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.


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

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


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

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

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

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

Our donors, the Misses Maclehose

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

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

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

(1) Tales from Spencer.

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

Both of these books were published by their family firm:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

[3] 1851 Scotland Census.

[4] Memoirs and Portraits of 100 Glasgow men,

[5] 1861 Scotland Census.

[6] 1881 Scotland Census.

[7] 1891 England Census Record.

[8] The University of Glasgow Story,

[9] op cit. [4]

[10] ibid. [p. 345]

[11] op cit [8]

[12] Notice of Norman Macmillan MacLehose (MacLehose Family)

[13] Jessie Campbell

[14] op cit .[12]


[16]op cit [12]

[17] ibid.

[18] ibid.

Colonel Charles Louis Spencer DSO CBE (1870-1948)

Colonel Charles Louis Spencer was a merchant, a soldier, a yachtsman and a generous donor to museums in Glasgow and Edinburgh and a donor to The National Trust for Scotland.

He was born in 1870 to John and Robina (nee Jarvie)   Spencer (1 ) then living at 165 Hill Street, Glasgow. John Spencer had been a manufacturer of optical and photographic equipment, in business with his father, John senior,  with premises at 34 Union Street, Glasgow. (2)  John senior retired in 1869 and the business closed down. ( 3) By 1872 young John was a merchant, at 125  West Regent Street, Glasgow. The family home was at 2 Rosslyn Terrace, Victoria Park, Glasgow. ( 4) By 1881, they were living in Bridge of Allan and John is listed as a foreign merchant. (5 )

Charles was educated at Kelvinside Academy (6 ) and then from 1895 to 1896 at the College Chaptal in Paris. This was a college dedicated to the education of young men, destined for a career in commerce and industry, in science and languages. (7 ) His father John died in 1890. (8)  His mother moved to Edgehill, Horselethill Road, Glasgow and her children John, Elizabeth and Ann lived with her. They had a cook, a laundress and  a table maid. (9)

Charles and his older brother John carried on their father’s business. (10)       Their father’s   inventory (11)   published after his death  gives an idea of the scope of their  business in Canada, the USA, Calcutta and Colombo. The brothers were admitted to the Merchants House in 1912. (12 )

Charles had a long association with the Lanarkshire Volunteers Royal Engineers (13)     During the First World War, he was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Engineers and served in France and Flanders.  (14)    He was thrice mentioned in dispatches and received the DSO in 1918.(15) and in 1919 he was appointed a  CBE (16)

He was a yachtsman and gained his Master’s certificate in 1897.  He was Commodore of the Clyde Cruising Club and Flag Officer for 23 years. He sailed in his yacht RON and King George V was a frequent guest. (17 ) He collected, fashioned and repaired ship models and some of these are now in Glasgow museums’ collection.(18 ) On board ship sailing from India or from Canada he spent time making ship models. His book Knots , Splices and Fancy work went to several editions. (19 )

His brother John made a study of the Darien scheme and when he died in 1939 ( 20) his collection of papers was left to the University of Glasgow where they are kept as the Spencer Bequest in Special Collections. (21)

Charles was a member of the Society of Antiquaries in Edinburgh. He was a Councillor from 1922 to 1937.(22 ) Charles and his sister Ann lived together at 5 Great Western Terrace and also bought a house at Warmanbie in Dumfriesshire in 1933.(23) In 1940 they wrote to Glasgow City Council (24 ) offering;

Figure 1. Pirie, George; Black Setter; © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection

  1. Two pastel drawings by Sir James Guthrie: Ploughing and The Smiddy; An oil painting      Black Setter by Sir George Pirie and The Steeple Chase by Joseph Crawhall
  2. 12 items of arms and weapons
  3. A collection of Japanese swords
  4. 16 books relating to arms and armour

In addition Colonel Spencer wanted to place on permanent loan several models of sailing ships.(25 )

The National Museums of Scotland received the rest of his weapons collection. This comprises 18 crossbows, 7 prodds,1 windlass,4 cranequins   and 8 crossbow bolts. (26

Another donation should be noted. He had inherited two small islands in Loch Lomond in 1911 from Donald Macgregor of Ardgarten and in 1943 he gave them to The National Trust for Scotland.(27 )

Charles and John had set up a Trust  to  maintain the upkeep of the Nunnery garden in Iona.(28 )

Charles died at Warmanbie  in 1948. (29 )       His sister Ann died in  1952. (30 )


I am pleased to acknowledge the help I received from Roderick Mc Callum from the Annandale Museum with respect to documents relating to Colonel Spencer’s time in Warmanbie  and to his death there.


  1. National Records of Scotland Statutory Births 1870
  2. National Records of Scotland Census 1861
  3. Edinburgh Gazette April 1870
  4. Post Office Directories, Glasgow 1872
  5. National Records of Scotland Census 1881
  6. Who Was Who 1941-1950
  7. College Chaptal: Vie de Chaptal:
  8. National Records of Scotland Statutory Deaths. 1890
  9. National Records of Scotland  Census 1891
  10. Post Office Directory Glasgow 1910
  11. National Records of Scotland Wills and Inventories 1890
  12. Request for membership, Merchants  House Archives, Glasgow Mitchell Library
  13. Annandale Observer 7th May 1948
  15. Who Was Who 1941-1950
  17. Clyde Cruising Club -100years. Personal communication
  18. Malcolm, Emily and Harrison, M.R.    Glasgow Museums: the ship Models. Seaforth Publishing, 2019
  19. Spencer, Charles Louis.  Knots Splices and Fancy Work. Brown, Son and Ferguson, Glasgow. 1938
  20. National Records of Scotland Statutory Deaths. 1939
  21. University of  Glasgow. Special Collections
  22. Proceedings of Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 1922 personal communication.
  23. Annandale Observer 7th May 1948
  24. Minutes of Glasgow City Council April 1940
  25. Malcolm, Emily and Harrison, M.R.    Glasgow Museums: the ship Models. Seaforth Publishing, 2019
  26. National Museums of Scotland .personal communication
  27. /Bucinchandcreardoch
  28. Annandale Observer 7th May 1948
  29.  National Records of Scotland Statutory Deaths. 1948
  30. National Records of Scotland Statutory Deaths. 1950

Alexander Dennistoun (1790-1874) – Merchant, Banker and Creator of Dennistoun.

To avoid confusion donor Alexander will always be in bold.

Figure 1. Houston, John Adam; View of Glasgow and the Cathedral. Glasgow Museums © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.

In 1877 Alexander Dennistoun donated to Glasgow Museums the painting View of Glasgow and Cathedral by the Scottish painter John Adam Houstoun. However, this was not the only ‘gift’ he gave to Glasgow as in 1861 he began to create the suburb of Dennistoun in the east of the city.

Alexander’s father was James Dennistoun who along with his brother Alexander established J & A Dennistoun, cotton merchants. It’s not clear when the company was set up but when their father, yet another Alexander, died in 1789 his will describes them as merchants in Glasgow.[1]

Their father was farmer Alexander Dennistoun of Newmills Farm, Campsie whose wife was Margaret Brown. James was their third child, baptised in 1759, [2] Alexander, the fourth, baptised in 1764. [3] Their siblings were Jean, Ann and George, the two girls being the first children of the family.[4]

It is not clear where James or Alexander was educated, what is certain however is that neither matriculated nor graduated from Glasgow University.

Figure 2. Graham-Gilbert, John; James Dennistoun, Esq., of Golfhill (1758-1835). © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (

There is some evidence to suggest that by 1787 James was a merchant manufacturer in Glasgow. Whilst there are three James Dennistouns listed in that year’s city directory it’s clear that the first two are father and son Dennistouns of Colgrain.[5] By 1799 J & A Dennistoun was listed as manufactures in Brunswick Street, neither brother being separately listed.[6]

J & A Dennistoun continued in business until circa 1876 by which time James and Alexander were both dead. Over its eighty odd years it moved premises on a number of occasions, but it centred mainly on various addresses in Montrose Street until 1839, thereafter in George Square until it ceased trading. More on the business in due course.

James married Mary Finlay, daughter of William Finlay of the Moss, Killearn in 1786. They had eight children, donor Alexander being the eldest boy, born in 1790.[7]

His siblings were:

  • Elisabeth, born in 1787 in Glasgow.[8] She married Glasgow merchant John Wood in 1807 [9] and had five children between 1808 and 1817.[10] One of her daughters Anna, born in 1812, married William Cross in 1835.[11] She was the mother of John Walter Cross[12] who married the novelist George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) in 1879 and subsequently wrote her biography after her death in 1880.[13]
  • Margaret, born in Glasgow in 1789.[14]
  • Mary, born in Barony parish in 1792. [15] She married Walter Wood in 1812.[16]
  • William, born in Barony parish in 1795.[17] He matriculated at Glasgow University in 1806[18] and died of consumption in 1812.[19]
  • Agnes, born in Glasgow in 1797.[20]
  • James, born in Barony parish in 1799.[21] He matriculated at Glasgow University in 1813,[22] and married Marjory Gibson Gordon of Milrig. He died in June 1828 of consumption [23], five days before his son James was born.[24]
  • John, born in Glasgow in 1803,[25] matriculated at Glasgow University in 1816.[26] In due course he and his brother Alexander became the key players in the family business. He also had his own company, John Dennistoun & Co., cotton spinners, usually located at the same premises as J & A Dennistoun. He was elected as one of the two MPs for Glasgow in 1837, succeeding James Oswald. He remained an MP until 1847 when he lost his seat at the general election. He married Frances Anne Onslow, the daughter of Sir Henry Onslow at All Saints in Southampton in 1838.[27] They had three children, all surviving into adulthood. At various times they lived in England and in Scotland, essentially as business and parliamentary life required. He died in 1870 at Rhu, Dumbarton.[28] His estate was valued at over £130,000 with property in Scotland, England, Paris, Melbourne and New Orleans.[29]

Mary Finlay died sometime around 1808 in Devon, unfortunately not confirmed by any primary source. James subsequently married widow Maria Ann Bennett in 1813.[30] She had previously married John Cukit a merchant of Liverpool in 1802,[31] however he had died in 1809,[32]  the marriage apparently being childless.

