Mrs A.H Pollen (or Maud Beatrice Lawrence) (1877-1962)


Figure 1. Maud Beatrice Lawrence . Artist  Robert Brough  1898. Acc 344. © CSGCIC  Glasgow Museum. (

Robert Brough (1872-1905) was born in Invergordon, Ross-shire and brought up in Aberdeen. He was a student at the Royal Scottish  Academy Life School in 1891. He was a close friend of J.D. Peploe with whom he spent a few months in Paris, returning to Aberdeen for three years where he earned his living as a portrait painter. He moved to London in 1897 and became a friend and neighbour of J.S Sergeant who influenced his technique.1 This portrait is of our donor aged about twenty one and was painted before her marriage. Brough  died at the age of 33 in a railway accident in Yorkshire in 1905. This portrait of Maud Beatrice Lawrence was one of the exhibits at a memorial exhibition of Brough’s work held at the Burlington Gallery in London in 1907. It was reported in the  Scotsman that, ”the pink satin and flowing chiffon of the dress are painted with wonderful cleverness”.2

We do not know why this painting was donated to Glasgow as there does not seem to be any link between Glasgow and Mrs Pollen except perhaps ,as we shall see, Lord Kelvin was a friend and business associate of her  father Joseph Lawrence. Maud donated the  portrait in 1951 while she was living at Cranleigh Gardens in Kensington. Perhaps she was downsizing? There is some evidence that she offered it first of all to Aberdeen Art Gallery, possibly because Robert Brough came from Aberdeen. It appears that for some reason the offer was declined and the portrait was presented to Glasgow instead but there is no information as to the reasoning behind this.3

Maud Beatrice Pollen (or Lawrence) 1877-1962

Our donor was born on 28 April 1877  at Urmston, Lancashire. She was the only child of Joseph Lawrence (1847-1919) and Margaret  Alice Jackson.4   There is little information about her early life but as  according to a later comment, “they travelled a lot for some years”5,we can perhaps presume that wherever her father went to work she and her mother went too.

Thus we can say that she probably lived in Urmston until c1878 as her   father  was deputy secretary to the Manchester, Sheffield and Liverpool Railway Company.6 They  then moved to Kingston-upon-Hull when her father went to work for the Hull Dock Company 7 and then briefly for the Hull, Barnsley and West Riding Junction Railway and Dock Company.8 Neither Maud or her parents appear in the 1881 UK Census so they probably accompanied Joseph to South Africa in early 1881 when Joseph  went to work for a railway company  in the Cape of Good Hope  travelling on the Royal Mail packet, SS Balmoral Castle.9

1882 sees the Lawrence family  back in Manchester, presumably with Maud and her mother,  when Joseph Lawrence began working for the company which supported the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal.10

The only information about Maud in her early years is a report in 1884 of her attendance aged seven at a “Character Ball” for “juveniles” held by M.D Adamson, JP at The Towers, Didsbury. Maud was among fifty children attending and was dressed as “Folly”.11  M. D. Adamson was an old friend and colleague of her father.12 Maud was educated at various private schools including in the USA and Dresden but there are no further  details available  about  travelling to the USA and Dresden except a reference, “ up till 1889 one year in Dresden at a pension.”13

According to the 1891 UK census the Lawrence’s family home was a house called Oaklands, Park Road, Kenley in Surrey. The house was set in two acres of land and had, “three reception rooms,10 bedrooms, bath and dressing rooms, servants hall (or library), excellent cellarage”.14. The 1891 census also states that Joseph Lawrence’s occupation was now that of ‘newspaper proprietor. It is thought that Joseph Lawrence first became involved in the newspaper world  during his time working for the Manchester Ship Canal Project when he produced a weekly newspaper The Ship Canal Gazette as part of the campaign to influence public opinion in favour of the Manchester Ship Canal Project.15

Figure 2. The  Ship Canal Gazette  June 20 1893. © Peel Holdings

  Then in the late1880s Joseph Lawrence became involved in the production of a railway staff magazine The Railway Herald 16 where he complained that the  cost of typesetting ”was draining my purse”.17 Possibly as a result of this experience Joseph Lawrence played a large part in the revolutionising of the printing industry both at home and abroad and which, as we shall see later , indirectly influenced his daughter’s future. On a trip to America Lawrence had come across the Linotype machine which had been invented by a German watchmaker Ottmar Mergenthaler. These machines cut the cost of typesetting by 60% ,thus making newspapers, magazines and books available to a wider public. In 1895 Lawrence set up The Linotype Company in Manchester and then in Broadheath, Altringham to manufacture the typesetting machines  which  were soon adopted by newspaper and book publishers all over the world.18

Figure 3. The Linotype Company Broadheath. ©Trafford Local Studies Collection .TL 2534

The new machines were used by Lawrence  when, in July 1897, along with another railway enthusiast Frank Cornwall, he produced the first issue of The Railway Magazine which was aimed at all railway enthusiasts and which is still in production today.19

 Figure 4. First issue of Railway Magazine  July 1897 ©  Mortons Media  Group

 As well as being a newspaper proprietor Joseph Lawrence  became the  Member  of Parliament for Monmouth in 1901 and was  knighted in 1903 for his services to the printing industry.20

After all the moving from place to place  according to where her father’s career took him by the early 1890s the family appear to have settled at Oaklands.                                                

Figure 5. Joseph Lawrence  1902  © National Portrait Gallery NPGx31509

At some point between 1891 and 1895 Maud became a pupil at The Cliff, St John’s Road, Eastbourne which was a private boarding school for girls run by Mrs Emma Powers.21 Mrs Powers was the wife of the Reverend Philip Bennett Powers(1822-1899) a Church of England minister who held several appointments until around 1865 when his health forced him to retire from his post as vicar of Christ Church, Worthing in Sussex.22 By this time there were seven children in the family.23 The Reverend Bennett then took up writing and between 1864 and 1894 produced over  one hundred short religious tracts and individual longer tracts.24 The 1881 census tells us that Mrs Powers was the “Principal of  a Ladies School” in Ham which was  a suburb of Richmond in Surrey. Perhaps Mrs Powers had taken up this profession to supplement the family income, though this is speculation. The school had  fifty-four pupils in 1881 ranging in age from thirteen to eighteen.25 By 1892 the Powers had moved to Eastbourne and opened The Cliff in St Johns Road. We do not know exactly when this school was opened as there is no trace of  Philip or Emma Powers in the 1891 census . However in 1892 The Gentlewoman magazine reported in an article which gave advice and recommendations of schools  entitled, ”Our Children and How to Educate them” which stated  that if a reader  chose to send a daughter to school in Eastbourne, ”The training, discipline and education she will receive with Mrs Power, The Cliff, St Johns Road is incomparable.”26 Of course this article might well have been merely  advertising but at least we know the school was there by 1892.

We do not know exactly when Maud began at The Cliff but she had certainly left  by the end of the summer term in 1895 as in the autumn of that year  she entered Girton College, Cambridge as a student. At the time of entry her home address was 24,Cranley Gardens London SW7 probably  the Lawrence’s London home. She did not sit the entrance examinations known as the Previous Parts 1and 2 which meant she was “allowed” them because of examinations taken while at school.27

In 1858 the first public examinations for schools had been introduced . The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge had been approached by headmasters of many schools to produce these examinations as a way of marking their pupils’ attainment and enabling boys to take the “locals”, as they were known, where they lived. Girls were allowed to take these examinations from 1867. There were two stages, the Junior for under sixteens and the Senior for under eighteens, which would eventually also be  allowed for university entrance.  From 1860 examiners from Cambridge travelled by train  to village and church halls all over the country wearing full academic dress and carrying the examination papers in  a locked box. The examinations took place over six or seven days. Most schools made a point of advertising the fact that they prepared pupils for these “locals”. The exemptions had been introduced in 1893 and this is probably how Maud gained her place at Girton.28 Mrs  Emma Powers gave a standard character reference to support Maud’s application for entry, though we have no details of this.29                                                                                                   

Figure 6. First Year Students 1895. Girton College. Maud is 5th from left on back row. ©  Girton College Archives

Maud appears to have studied languages . German was available for study from 1886 and in 1896 Maud studied for and passed what were known as Additional Papers in German. In her first year these papers covered translation into English from selected books and questions on grammar. According to the Girton College Archives  in  her second year 1896-1897 Maud would have moved on to what was known as Tripos study30, perhaps in MML(Medieval and Modern Languages) ,”as she was clearly good at languages”. However there is no record of which Tripos she was studying. Maud did not complete three years at Girton but left in the Easter term of 1897 for what the College noted were ”family reasons” but with no further information.31

Figure 7. Clara Butt – Famous Contralto  ©National Portrait Gallery NPG x 197258

The next we hear of Maud is the announcement of her engagement to Arthur Hungerford Pollen in April 1898 .Perhaps this was Maud’s reason for leaving Girton. Her address at the time was given as Oaklands, Kenley, the family home. 32 To celebrate her engagement and her coming of age as well as their silver wedding anniversary Maud’s parents held a reception at  Oaklands. The famous  contralto Clara Butt performed  at the event along with Whitney Mockridge, a Canadian tenor  and the Royal Welsh Ladies Choir.33

Arthur  Hungerford Pollen (1866-1937) was the sixth son of a family of eight children born to John Hungerford Pollen and his wife Maria. Arthur’s grandfather was Sir Richard Hungerford Pollen(1786-1838), third Baronet of Redenham in Hampshire.34   In 1852  Arthur’s father  had been one of the prominent  converts to Catholicism  influenced by his  friend and former fellow student John Henry Newman later Cardinal Newman. John H Pollen was an Anglican clergyman by training but gave up holy orders in 1852 on his conversion to Catholicism and turned to art and architecture in which career he was greatly assisted by Cardinal Newman.35

Arthur Hungerford Pollen was born in London on 13 September 1866. He attended Birmingham Oratory School which had been founded by Cardinal Newman in 1859.36 Arthur then went to Trinity College, Oxford where he graduated with a BA Honours in History. He  became a barrister-at-law at Lincolns Inn in 1893.In 1895 he stood as Liberal candidate for Walthamstow but was never elected.37Arthur’s interests appear to have gone beyond the law and politics as he was at the time of his engagement also the Saturday reviewer and art critic of the Westminster Gazette and ”late acting editor of the Daily Mail”.38

 Arthur’s leisure interests before his marriage were those of the rich such as racing, polo and hunting both at home and abroad. In 1893 while hunting big game in the Canadian Rockies he and his party were lost for two weeks and had to resort to shooting and eating some of their horses. The party was led by Lord Henry Somerset, son of Lady Henry Somerset ,”England’s famous apostle of temperance”.39 There is  evidence that Arthur was also a  supporter of temperance.40 In September 1897 we find Arthur hunting deer in the Highlands on the Lochrosque Estate of Arthur Bignold, owner of the Norwich Union Fire Insurance Company, and attending balls associated with The Northern Meetings in Inverness.41 The year before Francis Pollen, a brother of Arthur, also attended the hunting at Lochrosque so perhaps the Bignolds were family friends.42 Maud appears to have become engaged to a man with as much energy and as many interests as her father.

According to the Western Mail Arthur was  also managing director of the Linotype Company of which Maud’s father was chairman.43 There is no information at this point which states how he came to be appointed though at the AGM of the Linotype Company in March 1898  Joseph Lawrence had suggested to the Board ,”that someone from the newspaper trade should be added to the Board who could give them more advice and assistance.”44 Whether Arthur was appointed as managing director of Linotype through his being the prospective son-in-law of Joseph Lawrence or whether he met Maud after that appointment we do not know but the consensus of opinion is that he proved himself to be a shrewd businessman and intelligent  technical innovator.45

One example of Arthur’s talents and initiative and which confirmed that he was involved in the management  of the  Linotype Company before his  marriage was demonstrated at what was thought at the time  to be the biggest society event of 1898 . This was The Press Bazaar held on 28th and 29th June 1898 at the Cecil Hotel in London. There had been an appeal in the press in March 1898 by the board of the London Hospital which catered for the poor of the East End of London for £100,000 funding from the government.46 Led primarily by Mrs J.A. Spender, wife of the editor of the Westminster Gazette  around thirty-four prominent newspapers decided to hold a charity event to raise funds for the hospital  by holding The Press Bazaar where each newspaper or a group of newspapers would manage stalls selling a range of objects to the public who would pay an entry fee to the bazaar of 5/- or 2/6d.

 Arthur hit upon the idea of  writing, editing,” setting up”  a newspaper in the hotel  over the two days of the event  using a Linotype machine and printing the newspaper on the premises. News Agencies such as Reuters installed their communication equipment in the hotel and the proprietors and  editors of the all the prominent newspapers joined the “staff” of the Press Bazaar News. Arthur was the “managing editor” of what was possibly the shortest lifespan of a newspaper ever of two days during which numerous editions were produced and sold for 1/- each. The bazaar was opened by the Princess of Wales and the stalls were run by as many duchesses and countesses as well as a multitude of high society ladies as one would see at a coronation. Around 10,000 visitors attended the event, though those with the cheaper tickets were not allowed in until the Princess of Wales had left the building.47 The Press Bazaar raised £12,000 for the London Hospital.48 Of course as well as raising money for the London Hospital the use of the Linotype equipment and the carrying of the total financial responsibility for the production of Press Bazaar News  would have been brilliant publicity for the Linotype Company.

The Lawrence-Pollen wedding took place on  7th September 1898 at Brompton Oratory as Arthur was a Catholic. Presumably Maud converted to Catholicism before her wedding. The wedding service was conducted by one of Arthur’s brothers the Reverend Anthony Hungerford Pollen. The bridegroom  ”did a very effective setting of Tantum Ergo”.49

The wedding was a big social event and  was reported in many newspapers. The report in the Croyden Chronicle of 10th September 1898 covered four columns.  Among the hundreds of guests was the Duke of Norfolk and the American Ambassador Colonel Hay as well as numerous  members of the aristocracy, journalists, diplomats, politicians and commercial friends. The reception was held in the Empress Rooms, Royal Palace Hotel, Kensington Gardens. Fifty or so of the staff of Oaklands, the Lawrence country home in Kenley, also attended the  ceremony. However they dined at a West End café with the head gardener Mr Bannerman in the chair. Maud and Arthur spent their honeymoon at Elmwood in Kent which was the country home of Alfred Harmsworth the proprietor of the Daily Mail.50

 As is often the situation with female donors there is little information available  about the donor herself. There is no trace of the family in the 1901 census,  but by 1911 Maud and Arthur were living at New Cottage ,Walton-on-the-Hill, Epsom51 but also had a London address at 69, Elmpark Gardens London SW .52

During the first four years of marriage Maud and Arthur had three children. Arthur Joseph Lawrence Pollen was born in 1899 at Oaklands, the Lawrence family home.53 Arthur went on to become a sculptor.54 John Anthony Pollen was born in Chelsea in September 1900 55 and Margaret Mary Pollen was born in Chelsea in September 1901.56 Sadly Margaret died at the age of almost five in August 1905.57 There were no more children after that.

  The little we know about Maud is from newspaper reports which tells us they were considered newsworthy by the press. In  May 1903 she and Arthur went on a trip to the Mediterranean  to help Arthur recover from an attack of “articular rheumatism”.58 The couple attended several society weddings during the next few years, for example in January 1904 they attended the wedding of Lady Marjorie Greville ,daughter of Lord and Lady Warwick, to Viscount Helmsley.59

Although we hear little of Maud her husband is mentioned frequently in the press. He continued as managing director of the Linotype Company for ten years and was elected to the board of directors in 1899 along with Lord Kelvin.60 He travelled frequently to the USA for the next 30 years including the war years but there is no evidence that Maud accompanied him.61

To add to Arthur’s portfolio of interests in 1900 he witnessed a naval gunnery practice in Malta through a relative, Commander William Goodenough and was disturbed by the inaccuracy of the naval guns even at a range of less than a mile. With the help and advice of scientist and mathematician Lord Kelvin and his brother James Thomson Arthur  used the resources of Linotype and especially a designer named Harold Isherwood to develop an “Aim Correction” system which used an analogue computer to improve the fire control of naval guns by enabling the calculation of the range of the guns when the ships  and the targets were in motion. He set up the Argo Company in 1909 to develop and produce the equipment. The Argo system was not adopted for use by the Royal Navy during WW1 for political reasons however after the war it was confirmed that many aspects of the Argo system had been used in the Dreyer System which was used and Arthur Pollen was paid £30,000 compensation in 1926. Arthur also published books and articles on naval warfare which often criticised the conduct of the war at sea.62

It is after the war that Maud’s father died suddenly. It is one of life’s sad ironies that Joseph Lawrence died in a railway station, having spent a large part of his working life involved in railways. The Surrey Mirror and County Post of 31 October 1919 reported that while travelling back to his home in Kenley after attending a dinner in London he had a heart attack and was taken from the train  at East Croyden station where he died. He was buried in Coulsden Churchyard with a memorial service shortly afterwards at St Margarets in Westminster.

