As most people know Sir William Burrell made a gift of his extensive collection to the City of Glasgow in 1944. What perhaps is lesser known is that for the previous eight years he tried to give it to ‘the Nation’ and have it sited in London. Part of that story is told in a series of letters held by the National Archives.
During 1935 Sir Eric Maclagan, director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London visited Sir William Burrell at Hutton Castle. The object of the visit was to discuss Burrell’s proposed gift of his collection to the Nation. Subsequently on the 25th November of that year Burrell wrote to Sir Eric as he felt it necessary to clarify his intentions with respect to his collection. Essentially the letter contained a number of conditions that would have to be met. They included that the collection would be housed in London, it should be an entirely new museum and not be a part of any other, the Government should pay for the new museum’s upkeep, and that it should have its own staff headed by a director. Sir William also proposed to bequeath a large sum of money which would be used to buy additions to the collection. He finished by writing that if the collection was not accepted by the Nation (which meant agreeing to his conditions), he had made arrangements for it to go elsewhere.
As far as the letters in the National Archives are concerned that was that until 1942. On the 6th April Burrell wrote to the art and antique dealer Frank Partridge referring to a recent conversation they had. Partridge appears to have been used as an intermediary/negotiator between the government and Burrell as the letter refers to an enclosure which again contained the conditions attached to his gift, and a list of his collection’s locations which were generally in England. He asked Partridge to pass on this document to a Major Cazalet*, along with a photograph of Hutton Castle, so that he could have both on him when seeing “Mr. Eden or Mr. Churchill”. He added that he had spent £43,000 on the castle structure after he bought it.
The enclosure began by Burrell saying that he understood that the country was engaged in a life and death struggle and that the Prime Minister and the government were being overwhelmed with work and that his timing was inopportune. He added he had delayed for that reason for three years but was concerned that as he was now in his early eighties he would die before his gift had been accepted. He stated that he wanted the collection to stay in England and not to be sold off after his death, in particular to American museums.
As before he wanted the collection to be located in London as that would allow it to be seen by a larger numbers of visitors than it would be anywhere else. Whilst not mentioned, it is understood he still wished it to be housed in a new museum. He also indicated that he would bequeath the whole of his estate (the collection and everything else) to be managed by g0vernment trustees for the purchase of “fine things” for the collection. In an aside he stated that his daughter had already been provided for.
Finally he wanted to leave Hutton Castle and its 1,800 acres, with good partridge and pheasant shooting, as a holiday resort for Government Ministers.
At this time his collection was housed in various locations including the National Gallery, the Tate (300 pictures), the cathedrals of Salisbury, Ely, Winchester and Chichester, Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow, and various other museums in places such as Oxford, Cambridge, Leeds, Edinburgh and Birmingham.
On the 17th April a note (marked secret) was sent from the Treasury to C.H. Wakely, Inland Revenue Commissioner, requiring financial and taxation information to be established. The writer states that Sir Horace J. Wilson** of the Treasury believes the collection is valued at £1,000,000, he wants to understand the extent of Burrell’s wealth as shown by income producing assets, and the potential taxation and estate duty liabilities if any. He stated that certain artistic items would not attract estate duty, however was of the belief that there was no provision for relief from estate duty generally and that an estate valued at £1,000,000, liable for 60% would lose the Exchequer £600,000 and essentially that would mean they were paying for the bequest. Nonetheless Wakely, with others, was asked to determine the exact situation and identify the relevant estate duty provisions.
Sir Eric Maclagan wrote to Sir Horace Wilson on the 18th April referring to his meeting with Burrell in 1935. He indicated that he had advised Burrell that his conditions were likely to be costly due to the size of building required and its location in central London, and was unclear as to who was paying for it (hence Burrell’s letter of the 25th November 1935). He also was concerned about the number of staff required. Maclagan expressed the view to Burrell that he should consider linking any bequest to an existing museum, the Victoria and Albert say. As the letter of the 25th November indicates that was not acceptable.
Also on the 18th April an internal Treasury note (again marked secret) was sent to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir John Anderson, possibly from Sir John Henry Wood, Private Assistant Secretary to the Chancellor. In it the writer states that he had been given Burrell’s written proposal, as per the 6th April 1942, by Major Cazalet. He goes on to say that Cazalet (a friend and supporter of Churchill) believes the Prime Minister should write to Burrell accepting his offer. The writer of the note does not support that saying that there are complications and that he would investigate those. He also adds that he has consulted Sir Eric Maclagan, Sir Kenneth Clark (Director of the National Gallery and of ‘Civilisation’ fame)and Sir Alan Barlow (Treasury), who discussed the proposal with John Rothenstein (Director of the Tate Gallery). All of these individuals agreed that the collection included a number of fine objects but also had a considerable number of items that were not particularly noteworthy. In an attached handwritten note John Rothenstein is quoted as saying that of the paintings in the Tate, some are first rate but the majority are of a type and standard well represented in other London galleries and that they would be better off in provincial galleries. Building a museum which would house such paintings would be a waste of money.