James and Maria had three daughters all born in Glasgow as follows:

  • Maria Rebecca, born in 1815.[33]
  • Anna Elizabeth, born in 1816.[34]
  • Isabella, born in 1817.[35]

Figure 3. Golfhill House. From The Old Country Houses of the Old Glasgow Gentry by John Guthrie Smith and John Oswald Mitchell. 1878.

J & A Dennistoun flourished during this period, allowing James to purchase the estate of Goufhill, which later became known as Golfhill. The estate was part of the ecclesiastical lands of Wester Craigs which had come into the ownership of the Merchants House in 1650. Merchant John Anderson bought Golfhill from the House in 1756 his family trustees selling it to James Dennistoun in 1802.[36] In the following year James had built Golfhill House, designed by architect David Hamilton.[37]

How brother Alexander’s life was developing is not known as I’ve not been able to establish anything in that respect. As the business grew it had branches in Australia, France, England and the United States, the US being key to their cotton and manufacturing activities. I rather suspect therefore he moved to their New York premises at some point to manage that side of the business. The only evidence I have to support that contention is that an Alexander Dennistoun died there in 1846, the information given to, or by, a William Wood of Liverpool, where the company had offices.[38] He also had a nephew of that name, the son of his sister Elisabeth and John Wood. Pure conjecture.

James became a member of the Glasgow Merchants House serving on various committees over a number of years and in 1806-07 became a bailie.[39] He was a Burgess and Guild Brother (B and GB) of Glasgow although it’s not clear from what date. However, sons Alexander and John became the same in 1824 and 1845 respectively, by right of their father.[40]

In 1809 he and sixteen others founded the Glasgow Banking Company, the last partnership bank to be formed in Glasgow. James was the lead and managing partner, having invested £50,000 in the venture amounting to one quarter of the capital raised.[41] The bank’s original premises were located at 74 Ingram Street, moving to 12 Ingram Street in 1825.

In the meantime, the business was expanding from a cotton based one essentially trading with the US to one which was an export /import business serving worldwide markets. Subsidiary companies were set up in in various places including Dennistoun, Cross and Company, London (his niece Anna’s husband William Cross), Dennistoun, Wood and Company, New York (his brother-in-law John Wood and/or his nephew William Wood previously mentioned), A & J Dennistoun and Company, New Orleans and Dennistoun Brothers and Company, Melbourne.[42]

Figure 4. Alexander Dennistoun. From Memoirs and Prtraits of 100 Glasgow Men by James Maclehose. 1886.

His sons were all involved in the business, Alexander from c.1815 followed by James and then John, James’ involvement being cut short by his untimely death in 1828.

James senior retired from the family firm and the bank in 1829, continuing to live at Golfhill House until his death in October 1835.[43] He left over £204,000 with various legacies to the children of his two marriages,[44] his second wife Maria predeceasing him in February 1835.[45] Currently that sum would equate to over £20 mllion in terms of purchasing power. By other measures it could be worth just under £1bn.[46] When his father Alexander had died in 1789 his estate had been valued at £29.[47]

Like his brothers, James’ eldest son Alexander had matriculated at Glasgow University in 1803.[48] It’s not clear when he became active in the family business however by 1820 he was in New Orleans running the company’s cotton trade operation. Following his return to Britain he managed the company’s Liverpool branch for a time. It was during this period that he met Eleanor Jane Thomson, the daughter of John Thomson of Nassau, New Providence, then living in Liverpool.[49] They married in St Anne’s in Liverpool in 1822, continuing to live there until his return to Glasgow around 1827 when he was first listed in the Post Office directory.[50]

They had eight children, five sons and three daughters as follows:

  • James, born in Cathcart in 1823.[51] Died circa 1838 from scarlet fever.[52]
  • Robert, born in Cathcart in 1826.[53] He joined the 11th Dragoons at the age of 14 and in 1847 he purchased his promotion from Cornet to Lieutenant [54] and transferred to the 6thDragoons.[55] He seems to have left the army prior to 1851 as in that year’s census he is boarding in a hotel in Little Meolse, Chester being described as ‘late Lieutenant, army’.[56] What he did subsequently has not been established however in 1867 he is recorded in the London Gazette as one of the partners in the multiple family partnerships as they were renewed, his father Alexander signing approval on his behalf.[57] In a similar Gazette statement in 1870 he is not listed amongst the partners.[58] It seems he never married as in his will, he died at Eastbourne in 1877, there is no mention of a wife or children. He left a number of legacies, one to a Lieutenant Colonel of the 54th Regiment, his estate being valued at just under £64,000 with assets in Scotland, England and Australia.[59]
  • Alexander Horace, born in Scotland in 1827. [60] He matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1847 and graduated BA in 1852. In 1850 he was admitted to Lincolns Inn whilst still a student. What profession he followed after that, if any, is not clear however he gained an MA from Cambridge in 1872.[61] At some point he joined the 1st Dumbartonshire Rifle Volunteers’, formed in 1860,[62] as in 1870 he was promoted from Captain to Major.[63] Further promotions followed in 1876[64] and 1892 when he became Lieutenant Colonel  and finally Honorary Colonel.[65]He married Georgina Helena Oakeley, the daughter of Sir Charles Oakeley, in 1852 at St John the Baptist in Hillingdon.[66] They had seven children, the first five of whom were girls born between 1855 and 1864. The first son and heir Alexander Heldewier Oakeley was born in 1867,[67] to be followed by brother Charles Herbert Oakeley in 1870 in London,[68] the only child not to be born in Scotland. Alexander joined the Black Watch and in 1891 had the rank of Captain. He went to France in 1916 and at the end of his military service had attained the rank of Major.[69] Charles went to Eton and matriculated at Trinity in 1888.[70]In Alexander’s Trust Settlement of 1866 son Alexander Horace was named as one of his father’s executors, with eldest son Robert not included in the list. It was clear however that once specific legacies had been paid, mainly to the daughters, then the estate residue would be shared equally between the brothers. A change was made in a codicil dated 1873 which essentially varied the daughters’ legacies but left the brothers’ inheritance as per 1866. However, in 1874 a few months before he died Alexander, in a further codicil, essentially disinherited Robert by leaving him only 200 shares in the Union Bank of Scotland, the residue of the estate, both heritable and movable,  being left to Alexander Horace.[71] The estate inventory valued it at over £343,000.[72] Why this change occurred is not known. Alexander Horace died in 1893 whilst visiting Fort Augustus, his usual residence being Roselea, Row, Dumbartonshire.[73]
  • Eleanor Mary was born in Havre de Grace, Normandy in 1829 and baptised later that year in Ingouville.[74] Alexander at that time was running a branch of the family business in France, subsequently moving to Paris before returning home sometime before 1833.[75] Eleanor married William Young Sellar, interim Professor of Humanity at Glasgow University in 1852.[76] He was the son of Patrick Sellar of Sutherland and had a distinguished academic career. He matriculated at Baliol College Oxford in 1842, gained a BA in 1847, followed by a MA in 1850. He was a Fellow of Oriel College from 1848 to 1853. He subsequently held professorships at Glasgow, Edinburgh and St. Andrews Universities.[77] They had 6 children, 3 sons and 3 daughters between 1853 and 1865.[78] Eleanor wrote a family history in 1907 called Recollections and Impressions dedicated to her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, which I have referred to from time to time in this report.[79] William died in 1890,[80] Eleanor in 1918.[81]
  • Walter Wood was born in Ingouville, Normandy in 1831 and baptised there in 1832.[82] He died of consumption in 1847.[83]
  • Elizabeth Anna was born in Scotland in 1833.[84] She married insurance broker Seton Thomson, a maternal cousin, in 1862 [85]. They had one son, Seton Murray Thomson born at Golfhill House in 1864.[86] Seton senior had been born in the Bahamas [87]and at the time of his marriage was living at Golfhill House. Elizabeth died intestate in London in 1885, her estate valued at just under £1,000.[88] Seton died in 1918 at Linlithgow, his estate valued at £172,500, son Seton Murray being the major beneficiary.[89]
  • Euphemia was born in Scotland circa 1835. She died in 1840. [90]
  • John Murray was born in Scotland circa 1837. He died in 1840.[91] Both he and Euphemia would appear to have died from meningitis.

Figure 5. Germiston House. From The Old Country Houses of the Old Glasgow Gentry by John Guthrie Smith and John Oswald Mitchell. 1878.

When Alexander and family returned from France in 1833 they lived at Germiston House.[92] In January 1835 he was elected MP for Dunbartonshire, a position he held until 1837, having decided not to stand as a candidate for that year’s election.[93] Despite not pursuing his political career Alexander remained a firm supporter of the Whig party as an advisor and benefactor. When his father James died in 1835, he and his family moved to Golfhill House where he lived for the rest of his life.

Figure 6. Mrs Alexander Dennistoun and some of her children. From Recollections and Impressions by her daugher Mrs Eleanor Mary Sellar 1907.

