The Other Burrell Brothers.

William Burrell and Isabella Guthrie married in 1856[i] and had nine children, one of whom was to become Sir William Burrell (SWB), ship owner and art collector. There were three other sons and five daughters. Three of the daughters got married, one remained a spinster, and the fifth died at the age of six. But what of the brothers?

They were George Burrell, who joined with SWB in the Burrell & Son shipping business, Adam Guthrie Burrell, and Henry Stuart Burrell.

Note: to avoid confusion brothers George, Adam and Henry will always appear in bold. Sir William Burrell will always be referred to as SWB. 

George Burrell

George Burrell was the first of the nine children, being born on the 19th November 1857 at 3 Scotia Street, Glasgow.[ii] In the 1871 census he and brothers Adam and SWB were recorded as attending school in Abbey Park, St Andrews.[iii]

He joined the family firm Burrell & Son in 1872, age fifteen[iv], being described as a forwarding agent’s clerk in the census of 1881[v] and was first listed in the Post Office Directories in 1884.[vi] George’s grandfather, also George, had started the business sometime in the early 1850s. From the time of his marriage in 1831 to 1855 he had been described as a clerk, in what business is not specified in any of the registration documents or censuses pertaining to him. However in his first entry in the P.O. Directory of 1856-57 he is described as a shipping agent,[vii] the following year’s directory containing the first entry of Burrell & Son, when son William (senior) joined him.[viii]

There is some evidence to suggest that grandfather George and William (senior) had been involved in the shipping business as early as 1851. In the census of that year a William Burrell is recorded as lodging with John McGregor, lock keeper on the Forth and Clyde Canal near Camelon. He was age 20, born in Glasgow, (William Burrell senior was born in January 1832 in Glasgow[ix]), and was a shipping agent, strong circumstantial evidence that this is George and SWB’s father William.[x] Additionally William senior’s brother Henry is recorded in the 1861 census as a ship agent in Grangemouth, providing the company with representation at both ends of the canal.[xi]

George married Anne Jane McKaig on the 19th December 1883 at the bride’s family home, 30 New Sneddons, Paisley. Her father was Thomas McKaig, a brick builder, her mother was Helen Hillcoat.[xii] George and Anne had five children, William, Thomas, Gladys, Isobel and Gordon, all born at Ravenswood House, Langbank between 1885 and 1895.[xiii]

His eldest son William was educated at Glasgow Academy and Uppingham, subsequently working for Burrell & Son. He was a keen rugby player and played with the West of Scotland Club. At the start of WW1 he joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) as a despatch carrier attached to the Motor Boat Service. Later that year on the 18th November, the boat he and three other officers were travelling in capsized on Loch Ewe and he and two of his fellow officers drowned.[xiv]

Thomas also played rugby and played a trial match for Scotland. He was perhaps better known as a golfer having won the Scottish Amateur Championship at Troon in 1923 and had played for Scotland against England in 1924.[xv] During the war he served with the Highland Light Infantry, attaining the rank of Captain.[xvi].

The youngest brother Gordon (middle name George but subsequently became Fitzgeorge), joined the RNVR in 1917 as a sub lieutenant, was assigned to various depot ships (Hermione, Egmont) heading for Port Said in Egypt, (not sure if he went there) and was demobbed as lieutenant in December 1918.[xvii]

Following their father’s death in 1885 George and SWB took over the running of the company business. It had been their father’s intention that his four sons would be involved in the company, and at least initially it seems all were.[xviii] However for a variety of reasons which will be examined later Adam was no longer with the company by 1892, and Henry left around 1897.

George was the technical man of the business whilst SWB took care of finance, their joint expertise significantly improving the company’s performance.

An interesting demonstration of their roles, and how they may be confused, occurred in a court case of 1897 when they sued the shipbuilder Russell and Co of Glasgow for £40,000. The case opened on the 24th June 1897 at the Court of Session, with Burrell & Son being represented by the Solicitor-General. It lasted almost 3 years, concluding with an appeal to the House of Lords.

In 1893/94 Burrell & Son contracted Russells to build four cargo ships. The contract specified straight keels, in the event the ships were built with cambered keels. The effect of this change was to increase carrying capacity, however it also increased draught, making docking of the ships problematic and dangerous, and in some cases impossible.

The shipbuilder’s position was that Burrell & Son had proposed or agreed the change to improve capacity. This resulted from conversations as to whether the shipbuilder’s initial planning and modelling of the ships would achieve the contracted cargo capacity. At a meeting with SWB (not George) they said that it would, SWB disagreed saying his expert (unnamed) indicated that there would be a capacity shortfall, that now was the time to increase the ships dimensions, and offered £4, a significant sum, for every ton the cargo capacity was increased.

The evidence given for the most part was very technical with both sides bringing forth expert witnesses. Additionally various Russell personnel stated that they had overheard cambering being discussed/instructed by both Burrells and their engineering superintendent James Stewart at various times and that as the ships were being built it was easy to see the cambering.

In the event judgement was given against the Burrells with the judge stating that they had presented a good case however he believed the shipbuilder’s employees evidence to be true as otherwise the managing partner Mr. Lithgow would have had to persuade a large number of people to lie and perjure themselves.

He went on to say that he believed SWB did not know of the cambering (thus ignoring SWB’s financial incentive which was not disputed) but George Burrell and his superintendent Mr Stewart did and that Russells acted in accordance with their instructions. Expenses were awarded to the shipbuilder.

Burrell & Son appealed, however on the 23rd December 1898 it was dismissed by a majority, one law lord dissenting. Burrell then appealed to the House of Lords and on the 2rd March 1900 judgement was finally given in their favour. One major reason given by the Lord Chancellor for the reversal was that he could not perceive any motive for Burrell and Son wanting to camber the ships keels and that the camber had been done by the shipbuilder because they had originally miscalculated. The Lords also chose to disbelieve some of Russell’s employees’ testimony, thus “removing the stain on Mr Stewart and George Burrell’s reputations”. Damages awarded were £16,000 with the defendants liable for all expenses.[xix]

In 1891 George and SWB applied to become members of the Merchants House of Glasgow. In the applications book there is a comment simply saying “Lord Dean to make enquiry”.[xx] In the event it appears neither became members. He did become a member of the Glasgow Art Club in 1891, remaining so until 1913. SWB joined the club in February 1893 but resigned in October of the same year.[xxi] He did however become an honorary member in 1946.[xxii]

George became a Justice of the Peace in 1896[xxiii] and by 1897 he and his family were resident at Gleniffer Lodge, Paisley, where he lived for the rest of his life.[xxiv] In 1899 the Glasgow Ship Owners and Ship Brokers Benevolent Association was formed which he joined later that year. Other Glasgow benefactors who were inaugural members were Leonard Gow and William McInnes.[xxv]

Like his brother he was also something of an art collector. He owned work by Degas, Crawhall and Melville, probably bought from Alexander Reid.[xxvi] He also supported the Paisley Art Institute annual exhibition held in Paisley museum. For the 1900 exhibition he loaned the Institute Melville’s ‘Dancing Girl’.[xxvii]

In 1925 the king approved his appointment as the new Austrian Consul in Glasgow, a post he held until he died.[xxviii]

George died on the 8th September 1927 at Ballycastle, County Antrim. His will dated 5th December 1921 named his wife Anne, sons Thomas and Gordon, and daughter Isobel, as his executors. His estate was valued at £253,475 13s 7d.[xxix]

Adam Guthrie Burrell

Adam was born on the 4th June 1859, also at 3 Scotia Street.[xxx] As previously indicated in 1871 he attended school in St Andrews with brothers George and SWB and by 1881 he was working as an engineer draughtsman[xxxi], presumably with the family shipping business.[xxxii] He appears not to have been particularly interested in this kind of career which disappointed his father to the point he was left less than his brothers when his father died in 1885. The father’s will specified that once all other bequests had been satisfied the residue of the estate would be divided between the brothers with Adam getting £2,500 less than the other three brothers.[xxxiii] He clearly was not happy with this situation and brought an action against his father’s trustees (his mother and brothers George and SWB), to determine what amount he should have been left (or £5,500), the case being heard in the Court of Session on the 17th July 1886.

