Josiah Flecknoe

Thursday, February 1st, 2024

by Morag T Fyfe

The surname Flecknoe only occurs once in the burial register of the Glasgow Necropolis when Josiah Flecknoe was buried in 1847.

Born on 19 September 1825, Josiah was one of three known sons of Henry Flecknoe a farmer of Braunston, Northamptonshire and Elizabeth his wife. By 1841 Josiah had been apprenticed as a draper to Samuel Payn in Daventry four miles from Braunston. By 1847, he was working as a draper in Glasow and there he died on 18 October 1847 from typhus fever. He was buried in common ground in Compartment Iota on 30 October by John Gilchrist who may have been his employer or possibly his landlord, or maybe just a friend. He must have left family in England to mourn him since notice of his death was place in the Leamington Spa Courier, Aris’s Birmingham Gazette and the Coventry Standard newspapers between 6 and 12 November. These notices confirm his birth in Braunston and residence in Daventry.

It can be difficult to find out much about people in the unmarked graves of the Glasgow Necropolis. However we feel it is important to publish what we have been able to discover to date. We would be grateful for anyone with further information on any of these people to contact us.


Julia Flynn (1819-1887) and her multiple marriages

Friday, November 18th, 2022

By Morag T Fyfe

Image – Scott Kerr

Sometimes a simple gravestone can hide a very tangled family tree as illustrated by this stone found in compartment Alpha. Four people are commemorated on the front of the stone, one person is named on each side and the seventh to be buried had no one left to arrange for her name to be added.

In loving memory of / EMILY JULIA CLAREDON / born 20th November 1840 / died at Shanghai 20 August 1863 / buried here. And of her husband / JOHN WILLIAM WOOD / Merchant Shanghai / died 26th August 1873 and buried at Port Said. Also of their son / CLARENCE CECIL MILLER WOOD / born 11th August 1863 died 4 May 1884. JULIA, widow of ANDREW DUNLOP / Merchant Bombay / died 4th December 1887 in her 69th year.

Image- Scott Kerr

In loving memory of / EMILY JULIA CLAREDON / born 20th November 1840 / died at Shanghai 20 August 1863 / buried here.

And of her husband / JOHN WILLIAM WOOD / Merchant Shanghai / died 26th August 1873 and buried at Port Said.

Also of their son / CLARENCE CECIL MILLER WOOD / born 11th August 1863 died 4 May 1884.

JULIA, widow of ANDREW DUNLOP / Merchant Bombay / died 4th December 1887 in her 69th year.


ANDREW MACMILLAN DUNLOP / died 17th March 1906 / aged 57 years.

ANDREW MACMILLAN DUNLOP / died 17th March 1906 / aged 57 years.

In memory of / ETHEL FLORENCE WOOD / only child of JOHN W WOOD / and his second wife CECILIA Z SMITH / born at Hong Kong 1st April 1873 / died 31st December 1913.

In memory of / ETHEL FLORENCE WOOD / only child of JOHN W WOOD / and his second wife CECILIA Z SMITH / born at Hong Kong 1st April 1873 / died 31st December 1913.

The name missing from the stone is that of Charlotte M B DUNLOP (formerly BOULT), aged 75 who was buried on 15th October 1918.

At first glance the stone seems to commemorate John William Wood, his two wives and two children but how to account for Julia and Andrew M Dunlop and Charlotte Dunlop or Boult? It turns out the link is Julia Flynn, daughter of Maurice/Morris and Julia Flynn born 1819/20 in London who married three times and had children with all three husbands.

Julia’s first marriage

Julia’s death certificate gives her father’s occupation as ‘soldier’ and this could account for her presence in Bombay in 1833 when she married Sergeant Peter Clarendon by license on 7 November 1833. At the time of his marriage Clarendon was a sergeant in HM 2nd or Queen’s Royal Regiment which had arrived in India in 1825. Clarendon seems to have been about 29 years old and Julia about 14. That Julia married so young suggests that her father was already dead and she had no male family members in India. The couple had at least one child, Emily Judith (or Julia) Clarendon born on 20th November 1839 and baptised on 25th January 1840. In the record of Emily’s birth/baptism her father is described as a Sergeant Major in a British detachment from Persia but this may be a reference to the start of the First Afghan War (1838-42) in which the Queen’s Royal Regiment took part. There is a suggestion from the 1861 census that Julia may have accompanied her husband as Emily’s birthplace is recorded as Persia (or Perria as it is written) but the regiment had returned from Kabul to Quetta by 31st October three weeks before Emily was born. On balance it seems more likely she was born at the regimental depot in Poona (Pune) in Bombay Presidency. Just over a year after Emily’s birth her father died at Poona and was buried there on 20th December 1840. By this date he seems to have transferred from his regiment and been appointed a Sub Conductor in the Commissariat.


St Thomas’s Church (later Cathedral), Bombay 1833 Coloured lithograph by Jose M Gonsalves

St Thomas’s Church (later Cathedral), Bombay 1833
Coloured lithograph by Jose M Gonsalves

Julia’s second marriage

Eighteen months later, in St Andrew’s Church, Bombay on 31st May 1842, Julia married her second husband a 29 year old widower called William Henry Boult who was an engineer at the New Mint in Colaba, Bombay. A daughter Charlotte Margaret was born to the couple on 25th March 1843. By the time Charlotte was baptised on 31st December 1843 in St Thomas’s Cathedral her father was described as ‘late’ of the New Mint which suggests William was already dead by then.

The New Mint, Bombay established 1829  

The New Mint, Bombay established 1829

Julia’s third marriage

On 19th September 1844 Julia married her third and final husband Andrew Dunlop in St Thomas’s Cathedral, Bombay. Andrew had been born in Glasgow in 1821 to James Dunlop and Mary Ann McMillan so was a couple of years younger than his bride. Along with a new wife he also acquired two step-daughters, five year old Emily and baby Charlotte who was only about eighteen months old. This marriage produced four further children between 1845 and 1853, James Arnold Collett (1845-1848), Andrew MacMillan (c1849-1906), Marianne (c1851-aft1880) and Robert (c1853-aft1881).

At his marriage in 1844 Andrew gave his occupation as a clerk in the Military Board Office but he later seems to have set up in business as a merchant and commission agent on his own account. In early 1858 adverts in the Bombay press suggest Andrew was preparing to close his Indian business and presumably return to Britain. He may have been in poor health by then as the Glasgow Morning Journal of 1st September 1858 carries an announcement of his death in London on 29th August.

It is not known whether he and Julia had intended to settle in England or Glasgow but by 1861 Julia and her brood can be found in that year’s census of Glasgow at St Vincent Crescent. When Andrew made his will In 1853 he appointed two of his brothers as executors and trustees, Robert being resident in Glasgow. At that time his mother Marianne was also still alive so it is may not be unnatural that when Julia was widowed she chose to settle in her husband’s home town close to some of his relatives.