He and his brother John continued to be involved with J & A Dennistoun and the various subsidiary companies with significant success. They also maintained their interest in the Glasgow Banking Company which in 1836 amalgamated with the Ship Bank. In 1843 the Union Bank of Scotland was formed when the Glasgow and Ship Bank joined with the Glasgow Union Bank.[94] By 1847 however, as described above, four of his eight children had died before reaching adulthood. More tragedy was to follow with the death of his wife Eleanor from consumption in 1847, shortly after the death of his son Walter.[95]

In 1857 a serious financial issue arose for Alexander and the family when the Borough Bank of Liverpool failed, the Dennistouns being major shareholders of the bank.[96] The situation was exacerbated as the bank failure was coincident with the American financial crisis of the same year, the ‘Panic of 1857’, which was caused by a declining international economy and the over expansion of the American economy.[97] The effect on the business was that liabilities exceeded £3million, resulting in the suspension of payment to creditors which would have ended in bankruptcy. Alexander and John dealt with it by asking their creditors for a period of grace to allow them to resolve the issue, which was agreed. Within a year confidence in the business was restored and the creditors paid their dues in full plus five per cent interest. The following few years took the business back to its pre-crisis financial condition. [98]

Before the financial problems of 1857 Alexander began to plan the founding of the suburb to Glasgow which would bear his name, Dennistoun. For some time he had been buying plots of land adjacent to Golfhill which included Craig Park, Whitehill, Meadow Park, Broom Park and parts of Wester Craigs. Some of these purchases came from merchant John Reid who had similar ideas but had died in 1851 before any significant action had been taken.[99] In 1854 the architect James Salmon was commissioned by Alexander to design and produce a feuing plan for such a suburb.[100]

By 1860 Alexander also owned Lagarie Villa on the Gareloch at Row (Rhu), sharing his time between there and Golfhill. Brother John also had a home in the parish of Armadale.[101]

In 1861 the process of creating Dennistoun began however the eventual reality did not reflect the grand detail of Salmon’s design for a number of reasons. Nonetheless Dennistoun was eventually successfully established, much reduced from the original concept, with a mixed style of housing as opposed to the Garden Suburb with villas, cottages and terraces, aimed at the middle-class, envisaged by Alexander and James Salmon. The first street to be formed was Wester Craig street which ran from Duke Street northwards. It was on that street that the first house was built by James Dairon in 1861.[102]

In 1861 the Glasgow Corporation acquired the Kennyhill estate and started to lay out what became Alexandra Park. Alexander donated five acres to the project which allowed the main entrance to the park to be from Alexandra Parade.[103]

Figure 7. Alexander Dennistoun in later life. From Recollections and Impressions by her daugher Mrs Eleanor Mary Sellar 1907.

Alexander spent the rest of his life quietly at the Gareloch or Golfhill. He continued to be keenly interested in the development of Dennistoun and is said to have travelled round the district often to observe the changes made. His daughter Eleanor described him in her book as someone who had a great interest in finance and politics despite him having no formal business training and having eschewed a political career. He had a great interest in art and had a ‘very good collection, ancient and modern [104] He was described by others as affable and courteous with a kindly disposition, and a willingness to help others when it was needed.[105]

There is one possible sour note however. The University College London research on the Legacies of British Slavery identifies an Alexander Dennistoun who received £389 2s 4d compensation in 1837 for the release of 25 slaves from a plantation in the Bahamas. It states that it possibly could be Alexander Dennistoun of Golfhill but that it was not certain.[106] It may be significant that his wife Eleanor was born in the Bahamas.

Alexander died on the 15th July 1874 at Lagarie, his son Alexander Horace, as described above, his heir.[107]


[1] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 6 August 1789. DENISTON, Alexander. Hamilton and Campsie Commissary Court. CC10/5/12.

[2] Baptisms. (OPR) Scotland. Campsie. 23 January 1759. DENISTON, James. 475/  20 66.

[3] Baptisms. (OPR) Scotland. Campsie. 25 June 1764. DENISTON, Alexander. 474/  20 82.

[4] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Campsie. 1754 to 1770. DENISTON.

[5] Directories. Scotland. (1787) Jones Directory Glasgow. (Reprint). Glasgow: William Love. p. 38.

[6] Directories. Scotland. (1799) The Glasgow Directory. Glasgow: Wm. Reid & Co. p. 29.

[7] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 14 August 1790. DENNISTOUN, Alexander. 644/1 180 270.

[8] Births.(OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 31 August 1787. DENNISTOUN, Elisabeth. 644/1 180 78.

[9] Marriages. (OPR) Scotland. Barony. 28 December 1812. WOOD, John and DENNISTOUN, Elisabeth. 622/  70 369.

[10] Births (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 1808 to 1817. WOOD.

[11] Marriages (OPR) Scotland. Barony. 24 June 1835. CROSS, William and WOOD, Anna Chalmers. 622/  170 260.

[12] Births (OPR) Scotland. Barony. 12 March 1840. CROSS, John Walter. 622/  110 86.

[13] Ashton, Rosemary. (2008). ‘Evans, Marion (George Eliot) (1819-1880).’ In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[14] Births (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 1 February 1879. DENNISTOUN, Margaret. 644/1 180 166.

[15] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Barony. 8 May 1792. DENNISTOUN, Mary. 622/  30 329.

[16] Marriages (OPR) Scotland. Barony. 28 December 1812. WOOD, Walter and DENNISTOUN, Mary. 622/  70 369.

[17] Births (OPR) Scotland. Barony. 8 January 1795. DENNISTOUN, William. 622/  30 435.

[18] Addison, W Innes. (1913). The Matriculation Albums of the University of Glasgow 1728 to 1858. Glasgow: James Maclehose and Sons. p. 222.

[19] Deaths (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 13 August 1812. DENNISTOUN, William. 644/1 520 218.

[20] Births (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 9 April 1797. DENNISTOUN, Agnes. 644/1 190 326.

[21] Births (OPR) Scotland. Barony. March 1799. DENNISTOUN, James. 622/  40 108.

[22] Addison, op. cit. p. 274.

[23] Deaths (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 7 June 1828. DENNISTOUN, James. 644/1 620 190.

[24] Births (OPR) Scotland. Riccarton. 12 June 1828. DENNISTOUN, James. 611/  20 36.

[25] Births (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 19 March 1803. DENNISTOUN, John. 644/1 200 146.

[26] Addison, op. cit. p. 290.

[27] Marriages (PR) England. Southampton, Hampshire. 5 July 1838. DENNISTOUN, John and ONSLOW, Frances Anne. Collection: England, Select Marriages 1538-1973.

[28] Deaths (SR) Scotland. Row (Rhu), Dumbarton. 9 September 1870. DENNISTOUN, John. 503/  128.

[29] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 4 January 1871. DENNISTOUN, John. Dumbarton Sheriff Court. SC65/34/16.

[30] Marriages (PR) England. Neston, Cheshire. 10 September 1813. DENNISTOUN, James and CUKIT, Maria Ann. Record 218. Collection: England, Cheshire Bishop’s Transcript 1598-1900.

[31] Marriages (PR) England. Liverpool, Lancashire. 19 April 1802. CUKIT, John and BENNETT, Maria Ann. Collection: England Select Marriages 1538-1973.

[32] Deaths (PR) England. Sefton, Lancashire. 1 June 1809. CUKIT, John. Collection: England Deaths and Burials 1538-1991.

[33] Births (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 23 February 1815. DENNISTOUN, Maria Rebecca. 644/1 210 206.

[34] Births (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 16 April 1816. DENNISTOUN, Anna Elizabeth. 644/1 210 384.

[35] Births (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 12 December 1817. DENNISTOUN, Isabella. 644/1 220 46.

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

[37]  Golfhill House. Dictionary of Scottish Architects.

[38] Death Announcements (1846). 25 July 1846. Dennistoun, Alexander. p.49. Collection: New York, Death Newspaper Extracts 1801-1890 (Barber Collection).

[39] The Glasgow Story. James Dennistoun.

[40] Anderson, James R. (1935) The Burgesses & Guild Brethren of Glasgow 1751-1846. Edinburgh: Scottish Record Society. pp. 347 and 459.

[41]  Lloyds Banking Group. The Glasgow Bank.

[42] Angus and Rosemary’s Miscellany of Malvern. Biography of Robert Sellar.

[43] Deaths (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 24 October 1835. DENNISTON, James. 644/1 630 16.

[44] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 15 April 1836. DENNISTOUN, James. Trust Disposition. Glasgow Sheriff Court Wills. SC36/51/13.

[45] Deaths (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 6 February 1835. BENNET, Mary Anna. 644/1 630 10.

[46] Measuring Worth (2020).

[47] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 6 August 1789. DENISTON, Alexander. Hamilton and Campsie Commissary Court. CC10/5/12.

[48] Addison, op. cit. p. 205.

[49] Maclehose, James. (1886). Memoirs and Portraits of 100 Glasgow Men. Glasgow: James Maclehose & Sons. pp. 99-102.

[50] Marriages (PR) England. Liverpool, Lancashire. 12 March 1822. DENNISTOUN, Alexander and THOMSON, Eleanor, Jane. Collection: Lancashire, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns 1754 – 1936.

[51] Births (OPR) Scotland. Cathcart. 13 December 1823. DENISTON, James. 560/  20 15.

[52] Sellar, E. M. (1907). Recollections and Impressions. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons. p. 9

[53] Births (OPR) Scotland. Cathcart. 19 April 1826. DENNISTOUN, Robert. 560/  20 25.

[54] Edinburgh Gazette. (1847) 28 September 1847. Issue 5683, p. 489.

[55] UK, Regimental Registers of Service. 1756-1900. 24 September 1847. DENNISTOUN, Robert.

[56] Census. 1851. England. Meolse, Cheshire. ED 18, 19 and 21. Piece 2174, folio 167, p.37.

[57] London Gazette. (1867) 4 January 1867. Issue 23205, p. 108.

[58] London Gazette. (1870) 4 January 1870. Issue 23574, p. 34.

[59] Testamentary Records. 15 August 1877. DENNISTOUN, Robert. Glasgow Sheriff Court Inventories. SC36/48/82 and Glasgow Sheriff Court Wills. SC36/51/73.

