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Sir David Richmond

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018
John Lavery. David Richmond (1843–1908), City Treasurer of Glasgow (1887–1890) (sketch), photo credit: Glasgow Museums. Distributed under a CC BY-NC-ND licence.

John Lavery. David Richmond (1843–1908), City Treasurer of Glasgow (1887–1890) (sketch), photo credit: Glasgow Museums. Distributed under a CC BY-NC-ND licence.

A stone in compartment Zeta commemorates one of Glasgow’s Lord Provosts, , his wife Bethia Shanks, his son Alexander and his sister in law Margaret Shanks.

The following paragraphs are taken from Who’s who in Glasgow in 1909:

THE late Sir David Richmond, managing director of the firm of David Richmond & Company, Ltd., iron tube manufacturers in Rose Street, Hutchesontown, and Govan, was born at the village of Deanston, near Doune, 14th July, 1843, was educated at Glasgow High School, Athenaeum, and Mechanics’ Institute, and spent three years, on account of delicate health, in Australia and New Zealand. He returned to Glasgow in 1867, however, and began tube manufacture and brass-founding. He was also latterly chairman of the Broxburn Oil Company and the Clyde Valley Electrical Power Company, and a director of Messrs. Henry Widnell & Stewart, John Gray & Co., the local board of the Scottish Union and National Insurance Company, the Tharsis Sulphur and Copper Company, and the United Collieries.

Sir David first entered Glasgow Town Council in 1870 as a representative of the old 14th ward, and he remained associated with the same constituency till his retiral in 1899. He was a bailie from 1882 to 1886, in which year he was senior magistrate. Among other offices he was Convener of the Parliamentary Bills Committee for a number of years, and from 1887 to 1890 he was City Treasurer. He was the first Lord Provost after the rearrangement of the municipal wards, and the re-election of the whole Town Council in 1896 consequent on the recent vast extension of the city. During his term of office, Queen Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee and Mr. Gladstone died. To commemorate the former event, Sir David proposed the reconstruction of the Royal Infirmary, and for that purpose, before he retired, £86,000 had been raised; and as a memorial to Mr. Gladstone, at a meeting convened by the Lord Provost, it was determined to erect the statue now in George Square, for which £4,000 was subscribed. Sir David was also called upon to collect and transmit £57,983 for the relief of the famine in India in 1807; and £3,633 as the citizens’ contribution towards the Gordon College at Khartoum, advocated by the Sirdar of Egypt, Lord Kitchener. Sir David had also the honourable task of entertaining the Duke and Duchess of York, when they visited the city in 1897 to name the Princes Dock and lay the memorial stone of the Fine art Galleries at Kelvingrove. In 1898 the Convention of Royal, Parliamentary, and Police Burghs met in Glasgow contrary to its previous custom, and Sir David was appointed Chairman. In the same year the union of the old City and Barony Parishes took place, and the Lord Provost acted as returning officer at the election of the new combined Parish Council. He also, in 1876 and 1899, respectively, opened Tollcross Park and Richmond Park, to the latter of which he was asked by the Corporation to allow his name to be attached. Under his reign the Corporation decided to adopt the over head electric system for the street cars, and arrangements were made for the great Glasgow International Exhibition of 1901, while Lady Richmond formally opened the new Glasgow Bridge across the Clyde.

In recognition of his many services the Lord Provost received the honour of knighthood from Queen Victoria in 1899. A further testimony to his ability and fairness was given more recently, when on the appointment by Government of a Commission to enquire into the condition of hospitals at the seat of the Boer War, regarding which damaging allegations had been made by Mr. Burdett-Coutts, M.P., Sir David Richmond was one of the three sent out. He was also appointed a member of the extraordinary panel under the Local Government Act to consider Scottish applications for Provisional Orders; and on the retiral of Sir Nathaniel Dunlop in 1907 he was elected Chairman of the Clyde Trust. Sir David died at his residence in Pollokshields on 15th January, 1908.

David Richmond Grave

David Richmond Grave

Please contact or for more information or if you have information/photographs to offer.