Julia’s children

Julia’s daughter, Emily Clarendon, did not remain in Glasgow long as she travelled to Shanghai, China and married John William Wood in Shanghai on 4th June 1862. She died on 20th August 1863 in China (probably Shanghai) nine days after the birth of her son Clarence and it seems a reasonable assumption that she died from complications in childbirth. Her body was brought back to Scotland and she was buried in the Necropolis on 15th March 1864. (Bodies had occasionally been repatriated from Europe since the early 1850s but returning Julia’s body from China to Glasgow was very unusual at that time). Her widower remarried to Cecilia Z Smith sometime before 1873 when a daughter, Ethel Florence, was born to them in Hong Kong on 1st April 1873. John and his family set off back to Britain later that year but he died on 26th August 1873 in Port Said, Egypt. He was buried there and his body was not returned to Glasgow though his death was recorded on the gravestone in the Necropolis.


Shanghai in the 1850s Photograph from the Vacher-Hildictch Collection, reference number VH01-009.  Image courtesy of Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, University of Bristol Library (

Shanghai in the 1850s
Photograph from the Vacher-Hildictch Collection, reference number VH01-009.  Image courtesy of Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, University of Bristol Library (

Young Clarence Wood, Emily’s son and Julia’s grandson is found living with his grandmother and aunts and uncles in Glasgow at the 1871 and 1881 censuses before dying on 4th May 1884 and joining his mother in the Necropolis. He had been appointed church organist at St Jude’s Episcopal Church in 1880 while still only sixteen years old. Three years after his death his grandmother Julia Flynn died and was buried in the family grave under the name of Julia Dunlop with no reference to either of her previous husbands.

When Clarence’s half-sister Ethel returned to Britain with her mother (presumably in 1873 after John William’s death) they settled in London and Ethel seems to have lived there or thereabouts all her life. None the less her half-brother Andrew M Dunlop made provision for her burial in the Necropolis in a codicil added to his will in 1902. She was duly buried there when she died in 1913.

The final member of the extended family to be buried in the Necropolis was Charlotte M Boult in 1918. After their mother’s death in 1887 she and her half-brother, Andrew, continued to live together until his death in 1906 and he made provision for her in his will. For much of her adult life Charlotte seems to have used her mother’s final married surname Dunlop. Her death was registered as ‘Charlotte Margaret Boult Dunlop (formerly Boult)’, which seems to cover all eventualities and the entry in the burial register used the same form of name.

A final wrinkle in this story is that the first legal owner of this lair was Clarence C M Wood who was a seven month old baby when this lair was purchased for the burial of his mother in March 1864. One presumes that his grandmother actually bought the lair and registered it in his name.


Find my Past:

The marriages of Julia and Peter Clarendon in 1833
Julia and William H Boult in 1842
Julia and Andrew Dunlop in 1844
The christening of Emily Clarendon in 1839
The burial of Peter Clarendon in 1840
The christening of Charlotte Boult in 1843
The marriage of Emily Clarendon and John W Wood in 1862

The confirmation of his will and the inventory of Andrew Dunlop in 1858

Various censuses

Bombay Gazette 30 Dec 1840 for the death of Peter Clarendon
Bombay Gazette 1 Apr 1858 for Andrew Dunlop selling up

Glasgow Morning Journal 1 Sep 1858 for the death of Andrew Dunlop

ScotlandsPeople:The death of Julia Dunlop (1887 646/3  694)
The death of Andrew M Dunlop (1906 646/3  251)
The death of Charlotte Dunlop (1918 644/12 895)

Probate for Andrew M Dunlop 1906 (SC36/51/140)

The Forrester Family

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2022

By Morag T Fyfe

On the 29th May 1857 a mother and two children were buried together in one coffin in common ground in the Necropolis. Since the start of 1855 the cause of death is no longer routinely recorded in the burial register but in this case the circumstances were so tragic that it was – ‘Burned to death’. The accident was widely covered in the press appearing in at least twelve Scottish newspapers and thirty-five English, Welsh and Irish ones. The report which appeared in the Glasgow Herald on Monday 1st June is below:

A WOMAN AND TWO CHILDREN BURNED TO DEATH.  -On Friday morning, about two o’clock, a family residing on the second floor of a tenement, 550 Dobbie’s Loan, Port Dundas, Glasgow, were awakened by the smell of smoke. They rose, but not perceiving any appearance of fire, retired again. Shortly after five o’clock the inhabitants of a house on the ground floor of the tenement in question were awakened by a portion of the roof, which was on fire above their bed, falling in. The alarm was immediately communicated to the Cowcaddens police station, and the fire brigade turned out with all haste, and in a short time extinguished the fire, which had broken out in the house of a boatman on the Forth and Clyde canal, named David Forrester, adjoining the dwelling of the people who first perceived the smell of smoke. On the firemen entering the room, a sad spectacle met their view. The wife of the boatman lay on the floor, and near to her a boy about three years of age, both of them burned almost to cinders. On proceeding to the house below, into which a portion of the burning floor had fallen, the firemen found the charred remains of an infant about fifteen months old, who had fallen through the floor along with the burning timber. Forrester’s family had only removed into the house the previous day, and it is said they had not built in their grate and had lighted a fire on the hearthstone; but, from the fact of the fire having broken out in a concealed bed, it is supposed that some light must have communicated with the bed clothing, and ignited it. The unfortunate woman must have been suffocated, as no cries of distress were heard by any of the neighbours. The remains of the three bodies were interred in one coffin on Friday afternoon in the New Necropolis. The husband was from home when the occurrence took place.

Other newspaper reports seem to be based on different witnesses and give extra details. Thus the report in the Caledonian Mercury, also on Monday 1st June locates the Forrester home as being on the first floor of a building at the corner of Ann Street and Dobbie’s Loan, Cowcaddens. This report supposes that a candle had been left burning which set the bedding on fire. We also learn that David Forrester was at Bowling when the accident occurred.

The newspaper report does not name the mother and children, they are simply identified as the family of David Forrester. However the Burial Register names them as Margaret Forrester aged 22, Thomas Forrester aged 3 and Catherine Forrester aged 2.

Baby Catherine may be the baby born to David Forrester and Margaret McMaster on 11th March 1856 in the Milton Registration District of Glasgow. In the newspaper reports her age is estimated as fifteen months which would fit this Catherine very well. Assuming these are the correct parents, marriage banns for a couple of that name were proclaimed in Blackford, Perthshire on 7th August 1853. After that the trail goes cold.



Forman Family – Two Memorials

Monday, April 13th, 2020

1st FORMAN MEMORIAL in Epsilon

Forman Family Memorial - First Memorial

Forman Family Memorial – First Memorial


In memory of ISABEL wife of J.R. FORMAN
born 7th March 1824, died 3rd July 1896,
born 29th January 1823, died 8th July 1900,
their son ROBERT HALL FORMAN Colonel R.A.M.C.
born 2nd November 1854, died 16th February 1928,
their son WILLIAM FORMAN born 1870, died 1930.


