On 11th October 1948 the following 3 paintings were presented to Kelvingrove Galleries from Mrs Anna Walker’s Trust, per Messrs. Inglis Glen and Co., 223 West George St., Glasgow, C2:
On 11October 1948 the following three paintings were presented to the Kelvingrove Galleries from Mrs Anna Walker’s Trust, per Messrs. Inglis Glen and Co., 223 West George Street, Glasgow, C2:
A Bunch of Flowers, an oil painting by Victor Vincelet (1840-1871).
Peonies, a watercolour by Andrew Allan (1905-1982).
Cathedral Interior, a watercolour by James Holland (1799-1870).
When a female donor makes a donation using only her married name and with no other details, it is difficult to find out much information about her. Our donor is a prime example of this. Apart from her name and the pictures that she donated to the Gallery, there is no other information. However, what was obvious about her was her enthusiasm for flowers which is very clear from the above two paintings that were presented to Kelvingrove Gallery (See 1 and 2).
As the search started, it was clear that it would be expedient to write something about the historical background. This was the mid- Industrial Revolution age which saw tremendous social changes as well as certain scientific awareness and discoveries which affected everybody in this country as well the whole world.
The Industrial Revolution took hold in Glasgow at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Linen was Scotland’s premier industry in the eighteenth century but at the beginning of the nineteenth century the manufacture of cotton and textiles increased rapidly. Immigrants from the Highlands in the 1820s and from Ireland in the 1840s formed the workforce. The city then diversified into heavy industries like shipbuilding, locomotive construction and other heavy engineering that could thrive on nearby supplies of coal and iron ore. Between 1870 and 1914, Glasgow ranked as one of the richest and finest cities in Europe. 
As all this industrialisation was going on, it was clear that certain breathing spaces of the City must be built in the form of parks and botanic gardens as the lungs of the City. Thomas Hopkirk, a distinguished Glasgow botanist, had founded the Botanic Gardens in 1817 with the support of a number of local dignitaries and the University of Glasgow.  The Gardens were originally laid out on an 8-acre site at Sandyford at the western end of Sauchiehall Street (at that time on the edge of the city). The Royal Botanical Institution of Glasgow owned and ran the Gardens. They agreed to provide the University of Glasgow with teaching aids, including a supply of plants for medical and botanical classes. It is worth noting that one of the future famous plant-hunters, David Douglas, who was born at Scone near Perth, had taken up a post at the Glasgow Botanic Gardens in 1820.
Professor Hooker, who was Regius Professor of Botany at Glasgow University in 1820 and later became the first official director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in 1865, took a great liking to Douglas and the two men made a number of botanical trips together to the Scottish Highlands while Hooker was writing his book Flora Scotica. It was on Hooker’s recommendation that the Horticultural Society (not yet ‘Royal’) employed Douglas in 1823 as an explorer. It should be noted here that when David Douglas was exploring North-West America in the 1830s, he sent home seeds of Pseudotsuga, now commonly known as the Douglas Fir. David Douglas had also introduced more than 200 species of plants to gardens in Europe. 
Until the 1840s Glasgow’s West End consisted of open countryside, isolated farmhouses and the country dwellings of Glasgow’s most wealthy citizens. The completion of the Great Western Road and the re-location of the Botanic Gardens to the Kelvinside Estate in the early 1840s was the catalyst for a rapid change to the character of the area.  The Botanic Gardens and Glasgow Green are prime examples of these developments of the time. ln 1852 the Council purchased some land from the Kelvingrove and Woodlands estate to create an area which is now Kelvingrove Park and which was to be the new home for the famous Kibble Palace. 
There was definitely some desire to experiment growing and cultivating new breeds of plants brought in by scientists and other enthusiasts from the faraway lands of India, China, Japan and the Americas. These plants were either acquired in seed form or as complete plants to the newly established Horticultural Society and the like.
This enthusiasm for bringing plants from faraway lands continued into the beginning of the twentieth century, when we meet our donor Mrs Anna Walker.
She was on holiday in Northern Italy, when she accidentally discovered a heather. It was propagated by her gardener Robert Howieson-Syme and it was then sent to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) at Wisley and in 1925 named by F.J Chittenden, the then Director of the RHS. Initially, this new variety of heather was called Springwood which was the name of the house in Stirling where Anna lived with her husband. Later it was named Springwood White on the appearance of another variant called Springwood Pink by F. J. Chittenden in 1925.  The preferred name for the plant is Erica Carnea f1 Alba Springwood White.  It is remarkable that our donor Mrs Anna Walker had discovered her heather at a time when the main part of the Industrial Revolution had ended. Furthermore, World War I was over. However, the endeavour for the appreciation and growing plants from foreign lands was still alive.
The above information obtained from the article in the Heather Society  was the key to discovering the identity of our donor Anna Walker – her age, date of birth and her family’s details. In the 1881census , Anna was 14 years old and described as a scholar. She was born in 1866 in Glasgow, Lanarkshire. Her father, William Gibson, born in 1841, was a cloth merchant and her mother Isabella S. Gibson was born in 1844. In the same census record, it is recorded that she had a brother George who was 10 and a sister Jeannie T. who was 12. The Gibson Family lived in 1 Burnbank Gardens, Glasgow, Barony Lanarkshire with two servants.
Anna Gibson married Ralph Wardlaw Thomson Walker, a ship broker in 1890 in the Glasgow district of Partick.  Also in the 1891 census  it is recorded that the Gibson family was living in Doune, Perthshire in Castle Bank Cottage. Ralph WT Walker is shown to be in the same dwelling with his now wife, Mrs Anna Walker. Furthermore, the same household appears to have a guest, William Linklater, a minister of the Free Church in their house.
Our donor’s husband, Ralph W.T. Walker, was born in 1865. His father’s name was Robert Walker and his mother’s name was Mary Ann (Donaldson). The couple lived for a time in 3 Bruce Street Glasgow where Ralph had lived and had been living for a few years before he married. In the 1891 census , Anna’s brother George Gibson is described as a mercantile shipping clerk.
In the 1901 census , Mr and Mrs Walker are shown to be living in 4 Athole Gardens at Partick Burgh, Glasgow. Ralph’s profession is now recorded as ship owner. This is a large house and our donor Mrs Anna Walker now employed two servants – one as a table maid domestic and the other as a cook domestic. There is an impression that Mr and Mrs Walker were keen travellers, because apart from their travel to Italy in the 1920s, both of their names also appear on the First Class passenger list of the ship Duchess Of Atholl belonging to the Canadian Pacific Line bound to a West Indies cruise from the port of Greenock on 30 January 1930. 
Our couple stayed in Athole Gardens until 1915 and then moved to Stirling . The name of the house is Springwood and is B-listed. It was built about 1870 and they lived there from the early twentieth century until Anna died on the 24 July 1948. Earlier, Ralph had died there too in 1943.
In the Glasgow Herald of the 26 July 1948 there was a notice  which is printed below:
At Springwood Stirling on the 24th July 1948 Anna, wife of late Ralph W.T.Walker, ship owner. Funeral private. No Flowers.
In 1933 Sir George Beatson bequeathedHaul 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.
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.
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…
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)
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 artpremises 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 thiswork 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)
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)
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.
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)
James Shaw Maxwell was a printer, journalist and politician and one of the first socialist councillors elected to Glasgow Town Council. (1)
In the1927 Minutes of Glasgow City Council, it is reported that ex Bailie James Shaw Maxwell wished to donate a portrait of himself by Robert Eadie “as a memento of the honour of being convener of the Arts and Museums committee of Glasgow Town Council”. (2) It is notable that this committee was a subcommittee of the Parks Committee of which he was appointed convenor in 1908. (3)
James Shaw Maxwell was born in 1855. (4) He was the son of James Taylor Maxwell, fruiterer and merchant, living near the Salt Market. His mother was Janet Maxwell nee Shaw . Where he was schooled is not known but he served his apprenticeship and became a master printer and lithographer. (5)
He became more interested in journalism and that, with politics, became a major part of his life although he continued in business as a printer and lithographer until 1915.
His introduction to politics was through the Free Sunday School movement and the LSunday Society lectures. (6) The established church had encouraged setting up schools and Sunday schools which were affiliated to the Church of Scotland. The Free Sunday Schools movement was established in the 1780s in both England and Scotland and sought to provide education independently of the churches. (7) In the 1870s there was a resurgence of interest in Scotland. In 1880, Maxwell became Secretary of the Glasgow Free Sunday School Society. (8 ) He seems to have been one of the first people in Glasgow influenced, as were many, including prominent members of the Fabian Society, by the American journalist and political economist Henry George (9) and particularly by his book Progress and Poverty (10) which sold millions of copies worldwide. Henry George was an advocate of land reform and this chimed with the views of Maxwell. He joined the Irish Land League and the Scottish Land Restoration League in 1880. (11 ) In 1885, he contested the parliamentary seat for the Blackfriars and Hutchesontown Division in Glasgow, as an Independent and Labour candidate, polling 1200 votes, but was defeated.
He moved to London, (12) as a journalist and lecturer, speaking in London, the Home Counties and Norfolk and as a “red van “ lecturer. (13 ) The English Land Restoration League (ELRL) sent out 5 vans in 1892. The vans, in which the driver and lecturer lived, toured villages in Suffolk and Somerset. They were responsible for arranging the dates and venues for their lectures. On the outside of the van was painted “Free rents-Fair wages –The Land for All”. In this they were following Henry George. In London he founded the London Democratic Club, which was for some years the major democratic organ of socialism in England. (14 ) He became a correspondent for a number of newspapers among them the Glasgow Herald, the Daily Chronicle and the London Echo. He bought and edited the London Peoples Press, which the Bailie said was “the accredited organ of about twenty of the largest trades Unions” (15) and the International Seamen’s Gazette. He was also politically active . He took charge of demonstrations of the unemployed on Tower Hill where as reported in the Bailie “ he found employment for 10,000 men” (16 ).
The Scottish Labour Party (SLP) was established at a Conference in August 1888. (17) Robert Cunninghame Graham was elected President, Dr G B Clark MP, a cotton manufacturer from Paisley was Vice president, Shaw Maxwell was Chairman and Keir Hardie was Secretary. (18) An extensive programme of reform was agreed which included nationalisation of land, mineral and water-ways……….and taxes on incomes over £300. The SLP continued for six years until it merged with the Independent Labour Party ILP in 1894.(19) Maxwell was the first Secretary of the ILP.
In 1896 Shaw Maxwell became a Glasgow Town Councillor by election as a Labour party member. (20 ) He became deputy water Baillie and then a full Baillie in 1903. (21 ) He became Convener of the Parks Committee in 1908. (22) In this role he championed free libraries and achieved the Sunday opening of museums against powerful opposition. One of those opposed was Baron Overton an antagonist of Keir Hardie (23)
The Bailie of 1897(24 ) describes him as “the Maccaroni of dress and debate” because he was always well turned out in starch collar and tie. “
. “one of the most dandified and distinguished looking men in the George Square assembly and ,without contest, the most sedulous student of oratorical style in all that somewhat slovenly school of rhetoric”.
In July 1909 he sailed from Glasgow to Montreal(25) to tour North American cities. A report of his tour was published in the Weekly Press, Michigan and is reproduced below.(26),
Glasgow Magistrate expresses views after studying Chicago and Boston
James Shaw Maxwell, senior magistrate of the city of Glasgow, declares, after a tour of Canada and America. that the Canadian cities are vastly superior in many ways to the cities of the United States.
