  20. (20) Smith J, Recollections of James Turner Esq of Thrushgrove 1854, printed at The Examiner office, Glasgow 1854. Collection University of Guelph, Toronto.
  21. (21) Wills and Testaments 1858, Turner, James (SC36/51/38, Glasgow Sheriff Court Wills)
  22. (22)https://gracesguide.co.uk/Charles_Tennant_(1768-1838) 
  23. (23)Wills and Testaments 1858, Turner, James (SC36/51/38, Glasgow Sheriff Court Wills)
  24. (24) Deaths 1858 Turner James (644/7 340 https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/
  25. (25) Glasgow Herald, obituaries twenty second of May 1858

Sir George Thomas Beatson (1848-1933)

In 1933 Sir George Beatson bequeathed  Haul on the Sands painted by Joseph Henderson in 1874, a Glasgow based artist who became known for his marine paintings. Henderson was a frequent exhibitor at the Royal Scottish Academy and at the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts, and was president of the Glasgow Art Club. 

Henderson, Joseph, 1832-1908; Haul on the Sands
Figure 1. Henderson, Joseph; Haul on the Sands; Glasgow Museums; (© CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection)

George Beatson was born in Trincomalee, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1849 to Surgeon-General George Stewart Beatson (1) and Mary Jane Cochrane.(2) George senior was honorary physician to Queen Victoria and served with distinction in Ceylon and India during the Crimean War, subsequently becoming principal Medical officer at Netley Hospital in Hampshire. The impressive hospital buildings were not however well designed for patients welfare and it was Florence Nightingale who subsequently put pressure on the government to improve facilities.(3) Mary Cochrane, whose family came from the Isle of Man,  was the daughter of an officer who was a member of The Ceylon Rifles.(4)

 George junior followed in his fathers footsteps in medicine and his name is now very much associated with cancer treatment in Scotland, particularly in Glasgow.

Figure 2.   Sir George Thomas Beatson           Photograph by T & R Annan and Sons, Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 , Wellcomecollection.org/works/jkp6w8u

George was brought up in Campbeltown, Argyll with his parents and attended school there. He continued his education at King Williams College in Isle of Man, presumably due to his mothers connection to the island. From there he studied at Clare College, Cambridge where he achieved Batchelor of Arts in 1871, and continued his medical studies at the University of Edinburgh, where he qualified as Batchelor of Medicine in 1874.(5) It was during this period that he became interested in the treatment of breast cancer and graduated as Doctor of Medicine in 1878. His final thesis focused on the links between ovulation, lactation and cancer. In 1896 he published a paper on oophorectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the ovaries, in which he proposed a treatment for advanced breast cancer and which became standard practice in cancer treatment.(6) 

While in Edinburgh George became House Surgeon and studied antiseptic principles under Lord Lister, who was Professor of Surgery at the University of Glasgow in 1860, and who is commemorated by a statue in Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow. During Beatsons time as House Surgeon at University of Edinburgh, W E Henley, a patient and poet friend of R L Stevenson, composed some lines to describe George’s character…

Exceeding tall, but built so well his height,

Half disappears in flow of chest and limb,

Frank-faced, frank-eyed, frank-hearted, always bright,

And always punctual-morning, noon and night,…(7)

Perhaps not the finest poem ever composed but it probably describes him well, as he appears to have been a highly respected figure who combined compassion with ambition.

George moved to Glasgow in 1878 and took up general Practice before progressing to surgical appointments in the Western Infirmary.(8) He lived at 2 Royal Crescent, Glasgow (9) till around 1900 when he moved to 7 Woodside Crescent nearby and remained there till his death in 1933. (10)

Figure 3. 2 Royal Crescent, Glasgow. Photograph by author

In 1893 he was appointed to Glasgow Cancer and Skin Institute, renamed Glasgow Cancer Hospital in 1894, was appointed Director and took complete control over its functions. He appears to have had formidable organisational and administrative skills, perhaps influenced by his military background. He encouraged research at the hospital and pioneered radium therapy in Scotland.

 He persuaded Lady Burrell, wife of the shipping magnate who gifted the Burrell Collection to Glasgow, to provide £10,000 to open the Radium Institute at 132 Hill Street, Glasgow.(11) On the establishment of The National Health Service in 1948 the hospital came under the control of the Western Board of Management and in 1953 was renamed The Royal Beatson Memorial Hospital in his memory. (12)

The clinical section was moved to a new centre within the Western Infirmary and was named The Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre. In 2007 the Centre was moved to new state of the art premises within Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow’s West End which has clinical links with 21 hospitals in the west of Scotland. It is the second largest facility of its type in the UK.(13)

Beatson’s pioneering research played an important role in improving cancer treatments and this work continues at The Beatson Institute in Glasgow. In 1967 the Department became The Beatson Institute for Cancer Research and in 1976 moved to new premises at Garscube Estate in Glasgow.(14)

Figure 4. Beatson Institute for Cancer Research, Glasgow. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International, Permission of Vojtech Dostal.

George managed to make time for other interests. At the end of the 19th century there was no ambulance service in Glasgow and he pioneered the forming of the St Andrew’s Ambulance Association. He was also active in the Volunteer Association, forerunner of the Territorial Army. He played a leading role in the Scottish Red Cross Association in Glasgow and a portrait of him remains at their headquarters in Glasgow.(15)

V0026014 Sir George Thomas Beatson. Photograph by Warneuke.
Figure 5. Sir George Thomss Beaton. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Sir George Thomas Beatson. Photograph by Warneuke. Published: – Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

During his long and active career he received many honours and decorations. He was knighted in 1907 and awarded an OBE in 1918 in recognition of his services during World War 1 and in 1919 he became Deputy Lieutenant of City of Glasgow.(16) In 2006 the University of Glasgow commissioned a bronze bust of Sir George by Guyan Porter, a Glasgow based artist, for the Hunterian Museum.

Beatson, George by
Figure 6. Bust of George Beatson by Guyan Porter, Hunterian Museum, Glasgow. Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 4.0 International, permission Stephen C Dickson

Sir George died at his home at 7 Woodside Crescent, Glasgow in his 85th year on 16th February 1933 after a period of ill health.(17) The funeral was held at Park Church and was attended by representatives of many medical organisations including The Red Cross and St Johns Ambulance. His ashes were interred at his mothers grave on the Isle of Man.(18)


References –

  1. https://www.universitystory.gla.ac.uk/biography/?id=WH27292&type=P
  2. Deaths, Beatson George, Thomas K (644/12 0213), http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netley_Hospital
  4. https://www.beatson.scot.nhs.uk/content/default.asp?page=s32
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Beatson
  6. https://www.universitystory.gla.ac.uk/biography/?id=WH27292&type=P
  7. https://www.thebreastonline.com/article/0960-9776(92)90121-H/pdf
  8. https://www.universitystory.gla.ac.uk/biography/?id=WH27292&type=P
  9. Census 1891 Beatson George T (644/09 018/09 012), www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk 
  10. Deaths, Beatson George, Thomas K (644/12 0213), www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk 
  11. https://www.thebreastonline.com/article/0960-9776(92)90121-H/pdf
  12. https://www.beatson.scot.nhs.uk/content/default.asp?page=s32
  13. https://www.nhsggc.org.uk/your-health/health-services/cancer-services/the-beatson-west-of-scotland-cancer-centre/
  14. http://www.beatson.gla.ac.uk/About/history.html https://www.thebreastonline.com/article/0960-9776(92)90121-H/pdf
  15. https://www.thebreastonline.com/article/0960-9776(92)90121-H/pdf
  16. https://www.bmj.com/content/1/2627/1090.3
  17. Deaths, Beatson George, Thomas K (644/12 0213), www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk
  18. https://acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.3322/canjclin.33.2.105

Sir Garnet Douglas Wilson 1885-1975

Garnet Wilson joined the family business of G L Wilson’s department store in Dundee and became a distinguished Lord Provost of that city. He donated a portrait of himself painted by Rodrigo Moynihan to Glasgow in 1950. Moynihan was a British artist who was influenced by the French Impressionists, especially Manet, and moved between figurative and abstract work. (1) The University of Dundee holds another portrait of Wilson by Moynihan. 