ISABEL HILL (1824 – 1896) was the third daughter of Charles Hill of Greenock and married James Richardson Forman (see below) in 1847. They had 10 children, the first four born in Glasgow, followed by three in Halifax, Nova Scotia and another three in Glasgow. Isabel died in Ratho, Midlothian, Scotland on 3rd July 1896 and was buried in Glasgow Necropolis.


James Richardson Forman

James Richardson Forman

He was a native of Nova Scotia whose prosperous family had emigrated in 1780 from Coldstream, Berwickshire. James had moved to Glasgow in 1841 to commence an apprenticeship under the civil engineer Neil Robson (d. 1869 and buried in Glasgow Necropolis, Epsilon compartment). After his apprenticeship he was appointed Resident Engineer on the Wilsontown, Morningside and Coltness Railway in 1845, then under construction and subject to serious difficulties between the Company and the contractor. Having completed and equipped that railway, he remained as Manager till 1851 in which year he was appointed Manager of Glasgow General Terminus Railway a position he held for 2 years.

He returned to Nova Scotia In 1853 and was appointed as Government Engineer for the province, a position he held for six years during which he was responsible for the building of the 40 mile railway track from Halifax to Windsor. The track opened in June 1858, but following a change of government in Nova Scotia, for political reasons, James was dismissed in August 1858.

James returned to Glasgow in 1860 and on joining Robert Robson (d. 1889 aged 32 and buried in Glasgow Necropolis, Epsilon compartment) joined the partnership as Robson, Forman and M’Call. This partnership was particularly involved in the development of railways in Scotland including the Greenock and Ayrshire and Wemyss Bay Railways, the Blane Valley line, the Busby and East Kilbride, Stobcross, Kelvin Valley, Milngavie and Aberfoyle Railways, and the Gryffe Waterworks upriver from Bridge of Weir.

The 1871 Census shows James R Forman aged 48 (Civil engineer, born in Canada) living at No 10, Belhaven Terrace, Glasgow, with his wife Isabella (47, born in Canada), daughter Margaret (22, born in Cambusnethan, Lanarkshire), son Charles (18, a medical student, born in Glasgow), son Robert (16, an art student, born in Canada), daughter Florence (14, scholar, born in Canada), daughter Ida (13, scholar, born in Canada), daughter Ethel (9, scholar, born in parish of Govan, son George (7, scholar, born in Govan), daughter Blanche (5, scholar, born in Govan), son William (1, born in Govan) The four youngest children, born in Govan, were presumably born at Belhaven Terrace which despite being on the north side of the Clyde was in Govan parish. In addition, William Grieve, an 18 year old Canadian born nephew who was a medical student was living with the family.

The family was obviously well off as six servants are also recorded:-  A ‘butter’ domestic, Mary Ann Cook (28, born in St Quivox, Ayrshire), a cook, Elizabeth Mills (35, born in Dunoon, Argyllshire), a housemaid, Margaret Campbell (23, born in Glasgow), a laundress, Ann McDonald (27, born in Glasgow), a nurse, Elizabeth Tainsh, Nurse (28, born Trinity Gask, Perthshire) and a sewing maid, Ellen Morton (22, born in Edinburgh).

Later in life James concentrated on other interests as Chairman of the Aberfoyle Slate Quarries Company and as a Director of the Edinburgh American Land Mortgage Company (EALMC), the latter of which he was Chairman for about 19 years (Ledgers and registers for EALMC for 1878-1956 are available at Glasgow University Archive Services). He was also a Director of the Arizona Copper Company and since 1880 he lived at Craigpark, Ratho, Edinburgh, where he was Chairman of the local School Board and Parish Council. The 1881 census records the following living there:-

James R Forman aged 58 (Civil engineer), his wife Isabella (57), daughter Florence (24), daughter Ida (23), daughter Ethel (19), son William (11, scholar). In addition a 20 year old unmarried English born niece, Francis M G King Hale, was living with them.

The family still employed six domestic servants:- Catherine Harvie (32, upholsterer, born in Midlothian), Jane Kidd (29, cook, born in Edinburgh), Margaret Stewart (27, table maid, born in Linlithgow, West Lothian), Alice Wood (28, maid, born in Scotland), Marion Kirk (18,house maid, born in Kirliston, Midlothian) and Mary Ann Fleming (20 year old kitchen maid born in Wigtownshire).

ROBERT HALL FORMAN Colonel R.A.M.C. (1854 – 1928), son of the above was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia on 2nd November 1854 and Licenced by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the Faculty of Physicians & Surgeons of Glasgow in 1877.

He had a long career as a surgeon in the Royal Army Medical Corps. His full title was Col. Robert Hall Forman MB.MCh. LRCP. Ed.LFPS. Glas. and he spent many years in India. His military records confirm that he was appointed Surgeon on 6/3/1880 in Bengal, Surgeon Major in Bombay 6/3/1892, Lt. Col. 6/3/1900 in Bombay, Brig. Surgeon Lt. Col. 6/1/1905 in Bombay. In 1896 he was Medical Officer in Charge of the Station Hospital, Belgaum  and in June 1908 he was appointed as Principal Medical Officer (6th Poona) Division.

Prior to going to India, he was a surgeon in Edinburgh and was also in Glasgow in 1887and 1891/92. In 1911 he was listed as a retired Surgeon Colonel on full pay. In 1913, he acted as Physician and Surgeon at the Royal Hospital, London on behalf of RAMC Territorial’s 2nd London Division

India had a very strong Masonic organisation and a considerable Scottish involvement. On 27th March 1908, Brother Col. Robert Hall Forman was installed as Grand Master of ‘All Scottish Freemasonry in India’. His time in office increased the number of Lodges from 39 to 50 with new Lodges being constituted in Elysium at Simla, Pavaghad at Godra, Imperial Brotherhood at Bombay, Hanthawaddy at Inseen in Burma, Sir Charles Napier at Hyderabad, Nicopolis at Vizianagram, Forman at Bombay, St Andrews at Lahore, Beaman at Bombay and Vindya at Dholpur. Lodge Hope & Sincerity at Ahmedabad was resuscitated.

During his regime, he visited all the Lodges except two; one of these was Lodge Heather No. 928 at Munnar, as access to Munnar was extremely difficult and time consuming in those days. The other was likely to have been Inseen in Burma.


William Forman was a Civil and Electrical engineer and is recorded in the 1891 census as being a 21 year old ‘Boarder’ in Hillhead St, Glasgow with Mrs Georgina Easton, a widow and retired teacher of 57 years of age born in Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire, plus a domestic servant, Elizabeth Closs, 18 years old and born in Rosehall, Lanarkshire.