Mr Maxwell studied the public institutions in Chicago, St Louis, Boston, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. In an interview here he expressed his surprise that the citizens of the major principalities here are not more interested in the problem of municipal ownership. Glasgow was the birthplace of the control by the government of public utilities.
“from what I have already observed” he said ”the Canadian cities are far ahead of those in the United States in many respects. . They appear to be better regulated and are kept cleaner.”
He was a governor of the School of Art in Glasgow form 1905 to 1909. (27) and was also a Justice of the Peace. (28)
He was married to Elizabeth Ross Mckellar described in the 1901 census (29) as having been born in St Albans, England. The place and date of the marriage is not known. They had four daughters all born in Glasgow. (30) They lived in a number of properties in Glasgow from 1895 from Sinclair Drive on the South Side to Woodlands Road, Queen Margaret Crescent and Kelvinside Terrace. He continued his business as a printer in the City centre moving from 58 West Regent Street in 1898 to Sauchiehall Street in1908. (31)
He died on 4th January, 1929 then living in Kilmarnock Road, Glasgow. (32)
Who’s Who in Glasgow 1909. Mitchell library
Minutes of Glasgow City Council 1927
Who’s Who in Glasgow 1909. Mitchell library
Peter D’A Jones in Henry George and British Socialism. Am. J .ofEconomics and Sociology Vol.47, No.4.p487
National Library of Scotland. The History of Working People in Scotland
Peter D’A Jones in Henry George and British Socialism. Am. J .of Economics and Sociology Vol.47, No.4.p487
Who’s Who in Glasgow 1909. Mitchell library
Peter D’A Jones in Henry George and British Socialism. Am. J .of Economics and Sociology Vol.47, No.4.p487
Who’s Who in Glasgow 1909. Mitchell library
1891 England Census. Ancestry.co.uk
Gilbert K and Howell D. Dictionary of Labour Biography, Vol XIV. Springer,2018. pp 29-30.
The Bailie. The Man You Know. September, 1897. Mitchell Library, Glasgow
Wikipaedia The Scottish Labour Party James Shaw Maxwell
On the 17th of March 1942, Dr. Helen Story donated two watercolours by her sister Elma Story.
`The Director reported that Dr. Helen Story, 21, Ashton Road, W.1 had gifted two small watercolours by the late Miss Elma Story, and the committee agreed that the gift be accepted and that a letter of thanks be sent to Dr. Story`.1
Helen Constance Herbert Story was born on 13th May 1871 in her maternal grandparents` home at 48 Melville Street, Edinburgh.2 Her father was the Reverend Robert Herbert Story, who had been minister of the parish of Rosneath in Dunbartonshire since 1860.3 Helen`s birth was registered in both Edinburgh and Rosneath. Her mother was the novelist Janet Leith Story nee Maughan.
Janet Story published seven novels with titles, Charley Nugent (1860), The St Aubyns of St Aubyn (1862), The Co-Heiress (1866), Richard Langdon or Foreshadowed, The Man of Mark, Kitty Fisher the Orange Girl (1881) and Equal to Either Fortune. In 1911 at the age of 83 she published Early Reminiscences. This was followed in 1913 by Later Reminiscences.
Helen`s parents were married in Edinburgh on 31st October 1863. Their first child, a son, died a few hours after birth. Helen`s sister, Elizabeth Maria Margaret Arnott Story (Elma) was born in Edinburgh on 17th September 1866.4
Helen and Elma’s early years were spent in almost unbroken happiness in our beloved Rosneath`. Their grandmother lived close-by and ‘my little girls went daily to see her until she died in 1882’. 5 In the Census of 1881 Helen was a “scholar”, aged 9 living at Rosneath Manse with her parents and sister. 6
However, in 1886 Robert Story was appointed Professor of Church History in the University of Glasgow and the following year the family moved to Number 8, The College, Glasgow. ‘Having been appointed to the chair of Church History in the University of Glasgow, Dr. Story had reluctantly to resign the parish of Rosneath, and took leave of the congregation to whom he had so long ministered on Sunday 5th June 1887’. 7
At the 1891 Census, Helen, aged 19 and her father, were visitors at Barshimming Mansion House, Stair, Ayrshire. She gave her occupation as “professor`s daughter”. Her mother and Elma were at home at Number 8, The University. In her twenties, Helen became interested in trying to alleviate the causes of social deprivation.
“There is no record of the origin and growth of her devotion to the cause of Social Service, but it became her life work and her abiding memorial”.8
In 1897, she was one of the women involved in the founding of the “Queen Margaret College Settlement”. The Settlement,
“was founded by a group of pioneering women in 1897. They had struggled for the right to access Higher Education and, having achieved this against much opposition, they felt a commitment to others whose needs were often disregarded. The basic idea was simple: young people from the University should move into areas of deprivation to live with the poor and by this means, share in their lives and provide practical support through personal contact. Based first in Anderston (opened 1901) and later in Drumchapel, Settlement Volunteers were pioneers in many areas of social work throughout the 20th century. They provided legal and welfare advice, they set up credit unions and after-school clubs. From these beginnings developed: Legal Aid, The Citizens Advice Bureau, Savings Banks and a multitude of self-help groups”.9
In 1898 Robert Story was appointed Principal of the University and the family again moved this time to the Principal`s House at Number 13, The College. The move seems to have been made reluctantly. Janet Story wrote that ‘very cosy and contented we were for eleven years in our happy home at No. 8, The College’. 10 In the 1901 Census, Helen, aged 29, was living with her parents and Elma at this address.
Helen continued to be involved in social work and in 1903 wrote that,
“One of the most practical phases of modern social and philanthropic work is the formation of settlements in the poorer parts of the city where workers (can) learn how best to take a share in helping (their neighbours) overcome their difficulties”. 11
From 1906 she was a member of the Joint Committee which created the Glasgow School of Social Study and Training. Other members were the Misses, M.G. May, Galloway, Younger, Snodgrass, E.S. Stevenson, Brown, Redie, Gairdner and Marwick. In 1908 she became Convener of the Committee and in 1912, when the school was established she became its ‘long-time secretary’:
“all others proclaim her as the mainspring and continuing force in the creation, the building and the development of the Glasgow School of Social Study and Training”.12
The Reverend Robert Story died at home on 13th January 1907 and was buried in Rosneath Churchyard. 13, 14 His death meant that the family had to vacate the Principal`s House and they moved to 30 Lilybank Gardens, Hillhead. 15 Helen and Elma wrote a biography of their father which was published in 1909.16 A copy signed by Elma is in the Mitchell Library.
In the 1911 Census, Helen, aged 39, was a visitor at Newtondee House, Cults, Aberdeenshire. (It may be a coincidence but today Newton Dee is a Camphill Community in Aberdeen. It offers a home, meaningful work and opportunities for personal development to adults with learning disabilities and other special needs).
The three women continued to live at 30 Lilybank Gardens, Hillhead, until Janet Story died aged 98 on 11th of September 1926. 17 Thereafter, the sisters moved to 21 Ashton Road. 18
Helen became a Governor of the Glasgow and West of Scotland College of Domestic Science in 1931 and held this post for eleven years latterly becoming Convener of the Cookery Committee. The College Minutes recorded that ‘she has done much to maintain the high standards of the work of the College’.19
From 1932 to 1935 she was Vice-President of the Scottish Section of the Workers` Educational Association (WEA). In an address to the WEA she drew attention to the wide range of social services that now existed.
“When I came to Glasgow in 1887 these services were practically non-existent. There was no workmen`s compensation, no Health Insurance, no Old Age Pension, no Widows` pensions, no Unemployment Insurance, very little Health Service apart from the Hospitals or Child Welfare. It must be very difficult for anyone born in this century to realize what a revolution has come about in these ways in the course of little more than a generation, and what an easing of the burdens of life has resulted”.20
On 21st June, 1939 Helen Story was awarded an Honorary LL.D. degree from the University of Glasgow. The citation for the award was as follows:
“Miss Helen Story is joint-authoress of a full and sympathetic life of her father – a former Principal of this University. Her chief work, however, has been in the study of the social problems of a great city, such as this, and she has contributed by thought and effort towards the solution of them. Thus, she has taken part in the management of the Queen Margaret Settlement since its foundation; in the work of the collecting Savings Banks; in the care of soldiers` dependents during the war; in the provision of training for Women and in the direction of the College of Domestic Science. From the beginning of these activities, Miss Story recognized that an improvement in social conditions depended on increase in knowledge of them, and in the application of that knowledge when obtained. With this ideal before her, she had a large part in the founding of the School of Social Study and Training, of which she has been the indefatigable and tactful Secretary since 1912”.21,22
On 29th May, 1941, Helen`s sister Elma died and was buried at Rosneath. Helen caused to be cut into the gravestone ‘There is no friend like a sister In calm or stormy weather’.
It is likely that Helen gifted the watercolours as a memorial to her sister. Elma was a talented artist who had exhibited at the RSA from 1898 till 1934.
On the 21st August 1941 Helen Story died of colon cancer at her home 21, Ashton Road.23 Her funeral service was held at the University Chapel on Tuesday, 24th after which she was buried at Rosneath. 24
In his memoir written after her death G. E. R. Young wrote that
‘Her sense of humour ….. was one of rare quality. A story …..of Anderston or Port St., retailed by Helen was enriched and scintillated in the telling. And who among her friends will forget when moments of disaster arrived or things went wrong, that quiet, detached, dispassionate “Damnity, Damn!!’. 25
Minutes of the Corporation of Glasgow C1/3/105, p 946, Minute of Committee on Art Galleries and Museums, 17th March 1942.
Scotland`s People, Birth Certificate
Bayne, T. W. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, revised by A. T. B. McGowan
Scotland`s People, Birth Certificate
Story, J. L., Later Reminiscences, James MacLehose and Sons, Glasgow, 1913
As is the tradition, when Sir Hector McNeill retired as Lord Provost of Glasgow in 1949, he had his portrait painted by the artist David Shanks Ewart. On its completion he gifted the portrait to Glasgow museums in 1950.
His paternal ancestry came from fairly humble, rural beginnings. His grandparents were Archibald McNeill, the son of farm servant John McNeill and his wife Flora McDonald, and Flora McNeill, both of Campbeltown. They married there in April 1840, he a labourer, and she the daughter, age 24, of shoemaker Archibald McNeill and his wife Jean McIntyre. They lived all their lives in Campbeltown at various addresses, latterly in Queen Street where Flora died in 1883 . Archibald also died there in 1895, age 78, his occupation being given as a distillery maltster.
He had been a labourer until circa 1848 at which time he is recorded as being a maltster. His job was to create malt by wetting barley on the floor of the malthouse, turning it over for several days to allow the barley to germinate and then drying it out. When that process was complete the malt would then be passed on to the distiller to make alcohol from the sugars that were produced. Campbeltown in the ninetenth century was a major fishing port for herring and was a significant producer of whisky. It’s therefore probable he worked in one of the many distilleries there. In the early 1800s there were over thirty, by 1885 there were twenty one, producing two million gallons of spirits per annum. From farm labourer to a maltster in a thriving industry would have meant a significant improvement in the family’s situation. There are now only three distilleries in Campbeltown; Springbank, Glen Scotia and Glengyle.
Between 1840 and 1855 Archibald and Flora had seven children, the first a daughter Catherine was born seven months after they married, Sir Hector’s father, yet another Archibald, was the seventh, and third boy, born on the 28th October 1855. They had two other sons after 1855, Duncan, born c. 1859 and James born c. 1864.