Moynihan, Rodrigo, 1910-1990; Sir Garnet Wilson (1885-1975)
Figure 1. Sir Garnet Douglas Wilson by Rodrigo Moynihan. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (http://www.artuk.org)

Garnet was born in Cupar, Fife on 24 March 1885 to Gavin Laurie Wilson, draper, and Jessie McCulloch who came from a farming family in Ayrshire. (2) Wilson’s first name Garnet was chosen after General Lord (Garnet) Wolseley came to the rescue of General Gordon in Khartoum in 1884-85. (3) In 1891 the family was living at 29 Crossgate, Cupar.  Garnet was then aged six and the household consisted of his father Gavin,  younger brother John, sister Jessie, and Gavin’s mother-in-law Janet McCulloch. (4) Garnet’s mother had died in 1888 at the time of Jessie junior’s birth. In 1891 Gavin Wilson married Alison Johnston Russell whose father had moved to New Zealand as a minister.(5)

Garnet was educated at Bell Baxter School in Cupar, then he attended  Newport Public School in Dundee (6) followed by a year at the High School of Dundee, a historic institution which dates its origins back to 1239 and which, reputedly, William Wallace attended. (7)

Figure 2. High School of Dundee. Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported (Ydam-GNU Free Documentation)

Instead of going to university he joined the firm of P F & J Husband, solicitors, where he completed a law apprenticeship. (8) However, family loyalties were to play a role in his career and in 1903 he joined his father’s drapery business, G L Wilson’s at the junction of Murraygate and Commercial Street, popularly known as the ‘Corner’, and one of the most prominent stores in Dundee. Opened in 1894, it’s Christmas Grotto was a popular attraction and traded successfully for many years. Garnet’s brother John joined the business on leaving school but then studied for a BA in Engineering and left for America. On a holiday back home in 1913 he decided to stay and rejoin G L Wilson’s. He became known for his kind-heartedness and remained with the store till his death in 1962. (9)

Dundee The Corner
Figure 3. G L Wilsons, Dundee by permission of Libraries, Leisure and Culture, Dundee

 In 1911 Garnet was living at 20 Kilburn Place with his father Gavin, stepmother Alison, brothers John and Gavin, and sisters Jessie, Alison and Dorothy. (10) Jessie became a favourite pupil of Ann Macbeth who taught at Glasgow School of Art and who was associated with Charles Rennie MacKintosh and The Glasgow Style. Jessie excelled in embroidery and pottery.(11)

 Local politics became a passion, carrying on the family tradition in supporting the Liberal Party, and he became a member of Newport Council from 1919 to 1929. (12) Newport-on-Tay is a small town in Fife just across the River Tay from Dundee and he lived at 6 Albert Crescent in Newport for much of this period. (13)

In 1925 Garnet married Gladys Marjory Johnson of Longton in Staffordshire and they had three children, Guy, Ian and Jennifer. The family then moved from Newport to St Colms, 496 Perth Road, Dundee, a sizeable Victorian house in the western part of the city and near the waterfront. (14) Garnet became a Town Councillor for Dundee in 1929 and played an active role in its Education Authority, and was chairman of the Education Committee from 1930 to 1935. (15)

Figure 4. Original City Chambers, Dundee. Creative Commons CCO 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication, (Zc Beaton, English Wikipedia)

 In 1940 he was appointed Lord Provost of Dundee and re-elected for a second three-year term in 1943. (16) When the second world war was raging and many parts of the UK were suffering high unemployment, the UK government passed the Distribution of Industry Bill to revitalise designated areas, but Dundee was initially not included. Just prior to the passing of the Bill Garnet persuaded the authorities to include part of Dundee in the scheme and he subsequently persuaded the National Cash Register Company (Manufacturing) Ltd, better known as N.C.R, to set up business there. He was also influential in establishing Dundee Airport, and in 1946 visited the French city of Orleans to attend the ceremony of twinning the two cities. In 1944 Garnet was knighted for his services to Dundee. (17)

Garnet continued to contribute to society especially in education and housing. From 1940 to 1949 he was a member of the St Andrews University Court, 1940 to 1949 was the chairman of the Scottish Special Housing Association, and from 1942 to 1951 was the Vice Chairman of the Advisory Council on Education in Scotland. From 1946 to 1952 he was appointed as the President of University College, Dundee. In 1952 Garnet was appointed as the Chairman of the Glenrothes Development Corporation, which was set up to oversee the creation of one of Scotland’s post war ‘new towns’. He retired from this position in 1960. (18)

In 1970 he performed the official opening of Craigie High School in Dundee. Garnet Road, which leads to the school, was named in his honour. (19)

Garnet died on 18 September 1975. (20)




(1)    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodrigo_Moynihan

(2) (births 420/45)1885 https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/

(3) Wilson, Garnet The Making of a Lord Provost. David Winter & Son Ltd, Dundee 1965, p12.

(4) (census 420/3/3)1891, https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/

(5) Wilson, Garnet The Making of a Lord Provost. David Winter & Son Ltd, Dundee 1965, p8.

(6) Wilson, Garnet The Making of a Lord Provost. David Winter & Son Ltd, Dundee 1965, p12.

(7)  https://www.highschoolofdundee.org.uk/about-the-school/history/our-history

(8) Wilson, Garnet The Making of a Lord Provost. David Winter & Son Ltd, Dundee 1965, p13.

(9) Wilson, Garnet The Making of a Lord Provost. David Winter & Son Ltd, Dundee 1965, p10.

10)  (census 431/2/2)1911 https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/

(11) Wilson, Garnet The Making of a Lord Provost. David Winter & Son Ltd, Dundee 1965, p8.

(12) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garnet_Wilson

(13) 1925 Wilson, garnet Douglas (Valuation Rolls VR010100071-/202, Fife county)

(14) Wilson, Garnet The Making of a Lord Provost. David Winter & Son Ltd, Dundee 1965, p14.

(15) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garnet_Wilson

(16) Wilson, Garnet The Making of a Lord Provost. David Winter & Son Ltd, Dundee 1965, p16.

(17) Wilson, Garnet The Making of a Lord Provost. David Winter & Son Ltd, Dundee 1965, p49.

(18) Glasgow museum Resource Centre, Who Was Who vol V11.

(19) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garnet_Wilson

(20) (Deaths 352/650)1975 https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/


Lindsay Grandson MacArthur 1873-1956

In 1946 Lindsay MacArthur’s widow, Beatrice Butts Thomson, donated four paintings to Glasgow. Lindsay was an artist and two of these works were his own, The Golden Quarry and Pastorale, Evening. 

