Francis James Eck (1835-1915)

In the 1915 minutes of Glasgow City Council,(1) there is a report of a letter received from the solicitor handling the will of Francis James Eck.

Figure 1. van Ostade, Adriaen; A Village Festival. Glasgow Museums © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (

“I bequeath ……..subject to my wife’s use and enjoyment such ten of my paintings as they shall select under the hand of their clerk. They shall be permanently hung in their gallery.” This was agreed by Deputy River Baillie, Rosslyn Mitchell. Mrs Eck wrote and formally declined the life use of the paintings. A full list of these paintings is appended as an annexe. The painting here is A Steet in Abbeville by D. Roberts . (2)

Francis James Eck came from a wealthy family and was at times  Independently wealthy. His father was a stockbroker and his son was on the Board of some banks in London. There are, however, years in which no record of him can be found in the United Kingdom and there is no known Scottish connection.  So why did he leave ten paintings to Glasgow?

When Francis James Eck was born in 1835(3) his parents, Francis Vincent Eck and Louisa, were living in St Pauls Terrace, Islington, London. He was baptised on 18 November 1835. His father Francis, (1797-1894) was born in Switzerland. (4) His mother Sara Eck (1799-1865) was born in London (5) but her father, Jacques Louis du Mont ( John  Lewis)(6 )was born in Saone et Loire Bourgogne, France. Her mother, Mary Poupard, was the daughter of Pierre and Louise Poupard.( 7) They were Huguenots and she was baptised in a Huguenot Church in Threadneedle Street, London.(8 ) Thus both sides of Francis Eck’s family came originally from the Europe.

Figure 2. A Street in Abbeville by David Roberts.  © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection

In the census of 1841 (9) at six years of age and that of 1851(10) at 16 years of age, he is living at home in Islington. He does not then feature in records until he is 56 years old living at 58 Cleveland Square,London with his father. (11) No evidence can be found that he travelled abroad. His father died in 1894, (12) leaving an estate of £306, 421 (13)for which Francis James Eck and his brother were executors. In January 1895, he married Ada Marian Lamb at St James , Paddington, London. (14 ) His residence in 1900 was Hollywood, Clapham Common, Surrey.(15 ) From 1907 to his death on the 27th February 1915,(16) he lived at 7 Hollywood , Nightingale Lane , Clapham Common ,  Surrey with his wife.

In 1890, he was listed in the Economist (17) as a Director of the Bank of Tarapaca and London. He was re-elected in 1900(18) and 1903(19).The Bank of Tarapaca and London was founded in 1880 by John Thomas North- “The Nitrate King “. (20) British companies dominated the nitrate industry in Chile in the early 1880s. When easy supplies of guano as fertiliser were no longer available, nitrates replaced them. In the War of the Pacific (1879-1882) Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia (21) and assumed control of the provinces of Tarapaca and Antofagasta. British capital from private companies and government loans was invested in Chile to the extent of millions of pounds (22) and was financially very rewarding. The number of British companies was 25 in 1896. (23)  In 1907 The Bank of Tarapaca wished to expand their operations and decided to buy the Anglo-South American Bank and continue trading under that name. ( 24 ) In the Economist  (25 ) Francis James Eck is listed as a Director of that bank working there until his resignation in 1913.(26 ) He had other directorships, in particular, in the Scotsman, he is listed as a Director of the Nitrates provisions Supply Company. (27)

His Will (28), which is extensive, details bequests to his wife, to relatives, to servants and to friends. One in particular, Dixon Provand, whose address is in Ayr, Scotland, is the second “friend” to be mentioned. This friend was an engineer and can be found sailing from Valparaiso to Britain in 1900. (29) In the 1921 census he can be found living in Glasgow at an address near Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. (30 )  Did our subject visit him in Scotland, visit the Art Gallery and decide to leave paintings to Glasgow ? We can maybe speculate also that his interest in Chile was not only as a merchant banker and that this may provide an explanation for his not appearing in United Kingdom records from his late teens to mid-fifties.

Bequeathed by Francis James Eck. Hollywood, Clapham Common, London

  • A Mountain Stream with a Peasant driving Cattle over a Rustic Bridge by J. Rathbone
  • A Woody Stream, with a Cottage and peasant Woman Washing by W. Shayer
  • Interior with Card Players by Joost van Gael
  • Two Cows with Goats and Ducks in a Landscape by J.F.Herring
  • A Village Festival after Adrien Ostade
  • An Old Mill with Farm Cart by  Ibbotsen and Rathbone
  • A Street in Abbeville by D. Roberts
  • Ploughing By   Shayer Senior
  • Old Chelsea Church by H & W Greaves
  • A Street in Chelsea by H & W Greaves


    1. Minutes of Glasgow City Council 1915
    2. Wenley Robert : A Village Festival after Adrien van Ostade. National Inventory of Continental European paintings.
    3. Church of England Births and Baptisms 1813-1917
    4. Family Trees
    5. Ibid
    6. Ibid
    7. Ibid
    8. England Births and Christenings 1538-1975.
    9. England Census Records 1841
    10. England Census Records 1851
    11. England Census Records 1891
    12. England and Wales Death Index 1837-1915
    13. England and Wales, National Probate Calendar( Index of Wills and Administrations), 1861-1914
    14. England and Wales, Marriage Index:1837-1915
    15. Family Trees
    16. England and Wales Death Index 1837-1915
    17. The Economist.22 October 1892.Vol 050 issue 2565 p34
    18. The Economist.22 October 1900.Vol 058 issue 2983 p1507
    19. The Economist.30 October 1903.Vol 061 issue 3140 1855
    20. Blackmore, H:   John Thomas North, The Nitrate King in History Today July 1962,volume 12, issue 7
    21. Ibid
    22. Ibid
    23.  Rippy J. FredEconomic Enterprises of “The Nitrate King and his Associates in Chile” in Pacific Historical Review November 1948 vol.17 p457-465
    24. Anglo-South American Bank Wikipedia
    25. The Economist.4 October 1907.Vol 065 issue 3347 p 1783
    26. The Economist.6 October 1913.Vol 077 issue 3658 p656
    27. The Scotsman 8 June 1892 p.4
    28. England and Wales, National Probate Calendar ( Index of Wills and Administrations), 1861-1914
    30. ibid