In the 1871 census son Archibald is recorded as a scholar, age fifteen, which is perhaps surprising in that the majority of young men at that age would have been in employment unless from a well to do family. However, it may have been his father’s wish to have his children educated as well as possible, especially as he was illiterate at the time of Archibald’s birth in 1855. Where he was schooled has not been established however it may have been at Campbeltown Grammar School which was founded in 1686.
Ten years later Archibald is still living with his parents, in Queen Street, as are brothers Hector and James. His occupation is given as a clerk, Hector is a tailor and James is a pupil teacher.
He married Margaret Burns in 1884 by which time he was living in Glasgow at 396 Argyle Street, working as a mercantile clerk. Margaret, who was a milliner and lived at the same address, was age 29 and the daughter of Robert Burns, farmer, and Catherine McPhail, both deceased.
Like his paternal ancestry Sir Hector’s maternal forebears were farming folk. That however is as much as I have been able to establish directly about his maternal ancestry. His mother’s birth date has also proved elusive however there is one possibility which would also add more information about his maternal ancestry.
According to the 1901 census she was born in Kilmaronock in Dunbartonshire. Her age at the time of her marriage to Archibald would mean she was born circa 1854. A search either side of 1855 produced only one result and that is for a Margaret Burns born illegitimately to Robert Burns of Little Finnery and Catherine (no surname) on the 26th July 1851. She was a servant to an Andrew Paton.
Little Finnery was a farm in the parish of Kilmaronock, adjacent to which was another also referred to as Little Finnery. In the 1851 census Little Finnery was occupied by widow Mrs. R. Burns, her forename being Margaret, and her two sons, James and Robert who was age 22. It’s clear the family worked the farm, which extended to 50 acres, as they employed a number of ‘outdoor servants’ to assist them. The adjacent farm was of 40 acres and occupied by Andrew Paton and his family. He employed agricultural labourers and servants amongst whom was servant Catherine McPhail, age 20, born in Islay. Strong circumstantial evidence I would say that these are Sir Hector’s maternal grandparents.
Mrs Burns was 60 years old when her granddaughter Margaret was born in 1851 and remained at Little Finnery at least until 1857 by which time she was joined as occupier by a William Burns. There is no reference to either son. In 1861 there is a Mrs Margaret Burns, age 70 living in the village of Gartocharn, Kilmaronock with her granddaughter, also Margaret, age 9, further evidence that seems to support the contention above.
Regarding Robert and Catherine no other evidence as to whether they got married, their whereabouts or deaths have been established. It’s more than likely for that time period, she would be deemed the ‘guilty’ party and perhaps had to leave the locality.
Archibald, shipping clerk, and Margaret continued to live in Glasgow and by 1901 were living at 70 Carrick Street, Back Yard with son (Sir) Hector age 9 and James, Archibald’s brother. They also had a boarder, Annie Cooper who was a book folder.
In that census and in 1911 Hector is said to have been born in Motherwell his age in each case indicating he was born in 1892. Unexpectedly I have not been able to confirm that directly. There were no Hector McNeills born in Motherwell between 1888 and 1894 despite varying the spelling of the surname. Searching the whole of Lanarkshire produced two possibles, one being the son of a master mariner, the other the son of a Clyde Trust labourer. The parents in each case had different forenames.
In 1908 Hector’s mother Margaret, died in the Western infirmary of a cerebral haemorrhage, she was 54 years old. At that time the family still lived in Carrick Street at number 77, however by 1911 father and son had moved to 9 Buchanan Court in Lauriston in Glasgow where Archibald continued working as a commercial clerk and Hector was employed as an ‘iron turner’ in the engineering industry.
Working in engineering with its strong involvement with the trade union movement of the day Hector would have got involved with the unions and the Labour party fairly early on in his working career. His ‘point of entry’ would likely have been as a local shop steward which led to a progression through the ranks of union and party. By 1924 he was President of the Glasgow Trades and Labour Council and also chairman of the Central Division Labour Party.
In the 1923 General Election the Labour party decided to support the communist candidate for Kelvingrove constituency, Aiken Ferguson. McNeill was chosen by the party as their contact point with the communists, and again in 1924 when there was a by-election at Kelvingrove, Ferguson standing again as a candidate. This occurred at a time when there was some talk of the Communist and Labour parties joining together which never happened, the support for Ferguson in 1924 being lukewarm because of what was considered to be his and others radical views.
Later that year the municipal elections were held in Glasgow and McNeill was chosen as the socialist candidate for the 14th (Anderston) Ward. His opponent, described as Moderate, was painter and decorator Edward Guest who had been a member of the council for 16 years. On a 63% turnout of the electorate of 12,585 McNeill won with a majority of 388. 
The first meeting of the new council was held on the 7th November and McNeill was duly appointed to five committees, including Gas Supply and Water. He was also proposed as a governor of the Victoria Hospital but lost by four votes despite being supported by Bailie Mary Barbour, renowned for her leadership of the women of Govan in the rent strikes of 1915, Pat Dollan, future Lord Provost of Glasgow whose wife Agnes had been involved with Barbour during the rent strikes, and his two fellow councillors for Anderston.
He was re-elected in 1927, with a similar majority, served in the same committees as previously and in 1929 became depute water bailie in addition to joining the General Finance and Streets, Sewers and Buildings committees.
His political career however stalled in the 1930 municipal elections when he lost his council seat. There were three candidates on this occasion representing the Moderate Party, Labour, (McNeill) and the Independent Labour Party (I.L.P.), the Moderate candidate Jonathan Harvey winning by 1285 votes. No doubt the left wing vote was split because of the two socialist candidates however the Moderate majority was greater than the vote for the I.L.P. candidate by 165 votes.
During his first tenure as a councillor Hector’s father had died in 1926 and in 1927 Hector had married Grace Stephen Robertson, a milliner of Skelmorlie, age 35. He was described as an insurance agent living at 9 Alexandra Street. The marriage was by declaration in front of witnesses authorised by warrant issued by the Sheriff Substitute of Lanarkshire on the same day. Her father was a retired wholesale grocer, her mother, Grace Simpson Stephen had died in 1914 at the age of 59.
There were two sons of the marriage, Ramsay, born in 1929 and Hector John, born in 1934.
McNeill did not stand again for the council until 1932 when he was one of the Labour candidates for the newly created Ward 38 (Yoker and Knightswood) with an electorate of 16,109. Each ward has three councillors, with one retiring for re-election each year. As ward 38 was new the election was for three council seats instead of the usual one.
There were eight candidates, three Socialist or Labour, three Moderate Party, and two I.L.P. Those elected were E. Rosslyn Mitchell (Soc.) – 4813 votes, Hector McNeill (Soc.) – 3077 votes and Elphinstone Dalglish (Mod.) – 2775.
Rosslyn Mitchell had been a councillor for Springburn and also stood for parliamentary election in 1910 and 1922. In the 1924 General Election he stood as the Labour candidate for Paisley and beat the sitting member Herbert Asquith the ex-Liberal Prime Minister by 2,200 votes. He declined to stand again for parliament in 1929 citing business and personal difficulties. He died in 1965.
Elphinstone Maitland Dalglish was a grocer, described as a wholesale egg merchant in the Town Council lists. He died in 1942. He had a very famous policeman son, of exactly the same name, who as Detective Superintendant was initially in charge of the investigation into the ‘Bible John’ murders in Glasgow which were never solved. He finished his police career as Deputy Chief Constable of Glasgow and then Strathclyde. He died in 1988.
For the following twelve years or so McNeill served on a variety of committees which typically included municipal transport, parks, the Kelvin Hall, streets sewers and building, and health. He was also a Justice of the Peace from 1932.
He became a Baillie in November 1933 remaining so for three years, and in 1941 he joined the General Finance committee as city treasurer, his tenure in that role again being three years.
His business address during his time as a council member from 1932 was given as 218 West Regent Street, his home address being initially Clarion Crescent in Knightswood. In 1942 he moved to Larchfield Avenue, Newton Mearns where lived for the rest of his life.
On the 9th November 1945 he was elected Lord Provost of Glasgow, beating his opponent for the office, James Grey, by 65 votes to 42. As was normal for the time he was appointed Lord Lieutenant of the City of Glasgow in December 1945 and was knighted in June 1946.
As well as his duties as Lord Provost he became involved with a number of other governmental organisations.
These included; in 1946 he was appointed to the Scottish Advisory Council for Civil Aviation by British European Airways (BEA) with the approval of the Secretary of State for Scotland, and in 1947 he was nominated by the Minister of Transport to serve on the board of David MacBrayne, Ltd., primarily to monitor a contract between the government and the company to provide shipping services to the Western Highlands and Islands,
He was also a member at various times of the Docks and Inland Waterways Executive of the Ministry of Transport, the Clyde Navigation Trust and the Scottish Tourist Board.
Other organisations he was a director of were the Economic Insurance Company which he joined the board of in 1949 and SMT Sales and Service Co. Ltd. (Motor Engineers).
He died in 1952, age 60, in the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, his occupation given as company director. His memorial Service was held in Glasgow Cathedral, the service conducted by Rev. Dr. Nevile Davidson. An address was given by former Secretary of State Tom Johnston who described him as a middle of the road traveller. A man of high ideals who laboured all his life to promote social ownership and cooperation between all his countrymen, and who had earned the respect of opponents and colleagues alike. At the time of his death he was the Chairman of the Glenrothes Development Corporation.
The Trades House of Glasgow recorded his death in their minutes and noted that there was a deep loss sustained by the community through his death.
His wife Grace died in 1954, age 62, from chronic bronchitis.
 Bonavia, Michael R. (1987) The Nationalisation of British Transport: The Early History of the British Transport Commission 1948-1953. New York: Palgrave McMillan. p. 177. https://books.google.co.uk
On the 21st of August 1946 a portrait in oil of Mrs. J. B. McLennan (nee Robina Birnie Lawrence) by Alexander Spottiswoode Duthie was presented to Glasgow Corporation by Mr and Mrs J. Bryce McLennan, Hotel Swisse, Hyeres (Var), France, formerly of Ardoch, Blanefield 1 (2566)
Robina Birnie Lawrence was born at Gowanhill, Rathen, Aberdeenshire on the 23rd April 1868. Her parents, William Jamieson Lawrence, a general merchant and Elizabeth Hall Morgan, the daughter of a shipmaster, had married at St. Clement’s Aberdeen on the 25th of November 1837. 2 Robina was named after her paternal grandmother.