MacArthur, Lindsay Grandison, c.1866-1945; The Golden Quarry
Figure 1. MacArthur, Lindsay Grandison; The Golden Quarry; Glasgow. (© CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection)

Lindsay’s father, also Lindsay Grandison, was born in the village of Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire. (1) His mother Catherine McNicol, known as Kate, who hailed from Dublin was Lindsay’s second wife and was twenty- one years his junior. (2) They married in Liverpool in 1860  and shortly moved to Braehead Villa, Oban in Argyll where Lindsay junior was born on 21 April 1865. (3) This was a period when the rail network was expanding, enabling many people to travel to coastal resorts. Oban was already a busy fishing town and ferry port. In 1866 Lindsay senior built the 80 room Alexandra Hotel, on vacant land which is now known as the Corran Esplanade, a prime site overlooking Oban Bay and competed with The Great Western Hotel for the top end of the market. He ran the hotel with his daughter Jane till his death in 1885. He left debts of £2478 of which £1000 was owed to Thomas Lawrie, art dealers in Glasgow, so perhaps Lindsay junior’s interest in art was inspired by his father. The hotel was then managed by Lindsay Senior’s wife until 1897 when it was put up for sale. (4) Although the family had a house at 3 Hampden Terrace in Glasgow, they resided mainly at the Alexandra in Oban in the 1870s. (5) 

blog Alexandra_Hotel,_Oban
Figure 2. Alexandra Hotel, Oban

Lindsay junior appears to have had an early interest in art, attending Glasgow School of Art from 1881 to 1884. (6) In the 1891 census, when he was 25, he is described as a landscape painter. His brother Robert also studied art but by 1891 had become a surgeon. (7) Interestingly the 1881 census reveals that the artist William Black was staying at the Alexandra Hotel. He was a popular novelist whose landscape painting  influenced his writing style such as in White Wings: A Yachting Romance of 1880. (8) 

Lindsay  travelled south in the 1890s and lived in the picturesque village of Broadway in The Cotswolds and became part of a group of artists known as The Broadway Group which was mainly comprised of expatriate American artists. The most prominent member was John Singer Sergeant who produced some of his best known works there such as Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose which was painted in the garden of Russell House in the village. This was the home of American artist Francis Millet who purchased the nearby Abbot’s Grange, a ruined monastery which he converted into a communal artists studio. 

Sargent, John Singer, 1856-1925; Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose
Figure 3. Sargent, John Singer; Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose 1885-6; Tate; digital image © Tate released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported).

One of Millet’s best known works is Between Two Fires of 1892 which depicts a puritan standing between two rather confident kitchen maids. The puritan figure is modelled on Lindsay MacArthur who is described by a contemporary as ‘a highland landscape artist with a sardonic biting humour, a quick temper and fierce loyalties.’ (9)

Between Two Fires c.1892 by Francis Davis Millet 1846-1912
Figure 4. Francis Davis Millet, Between two Fires, 1892 digital image © Tate released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported)

Another of Millet’s paintings The Black Sheep, in The New Bedford Library, Massachusetts, and of a similar setting to Between Two Fires includes the same character modelled on MacArthur. Millet’s last return to the USA was, unfortunately, in 1912 when he boarded The Titanic and was last seen helping women and children as she sank. The bohemian Broadway Group had a reputation for the high life, with singing and drinking regularly breaking the peace of the village. The writer Edmund Gosse describes…’Nothing we do scandalises the villagers…one of the Americans was chased down the village street, screaming all the time and and trying to escape up lamp-posts and down wells. Not a villager smiled, they only say ‘them Americans is out again’. (10)

While at Broadway MacArthur designed a bookplate (National Galleries Scotland) for Lady Maud Bowes-Lyon, aunt to Her Majesty The Queen Mother. She lived at Orchard farm in the village and frequently hosted concerts in her music room (she was an accomplished violinist) and held regular art exhibitions. (11)

One of MacArthur’s donations Pastorale, Evening may have been painted during his stay in the Cotswolds, and he exhibited thirteen paintings at The Royal Academy between 1893 and 1904. (12)

MacArthur, Lindsay Grandison, c.1866-1945; Pastorale, Evening
Figure 5. MacArthur, Lindsay Grandison; Pastorale, Evening.(© CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection)

The 1901 census places MacArthur at Spencer Street, London and little is known of his whereabouts in the following few years. However, he appears to have spent time travelling as many of his paintings from this period are landscapes and seascapes of Palestine and Ceylon with a few from France. He does not appear to have dated his work.

In 1934 Lindsay married Beatrice Butts Thomson in Chelsea. Beatrice was born in 1873 in Japan to British parents. (13) Her first husband, John Leslie Thomson was a landscape artist from Aberdeen and trained at The Slade in London He was a member of The New English Art Club and requested an invitation to one of Whistler’s famous 10 0’Clock lectures. He died in 1929. (14) They lived at 1 Hornton Street, Kensington. (15)

After their marriage Lindsay and Beatrice lived at 9a St Mary Abbot’s Place, Kensington and over the next few years Lindsay exhibited at Royal Scottish Academy with landscapes of England, Galilee and Ceylon. (16)

Lindsay died in Surrey in 1945 aged 80. (17) In 1946 Beatrice was living at 37 Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh and she gifted paintings to public collections around Scotland with the majority going to Kirkcaldy Galleries. Around half of the donations were painted by Lindsay Grandson MacArthur, with the remainder by her first husband John Leslie Thomson. (18) It would appear that both artists were influenced by the French Impressionists, depicting fleeting moments of time and displayed a remarkably similar style to each other.

Thomson, John Leslie, 1851-1929; Seascape, Anglesey
Figure 6. Thomson, John Leslie; Seascape, Anglesey; (© CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection)

Beatrice moved to Devon, to the market town of Honiton where she died in 1956. (19)



1. (Census, 1881, 677356) http://search.ancestry.co.uk

2. (Census, 1881, 644/9 61/21) https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

3. (Births,Lindsay Grandson MacArthur 523/000023) https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

4.  Fiona Morrison, Bournemouth University Thesis, http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/22514/

5. (Census 1871, 560/00004/00027)  https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

6. Glasgow Schoo; of Art, archives@gsa.ac.uk

7. (Census 1891, 52300002/00001)  https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Black_(novelist)

9. https://www.cotswolds.info/arts-crafts-antiques/broadway-artists.shtml

10. https://www.cotswolds.info/arts-crafts-antiques/broadway-artists.shtml

11. http://www.broadwaymanor.co.uk/blog/page/2/

12. Royal Academy (libraryinformationdesk@royalacademy.org.uk)

13. England and Wales Marriages 1837-2005,  https://search.findmypast.co.ukBMD/M/1934/3/ AZ/000990/030

14. University of Glasgoe, https://www.whistler.arts.gla.ac.uk/correspondence/people/biog/?bid=Thom_JL&firstname=&surname=thomson

15. (Census 1911, 2frg), https://search.findmypast.co.uk

16. Royal Scottish Academy, https://collections@royalscottishacademy.org

17. England and Wales Deaths, https://search.findmypast.co.uk/record?id=bmd1945

18. https://artuk.org

19. England and wales Deaths, https://search.findmypast.co.uk/record?id=bmd2f1945

William Kennedy (1836-1899)

dr blog kennedy
Figure 1. William Kennedy, © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums and Libraries Collection: The Mitchell Library, Special Collections

William Kennedy is best known as a successful businessman and for playing a major role in the fledgling shale oil industry of central Scotland in the mid-nineteenth century. He bequeathed one painting to Glasgow, The Sacrifice of Marcus Curtius by Luigo Garzi, in 1899.

