Robert McCallum and family

Sunday, January 14th, 2024

By Lawrence Robert McCallum, Christchurch, NZ

Robert McCallum, contractor, became a Proprietor of Ground in the Glasgow Necropolis, in late 1844 with the purchase of lair 45 in Compartment Eta for £4/4/-. His son, Robert was buried there in 1847 after only living a few weeks. In 1848 and 1853, the two sons (Malcolm and Horatio Watson) of Robert’s brother Duncan and his wife, Janet Watson were buried there. Later in 1856 another young boy, perhaps the son of an acquaintance or worker, was laid to rest. Eta 45 has no headstone.

On 12 June 1849, Robert at a cost of £18/18/- purchased another lair (108) in Compartment Sigma. His father in law, George McCulloch at the same time purchased the adjacent lair, Sigma 107. Sigma 108 was to become the burial place for Robert in April 1869 and his wife, Agnes McCulloch in August 1880.

Robert McCallum, Visitor, Incorporation of Maltmen, 1861, Trades House, Glasgow

Robert McCallum, Visitor, Incorporation of Maltmen, 1861, Trades House, Glasgow

Life and Family of Robert McCallum

Robert was the eldest son of Malcolm McCallum and Anna Sinclair. He was born in the parish of Glenorchy and Inishail, Argyll in 1818 and came with his family down to Glasgow about 1824 (when his first sibling was born in Glasgow rather than in Argyll). Malcolm McCallum came from Clifton, Tyndrum, the lead mining village to the north of Loch Lomond. The Sinclairs lived nearby in the village of Kinachreachan with both areas part of the lands of the Earls of Breadalbane. While Malcolm may not have done much lead mining, his father probably did, with the top level shaft into the side of Sròn nan Colan being referred to as “McCallum’s Level”. In 1741 a vein of lead ore was discovered at Tyndrum and was mined intermittently, with shafts dug horizontally into the side of the hill, ore brought down using ponies, smelted at Tyndrum and taken out via Loch Lomond to Glasgow and elsewhere (Stephen Moreton, “Lead Mines of Tyndrum” 2015, Northern Mining Research Society, British Mining No. 99).

For this story, the key point is that Malcolm knew how to handle stone and could use that skill to become a contractor and quarrier in the growing city of Glasgow.  Compared to thousands of Gaelic Highlanders, he could earn a living to house and feed his growing family. In Glasgow he did start as a spirit dealer (cash flow) but eventually moved on in terms of respectability and income to become a contractor. In 1844 Malcolm, by purchase became a Maltman, in the Incorporation of Maltmen, one of the fourteen trades that made up the Trades House, in the Trades Hall, 85 Glassford Street, Glasgow. He was also a member of the Duke Street Gaelic Church and resided nearby at 18 Burrell’s Lane (running between High and Duke Streets). He purchased a lair in St David’s Ramshorn Church Burial Ground and is buried there with his wife and some of his children, dying in 1850.

Robert followed what his father had done and took it several steps further with the purchase of property, becoming the Visitor (Chairman) of the Maltmen in 1861 and then a Deacon on the convening committee overseeing the Trades House in 1862. In 1851, having already moved from spirit dealer to contractor he purchased land with houses, yard and stables on the corner of Duke and Barrack Streets. From 1854 till 1898 the Glasgow Postal Directories referred to it as “McCallum’s Buildings”. Later that year he borrowed £1200 from The Friendly Society of the Ministers of the Relief Synod. He had already married Agnes McCulloch back in 1842 and the first of thirteen  children was born in 1844. All the children lived through to adulthood except Robert who died after six weeks in 1847. A later son was also called Robert. It seems he was on good terms with his father-in-law, George McCulloch, who perhaps mentored and advised his son-in-law. They jointly acquired a property on the Gare Loch, Aikenshaw at Rahane.

Agnes McCulloch, Mrs Robert McCallum, 1824-1880

Agnes McCulloch, Mrs Robert McCallum, 1824-1880

In 1854 Robert set out his will in the form of a Trust Disposition and Settlement. It included a statement whereby his wife, Agnes, declared her entire satisfaction with the provisions set out. By the time of his death on 25 April 1869, at 129 Barrack Street, Glasgow, at the relatively young age of 51, Robert was a moderately wealthy man with an estate of £5833 10s 1d (between half a million and ten million pounds in today’s money, depending on the measure used).

He had a substantial base down below the Necropolis on the Barrack Street/Duke Street corner with several rental houses and shops along with his contracting yard and family home. He then also had two houses overlooking the Gare Loch. The first was Aikenshaw, a villa set on three acres at Rahane (along with several cottages which were rented out). Rahane lies between Rosneath and Gairlochhead on the western side of the Gare Loch, the arm of the Clyde reaching up past Helensburgh. The second was Summerhill, at Shandon on the opposite side. Again there were rented cottages with the house, which was up the hillslope behind the Free Church and near where the jetty was built in 1886. The natural beauty and serenity of the Gare Loch could not be in greater contrast to Duke Street, with its prison, cattle market, crowded tenement buildings, noise and grime. No wonder some of his children had the Gare Loch rather than Glasgow put on their gravestones out in Australia and New Zealand.

Robert was very much both a quarrier and a contractor. The 1855-56 Valuation Roll shows Robert McCallum, Contractor, Glasgow as the tenant/occupier for the Auchinstarry Quarry (whinstone) just south of Kilsyth and near the Forth to Clyde Canal and Cumloden Quarry (also referred to as Crarae) on Loch Fyne, a sea loch leading to Inveraray in Argyll. From the quarries Robert brought the stone by canal and sea to Glasgow for paving its streets.

Aikenshaw, Rahane, Gare Loch, Christmas 2004

Aikenshaw, Rahane, Gare Loch, Christmas 2004

Robert’s Death in April 1869 and the McCallum Family in the 1870s

When Robert died on 25 April 1869 his contracting equipment and draught horses were soon sold. His second son, George is listed in the 1871 census as a contractor but like most of his siblings, they did not have the drive and acumen for business like their father. The McCallum family shifted out of 131 Barrack Street and were spread around, with George and his sisters, Jeannie, Agnes, Susan, Maggie and Alice living at Dunchattan House (off Duke Street, Dennistoun), mother Agnes and children Annie Sinclair, Duncan, James and William living at Summerhill, Shandon and Robert at boarding school in Dollar, Clackmannanshire. About 1875 (after the death of her mother, Jane Thomson McCulloch in August 1874 in Glasgow), Agnes McCulloch McCallum moved to live in Devonside House in Dollar, dying there 31 July 1880. Summerhill was sold but the Barrack Street/Duke Street properties were retained as an income stream for Agnes.


By the 1881 census and the family were clustered at Aikenshaw with Malcolm operating as the head of the family. George was away in Iowa but about to return and sail for Melbourne. Jane, Agnes, Margaret, Susan, Alice and William were with Malcolm. Robert was over at Fendoch Farm, Crieff while the twins, Duncan and James McCulloch were at boarding school in Lancashire, England. Ann Sinclair was visiting a Peter McCallum and his family at Springfield House, Helensburgh. Ann was always a little different to the other siblings, being born in Edinburgh rather than Glasgow or Shandon.

