Sergeant Samuel Ewing, R A

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2022

By Morag T Fyfe

It is probably not widely known that the Kingdom of Sardinia took part in the Crimean War (1854-1856) on the side of the Allies. An expeditionary force of 18000 men reached the Crimea in May 1855 from Genoa. At the end of the war Sardinia, like her allies, issued a Crimean War Medal (Al Valore Militare) and 450 specially selected officers and men of the British Army (400) and the Royal Navy (50) received the medal. Amongst 20 officers and men of the Royal Artillery who were awarded the medal was Sergeant Samuel Ewing, 7th Company, 11th Battalion, Royal Artillery. For his service in the Crimea he was also entitled to the British Crimea Medal and he was one of a select few to receive the French Médaille Militaire.

Crimean Medals

Crimean Medals

Samuel Ewing was born to Samuel Ewing senr and his wife Catherine in the autumn of 1830, the middle child in a family of five. He was most likely born in Ireland though other sources disagree. By 1841 he and his family were living in Glasgow and 14-year-old Samuel was working as a potter. When he enlisted as a Gunner and Driver in the Royal Artillery in May 1849 he also gave his trade as a potter. To enlist in the Royal Artillery a recruit had to be at least 5ft 7in tall as strong men were needed to work the guns. When the Crimean War started this requirement had to be lowered as it was hindering recruiting too much. By at least 1851 Samuel was serving in the 6th Company of the 11th Battalion of the Royal Artillery and he later transferred to the 7th Company of the same Battalion. For the first four years of a man’s service he was considered to be a recruit as he underwent the required training. The Royal Artillery did not use the term ‘private’ instead using the term ‘gunner and driver’. This illustrated the dual nature of the private soldier’s job in the Artillery – serving the guns and riding and driving the horses pulling the guns and ammunition waggons.

Most of Samuel’s service was spent in the United Kingdom (in 1851 he was at Chatham) but on 28 March 1854 Britain and France as allies of Turkey declared war on Russia and what became known as the Crimean War began. Both the 6th and 7th Companies of the 11th Battalion were amongst the original contingent assembled to go to Turkey’s aid and by the middle of July 1854 they had reached Varna in Bulgaria. The decision to invade the Crimea being made, the allied army started landing in the Crimea on 14th September 1854. Samuel was serving in the Siege Train and it was not disembarked at first though the men helped to land horses, guns, ammunition and stores for the field artillery.

Less than a week after the allied invasion they faced the Russians at the battle of the Alma but it was not until the decision to invest Sebastopol was taken that the Siege Train was disembarked at Balaclava beginning on the 28th September. The Royal Engineers began to prepare sites for the besiegers’ guns facing the south side of Sebastopol on the 10th October and by the 16th the guns were in position and ready to open fire. The guns were grouped in batteries and although it is known that Samuel’s company was towards the right-hand side of the British line it is not known which battery he served in.

The Russians tried to stop the siege of Sebastopol and fought the French and British just outside Sebastopol at Inkerman. Most of the artillerymen engaged at the Battle of Inkerman belonged to batteries of the Royal Horse Artillery attached to the cavalry or were field batteries of light guns supporting the infantry but Lord Raglan, the commander in chief, asked for any available heavy guns to be despatched from the Siege Train to help and two 18 pounders were sent. These were under the command of Lt Col Dickson who, at that time, commanded the 7th Company in which Samuel served. When the British Crimea Medal was issued after the war with various clasps to mark which actions the individual took part in, the men of the 6th and 7th Companies, 11th Battalion were the only two companies amongst the siege companies entitled to that clasp.