Adam gave evidence to the effect that the trustees (effectively his brothers George and SWB) had understated the value of the estate by £90,380 9s 10d resulting in the estate’s residue being less than it should have been. He added that he had successfully managed his father’s ship building yard at Dumbarton from 1882 until 1885 thereby adding to his father’s wealth. During this time he had taken a limited salary on the understanding that the business would ultimately be his. In the event the shipping business in total went to George and SWB, and he received £2,500 less of the estate residue than they did. He stated that he had approached the trustees to try and resolve the situation and get what he felt was his due, however their offer of £500 and a further £2,500 over two years was not acceptable. They also required him and any children of his to forego any possible future claim on the trustees.

The trustees’ response was to disagree with the value of the estate Adam had stated and to say that not only had he a generous salary when running the Dumbarton shipyard, his board and hotel bills were paid as were his holiday expenses. They also said that his running of the yard was poor (injudicious and extravagant) and that he had greatly annoyed and distressed his father which resulted in him taking over the running of the yard. They also believed that their offer to him was greater than his due. The case was settled at the end of evidence by Adam accepting a payment of £3,000 in full.[xxxiv]

Why did the family behave in such a way towards Adam? Was he a reluctant engineer or did he make a hash of running the ship yard? Either way he clearly annoyed his father, with his two trustee brothers perpetuating the situation after their father’s death. Their motives may of course have more to do with money than anything else, which by different means, were not too different when dealing with their younger brother Henry.

One other event which may have added to Adam’s difficulty with his family was his marriage to Clara or Clarissa Jane Scott during the first quarter of 1886 in Ballina, County Mayo in Ireland. It was a civil ceremony with the religious background of either party not being recorded.[xxxv] None of Adam’s family attended the marriage which suggests he was marrying ‘outwith his class’ (Clara’s family background has not been discovered) or perhaps there was a religious issue.

In 1891 he and his family were living at 1 Athole Gardens Terrace in Hillhead.[xxxvi] He is described as a marine engineer which is somewhat at odds with the fact that he had passed his first exam in 1888 at Glasgow University whilst studying to be a doctor[xxxvii]. In 1892 he graduated MB CM (Bachelor of Medicine, Master of Surgery) with his graduation record showing that he had an association with Port Elizabeth, South Africa.[xxxviii] .

In 1893 he and Clara with their family, two sons George, age 6 and Robert, age 3, and daughter Isabella age 5, emigrated to the United States arriving in New York on the 30th May, their expected final destination being Wyoming.[xxxix]  One source has it that he did not stay very long in the States but moved on to South Africa, hence explaining the South Africa connection mentioned above.[xl] He and the family then moved to New Zealand, when is not clear however in 1902 he registered as a doctor in the city of Dunedin.[xli]

There is a suggestion that a son, William, was born in Wyoming around 1896. No firm evidence has been established which confirms that, however, if true, it means the family went to South Africa sometime after that date. That view is supported as on the 5th April 1899 son Adam Guthrie Burrell was born in Cape Town. No direct source has been identified for that date however his birth in South Africa is confirmed in his affidavit as one of his mother’s executors in 1945[xlii], and in a trip he made to the United States in April 1960.[xliii]

Adam remained registered as a doctor in Dunedin at least until July 1905.[xliv] Towards the end of that year he moved to the district of Selwyn (East Oxford) in Canterbury where another son, Roderick Scott Burrell was born during the last quarter of the year.[xlv] He continued to live there until his death on the 15th February 1907.[xlvi]

It appears he died rather suddenly as his will was written in hospital in Christchurch on the 13th February 1907. Probate was granted to his wife Clara on the 26th February who inherited entirely. In her affidavit to the court written on the 19th February she declared that the value of the estate did not exceed £100. Originally her affidavit had included the words “in New Zealand” after the value, however they were scored out and the change initialled by her lawyer.[xlvii] Interestingly there is a record of his death in the Cape Estates Death Index in Cape Town dated 1908. This index was used in the general administration of deceased estates.[xlviii] Adam was buried at Sydenham Cemetery, Canterbury.[xlix]

His widow Clara married William Alexander McCullough in 1911.[l] She died on the 28th November 1944, probate being granted to her sons Adam and Rodrick, both of whom were bank officials. Her estate was valued at under £3,300, with sons George and Ronald being left £300 each, and Adam and Roderick sharing the residue of the estate. There was no mention of daughter Isabella.[li]

Henry Burrell

Henry was born on the 1st April 1866 at 2 Auchentorlie Terrace in Bowling, Old Kilpatrick.[lii] As he never married for most of his life he stayed with his parents, firstly at Auchentorlie Terrace until c.1874[liii], Clydebank House, Yoker until 1879[liv], Elmbank, Bowling until 1891[lv] and thereafter at 4 Devonshire Gardens with his mother and various siblings until 1913. More of why he left Devonshire Gardens later.

As indicated previously his father died in 1885 and in his will he named four trustees, three of whom were Henry’s mother Isabella, SWB and George. William (senior) stipulated that if George and SWB bought Burrell & Son (at a price to be agreed by the Trustees) which they did, then they must employ their brother Henry in the business until he was 24. On reaching that age he was to be allowed to buy into the business.[lvi] That meant Henry had to be working for Burrells until 1890. In the event it seems he started after his father’s death in 1885[lvii], continuing until 1897-98[lviii], the last year he appeared in the Post Office Directory in the employ of William Burrell & Son.

What he did in the following two years is not known however between 1900 and 1907 he successfully submitted seven patents, all of which dealt with aspects of ship building.[lix] They were:

  1. 7 March 1900 – Improvements in the Construction of Cargo Steamers.
  2. 17 November 1900 – Improvements in Loading/Discharging Equipment of Cargo Steamers.
  3. 24 August 1901 – Improvements in Cargo Steamers.
  4. 31 December 1903 – Improvements in Ship’s Hatchway Covers.
  5. 11 February 1904 – Hopper Bunker for Steamers.
  6. 3 August 1905 – Improvements in Cranes for Cargo Steamers.
  7. 6 June 1907 – Improvements in the Construction of Ships

When submitting his patent applications he described himself as a ship owner. His place of business was initially given as Devonshire Gardens, after 1901 it was at 73 Robertson Street.[lx]

He was re-listed in the Post Office Directory in 1903-1904 at 73 Robertson Street,[lxi] no occupation given until 1909-1910 when he was described as a ship owner[lxii]. From 1910-1911 he was listed as manager of the Straight Back Steamship Company.[lxiii] There is no evidence that he had any connection with Burrell & Son after 1898. Between 1894 and 1898 he had held one or two shares, sold to him by SWB, in twelve single ship limited companies which he sold to Thomas Reid, ship agent, in 1896.[lxiv]

On the 1st February 1912 the brothers’ mother Isabella Guthrie Burrell died of heart failure.[lxv] She died testate with her trustees being George, SWB and Charles John Cleland, the husband of the brothers’ sister Janet Houston Burrell. She left £19036 0s 2d movable estate and in her will dated the 16th December 1901 she gave each of her children a specific bequest with the residue of the estate, being shared by George and SWB. In Henry’s case he was left £2,500. Son Adam was left an annuity based on a capital sum of £2,500, which would be paid for life to him or his wife on his death. In the event a codicil dated the 16th May 1905 changed that to a straightforward bequest to Adam of £2,500. She also empowered her trustees to sell off her heritable property as they decided.[lxvi] That in due course was to be the reason for Henry moving from Devonshire Gardens.

Initially following his mother’s death Henry continued to live at 4 Devonshire, apparently as ‘allowed’ by her trustees. However they subsequently decided that he should leave the house, presumably to sell it, which Henry refused to do saying that he had made a tenancy agreement with his mother prior to her death. The trustees (George and SWB) took the issue to court and won their case, Henry, in the Sheriff’s opinion, not proving he had tenancy of the house. In October 1913 he appealed to the Court of Session without success, the court issuing an order for his eviction.[lxvii]

Henry thereafter is recorded as living at 73 Robertson Street, his place of business.

He was to take his brothers (as trustees) to court one more time, on this occasion the issue was the sale of ship shares. He contended that as trustees they had sold shares to their respective wives on the grounds that they had really been purchased by his brothers or that the sales should be set aside because they were made by the wives of two trustees. He lost and appealed to the Court of Session during January 1915. He lost his appeal and was required to pay expenses. The Judge hearing the appeal said that in each case the price paid was an adequate and even a full one and that the transactions were exclusive of the husbands. He added that no absolute law existed which made it illegal for the wife of a trustee to purchase trust estate.[lxviii] Nothing was said about the morality of the sales.

When you consider how Henry and Adam were treated by George and SWB there appears to be very little brotherly affection at play. It seems their joint objective was always to maximise their personal wealth, fine in business but perhaps inappropriate, even objectionable, at the expense of other family members.