The rest of the note repeats previous concerns about building costs and operating expenses, and taxation issues, and states that there is a general antipathy to the establishment of a separate museum or museums to house the collection. It concludes by saying that the Prime Minister should write to Burrell stating his appreciation of the offer but that some negotiation would be required to deal with points raised. The writer suggested Mr. R A Butler (Rab) should be the PM’s delegate in this matter.
On the 21st April C.H. Wakely wrote to Sir Horace Wilson detailing his answers to the questions raised in the Treasury note of the 17th April. He confirmed that pictures and other works of art that are bequeathed “for national purposes” are exempt from estate duty. He also confirmed that any monies bequeathed to establish and maintain an Art Gallery would not get estate duty relief. He added however that any gift made to the crown before death would be exempt. He also reiterated, as others had, that any exemption to estate duty made the Exchequer a ‘contributor’ to the purpose behind the exemption. A hand written comment on the letter stated that Burrell’s income producing assets were £600,000.
There followed three pages of detailed analysis of the treatment of death duties in a variety of circumstances.
In a letter of the 23rd April to Sir William the writer, having seen Burrell’s letter to Frank Partridge of the 6th April, offered to visit Hutton Castle to discuss what he described as “your magnificent offer”. He also said that if he would prefer to deal with a member of government then he would arrange it. This suggests the letter writer, whose address was given as The Dorchester, may have been Eric Maclagan or Kenneth Clark.
On the 11th May a note from the Inland Revenue to Sir Horace Wilson states that Hutton Castle and the estate are owned by the Hutton Estate Company Ltd. which was formed in 1921, practically all of the shares being held by Sir William.
Thereafter all is quiet until the 11th August when Sir Eric Maclagan writes to Sir Alan Barlow to say that he understood the Burrell affair had ended in silence. Barlow replies on the 13th August saying that no more has been heard about it and that the assumption is that the proposal is dead.
Well, not quite. On the 11th November Alan Barlow received a letter from A. R. Wood Comptroller of London County Council’s department of Subject and Policy in which he states that Burrell now appears to want to hand over his collection to the Council. Mr. Wood fundamentally repeats all the questions asked previously and seeks the Treasury’s view on tax and exemption. Sir Alan’s reply on the 12th was that if bequeathed to the council the collection would be free from death duties as would a gift if he died within twelve months. He also adds that for any associated endowment fund there is a prime facie case for assuming that fund income would not be taxed however a definitive answer would depend on the terms of the trust.
A. R. Wood responded to Barlow’s letter on the 24th November saying that the council had decided to accept a formal offer of the collection with the proviso that it did not entail an excessive charge on the rates. He also indicated that the Council would prefer that Sir William handed over his collection and greater part of his other estate to trustees and that after one year these trustees would offer the collection et al to London County Council. He also adds that if London did not accept it at this time the gift should be offered to other local authorities named in the Trust Deed so that it could be available for public view in one place or in several. He then goes on again to ask about death duties and other taxation, pretty much as before. He closes by saying that he hopes that contact will be made with Sir William through Sir Kenneth Clark.
On the 25th November Barlow wrote to the Chairman of the Inland Revenue Board Sir Cornelius Gregg stating the Burrell was now “coquetting” with London County Council. He refers to the letters sent to him by A.R. Wood on the 11th and 24th November and asks for advice on what to reply on the proposed Trust and its possible liabilities.
Gregg’s advice came on the 2nd December which was fundamentally no different from that given previously by other Treasury and Revenue personnel. The only additional point he made was that the Trust should not sin “against the rule against perpetuities”. He also adds, as others had, that the terms of the Trust need to be seen before finally deciding on the matter. Barlow in a letter to A.R. Wood on the 3rd December passed on all that Gregg’s letter contained.
The last entries in the Archives documents states the following: Undated but has to be circa December 1942 into early 1943 – ” No further developments, no obituary, no index reference. 11th November 1943 – as above. 9th February 1944 – as above.”
Archive References: T273/52 CS96662 and IR62/2054 C619691.
What came next was that on the 24th January 1944 a special meeting of Glasgow Corporation’s Art Galleries committee was convened to consider Sir William’s proposed gift/bequest of his collection to Glasgow. On the 2nd of February the same committee recommended that the Corporation should accept the offer. By the 18th April 1944 it was all done and dusted, with the completion of the Memorandum of Agreement.
Page 396 – 24th January 1944, Page 460 – 2nd February 1944, Page 816 – 18th April 1944.
Why did Burrell change his mind? He clearly wanted his collection to be regarded as, at least, of European importance, hence his desire to have it housed in London and in a specifically created museum. Time was clearly pressing for him because of his age and that may have created significant impatience with the whole London/taxation process. He was a difficult man to deal with anyway, his frustration would add to that, especially if he felt thwarted, he was a man who liked to get his own way by all accounts. The key issue seems to have been Glasgow’s willingness to be liable for all taxation/duty although the expectation was there would be none. The Corporation also became liable for all insurance, storage, and other expenses connected with the collection, from the date of the gift.