Figure 8. Arthur Hungerford Pollen. © National Portrait Gallery Reserved Collection

After the war Arthur continued as part-time director of Linotype and joined the board of The Birmingham Small arms Company (BSA), Daimler and several others.63  We do know from the press that Maud was supplied with a new  Daimler car in1931 possible a benefit of being married to one of the directors.64 He became vice-president of the Council of the Federation of British Industries and chairman of the British Commonwealth Union. He believed in the role of the entrepreneur in the growth of industry and campaigned against the growth of socialism. In 1926 he resumed the role as managing director of Linotype and hired one of the first management consultants T. Gerald Rose to reorganise the company. In 1936 he was part of a group of Catholics who acquired the Catholic magazine The Tablet serving as its chairman for a year while its fortunes were restored.65

The couple lived at various addresses in Kensington and Chelsea such as Elmpark Gardens, Wilton Place  and St James Court while maintaining a country home at Walton-on-the Hill near Reigate.66  Arthur Hungerford Pollen died at his London home in St James Court on January 28 1937 aged 71.67

After her husband’s death Maud continued to live in London’s West End. In 1939 she was living at 24 Cranleigh Gardens, Kensington which is the same address as her parents’ London home so perhaps she inherited this but this is speculation. There is no information as to her activities during WW2  at the end of which she was sixty -eight years old.

Maud   remained  at 24 Cranleigh Gardens until 195668 when she became a resident  of St Johns Convent, Kiln Green ,Twyford in Berkshire. She was  seventy -six by this time. As well as being a convent St Johns appears to have  been a residential home for the  elderly.69 Maud Beatrice Pollen died at St Johns Convent on 12th May 1962.70


Many thanks to Hannah Westall of Girton College Archives, Michelle Owen, Archives Officer with Manchester Central Library, Lisa Olrichs, Rights and Images Office, National Portrait Gallery, London  and Emma Boyd of the National Library of Scotland for all their help in the production of this report.

Notes and References

1.  Halsby, Julian and Harris ,Paul  Dictionary Of Scottish Painters 1600-1990 p21. Canongate, 1990.

2. Scotsman  08/02/1907. p7

3. Glasgow Museums Resource Centre . Object Files. Mrs A.H. Pollen

4. Statutory Births

5. Maud Beatrice  Lawrence

6.  Railway Magazine 1919 Vol 45pp436-7

7.  Hull Packet and East Riding Times  08/02/1878 p.2

8. Deacon ,Nick  The Hull and Barnsley Railway Company .No 1.Formation and Early Years. P15. pub Lightmoor Press 2020

9.  Surrey Mirror and County Post. 31/10/1919 p.2

10. op. cit ref 6

11. Alderley and Wilmslow Advertiser 12/01/1884 p6

12. op cit. ref 11

13. op.cit ref 5

14. The Standard 20/04/1880 p8


16.  Grantham Journal 10/11/1888 p.6

17. op. cit ref 9



20. op.cit ref 9

21. op cit. ref 5


23. UK Census 1861,1871,

24. op cit. Ref 22

25. UK Census 1881

26. The Gentlewoman 21/06/1892 p.24

27. op cit. ref 5



29. op cit. ref 5

30. The Tripos are the recognised courses leading to a BA Honours Degree at Cambridge.

31. op cit ref 5

32. Chelmsford Chronicle  08/04/1898 p 7

33.TheGentlewoman 16/07/1898 p66



37. op cit. ref 32

38. Western Mail 08/09/1898 p 7

39.Toronto Mail  27/11/1893  p3

40. Derby Mercury 18/04/1894 p7

41. Highland News 18/09/1897 p5

42. Glasgow Herald 05/09/1896 p7

43. Western Mail  08/09/1898 p4

44. Belfast Newsletter 18/03/1898 p??


46. Bicester Herald 13/05/1898 p4

47. Morning Post 29/06/1898 p7

48. Evening Telegraph 19/07/1898 p5

49. op cit. ref 38

50. Croyden Chronicle 10/09/1898  p3

51. UK Census 1911

52. The Globe 15/02/1915 p7

53. Statutory Births


55. Statutory Births

56. as above

57. Statutory Deaths

58. St James Gazette 05/05/1903 p2

59. Leamington,Warwick Daily Circular 20/01/1904 p. 3

60. Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer 15/02/1900 p8

61. Passenger Lists . Arthur Hungerford Pollen

62. op cit. ref 34

63. as above

64. The Sketch o8/04/1931 p44

65. op.cit ref 34

66. Electoral Rolls 1920-1937

67. Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer 29/01/1937 p2

68. Electoral Rolls 1938-1956

69. as above 1956-1961

70. Statutory Deaths

Humphrey Gordon Roberts-Hay-Boyd (1866 – 1931)

The Town Clerk reported that the late Rev. Humphrey Gordon Roberts Hay Boyd, Townend-of-Symington, Ayrshire, had by his Trust Disposition and Settlement*, directed his Trustees to convey and deliver free of legacy duty certain pictures from his art collection to the Kelvingrove Art Galleries. The Director reported that the said bequest consisted of the following pictures viz:

1. Oil painting of roses in a gilt frame by S.J. Peploe. (This painting was not subsequently given to Glasgow).

2. Small oil painting The Fisherman by J. Weissenbruch. (This painting was ascribed to Jan Hendrick Weissenbruch (1824-1903) Dutch but is probably by his son Willem Johannes (1864 – 1941). Its title is now An Artist Sketching from a Boat – early 1900s (Accession number 2231).

Weissenbruch, Jan Hendrik, 1824-1903; An Artist Sketching from a Boat

3. Oil painting on panel A River Scene by Charles-Francois Daubigny (1817 – 1898). Now titled River Scene Sunset – 2230.

Daubigny, Charles-Francois, 1817-1878; River Scene, Sunset

4. Watercolour Drawing Sunset Brise (Briare) by the French master Henri Harpignes (1819 – 1916) – 2235.

5.Water Colour Drawing, Barge in Dry Dock by Robert Purves Flint, R.S.W. (1883 – 1947) – 2234. This is an oil painting not a watercolour.

 6. Oil painting Ploughing by the French master Leon L’Hermitte (1844 – 1925). Now called Ploughing with Oxen, Evening, 1871 – 2229

Lhermitte, Leon-Augustin, 1844-1925; Ploughing with Oxen

This painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1872 with title Oxen Ploughing. 1 It was purchased by H.G.R. Hay-Boyd after 1918, probably from Eugene Cremetti, London. 

7. Small oil painting River Scene by Frank Brissot – (Active 1879 – 1881) – 2233

Brissot, Frank, active 1879-1881; River Scene

The committee agreed the bequest be accepted’.2

*His will stated that the pictures should remain in his wife`s possession till her death. Hence, although he died in 1931 the date of the donation was 1941.

All the above paintings © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.

Humphrey Gordon Roberts was born in September 1866 in Waterloo, Liverpool. He was the son of Humphrey Roberts Esq., a merchant in Liverpool, and Margaret Thomson. 3 Between 1871 and 1881, the family moved to London, firstly to 10 Ashburn Place (by which time Humphrey`s father was a retired merchant ‘living on his own means’) and then to 8 Queen`s Gate Place, Kensington.4 Having attended Uppingham School, Humphrey entered Jesus College, Cambridge in October 1884, aged 17, graduated BA in 1887 and MA in 1891.5,6 He also attended Ridley Hall Theological College in Cambridge. According to the 1891 census he was a theology student, living in Kensington, London with his widowed father and four sisters. 7 He was ordained Deacon (Canterbury) in 1891 by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Maidstone Parish Church 8 and was Deacon of Sandgate in Kent from 1891 to 1894 after which he moved to a similar post at Spratton, Northants. 9 He was Vicar and Patron of Spratton between 1897 and 1905. 10 On moving there, he opted not to occupy the early eighteenth century vicarage, which was probably in need of updating, but moved to a much grander residence which he renamed The Manor House.11

Figure 1. The Manor House, Spratton, Northants. From Enid Jarvis, Chair, Spratton Local History Society

1655 -Rev Humphrey Hay-Boyd
Figure 2. Humphrey Gordon Roberts late 1890s. From Enid Jarvis, Chair, Spratton Local History Society

On 23 March 1901, Humphrey married Mary Elizabeth Hay-Boyd at St. George’s Chapel, Albemarle Street, London. 12 She was born in 1865 at Symington, Ayrshire the only child of Lieut-Col. James George Hay-Boyd, JP DL of Townend of Symington and Mary Adeline McAlester. (Mary Adeline was the daughter of Lieut-Col. Charles Somerville McAlester of Loup and Kennox, Ayrshire). Their son, George Edward Humphrey Roberts, was born in Spratton on 3 July 1902. (He died in 1983, at East Dereham, Norfolk). 13 The family moved in 1905 to Townend of Symington and at this point changed their name to Roberts-Hay-Boyd. Before leaving Spratton, the couple arranged for the donation of a stained-glass window to Spratton Parish Church.

Figure 3. Stained Glass Window. From Enid Jarvis, Chair, Spratton Local History Society

Figure 4. Spratton Church from an old engraving. From Enid Jarvis, Chair, Spratton Local History Society

The window carries the inscription ‘To the Glory of God this window was donated by the Rev. and Mrs. H.G. Roberts Hay-Boyd, A.D.1906, in thanks for eleven years ministry, A.D. 1894-1905, which he served as curate and vicar of this parish.’14

Soon after arriving in Ayrshire, Humphrey acquired at least two racehorses one of which ran in the Adamhill Cup at Ayr Racecourse as part of the Scottish Grand National Festival in 1907.15 The other ran in the Motherwell Plate at Hamilton Park in the same year. It was not a successful outing as his horse was defeated by fifty lengths! 16

In retirement in Ayrshire the Hay-Boyds seem to have enthusiastically embraced the local music and amateur dramatics scene. (Before her marriage, Miss Hay-Boyd had appeared as ‘a most dignified Lady Somerford’ in a performance of The Jacobite in the Oddfellows Hall, Kilmarnock.17) A ‘Historical Masque – Men of the Westland’ was given in Ayr Town Hall in March 1910. This portrayed the ‘progress of civilisation in Carrick, Cunninghame and Kyle from pagan to modern times.’ It appears to have been a lavish affair, help with costumes being given by Fra Newberry and the governors of the Glasgow School of Art. The Rev. Hay-Boyd played John Knox and Mrs Hay-Boyd was the personification of the Town of Ayr.18

In the 1911 census Humphrey was at the Rutland Hotel, Edinburgh with his son. He was described as a ‘retired clergyman’, aged 44.19 Later that year he travelled back to Spratton to help raise funds for the lighting of Spratton’s streets. This took the form of two variety entertainments in the school at which Humphrey performed two songs, Love’s Coronation and Three for Jack ‘sung in rousing style’.20 In the same year (possibly at the same time?), Mrs Hay-Boyd also returned to Spratton;

The Sunday School treat was held in the field and garden of Mr and Mrs R. GILBY of Olde House Farm, Yew Tree Lane. The prizes were distributed by Mrs ROBERTS HAY-BOYD and the tea was organised by Miss Letitia GILBY. 21

In December 1913, Humphrey boarded the S.S. Otway in London bound for Naples.22 In May 1925, the Roberts-Hay-Boyds hosted a coming-of-age ball for their son George in Ayr Town Hall which was, according to reports, attended by the cream of local society including the Marchioness of Ailsa and Major Hastings Montgomerie. 23

Both the Rev. and Mrs. Hay-Boyd had a great interest in music and were heavily involved in the musical affairs of Ayrshire. He was president of the Ayr Choral Union from 1916 till his death, and both subscribed to the staging of The Messiah in the Town Hall, Ayr on 26 December 1930. He was a Vice-President and a member of the council of the Ayrshire Musical Festival ‘and took his fair share of the work associated with that annual event’.24,25In describing one of the Ayr Art exhibitions a local newspaper states that Mrs Roberts-Hay-Boyd had ‘provided a splendid concert’ in connection with the event and that one of the ‘principal artistes’ was the Rev. Mr. Hay-Boyd. Unfortunately, there is no mention of what his special talent was. 26

The Hay-Boyds were also in possession of several works of art of outstanding quality and from 1909 to 1919 they regularly lent paintings to various exhibitions in the Carnegie Library in Ayr.27

1909    Exhibition of Old Engravings
Milking Time                                          C. Troyon, engraved by V. Girarchet
(Line Engraving – Steel)                            (Lent by Rev H. Roberts Hay-Boyd)

1910    Ayr Fine Art Exhibition
Conway Castle                                                 J.M.W. Turner R.A.,
(Was this the picture which was sold in 2010 by Christie`s for £325,250?)

The Ferry Boat                                                 C. F. Daubigny
On the Oise                                                      C. F. Daubigny
Resting                                                             Alexander Nasmyth
(Lent by Rev. H. Roberts-Hay-Boyd, Esq.,)

George Douglas of Rodinghead,                       Sir Henry Raeburn
(Lent by Mrs Roberts Hay-Boyd).
This was probably a family heirloom as Mrs Hay-Boyd`s grandmother was Elizabeth Douglas of Rodinghead.
(Was this the painting which was sold at Sotheby`s in 1993?)

1919    Ayr Sketch Club
Carting Timber                                                 Anton Mauve
(Lent by Rev. H. Roberts-Hay-Boyd, Symington).

Humphrey Gordon Roberts-Hay-Boyd died on 25 October 1931, aged 64, in Greystones Nursing Home, Prestwick, Ayrshire. His occupation was ‘minister of religion’ but with no charge.28 He was buried in Symington Churchyard with other members of the Hay-Boyd family.

1249 - Hay Boyd Grave
Figure 5 Hay-Boyd family grave in Symington Churchyard (photo by author)

In Memory Of
Died 13th Novr. 1894
wife of
of Townend of Symington
and daughter of the late
of Kennox

Also of
of Townend of Symington
Late XXth Regt.
Died 21st November 1904
Son of Capt. FRANCIS HAY XXXIVth Regt.
Of Rodinghead

To the Beloved Memory of the
and husband of
Obit 25th October 1931
Also the above
who died at Townend 25th February 1941.

He was survived by his wife and son. An obituary in the Ayrshire Post contained the following information: ‘Mr and Mrs Roberts-Hay-Boyd resided part of the time in the former home in Wellington Square of Colonel Hay-Boyd, one of the few remaining residences in the square, and at the picturesque home in Townend, embowered among trees near Symington Village. Mr Roberts-Hay-Boyd was of a quiet and unobtrusive nature and was held in high esteem in the district’.29 An obituary was also published in the London Times 30and his death was reported in the Northampton Mercury.31

As well as the pictures given to Glasgow, He also bequeathed paintings to the Town Council of Ayr and to the National Gallery of Scotland (NGS).

‘In terms of deceased`s trust disposition and settlement, the legacy was not to take effect until the death of his widow, but Mrs. Hay-Boyd desires now to deliver the following four pictures:

  1. Roses in a white frame           S. J. Peploe                                          Oil
  2. Sunset, Kilbrannan Sound      Sir J. Lawton Wingate, P.R.S.A.             Oil
  3. The Four Master                     R. Burns (!) Flint                    Watercolour
  4. View of Haarlem                    J. H. Weissenbruch               Watercolour’ 32

Bequests were also made to the NGS and were presented in 1941.

          Roses                                         S. J. Peploe                                         Oil
          Peaches on a Dish                     Henri Fantin-Latour                            Oil


  1. Graves, Algernon, F.S.A., The Royal Academy of Arts A Complete Dictionary of Contributors and their work from its foundation in 1769 to 1904, Vol III, Henry Graves and Co. Ltd., London and George Bell and Sons, 1905
  2. Glasgow Corporation Minutes – Committee on Art Galleries and Museums, Mitchell Library, Glasgow 25.4.1941.
  3. Births, Deaths and Marriages Index, England and
  4., Census England, 1871, 1881.
  5., Cambridge University Alumni (1261 – 1900)
  6. London Evening Standard 15 May 1891 p3
  7., Census England 1891.
  8. Folkstone Herald, 30 May 1891
  9. Northampton Mercury 24 November 1905
  10. Ayrshire Post, 30 October 1931
  11. From Enid Jarvis, Chair, Spratton Local History Society
  12. The Globe, March 25, 1901 p7; The Queen 30 March 1901 p43
  13. Burke`s Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, 107th Edition, 2003,
  14. From Enid Jarvis, Chair, Spratton Local History Society.
  15. Scotsman 12 April 1907 p4
  16. Sporting Life, 15 July 1907, p5
  17. Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, 12 March 1897, p4
  18. Queen, 26 March 1910, p563
  19. Scotland’s People, 1911 Census, Scotland
  20. Northampton Mercury, 14 July 1911, p5
  21. Spratton Parish Magazine 1911.
  22. Homeward Mail from India, China and the East, December 22, 1913 p27
  23. Gentlewoman, 9 May 1925, p16
  24. Ayrshire Post, Oct. 30 1931, p8.
  25. Catalogues of Exhibitions of Ayr Sketch Club, Ayr Fine Arts Society, Ayr Art Union
  26. ibid
  27. ibid
  28. Scotland’s People, Death Certificate
  29. Ayrshire Post, Oct. 30, 1931, p8.
  30. The Times, Oct. 27, 1931, p15.
  31. Northampton Mercury, Oct 30, 1931 p5
  32. Ayrshire Post, 21 May 1937, p12. 