He lived for part of his life in Kilmun Cottage, Kilmun, Argylleshire and later at Springfield, Breigden, Lanacken-Limbourg in Belgium where he died on 10th March 1930 leaving his wife Marion Ina Inglis or Forman of Springfield as executrix of his will, which was recorded in Edinburgh on 28th August 1930 with a value of £1,162. 9. 10.


2nd FORMAN MEMORIAL in Epsilon

Forman Family Memorial - Second Memorial

Forman Family Memorial – Second Memorial

In memory of
born 10th August 1852,
died 8th February 1901,
born 3rd September 1854,
died 17th October 1906,
born 15th November 1887,
died 24th May 1890,
born 8th November 1881,
died 31st December 1890
beloved wife of ARTHUR N FORMAN
died 7th March 1923 aged 23 years,
MARY ISABEL their infant daughter
born & died 19th Feby 1923



Charles De Neuville Forman

Charles De Neuville Forman


Charles was born in Glasgow on 10 August 1852, the eldest son of James Richardson Forman (1823-1900; see first memorial above).

He was educated at Glasgow High School and then private schools in St. Andrews, London and Edinburgh, after which he attended Glasgow University.

Charles served his apprenticeship from 1867 to 1872 with his father’s partnership Forman &McCall (Neil Robson, no longer a partner) after which he worked with James Deas, the Clyde Navigation Trust’s engineer and with him, was involved in the planning and construction of Glasgow’s Queen’s Dock.

Charles returned to Forman & M’Call in 1874 as a member of staff and became a Partner in 1875. He was heavily involved in building railways –

In 1878 the 12 mile line from Maryhill, at that time near Glasgow, but now part of the Glasgow to Lenzie and Kilsyth.

In 1884 the Strathendrick and Aberfoyle Railway, opened. This resulted in the development of summer residences in Aberfoyle and the opening of a slate quarry on the Montrose Estate.

During this period work also proceeded on the following railway lines:- Kilsyth to Bonnybridge, New Monkland and Yoker.

The most famous and technically challenging design and construction Charles undertook was the magnificent West Highland Line linking Glasgow to Fort William (100 miles / 161 Km). This line required an Act of Parliament and Charles was the expert witness. The Act was passed on 12 August 1889 and construction started on 23 October 1889 and the line opened on 7 August 1894.

The Glasgow to Dumbarton and Helensburgh line had already been built by Neil Robson (died 1869 and buried in Glasgow Necropolis, Epsilon compartment) so the new West Highland Railway began at the Craigendoran Junction towards Garelochhead, ran along the north west shores of Loch Lomond to Crianlarich where it formed a junction with Caledonian Railway’s Callander to Oban railway, using the same track as far as Tyndrum. From Tyndrum the West Highland line climbed onto and over Rannoch Moor, including the remote station of Corrour (1,269 ft / 387m above sea level) beside Loch Ossian. From here the line continued northwards to Spean Bridge and Fort William – see below for the story of the construction of the West Highland Line. An extension of the line was made to Banavie Pier situated at the western end of the important Caledonian Canal. [This canal runs between Loch Linnhe on the west coast and the Moray Firth on the east coast of Scotland. It was constructed by the famous Scottish engineer Thomas Telfer and passes through Loch Ness and three other lochs in ‘the Great Glen’. Construction took place between 1803 and 1822 and includes the longest series of 8 locks in the UK, known as ‘Neptune’s Staircase’. Construction also included 4 aqueducts and 10 bridges].

Royal Assent was granted on 31 July 1894 for an extension to the West Highland line from a Banavie Junction to the fishing port of Mallaig. This section opened on 1 April 1901 and includes the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, visited by thousands of Harry Potter fans each year. A steam engine still operates from Fort William to Mallaig (2020).


Map showing the routes of the Glasgow Central Railway and the Lanarkshire & Dumbartonshire Railway on both of which Charles worked

Map showing the routes of the Glasgow Central Railway and the Lanarkshire & Dumbartonshire Railway on both of which Charles worked

In 1890 Charles commenced work on the Glasgow Central Railway which opened in 1896. This line connected the Lanarkshire coalfields to Glasgow’s Queen’s Dock for the Caledonian Railway Co’s system opening up an underground city and suburban line for Glasgow and an extension to their Dumbarton line.

Tunnel under St Vincent Crescent, Glasgow 1896

Tunnel under St Vincent Crescent, Glasgow 1896

The creation of the underground section was no mean engineering feat as it had to avoid disruption of surface traffic, underground sewers, drains, water and gas pipes, electric cables and necessitated underpinning many important buildings etc. It was considered one of the most important engineering undertakings of its time.

The joining up of the Lanarkshire line to the Dumbarton line allowed considerable industrial and domestic development along the north side of the Clyde in response to the ability to move coal and steel from Lanarkshire. It was not easy work and involved tunnels and city work.

Lanarkshire & Dumbartonshire Railway

Lanarkshire & Dumbartonshire Railway

Bridge over Dumbarton Rd at Clydebank 1897

Bridge over Dumbarton Rd at Clydebank 1897

In addition to other minor works, at the time of his death, Charles was working on an extension of the Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway so as to allow coal and steel to be moved to Ardrossan port, Barrhead and Paisley.

The Invergarry to Fort Augustus line was also being worked on after many attempts to obtain approval for an extension of the West Highland line to Inverness but was not approved.

Charles had also campaigned vigorously politically against the Clyde Navigation Trust’s monopoly of the River Clyde and power to construct docks. After 3 Parliamentary sessions, the Renfrew Dock and Harbour Extension Bill was passed. This campaign on top of his already heavy work load proved too much for him and his health deteriorated. His last work was in conjunction with Sir John Wolfe Barry, K.C.B. working on the Ballachulish extension of the Callander and Oban Railway.

In the summer of 1900 he suffered an attack of paralysis while in Spain but continued his work. However this attack was followed by further ill health and in 1900 he was forced to give up working and look for rest abroad. He died on 8th February 1901 at Davos Platz, Swizerland at the tender age of 48.

Charles was commercially and politically greatly respected for his vision of the future requirements for mass public travel and even today (2020) people owe him great respect for his contribution to the railway system around the Glasgow area.

ANNA BLYTH GIBSON (1854 – 1906)  – wife of CHARLES DE NEUVILLE FORMAN (see above), was born 3rd September 1854 and died 17th October 1906. Charles and Anna were married in Govan, Glasgow on 13 Sep 1880.

ROBERT HANNAY FORMAN (1887 – 1890) – Son of Charles and Anna was born 15th November 1887 and died in childhood on 24th May 1890.

HILDA CHRISTINA FORMAN (1881 – 1890) – Daughter of Charles and Anna was born 8th November 1881 and died in childhood on 31st December 1890

CHARLOTTE OXENBOROUGH RUSH (1800 – 1923) was the first wife of ARTHUR NELSON FORMAN. Whom she married in Edinburgh in 1920. Charlotte died on 7th March 1923 aged 23 after the birth of their daughter Mary Isabel Forman.