* Major Victor Alexander Cazalet was Conservative MP for Chippenham. Prior to WWII he had supported Winston Churchill against the appeasement of Germany. During the war he became the liasion between the War Office and the leader of the Polish Government in Exile General Sikorski. They were both killed, along with thirteen others, on the 4th July 1943 when their aircraft crashed taking off from Gibralter. He was a great friend of the parents of film actress Elizabeth Taylor and was her godfather. http://www.chch.ox.ac.uk/fallen-alumni/colonel-victor-alexander-cazalet
** Sir Horace John Wilson was a civil servant who supported the Chamberlain government’s appeasement policy before the war, becoming a significant confidant of the prime minister. He was appointed permanent secretary to the Treasury and head of the civil service in 1939. When Churchill became prime minister he was banned from Number Ten because of appeasement and was eventually forced to retire in August 1942, having made enemies of Churchill and also Clement Attlee, because of his influence in rejecting the Labour party’s economic (Keynesian) policies of the late 1920s. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/31844?docPos=1
In June 1945 Captain Campbell of Jura donated two paintings to Kelvingrove. The first by the Scottish portrait painter Colvin Smith was titled ‘Daughters of Colin Campbell of Jura’, the other by Scottish landscape artist Gourlay Steel was called ‘Deer Stalking on Jura’, painted circa 1870.[i]
The genus of Campbell control of Jura began in the 15th century when John McDonald entered into a treaty with Edward IV of England from which he anticipated he would become King of a large part of Scotland. This was not to be and the treaty proved to be undoing of Clan Donald paving the way for a long period of Clan Campbell control of Jura from the 17th century on.[ii] The first Laird was Duncan Campbell of the House of Lochnell. He was born in 1596 and died in 1695, being succeeded by his son John Campbell. There were to be 11 lairds in total from the early 1600s to 1971 when the last one died.[iii] The succession line was a mixture of father to son and brother to brother, particularly in the 19th century when three sons of the sixth Laird Colin Campbell inherited the title, their combined ‘tenure’ totalling fifty three years from 1848 to 1901.
Colin Campbell was born on the 8th November 1772[iv] to Archibald and Sarah Campbell.[v] He married Isabella Hamilton Dundas Dennistoun in 1806 and was described as a merchant in Glasgow.[vi] What his business activities were is not entirely clear however he was involved in the Caribbean sugar trade through Campbell, Rivers & Co.[vii] and is described as a ‘name partner’ in the research report ‘Legacies of British Slave-ownership’ by University College London.[viii] His father-in-law Richard Dennistoun is also named as partner in the company and was also a partner in George and Robert Dennistoun and Co and Dennistoun, Buchanan and Co., both companies heavily involved in the trade. [ix]
Colin’s sisters Anne Penelope and Barbara both married individuals who were shareholders or partners in companies involved in the Caribbean. In 1797 Anne married Robert Dennistoun, son of Richard Dennistoun.[x] He was against the anti-slavery movement and was a founder member of the Glasgow West India Association which was formed to resist that movement.[xi] When slavery was finally abolished his trust, he died in 1815[xii], represented by his widow, his brother in law Colin and others as trustees were awarded compensation of £12,545 14s 9d in 1836 for the freeing of 253 slaves on three plantations he or his company owned in Trinidad.[xiii]
Barbara married Alexander Campbell of Hallyards in 1800[xiv], a cousin of John Campbell senior and one of the original partners of John Campbell, senior & Co.[xv], a major Scottish company in the sugar trade.
There were eleven,[xvi] possibly twelve children of the marriage between Colin and Isabella, five or six sons and six daughters, three of whom are in the portrait by Colvin Smith.
Smith was born 1796 and between 1811 and 1822 studied at Edinburgh University, travelled to London, Antwerp and Paris, where he studied in the Louvre. In 1826 he was in Rome, returning to Edinburgh the following year. The painting must have been completed sometime after 1827 when Smith returned to Scotland and before 1875 when he died.[xvii]
The painting is of young ladies. Three of the daughters had married by 1838 and it seems unlikely that they are the subjects of the painting. It is therefore reasonable to assume that the painting is of the three unmarried daughters and was done after 1838 and probably before Colin’s death in 1848 at which time all three remained unmarried. I suspect it was probably painted around the early 1840s, say 1841, the age of the three daughters Mary Lyon, Ann Caroline and Barbara being at that time 21, 22 and 17 years respectively.[xviii]
One of these daughters, Mary Lyon Campbell did eventually marry in 1852[xix] Dr. James Loftus Marsden, a homeothapist and practitioner of water therapy to cure or prevent illness. Marsden was a widower with five daughters and was not without controversy. Nor was Mary Lyon. She had become a patient of his in 1851 after a bad fall from a horse in 1849 which apparently left her unable to walk. She was cured and it seems that subsequently they became lovers. This however was not the first time that Mary had an affair.
