Helen Murray (1868 – 1959)

On 22 June 1946, a painting entitled Nurse and Child (2557) in oils by R. C. Crawford was presented by Miss Murray of 15 Belhaven Terrace, Glasgow. 1

Figure 1. Crawford, Robert Cree; Woman and Child; © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (

On ArtUK the painting is entitled Woman and Child by Robert Cree Crawford and is dated to about 1895 – 97.

The initial problems with researching this donor were that she was listed simply as ‘Miss Murray’ with no first name or initial given. Also, she could not be located at the address given in the Glasgow Post Office Directories spanning the years 1944 to 1949.

However, in March 2014, a distant relative of the artist visited the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre (GMRC) to view the painting. She was able to identify the child in the painting as Helen, youngest daughter of the artist Robert Cree Crawford. 2 It then seemed possible that ‘Miss Murray’ might be the woman in the picture – the child`s nurse/governess. On checking the 1891 Census 3 there was listed at 46 St. James Street, Hillhead, along with the Crawford family, an ‘Ellen Murray’ who was single, aged 23 and employed by the family as a nurse. She had been born in England. There was no Helen Crawford but there were six children under the age of eleven, one of whom was deaf, so it would have been appropriate to employ a governess.

By 1901, the family had moved to 12 Derby Crescent, Kelvinside and in the census of that year 4 there appears, ‘Helen Murray, governess, single, aged 31’ in the Crawford household. There is also a Helen C(harlotte) Crawford, daughter of Robert and born in 1892.

        So, assuming the child in the painting is Helen Charlotte aged about five, the painting must have been completed about 1897 when Helen Murray would have been about 28 and a ‘governess’.

            By the time the picture was painted Helen would have been with the family for ten years. Perhaps it was a birthday/anniversary present? In his will, Robert Cree Crawford left everything to his wife but there is no mention of this painting. 5 It is also a possibility that Helen Charlotte was named after a favourite nurse/governess as there seemed to be no other ‘Helens’ in the family. If this is so it shows that Helen Murray was held in high regard by the family.

Helen Murray was christened on 11 March 1868 in Everton, Liverpool. 6  Her father, David Murray was a joiner from Canonbie in Dumfries who had married Mary Beattie in Canonbie on 29 August 1862. 7 The couple and their eldest daughter, Jane moved to Liverpool around 1865 and lived there for about the next ten years. In the 1871 census 8 they were at Toxteth Park, Liverpool, and ‘Ellen’, aged 3, now had a brother Robert. By 1881 they had moved back to Scotland to Carrutherstown Village, Dalton, Dumfries. 9 Helen was now thirteen and a ‘scholar’. She had, in addition to Jane and Robert, two younger siblings, George and Mary. Ten years later, Helen, aged 23, was employed by Robert Cree Crawford as a ‘domestic servant, nurse’ and was living with the Crawford family at 46 St. James Street, Hillhead. 10 The donated painting was completed about 1897. By 1901 the family had moved to 12 Derby Crescent, Kelvinside and in the census of that year Helen`s occupation is ‘governess’, aged 31. 11

Robert Cree Crawford married his first cousin, Sophia Jean Cree. His ‘in-laws’ (or uncle and aunt) lived at ‘Woodneuk’, Rahane near Garelochhead. His father-in-law (uncle) died in 1894 and his mother-in-law (aunt) in 1903. 12 Sometime after this the Crawford family moved to Rahane, and Helen went with them. In the census of 1911 for ‘Woodneuk’ she is described as a ‘lady help’ aged 42.13 However, the family must have kept the house at 12 Derby Crescent as this was described as his usual address when Robert Cree Crawford died in 1924.

Sophia Jean Crawford died intestate in 1929 at ‘Woodneuk’ leaving £3123, 5s 5p. Her two daughters Sophia Cree Crawford and Helen Charlotte Crawford were granted confirmation, and both gave their address as Woodneuk, Rahane. 14, 15 The following year Helen Murray was in residence at 15 Belhaven Terrace, Glasgow 16. She was now 62 and had been employed by the Crawford family for over 40 years. She presented the painting to Glasgow in 1946 when she was 78.

Helen Murray died at 2 Lorraine Road, Glasgow – a nursing home – on 8 March 1959. She was 91. Her usual address was still 15 Belhaven Terrace. 17

MURRAY – At a nursing home, Glasgow on 8th March, 1959, Helen Murray, 15,

Belhaven Terrace, Glasgow, W2 – Funeral tomorrow (Wednesday) at 12.10 p.m. from Messrs Wylie & Lochhead, Ltd., 31, Bath Street to Glasgow crematorium, Maryhill arriving at 12.30 p.m.; friends desirous of attending phone …..; no flowers or letters please. 18

Helen Charlotte Crawford died, unmarried, in 1979 at Callender. She was 87.19


  1. Catalogue of Donations to Glasgow, Glasgow Museums Resource Centre (GMRC)
  2. Information in the Object File at GMRC
  3. Scotland`s People, Census 1891
  4. Scotland’s people, Census 1901
  5. Scotland`s People, Wills and Testaments, Robert Cree Crawford,
  6. Births and Christening Records, Old Parish Registers, Family Search, England
  7. Scotland’s People, Marriage Certificate
  8., Census, England, 1871
  9. Scotland’s People, Census, 1881
  10. Scotland’s People, Census, 1891
  11. Scotland’s People, Census, 1901
  12. Scotland’s People, Death Certificates
  13. Scotland’s People, Census, 1911
  14. Scotland`s People, Death Certificate
  15. Confirmations and Inventories, Mitchell Library, Glasgow
  16. Scotland’s People, Valuation Roll, 1930
  17. Scotland’s People, Death Certificate
  18. Glasgow Herald, Death Notices, 10 March 1959
  19. Scotland’s People, Death Certificate

Stella Alston (1881-1970)

In 1930 a portrait of John Thomas Alston of Moore Park (1780–1857) by John Graham Gilbert (1794-1866) was gifted to Kelvingrove Gallery by Mrs. Stella Alston. John Thomas Alston had been Provost of the City of Glasgow between 1820 and 1822. A copy of the painting is depicted below.

Figure 1. Graham-Gilbert, John; John T. Alston (1780-1857), Provost of Glasgow (1820-1821). © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(

ur donor Stella Alston was born at 3 De Vere Gardens, London in 1881. Her parents were Mr Charles Parbury and Mrs Annie Parbury from Australia. [1]

Mr Parbury was an Australian merchant, who traded between India and Australia. However, they lived most of their time in London. Stella was one of nine children and she was brought up in London’s De Vere Gardens, one of the very fashionable areas of London where many artists and writers lived. Some of those notable residents were writer Henry James, poet Robert Browning and H. Kempton Dyson (1880–1944), English structural engineer, civil engineer, architect, editor and author. [2]

On 16 July 1903 our donor Stella Parbury married Mervyn Campbell Stephen who was also from Australia and whose grandfather was the famous member of the Australian Legislature Sir Alfred Stephen (1802-94). [3]

Mervyn Campbell Stephen had studied law at Trinity College, Cambridge and had become a barrister. Their daughter Sheila Annie was born on 28 November 1904. The Stephen Family, then sometime in between 1905 and 1911, had moved to Eastbourne as the 1911 English Census records that their residence was 15 Jevington Gardens, Eastbourne. However, Mr. Mervyn Campbell Stephen died suddenly on 20 October 1912, at the young age of 36, leaving Stella a widow and mother of a young child. [4]

Later in 1914 Stella married again. [5] Her husband was Mr. George Alston whose previous wife Mary Charlotte Thompson had died in 1912.

George Alston’s father was a tea planter in Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka). The tea plantation in Ceylon was called Craighead, which was the name of the Alston family home in Scotland. [6] George Alston was a relative of John Thomas Alston, the Lord Provost of Glasgow and the subject of our painting.

After researching his genealogy, it was discovered that John Thomas Alston was, in fact, the grand uncle of Stella’s husband George Alston (i.e. brother of his grandfather). [7] John Thomas Alston was born in Glasgow, one of six children of John Alston (1743–1818), a bank cashier with the Thistle Bank, and his wife, Patrick Craigie (sic).The family later lived at 56 Virginia Street, Glasgow.John Thomas moved to separate lodgings at Clyde Street in 1818. In 1820 he succeeded Henry Monteith as Lord Provost of Glasgow. He then bought Moore Park, a simple Georgian villa by David Hamilton in the Broomloan district of Glasgow. The house was photographed in 1870 by Thomas Annan just prior to its demolition for railway improvements in the city. After that he was known as John Thomas Alston of Moore Park. [8]

Returning to our donor’s life, Stella and George Alston, after their marriage, lived in Newbury, Berkshire, England. However, later they moved to Duns in Berwickshire, Scotland where they lived together in Nesbit House until George’s death on 5 June 1930. [9]

Stella’s daughter, Sheila Annie Stephen, after her first marriage to Mervyn Campbell Stephen, married Sir David George Home of Blackadder on 5 January 1933. [10] He had been born on 21 January 1904. His father was Sir John Home of Blackadder, 12th Baronet, and his mother was the Hon. Gwendolina Hyacinth Roma Mostyn.

Sir David George Home was educated at Harrow School, Harrow, London and graduated from Jesus College, Cambridge University in 1925 with a Bachelor of Arts BA. He succeeded as the 13th Baronet Home, of Blackadder, on 19 October 1938. [11] He fought in the Second World War and gained the rank of Temporary Major in the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. He was admitted to the Royal Company of Archers and was the director of Edinburgh & Dundee Investment. Sir David and Sheila Annie had four children. [12]

After her husband’s death in 1930, Stella Alston returned to England and lived in London. She died there on 3 May 1970 and her death notice was in The Times of 6 May 1970. She was widowed twice before she was fifty and had seen two world wars.

Our donor’s son-in-law Sir David Home died on 17 January 1992 and his wife, Sheila Annie, soon after on 16 May 1992. They are both buried in the Grange Cemetery Edinburgh. [13]


[1] London, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1920 Kensington and Chelsea St Stephen, Kensington 1847-19011891 English Census.


[3]   search for Alfred Stephen, Lt. Governor NSW, Sir C.B.;K.C.M.G.

[4] Death cert. Mervyn Campbell Stephen in 

[5] The Westminster, London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1935 (

[6] 1871 Scotland Census .

[7] Alston family tree search:


[9] George Alston’s Death Cert. (




Mrs Anne D. Houstoun of Johnstone Castle (1865-1950)

Harvie, Robert, d.1781; Arthur Connell (1717-1775), Provost of Glasgow (1772-1773)
Figure 1 Arthur Connell Lord Provost of Glasgow 1772 – 1774. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(

On 17 May 1947 Mrs. Houstoun, through her solicitors, donated to Glasgow Museums two oil paintings by the artist Robert Harvie. The subjects were Lord Provost Arthur Connell of Glasgow (1772-1774) and his wife Magdalen.

Note: to avoid confusion Mrs Houstoun and her birth name Anne Douglas Stirling will always be in bold.

These notes discuss her and her husband’s family background, and hopefully, will show how these paintings came into her possession.

Figure 2 Mrs Magdalene Connell. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(

Both she and her husband came from long established landed and titled families whose histories can be traced back to, at least, the sixteenth century. She descended from the Stirlings* of Drumpellier through her father and also from the Kippendavie branch through her mother, he from the Lairds of Johnstone. She was not the only daughter of the Stirling family who married a Houstoun, but more of that later.

*Spelling of this surname can also be Sterling.

The Drumpellier Stirlings.

The Drumpellier Stirling’s ancestor appears to have been Robert Stirling (d.1537) of Bankeyr and Lettyr. A further seven generations between 1537 and 1777 inherited these estates, [1] this line producing a number of notable individuals including a Lord Provost of Glasgow, John Stirling (1728-1730), who when a Baillie in 1725 was arrested along with other magistrates and the Lord Provost because of the Shawfield riot in Glasgow caused by the imposition of a malt tax, [2] and Walter Stirling, his nephew, (1723-1791) who, on his death in 1791, bequeathed his house in Miller Street, his books, and £1,000 to establish Stirling’s Library, the first free public library in Scotland.[3]

John Stirling’s son William was born in Glasgow on 29 July 1717. [4] He was a Glasgow merchant, founding the cloth printing company of William Stirling and Sons c.1750, being the first to import Indian cotton printed in London, to Glasgow.[5] By the mid nineteenth century it was the largest of its kind in Scotland.[6] He married Mary Buchanan in 1747,[7] the daughter of Andrew Buchanan of Drumpellier.[8] The Drumpellier estate came into the Stirling’s hands when William’s son Andrew bought it from his mother’s brother James Buchanan in 1777 when the American War of Independence ruined the Buchanan business (Buchanan Hastie and Co.) in the American colonies.[9]

Figure 3 Andrew Stirling. © Mrs Stirling-Aird

Andrew was born on 14 February 1751 in Glasgow.[10] He attended the Grammar School of Glasgow between 1760 and 1764.[11] On 26 May 1778 he married Anna Stirling, daughter of Sir Walter Stirling of Faskine and Dorothy Willing (born in Philadelphia in 1735)[12], in St. George the Martyr, Queen Square, Camden.[13] According to the record of marriage Andrew was already living in the parish.