Further information can be found at:


James Richardson of Ralston 1790-1860 and Catherine Wemyss 1792-1839

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

Photographs and information supplied by Great Grandson of David Richardson, David Steel.

James Richardson of Ralston and his wife Catherine Wemyss, 1792-1839, were married in 1814 and are buried in the Glasgow Necropolis. James founded the firm of James Richardson and Co, Sugar Merchants. The firm began business in Edinburgh and the family moved to Glasgow about 1830. James purchased Ralston, Paisley in 1841. Following the death of James Richardson in 1860 the firm was run by Thomas Richardson (See 100 Glasgow men

Thomas Richardson joined the family business at the age of 17 following a classical education in Edinburgh. When the sugar market moved to Glasgow’s Royal Exchange in 1829, the firm’s established premises in, variously, Virginia Street, Miller Street and Wilson Street. The West Indian market meant that the firm also retained property in Mauritius.

In 1867 Richardson chaired an inquiry into the Caledonian Railway Company, of which he was a major shareholder. He was also a director of the Glasgow and South-Western Railway and, in 1869, a member of the Audit Committee of the London and North-Western Railway. He died in Budapest, following an attack of dysentery, on 26 June 1872.
Following his death it was run by my great grandfather David Richardson till it was wound up in 1896 on his death.

James Richardson by Sir Daniel MacNee 1858

James Richardson by Sir Daniel MacNee 1858

Catherine Wemyss, wife of James Richardson

Catherine Wemyss, wife of James Richardson

The portrait of Catherine is a miniature and that of James was painted by Sir Daniel Macnee in 1858. There is a similar portrait in Paisley museum and art gallery and an Annan photograph of a Macnee portrait in the Mitchell library.

Alexander Rodger 1784-1846

Friday, February 10th, 2017

This notice of Alexander Rodger is taken from “The Glasgow Poets: their lives and poems” edited by George Eyre-Todd and published by William Hodge & Co. in 1903. ( Eyre-Todd’s text, in turn, is based on the biography of Rodger which appears in “Whistle-Binkie; a collection of songs for the social circle” published by David Robertson in 1853. (

Alexander Rodger

Alexander Rodger

WHEN the first series of “Whistle-binkie ” was issued in 1832 from David Robertson’s shop at the foot of Glassford Street, then the favourite literary howf of Glasgow, its best and most characteristic contributions were from the pens of William Motherwell and Alexander Rodger. It was the pawky humour of pieces like Rodger’s ” Robin Tamson’s Smiddy” and “Behave yoursel’ before folk,” contrasting with the pathos of poems like Motherwell’s “Jeanie Morrison” and “My heid is like to rend, Willie,” which struck the public taste so strongly, and made the curious poetic venture a success. Not less striking was the contrast between the characters, opinions, and careers of the two contributors.

The “Radical Poet,” as Rodger has been called, was born at East Calder, Midlothian, 16th July, 1784. His mother was in weak health, and for the first seven years of his life he was cared for by two maiden sisters named Lonie. His father, meanwhile, having given up the farm of Haggs, near Dalmahoy, of which he had been tenant, had become an innkeeper in Mid- Calder, and there the future poet was put to school. Five years later the family removed to Edinburgh, and the boy was set to learn the trade of silversmith with a Mr. Mathie. This apprenticeship, however, was cut short in twelve months by the financial collapse of his father, who fled to Hamburgh. The lad was then brought to Glasgow by his mother’s friends, who had become strongly attached to him, and who apprenticed him to a weaver named Dunn, at the Drygate Toll, near the Cathedral. In 1803, seized with the prevailing fever of patriotism, he joined the Glasgow Highland Volunteers, in which regiment, and its successor, the Glasgow Highland Locals, he remained for nine years. Meanwhile, in 1806, being twenty-two years of age, he married Agnes Turner, and removed to what was then the village of Bridgeton, to the east of the city. There, to support a quickly -growing family, he added the profits of music-teaching to those of weaving, and in his leisure hours solaced himself with
the making of poetry. Perhaps his earliest effort was a poem, “Bolivar,” written on seeing in the Glasgow Chronicle, in 1816, that that patriot had set free seventy thousand slaves in Venezuela. The peculiarities, also, of the Highland members of his volunteer regiment furnished him with subjects for several satirical pieces.