The family remained at Gowanhill and by 1881 Robina had five older siblings and one younger. 3 Sadly, her mother Elizabeth had died of tuberculosis at Bridge of Allan in 1879. 4 Her father was now a merchant, a bakery shop owner and a farmer. 5 However, he died in Aberdeen on the 29th of September 1885 6 and the business was taken over by Robina’s brother William. Gowanhill was now a shop and a farm and the home of William, Robina and their three sisters. The business also employed four ‘servants’. 7
James Bryce McLennan was born on the 26th of December 1869 at 68, Pollok Street, Tradeston, Glasgow. His parents were James McLennan, a ‘commercial traveller’ and Henrietta Bryce. 8 They had married on the 24th of December 1868 in Govan and went on to have seven children. (This was James McLennan`s second marriage; he had a son Andrew born in 1866 by his first marriage to Agnes Watt Logan. Agnes died, aged only nineteen, in the same year that Andrew was born. 9 By the 1881 census the family had moved to 88, Leslie Street, Govan and James` father was now a ‘wholesale wine and spirit merchant’. Ten years later, James was a commercial clerk aged 21 living at 20, South Crescent, Ardrossan with his family. 10 It was probably about this time that James joined his father in the wine and spirits trade. His great grandfather Alexander Bryce founded the firm of Alexander Bryce and Co. in 1812. 11 James McLennan, senior was born in 1838 in Coylton, Ayrshire, the son of an innkeeper. He moved to Glasgow in 1853 to work for a firm of bonded storekeepers. Twelve years later he was employed as a ‘traveller’ for Alexander Bryce and Co. Three years after the death of his first wife, James married Henrietta Bryce the granddaughter of Alexander on Christmas Eve 1868. 12 In 1875 he was appointed as a partner in the firm. The other partners were Alexander Kirkpatrick and Peter Clark both sons-in-law of Alexander Bryce. Alexander Kirkpatrick retired in 1875 and when Peter Clark died in 1882, James McLennan became sole owner of the firm and very wealthy. His eldest son by his marriage to Henrietta was James Bryce McLennan. Father and son were both members of the Trades’ House of Glasgow with James senior elected Deacon Convenor in 1884. In his memory a portrait bust was presented to the House.13 In 1892, as Deacon Convenor, James McLennan purchased part of the façade of the 1796 Adam designed Assembly Rooms (Atheneum) in Ingram Street then under demolition. He presented this to Glasgow and after being moved several times has, since 1991, been located at the entrance to Glasgow Green – The McLennan Arch. 14
On the 21st of December 1898 at the Free Church in Rathen, Aberdeenshire, James Bryce McLennan, wine merchant, married Robina Birnie Lawrence. James` address was Newhall, Dowanhill Gardens, Partick which was his parents` home at the time. 15 In the same year, or very soon thereafter, the couple took over the tenancy of Ardoch, an estate in Strathblane, Stirlingshire owned by Sir Archibald Edmonston, at a yearly rent of £40. 16 They then began to cultivate the garden at Ardoch, which was later to become a showpiece of the district and for which they became well known further afield.
On the 7th of February 1899 James McLennan senior died at his house, Newhall, Hillhead. 17 The firm was bought from the trustees of his estate by James and his brother Andrew and they continued to run the business successfully for many years.
With James having the business to run (in the census of 1901 his occupation is ‘wine and spirit merchant’) responsibility for the garden at Ardoch seems to have fallen, initially at least, to Robina. Within a few years the garden became well established so much so that it was open to the public and advertised in the Press. On the 11th and 12th of September 1909 King Edward VII visited Strathblane and a local newspaper reported: Mrs McLennan of Ardoch, noted for their (sic) fine gardens, which were opened to the public, had created a floral tribute in the form of a crown of red, white and blue flowers. 18
In 1911 when the couple had been married for twelve years, they were employing three servants and a chauffeur. James was still listed as a wholesale wine and spirit merchant. 19 However, in 1916 the firm of Alexander Bryce and Co was wound up 20 presumably giving James the opportunity to devote more time to landscape gardening. Robina and James continued to cultivate the garden and advertised ‘Open Days’ in the Glasgow Herald. This was usually accompanied by a report of the garden in glowing terms. Robina featured in articles in Scottish Country Life:
The following notice appeared in the Glasgow Herald: 21
Mrs. McLennan advertised herself as a landscape gardener/garden designer and had a hand in designing gardens up and down the country. The following newspaper article dated 26 May 1933 is in the donor’s file at the Glasgow Museum Resource Centre as are the two old postcards shown in figures 3 and 4.
A DREAM GARDEN
BLANEFIELD COUPLE`S CLEVER WORK
There is a garden in Blanefield, so lovely that it takes your breath away, and so clever that it might have happened by some divine chance. It belongs to Mr. and Mrs. R. B. McLennan, who for 35 years have made it their life work.
Beyond a sweep of smooth lawn rises the rock garden, ablaze with azaleas and rhododendrons. In the water garden, a tiny stream runs between low banks into a brown pool edged with reeds and golden marigolds. Further on is the “pleasaunce”, a quaint, formal garden of circular green lawns and square flower beds filled with dignified yellow tulips.
Down a mossy path lies the last part of the 13 acres – the woodland garden – where the wild hyacinths lie like a blue mist among the long grasses and the clumps of fern, and the rabbits come out boldly to play.
Although the Blanefield garden was originally begun as a hobby, Mrs. McLennan and her husband have since taken up the work of landscape gardening as a profession. Mrs. McLennan has designed gardens from Inverness to Buckinghamshire.
Looking at the garden in the glory of a May afternoon, one could not but wonder at the beauty of it. If ever an enthusiasm justified itself, this one has. – M.
In 1938, the couple gave up the tenancy of Ardoch 22 and seem to have moved temporarily to The Old Cloth Hall, Cranbrook, Kent. The electoral registers for Cranbrook 23 confirm that they were occupants of the property in 1939, although whether they were owners or tenants is unclear. The property had extensive gardens which would have appealed to them. Their next move was to France. James B. McLennan was described as ‘an ardent Francophile and well-read in French Literature’. 24 In 1938, he presented a bronze statue of Robert Burns to the British Institute at the Sorbonne. Coming from Ayrshire, his ‘ancestors were well acquainted with him (Burns)’. 25 During the occupation the statue was hidden to prevent it being melted down by the Nazis. After the war it was restored and is presently on display at the Sorbonne.
In gratitude for preserving the statue, the Burns Federation presented a set of the Scottish National Dictionary to the Sorbonne in 1946. 26
At some point the couple moved to France settling at Hyeres on the south coast. They were of course caught up in the Nazi occupation and Robina, in particular, suffered a great deal. In a letter written in 1947 on behalf of Dr T. J. Honeyman in reply to J. McLennan Boyd a nephew of the couple he mentions that Mrs McLennan ‘had gone through so much during the occupation and that she had been “such an outstanding figure in the history of landscape gardening’. He was also ‘particularly charmed’ by the merit of the painting. 27
Robina McLennan died at the Hotel Suisse, Hyeres, France on the 15th of August 1946. She was 78. James arranged for her body to be brought back to Blanefield and buried in the churchyard. He inserted a notice of her death in the Glasgow Herald : ‘Ruby (nee Lawrence) loving wife and companion for 47 years of James Bryce McLennan, late of Ardoch, Blanefield, Stirlingshire’. 28
The portrait was presented after her death perhaps as a memorial to her. The artist seems to have been a family member as one of Robina`s brothers was Robert Duthie Lawrence. In the probate of Robina`s will she is described as ‘Lawrence or McLennan Robina Birnie of Old Cloth Hall, Cranbrook, Kent and Hostellerie du Beau Rivage, Carqueiranne, (Var), France’. 29
After his return from France, James McLennan lived on in Strathblane at the Kirkhouse Inn. He died there on the 3rd of March 1950 aged eighty His death was reported by a nephew John McLennan 30 and a notice appeared in the Glasgow Herald. 31
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.
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 attendedNewport 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)
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 andCommercial 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)
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)
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)
Having presented his portrait, Mr Welsh suggested that it might hang in the People’s Palace, Glasgow in view of his association with the East End of the city.
In the 1946-47 minutes of the Corporation of the City of Glasgow Art Gallery and Museums , it was minuted that the Ex Lord Provost, James Welsh, had presented an oil portrait of himself painted by Joseph Ancill (1896-1976) who was born in Leeds and attended the Glasgow School of Art. He specialised in portrait painting and engraving.
Shortly after writing an earlier draft version of this blog, it was discovered that Dr James Welsh’s grandson David Welsh had already written his grandfather’s biography for his family and after corresponding with him, he suggested that he could give me a wider perspective of his grandfather’s life as well as earlier relatives, information which is not available in the public domain.
Theearly Years of Welsh Family
To give an overall picture of the beginning of the life of the Welsh family in Scotland, it will be appropriate to start with the great-grand parents of our donor, James Welsh. Sometime before the 1841 Scottish census, our donor’s great-grandfather Michael Welsh and his wife Elisabeth McCulley came across to Scotland from Ireland. Both, Michael Welsh and Elisabeth McCulley were born in Ireland in about 1790. According to the 1841 Scottish census , their four children were all born in Low Glen Cairn, West Side, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland. They were listed in the census as: William (18) a carpet weaver, Robert (15) a calico printer, Cathrine (12) and Michael (10). There is no record of Michael Welsh in the next census in 1851. Therefore, it is assumed that he died sometime before then. Michael’s eldest son, William, was married to Agnes Johnstone on 3 January 1851 and they were living at 92 Sanbed Street, Dickiesland, Kilmarnock together with William’s mother Elisabeth and his father in-law, William Johnstone (57, also born in Ireland).
William, the grandfather of our donor, continued with his profession in Kilmarnock where they had settled and had their six children. The first two were born in Kilmarnock. After his second child William was born in 1854, he and his family moved to the Paisley area where he started a quilt making business and where his other four children were all born. The 1861 census records all the family’s address as 64 Love Street. William and Agnes settled in Paisley where they were to live for the remainder of their lives. By the time of the 1881 census, William (junior) had left the family home after having married Mary Ann Young on 1 April 1875. In 1881, William and Mary Ann were living at 18 Causeyside Street, Paisley where James was born on 29 January.
Although 1882 was just like any other year for the happily married couple living with their four children, William, our donor’s father, decided to pay a visit to Boston, Massachusetts where his uncle was living. He boarded a Boston-bound ship on 23 February 1882 to see him. However, after receiving a short note from his home, in reply to his own letter in June, and learning that his young son William, who was born in 1876, had died from scarlet fever on 16 June 1882, he sailed for home. Soon after this tragedy, William Welsh and his family including our donor James, who was one year old, moved from Causeyside Street, Paisley to Queen Mary Street in Bridgeton, Glasgow. Perhaps one of the reasons for this move was that the textile industry, aided by the mechanisation of cotton spinning, prospered and the associated trades such as 15 bleach works and dye works were also thriving. The Industrial Revolution took hold in Glasgow at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The manufacture of cotton and textiles, chemicals, glass, paper and soap increased rapidly. Immigrants from the Highlands in the 1820s and later from Ireland in the 1840s formed the workforce.
Early Life of Our Donor
Our donor, James Welsh, was born on 29 January 1881 in Paisley, Renfrewshire as the fourth child of Mr. William Welsh and Mrs Mary Ann Welsh, who went on to have two more children David (born in 1882) and John (born in 1887). Young James had his formative life in Bridgeton. Although, there is very little known about young James’s first few years there, it is known that he went to his first and only school, Hozier Street Public School in 1886 at the age of four and a half years. He did very well at school and was permitted to leave two years early (at the age of 11 rather than 13 according to the education legislation of the day). The only leavening of the school day was a limited amount of singing, drawing, woodwork, cookery and drill. Much of the time was spent learning tables by rote, copying from the board and facing oral tests in English Grammar and arithmetic, allowing little or no opportunity for self-expression. There was also little or no secondary education; the leaving age at the elementary (primary) school being 13 with a mere handful of pupils staying on beyond that birthday. Young James was an exceptionally good pupil and won a prize for being punctual which is still in his family’s possession today.  He was allowed to leave at age 11 indicating that he had attained a high standard of achievement.