'A Hot Day in the Batteries'. Tinted lithograph after W Simpson for "Illustration of the War in the East" (London, 1855-1856). (Photo by: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

‘A Hot Day in the Batteries’. Tinted lithograph after W Simpson for “Illustration of the War in the East” (London, 1855-1856). (Photo by: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The winter of 1854/55 was very hard on the troops in the Crimea as they were very short of most provisions including warm clothing. Endemic disease and poor sanitation meant that by February 1855 almost half the army was on the sick list. Many of the artillery’s horses died for lack of fodder hindering the supply of ammunition to which sometimes had to be carried to the batteries by the men themselves – an iron ball for a 32-pounder gun weighed 32 pounds so a man could only carry one at a time.

In 1854 there were only six companies present in the Siege Train and losses had been heavy but eight companies of reinforcements arrived during the winter of 1854/55. Samuel continued to serve at the siege of Sebastopol taking part in the next three bombardments of the city on 9th April (Easter Monday in both Orthodox and Western churches that year), 6th June and 17th June 1855 respectively. Following the bombardment on the 6th June some of the Russian outworks were captured.

Following the bombardment of the 17th June the British launched an attack on the Redan in the early hours of 18th June. The attacking column was accompanied by twenty volunteers from the Royal Artillery who intended to spike the enemy guns or even turn them against the enemy if the opportunity arose. The attack was repulsed and eleven of the Artillery volunteers were killed or wounded including Bombardier Samuel Ewing whose left leg was severely damaged by a round shot.

Like so much of Samuel’s story one can only make an informed guess as to what happened to him after he was wounded. Doctors were present in the trenches but one presumes Samuel was soon moved to the General Hospital at Balaclava, possibly in one of the new hospital waggons.

Siege of Sebastopol - Dr. Smith's new hospital waggons. Wellcome Library no. 21044i

Siege of Sebastopol – Dr. Smith’s new hospital waggons. Wellcome Library no. 21044i

He may then have been transferred to the main British hospital at Scutari near Constantinople. If so, he was lucky as Florence Nightingale had arrived at Scutari the previous autumn when word got back to Britain about the horrendous conditions for sick and injured soldiers there. It may be as a result of the improved hygiene and care that he not only survived six weeks of treatment of his injured leg but its subsequent amputation four inches below the knee.

Samuel’s promotion history seems rather unusual. His first step from Gunner and Driver to Bombardier occurred in August 1854 while the company was at Varna, Bulgaria just before it embarked for the Crimea. His promotion to Corporal took place on the 9th July three weeks after he was injured, while he was in hospital but before his leg was amputated. His promotion to Serjeant followed on 27th December 1855 when it must have been obvious that he was too badly disabled to remain in the Regiment and would have to be discharged, unless there was some thought that he could remain in the regiment in a clerical role. If this was the plan it came to nothing and Samuel was discharged with a pension of 1s 2d per day as an out-pensioner of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea.

Samuel returned to Glasgow to live with his widowed mother, Catherine, and an unmarried sister, also named Catherine. The three of them were found in the 1861 census living at Dunchattan Street just off Duke Street and close to the Necropolis. Two years later he had moved round the corner to Fisher Street and it was there that he died on 19th July 1863 having suffered from cancer of the stomach for two years. He was only thirty-two when he was buried in an unmarked grave in the Necropolis on 21st July 1863, the first Crimean veteran found during the present indexing project in the Necropolis.


The bulk of this biography is based on military records for Samuel Ewing found on Ancestry and Find my Past.
Colonel Julian R J Jocelyn’s book The History of the Royal Artillery (Crimean Period) published in 1911 supplied much useful background information.



Alexander Shiels Elliot

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

Mrs Elder – pioneer

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Isabella Ure was born in 1828, the only daughter of Alexander Ure, a Writer (lawyer) in Glasgow. In 1857 she married John Elder(1824-69), a partner in Randolph, Elder & Co, marine engineers in Glasgow. He was described as a man of genius whose marine engines enabled ships to travel further and so opened up shipping trade. Under John Elder’s direction the business thrived, and acquired a shipbuilding yard at Govan in 1860. By 1868, when the firm became John Elder & Co and moved to the Fairfield Shipyard in Govan, it was recognised as one of the world’s leading shipbuilders and marine engineers. Unfortunately John Elder died at the age of 45 in 1869 leaving Isabella a widow with no children.