Her sister Isabella Dundas[xx] had married Lachlan Macquarie in 1836[xxi]. In 1841, age 21 years, whilst living with her sister and her husband on the Isle of Mull Mary was accused of sleeping with her brother-in-law. In January of the following year Lachlan was forced to write to his father-in-law denying the rumours blaming them on his in house medical advisor. However the gossip damaged her reputation within the close knit and interconnected Highland community and probably adversely impacted on her local marriage opportunities.[xxii]
Colin died on the 6th September 1848 having succeeded his elder brother James as laird in 1838.[xxiii] His estate was valued at £49,609,[xxiv] a considerable sum for the time, worth somewhere between £5m and £155m today dependant on the measure used.[xxv] In his Trust Deed and Settlement his trustees included his sons Archibald, an advocate, who as the eldest son succeeded him as Laird, and Richard, and George Scheviz, a partner in Campbell Rivers & Co.[xxvi]
Just over £20,000 of his estate was cash deposited with the Western Bank.[xxvii] This bank was formed in Glasgow in 1832 and in its short history, had several periods of liquidity problems resulting in it eventually collapsing in 1857 through bad management and three major customers defaulting on loans amounting to £1.2 million. At that time it was the second largest bank in Scotland with 1280 shareholders and 101 branches, the larger being the Royal Bank of Scotland.[xxviii]
Archibald Campbell was Laird for only three years, dying unmarried in 1851[xxix], age 43.[xxx] His estate was valued at £53,259, which included £218 cash deposited with the Western Bank, but more crucially 350 shares in the bank valued at £22,529.[xxxi] When the bank failed in 1857 its shareholders not only lost their paid up capital of £2 million but had to provide a further £1.1 million to pay off all its liabilities.[xxxii] That, in due course, became his brother, Richard Dennistoun Campbell’s problem, who succeeded him and was Laird for twenty seven years. [xxxiii] Whilst the Campbells remained a very wealthy family this event set in motion a train of events which saw them gradually divest themselves of their properties, the last of the Jura estate being sold in 1938 by the eleventh and last Laird of Jura Charles Graham Campbell,[xxxiv] who was the Captain Campbell who donated the paintings to Kelvingrove.
The painting by Gourlay Steel ‘Deer Stalking on Jura’ includes four figures, who are as follows, from left to right, Neil Clark, gamekeeper Angus McKay, the Laird Richard Dennistoun Campbell, and Angus McKay jnr.[xxxv]
In 1875 the Campbells owned twenty three properties on Jura including crofts, a distillery, the school house, shootings, Jura House, woodlands and pauper’s houses.[xxxvi] Richard died in 1878, unmarried,[xxxvii] the title passing to the fourth son James, born in 1818 in Glasgow[xxxviii]. The third born son Colin, died in 1827 aged 11 years.[xxxix]
James married Mary Campbell in 1848 at Treesbanks in Ayrshire.[xl] They had seven children, five daughters, two of whom were born in Germany, and two sons,[xli] the youngest boy dying aged two years in 1857.[xlii] James and his family lived at various locations between 1851 and 1901 including Edinburgh (with his mother Isabella at West Coates House[xliii]), Ayr,[xliv] Tunbridge Wells[xlv] and Kensington.[xlvi] They also lived in Germany for some time it would appear as two of their daughters Christiana and Jessie were born there in 1859 and 1863 respectively.[xlvii] He lived the life of a landed proprietor with no obvious occupation being recorded in any of the censuses between those years, generally being described as living off ‘interest from money’ or ‘holder of bank stock’.