Bereavement Card for Agnes McCulloch, widow of Robert McCallum and buried in the Glasgow Necropolis

Bereavement Card for Agnes McCulloch, widow of Robert McCallum and buried in the Glasgow Necropolis


Le Mars, Plymouth County, Iowa: on the Prairie

In 1880, two of the children of Robert and Agnes, George and Robert McCallum, sailed on the S.S. California from London to New York and then by rail via Chicago to north-west Iowa. Plymouth County was the focus of a colonization experiment by William B Close and his brothers in the period 1877-1890. Described in “Gentlemen on the Prairie” by Curtis Harnack (1985, Iowa State University Press) it was an attempt to transpose the culture of the British gentry to the Iowa prairie. A colony was set up near the main town, Le Mars. Elgin Township (the county was split into twenty-four townships, each six miles square) where George and Robert were located at the time of the 1880 census is to the north of Le Mars. There was a high dropout rate unless marriage to a local girl occurred and most, like George and Robert returned to easier locations to live their lives.

Robert McCallum (right) at Fendoch Farm, Crieff, Perthshire, c1881 drinking whisky with some friends.

Robert McCallum (right) at Fendoch Farm, Crieff, Perthshire, c1881 drinking whisky with some friends.

Emigration of Robert’s Family to Australia and New Zealand

After the death of their mother, Agnes on 31 July 1880, all the McCallum children gradually moved to Australia and New Zealand. George and Robert returned from Iowa and George with his sister, Annie Sinclair were the first to depart on 24 January 1882, on the Loch Lomond, a sailing vessel, for Melbourne, Victoria. The children were perhaps attracted to Melbourne, as their uncle, Sir James McCulloch had established himself there in 1853, becoming premier of the colony of Victoria and being knighted. Two uncles on the McCallum side, Duncan and Malcolm had also gone out at the time of the gold rushes. Duncan was a horse dealer in Melbourne, died 1877 but his wife and six daughters were still there. Malcolm became a stage coach driver in western Victoria and lived with his wife and family in Hamilton. An aunty, Jessie, who married William Russell, horse dealer, also moved to Melbourne and then Dunedin and Christchurch, New Zealand.

Viewing the twelve McCallum children, here is where they moved to and were laid to rest.

Malcolm c.1844-1907 – 1881, at Aikenshaw on the Gare Loch; 1889, Invercargill, NZ; 1890, with his brother Robert he owned Woodstock Farm, near Gore, Southland, NZ; 1894 sold Woodstock Farm and moved to Tauranga in the North Island along with brothers, Robert and William and sisters Margaret and Susan; 2 May 1907, died at his residence, Glengore, aged 63 and was buried in Tauranga Presbyterian cemetery. There is no headstone; estate of £1385.

George c.1847-1889 – After Iowa, and sailing to Melbourne, he moved with his sister Annie Sinclair, to Paynesville, Gippsland, eastern Victoria; worked as a fisherman on nearby Raymond Island, sending fish to the Melbourne market; drowned in McMillan Strait between Paynesville and Raymond Island on the night of 9 December 1889, after drinking in Cox’s Hotel and rowing home on his own. He was found next morning floating among the reeds. After an inquest he was buried in  nearby Bairnsdale Cemetery, with his headstone stating he was “of Gare Loch, Scotland.”

 Jane Thomson 1848-1918 – After time in Melbourne and Invercargill, Jane went to Adelaide, with her sister Alice; 1902 in Port Adelaide, South Australia, married William Whyte, a Scotsman from Kinross who had been out since 1853 and was successful with pastoral leases and a grocery company. Jane was his third wife and he lived till age 99; Jane died 10 October 1918 at Wattle Street, Unley, and was buried in West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide, aged 67. There is no headstone.

Ann Sinclair c.1850-1934 – Ann sailed on the Loch Lomond with her brother George in 1882; They both went to Paynesville, Gippsland, Victoria where she married John Joseph McKinley, the local school teacher; she then called herself, Annie St Clair McKinley (perhaps as her husband was Roman Catholic); Ann was a sewing teacher before having three children, two girls and a boy; she moved with her husband as he was appointed to different country schools and then to Black Rock, Brighton, Melbourne on Port Philip Bay; her husband died 1917 but Ann lived on till 1 September 1934 in a house she called ‘Aikenshaw’; the family were all buried in Brighton Cemetery, Melbourne.

Agnes Whitelaw 1854-1893 – Agnes came out to New Zealand in the early 1890s, staying at Gore, Southland with her sister Alice; she died there 18 July 1893 and was buried in Woodlands Cemetery, a beautiful rural cemetery south of Gore, with a large white marble headstone.

Agnes Whitelaw McCallum 1854-1893

Agnes Whitelaw McCallum 1854-1893

Susan Renwick 1856-1937 – Named after the first wife of her uncle, Sir James McCulloch, Susan came out to New Zealand in the 1890s and lived with her sister Margaret Miller in Woodlands, a large house near Tauranga; around 1914 they both moved to Takapuna on Auckland’s North Shore; 17 April 1917 she married Alexander Snodgrass Patterson, the son of Scottish emigrants living south of Dunedin. Alexander, through his mother was related to the McCulloch family. Susan died 25 February 1937 and was buried in O’Neill’s Point Cemetery, Bayswater, Auckland, NZ.

Robert 1859-1924 – Robert was back in Scotland when his mother passed away, being at Fendoch Farm, Crieff in the 1881 census; 1887 he was photographed in a cricket team at Narrabri, northern New South Wales; 1890 Robert was with his brother Malcolm at Woodstock Farm, Southland, dealing with rabbits and raising sheep; 2 November 1895, having moved up north he was engaged to Kathleen (‘Gipsy’) Walker whom he married in November 1897, at Ellerslie, Auckland; they had a daughter, Agnes Kathleen and son Robert McCulloch; after time in the Bay of Plenty near Malcolm the family moved back to south Auckland where Robert was a land agent and farmer at Mauku; 1919 -1923 Robert was the proprietor of the Ventnor Private Hotel at Devonport, Auckland; February 1924 he and his wife purchased the Glenalvon Private Hotel, Waterloo Quadrant in central Auckland; November 1924 Robert died and was buried in Purewa Cemetery, with a polished red stone obelisk “In loving memory of Robert McCallum of Gare Loch, Scotland.”

Robert McCallum 1859-1924

Robert McCallum 1859-1924


Margaret Miller 1861-1949 – Margaret came out to New Zealand in the 1890s and settled at Tauranga with her sister Susan; by 1911/12 her household was sold up in Tauranga and she moved to Takapuna on Auckland’s North Shore; 3 March 1928 she married a retired farmer, Edward George Roper and they lived on Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf, near Auckland; Edward died 1932 and Margaret moved back to Takapuna, dying there in 1949; her ashes were scattered at Waikumete Cemetery, Auckland

Alice Willox Blackley 1863-1931 – Alice came to New Zealand in the early 1890s and lived with Malcolm at Woodstock Farm near Gore; 27 December 1892 she married George Tod at Woodstock Farm. George was a Scotsman from Kinross and a local auctioneer; they had a daughter, Agnes McCulloch; about 1894/95 the family moved to Adelaide, South Australia where George set up business as ‘wool expert’; Alice’s sister Jane Thomson was married in their house at Semaphore, Port Adelaide in 1902; 3 January 1931, Alice died and was buried in West Terrace Cemetery (there is no headstone remaining); George Tod died May 1945 in Adelaide.