Henry lived at 73 Robertson Street for the rest of his life. He died at the Nordrach-on- Dee tuberculosis sanatorium, Banchory on the 15th July 1924, cause of death was pulmonary tuberculosis.[lxix]

He died intestate, leaving net estate valued at £732 0s 3d, SWB being confirmed as his executor dative in January 1925.[lxx]

As Henry left no will presumably all his siblings shared the estate equally.

[i] Marriages (CR) Scotland. Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire. 31 December 1856. BURRELL, William and GUTHRIE, Isabella. 503/00 0001.

[ii] Births (CR) Scotland. Blythswood, Glasgow. 19 November 1857. BURRELL, George. 644/06 0836.

[iii] Census 1871. Scotland. St Andrews, Fife. 453/00 001/00 001.

[iv] Cage, R.A. (1997) A Tramp Shipping Dynasty- Burrell & Son of Glasgow 1850 – 1939. London: Greenwood Press. p. 9.

[v] Census 1881. Scotland. Old Kilpatrick, Dunbarton. 501/00 002/00 0281.

[vi] Directories Scotland. (1884-85). Post Office annual Glasgow Directory: George Burrell. p. 164.

[vii] Directories Scotland. (1856-57). Post Office annual Glasgow Directory: George Burrell. p. 63.

[viii] Directories Scotland. (1857-58). Post Office annual Glasgow Directory: George and William Burrell. p. 66. . There is an error in this entry as it lists William as Walter at 3 Scotia Street.

[ix] Births (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 23 January 1832. BURRELL, William. 644/01 0330 0272.

[x] Census 1851 Scotland. Vicinity of Camelon, Falkirk, Stirlingshire. 479/ 17/ 14.

[xi] Census 1861 Scotland. Grangemouth. 479/2 13/ 2.

[xii] Marriages (CR) Scotland. Paisley, Renfrewshire. 19 December 1883. BURRELL, George and McKAIG, Anne Jane. 573/00 0563.

[xiii] Births (CR) Scotland. Erskine, Renfrewshire. 1885-1895 BURRELL 563/36, 563/27, 563/25, 563/23 and 563/17.

[xiv] The Scotsman. (1914) Three Scottish Officers Drowned. The Scotsman 20 November. p.5h. The National Library of Scotland.

[xv] Obituaries (1961) Glasgow Herald. 11September. BURRELL, Thomas M.

[xvi] The National Archives. Catalogue reference: WO 372/3/194444.

[xvii] The National Archives. Catalogue reference: ADM 337/125/441.

[xviii] Cage. op. cit. p.9.

[xix] Glasgow Herald. Court of Session 25 June 1897 p. 2e,f,g,h, Court of Session 26 June 1897 p.3g,h.Court of Session 1 July 1897 p. 10g,h, Court of Session 2 July 1897 p.9i, Court of Session 22 July 1897, p.2h, Action against Clyde Shipbuilders 1 November 1897 p.9e,f,g,h, Court of Session 24 December 1898 p.8a,b,c,d, House of Lords 27 March 1900. p.4e, f. The National Library of Scotland.

[xx] Merchants House of Glasgow: Applications Book 8 May 1891. BURRELL, George and William.

[xxi] Spoor, Freya (2011) Membership information for George and William Burrell. E-mails to George Manzor 17 August and19 July respectively. Glasgow Art Club:

[xxii] Glasgow Art Club Membership Book (1954) William Burrell. Mitchell Library Reference:

[xxiii] Glasgow Herald (1896) Notices 13 May 1896 p.6g. The National Library of Scotland.

[xxiv] Directories Scotland. (1896-97). Post Office annual Glasgow Directory: George Burrell. p. 99.

[xxv] Glasgow Ship Owners and Ship Brokers Benevolent Association (1899) Minutes of meeting 5 May 1899 and 1899 year end Directors report January 1900, p.8.

[xxvi] Hamilton, Vivien. 2002 Millet to Matisse New Haven and London: Yale University Press. Appendix 3 p.199.

[xxvii] Glasgow Herald. (1900) Paisley Art Institute. Glasgow Herald 27 December. p.2c. The National Library of Scotland.

[xxviii] The Scotsman. (1925) New Austrian Consuls in Scotland. The Scotsman 9 May. p.11h. The National Library of Scotland.

[xxix] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 11 November 1927. BURRELL, George. National Probate Index (Calendar of Confirmations and Inventories), 1876-1936. Volume 1927, p. B124. Mitchell library, Glasgow.

[xxx] Births (CR) Scotland Blythswood, Glasgow. 4 June 1859. BURRELL, Adam Guthrie. 644/06 0428.

[xxxi] Census 1881. Scotland. Old Kilpatrick, Dunbarton. 501/00 002/00 0281.

[xxxii] Cage. op. cit. p.9.

[xxxiii] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 2 September 1885. BURRELL, William. Dumbarton Sheriff Court. SC65/34/29.

[xxxiv] Glasgow Herald (1886) Court of Session 17 July 1886. p.7a, b. The National Library of Scotland.

[xxxv] Marriages Index (CR) Ireland. 1st Qtr. 1886. BURRELL, Adam Guthrie and SCOTT, Clara Jane. Collection: Ireland, Civil Registration Indexes 1845–1958. Vol.4, page 3. FHL film number 101255.

[xxxvi] Census 1891 Scotland. Hillhead, Partick, Lanarkshire. 646/03 044/00 035.

[xxxvii] Leeds Mercury (1888) University Intelligence, Glasgow. 18 October 1888. p.7d. The National Library of Scotland.

[xxxviii] Addison, W. Innes (1898). A Roll of the Graduates of Glasgow University. Glasgow: James Maclehose & Sons. p. 80.

[xxxix] Passenger List for the S.S. State of California, departing Glasgow for New York. BURRELL, Adam Gl.

[xl] Marks, Richard (1983). Burrell – A Portrait of a Collector. Glasgow: Richard Drew Publishing. p.39, 40.

Collection: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897.

[xli] Directories. New Zealand. (1902) The New Zealand Gazette: Registers of Medical Practitioners and Nurses, 1873, 1882-1933. BURRELL, Adam Guthrie. p. 110.

[xlii] Testamentary Records. New Zealand. Archives New Zealand, Probate Records, 1843-1998. Clara Jane McCullough 1945; Timaru Probate Files, 1871-1997, record number TU6272/1945. Family search digital folder 005514317.

[xliii] National Archives at Washington, D.C. Passenger Manifests of Airplanes Arriving at San Antonio, Texas, 1893-1963. Adam Guthrie Burrell 18 April 1960.  American Airways, flight number 630.

[xliv] Directories. New Zealand. (1905) The New Zealand Gazette: Registers of Medical Practitioners and Nurses, 1873, 1882-1933. BURRELL, Adam Guthrie. p. 95.

[xlv] Births Index. New Zealand. Oxford, Canterbury. 1905. BURRELL, Roderick Scott 1905/17306. and Testamentary Records. New Zealand. Archives New Zealand, Probate Records, 1843-1998. Clara Jane McCullough 1945; Timaru Probate Files, 1871-1997, record number TU6272/1945. Family search digital folder 005514317.

[xlvi] Deaths. New Zealand. Cemetery Records, 1800-2007. Sydenham Cemetery, Canterbury. 15 February 1907. BURRELL, Adam Guthrie. Area 1, Row 1.

[xlvii] Testamentary Records. New Zealand. Archives New Zealand, Probate Records, 1843-1998. Adam Guthrie Burrell 1907; Christchurch Probate Files, 1855 -2003, record number CH5487/1907. Family search digital folder 100814253.

[xlviii] Cape Town and National Archives. Cape Province, South Africa, Estates Death Notice Index, 1834-1956. 1908. Adam Guthrie Burrell.  Vol. 6/9/508, Reference 11.

[xlix] Deaths. New Zealand. Cemetery Records, 1800-2007. Sydenham Cemetery, Canterbury. 15 February 1907. BURRELL, Adam Guthrie. Area 1, Row 1.

[l] Marriages Index. New Zealand. Canterbury. 1911. McCULLOUGH, William Alexander and BURRELL, Clara Jane. 1911/2404.

[li] Testamentary Records. New Zealand. Archives New Zealand, Probate Records, 1843-1998. Clara Jane McCullough 1945; Timaru Probate Files, 1871-1997, record number TU6272/1945. Family search digital folder 005514317.