[60] Census. 1841. Scotland. Barony. 622/ 182/ 5

[61] Venn, J.A. (1944) Alumni Cantabrigienses. Part II from 1752 to 1900. Vol II. Cambridge: University Press. p. 279.

[62] Grierson, Major-General J.M. (1909) Records of the Scottish Volunteer Force 1859-1908. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons. pp. 228-232.

[63] London Gazette. (1870) 1 August 1870. Issue 23640, p. 3646.

[64] London Gazette. (1876) 14 June 1876. Issue 24336, p. 3458.

[65] London Gazette. (1892) 22 November 1892. Issue 26347, p. 6580.

[66] Marriages (PR) England. Hillingdon, Middlesex. 10 November 1852. DENNISTOUN, Alexander Horace and OAKELY, Georgina Helena. London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Reference Number: dro/110/017

[67] Births (SR) Scotland. Glasgow. 14 June 1867. DENNISTOUN, Alexander Heldewier Oakeley. 644/ 2 1262.

[68] Births (SR) England. London, Westminster. 23 February 1870. DENNISTOUN, Charles Herbert Oakeley.  City of Westminster Archives Centre; London, England; Westminster Church of England Parish Registers; Reference: STA/PR/4/21

[69] Hart’s Annual Army List 1908. DENNISTOUN, Alexander Heldewier Oakeley, and Army Medal Office (Great Britain). WW 1 Medal Index Card. DENNISTOUN, Alexander Heldewier Oakeley. Collection: British Army WW 1 Medal Roll Index Cards, 1914-1920.

[70] Venn, op. cit. p. 279.

[71] Testamentary Records. 2 November 1874. DENNISTOUN, Alexander. Glasgow Sheriff Court Wills. SC36/51/66.

[72] Testamentary Records. 2 November 1874. DENNISTOUN, Alexander. Glasgow Sheriff Court Inventories. SC36/48/75..

[73] Deaths (SR) Scotland. Fort Augustus, Inverness. 29 August 1893. DENNISTOUN, Alexander Horace. 092/ A2 8.

[74] Births France. Havre de Grace, Normandy. 19 September 1829. DENNISTOUN, Eleanor Mary. Collection: UK, Foreign and Overseas Registers of British Subjects 1628-1969.

[75] Sellar, op. cit. p. 2

[76] Marriages (OPR) Scotland. Barony. 1 June 1852. SELLAR, William Young and DENNISTOUN, Eleanor Mary. 622/  200 528.

[77] Addison, op. cit. p. 429.

[78] Census. 1871. Scotland. St Cuthbert, Edinburgh. 685/1 104/ 5.

[79] Sellar, op. cit.

[80] Deaths (SR) Scotland. Dalry, Kirkcudbright. 12 October 1890. SELLAR, William Young. 865/ 14.

[81] Deaths (SR) Scotland. St George, Edinburgh. 9 February 1918. SELLAR, Eleanor Mary. 685/ 1  61.

[82] Births France. Ingouville, Normandy. 23 February 1931. DENNISTOUN, Walter Wood. Collection: UK, Foreign and Overseas Registers of British Subjects 1628-1969.

[83] Sellar, op. cit. pp. 9,10.

[84] Census. 1841. Scotland. Barony. 622/ 182/ 5

[85] Marriages (SR) Scotland. Blythswood, Glasgow. 30th December 1862. THOMSON, Seton and DENNISTOUN, Elizabeth Anna. 644/6  499.

[86] Births (SR) Scotland. High Church, Glasgow. 25th April 1864. THOMSON, Seton Murray. 644/2  905.

[87] Census 1871 Scotland. Larbert. 485/ 6/ 18.

[88] Testamentary Records. 6 November 1890. THOMSON, Elizabeth Anna. Glasgow Sheriff Court Inventories. SC36/48/130.

[89] Testamentary Records. 24 December 1918. THOMSON, Seton. Linlithgow Sheriff Court. SC41/53/26.

[90] Deaths (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 26 May 1840. DENNISTOUN, Euphemia. 644/1 630 106.

[91] Deaths (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 4 February 1840. DENNISTOUN, John Murray. 644/1 630 99.

[92] Sellar, op. cit. p. 2.

[93] Maclehose, op. cit. pp. 99-102

[94] Ibid.

[95] Sellar, op. cit. p. 10.

[96] Maclehose, op. cit. pp. 99-102

[97] The Panic of 1857. The Economic Historian.

[98] Maclehose, op. cit. pp. 99-102

[99] Ewing, Archibald Orr, ed. (1866) View of the Merchants House of Glasgow etc. Glasgow: Bell & Bain. pp. 544, 545.

[100] Maclehose, op. cit. pp. 99-102

[101] Scotlands Places. Dunbartonshire Volume 17 , Lagarie and Armadale.

[102] Ewing, op. cit. pp. 545, 546.

[103] Maclehose, op. cit. pp. 99-102

[104] Sellar, op. cit. p. 15.

[105] Maclehose, op. cit. pp. 99-102

[106] University College London. Alexander Dennistoun.

[107] Deaths (SR) Scotland. Row, Dumbarton. 15 July 1874. DENNISTOUN, Alexander. 503/  88.

The Family of James (Paraffin ) Young (1811-1883)

Figure 1: James Young:

James Young was a chemist and industrialist and is known as the father of the oil industry. (1) In the 20th century members of the family of James Young gave paintings, which they had inherited from his collection, to Glasgow Museums in his memory. The paintings form an important part of the museum’s Italian collection. (2) It is therefore fitting that he is considered a donor.

James Young (3) was born 14 July 1811 to John and Jean (Wilson) Young, who lived in the Drygate, Glasgow. The family moved to Rottenrow when James was 4 years old. (4 ) He attended the parish school.  His father was a Master Joiner and James was apprenticed to him. It was said that his life changed when he was sent to Anderson’s college to mend a window, heard Thomas Graham lecturing’ and decided to study chemistry.(5)

A university education was expensive and beyond their means but he was encouraged by his father to attend classes at the Mechanics Institute and also at Anderson’s College. In 1832 he became assistant to Thomas Graham, who lectured in Chemistry, and Young’s lectures were much appreciated because they comprised theoretical and practical sessions.(6) His class included David Livingstone, James Muspratt and Lyon Playfair who all became lifelong friends. In 1837 Thomas Graham went to London as Professor of Chemistry at University College, London, and James Young went with him. (7) In 1838(8) James married his cousin, Mary Walker and needed to support a family. He eventually was appointed manager at James Muspratt’s chemical works in Newton le Willows in 1839. (9)  Muspratt was a major alkali manufacturer.(10)  In 1844, Young was appointed chemical trouble shooter at Charles Tennant’s (11) works in Manchester.(12 ) It was understood that he could continue with his chemical research and could benefit from it personally.  His research diaries held in the University of Strathclyde, contain his experiments. (13 ) and are accessible and interesting. He continued his friendship with Lyon Playfair who was to become Professor of Chemistry at Edinburgh University and  who later became Post Master General and 1st Baron Playfair.(14 )

Young was told by Playfair of an oil seepage on the estate of Playfair’s brother in law, James Oakes, at Alfreston in Derbyshire.(15 ) Stimulated by Playfair to analyse this , he extracted naptha (rock oil, the thinnest of the bitumens of a yellowish colour) which gave a very bright light on burning. Until then naptha had to be imported from Persia. Young’s stated  aim was to enable cheap lighting for homes. He then set out to find the best sources and discovered that by dry distillation of cannel coal he could obtain oil. He named the products paraffin oil and paraffin wax. (16 ) He had the foresight to ensure that this process was patented.(17) He continued to process patents and to pursue offenders through the courts. There are many interesting descriptions of lawsuits which ensued! (18)

The search was on for sources of paraffin and one was discovered on Torbanhill,  a farm near Bathgate.(19 ) It was named Torbanite , at that time classed as coal but now as shale.(20)   In 1851,with partners Edward Binney, a geologist who first published the theory that coal came from plants, (21 ) and Edward Meldrum  he opened the first commercial oil works in the world at Bathgate to distill paraffin from Torbanite . In 1857, Edwin Drake struck oil in Pennsylvania and the American oil rush began. (22) The oil was easily accessible and was to make America self sufficient in oil although Young would argue that the quality was variable.

In 1864, Young split with his two partners and in 1866 he set up Young’s Paraffin Light and Mineral Oil Company at Addiewell. The site occupied 50 acres of ground and he became a major employer in the area. (23)

He and his cousin Mary Walker had ten children, four sons and six daughters. (24)     In 1857, he bought an estate at Limefield House, Polbeth, and lived there for ten years. In 1867, he moved with his wife and family to Kelly House, Wemyss Bay from where he could enjoy sailing. (25)   Gradually he moved away from the Bathgate works and spent more time in Ayrshire, retiring finally in1870. (26)

He re-engaged with Anderson’s College endowing a chair in Chemistry and serving as President of Anderson’s College in Glasgow.

He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1861 and Fellow of the Royal Society in 1873.He was made LLD by the University of St Andrews.

He was Vice President of the Chemical Society 1879 to 1881. (27)

He travelled widely in his yacht Nyanza to Egypt and in Europe,mainly to Italy.

Figure 2. St John the Baptist baptizing Christ by Salvator Rosa © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection.

Figure 3. St John the Baptist revealing Christ to the Disciples by Salvator Rosa. © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection

 His travel notebooks are in the Strathclyde University Archives. (28)  After he retired, he spent 6 months sailing to the Mediterranean and to Italy where he bought important paintings to bring back to Scotland. There is an interesting account  by Robert Wright, one of the crew, of the voyage which left Largs in November and returned in June.