Despite suffering poor health, she ran her husband’s vast shipbuilding business for nine months after his death until it was transferred to a partnership led by her brother John Ure. She then spent some time abroad. Both she and her husband had philanthropic ideas and she tried to envisage what they both would have done in the spheres of Science, Education and the Physical and Moral Welfare for the working class of Glasgow and Govan.

For the 36 years of her widowhood she lived at number six Claremont Terrace which bordered onto Kelvingrove Park and just across the park was Glasgow University. Until 1877 women were not accepted at this University and there were no facilities for the higher education of women.

The University of Glasgow and Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College (now the University of Strathclyde) both benefited and the following description highlights the contribution she made towards the development of higher education as well as medical education for women and also the help she gave to the people of Govan to improve and maintain their health and welfare.

Queen Margaret College and Queen Margaret College Medical School
An association, which included Mrs Elder among its members, was formed in 1883. In1884 she bought North Park House (designed by JT Rochead for the Bell family who founded the Bell Pottery and who are also buried in the Glasgow Necropolis) near the Botanic Gardens, Glasgow. The association was incorporated into a college in this building and called Queen Margaret College. It was the first and only college in Scotland to offer women higher training similar to that of Universities, especially in Arts and Science, but they still could not be awarded a degree. There was also a medical school established within the college in 1890 which was to be named the Elder School of Medicine in recognition of Mrs Elder’s work. In 1892 Women were granted the right to obtain degrees in Arts, Science and Medicine and the first four women in Scotland graduated from Queen Margaret College with medical degrees in 1894.

In recognition of her late husband’s enthusiasm for promoting the application of scientific principles in industry, she gave a supplementary endowment of £5,000 (£216,400 2007) to support the chair of Engineering (in 1873) and £12,500 (£657,750 2007)to endow the Elder Chair of Naval Architecture (in 1883) at Glasgow University. She also contributed to the building fund, and to provide lectures in Astronomy, at the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College,(now the University of Strathclyde).

Improving the health of Govan
For Govan, which was a separate burgh from Glasgow until 1912, Isabella Elder bought 37 acres of land opposite Fairfield’s shipyard where her husband had made his fortune. She laid it out as a public park, named the Elder Park in memory of her husband and her father-in-law David. It opened with a great celebration in 1885 for the people of Govan to have healthy recreation and for many years she paid for an annual fireworks display there. She also opened a school of home economics for women to learn about nutrition and cooking run by Miss Martha Gordon who also would visit homes to give practical advice. The classes met twice a week and included lessons on the influence of food, clothing, cleanliness, ventilation, care of children and prevention of the spread of infectious diseases. In 1890 Mrs Elder employed a district nurse to give instruction in classes and visit homes.

District Nursing and the Elder Cottage Hospital
In 1901 the Duchess of Montrose founded the Cottage Nurses Training Home to bring the village system of nursing, which had proved so successful in England, to Govan. Mrs Elder provided this project with its first home. Women were trained in district nursing and also became Certified Midwives for all areas of Scotland.

In 1902 at the age of 74 Mrs Elder’s next project was the building and equipping of a Cottage Hospital for the people of Govan. It had been originally planned to be a Maternity Hospital and there is a stone carving above the door of a woman and child. However she finally decided that it would be of more value as a general Hospital and It consisted of 30 beds in two wards named Florence Nightingale and SophiaJex Blake after two contemporaries of Mrs Elder. She funded the running of this hospital until her death in 1905 and it finally closed in 1987.

In 1901 Isabella Elder was awarded an honorary degree of LLD, the first time any woman had been so honoured  and in 1906, the year after her death, a statue of her dressed in her academic robes was unveiled in Elder Park.