[lii] Births (CR) Scotland. Old Kilpatrick, Dumbarton. 1 April 1866. BURRELL, Henry. 501/00 0054.

[liii] Directories Scotland. (1874-75). Post Office annual Glasgow Directory: William Burrell. p. 118.

[liv] Directories Scotland. (1879-80). Post Office annual Glasgow Directory: William Burrell. p. 132.

[lv] Directories Scotland. (1891-92). Post Office annual Glasgow Directory: William Burrell. p. 167.

[lvi] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 2 September 1885. BURRELL, William. Dumbarton Sheriff Court. SC65/34/29.

[lvii] Cage. op. cit. p.10.

[lviii] Directories Scotland. (1897-98). Post Office annual Glasgow Directory: Henry Burrell. p. 104.

[lix] European Patents Office. Henry Burrell.

[lx] Ibid

[lxi] Directories Scotland. (1903-04). Post Office annual Glasgow Directory: Henry Burrell. p. 115.

[lxii] Directories Scotland. (1909-10). Post Office annual Glasgow Directory: Henry Burrell. p. 138.

[lxiii] Directories Scotland. (1910-11). Post Office annual Glasgow Directory: William Burrell. p. 642.

[lxiv] Cage. op. cit. p. 92 to 107.

[lxv] Deaths (CR) Scotland. Crieff, Perth. 1 February 1912. BURRELL, Isabella Duncan. 342/00 0005.

[lxvi] Testamentary Records. Scotland. I June 1912. BURRELL, Isabella. Glasgow Sheriff Court Wills. SC36/51/158.

[lxvii] The Scotsman. (1913) Ejection from Kelvinside House. The Scotsman 31 October. p. 10c. The National Library of Scotland.

[lxviii] The Scotsman. (1915) Court of Session. The Scotsman 20 January. p. 11a. The National Library of Scotland.

[lxix] Deaths (CR) Scotland. Banchory, Kincardine. 15 July 1925. BURRELL, Henry. 252/00 0024.

[lxx] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 5 January 1925. BURRELL, Henry. Glasgow Sheriff Court Inventories.SC36/48/358.

William McInnes (1868-1944)

In 1944 ship owner, Sir William Burrell donated to Glasgow his collection of paintings, Japanese and Chinese ceramics, tapestries, sculpture, stained glass and many other artefacts, totalling some 6000 items. By the time of his death in 1958 the donation had grown to over 8000 items, probably one of the greatest collections ever amassed by an individual. The collection is housed in a dedicated building in Pollok Park and has a world-wide reputation for its range and quality.

Earlier that year, on the 19th March, another ship owner, William McInnes, died at his home in Mariscat Road, Glasgow. In his will he bequeathed his collection, some 700 items including over 70 paintings, to Glasgow. Compared to Burrell, McInnes is much less well known to the Glasgow public, however his French paintings, which include works by Degas, Renoir, and Matisse are amongst the finest in the Glasgow Municipal collection.

Undoubtedly McInnes is, correctly, overshadowed by Burrell. The following however is an attempt to appropriately redress the balance between the two men. Whilst there can be no doubt that Burrell’s gift is and will remain unsurpassed, McInnes’s significant contribution to Glasgow’s cultural life deserves broader acknowledgement than it has received so far.

William McInnes’s paternal family originated in Crieff, Perthshire. His grandparents William and Janet married in 1825 [i] and had eleven children, not all of whom survived childhood. William’s father John was the oldest child, born in Crieff at the end of December 1825.[ii] Seven of the children were born in Crieff or Comrie, the others in Glasgow after the family moved there sometime between 1841 and 1851.[iii] Grandfather William, John and his brother Alexander were all working on the railways by 1851, William as a labourer, John as an engine man and Alexander as a fireman.

Ten years later the family home was at 6 Salisbury Street in the Gorbals where John and his siblings lived with their parents. The three men continued to work on the railways, William now being a timekeeper. John’s three sisters, Jessie, Jeanie and Mary were milliners.[iv]

In 1867 John McInnes married Margaret McFadyen from Neilston on 28th June. At the time of his marriage he was working as a railway engine driver.[v] They lived at 6 Cavendish Street where their four children were born: son William on 13th September 1868[vi], to be followed by Finlay (1870), Thomas (1872) and Ann (1876).[vii]

Tragically, at the early age of 33, Margaret, died of plithisis (tuberculosis) in 1879 [viii] which resulted in John  and the four children, who were aged between 3 and 11 years, moving to 6 Salisbury Street to live with his brother Andrew and sisters Jessie and Mary; where Jessie acted as housekeeper and surrogate mother to the children.[ix] This manifestation of strong family ties working to bring some good out of a bad and difficult situation I’m sure had a lasting impression on William. His friendships, particularly with the artist George Leslie Hunter and his support of family members in later life, provide evidence of that.

It’s not clear where William received his schooling although one source has suggested that he attended Hutcheson Grammar at the same time as the author John Buchan.[x] Having talked to the administration staff at the school this has not been confirmed.

In 1882 John’s sister Mary married Gavin Shearer in Glasgow.[xi] Gavin aged 44 was an Insurance Broker working for the Glasgow Salvage Company Ltd.[xii] whose business was marine salvage. The marriage was childless and short lived as he died in 1887 from tuberculosis. At the time of his death he was secretary of the salvage company.[xiii]

William was aged 19 at this time and probably had been in employment for some time. Was Gavin Shearer his entrée to the world of insurance when he was old enough? Considering how the family stuck together and supported each other it’s not unreasonable to think that his uncle helped him to get work, especially in an industry where he would have some influence. This is clearly conjecture as it’s not known what employment, if any, he was in at the time of his uncle’s death, however by 1891 he was working as a marine insurance clerk for P.H.Dixon and Harrison.[xiv]

Four years later the company merged with Allan C. Gow to form Gow, Harrison and Company. Allan Carswell Gow had established his shipping company in the early 1850s. In 1853 he was joined in the business by his brother Leonard who on Allan’s death in 1859 became head of the firm. His younger son, also Leonard, in due course joined the business which by this time had offices in London as well as Glasgow.[xv] Senior partners in the new company which was located at 45 Renfield Street were the young Leonard Gow and John Robinson Harrison; McInnes continued to be employed as a marine insurance clerk.[xvi]  In 1899 the Glasgow Ship Owners and Ship Brokers Benevolent Association was formed, which Gow, Harrison and McInnes joined in its inaugural year. Another well-known Glasgow shipping name also joined later that year, George Burrell of William Burrell and Son, brother to the future Sir William Burrell.[xvii] McInnes possibly became a partner in the business in 1907, the first year he appeared in the Glasgow Post Office Directory, however it’s more likely to have been 1922 when John Harrison retired from the business and his son Ion joined it. In 1929 William became godfather to Ion’s son Iain Vittorio Robinson Harrison.[xviii]

Between 1899 and 1907 William’s brothers and sister married. Thomas married Jessie McEwan in 1899 at the Grand Hotel, Glasgow, there were no children of the marriage; Finlay married Agnes Hamilton at 95 Renfield Street on 15th February 1907, they had one son who was born on 8th December of the same year; Ann married William Sinclair on 27th February 1907 at 22 Princes Street, which was where the McInnes family then stayed.[xix] Shortly afterwards Ann and William emigrated to the United States and settled in Maine where their three sons William (1908), John (1912) and Andrew (1916) were born.[xx]

William McInnes never married although according to one source he was close to it. Lord McFarlane of Bearsden relates the story that his wife’s aunt and McInnes planned to marry but her father forbade it because he ‘didn’t have enough siller’.[xxi]

McInnes moved to 4 Mariscat Road, Pollokshields in 1909 and lived there for the rest of his life with his elderly father and his uncle Andrew and aunt Mary.