Adam’s First Sight of Eve – Provenance

The oil painting Adam’s First Sight of Eve (2570) by John Martin was presented to Glasgow on 4 October 1946 by the Imperial Chemical Company, Ardeer, through Lord McGowan and the Local Secretary Ms. Pitceathly. 1 It had been discovered in the Kilmeny Hotel in Ardrossan by Evelyn Waugh when he was stationed there during WW2.

Figure 1. Martin, John; Adam’s First Sight of Eve. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (

Since the donor’s history is well documented it seemed more interesting to research the provenance of the painting and how it came to be in a hotel in Ardrossan, Ayrshire.

What Was Known?

            Adam`s First Sight of Eve was completed in 1812 by John Martin. It is signed J. Martin, 1812. He sent it to the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1813 where to his delight it was displayed in the Great Room. It was accompanied by a quote from Milton’s Paradise Lost,

                        ‘Nature herself, though pure of sinful thought,
Wrought on her so, that, seeing me, she turned’.

            It was purchased, probably from the exhibition, by ‘Spong, a rich Kentish collector’ for seventy guineas. 2, 3, 4

What Is New?

A search of the census records suggested that the ‘Spong’ in question was Thomas Spong who was born in Aylesford, Kent in 1780/81. He was christened on 6 January 1781. 5 He is recorded in three census records where he is described as a ‘merchant’ aged 60 (1841), a ‘coal merchant’ aged 69 (1851) and a ‘retired gentleman’ aged 80 (1861). In 1861 he was living at 2 Albion Terrace, Faversham next door to his son William. 6

The painting seems to have remained in the possession of Thomas Spong for forty years as the next we hear of it is when it was advertised for sale by Christie and Manson in a collection of English pictures which was held at their Great Room, 8 King Street, London on 30 June 1853. 7 The sale catalogue listed

‘Lot 81, Adam’s first sight of Eve. The celebrated work, exhibited at Somerset House about 1813’.

   Unfortunately, the painting failed to sell. (No buyer to take the story forward!) The reserve on it was £50 and the bidding went up to £47. The seller, whose name was not disclosed at the time of the sale was a Mr. Walter Tebbitt, of 3 Union Crescent, Wandsworth Road, London. 8 Walter Tebbitt was born in 1827/8 in Surrey. On 5 February 1850 he was elected to the Linnean Society. Their records give his address as Cottage House, Clapham Common, London. His main interest was botany. On 5 May 1850 he co-presented a portrait of Edward Stanley (1779-1849) to the Society. 9 In the 1851 census for St. Giles in the Fields he is listed as aged 23, unmarried with his occupation ‘Mother of Pearl Works Ornamental’, born Surrey and employing one servant. His address was 4 North Crescent. 10On 28 April 1852, in Aylesford, Kent, Walter Tebbitt married Grace Nash Spong who was 19 and the daughter of Thomas Spong. 11

            Walter Tebbitt left the Linnean Society on 1 November 1860. On the 1861 census he and Grace and their two children were living at Martinhoe, North Devon, Wooda Bay. He was now a ‘fundholder’. 12 Thomas Spong died at Canterbury on 15 August 1865. He was survived by his wife, Mary Eliza Spong who inherited most of his effects. There was no mention of the painting in his will. 13 Walter Tebbitt died on 24 March 1893 at Marlborough House, Tunbridge Wells. The painting is not mentioned in his will, but he did leave his pictures to his widow. 14 Grace Tebbitt died on 4 December 1924 in Tunbridge Wells. 15 It seems that she did not leave a will. From 1853 to 1942 the whereabouts of the painting are unknown.

            In April 1942 Evelyn Waugh, then a captain in the Royal Marines, was posted to Glasgow and then to the Special Services Brigade in Ardrossan. He had earlier undertaken commando training on the Isle of Arran. Later in the year, on 28 September, when visiting Diana Cooper in Bognor Regis he told her that there was a small painting by John Martin in the Kilmeny Hotel in Ardrossan. 16

Kilmeny Hotel

            Kilmeny* House (later the Kilmeny Hotel) was built in South Crescent, Ardrossan for John Galloway between 1885 and 1888. John Galloway was born in Glasgow in 1829. In the census of 1861, he was aged 31 and living at 55 Clarence Street, Glasgow with his wife Margaret and two daughters. He was a ‘Clerk Cashier in a Shipping Insurance Broker’s Office’. 17 He moved to Ardrossan shortly after and in 1865 was the tenant occupier of a house in Countess Street. 18 He was employed by the firm of Patrick (Paddy) Henderson ship owners and eventually was appointed its managing director. In 1874 he became a member of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce. The following year he was the proprietor/occupier of a house and offices in South Crescent and the occupier of a house in Raise Street, Ardrossan. 19 In 1885 he was elected a Director of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce. The first mention of Kilmeny appears on 22 September 1888 when an article in the Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald notes that ‘Mr. John Galloway (of Messrs P. Henderson Ltd.) who resided at Kilmeny, Ardrossan, placed a memorial stone in the Free Church’. In the 1895 Valuation Roll for Ardrossan, he is listed as Proprietor, Kilmeny House Offices and Garden, South Crescent. He was also a tenant at 2 Manse Street, Church Place suggesting that he may have been using Kilmeny House as offices only. He was re-elected Chairman of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce in January 1899. In the census of 1901, he is listed as a ‘retired shipowner’. John Galloway passed away on 25 September 1904.

       ‘John Galloway, Homehill, Bridge of Allan, (formerly of Kilmeny Ardrossan), died. He was head of Patrick Henderson shipowners before his retirement. His estate was valued at £53,613, 16s. 6d.’20, 21

His death and an appreciation of his service was noted in the minutes of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce. 22

From his death certificate his father George Galloway was an artist. Could he have acquired the painting?

   The next proprietor of Kilmeny House in 1905 was James Cant, a timber broker with premises at 52 St. Enoch Square, Glasgow. 23 On 4 October 1907 he was elected president of the local branch of the National Bible Society. 24 He was still proprietor in 1915 but by 1920 ownership had passed to Major Frederick Charles Gavin. On 12 April 1922 North Ayrshire Licensing Court granted a certificate by 7 votes to 3, for an inn and hotel for Kilmeny House, South Crescent, Ardrossan. The licensee was Charles F.O. Lee the keeper of the nearby Eglinton Arms Hotel. ‘Kilmeny House is a private residence, containing 30 apartments, and had not previously been licensed, and objections were stated against granting a licence, on behalf of a number of persons owning and occupying property in the vicinity’. 25


Following his invention of ‘dynamite’, Alfred Nobel formed the British Dynamite Company Ltd. In 1870. He purchased land on the Ardeer Peninsula in Ayrshire to set up a plant to manufacture dynamite. Its relative remoteness and substantial sand dunes made it suitable from a safety point of view. The company, renamed as Nobel’s Explosives Company Ltd. In 1877, became the largest explosives factory in the world. 26

Harry Duncan McGowan was born in Glasgow on 3 June 1874. He attended Hutchesons’ Grammar School and Allan Glen’s School, Glasgow but left at age fifteen to join Nobel’s Explosives Company eventually becoming manager. During the First World War he was able to merge most of the British explosives industry, and by 1920 he had become Chairman and Managing Director of the resulting Nobel Industries Ltd. In 1926 this company merged with other chemicals-based industries to become Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI). McGowan became Chairman and Managing Director in 1930 and remained Chairman until 1950. He was made Baron McGowan of Ardeer in 1937. Ardeer, which is about three miles from Ardrossan, became the Nobel Division of ICI after the merger in 1926. 27

    ICI began using the Kilmeny Hotel to entertain and accommodate guests from 1929 28 and Charles Lee remained the proprietor until at least 1940 and probably till 1945 when it was taken over by ICI. The painting was found in a dirty state and was cleaned and restored under the supervision of Mr. F. C. Speyer who was the Controller of the Industrial Ammonia Division at ICI. 29 On 4 October 1946, the painting was donated to Glasgow. When ICI moved out of Kilmeny in 1949 a report in a local newspaper opined that ‘in the last twenty years it has looked more like a mausoleum than a hotel’. 30 This might account for the state of the painting.

(In the Object File there are two references purporting to be referring to the sale of the painting.

A Christie’s sale on 7 August 1855. Christie’s could find no trace of this sale. In fact, the date in incorrect. It should be 7 August 1875 – The Hooton Hall Sale.

Lot 850 – Adam and Eve Praying at Sunset by John Martin- sold by Naylor and bought by Fitzhenry 

On 3 May 1879 – Nield Sale – lot 59 – Adam and Eve with an angel in the Garden of Eden by John Martin, bought by Fraser.

Both refer to different John Martin paintings).

          * Kilmeny may derive from a poem by James Hogg.

.. Bonnie Kilmeny gaed up the glen;
But it wasna to meet Duneira’s men,
Nor the rosy monk of the isle to see,
For Kilmeny was pure as pure could be.
It was only to hear the yorlin sing,
And pu’ the cress-flower round the spring;
The scarlet hypp and the hindberrye,
And the nut that hung frae the hazel tree;


  Figure 2. Bonnie Kilmeny by John Faed. Public Domain.


  1. Glasgow Museums, List of Donors, Glasgow Museums Resource Centre
  2. Equivalent to about £5,500 today
  3. Pendered, Mary, John Martin, Painter – His Life and Times, Hurst & Blackett, London, 1923 pp 61, 77, 79,
  4. Balston, Thomas, John Martin 1789 – 1854: His Life and Works, Gerald Duckworth, London, 1947  p36,
  5. Old Parish Registers, Kent, Family Search
  6., Census Records, England
  7. The Morning Post, 20 June 1853
  8. Information from Lynda McLeod, Archivist, Christie’s Archives, transcribed from sales’ catalogue and sellers’ list
  9. Information from Luke Thorne, Assistant Archivist, Linnean Society
  10., Census Records, England
  11. Old Parish Registers, Family Search
  12., Census Records, England
  13. Will proved at HM Court of Probate, Canterbury, 8 September 1865
  14. Will probate granted to his widow and three other executors. 27 May 1893
  15., Grace Nash Spong family tree
  16. Page, Norman, An Evelyn Waugh Chronology (Author Chronologies), Palgrave Macmillan, London, September 1997 (also on Google Books)
  17. Scotland’s People, Census 1861
  18. Scotland’s People, Valuation Roll, Ardrossan, 1865
  19. Scotland’s People, Valuation Roll, Ardrossan, 1875
  20. Glasgow Herald, 27 September 1904
  21. Confirmations and Testaments, Mitchell Library, Glasgow
  22. Minutes of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, 10 October 1904
  23. Scotland’s People, Valuation Roll, Ardrossan, 1915
  24. Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, 4 October 1907
  25. Glasgow Herald, 19 April 1922
  28. Catalyst, ICI Magazine 1929, information from Judith Wilde, archivist
  29. Hansard, Volume 391, 14 July 1943
  30. Kilmarnock Herald and Ayrshire Gazette, 7 October 1949 (Getting Around and About by The Coaster) also posted in

Thomas Ranken T.D. W.S.

Thomas Ranken was a Writer to the Signet, and a Match Rifle Shot who won medals in The Olympic Games in 1908.

Figure 1. Ranken, William Bruce Ellis; The Throne Room, Madrid; © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection

Thomas Ranken was born on the 18 May 1875 to Robert Burt Ranken and his wife Mary  nee Dunlop in Edinburgh . His father was a Writer to the Signet. (1)  It was a prosperous household. In the 1881 census he lived at 8 Learmonth Terrace, Edinburgh with father, mother, 2 siblings and household staff which included a cook, 2 housemaids, laundress, 3 nurses and a kitchen maid. (2) His brother, William Bruce Ellis Ranken (3) was to become an artist and his sister, Janette Mary Fernie Ranken was to become a well known actress and socialite, marrying Ernest Thesiger. (4) Their father rented a country house in the Borders, Cringletie Manor and in the census of 1891 (5) two of the children are there but not Thomas. This was because he was educated at Eton and then at Balliol College. (6) In 1896 , when he was 21 years of age and had reached his majority, The Edinburgh Evening News reported that the tenants and employees of the Cringletie Estate had presented him with a rose bowl to mark the occasion. (7)

He graduated BA in 1899. During his time at Balliol he was a Lieutenant in the 1st Oxford University V.B. Oxford Light Infantry and it was there that he began a lifelong involvement with rifle shooting. He was president of the University shooting committee and of the Small- Bore Club. (8)

He returned to Edinburgh and was apprenticed to his father in1899. The apprenticeship was for two/three years because he had graduated from Balliol. In 1902 (9) Thomas was accepted as a Writer to the Signet and in the same year his father died. (10)  This was the beginning of his professional life and he continued to practise until his death.  

He had another interest which continued successfully for many years and this was small-bore rifle shooting. There are many references in the press about his success in his chosen pastime. Indeed when he died his obituary in the Scotsman (11) is headed ‘Champion Rifle shot . Death of Major T Ranken’.  He competed in the 1908 Summer Olympic Games. (12)  He won a silver medal in the Single Shot Running Deer event and in the Double Shot Running Deer event (both now discontinued) and came fifth in the 1000 yards free rifle event. He was also in the team which won the silver medal for the team prize. He took part in the 1924 Olympic Games but won no prizes. (13)

He served as a member of the council of the National Rifle Association and was a member and sometime Captain, of the Scottish Twenty. Among the many prizes he won were the Prince of Wales Prize, The Association Cup for Match Rifles and the Scottish Champion Cup  at Barnley in 1906. He was often in the final stages of the Queen’s and Kings Prize at Bisley. (14)

He served in the First World War, rejoining the 8th Royal Scots from the T.F. reserve in 1915. He acted as a Musketry Officer from April 1915 to June 1915 and then Brigade Major to 2/1 Lothian Infantry Brigade. He was thereafter attached to the General Staff Scottish Northern Command until 1919. (15)

In 1920 he married Marion Bruce, daughter of the Hon F J Bruce of Seaton House, Arbroath. (16) They had two sons. (17) He died on 27 April 1950 and is buried in the Dean cemetery in Edinburgh (18) (19) and his gravestone reads:

                                 Maj. THOMAS “TED” RANKEN

                Remember TOM RANKEN a large lovable personality.

                                        18 V 1875 -27 IV 1950


I have to thank the Archivist of the Library of the Signet in Edinburgh for his help with my researches. It was much appreciated.


In 1948 Thomas Ranken wrote to the keeper of the Art Galleries in Kelvingrove offering several paintings. The following were accepted: (20)

Figure 2. The Honourable Mrs Alexander Macalister;by John Watson Gordon © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection
Figure 3. Alexander Macalister of Loup, Torrisdale and Strathaird (1802-1876);by John Watson Gordon © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection

  • The Honorable Mary Fleming by John Watson Gordon
  • Alexander MacAllister of Torrisdale by John Watson Gordon
  • The Throne Room Madrid by William Bruce Ellis Ranken


  1. National Records of Scotland Statutory Births 1875
  2. National Records of Scotland Census 1881
  3.   Wendy and Gordon Hawksley
  4. Jeanette Thesiger
  5. National Records of Scotland Census 1891
  6. Archive of The Signet Library, Edinburgh. Personal Communication
  7. Edinburgh Evening News 26 May 1896
  8. Balliol College Register   www.
  9. Archive of The Signet Library, Edinburgh. Personal Communication
  10. National Records of Scotland Statutory Deaths 1950
  11. The Scotsman 29 April 1950
  12. Wikipedia Summer Olympics 1908
  13. Wikipedia summer Olympics 1924
  14. The Scotsman 29 April 1950
  15. Archive of The Signet Library, Edinburgh. Personal Communication (WS Roll of Honour 1914-1919)
  16. Dundee Evening Telegraph 27 February 1920
  18. National Records of Scotland Statutory Deaths 1950
  19. Dean Cemetry
  20. Correspondence in Glasgow Museums Archive

Charles Rennie Cowie (1851-1922)

Note: Charles Rennie Cowie and his son John always in Bold.