James McCulloch 1865-1936 – In the 1881 census, James and his twin brother Duncan were at Alston College in Lancashire; James became an engineer and is likely to have followed his brother to Broken Hill in western New South Wales; 6 April 1903 James married Emma Osborne Davey, a widow from Adelaide, South Australia; they had one son born in Semaphore, Port Adelaide who only lived a few months and was buried in Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch, NZ; James had problems with alcohol and in 1906 was remanded for assaulting his wife; 7 August 1915 his stepson, Allan Osburne Davey was killed on Chunuk Bair at Gallipoli with the NZ Forces; 24 December 1918, his wife, Emma died and was buried in Sydenham Cemetery; 1921 James married Lucy (Edith) May Cooling in the Christchurch Registry Office and they had four boys and two girls; James died 10 December 1936 and was buried in Bromley Cemetery, Christchurch.

Duncan 1865-1933 – Following time at Alston College, Lancashire (1881 census), by 1887 Duncan had completed an engineering apprenticeship with James Milne Ltd, Edinburgh; from March 1889 to April 1890 he worked as an engineer on coastal shipping around south-east Australia; on 26 August 1895 he married Josephine Laura Pilgrim in Broken Hill, NSW. Josephine was born in Laura, South Australia and her parents came from Suffolk, England to Adelaide in 1850. Her father was a stone mason; Duncan worked as a foreman for Broken Hill Proprietary Ltd in the booming silver mining town; when they left for Christchurch in late 1899, Duncan was given a gold medallion from his fellow foreman with “For Auld Lang Syne” on the reverse; two boys were born in Broken Hill and three daughters and two sons in Christchurch; with his brother James, Duncan worked in the Railway Workshops, shifting to Te Papapa, Auckland in 1919; Duncan died 9 April 1933 aged 67 and was buried at Hillsborough Cemetery, South Auckland


Duncan McCallum, wearing his engineers cap     

Duncan McCallum, wearing his engineers cap

Medallion on leaving Broken Hill, NSW

Medallion on leaving Broken Hill, NSW



Duncan, Josephine and baby Robert James McCallum, South Broken Hill, NSW c1896

Duncan, Josephine and baby Robert James McCallum, South Broken Hill, NSW c1896


Duncan (right back row) and wife, Josephine (second from right front row) at a country wedding at Leeston, Canterbury, New Zealand, 1909

Duncan (right back row) and wife, Josephine (second from right front row) at a country wedding at Leeston, Canterbury, New Zealand, 1909

William Thomson 1866-1937 – William moved to New Zealand in the 1890s and went farming at Waihola (near where the Pattersons, his sister Susan Renwick’s husband lived) in the South Island; he then followed his brothers and sisters to Tauranga; from 1914 -1925 he was a drover based in Gisborne over on the East Coast of the North Island where the bush was being cut and burned and sheep and cattle stations were expanding; in 1927 he married Laura Louisa Margaret Tobin in Takapuna, Auckland. Laura’s parents had taught in Native Schools and Laura was elected to the Polynesian Society in 1926 as a noted Māori scholar and fluent in the language; the couple lived on Waiheke Island with William dying in 1937, aged 71 and was buried in O’Neills Point Cemetery, Bayswater, Auckland; Laura died in 1962.


Robert and Agnes’s burial place in the Glasgow Necropolis

Robert and Agnes’s burial place in the Glasgow Necropolis


Final Rest in the Glasgow Necropolis

Robert and Agnes would have found it hard to comprehend where their children dispersed to. None of his sons took over his flourishing contracting business and while they reminisced of the Gare Loch, the houses of Aikenshaw and Summerhill were eventually sold along with the Duke Street/Barrack Street properties.

Robert and Agnes are both buried in lair 108 in Compartment Sigma, looking down over the Glasgow where they had made their home and living. “He that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life.”

All photographs from the author’s personal collection.



Rev Doctor Robert Muter DD (1771-1842)

Sunday, November 12th, 2023
Rev Doctor Robert Muter DD

Rev Doctor Robert Muter DD

by Colin Campbell

Robert was born on 13th August 1771 at Stonehouse, Lanarkshire, the son of Thomas Muter (Mutter) and Margaret Denovan.

He was originally a member of the Church of Scotland but left to join the United Associate Church in 1794.

This Church had broken from the established Church of Scotland in 1732 over the matter of patronage, or who had the right to appoint Ministers to Congregations

In 1799 he was licensed to preach in the Associate Church in Duke Street, Glasgow as a junior Minister. His senior Minister strenuously objected to his appointment. A long controversy was to follow. Despite this he was ordained on 14th August 1800 to preach in the Associate Church and was confirmed in his charge of the Duke Street, Glasgow, United Associate Congregation only (the third Minister). Originally in Cow Loan (Queen Street), the Church moved and built a new building in the classical Greek style in 1801 on Duke Street and it was in this building that he held his charge until his death.

On 20th March 1804 he married Janet Mitchell, they originally set up home at 213 George Street, Glasgow but by 1820 they lived at Broompark, closer to the Church.

He is listed as having taken his Doctor of Divinity at Rutger’s College, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA in 1832.

He died on 5th May 1842. His Daughter Lilias had married Dr William McGill.

(Ack: Thomas Annan Collection, Mitchell Library (Image), the Matriculation Albums of Glasgow University, The Glasgow Story, ScotlandsPeople, History of the Congregations of the United Presbyterian, from 1733 to 1900 Vol 2 by Robert Small pp28-29)


Robert Muter monument

Robert Muter monument

Dr William McGill, MD LRCP Edin. FFPSG LFPSG

Thursday, November 9th, 2023
William McGill

William McGill

by Colin Campbell

William McGill was born in Port William, Wigtonshire, on 27th January 1817 to Robert McGill and Helen Gifford.

He became a Licentiate of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow in 1848 (a Fellow in 1863) and became a Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 1859.

By 1856 he had been engaged by the City of Glasgow Police to be Physician to the force.

The task of a Physician to a Police Force was multi-faceted. Not only did the Physician have to be available to give forensic evidence at criminal trials (especially in the matter of sanity) but also be a general practitioner to the members of the force and their families.

He graduated MD from Glasgow University in 1867.

There is a suggestion that in 1860 he might have practiced first as a surgeon at 4 Duke Street, Glasgow with a house nearby at 3 Balmanno Street.

By 1863 had had a home and consulting rooms at 183 George Street and by 1880 he had moved to 9 Jane Street (now West George Street), Blythswood Square, Glasgow with his consulting rooms at 9 South Albion Street (the Main Police Office). He was for 40 years the Physician to the City of Glasgow Police and retired in 1896.

He died on 17 June 1899, aged 82. His wife, Lilias Muter, daughter of the Rev Robert Muter had predeceased him, and they had had no children.

(Ack: Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow (Image), text, Glasgow Police Museum, Glasgow University Roll of Graduates, Scottish PO Directories, ScotlandsPeople.)

William McGill Monument

William McGill Monument

William Muir

Friday, April 7th, 2023

by Morag T Fyfe
Originally published in Grave Matters 3, Spring 2018

A young man who met an untimely end was William Muir a 23-year-old painter buried on 24th March 1842. At this date the cause of death was recorded in the burial registers and his was very informative. It said ‘accident from explosion of boiler on board Telegraph steamer at Helensburgh’. This was the second time the victim of a steam ship explosion was buried in the Necropolis. In 1835 the boiler of the Earl Grey steamer blew up when she was alongside at Greenock killing six people and severely injuring fifteen. One of the injured, Ebenezer Bell, later died from his injuries and is buried in the Necropolis.