It’s not clear when he started his collection, however it’s likely that his collecting activity would be prompted, certainly influenced by his relationship with Gow who became a renowned collector in his own right, particularly of paintings and Chinese porcelain. You can also envisage that Gow was the means by which McInnes met Alexander Reid and hence Leslie Hunter. What is known is that he bought his first painting, ‘Autumn’ by George Henry from Alexander Reid in 1910.[xxii] His final purchase was ‘The Star Ridge with the King’s Peak’ (near Gardanne) by Cezanne, in 1942, from Reid and Lefevre, London.[xxiii] This painting eventually came into his sister-in-law Jessie’s (widow of brother Thomas) possession.[xxiv] In between those purchases he bought a number of significant paintings ranging from French Impressionists to Scottish Colourists. He bought works by Degas, Renoir, Picasso, and Matiss [xxv] and was the first Scottish collector to buy a van Gogh, (The Blute Fin Windmill, Montmatre) bought in 1921 for £550.[xxvi]

Fig. 1 van Gogh, Vincent; The Blute-Fin Windmill, Montmartre© CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (

He also purchased, glassware, ceramics and silver which in due course, along with his paintings, formed the basis of his eventual bequest to Glasgow.[xxvii]

In a Kelvingrove museum publication of 1987 the then Fine Art keeper Ann Donald commented as follows: ‘The most important individual 20th Century benefactor to date has been William McInnes (1868-1944), a Glasgow ship owner who left to his native city his entire collection of over 70 paintings as well as prints, drawings, silver, ceramics and glass. The bequest included 33 French works (many of them bought from Alexander Reid) by key artists such as Monet, Degas, Renoir, van Gogh, Cezanne and Picasso, whilst the British pictures were mostly by the Glasgow Boys and the Scottish Colourists, of whom he was a regular patron. This donation firmly established the international importance of Glasgow’s French collection.’[xxviii]

McInnes is described by those who knew him as a modest, unassuming individual who did not seek attention or the limelight.[xxix]and may have found these comments not particularly welcome, despite them being highly complimentary. McInnes valued his friendships and his family, which is evident from the support he gave, and his ability to listen to the advice he was given. He was able to take the artistic guidance given him by the likes of Leslie Hunter, Tom Honeyman and others, and act on it if he thought it appropriate to do so, which wasn’t always. He bought paintings it’s said not only for his own pleasure but for that of his friends.[xxx] He gave unstinting support to family and friends, particularly Leslie Hunter and his closest family members.

As stated earlier, William lived with his father, and aunt and uncle, for a number of years at Mariscot Road, incidentally where most of his paintings were housed. His father died in 1911, aged 85, cause of death being senile decay and pneumonia. His uncle Andrew, aged 81, died in April 1930 from senility and glycosuria (untreated diabetes); his aunt Mary, aged 83, also died in 1930 (August) from glycosuria.  Both died at home.[xxxi]

These are very distressing and difficult conditions, not only for the sufferers, but for those who have to care for them. When it is considered that he had a senior position in a significant shipping business, that he was a member and leader of a number of industry organisations and also of the Ship Owners Benevolent Association, in addition to whatever he had to do at home, it’s clear that William had a strong sense of service and duty, perhaps inculcated by his early family experiences. It seems reasonable to presume he found this to be more intrinsically rewarding than anything else. When his support of Leslie Hunter is taken into account, then that presumption gains credence.

The artist must have seemed to McInnes to be a vulnerable, possibly unstable individual, whose life style could be fraught and chaotic at times. This must have resonated with McInnes’s home life in that here was another person who needed care and support. This may be more fanciful than factual, however there does seem to be this pattern to how William lived his life.

Hunter and McInnes met before 1914 and are known to have been in Paris pre WW One along with John Tattersall, the trip expenses, according to Hunter, being paid for by his two friends.[xxxii] There are examples of how Hunter was helped and encouraged by McInnes and others in Tom Honeyman’s biography of him.[xxxiii] The most tangible evidence of McInnes’s support is, I suppose, the fact that his collection contains 23 paintings by Hunter.[xxxiv] There was one occasion apparently when McInnes commissioned a portrait of himself because the artist needed the money.[xxxv] The friendship between the two men was not a one-way street however. McInnes was in many respects helped and guided by Hunter in his artistic education; however the better part of the bargain must have what McInnes gave to Hunter in encouragement, friendship, and in helping to sustain his motivation and confidence. McInnes has been described as Hunter’s most important patron; that is true in a way that goes well beyond the expected understanding of the phrase.

After Hunter’s death in 1931 [xxxvi] McInnes continued to promote him by persuading Tom Honeyman to write his biography of the artist[xxxvii] and along with Honeyman and William McNair, by organizing a memorial exhibition of his work, which was held in Reid and Lefevre’s gallery in West George Street during February 1932. Mrs Jessie McFarlane, the painter’s sister, asked the group to decide which paintings to keep and which to destroy.[xxxviii]

McInnes and Honeyman met around the time Honeyman gave up medicine and moved into art dealership, probably through Leslie Hunter. It developed into a well bonded relationship, not only when Hunter was a common link between them but also after his death. Probably Honeyman is the only person to have recorded in any detail McInnes’s personality and interests which he did in his autobiography ‘Art and Audacity’. He is described as having a keen interest in classical music in which he indulged through his gramophone records and pianola, and his attendance at the Scottish National Orchestra’s  Saturday evening concerts. He is said to have played the church organ in his younger days. Art and learning about paintings and artists was also a primary interest. It’s perhaps a moot point as to which he preferred. He also enjoyed travelling to the continent, during which time visits to the various museums and galleries would further develop his knowledge of art, art styles and artists, particularly when in the company of Hunter. Honeyman describes visits to the McInnes home as always stimulating and interesting.[xxxix]

Fig.2 Matisse, Henri; Woman in Oriental Dress.© CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (

In many respects because of his interest in painting in particular, McInnes was fertile ground for Honeyman in his quest to interest industrialists of the day in fine art and bring them to the idea of donating to municipal collections. I don’t believe this was a ‘corruption’ of their friendship but a celebration of its strength and depth. Between 1921 and 1943 he donated works by Hunter, Peploe and Fergusson and in 1940 William presented Matisse’s ‘Woman in Oriental Dress’ to Kelvingrove to commemorate Honeyman’s appointment as Museum Director.[xl]

In 1931 McInnes was nominated for the vice-presidency of the Ship Owners Benevolent Association and was duly elected. The rules of the Association meant that he would become president in 1932.  However at the last board meeting of the year it was agreed that ‘having regard to the very serious time through which the country was passing the directors felt that the president and vice president should carry on for another year, especially as the honour to Mr McInnes was only deferred.’ In 1933 McInnes duly became president.[xli]

It’s clear from the minutes of the meetings held during his tenure that he played a full and influential part in the decision making process of the Association.[xlii] On his retiral from the post he donated £100 to the association funds, equivalent to £5000 in today’s money.[xliii]

William McInnes died at home on 19th March 1944 from a heart attack.[xliv] He was senior partner in Gow, Harrison and Co. at the time of his death, taking over from Leonard Gow on his death in 1936. In his will he left in excess of 700 items, including 70 paintings, to Glasgow. His bequest was made free of any legacy duty or any other expenses, his only stipulation was that his paintings would go on show at Kelvingrove. The same day his bequest came before a special meeting of Glasgow Corporation’s committee on Art Galleries and Museums it was accepted with ‘high appreciation’ following a report on the collection by Tom Honeyman, the Director of Art Galleries.[xlv]

His obituary in the Glasgow Herald stated: ‘McInnes was a man of cultured taste, he was keenly interested in music and art. He had brought together in his home a collection of pictures which was notable for its quality and catholicity.’ It adds finally ‘He was an intimate friend and patron of the late Leslie Hunter with whom he made several visits to the continent.’[xlvi]

In a sense William’s contribution didn’t stop there. In 1951 his sister-in-law Jessie donated Cezanne’s ‘The Star Ridge with the Kings Peak’ to Kelvingrove.[xlvii] In 1985 a portrait of McInnes by Leslie Hunter was sold to Kelvingrove by his sister Ann’s son Andrew McInnes Sinclair of Massachusetts, USA. The painting was handed over in person by Andrew and his cousin John McInnes, the son of William’s brother Finlay, on 9th July.[xlviii] The portrait had been commissioned by William for his sister to take back to America following a visit to Scotland in 1930[xlix]

Fig.3 Cezanne, Paul; The Star Ridge with the King’s Peak.© CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (
Fig.4 Hunter, George Leslie; William McInnes (1868-1944).© CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (









[i] Marriages (OPR) Scotland. Crieff, Perthshire, 342/00. 1 May 1825. McINNES, William and McDONALD, Janet. GROS Data 342/00 0020 0113. accessed June 2011.

[ii] Baptisms (OPR) Scotland. Crieff, Perthshire, 342/00. 1 January 1826 McINNES, John. GROS Data 342/00 0020 0019. accessed June 2011.

[iii] Census. 1851. Scotland. Gorbals, Glasgow City, 644/02. GROS Data 644/02 126/00 012.

Census. 1861. Scotland. Tradeston, Glasgow City, 644/09. GROS Data 644/09 027/00 001. accessed June 2011.