He died in 1901 at 11 Cornwall Gardens, Kensington. The gross value of his estate was just under £73,000, his wife Mary and brother in law William Hugh Campbell, a colonel in the Royal Scot Fusiliers, being his executors.[xlviii]
Mary died in 1909 in Kensington leaving her estate to her unmarried daughters, of whom there were four, and to her youngest daughter Jessie[xlix] who had married Allan Gordon Cameron in 1885.[l] They had twin boys, Allan Gordon and James Frederick, in 1892[li] both of whom became officers in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Allan won the Military Cross in 1917,[lii] and James was awarded the Military Cross in 1916,[liii] and Bar in 1917,[liv] and finally the Distinguished Service Order in 1918.[lv]
James and Mary’s only living son Colin, who was born in 1851[lvi], succeeded to the title becoming the 10th and penultimate Laird of Jura. Between 1860 and 1862 he was a pupil at Loretto School [lvii] and, later on, attended the Royal Military College at Sandhurst.[lviii] He joined the 91st Highlanders serving in Enniskillen in Northern Ireland which was where he was resident when he married his wife Frances Monteath Sidey in 1876.[lix] She was born in New Zealand[lx] the daughter of Charles Sidey and Allison Isabella Walker who married in New South Wales in 1854.[lxi]
Both Charles and Allison were born in Perth, Scotland in 1823[lxii] and 1834[lxiii] respectively and according to the 1871 Scottish census had at least nine children, six of whom were born in New South Wales, two in New Zealand, and the last in Edinburgh, Charles being described as a retired settler in Australia.[lxiv] In 1881 he is a ‘retired squatter’[lxv], and by 1901, then resident in London, he is living on his own means.[lxvi]
Colin Campbell did not remain in the army for long as in the 1881 census he was described as a ‘late lieutenant in the 91st Highlanders’[lxvii]. The censuses following 1881 cite no obvious occupation for him except to refer to him as ex-army or, in 1911, when he and his wife were staying at the Pulteney Hotel in Bath, as a ‘Landed Proprietor’.[lxviii] He did however have other duties. He was a justice of the Peace, Deputy Lord Lieutenant for Argyllshire (1914-1918), head coast watcher for Jura, and from 1890 to 1897 was Government Inspector in Technical Education in Agriculture.[lxix]
He and Frances had four sons and two daughters, born between 1877 and 1894.[lxx] The sons all saw military service in the army. The eldest James Archibald Lochnell Campbell (b.1879)[lxxi] joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in 1900 and served in South Africa, Northern Nigeria and Malta. In 1914 he went to France with the 6th Battalion Gordon Highlanders,[lxxii] subsequently being killed in battle at Neuve Chapelle in 1915, three days after his 36th birthday.[lxxiii]
The youngest son Ronald Walker Francis Campbell (b.1888)[lxxiv] also died during the Great War. He went to France with the Royal Fusiliers and was severely injured during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.[lxxv]He died of his injuries in a military hospital in Manchester later that year.[lxxvi]
The other sons were more fortunate. Charles Graham Campbell, the second eldest, was initially not accepted for military service as he had only one eye. Late in 1914 he was given a commission in the Royal Field Artillery and posted to East Africa where at some point he was attached to the headquarters of General Smuts. He served in Africa until 1917 at which time he was sent to France, remaining there until the end of the war.[lxxvii] The third son Colin Richard Campbell (1885)[lxxviii] also served in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, eventually returning home at the end of hostilities.[lxxix]
Noblesse oblige indeed!
Colin Campbell died in Eastbourne in 1933 leaving £51,290[lxxx], having previously made the estate over to his son Charles.[lxxxi]
The eleventh and last Campbell Laird of Jura, Charles Graham Campbell was born in Edinburgh in 1880[lxxxii]. He was educated at St Paul’s School London, having previously attended Colet Court, the preparatory school for St Paul’s. He served an engineering apprenticeship with James Simpson and Co. of Pimlico from 1898 to 1900, then as a pupil with the same company from May 1901 until December 1902 when he was proposed for membership of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers,[lxxxiii] becoming a graduate member on the 16th January 1903.[lxxxiv]
The following years saw him travelling to Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the USA where he undertook a variety of occupations including gold digging (Alaska), farming, and cattle, sheep and horse raising. He spent eighteen months in the Chilliwick Valley in British Columbia ranching and fruit packing eventually becoming an engineer to the first successful fruit cannery there. He returned to Scotland for a short period before returning to Australia where, in 1912, he bought his own station at Kooringarro, New South Wales where he raised horses.[lxxxv] In 1913 he was a registered voter for the district of Wollondilly, listed as a pastoralist at Kooringgarro[lxxxvi]. When war broke out he returned home and as described before, eventually joined the Royal Field Artillery. He left the army in 1920 and went on his travels again, visiting Australia, Canada, Java and New Zealand, returning home via the South Sea Islands and the Panama Canal.[lxxxvii]
He married Deborah Sylvester Lambarde at Eastbourne in 1930.[lxxxviii] She had been born in 1904 and was the daughter of William Gore Lambarde, Lord of the Manor of Ash and Ridley in Kent, and Florence Lucy Fetherstonhaugh, the family home being Bradbourne Hall in Kent.[lxxxix]
Charles sold the last of the Campbell’s Jura estate in 1938 to William Riley-Smith of Tadcaster, Yorkshire, the final impact of the Western Bank failure in 1857.[xc] He subsequently bought a small estate in Melrose where he and his wife lived. [xci] They continued to travel going to Ceylon in 1955 (Sri Lanka)[xcii] and South Africa in 1958.[xciii]. He died in St Marylebone, London in 1971[xciv].
Of the 10th Laird’s offspring only Charles and his brother James married, James marrying Dorothy Rosalinda Frances Black in April 1914 before he went France.[xcv] A month after James died in France his wife gave birth to a daughter Celia in London.
Charles Graham Campbell was therefore the last Laird of the line from Duncan Campbell in all respects, which is perhaps not surprising. Legend has it that one of his ancestors evicted an old lady from property on Jura who cursed him and his descendants by saying that the last of the Campbells will be one eyed. “He will leave the island and all that he will take with him will be carried to the ship on a cart drawn by a white horse.”