Figure 1. John Cowie. By kind permission of John D. Napper.

In 1964 the widow of East India merchant John Cowie, Mrs. Elizabeth Janet Cowie, donated to the National Library of Scotland (NLS) in Edinburgh and the Mitchell library in Glasgow a collection of rare books, historical manuscripts and letters, included in which are rare editions of Robert Burns poems, first editions of Milton, Galt, and Scott, and a large number of letters of Burns and others. It consists of several hundred items and is an astonishingly eclectic accumulation of material covering over six hundred years. The NLS was to get that material which was of national importance, the Mitchell the rest, the decision making process being undertaken by personnel from both libraries, Mrs. Cowie and her lawyer. Eventually the NLS collection consisted of manuscripts of Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and the poet Allan Ramsay.

The individual who had collected all this material was not John Cowie however, it was his father Charles Rennie Cowie, also an East India merchant, who had bequeathed it to his wife Grizel on his death in 1922.[1] In his will the collection was identified as of National and Historic Interest, thereby excluding it from his estate for tax purposes, and valued at £4083.[2] Today, at that valuation, the joint collections would be worth around £2 million.[3] Grizel died seven years later with the collection eventually going to John.[4]

Who was Charles Rennie Cowie, what was his and his wife’s family background? By what means did he fund his purchases? One other question which seems unlikely to be answered by this research is from whom did he make his purchases?

The Cowie family originated in Stirlingshire, most likely in the parish of Larbert. John Cowie’s great grandfather was forester James Cowie who was married to Margaret McAlpine.[5] It’s not clear when they married however John’s grandfather, also John, was born in 1817,[6] the fifth of eight children all born in Larbert. They lived in Carronhall village to the east of Larbert, James dying there in 1848.[7] Margaret remained in Carronhall until circa 1863 when she moved to Grahamston to live in a house owned by her son John.[8] [9] She died there at the age of eighty seven in 1870.[10]

John married Margaret Rennie in 1839,[11] she also being born in Larbert the daughter of iron founder John Rennie and his wife Mary Alexander.[12] It’s not clear what his occupation was at the time of his marriage however by 1841 he was a grocer in Grahamston in the parish of Falkirk,[13] an occupation he followed for most of his working life. He and Margaret had twelve children between 1840 and 1862, seven sons and five daughters, the relevant offspring to this research being Charles Rennie Cowie and three of his brothers, James, Archibald and Thomas, and his sister Jessie.

John and Margaret lived in Grahamston until at least 1872[14] however by 1881 they had moved to Mavis Villa, Riddrie,[15] which is where he died in 1882.[16] Margaret lived a further twelve years, dying in Hyde Park, Blantyre in 1895.[17] Interestingly in the 1891 census she was resident in Rutherglen, living on a private income, with her son James, another East India merchant, and two grandchildren John and Mary, both born in Rangoon,[18] the children, as I’ll show, of her son Charles Rennie Cowie.

Charles was born on the 24th October 1851 and baptized in July the following year[19]. His initial education was at a local school. He then attended Anderson’s College in George Street in Glasgow  studying chemistry under Frederick Penny.[20] Penny was a Londoner who had studied chemistry under Michael Faraday at the Royal Institution and in 1839 had been  appointed Chair of Chemistry at the College, a position he held until his death in 1869. He also was involved in testing the water quality from Loch Katrine to establish if it was suitable for Glasgow’s water supply and gave expert testimony in a number of criminal trials involving poisons including that of the infamous Dr. Pritchard who had murdered his wife and mother in law.[21]

When Charles left College is not certain, nor is it clear what his qualification was, but he must have left around 1870 as by 1871 he was employed as chemist at the Uphall Oil Works in Linlithgow, living in lodgings at Crossgreen Farm in Uphall.[22] In due course he became manager of the facility[23] which was just a few miles from James ‘Paraffin’ Young’s refinery in Bathgate. In 1873, being described as ‘gent’ he was appointed ensign in the 5th Linlithgowshire Rifle Volunteers.[24]

He did not remain in Uphall very much longer as around 1874[25] he travelled to Rangoon eventually becoming manager of the Rangoon Oil Company the precursor of Burmah Oil, this being his occupation when he married Grizel or Grace Purdie in 1878,[26] more of whom shortly.

Between 1876 and 1878 he registered two patents in Rangoon, one dealing with the use of rice husks as furnace fuel in rice mills,[27] the other about improving the efficiency of steam furnace combustion.[28]  The first patent at least halved the cost of milling rice with the added benefit of the burnt rice husks proving to be an effective deodorizer used to cover all kinds of refuse dumps. His invention not only found use in Burma but also in Thailand and French Indo-China.[29] He also registered a third patent with a colleague in 1881, again dealing with furnace efficiency.[30]

Figure 2. Grace Purdie Christening Cup. Courtesy of Bo’ness Pottery

He remained manager of the oil works until circa 1878/79 at which time he founded in Rangoon the trading company Charles R Cowie & Co.,[31] trading in almost any commodity that was required by customers in British India and elsewhere. That was the beginning of Charles, his brothers James, Archibald and Thomas, and his eventual sons, becoming East India merchants

His wife Grizel was the daughter of Thomas Purdie, farmer, and Margaret Storrie, [32] her birth being commemorated by her parents having a christening mug made by Bo’ness Potteries.[33]

The family originated in West Calder where Grizel’s grandfather Andrew Purdie farmed at West Mains which is where he died in 1863 age ninety five.[34] In 1837 whilst Andrew was the tenant of the farm a servant girl Elizabeth Brown was charged with child murder or concealment of a pregnancy. She confessed and was sentenced to ten months imprisonment. The court records make no mention of the male involvement only that Elizabeth’s address was c/o Andrew Purdie, West Mains Farm. [35]

Figure 3. Uphall, Crossgreen and Fortneuk Farms. Courtesy of Bo’ness Pottery

Thomas Purdie farmed at Forkneuk, Uphall from around 1855[36]  which makes it likely that Charles and Grizel met before he went to Rangoon, the farms being in close proximity to each other. They married at Forkneuk on the 17th December 1878, the beginning of a married life that for the first twelve or so years saw them travelling frequently between Rangoon and Glasgow.

Their first born child was John, the ostensible donor of the Cowie Collection. He was born in Rangoon in October 1880 and baptized there in July 1881.[37] They had a further nine children between 1882 and 1903 as follows:

  1. Mary Storrie, born 1882 at Rangoon and baptized there.[38]
  2. Margaret Rennie, born 1884 at Portobello, baptized in Rangoon later that year.[39]
  3. Gracie Purdie, born and baptized at Rangoon in 1886.[40]
  4. Isabella Miller, born at Rosneath in 1888.[41]
  5. Elizabeth, born and probably baptized in Rangoon in 1890.[42]
  6. Jessie, born at Kirn, Argyllshire in 1891.[43]
  7. Thomas Purdie, born at Woodend House, Partick in 1893.[44]
  8. Charles Rennie, born at Woodend House, Partick in 1895.[45]
  9. Gladys Dorothy, born at Woodend House, Partick in 1903.[46]

Whilst Charles ran his company in Rangoon his brother James in 1880 was working for Jas. L. McClure & Co., merchants and agents for a number of companies dealing in iron and steel products.[47] Two years later he established his own agency company, James Cowie & Co., representing a number of similar companies from England and Scotland.[48]

In the following year Cowie Brothers & Co. were formed located at the same address, 59 St. Vincent Street, as James’ company. No other brother seemed to be involved at that point[49] however it does appear that simply was a matter of timing as within the next twelve months brother Archibald joined the company.[50] Charles was home in Glasgow that year (1884), not associated with either of the family businesses but with merchants Russell, Macfarlane & Co., a situation that occurred every time he came home from Rangoon until circa 1891 when he came home to Glasgow for good. He had lived at various address on each return home finally settling at Woodend House, Partick sometime after 1891, his wife Grizel being recorded as the owner.[51] His Rangoon company however still operated in his name as before directed by Rangoon partners and his sons.

The two Glasgow Companies continued to operate for another ten years, latterly from 196 St Vincent Street, with Charles continuing to be associated with Russell, Macfarlane and Co. until 1893 when he formally joined Cowie Brothers & Co.[52] It’s clear brother James was seriously ill at that time as he died the following year of cirrhosis of the kidneys which he had suffered from for at least six months.[53] James’ company ceased trading in 1897/98, the last year it appeared in the Glasgow directory.[54] Cowie Brothers & Co continued for several years afterwards with brother Thomas joining the company in 1905, remaining involved until 1911. Subsequent to that date the Cowies involved in the company were the three sons of Charles, namely John, Thomas and his namesake Charles. The company was still listed in the Glasgow Directory in 1975.[55]

Charles senior’s company in Rangoon also continued to operate at least until the late 1930s, with his three sons all involved to varying degrees, travelling back and forth to Rangoon as required. The last journey from Rangoon I have established is that of son Charles Rennie Cowie and his wife Norah on the M.V. Oxfordshire during April/May 1939.[56]

However a third Charles Rennie Cowie was to remain in Burma. John, the eldest son of Charles and Grizel married in 1908 Elizabeth Janet Ramsay. They had four children the eldest of whom was another Charles Rennie Cowie, born in Rangoon in 1911. He joined the Rangoon Battalion of the Burmese Auxiliary Force in 1938 and in 1940 is listed as a lieutenant in the Battalion. He continued to be listed through 1941 as such although it seems he was promoted captain in April 1941.[57] Exactly where he was located during this time has not been established although I have come across a photograph of him and fellow officers, along with their honorary colonel, Sir Alexander Cochrane, in Burma (Rangoon?) in 1940.[58] Lieutenant C. R. Cowie is seated at the extreme right hand side.

Figure 4. Officers of the Burmese Auxiliary Force, Rangoon Battalion 1940.

He stayed in Burma throughout the war, attaining the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel by its end.

John’s brother Thomas Purdie Cowie married in Rangoon in 1921[59]. In the Thacker’s Commercial Directory of 1925, the company was located at 6 Merchants Street and described as machinery importers, mill furnishers and mill stores, engineers and contractors, electrical stores, insurance agents, importers and exporters, and as agents for the Dollar Steamship Line. There were no Cowies listed as Rangoon partners although Thomas was listed as an assistant in the company.[60] He returned to British India in 1945, this time to Bombay, as the Director of Stores for the Indian Red Cross.[61]

As stated previously, the Cowie companies traded any commodity that had a buyer. Their sales included cutlery, steam engines, pottery, biscuits and bricks. Where they could they labelled or marked the items with their company name.

Figure 5. Cowie Brothers and Co. trademark applied to transfer printed bowls by Bridgeness Pottery. Courtesy of Bo’ness Pottery
Figure 6. As figure 5.

Figure 7. Steam Engine with Cowie Brothers and Co. nameplate. Courtesy of Bo’ness Pottery.

Their involvement with bricks came about when Charles senior’s sister Jessie married coalmaster Mark Hurll in 1888.[62] At the time of his marriage his brother Peter was a fireclay brick manufacturer in Glenboig. About three years later Mark set up with his brother as a brick manufacturer, amongst other similar products, forming P & M Hurll, with works in Maryhill, Garscsadden as well as Glenboig. This led to the Cowie brothers trading the bricks and applying their name to each individual product.[63]

Figure 8. Hurll Brick with Cowie Marking.

Their involvement with biscuits in terms of their trademark however was not as successful. In 1896 at the Court of Session they applied for an interdict against biscuit manufacturers George Herbert, a supplier of Cowies, to stop them using what they claimed to be the Cowie trademark, an image of the Glasgow Municipal Building, on biscuits sold by Herberts on their own behalf in Rangoon.

Charles Rennie Cowie and brother Archibald gave evidence essentially saying that Cowies had traded biscuits to Rangoon since 1889, with that trademark. The defendant had also been trading in Rangoon but had begun to use a similar image of the Municipal Building on biscuits he sold directly there thereby confusing potential native purchasers. After a very longwinded obtuse argument involving images of temples and mosques, the judgement went against Cowies and the interdict was refused, the judges essentially declining to accept Rangoon natives would be confused.[64]

It will be pretty obvious by now that the money Charles senior earned through his business ventures as an East India Merchant was the means by which he created his collection. When he died in 1922 his estate was valued at £144,507[65], current worth somewhere between £7million and £70million.[66]

The NLS collection is listed on the library website as contained within MSS 15951 – 15975 and consists of manuscripts relating to Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and the poet Allan Ramsay. The manuscripts include an autobiographical letter written by Burns to Dr. John Moore in 1787 in which the poet writes retrospectively of his life to date (MS 15952), and a series of thirteen manuscripts relating to the seven volume collection ‘The Works of Robert Burns’ edited by W Scott Douglas, 1877-1879 (MSS 15955-67). Also included are proofs of ‘The History of Scotland’, 1829-1830, by Sir Walter Scott (MS15969), the final version of ‘The Gentle Shepherd’ by Allan Ramsay, 1724-1725 (MS15972), and letters of Sir Walter Scott to Robert Southey and others (MS15971).[67],[68]

The Cowie collection at the Mitchell is somewhat different. Although it also contains a lot of Burns material, it has an exceptional range of other manuscripts, books, including first editions, and letters from an extremely wide range of individuals including royalty. As far as I’m aware there are no digitalised records of the collection however there are two catalogues which contain a full list of the items donated. They are ‘The John Cowie Collection-Catalogue’ and ‘The John Cowie Collection-Autograph Albums. Index 1 to 4’.

The following will give some idea of the range of topics and material that the Mitchell holds.

  • Statutes of Edward I and II. MSS dated 1274.
  • Rerum Scoticarum Historia. Edinburgh: A. Arbuthnot 1582. Author George Buchanan.
  • Quintus Curtius. Venice 1494. De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni.
  • John Milton – Paradise Regained. 1st Edition 1671.
  • Carolus Gustavus, King of Sweden. Last will and Testament – 1660.
  • Aesop Fables by Sir Roger L’Estrange. 1692/1699.
  • The Rosebery Burns Club, Glasgow. Its origins and Growth 1906.
  • Charles Edward Stuart – Order signed by him to raise the Mackintoshes – 1746
  • Letter of Leopold I, King of the Belgians 1850.
  • Paul, Emperor of Russia letter to Baron Dimsdale 1778.
  • Bassendyne Bible 1576
  • C.F. Brotchie. History of Govan 1905
  • Eikon Basilike. The Pourtraicture of his sacred Majestie in his solitudes and sufferings. 1648. (Charles I).
  • Acts of Parliament – 1711.
  • Royal Navy Accounts of Cruisers and Home- Convoys – 1704.
  • George I Document headed 15/4/1724
  • M.W. Turner R.A. lecture ticket dated 1818.
  • William Wilberforce various letters 1819 – 1825
  • Louis XVI. Order for lieutenant to command the corvette ‘La Poulette’ – 1781.
  • Last will and testament of Carolus Gustavus King of Sweden – 1660.
  • Allan Ramsay The Ever Green, a collection of poems – 1724.
  • Sir Walter Scott. Guy Mannering, Edinburgh 1815
  • An account of the taking of the late Duke of Monmouth. Samuel Keble 1685.
  • Giuseppe Garibaldi – letter to Rear Admiral Mundy. 1860.
  • James III letter to Cardinal Gotti, Bologna. 1729.
  • James Boswell. The journal of a tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson. London:1785.
  • The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer 4th John Kyngston 1561.
  • Glasgow Tontine Society. Regulations, 1817.[69]
Figure 9. Charles Rennie Cowie. Courtesy of Bo’ness Pottery.

His enthusiasm for Robert Burns went beyond collecting books and manuscripts. He contributed significantly to the purchase and restoration  of buildings associated with the poet.

Burns’ house in Castle Street (previously Back Causeway), Mauchline, where he and Jean Armour lived was put up for sale at the beginning of 1915 by its then owner, a Miss Miller. The Glasgow and District Burns Clubs Association were interested in purchasing it and sent a delegation to examine the premises, which included Cowie as president of the Partick Burns Club.

It was decided to buy the property despite it being in the need of repair. It’s not clear what the total costs involved were however Cowie donated the required funds to purchase and repair the house. The building once restored was formally opened to the public on the 28th August 1915. In addition to the museum created, provision was made in the other rooms of the property to accommodate deserving elderly people.[70] At the end of the ceremony Mrs Cowie was presented with a silver key to mark the occasion and her husband’s generous gift.[71]

Figure 10. Opening of Burns House, Mauchline. Mrs Cowie and Charles fifth and sixth from left. Courtesy of Bo’ness Pottery.