He built a gallery on Kelly House to house the paintings. They included works by Salvator Rosa, and some at that time attributed to Tintoretto and Botticelli which were bought by his agent Dr  W. Robertson since Young was colour blind. (30)  Four paintings were inherited by the family and bequeathed to Glasgow Museums in 1901, 1902 and 1953. (31)

He had a number of influential friends including Lord Kelvin who lived near him at Largs. Both men had ocean going yachts and shared a voyage on one occasion.(31) A particular friend from his student days was the missionary and explorer David Livingstone. Indeed two of Livingstone’s daughters lived with the Young family after their mother died. He financed some of  Livingstone’s expeditions to Africa , particularly helping with his last and tragic expedition.(32) The statues in George Square of Thomas Graham and David Livingstone were donated by Young. The Livingstone statue is now in the cathedral precinct.

He died on the 13 May 1883(33) and Lyon Playfair was an executor of his will.(34)


I have to acknowledge conversations with Mary Leitch and particularly the book written by her James Paraffin Young and Friends which greatly enhanced my knowledge of her great grandfather.

James Young is widely regarded as the father of the modern Petrochemical Industry (35)   and now that shale is headline news again interest in Young has revived.

Paintings from James Young’s Collection

  • St John the Baptist baptizing Christ by Salvator Rosa. Donated by Alice Thom. 1953 Grand daughter
  • St John the Baptist revealing Christ to the Disciples by Salvator Rosa. Donated by the family of John Young. 1952
  • Virgin and Child with the child Baptist and two angels by Raffaelino del Garbo. Donated by Mary Ann Walker. Daughter .1902
  • Virgin and Child with Angels by a follower of Pesselino. Donated by T Graham Young  Son . 1902


  2. Humfrey, Peter. Glasgow Museums: the Italian paintings. Unicorn Press, 2012.
  3. Leitch, Mary. Paraffin Young and Friends. Edinburgh, David Macdonald, 2012.
  4. Ibid
  5. Ibid
  6. Butt, John.  Young, James 1811-1833. Oxford Dictionary of National Biograph,. Oxford University Press, 2014.
  7. Stanley, Michael.   Graham, Thomas. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2014.
  8. Scotland’s People Old Parish registers
  9. Leitch, Mary. Paraffin Young and Friends. Edinburgh, David Macdonald, 2012.
  10. Williams, Trevor J. Muspratt, James. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2014.
  11. Murray, John G.  Tennant, Charles (1768-1838). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2014.
  12. The Bailie no 370 The Man you Know 19 November 1879
  13. University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.  Archives
  14. Gooday G.J.N.   Playfair, Lyon, First Baron Playfair (1818-1898). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2014.
  15. Leitch, Mary. Paraffin Young and Friends.  Edinburgh, David Macdonald, 2012.
  16. Butt, John.  Young, James 1811-1833. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2014.
  17. Leitch, Mary. Paraffin Young and Friends.  Edinburgh, David Macdonald, 2012.
  18. Butt, John.  Young, James 1811-1833.  Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2014.
  19. ibid
  20. Museum of the Shale Industry
  21. Leitch, Mary. Paraffin Young and Friends. Edinburgh, David Macdonald, 2012.
  22. Encyclopaedia Britannica .com/ Edwin Valentine Drake
  23. Leitch, Mary. Paraffin Young and Friends. Edinburgh, David Macdonald, 2012.
  24. Butt, John.  Young, James 1811-1833. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2014.
  25. Leitch, Mary. Paraffin Young and Friends. Edinburgh, David Macdonald, 2012.
  26. Butt, John.  Young, James 1811 Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2014.
  27. Humfrey, Peter. Glasgow Museums: the Italian paintings. Unicorn Press, 2012.
  28. University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. Archives.
  29. ibid
  30. Leitch, Mary. Paraffin Young and Friends. Edinburgh, David Macdonald, 2012.
  31. Humfrey, Peter. Glasgow Museums: the Italian paintings. Unicron Press, 2012.
  32. Leitch, Mary. Paraffin Young and Friends. Edinburgh, David Macdonald, 2012.
  33. Ibid
  34. Scotland’s people Wills and probate

Family and Trustees of Reverend Robert Buchanan DD (1802-1875)

 Donors-Family and Trustees of Reverend Robert Buchanan (1802-1875)

Figure 1. The Reverend Robert Buchanan DD, by Norman Macbeth ARSA 1872 . © CSGCIC Glasgow Museums and Libraries. Acc 883

This painting was exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy Annual Exhibition in 1873.1The subject is the Reverend Robert Buchanan DD, Minister of the Free Church College Church in Lyndoch Street Glasgow . He is painted wearing the robes of the Moderator of the Free Church sitting to the right of stairs leading to the entrance of the Free Church College in Edinburgh. The portrait was donated to Glasgow Corporation  by the family and trustees of the late Robert Buchanan in a letter dated 5 July 1898 from Messrs McKenzie Robertson and Co Writers.2 The donation was made after the death of Mrs Elizabeth Stoddart Buchanan in April 1898.3

Robert Buchanan  was born in St Ninians, Stirling on 15 August  1802. He was the sixth son of Alexander Buchanan, a brewer and farmer. He was educated at the University of Glasgow (1817-20) and then at the University of Edinburgh (1820-25). He was first licensed as a preacher in the Church of Scotland by the Presbytery of Dunblane in 1825. Buchanan served briefly as tutor to the Drummond family of Blair Drummond and through their influence was ordained  minister to the Parish of Gargunnock in 1826. He then served in the parish of Saltoun in East Lothian from 1829 to 1833.

In 1833 a vacancy arose at the prestigious Tron Church in Glasgow where Thomas Chalmers had begun his Glasgow ministry. Buchanan was called to fill this charge and so began the most important part of his career. At the time the bulk of the congregation were not from the area surrounding the Tron Church around Glasgow Cross but from a much wider area to the west  which had a growing and much more affluent population.

Robert Buchanan agreed with the views of Thomas Chalmers regarding the missionary work of the church among the poor of the city, the importance of setting up and maintaining  schools as well as Chalmers’ evangelical views. He did much work in the Wynds, a very poor area around Glasgow Cross and was instrumental in raising money for several new churches.

In fact Robert Buchanan became one of the leading figures in the evangelical wing of the Church of Scotland in the west. The story of the Disruption of the Church of Scotland in 1843 is well-known and need not be repeated here except to state that Robert Buchanan was a leading figure during the period leading up to the Disruption. He represented the dissenting evangelical majority party in the negotiations with the Westminster government in London to try to resolve the situation. It was Buchanan who moved the ‘Independence Resolution’ at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1838 where the majority refused to defer to the civil courts in spiritual matters especially in the appointment of  church ministers. Buchanan was one of the signatories to the  Disruption document in 1843.

Figure 2. First General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland. Signing of the Deed of Demission at Tanfield May 1843. By Amelia Robertson Hill, after David Octavius Hill. © The Hunterian, University of Glasgow.

After the Disruption Buchanan took his congregation from the Tron Church  and for a while held church services in Glasgow City Hall which had opened in 1840. The congregation then moved to the new Dundas Street Free Church opened in 1844.4 In 1857 a new church was opened in Lyndoch Street adjacent to the recently opened Free Church College for the training of ministers which was designed by architect Charles Wilson. The Free  Church College Church was also  designed by Charles Wilson at the cost of £10,000.5 Robert Buchanan was invited to be  minister of the new church a post which he accepted.

Figure 3. Free Church College ,31 Lyndoch Street from Sauchiehall St c 1900. © CSGCIC Glasgow Museums and Libraries.     

 In 1847 on the death of Thomas Chalmers, Buchanan  became the Convener of the Sustentation Fund, the financial system devised by Chalmers  whereby the  richer congregations of the Free Church subsidised the poorer. For thirty years he managed this fund, giving the Free Church a sound financial footing and earning the respect of his contemporaries. Such was thought to be Buchanan’s influence on the Free Church that the caricaturist of the satirical magazine The Bailie portrayed him as its ‘puppet master’.

Figure 4. The Puppet Master. © CSGCIC Glasgow Museums and Libraries.

 The Ten Years of Conflict  was Buchanan’s  scholarly account of the Disruption which went a long way to justify to the public the actions of those who ‘went out’. He also published  Clerical Furloughs an account of a visit to the Holy Land in 1860.6

In 1860  Robert Buchanan was elected Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland which showed the high esteem in which he was held.7

Figure 5. The Moderator and Ex-Moderators of the Free Church of Scotland Assembly 1860. Photograph John Moffat. © National Galleries of Scotland

His congregation at the Free Church College Church ,along with other subscribers, also showed their appreciation of their minister when in  August 1864  the sum of 4000 guineas was presented to Robert Buchanan  at a reception at the Queens Hotel in George Square, part of what is now the Millenium Hotel. The gift was  presented, ‘as a tribute to his private worth and to his public labours as a citizen of Glasgow’. Mrs Buchanan was presented with ,” a silver epergne and appendage’.8 The same congregation  commissioned our portrait.9

Robert Buchanan continued as senior pastor to the Free Church College Church  as well as serving the city of Glasgow in many ways. For example he was elected to the newly formed Glasgow School Board in 1873.10 In  the winter of 1874 when he went to Rome to take charge of the Free Church in Rome for the winter, his wife and two of his daughters went with him. While there he caught a cold and died on 31 March  1875. He had just been appointed the next Principal of the Free Church College in Glasgow.11 

The body was brought back to Glasgow by members of the family. Robert Buchanan was buried in the Glasgow Necropolis on 18 May  1875. According to the Glasgow Herald which reported the funeral in great detail, 15000 people lined the streets to see the funeral cortege. Among the many of Glasgow’s most notable citizens who walked behind the coffin were the Lord Provost, the Dean of Guild and the Deacon Convenor.12

The Buchanan Family (1)

Robert Buchanan was first married in 1828 to Ann Handyside in Edinburgh. They had six children of whom three survived to adulthood. Alexander was born in 1829,Hugh in 1831 and Ann Wingate in 1837. Sadly Buchanan’s wife Ann died in 1840.13 In 1841 Robert and two of the boys were living in Richmond  Street  Glasgow which is now the site of one of the University of Strathclyde buildings.14 Alexander became an engineer and spent most of his adult life in Derby15 and as we shall see he was one of the trustees of his father’s estate.