MARY ISABEL FORMAN – infant daughter of Arthur & Charlotte Forman was born & died 19th February 1923. Mary Isabel was their second daughter.

[Arthur Nelson Forman (1889 – 1962), husband of CHARLOTTE OXENBOROUGH RUSH (see above) was the son of Charles Forman and ANNA BLYTH GIBSON (see above) is not mentioned on the memorial. The following in italics is from the Glasgow University records with additions in (brackets)

 (Educated at Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh) Arthur Nelson Forman graduated from the University of Glasgow with a BSc in April 1913 and won two Sporting Blues in 1910.

Arthur was born on the 1st of May 1889 in Stirling. His father, Charles Forman, was a Civil Engineer and Arthur appears to have been following in his footsteps, taking courses of Natural Philosophy (Physics), Chemistry, Higher Mathematics and Engineering. Arthur was also a member of the rugby club, playing as either scrum-half or fly-half. Arthur did well and won two sporting blues awards, one for Rugby and one for Fives, in 1910.

During the First World War, Arthur served as Captain in the (85th Field Regiment of) Royal Engineers and entered the war in Salonika (now Thessaloniki/Thessalonika) in February 1916. An international force consisting of British, Serbian, Russian and Italian units, among others, fought against Bulgarians and Austrians in this little known campaign. Originally it had been intended for a British-Franco force to aid the Serbs in their fight against Bulgarian aggression but by the time they landed in late 1915 the Serbs had already been defeated. An attempted Bulgarian invasion of Greece was driven back and fighting continued until 1918.

Arthur served with distinction, earning both a Military Cross and a Croix De Guerre in addition to his service medals of British War Medal and Victory Medal. The Victory Medal was awarded for personnel who served in a theatre of war and the British Army Medal awarded to those who served abroad. The Military Cross was awarded for gallantry during operations and the Croix De Guerre was a medal awarded by the French Government in order to recognise acts of bravery.

Arthur worked as a Civil Engineer after the war and he died on the 16th May 1962 in the town of Callander.]

CONSTRUCTION OF THE WEST HIGHLAND LINE for The West Highland Railway Company

Engineers:          Forman and McCall                         Contractor:         Lucas and Laird

The construction of this railway line was exceptionally complicated because of the lack of roads and the crossing of large areas of semi fluid peat bog across Rannoch Moor. The first sod was cut on 23rd October 1889 and the contractors gathered together 5,000 Irish labourers to lay the track. Work progressed until August 1891 when a dispute between the contractor and owners ended up in Dumbarton Sherriff Court. The Contractor claimed that more money should be paid for removal of boulders than other spoil. The Sherriff founded for the owners but by that time most of the Irish labourers had moved to work elsewhere. Work commenced again in October 1891 but only after a negotiated settlement and recruitment of a new labour force consisting of Highlanders, Irishmen, Poles and people from other countries. It was tough and dangerous work and there is a burial ground near Arrochar where 37 men who were killed during construction are buried with a memorial plaque added in 1991.

Memorial plaque added in 1991

Memorial plaque added in 1991

The particularly boggy 10 mile / 16.093 Kms section of the line across Rannoch Moor was still to be constructed and to begin with, equipment and material sank into the semi-fluid bog. This major problem was solved by creating rafts of brushwood, ash and turf allowing the railway line to ‘float’ across the moor.

The next problem was that by 1893 the West Highland Railway Company was running out of money and was only saved by a Mr Renton who was a wealthy director of the company which allowed the line to Fort William to be opened in 1894 and the 40 mile extension to Mallaig, which had been started in 1897 to be completed in 1901.  The contractors for this section were Simpson & Wallace and Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons)

The 100-mile Craigendoran to Fort William section was completed in 1894 and the worst snow storm of the century happened in 1895 resulting in two engines being stuck in the snow at Glen Douglas.

Two engines being stuck in the snow at Glen Douglas (1895)

Two engines stuck in the snow at Glen Douglas (1895)

The 40-mile Fort William to Mallaig extension was begun in 1897 and was completed in 1901.

The West Highland line is considered one of the world’s most scenic routes and still (2020) runs a steam train on the Fort William to Mallaig section crossing the famous Glenfinnan viaduct given major publicity in a Harry Potter film. Glasgow – Fort William – Mallaig Cab view film Fort William to Mallaig steam train 1959

Joseph Leask Flett

Friday, May 19th, 2017

François Foucart

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Napoleon’s Knight in the Glasgow Necropolis

Contributed by Gary Nisbet. 2019 (revised 2023)

Francois Foucart Monument

Francois Foucart Monument


It is not generally known that there is a veteran of Napoleon’s Grande Armée buried in the Glasgow Necropolis.  This is François Joseph Foucart (1793-1862), who settled in Glasgow after the end of the Napoleonic Wars and became a celebrated fencing master and teacher of gymnastics at the Andersonian University, now the University of Strathclyde.  His monument is in the cemetery’s Upsilon division and is a tall obelisk ornamented with a wreath from which a medal was suspended.

Foucart had served in Napoleon’s infantry and was a veteran of the Russian campaign of 1812 and the battles of Leipzig and Waterloo.  At some point he was appointed a Knight of the légion d’honneur, which is represented by a finely carved replica of the medal on the front of the monument which stands over his grave in the Necropolis.

Legion d'Honneur Carving

The wreath and légion d’honneur on François Foucart’s monument in the Glasgow Necropolis, carved by J. & G. Mossman, 1863.

Until recently little was known about his early life and his years in the army, and why he should have settled in Glasgow after the Napoleonic Wars ended in 1815.  There is also, unfortunately, no surviving portrait of Foucart. However, we do have descriptions of him. According to his military records, by 1815 he was 5ft 7ins tall with chestnut hair and blue-grey eyes, an oval face and medium sized nose and mouth. He is later described as having a fine moustache and a strong and imposing physique. His later life is well documented due to the celebrity that his subsequent career with the sword accorded him.  New information has come to light, however, which enables us to clarify and confirm many of the missing details from his early years, and to correct some of the erroneous information about him that is recorded in the dedicatory inscription on his monument.

The most important of these errors is his birth year, which is given as 1781, whereas his baptismal and military records confirm that he was born in 1793.  The inscription also states that he was an officer in Napoleon’s Imperial Guard, when in fact the highest rank he held was that of sergeant. Despite its inaccuracies, it is clear from the dedicatory inscription, together with his own written recollections and military records, that Foucart was not only a man of great courage and determination to survive his military service and many wounds, but also to escape from the post-war persecution of Bonapartist sympathisers in France and flee to the United Kingdom as a political refugee.

