Alexander Dennistoun (1790-1874)

Alexander Dennistoun

Alexander Dennistoun

by Colin Campbell

He was born on August 14, 1790, the eldest of eight children and the grandson of a farmer from Campsie, also Alexander. His father, James, a successful businessman and banker, bought the Golfhill property in 1802 and Alexander inherited it in 1835 after the death of his father.

Alexander was educated at the Glasgow Grammar School (now Glasgow High School) and he matriculated at the University of Glasgow in 1803 at the age of 13.

He joined the family firm of J&A Dennistoun in 1815 (founded by his father and uncle) and it is known that in 1820 he was in New Orleans where the firm had established a branch to manage their interests in cotton. Also, in that year he returned to this country in 1820, where he took charge of the Liverpool office and resided in Cheshire.

In 1822 he married Eleanor Jane Thomson of Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas (15 years his junior) who was living in Liverpool at that time. They were to have a family of eight children, five sons and three daughters, four of whom were not to live to adulthood.

Alexander went on the manage the offices in Le Havre and Paris.

He is listed as having been admitted as one of the Burgesess and Guild Brethern of Glasgow on 24 March 1824, his father and uncle also being members.

He returned to Glasgow in 1833 to take up residence initially at Germiston House in the Barony. As well as being a director in the family business, he also went into banking becoming a director of the Union Bank of Scotland.

He became the MP for Dunbartonshire in 1835 but did not take to Parliamentary life and soon gave it up.

The Census of 1841 records him living at Golfhill together with Eleanor his wife and five of his surviving children.

His wife died in 1847 at Golfhill House from Consumption shortly after nursing her son Walter who had also died from consumption. From then on Alexander divided his time between his country retreat, Lagarie Villa at Gareloch and Golfhill.

The Census of 1851 records him living at Golfhill with two of his children and a nephew.

He survived the failure of the Borough Bank of Liverpool in 1857 in which he and others in the family were major shareholders and all creditors (to the value of £3,000,000) were repaid with interest within a year.

Alexander had begun, during the 1850’s, to acquire various parcels of land around Golfhill (Craigpark, Whitehill, Meadow Park, Broom Park, Annfield, Bellfield and Wester Craigs) as he had seen the potential in the growth of the City of Glasgow in that direction. Other landed proprietors around the burgeoning City were to do the same.

He began the creation of the suburb known as Dennistoun in 1861, with James Salmon being engaged to prepare a fueing plan for the development.

He died on 15 July 1874 at Lagarie at the age of eighty-four. He was said to have been, “Affable and courteous to all, he was endeared to his intimate friends by his high-toned honour, his kindliness of disposition, his clear head, and his capacity and willingness to give sound advice to all who asked for it.”

(Ack: Memoirs and Portraits of one Hundred Glasgow Men, the Old Country Houses of the Old Glasgow Gentry, Glasgow’s Benefactors, ScotlandsPeople, Parkhead History & Ruth Johnston)

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