Images of Isabella Elder can be found here:

James Ewing of Strathleven (1775-1853)

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

The memorial to James Ewing of Strathleven Portrait of James Ewing MP, LLD by John Graham Gilbert, shown here by kind permission of the Merchants House of Glasgow.

The memorial to James Ewing of Strathleven is only a few feet away from and on the south side of the base of the John Knox memorial. In fact there is no other memorial so close to John Knox. This is of great significance in recognition of his involvement in the creation of Glasgow Necropolis and the immense influence he had in Glasgow. His life was very much wrapped up in the commercial development of Glasgow at a time of tremendous growth in population and business. There is no doubt that his contribution to Glasgow was considerable with his enormous interest and effort in both public affairs and what became his substantial commercial interests.

James Ewing was born on 7th December, 1775, 5th child of Walter Ewing Maclae 3rd of Cathkin & his wife Margaret Fisher (the name Maclae was added when he inherited Cathkin House and estate at Cathkin House, south of Glasgow). He was named after his maternal grandfather, the Rev James Fisher. After some years of education at the High School of Glasgow, James Ewing went to the University of Glasgow in 1787 at the age of 12, where he read classics, literature and philosophy. It had been expected that James Ewing would become a lawyer, and be called to the Bar, however this was not to be.

James Ewing became an agent in Glasgow for the imports from the sugar plantations in Jamaica and built the business from scratch under the name James Ewing & Co and the business grew at an unexpectedly fast rate. James had originally worked with his father, Walter Ewing Maclae, a well known Arbitrator and experienced accountant. So James was given good training in accountancy and his father’s business was eventually merged into James Ewing & Co.

In 1809 James Dennistoun of Golfhill, with support from James Ewing, founded the Glasgow Bank. James Ewing, James Dennistoun, and Robert Dalgliesh were partners, great friends and colleagues.

In 1814 James’ father, Walter Ewing Maclae, 3rd of Cathkin died leaving Cathkin House in life rent to James’ mother, Margaret His heir, Humphrey Ewing 4th of Cathkin, was in Jamaica and Margaret did not enjoy living there on her own, and moved to Totness in south Devon. In 1815 in the hope of enticing his mother back to Glasgow, he purchased the mansion known as ‘Glasgow House’. The house was considered the most handsome residence in the whole of Glasgow, for which James paid £3,000 (£108,600 in 2003 terms), a very large sum for a house at that time.The house was situated where Queen Street Station is now situated adjacent to George Square.

In June 1815, at the age of 40, James Ewing and Archibald Smith of Jordonhill established the first ‘Provident’ or ‘Savings’ Bank in Glasgow. It was set up to support and encourage the ‘lower orders’ of hard labouring and industrious families of the community where deposits of one shilling and above could be made, thus encouraging the habit of ‘ saving’, which became such a characteristic of the Scottish population right up to the second world war. Archibald Smith was the first Governor, and James Ewing was Deputy-Governor. The bank spread to many towns and villages in the west of Scotland.

James Ewing was appointed Dean of Guild of The Merchants’ House of Glasgow, an office only bestowed on persons of the highest position inthe city. The position of Dean of Guild had important, extensive,influential and time consuming functions including the automatic appointment as a member of the City Magistracy Council. He habitually endeavoured to advance the national interest of the country. “This was always carried out in the best interest of all classes”. James Ewing was also appointed Convenor of the Committee of the City Council for conducting the affairs of the High School of Glasgow. Under his convenorship, new departments for writing and arithmetic were added, both subjects being considered advantageous for the rapid growth and commercial appetite of Glasgow. He later donated a considerable gift of money to the Council to provide a silver medal to be awarded annually to the pupil producing the best progress in the knowledge of the Greek language and for the purchase of books which formed the nucleus of the school library.

He continued as Dean of Guild of the Merchants’ House and wrote a history of the Merchants’ House from its inception in 1605 to 1816.