Garzi, Luigi, 1638-1721; The Sacrifice of Marcus Curtius
Figure2. The Sacrifice of Marcus Curtius 1715-20 by Luigi Garzi 1638-1721                                          © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (http://www.artuk.org)

William was born in Biggar, South Lanarkshire in 1836 to William, an innkeeper and Mary Scott.(1) Little is known of his early years but he moved to Glasgow when aged sixteen and joined the firm of P & R Fleming, ironmongers which had branches at 29 Argyle Street and 18 Stockwell Street. He then moved to Henry Field and Son of Buchanan Street.(2)

dr blog kennedy
Figure 3. Henry Field & Son, advert from Post Office Glasgow Directories 1859-60, Mitchell Library

The first gas lighting in Glasgow was introduced in 1805 and by the mid-nineteenth century there was huge demand for gas heating and lighting in homes and Fields was well placed for the fitting of pipes, meters and other equipment. The city’s gas manufacturing and supply industry was placed under municipal control in 1869. While at Fields mineral oil was becoming a popular fuel for lighting and William assisted with its development with enthusiasm. He ensured that the best oil lamps on the market were stocked in the shop and he promoted the sale of lighting oil all over Scotland and the North of Ireland.(3)

William married Margaret Law from Linlithgow in 1860 (4) and they had three girls and a boy (also William). They were living at 39 Devon Street, Glasgow in 1861(5) and lived in Govan and Pollokshields areas for many years, and were residing at a detached villa at 32 Newark Drive in Pollokshields by 1891.(6)

James ‘paraffin’ Young was the pre-eminent ‘Father of the Oil Industry ‘ who succeeded in producing, by distilling cannel coal at a low heat, a fluid which resembled paraffin wax and in 1851 his Bathgate works became the first commercial oil-works in the world.(7) William Kennedy succeeded Young in continuing to develop manufacturing processes for new products and markets.

In 1861 William joined West Calder Oil Company and stayed with them for seven years producing paraffin. He then became actively associated with Oakbank Oil Company, West Lothian and was general manager until 1877. In that year The Broxburn Oil Company was formed for the purpose of acquiring, from Robert Bell,  his rights as lessee of the oil, shales and other minerals of Lord Cardross, at Broxburn in Linlithgowshire. Bell was a pioneer of the shale industry and was the first in Scotland to distil oil from shale.  William was appointed Managing Director of Broxburn Oil Company on its foundation, at a time when fierce competition from USA and Russia made life difficult for many businesses. He remained as its managing Director till his death in 1899. The Broxburn works were the first to challenge the scale of Youngs Addiewell Works and it was equipped to undertake all processes necessary to transform shale into a full range of oil and wax products, including the manufacture of candles. The works site covered an area of 250 acres and employed approximately 1700 workers. The modern equipment enabled the company to stay ahead of the competition for the next ten years. (8)

Figure 4. Broxburn Oil Works, circa 1910. Creative Common Licence. c. Almond Valley Heritage Trust. Creative Commons Licence © Almond Valley Heritage Trust, http://www.scottishshale.co.uk

Prior to 1876 William was appointed  Secretary to the Scottish Mineral Oil Association and was subsequently elected as its President. He was also a director of Niddrie and Benhar Coal Company Limited, the Glenboig Union Fireclay Company Limited and the National Insurance Company of Great Britain. He also entered local politics as a county councillor for Linlithgowshire and was a Justice of the Peace for the same county.(9)

In the 1890s  William moved to 21 Huntly Gardens, a fine townhouse in Glasgow’s west end.(10) In ailing health he died on 20th May 1899 leaving a significant estate of £44,600.(11) In his Will he left the painting The Sacrifice of Marcus Curtius 1715-20 to Glasgow.(12) At the time of his death it was attributed to Nicholas Poussin, an influential French baroque artist. It is now attributed to Luigi Garzi who was influenced by Poussin’s classical style while in Rome. The scene depicts the young Roman who sacrificed himself to the gods of Hades. 

This painting was previously owned by John Bell who, with his brother Matthew, founded J and M P Bell & Co, the largest pottery in Scotland in the mid-nineteenth century and which produced a wide range of high-quality products for the home market and for export. John amassed a huge collection of paintings and objects during his lifetime for North Park House, which he had built adjacent to the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow (later used as the home of the BBC). He died intestate in 1880 and his collection of around 800 paintings was sold at auctions in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London. The sales catalogues list paintings by Titian, Rubens, Caravaggio, Canaletto, Raphael, and many more apparently by world=renowned artists. However, many of his paintings are now thought to be copies, and some fakes, but he did achieve sales of £50,000 in a struggling market.(13) William Kennedy may have purchased The Sacrifice of Marcus Curtius at one of these auctions and it is one of only a few objects to remain in Glasgow from Bell’s collection.



(1) http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk births, 793/000070 0296 Kelso

(2) Dictionary of Scottish Business Biography  “©CSG CIC Glasgow Museums and Libraries Collection: The Mitchell Library, Special Collections”

(3) The Baillie, vol XLV111 No 1237, July 1896, “©CSG CIC Glasgow Museums and Libraries Collection: The Mitchell Library, Special Collections”

(4) http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk, marriages, 644/100175

(5) http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk, census 1861 644/933/8

(6) http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk, census 1891 644/14037/00014

(7) www.engineeringhalloffame.org, Scottish Engineering hall of Fame/James Young

(8) Dictionary of Scottish Business Biography  “©CSG CIC Glasgow Museums and Libraries Collection: The Mitchell Library, Special Collections”

(9) The Baillie, vol XLV111 No 1237, July 1896, “©CSG CIC Glasgow Museums and Libraries Collection: The Mitchell Library, Special Collections”

(10) https://www.glasgowwestaddress.co.uk/Huntly_Gardens/21_Huntly_Gardens.htm

(11) Dictionary of Scottish Business Biography  “©CSG CIC Glasgow Museums and Libraries Collection: The Mitchell Library, Special Collections”

(12) http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk, sc36/51/122 Glasgow Sheriff Court Wills

(13) Mitchell Library, Sales Catalogues John Bell Jan 1881, “©CSG CIC Glasgow Museums and Libraries Collection: The Mitchell Library, Special Collections”

George Sheringham (1884-1937)

Figure 1. George Sheringham 1927 – (c National Portrait Gallery, London under Creative Commons Licence)

George Sheringham was born in London on 13th November 1884. (1) His father was an Anglican clergyman and vicar of Tewksbury Abbey. George was educated at Kings School, Gloucester and studied art at The Slade, London and The Sorbonne in Paris. He was interested in art at from early age and the decorative arts became a lifelong passion. He first exhibited at the Paris Salon and his work was subsequently exhibited in London, Ghent, Brussels, Melbourne and New York. (2) He specialised in flower paintings but he is probably best remembered as a theatre set designer, especially for designs for The D’Oyly Carte Opera Company.

George married Sybil Mengens in 1912. Sybil was born in Calcutta (Kolkata) and was living in Hampshire with her parents at the time of her marriage. (3) When George died in 1937 she gifted the watercolour Faded Roses painted by Charles Rennie MacKintosh to Glasgow. 

Figure 2. Faded Roses, Charles Rennie Mackintosh 1905 (© CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection)

Faded Roses was painted in 1905 and, as the title suggests, represents roses in a state of decay and depicted in a rather sombre colour scheme. It was painted at a time when MacKintosh had little work and may reflect his mood at that period. Mackintosh is well known for his architecture and interior design but when he moved to Walberswick, Surrey in 1914 he produced a series of watercolours depicting stylised flowers. In 1915 he moved to Chelsea, a fashionable, artistic district of London and socialised with many artists and designers, including George Sheringham and his wife Sybil, who was now a successful artist in her own right. (4) It was in 1923 that MacKintosh gifted Faded Roses to Sybil prior to leaving for France

There is a pencil sketch of George Sheringhame, drawn by Powys Evans in 1921, in The National Portrait Gallery in London,. Evans was a caricaturist who made numerous sketches of Sheringham.

In 1925 George was awarded the Paris Grand Prix, both for architectural decoration and for theatre design.(5) He also illustrated books including The Happy Hypocrite by Max Beerbolm.

Figure3. Drury Lane Theatre 1800, design for decorative panel, Claridges Hotel – permission of British Museum under Creative Commons attribution.