Following on from that in 1916 Charles funded the purchase of the property adjoining the Burns house which had been once owned by Dr. John MacKenzie who had apparently attended Burns’ father at the end of his life. Little work was done during the war but by 1919 the premises were fully restored allowing the museum to expand and to provide accommodation for additional elderly people. His final act of generosity in this respect was for the purchase of Nanse Tinnocok’s Tavern across the road from the other two properties. It was formally opened after repair on the 24th May 1924 by Mrs. Cowie, Charles having died in 1922.[72]

Figure 11. Mrs Grizel Cowie being presented with ceremonial key after performing the opening ceremony of the restored Nanse Tinnocks Tavern. Courtesy of Bo’ness Pottery.

Charles Rennie Cowie died at Woodend House, Partick on the 18th November 1922, cause of death given as chronic nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys).[73] In his lifetime he had been a very successful chemist, inventor and merchant, amassing a fortune from his trading activities which allowed him to indulge his interests in Burns, and collecting.

His obituary in the Glasgow Herald makes reference to his professional life and to his collecting, describing him as a an ‘ardent admirer of the national poet’ and ‘keenly interested in the history of Scotland’. It also adds that he was prominent in temperance circles, an elder in Dowanhill U.F. Church and a member of several General Assembly committees.

He was President of the Abstainers Union and had been a director of the Scottish Temperance League, also supporting these organisations and others financially, and had purchased the old Partick Academy gifting it to the Western branch of the Y.M.C.A. He had also endowed one of the beds in the Arran War Memorial Hospital, an island he visited annually on holiday. He was a J.P., vice president of the Hillhead Liberal Association, had been a member of the Govan School Board, and was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. (F.S.A.). [74]

In his obituary in The Straits Times of 16 December it was stated that every rice eater owed the cheapness of his meal to the ‘unobtrusive chemist from Scotland’. He was also described as a ‘public spirited and charitable citizen’.[75]

John and his mother Grizel were named as executors and trustees of Charles’ estate. Grizel inherited all the household items including his collection and other artefacts and there were also a number of bequests to his church and the temperance organisations he had been involved with. The residue was then to be split  half to Grizel,  and the other half equally divided between his ten children.[76]

Grizel died in 1929 leaving the collection to John. He died on the 10th March 1963 of a heart attack.[77]

Acknowledgement: My thanks to John D. Napper, grandson of John Cowie,  for additional information on the Cowie family


[1] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 24 April 1923. Cowie, Charles Rennie. General Settlement. Glasgow Sheriff Court. SC36/51/198 and SC36/48/340.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Measuring Worth (2019).
[4] Deaths (SR) Scotland. Partick, Glasgow. 12 November 1929. COWIE, Grizel. 644/22 504.
[5] Deaths (SR) Scotland. Shettleston, Lanarkshire. 1 July 1882. COWIE, John. 622/2 81.
[6] Births (OPR) Scotland. Larbert. 24 June 1817. COWIE, John. 485/  10 477.
[7] E-mail from John D Napper showing Monumental Inscription in Larbert Cemetery.
[8] Census 1861. Scotland. Carronhall, Larbert. 485/ 6/ 2.
[9] Valuation Rolls (1863) Scotland. Falkirk Burgh. COWIE, John. VR0030000006-/56.
[10] Deaths (SR) Scotland. Grahamston, Falkirk. COWIE, Margaret. 479/1  112.
[11] Marriages (OPR) Scotland. Falkirk. 19 February 1839. COWIE, John and RENNIE, Margaret. 479/  130 39.
[12] Deaths (SR) Scotland. Blantyre, Lanarkshire. 27 April 1895. COWIE, Margaret. 624/  112.
[13] Census 1841 Scotland. Grahamston, Falkirk. 479/ 6/ 21.
[14] Valuation Rolls (1872) Scotland. Falkirk Burgh. COWIE, John. VR0030000009-/119.
[15] Census. 1881. Scotland. Riddrie, Shettleston. 622/2 4/ 6.
[16] Deaths (SR) Scotland. Shettleston, Lanarkshire. 1 July 1882. COWIE, John. 622/2 81.
[17] Deaths (SR) Scotland. Blantyre, Lanarkshire. 27 April 1895. COWIE, Margaret. 624/  112.
[18] Census 1891 Scotland. Rutherglen. 654/ 23/ 9.
[19] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Falkirk. 24 October 1851. COWIE, Charles Rennie. 479/ 110 492.
[20] Obituaries. (1922) Glasgow Herald. 20 November. Charles Rennie. p. 5d
[21] Strathclyde University. Archives and Special Collections. OM/126 – Frederick Penney Collection.
[22] Census 1871. Scotland. Uphall, Linlithgow. 672/ 3 / 24.
[23] Obituaries. (1922) Glasgow Herald. 20 November. Charles Rennie. p. 5d
[24] London Gazette (1873) 25 March 1873. Issue 23961, p. 1659.
[25] Obituaries. (1922) Glasgow Herald. 20 November. Charles Rennie. p. 5d
[26] Marriages (SR) Scotland. Uphall, Linlithgow. 17 December 1878. COWIE, Charles Rennie and PURDIE, Grizel. 672/  20.
[27] Families in British India Society. Patents of British India, 1856 – 90. Patent No. 1876/50.
[28] Families in British India Society. Patents of British India, 1856 – 90. Patent No. 1878/16.
[29] The Straits Times. (1922). 16 December 1922. p. 13.
[30] Families in British India Society. Patents of British India, 1856 – 90. Patent No. 1881/18.
[31] Obituaries. (1922) Glasgow Herald. 20 November. Charles Rennie. p. 5d
[32] [32] Marriages (SR) Scotland. Uphall, Linlithgow. 17 December 1878. COWIE, Charles Rennie and PURDIE, Grizel. 672/  20.
[33] Bo’ness Pottery. Grace Purdie.
[34] Deaths (SR) Scotland. West Calder, Edinburgh. 19 February 1863. PURDIE, Andrew. 701/  9
[35] National Records of Scotland. High Court of Justiciary Processes. Reference JC 26/1837/446. RHP141521. and Crown Offices Precognitions, Reference AD14/37/404.
[36] Valuation Rolls (1855) Scotland. Uphall, Linlithgow. PURDIE, Thomas. VR01220000-/2
[37] Births and Baptisms. India. Rangoon, Bengal. 29 October 1880. COWIE, John. India Births and Baptisms 1786 – 1947, Film No. 510867.
[38] Births. And Baptisms. India. Rangoon, Bengal. 23 May 1882. COWIE, Mary Storrie. India Births and Baptisms 1786 – 1947, Film No. 510868.
[39] Births (SR) Scotland. Portobello, Edinburgh. 5 May 1884. COWIE, Margaret Rennie. 684/ 1  91. and Baptisms. India. Rangoon, Bengal. 7 December 1884. India Births and Baptisms 1786 – 1947. Film No. 510874.
[40] Births and Baptisms. India. Rangoon, Bengal. 19 February 1886. COWIE, Grace Purdie. India Births and Baptisms 1876 – 1947, Film No. 510878.
[41] Births (SR) Scotland. Rosneath, Dunbarton. 11 February 1888. COWIE, Isabella Miller. 502/ 1  3
[42] Census 1901 Scotland. St. Mary’s, Govan. 646/ 3 40/ 22.  And Census 1911. Scotland. St. Mary’s Govan. 646/ 3  38/ 1. and E-mail from John D Napper.
[43] Births. (SR) Scotland. Kirn, Argyllshire. 17 August 1891. COWIE, Jessie. 510/ 1  84.
[44] Births. (SR) Scotland. Partick, Lanark. 11 December 1893. COWIE, Thomas Purdie. 646/ 3  1738.
[45] Births. (SR) Scotland. Partick, Lanark. 24 July 1895. COWIE, Charles Rennie. 646/ 3 1138.
[46] Births. (SR) Scotland. Partick, Lanark. 9 March 1903. COWIE, Gladys Dorothy. 646/ 3 524.
[47] Directories. Scotland. (1880-81) Glasgow Directory. Glasgow: William Mackenzie. p. 167, 324.
[48] Directories. Scotland. (1882-83) Glasgow Directory. Glasgow: William Mackenzie. p. 173.
[49] Directories. Scotland. (1883-84) Glasgow Directory. Glasgow: William Mackenzie. p. 175.
[50] Directories. Scotland. (1884-85) Glasgow Directory. Glasgow: William Mackenzie. p. 200.
[51] Valuation Rolls (1895) Scotland. Lanark. COWIE, charles Rennie. VR010700154-/658.
[52] Directories. Scotland. (1893-94) Glasgow Directory. Glasgow: William Mackenzie. p. 210
[53] Deaths (SR) Scotland. Old Monkland, Lanark. 14 June 1894. COWIE, James. 652/ 1 77
[54] Directories. Scotland. (1897-98) Glasgow Directory. Glasgow: William Mackenzie. p. 192
[55] Directories. Scotland. (1975-76). Glasgow Directory. Glasgow: p. 133. Mitchell Library, Glasgow.
[56] Passenger List for SS Oxfordshire departing Rangoon. COWIE, Charles Rennie. 1939. Collection: UK and Ireland Incoming Passenger Lists 1878 – 1960.
[57] The Anglo – Burmese Library. Officers and Men of the Burma Auxiliary Force and the Burma Intelligence Corps.
[58] The Burma Campaign. Rangoon Battalion, Burma Auxiliary Force
[59] Marriages. India. Rangoon. 16 November 1921. COWIE, Thomas Purdie and SEYMOUR, Gladys Hilda. India Select Marriages, 1792 – 1948.
[61] Passenger List for SS Pegu departing Middlesbrough. COWIE, Thomas Purdie. 14 December 1945. Collection: UK and Ireland Outward Passenger Lists 1890 – 1960.
[62] Marriages (SR) Scotland. Rutherglen, Lanark. 19 April 1888. HURLL, Mark and COWIE, Jessie. 654/  33.
[63] Scotland’s Brick Manufacturing Industry. Cowie Brothers, Glasgow
[64] Casemine. Cowie Brothers & Co. v Herbert 16 June 1896.
[65] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 24 April 1923. Cowie, Charles Rennie. General Settlement. Glasgow Sheriff Court. SC 36/51/198 and SC36/48/340.
[66] Measuring Worth (2019).
[67] National Library of Scotland. Cowie Collection of Manuscripts etc. made by Charles R Cowie of Glasgow.
[68] National Library of Scotland. Robert Burns 1759-1796, The Cowie Collection Manuscripts.
[69] Mitchell Library, Glasgow. The John Cowie Collection – Catalogue and The John Cowie Collection – Autograph Albums. Index 1 to 4.
[70] Jean Armour Burns Trust. History of the Jean Armour Houses.
[71] Bo’ness Pottery. Grace Purdie.
[72] Jean Armour Burns Trust. History of the Jean Armour Houses.
[73] Deaths (SR) Scotland. Partick, Glasgow. 18 November 1922. COWIE, Charles Rennie. 644/ 22 595.
[74] Obituaries. (1922) Glasgow Herald. 20 November. Charles Rennie. p. 5d
[75] The Straits Times. (1922). 16 December 1922. p. 13.
[76] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 24 April 1923. Cowie, Charles Rennie. General Settlement. Glasgow Sheriff Court. SC 36/51/198 and SC36/48/340.

[77] Deaths (SR) Scotland. Partick, Glasgow. 10 March 1963. COWIE, John. 644/ 8  368.

Mary Jackson Kirkpatrick (1876 – 1956)

Seven oil paintings were presented to Glasgow Corporation on 14 July 1947. The donor was a Miss Kirkpatrick of 6 Cleveden Crescent, Glasgow. 1

The paintings were:

Figure 1. Constable, John (in style of); On the Wye, Herefordshire. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(
Figure 2. Donald, John Milne; Cattle in a Pool. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(
Figure 3. Boughton, George Henry; Girl with a Muff, Winter Scene. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(
Figure 4. Boughton, George Henry; Girl with Pitchers, Summer Scene. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(

Figure 5. Billet, Pierre; Bringing in the Catch. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(

The other two paintings in the donation were: The Old Story by D.A.C. Artz (2627) and Highland River by John MacWhirter, RA, ARSA  (2628).

         According to the Glasgow Voters’ Roll for 1948, there was a Mary J. Kirkpatrick resident at 1 Cleveden Crescent. In 1937 the Voters’ Roll has Mrs Mary A. Kirkpatrick and Mary J Kirkpatrick living at 6 Cleveden Crescent. This suggested that the two women were mother and daughter and that the mother had died sometime between 1937 and 1948. Mary Anne Kirkpatrick, widow of Thomas Kirkpatrick, grain merchant, died at 6 Cleveden Crescent, Glasgow on 13 December 1940. She was 86 years old, and her death was reported by her daughter Mary J. Kirkpatrick. Her father, John Jackson, was also a grain merchant. 2

                Thomas Kirkpatrick was employed by the firm of John Jackson & Co., grain and flour factors of 23 Hope Street, Glasgow. 3 He was thirty-four years old and a bachelor when he married the boss’s daughter, twenty-year-old Mary Anne Jackson at the bride’s residence, 13 Lauder Road, Grange, Edinburgh on 25 March 1875. Thomas Kirkpatrick’s address was 24 Berkeley Terrace, Glasgow.4 Mary Jackson Kirkpatrick was born the following year on 20 January at 2 Park Quadrant, Glasgow.5  Two years later, a son, Thomas was born and a second daughter, Edith Grant Kirkpatrick was born in 1880. 6 The family was completed with the birth of Arthur in 1887.7 By 1891 the family had moved to 6 Montgomerie Crescent in Kelvinside. Thomas Kirkpatrick’s occupation was ‘grain merchant, employer’. Mary was a scholar aged fifteen. 8 Ten years later, on 18 November 1901, Thomas Kirkpatrick died aged sixty-one after an operation for an epithelioma of the colon. 9  The family remained at 6 Montgomerie Crescent with Mary Ann Kirkpatrick living on private means along with her daughter Mary, son Arthur who was now an accounts clerk and two servants. 10 Edith Kilpatrick had married John Ernest Jarrett in 1902 11 and Thomas Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps as a grain merchant and took over the family business.

Kirkpatrick, Thos., grain merchant, 67 Hope street; ho. 4 Grosvenor cres. 12

                Sometime between 1911 and 1936, Montgomerie Crescent was renamed Cleveden Crescent. Mary Anne Kirkpatrick died at 6 Cleveden Crescent on 13 December 1940. She was eighty-six. Her daughter Mary reported her death. 13 After her mother’s death, Mary moved to 1 Cleveden Crescent 14 perhaps to a smaller flat and this may have occasioned the donation of the paintings to Glasgow. Mary Jackson Kirkpatrick died at the Royal Glasgow Cancer Hospital on 18 February 1956 aged eighty. Her sister Edith who was living with her at 1 Cleveden Crescent, reported her death. 15,16


  1. Glasgow Corporation, Catalogue of Donations, Glasgow Museums Resource Centre
  2. Scotland’s People, Death Certificate
  3. Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1874-5
  4. Scotland’s People, Marriage Certificate
  5. Scotland’s People, Birth Certificate
  6. Ibid
  7. Ibid
  8. Scotland’s People, Census 1891
  9. Scotland’s People, Death Certificate
  10. Scotland’s People, Census 1911
  11. Scotland’s People, Marriage Certificate
  12. Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1918-19
  13. Scotland’s People, Death Certificate
  14. Glasgow Voters’ Roll, 1948
  15. Scotland’s People, Death Certificate
  16. Glasgow Herald, 20 February 1956, p1

Robert McNeil Ker (1878 – 1953)

On 11 December 1946, an oil painting entitled Mrs. Scott, Wife of James Scott of Kelly (2590) by John Graham-Gilbert RSA, was presented to Glasgow Corporation by Major Ker of Easterton, Milngavie. 1

Figure 1. Graham-Gilbert, John; Mrs James Scott of Kelly; Glasgow Museums;

The subject of the painting is Jane Martha Galbraith who was born in Barony on 7 May 1830. (She  died aged 87 in 1917 at 8 Woodside Crescent, Glasgow). Her parents were Andrew Galbraith, a cotton spinner/merchant, and Margaret Bogle Scott. 2 In 1848, aged eighteen, Jane married the thirty- eight-year-old James Scott. 3 (Appendix) The following year James Scott bought the estate of Kelly in the parish of Inverkip, Renfrewshire. The painting is dated to 1850 (ArtUK) so either commemorates the couples’ marriage or perhaps the birth of their first child Margaret Bogle Scott who was born on 14 July 1850. 4 Between 1850 and 1866 Jane Martha Scott gave birth to ten children, five boys and five girls. One of the girls, Helen Bethia Scott who was born on 16  July 1855 in Inverkip 5 was the mother of the donor. Helen Bethia Scott was 21 when she married Thomas Ripley Ker ‘gentleman’ of Dougalston, Milngavie on 20 June 1877 at St. Mary`s Tower, Birnam, Little Dunkeld. 6 (Thomas Ker’s father Robert Ker went out East as a merchant in 1825 and made his fortune before returning to Glasgow in 1836 and becoming a partner in Ker, Bolton & Co. of 27 West George Street, Manilla and Singapore Merchants. In 1841 he married Elizabeth Johnston of Shieldhall and had four children).7                   