James Ewing was appointed President of the Andersonian University, an Institution encouraging “the diffusion of literacy, and scientific knowledge among the classes of its citizens who were, by their circumstances and avocations, precluded from becoming regular students within the University classes”. [Anderson University later became Strathclyde University]. He was also appointed:- Chairman of Glasgow Marine Society, Director of Glasgow Auxiliary Bible Society, Director of Magdalen Hospital and Director of Glasgow Lunatic Asylum. All these tasks he undertook with considerable vigour in addition to his various business interests.

He was appointed Chairman of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce for 1818 & 1819. Another of his notable campaigns was to obtain the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts. While these Acts were more applicable to England, in Scotland, the swearing of the ‘Burgess Oath’ was a necessary qualification for Civic office or honour and even many other employments. The Oath required all to acquiesce in the then existent condition of all civil and ecclesiastical matters. This resulted in many ecclesiastical non-conformists either being barred from office or having to be prepared to take the Oath despite their true beliefs. The Lord Provost, Magistrates & Council of Glasgow appointed a committee of  their members to draw up a report on the whole question. James Ewing was appointed Convenor of the committee and he corresponded on the subject with every Royal Burgh in Scotland. Finally he completed a very elaborate report. In 1819 the Magistrates and Council of the City of Glasgow adopted the report .

1820 was another year of political discontent – the so called ‘Radical War’. In the Glasgow area there were riots which were considered to have constituted a rebellion. On the 20th July James Wilson, a Strathaven weaver, was charged with High Treason at the Court of the Assize. James Ewing was not only chosen to be a Jury member, but was appointed Chancellor of the Jury and it therefore fell on him to pronounce the Jury’s guilty verdict at the end of the two day trial. James Ewing recommended the prisoner to the mercy of the Crown. This was to no avail and James Wilson was publicly hung and then beheaded.

James Ewing was invited to be Lord Provost of Glasgow but declined. At this stage of his career he was making huge efforts to improve and reform the public institutions in Glasgow; in particular Brideswell, the prison which had been built in 1799, the Town’s Hospital [the original poor-house of Glasgow, built in Clyde St in 1733], and the city infirmary (the Royal Infirmary). After many years of interest in prison improvement, James Ewing had been appointed Convenor of a Council committee to consider all these matters in 1819 and to report by 1822. Only in 1814, with the encouragement of James Ewing and others, were female warders introduced to look after female prisoners. The first Bridewell was a very small building erected in 1799, and from want of sufficient accommodation, it frequently happened that as many as six, eight, and even ten individuals were chained together in the same cell, eight feet by seven [2.44 x 2.13 m], ill ventilated, and ill-furnished. The old and the young were mixed together – the hardened with the most vulnerable. James Ewing met considerable opposition to his suggestion to build this large new prison, and he had to make several visits to London, at his own expense, before the County & City Brideswell Bill was finally passed through Parliament in July 1822. James Ewing put forward a resolution recommending the lighting of the court-yards and lobbies of the jail be lit with Gas. The work of the committee regarding the Town’s Hospital seems to have been undertaken almost entirely by James Ewing ending with a 500 page report which was finally reduced to 220 octavo printed pages.

Ewing by the then current rules of the Council, had to resign from the Council for at least one year, having served for six years.

At the suggestion of Rev Dr Stevenson MacGill, Professor of Theology in the University of Glasgow, James Ewing threw himself into the creation of a statue of the Scottish reformer, John Knox at the uppermost point of Fir Park. This was the first statue of John Knox to have been erected in Scotland and its building created enormous interest. (For more information on this see our Profile The John Knox Statue.