This furor scribendi however, was presently to bring him to trouble. 1816-1820 were the Radical years, when, amid the distress following Waterloo, political agitation rose to a dangerous pitch. In 1819 The Spirit of the Union, a strongly political paper, was started in Glasgow by Gilbert Macleod, and Rodger became sub-editor. But after the publication of the tenth number Macleod was arrested, tried, and sentenced to transportation for life, and Rodger became a suspect. In after days he used to tell how, when his house was searched for seditious publications, he placed his Family Bible in the officer’s hands, that being, as he said, the only treasonable book in his possession, and he pointed to the chapter on kings in the second book of Samuel. Nevertheless, on the appearance of the famous “treasonable address” on the walls of Glasgow, signed by a “Provisional Government,” Rodger was actually arrested, and imprisoned for eleven days in Bridewell. There, in solitary confinement, he consoled himself, and aggravated his gaolers, by singing his own political compositions at the loudest of his lungs.

In 1821 he obtained employment as inspector of cloths at Barrowfield Printworks, and during his eleven years in that situation he composed most of his best pieces. At the same time the poet’s political sympathies were by no means hid under a bushel. When George IV. , in 1822, visited Edinburgh, an anonymous squib from Rodger’s pen, “Sawney, now the King’s Come,” appeared in the London Examiner, creating much speculation in the mind of the public, and no little annoyance to Sir Walter Scott, whose loyal “Carle, now the King’s Come,” had appeared simultaneously. And when Harvie of West Thorn blocked up the footpath through his property by Clydeside with a wall, it was by Rodger’s strenuous energy that the public movement was directed which vindicated the right of way.

A friend started a pawnbroking business in Glasgow in 1832, and induced the poet (of all men) to become its manager. In a few months, as might have been expected, he threw up the position, and in a rhymed epistle to the managers of Barrowfield works declared his readiness to do anything “fire their furnaces, or weigh their coals, wheel barrows, riddle ashes, mend up holes,” rather than stay where he was

“Obliged each day and hour to undergo
The pain of hearing tales of want or woe.”

He found a place shortly, however, as reader and reporter on the Glasgow Chronicle; and a year later, on John Tait starting a Radical weekly, the Liberator, Rodger became his assistant. Tait died, and the paper came to grief, but in a few months the poet found a place in the office of the Reformer’s Gazette, which he kept till his death. In 1836 some two hundred of his fellow-citizens entertained him to dinner and presented him with a silver box full of sovereigns “a fruit not often found on the barren slopes of Parnassus.” He died 26th September, 1846, and was buried near William Motherwell in Glasgow Necropolis, where a monument marks his resting-place [Compartment Mnema]. On hearing of his death the Scotsmen in Cincinnati collected and sent to David Robertson, the publisher, a sum of £12 as a gift to the poet’s widow and children.

Rodger’s first avowed appearance as an author was in 1827, with a volume, “Peter Cornclips, a Tale of Real Life, and Other Poems and Songs.” In 1838 he published another volume of “Poems and Songs, Humorous and Satirical “; and in 1842 “Stray Leaves from the Portfolios of Alisander the Seer, Andrew Whaup, and Humphrey Henkeckle” these being the nommes de plume above which the satirical contents had appeared in periodicals. Since then select editions of his poems have been edited by Mr. Robert Ford in 1896 and 1902. But the poet’s name is chiefly associated with “Whistle-binkie,” in which his best pieces appeared, and of which, after the death of Carrick in 1835, he became editor.