Thomas and Helen Ker’s first child, Robert McNeil Ker (later ‘Major Ker’ the donor of the painting) was born in Strathblane on 18 February 1878. 8 A second child, Ronald Scott Ker was born in 1879 and the family took up residence in Bardowie House (Castle), Baldernock, Stirling. 9

Finely situated on its north-east side of Bardowie Lochan, and
embowered among foliage, is Bardowie House, an edifice of moderate
size, and somewhat timeworn, yet withal wearing an appearance of
quiet cosieness and comfort .’ 10                                                           

Figure 2. Bardowie_Castle in 1870 By Thomas Annan httpwww.theglasgowstory.comimage.phpinum=TGSB00235, Public Domain, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=15233785

Robert was educated at Dalvreck Academy (later Ardvrek Academy) in Crieff and appears on the school roll in 1891 11 but no record of Robert’s time there could be found by the school archivist. By 1901 the family had moved to Dougalston Mansion. This was a large house – according to the census there were thirty-five rooms with one or more windows – situated in Milngavie. 12

Figure 3. Dougalston, Milngavie (From an old post card)

 The house had been built by John Glassford, one of the Glasgow ‘Tobacco Lords’ in the early 18th century. Robert’s grandfather Robert Ker bought the house and estate in 1870 13 and had the house restored about 1872-73. 14 He also, in 1883, acquired the estate of Easterton . When he died in 1888, Robert Ker left an estate valued at £220,000 not including Dougalston. 15

The family now consisted of Thomas and Helen, Robert aged 23 was a ‘militiaman’, Ronald, an Oxford undergraduate and a sister Helen Ripley Ker born in 1887. They employed eight servants and a governess. 16

On 24 September 1902, Robert joined the army – the Officer Cadet Battalion with the rank of Honorary Captain. 17 The following year as a lieutenant in the Royal Garrison Regiment he married Margaret Lilian Blagden in Tisbury, Wiltshire.18,19 On 29 April 1904, the Royal Garrison Regiment embarked for South Africa to take up garrison duties at Fort Napier, Pietermaritzburg. 20 Tragically, Margaret Lilian Ker died in Pietermaritzburg on 7 April 1905. Robert later erected a memorial plaque to her in the church of St. Mary the Virgin, Donhead St. Mary, Wiltshire:

In Memory of

Margaret Lilian Ker

Nee Blagden

Who was married in this church 13th October 1903

And who died in Pietermaritzburg, Natal

7th April 1905

Erected by Robert MacNeil Ker

Xmas 1905

Robert returned from South Africa later that year with three battalions of the regiment. (The Royal Garrison Regiment was disbanded on 1 September 1908 21). In the same year as the death of his wife, Robert’s grandmother Elizabeth Ker died at Eastertoun. 22

On 17 April 1907, Robert McNeil Ker married Lucy Winifred Strickland -Constable at Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Street, Chelsea. 23 Lucy was born in Wassand Hall, Seaton, Yorkshire in 1875. She was the daughter of Henry Strickland – Constable and niece of Sir Charles Strickland eighth baronet of Boynton. After the wedding, the couple left for Paris and a continental honeymoon. 24

They had a son, Neil Ripley Ker, born on 28May 1908 in Brompton, London. Neil became an eminent palaeographer and his entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography says that his father was a captain in the 3rd battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (A & SH). During the war years his mother and grandmother held garden fetes etc. to raise funds for the A & SH Comforts’ Fund. 25

According to the census of 1911, Robert, aged 33 was living ‘on private means’ at Friningham Lodge, Detling, near Maidstone in Kent. With him were his wife Lucy aged 36 and son Neil aged 2. In 1914, with the advent of war, Robert was a captain in the Reserve of Officers attached to the Brigade of Infantry. In the same year he joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and then the Machine Gun Corps with the rank of major. At some point during the war, he was made acting lieutenant colonel of the corps. 26

Figure 4. Easterton House (Alexander Nisbet Paterson, 1915)Old Postcard View found in Crawford, James, Old Mugdock, Balmore, Baldernock and Bardowie, 2016, Stenlake Publishing, Ltd.

 After the war he seems to have lived quietly at Easterton, his father’s house in Milngavie taking an interest in local affairs. Lucy Winifred Ker died at Eastertoun on 7 December 1942. 27She was sixty-seven. Robert’s father, Thomas Ripley Ker, died at Eastertoun on 18 July 1947. An extensive obituary was published in the local paper. 28Robert McNeil Ker died on 15 October 1953 at Easterton. His death certificate states that he was a Major in the Royal Garrison Regiment (retd.) and the widower of Lucy Winifred Strickland – Constable. 29 A brief report appeared in the local newspaper stating that ‘he was well known locally for the deep interest and kindness he showed in philanthropic institutions, and particularly of the Old Folks Clubs. He was of a quiet genial disposition and will be missed by many in the district’. 30   

After a private funeral he was buried in Baldernock Churchyard alongside his parents, his brother and his second wife. His father had earlier gifted land to enlarge the churchyard ‘where the maternal ancestors of President Roosevelt are buried’. 31

Figure 5. Ker family gravestones in Baldernock Churchyard. httpswww.findagrave.commemorial196889564robert-macneil-ker



James Scott 1810 – 1884

James Scott had been made a partner in the firm of James Black & Co., calico printers, at the age of twenty and largely thanks to his efforts the firm’s business grew rapidly. In 1835 it acquired the Dalmonach printworks in Alexandria and through Scott’s ‘extraordinary enterprise’…….. attained it’s present position in the foremost ranks of printing’. James Scott retired from business in 1847. However, in 1852 he returned to set up the firm of J. & W.J. Scott with his younger brother. It became the largest cotton spinning works in Scotland. He also had interests in the railways and in oil setting up works at Clippens in Renfrewshire. 32 As a town councillor in Glasgow he was largely responsible for the formation of Kelvingrove Park. He sold the estate of Kelly to James ‘Paraffin’ Young in 1867. James Young died there on 13 May 1883 and is buried in Inverkip cemetery. James Scott died in 1884. Kelly House burned down in 1913 allegedly from suffragette activity. 33


  1. Catalogue of Donations, Glasgow Museums Resource Centre
  2. Scotland’s People, Death Certificate 1917, Jane Martha Scott
  3. Old Parish Registers, Family Search, Scotland
  4. Ibid
  5. Scotland’s People, Birth Certificate
  6. Scotland’s People, Marriage Certificate
  7. Smith, John Guthrie, Strathendrick, and its inhabitants from early times, Glasgow, J Maclehose and sons, 1896
  8. Scotland’s People, Birth Certificate
  9., 1881 Scotland Census
  10. Macdonald, Hugh, Rambles Round Glasgow, 1854
  11., 1891 Scotland Census
  12., 1901 Scotland Census
  13. Smith, John Guthrie, Strathendrick, and its inhabitants from early times, Glasgow, J Maclehose and sons, 1896
  15. Stirling Advertiser, 11 October 1888
  16., 1901 Scotland Census
  17. https//
  18. England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005,
  21. Ibid
  22. Milngavie and Bearsden Herald, 10 February 1905
  23. England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005,
  24. Hull Daily Mail, 18 April 1907
  25. Milngavie and Bearsden Herald, 12 April 1918
  26. https//
  27. Glasgow Herald, 8 December 1942
  28. Milngavie and Bearsden Herald, 26 July 1947
  29. Scotland’s People, Death Certificate
  30. Milngavie and Bearsden Herald , 17 October 1953
  31. Kirkintilloch Herald, 2 January 1929

Cecilia Douglas (1772-1862). Art Collector and Slave Owner.

To avoid confusion donor Cecilia Douglas will always be in bold.

In 1862 Mrs Cecilia Douglas (nee Douglas) bequeathed oil paintings and sculptures to the then Glasgow Corporation. The paintings, thirteen in total consisting of an old master, copies of old masters and other originals, initially were on display in the Mclellan Galleries in Sauchiehall Street. Currently they are located in the Glasgow Museum Resource Centre or on display in Kelvingrove Art Galleries.

Figure 1. Willem van Aelst (1627-after 1687). Still Life: Herring, Cherries and Glassware. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (
Figure 2. Vincenzo Camuccini (171-1844). The Death of Julius Caesar. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (

She and her husband Gilbert represented two different branches of the Douglas family. Hers, according to one source, perhaps wishful thinking, descended from the Douglas Earls of Angus via the Douglas families of Cruixton and Stobbs,[1] Gilbert’s from the Douglases of Mulderg in Ross-Shire.[2] Her mother was a Buchanan, descending from the Buchanans of Leny, Gilbert’s mother was a Robertson,  daughter of a farmer from Balcony (Balconie). Interestingly there is a line of descent chart which shows the Robertson family descending from Edward I of England and his wife, the daughter of the king of France.[3] All pre-eminent families, particularly the Douglases and the Buchanans who were heavily involved in the West Indies in the eighteenth century, owning plantations and dealing in sugar and tobacco.

Gilbert Douglas

Gilbert’s paternal ancestry can be traced back to Hector Douglas, the first of Mulderg, who is mentioned in the 1644 Valuation Roll of the Sheriffdom of Inverness and Ross. He seems to have been the proprietor of the estate from around 1630.He died before 1653, his son Hector succeeding him being ‘retoured as heir of his father’ (legally recognised). Son Hector had married Bessie Gray around 1630 producing at least three sons, however his time as owner of the estate was short lived as he died around 1657, to be succeeded by son Robert. Robert, his brother another Hector who succeeded him, both had no issue the estate passing on to a third brother, first name unfortunately not known. This brother was succeeded by his son Hector who was Gilbert’s great grandfather. Around 1718 the Douglases ceased to own Mulderg, Gilbert’s great grandfather’s eldest son (another Hector) being the last.[4]

The second son was Robert [5] who married Catherine Munro in 1703.[6] She was his second wife and they had three children one of whom was yet another Robert, a farmer in Balcony, who was Gilbert’s father. He married Janet Robertson, daughter of farmer Hugh Robertson also of Balcony, Gilbert being born in 1749. He was baptised in the parish church of Kiltearn in Ross-shire.[7]

Cecilia Douglas

From 1378 to 1660 there were twelve Douglas Earls of Angus, the last one being William Douglas, who became the Marquis of Angus in 1633. No clear connection has been established between the Earls and Cecilia’s father John Douglas, a Glasgow merchant, however I believe his first traceable direct ancestor, and Cecilia’s paternal great great grandfather was Robert Douglas, an Edinburgh merchant who married Helen Hunter in 1665.[8] According to the Douglas Archives website they had a son, Robert of Cruixton, who married Rachael McFarlane, who in turn had a son named William, John Douglas’s father. William was a merchant in Leith. He married Katherine Dunlop of Garnkirk[9] and died in 1772.[10]

John Douglas was born in Leith in 1727.[11] He married Cecilia Buchanan in 1766,[12] the daughter of George Buchanan, a maltman, burgess and guild brother of Glasgow. Her paternal ancestry can be traced back to Walter Buchanan of Leny in the sixteenth century, his grandson Andrew Buchanan of Gartacharn being her great grandfather. She shares this ancestry with Mary Buchanan, the wife of Alexander Speirs, who also was Andrew’s great granddaughter.

Andrew’s son George was a maltman in Glasgow, a member of the Trades House from 1674, where he held a number of positions. At various times he was also a Glasgow Bailie and Deacon Convener of the Trades House. He married twice, his second wife being Mary Maxwell, daughter of Glasgow merchant Gabriel Maxwell. They had ten children, seven sons and three daughters.

The eldest was also George, born in 1686 who followed in his father’s footsteps becoming a maltman in Glasgow. He was also Glasgow Burgh Treasurer at one point and became a Bailie in 1732.[13] He married three times, his third wife Cecilia Forbes, whom he married in 1736,[14] being the mother of Cecilia Buchanan who was born in 1740.[15]

George’s younger brothers Andrew, Neil and Archibald, who was Alexander Speirs’ father in law, were heavily involved in the American tobacco trade becoming Glasgow’s largest tobacco importer by 1730.[16]

The Family of John Douglas and Cecilia Buchanan

John and Cecilia had eleven children, all born in Glasgow, as follows:

·  William, b. October 1766.[17] Matriculated at Glasgow University in 1778.[18] Died before 1828, the Trust deed of Cecilia Douglas, written in 1828 refers to him as her late brother as she bequeathed to his daughter Rosina £250.[19] As the name Rosina in the Scotlandspeople records for that time is rare there is some reasonably strong evidence, but not fully conclusive, that William was a ship’s captain, had married Rosina Service, daughter Rosina being born in 1811.[20] She died in 1912,[21] the widow of Peter Drew whom she married in 1854,[22] her father being described as a master mariner.

·  George, b. May 1768.[23]

·  John, b. May 1768.[24]  What happened to his twin George has not been established except that he matriculated at Glasgow University in 1780 and died young.[25] John also matriculated at Glasgow[26] and afterwards was significantly involved with the sugar trade in Demerara, (British Guiana, now Guyana) probably on his own initially but subsequently with his brothers through the family firm of J. T. and A. Douglas & Co. Probably/possibly his involvement in the trade was through Gilbert Douglas who owned plantations in the West Indies. He actually lived in Demerara around 1800 owning, with his brothers, at least three sugar plantations directly, plus others indirectly as mortgagees.[27] Whilst there he fathered three children, two boys and a girl, with a free creole woman. The second son James, born in 1803, was to have an astonishing career considering his parents never married and his mother was of mixed European and black descent. He came to Scotland with his brother Alexander, possibly with their father, for his early schooling and in 1819 they both went to Canada to work in the fur trade for the North West Company. By 1821 James was working for the Hudson Bay Company. He married Amelia Connelly, who was half native Canadian, half white in 1827 and continued to rise through the Hudson Bay Company, eventually being transferred to British Columbia to run its operation there with a wide range of responsibilities. By 1851 he had been appointed governor of Vancouver Island. When it became officially a crown colony in 1859 he became the first governor of British Columbia, holding the two posts until his retirement in 1864 at which point he became a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. He died in 1877.[28]

Figure 3. Sir James Douglas. From Dictionary of Canadian Biography. (source Wikimedia Commons).

John returned to Glasgow before 1809, probably around 1806/07 as the first time the family firm of J. T. snd A. Douglas & Co., located at 51 Virginia Street, appeared in the Glasgow Post Office Directory was in the 1807 edition.[29] He married Jessie Hamilton, the daughter of a Greenock merchant in 1809[30] and they had at least three children, one boy named for his father and two girls.[31] I have the impression that he returned to Demerara at some point but there is no clear proof of that. He eventually moved to Edinburgh living at Moray Place where he died in 1840. His estate in Scotland was valued at just under £71,500, the majority of it in bank, railway and canal stock.[32] Today that would be worth between £7m and £290m.[33] His estate in England was valued at ‘under £20,000’, being finally settled in 1862, his brother Thomas being by that time the sole surviving executor,[34] John’s wife Jessie having died in 1861 at Moray Place.[35]

·  Robert, b. 20 July 1770.[36] Not mentioned in her 1828 Trust deed presumably having died before then.

·  Cecilia, b. 28 February 1772,[37] more of whom and husband Gilbert to follow.