The Telegraph was a wooden paddle steamer built by Hedderwick & Rankin in 1841 for the Glasgow-Greenock-Helensburgh service. She was lightly built for speed, with an experimental high-pressure engine provided by John Rowan of Glasgow, in order to compete with the Glasgow and Greenock Railway. On Monday 21st March she had just disembarked some passengers at Helensburgh and was backing away from the quay to proceed to Gareloch when her boiler violently exploded. The force of the explosion completely shattered the hull and threw the engine and boiler, which were combined into one piece and weighed 8 tons, 100 feet from the ship. The noise of the explosion was heard on the other side of the Firth of Clyde at Greenock from where steamers immediately set out to render assistance. Sixteen people were killed immediately and about fifteen seriously injured while the final death toll reached twenty.

William Muir was one of a group of six or eight painters (reports vary) travelling to Gareloch to work on the painting of a new ship launched by Hedderwick and Rankin in October 1841 called Precursor (below). Precursor was a completely different type of vessel to Telegraph, the river steamer. Her first owner was the Eastern Steam Navigation Co and she plied the Suez-Calcutta route until she was withdrawn in 1858. Another passenger travelling to Gareloch was Peter Hedderwick partner in Hedderwick & Rankin who also lost his life that day.

It has proved impossible to identify William any further than the details given in the burial register. His father, William Muir, weaver, was already dead and William was buried by an unnamed brother in common ground in compartment Iota. It is not known whether he was married and he could not be identified in the 1841 census.

The Telegraph Paddle Steamer

The Telegraph Paddle Steamer


James Menzies (1799-1844)

Friday, November 18th, 2022

By Morag T Fyfe

In August 1820 adverts were placed in a number of newspapers offering a reward of 100 guineas (£105) for the capture of James Menzies.



WHEREAS, JAMES MENZIES, Herring Merchant and Fish Curer, lately residing in Jamaica Street of Glasgow, who stands charged with making FRAUDULENT INSURANCES, and PROCURING A VESSEL TO BE FELONIOUSLY SUNK AT SEA, and OF HAVING DEFRAUDED THE UNDERWRITERS, ESCAPED this morning from those who had him in custody, upon a warrant from the High Court of Justiciary,


Is hereby offered to any person who shall give such information as may lead to his apprehension; the reward to be paid by Charles Stewart, Procurator Fiscal of the Justice of Peace Court, 71, Hutcheson Street.
The said James Menzies appears to be about 50 years of age, is a little pitted with the small pox, and freckled, has reddish whiskers, is about 5 feet 10 inches in height, [stout?] made, and speaks rather thick and quickly with a Highland accent.
Insurance Brokers and Underwriters who are in the knowledge of any particulars regarding insurances effected on the Brigantine Friends, to a voyage from Greenock, Port-Glasgow and Glasgow, to Hamburgh, in the year 1816, are requested to communicate them to Mr Stewart.
Glasgow, 2d August, 1820.

James Menzies and his co-accused, John M’Dougal were due to stand trial in the High Court of the Admiralty on 9th May 1821 but only John M’Dougal appeared and James Menzies, still on the run, was outlawed. Notwithstanding this set back, James Menzies was able to resume his life as a Glasgow merchant and, on his death in 1844, left his estate, both heritable and moveable, to establish four bursaries at Scottish universities (and to be buried in the Glasgow Necropolis).

Menzies and M’Dougal were accused of removing insured cargo from a barquentine called Friends before arranging for it to be sunk in the North Sea in 1816 and of defrauding the underwriters who insured the vessel and its cargo. M’Dougal’s trial proceeded in May 1821 resulting in his conviction and a sentence of transportation for life. Menzies remained at large until March 1823 when he was found in Lochee, Dundee living under the assumed name of James Murray. On 30th June he was put on trial on the original charge but the Solicitor-General, who was prosecuting, announced that due to the absence of an important witness (Daniel Bannatyne, mate of the Friends and a witness at M’Dougal’s trial in 1821) he would reluctantly have to give up the case. The prisoner was then dismissed from the bar, a free man.

James Menzies was born about 1779 according to best calculations though no birth/baptism record has survived to confirm this. His place of birth is likewise unknown but bearing in mind the emphasis he places on the parishes of Fortingall, Dull and Weem in north west Perthshire in his will it seems likely he was born in one of them. He moved to Glasgow as a young man, went into business as a grocer and was sufficiently established to marry Elgin Menzies (1780-1840) on 26th June 1801 in the new Gaelic Chapel opened in Duke Street in 1798. The Post Office directory of 1801 lists “Menzies, —-, grocer, Bridgegate” and in 1803 the entry is expanded to “Menzies, James, grocer, 98 Bridgegate” confirming James’s arrival in Glasgow.

Only one child is known to have been born to James and Elgin, a daughter Elizabeth c1805. She died from TB in 1840 three months after her mother and both are buried in the family lair in the Necropolis. Two further burials in the lair had been tentatively identified as a brother and sister of James. It turned out that although Thomas (c1782-1842) may be a younger brother of James, Jean Menzies, spinster, (c1772-1843) is a sister of his wife as she appointed her brother-in-law James Menzies her executor in her will. The last burial in the lair (Agnes Menzies) took place nineteen years after James’s death and looks more likely to be a niece. James certainly had Menzies nephews and nieces according to his 1837 will which also mentions nephews and nieces with the surnames of Forbes and Robertson, children of married sisters.

As stated previously James started trading from 98 Bridgegate first as a grocer and from 1816 as a herring merchant. Between 1817 and 1819 he can be found in Stockwell Street and then Jamaica Street before disappearing from the directories for a few years while on the run. In 1824 he returned to the listing as J Menzies & Co, herring merchants and from then until his death in 1844 he can be found at various addresses in Stockwell Street centred on number 116 and under various designations – herring merchant, fish curer, merchant, provision merchant. In 1821 during James’s time as an outlaw he was evidently regarded as a well-established and respected member of the Glasgow community as shown by the fact that nine merchants and fish curers of Glasgow supported his wife’s petition to the Crown regarding the unfortunate position he found himself in.

Corner of Stockwell and Great Clyde Street from William Simpson, Glasgow in the “Forties”. 1899 (Author’s collection) The original sketch for this watercolour was made in 1846 (2 years after James’s death) and the view would have been very familiar to him. His own property lay just off view to the right. The corner building was replaced by the Victoria Buildings in 1854.

Corner of Stockwell and Great Clyde Street from William Simpson, Glasgow in the “Forties”. 1899 (Author’s collection)
The original sketch for this watercolour was made in 1846 (2 years after James’s death) and the view would have been very familiar to him. His own property lay just off view to the right. The corner building was replaced by the Victoria Buildings in 1854.

James and Elgin’s marriage in the Duke Street Gaelic Chapel in 1801 seems to mark the start of a close connection with the chapel as he appointed the current minister, Lewis Rose, to be one of the Trustees under his will of 1837. The managers of the chapel were also to receive a bequest of £50 for the benefit of the chapel funds. However only three months after the original will was signed in November 1837 James added a codicil to it in which he cancelled the appointment of Lewis Rose as one of his Trustees and the bequest of £50 to the chapel funds “having seen good and sufficient reasons for so revoking said legacy.” The most likely reason for James’s actions is that he was worried about the financial state of the chapel. In 1798 when Duke Street Chapel was built £3000 was borrowed to finance this and by 1837 only half of that sum had been repaid and the managers approached the Trades House of Glasgow hoping for a loan of £1200. The outcome of this approach is unknown but the subsequent history of the chapel suggests it was unsuccessful. The Disruption of 1843, the year before James died, resulted in a majority of the congregation leaving to form a Free Church congregation and the remaining members of the original congregation soon sank under the burden of the continuing debt until by 1851 the congregation dispersed and the church building lay in ruins. In happier times the congregation of the chapel had presented James with a walking stick which he bequeathed to John Menzies, innkeeper, Taybridge, [Aberfeldy?], Perthshire in his last codicil drawn up in August 1844 two months before his death. In that last codicil James appointed Rev James Boyd of the Tron Church as a Trustee showing his split with Duke Street Gaelic Chapel was complete.

