Allan MacDiarmid and Family

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.


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