·  Neil, b. 24 February 1774.[38] Matriculated at Glasgow University in 1786 then  became a partner in Douglas and Brown, cotton spinners.[39] Joined the Rifle Brigade in 1801 as a second lieutenant and had an extremely successful military career. By 1811 he had attained the rank of major and had fought with Sir John Moore in Portugal and Sweden. He was no desk soldier being wounded twice between 1810 (Busaco) and 1815 (Quatre Bas). In June of that year he had commanded his battalion at Waterloo. He continued to progress through the ranks becoming by the end of his career Lieutenant General of the 78th regiment in 1851. He was an aide-de-camp of William IV from 1825 to 1837 and from 1842 to 1847 was governor of Edinburgh Castle.[40] He was awarded many honours being made a Commander of the Order of Maria Theresa in 1815 by the Austrian emperor,[41] in 1831 he was knighted becoming a Knight-Companion of the Royal Hanoverian Guelphic Order,[42] finally becoming a Knight Commander of the Bath. I’ve not been able to clearly identify when he was given this last honour but when he was appointed to Edinburgh Castle in 1842 he was described as a KCB.[43] In 1816 he married Barbara Robertson, the daughter of George Robertson, a banker of Greenock.[44] They had at least one son, Sir John Douglas, who like his father became a soldier. He fought in the Crimean War and was involved in dealing with the Indian Mutiny of 1857. He reached the rank of general in 1880.[45] Sir Neil Douglas died in Brussels in 1853.[46]

Figure 4. Sir Neil Douglas. National Portrait Gallery of Scotland

·  Thomas Dunlop, b. 1 February 1776.[47] He began his business life as an apprentice hat maker with Thomas Buchanan (a relative of his mother?) in Glasgow and by 1801 had his own hat making business located between Brown Street and Carrick Street.[48] Following the partnership with his brothers John and Archibald in 1807 he continued as a hat maker until 1816, the last year he appears in the Glasgow directory as such.[49] From 1823 until 1857/58 he was described as an insurance broker. From 1807 until 1855 he continued to be a partner of J. T. and A. Douglas & Co., that being the last year the company appeared in the Glasgow directory [50]. He married Rose Hunter of Greenock in May 1808,[51] there being, apparently, no children of the marriage. He was a member of the Board of Green Cloth, a Glasgow whist and supper club from at least 1809 and in 1845 bought the Dunlop estate in Ayrshire, which was once owned by the Dunlop family his grandfather William Douglas had married into.[52] He died in 1869 at Dunlop House, his wife Rosina pre- deceasing him.[53] His inventory of assets totalled over £64,000 in Scotland and £176,000 in England, combined total being £241,600.[54] Today this would equate to around £500m in terms of economic worth.[55] In his trust settlement of 1867 he made several bequests to the families of his brothers, other family members, servants, farm hands and charitable institutions, however the most significant beneficiary was Thomas Dunlop Douglas Cunninghame Graham, who I believe was a nephew or great nephew, but not proven.[56]

·  Archibald, b. 10 October 1778.[57] Reliable information about Archibald has been difficult to get, however like his brothers he matriculated at Glasgow University in 1789.[58] He clearly was a partner in the family business but rarely appeared in the Glasgow directory. There is an Archibald Douglas, stocking manufacturer, in the 1801 directory, becoming Archibald Douglas & Co, hosiers by 1807, thereafter no further entries. Similarly his personal life only becomes clear through his Trust settlement of 1860. In the Regality Club of Glasgow publications he is described as a merchant in 1811 and a member of Glasgow Golf Club in 1815.[59] In addition to being a partner in J. T. and A. Douglas and Co. he was also a partner, with brother Neil, in Douglas, Brown and Co., cotton spinners. He purchased the estate of Glenfinnart in Argyllshire in 1845 where lived for the rest of his life.[60] He died there in 1860 and it is in his Trust document that you get primary evidence that he married and had children. He married firstly Christina Riddell in 1810, then Harriet May in 1828, and finally Anna McNeill in 1838. There appears to be children only of the last marriage, namely John, a colonel and Assistant Adjutant General of Cavalry who was his executor and main beneficiary, and daughters Anna Glassford and Eleanor Louisa, who pre deceased him. His estate was valued at over £28,000.[61]

·  James, b. 8 August 1779.[62] Very little known about this brother except he seems to have lived and died in Demerara. The only evidence I have for that is that there is a reference to his death in the July-December 1853 issue of the Official Gazette for British Guiana concerning a share of the Good Hope plantation there being transferred to his brother Thomas Dunlop Douglas.[63] In his sister Cecilia’s Trust deed of 1828 he is described as ‘of Demerara’[64] however it’s possible he may have returned to Glasgow on occasion as in his brother John’s will in 1840 he is described as a merchant in Glasgow.[65] In his only entry in the Glasgow directory in 1850/51 he is described as a partner in the family company his house address given as 234 St Vincent Street. [66]

·  Colin, 25 November 1781.[67] Matriculated at Glasgow University in 1793 and graduated M.D. in 1802.[68] He is very likely to have died unmarried before 1828 as sister Cecilia does not mention him or any family of his in her Trust settlement of 1828

·  Cathrin, b. 16 January 1784.[69]

As Indicated previously John Douglas senior was a Glasgow merchant. Around 1775 he purchased from John Miller a plot of land in what became Miller Street.[70] In the same year he and two other city merchants were charged by the Sheriff Depute of the County of Lanark, with ensuring that the Clyde from Dumbuck Ford to the Broomielaw had been deepened in accordance with the contract between Glasgow and a Mr. Goldburne, which was confirmed as seven feet at an ordinary neep tide![71]

What kind of merchant he was is not entirely clear as entries in the Glasgow directories don’t always specify. His first entry in the1783 John Tait directory simply says he was a merchant in Miller Street.[72] However in the Jones directories in 1789 and 1790/91 the only John Douglas entry in each states he was a wine and rum merchant, located in Miller Street.[73] Confusingly another source states he was the father of Sir Neil Douglas, which is correct, but then goes on to describe him as an insurance broker.[74]

I have not been able to clearly identify when John Douglas died but it must have been after 1803, the date of his last entry in the Glasgow directory and before 1810, the date of his wife Cecilia’s death where she was described as the relict (widow) of merchant John Douglas.[75]

J. T. and A. Douglas and Co.

The company lasted for just under fifty years, the final entry in the Glasgow directory being in 1854. Its main area of operation had been the sugar plantations it or the brothers owned in Demerara and Berbice in British Guiana. They had an involvement with at least six plantations Union, Better Hope, Enfield, Good Hope, Belmont and Windsor Forest either as owners or mortgagees which collectively had 1155 slaves. Additionally there were five more slaves presumably household for either John or James. When slavery was abolished they claimed compensation, eventually receiving as owners £41517 and a further £48874 from other owners which paid off the outstanding mortgage debt.[76] The total of these sums, £90391, equate today to £392m in terms of economic power.[77] That sum was in addition to the profits they made over the lifetime of the company, the majority of that time investing in human misery to their clear advantage. That misery erupted into a slave rebellion in Demerara in 1823 which was savagely put down by the military with hundreds of slaves killed, those who weren’t being sentenced to 1,000 lashes and hard labour.[78]

Cecilia and Gilbert Douglas

Cecilia and Gilbert married in Glasgow on the 26 January 1794.[79] There were no children of the marriage. As a farmer’s son Gilbert presumably spent his early working life on his father’s farm in Balcony, however there is not a great deal known about his subsequent business activities. At the time of his marriage he was described as a merchant in Glasgow but the usual sources to confirm that such as the city directories, the Merchants House and the Scottish Record Society records of burgesses etc, contain no reference to him. Nor is there any record of matriculating/graduating from the University. What is known is that at the time of his death he owned a cotton plantation called Fairfield in Demerara and a sugar plantation called Mount Pleasant, on the island of St. Vincent, where he had lived for a period.[80] How and when he acquired them has not been discovered.

In 1800 he bought the Douglas Park estate from Major-General John Hamilton of Orbiston,[81] following which he engaged architect Robert Burn to build a mansion on the site of the old Orbiston House based on plans apparently prepared in 1795.[82] He also bought the estate of Boggs from Hamilton a year later. He and Cecilia lived there for the rest of their lives.

He died in 1807 at Douglas Park,[83] his deed of settlement in St. Vincent naming Cecilia and her brothers as trustees of his estate. She specifically was bequeathed half shares in the two plantations as well as life rent of the Douglas Park and Boggs estates.[84]

As it turned out the plantations had debts which Cecilia paid off by continuing to sell the Demerara produce for a time and eventually her half share in the plantation itself.[85]

Figure 5. Orbiston House. From: Smith, John Guthrie and Mitchell, John Oswald. (1878). The Old Country Houses of the Old Glasgow Gentry. 2nd ed. Glasgow: James Maclehose and Sons.

The remainder of Cecilia’s life does not reflect that of a typical Victorian lady. She travelled to Italy and lived there for an extended period, she purchased the estate of Orbiston, adjacent to her own and renamed the whole estate and house Orbiston,[86] and she had a number of significant industrial and financial investments which included the Forth and Clyde Canal (£3536), the Bank of England (£7977) and various railway stocks (over £9700).[87] She also retained her half share in the ownership of the St. Vincent plantation which had 231 slaves. When slavery was abolished in 1834 she claimed compensation and in 1836 was duly awarded £3014.[88] She collected art in many different formats, paintings, sculptures, furniture and so on, the collection in due course being donated to Glasgow.[89]

Figure 6. The Tontine Building in 1868, photographed by Thomas Annan. From ‘ Glasgow’s Treasure Chest’ by James Cowan, ‘Peter Prowler’. Published June 1951, page 393.

In December 1860 she came into the ownership of the Tontine building in Glasgow. The Tontine scheme in 1781 financed the reconstruction of the old Tontine Hotel creating what became known as the Tontine Building. Individual shares were purchased at £50 per share, there being a total of one hundred and seven shares sold. Two shares were bought in young Cecilia’s name one of which was by her grandfather William Douglas, the other by Glasgow merchant Alexander McCaul. The objective of the scheme, apart from having a grand civic building, was that the last living share holder would have ownership of it. That turned out to be Cecilia,[90]although it was a close run thing as she was the oldest of four survivors in February of that year.[91]

She died at home in 1862 in her ninety first year, essentially from old age.[92] She left a personal estate valued at just over £40,365. In accordance with her Trust deed her bequests included family and a number of charities and organisations, and individual members of her domestic staff.[93] In accordance with her husband’s Trust deed the Orbiston estate was left to his grandnephew Robert Douglas.[94]

She and her husband are commemorated by a plaque on the wall of St. Bride’s Collegiate Church in Bothwell inscribed as follows:

To the memory of Gilbert Douglas of Douglas ParkBorn 28th May 1749 Died 10th March 1807
and also of Cecilia Douglas of Orbiston his wife
Born 28th Feby 1772 Died 25th July 1862

Before her death she funded a window in Glasgow Cathedral dedicated to her husband and her parents and siblings, which was completed in October 1862, part of it being shown below.[95]

Figure 8. Kind Permission of Heritage Environment Scotland.

In 2013 articles about the paintings bequest to Glasgow appeared in the Herald newspaper, one entitled “The Paintings Sullied by Slavery”. It goes into detail about the Cecilia Douglas fortune being founded on slavery and asks the inevitable question about whether paintings with their financial provenance should ever go on show. A complex question with no easy answer. The following are two telling and moving extracts referring to the conditions on the Douglas plantation in St. Vincent.

‘Slavery conditions on the Mount Pleasant estate on St. Vincent were brutal. Large gangs of slaves would spend much of the day digging holes for the sugar cane and constantly weeding the plantation, with women not spared such physical labour.’

‘The slaves die off because they are being worked in very difficult conditions very hard with inadequate nutrition.’[96]

It’s clear that the fortunes of the family of Cecilia Douglas, both paternal and maternal, came about, either directly or indirectly through the exploitation of African slaves, the extracts above indicating what little regard they had for the enslaved people creating their fortunes.

Glasgow generally has come late to the idea that slavery underpinned the city’s commerce from around the Act of Union to the mid 1800’s. This was a major ‘self-denial’ that persisted well into the twentieth century, the following, which was printed in the Herald in 1883, being typical of the mindset that existed until fairly recently.

The American War of Independence finished the latter (the tobacco lords), but the trading instinct of Glasgow was not to be denied, and prompted no doubt by its favourable situation for the purpose, the merchants of Glasgow embarked largely in the West India (West Indies) trade. The other great sugar ports were London, Bristol and Liverpool, and it is to Glasgow’s lasting honour that while Bristol and Liverpool were up to the elbows in the slave trade Glasgow kept out of it. The reproach can never be levelled at our city, as it was at Liverpool, that there was not a stone in her streets that were not cemented with the blood of a slave. [97]


[1] Douglas Archives.

2] Ross, A.M. (1895) The Genealogy of the Families of Douglas of Mulderg and Robertson of Kindeace and their descendants. Dingwall: A.M. Ross and Co. pp. 9-12.

[3] Ross, op. cit. p.18.

[4] Ross, op. cit. pp. 9-12.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Marriages. (OPR) Scotland. Inveraray and Glenaray. 24 August 1703. DUGLAS, Robert and MONROE, Catherine. 513/  20 174.

[7] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Kiltearn. 28May 1749. DOUGLASS, Gilbert. 070  10 30.

[8] Marriages. (OPR) Scotland. Edinburgh. 28 March 1665. DOUGLASS, Robert and HUNTER, Helen. 685/1 440 77.

9] Douglas Archives.

[10] Grant, Francis J. ed. (1899). The Commissariat Record of Edinburgh. Register of Testaments. 1707 – 1800. Edinburgh: Scottish Record Society. p. 78.

[11] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Leith South. 11 March 1727. DOUGLAS, John. 692/2 50 286.

12] Marriages. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 5 January 1766. DOUGLAS, John and BUCHANAN, Cecilia. 644/1 260 20.

[13] Glasgow’s Benefactors. Alexander Speirs – Tobacco Lord (1714-1782) Part 2.

[14] Marriages. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 29 August 1736. BUCHANAN, George and FORBES, Cecilia. 644/1 250 58.

[15] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 14 February 1740. BUCHANAN, Cecilia. 644/1 120 25.

[16] Glasgow’s Benefactors. Alexander Speirs – Tobacco Lord (1714-1782) Part 2.

[17] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 1 October 1766. DOUGLAS, William. 644/1 140 332.

[18] Addison, W. Innes. (1913). The Matriculation Albums of Glasgow University from 1728 to 1858.p. 122.

19] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 13 December 1862. DOUGLAS, Cecilia. Inventory, Trust Disposition and  Settlement. Glasgow Sheriff Court Wills. SC36/51/44, and Inventory. Glasgow Sheriff Court Inventories. SC36/48/49.

[20] Births. (OPR). Scotland. Girvan. 1 September 1811. DOUGLAS, Robina. 594/  20 250.

[21] Deaths. (SR) Scotland. Row, Dumbarton. 14 August 1912. DOUGLAS, Rosina. 503/  79.

[22] Marriages. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 1 September 1854. DREW, Peter and DOUGLAS, Rosina Elizabeth. 644/1 440 503.

[23] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 8 May 1768. DOUGLAS, George. 644/1 150 59.

[24] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 8 May 1768. DOUGLAS, John. 644/1 150 59.

[25] Addison, op. cit. p. 128.

[26] Ibid

[27] University College London. John Douglas.

[28] Ormsby, Margaret A. ‘DOUGLAS, Sir JAMES,’ in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 10, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003.

[29] Directories. Scotland. (1807). Glasgow directory. Glasgow: W. McFeat and Co. p. 31.

[30] Marriages. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 15 January 1809. DOUGLAS, John and HAMILTON, Jessie. 644/1 280 97.

[31] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 16 April 1841. DOUGLAS, John. Inventory, Trust Disposition and  Settlement. Edinburgh Sheriff Court Inventories. SC70/1/60.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Measuring Worth (2021).

[34] Testamentary Ancestry. England. 9 April 1862. DOUGLAS, John. National Probate Calendar. (Index of Wills and Administration). 1858 – 1995. p. 147.

[35] Deaths. (SR) Scotland. Edinburgh. 6 December 1861. HAMILTON, Jessie. 685/1 935.

[36] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 20 July 1770. DOUGLAS, Robert. 644/1 150 208.

[37] Births (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 28 February 1772. DOUGLAS, Cecilia. 644/1 150 311.

[38] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 24 February 1774. DOUGLAS, Neil. 644/1 160 80.

[39] Addison, op. cit. p. 147.

[40] Stephens, H. M. ‘DOUGLAS, Sir Neil, (1774-1853)’ In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[41] London Gazette (1815) 23 September 1815.

[42] London Gazette (1831) 23 September 1831.

[43] London Gazette (1842) 29 April 1842.

[44] Marriages. (OPR) Scotland. Greenock. 26 August 1816. DOUGLAS, John and ROBERTSON, Barbara. 564/3 40 450.

[45] Girard, Charlotte S. (1986/87) Some Further Notes on the Douglas Family. (PDF) BC Studies, no.72, Winter 1986-87. University of Victoria, British Columbia.

[46] Stephens, H. M. ‘DOUGLAS, Sir Neil, (1774-1853)’ In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[47] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 1 December 1776. DOUGLAS, Thomas Dunlop. 644/1 160 218.

[48] James Maclehose and Sons. (1891). Minute Book of the Board of Green Cloth. 1809-1820. Glasgow: James Maclehose and Sons.

[49] Directories. Scotland. (1816) Glasgow directory. Glasgow: A. McFeat and Co. p. 49.