As a decorator he designed the music room at 40 Devonshire House, London and the ballroom at Claridges Hotel. He also completed a striking series of large paintings for the 8th Lord Howard de Walden (Baron Seaford), entitled The Cauldron of Anwyn, to illustrate his Celtic poem, probably for Seaford House in Belgravia. The house was being remodelled and included a fine onyx staircase from South American marble and it is said that to ensure the finest quality possible he purchased the quarry.(6)

Figure 4. Baptism of Dylan, Son of the Wave from The cauldron of Anwyn (c.1902)   http://www.johncoulthart.com

Sheringham became an authority on Chinese art and much of his work shows this influence. He designed fans,  which illustrate his thoughts on the fundamental differences between Western and Far Eastern art. In an article in The Studio magazine of January 1936 he describes how he thinks Western art is limiting in its scientific approach ‘science has put a fence around art ‘(the frame), whereas Eastern art, especially from China, expresses ideas in limitless detail (scroll paintings only finish when the meaning is complete). He explains…’Meaning being the very essence, the beginning, end and centre of all the greater Eastern Works of Art’. He criticises James McNeill Whistler’s paintings which combined eastern and western influences…’Whistler may be said to have missed the main underlying tradition of Eastern Art, for he snatches at Japanese fundamental insistence on perfection of arrangement; and discarded meaning’.(7)

Sheringham was particularly interested in flower painting influenced by a Chinese style. In The Studio he wrote an article entitled The Flower Sculptures of China which refers to work in jade (usually in the most sought after white colour) and which both George and Sybil collected. An image in the magazine of a rose-coloured peony is described as ‘capturing the essence of the flower, not just copying it’ and was part of Sybil’s collection. The illustrated watercolour by George  is included in The Studio article is entitled simply Flower Painting and was commissioned, among other artists, to hang in the newly launched Queen Mary.(8)

DR The Studio Jan 1936 P143
Figure 5. The Studio Magazine, January 1936, p.143“©CSG CIC Glasgow Museums and Libraries Collection: The Mitchell Library, Special Collections”

Sheringham also designed woodblock prints and received lessons from Ernest A Taylor, one of the Glasgow Boys painters who was living in Hampstead at the time and who was closely connected to Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style. . Although Sheringham may never have visited Glasgow he was much influenced by these artists with a Glasgow connection.

Another influence in Sheringham’s life was music which inspired much of his life, and his work for D’oyly Carte Opera Company would have combined his love of art and music together.  Mention has already been made of Whistler who was also influenced by music and many of his paintings were entitled ‘arrangements’ or ‘harmonies’. 

Sheringham’s fluid rhythmic style of painting was influenced by the rhythm of life, in the way plants grew and seasons changed, and in later life this aspect became more important. Indeed his last completed painting was titled ‘Jungle Rythm’. James Duncan Fergusson, one of the ‘Scottish Colourists’, had a similar interest and they knew each other when Fergusson was living in London. Fergusson produced a magazine called ‘Rythm’ while he was in Paris.

In 1936 The Royal Society of Arts established the Royal Designers for Industry Award and Sheringham was one of the first artists to receive the accolade in 1937.

George Sheringham died at his Hampstead home on 11th November 1937 and in the following year Sybil presented Faded Rose to Glasgow. Sybil passed away on 8th August 1942 at Golders Green London.



(1) www.ancestry.co.uk, births

(2) Obituaries, The Times, 12th November 1937

(3) The Modernist Journals Project (Brown University and The University of Tulsa)

(4) Glasgow Museums, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Kaplan Wendy 1996, p305

(5) Obituaries, The Times, 12th November 1937

(6) www.johncoulthart.com/feuilleton/2007/08/the-art-of-george-sheringhame

(7) The Studio, January 1936, p5

(8) The Studio, January 1936, p8

James Lindsay (1857-1914)

James Lindsay was an architect whose work consisted mainly of large commercial buildings in his home city of Glasgow. Although he rarely won major commissions, he regularly just missed out on the top awards. 

He bequeathed the painting Head of Holy Loch by George Henry to Glasgow. Henry was one of the most influential of the ‘Glasgow Boys’ artists based in or associated with Glasgow. The painting is dated 1882 and was sold at an exhibition of The Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Art in that year for £25 and it is possible that the purchaser was James Lindsay.

Henry, George, 1858-1943; Head of the Holy Loch
Head of the Holy Loch by George Henry 1882 (© CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection)

James was born on 10th May 1857 to William Lindsay, victualler and Mary Duncan (1) . He attended St James Parish School and Glasgow High School. He was articled to the firm of Peat and Duncan, Glasgow for five years followed by three years as a draughtsman during which time he studied at Glasgow School of Art, and in 1876 he won the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Silver Medal. In 1880 he set up on his own at 196 St Vincent Street (where he also lived).  At around this time James had become friends with James Sellars, one of Glasgow’s leading architects with many fine examples of his work surviving, and who won the competition to design The International Exhibition of 1888 in Kelvingrove Park (2).

In 1881 James was admitted as an Associate of RIBA, having been proposed by John Honeyman (whose partnership was later to include John Keppie and Charles Rennie Mackintosh), James Audley, and John Burnet. He was living at 8 Morris Place by then (3), situated to the east end of the city centre.

James married Jessie Millar Black in 1883. Jessie lived at 48 Caledonia Street, Paisley and was the daughter of Robert, a local spirit merchant (4). They had six children, three boys and three girls, and by 1891 the family was living at 48 Garnethill Street (5).  James had business premises at 167 St Vincent Street in 1884 and moved to 248 West George Street around 1886 and remained there till his death in 1914 (6). James junior followed in his father’s footsteps as an architect and carried on the business at the same premises after his father’s death. James junior is probably best known for Walter Hubbard’s bakery, 508-510 Great Western Road, Glasgow, an art deco design which is currently a nightclub (7).

508-510 Great Western Road, Glasgow – James Lindsay junior.    (image by author)

Among James’ many architectural commissions were several schools including Wellshot Secondary at Tollcross, Glasgow which became a primary school in 1970.

Unusual commissions were for the Glasgow Sausage Works at 240 North Woodside Road in 1895 and The City Manure Office in Parliamentary Road, Townhead (horse manure on city streets had become a major health problem in cities around the world). Possil Iron Works in 1889, Kames Free Church on the Isle of Bute of 1898 and the City of Glasgow Dyeworks of 1902 are further examples of his numerous commissions (8) 

On a more ambitious scale he entered competitions for major city projects. In 1884 he submitted plans for the New Admiralty and War Office, Whitehall, London and although awarded a £600 ‘premium’ did not secure the job. In 1889 he reached second place to design Sheffield Municipal Buildings and won a £100 ‘premium’. In 1905 his design for Hutchesontown Library in Glasgow was not taken up, and in the same year he submitted a competition design for Kirkintilloch Town Hall which made second place (9).

In 1880 James submitted an entry for the new City Chambers in Glasgow. This was described at the time as a ‘mannerist Hotel de Ville with a roman temple front, huge angle mansards and a Greco-Roman tower which bears a striking, and more refined and satisfying, resemblance to that of William Young’s winning design’ (10).

Plan for Glasgow Municipal Buildings by James Lindsay 1880                                                                (c Glasgow City Archives, Mitchell Library ref. DTC 6/3)

He also entered the competition to design plans for the new Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum in 1891, won by the London firm of Simpson and Allen. Entries were received from many established architects, and some from ambitious youngsters including Charles Rennie Mackintosh (11).

Occasionally he designed private houses, one such being Ardenwohr at 233 Nithsdale Road, Pollockshields, Glasgow. It has been described  as ‘looking remotely Jacobean with a repulsive red rock-faced finish’ (12), perhaps a little unfair as it would probably be described now as a rather handsome Victorian villa.

The Lindsays moved to 11 Moray Place in 1896 (13). This fine terrace sits alongside 1-10 Moray Place which was designed by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson, one of Glasgow’s most renowned architects. Thomson himself lived at number 1 from 1861 and the terrace incorporated some typical classical features e.g. the giant order of pilasters arranged along the frontage (14). The terrace which includes number 11 was added later and although sympathetic to Thomson’s work, was more eclectic in style.