It didn’t take long for James Welsh to find work after leaving school. His first job was as a message boy with W & J Martins of Brunswick Street, Glasgow. James stayed with Martins for two years and in 1894, at the age of 13, he was taken on as an office boy with James Templeton & Co., the famous carpet makers with several factories in the Bridgeton area. By the time James started work with the firm, the factory beside Glasgow Green, (the Doge’s Palace), had been built, had collapsed and had been re-built.  But it was the Crownpoint Road factory that saw James rise from the position of office boy to assistant-foreman during his fourteen years with the firm. A newspaper article, written about him some years later, stated that five of the Welsh family were employed with Templeton’s. He certainly made a name for himself in the firm and proved to be a highly respected member of the workforce. When he left the firm in 1908, he was presented with a magnificent roll-top desk which he kept and used all his life.
Political Life and Civic Career
After leaving Templeton’s, James Welsh was now to move in a completely different direction when he became an agent for the insurance company, Scottish Legal Life, where he stayed for four and a half years. The times spent at Templeton’s and Legal Life were James Welsh’s formative years. It was during this period that he attended night school and evening lectures, developed his musical interests, became heavily involved in politics, enjoyed the fellowship of the Clarion Scouts, and became generally involved, as he said later, in the ‘progressive and humanist movements’. He also witnessed the beginnings of the cinema revolution and saw its potential, experiencing at first hand the tragic consequences of alcohol abuse. It was during this period, in 1896, that the family moved from 41 Queen Mary Street, the short distance to 40 Dalmarnock Road, a stone’s throw from Bridgeton Cross, where father, mother and five growing young adults were to be found in the 1901 census.
The year 1910 was a highly significant and pivotal year in James Welsh’s life for three reasons:
His name was to be included for the first time on the electoral register for 1909 -10 and he was entitled to vote in the two General Elections of 1910, helping Labour to achieve its best results up till then, 40 seats in January and 42 in December.
Along with his friend and partner George Smith he was to take the first tentative steps in the cinema world when they converted an empty hall in Alexandria Parade into The Parade Cinema.
But the most important change was to take place on 7 July 1910 – the day of his marriage to Helen Greig in Anderston Registry Office, Minerva Street, Glasgow.
At the age of nearly 30, James Welsh married Helen (Nell) Greig, who had been born on 22 May 1881 in the township of Skene, north of Stonehaven and a few miles to the west of Aberdeen. Her father, Frederick Murray Greig, whose family was very much centred in Stonehaven, was a saddler to trade. Helen retained a warm affection for the villages and the countryside of the North East coast throughout her life. Both before and after their marriage, Mrs Welsh was interested in theatrical entertainment and she was known under the name of Nell Greig as an accomplished actress and elocutionist. In her stage career she appeared in a number of plays some of which were written by her brother Frederic Greig, with whom Nell came to Glasgow around 1901. Frederick Greig’s ambition was to be a playwright. Later rising to prominence in the business world and becoming the General Secretary of the Rotary Club of London, he was perhaps better known as the husband of Teresa Billington, the celebrated suffragette. The 2018 statue of Millicent Fawcett, the suffragist leader and social campaigner, in Parliament Square, London, is a work by the Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing where the name of Theresa Billington Greig is also carved. 
After their marriage, Mr and Mrs James Welsh lived in 41 Esmond Street, Yorkhill where their only child, Frederick Welsh was born on 31 March 1911. It was a small flat where James had lived before his marriage and it was becoming too small for a growing family. Therefore, they moved in 1914 to a larger place in Smith Street, Hillhead. Built in the 1880s the individual apartments were of varying sizes but the one chosen by the Welsh family was a two bedroom flat with kitchen/living room and bathroom.
At this time, James Welsh started taking an increasingly active interest in politics. In 1913, when the Municipal Elections were held in Glasgow, on the division of the City of Glasgow, James Welsh was the Labour candidate representing Dalmarnock Ward. The election was a victory for Labour and also for James Welsh, as this was the beginning of his political career. He represented the Dalmarnock Ward from 1913-1929. In June 1926 our donor and his family moved and settled in 1 Endfield Avenue, Kelvindale, Glasgow W2.
On the outbreak of war in 1914 James Welsh enlisted for service in the army but was turned down on medical grounds. It was discovered that he had a heart murmur so there was no question of his signing on. He was immensely disappointed.
During the time he was a member of the Corporation of the City of Glasgow, he was a Bailie of the Burgh from November 1920 to November 1923. After resigning from his post in the Corporation in 1929, he stood as a Labour candidate to represent the people of Paisley and he was elected MP for Paisley in May 1929. After 2 years, in 1931, he was defeated by the Liberal Candidate in the general election and withdrew from politics and contemplated not continuing as a Labour candidate in Paisley. After a break of eight years he returned to the Council in 1937 as a representative of the Maryhill Ward and continued his service until 1949 when he did not seek re-election. During this time, he was involved in The Empire Exhibition which was held in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow and opened by King George VI and Queen Mary on 3 June 1938. The opening ceremony held in the Ibrox Stadium was attended by 146,000 people.
During 28 years of membership he gave service in many aspects of local government, but he will be remembered particularly for his outstanding contribution as Convenor of the Parks, Municipal Transport and Parliamentary Committees. He was Lord Provost from 1943 until 1945, in which latter year he was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws, LL.D by Glasgow University. His period of office as Lord Provost (2 September 1943 – 5 November 1945) was particularly onerous, coinciding as it did with the last two years of the Second World War and all the problems and adjustments which required to be met at that time, but he guided the Council through the difficult period and identified himself with much of the early post-war planning of the city. Apart from his civic duties, he devoted much of his time to the development of the arts and he held numerous offices in various cultural societies and associations. James Welsh stepped down from his post as Lord Provost in November 1945 and did not seek re-election. However, he remained as an elected councillor until 1949 when he retired.
During the time when James Welsh was a member of the Corporation City of Glasgow and later the Lord Provost, T.J. Honeyman was the director of the Art Galleries and Museums of Glasgow. The two men got on extremely well and had a harmonious relationship. It was at this time that a decision was made by Sir William Burrell that his collection (now known as The Burrell Collection) should belong to the City of Glasgow. John Julius Norwich writes in the Introduction to the book The Burrell Collection:
Let there be no mistake about it: in all history, no municipality has ever received from one of his native sons a gift of such munificence as that which in 1944 The City of Glasgow accepted from Sir William and Lady Burrell.
Honeyman also mentions James Welsh in several places in his book Art and Audacity.
Contributions to Glasgow Cinema
Apart from his interest in politics, James Welsh also had an interest in the art movements in Glasgow. Among these was the new form of entertainment of the time, the cinema. One of his close friends, George Smith, shared the same interest. George Smith, a lifelong friend, was a Labourite like himself, who had been born and brought up in the Bridgeton area. Like James Welsh, Smith was deeply involved in the Labour party and was to follow James into the City Chambers where he was to remain a Councillor for many years. This interest in cinema had stemmed from them being staunch socialists and their intense desire to give something to the people rather than their self-monetary interests. Over the years, working together, they managed to raise their name to be amongst the pioneers of cinema in Glasgow at the beginning of the twentieth century. Their venture in this endeavour began in 1910 when James and George rented a hall in Alexandria Parade in Dennistoun and together, they turned it into a cinema and they called it the Parade. One of the first films that was shown was a Western called The Range Rider and also an interest film Glimpses of Bird Life. The prices were 2d and 4d, with separate houses nightly at 7pm and 9pm.  The Parade was very popular with the people of Dennistoun and this encouraged the partners to open another one in 1912. The second cinema was in Church Street, Hamilton and called the Cinema House. It was equally successful. Now, they owned two separate companies – The Parade Picture Houses Ltd and The Hamilton Cinema Company Ltd. So successful was their emerging and growing cinema business that James Welsh felt able to devote all his time to that business and relinquish his position as an insurance agent. By this time the cinema had become a popular form of mass entertainment and picture shows were being held everywhere. In mid-1912, there were about 50 cinemas in Glasgow.
Up until 1921 their two cinemas had been halls, originally built for other purposes. In 1921 the Welsh-Smith partners built their first cinema just round the corner from their existing one in Dennistoun. The (old) Parade had been on Alexandria Parade itself but the New Parade was built at 200 Meadowpark Street, just off the Parade. The cinema was designed by the architect Mr D MacKay Stoddart and was a substantial building with a well finished hall and a lofty auditorium, seating more than 1,400 people. The New Parade cinema was retained by the two partners throughout the twenties but was sold to a Gaumont subsidiary in 1928. During Mr Welsh’s election campaign, located in the Cathcart district on the south side of Glasgow, the new Kingsway Cinema opened on 8 May 1929. It was built for and operated by the independent Kingsway Cinema Ltd. which was owned by a conglomerate of shareholders, among them were James Welsh and George Smith. James Welsh was also named the Cinema Director and George Smith the Manager of the newly formed Kingsway Cinema Ltd. The cinema was designed by noted architect James McKissack in what was described as a Spanish-American style. Inside the auditorium, seating was provided in stalls and circle levels.
This was to be Welsh-Smith’s fourth cinema and the first in south Glasgow. However, on 7 January 1950 it was sold to George Singleton Cinemas Ltd. chain and was re-named the Vogue cinema, a name Singleton gave to all the cinemas in Glasgow that were operated by Singleton’s Circuit.
After building the Kingsway cinema, the architect James McKissack (also responsible for the La Scala) built two more cinemas for Welsh and Smith. The first one was the Mecca Picture House in Balmore Road, Possil built in 1933, to an imposing design by McKissack, to serve the new Corporation housing estate. It was opened in August 1933 and originally seated 1,620, (1,140 in the stalls and 430 in the balcony and served the older tenement area of Possilpark.
The second cinema was one of the most important cinemas built by McKissack. This was the Riddrie Cinema which stands at 726 Cumbernauld Road, Riddrie. Perhaps, at this point, it is worth noting that the former Riddrie (later to become Riddrie-Vogue) cinema is one of the best preserved 1930s suburban super-cinemas in Scotland.  It was listed Category B by Historic Scotland in 2008. This was one of McKissack’s best designs and it seems no expense was spared by Smith and Welsh in its construction. On 7 January 1950, the same date as the Kingsway Cinema was sold to Singleton Circuit, the Riddrie was also sold to the Singleton’s and as before was renamed the Vogue (the Singletons also owned the McKissack-designed Cosmo – now the GFT (Glasgow Film Theatre) – and numerous other cinemas in the West of Scotland). The Riddrie-Vogue remained a cinema until April 1968, when it went over to full time bingo. It must be noted here that combining the two roles of a busy councillor and manager of two cinemas was very time consuming for our donor and it was no surprise that in 1940 Mrs Helen Welsh was appointed Manageress of the Mecca Cinema in Possilpark. Mrs Helen Welsh was a very capable and popular manageress who took to her new role with consummate ease. She dealt firmly but fairly with staff, had a good head for figures and mixed easily with the customers.
She had to make the complicated journey between Kelvindale and Possilpark and back every day the cinema was open. She had to carry the evening’s takings home with her each evening and one night in October 1942, she was the victim of a hold-up in Kelvindale Road. Three men were later arrested and a report of the Sheriff Court case appeared in the News of the World later that year. All three admitted assaulting Mrs Helen Welsh, wife of Mr James Welsh, a Glasgow Town Councillor, and threatening to shoot her. They also admitted assaulting the woman driver of Mrs Welsh’s car, and robbing Mrs Welsh of a handbag containing £96.
The contribution made by our donor, James Welsh, to the world of cinema in Glasgow has been extremely impressive. Without a doubt, James Welsh’s and his colleague George Smith’s names will be among the pioneers of the cinema in this country.