Figure 4 Anna Stirling. © Mrs Stirling-Aird

He and Anna had sixteen children, eight boys and eight girls born between 1779 and 1798. His sons included an admiral of the Royal Navy who became the first Governor of Western Australia.[14]

Initially he was a partner in the family business William Stirling and Sons, however in 1792 he left the partnership having set up his own commission house, Stirling, Hunter and Co. in London.[15] The venture was successful for a while however in 1808 he ran into financial difficulties and sold Drumpellier back to the Buchanan family.[16] He and his brother John were also shareholders in the company building the Monkland Canal. Initially James Watt had been involved in supervising the necessary work however it was not completed as planned and the company ran out of money.

In 1782 the company was auctioned off and with others the brothers bought it, the Stirlings owning just under 50%. By 1789 Andrew owned over two thirds. From that date, and as a result of his energy and foresight, the canal was extended eastwards to Calderbank and westwards to Port Dundas.[17] He was also a significant user of the canal, exporting coal mined from his land and bringing in dung and lime by return to support his agricultural activity.[18]

Andrew died at Pirbright Lodge in Surrey and was buried in St. Michaels and All Angels Churchyard in Pirbright on the 5th April 1823.[19] Anna also died at Pirbright and was buried on 11 June 1830.[20]

His fourth son was Charles Stirling, whose granddaughter Anne Douglas Stirling, the donor of the paintings, was in due course to marry into the Houstoun family. He was born on 16 June 1788 at Drumpellier,[21]  and educated at Westminster School [22]. He married his cousin Charlotte Dorothea Stirling, the daughter of Admiral Charles Stirling of Woburn in Surrey[23] in 1827. [24] They had seven children the third of whom was General Sir William Stirling. In 1835 Charles bought the estate of Muiravonside in Stirlingshire and developed the agriculture of the estate.[25] In 1826 he was also a partner in the Thistle Bank.[26] He died at Muiravonside House on the 25th August 1867 from heart disease.[27]

Charles’s son William was born on the 4th August 1835.[28] He attended Edinburgh Academy and then the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich.[29] He was appointed to Woolwich in November 1849, age 14 years and three months, passing his probationary examination in December 1850. He progressed through the Academy satisfactorily finally being promoted second lieutenant in the Royal Artillery on 22 June 1853.[30]

Figure 5 Sir William Stirling. Courtesy of Clan Stirling Online.,_KCB.,_R.A.

He married twice, his first wife being Anne Douglas Sylvester Stirling whom he married in 1864.[31] Her father was Sylvester Douglas Stirling of Glenbervie, and of the Kippendavie Stirling family.[32]

The Kippendavie Stirlings.

The Kippendavie branch of the family was established in 1594 when Archibald Stirling was given the estate of Kippendavie by his father, Sir Archibald Stirling of Keir and Cadder.[33] From this branch of the family came a number of individuals who, along with their Keir cousins were heavily involved in the sugar trade in the West Indies. Patrick and John Stirling, great, great grandsons of Archibald Stirling,[34] in turn, owned a sugar plantation in Jamaica called Content. Patrick had succeeded his father to Kippendavie and lived in Jamaica from about 1753 where he managed the plantation. He died however with no heirs in 1775 and is buried there, his brother John succeeding him to Kippendavie and Content.[35]

John, the father of Sylvester Douglas Stirling,[36] became a senior partner in Stirling Gordon & Co. This company was formed c.1750 by Arthur Connell and James Somervill and was known as Somervill Connell & Co. In 1780, five years after Connell died, it became Somervill Gordon & Co, finally in 1795, Stirling Gordon & Co.[37] It’s clear therefore that there was a business connection between Arthur Connell and the Stirlings of Kippendavie. Later that connection was strengthened through a marriage between the two families.

Between 1835 and 1837 the partners of Stirling Gordon & Co., (including two other sons of John Stirling, Charles and William) were awarded £15,616 as compensation for the loss of their slave labour when slavery was abolished in 1833. The company had four estates or plantations, including Content, with a total of 665 enslaved individuals.[38] At current values the amount awarded would be worth between £1.4m and £57m dependant on the measure used.[39]

Sylvester Douglas Stirling married Anne Craigie Connell in 1830.[40] She was the daughter of David Connell, the son of Arthur and Magdalen Connell, born in 1759. [41] He died in 1819, his death registration stating that he was buried in “Provost Connell’s lair”.[42] This marriage is the means by which the Connell paintings came into the possession of the Stirlings and ultimately Anne Douglas Stirling.

Sir William and Anne Douglas had two children the eldest of whom was Anne Douglas Stirling, born in Edinburgh in 1865. [43] She was in due course the sole executor and beneficiary of her maternal grandmother’s (Anne Craigie Connell) estate when she died in 1899, which I believe brought the Connell paintings into her ownership.[44] Further evidence of the Stirling/Connell familial ties is given by the 1901 census where Anne Douglas Stirling is registered as living (not visiting) with her cousin Arthur K Connell in Brockenhurst, Hampshire.[45]

Sir William’s military career spanned 52 years during which he saw action in the Crimea, India, China and Afghanistan.[46] Following the Afghan campaign in 1879 he was awarded Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB),[47] and in 1893, whilst Governor and Commandant of the Royal Military Academy he was made a Knight Commander of the Order, (KCB).[48]

He became Lieutenant of the Tower of London in 1900,[49] retiring from that position and the army on half pay in 1902.[50] He died on the 11th April 1906 at Ochiltree, Folkstone[51] and is buried in Cheriton Road Cemetery, Folkstone.[52]

The Houstouns of Johnstone.

Anne Douglas Stirling married the sixth Laird of Johnstone George Ludovic Houstoun at St Peter’s, Eaton Square, London on 10 November 1903.[53] His family ancestry can be traced back to Sir Ludovic Houstoun of that ilk, whose great-great-great grandfather, Sir Peter Houstoun was killed at Flodden. Sir Ludovic had two sons, the eldest and heir being Patrick, who was created a baronet in 1668. His second son was George, who became the first Laird of Johnstone.[54] It is from George that Anne Douglas Stirling’s husband is descended.

The fourth Laird of Johnstone was another George Houstoun who succeeded his father Ludovic who had succeeded his father, also Ludovic.[55] He was born on the 8th September 1744, his mother being Jane Rankine.[56] He succeeded his father at the age of 14 in 1757 and in 1779 he married Mary McDowall,[57] daughter of William McDowall, M.P. of Garthland. They had two sons, Ludovic and William born in 1780 and 1781 respectively.[58]

During his time as Laird, George extended Johnstone Castle, was involved in coal mining at Quarrelton, had lime works at Floor Craig and cotton mills on his estate.[59] He was also a founding partner of the Paisley Union Bank in 1788 along with nine others.[60] In 1838 the bank was taken over by the Union Bank of Scotland.[61] He died on the 31st December 1815[62] and was succeeded by his son Ludovic. He left estate valued at £29,750, in economic power terms worth over £155 million today.[63]

Ludovic married Ann Stirling, daughter of John Stirling of Kippendavie and Kippenross in 1809.[64] They had one son, another George, more of which later. He carried on with the businesses his father had established and in the 1861 census, when he was 80 years old it was recorded that he farmed 120 acres, employed 55 miners and 12 labourers in his coal works, 14 miners, 14 labourers, 2 joiners and 2 blacksmiths in the lime works and in his three mills 156 males and 276 females. Clearly a major employer in the area.[65]

He was a J.P. for the Abbey Parish in Johnstone and in 1831 he was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Renfrewshire.[66]

His wife Ann’s sister Jane Stirling was a pupil of the pianist Frederic Chopin. She had met him around 1827 in Paris, which she visited annually with another sister Kathrine. She became a close friend of the pianist and in 1844 he dedicated his two Nocturnes Opus 55 to her. In 1848 she and Katherine were instrumental in bringing him to London for a series of concerts. He was subsequently invited to Scotland arriving in Edinburgh in early August, eventually staying in Johnstone Castle as a guest of the Houstoun’s for a couple of days in September.[67]

Figure 6. by Richard James Lane. 1830s-1840s NPG D3275 © National Portrait Gallery London.

Ludovic and Ann’s son George was born on 31 July 1810.[68] He attended Eton[69] and in 1828 matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford.[70] He was an officer in the Renfrew Yeomanry Cavalry and in 1831 was commissioned as Captain[71]. He was a Conservative candidate in the Parliamentary elections in 1835 for the County of Renfrew but lost by 68 votes to Sir Michael Shaw Stewart. Sir Michael died early in 1837 and George won the subsequent by-election by 170 votes. Later that year there was a general election and he again won the seat. He remained an MP until 1841 when he decided not to stand again in the coming election.

George was the heir apparent to the Lairdship, however in 1843 he collapsed and died whilst on a shoot at Invercauld in Aberdeenshire.[72] In the transept of Paisley Abbey there is a plain stone tablet, executed by Mossman, over his grave surmounted by a sand glass which is inscribed “George Houstoun, only child of Ludovic Houston and Ann Stirling of Kippendavie – born 31st July 1810, died 14th September 1843.” [73]

In addition to his personal business activity Ludovic, as might be expected, was involved in a number of enterprises at various times. He was a director of the West of Scotland, Fire Insurance Company, a director of the Johnstone Coffee and News Room, within the Black Bull Inn, on the management committee of the Glasgow, Paisley and Ardrossan Canal and a founder member of the Flax Growers Society of Scotland.[74] He died on the 3rd October 1862 at Johnstone Castle.[75]

As he had no surviving offspring and as his brother William had died in 1856[76], his nephew George Ludovic Houstoun became the sixth and last Laird of Johnstone.

William had married Marion Douglas Russell in 1845 at Gargunnock.[77] Her mother was yet another Stirling, Mary Stirling, daughter of John Stirling of Kippendavie and sister of Ludovic’s wife Ann.[78]  William was 64 years old at the time of the marriage which was probably prompted by the death of his nephew George in 1843. With no prospect apparently of his brother Ludovic and his wife having more children he was the only option for the continuation of the title. Sadly it was doomed to fail.

His bride, his niece, was c. 23 and they had four children, George Ludovic, born on the 15th October 1846,[79] William James b. 1848[80] Mary Erskine b. 1850 [81] and Ann Margaret b. 1852.[82] In 1851 the family was living in Cartside House in Johnstone, William described as a cotton spinner employing 532 men and women in his mills and a JP.[83]

The Last Laird.

George Ludovic Houstoun entered Rugby School on the 31st August 1860. His house was ‘Mayor’ so named after the house master R.B. Mayor. He remained there until 1863,[84] having become Laird the previous October at the age of 16 on the death of his uncle. He matriculated at Queens College, Cambridge in 1866, in due course graduating MA.[85]

He joined the Renfrewshire Militia also in 1866 as a lieutenant, retaining a military connection until c. 1911 when he joined the Veteran Reserve (Territorial Force Association of Renfrew) having attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and being associated with the 4th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.[86] He was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Renfrewshire in 1873, relinquishing the role in 1922.

He also appears to have had significant political connections and may also have been involved with the Colonial Office between 1877 and c.1900. His papers are lodged in the Mitchell Library in Glasgow and contain a wealth of information in respect of his activities in South Africa and his interest in Cyprus where he had an estate near Kyrenia in Northern Cyprus.[87]

It seems he spent some time in South Africa being appointed in 1877 Commissioner for the District of Rustenberg in the Transvaal and as a Justice of the Peace. He was present in Somboti, Swaziland, in 1895, witnessing the King’s signature on a letter to Queen Victoria and in 1900 he was in Bulawayo where he received a letter from Arthur Balfour who corresponded with him often, as did other political figures. He also exchanged letters with General Gordon of Khartoum and also with the writer H. Rider Haggard between 1889 and 1891.[88]

The information in the preceding three paragraphs comes from the Houstoun Family of Johnstone papers in the Glasgow City Archives held in the Mitchell Library. The papers, contained in three boxes, are extensive and date from 1630 to 1912, reference TD263.

In the censuses of 1891[89] and 1901[90] he is recorded as staying with his sisters Mary and Ann at Johnstone Castle living on his own means, his brother William James having died in 1866.[91] It may therefore be that his involvement in colonial affairs was sporadic and informal however, in terms of his correspondence, he exchanged information and comments on a number of subjects dealing with the British presence in Africa.

When he married Anne Douglas Stirling in 1903 she brought to the marriage a significant ‘fortune’ having some £13,000 of her own money and the expectation of an inheritance from her mother’s trust fund when her father died, as per her parent’s Marriage Settlement in 1864, and also from him.[92]

They lived for a period at Johnstone Castle until c.1912 when they moved permanently to their estate in Kyrenia, apparently due to Lloyd George’s Land Tax reforms which had begun in 1909.[93]

He had been interested in establishing a Scottish Episcopalian Church in Kyrenia for some time having between 1887 and 1891 began to seek financial support from wealthy friends with the aim of raising £1,000 to do so.[94]  He seems to have had a good response, whether he reached his target however is not clear. No action seems to have been taken until 1912 when St Andrews Episcopalian Church was built, the land being donated by Houstoun and the church being built by Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Eldred McDonald, he being the District Commissioner for Kyrenia.[95]

Figure 7 St Andrews, Kyrenia, Cyprus.