No 10 Moray Place, Glasgow by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson 1859-60 (image by author)
No. 11 Moray Place, Glasgow             (image by author)

Jessie Lindsay died in 1898 (15) and James continued to live at Moray Place till his own death in 1914 (16). At that time he was working on a successful commission to design The Netherton Institute (public baths and library) in Dunfermline, which was completed after his death (17). Although recognised as a talented architect who often came second best, it is ironic that success really came at the end of his life.



(1) 1857 births 644/1 857) – https://scotlandspeople.gov.uk

(2) Royal Institute of British Architects, 66 Portland Place, London – Biographical Details 8/4/2009

(3) ibid. 8/4/2009

(4) (1883 marriages 573/445) –https://scotlandspeople.gov.uk

(5) (census 1891 644/96/35) –https://scotlandspeople.gov.uk

(6) Post Office Directories, Mitchell Library, Glasgow

(7) Dictionary of Scottish Architects – www.scottisharchitects.org.uk, Lindsay james (junior)

(8) Royal Institute of British Architects, 66 Portland Place, London – Biographical Details 8/4/2009

(9) ibid. 8/4/2009

(10) www.glasgowsculpture.com, architects, Lindsay

(11) Royal Institute of British Architects, 66 Portland Place, London – Biographical Details 8/4/2009

(12) Williamson, Elizabeth, Glasgow. Penguin for National Trust for Scotland. 1990. (The Buildings of Glasgow Series)

(13) Post Office Directories, Mitchell Library

(14) Dictionary of Scottish Architects – www.scottisharchitects.org.uk, Thomson Alexander

(15) (1898 Deaths 644/14 489)) –https://scotlandspeople.gov.uk

(16) (1914 Deaths 644/18 276) –https://scotlandspeople.gov.uk

(17) Royal Institute of British Architects, 66 Portland Place, London – Biographical Details 8/4/2009

John Alexander Stewart (1877-1962)

John Stewart became a partner in a grain merchants business and had lifelong interests in family history, boating and photography, but it is Lochranza on the island of Arran which provides a common thread which brings together all of these topics. In 1928 John gifted a painting to Glasgow Loch Ranza by Andrew Black to Glasgow, who often depicted west of Scotland coastal scenes incorporating fishing and leisure boats.

Black, Andrew, 1850-1916; Lochranza
Loch Ranza by Andrew Black (© CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection)
John A Stewart by permission of The Stewart Society

John Stewart was born at 15 Willowbank Street, Glasgow on 23rd March 1877 to Alexander Stewart, a seaman first mate, and Euphemia Hamilton Allen, a dressmaker (1). They married in 1875 at a time when Alexander senior was second mate aboard SS County of Sutherland, following his fathers’ maritime occupation as a ships carpenter (2). John lived with his mother and her sister, Margaret together with his grandmother Jane Allen. According to the census of 1881 his mother had been widowed by that date.

John and his mother went to live with his uncle, William McHarg and aunt Margaret at Hillbank Cottage in Milngavie (3). William was a grain merchant with a large store at 104-112 Cheapside Street, Glasgow. Around 1890 John was employed as a clerk in the business and in the early 1900s became a partner in the business when the name changed to McHarg and Stewart, by then described as grain merchant and general storekeepers (4).

Interestingly the Cheapside Street building was designed by architects Honeyman and Keppie in 1892, who employed the young Charles Rennie Mackintosh as a draughtsman from 1889. Mackintosh submitted some drawings for the premises but it is not known if any of his work was included in the plans for the building. The design was influenced by northern Italian palazzi, with massive arches and pilasters. The northern third was designed for William McHarg and remained in the McHarg family till the 1950s when Samuel McHarg and Company were the owners. It was then used as a bonded warehouse storing large quantities of whisky and other spirits (5).

Stewart cheapside
McHarg & Stewart Grain Stores, Cheapside Street by permission of University of Glasgow Library, Special Collections.

On 28th March 1960 a devastating explosion destroyed the building, the resulting fire killing fourteen members of the Glasgow Fire Brigade and five members of the Glasgow Salvage Corps. The date is commemorated in Glasgow each year.

In 1901 John was living with the McHarg family at 294 St Vincent Street, moving to 9 Clifton Street, Kelvingrove by 1909 (6).

John never married, and throughout his life maintained an interest in boats. In his early years he would accompany his mother to Arran, often in a small rowing boat. They especially loved Lochranza. Photography became a passion for John and he published a series of his work, mainly of west of Scotland scenes. One of these is titled ‘Fair Lochranza in the Isle of Arran’ which is dedicated ‘to my mother and happy memories of Loch Ranza in Victorian Days’,  and includes images of boats and hills around  the castle of Lochranza (7).

stewart lochranza 1
Fair Loch Ranza 1949, Geo Stewart & Co, Edinburgh – by permission of The Stewart Society
stewart lochranza
Photograph from Fair Loch Ranza by John A Stewart – by permission of The Stewart Society

Another is titled ‘Rosneath and Clynder Views’ which is introduced by Admiral Sir Angus Cunninghame Graham in 1958. The Cunninghame Grahams of Ardoch appear to have been family friends. He writes ’…the pleasing photographs reveal something of the generation which was concerned with the greatness of Glasgow and the Clyde.’(8) 

When John retired, about 1940, he moved to a large house, ‘Bonaly’ in the village of Clynder on the Clyde and quickly became a well known member of the yachting fraternity and contributed articles on yacht design in Yachting Monthly, leading to speed improvements in racing yachts (9). His greatest passion however was family history. Again Lochranza is the starting point. In 1262 the castle belonged  to Walter Stewart, third Steward of Scotland, gifted by the Earl of Menteith.

Walter and his wife were interred on the island of Inchmahome on Lake of Menteith and are represented by possibly the finest 14th century effigies in Scotland (10). Also interred on the island is Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham (1852-1936) who made his name in politics (he was the first president of the Scottish National Party), and spent time in Argentina as a rancher with the local gauchos.

 John’s interest in the Stewart family led to him co-founding the Stewart Society in 1899 and he was an active member for nearly sixty years. He became known as John A Stewart of Inchmahome and is referred to as such in many of his publications. The Stewart connection with Inchmahome led to him purchasing the island in 1926, subsequently gifting it to The Stewart Society in 1948, and it is now administered by Historic Scotland on their behalf (10).

John also had an interest in heraldry and published ‘The Story of the Scottish Flag’ in 1925.  

On his death John wished to be buried on the island and arranged for a small mausoleum to be built. He died on 28th February1962 and his funeral was held at Port of Monteith Church. Thereafter the funeral party crossed the icy lake to lay John to rest in his mausoleum (11).

Inchmahome Stewart mausaleum
Mausoleum on Island of Inchmahome, by permission of The Stewart Society




  1. Births, 644/090607 Kelvin,  https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/

(2) Marriages, 644/090300, https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/

(3) Census, 1891 1891500/00013/00005, https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/

(4) www.glasgowwestaddresses.co.uk

(5) www.mackintosh-architecture.gla.ac.uk/catalogue/browse/display/?rs=68&xml=des

(6) Census, Barony, Glasgow 1901, 644/09041/09007, https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/

(7) Fair Loch Ranza 1949, printed by G Stewart & Co, 92 George Street , Edinburgh 

(in author’s possession)

(8) Rosneath and Clynder Views, printed by G Stewart & Co, 92 George Street, Edinburgh- Helensburgh Library

(9) www.clyde1924.plus.com/clyde19-24/index.shtml

(10) www.stewartsociety.org, history of the Stewarts, castles and buildings.

(11) Helensburgh and Gareloch Times, 7th March 1962 p2 col 4.