One further personal detail about James to be found in his will is that by the time the last codicil was written his eyesight had deteriorated to such an extent that although the will was “subscribed by myself personally subscribing and also in furth corroboration thereof and on account of my rather imperfect writing caused by my blindness is subscribed by me through Notaries Public under named acting at my request at Glasgow the 2nd August 1844 … We James Hamilton jnr and John Monteith Notaries Public … in the premises and at the request of the above named and designed James Menzies who declares that he cannot write properly on account of blindness and after he had touched our pens respectively in token of his said request and our authority do hereby subscribe these presents for him the same having been previously read over to him in presence of us and the witnesses subscribing … “

Mention has been made previously that James Menzies left a will the main purpose of which was to establish four bursaries for students attending the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh or St Andrews after suitable provision had been made for his wife and other family members. His heritable estate comprising property in Stockwell Street, Glasgow made up the bulk of the potential capital. He owned wholly or had a share of three pieces of ground with the buildings thereon. The location of one piece of ground extending to 897 square yards which he bought from Mrs Hamilton Dundas in 1833 is unknown except for the general description ‘adjoining Stockwell Street’. It is clear from the descriptions of the other two pieces of ground that they adjoined each other on the west side of Stockwell Street, one plot of 295 square yards fronting Stockwell Street and the neighbouring plot of 434 square yards (of which Menzies owned ¾) immediately to its rear. These Stockwell Street properties remained in the hands of trustees until advertised for sale in the Spring of 1855.

Extract from Ordnance Survey 25” to the mile 1st edition. Lanarkshire VI 11 published 1860. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland James Menzies’s property was located in the block in the centre of the image, facing on to Stockwell Street to the east and with access to Ropework Lane to the west and the unnamed Ropework Entry to the north.

Extract from Ordnance Survey 25” to the mile 1st edition. Lanarkshire VI 11 published 1860.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland
James Menzies’s property was located in the block in the centre of the image, facing on to Stockwell Street to the east and with access to Ropework Lane to the west and the unnamed Ropework Entry to the north.

The advert refers to one plot of roughly 1600 square yards, formerly belonging to James Menzies, which suggests that all three plots described above were, in fact, contiguous with one another. The property is presented as a prime development site being at the southern end of Stockwell Street close to Victoria Bridge with shops and dwelling houses facing onto Stockwell Street and vacant ground behind with separate access to Ropework Lane and Ropework Entry (later East Howard Street). Apart from the purchase in 1833 it is not known how James Menzies acquired his properties nor what price was paid for them when they were sold.

By 1861 the Menzies Bursaries were up and running, applications being made to Archibald Campbell, Camserney Cottage by Aberfeldy. The choice of candidates was governed by fairly standard conditions laid down by James Menzies in his will – firstly, members of his family, secondly, persons of the name of Menzies, thirdly, persons born on the estate of Sir Neil Menzies of Castle Menzies in the parishes of Fortingall, Dull or Weem. If none of these conditions could be fulfilled then the bursaries would be awarded to whichever of the applicants was best qualified. The Patrons of the scheme were to be Sir Neil Menzies, his heirs and successors and the Church of Scotland ministers of the three parishes. The bursaries are still available today.

No portrait of James Menzies is known but by drawing on such written sources as exist we can construct a picture of a tall, well built, freckled, red-headed Gaelic-speaking highlander. He was the centre of a large extended family comprising several sisters, a possible brother, a sister-in-law and numerous nephews and nieces for all of whom he made provision in his will. His last years were overshadowed by the loss of his wife and daughter within a few months of each other and his own deteriorating eyesight. It was not the loss of his wife and daughter that spurred him to set up his bursaries as he did so in 1837 while they were still alive.

James Menzies Grave - Lambda section - Glasgow Necropolis

James Menzies Grave – Lambda section – Glasgow Necropolis

A brief notice of James Menzies’s death on 7th October 1844 appeared in the local newspapers and he was buried by an unnamed nephew in the Necropolis on the 11th of the month. Puzzlingly James left his gravestone blank and if it wasn’t for his name at the top of the gravestone his burial place would be unidentified.



This profile would not have come about if Professor Aileen Fyfe and Dr Isabel Robinson, University of St Andrews hadn’t been curious about a fish curer in Glasgow.


Scotlands People ( for James Menzies’s Trust Disposition and Settlement (1844 SC36/51/20) and Inventory (1844 SC36/48/30); James’s entry in the 1841 census of Glasgow (644/1 34/ 15); James and Elgin Menzies’s marriage entry in the Old Parish Registers for Glasgow (1801 644/1 270 309); Jean Menzies’s Will (1843 SC 36/51/19)
Post Office directories of Glasgow
Scottish newspapers on
Joan MacKenzie. The Highland community in Glasgow in the nineteenth century: a study of non-assimilation. Thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Stirling. Department of History. October, 1987.


Allan MacDiarmid and Family

Tuesday, March 8th, 2022

By John Park

Allan MacDiarmid – From ‘These Fifty Years: The Jubilee Story of Hillhead Baptist Church’

Allan MacDiarmid – From ‘These Fifty Years: The Jubilee Story of Hillhead Baptist Church’

Allan MacDiarmid (1836 – 1890)

Allan MacDiarmid was born in the Fortingall area of Perthshire about 1836. He was one of eight children for his parents Duncan MacDiarmid and Catharine Stewart who had married there in June 1824. They lived at Craigeanie Farm which is situated in the picturesque Glen Lyon about eight miles west of Fortingall. Allan’s siblings were Marjorie, Angus, Jean, Catharine, James, John and Elizabeth, who were all born between 1825 and 1843. Craigeanie farmhouse appears to be still in use today as a holiday let.

M01 Craigeanie farmhouse

M01 Craigeanie farmhouse

Allan was recorded at Craigeanie Farm as a five year old in the 1841 census but he appears to have left the family home by the time of the next census ten years later.

He had moved to Glasgow by 1861 and was living with his cousin James Anderson at 48 Abbotsford Place in the Gorbals district. His occupation was recorded as a clerk and he was probably working at his cousin’s Starch Manufacturing business. The firm of ‘James Anderson & Co’ employed 25 people at the time, and this would have been Allan’s introduction into what became his business interest for the rest of his life.

The 1871 census recorded Allan visiting the family of his future wife Elizabeth Tulloch at their home in Edinburgh. His occupation was now listed as a Starch Manufacturer and it seems likely he had gone into partnership with James Anderson by this time.

He and Elizabeth married on 6th June the following year at Newington in Edinburgh, after which they settled in the Crosshill area south of Glasgow to start their family. Elizabeth’s brother William Tulloch joined the business around this time and he also relocated to the Glasgow area.

The business was based at 124 St Vincent Street in Glasgow city centre and appears to have become rather successful. It enjoyed a period of steady expansion which saw the workforce increase from 25 staff in 1861 to around 80 employees twenty years later. The firm added gum manufacturing to its portfolio and at some point became ‘Anderson, Tulloch & Co’. It also established a registered office at 9 Great Tower Street in London. James Anderson died at Cathcart in 1874, leaving Allan and his brother in law William Tulloch as joint partners in the business.