Houstoun was also involved in founding the local hospital and along with a number of other philanthropic activities, trying to improve local farming. In support of this he also established an Agricultural Show.[96]

The Church is still in existence and appears to be very active. Its current vicar is the Reverend Wendy Hough.[97]

Figure 8 Houstoun Cemetery, Kyrenia, Cyprus.

He died in Kyrenia in 1931[98], his wife surviving him until 1950,[99] also dying in Kyrenia. They are both buried in the small Houstoun Cemetery there.[100]

Their marriage was childless and as his two sisters Mary Erskine and Ann Margaret died unmarried, Mary in Cannes in 1904[101] and Ann in Edinburgh in 1925[102], the Houstoun line begun by George Houstoun in the mid-1600s ended.

[1] Sterling, Albert Mack. (1909). The Sterling Genealogy. Vol.1 New York: The Grafton Press. pp. 158-162.

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

[3] Glasgow Librarian. (1888). Catalogue of Stirling’s and Glasgow Public Library. Glasgow: Robert Maclehose. pp. xiii – xvii.;view=1up;seq=1

[4] Births (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 27 July 1717. STIRLING, William. 644/1 90 320.

[5] Reid, Robert. (1884) Glasgow Past and Present Vol. 3 Glasgow: David Roberson and Co. p. 374.

[6] National Museum of Scotland. Firms that made Turkey Red.

[7] Marriages (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 20 September 1747. STIRLING, William and BUCHANAN, Mary. 644/1 250 98

[8] Sterling, op.cit. pp. 158-162.

[9] Smith, John Guthrie and Mitchell, John Oswald. op.cit. ‘Drumpellier’.

[10] Births (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 14 February 1751. STERLING, Andrew. 644/1 121/5.

[11] Reid, op.cit. p.424.

[12] Macfarlane Families & Connected Clans Genealogy.

[13] Marriages. (PR) England. Bloomsbury, London. 26 May 1778. STERLING, Andrew and STIRLING, Ann. Collection: London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1931.

[14] Sterling, op. cit. pp.163-165.

[15] London Gazette (1792) 22 September 1792 Issue 13470, p. 809.

[16] Sterling, op.cit. pp. 163-165.

[17] Thomson, George (1945) The Monkland Canal: A sketch of the Early History. Monklands: Monkland Library Services Department

[18] Sinclair, Sir John. (1793) The Statistical Account of Scotland. Vol. 7. Edinburgh: William Creech. pp. 373, 374.

[19] Burials (PR) England. Pirbright, Surrey. 5 April 1823. STIRLING, Andrew. Collection: Surrey, England, Church of England Burials, 1813-1987. Reference Number PI/4/1.

[20] Burials (PR) England. Pirbright, Surrey. 11 June 1830. STIRLING, Anna. Collection: London, England, Church of England Deaths and Burials, 1813-2003

[21] Births (OPR) Scotland.  Old Monkland or Coatbridge. 16 June 1788. STIRLING, Charles. 652/ 10 263

[22] The Gentleman’s Magazine. (1867) Deaths. The Gentleman’s Magazine. Vol. IV. July – December 1867. p. 542.

[23] Sterling, op. cit. pp. 163

[24] Marriages (PR) England. Pirbright, Surrey. 1 May 1827. STIRLING, Charles and STIRLING, Charlotte Dorothea. Collection: Surrey, England, Church of England Marriages, reference PI/2/2/2.

[25] The Gentleman’s Magazine. (1867) Deaths. The Gentleman’s Magazine Vol. IV. July – December 1867. p. 542.

[26] Reid, Robert. (1884) Glasgow Past and Present Vol. 1 Glasgow: David Roberson and Co. p. 484.

[27] Deaths (SR) Scotland. Muiravonside, Stirling. 25 August 1867. STIRLING, Charles. 486/ 40.

[28] Find a Grave. General Sir William Stirling.

[29] Sterling, op.cit. p. 163.

[30] The Sandhurst Collection. William Stirling.

[31] Marriages (PR) England. Westminster, London. 2 June 1864 STIRLING, William and STIRLING, Anne Douglas. Collection: England, Select Marriages, 1538–1973. FHL Film number 1042324.

[32] Births (OPR) Scotland. Larbert, Stirling. 8 November 1834. STIRLING, Anne Douglas. 485/ 10 531.

[33] Sterling, op.cit. p. 129.

[34] Sterling, op. cit. pp. 129-132.

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

[36] Births (OPR) Scotland. Dunblane, Stirling. 24 February 1803. STIRLING, Silvester, Douglas. 348/ 30 04

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

[38]  University College London. Legacies of British Slave Ownership.

[39] Measuring Worth.

[40] Marriages (OPR) Scotland. Abbey. 7 September 1830. STIRLING, Sylvester Douglas and CONNELL, Anne Craigie. 559/ 80 234.

[41] Births (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 24 May 1759. CONNELL, David. 644/1 130 190.

[42] Deaths (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 28 January 1819. CONNELL, David. 644/1 610 221.

[43] Births (SR) Scotland. St George, Edinburgh. 7 December 1865. STIRLING, Anne Douglas. 685/1 1476.

[44] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 1899 STIRLING, Anne Craigie. Stirling Sheriff Court SC67/36/118.

[45] Census. England. 1901. Brockenhurst, Hampshire. Class: RG13; Piece: 1035; Folio: 67; Page: 4.

[46] Sterling, op.cit. p. 163.

[47] London Gazette (1879) Colonel William Stirling. 21 November 1879, issue 24785, p. 6586.

[48] London Gazette (1893) Supplement, Queen’s Birthday Honours. Lieutenant General William Stirling. 3 June 1893, issue 26405. p. 3251.

[49] London Gazette (1900) Lieutenant General Sir William Stirling. 9 January 1900, issue 27152, p. 146.

[50] London Gazette (1902) General Sir William Stirling. 8 August 1902, issue 27462, p. 5101.

[51] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 5 June 1906. STIRLING, General Sir William. Supplementary Inventory. Edinburgh Sheriff Court. SC70/1/457.

[52] Find a Grave. General Sir William Stirling.

[53] Marriage Announcements (1903) The Scotsman 12 November. HOUSTOUN, George Ludovic and STIRLING, Anne Douglas. p. 10h. Collection: Scotsman Digital Archive 1817 – 1950.

[54] Burke, John and Burke, John Bernard. (1844). A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies of England, Ireland and Scotland. 2 ed. London: John Russell Smith. p. 627.

[55] Ibid.

[56] Births (OPR) Scotland. Ayr. 8 September 1744. HOWSTOUN, George. 578/ 30 247.

[57] Marriages (OPR) Scotland. Abbey, Renfrewshire. 29 January 1779. HOUSTOUN, George and MCDOWAL, Maria. 559/ 40 292.

[58] Burke, op.cit.

[59]  Jisc Archives Hub. Papers of the Houstoun family of Johnstone.

[60] Lloyds Banking Group. Paisley Union Bank.

[61] Cameron, Alan. (1995) Bank of Scotland 1695 – 1995: A very singular institution. Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing Company. p.150.

[62] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 1818. HOUSTOUN, George. Wills and Testaments. Paisley Sheriff Court. SC36/48/13

[63] Measuring Worth (2016).

[64] Marriages. (OPR) Scotland. Abbey, Renfrewshire. 22 October 1809. HOUSTOUN, Ludovic and STIRLING, Ann. 559/ 40 551.

[65] Census. 1861. Scotland. Abbey of Paisley, Johnstone. 559/3 11/1.

[66] London Gazette (1831) 15 August 1831 Issue 18849, p. 1878.

[67] The Chopin Society UK. Chopin’s visit to Britain 1848.

[68] Burke, op.cit.

[69] Stapylton, H.E.C. (1884) Eton School Lists 1791 – 1877. London: Simpkin, Marshall & Co. p. 117.

[70] Oxford University Alumini. 1500 – 1886. Vol. II 1715 – 1886, p. 117.

[71] London Gazette (1831) 22 February 1831 Issue 18778, p. 340

[72] The Gentleman’s Magazine. (1844) Deaths. The Gentleman’s Magazine. Vol. XXI. January – June 1844. p. 203.;view=1up;seq=215

[73] Glasgow Herald. (1848) Glasgow, August 28, Glasgow Herald. 28 August 1848. p. 4f.

[74] Fowler’s Paisley Commercial Directories 1824 – 1846.

[75] Deaths (SR) Scotland. Johnstone, Renfrew. 3 October 1862. HOUSTOUN, Ludovic. 559/3 129.

[76] Deaths (SR) Scotland. Johnstone, Renfrew. 6 February 1856. HOUSTOUN, William. 559/ 3 37.

[77] Marriages. (OPR) Scotland. Gargunnock. 8 July 1845. HOUSTOUN, William, and RUSSELL, Marion Douglas. 481/ 20 238

[78] Sterling, op.cit. pp. 133, 134.

[79] Births (OPR) Scotland. Abbey, Paisley. 15 October 1846. HOUSTOUN, George Ludovic. 559/ 70 36.

[80] Births (OPR) Scotland. Abbey, Paisley. 25 October 1848. HOUSTOUN, William James. 559/ 70 418

[81] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Abbey, Paisley. 17 August 1850. HOUSTOUN, Mary Erskine. 559/ 70 450.

[82] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Abbey, Paisley. 2 April 1852. HOUSTON, Ann Margaret. 559/ 70 488

[83] Census 1851 Scotland. Johnstone. 559/ 17/3

[84] Smith, Dr. Jonathan (2018), Archivist at Rugby School: George Ludovic Houstoun at Rugby School. E-mail to George Manzor, 8 March 2018.

[85] (1886) Rugby School Register 1850-1874. Vol. II. Rugby: A.J. Lawrence. p. 80.

[86] Houstoun Family of Johnstone Papers. Glasgow City Archives: Mitchell Library TD263

[87] Ibid

[88] Ibid

[89] Census. 1891. Scotland. Abbey, West Renfrewshire, 559/3 15/ 22.

[90] Census. 1901. Scotland. Johnstone, Paisley. 573/2 17/ 14.

[91] Deaths (SR) Scotland. Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire. 18 September 1866. HOUSTOUN, William James. 570/ 56.

[92] Houstoun Family of Johnstone Papers. Glasgow City Archives: Mitchell Library TD263.

[93] Death Announcements. (1931). the Scotsman. 5 September. HOUSTOUN, George Ludovic. p. 15b. Collection: Scotsman Digital Archive 1817 – 1950.

[94] Houstoun Family of Johnstone Papers. Glasgow City Archives: Mitchell Library reference TD263.

[95] Collins, P.C. (1988) A Short History of St. Andrew’s English Church, Kyrenia, Cyprus: 1913 – 1988.

[96] Ibid

[97] St. Andrew’s Church, Kyrenia. Our Chaplain.

[98] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 16 March 1932. HOUSTOUN, George Ludovic. National Probate Index (Calendar of Confirmations and Inventories), 1876-1936.

[99] Testamentary Records. England and Wales. 21 October 1950. STIRLING, Anne Douglas. National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966.

[100] St. Andrew’s Church. Kyrenia. The Houstoun Cemetery.

[101] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 16 June 1904. HOUSTOUN, Mary Erskine. Paisley Sheriff Court Wills. SC58/45/13 and SC58/ 42/64.

[102] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 26 June 1925. HOUSTOUN, Ann Margaret. Dunblane Sheriff Court Wills. SC44/48/2.

John Aitchison (1769-1859)

In 1886 Janet Aitchison gifted a portrait of her father to Glasgow. Painted by Sir Daniel McNee, a renowned Scottish portrait painter who became president of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1876, it depicts John Aitchison as a confident, successful businessman. 

Figure 1. Macnee, Daniel; John Aitchison (1769-1859). © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(

The painting was exhibited at The Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts exhibition of 1894 and lent by The Corporation of Glasgow.(1)

In 1868 the painting was exhibited in The Illustrated Catalogue of Exhibition of Portraits on Loan in The New Galleries of Art, Corporation Buildings, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow and lent by Walter Paterson who was a son of John’s sister Euphemia.(2)

John was a prominent merchant in Glasgow at a time when trade with America was particularly strong. However, with the decline of the tobacco industry after the American War of Independence, the British Empire looked for other opportunities, especially in the colonies. The sugar industry expanded and by 1790 the West Indies became Glasgow’s primary trading outpost.(3) Raw sugar had to be processed to make it saleable and it was these refining processes which John helped to develop. 