It turns out that his decision to move to Scotland was an entirely happy one and he became a prosperous and much-loved character and contributor to the life of the city, and to the University of Strathclyde in particular, where he taught fencing and gymnastics in the 1830s (when it was known as the Andersonian University).  After this he established a fencing school and gymnasium in West Nile Street and became celebrated in his day as one of the finest fencing masters in Scotland, and is recognised today as the ‘father of physical fitness in Glasgow’.  But his story has a far greater dimension that links his family name, via his sons Auguste and Dr. Louis Foucart, and his granddaughter, Alice, to other important historic events at home and abroad.

Early life and military career

Foucart was born on in the fortress town of Valenciennes in the North of France, on 11 August 1793, the son of Louis Foucart, a former military officer, and his wife, Celestine Flamand.  Initially working as a wheelwright, his military career began in 1808, when he volunteered as a teenager in the National Guard of the North, then entered the 44th Regiment of the Line as a corporal in 1809.  He later transferred to the Walcheren Regiment (later 131st Regiment) as a sergeant in 1810, and eventually moved to the 22nd Regiment of the Imperial Guard in 1814.  During this time, he fought in the siege of Flushing, where he received shrapnel wounds to his thighs, and followed Napoleon into Russia in 1812.


Foucart’s enlistment record for the 44th infantry regiment of the line in 1810. (Image courtesy of Mémoire des hommes (

Foucart’s enlistment record for the 44th infantry regiment of the line in 1810. (Image courtesy of Mémoire des hommes (

After surviving the epic retreat from Moscow, Foucart was present at the battles of Wurtzen, Bautzen, Jüterbog, and Leipzig, where, with the help of 40 grenadiers, he delayed the enemy at the Elster bridges and enabled Napoleon’s defeated army to escape annihilation and to return to France.  It was for this action that he was cited for the Légion d’honneur and a field promotion, but he received neither until much later.  He was also present at Napoleon’s final battles, at Ligny and Waterloo in Belgium in 1815, where he fought the Prussians as a sergeant of tirailleurs (skirmishers) in the Imperial Guard at the village of Plancenoit, and was wounded in the chest by a lance and shot in the leg.  His wounds appear to have been slight, however, as he escaped the battlefield to take part in the defence of Valenciennes in the closing weeks of the war.


François Foucart’s Légion d’honneur.

François Foucart’s Légion d’honneur.

The medal on Foucart’s monument in the Necropolis. The medal has since disappeared from the monument.

The medal on Foucart’s monument in the Necropolis. The medal has since disappeared from the monument.

A political refugee and professor of fencing and gymnastics

After Napoleon’s exile to St. Helena, Foucart became a sergeant in the 6th Regiment of the Royal Guard.  However, after voicing his support for Bonaparte, he was imprisoned and sentenced to transportation to Cayenne in French Guyana.  Before being sent there, he ‘broke the bars of [his] prison cell’ and escaped to Belgium and the Netherlands before crossing to England in 1816, as a refugee from political persecution.  Settling in London, where he married a Belgian girl, Lambertine Leveille, who is buried beside hm in the Necropolis, he later moved to Dublin as a fencing teacher and then moved to Scotland around 1824, where he settled in Glasgow for the rest of his life and founded ‘The Glasgow Fencing, Gymnasium and Orthopaedia Institution’.  He is listed in the Glasgow Post Office Directory as a fencing master for the first time in 1825.


Andersonsian University, George St. Foucart's first fencing academy and gymnasium

The old Andersonian University, George Steet. Its site is now occupied by Strathclyde University’s Royal College Building


Champion Badge awarded by Foucart to his pupils. The initials MGFC stand for Member of the Glasgow Fencing Club. The badge belonged to Foucart’s son, Louis, and is inscribed: ‘L. Foucart [beat] G. Roland, 7 to 2. Champion Swordsman of Great Britain. Glasgow, May 1839.’ (Roland was the son of the Frenchman George Roland, a celebrated fencing instructor in Edinburgh. Roland and Foucart were the most important and influential teachers of fencing and gymnastics in Scotland in their day).

Champion Badge awarded by Foucart to his pupils. The initials MGFC stand for Member of the Glasgow Fencing Club. The badge belonged to Foucart’s son, Louis, and is inscribed: ‘L. Foucart [beat] G. Roland, 7 to 2. Champion Swordsman of Great Britain. Glasgow, May 1839.’ (Roland was the son of the Frenchman George Roland, a celebrated fencing instructor in Edinburgh. Roland and Foucart were the most important and influential teachers of fencing and gymnastics in Scotland in their day).

Around 1832 he became a professor of fencing and gymnastics in the Andersonian University, where he rented a large room for his classes in the Old Grammar School at 178 George Street (now the site of the present Royal College Building).  Foucart is mentioned in the university’s Minute Book covering the period 1832-39, in which the matters concerning him were of a relatively trivial nature, such as arranging to have his gymnasium white-washed, the amount of rent he was required to pay for the room (£18 per annum, or £15 if he couldn’t afford the higher sum) and the number of pupils attending his classes in fencing and gymnastics.  By 1837 they numbered 57 young men and women from the best families in Glasgow and the surrounding districts.  He appears for the last time in the university’s records in February 1839, by which time he was involved in establishing a new fencing academy and gymnasium in the recently built Victoria Baths Building at 106 West Nile Street, which still stands today.


Roper’s gymnasium in Philadelphia, c.1831, which gives a good idea of the activities and equipment available in Foucart’s gymnasium at the Andersonian University. (Image courtesy of The Library Company of Philadelphia).

Roper’s gymnasium in Philadelphia, c.1831, which gives a good idea of the activities and equipment available in Foucart’s gymnasium at the Andersonian University.
(Image courtesy of The Library Company of Philadelphia).

This was a time when sword fencing was a much more popular sport than it is today, and when swordsmanship was regarded as an art to be taught as part of a young gentleman’s and young lady’s education.  Foucart was particularly successful in popularising this branch of the martial arts and regularly held public demonstrations of his own and his pupils’ swordsmanship to great acclaim in the town’s Assembly Rooms in Ingram Street.  These ‘assaults’ as they are called, always attracted ‘brilliant assemblages’ of fashionable society eager to be thrilled and entertained by Foucart’s skill with the rapier and sabre, and they were rarely disappointed by the spectacles he mounted.  For the winner of his pupils’ assaults, a light sword donated by Foucart would be their prize. He also presented them with champion badges which would later be used as the model for the wreath and crossed sword carved on his monument in the Necropolis.