The Final Years
On 2 September 1943, James Welsh was elected Lord Provost of the City of Glasgow. He was the nominee of the Socialist Party. He remained Lord Provost until 5 November 1945 when he demitted his office at midnight of that day. However, The Glasgow Herald of 5 October 1945 reported this news, as well as the all the retiring councillors before the imminent council elections, on 6 November 1945.
His wife, Helen, worked all her life and was always there supporting her husband, especially as the wife of the civic head of the City of Glasgow. In later life, it was an easy transition for her to undertake the supervision of one of the cinemas in which her husband was interested. In the management, especially of the Mecca picture house, she found work agreeable. Mrs Welsh was remembered by the cinema goers as a well-dressed petite lady who wore a different hat every night. Nell Greig Welsh died on 28 February 1945.
Unfortunately, she died too early for her to see her husband receiving his L.LD from Glasgow University on 26 October 1945. The event was reported on page 4 of the Glasgow Herald of Monday, 28 October 1945.
Our donor had long been interested in the Scottish Orchestra. He had also been especially concerned with the promotion of the cultural side of the civic activities, such as the development of music, open air theatres and the Glasgow Art Gallery as he had been the Convener of the Art Galleries. Therefore, almost a year later our donor was again honoured in October 1946 when he was appointed a Member of the Arts Council of Great Britain.
In the announcement of Deaths column of the Glasgow Herald of 17 December 1969, a small notice had appeared announcing that James Welsh died on 16 December 1969 and would be cremated in Linn Crematorium on 19 December 1969. On page 8 of the same newspaper under the columns entitled Death of Lord Provost of Glasgow, an obituary is printed where a summary of his life and achievements are listed and the following sentence was also included:
He combined his work with assiduous attendance at evening classes, studious reading of history, economics and widening his acquaintance with the world of art which his natural taste for music was already a passport.
I should like to acknowledge and thank Mr David Welsh for his help and time in providing me with a wider perspective of the life of our donor, Dr James Welsh, his grandfather in producing this blog. He very generously gave me a copy of his Grandfather’s unpublished biography ‘Just call me Jimmy’ A portrait of my grandfather, Dr James Welsh that he had meticulously and engagingly researched.
 City of Glasgow Corporation Minutes 1946-1947, Mitchell Library, Glasgow.
Although Mrs Grahame (known as Clara) bequeathed these paintings on her death in 1954 the portraits were in fact of members of her husband’s family. Clara’s husband was Lt Colonel John Crum Grahame (1870-1952).
Humphrey Ewing Maclae was born Humphrey Ewing .His father Walter Ewing had inherited Cathkin Estate near Rutherglen in 1790 through Walter Maclae an uncle of his mother Margaret Maclae and had added Maclae to his name at that point.Humphrey Ewing did the same on inheriting Cathkin in 1814.Walter Ewing Maclae had built Cathkin House in 1799 funded in the main through the fortune he had made in the West India Trade. By the 1790s the family owned several sugar plantations in Jamaica and 449 slaves. According to the slavery compensation claims in 1836 Humphrey Ewing Maclae owned at least three plantations which were Dallas Castle Port Royal with 161 slaves; Southfield in St Ann with 195 slaves and Lilyfield in St Ann with 93 slaves.1 John Crum Grahame was Humphrey Ewing Maclae’s great-great-nephew through his mother Agnes Crum. See Figure 4 below.
Thomas Grahame was the son of Robert Grahame of Whitehill, advocate and former Lord Provost of Glasgow and brother of James Grahame.2 He was born in Glasgow in 1792. There is no information on his early life. Although he used the title of major there is no information at this point of his military service which may have been in a militia regiment. He married Hannah Finlay of Castle Toward in 1823 with whom he had three daughters. Hannah died in 1834.3 Thomas moved to England sometime in the late 1830s at about the same time as his father Robert Grahame. In 1847 Thomas married Elizabeth Campbell in London.4 They had no children. The 1851 and 1861 census records his occupation as ‘landed proprietor,stocks and shares’ so he was of independent means. Thomas spent the rest of his life in England . In 1851 he was living in Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire with his wife, three daughters and his ninety-one year old father Robert 5 and in 18616 the family were living in Broadwater in Sussex where Thomas died in 1870.7 Thomas Grahame was the great-uncle of our donor through his father’s family. See Figure 5 below.
Hannah Finlay (1803-1834) was the eldest daughter of Kirkman Finlay (1773-1842). After the death of his father in 1790 Kirkman Finlay took over the running of his father’s business James Finlay & Co,Glasgow Merchants. He moved into the new business of cotton spinning and owned mills in Ayrshire, Stirlingshire and Perthshire. By 1810 he was the largest exporter of cotton yarn to Europe and managed to evade Napoleon’s wartime blockade. He was Lord Provost of Glasgow 1812-15 and 1818 and MP for Clyde Burghs 1812-1819.As well as Castle Toward in Argyll the Finlays had a town House in Queen Street Glasgow.8 Hannah was the first wife of Thomas Grahame of Whitehill and died at the age of 31.
John Crum Grahame (1870-1952)
John Crum Grahame, known as Jack was born in Auldhouse , Renfrewshire on 2 February 1870. He was the son of James Grahame and Agnes Crum. His mother was the daughter of John Crum of Thornliebank and his great -great -grandfather was Archibald Grahame of Drumquassie Drymen in Stirlingshire. Jack was educated at Harrow. He joined the 2nd Battalion Highland Light Infantry in 1892 as a 2nd Lieutenant after serving with the Militia and was promoted to Lieutenant in 1894. He served on the Northwest Frontier in India. In 1900 he was attached to the 1st Battalion West African Frontier Force and took part in the Ashanti Campaign and was Mentioned in Despatches and awarded the Ashanti Medal in 1901. During this period he was promoted Local Captain.
During 1901-2 he saw service with the 3rd Battalion as Local Major on the West African Frontier in Southern Nigeria and was once again Mentioned in Dispatches after the capture of Aro Chuko. He was slightly wounded during this campaign. He was awarded the DSO, the entry in the London Gazette of 12 September 1902 reported:
John Crum Grahame,Captain Highland Light Infantry. For services during the Aro Campaign in Southern Nigeria.
Between 1904 and 1907 Jack served with the Egyptian army and The Sudan Administration.9 It was during this period that Jack married Clara.
Donor. Mrs A. C Grahame 1864-1954
Our donor was born Alice Clara Purvis on 28 July 1864 at Kinaldy House on the Kinaldy Estate near St Andrews in Fife. She was the daughter of John Purvis of Kinaldy (JP) (1820-1909) and Wilhelmina(Mina) Berry of Newport-on-Tay(1827-1905). 10 She was known as Clara. Clara was the youngest of two surviving daughters. Her sister Ethel was born in 186011 and there were four brothers who lived to adulthood-Alex, Herbert, Harry and Robert.12 John Purvis’s father Alexander Purvis (1766-1844) originated from Northumberland. He emigrated to South Carolina after the American War of Independence and set up a store and cotton broking business with his eldest brother John at Charleston, Sumter and Columbia. In Columbia the site of the Purvis premises on the corner of Gervais and Main Street was known as Purvis Corner as late as 1900.The business was very successful and Alexander became an American citizen in 1795. He retired in 1809 and returned to Scotland. He purchased the Kinaldy estate near St Andrews in 1829. His only child John was born in 1820.13
John Purvis(1820-1909) was a landowner and astute businessman. He was a Justice of the Peace, and a director of the Anstruther and Fife Railway. He also had many business interests abroad.For example he invested in The Pacific Sugar Mill Company and a plantation at Kukuihaele in Hawaii (see Appendix) which was later managed by son Herbert14 and investments in New Zealand. According to Aylwin Clark:
JPwas always ready to seize the opportunity to invest in something promising well but then his caution would weigh in reproachfully, reminding him how infrequently there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.15
JP’s investments were worldwide. In the 1870s for example he invested in the Imperial Ottoman Bank, the Natal Colonization Company, the Central Railway Uruguay, the Tay Bridge and Leuchars Extension,the East London Railway,the Kansas and Pacific Railway, the Lanberg and Czarovitz Railway in Rumania and many more.16
1870s. Schooldays at home and abroad.
According to the 1871 Census the Purvis Family were staying at a house in Newport -on -Tay from where Clara’s mother Wilhelmina Berry originated. According to Clark John Purvis was not overly impressed with the way his children were turning out. At one point he wrote in is diary of his depression at the melancholy spectacle of Ethel, Clara and Harry on a Sunday evening as , ‘ devoid of sense as of sensibility’. His main grumble seemed to be that they were not enough like their mother.17
Ethel and Clara appear to have inherited their father’s love of sport and the outdoors rather than the more ladylike pursuits of their mother.
In order to improve the education of his family John took them to Dresden in 1872 for an extended stay presumably to widen their horizons. Clara would have been about ten at this point.18 At this time Dresden was a very popular city with the British and other European visitors and known as ‘Florence on the Elbe’.19 John Purvis was very keen on education both for boys and girls and he was one of the founders of St Leonards School for Girls in 1877. John Purvis was keen that girls,
should betaught matters of substance at school and be challenged to use their minds.20
The staff at St Leonards, headed by Louisa Lumsden, formerly of Cheltenham Ladies College were mostly graduates and encouraged the ideas of plain living and high thinking.
John Purvis was on the School Council for many years and acted as Chairman for the bulk of that time. Clara was a pupil at St Leonards from April 1878 to July 1879 during which time she was in the Upper Third Form.21 One of the teachers at the school, Constance Maynard, kept a diary in which Clara is mentioned several times and not to her credit. Such diary entries as ‘Clara’s ill-concealed smile’ and ‘whose influence was the worst possible’ and ‘rude, loud and on the look-out for fun’ 22 leads us to believe that Clara, aged about thirteen, was not the best behaved of pupils. In fact according to Clark Clara hated school.23
Perhaps part of the reason for this was that from about 1878 to 1880 the rest of the Purvis family was living in Bruges, Belgium or was it simply that she did not respond to being taught matters of substance and to use her mind. It appears that John Purvis’s affairs were undergoing financial difficulties as a result of a series of bad harvests, bad weather and a fall in the price of corn following the repeal of the Corn Laws. Kinaldy was rented out for the shooting while the family moved to Bruges where they could live more cheaply and where John Purvis had family connections.24
Clara joined the family in Bruges for the Christmas holidays in 1878 where she put pressure on her mother to let her leave St Leonards. According to Clark Clara could always persuade her mother to do as she wished and Mina could always influence her husband. As Mina did not approve of the ethos of the school either she was probably won over quite easily. This episode is an early indication of Clara’s character in that she was very strong minded and liked her own way and was often described as ‘difficult’. Clara did not return to St Leonards after July 1879 but was sent to a convent school in Bruges. How she performed there we do not know.25 The family underwent tragedy in Bruges in 1879 when Clara’s younger sister Mona died of pleurisy. This affected John Purvis for the rest of his life as Mona had been a favourite child.26
1880s. The Social Whirl
By the time of the 1881 census the Purvis Family was back at Kinaldy without Clara. She had been sent to The Beehive School in Windsor at the urging of her mother even though the family finances were rather stretched at this time. Correspondence between John Purvis and his wife early in 1880 gives us further indication that Clara was ‘difficult’.