[iv] Census. 1861. Scotland. Tradeston, Glasgow City, 644/09. GROS Data 644/09 027/00 001. accessed June 2011.

[v] Marriages (OPR) Scotland. Tradeston, Glasgow City, 644/09. 28 June 1867 McINNES, John and McFADYEN, Margaret. GROS Data 644/09 257. accessed June 2011.

[vi] Births. Scotland. Tradeston, Glasgow City, 644/09. 13 September 1868, McINNES, William. GROS Data 644/09 1456. accessed June 2011.

[vii] Births. Scotland. Tradeston, Glasgow City, 644/09. 1 May 1870 McINNES, Finlay. GROS Data 644/09 0689. Births. Scotland. Tradeston, Glasgow City, 644/09. 2 June 1872 McINNES, Thomas GROS Data 644/09 0989.

Births. Scotland. Gorbals, Lanarkshire, 644/12. 22 October 1876, McINNES, Ann GROS Data 644/12 1367. accessed June 2011.

[viii] Deaths. Scotland. Gorbals, Glasgow City 6444/12. 12 June 1879. McINNES, Margaret. GROS Data 644/12 0428. accessed June 2011.

[ix] Census. 1881. Scotland. Gorbals, Glasgow City, 644/12. GROS Data 644/12 025/00 002. accessed June 2011.

[x] The Art Review, Vol 1, no.1, 1946 Tom Honeyman.

[xi] Marriages. Scotland. Blythswood, Glasgow, 644/07. 14 September 1882. SHEARER, Gavin and McINNES, Mary. GROS Data 644/07 0321. accessed June 2011.

[xii] The Post Office. 1881-1882 Glasgow Post Office Directory Glasgow: William McKenzie p.475.

[xiii] Deaths. Scotland. Kelvin, Glasgow, 644/09. 20 February 1887. SHEARER, Gavin. GROS Data 644/09 0178. accessed June 2011.

[xiv] ibid

[xv] The Merchant Navy Association: The Red Duster: The Glen Line accessed June 2011.

George Eyre-Todd (1909) Who’s Who in Glasgow in 1909 – Leonard Gray Glasgow: Gowans and Gray Ltd.

[xvi] Census. Scotland. 1901. Tradeston, Glasgow City. GROS Data 644/13 035/00 021 accessed June 2011.

[xvii] Glasgow Ship Owners and Ship Brokers Benevolent Association (1899)Minutes of meeting 5th May 1899 and 1899 year end Director’s report dated January 1900, page 8.

[xviii] Iain Vittorio Robinson Harrison – June 2011

[xix] Marriages. Scotland. Kelvin, Glasgow City, 644/09. 5 July 1899. McINNES, Thomas and McEWAN, Jessie GROS Data 644/09 0344.

Marriages. Scotland. Blythswood, City of Glasgow, 644/10. 15 February 1907. McINNES, Finlay and HAMILTON, Agnes GROS Data 644/10 0144.

Marriages. Scotland. Pollokshields, 644/18. 27 February 1907. SINCLAIR, William and McINNES, Ann GROS Data 644/18 0049. accessed June 2011

[xx] UK, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960 Class: BT26; Piece: 755; Item: 25. Passenger lists for SS California 1924 show Ann, husband and three sons, the sons’ birth place being stated as Maine USA. They arrived in Scotland in July and returned to America in September.

[xxi] Lord McFarlane of Bearsden –June 2011

[xxii]  Frances Fowle (2010) Van Gogh’s Twin: The Scottish Art Dealer Alexander Reid. Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland. p. 63.

[xxiii] VADS (2008) National Inventory of Continental European Paintings accessed October 2011.

[xxiv] Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum donor attribution.

[xxv] Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum (1987) The Building and the Collections. Glasgow: Wm. Collins. p. 101

[xxvi] Frances Fowle (2010) Van Gogh’s Twin: The Scottish Art Dealer Alexander Reid. Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland. p. 134.

[xxvii] Glasgow Museums Resource Centre (GMRC) – Inventory list of the McInnes Bequest.

[xxviii] Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum (1987) The Building and the Collections. Glasgow: Wm. Collins. p. 101

[xxix] T.J. Honeyman (1971) Art and Audacity London: Collins p 124.

[xxx] T.J. Honeyman (1971) Art and Audacity London: Collins p 127.

[xxxi] Deaths. Scotland. Cathcart, Glasgow City, 560/00. 8 September 1911. McINNES, John GROS Data 560/00 0483.

Deaths. Scotland. Pollokshields, Glasgow City, 644/18. 19 April 1930 McINNES, Andrew GROS Data 644/18 0222.

Deaths. Scotland. Pollokshields, Glasgow City, 644/18. 1 August 1930. SHEARER, Mary GROS Data 644/18 0355. accessed June 2011.

[xxxii] Frances Fowle (2010) Van Gogh’s Twin: The Scottish Art Dealer Alexander Reid. Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland. p. 116.

[xxxiii] T.J. Honeyman (1937) Introducing Leslie Hunter London: Faber and Faber Ltd. pp various.

[xxxiv]Glasgow Museums Resource Centre (GMRC) – Inventory list of the McInnes Bequest.

[xxxv] McTears auction 25th April 2006 – auction house notes on lots 455, 455a: William McInnes at his piano by Leslie Hunter, plus copy of Introducing Leslie Hunter.

[xxxvi] Deaths. Scotland. Hillhead, Glasgow City, 644/12. 1931. HUNTER, George Leslie GROS Data 644/12 1155. accessed June 2011.

[xxxvii] T.J. Honeyman (1971) Art and Audacity London: Collins p 126.

[xxxviii] T.J. Honeyman (1971) Art and Audacity London: Collins p 208.

[xxxix]T.J. Honeyman (1971) Art and Audacity London: Collins p 124. .

[xl] ‘T.J. Honeyman (1971) Art and Audacity London: Collins p 126.

[xli] Glasgow Ship Owners and Ship Brokers Benevolent Association (1931). Minutes of meeting 14th December 1931

[xlii] Glasgow Ship Owners and Ship Brokers Benevolent Association (1931/1934). Minutes of meetings January 1931 to January 1934.

[xliii] Andrew Nicholson (2011) Secy. Of Scottish Shipping Benevolent Association – email May 2011

[xliv] Deaths. Scotland. Pollokshields, Glasgow City, 644/18. 19 March 1944. McINNES, William GROS Data 644/18 0218. accessed June 2011.

[xlv] Glasgow Corporation Minutes April 1944 to November 1944. Mitchell Library reference: C1/3/110

[xlvi] Obituary (1944) Glasgow Herald 20 March 1944. McINNES, William. p. 4; accessed June 2011.

[xlvii] Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum donor attribution.

[xlviii] T.J. Honeyman (1937) Introducing Leslie Hunter London: Faber and Faber Ltd. pp 149,150 and 167.

[xlix] Glasgow Museums Resource Centre (GMRC) – Object folder on William McInnes.



Ernest Charteris Holford Wolff (1875-1946)


Fig. 1 Ernest Charteris Holford Wolff. Courtesy of Richard Steel.

In 1945 Ernest Charteris Holford Wolff of Fair Oak Lodge, near Eastleigh, Hants, donated an oil painting, ‘Portrait of William Johnstone of Glenorchard’ by Sir Daniel Macnee, to Glasgow Museums.

The Wolff family originally came from Hamburg, Germany, Ernest’s paternal grandfather Arnold Julius Wolff being born there in 1798. He was the son of Carl Heinrich Wolff and his wife Maria Carolina Anna and was born at Ritzebuttel a town on the Elbe belonging to Hamburg where his father had been a protestant clergyman for over thirty years. He came to England in 1828[i] and subsequently married Lucy Taylor on 23 June 1831 in Manchester Cathedral (Church of St. Mary, St. Denys and St. George). She was a minor (age 17)[ii] and required her father’s consent to the marriage. Arnold was a merchant, both he and the Taylor family living in the township of Chorlton Row which was part of the parish of Manchester.[iii]

Arnold was employed by the cotton trading firm of James Holford & Co., who were the largest British exporters into Russia having branches in Russia, Britain, Germany (Hamburg) and the United States.[iv] It may well be that Arnold had been employed by the company in Hamburg and had transferred to their offices in Manchester, however whilst likely, there is only circumstantial evidence to support that.