In the event that’s how Charles apparently left the island after he sold it, with his family possessions, presumably including the two paintings he donated to Kelvingrove in 1945, on a cart pulled by a grey horse that was turning white ! [xcvi]
[ix] It should be noted that there was another Colin Campbell, of Colgrain, son of John Campbell, senior, who was involved with these companies. Stephen Mullen (2015) ‘The Great Glasgow West India House of John Campbell, senior and Co’. In: Devine T.M. ed. Recovering Scotland’s Slavery Past. p.124.
[lxix] Dunford, June C. (2017) Colin Campbell at Loretto School. E-mail to author confirming Campbell’s attendance at the school. 24 April, 09.49. firstname.lastname@example.org and Sinclair, Emma J (2017) Colin Campbell at Loretto School. E-mail to author confirming Campbell’s attendance at the school. 4 May, 14.22. email@example.com.
[lxxvi] Death Index (CR) England. Manchester, Lancashire. 3rd Qtr. 1916. CAMPBELL, Ronald Walker Francis. Vol. 8d. p. 194. Collection: England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007. http://www.ancestry.co.uk
[lxxxiii] Application for Membership of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. 1 December 1902. CAMPBELL, Charles Graham. Collection: Mechanical Engineering Records, 1847-1930. p. 40 no. 4531. Collection: Mechanical Engineering Records, 1847-1930. p. 40 no. 4531. http://www.ancestry.co.uk
[lxxxiv] Membership of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. 16 January 1903. CAMPBELL, Charles Graham. Collection: Mechanical Engineering Records 1847-1930, Register of Members. http://www.ancestry.co.uk
[xcii] Passenger List for S.S. Oranje departing Southampton. CAMPBELL, Charles Graham and CAMPBELL, Debora Sylvester. 7 January 1955. Collection: UK, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960.http://www.ancestry.co.uk
[xciii] Passenger List for S.S. Capetown Castle departing Southampton. CAMPBELL, Charles Graham and CAMPBELL, Debora Sylvester. 9 January 1958. Collection: UK, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960.http://www.ancestry.co.uk
[xciv] Deaths Index (CR) England and Wales. St Marylebone, London. 1971. CAMPBELL, Charles Graham. Collection: England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007.http://www.ancestry.co.uk
[xcv] Marriages (PR) England and Wales. Kensington and Chelsea. 23 April 1914. CAMPBELL, James Archibald Lochnell and BLACK, Dorothy Rosalinda Frances. Collection: Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921. http://www.ancestry.co.uk
I became interested in Charles Rennie Mackintosh when researching the architect John Keppie. (see John Keppie – Architect) Not in terms of his artistic prowess or architectural innovation but simply to find out what his family’s background was.
Where did Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s family originate from? Both his paternal and maternal lineages have proved difficult to fully establish however three of his four sets of great grandparents have, at least, been identified, but little else has been discovered about them. The information about his grandparents is also patchy with no direct evidence of his maternal or paternal grandparent’s marriages, both being indicated in census returns or deaths registrations only.
What is clear is that his forebears are a mixture of Irish and Scottish born individuals whose origins include County Cavan, Fife, and Ayrshire.
Generation 1. Parents: William McIntosh and Margaret Rennie.
William McIntosh was born in 1836 at Belturbet in Ireland.[i] His parents were Hugh McIntosh and Marjory (May) Morrice (Morris).[ii] In 1851 he was living with his parents at 94 Glebe Street in the Barony parish of Glasgow and was working as a store clerk.[iii] Seven years later on the 17th March 1858 he became a clerk with the Glasgow Police. The records indicate he was age 22 and was 5ft. 11in. tall.[iv] He continued to live in the family home in Glebe Street until his marriage to Margaret Rennie on the 4th August 1862 at 54 McIntosh Street, Dennistoun,[v] the home of his brother Thomas.[vi] In the registration document he is described as a mercantile clerk[vii] which is clearly an error as police records show he had unbroken service until his retirement.[viii]
Soon after joining the police he became an inspector, in charge of the Chief Constable’s office. He was promoted Lieutenant in 1864 and Superintendent in 1889, still within the Chief Constable’s office, his particular focus being the administration and organisation of the force. He had a keen interest in sport and was a founder member of the Glasgow Police Athletic and Rowing Club in 1882. He was a skilled rifle marksman and won trophies as a founder member of the 19th Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers. He was also captain of the Tug-of-War team and led the team in competitions at the 1888 Glasgow Exhibition and in Paris in 1889.[ix]
In January 2016 five silver tug-of-war medals he won were sold by Easy Live Auctions[x] to the Glasgow Police Heritage Society and are now on display in the Police Museum in Bell Street. (see figure 2) The awards were for 2nd or 3rd place at the Govan Burgh, Partick Burgh or Aberdeen Sports held between 1894 and 1898.