Victoria Baths Building, 106 W.Nile St_Foucarts second fencing academy and gymnasium

Victoria Baths Building, 106 W.Nile St_Foucarts second fencing academy and gymnasium

The press, too, were delighted by his displays, which became a highlight of the sporting calendar of both Glasgow and Edinburgh, and they reported enthusiastically on the events and the excitement they generated.  The assault held for the anniversary meeting of Foucart’s pupils on 18 April 1829 was, according to The Glasgow Herald, ‘one of the finest ever witnessed’.  In Edinburgh he participated in the annual assaults presented by Monsieur George Roland, another French émigré who established the finest fencing academy in the capital.  In February 1830, Foucart and Roland’s duels mesmerised their audience, with Foucart being reported as giving ‘more reason than ever to admire his irresistible impetuosity’.  Decades later, having become firmly established in the city and in the hearts of his pupils and friends, testimonials were presented to him in the form of a silver vase in 1847, and a silver cup in 1855.  They also held annual dinners in his honour.

By then, with his business now a great success, and with his sons, Auguste and Louis, as partners and instructors, Foucart had been assiduously promoting the health-enhancing aspects of his work and introduced new equipment devised by his doctor son, Louis, with which to facilitate the results in improving bodily strength and alleviating physical infirmities in both sexes.  In the Glasgow Herald of 29 October 1852, they announced:

‘Messrs Foucart have resumed their courses of practical instruction to ladies and gentlemen in the art of training and developing the human frame, and in preventing and correcting bodily distortions, and promoting health by their system of gymnastic exercises.  Messrs Foucart have also much pleasure in announcing that they have added to their stock of apparatus, and will give instructions in proper the use of Dr [Louis] Foucart’s newly registered Spinal Rectifier and Chest Expander, which instrument has been patronised by the royal family, and received the approval and recommendation of the leading [London] surgeons.  The institution is under the inspection of the most eminent of the medical profession in Glasgow.’

Foucart’s popularity amongst the higher echelons of Scottish society is best exemplified by his participation in the famous Eglinton Tournament of 1839.  A spectacular recreation of medieval pageantry and jousting which involved the crème of Scottish knightly nobility as participants and spectators, as well as thousands of onlookers from the general public. Foucart would have been required to don medieval attire and give his best performance in the displays of swordsmanship that were intended to enthral his audience and remind them of the chivalric glories of ages long past.

Later life, family and Foucart’s death

Foucart must have been quite a character in his day, and he was certainly popular amongst his students and the public alike.  Amongst his students were the poet William Motherwell and the dramatist James Sheridan Knowles, who modelled the hero of his play, Monsieur de l’ Épée on him in 1838 (both writers are also buried in the Necropolis).  It is also claimed that he was the inspiration for the hero of Alexandre Dumas’ novel, Le maître d’armes, in 1840.

Foucart’s home at St. George’s Buildings, 5. St. Vincent Place.

Foucart’s home at St. George’s Buildings, 5. St. Vincent Place.


Foucart’s home at 4. Falkland Place, near St. George’s Cross, where he died in 1862. (Image courtesy of Glasgow City Archives).

Foucart’s home at 4. Falkland Place, near St. George’s Cross, where he died in 1862. (Image courtesy of Glasgow City Archives).

Foucart’s life in Scotland was by all accounts happy and prosperous, and he was blessed with a long marriage and loving family.  He and his Belgian-born wife, Lambertine Levelly (1791-1877), were married in London, in the church of St John the Evangelist, Westminster, on 26 July 1818.  They had at least four children: Louis, who was born in France during a brief return to Foucart’s homeland in 1820; Virginie and Mélenie, both of whom were born in Ireland; and Auguste, who was born in Glasgow in 1833, and who followed his father’s profession as a fencing master and gymnastics teacher.

The family lived at various addresses in central Glasgow.  As early as 1826, the Foucarts lived in a ‘Cottage Style’ house on the east side of Portland Street.  The house and garden were put up for sale and advertised as ‘admirably adapted for building’ in the ‘Subjects To Be Sold’ section of The Glasgow Herald for 1 May 1826.  Long since vanished, the house and land were presumably redeveloped soon after they were sold.

The Foucarts then moved to 239 George Street, where they lived throughout the 1830s.  They later moved to 5 St Vincent Place, St. Georges Buildings, staying there for a decade from 1842 (the building still survives).  At this time the family home also doubled as a doctor’s surgery, which was run by Foucart’s son, Louis, who had recently graduated in medicine and surgery at Glasgow University.  The census returns for the street in 1851 reveal that they were wealthy enough to employ a live-in house servant, Sarah Stewart.  After Louis left home to practice medicine in London, the family moved house again and finally settled down at 4 Falkland Place, St George’s Road, in 1853.

François Foucart died at his home on 26 June 1862, of acute bronchitis, which he had suffered for about a month. He was buried in the Glasgow Necropolis at 2pm on 1 July, in lair 60 of the cemetery’s Petra section (now Upsilon), which was purchased for £16; the funeral being undertaken by Wylie & Lochhead.

Foucart’s last Will and Testament of 7 March 1862 offers evidence of his prosperity.  To his beloved wife he left £5,557.9d (£864,472.93 in today’s money), the value of which included shares in the Clydesdale Bank, the Bank of Scotland and the Glasgow Gas Company, as well as a collection of silver plate.  A year later, in 1863, the high esteem in which he was held amongst his friends and former pupils was attested to when they erected the monument that stands over his grave today.  This was produced by J. & G. Mossman, the celebrated Glasgow-based firm of monumental and architectural sculptors.  It is in the form of an obelisk, 15 feet tall (4.57m).  As well as the carving of Foucart’s légion d’honneur on its front, a long eulogy was inscribed on the shaft of the obelisk, composed by James Sheridan Knowles and taken from his play Monsieur de l’Épée:

‘Talk you of scars? – That Frenchman bears a crown!

Body and limb his vouchers palpable;

For many a thicket he has struggled through

Of briery danger, wondering that he

Came off with even life, when right and left

His mates dropp’d thick beside him. A true man,

His rations with his master gone – for he

Was honor’s soldier, that ne’er changes sides.

He left his country for a foreign one

To teach his gallant art, and earn a home.

I knew him to be honest, generous,

High soul’d, and modest, every way a grace

To the fine martial race from whence he sprang.’

The dedicatory inscription recording Foucart’s personal details on the obelisk’s pedestal was almost as effusive as the eulogy cut on its shaft.  This, however, has been completely obliterated by the passage of time and the elements.  Thanks to an account of the monument which appeared in The Glasgow Herald on Wednesday, 24 June 1863, soon after it was erected, we know the inscription’s exact wording:

Francois Foucart,

Born At Valenciennes, 1781.

Died At Glasgow, 1862.

An Officer In The Imperial Guard Of France

During The First Empire,

Knight Of The Legion Of Honour,

Professor Of Fencing, Royal Academy, Paris,

And Afterwards For Forty Years In This City.

This Monument Has Been Erected

By Some Of His Pupils, To Mark The

Friendship They

Entertained For Him,

And To Designate The Spot Where The

Remains Of A

Brave And Gallant Soldier Rest.