[50] Directories. Scotland. (1854/55) Glasgow directory. Glasgow: William Mackenzie p. 113.

[51] Marriages. (OPR) Scotland. Greenock. 28 May 1808. DOUGLAS, Thomas Duncan and HUNTER, Rosina. 564/3 40 322.

[52] Girard, Charlotte S. (1986/87) Some Further Notes on the Douglas Family. (PDF) BC Studies, no.72, Winter 1986-87. University of Victoria, British Columbia.

[53] Deaths. (SR) Scotland. Ayr, Dunlop. 30 January 1869. DOUGLAS, Thomas Dunlop. 591/  1.

[54] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 26 March 1869. DOUGLAS, Thomas Dunlop. Inventory. Ayr Sheriff Court. SC6/44/34.

[55] Measuring Worth (2021).

[56] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 26 March 1869. DOUGLAS, Thomas Dunlop. Trust Disposition and Deed of Settlement. Ayr Sheriff Court Wills. SC6/46/6.

[57] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 10 October 1778. DOUGLAS, Archibald. 644/1 160 425.

[58] Addison, op. cit. p. 156.

[59] Girard, Charlotte S. (1986/87) Some Further Notes on the Douglas Family. (PDF) BC Studies, no.72, Winter 1986-87. University of Victoria, British Columbia.

[60] Devine, T. M. An Eighteenth Century Business Elite: Glasgow West India Merchants etc. In : The Scottish Historical Review Vol 57, No. 168. Part 1 April 1978. pp. 40-67. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

[61] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 22 January 1861. DOUGLAS, Archibald. Trust Deed of Settlement and Inventory. Dunoon Sheriff Court. SC51/32/11.

[62] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 8 August 1779. DOUGLAS, James. 644/1 170 14.

[63] National Archives. The Official Gazette, British Guiana.

[64] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 13 December 1862. DOUGLAS, Cecilia. Inventory, Trust Disposition and Settlement. Glasgow Sheriff Court Wills SC36/51/44 and Inventory. Glasgow Sheriff Court Inventories. SC36/48/49.

[65] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 16 April 1841. DOUGLAS, John. Inventory, Trust Disposition and  Settlement. Edinburgh Sheriff Court Inventories. SC70/1/60.

[66] Directories. Scotland. (1850/51). Glasgow directory. Glasgow: William Mackenzie. p. 97.

[67] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 15 November 1781. DOUGLAS, Colin. 644/1 170 169.

[68] Addison, op. cit. p. 171.

[69] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 16 January 1784. DOUGLAS, Cathrin. 644/1 170 305.

[70] Senex et al. (1884) Glasgow Past and Present. Vol 2. Glasgow: David Robertson and Co. p. 416.

[71] Senex, op. cit. p. 34.

[72] Directories. Scotland. (1783). John Tait directory for the City of Glasgow. Glasgow: John Tait. p.26.

[73] Directories. Scotland. (1790/91) Jones Directory of Glasgow. Glasgow: Joseph Galbraith. p.16.

[74] Senex, op. cit. Vol 3.p. 410.

[75] Deaths. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 2 July 1810. DOUGLAS, Mrs. John. 644/1 610 44.

[76] University College London.

[77] Measuring Worth (2021).

[78] Demerara Revolt.

[79] Marriages. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 26 January 1794. DOUGLAS, Gilbert and DOUGLAS, Cecilia. 644/1 270 164.

[80] National Records of Scotland. CS96/4901-2.

[81] Smith, John Guthrie and Mitchell, John Oswald. (1878) The Old Country Houses of the Glasgow Gentry. 2nd ed. Glasgow: James Maclehose and Sons.

[82] Dictionary of Scottish Architects.

[83] Deaths. (OPR) Scotland. Bothwell. 16 March 1807. DOUGLAS, Gilbert. 625/  20 222.

[84] Mullen, Stephen. ‘Douglas, Cecilia (1772-1862)’. In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[85] ibid

[86] Ibid

[87] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 13 December 1862. DOUGLAS, Cecilia. Inventory, Trust Disposition and Settlement. Glasgow Sheriff Court Wills. SC36/51/44, and Inventory. Glasgow Sheriff Court Inventories. SC36/48/49.

[88] University College London. Cecilia Douglas.

[89] Mullen, Stephen. ‘Douglas, Cecilia. (1772-1862)’. In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[90] Senex et al. (1884) Glasgow Past and Present. Vol. 3. Glasgow: David Roberson and Co. pp. 287-289.

[91]Glasgow Herald. (1860) Last Survivor of the Glasgow Tontine. Glasgow Herald 13 October. p.3.

[92] Deaths (SR) Scotland. Bothwell, Lanark. 25 July 1862. DOUGLAS, Cecilia. 625/1 94.

[93] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 13 December 1862. DOUGLAS, Cecilia. Inventory, Trust Disposition and  Settlement. Glasgow Sheriff Court Wills. SC36/51/44, and Inventory. Glasgow Sheriff Court Inventories. SC36/48/49.

[94]Mullen, Stephen. ‘Douglas, Cecilia. (1772-1862)’. In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[95] Glasgow Herald. (1862) Glasgow Cathedral – Completion of the Four Great Windows. Glasgow Herald 13 October. p.4.

[96] Glasgow Herald. (2013) The Paintings Sullied by Slavery. Glasgow Herald 10 March.

[97]Glasgow Herald. (1883) The West India Association of Glasgow. Glasgow Herald 1 June. p.9.

Mrs Anna Bella Baird nee Maltman (1870 – 1963)

On 28 February 1944, an oil painting by Sir John Lavery presented by Mrs Baird of 8 Northbank Terrace, Glasgow, N.W., was accepted by Glasgow Corporation.1 The subject of the painting was Mr. George Ure Baird who was the father-in-law of the donor.

Figure 1. Lavery, John (1885). George Ure Baird (2361) © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(

The Donor

Anna Bella Walker Maltman was born at 17 Kelvinhaugh Street, Anderston, Glasgow on 14 January 1870.2 Her father, Thomas Maltman was a drapery warehouseman who had married Anna`s mother Isabella Adam on 6 July 1860 in Glasgow.3 In 1871 the family consisted of Thomas, (who was now a shipping clerk) and Isabella with Magdalena aged 8, Frances 6, John 4 and Anna Bella.4 Ten years later the family was living at 9 Windsor Street, Kelvin, Glasgow. Anna Bella was a scholar, aged 11 and there were two other children, Johanna aged 7 and James aged 2.5  

            In 1891, the twenty-year-old Anna was living at 52 Ardbeg Road, Rothesay with her sisters Frances and Magdalena and brother-in-law, Andrew Adamson who was a photographic artist. Anna was ‘living on private means’.6 On 9 April 1896 Anna married George Callwell Baird at her home, 22 Montgomerie Street, Glasgow. George was a commercial traveller, aged 27, living at his brother`s home, Killadoon, Langside. Anna`s sister Johanna was a witness.7

            By 1901 Anna and George had moved to 2 Albany Street, Kelvinside. They now had a son George Ure Baird aged 3 and employed one servant.8 Ten years later, they were living at 242 Wilton Street, (later 8 Northbank Terrace) and now had three children, George, Dorothy, aged 9 and Thomas, aged 2.9 George senior was now a silk buyer employed by Gilmour & Co. silk merchants of 5 Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow. 10

            George Callwell Baird died in the Western Infirmary, Glasgow on 18 May 1943. He was 75.11 The following year Anna donated the painting of her father-in-law to Glasgow Museums.

            Anna Bella Walker Baird died on 10 December 1963 at 44 Balshagray Avenue, Glasgow. She was aged 93 and the cause of death was ‘senile decay’. Her usual address was that of her son Thomas at 242 Wilton Street.12

The Sitter

            George Ure Baird was born in Saltcoats on 8 January 1832 although the birth was registered in Stevenston. His parents were Hugh Baird, gentleman, and Margaret Anderson.13 On 18 July 1860, George married the nineteen-year-old Mary Helen Robertson at Gothic Cottage in Govan, and the couple took up residence at 3 Osborne Place, Govan. George was a commission merchant in sewing machines and lace.14 By 1881 the family had moved to Cartbank, 45 Netherlee Road, Cathcart. (This small Georgian house consisted of a single storey with a basement. It was described as symmetrical, two ends circled, ashlar, large square bay window on front. Probably circa 1770, with ends added circa 1800).15 The family now consisted of four sons and three daughters.16

It was about this time that the portrait of George Ure Baird was commissioned from John Lavery – probably to help the artist become established. Lavery later said that ‘Mr. Baird was one of my first patrons and his kindness to me still excites my warm gratitude’.17 Lavery`s paintings The Tennis Party and a watercolour Lady on a Safety Tricycle, (now in the government art collection) were painted at Cartbank and dated to 1885.18

Figure 2. Lavery, John. The Tennis Party © Aberdeen Art gallery. (

At about this time, George Ure Baird moved to a different address. An entry in the Glasgow Post Office directory for 1884/5 is

Baird, George Ure, commission merchant, 62, Queen Street; House, Anglsey Lodge, Langside

         George Ure Baird died of consumption aged 53 at Anglesy Lodge on 21 January 188519 and was buried in the Glasgow Necropolis along with two sons and a daughter who had predeceased him. The inscription on the headstone reads;-

    ‘GEORGE URE BAIRD ANN OGILVY born 22nd April 1873 died 6 March 1875, DAVID ANDERSON born 6th Oct 1870 died 28th March 1875 JESSIE born 3rd Jan 1877 died 9th Aug 1877, GEORGE URE BAIRD born 8th Jan 1832 died 21st Jan 1885, MARY HELEN ROBERTSON wife of the said GEORGE URE BAIRD who died 4th Oct 1903 aged 61’.

His business of commission merchant was carried on by his son Hugh Baird in partnership with Mr. William Ewing. However, the name George Ure Baird was retained. 20

The Painting and the Artist

            John Lavery was born in Belfast in 1856 but was orphaned three years later. At the age of ten he was sent to live with a rich cousin of his aunt who had a pawnshop in Saltcoats.21 George Ure Baird was one of his earliest patrons and the portrait was one of the first painted by Lavery. It may have been commissioned partly to help the artist become established. (It is not clear if the Saltcoats connection is relevant to their relationship since Baird would have moved to Glasgow before Lavery arrived in Saltcoats). However, the present portrait at GMRC is not the one commissioned by Baird.

         Lavery had bought and insured a studio in St.Vincent Street and ‘very shortly afterwards it succumbed to a mysterious fire’. Lavery recalled later that he had completed the original painting at his studio one Saturday evening but was not at all happy with the finished work. On returning to the studio the next day he found the place in flames and the painting destroyed ‘to his secret pleasure’. He pretended to be aggrieved but was secretly pleased with the outcome. More especially since he collected £300 of insurance money with which he financed his departure in 1880 for the Heatherley School of Fine Art in London and then to Paris.22

            Sometime later (1885) he painted the present portrait from a photographic miniature. Unfortunately, it was completed after the sitter’s death and was delivered to his widow. When Mary Helen Baird died on 4 October 1903, the painting passed to her son George Callwell Baird, husband of the donor. There is a letter on file at Glasgow Museums Resource Centre from Lavery to Mr. J. (sic) C. Baird dated 3 October 1931 from 5 Cromwell Place, London in which he says that he will be ‘passing through Glasgow on Monday with an hour to spare’ and stating that he would wish to come and visit and view the painting. The letter was handed in to Kelvingrove in February 1962 by Mr. T. M. Baird the grandson of the sitter.

Figure 3. Lavery, John (1885). George Ure Baird (2361) © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(
Figure 4 Photographic Miniature from the Glasgow Evening News 4 September 1931.



  1. Glasgow Corporation, Committee on Art Galleries and Museum, Minutes, 15February 1944. (Mitchell Library)
  2. Scotland`s People, Birth Certificate
  3. Scotland`s People, Marriage Certificate
  4., 1871 Scotland Census
  5. Scotland`s People, 1881 Census
  6. Scotland’s People, 1891 Census
  7. Scotland`s People, Marriage Certificate
  8. Scotland`s People, 1901 Census
  9. Scotland’s People, 1911 Census
  10. Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1911-12
  11. Scotland`s People, Death Certificate
  12. Scotland’s People, Death Certificate
  13. Old Parish Registers, Ayrshire, Family Search
  14. Scotland`s People, Marriage Certificate
  16. Scotland’s People, 1881 Census
  17. Glasgow Evening News, 4 Sept 1931
  19. Scotland’s People, Death Certificate
  20. The Edinburgh Gazette, 24 April 1885
  21. Billcliffe, Roger, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography,
  22. ibid

James Couper (1839-1916)

Mr James Couper of Craigforth, Stirling was a Company Director living on private means.

Figure 1. Portrait of the late Charles Tennant by Andrew Geddes. © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection

The Portrait of the late Charles Tennant by Andrew Geddes was received by Glasgow Corporation in 1920. It had been bequeathed by his grandson, James Couper, to his wife Jane as life rent (2) and under the terms of his Will, after her death, was then to be given by his Trustees to Glasgow Corporation.

Figure 2. Statue of Charles Tennant and Obelisk for William Couper. Image © F J Dryburgh

James Couper was born on 13 September 1839 (3) the son of John Couper MD MRCP, Regius Professor of Materia Medica at Glasgow University (4) and his wife Charlotte Couper. His mother was the daughter of Charles Tennant (5) and his father was the son of Tennant’s great friend and associate, William Couper. (6)

The monuments to these men are side by side in the Necropolis in Glasgow. (7)

In the 1871 Census James Couper is living in Glasgow but visiting his parents and he is a manufacturing chemist. (8) James Couper moved to Craigforth in Stirling in1873 as a tenant and eventually as owner in 1904. (9)  In the 1881 Census he is listed as a manufacturing chemist, his wife is Jane, he has two sons, and 8 servants are listed. (10)  Craigforth is an impressive country house now on the M9 looking towards Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument. Couper was a director of the Steel Company of Scotland and of Messrs Ogston and Tennant. (11) He and his wife were active in local society and contributed to charitable and civic activities in Stirling. (12) In 1878, James and Jane gave the Bishop’s Chair to the newly established Episcopal Church of The Holy Trinity in Stirling. (13)

He was a Director of Stirling Royal Infirmary and of The Albert Hall Company while these were being built. (14)

He died in the Central Hotel in Glasgow on 13 June 1916. (15)

His funeral was attended by many people including his nephew Mr. Charles Tennant Couper. He is buried in Logie cemetery. (16)

Charles Tennant (1768-1838) was a bleacher from Ayrshire with bleach fields in Darnley. (17)  There is a watercolour of the bleach fields by an unknown artist in the collection of Lady Maxwell in Pollok House, Glasgow (18) and a map from 1791 showing their location in the East Renfrewshire Public Library in Giffnock. (19) He went on to develop the first chemical method of bleaching using bleaching powder and to establish the St Rollox works in Glasgow, the first great chemical works in the world. (20)  His son John Tennant (21) developed the firm and built Tennant’s Stalk- a huge chimney in the North of Glasgow. His son was Sir Charles Tennant, an art collector, Liberal politician and industrialist. He was the founder of a family well known in social and political circles. (22) (23)   In 1926 the business became part of Imperial Chemical Industries and in 2008 became part of Atezo Nobel. (24)


  1. Archives of Glasgow Museums
  2. National Records of Scotland Wills and Testaments  1916
  3. National Records of Scotland Statutory Births 1839
  4. John Couper The University of Glasgow Story.
  5. National Records of Scotland Wills and Testaments  1840
  6. John Couper The University of Glasgow Story.
  7. The Glasgow Necropolis.
  8. National Records of Scotland census 1871
  9. Stirling Advertiser and Journal 3 March 1916. Obituary of James Couper
  10. National Records of Scotland census 1881
  11. Stirling Advertiser and Journal 3 March 1916. Obituary of James Couper
  12. Personal communication Stirling librarian
  14. Stirling Advertiser and Journal 3 March 1916. Obituary of James Couper
  15. National Records of Scotland Statutory Deaths 1916
  16. Stirling Advertiser and Journal 16 March 1916. Funeral of James Couper
  17. Massie, Alan. Glasgow Portraits of a City. London: Barrie and Jenkins,1989
  18. Watercolour of Mr Charles Tennant’s Bleachfields, artist unknown, held in Pollok House, Glasgow.
  19. Map of East Renfrewshire, 1791 showing Mr Tennant’s Bleachfields held in the East Renfrewshire Public Library, Giffnock
  20. Massie, Alan. Glasgow Portraits of a City. London: Barrie and Jenkins,1989
  21. Lindsey, Christopher F. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2014.
  22. Sir Charles Tennant Wikipaedia
  23. Ibid
  24. ibid