Margaret Rennie was born circa 1836 in Ayr, the daughter of Charles Rennie and Martha Spence. At the time of her marriage she was working as a muslin darner and lived at 121 Great Hamilton Street, Glasgow.[xi]
William and Margaret had eleven children:
Martha, born at 54 McIntosh Street on the 22nd March 1863[xii], died unmarried on the 16 August 1925.[xiii]
Isabella Marjory, born at 74 Parson Street on the 28th November 1864[xiv], married Robert Dingwall (commercial traveller) in 1896[xv], thought to have died in Darlington, England in 1946, no substantive proof.
William Hugh, born at 70 Parson Street on the 21st September 1866[xvi], died before 1908[xvii].
Charles Rennie Mackintosh 1868-1928
Margaret Rennie, born at 70 Parson Street on the 6th April 1870[xviii], married Robert Williamson Cleland (coal merchant then thread manufacturer’s clerk) on the 20th November 1906[xix], died on the 1st February 1924[xx].
Agnes Mary, born at 70 Parson Street on the 23rd November 1871[xxi], died in 1872[xxii]
Cecilia Bruce, born at 70 Parson Street on the 22nd June 1873[xxiii], died in 1877[xxiv]
Ellen Eliza Robinson, born at 2 Firpark Terrace in 1875[xxv], died in 1878
Thomas David, born at 2 Firpark Terrace on the 17th June 1878[xxvi], died in 1879[xxvii].
Ellen Eliza, born at 2 Firpark Terrace on the 4th February 1881[xxviii], married William Lamb Gibb (confectioner) in 1926[xxix], died in Glasgow, (lived in Milngavie) in 1965[xxx].
Agnes, born at 2 Firpark Terrace on the 2nd August 1883.[xxxi]
Margaret McIntosh died at 2 Firpark Terrace on the 9th December 1885, cause of death was cardiac hypertrophy and cerebral haemorrhage.[xxxii]Charles RennieMackintosh was aged 17 years, already an apprentice architect. Two of his sisters were under the age of 5 years.
In the preface to the first edition of his book on Charles Rennie Mackintosh Thomas Howarth states that he is “indebted to Miss Nancy Mackintosh, and Mrs Gibb, his sisters”, for conversations he had with them when writing his book. Later in the preface he describes Nancy as Mackintosh’s youngest sister. [xxxiii] I’m certain this is Agnes, Nancy being synonymous with, or a diminutive of, Agnes. It’s perhaps worth making the point that these two ladies, the only surviving siblings by 1946, would have no personal knowledge of Mackintosh’s childhood, therefore that period of his life could only be illustrated anecdotally by them. On the 5th April 1947 Nancy (Agnes) opened the Mackintosh Room in the Glasgow School of Art.[xxxiv]
William married again on the 8th June 1892 to 42 year old widow Christina Forrest (nee McVicar). [xxxv] At this time he was still living in Firpark Terrace with his five surviving daughters[xxxvi] which is where he continued to live with his new wife until late in 1892 when the family moved to 2 Regent Park Square.[xxxvii]
Circa 1894 they then moved to Holmwood Cottage in Langside Avenue which faced into the Queen’s Park.[xxxviii] (not to be confused with ‘Greek’ Thomson’s Holmwood House in Netherlee Road!). This cottage appears to have been built around 1884[xxxix], its owner being Alexander Morton, a messenger at arms and a private detective. It was from this gentleman that McIntosh rented the cottage.[xl] They lived there for just over two years, moving to 27 Regent Park Square in 1896 [xli] where William lived for the rest of his life.
He retired from the police on the 30th September 1899 after forty one years’ and was presented with the silver tray in the photograph to commemorate his dedication and service to the Glasgow Police Force.[xlii] He died from heart disease on the 10th February 1908[xliii], leaving an estate valued at £482 10s 7d, included in which was 50 shares in the Rangers Football Club Ltd., reference certificate 134, each share valued at 12s. His daughter Martha Mackintosh was his executor. His inventory indicates that that he was survived by five daughters and one son. They were CRM, Margaret Rennie, Martha, Isabella Marjory, Ellen Eliza (Mrs Gibb), and Agnes (Nancy)[xliv].
One final point; when did William McIntosh, (and his family) change their name to the anglified Mackintosh? In 1892 when he remarried; the last use of McIntosh was in the 1891 census. Having said that the original spelling was continued with in the Post Office directories until his retirement. In my view the reason for the change is not particularly clear, some sources think it was to move away from an ‘Irish’ spelling of the name, others because of an estrangement between CRM and his father. If CRM initiated the change maybe he just wanted to be different, adding to his ‘avant garde’ style and his growing reputation for artistic flair and innovation.
Generation 2. Grandparents: Hugh McIntosh and Marjory (May) Morrice (Morris).
Hugh McIntosh was born sometime between 1797 and 1801 in Paisley, Renfrewshire.[xlv] His parents were James McIntosh, a distiller, and Isabella Morrison.[xlvi] In the 1851 census Hugh is recorded as a distiller and is married to Marjory Morris. No registration of their marriage has been discovered.