Mina writes in February 1880:
I wish to send Clara to school and this cannot be delayed until we have the money as she will be sixteen in July and she should be at school till she is eighteen. We must borrow what is necessary as I think it is the only chance of making her a girl we can have any comfort in.
John Purvis replied:
As for Clara, though you do not say so I see she is giving you trouble. To spend £500 on sending her to a fashionable boarding school is, in my opinion, just so much money thrown away- she appears to delight in living in a spirit of antagonism to anyone she should be subject to and until she is …less insolent in manner and speech need not care where you send her.27
The Beehive School had been set up by Mariana Alice Browning in 1876 for the education of girls whose brothers were attending Eton College which is also in Windsor. The Beehive School was relocated to Bexhill-on-Sea in 1900.28 According to the 1881 census Clara was one of 27 girls at the school ranging in age from eleven to seventeen. There were four female teachers all in their twenties as well as the headmistress and nine servants at The Beehive.29 There is no information as to how long she stayed there. There is no mention of her in her father’s diaries for quite some time so perhaps Clara did not cause her parents any problems whilst at the school.30
After leaving school Clara lived the social life typical of a young lady of her ‘class’. She loved the outdoors and was a keen tennis player, golfer and foxhunter. She was an excellent horsewoman and a member of the Fife Hunt. Clara excelled at all sports 31 and was a member of the St Andrews Ladies Golf Club and the Fifeshire Lawn Tennis Association. There are many newspaper reports of Miss C. Purvis being successful in the Fifeshire Lawn Tennis Annual Championships.32 She also took part in the social whirl of St Andrews attending, along with other members of her family, the annual Fife Hunt Ball and the Annual Ball of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of which her father was a member.33
Clara benefited from her father’s enthusiasm for travel and in 1885 she accompanied her parents,brother Aleck and sister Ethel on a trip to the Rhineland. They visited Heidelberg, Treves, Spa, Brussels and Bruges. Unfortunately Mina developed bronchitis while the family were in Stuttgart causing great worry to her husband.34
In March 1886 Clara was bridesmaid at her sister Ethel’s wedding to Thomas Jeffrey of Edinburgh.35 There is a family story that Clara was presented at court -presumably when she was about eighteen and possibly in Edinburgh but as yet there is no documentary evidence to back this up.
For an unmarried woman of the time Clara had a lot of freedom visiting her friends on her own and joining her parents on their travels. According to Alwyn Clark,’ she could usually get her own way with her mother and as her mother could usually get JP to do what she wanted then Clara was not being frustrated as may women in her position would have been’.
Clara was now twenty- two but there is little information regarding any romance in her life. However while her father was on his second business trip to Hawaii in 1886-7 Mina took Clara to Cannes about which her mother wrote:
As far as I am concerned I could leave without regret but K(Clara) likes the life greatly.There are a number of pleasant young men, lots of tennis and a dance every week, and she usually meets with a good deal of attention and, as I came for her I shall stay until nearly the end of the month.
According to Clark one of the ‘pleasant young men’ was a Mr Glover whom Clara got to like. When Mina discovered that Mr Glover’s father’s name was over a shop called ‘Tailor and Clothier’ she put an end to the friendship, presumably as being unsuitable. Mina wrote to her husband on 27th December 1886 that Clara felt it very much but that she had given him up and her mother was sorry for her.36
Another trip took place in December 1889 this time to Egypt spending a few days in Malta on the way arriving in Alexandria on Christmas Day37 and then to Shepherd’s Hotel in Cairo where once again Mina was ill.38
1890s. Travel and More Travel
Clara’s diary for the first half of 1890 records lots of socialising in Cairo and Alexandria, numerous mentions of army officers and going to the races. She appears to be having a ball. The Purvises visited Pireaus and Athens, Trieste on April 6,Venice on April 7 followed by a tour round Italy. In May they were in Mainz on the Rhine and were back in London by 21 June where they dined at Hampton Court at whose invitation is not known.39
The Purvis family are nowhere to be found in the 1891 Census. Where were they? According to Clara’s diary for 1891 the family were off again on an extended voyage back to Egypt via the Mediterranean . One of the ships they were on was the SS AgiaSophia which called in at several North African ports. On February 2 the Purvises, ‘lunched with the Rempsters ,intro to Colonel Kitchener’ presumably the Kitchener who later became famous for his service in the Sudan, Boer War and First World War. Clara visited Luxor and ‘Karnak on a donkey’ and on March 30 visited the Bey’s Palace in Tunis. She was back in England in time to attend Ascot on June 11. 40
She was off again in 1893 leaving London on the SS Victoria this time to Gibraltar, Tangiers then to Spain where she spent time in Malaga, Seville, Cordoba and Granada.41 In 1894 she went on a trip to India with a Miss Price where ‘they travelledwidely and were treated royally and did not return until 1896.’42
It is in 1896 that the first references to ‘Mr Grahame ‘appear in Clara’s diary for that year. There are also references to quite a few letters to Mr Grahame who is given the initial “J”.43 Lieutenant John Crum Grahame (Jack)of the 2nd Battalion Highland Light Infantry was to be Clara’s future husband.
By 1898 Jack appears to have become a fixture in Clara’s life. He accompanied Clara and her mother on a trip to Dieppe on 3 June 3 and there are numerous references to her watching Jack fishing at Gilmerton (her brother Robert’s home) and dining at Kinaldy.In 1898 Clara had her portrait painted. A letter written to her brother Herbert in that year illustrates the rather cold relationship she appears to have with her father. She writes:
My portrait which I think your father rather depreciated (sic) is thought a very good likeness. No doubt it is a well-painted picture and will therefore do credit to the family gallery. Your father is obdurate about having his done so there is no use fighting him.44 It seems sad she could not just call him ‘Father’.
1900-1905. A Difficult Time
Clara was back at Kinaldy by the time of the 1901 census along with her parents and youngest brother Robert who was at home possibly recovering from wounds he had received in 1900 fighting in the Boer War. Clara was thirty -seven by this time. These years were not happy ones as in 1900 Clara’s mother had a severe stroke which affected her speech. A trained nurse, Margaret McKenzie, was also living at Kinaldy presumably to take care of Mina.45 John Purvis had become very deaf by this time and
was unable to discuss matters with Mina because he could not understand her slurred speech. This was a very unhappy time for him as on top of Mina’s illness he and Clara did not enjoy a good relationship.
Part of the problem appears to have been the worry over the financial provision her father would make for her after her parent’s death. This issue was made more pressing when The Amicable Life Insurance Company refused to insure John Purvis’s life in Clara’s favour after he had undergone a medical examination in Edinburgh. J P wrote in the spring of 1901:
I was kept in hot water with respect to Clara’s provision,giving rise to much acrimony and unpleasantness and in order to avoid matters coming to an impasse I yielded…much against my better judgement.
This appears to mean Clara was put in charge of running the household.46
No other members of the family were living at Kinaldy at that time and Clara seems to have used her new authority to its utmost. Although Clara’s brothers Aleck and Herbert recognised the misery Clara was causing their father they did not confront her even though Aleck admitted that ‘Father leads a dog’s life in his own house’.
She behaved rather strangely in several ways according to the family papers. For example she accused her brother Herbert’s children, Arthur and Inez, of stealing when they were visiting their grandparents at Kinaldy which angered Herbert’s wife greatly. Apparently the butler had complained that Arthur had taken food from the press. When questioned by Herbert the butler denied making any such complaint. Clara forbade the children to be given anything without her orders. Even more strange was a short note in the family archives from Clara’s youngest brother Robert to Herbert telling him:
Mother asks me to tell you she hopes you come out today and that when you come you will lock your bicycle up in the School Room. This is because Clara puts pins in the tyres when it is left in the lobby.
Clara also read her father’s letters and diaries and treated the servants very unfairly. So bad was the situation that in November 1904 the butler, gardener and coachman had gone before JP knew they had been given notice. By 11th July 1905 JP had been more or less driven from his own house. He wrote to his son Herbert from the Monifeith House Hotel,
I have thought it expedient to evacuate the house …. Your Mother is now so much under the evil influence of Clara that I thought more prudent on the fifty-third anniversary of our wedding to clear out.47
Of course there are always two sides to every family dispute but Clara’s behaviour does seem rather inexplicable.
As we have seen Clara had met John Crum Grahame(Jack) around 1896 when he began to appear in her diaries. Jack is recorded in various newspapers as attending social functions with the Kinaldy Party from that time.48 He also accompanied Clara and her parents on a visit to Harrogate in 1902. It is unclear how they met but Clara’s brother Harry was also in the Highland Light Infantry so perhaps they met through him. It appears to have been a long courtship. Perhaps the Boer War and other military offences postponed thoughts of marriage or there may have been another reason. Correspondence between brothers Harry and Herbert tells us:
The Mother told me yesterday that it is her belief that Clara is waiting for the Father’s death in order to marry Grahame ,intending thereby to profit by the clause in Father’s will, which gives a larger allowance if she is unmarried at her death.49
1905-1914 Married at Last
The marriage between Clara and Jack Grahame took place in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh on 27 July 1905. Any friction between Clara and her father appears to have been put aside and the bride was given away by her father. As there is no mention of Mina in the press report of the wedding we can presume she was too ill to attend. The reception was held at the Roxburgh Hotel in Edinburgh after which the couple left for a honeymoon in the Austrian Tyrol.50 At this time Jack was attached to the Egyptian Army serving in the Sudan and Clara returned to Kinaldy after the honeymoon, presumably to take care of her mother. Relations between father and daughter do not appear to have improved as in his diary for 30 September 1905 JP wrote:
Do not see how I can continue to live here while Clara is at the head of affairs-setting everyone by the ears and making mischief continually.51
It is difficult to account for this state of affairs but everything was about to change. On October 14th 1905 Mina lapsed into a coma and died at midnight. Clara wrote in her diary on Sunday 15 October :
My Mother died just at midnight with her hand in mine. She looked up just before death and gave me a sad loving look and I think recognised the others.52
JP was eighty-six two days later. Clara moved to Gilmerton the home of her youngest brother Robert but not before dismissing all the servants without consulting her father. She also took with her items which did not belong to her according to her father.53This matter was eventually sorted out only with the intervention of William Kirk an Edinburgh lawyer who was also a relative and this seemed to put an end to the battle between Clara and her father.54
Kinaldy House was rented to JP’s eldest daughter Ethel and her husband Tom Jeffreys and JP moved to the Imperial Hotel St Andrews and then to a house in Queens Gardens St Andrews. JP’s eldest son Aleck took over the running of the Kinaldy Estate.56
The couple returned to Kinaldy after the honeymoon and on 7 September Jack left for the Sudan.56 It was not until January 1906 that Clara set off to join him. She was in Cairo by February where she sees the local sights and socialises with other army types. She arrived in Khartoum in Sudan on Thursday 15 March via Luxor and sees Jack who looks ill.57
In 1908 Jack was posted to India and Clara went with him. Entries in her diary record the journey thus:
January 16thpassed Malta, January 24th passed Aden,30th January arrived in Bombay,3rd February arrived Dinapore after which Jack left for Barrackpore.