Away from their commercial interests, Allan MacDiarmid and William Tulloch also combined their shared interest in the church when they were amongst the founders of the Hillhead Baptist Church on Cresswell St in 1883. Their fellow co-founders were John Alexander and Alexander & Charles Rose. The building was designed by Glasgow architect Thomas Watson who also designed the very similar Adelaide Place Baptist Church in Glasgow city centre which had opened six years previously. Hillhead Baptist church remained in continuous use until 2004 when it closed its doors for the final time. It has since fallen into a serious state of disrepair and despite the Grade B listed building status the future of the church is now most uncertain.

Hillhead Baptist Church, photo credit WF Millar

Hillhead Baptist Church, photo credit WF Millar

Elizabeth Morrison Tulloch (1849-1926)

Allan’s wife Elizabeth Tulloch was born at Elgin, Morayshire on 10th September 1849. She was the second of eight children for her parents William Tulloch and Margaret MacDonald who had married there in June of the previous year. Elizabeth’s father was a Baptist minister and was originally from Blair Athol in Perthshire, while her mother was a native of Elgin. Her siblings were William, Margaret, Patrick, John, Alexander, Ebenezer and James.

Elizabeth’s early childhood was spent at 14 Academy Street in Elgin until her family moved south to Edinburgh in 1856. Her three youngest siblings were born in the capital. She was still living at home with her family at Sciennes Hill Place in Edinburgh at the time of the 1871 census, a year before she married her husband Allan and moved to Glasgow.

Family life in the Glasgow area

As mentioned above, Allan and Elizabeth married in the Newington area of Edinburgh on 6th June 1873 and then settled in the Crosshill area of Cathcart. This was still an independent burgh at the time and not yet part of the city of Glasgow. Their first child Duncan was born there in 1873 and he was followed by William in 1875 and then Margaret in 1876.

The family then moved north of the river to ‘Marston’, a substantial villa at 4 Dundonald Road in Kelvinside in either 1877 or 1878. Following the move, daughter Katherine was born there in 1879 and she was followed by Allan junior who came along in 1880 to complete the MacDiarmid family.

The 1881 census captured all the MacDiarmid family at home together at ‘Marston’, with the children’s ages ranging from seven years (Duncan) to seven months (Allan), and five servants also living at the house. Allan’s occupation was listed as a “Starch manufacturer employing 80 men”.

Allan MacDiarmid died at Kelvinside on 12th April 1890 aged 54 and was buried in the MacDiarmid family lair at the Necropolis four days later. Elizabeth was still residing at Marston in 1918, but she had moved to a property on Queens Gate (now Dowanhill Street) by the time she passed away on 16th August 1926. She was 76. She was laid to rest beside her husband three days later.

The subsequent lives of the McDiarmid family children are summarised below.

Duncan Stewart MacDiarmid (1873 – 1954). Duncan attended the Leys School at Cambridge and then Glasgow University.

Leys School Cambridge from picture postcard

Leys School Cambridge from picture postcard

He gained his law degree there, became an Advocate and had moved to Edinburgh by 1903. He married his wife Robina (Ruby) Grierson at Hillhead in 1908 but continued to live and work mainly in Edinburgh. Their two daughters Hope and Elizabeth were born in the city. Duncan served as Legal Secretary to the Lord Advocate of Scotland between 1910 and 1912 and the family appear in the 1911 census living at Hampstead in London. They later returned to Edinburgh. Duncan was appointed Sheriff Substitute for Stirling in 1912, and held subsequent appointments in Dumbarton, Airdrie and then Glasgow. This brought Duncan and his family back to the Hillhead area by 1921. They were residing at 1 Kirklee Circus in Kelvinside when Robina passed away in early 1939. She was buried in the MacDiarmid family lair at the Necropolis.

Duncan appears to have moved to Kensington later that year, with his daughters although he did not retire from his position of Sheriff Substitute until 1946. That same year he married Phyllis Gray, widow of John Bartholomew another Scottish advocate and the couple set up home in Camberley where he died in August 1954 aged 80.

William Tulloch MacDiarmid (1875 – 1950). William attended the Leys School at Cambridge at the same time as his elder brother Duncan. He followed his father’s career path and by 1901 was living at 30 Palace Road in the Buckingham Gate area of London working as a chemical merchant. During WW1 William served in the London division of the Royal Naval Reserve. From 1920 to 1923 he was listed in the London Aldgate electoral register as a Business Premises Occupier at Mark Lane, which is immediately adjacent to Great Tower Street. This was the location of the registered office for ‘Anderson, Tulloch & Co’ and it appears that William was working for the company at their London office. His Buckingham Gate residence was also listed as part of the same entry. William married his Walthamstow born wife Hilda Lamarque at Kensington in 1925, after which they lived in the South Kensington area until about 1936. They later moved to Minster Lovell in Oxfordshire, where William passed away at home in 1950 aged 75. Hilda died nine years later at Oxford aged 70. They did not have any children.

Margaret Elizabeth MacDiarmid (1876 – 1956). Margaret was recorded in the 1901 census as a guest at the aptly named Grand Hotel on Trafalgar Square during a visit to London. Her brother Duncan was also listed as a guest at the hotel. Margaret lived at the MacDiarmid family home in Kelvinside until she married her Baptist Minister husband John Forbes at Hillhead in 1922. John was a widower nineteen years Margaret’s senior, and was born in Nottinghamshire to parents who were originally from Perthshire. He had served congregations in Newcastle and Edinburgh before moving to Glasgow in 1901 to become minister of Hillhead Baptist church, co-founded by Margaret’s father. He had performed the marriage ceremony for Margaret’s sister Katherine in 1920. They resided at 104 Dowanhill Street in Hillhead until John died in 1936 aged 78. Margaret subsequently moved to the London borough of Hampstead, an area where other relatives lived, and resided there until she passed away in 1956 aged 80. They did not have any children.

Katherine Stewart MacDiarmid (1878 – 1969). Katherine married her husband William McClure at Hillhead Baptist church in 1920. Her future brother in law Rev John Forbes performed their wedding ceremony. This was the second marriage between MacDiarmid and McClure siblings as Katherine’s brother Allan had married William’s sister Grace in 1910. William served as a Captain in the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders during WW1 and was awarded the Military Cross. He became a director with the Glasgow based steel tube manufacturers Stewarts & Lloyds who also had steel plants in various parts of England, and he and Katherine moved south at some point in connection with his position. They were listed in a 1939 electoral roll residing at Copse Hill in Bovingdon near Hemel Hempstead, however William died there the following year aged just 48. Katherine survived him by almost thirty years until she passed away at Thanet in Kent in 1969 at the age of 90. They had no children.

Sir Allan Campbell MacDiarmid (1880-1945)

Sir Allan Campbell MacDiarmid (1880-1945)

Allan Campbell MacDiarmid (1880 – 1945). Allan attended Kelvinside Academy and Uppingham boarding School before qualifying as a Chartered Accountant. He married his wife Grace McClure at Hillhead in 1910, she was the sister of William McClure mentioned above. They resided in Hillhead where they had five children, Grace, Allan, James, Niall and Elspeth. Allan joined the Glasgow based steel tube manufacturers Stewarts & Lloyds as company secretary in 1909, becoming a director of the firm in 1918, and was appointed chairman and managing director in 1927. The firm also had major manufacturing plants in England and the family had moved south to live at Westbrook Hay near Hemel Hempstead by 1933. They resided there until at least 1939, after which they moved to Kingshill House in nearby Berkhamstead. They also maintained a residence in the Westminster area. Allan received a Knighthood in the New Years’ Honours list in 1945, but he sadly passed away only eight months later at Westminster Hospital in London aged 64. His death was widely reported in the press. Lady MacDiarmid passed away at Tunbridge Wells in Kent in 1970 aged 85.