He became a naturalized British citizen in 1840, having become a partner in the Holford business some time before that.[v] However the business had been experiencing liquidity issues which resulted in some of its branches being taken over by its employees or partners. In Manchester the business, operating as Holford, Sauer & Co., was dissolved in January 1840 and taken over by Wollf and another employee to become Wolff, Hasche & Co.[vi] It became a member of the Manchester Royal Exchange and continued to trade at least until 1853[vii] and probably beyond that date.

Arnold and Lucy continued to live in Chorlton in the Greenheys area after their marriage and by 1841 had four children, two girls and two boys,[viii] a third boy being born later that year.[ix]  Incidentally Thomas de Quincey lived in Greenheys as a youth, his father building the area in 1791.[x]

The eldest of the three boys was Arnold Holford Wolff. He was born on the 8th December, 1834 and baptised on the 18th May 1835.[xi] By 1861 he along with his brother Ernest Julius were living in the family home at Greenhays and were in their father’s employ as clerks,[xii] presumably in his export business. He was still living there with his mother and sister Lucy Catherine in 1871,[xiii] his father Arnold Julius having died in 1866. Probate was granted to his three sons, the estate being valued at “under £60,000”.[xiv]

Arnold Holford Wolff, described as a ‘Russian merchant’, married Jane Johnstone Crawford on the 13th November 1872 in Edinburgh.[xv] It was through his wife they ultimately came to possess the painting of William Johnston of Glenorchard, he being the brother of Jane’s mother Mary Johnstone.

Fig.2 Macnee, Daniel; William Johnstone of Glenorchard (1806-1864). © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.  (

The Johnstone family originated in the parish of Baldernock, then in Stirlingshire, where Thomas Johnstone and Mary Baird were married in 1803.[xvi] They had six children all born in Baldernock including the aforementioned William (b.1805)[xvii] and Mary (b.1812).[xviii]

William married Agnes Ewing in 1846 at Dunoon Parish Church.[xix] He was a banker and had been an agent of the Commercial Bank of Scotland since 1845.[xx] In 1848 he and his wife were living in the Barony Parish of Glasgow at 5 Newton Place,[xxi] staying there until 1858-59.[xxii] They became tenants of Glenorchard House around 1855 but did not permanently reside there until 1859.[xxiii] He subsequently became the owner of the estate sometime between 1858 and 1861,[xxiv] living there, still with the Commercial Bank, until he died.[xxv]

He died in 1864, not at Glenorchard, but at 200 Bath Street, Glasgow, the home of James Campbell jnr. of J & W Campbell & Co., Warehousemen.[xxvi] The cause of death was recorded as apoplexy.[xxvii]

He left estate valued at just over £27,100 and had set up a Trust Disposition and Settlement early in 1863 which essentially took care of his widow, his siblings where they survived, and their children, there being no children of his own marriage.[xxviii] In particular his niece Jane (Johnstone) Crawford, the daughter of his sister Mary who had died in 1855[xxix], and who lived with William and his wife Agnes following her father John Crawford’s death in 1861[xxx], received initially £150 per quarter. On Agnes’s death he stipulated that Jane was to receive £3,000.[xxxi]

Jane was born on the 5th February 1849[xxxii], the last of four children. Her parents had married in 1842,[xxxiii] John being a grocer and spirit merchant in Shettleston.[xxxiv] She continued to live with her aunt Agnes following her uncle’s death, remaining with her at Glenorchard.[xxxv] Sometime after 1871 Agnes and Jane moved to Edinburgh living at 32 Moray Place which is where Jane’s marriage to Arnold Holford Wolff took place.[xxxvi]

Her aunt died on the 15th March 1873 leaving Jane £5,000 and some personal items.[xxxvii] Although the Macnee painting is not specifically mentioned it is clear it came into Jane’s possession either when she married or as a bequest.

Jane and Arnold had two boys, Arnold Johnstone Wolff (b.1873)[xxxviii] and Ernest Charteris Holford Wolff who was born on the 3rd July 1875.[xxxix] In late 1880 Jane was widowed when Arnold senior died at the age of 46 leaving her to bring up her two young sons.

By 1891, at the age of 17, Arnold jnr. was attending the Royal Military Academy,[xl] subsequently joining the Royal Engineers as a Lieutenant. He served in the Boer Wars between 1899 – 1902 gaining the Queen’s South Africa medal with clasps for the Orange Free State, Cape Colony and the Transvaal. He was also awarded the King’s South Africa medal with clasps for 1901 and 1902.[xli]

He saw further service during WW1 gaining promotion eventually to Lieutenant Colonel.[xlii] He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in February 1916 at which time he was at his final rank on a temporary basis.[xliii] He retired from the army sometime after 1922 and by 1939 he and his wife Nora Gladys Platt, whom he married in 1905,[xliv] were living in Southampton[xlv]. He died there in 1941 leaving an estate valued at just under £27,500.[xlvi]

In 1891 Ernest was living with his mother in Edinburgh, still at school,[xlvii] subsequently going to Oxford where he graduated BA in 1897. He joined the colonial civil service that year with the Pahang Government,[xlviii] travelling in November to take up his post on the SS Himalaya to Colombo, Ceylon, then on the SS Thames for Malaysia.[xlix]

Pahang was part of the Federated Malay States (FMS) which also included Selangor, Perak and Negri Sembilan. Between 1897 and 1908 he held a variety of positions within FMS becoming secretary to the British Resident of Negri Sembilan in 1901, taking on additional roles in 1904 (Sanitary Board chairman, Seremban) and 1905 (District Treasurer of Telek Anson). By 1908 he was the secretary to the Resident General of the colony. In 1923 he was appointed by the King as an Official Member of the Legislative Council of the Straits Settlements.[l]

He was also a very keen sportsman being on the committees of the Selangor Polo and Golf clubs in 1909,[li] and was captain of the golf club from 1907 to 1909.[lii] He won the club championship in 1907/08 and subsequently the Coronation Cup.[liii]

Fig 3 Mary Lilias Wolff. Courtesy of Richard Steel.

He married Mary Lilias Alison on the 6th December 1911 at Grange Parish Church of Scotland, Edinburgh. She was the daughter the Rev, John Alison of Edinburgh and Margaret McGeorge.[liv] They had two daughters, Stella (b.?) and Alison Jean (b.1914).[lv]

Ernest’s civil service career continued to progress and in 1924 he became the British Resident of Negri Sembilan, retaining that position until 1928 when he retired to Fair Oak Lodge, Hants,[lvi] where he lived for most of the rest of his life. In January of that year he was appointed Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (C.M.G.).[lvii]

He and his wife travelled home on the SS Empress of Canada, embarking from Hong Kong on the 6th April 1928 and arriving in Victoria, British Columbia on the 6th May for a month long tour of Canada. Following the tour they travelled home to Southampton where his brother Arnold lived at Bitterne Park.[lviii]

It’s not clear when the Macnee painting came into his possession. Did his mother Jane leave it directly to him or did it first go to his brother Arnold who bequeathed it to him on his death in 1941? However, on the 9th July 1945 Ernest presented the painting to Glasgow,[lix] just a few months before he died.

He died on the 23rd April 1946 at Cheniston Compton near Winchester leaving estate to the value of £12,420, probate being granted to his wife Mary and George Eaton Stannard Cubitt.[lx]

The Wolff family motto was “Res non verba” [lxi] which translates as “deeds not words”, which, it seems to me, all members of the family lived up to.

Note: Johnstone is spelled with or without an e in various records.

[i] National Archives. March 1840. Naturalisation of WOLFF, Arnold Julius. HO/1/16/48

[ii] Baptisms (NCR) England & Wales. Manchester, Lancashire. 8 April 1814. TAYLOR, Lucy. Class Number: RG 4; Piece Number: 2009. Collection: Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Registers, 1567-1970.

[iii] Marriages (PR) England. Manchester, Lancashire. 23 June 1831. WOLFF, Arnold Julius and TAYLOR, Lucy. Collection: Manchester, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1930 (Cathedral). Archive Roll 699.

[iv] Edmondson, Linda and Waldron, Peter, eds. (1992) Economy and Society in Russia and the Soviet Union, 1860 – 1930. p. 111.

[v] National Archives. March 1840. Naturalisation of WOLFF, Arnold Julius. HO/1/16/48

[vi] London Gazette (1840) Vol.1 24 March 1840. Holford, Sauer & Co. p. 773.

[vii] Directories. England. (1853) Directory of Manchester and Salford, 1853. p.516. Collection: UK, City and County Directories, 1766 – 1946.