In 1826 James Ewing was conferred with an Honorary degree of Doctor of Law by Glasgow University, a rare honour at that time. The following year he lead the creation and building the Royal Exchange building in Exchange Place, Glasgow. He was the largest single subscriber, among several influential merchants, to the building costs and was elected by the Proprietors as Chairman of the General Committee. He was given the honour of laying the foundation stone of this magnificent building which became the centre of trade in Glasgow. The Royal Exchange was particularly used for meetings in connection with the sale and export of coal and steel. Shipping arrangements for almost all the Lanarkshire coalfields was made through the Exchange in those earlier days. The building has become Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA).

In 1828 James Ewing presented Glasgow University with £100 (£4,422 in 2003 terms) to purchase the Ewing Gold Medal, to be presented every second year for the best essay on a prescribed historical subject, alternately in medieval and modern history. The James Ewing Entrance Burseries to Glasgow University were founded in 1879 out of his legacy of £10,000 (equivalent to £560,900 in 2003) for “educating, training, and settling in business the sons of decayed Glasgow merchants”. There were at that time many ‘decayed’ Glasgow merchants who had lost their American tobacco plantations as a result of the American War of Independence.

At this time he instigated discussions with the Merchants House to create a burial ground on Fir Park, a piece of ground that they owned adjacent to Glasgow Cathedral. The old burial grounds at Glasgow Cathedral and the Ramshorn Kirk were by then almost full and a new place was needed for “the citizens and merchant families of Glasgow”. This came about and the cemetery is known as the Glasgow Necropolis.  “The first formal meeting was in 1828 at James Ewing’s house and present were James Dennistoun of Golfhill, Mr MacKenzie of Craigpark, Laurence Hill (Collector to the Merchants’ House)and Mr Douglas of Barloch (clerk to the Merchants’ House) this committee reported to the house ‘that the Fir Park appears admirably adapted for a “Pere la Chaise”‘

With the death of King George IV in 1830 , Parliament was dissolved, and James Ewing, still being Lord Provost,, was encouraged to stand for Parliament as member for Glasgow, Rutherglen, Renfrew and Dumbarton. Archibald Campbell of Blytheswood, was the sitting MP.  Kirkman Finlay of Toward, had been MP (or Representative in Parliament, as they were called then) from 1812 – 1819 and had received the full support and backing of James Ewing. So when Ewing heard that Kirkman Finlay had decided to stand again he stood down.

James Ewing was reappointed Dean of Guild of the Merchants House, in 1831. The Scottish Reform Bill was passed in 1832. A new speed record between London and Glasgow of 35 hours and 50 minutes was set by a journalist reporting the result of the voting on the Reform Act in the House of Lords. The normal speed was 44 hours for a coach and four horses being used with 45 changes of horses (180 horses)  In the last unreformed Town Council he was appointed Lord Provost of Glasgow and was the last Lord Provost to wear the prescribed court dress of velvet coat, dress sword, hair tied back in a black silk bag with lower habiliments and sparkling shoe buckles. In the same year, in the first reformed Parliamentary election he was appointed as one of two M.Ps. for Glasgow. Six candidates stood, with James Ewing as an Independent.

James Ewing continued as MP for Glasgow, but on completion of his term as Lord Provost, he left the City Chambers and never returned to the building again. He laid the foundation stone for the building of the Jamaica Street Bridge over the River Clyde.

In the year of James Ewing’s 60th birthday Parliament was dissolved when the Whig majority, under Lord Melbourne called on King William IV. The Duke of Wellington attempted to hold Parliament, but he was insufficiently Reformist, Parliament was dissolved, and another election called. James Ewing stood again, as an Independent, but failed to be re-elected, and that was the end of both his political and public life.

James Ewing then bought the house and estate of Levenside, near Dumbarton for ëupwards of £110,000 Sterling’ (£5,683,700 in 2003 terms). The house was in a considerable disrepair, having been let to several tenants in the previous years. He threw all his energy into repairing and improving the house and estate and using the experience he had gained from his upbringing at Cathkin House and estate and changed the name to Strathleven House.