James Henry Roger (1839-1913)

James Henry Roger is best known as a successful wine merchant, whose enthusiasm for amateur rowing led to the formation of Clydesdale Amateur Rowing Club. He donated a very large painting in 1899 ‘Glasgow Green with the proposed Straitening of the Clyde’ by William Glover.

Glasgow Green with the proposed Straightening of the Clyde by William Glover (© CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection)

James was born in 1839 in Kirkintilloch to the north of Glasgow to John, a clothier who had a business in Buchanan Street, Glasgow and Marion (nee McLaren), also from Kirkintilloch (1). The family moved to Glasgow when he was six he lived in 37 North Frederick Street in 1851 with his brother John and sister Agnes (2). James showed a keen interest in rowing from an early age and in 1857 became secretary to the newly formed Clydesdale Rowing Club which was based on the river Clyde at Glasgow Green (3). In the early days members would relax after racing by kicking a ball around the Green, and it was this activity which developed into the formation of Rangers Football Club in 1873 (4). A mural at Ibrox Stadium commemorates the origins of Rangers with Clydesdale rowers at Glasgow Green.

Roger Clyde 1
James Henry Roger – The Baillie, Mitchell Library, Glasgow

In 1859 Queen Victoria visited Glasgow to open the Loch Katrine waterworks in the Trossachs. James took part as a volunteer guard at the event, which was accompanied by constant heavy rain. He may already have been involved in the drinks industry as he is said to have organised the installation of  containers for whisky in the gun cartridge cases, no doubt to warm up the cold wet volunteers (5).

In 1863 James married Margaret McLeod, a Glasgow girl and they had three children, John, James and Margaret (6). Margaret died in 1870 at Rutland Place in Govan (7). James is described as a clothier at this time and may have worked at his father’s business.

James remarried in 1880 to Kate Stirling at her hometown of Comrie, Perthshire (8). They had two children, Kate and Bertie and according to the 1891 census they were all living at 23 Radnor Street, Glasgow. 

In the 1870s the Bodega Spanish Wine Cellar in Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow was in decline and in 1879 James took over the business and turned it around. Business boomed and he opened further branches in Glasgow and then in Edinburgh, Greenock and Dundee which were stocked  from bonded warehouses in Glasgow where special whiskies were blended, and wines and ports stored (9).

The Bodega in Royal Exchange Square later changed its name to ‘Rogano’, a name familiar to many Glaswegians as a fine restaurant with (later) art deco styling. The name is said to come from the first half of Roger’s surname, and ‘ano’ from ‘another’ which refers to a Mr McCulloch, a silent partner in the business. 

The Glasgow International Exhibition of 1888 in Kelvingrove park, which promoted industry, science and art to the world as the second city of the empire, provided an opportunity for many local businesses to promote their wares. The Bodega opened a temporary branch in the park despite the protestations of an active temperance movement in the city. Contemporary accounts reveal the popularity of the venue which employed 175 and had had difficulty in coping with the queues (10).

Roger - Bodega 1888
Glasgow International Exhibition 1888 – The Bodega. ‘by permission of University of Glasgow Library, Special Collections’

The painting ‘Glasgow Green with the proposed Straitening of the Clyde’ has great significance for James Roger’s interest in rowing. In the late nineteenth century the Clyde at Glasgow Green was used by several rowing clubs. Weirs had been constructed to control tidal waters in the city centre and the level waters were ideal for rowing. However, in 1899, the weir had been removed and James, being an ambassador for rowing, proposed the straitening of the river to enhance rowing facilities. The painting was commissioned to illustrate the proposed plans which Glasgow Corporation would hopefully carry out. However the plan did not materialise and when James died in 1913 at his home Venard in Pollokshields, he incorporated a clause in his Will stating that if the improvements were carried out within five years of his death the residue of his estate would contribute towards the funding, failing which the funds would be used for youth facilities in Kirkintilloch, his town of birth. 

In 1905 a new boathouse was constructed on the north side of the Clyde to replace the southside building. This was shared with another club. James provided funding and this was conditional on Clydesdale Rowing Club having choice of the preferred eastern part, otherwise the offer would be withdrawn. The building is still used by two rowing clubs and is currently being upgraded, and is included in the Glasgow annual Open Doors event.

roger boathouse
West Boat House, Glasgow Green. Creative Commons Licence – Thomas Nugent

William Glover completed the painting in 1898 or 1899. Although it could be described as a sketch, it provides a snapshot of Glasgow Green at the close of the nineteenth century and includes the newly opened Peoples Palace. Glover made his name as a theatre manager and scene painter and was an accomplished artist. An image of the painting is currently on view at the Peoples Palace.


  1. (deaths 644/180242) https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/
  2. (census 1851 644/01109/00012) https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/
  3. The Baillie, Men You Know, No 826  15/8/1888 – Mitchell Library
  4. Clydesdale Amateur Rowing Club, http://ww.clydesdalearc.org.uk/
  5. The Baillie, Men You Know, No 826  15/8/1888 – Mitchell Library
  6. (1863 marriages 484/3) https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/
  7. (1870 deaths 646/159) https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/
  8. (1880 marriages 341/000008) https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/
  9. The Baillie, Men You Know, No 826  15/8/1888 – Mitchell Library
  10. Perilla Kinchin and Juliet Kinchin, Glasgow’s great Exhibitions, p 46, ISBN 0-9513124-0-5


Sir John Muir of Deanston 1828-1903

In 1888 John Muir donated to Glasgow ‘Two Strings to Her Bow’, painted by John Pettie in 1887 and which currently is on display at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. 1888 was the year of the Glasgow International Exhibition which emulated the great Exhibition of 1851 in London to promote industry, art and commerce (1) in the context of the British Empire. The £46,000 profits of the exhibition contributed to the funding of the present building which opened in 1901. Muir purchased the painting from the lucky winner of a raffle for the Exhibition Art Union, and presented it to highlight ‘…its most prominent deficiency in the department of ‘modern art’’ (2)

The painting ‘Two Strings to her Bow’ is typical of John Pettie’s style, depicting a beautiful young lady between two competing suitors. This painting has become a popular image in the advertising world for example being presented as the front cover of Georgette Heyer’s novel False Colours, a cigarette pack for soldiers during World War 11, and even on the label of a Polish lemon flavoured vodka.

Pettie, John, 1839-1893; Two Strings to Her Bow
Pettie, John; Two Strings to Her Bow. © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection
Henderson, Joseph, 1832-1908; Sir John Muir (1828-1903), Lord Provost of Glasgow (1889-1892)
Sir John Muir, Lord Provost of Glasgow (1889-1892) © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection

John was born on 26th December 1828 in Hutchesontown, Glasgow to James Muir (3), senior partner of Glasgow merchants Webster Steel & Company which had branches in Chile, South Africa and London (4). His mother was Elizabeth Brown (5), a descendent of James Finlay who founded the textile business of James Finlay and Company in Glasgow. He was educated at Glasgow High School and Glasgow University. In 1849 he joined James Finlay & Company, which had expanded to include mills at Catrine in Ayrshire in 1801, and Deanston in Stirlingshire in 1808 (the latter is now a whisky distillery). The original James Finlay founded the business in 1750 and in 1792 his son Kirkman Finlay took over as senior managing partner, the core activity being textile manufacture but later their trading activities became more important. The firm purchased competitors Wilson, Kay and Company and in 1854 opened premises in West Nile Street, Glasgow (6).