The political heat of that time has passed away, and in consequence “Sandy ” Rodger’s satires have lost both point and sting, but his songs, touching slily and not unkindly the foibles of ordinary human nature, remain amusing as ever, and the hot-headed, tender-hearted, Radical poet is not likely to be forgotten. The late Crimean Simpson has recorded of him: “I was familiar with his round, short figure when he was connected with the Reformer’s Gazette, Peter Mackenzie’s paper. I used to see him regularly about Argyle Street, and I have often heard him sing his own songs at the Saturday Evening Concerts, which he did in a genial, pawky way.”

Alexander Rodger Monument

Alexander Rodger Monument

In the Glasgow Herald of Friday July 28 1848 is the following report:

A few gentlemen, who have interested themselves in the erection of a monument over the resting place of the late Mr. Alexander Rodger, along with two of the deceased poet’s sons, assembled, on Monday afternoon in the Necropolis, for the purpose of seeing the ceremony performed of laying the foundation-stone. The monument, which is nearly completed, is of the Grecian order, and is surmounted by a sarcophagus, upon which is carved a very correct medallion portrait of Rodger. Mr. James M’Nab of the Glasgow Constitutional Office, previous to laying the stone deposited a bottle, hermetically sealed, in a cavity in the basement, containing a volume of the poet’s works, the manuscript of his latest production, copies of the Glasgow newspapers, the card of Mr. Mossman, the artist, and several other documents. The inscription upon the monument, which, it may be mentioned, overlooks Drygate Bridge, the scene of one of the poet’s earliest and most humourous songs, is as follows :—

“To the Memory of
Alexander Rodger,
A poet
Gifted with feeling, humour, and fancy;
A Man
Animated by generous,
Cordial, and comprehensive sympathies,
Which adversity could not repress,
Nor popularity enfeeble;
This Monument
Is erected in testimony of public esteem.
At Mid-Calder, 16th July, 1784;
At Glasgow, 26th September, 1846.

“What though with Burns thou couldst not vie,
In diving deep, or soaring high.
What though thy genius did not blaze
Like his to draw the public gaze;
Yet thy sweet numbers, free from art,
Like his can touch—can melt the heart.”

The inscription was penned by Mr. Kennedy, author of “Fitful Fancies,” and the concluding lines of poetry are from an Ode to Tannahill, by Rodger. The design of the monument is exceedingly chaste, and the execution of the likeness does much credit to Mr. Mossman— Guardian.

William Bruce Hope Robertson

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

James Reid

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Alfred Reid

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Roy Family

Monday, April 4th, 2011

The ROY family lived locally in St James Road. James Roy was a housepainter. He came from Edinburgh. His wife Martha  may have worked for Collins the printers before her marriage. She had been brought up in the Drygate close to the Glasgow Necropolis. Her father, John BARR, was a calenderer or clothlapper in the mills. Roy Family Grave

James and Martha’s eldest child was their only son, Alexander. They had 5 daughters, Martha, Catherine, Mary, Jemima, and Anna.  The headstone was probably commissioned by Martha and Mary who lived with their mother, Martha ROY until her death in 1946.  The grave is close to the Wishart Street gates. It is the 9th on the left as you walk up the path towards the bridge from there.

The first to be buried in this lair was Alexander Roy. He died on the 19th April 1898 at the age of 18 in Glasgow Royal Infirmary. The cause of death is given as Bright’s Disease but it is possible that this diagnosis was wrong and that he died from Weil’s Disease (leptospirosis). His death  followed an accident when Alexander and a friend had been fooling about at the Forth and Clyde Canal. Alex fell in. His friend, a nephew of Professor Glaister of Glasgow University, fished him out and took him to the Glaister home where his clothes were dried before he returned to his own home so that his family would not worry about what had happened. Infection and death followed. Alexander was buried in the Glasgow Necropolis on 21 April 1898 .

5 years later Alexander’s father, James ROY died too at the age of 50 as a result of a fatal accident.   He was killed while painting the Council Hall in Municipal Buildings (City Chambers) in preparation for a visit by the King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra on 14 May 1903 . The main purpose of the visit was to lay the foundation stone of the new building of the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College which later became the University of Strathclyde but, among other engagements, they attended a luncheon in the City Chambers.