[viii] Census. 1841. England. Chorlton, Lancashire. Class: H0107; Piece: 580; Book: 19; ED: 34: Folio: 9; Page: 9; Line: 9; GSU roll: 4388732.

[ix] Baptisms (NCR) England. Manchester, Lancashire. 13 October 1841. WOLFF, Ernest Julius. FHL Film Number223716. Collection: England, Births and Christenings, 1538-1975.

[x] British History Online. Chorlton-Upon-Medlock.

[xi] Baptisms (NCR) England. Manchester, Lancashire. 8 December 1834. WOLFF, Arnold Holford. Class Number: RG 4; Piece Number: 2009. Collection: Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Registers, 1567-1970.

[xii] Census. 1861. England. Chorlton, Lancashire. Class: RG 9; Piece: 2885; ED: 42; Folio: 21; Page: 35; GSU roll: 543044.

[xiii] Census. 1871. England. Chorlton, Lancashire. Class: RG 10; Piece: 4007; ED: 71; Folio: 11; Page: 13; GSU roll: 846104.

[xiv] Testamentary records. England. 10 April 1866. WOLFF, Arnold Julius.  Principal Probate Registry. Calendar of the Grants of Probate. p. 438. Collection: England & Wales National Probate Calendar 1858-1966.

[xv] Marriages (CR) Scotland. St George, Edinburgh. 13 November 1872. WOLFF, Arnold Holford and CRAWFORD, Jane Johnstone. 685/1 322.

[xvi] Marriages. (OPR) Scotland. Baldernock, Stirlingshire. 3 June 1803. JOHNSTON, Thomas and BAIRD, Mary. 471/ 10 417.

[xvii] Baptisms. (OPR) Scotland. Baldernock, Stirlingshire. 5 January 1806 JOHNSTONE, William 471/ 10 292.

[xviii] Baptisms (OPR) Scotland. Baldernock, Stirlingshire. 8 April 1812. JOHNSTONE, Mary. 471/ 10 311.

[xix] Marriages. (OPR) Scotland. Dunoon and Kilmun. 6 October 1846. JOHNSTON, William and EWING, Agnes. 510/ 30 386.

[xx] Directories. Scotland. (1845-46) Post Office Annual Glasgow Directory. Glasgow: Edward Khull. Appendix p.167.

[xxi] Directories. Scotland (1848-49) Post Office Annual Glasgow Directory. Glasgow: William Collins & Co. p. 151.

[xxii] Directories. Scotland (1858-59) Post Office Glasgow Directory. Glasgow: William McKenzie. p. 142.

[xxiii] Directories. Scotland (1859-60) Post Office Glasgow Directory. Glasgow: William McKenzie. p. 148.

[xxiv] Ordnance Survey Names Book. Stirlingshire OS Names Books Vol. 3 1858-1861. OS1/32/28.

[xxv] Directories. Scotland (1864-65) Post Office Glasgow Directory. Glasgow: William McKenzie. p. 169.

[xxvi] Directories. Scotland (1864-65) Post Office Glasgow Directory. Glasgow: William McKenzie. p. 88

[xxvii] Deaths (CR) Scotland. Blythswood, Glasgow. 6 December 1864. JOHNSTON, William. 644/6 569.

[xxviii] Testamentary records. Scotland. 3 February 1865. JOHNSTON, William. Trust Disposition and settlement. Stirling Sheriff Court. SC67/36/49.

[xxix] Deaths. (CR) Scotland. Shettleston, Lanark. 23 December 1855. CRAWFORD, Mary. 622/3 120

[xxx] Deaths. (CR) Scotland.  Shettleston, Lanark. 5 December 1861. CRAWFORD, John. 622/3 131.

[xxxi] Testamentary records. Scotland. 3 February 1865. JOHNSTON, William. Trust Disposition and settlement. Stirling Sheriff Court. SC67/36/49.

[xxxii] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Barony. 6 January 1849. CRAWFORD, Jane Johnston. 622/ 130 378.

[xxxiii] Marriages. (OPR) Scotland. New Kilpatrick. 3 August 1842. CRAWFORD, John and JOHNSTON, Mary. 500/ 30 277.

[xxxiv] Directories. Scotland (1855-56) Post Office Glasgow Directory. Glasgow: William McKenzie. p. 690.

[xxxv] Census. 1871 Scotland. Baldernock, Stirlingshire. 471/ 1/ 10.

[xxxvi] Marriages (CR) Scotland. St George, Edinburgh. 13 November 1872. WOLFF, Arnold Holford and CRAWFORD, Jane Johnstone. 685/1 322.

[xxxvii] Testamentary records. Scotland. 1 September 1873. JOHNSTON, Agnes. Trust Disposition and settlement. Edinburgh Sheriff Court Wills. SC70/4/146.

[xxxviii] Baptisms (CR) England. Manchester, Lancashire. 10 November 1873. WOLFF, Arnold Johnston. Collection: England, Non-Conformist Births and Baptisms, 1758-1912.

[xxxix] Baptisms (CR) England. Manchester, Lancashire. 6 September 1875. WOLFF, Ernest Charteris Holford. Collection: England, Non-Conformist Births and Baptisms, 1758-1912.

[xl] Census. 1891. England. Woolwich, London. Class: RG12; Piece: 534; ED: 34: Folio: 44; Page: 9; Line: 9; GSU roll: 6095644.

[xli] War Office (Great Britain). Record of Service.  WOLFF, Arnold Johnston. WO100/157 page 56, WO100/314 page 58 FindMyPast Transcription. Collection: Anglo-Boer War Records 1898-1902.

[xlii] War Office (Great Britain). Record of Service. WOLFF, Arnold Johnston. Lieutenant Colonel, Royal Engineers 1922.

Collection: British Army Lists, 1882-1962.

[xliii] London Gazette (1916) Supplement. 2 February 1916. Military Award, Companion of D.S.O. WOLFF, Arnold Johnston, p.1336, 1337.

[xliv] Marriages Index (CR) England & Wales. RD: Hampstead, London. Last Qtr. 1905. WOLFF, Arnold Johnston and PLATT, Nora Gladys. Vol.1a. p.1415. Collection: England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915

[xlv] 1939 Register. England. Southampton, Hampshire. ‘Sandyhayes’, Thorold Road. WOLFF, Arnold Johnston.

[xlvi] Testamentary records. England. 2 September 1941. WOLFF, Arnold Johnston.  Principal Probate Registry. Calendar of the Grants of Probate. p. 432. Collection: England & Wales National Probate Calendar 1858-1966.

[xlvii] Census. 1891 Scotland. Newington, Midlothian. 685/5 130/7.

[xlviii] Wright, Arnold. (1908). Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya. London et al: Lloyd’s Greater Britain Publishing Company Ltd. p.128

[xlix] Passengers Lists (1897) The Homeward Mail. Vol. XLIII, issue 2051. 13 November. WOLFF, E.C.H. p.1543.            

[l] Edinburgh Gazette (1923). 7 August 1923. WOLFF, Ernest Charteris Holford. Appoint to Legislative Council of the Strats Settlements, p. 1105.

[li] Directory and Chronicle for Malay States et al (1909). p.1298.

[lii] Royal Selangor Golf Club (RSGC). Club Captains.

[liii] Wright, Arnold. (1908). Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya. London et al: Lloyd’s Greater Britain Publishing Company Ltd. p.128

[liv] Marriages (CR) Scotland. Newington, Midlothian. 6 December 1911. WOLFF, Ernest, Charteris, Holford and ALISON, Mary Lilias. 685/5 247.

[lv] Births Index (CR) England & Wales. RD: Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. 17 July 1914. WOLFF, Alison Jean. C44D, 4791C, Entry No. 147. Collection: England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007

[lvi] Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles (1929) Armorial Families: A Directory of Gentlemen of Coat-Armour. 7th ed. Vol.2. London: Hurst & Blackett Ltd. p. 2125.

[lvii] London Gazette (1928) Supplement. 2 January 1928. Companion of C.M.G.  WOLFF, Ernest Charteris Holford, p. 5.

[lviii] Passenger List for S.S. Empress of Canada departing Hong Kong WOLFF, Ernest Charteris Holford. 6 April 1928. Collection: Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935 and Washington, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1882-1965

[lix] Glasgow Museums Resource Centre.

[lx] Testamentary records. England. 23 April 1946. WOLFF, Ernest Charteris Holford.  Principal Probate Registry. Calendar of the Grants of Probate. p. 585. Collection: England & Wales National Probate Calendar 1858-1966.

[lxi] Fox-Davies. op. cit.