Hugh attended The High School of Glasgow16 which until 1878 was situated between John Street and Montrose Street. The High School of Glasgow began in the twelfth century as the Glasgow Cathedral Choir School. It was absorbed into The Glasgow School Board in the early 1870s only to become an Independent School once again in the 1970s.17

Figure 6. Location of  High School of Glasgow  1840s. © National Library of Scotland

Hugh died in 1852 aged only twenty. He  is recorded in the 1851 census as being a warehouseman. As he died in Georgetown, Demerara one can only assume  that he had gone out there to improve his prospects.18

In 1843 Robert Buchanan   married again to Elizabeth Stoddart who was born in Hertfordshire in 1825.19 Daughter  Ann lived in the family home until her marriage to John McLaren on 22 August  1861.20 John McLaren is recorded in various census reports as being a merchant. He must have been fairly prosperous as in the 1871 census he and Ann were living at 5 Belhaven Terrace, a prestigious address off Great Western Road and they had five  servants. They had six  children between 1864 and 1876.21

Buchanan Family (2)

Elizabeth and Robert went on to have six children between 1844 and 1855.

  • Charlotte Gordon born 1844
  • Elizabeth born 1846
  • Lawrence Barton born 1847
  • Isabella McCallum born 1849
  • Harriet Rainy born 1852
  • Edith Gray born 185522

The family moved to 11Sandyford Place, Sauchiehall Street around184523 and then to 2 Sandyford Place around 184824  where they remained until Robert Buchanan’s death in 1875.25 The family then dispersed, several to live in England as we shall see.

By the time of the 1881 census Mrs Buchanan had moved to 192 Berkley Street, Glasgow and was living with two servants. She then moved to London as the 1891 census puts her at 52 Ladbroke Grove, Kensington where she was living with her unmarried daughter Harriet and her granddaughter Louise McLaren, daughter of her stepdaughter Ann. Elizabeth Stoddart Buchanan died at this address in 1898.26 As we have seen it was after their mother’s death that the portrait was donated to Glasgow by the family and trustees of Robert Buchanan, though there was no mention of the portrait in  Elizabeth’s will. One of the trustees was Alexander Buchanan, eldest son of Robert Buchanan’s first wife Ann Handyside.27

Charlotte Gordon Buchanan (1844-1919)

There is very little information about the life of Charlotte Buchanan except for the minimal detail provided on census records. She was born in 1844,presumably at 11 Sandyford Place and would have moved to 2 Sandyford Place along with the family around 1848.28There she remained until her father’s death in 1875 when the family was dispersed. Charlotte accompanied her parents on the trip  to Rome in 1874 and it was she who sent the simple telegram, ‘Father died suddenly last night’ to her  step-sister Ann’s husband  John McLaren  to inform the world at large of her father’s death.29

Charlotte was staying with her sister Mrs Edith Gray Wilson at 9 Woodside Crescent, Glasgow at the time of the 1881 census.30She does not appear in the 1891 census but by 1901 Charlotte had moved to London and was living at 31 Hawke Road, Upper Norwood in a  ten bedroom house called St Ninians which was the name of the village outside Stirling where her father had been born. Perhaps she moved to London to be near other members of the family who had moved there. She is still at that address in 1911 and is said to be ‘of independent means’.31 Charlotte died in London on 5 September  1919. 32

Elizabeth McAlpine Thornton  (1846-1932)

Figure 7. Elizabeth c. 1875. Photography Ralston & Sons Whitby Ontario. © Public Domain.

Elizabeth was born in 1846 and lived in the Buchanan’s family home at 2 Sandyford Place 33 until her marriage to the Reverend Robert McAlpine Thornton on July 20th 1871. Robert McAlpine  was the minister of Knox’s Presbyterian Church, Montreal at the time of the marriage.34The marriage ceremony was performed by Elizabeth’s father. Robert became minister of Wellpark  Free Church in the east end of Glasgow  around 1872.35 As with most women of the time it was Elizabeth’s husband’s life which is on record rather than her own.

Robert Thornton was born in Ontario, Canada ,the second son of the Reverend Robert Hill Thornton who had been called to Whitby Township, Ontario in 1833 as minister of the first Presbyterian Church and who went on to have a distinguished career as founder of several churches and schools and was also Superintendent of Education until his death in 1875. Robert McAlpine Thornton was one of ten children.36In 1881 the Reverend and Mrs Thornton were living at 12 Annfield Place, Dennistoun, Glasgow along with three sons. Kenneth Buchanan was seven, David Stoddart was five and Robert Hill was four.37

The family moved to London around 1883 as Reverend Thornton was called to be minister of Camden Road Presbyterian Church.38By this time four more children had been born. Margaret Elizabeth  was  six, Edith Wilson was seven and John McLaren was aged one. The family were living at 72 Carleton Road, North Islington.39

The Reverend Thornton had a distinguished career. He raised large sums for the African Missions.40 The Mail reported on the 25 November 1910 that  he was unanimously chosen as Moderator of the next Synod  of the Presbyterian Church of England which was to meet in Manchester in May 1911.

1898 the Reverend Thornton was one of many ministers who contributed to what was to be the third edition of Charles Booth’s Life and Labour of the People of London  which was published in seventeen volumes 1902-3.41The Thorntons were still at 72 Carleton Road  in 190142. In 1911 Robert visited his son Robert Hill Thornton in Whitley Bay ,Northumberland where he was a Church of England Minister. Robert Junior was married with two children. Elizabeth was at home with the children at 18 Hilldrop Road North London.43

The Reverend Robert Thornton died in London on 19 July  1913. His death was marked by a complimentary obituary in the London Times.44 It was perhaps fortunate he did not live to experience the sadness of the death of his youngest son John McLaren who was killed in action in Flanders in 1916.45 At the time of Robert’s death the family were living in Elgin Crescent Notting Hill46 and it was there that Elizabeth died on 28 March 1932 aged 86.47

Lawrence Barton Buchanan (1847-1926)

Born about 1847  Lawrence lived at the family home at 2 Sandyford Place.48He attended Glasgow Academy, Glasgow’s oldest independent school founded in 1845 and which was in Elmbank Street at that time. Lawrence’s father had been involved in setting up the school.49


Figure 8. Original Glasgow Academy building, Elmbank Street . High School of Glasgow from 1878. Porticos added by High School. © CSGCIC Glasgow Museums and Libraries.

 William Campbell of Tullichewan, founder of the drapery and warehouse emporium  J&W Campbell50 had been instrumental in setting up the school. He was a generous benefactor to the  Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Glasgow Botanic Gardens and to the Free Church of Scotland among many others. In May 1845 William Campbell convened a meeting  with Free Church ministers at the Star Hotel in George Square to discuss the possibility of setting up ‘ an academic Institution in the city’. Dr Robert Buchanan, Lawrence’s father and then Minister of the Tron Church, proposed that ‘an academic Institution shall be established for the purpose of teaching youth the various branches of secular knowledge, based upon strictly  evangelical principles and pervaded by religious instruction’. This was unanimously agreed by those present. A school of 400 pupils was envisaged. Although admission of girls was discussed this did not happen for another 145 years. Lawrence’s father headed a committee charged with selecting the  headmaster and staff of the school. The first headmaster or rector as he was known was James Cumming, who was appointed in January 1846.  The  school was built in Elmbank Street, Charing Cross  and was designed by Charles Wilson. It was financed by the issuing of 200 shares at £40 each.51 In 1878 the school moved to Colebrooke Street  Kelvinbridge  and the Elmbank Street premises were sold to the High School of Glasgow which was taken over by the Glasgow School Board after the passing of the 1872 Education(Scotland )Act.52

The Glasgow Post Office Directory of 1874-5 tells us that Lawrence was a ‘writer’ meaning a lawyer, working for Bannantyne, Kirkwood and McJannets, a legal firm, at 145 West George Street,  while still living in the family home. After his father’s death in 1875  Lawrence moved to 17 Ashton Lane, Hillhead which remained his address until about 188053 by which time he was a writer with premises at 190 West George Street but living at ‘Fernlea’ in Bearsden.54

On 28 May 1877 The Glasgow Herald reported the laying of the foundation stone of the Buchanan Memorial Free Church in Caledonia Road ,Oatlands. Lawrence attended the ceremony and spoke of his father’s work  and ‘expressed the hope that the Church…would be the means of prospering Christian work in the district.’ The church was designed by Glasgow architect John Honeyman.

Lawrence married Elizabeth(Lizzie) Agnes McLachlan in October 1877 in St Pancras in London.55Lizzie was the daughter of  Elizabeth McLachlan and the late David McLachlan.56 David McLachlan  had been first a wine and spirit merchant with premises in Oxford Street ,Glasgow and also had  business dealings in London.57 In June 1868 he took over the George Hotel at 74 George Square at the  east corner of what is now Glasgow City Chambers.58                                                                                                                               

Figure 9. George Square from the south-east c1829 by Joseph Swan. © CSGCIC  Glasgow Museums and Libraries. Carriages can be seen depositing patrons outside The George Hotel far right

George Square had undergone many changes since it was laid out in  1781.59 At the time of the Jacobite Rising in 1745 it was a marsh surrounded by meadowlands and kitchen gardens.60 At the beginning of the nineteenth century it was still ,’a hollow filled with green water and a favourite resort for drowning puppies ,cats and dogs while the banks of  this suburban pool were the slaughtering place of horses’.61 Building began around 1789  with a series of elegant town houses. The only statue in 1829 was that of Sir John Moore, erected in 1819.62 As Glasgow prospered the town houses of George Square were taken over by commercial enterprises and hotels.