Foucart’s influential family

This was not, however, the end of Foucart’s enterprise in promoting health and fitness, or the fame garnered to his family’s name.  His son, Auguste, later left the city to set up gymnasiums in Liverpool, Inverness, Greenock and Sydney in Australia, where his brother, Louis, had set up as a doctor.  Louis, having already established his medical credentials in Scotland, later moved to London, where he became indelibly linked to the life and death of one of Britain’s greatest Prime Ministers, Sir Robert Peel.  His association with him was brief, however, but of the utmost importance and renown, as it was Louis who happened to be close-by when Peel was thrown from his horse and very badly injured on the evening of 29 June 1850.  He attended to Sir Robert until he died of his injuries in the evening of 2 July.

Later on, Louis Foucart moved to Sydney, Australia, where he became the Government Medical Officer of Health and Quarantine Officer at Port Jackson (now Sydney Harbour).  He lived in Rozelle, and owned land in the appropriately named district of Waterloo.  He eventually retired to England, where he died at Lucan House in Ripon, Yorkshire, on 25 March 1899.   Before this, however, Louis’ daughter, Alice, had married the son of Colonel Henry Pulleine, who has gone down in history as being responsible for the worst defeat of a modern British army at the hands of spear wielding warriors at the Battle of Isandlwana in the Zulu War of 1879.

Back in Australia, it was Louis who was responsible for notices of his father’s death appearing in Australian newspapers in 1862, such as The Sydney Morning Herald and The Argus in Melbourne.  This meant that François Foucart became as well known in the Southern Hemisphere as he was in Scotland at the time of his death.  There is even a Foucart Street and Foucart Lane in Sydney.  Although these were named after Louis, they also continue the association with his father and the great era of Napoleon and his Knight who rests thousands of miles away in the Glasgow Necropolis.


Foucart Street, Sydney, Australia (photo by Rod Tacey)

Foucart Street, Sydney, Australia (photo by Rod Tacey)

Foucart Street sign, Sydney, Australia, commemorating Louis Foucart. (Image courtesy of Rod Tacey)

Foucart’s descendants and his reputation today

Until recently, François Foucart had been completely forgotten in France and Scotland until this research into his military service and later teaching career was undertaken. This has been greatly assisted by Foucart’s own descendants, Peter Eden and his family, who live in Marvao, Portugal, and who are the guardians of not only the memory of their illustrious forebear, but also of many of his surviving personal items, such as his Légion d’honneur, and a sword that Napoleon is said to have owned and presented to Foucart for saving the life of Marshal Ney during the retreat from Moscow. They also have Foucart’s fob watch and the silver cup that his pupils in Glasgow presented to him as a testimonial to his popularity as a fencing master and as an individual.



The first of two silver testimonials presented to Foucart by his pupils and friends in the Glasgow Fencing Club. A vase, it was presented to him in 1847.

The first of two silver testimonials presented to Foucart by his pupils and friends in the Glasgow Fencing Club. A vase, it was presented to him in 1847.

A silver cup presented to him in 1855.

A silver cup presented to him in 1855.

Of great importance amongst these personal items is the draft of a letter which Foucart sent to Napoleon III in 1852, which details his military career in his own words and, surprisingly, includes a request for the sergeant’s back pay that had been owed him from his time in Russia forty years earlier.  The letter is the closest thing we have by way of a written memoir of his time serving under Napoleon I, and its contents are certainly of great value in illuminating hitherto unrecorded incidents during and after the war as experienced by one of its forgotten protagonists.  It is especially enlightening with regard to the treatment of the emperor’s supporters by the French royalists after Waterloo and their later rehabilitation in 1820, when they were pardoned by royal decree on the birth of the Duke of Bordeaux.


The Eden family in Marvao, Portugal, descendants of Francois and Louis Foucart, and custodians of their personal effects.

The Eden family in Marvao, Portugal, descendants of Francois and Louis Foucart, and custodians of their personal effects.

It is clear from the letter, however, that Foucart was able to lead the rest of his life as a free man in Glasgow, where many other refugees from persecution have since been welcomed and encouraged, like him, to settle and prosper in safety.  In France, for which he was prepared to risk his life in countless battles in the service of his beloved emperor, Foucart has now been accorded a biographical entry in the esteemed Guide Napoléon for the first time, where he is once again reunited with his former comrades in arms in the annals of French Napoleonic history.

In Scotland, where he settled and flourished in the land of his former foes, Foucart is also now becoming better known as a historical figure in his own right, and might now be described as ‘the most fascinating Frenchman who ever settled in Glasgow’, as well as the ‘father of physical fitness’ in the city.  In addition to this, it is to be hoped that his connection to the University of Strathclyde in particular, will someday be commemorated by a plaque erected to his memory and sporting achievements in the university’s new sports centre in Cathedral Street.


Sources :

Archives de Valenciennes: Baptisms, François Joseph Foucart, Valenciennes, St Jean, 11 August 1793.

Cottin, Paul (ed.): Memoirs of Sergeant Bourgogne 1812-1813, New York, 1899.

Martinien, A., Tableaux, par Corp et par Batailles, des Officiers Tués et Blessé pendant Les Guerres de L’Empire (1805-1817), p. 441.

Sydney Morning Herald: Sydney Gymnasium, Thursday, 6 May 1861, p. 5.

Mitchell Library: Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1825-1867.

Strathclyde University Archives: SUA: OB/1/1/4, Andersonian University Minute Book 1830-1894, pp.41-222.

The Glasgow Herald: Fencing and Gymnastics, 28 September 1827. pp. 11.

Scotland’s People Death Print, RD: 644-06, Register of Death (François Foucart), No. 263, p. 88.

Mitchell Library, TMH32/5/2: Glasgow Necropolis Internment Notice Book, 1 July 1862.

Mitchell Library: Glasgow Necropolis Burial Register, 1859-1897, Microfilm, Spool 2.

Scotland’s People: Wills and Testaments, SC3, Confirmations, 216-217 and 610-61.

Black, James: The Glasgow Graveyard Guide, Edinburgh, 1992, Necropolis, No. 12, p. 45.

Sydney Morning Herald: Family Notices, Saturday, 23 August 1862, p. 1.

The Argus (Melbourne, Victoria): Deaths, Thursday, 4 September 1862, p. 4.

Johnston, Ruth, Glasgow Necropolis Afterlives, Glasgow, 2007, rev. 2020, p. 117 (ill.).

Morag Fyfe (Archivist, Friends of Glasgow Necropolis).

Information from Maryse Boudard (Archives de Valenciennes).

Information from Peter Eden (Descendant of François Foucart).

Information from Caroline Gerard (Genealogist, Friends of Warriston Cemetery, Edinburgh).

Information from Dominic Timmermans (Monuments Napoléoniens).

Information from David Peletier (Monuments Napoléoniens).

Roper’s Gymnasium Image: The Library Company of Philadelphia – America’s oldest cultural institution, founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1731.


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