Clara joined him on 10 March and they enjoyed some socialising in Calcutta. They were still in Calcutta in November 1908 and appear to have stayed there for a further year.58 By this time Jack had been promoted to Major.59
John Purvis died on 21 June 1909 in a nursing home in Edinburgh60 and Clara inherited Lingo Estate which her father had purchased in 1852. Lingo Estate adjoins the Kinaldy Estate to the south west.61 This was to be the home of Clara and Jack until 1952.62
In 1910 Jack was with the Second Battalion HLI in Cork.63 He also took part in the Coronation Ceremony of King George Vth in 1910 after which he was awarded the Coronation Medal.64 In 1911 he was appointed Superintendent of the Military Prison in Cork. 65 There is no information regarding Clara’s whereabouts during this period and she does not appear to be in the Census records for England, Scotland or Ireland. By 1913 and with war looming Jack was commanding the Third Battalion HLI, a Special Reserve Battalion based in Hamilton.66 Jack was in command of the troops during the visit of George Vth and Queen Mary to Hamilton in July 1914.67
An advertisement had appeared in the Situations Vacant section of the Scotsman on 30 May 1914 asking for a house sewing maid from early June for a small house in Lanarkshire to serve a lady and gentleman. Particulars were to be sent to Mrs J C Grahame at 31 Dover Street, London. This suggests that Clara and Jack would be living near to the Hamilton Depot and also that they had a base in London. The advertisement also tells us that a cook and butler were also employed.,
War Years 1914-18
On 19 August 1914 Jack was promoted Temporary Lieutenant Colonel of the 10th (Service) Battalion HLI which he had raised organised and trained. In May 1915 he and his battalion were sent to France.68 Clara appears to have spent at least some time in London as on June 5 1915 an advertisement appears in the Hamilton Advertiser asking for donations for comforts for the 10th Battalion HLI and that donations be sent to Mrs J C Grahame wife of Lt Colonel Grahame at the Dover Street address.
An entry in Clara’s diary for 25 September 1915 tells us that Jack was badly gassed at the Battle of Loos. In January 1916 he was Mentioned in Dispatches for ‘gallant and distinguished conduct in the field’.69 He continued to command the 10th battalion until March 1916 when he was invalided home presumably because of the cumulative effects of front line service. Later entries in Clara’s diary inform us that she went to visit him in hospital in Dublin and brought him back to England on the night boat.70 What Clara does not mention, perhaps because she was preoccupied with Jack, was that her nephew John,son of Clara’s brother Herbert, was killed on 25 September71 and her brother Harry was wounded while commanding the 15th Battalion HLI and for which he won the DSO.72
Jack returned to the front in December 1916 in command of the 10th/11th HLI, then the 12th Battalion, later the 9th Battalion (The Glasgow Highlanders). Finally he assumed field command of his old battalion the 2nd HLI. Also in December 1916 he was promoted to full Lt Colonel.73 In April 1917 at the Battle of Arras Jack was severely wounded and this put an end to his front line service until the end of the war.74 There is no information at this point as to Clara’s activities during the war.
In October 1919 Jack attended the funeral of Major General Scrase- Dickinson who had been invalided out of the HLI after the Battle of Loos in October 1917 and never recovered. Scrase -Dickinson had been best man at Jack and Clara’s wedding in July 1905.75
Jack retired from the army in 192176 as a result of his wounds and he and Clara lived at Lingo House until 1951.There are few snippets of information about Jack and Clara during the 1920s. On 1 January 1927 The Scotsman reported a break-in at Lingo House on 18/19 November when James Taylor of no fixed abode stole an Indian tweed overcoat, scarf, lady’s coat, three postage stamps and two message bags. Taylor was sent to prison for six months.
There is little information about Jack and Clara in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Clara’s brother Robert owned the nearby Gilmerton and Brigton Estates while her brother Harry lived at Kinaldy which he had bought from his elder brother Alexander in 1921.77 One presumes there would be contact between the siblings. Clara’s great nephew John Purvis remembers cycling over to Lingo to visit Clara and despite her fearsome reputation does not remember having any problem with his great-aunt and describes Jack as ‘quitedelightfully easy going‘.78 There are numerous mentions in the local press about Jack’s salmon fishing on the River Tay. One day in February 1935 he caught a 20lb salmon79, in January 1937 a 22lb fish80 and in January 1939 a 27lb salmon.81
In November 1940, 551 acres of the Lingo Estate was requisitioned for war use.82 According to his obituary Jack played his part in the Home Guard from 1940 until 1944.83
According to family legend Clara continued to be a force to be reckoned with. One story relates how a visitor to Lingo during the war found the local post lady sitting in the hall. When asked why she replied that she had been ordered by Mrs Grahame to wait until she had finished her correspondence so the post lady could take it with her to the post office.84
In 1949 Jack made a claim to the General Claims Tribunal for damage done during the requisition period. He was awarded £1500. At a different tribunal, the Land Court in 1951, the Secretary of State put in a claim for £3430 for improvements done during the requisition period. This was reduced to £2150 and was upheld by the Land Court. A case of two tribunals looking at an issue from different points of view as the judges commented. The final outcome of the matter is unknown.85
Jack and Clara sold Lingo in October 1951 and moved to an apartment in Cameron House Arden Dunbartonshire86 where they lived until Jack’s death on 19 August 1952.He was buried in Dunino Churchyard with representatives of the Highland Light Infantry honouring him.87
Clara moved back to Fife and lived in a flat at Strathvithie House, Dunino. She died two years later on 17th August 1954 and was buried in Dunino Churchyard alongside Jack.88
As well as the three paintings she donated to Glasgow Museums Clara donated to the 2nd Battalion HLI a silver bowl which Jack had won in Jersey riding his horse Sir James. To the regimental depot she left a testimonial for valor signed by King George V after the 1914-18 war along with an oak display table and a French cabinet containing Jack’s manuscripts with maps and portraits of the history of the 74th Highland Regiment. After several bequests the residue of her estate which was £24,714 was used to set up the John Grahame of Lingo Memorial Trust which is still used to help the families of former HLI soldiers especially for education purposes.89
Appendix. The Hawaii Connection
Archibald Scott Cleghorn whose family came from Anstruther in Fife, had gone out to Honolulu with his father in 1851 to set up a dry goods business. He stayed on after his father’s death and expanded the business. He married Miriam K Likelike, his second wife, whose brother David became the King of Hawaii in 1874. As David had no children the Cleghorn’s daughter Victoria Kaiulani (Princess Kaiulani) became heir presumptive to the throne of Hawaii. Hers is an interesting but sad story. She returned to Hawaii after a British education only to see her country annexed by the USA in 1893 and died in 1899 at the age of twenty-three.90
Clara’ brother Herbert had gone out to Hawaii in the late 1870s to join his father’s cousin Robert Purvis who had invested in a sugar plantation in Hawaii, John Purvis having given Herbert £1000 to start him off. The investment at Kukuihaele was extended to include a sugar mill.91
The Cleghorn family were related to the Sprots of Strathnivie, the estate which bordered Kinaldy and so were neighbours of the Purvises.92 Nancy Sprot was a bridesmaid at Jack and Clara’s wedding.93Through that connection the Purvis family became close to Princess Kaiulane . She was godmother to Herbert’s daughter Inez and gave her a napkin ring made of silver Hawaiian coins as a christening gift. This gift is still in the possession of the Purvis Family. Clara must have known her, as she signed Kauilane’s autograph book sometime in the 1880s, probably during the time the princess was at school in Britain.94
My grateful thanks to Clara’s great -nephew John Purvis and his wife Louisa for welcoming me into their home and sharing information about the history of Purvis Family which John has been researching for many years. I am particularly grateful for his discovery of Aylwin Clarks biography of Clara’s father John Purvis of Kinaldy. Thanks also to their son Rob who also welcomed me into his home and gave me permission to use wonderful family photographs and portraits. Rob was also responsible for extracting invaluable information from Clara’s diaries which I used in Clara’s story. Last but not least I must thank Angela Tawse, Librarian of St Leonard’s School, St Andrews for confirming Clara’s attendance at the school and for putting me in touch with the Purvis family. JMM
In 1947, the portrait of Adam Carter Hay was offered to Glasgow museums by the lawyer acting for Jesse Henderson Hay on the instructions of her late husband that the painting should be given to Glasgow museums to hang in the People’s Palace (1). The painting was a portrait by Maurice Greiffenhaggen of Adam C Hay painted on the occasion of his retirement from R and J Dick.
Jessie Henderson Smith was born to John Smith and Agnes Marion Smith née Ferrier on the 12 November 1893 in Cardross. (2) Her father was a headmaster and her parents had been married in Kirkliston. (3) Little is known of her early life and education and she first appears in the 1901 Census (4) visiting Newington with her mother and older sister. She was the second wife of Adam Carter Hay and their marriage certificate (5) of 12 March 1926 describes her as a private nurse. Her husband died on the 13 September 1936. (6) She is next found travelling to Montréal in 1937. (7) When and where she died is not known.
Adam Carter Hay has been described in the Bailie as the archetypal example of “rags to riches”. (8) He was born on 16 May 1861 to William Hay, harbour labourer, and his wife Margaret Campbell living in Clyde Street, Glasgow. (9) He was with the Dick Company for 47 years starting as an office boy, then becoming a labourer proceeding to foreman and finally retiring as managing director. The Bailie has described him as being” an outstanding personality controlling a great business who retained the affection and loyalty of all grades of his employees”.(10) They attribute this to his knowledge of the business from A to Z. He was also a well-known figure in the business and social life of Glasgow; a member of Trades House and a Mason and a member of the other charitable organisations. Particularly as President of the Bridgeton Burns Club he was the moving spirit in raising £1150 for the Erskine House Hospital for Disabled Sailors and Soldiers in October 1917.
To understand the working life of Adam Hay one must describe the firm set up by the Dick Brothers. This is very fully chronicled in “100 years of Gutta-percha, R and J Dick Ltd” by Aird and Coghill Ltd Glasgow. (11) R and J Dick were from Kilmarnock. (12) They moved with their parents to Glasgow at an early age and John was apprenticed to an upholsterer and Robert to a jeweller but it was the coming of gutta-percha which made their fortune. Gutta-percha was rubber from Singapore. They made rubber soled shoes – 34,000 per week at the height of production – in the Greenhead works on Glasgow Green. In the 1840s, adequate insulation was needed for the transatlantic cables and gutta-percha proved ideal for this. They worked successfully with William Thompson, Lord Kelvin, on developing these cables.
The next opportunity came with the increase in the number of manufacturing industries and the need for transmission belts in factories. In the 19th century power transmission was achieved solely by leather belting but this was not entirely satisfactory. In 1885 Robert Drake produced a driving belt made from rubber. Gutta percha was not suitable for this because it was too soft but a vegetable gum known as balata was found in South America. Thus the balata belt industry was born and became global.
Adam Hay (13) was recognised as an expert in belting and he superintended important installations in many of the great factories on the continent notably in France, Spain and Germany. He also took a leading part in the establishment and opening up of the Passaic factory, New Jersey.
On the death of James Dick, in 1902, the business was left to a number of his old employees, among whom was Mr Adam Hay. He resigned in 1920 but on the death of the then managing director, he was reappointed and remained in post until his death.
He married twice. His first wife with whom he had four daughters was Ellen Todd(14) and after her death he married Jessie Henderson Smith in 1926.(15) He died on the 13th September, 1936.(16) The date of death of Jessie Hay is not known.
Minutes of Glasgow City Council 17th May 1947
National Records of Scotland Statutory Register of Births 1893
National Records of Scotland Census 1901
National Records of Scotland Statutory Register of Marriages 1926
National Records of Scotland Statutory Register of Deaths 1936
Ancestry.co.uk Passenger Lists 1937
The Bailie. Men you know.2444. August 20th 1919
National Records of Scotland Statutory Register of Births 1861