By the 1860s  George Square had many hotels. Along the western side for example was The Edinburgh and Glasgow Chop House and Commercial Lodgings. In 1849 this had been taken over by George Cranston, father of Catherine Cranston who became famous later in the nineteenth century for her tearooms. The Chop house was renamed  The Edinburgh and Glasgow Hotel and then Cranston’s Hotel. Around 1855 the  town houses on the  north side of the square were converted into the Royal, the Crown and the Queen’s Hotel. This  expansion was possibly as the result of the opening  of the Edinburgh and Glasgow  Railway with  its Queen Street Station (known as Dundas Street station at first) in  1842. David McLachlan became a well-known Glasgow hotel keeper.63 After  her husband’s death in 187264  Elizabeth McLachlan took over the running of the  hotel and when the George Hotel was due for demolition to make way for the new Glasgow City Chambers Elizabeth McLachlan took over the Queen’s Hotel at 40 George Square   and later changed the name  to the George Hotel.65

Figure 10. George Square c. 1868. © CSGCIC Glasgow Museums and Libraries.The George Hotel can be seen in the far right corner. The Queen’s Hotel can be seen  on the far left . 

One  can only speculate how  Lawrence and Lizzie met  but  in  February 1877 Lawrence, in his capacity as a lawyer, defended Mrs Elizabeth McLachlan when she was prosecuted for a breach of the George Hotel licence.66 If this was when they first met and they were married the following October it must have a whirlwind romance or perhaps Lawrence had been acting as Mrs McLachlan’s lawyer for some time as his office was in nearby West George Street. Why they married in London  raises  a question unless it was because, as we have seen, Lawrence’s mother and other members of his family had moved to London by then.

By the time of the 1881 census Lawrence and Lizzie had three children. May Hamilton  aged four was born in France rather unusually. A second daughter Ethel Howard was born in England about 1879 and a son Lawrence Gordon in New Kirkpatrick, Dumbarton in May 1880.67

Around 1880-1 Lawrence’s life seems to have taken a different direction. At the time of the  1881 census Lawrence and his family  were living  at 40 George Square  Glasgow at  the Queen’s Hotel, later renamed The George Hotel. He and his mother-in-law, Elizabeth McLachlan,  were listed as hotel keepers.68  What made Lawrence decide to give up the legal profession and take up that of  hotel keeper is not known but it turned out to be a fortuitous  decision. On 14 October  1881 Mrs McLachlan died suddenly of ‘apoplexy’.69 She was only 58 years old.70 There had been a serious fire at the George in July 1881 which had destroyed a third of the roof. The Glasgow Herald  commented that the damage was around £200 and even though the premises were insured ‘the loss to the lessee of the hotel was considerable‘.71 Perhaps the stress of the fire  caused  the stroke.

Lawrence was proprietor of the George Hotel for the next ten  years.72 Sometime in 1890 The George was taken over by J. Fritz Rupprecht73  who previously owned the  Alexandra Hotel  at 148 Bath Street.74The name of the hotel was changed to the North British Railway Hotel sometime in 1891.75 Then in 1903 this hotel and the Royal at 50 George Square were bought by the North British Railway Company and became one hotel. This is today the Millennium Hotel.76

There is no trace of either Lawrence or his wife after about 1890. They do not appear in the 1891 census. The only clue we have is contained in Lawrence’s mother’s will. When she wrote her will in July 1893 she commented that her son was  living in Stuttgart in Germany but no reason for this is given.77 Neither  do they appear in the UK  census of 1901 but by 1911 Lawrence, aged 64, was back in the UK living in Saffron Waldon with his wife ,daughter May and  son Lawrence. His occupation was given as ‘retired solicitor’.78 Lawrence Buchanan died on 31 July  1926  at 2 London Lane, Bromley Kent aged 79 and was buried in Plaistow Cemetery in Bromley.79

Isabella McCallum Bruce (1849-1908)

Isabella Buchanan lived in the  family home at 2 Sandyford Place until at least 1871 according to the census of that year. There is no trace of her in the 1881 census.80 She married Thomas Boston Bruce who was a barrister. They married at the British Consul in Rome on 26 February 1885.81 Thomas was six or seven years younger than Isabella. It is not known at this time why the wedding took place in Rome. In 1891 the Bruces were living at 22 Ladbrooke Grove in Kensington. They had three children by this time. Charles Gordon was  four, Isabel M  two and Rosamund was one.  There were four servants living in the house demonstrating that the Bruces were quite prosperous.82 Another daughter Elizabeth Winifred was born about 1894.83 As we have seen several members of the Buchanan family had moved to London by this time and Isabella’s mother was living close by at 52 Ladbroke Grove at the time of her death in 1898.

According to the 1901 Census the Bruce family were at  2 Lunham Road Upper Norwood. Thomas Boston Bruce had  chambers at 32 Camden House Chambers, Kensington at the time of his death. 84 There is very little information forthcoming about the Bruces except that gleaned from the census records. We do know that the eldest son, Charles Gordon followed in his grandfather’s footsteps and became a minister of the church though it was the Church of England rather than the Free Church of the Reverend Robert Buchanan.85 Isabella died at the Lunham Road address on 5 January 1908 aged 59.86

Harriet Rainey Buchanan (1852-1925)

Harriet was probably given her middle name in honour of the Reverend Robert Rainey, a friend and colleague of her father. Robert Rainey was a leading figure in the Free Church of Scotland and was for many years  Principal of New College Edinburgh, the first training college for Free  Church ministers in Scotland after the Disruption.87 Harriet lived at the family home in Sandyford Place until the death of her father in 1875.There is no trace of her in 1881 but by 1891 she was living with her mother at 52 Ladbroke Grove ,Kensington.88Her sister Isabella was living at 22 Ladbroke Grove at this time. After her mother’s death in 1898 Harriet appears to have moved in with her eldest sister Charlotte in Hawke Road, Norwood. Also living in the house was niece Margaret Thornton, daughter of elder sister Elizabeth and Robert McAlpine Thornton.89

At the time of the census in 1911 Harriet was staying with her sister  Edith Gray Stewart who was married to Robert Barr Stewart ,a  solicitor. Their home was  Hillfoot House ,New Kilpatrick. It appears the middle classes were already moving to Bearsden by this time.90

In all the census reports consulted Harriet is said to be ‘living on her own means’ and there is no evidence of her having a paid occupation. Like her eldest sister Charlotte Harriet never married. Harriet died in Edinburgh of pneumonia in October 1925 aged 73. At the time of her death she was living in Eglinton Crescent , Edinburgh. Her death was registered by her brother-in-law Robert who by this time was living at 4 Huntley Gardens, Glasgow.91

Edith Gray Stewart (1855-1938)

Edith was the youngest of the children of  Robert and  Elizabeth Buchanan. She lived in the family home in Sandyford Place92 until her marriage on 4 November 1874. She was nineteen when she married Dr James George Wilson, Professor of Midwifery at Anderson’s College Glasgow.93 Dr Wilson was more than twice Edith’s age and already had a home at 9 Woodside Place in Glasgow’s west end.94 Dr Wilson died  on 4 March 1881 at the age of 52.95 Edith  remarried in the spring of 1887 to  Robert Barr Stewart, Writer to the Signet and Notary  Public. They were married in Kensington possibly because, as we have established, Edith’s mother and other members of the family were living in London by this time. Edith’s brother-in-law the Reverend  Robert  McAlpine Thornton assisted at the wedding.96 In 1891 Edith and Robert were living in Inverallen Place ,Stirling97 and later moved to Carronvale Road, Larbert.98

They moved again to Hillfoot House in Bearsden along with their two children . Alex was 22 at this time  and Lillian was twenty.99 At the time of their deaths the Barr Stewart’s usual residence was 4 Huntley Gardens Glasgow. Edith died of cerebral thrombosis at Balmenoch, Comrie Road Crieff on 21 September  1938 aged 84. Her death was registered by her daughter Lilian, now Oldham.100 Less than a month later on 20 October  Edith’s husband Robert died in Perth.101

The Buchanans appear to have been a very close family. Through the years we have seen numerous examples of members of the family visiting one another, living with one another and generally supporting one another. Even as late as 1939 when she was in her eighties we find Lawrence Buchanan’s widow Lizzie and unmarried daughter May  either visiting or living with the Reverend Charles Gordon Bruce , the son of Lawrence’s sister Isabella.102