The Evening Times of  30 April, 1903 reported:-

“Fatality in Municipal Buildings

This forenoon a painter working on a scaffold in the Council Hall, Municipal Buildings became suddenly ill and fell a distance of 14 feet. He was conveyed in an unconscious condition to the Royal Infirmary where he died 10 minutes afterwards.”

A Fatal Accident enquiry was held and the entry in the Register of Corrected Entry, issued by the procurator fiscal’s office on 10 August, 1903, noted that a jury had determined that he had died as a result of injuries sustained the same day when he overbalanced and fell from a plank to the ground about 14 feet below.

James ROY’s wife Martha lived  to the age of 92. She died on 3rd April 1946 at her home in Dennistoun. She too was buried in the family lair in the Glasgow Necropolis.

The headstone is also in memory of two daughters of James and Martha. They were both buried in Providence, Rhode Island, USA.

Anna, the youngest daughter, married an army officer, George Edward Miller during WW1. Sadly he did not survive the war. Anna was left with a pension which gave her independence. She emigrated to the USA where she became social secretary to a wealthy socialite in Rhode Island. Her sister Mima, emigrated later. She had worked in Glasgow as a dress designer for Dalys’. In the States, she designed clothes for Macey’s in New York.

Both sisters died from breast cancer in their 40s.

Archibald St. Clair (Sinclair) Ruthven

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

This profile was researched and written by Ashley Jameson.

ARCHIBALD ST. CLAIR (SINCLAIR) RUTHVEN was born on September 25, 1813 in Edinburgh (Canongate parish) to James Ruthven Jr., a printer in Edinburgh, and his wife Margaret Sinclair. He was the youngest of four siblings: Jean St. Clair (born 1807), James (1809), and Margaret (1811).1


Archibald St Clair (Sinclair) Ruthven

Little is known about Ruthven’s early years in Edinburgh, as he immigrated to the United States in 1832, and, apart from occasional travel, remained in the States until around the time of his death.

ByEnglish Importing House Clipping age 23, Ruthven was a merchant pursuing business in the New York City area, and it is likely that he met and married his wife, a native New Yorker by the name of Jane Ann Coats, around this time.2 In 1840, the couple moved to Houston, Texas where A.S. Ruthven and his associate Charles Power operated an English Importing House that sold a variety of imported dry goods, hardware, groceries and other “articles,” and where he sold passage on ships bound for England.

Just one year after his arrival in Houston, Ruthven was initiated into the state’s first Masonic lodge, Holland Lodge No. 1, and very quickly advanced through its ranks, serving first as Senior Warden in 1842, and later in a wide variety of both elective and appointive offices for the Grand Lodge of Texas, chief among which being those of Grand Master (1846-1847), and Grand Secretary (1848-1861). It was during his time as Grand Secretary that Ruthven compiled   the two-volume Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Texas: 1837-1857, a chronicle of the early history and important records of the organization for which he is most recognized within the Masons.3

In addition to Freemasonry, Ruthven was also active with the Knights Templar of the Indivisible Friends Commandery No. 1 at New Orleans, and later the Ruthven Commandery No. 2 at Houston which was so named in his honor. Both he and his wife Jane were also members of Christ Church in Houston.4

In 1844, Ruthven became involved in protesting the annexation of the Republic of Texas to the United States. Along with a group of other British residents in the area, Ruthven composed a Memorial to the Earl of Aberdeen, Queen Victoria’s principal Secretary of State, urging “Her Majesty’s Govt…to guard against any project inconsistent with the Political Independence of the Republic.” Most of the 32 signers of the Memorial were, like Ruthven, “engaged in Commercial pursuits,” and feared  that annexation would give the United States the “power to establish a Monopoly of North American Commerce” as well as “complete ascendancy” in the affairs of the continent.5 Though ultimately unsuccessful, the Memorial serves as another testament to Ruthven’s continued involvement in business and community affairs both locally and internationally.