MacDiarmid Stone - Glasgow Necropolis

MacDiarmid Stone – Glasgow Necropolis



The following sources have been invaluable in providing some of these details and are gratefully acknowledged here:

The British Newspaper Archive website
The National Records of Scotland and the excellent ScotlandsPeople website.
Morag Fyfe at the Friends of Glasgow Necropolis website for accessing the Necropolis database.


Gunner and Driver James McLeish

Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

By Morag T Fyfe

There were two burials in the Necropolis on 22nd December 1846 the second of which was that of James McLeish who died from inflammation at the age of 41 and was buried by his son in a common grave in compartment Iota. In the burial register he is described as “late of the 4th Battn Royal Artillery, out pensioner @ 6d per diem”. No likely candidate could be found for James in the 1841 census of Glasgow but the information from the burial register was sufficient to allow his surviving service record (TNA WO97/1248/93) to be identified and the following is based on that.

James McLeish Burial Register

James McLeish Burial Register

His service record shows James as being born in the parish of Larbert, Stirlingshire 1805/6 though it seems likely that he was already working in Glasgow as a farrier when he enlisted there in the Royal Regiment of Artillery (RA) on 25th June 1823 aged 18. He served in the 4th Battalion, RA for 123/4 years as a gunner and driver until discharged in January 1836. Almost half of his service was spent on the Ile de France (Mauritius) but his records do not say when that was.

Prior to his discharge James went before a medical board of four surgeons at the Royal Ordnance Hospital, Woolwich on 7th December 1835 and as a result was declared to be permanently disqualified for military duty by reason of diseased enlargement of the testicles and permanent injury of the left thumb.

The report of the board survives and relates how he was injured in a riding accident near Dublin in May 1833 and sent to the hospital attached to the artillery barracks at Islandbridge, Dublin. He continued to perform his normal duties but by August 1834 he was unable to ride due to enlarged testicles. Later in 1834 an accidental explosion of a gun resulted in him dislocating his left thumb and a year later he had not regained full use of it.

On his discharge he seems to have returned to Glasgow while he was enrolled as an out pensioner of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea on 13th January 1836 at a rate of 6d per day, as stated in the burial register. Thanks to the hospital records we know that James died on 20th December 1846.

Islandbridge Barracks were renamed Clancy Barracks after independence and sold off in 2001 after almost 200 years in military use. Below (on the right) is the existing Artillery Stores as photographed in 2010 before redevelopment.

Islandbridge Barracks were renamed Clancy Barracks after independence

Islandbridge Barracks were renamed Clancy Barracks after independence


James Howe McClure

Thursday, February 4th, 2021

Alexander Mackenzie

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

Alexander Mackenzie and his cast iron Monument, Glasgow Necropolis

Alexander Mackenzie Monument

Alexander Mackenzie Monument

1.0  Background

The Memorial to Alexander Mackenzie sited in Compartment Upsilon in the Glasgow Necropolis is a unique cast iron creation with memorial stone insert. The inscription identifies “Alexander Mackenzie, merchant, Glasgow, died 31st January 1875, aged 62 years; Alice Melrose his wife, died 4th January 1900, aged 82 years”, and “other family members are buried here.”

The monument was cast by the Sun Foundry of George Smith and Company as an assembly of parts and is marked with their company details.

Alexander Mackenzie Monument - Sun Foundry Mark

Alexander Mackenzie Monument – Sun Foundry Mark


This Memorial has long been recognised as an important piece of Scottish architectural ironwork from a famous Scottish firm. It is now apparent that the connection between Alexander Mackenzie and the Sun Foundry of George Smith and Company went well beyond the supply of this monument. This discovery significantly increases  the significance of the monument.

2.0 Significance

2.1 Context

Scottish foundry companies were the leading architectural iron founders in the world. From the establishment of Carron in 1759, the invention of the hot blast in 1828 and the discovery of black-band ironstone in 1804 all the ingredients were in place for rapid development.

The earliest Glasgow architectural ironwork firms started in 1804 with the arrival of the Phoenix Foundry. From this firm began McDowall Steven in 1834. Many other firms grew up on the back of the increasing demand for sanitary castings and so the appetite for decorative ornament increased. The arrival of Saracen in 1850 marked the start of a new phase, and from these works sprang the Sun Foundry of George Smith, the Lion Foundry of Kirkintilloch and a host of other firms.

The industry peaked in Scotland around 1890 but many firms survived into the mid 20th Century.

The Necropolis has dual designation as a designed landscape and a Category A asset.

Category A buildings are:

• Of national or international importance, either architecturally or historically;

• Largely unaltered; and

• Outstanding examples of a particular period, style or building type.

Category A accounts for around 8% of the total number of listed buildings in Scotland.

As a designed landscape it is recognised as an asset which is outstanding as a work of art, historical, architectural and scenic value.

In terms of cultural significance, in summary per the Burra Charter framework ; See: research/publications/publication/?publicationId=befdca67-7782-4aee-8649-a5c300ab4cdf

2.2 Aesthetic value

The design of the memorial is a unique assemblage from the firm of George smith and Co, Sun Foundry. The style is Victorian, or Revival Gothic, redolent of church architecture of the period. George Smith trained as a pattern maker alongside his brothers and in execution, the work of the Sun Foundry is amongst the best of the broad range of the Scottish firms. The technical execution of the casting directly correlates to the skills of the designer and pattern maker and in this example the quality of the carving and construction is very high.


Grand Fountain, Paisley

Grand Fountain, Paisley

The recently restored Grand Fountain in Paisley, gives some idea of the powerful designs coming out of the Sun foundry at the height of its powers

2.3 Historic value

The Sun Foundry competed with the other four large architectural iron founders in Glasgow and contributed to Scotland being the most important producers of architectural ironwork in the world for around 100 years. George Smith patented a wide range of cast iron grave monuments – some with stone enclosures, others in cast iron. These were sold prolifically and are fairly common in Scottish graveyards in particular in different configurations. David Livingston purchased a Sun Foundry cast iron marker for his wife in Africa.

Alexander Mackenzie has only recently been revealed as a founding partner of the Sun Foundry – the

primary financier – and this increases the importance of this work. Alexander Mackenzie was a cabinet maker and upholsterer as Alexander Mackenzie and Company at 87 and 89 Buchanan Street and 165

North Street. At the time of his death himself and his son Alexander Mackenzie Jnr were sole partners.

(Edinburgh Gazette, 1875)

2.4 Scientific value

The use of cast iron in grave markers was new and actively promoted by Sun Foundry. Cast Iron was seen as a wonder material, able to bring ornamentation to the masses. Whilst failures are common through stress fractures arising from the corrosion of wrought iron fixings, the application of the medium in this way remains of technical interest, and particularly Scottish. Other firms who did produce grave markers in cast iron, such as the Etna Foundry, generally only made simple markers. Smith erected a cast iron memorial to his own family in Larbert.

2.5 Social value

The Necropolis is increasingly recognised as an important architectural and historical asset for Glasgow and Scotland. The level of visitation to the site has markedly increased over the past decade by locals and wider visitors. Conservation and restoration projects alongside research and walking tours have significantly enhanced the social value of this site. The identification of Alexander Smith as a founding partner of the Sun Foundry and the monument itself ties it to the Grand Fountain in Paisley and the Clock Tower at Bridgeton Cross; all works by the Sun Foundry.