John was born in Glasgow on 2 September 1769 to Walter Aitchison and Isobel Henderson, who had married in 1768.(4) John was the first of seven children (5) and he lived in Glasgow for much of his life. On 14 August 1797 John married Margaret Robertson (6) whose father James was a merchant in Glasgow. Their first child Walter was born in 1798 and they went on to have a family of twelve over the following sixteen years.(7) 

In 1786 aged seventeen John entered The Ship Bank as an apprentice.(8) One of the earliest banks in Glasgow, it was founded by some of the wealthiest merchants in the city, particularly  those involved in the tobacco trade. In 1776 The Ship Bank became known as Moores, Carrick & Company, then in 1789 changed its name to Carrick, Brown & Company.(9) Robert Carrick was the leading partner at the time and lived above the bank. One of John’s duties, as the youngest apprentice, was to sleep in the premises at night, armed with a gun, bayonet, powder-horn and a bag of slugs and Mr Carrick would lock the door behind him to ensure security. Both Robert Carrick and John were fond of playing the violin, and they would often practise after work at Robert’s flat. Carrick was known as a bit of a miser and it is said that he left a fortune of £1 million pounds ‘…a grim old bachelor without leaving one plack or penny to any of the charitable institutions of the city….’ The two remained friends till Robert’s death in 1821.(10)

In 1796 John is recorded in the Trades House library as a Burgess and Guild Brethren of Glasgow. He is described as a merchant and serving apprentice with Messrs Moore, Carrick and Company at this time.(11) John left the Bank for the mercantile world, specialising in the processing of cane sugar which was being imported in large quantities from The West Indies. Greenock and Glasgow became major sugar refining centres and much of the machinery required was manufactured locally.

 In the early nineteenth century one of the sugar-refining processes enabled impurities to be extracted, by boiling the cane sugar to form a liquid. The liquid was transferred to a series of pans until the required density was achieved. However, if the temperature was too high the liquid would turn into uncrysallizable molasses (treacle). As with many other industries in Glasgow during the Industrial Revolution improvements and efficiencies were constantly being developed. Messrs D Cook of Glasgow developed a more efficient design for evaporating sugar. A Mr Cleland of Glasgow also developed a system of using steam to quicken the evaporating process. It was John Aitchison who developed this process further by controlling the flow of liquid along a specially designed copper apparatus. The boiling action caused the impurities to rise to the surface and form a crust, which could then be easily taken off when the liquid cooled, leaving purified sugar.(12) The process was later patented.(13)

One of the few surviving sugar refining buildings in Glasgow is at 40-50 Speirs Wharf on The Forth and Clyde canal just north of Glasgow city centre, now converted to flats.

Figure 2. 40-50 Speirs Wharf, Glasgow, photo by author

In 1833, Margaret died. In a letter dated 26 July 1833 to his son Robert, who had sailed from Rothesay to Madeira, John describes Margaret’s failing health and the good care she received from their doctor. News of the death was communicated to the Captain of the ship Brig Staffa just before leaving Rothesay and the news was broken to Robert when at sea. Robert became a merchant in Burma until his death in 1838. The funeral was attended by some prominent merchants including John Buchanan of Woodlands and James Buchanan of Dowanhill. Mention is made of Robert’s brother John who applied to a Captain Johnston in London for work, presumably, like Robert, at sea. John senior also makes reference to ‘making every exertion so to get your brother into the service of The East India Company’. It is not clear which brother he refers to. John also refers to his business dealings in the sugar industry , ‘We have not done much as yet in the wee Sugar House …we expect liberty soon to refine all sorts of Foreign Sugars…struggle to get using E India sugars, it will be good bye and bye’.(14)

In 1837-38 John’s business address is recorded as Adam’s Court Lane, Argyll Street, and he is described as a merchant and patentee for machines for sugar refining.(15) In 1838 his business address is recorded as 14 St Enoch Square, Glasgow (replaced in 1875 by Teachers whisky offices). He lived at 52 Renfield Street, Glasgow at this time (the building was replaced by The Odeon Cinema in the nineteen thirties).(16) From 1845 to 1852 he was living at 105 Kensington Place, Sauchiehall Street.(17) By 1855 he had moved to 15 Claremont Street, just off Sauchiehall Street,(18) west of Charing Cross, where he resided till his death in 1859.(19)

Figure 3. 15 Claremont Street, Glasgow photo by author

He was buried at Ramshorn Church in Glasgow,(20) where many notable Glasgow merchants were laid to rest including Robert Carrick (21) who maintained a friendship with John throughout his life. John’s son James and daughters Euphemia and Isabella Henderson are also laid to rest there.(22) 

According to the 1861 census Mary Newbigging Aitchison, John’s daughter, was living at 9 Sandyford Place, Glasgow, just across the road from John’s final home.(23) She and Janet never married and they probably lived with John to his final days.(24) The head of the household at 9 Sandyford Place was Margaret, her sister. Also noted as being present was George Bogue Carr, studying In Glasgow to be a minister of The United Free Church.(25) He was from Berwick-upon-Tweed and after a period as minister in Tranent, then Dalmeny Street Church in Edinburgh he emigrated to the USA, becoming Professor of Religious Rhetoric and English at Lincoln University. George was John Aitchison’s grandson whose mother was Jane Robertson Aitchison, John’s second daughter.(26) The Carr family and the Aitchison family were closely associated through marriage at this time.(27)






4) From the notebook of Walter Aitchieson, by permission of Andy Laing, descendent of John Aitchison

5) Family Tree (Family of Carr from Berwick-Upon-Tweed), by permission of Andy Laing, descendent of John Aitchison

6) Marriages, Robertson Margaret (Old Parish Registers Marriages 644/1 270 236 Glasgow) page 236

7) Family Tree (Family of Carr from Berwick-Upon-Tweed), by permission of Andy Laing, descendent of John Aitchison

8)  Glasgow Herald 22/08/1859 p 5  www,


10) Glasgow Herald 22 Aug 1859, Obituaries, The Late Mr John Aitchison, p.5

11), p.203

12) Harvey Robert, (Creative Commons Zerov1.0 Universal)


14) Letter from John Aitchison to his son Robert dated 6th July 1833, by permission of Andy Laing, descendent of John Aitchison

15) Post Office Directories, p.24

16) Post Office Directories, p.24

17) Post Office Directories,, p.27

18) Post Office Directories, p.39

19) Deaths,Aitchison, John (Statutory Registers Deaths 644/8 666),

20) Deaths,Aitchison, John (Statutory Registers Deaths 644/8 666),


22) Glasgow & West of Scotland Family History Society

23) Census, 1861 (Census 644/8 66/ 19),

24) Census 1851 (Census 622/ 109/ 15)

25) Census, 1861 (Census 644/8 66/ 19),

26) Family history provided by Andy Laing, descendent of John Aitchison

27) Family Tree (Family of Carr from Berwick-Upon-Tweed), by permission of Andy Laing, descendent of John Aitchison

Mrs Elizabeth Webster Gow (1873 – 1951)

On 19 January 1943, an oil painting by James Godsell Middleton entitled Jeannie Deans and the Queen was presented by Mrs E. W. Gow, Ardchattan, 2 Wellshot Drive, Cambuslang. Its acquisition number is 2309. 1

Figure 1. Middleton, James Godsell; Jeanie Deans and the Queen;
© CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.

The frame of the painting bears a tablet with the inscription ‘J. Middleton (Scottish School) Jeannie Deans and the Queen / Lent by Captain Dennistoun’.

The painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1845 by the artist whose address was 76 Newman Street, London . It carried the caption:

Jeannie Deans begging the life of her sister from Queen Caroline.
“Tear followed tear down Jeannie`s cheeks as, her features glaring and
quivering with emotion, she pleaded her sister`s cause etc. Heart of
Midlothian”, (481). 2

The artist also exhibited the painting at the Royal Scottish Academy the following year with a shortened caption!

Jeannie Deans begging the life of her sister from Queen Caroline,
vide The Heart of Midlothian (136) 3

There was no record of the donation in the Corporation Minutes.

            Elizabeth Webster Waugh (later Mrs. E. W. Gow) was born on 2 June 1873 at 5 East Howard Street, Glasgow. 4 Her father, Robert Waugh, was a storekeeper who married, Elizabeth Chambers, a domestic servant, on 30 September 1870 at Hamilton Street in Motherwell. 5 Elizabeth Waugh was the second of six children of the marriage. In 1881 “Bessie” (Elizabeth) and her family were living at 115 Stirling Road, Glasgow along with four older siblings – children of Robert Waugh`s first marriage to Janet Marshall. Robert Waugh died on 6 July 1888 6 and the family moved to 9 Glebe Street, Glasgow. In 1891, Bessie, aged 17 was a ‘furniture polisher’. 7 (It may have been because of her occupation that she met her future husband Walter Gow who was a house furnisher/furniture dealer).              
Elizabeth`s mother died in 1892 8 and three years later, on 19 March 1895, Elizabeth, aged 21, married Walter Gow who was then 35.  It was Walter`s second marriage. (He had first married Elizabeth Marquis on 29 June 1883 in Glasgow 9. At that time, he was a cabinet maker and upholsterer with an address at 73 Buccleuch Street. However, Elizabeth Marquis “formerly married to Walter Gow” re-married in 1894 10 presumably after she and Walter divorced).

            The marriage to Elizabeth was ‘by declamation’ at 63, Cockburn Street, Edinburgh in the presence of Elizabeth`s sister Margaret and her brother Thomas. According to the marriage certificate Walter Gow was a bachelor whose occupation was ‘cabinet maker’. He gave his address as ‘The Grand Hotel, Charing Cross, Glasgow’. 11 (Walter Gow`s father Joseph was also a cabinet maker and had originated the family business of ‘J. Gow and Sons’, house furnishers. In 1899 the business was based at 187 (later 175) Trongate, 12).

                    After their marriage, Walter and Elizabeth moved to ‘Glenholm’ a large house at 31 Hamilton Drive, Cambuslang.13,14 The marriage did not produce any children. However, by 1911 Walter and Elizabeth had adopted Mosina (Ina) Mills the daughter of Elizabeth`s sister Annie and were living in Hamilton Drive along with Elizabeth`s older sister Margaret and one servant. Walter was a house furnisher and employer. 15

                    By 1927 Walter and Elizabeth had moved to ‘Ardchattan’, 2 Wellshot Drive, Cambuslang. The business was now based at 11 Hope Street. 16 (The name of the house would have derived from Walter`s interest in Clan or Family History. In 1898, he had been a subscriber to a book concerning the history of Clan Chattan.17 Gow is one of the minor Septs of Clan Chattan).

On 30 April 1929 Elizabeth`s niece and adopted daughter Ina, married Alexander Stephen, a fishery officer from Peterhead, in Glasgow Cathedral.18

 Walter Gow died aged 76, on 26 March 1936 at 2 Wellshot Drive, Cambuslang and was buried in East Kilbride Cemetery. 19 He left an estate valued at £100,111:18s:7d.20 Elizabeth inserted “In Memoriam” notices in the Glasgow Herald each year from 1937 to 1951 (apart from 1949 and 1950) in memory of her husband.

For example, the following appeared in the ‘In Memoriam’ column of the Glasgow Herald, on 26 March 1943:

            GOW. In loving memory of my beloved husband Walter Gow, J.P., who died on
26th March 1936. Inserted by Mrs Gow, “Ardchattan”, Cambuslang”

Elizabeth moved from Cambuslang to 29 Newlands Road in 1945 or 1946 and in the following year to ‘White Croft’, Barrhead. (Taken from Glasgow Herald, In Memoriam Columns.) Sometime between 1948 and 1951 she moved to ‘Glengyron’, Whitecraigs in Renfrewshire.

Elizabeth Gow died aged 78 at ‘Glengyron’, 38 Ayr Road, Whitecraigs on 21 August 1951 21. She was buried beside her husband in East Kilbride Cemetery on 24 August.22

The business of J. Gow and Sons was still operating from 11 Hope Street in 1964 23.


  1. Glasgow Museums Record of Donations
  2. Graves, Algernon, The Royal Academy of Arts; a complete dictionary of contributors and their work from its foundation in 1769 to 1904, H. Graves and Co., London, 1905.
  3. Object File at Glasgow Museums Resource Centre
  4. Scotland`s People, Birth Certificate
  5. Scotland’s People, Marriage Certificate
  6. Scotland’s People, Death Certificate
  7., Scotland Census 1891,
  8. Scotland’s People, Death Certificate
  9. Scotland’s People, Marriage Certificate
  10. ibid
  11. ibid
  12. Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1899-1900
  13. Cambuslang Suburban Directory, 1900/01
  14. Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1902/03 till 1920/21
  15. Scotland`s People, Census 1911.
  16. Glasgow Post Office Directory 1927/8.
  17. Fraser-Mackintosh, Charles, of Drummond, An Account of the Confederation of Clan Chattan: Its Kith and Kin; The Minor Septs of Clan Chattan. J. Mckay, Glasgow, 1898
  18. Scotland’s People, Marriage Certificate
  19. Scotland’s People, Death Certificate
  20. Confirmations and Inventories, Mitchell Library
  21. Scotland’s People, Death Certificate
  22. Glasgow Herald, Deaths, August 22, 1951, page 1.
  23. Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1966-67

Louisa Ellen Perman  (1854-1921)

Torrance, James, 1859-1916; Kitty
Figure 1. Torrance, James: Kitty (1521): Glasgow Museums Resource Centre. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(

The donor of the above painting was Louisa Ellen Perman. Louisa Perman was born in Eastwood and died in Helensburgh. The painting, donated after her death by her trustees, is the portrait, “Kitty”. The portrait was the work of her husband, James Torrance (1859 – 1916). Her trustees were instructed to donate ‘all pictures and drawings to such of the principal art galleries in any part of the world as they think proper.’ An offer was made to Glasgow Corporation, who accepted the painting of Kitty by James Torrance and six wash drawings for his book illustrations. (1)

Louisa Perman and James Torrance were working artists, their story one of two people who lived and worked within their artistic and social communities and who made a contribution to the artistic life of Scotland. Their work provided them with a living, but some have argued that their contribution to Scottish art was underestimated.