In 1860 John married Margaret Kay (7), eldest daughter of Alexander Kay, then a senior partner of Finlays, and raised four sons and six daughters, all of whom were born at their townhouse at 6 Park Gardens, Glasgow.
In 1861 John was appointed as a junior partner of James Finlay & Company, along with his cousin Hugh Brown Muir and Robert Barclay, a partner in Robert Barclay & Sons, Manchester. The business had become stagnant under the management of the Finlay family and John was brought in to revitalise it. The American Civil War, which had started in that year, affected cotton supplies and Hugh Muir visited India in search of alternative quality sources, resulting in offices being opened in Bombay (Mumbai) and Calcutta (Kolkata). There were close links with Samuel Smith MP, a leading cotton broker in Liverpool and also related to the Finlay family (8).

Over the following years the two cousins increased their personal shareholding and broadened the scope of the mainly cotton based business to include insurance, shipbuilding and tea. However, tensions built up between John and Hugh and things came to a head after Hugh had dismissed a senior employee for playing chess on the sabbath (John was a member of the Free Church of Scotland). Hugh departed from the company in 1873 to form a successful business in London, and John eventually took sole control by 1883. In that year Archibald Buchan, the last of the old Finlay family, tried but failed to obtain a legal injunction to prevent Muir trading under the name of James Finlay and Company (9).

Around the time when Hugh left the business John was increasingly interested in the growing market for tea, and purchased estates in Darjeeling, Assam and Travancore in India, under the name Finlay, Muir & Company. Trade was aided by the shipbuilding connection and Muir invested in the Clan Line in Glasgow. Thomas Cayzer had been introduced to Alexander Stephen of Linthouse, a shipbuilder, and John Muir as financier. The three men, although they never learned to trust each other, entered an agreement to build two ships which became the nucleus of the Clan Line, cargo carriers with some passenger capacity. The ships were based in Calcutta (Kolkata) but Muir forced a move to Chittagong  by offering huge cargoes of tea and jute (10). Contemporary opinion held that Muir was ‘the greatest bully in the trade, and the worst tempered man in Scotland’. He encouraged remaining partners in James Finlay and Company to retire in order to take overall control, earning himself in Glasgow business circles the nickname ‘cuckoo’ (11).

 In 1873 John moved into the infant tea industry in India and Ceylon, buying up quality plantations, and keeping close supervision through the Calcutta office which included weekly reports, a management pattern that was later adopted throughout the industry. Two of John’s sons were involved in the Indian enterprise but John was not good at delegating. In 1898 he wrote to them ‘My advice to you both is to fall in cordially with my views and policy, even when you do not quite understand them’(12). At that time the UK tea business was channelled through London, but Muir set up various businesses to bypass London to reach new outlets in America, Canada and Russia. He invested heavily in capital developments including railway and hydro-electric schemes and telephone systems. However he was seen as a harsh employer, both to his Indian labour force and his British, mainly Scottish planters and ‘jute-wallahs’. A planter received a larger allowance for his essential horse than for a wife (13). By the 1890s Muir was the world’s major stakeholder in the growing and marketing of tea, employing some 70,000 workers on the Indian subcontinent (14).
John and Margaret had moved in 1873 to Deanston House which had been owned by John Finlay, the last of Kirkman Finlay’s sons, the house being rebuilt. In 1883 an extension was added by Glasgow architect J J Burnett in the Italianate style (15). Margaret took a great interest in the welfare of the mill workers and was a popular local figure. A memorial clock tower was erected in the village after her death in 1929 (16).

Muir Deanston House
Deanston House (as a hotel, probably 1950’s) -from a postcard in authors possession

With his Indian empire secured John turned to civic affairs. He was elected a baillie of Glasgow town council in 1886 and as Lord provost in 1889-92, and received a baronetcy in 1893. He became a Liberal-Unionist in 1886 and was active in Glasgow and Perthshire, a JP in Lanarkshire as well as Deputy Lieutenant of the counties of Ayrshire and Lanark. During his term as Lord Provost he presided over the extension of Glasgow City boundaries, adding 10,000 to the population, extended electricity and gas works, and oversaw the building of St Andrew’s Halls. The 1888 Glasgow International Exhibition provided a focus for philanthropic work when he donated £15,000 and was Convenor of the Indian and Ceylon section. He was also appointed chairman of the association entrusted with the duty of erecting the building (17).

Sir John Muir suffered two strokes, one in 1901 in Glasgow and another at Deanston House where he died on 6th August 1903 (18). He left an estate of £862,802 but with much of his wealth invested as capital in James Finlay and Company and various offshoots, it is thought that his true worth was considerably greater (19). The Finlay business continues today, its core business continuing in growing and processing tea products in India and Africa, with its headquarters moving from Glasgow to London a few years ago.
Alexander Kay Muir (1868-1951), John’s eldest son became second baronet, and continued to manage James Finlay and Company after his fathers death, modernising and converting the haphazard collection of companies into a private company, owned by members of the extended Muir family. Just before he retired in 1926 he sent planters from Southern India and Ceylon to open the first large scale tea plantations in Kenya, and the name continues there producing tea products. He lived at his Blair Drummond estate with his second wife, Nadejda Constanza Irenea Garilla Euphrosyne, eldest daughter of Dmitry Stancioff, former premier of Bulgaria, which appears to have been a very happy marriage and they enjoyed the regular company of King Boris of Bulgaria. Sir Alexander Kay died in 1951 and his wife in 1957, and the baronetcy devolved on his nephew John Harling Muir, the son of his late brother James Finlay Muir (20).

Lavery, John, 1856-1941; John Muir of Deanston (1828-1903), 1st Bt, Lord Provost of Glasgow (1889-1892)
John Muir of Deanston by John Lavery © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection


Lavery, John, 1856-1941; State Visit of Her Majesty, Queen Victoria to the Glasgow International Exhibition, 1888
State Visit of her Majesty, Queen Victoria to the Glasgow International Exhibition 1888 ©CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection

Glasgow Museums also hold a sketch portrait of John Muir, often referred to as John Muir of Deanston . The sketch was painted by John Lavery, a leading ‘Glasgow Boy’ artist, as one of many individual portraits incorporated into his ‘State Visit of Queen Victoria to the Glasgow International Exhibition 1888’. Muir became Lord provost the following year in succession to Sir John King who is portrayed in the purple robes.


(1) Perilla Kinchin and Juliet Kinchin, Glasgow’s great Exhibitions, ISBN 0-9513124-0-5

(2) Glasgow City Council Minutes, Mitchell Library

(3) births, 644/02 0040 0187 Gorbals, https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

(4) Webster Steel & Co, piece goods manufacturers, https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/data/gb248-ugd091/26

(5) births, 644/02 0040 0187 Gorbals, https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

(6) Oxford Dictionary of national Biography, http://wwwoxforddnb.com/articles/52/52088

(7) marriages, 646/02 0083, https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

(8) Ancestors of David Robarts-Sir John Muir, http://www.stepneyrobarts.co.uk/406htm

(9) Oxford Dictionary of national Biography, http://wwwoxforddnb.com/articles/52/52088

(10) Oxford Dictionary of national Biography, http://wwwoxforddnb.com/articles/52/52088

(11) Ancestors of David Robarts-Sir John Muir, http://www.stepneyrobarts.co.uk/406htm

(12) Ancestors of David Robarts-Sir John Muir, http://www.stepneyrobarts.co.uk/406htm

(13) Oxford Dictionary of national Biography, http://wwwoxforddnb.com/articles/52/52088

(14) Gowans and Gray, The Lord provosts of Glasgow 1833-1902, Mitchell library

(15) John J Burnett, architect, http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=100033

(16) https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/doune/deanston/index.html

(17) Ancestors of David Robarts-Sir John Muir, http://www.stepneyrobarts.co.uk/406htm

(18) death, 362/00 0034, https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

(19) Ancestors of David Robarts-Sir John Muir, http://www.stepneyrobarts.co.uk/406htm

(20) Oxford Dictionary of national Biography, http://wwwoxforddnb.com/articles/52/52088