  1. Baile de Laparriere (editor). The RSA Exhibition 1826-1990. 1991
  2. Minutes of Glasgow Corporation Parks and Gardens Committee July 6th
  3. Statutory Deaths. Elizabeth Stoddart Buchanan
  4. Stephen, Sir Leslie (editor). Dictionary of National Biography.(DNB). OUP, 1921
  5. Morning Post 02/04/1875
  6. Op cit 4
  7. http:/
  8. Glasgow Herald (GH) 08/08/1864
  9. Op cit 5
  10. Op cit 5
  11. GH 05/04/1875
  12. GH 19/05/1875
  13. Op cit 4
  14. UK Census Records 1841
  15. UK Census Records 1861-1891
  16. GH 29/091846
  18. Inverness Courier 28/10/1852
  19. Op cit 4
  20. Marriages
  21. UK Census Records 1871,1881
  22. Ibid 1851,1861
  23. Glasgow Post Office Directory (GPOD)1845
  24. Ibid 1848
  25. UK Census Records 1881
  26. Will of Elizabeth Stoddart Buchanan
  27. ibid
  28. UK Census Records 1851-1881
  29. GH 01/04/1875
  30. UK Census Records 1881
  31. UK Census Records 1891-1911
  32. England and Wales National Probate
  33. UK Census Records 1851-1871
  34. Statutory Marriages
  35. GH 26/09/1874
  37. UK Census Records
  38. London Times 21/07/1913 Obituary Reverend R. M. Thornton
  39. UK Census Records
  40. 0p cit 28
  41. Charles Booth Online Archive . Ref Booth B213 pp2-10** check
  42. UK Census Records 1901
  43. Ibid 1911
  44. Op cit 38
  45. University of London Student Records 1836-1945.Role of War Service
  46. Op cit 32
  47. Deaths
  48. UK Census Records 1851-1871
  49. McLeod, Iain The Glasgow Academy.150 Years. Glasgow Academy 1997 pp1-9
  50. Lt Colonel Henry Alastair Campbell OBE
  51. Op cit McLeod
  53. Glasgow Post Office Directories1876-1881
  54. Glasgow Post Office Directory 1880-81
  55. General Record Office. Marriage Certificate. Lawrence Barton Buchanan and Lizzie Agnes McLachlan 02/10/1877
  56. GH 25/07/1872
  57. UK Census Records 1851
  58. GH 11/06/1868
  59. Sommerville,Thomas A History of George Square. Glasgow 1891 p12
  60. Ibid p9
  61. Ibid p12
  62. Ibid p26
  63. ibid p43
  64. North British Daily Mail 03/07/1874
  65. Glasgow Evening News and Star 04/12/1880
  66. GH 24/02/1877
  67. Births
  68. UK Census Records 1881
  69. Dundee Evening Telegraph 15/10/1881
  70. Deaths
  71. GH 11/07/1881
  72. Glasgow Post Office Directories 1881-1891
  73. Dundee Courier and Argus 23/12/1890
  74. Glasgow Evening News 08/03/1890
  75. Glasgow Post Office Directory 1891-2
  77. Op cit 26
  78. UK Census Records1901,1911
  79. London Times 03/08/1926
  80. UK Census Records1851-1881
  81. Dundee Courier 02/03/1885
  82. UK Census Records 1891
  83. Ibid 1901
  84. England and Wales National Probate Calendar 1858-1966
  85. Ibid
  86. Op cit 54
  87. Robert Rainey DD 1826-1906 DNB
  88. UK Census Records 1861-1891
  89. Ibid 1901
  90. Ibid 1911
  91. Deaths
  92. UK Census Records 1861,1871
  93. Marriages
  94. UK Census Records 1871
  95. Deaths
  96. ibid Statutory Marriages
  97. UK Census Records 1891
  98. Ibid 1901
  99. Ibid 1911
  100. Deaths
  101. Ibid
  102. 1939 England and Wales>search>collection

Illustrations Notes:

Figure 2. Amelia Robertson Hill was the wife of David Octavius Hill. The original was painted by David Octavius Hill between 1843 and 1866 and is owned by the Free Church of Scotland.

Figure 3. Mitchell Library Special Collections. Virtual Mitchell Ref C2607

Figure 4. The Baillie No 29 May 1873

Figure 5. National Galleries of Scotland .ID PGP751

Figure 6.

Figure 7. Whitby Online Historic Photographs Collection.


Figure 8. Mitchell Library Special Collections. Virtual Mitchell Ref C5141

Figure 9. Mitchell Library Special Collections. Ref GC914.14353 SWA

Figure 10. Mitchell Library Special Collections. Ref C8571

Margaret Helen Garroway


Our donor Margaret Helen Garroway was the daughter of Robert Garraway, a well-known nineteenth century Scottish industrialist, and Agnes Garraway, formerly Agnes McWilliam. She was born on 24 August 1860 in Rosemount, Cumbernauld Road, Shettleston, Glasgow. [1] Her father Robert Garroway, a surgeon by training, graduated from Glasgow University and later became a manufacturing chemist [2]. He set up business with his brother James Garraway at 694 Duke Street, Glasgow, which became known as R&J Garroway, Netherfield Chemical Works [3]. Robert Garraway’s brother, James, died in 1877 and left quite a big fortune in his will to be distributed among his family and some of the workers in the factory. The total sum of his fortune was recorded as £52,218-6s-09d. [4]

The Garroway Family prospered during the Industrial Revolution which, as well as changing the world, brought great fortunes to those who were able to invest in the inventions andother developments. In Glasgow, most of the industrialists spent some of their fortunes on grand houses and objets d’art to decorate them. The Garroways were one of these families. Our donor’s uncle, James had a house in Helensburgh and father Robert had a house called ‘Thorndale’ in Skelmorlie in Ayrshire which is now a B-listed house. [5]

The Garroways were manufacturing chemists by profession. The factory that they founded was one of the notable firms engaged in the exemplification of Glasgow’s great chemical industry in the nineteenth century [6]. Their factory ‘Netherfield Works’ occupied over eight acres. The factory manufactured a variety of chemicals as well as chemical fertilisers for the home and export markets. They were awarded the gold medal at the Edinburgh International Exhibition of 1886 for excellence of manufacture.

Glasgow was a major centre for chemical manufacture in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Garraway’s company survived until 1970. Since then, fertiliser manufacture has been abandoned, but the works were still producing sulphuric acid in 2002 [7].

It may be appropriate at this juncture to mention that the Garroway family was also very active in their civic duties. Between 1890 and 1893 a general reordering of the choir of Glasgow Cathedral was carried out. [8] The Garroway Family was one of the prominent donors of this major architectural renovation. In particular, the older brothers of our donor, John and James Garroway, made significant contributions to the City of Glasgow. In 1880, John Garroway donated a ‘new bell’ and James Garroway donated the ‘communion table’ to the Cathedral. It must be mentioned that, because of their contributions during the general reordering of the choir of Glasgow Cathedral, between 1890 and 1893, the father, surgeon Robert Garroway and brother, Major John Garraway, of our donor, were both buried at the Glasgow Cathedral. Also their names were carved on a memorial stone in the cathedral’s gardens.

However, our donor, Margaret Helen Garroway has been very elusive during this search, though she appears on every census since 1861. There are no records of a marriage.  There is also no indication that she held any position in the company that was run by her father and her brothers. Her occupation was described as ‘living on her own means’  on the census recordings. There is no mention of her name in any of the local or national press. However, there is one public announcement that she made and that was through her solicitors. That was the bequest she made to the Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Gallery, just before her demise. This was recorded in the Minutes of the Council of City of Glasgow Art Gallery and Museums held on 11 March 1947 in Paragraph 4 mentioning the bequest made by Miss Margaret H. Garroway to the Kelvingrove Gallery [9].  It said:

Figure 1. Andreotti, Federico; The Violin Teacher; © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (

Bequest made by late Miss Margaret H. Garroway.
There was submitted a letter by Messrs Kidstons and Co. solicitors of 86 St. Vincent Street, Glasgow, intimating that the late Miss Margaret H. Garroway of Thorndale, Skelmorlie, had offered the Corporation under her settlement the choice of her collection of ivories, pictures and engravings, the selection to be postponed until after the death of her two nieces, Mrs Todd and Miss Haldane. The two nieces in question were agreeable to the corporation making their selection now. There was also submitted a report by the Director stating that he had inspected the collection and recommended acceptance by the Corporation of the complete set of ivories, the following pictures, three of which are shown, viz. –

Medium                Artist’s Name                          Name of the Painting

Oil                          Frederigo Andreotti                A Violin Teacher
Watercolour          Eduard Detaille                         The Drummers
Oil                          Lucien Gerard                           Young Man Reading
Oil                          Paul Grolleron                          The Scout
Oil                          Charles-Louis Kratké               French Army on the March(1848-1921)
Watercolour                   A P Robinson                     Highland Loch
Oil                          Adolphe Weisz                          Going to Mass

Figure 2. Kratke, Charles Louis; French Army on the March; © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (

There was also a number of engravings which would be useful for the library of period prints. The committee agreed that the Director’s recommendation be approved.‘Glasgow. A collection of approximately ninety pieces of oriental Ivory has been presented to the Art Gallery by the Trustees of Miss Margaret H. Garroway’.Margaret H. Garroway was brought up with her two brothers and three sisters. She was the youngest in the family. At that time, the Family Garroways had a house on Cumbernauld Rd, called Rosemount. They also had a house at Skelmorlie in Ayrshire. It is possible that our donor was educated privately, as was the custom of wealthy people at that time. 

It appears that Miss Margaret Helen Garroway either inherited or possibly bought the above paintings and the collection of ivory. In her later life, our donor moved to her final home Thorndale, Skelmorlie in Ayrshire.

Figure 3. Grolleron, Paul Louis Narcisse; The Scout; © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (

Margaret Helen Garroway died on 24 January 1947, when she was 86 years old. Her death was reported in the Deaths column on the first page of the Glasgow Herald of 25 January 1947. [11] It read:

‘Garroway: At Thorndale Skelmorlie, on 24th January 1947 Margaret Helen, daughter of the late Dr Robert Garroway. Funeral Private’.

There were no obituaries. The Scotsman of 23 May 1947 reported in its Wills and Estates on page seven that her estate was worth £53,248. [12]

Although our donor Margaret H. Garroway appears in all relevant Scotland Censuses, she is invisible all throughout her life until she makes her donation to Kelvingrove Gallery.


[1] 1861 Scotland Census.

[2] 1851 Scotland Census

[3] Index of Firms (1888)

[4] The will of James Garroway (About 1811-1877), Downloaded from Scotland’s People.


[6] op cit.[3]



[9] Corporation Minutes 1946-1947, p. 882 Mitchell Library, Glasgow.


[11] Glasgow Herald 25 January 1947.

[12] The Scotsman 23 May 1947, p.7 Wills and Estates.