Perman, Louisa Ellen, 1854-1921; Roses
Figure 2: Roses : Perman, Louise Ellen. Glasgow Museums Resource Centre. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(

Louisa Perman studied at Glasgow School of Art from 1884 until 1890. She was a noted painter of flowers, often exhibiting with artists such as Jessie Algie, Jessie M. King and Margaret Muir. Caw compares Perman favourably to Stuart Park, a flower painter associated with the Glasgow boys: ‘her pictures evoke much of the feeling which has been indicated as wanting in his’ (2) ( Caw p.450)  She was a frequent exhibitor at the Royal Scottish Academy between 1885 and 1920. (3)  In 1908, her painting White Roses was bought by the Luxembourg in Paris. (4)

She was a member of the Glasgow and West of Scotland Lady Artists’ Club and was serving as Vice-President of the Club at the time of her death in 1921. (5) The Dictionary of Scottish Art and Architecture describes Louisa Perman as ‘an underestimated painter whose true qualities are only now beginning to be recognised.’ (6) Although she may have been underestimated in Scotland, her work was widely shown in Europe: Munich, Berlin, Dresden and Prague, to name but a few.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is james-torrance-2.jpg
Figure 3. James Torrance T & R Annan & Sons. National galleries of Scotland.

Louisa Perman’s husband was James Torrance who was born in Glasgow in 1859 and was an illustrator and artist.

Torrance worked for some time in London as a book illustrator and a portrait painter. He illustrated fairy stories for children, including Sir James Douglas’ ‘Scottish Fairy Tales and Folk Tales‘ Some of the original illustrations for this work are held in the Victoria and Albert in London, the National Gallery of Scotland and others are held in Glasgow Museums’ collections. Torrance also illustrated the works of the American author, Nathaniel Hawthorne (7) and a book of Folk and Fairy Tales by W. B. Yeats.  (8)

Figure 5. “Tammie felt the wind of Nuckleavee’s clutch” Study for an illustration for Scottish Fairy and Folk Tales. James A.S. Torrance. National Galleries of Scotland.
Figure 4. The Legend of Tyrone: Study for an illustration for Scottish Fairy and Folk Tales. James A.S. Torrance. National Galleries of Scotland.

James Caw described Torrance thus: ‘although his work is never seen in the exhibitions and his name is practically unknown outside a very limited circle in Glasgow and the west, Mr James Torrance is one of the most vital painters of the younger generation.’ (9)

Torrance and Perman had a long engagement. They did not marry until 1912, by which time she was 58. She had received a legacy which enabled her to buy a house in Helensburgh.  The house was called ‘The Glen’ and both artists had studios there. His was above the coach house, hers was in the garden. In later years, her studio became the meeting place of the Helensburgh and District Art Club, which was formed in 1951. Both artists were involved in staging an art exhibition in Glasgow in 1916, the proceeds of which were to relieve cases of hardship arising from the First World War. Torrance died in 1916.

Helensburgh has had a strong artistic community over many years. Neil Munro described it as ‘Painters too have favoured it; there is no Helensburgh School it is true, but studios hide among its flowers, and an infinite number of pictures have been inspired by the hills, shores and sylvan lanes of its neighbourhood’ (10) The obituaries written in the local newspaper for both artists suggest that they became valued members of the Helensburgh community. (11)

 As well as the bequest to Glasgow museums, Louisa Perman left a brass Buddha and her drawing room piano to the Glasgow and West of Scotland Lady Artists’ Club. A note in the minutes of the Club details the Buddha being brought to the Club by one of the members, with the piano to be delivered later. (12)  She also left a sum for the upkeep of her husband’s grave in Faslane Cemetery.

After Torrance’s death, Louisa Perman left a sum of money in memory of her husband, the interest on which was ‘to be awarded to a person, not being a member or associate of any Royal Art Society exhibiting, as his or her own work, a painting in oil or water colour of high artistic merit at the annual exhibition of the Royal Glasgow Fine Art Institute. The judges were to be three professional painters appointed annually, one from the council of the RGI, one from the council of Glasgow Art Club and one from the Council of the Glasgow Lady Artists Club.’ The prize is awarded to the present day.


(1) Glasgow Corporation Minutes 02.09.1921

(2) CAW, James L, 1908: Scottish Painting Past and Present 1620 – 1908: London: T.C. & E.C. Jack, 16 Henrietta Street London

(3) RSA Exhibitors 1826-1990 (Mitchell Library)

(4) CAW, James , 1908.: Scottish Painting Past and Present 1620 – 1908: London: T.C. & E.C. Jack 16  Henrietta Street London

(5) Archive Material on Glasgow and West of Scotland Lady Artists’ club (Mitchell Library)

(6) McEWAN, Peter J.M. (2004): Dictionary of Scottish Art and Architecture: Ballater, Aberdeenshire: Glengarden Press

(7)  accessed 6.10.2021

(8) YEATS W.B. (1893): Irish Folk and Fairy Tales: London: Scott N.D.  

(9)  CAW, James L, (1908): Scottish Painting Past and Present 1620 – 1908: London: T.C. & E.C. Jack, 16 Henrietta Street London. p.430.

(10) MUNRO, Neil (1907): The Clyde, River and Firth: London: Adam and Charles Black

(11) Helensburgh and Gareloch Times: 8 March 1916; 9 March 1921

(12) Archive Material on Glasgow and West of Scotland Lady Artists’ club (Mitchell Library)

Other sources:

Century of Art Exhibition 1835-1935 (Mitchell Library)

Reference Library, Helensburgh Library

Some Helensburgh Artists and their Studios: Ailsa Tanner

Mary Morris (1873-1951)

Donor    Mary Morris (1873-1951)


Figure 1. Captain Hugh Morris.  Artist unknown. Date unknown Acc. 2905  © CSGCIC  Glasgow Museums and Libraries. 


Mary Morris (1873-1951)

The donor of this painting was Mary Morris (see below) who bequeathed the portrait on 22  May  1951 as well as several other items.1 At the time of her death she was living at 67 Argyle Road, Saltcoats.2  There is no date or artist attributed to this portrait and there are several members of the Morris family named Hugh  but evidence leads us to believe that the portrait is that of Mary Morris’s great -great grandfather (see  Morris Family Tree below).3 Before discussing the life of Mary Morris   the Morris Family who came before her  will  be discussed.

Figure 2. Morris Family Tree . © J M Macaulay. * Probable subject of Portrait

*Captain Hugh Morris (1736-1786 or1819)

Captain Hugh Morris was our donor’s great-great grandfather. He was possibly born on 6 May 1736  in Largs ,Ayrshire. His father was John Morris and his mother was Jean McFie.4 After his birth the next information we have is his marriage on 31  July 1764 to Elizabeth Newlands at Calton then a separate weaver’s village outside Glasgow. Elizabeth’s father Richard was a weaver and Hugh Morris’s occupation is given as ‘mariner.5 By the time of the birth of their first child John in 1766 Hugh Morris  was described on the baptism certificate as a ‘shipmaster’ (captain)of Port Glasgow’.6 Subsequent children were born in Port Glasgow leading us to believe that the family lived there while the head of the family was at sea. Hugh and Elizabeth had at least seven children. All but Hugh (b1768 in Barony, Glasgow) were born in Port Glasgow between 1766 and 1785 including our donor’s direct descendant Richard  Morris born in 1776.7 Also there is a Captain Hugh Morris, shipmaster of Port Glasgow listed in John Tait’s Directory of the City of Glasgow 1783.8

There is evidence that Captain Hugh Morris was involved in Glasgow’s tobacco trade  with Virginia as captain of a ship owned  by  William Cunninghame, one of Glasgow’s foremost ‘tobacco lords.’  Morris was captain of the ship Neptune from about 1769 to at least 1781. 9 The Neptune appears to have made  at least two voyages each year. For example it was reported  in February 1775, ’A Manifest of the Lading on board the ship Neptune, Hugh Morris Master, for Glasgow 476 hogshead tobacco, 30,000 staves, 30 dozenHoops’.10 Then in July 1775 the James River Manifest Book 1774-5 reported ‘a manifest of lading of the ship Neptune, Hugh Morris master, to be 474 hogshead of tobacco,13,000 staves  and 40 dozen hoops’.11

In 1777 shortly after the beginning of the American War of Independence an Act of Parliament was passed allowing the Lord High  Admiral or his Commissioners to grant Letters of Marque to merchant ships which allowed them to be armed and to seize any enemy ships encountered in regular trading enterprises for the duration of hostilities. Any prize money gained from the selling- off of enemy ships and or cargo went to the ship owner, captain and possibly the crew. The Letter of Marque was given to the captain of the ship and a copy was preserved in the records of the High Court of the Admiralty.12 In 1777 one such Letter of Marque signed by Registrar Godfrey Lee Tarrant was granted to Captain Hugh Morris and the ship Neptune.13  

 There are two  further reports of Captain Morris’s  involvement in voyages to Virginia after the issue of the Letter of Marque but no information as to seizure of American ships. In 1779 the Chester Courant reported the arrival  at Falmouth of the Neptune from Jamaica  with  Morris as Captain. It is unclear if this was referring to Falmouth Virginia or Falmouth in England.14 Then in September 1781 the Neptune, captained by Morris, sailed from Portsmouth (presumably Portsmouth Virginia) to London.15 There is no information after this date of any further voyages.

Perhaps Captain Morris retired from sea at this time? Perhaps he had  gained some prize money from seized  American ships? Information on this point is speculative. Did he develop business interests of his own in America perhaps? James Robinson, superintendent factor  of W. Cunninghame and Co. who was based in Falmouth, Virginia reported in a letter to Cunninghame on 15 September 1774 that ,’Captain Morris…wants to go to Carolina to look after some old affairs’.16 So perhaps he had business interests there.

In The Biographical Register of St Andrews Society of the State of New York 17 the entry for Richard  Morris (see family tree above) our donor’s great grandfather, who appears to have joined the society in 1797 while living in New York, describes him as, ‘ a son of Captain Hugh Morris of the Greenhead, Glasgow’. Greenhead was an old industrial part of Glasgow north of John Street (now Tullis Street) in  Bridgeton extending into the Calton.18  There is  a present day Greenhead Street near to Glasgow Green which possibly took its name from the area known as Greenhead.

Jones Directory or Useful Pocket Companion  for  1787 lists a Morris ,Hugh &Son, manufacturers, Todds Land, High Street and for  1789 Morris ,Hugh & Sons, manufacturers  High Street,’ above no 16’.19  The family business was certainly known as Hugh Morris &Sons  in 1797 in a letter written to the United States Secretary of State, James Madison  by John J Murray Consulate General in Glasgow  concerning a dispute over ownership of ships being traded by the company to New York.20 The business later moved to St Andrews Square(see below). There are also examples of Hugh Morris & Sons  trading with Jamaica. For example in July 1802 when customers were invited to contact Hugh Morris& Sons  regarding freight and passage  aboard The Maria sailing from Port Glasgow.21

A map of Glasgow of 1807 shows a piece of land off Glasgow Green owned by Hugh Morris Senior.22  

Figure 3 Extract from Peter Fleming Map of Glasgow and Suburbs 1807. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

 The Glasgow Sasines Register  1801 shows that a Hugh Morris   bought land in St Andrews Square off Glasgow Green23 and  The Post Office Directory for 1801  has an entry for Morris H & Sons  Merchant, 55 St Andrews Square  and in 1806 for Morris H Senior merchants 55 St  Andrews Square.  House, Greenhead.24 By this time his second son Hugh and third  son Richard appear to have joined the business (see below).

 It is unclear when our Captain Hugh Morris died. A Captain Hugh Morrice, shipmaster, died on 20 April  1786  with no indication of age.25 But a  Captain Hugh Morrise died 22 February  1819 aged 89. Both died in Glasgow and both were buried in the Parish of Ramshorn and Blackfriars.  However as there continued to be a Hugh Morris Senior mentioned in the various directories later than 1786 it is probable that our Hugh Morris(or Morrise) died at the later date.26 The alternative is that the name of the firm Hugh Morris Senior  was used by  his son  Hugh for several years after his death.