Around 1855, Ruthven and his wife relocated 50 miles Southeast to Galveston, Texas, at which time he began serving as the Texas Representative in cotton purchasing of Nelson, Clements & Co. of New York, and by 1857, of Powell & Ruthven of Galveston. Business appears to have been steady for Ruthven – so much so that in 1860 a steamboat, the A.S. Ruthven, was commissioned to haul cotton along the Trinity River between the ports of Magnolia and Galveston. By 1861, however, she had been leased to the Texas Marine Department for use as a transport vessel during the Civil War. The recovered anchor of the A.S. Ruthven remains on display in Palestine, Texas as a tourist attraction to this day.6


Bell from the A. S. Ruthven

               Bell from the A. S. Ruthven

Texas Historical Marker - Butler Church Bell

Texas Historical Marker – Butler Church Bell


Ruthven was himself involved in running the blockade of the Texas coast during the war, and was even incarcerated for a time in Matamoras as a result of a freight mishap which purportedly violated the revenue and neutrality laws of Mexico.7 Near the end of the war, Ruthven and his wife returned to Scotland for a visit, at which point he appears to have fallen ill for several months.8

A.S. Ruthven died of tuberculosis on July 24, 1865 at Broomhill Cottage in Pollokshields. He was interred in an unmarked grave in the Iota section of the Necropolis on July 27th. Ruthven was remembered by the Grand Lodge of Texas as “much beloved by all who knew him for his many qualities of heart and mind, for his genial nature and generous impulses.”9 He left behind his wife Jane who returned to Texas after his death, and survived him by two years. She was interred at a Masonic cemetery in Houston, Texas. The couple had no children.

Over a century after his death, the reverend R. Bruce Brannon, a past Grand Master of the Texas Freemasons, arranged for a monument to be commissioned in the Glasgow Necropolis to honour Ruthven and to serve as a proper gravemarker. A commemorative dedication ceremony was held on June 25, 1969, and was attended by several members of both the Grand Lodge of Scotland and the Grand Lodge of Texas.10

1Access to birth and death records of all Ruthven children courtesy of ScotlandsPeople (, Last accessed October14, 2010.

2 Donavon Duncan Tidwell, “Archibald St. Clair Ruthven,” The Texas Freemason (Summer 1980): 16-19.

3 Barbara Mechell, “A.S. Ruthven: Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas,” Messenger 2, no. 4 (Spring 2001). The Proceedings were published by Ruthven in 1860.

4 Angela Boswell, “The Meaning of Participation: White Protestant Women in Antebellum Houston Churches,” The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 99, no. 1 (1995): 39.

5 Letter from Ruthven and Others to the Earl of Aberdeen 1844, A.S. Ruthven File, the Masonic Grand Lodge Library and Museum of Texas.

6 Robert M. Hayes, “East Texas Note Book,” Dallas Morning News, 22 January 1960, sec. I, p. 9.

7 Tidwell, 17. (Citation referenced in a letter to Dr. James D. Carter, A.S. Ruthven file, the Masonic Grand Lodge Library and Museum of Texas).

8 Death Record of A.S. Ruthven,, Last accessed October14, 2010.

9Grand Lodge of Texas news clipping from 1865, A.S. Ruthven File, the Masonic Grand Lodge Library and Museum of Texas.

10 “Masonic News,” Glasgow Evening Citizen, 20 June 1969.

Image Credits:
Jane Ruthven’s gravestone in Houston, TX © The Masonic Grand
Lodge Library and Museum of Texas, reproduced with permission

Anchor from the Steamboat Ruthven, Photograph, ca. 1920; University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History crediting Anderson County Historical Commission, Palestine, Texas.

Powell & Ruthven advertisement in the Texas Almanac for 1857], Digital Image courtesy of the Library of Congress American Almanac Collection

Archibald St.Clair Ruthven picture: © The Masonic Grand Lodge Library and Museum of Texas,  Reproduced with permission

Ruthven memorial stone commemoration ceremony:  © The Masonic Grand Lodge Library and Museum of Texas,  Reproduced with permission

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