In 1836 James Ewing (61years old), married Jane Tucker Crawford, the 23 year old  daughter of James Crawford who had been connected with Crawford, Tucker & Co of Port Glasgow, one of the largest businesses on the Clyde. They had no children. In 1838 Glasgow House was sold by James Ewing, for £35,000 (£1,579,550 in 2003 terms) to the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway Co, who built Queen Street station on the ground after demolishing the house. In 1844 James and Jane Ewing, together with her ladies maid, set off on a 13 month tour of  the Continent, keeping in touch with his business partner in James Ewing & Co, William Mathieson, in Glasgow by very regular letters. These letters were very numerous and give an extremely full and interesting account of their journey and observations of people, manufacturing, agriculture and local history. They are far too many to copy, but may be read in full in the Rev Dr Mackay’s ëMemoir of J Ewing of Strathleven’, James Ewing died in his George St, Glasgow town house on 29th November in his 79th year in 1853. His nephew, Humphry Ewing Crum, changed his name to Humphry Ewing Crum Ewing (1802 – 1887) when he inherited the business of James Ewing & Co, the estates in Jamaica and St Kitts and the House and estate of Strathleven. James Ewing’s widow had life rent of Strathleven House, and outlived Humphry Crum Ewing who rented Ardencaple Castle, Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire.
James Ewing left a legacy of £31,000 (£1,521,170 in 2003 terms) to the Merchants House, Glasgow

In James Ewing’s “History of the merchant’s House’, he states that ëthe primary object of the Merchant’s House, was the charity to its reduced members and their families” and “it appears that the objects for which the annual rent of these mortifications was destined, divided themselves into three classes – first, for the support of the poor of different descriptions, secondly, for the payment of apprentice fees to destitute boys, and thirdly, for the education of young men at university”.

The Merchants’ House still distribute grants from the James Ewing
Bequest, now combined with the James Buchanan Bequest, to:-

  • The University of Strathclyde
  • The University of Strathclyde School of Business Administration
  • The Chair of Scottish History at Glasgow University
  • A Russian Lectureship at Glasgow University
  • Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Glasgow School of Art
  • The Institute of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland (Students Section)
  • The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

Other public bequests were made to many churches and hospitals totalling  nearly £2m in 2003 terms.


Additional Information provided by Morag T Fyfe, Historical and Genealogical Researcher, The Friends of Glasgow Necropolis

Founding father of the Necropolis and normally described as a West India merchant.  In fact Ewing was a substantial slave owner, although an absentee, on the Island of Jamaica.  The Legacies of British slave-ownership database found at gives a snapshot of his position at the abolition of slavery in the British colonies in 1834. Between February 1836 and October 1837 he and his partner in J. Ewing & Co., William Mathieson, claimed for a minimum of 586 persons enslaved on 5 plantations in Jamaica and received a total of £9328 8s 10d from the British government in compensation.  Note that as this database is only concerned with the position at the very end of slavery in the British colonies it does not shed any light on any previous ownership of slaves. Note also that Ewing purchased Strathleven in 1836 just about the time he was receiving this windfall from the British government.

Claim details [Colony, parish, claim no.] Estate Date of award Enslaved Compensation paid  
Jamaica, St Ann 550 Minard (sp?) 20th Feb 1837 136 £2671 15s 7d Awardee (Assignee) with William Mathieson
Jamaica, St Ann 622 Caledonia 29th Feb 1836 46 £1204 2s 11d Awardee
Jamaica, St Ann 646? Details incomplete 30th Oct 1837 ? £642 2s 2d Awardee with William Mathieson
Jamaica, St Catherine 514 Taylor’s Caymanas 7th Aug 1837 286 £2514 4s 1d Awardee (Owner-in-fee)
Jamaica, St Thomas-in-the-East, Surrey 558 Palmetto River 27th Feb 1837 118 £2296 4s 1d Awardee
TOTALS 586 £9328 8s 10d
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