Hugh Morris (1768-1819)

This Hugh Morris was our donor’s great- uncle. The second son of Captain Hugh Morris and Elizabeth Newlands he was born on 21 March 1768 in Glasgow Barony.27 There is little information  about his early life and no evidence that he went to sea. It is not clear exactly when he started in  the family business of Hugh Morris and Sons  but as we know from about 1801  the business premises were at 55 St Andrews Square. Around 1806 his brother Richard appears in the Glasgow Post Office Directory at the same address.28

 In 1807 Hugh  married Jane Bannatyne  daughter of John Bannatyne of  Castlebank, Lanark.29  As we have seen, the Morris Family appears to have lived in the Greenhead area  better known as Bridgeton today and  many streets have  been renamed  for example the then William street is now Templeton Street around the area of the  former Templeton Carpet Factory building. By 1819  Jane and Hugh  had a house in St Vincent Street.30

There do not appear to have been any children as when Hugh  was thrown from a gig and killed at Pitcaithly near Perth in August 31  his  estate,  after making provision for his wife Jane, went to his brother Richard and  various nephews and nieces.32

Around 1810 a Hugh Morris appears to have become part of the firm of Morris, Kinnear &Co at 55 St Andrews Square and this partnership continued until Hugh’s death in 1819. They were listed as ‘merchants’.33

 By the time of his death in 1819  as well as being a partner  in the Glasgow firm of Morris, Kinnear and Company,  Hugh Morris was also a partner  in the firm of Ferguson, Morris and Co of St Lucia34 which suggests an involvement in trade with St Lucia. He left an estate worth £10,000 including the house in St Vincent Street and a house in Largs which he left to his brother Richard together with the  business property in St Andrews Square.35

Richard H Morris (1776-1827)

Richard Morris was our donor’s great-grandfather. He was born 28 July 1776 in Port Glasgow.36There is little information about his early life but one presumes it was spent in Port Glasgow with the rest of the family. Most of our information in this period comes from  The Biographical Register of the St Andrew Society of New York, which Richard joined in 1797. He was introduced as ‘a son of Captain Hugh Morris of the  Greenhead of Glasgow.’

 By the age of twenty Richard had moved to New York and had begun business principally as a shipping agent and commission merchant for the family business Hugh Morris &Sons. He was also part owner of the brig  Moses Gill which traded between New York and Greenock.37 On 16 June 1797 he married Mary Ford (1778-1840).38 They went on to have nine children between Agnes, born in New York in 1801 and Jean born in 1815 a total of seven girls and two boys.39

By 1799 Richard’s business was operating from 10 Liberty Street,  New York.40 He and Mary appear to have travelled back to Scotland around 1802 as a son Hugh was born there about 1802.41 Richard’s brother Captain John Morris, master of a vessel  The Hunter  went to New York in 1804 to take over the business in Liberty Street which suggests that was when Richard and Mary  moved back to Scotland. Unfortunately John Morris died of consumption in 1807 which brought Richard back to New York to settle up his brother’s affairs. Then  on 15  December  1808 ,along with his nephew John, he set sail on the British packet Chesterfield  for Falmouth.42

 As we have seen Richard went into the family business  known as Hugh Morris & Sons with  his father and then his brother  Hugh. In 1809 the firm of Morris ,R H  & Co merchants was based at 55 St Andrews Square as was Morris, H, Merchant. In both cases the home address was given as Greenhead possibly 63 William Street43 (later renamed Templeton Street) in present day  Bridgeton. Between 1810 and the death of his  brother Hugh in 1819 the firm changed to Morris ,Kinnear &Co still based at 55 St Andrews Square.44

 He was executor of both his brother’s estate, Hugh Morris (junior) and that of Hugh Morris( senior) of Greenhead, presumably his father. On 16 June 1820 an advertisement appeared in the Glasgow Herald  for the sale of

Property at Greenhead belonging to the late Mr Hugh Morris Senior ,extending to about 2 acres and bounded by the Camlachie Burn…’

 suggesting that as executor for both his late father and brother he was dispensing with the Greenhead land. It is also further indicates that Hugh Morris senior died at the later date of February 1819 but of course we cannot be certain.

  Richard was also  Treasurer of the Calton Chapel of Ease and owned a house in Rothesay.45

By 1824 Richard and his family were living at 24 Monteith Row off Glasgow Green.46 In 1814 permission had been granted to build a terrace of houses  to front Glasgow Green. The row of houses which was in three sections, was not completed until the1840s. The street was named after Henry Monteith the then Lord Provost of Glasgow. This development had been planned for several years, the plans having been drawn up by architect David Hamilton in 1812. Monteith Row was referred to as the ‘Park Lane ‘ of Glasgow where affluent citizens lived until smoke and industrial development moved them out to the developing West End.47

Figure 4. 1830 Map of Glasgow showing Monteith Row and Morris Place48. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

 In his will Richard Morris refers to his building a three-storey tenement in Monteith Row of which his wife Mary was to receive the  rental as part of her settlement49. As can be seen from the above map there was a short road called Morris Place  between the second third terraces  of Monteith Row which possibly takes its name from the Morris family. Mrs Richard Morris was living at 1 Morris Place in 1831-2.50

Richard had retired from business in August 1827  and died  in Rothesay on 22 October  1827 of cholera morbus  an old medical term for acute gastroenteritis. He was buried in  St Davids (Ramshorn) ‘in Capt Morris Lair’.51

Hugh Morris (1802-1851 )

This Hugh Morris was Richard Morris’s eldest son born around 1802 and the grandfather of our donor. There appears to be no record of his birth at this point but the UK Census of 1851 puts his birth around 1802 or 1803. He attended  Glasgow University from 181852 and then joined the family business.53

On 11 July  1824 Hugh married Mary Baxter  at the Chapel of Ease,Calton.54 Hugh is described as a ‘cloth merchant’. Mary was the daughter of Isaac Baxter who was also a merchant with a business Isaac Baxter & Sonswho were  grocers, confectioners, oilmen and wine merchants  operating from The Italian Warehouse in Candleriggs and from 137 Buchanan Street.55 At some point Isaac bought Rhinsdale  House close to Baillieston on the outskirts of Glasgow56  together with nine acres of land. There is a Rhinsdale  Tavern and a Rhinsdale Crescent in Baillieston today. The house had five bedrooms, a drawing room, dining room and parlour, servants quarters stables and coach house together with a large garden.57

Figure 5.Extract from 1890 Map of Glasgow showing Rhinsdale.58 Reproduced with the Permission of the National Library of Scotland.

Mary and Hugh went on to have at least nine children including another Richard born in 182559, Mary born in 1827, Hugh born in 1830 and our donor’s father Campbell Brisbane Morris  born in 184760. They  appear to have lived for a time at 48 West Nile Street.61

When his father Richard retired in August 1827 Hugh appears to have bought his father’s share of the family business by an agreed series of instalments. When his father died he inherited the family business as well as receiving £3,000 from his father.62

In 1829  the firm of Hugh Morris &Co Cloth Merchants was still operating but from 18 Hutcheson Street.63 By 1832 Hugh had become a partner in the firm of Morris Kirkwood & Co, merchants and warehousemen. Unfortunately the company  and the two partners went bankrupt in 183264  but the following year sees Hugh applying for a discharge of bankruptcy so he must have been able to pay off his various creditors.65 It is difficult to know exactly what was going on as no other details are forthcoming.

The family appears to have gone  to live  at Rhinsdale  House in Baillieston with Mary’s father as Hugh is referred to as ‘Hugh Morris Esquire of Rinsdale’ when his son Hugh Baxter was born in 1828.66 The present A8,Edinburgh Road, cuts through what was once the site of Rhinsdale House and its policies and stood where Kaldi’s (formerly the Little Chef) restaurant stands today at the Baillieston end of the Edinburgh Road.67

 Mary and the children were still at Rhinsdale at the time of the 1841 Census but Hugh was not there. There are two  entries for a Hugh  Morris  of relevant age in the 1841 Census. One, a seaman in Port Glasgow aged 30 and one in Mount Stuart Road in Rothesay aged 35.68 The Rothesay entry would appear to be the closest as the age is about right and we know Hugh’s father  Richard owned a house in Rothesay.69  This Hugh Morris  was said to be of independent means.

We can presume the family remained in Baillieston until Isaac Baxter’s death in 184870 when the house was advertised for rent probably by Mary’s brother Walter.71 As daughter Jane was born in Ardrossan in 1845 and son Campbell in West Kilbride (see below Campbell Baxter Morris) in 184772 perhaps the family then moved to Ayrshire. Certainly by 1851 the family was living at Sandlands House, Seamill.73 Hugh’s occupation in the 1851 Census is given as ‘retired cloth merchant’. Along with wife Mary were five of their children. Mary was twenty, Walter was fourteen, Eliza was eleven, Jane six and our donor’s father Campbell Brisbane was three.

In April 1851 Sandlands House was put up for sale.74 However it had not sold by 4 October of that year when Hugh Morris died.75 He was buried in Glasgow Necropolis.76

Campbell Brisbane Morris (1847-1924)

 Campbell Brisbane Morris our donor’s father was born  on 19 April  1847 at Kenningbrae Cottage, Seamill 77  in the Parish of West Kilbride.78 He was only three years old when his father died. By 1861 aged thirteen he was a pupil at Montgreenan  House School, Kilwinning while his mother, now a widow, lived at Springburn Cottage, Ardrossan  Road, Saltcoats.79

Figure 6. Montgreenan House Kilwinning. © Chris Hawksworth

Montgreenan  House  was built in 1810 by Robert Glasgow  a Glasgow merchant who had bought the Montgreenan Estate in 1794. Robert Glasgow had owned two sugar plantations  and 247 slaves in St Vincent in the West Indies. After Robert Glasgow’s death in 1827 the house was often let out.80

 Montgreenan School was opened in 1849 by Thomas R Wilson who  originally ran a boarding school at North Woodside in Glasgow. The school was  ’For the Education of Young Gentlemen’.81  Thomas R Wilson also taught mathematics. At the time of opening the school had three residential teachers covering Classics, English, Writing and Drawing as well as visiting teachers of French and German, Fencing and Gymnastics, Music and Dancing. Many of the pupils were from the British Colonies.82 We do not know when Hugh started at the school but perhaps he was a pupil on 20 August 1856 when the school went on a trip to The Isle of Arran  but unfortunately missed the last ferry home and had to stay the night on Arran. No doubt the boys found that an adventure.83

There are several examples of the boys donating pocket money to the local poor. For example at Christmas in 1856 they donated £25. There were four mining villages nearby whose inhabitants lived  precarious lives.84 In August 1861 the School moved to Sunderland so presumably Hugh left Montgreenan at that point.85

The 1871 Census puts Hugh age twenty-three at Clydeview Terrace, a row of villas on the north side of Whiteinch in  Partick  with his mother Mary now sixty-eight. His occupation is ‘engineer in steamships.86 On 20 April 1871  at 20 Laurence Place, Partick, Campbell married Jane Smith Wilson, daughter of the late David  Wilson of Rothesay, a grocer and wine and spirit merchant. One of the witnesses at the wedding was Hugh Baxter Morris, Campbell’s elder brother.87

The newly-weds lived at 20 Laurence Place. They had two daughters, Jane born in 1872 and our donor Mary in 1873.88 Sadly Campbell’s wife Jane aged only thirty, died in July 1877 of a long-standing pulmonary complaint. She died at 5  Mount Stuart Road, Rothesay. Perhaps this was her former family home or the house in Rothesay owned by Campbell’s grandfather Richard. Campbell was still a marine engineer at the time of Jane’s death.89

By 1881 Campbell appears to have given up his maritime career as his occupation  in the 1881 Census is given as  ‘calico printer’. The family was living at Primrose Place, 219 Paisley Road. Also in the house was  nephew Hugh Low, a marine  insurance clerk, and a domestic servant called Margaret Milne aged twenty-three. Ten-year old daughter Jane died  the following year of diptheria. She died at 5 Mount Stuart Road, Rothesay.  As has already been suggested perhaps this was her mother’s family home or the house which had been in the  Morris family since the time of Richard Morris.90 Our donor Mary then became an only child. The family was still at Primrose Place in 1891 with Campbell’s occupation now ‘warehouseman/calico printer’ and he was an employee rather than an employer. Margaret Milne was still employed in the house as ‘housekeeper’ now aged thirty-three, assisted by a sixteen-year old domestic servant Janet Jack.91

According to the Valuation Rolls of 1885 Campbell  owned Mansfield Cottage, Howgate, Kilwinning as well as being tenant/occupier of Primrose Place. Mansfied Cottage was rented out.92 He was also a partner in Charles Cassils &Co, Calico Printers based at 13 St Vincent Place in Glasgow. The company went bankrupt in 189893  but by 1901 Campbell seems to have recovered from this as his occupation was that of calico printer but this time he was an employer. He and Mary were now living at 5 Walmer Crescent, Bellahouston with one servant.  Margaret  Milne was  included in the census as a visitor so she must have remained very close to Campbell  and Mary.94

The next census in 1911 tells us that Campbell and Mary had moved to  53  Glencairn Drive,Polloksheilds. Campbell’s occupation was ‘calico  printer/salesman’ and he was now ‘a worker’ rather than an employer. Once again Margaret Milne was  a visitor at the house at the time of the census.

There is no more information concerning Campbell Brisbane Morris until his death on 21 May 1924 at home in Glencairn Drive. He was seventy-six.95

Mary Morris (donor) (1873-1951)

As has been experienced many times before it is always difficult to find information about female donors apart from the little which is contained in official documents such as Census Reports. Mary Morris is no exception to this thus much of Mary’s early life has been covered in the above section about her father.

Mary Morris was born on 27 August 1873 at Primrose Place, Paisley Road Govan.91  Mary was the second daughter, her sister Jane having been born on 14 February  1872.96 The family had moved to Primrose Place ( 219 Paisley Road) in Govan by the time of the 1881 Census. Also living in the family home was Mary Milne, a general domestic servant aged twenty-three. Mary was seven at this time and was at school.