3.0 Alexander  Mackenzie

Alex Mackenzie & Company were described as suppliers of art furniture and flooring, upholsterers and cabinet makers.

From the early 1850s to the 1890s, it was based at 87–9 Buchanan Street, with a ‘steam power factory’ at 165 North Street from the early 1850s to the 1890s. The firm was originally McKenzie [rather than MacKenzie] & Crawford, house furnishers, upholsterers and paper-hangers, but from c.1852, MacKenzie continued on his own account. In an 1872 advertisement, he informed ‘architects, builders and private gentlemen’ that he had machinery for constructing inlaid floors, solidly and with close-fitting joints, and could supply ‘designs, estimates and samples’. Two years later; ‘Mackenzie’s … wood mosaic flooring, made any thickness’ was advertised, and by the 1880s, the firm billed itself as ‘Manufacturers of art furniture … venetian blinds, carvers, gilders, carpet warehousemen and general house furnishers’.

At the 1888 Glasgow International Exhibition, the firm displayed ‘Spanish and Hungarian bed-room furniture [and] a very elegant sideboard’. They panelled the Mahogany and Octagonal Salons in Glasgow’s new City Chambers around the same time, and in 1889 advertised wares including Japanese screens and Venetian glass. 4 When their lease expired in 1891, they sold off an ‘Exhibition Axminster carpet woven in one piece’, and ‘Overmantels that were £24 for £12’. 5 MacKenzie’s partner, William Miller, carried on the business alone as the ‘Charing Cross Cabinet Works’ during the 1890s, advertising ‘Architectural woodwork’ and ‘artistic carving’ as his specialities.



1: Glasgow Post Office Directories, 1850–95

2: Scotsman, 25 April 1872, p. 2.

3: Scotsman, 20 July 1874, p. 2; Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1880–1.

4: Scotsman, 3 September 1888, p. 7; Elizabeth Williamson, Anne Riches and Malcolm Higgs, Buildings of Scotland: Glasgow, London: Penguin, 1990, p. 162; Glasgow Herald, 10 October 1889, p. 12.

5: Glasgow Herald, 4 May 1891, p. 10.

6: Scotsman, 8 June 1891, p. 1.



Alexander Mackenzie Advert - Courtesy of the Mackintosh Architecture Project

Alexander Mackenzie Advert – Courtesy of the Mackintosh Architecture Project


The 1871-2 Glasgow Post Office Directory has both father and son living in the West End:

Mackenzie, Alexander, jun. (of Alex. Mackenzie & Co.), ho. 104 Peel terrace, Hill st., Garnethill.

Mackenzie, Alexander (of Alex. Mackenzie & Co., and of George Smith & Co.), ho. 8 Belhaven tr.


George Smith and Co Advert

George Smith and Co Advert

4.0 George Smith and Co, The Sun Foundry

4.1. The Smith brothers trained at Carron with their father as pattern makers. George joined the fledgling foundry of Walter Macfarlane and Co of Saracen Foundry, to become the worlds most prolific Architectural iron founders around 1851 and left in 1857 to establish the Sun Foundry. The firm grew to 600 hands within ten years making a wide range of architectural castings which were shipped across the world. Originally at Port Dundas, a bespoke Foundry was built at Kennedy Street in 1870. By 1883 Smith had been sequestrated – a knock on from the City of Glasgow Bank collapse and the circumstances of the Mackenzie family changing. The firm worked on until George retired in 1886, when the name continued to be used by others for a further 12 years in Glasgow and then in Paisley. George established the short lived Sun Foundry in Alloa, residing in Bridge of Allan until his death in 1900.

4.2. Connection with Alexander  Mackenzie

In 1857 George Smith established the firm, Sun Foundry, with his brothers Gibson and Alexander and Alexander MacKenzie. The three Smith brothers were to be hands-on in the business and Mackenzie was to find money ‘without interfering in the spending of it.’4 This situation was to create problems some time later when MacKenzie died and a large part of the capital of the company was effectively owed to his estate. Initially the Smith brothers put in £250 between them and MacKenzie £500 so, right from the start, there was an imbalance in the financial structure.

When MacKenzie died in 1875, his share in the business was £47,358. George Smith had £15,000 and Gibson £7,800 standing to their credit at this time but most of the business was now owned by MacKenzie’s estate. The address for the new site is often given as Parliamentary Road, which runs parallel to Kennedy Street, one block to the south. Perhaps the offices were located there at first or the address was more recognisable.

As a result of the indebtedness to MacKenzie, the two remaining partners, George and Gibson Smith granted a bond over the Sun Foundry to the trustees of Mackenzie’s estate. This situation proved satisfactory for both sides till 1878 and substantial payments were made to the trustees.

A fire broke out at the Kennedy Street Foundry in October 1877, but it was quickly extinguished by the Central Fire Brigade. Damage was estimated at £400, covered by insurance.

The relationship with MacKenzie’s trustees however changed with the collapse of the City of Glasgow Bank in October 1878 and, since the bank was not a limited company, the shareholders were collectively liable for the losses. The collapse of the bank was disastrous for Scottish business, particularly in the Glasgow area, taking over £5 million out of the economy. Calls on shareholders, depending on their ability to pay, reached at least £2,750 per £100 share. Despite helpful actions by other Scottish banks and an appeal fund, around 1,000 of the 1,272 shareholders were ruined and the fallout from the collapse lasted many years.

In his 1883 sequestration, George Smith had cited the collapse of the bank as causing the company to suffer but neither he or Gibson appear on the list of shareholders. His comment is therefore probably related to the drop-off in trade. In the light of this situation, Mackenzie’s trustees agreed to accept smaller payments for the time being. In 1880, Angus Macleod, who had been employed as a Commercial Manager, was assumed as a Director and Partner and he put £2,000 into the business.

Pressure from Mackenzie’s trustees increased in the early 1880s and George Smith decided to apply for sequestration in 1883. However, he had dissolved the partnership just before this allowing MacLeod to carry on running the business. Asked by the court why he did this, he replied that he thought MacKenzie’s trustees were about to call for sequestration of the actual firm.

During the sequestration examination, George Smith claimed that he had paid Mackenzie’s trustees over £30,000 since the latter’s death. Notwithstanding this, the court heard that the amount due to the trustees at 31 July 1878, shortly before the collapse of the Glasgow Bank, had been £32,437 and as of January 1883 it was £32,681, indicating that it had not been reduced. Smith blamed the over valuation of the firm at Mackenzie’s death and the pressure from his Trustees as the reasons for his sequestration.

Information courtesy of Dr D Mitchell “The development of the architectural Ironfounding industry in Scotland”

5.0 Condition

The monument is in very poor condition and, as can be seen, elements have already fallen off. This is due to fastening failure, and as this process progresses, additional stress is applied to the remaining elements. Collapsing elements are of course, at risk from impact damage when they fall and as they are in most cases of “manageable” size, at risk of theft.

As can be seen in this image, the central core sits on the corner of each column pedestal. This arrangement is not ideal as the pedestals will inevitably “spread” due to the load, initiating complete failure of the structure. This anomaly can be remedied during conservation.

It is anticipated that further collapse is inevitable in the short term and complete collapse in the medium term.


Alexander Mackenzie Monument

Alexander Mackenzie Monument

James S Mitchell ACR FIESiS






John MacQueen

Friday, May 19th, 2017
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