As we know Mary had lost both her mother and her only sister by the time she was  nine years old and she lived with her father and servants. She was at school at the time of the 1881 census . At 17 in1891 Mary was still a scholar97 which was beyond the normal school leaving age at that time and  suggests she may have either been at a private school or had entered further education of some kind but this is speculation.

 Mary’s next home was 5 Walmer Crescent, Bellahouston where she still lived with her father and there is no information as to any occupation. Again, as  at the time of the 1901 census, Margaret Milne was a visitor and again at the time of the 1911 census when the family had moved to Pollokshields and was living at 53 Glencairn Drive. Perhaps Margaret Milne, former housekeeper, had become something of a mother figure to  Mary or perhaps there is some other explanation for her continued presence in the house.

In 1911 Mary who was thirty-two by this time and  unmarried   with no recorded occupation perhaps looked after the house for her father as was the lot of many unmarried daughters. They still had one servant  Williamina Cunningham aged seventeen.98

Mary remained at 53 Glencairn Drive until 193099 when she bought a property at 67 Argyle Road, Saltcoats. This may have been a flat as there was another occupier of that address who appears unconnected to Mary. This remained her address throughout World War II.100 We have no information as to any involvement in war work as it has been impossible to access the 1939 Scottish Register at this time.

 It was in Saltcoats Mary  died on 19 February 1951. Interestingly on her death certificate her occupation is given as ‘artist’ but this was the first mention of any such occupation and so far no information has been found to give more details.101


Many thanks to Chris Hawksworth of  Kilwinning Heritage   for sharing  his research on the Montgreenan Estate and Montgreenan  House.

Many thanks also to Jane Raftery of Glasgow Museums Resource Centre for bringing to my attention the Letter of Marque issued to Captain Hugh Morris in 1777

Notes and References

  1. As well as the portrait Mary Morris donated the following items which are in stored at the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre.

Glasgow Museums  Resource Centre Object Files:

  1. Punch Bowl  ref A.1951.38.a
  2. Vase              ref A1951.38.b
  3. Mustard Mill  ref A 1951.37.c
  4. Letter of Marque 1777.ref A.1951. 37.d (See Above p1)
  5. Two Toddy Ladles  ref A.1951.38.a

2. Statutory Deaths. Mary Morris

3.The name Hugh Morris is very common and although every care has been taken to be accurate the information in the Old Parish Registers is often incomplete and errors do happen unintentionally.

4.  Births OPR 602/10 186

5. Marriages  OPR 622/60 162

6.  Births OPR 622/20 286

7.    eg. David- OPR 574/30/306 ; Robert OPR 574/30/255

8.National Library of Scotland John Tate’s Directory of the City of Glasgow 1785

9.Devine T.M. A Scottish Firm in Virginia. 1767-1777. Clark Constable,1882. pp113,155,201

10.  Naval Documents of the American   Revolution. Volume 1 Part 8

11. As above p 1329


13.op cit. ref 1

14. Chester Courant 01/06/1779 p.2

15. Hampshire Chronicle  17/09/1781 p.2

16.op. cit. Devine p.155

17. McBean W.M.  Biographical Register of the St Andrews Society of the State of New York . Volume II. New York, 1925.

18. Smart, Aileen. Villages of Glasgow . Volume 1  John Donald 1988. P43

19. www.nls.ukJones Directory or Useful Pocket Companion. 1787,1789.


21. Glasgow Courier 01/07/1802

22.  Fleming, Peter Map of the City of Glasgow and its suburbs. 1807.

23.Burgh of Glasgow  Register of Sasines 1801. Mitchell Library Archives 1801 B10/5/10/11

24. Post Office Directories . Glasgow 1801,1806

25.  Deaths OPR 644/1 590 323

26. Deaths  OPR 644/1 610 221

27. Births  OPR 622/20 286

28. Post Office Directories. Glasgow 1806

29. Marriages OPR  644/1 280 66

30. Wills and Testaments. Hugh Morris (junior)

31. Caledonian Mercury  23/08/1819

32. op cit. ref 30

33.  Post Office Directories Glasgow 1810-1820

34. Glasgow Herald 27/11/1820

35. op cit.  ref 30

36. Statutory Births

37. op cit.  ref 17 p.327

38. /family-tree/person/tree17218896

39. as above

40. op cit. ref 15

41. UK Census 1851

42. op cit. ref 34  pp.379/80

43.    Post Office Directories 1806,1809 above 1810-1819

45. Wills and Testaments. Richard Morris

46. Post Office Directories Glasgow 1825

47.   Mitchell Library Archives. The Regality Club. RC4 4th Series. James Macelhose &Sons 1912. P110.

48. maps/nls/towns/rec/7507 City of Glasgow and its Suburbs c1830. Pub James Lumsden & H Wilson Glasgow 1830. Hamilton Street is now London Road.

49. op cit. ref 45

50. http://www.nls/uk  Post Office Directories  Glasgow 1830-31

51. Deaths  OPR 644/1620 182

52. op cit. ref 17

53. www.nls/uk  Post Office Directories  Glasgow 1822

54.  Marriages  OPR 644/1 400 276

55 www.nls/uk Post Office Directories  Glasgow 1828

56. UK Census 1841,1851

57. Glasgow Herald  10/04/1841 p.1

58. Lanarkshire/Baillieston

59. OPR 644/1 320 65

60.  op cit. ref 53

61. www.nls/uk Post Office Directory Glasgow 1828

62. Wills and Testaments. Richard Morris

63. www.nls/uk   Post Office Directories   Glasgow 1829

64. Perthshire Courier 05/04/1832 p.4

65. Scotsman 24/08/1833

66. Births OPR 652/20  113

67.Wilson, Rhona  Old Baillieston, Garrowhill and Easterhouse. Stenlake  Publishing 1997.p26

68. UK Census 1841

69. op.cit. ref 62

70.. Deaths OPR Deaths 644/1 580 9

71. Glasgow Herald 10/04/1848 p.1

72.  Statutory Births. Jane Campbell Morris

73. www.nls/uk Post Office Directories  Ayrshire 1851-2

74. Glasgow Herald  07/04/1851

75. Glasgow Herald  10/10/1851 p.5

76. The Glasgow and West of Scotland Family History Society. The Glasgow Necropolis. DVD 2012 .KAP104a

77. Glasgow Chronicle  28/04/1847 p.8

78. Births OPR 620/30 239

79. UK Census 1861

80Chris Hawksworth Kilwinning Heritage  

81. Greenock Advertiser 15/01/1861 p.2

82. op cit.  Ref 80

83. Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald 23/08/1856 p.2

84. Scottish Guardian  16/03/1855 p.3

85. Dundee Courier 02/08/1861 p.1

86.UK Census 1871

87. Statutory Marriages

88. Statutory Births

89. Statutory Deaths

90. as above

91. UK Census 1891  Valuation Rolls 1885

93. Edinburgh Evening News 07/05/1898 p.4

94. UK Census 1901 Statutory Deaths

96  Statutory Births.

97. UK Census 1891

98. UK Census 1911

99.  Valuation Rolls 1920,1925

100.  as above 1930

101.  Statutory Deaths

Mary Alston Waddell Thomson (1876-1947)

‘There was submitted a letter from Messrs. A. and J. Graham, writers, intimating that the late Miss M. A. W. Thomson of Ridge Park, Lanark, had bequeathed to the corporation a collection of pictures and the committee, after hearing a report from the Director, agreed to accept eighteen of the pictures mentioned in the list now submitted.’1

The pictures selected consisted of five watercolours and thirteen oils. The water colours were:

Sir John Lavery R. A.   Head of a Child                                          (2634, Accession No.)

Sam Bough R. S. A.     Busy Harbour                                             (2635)

Jan Zoetelief Tromp   The Young Harvesters                                 (2636)

Janet M. Aitken          Trafalgar Square                                         (2645) 

This artist lived at 2 Woodlands Terrace until 1925. She exhibited at the Glasgow Instutute 1906 – 1920.                           

M. B. Barnard (?)        Shore Scene                                                (2648)  

The thirteen oils are shown below. Given the dates of completion, it seems likely that Miss Thomson purchased all of them.           

Figure 1. Park, Stuart; Vase of Roses; © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (2633)
Figure 2. Park, Stuart; Orchids; © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (2649)(
Figure 3. Park, Stuart; Daffodils; © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (2650) (

Figure 4. McEwan, Thomas; Tea Time; © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (2638) (

Figure 5 McGhie, John; Fisher Girls Landing the Catch; © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (2639) (

Figure 6. Hornel, Edward Atkinson; The Paper Hat;  © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(2641) (
Figure 7. Hornel, Edward Atkinson; In a Japanese Garden; © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(2642) (

Figure 8. Allan, Archibald Russell Watson; Harvest Time; © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(2643) (

Figure 9. Elwell, Frederick William; The Squire; © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(2644) (
Figure 10. Jansen, Willem Georg Frederik; Milking Time; © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(2646) (

Figure 11. Anderson, James Bell; Still Life; © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(2647) (

Figure 12. de Hoog, Bernard; Tea Time; © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(2637) (
Figure 13. Westerbeek, Cornelis; At the End of the Day; (currently under restoration). © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(2642) (

Mary Alston Waddell Thomson was born on 14 December 1876 at 10 Moray Place, Regent’s Park, Strathbungo – one of a row of houses designed by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson but apparently no relation. This was the home of her grandparents after whom Mary was named. Her mother Catherine was born in 1851 at Wiston, Lanarkshire to James Waddell a coal master and his wife Mary Alston.2 Catherine married William Thomson on 28 October 1875 also at 10 Moray Place.3 Mary’s birth was registered in two separate birth certificates – one for Kinning Park and one for Shettleston which was her father’s ‘domicile’. Her father, William Thomson a rope manufacturer, had a house ‘Ferndean, in Shettleston, Glasgow.4 The family business was the Glasgow Rope Works which was founded in 1842 by William’s father, Archibald Thomson. The firm had offices at 58 Howard Street, Glasgow, and a factory in Shettleston. Archibald Thomson lived nearby at Braidfaulds, Tollcross. 5 In 1891 this was ‘one of the oldest houses engaged in this branch of productive industry in Glasgow. The trade of the firm is of world-wide proportions and at one time employed over three hundred people’.6

The 1881 census recorded Mary and her parents at Ferndean, 299 Main Street, Shettleston. Mary’s father was a ‘cordage manufacturer, master, employing 105 men, 95 boys, 40 females’. Also on the census was Mary’s younger brother Archibald and her aunt Mary Waddell.7 Mary’s sister, Helen Jane Thomson was born in 1883.8 William Thomson died suddenly and intestate at Ferndean on the 11 September 1888 aged forty-two.9 An inventory valued his personal estate at £1189.16.3. 10 Archibald Thomson then assumed sole control of the ropeworks and moved into Ferndean. 11

In the 1891 census the family was at Stockbriggs House near Lesmahagow. (Stockbriggs was a family estate owned at one time by Mary’s great grandfather James William Alston a wealthy Glasgow merchant one of whose sons Edward Richard Alston became a prominent zoologist contributing many papers to the ‘Proceedings of the Zoological Society’. He was elected Zoological Secretary of the Linnean Society in 1880 but died the following year. 12) In the census, the head of the household was John Waddell, Mary’s uncle, who was a coal master. Also present were Mary’s grandmother Mary Waddell, aged seventy-five and Mary’s mother Catherine both of whom were living on private means. Mary, aged fourteen, her brother and sister were all ‘scholars’. Also present were Catherine’s sister Mary McMillan and her family. 13

Archibald Thomson died aged seventy-four on 27 October 1893. Shortly afterwards the firm amalgamated with John Black and Co. to become Archibald Thomson, Black and Co. 14 They maintained the works at Shettleston until about 1911. 15 Mary’s grandmother, Mary Waddell died at 11 Newark Drive, Glasgow on 30 January 1899. Her death was reported by her son John A. Waddell whose address was 10 Moray Place. 16

In 1901 Mary was with her mother who was living on her own means, brother Archibald and sister Jane, at Cragieburn, Crichton Road, Rothesay. Mary was twenty-four, with no occupation listed. Archibald aged twenty was a bank clerk and Jane aged seventeen, was a scholar. 17 Archibald Thomson was a former pupil of Glasgow High School. In 1914 he succeeded his maternal uncle to became Laird of Stockbriggs. He was interested in agriculture and would have been keen to develop the land around Stockbriggs for farming but with the outbreak of WW1 he enlisted in the 16th Highland Light Infantry. 18 He served with the 14th Platoon, ‘D’ Company and later transferred to the 97th Machine Gun Corps. Unfortunately, he did not survive the War and was listed as missing in action on 2 December 1917. He was commemorated as ‘Private Archibald Thomson, H.L.I., of Stockbriggs, Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire. Only son of Catherine Thomson (now of Largs, Ayrshire) and the late William Thomson.’ 19

Mary and her mother Catherine moved to Largs possibly as early as 1914. By 1925 Mary was the proprietor/occupier of Moorburn House and Grounds on the north side of Largs. 20 Five years later she was still the proprietor of Moorburn but apparently, not the occupier. 21 Mary’s mother Catherine died at Moorburn on the 21 May 1931. She was eighty-six. 22 In the 1935 valuation roll Mary is listed as the proprietor of Moorburn and also of Moorcote House in Haco Street, Largs. 23 Moorburn House was described as ‘one of the most stunning mansions in Largs’. 24 After her mother’s death, Mary put Moorburn House on the market. It sold for £7,500 and became the offices of the district council in 1936. 25

On 26 May 1934, Ridge Park House in Lanark was advertised for sale. 26 This was after the death of the owner Maria Louisa Roberts Vassie the previous month. 27 However, the house did not sell and was re-advertised the following year when it was purchased by Mary Thomson. The house was set in nine acres of land and has three public rooms, a billiard room and five bedrooms with central heating, a garage, a tennis lawn and a greenhouse. 28

While resident at Ridge Park, Mary Thomson involved herself in local affairs and especially those involving the youth of the area. She ‘acted as inspecting officer for a Girls’ Guildry display in 1938 and expressed herself greatly impressed by the smart appearance of the girls. She also presented prizes and decorations.’ 29 The following year she was present, along with the great and good of the district, at the opening and dedication of the new Salvation Army Hall in Westport. She proposed the vote of thanks after the dedication service. 30 Towards the end of 1945 she was present at the re-opening of the Lanark YMCA Institute, which had been commandeered by the military during the war. In her speech she said that ‘the YMCA was the big brother of the BWTA the women of which had run a soldiers’ parlour in the town for three years and the YMCA had helped greatly. She thought it would be nice if the YMCA could carry on the work among the men who were returning from the forces. She was pleased that BWTA had helped them furnish their premises and she wished them every success.’ 31

Mary Alston Waddell Thomson was found dead at Ridge Park on the 21 April 1947. She was seventy years old and had died suddenly from heart failure. Her death was reported by a friend Walter J. J. Cook. 32 After a service at Ridge Park, she was buried in Cathcart Cemetery. 33

In her will, Miss Thomson left bequests to various charities and to her household staff as well as the bequest to Glasgow Art Galleries. 34 In November 1947 a sale of furniture and household effects was conducted by McTears auctioneers. This raised £5000 and was notable for the fact that a bedroom suite sold for more than £700 which, as the local newspaper reported, could have purchased a small bungalow.35 Miss Thomson left Ridge Park House and her estate of £74,000 to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Glasgow. She hoped that the house would be converted to a childrens’ or nurses’ home. However, the hospital decided against conversion and sold it to the local council for £8,555. 36

Miss Thomson suffered from a rare eye condition called side-vision which meant she could not see things in front of her, only to the side. As part of her bequest, she instructed that her eyes should be offered for research to either the Glasgow Ophthalmic Institute or the Glasgow Eye Infirmary. Both institutions turned down the bequest. 37


  1. Glasgow Corporation Minutes, 10 June 1947, Mitchell Library
  2. Old Parish Registers, FamilySearch
  3. Scotland’s People, Marriage Certificate
  4. Scotland’s People, Birth Certificate
  5. Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1880-81
  7., 1881 Census, Scotland
  8. Scotland`s People, Birth Certificate
  9. Scotland’s People, Death Certificate
  10. Scotland’s People, Wills and Inventories
  11. Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1890-91
  12. Bettany, George Thomas. Edward Richard Alston, in Dictionary of National Biography, , Vol 1,1885-1900
  13. Scotland’s People, 1891 Census
  14. Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1900-1901
  15. Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1911-1912
  16. Scotland’s People, Death Certificate
  17. Scotland’s People, 1911 Census
  20. Scotland’s People, Valuation Roll, 1925, Largs, Ayrshire
  21. Scotland’s People, Valuation Roll, 1930, Largs, Ayrshire
  22. Scotland’s People, Death Certificate
  23. Scotland’s People, Valuation Roll, 1935, Largs, Ayrshire
  25. Ibid
  26. Scotsman, 26 May 1934
  27. Scotsman, 7 April 1934
  28. Scotsman, 2 March 1935
  29. Carluke and Lanark Gazette, 28 April 1938
  30. Carluke and Lanark Gazette, 17 November 1939
  31. Carluke and Lanark Gazette, 26 October 1945
  32. Scotland’s People, Death Certificate
  33. Glasgow Herald, 23 April 1947
  34. Carluke and Lanark Gazette, 22 August 1947
  35. Carluke and Lanark Gazette, 21 November 1947
  36. Ibid
  37. Carluke and Lanark Gazette, 22 August 1947

JOHN NORMAN LANG (1890-1965)

Our donor John Norman Lang was born in 1890. He was the son of Robert Lang and Margaret White Lang. On 25 November 1942 he presented to the Glasgow City Council a painting named Portrait of a Boy by David Gauld.

He came from a family whose name is famous and important among the mechanical engineering profession. The firm originally started with the grandfather of our donor John Lang senior, who was the founder of the world-famous engineering firm ‘John Lang and Sons of Johnstone, Renfrewshire near Glasgow’.

In 1874 John Lang senior, who had risen to the position of foreman in the engineering works of Messrs. Shanks of Johnstone, started his own engineering company with two of his sons John and Robert. They built small premises in Laigh Cartside Street, Johnstone. [1] Although he did not have much capital, he had the ability, pluck, and some fresh ideas on the subject of iron-turning, and with his sons they worked together to develop their business. Robert was the father of our donor.

The new firm called Lang quickly became one of the most important engineering firms in Britain and had a large work force in Johnstone. They had customers across the world, from Europe to Hong Kong to Russia [2] and accomplished a large variety of engineering jobs. At first, Messrs Lang undertook any kind of engineering work they could get, but gradually they discovered a special line in the making of lathes. [3] This discovery led to far greater success. Their little machine shop of about 70 ft by 30 ft. was gradually extended until it filled the whole space between Mary Street and Cartside Street.

In 1895 they had a visit from the representatives of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. [4] Encouraged by this, the firm later took on 15 acres on the other side of Mary Street and erected splendid machine shops and a modern foundry on part of the ground. This whole plan of the new buildings indicated that further extensions were both possible and anticipated.

Although the town of Johnstone originally got its wealth from coal mining, from the beginning of the nineteenth century, the main industry was cotton spinning. The rapid growth of the town was mainly due to the success of the thread and cotton industry. The first mill in Johnstone was built in 1782 on Mill Brae. The others quickly followed until there were 15 to 20 mills at the peak of the industry. [5]

However, the cotton industry declined towards the end of the nineteenth century, and in Johnstone, engineering took over as the main industry. Many engineering firms had developed alongside the mills, servicing their needs. Among these, John Lang & Sons Ltd. was now one of the most prominent tool-making engineering firms. It was a part of the Associated British Machine Tool Makers Ltd. which was a much larger group of machine toolmakers. It had its registered offices at 17 Grosvenor Gardens, London SW1 and had agents and offices worldwide. In 1966, John Lang & Sons Ltd became Wickman Lang Ltd., but remained in Johnstone until about 1968, when they became Wickman Ltd. and listed their offices as 40/44 Colquhoun Avenue, Glasgow, Scotland. In 1991, a Wickman Machine Tool Co. Ltd. was based in Coventry, England. [6]

The first time we meet John Norman Lang’s name is as a one-year-old in the 1891 Scotland Census with his mother Margaret White Lang and his father Robert who was one of the original founders of the company. Then, he also appears in the 1901 and 1911 Scotland Censuses with his brothers William and Lawrence. In the 1911 Census, John Norman, who was now 21 and his brother William who was 20 were both recorded as ‘Apprentice Engineer’. His other younger brother Lawrence, who was 14, is recorded as a schoolboy.

On 27 November 1919, John Norman Lang was married to Jeanie Jackson Biggart. In their marriage certificate, his occupation is described as ‘Master Engineer’. This means that he was now a qualified engineer and worked in John Lang & Sons Ltd.  

There were also two notable Provosts of Johnstone, besides being engineers, in the family. These were John and William, our donor’s uncles. In particular, William was knighted [7, 8] for his services to his country and industry in 1937, the same year in which he was elected a Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Sir William Lang died 17 February 1942 in his seventy-fourth year.

Our donor seems to had lived a very quiet life, as there are very few records to be found about him. Outside the usual biographical milestones in his life, there were no other records apart from a shipping record found in According to the shipping record our donor and his wife Jean J. Lang were on board SS Empress of France sailing from Montreal and Quebec to Liverpool arriving on 19 June 1953. Clearly, they were coming from the Americas after a holiday trip. We just know that on 25 November 1942, he donated the above-mentioned picture to our Gallery through the City of Glasgow Council and at that time, he was living at Thornwood, Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire.

When he died, there was a notice of the death of John Norman Lang in the Glasgow Herald of 21 August 1965 viz.:

Deaths:LangPeacefully at Thornwood Bridge of Weir on the 19 August 1965 JOHN NORMAN husband of the late Jeanie Jackson Lang – Funeral on Monday 23 inst. to Woodside Crematorium Paisley. Friends desirous of attending please meet there at 3p.m. No flowers or letters please.

[3] Op.cit. [1]


[6] Reference:  gb 248 GB 248 UGD 048.  Held at Glasgow University Archive Services.

[7] Op.cit. [1]


Archibald Walker Finlayson J.P.

Archibald Walker Finlayson was a linen thread manufacturer whose company had factories in Johnstone, Renfrewshire and in the USA.

He was born in October 1849 (1) the oldest child of James Finlayson and his wife Rachel nee Watson. At that time they were living in Paisley. His father was a linen thread manufacturer, one of the first to introduce the spinning of flax mechanically.

  (2 ) In 1844, James and his brother Charles and C.H, Bousefield had established a business manufacturing linen thread which continued in production up to 1958 and formed part of the Linen Thread Company Ltd. The factory became a major employer in Johnstone. So Archibald was born into a successful family business.

Merchiston House
Figure 1. Merchiston House. From Canmore.

 His education is not known. At the age of 21years, (3 ) he is living with his parents and brothers and sisters in the family home , Merchiston, Johnstone, Renfrewshire , an impressive turreted building which required 7 servants to run (4). Later this house was to become part of the estate of the Western Regional Hospital Board as Merchiston Hospital.(5 )

In 1847 at the age of 25 years, he wrote to the Glasgow Herald (6 ) as one of the shareholders in what became known as the The Blochairn Share Scandal-effectively a “bubble”- which had promised impossibly high returns and which lost many small shareholders money. The subject was taken up by the Glasgow Herald in an article published the next day.(7 ) 

02 Mr Archibald Finlayson no 113
Figure 2 Archibald Walker Finlayson The Bailie  © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums and Libraries

 The Bailie, discovering that he was the son of James Finlayson, a former M.P. and Deputy Lieutenant of Renfrewshire, were fulsome in his praise and promised a bright political future.(8)

 Archibald joined the family firm and was sent to America in 1880 to establish a linen thread mill in Massachusetts. He travelled to and from America on occasions. Eventually the firm became part of The Linen Thread Company, Ltd. (9)

He married Elizabeth MacAndrew. In 1891 his home address was Spring Grove, Kilbarchan. (10 ) He lived there until 1903 when his father died. (11) He then moved back to Merchiston. (12 )

 He was not able to become an MP but contented himself with representing West Renfrewshire on the County Council, was a JP and gave the Provost’s chain to Paisley. There is a death notice and an obituary in the local paper (13) on his death in November 1916. (14)

Halswelle, Keeley, 1832-1891; Sir Toby Belch and the Clown
Figure 3. Sir Toby Belch and the Clown  by  Keeley  Halsewell   © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection

He gave two paintings to Glasgow Museums. In the Object file for the 1903 donation (15), there is a letter from him with information about Sir Toby Belch and the Clown , by Keeley Halsewell.    It was painted in 1862 at which time it cost £40, was shown at the Paisley Arts Institute Exhibition in 1896(16) then bought by Archibald Finlayson in 1901.

Figure 4 September, Glen Falloch by A Brownlie Docherty© CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection

The other painting, September, Glen Falloch by A. Brownlie Docherty was exhibited at the Glasgow Institute and at the St Louis National Institute in 1904. (17) It was bought by Finlayson in 1907 and donated to Glasgow City Council. (18)


  1. National Records of Scotland      Statutory Births  OPR 18492.
  2. Calder, John.  Finlayson, James. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2014.
  3. National Records of Scotland. Census 1871
  4. Photographs of houses in Renfrewshire. Renfrew Archive
  5. Canmore images
  6. The Glasgow Herald 9 November 1874 page 4
  7. The Glasgow Herald 10 November 10 1874 page 9
  8. The Bailie 1874 vol 5 pp 113-1149.
  9. Calder, John.  Finlayson, James. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2014.
  10. National Records of Scotland      Census 1891
  11. National Records of Scotland      Statutory Deaths
  12. National Records of Scotland      Census 1891
  13. Paisley and Renfrew Gazette 18 November, 1916
  14. Ancestry
  15. Glasgow Museums Archive
  16. Catalogue of Paisley Fine arts exhibitions, Paisley Archive.
  17. The Glasgow Herald 13 November  1940 A. Brownlie Docherty   Obituary          
  18. Minutes of Glasgow City Council 1907.