They lived in the Barony parish of Glasgow along with three of their five sons and their daughter, all of whom were born in Ireland.[xlvii] They were as follows:
The family lived in Belturbet until 1844 when they returned to Scotland and settled in Glebe Street.[lvi]
Why the family was in Ireland from circa 1828 to 1844 is not particularly clear however Belturbet was the location of the distillery of Messrs Dickson and Dunlop and Co. which was established in 1825 and expanded in 1830, producing 90,000 to 100,000 gallons of whiskey per annum.[lvii] It seems reasonable therefore to assume that Hugh with Marjory moved there sometime between 1825 and 1828 because he found work at the distillery.
On the family’s return to Scotland Hugh McIntosh did not remain a distiller, becoming a clerk in an iron works sometime before 1861,[lviii] working as such for the rest of his life in various industries and being described as a mercantile clerk.
Marjory (May) Morris was born on the 16th December 1797 in Methil in the parish of Weymss, Fife. Her parents were Robert Morris (Morrice) and May (Marjory) Adamson.[lix]She died at 94 Glebe Street on the 18th August 1855, cause of death dysentery, having lived in Glasgow for eleven years with her husband and children, confirming the family return from Ireland in 1844. Her son Hugh registered the death.[lx]
Hugh McIntosh died at 208 Garngad Hill, Glasgow on the 28th June 1873, cause of death was recorded as “Age”.[lxi]
Generation 3. Great Grandparents:
James McIntosh and Isabella Morrison.
This research has not established any vital records for these names in Britain or in Ireland.
Robert Morris and May Adamson.
Robert Morris (Morrice) married May Adamson in Weymss parish on the 5th January 1790. He was a sailor.[lxii] They had seven children, six daughters and one son, the fourth of whom was Marjory (May).[lxiii] No other information has been established.
Generation 2. Grandparents: Charles Rennie and Martha Spence.
Charles Rennie’s birth and death dates have not been established. Using various search criteria forty nine births are recorded in the Old Parish Records (OPR) between 1553 and 1854, none of which occurred in Ayr, (see Howarth) some possibles exist between 1780 and 1795 but are unlikely as they relate to individuals born in Aberdeenshire or in the East of Scotland.
Nine deaths are recorded in the OPR, none of which are in Ayr. Similarly between 1855 and 1862 there are no Ayr deaths of that name in the Statutory Records (SR).There was one possibility who died in Bo’ness in 1859 however he was a labourer, who was a widower. 1862 was chosen as according to Margaret Rennie and William McIntosh’s marriage registration document he was already dead by that time. He was described as having been a coach proprietor in that document.
Re his marriage to Martha Spence (as per the marriage registration mentioned above) no such marriage can be found in any of the OPR, anywhere in Scotland.
No record of the Rennie family in any of the 1841, 1851 and 1861 censuses has been found.
Martha Spence’s family background has also proved difficult to definitively establish. However there are strong clues to who her parents were and when she died.
A search of OPR births produced fourteen results, eleven of which can be discounted as being too early or too late. Of the three that are left one is from Ayr which is, I believe, correct. The others are from Dunfermline.
The Ayr one indicates that Martha Spence was born on the 21st September 1812. Her parents were Peter Spence and Sarah Johnston.[lxiv]
A search of SR deaths for Martha Rennie between 1862 (she was alive at the time of her daughter’s marriage) and 1900 produced no acceptable results. However when a search was made for Martha Spence there was one only registration from Ayr (out of nineteen results). This document confirmed her parents as detailed above however it seems she had married (again?) as she was described as being the widow of William Godfrey, a cabinet maker. She died on the 19th December 1885, ten days after her daughter Margaret’s death, at 36 Main Street, Newton Ayr, cause of death was a carcinoma.[lxv]
Re her apparent second marriage I could not establish any marriage either before 1855 or after, between a Godfrey and a Spence, regardless of forenames.
Generation 3. Great Grandparents:
Peter Spence and Sarah Johnston
Peter Spence married Sarah Johnston on the 29th December 1802 at Newton on Ayr.[lxvi] A search of the 1841 census naming Peter and Sarah produced one result for the whole of Scotland and that was in Ayr. He was described as a cotton hand loom weaver, age 66 years, born in Ireland. Sarah was age 56 years also born in Ireland.[lxvii] When his daughter Martha was born in 1812 he was described as a soldier in the Ayrshire Militia,[lxviii] when she died in 1885 he was recorded as being a Sergeant in the Militia.[lxix]
Acknowledgement: Many thanks to the volunteer staff of the excellent Glasgow Police Museum (http://www.policemuseum.org.uk) and in particular to the curator Alastair Dinsmor for his help with William McIntosh’s police career. The photographs are my own by kind permission of the museum.
[i] Registry. City of Glasgow Police Force. Mitchell Library, Glasgow. Reference: SR.55. 3, page 38.
[xxxix] Its first appearance in the Valuation Rolls is 1885, Alexander Morton is shown as the proprietor/occupier. He is also listed at that address in the PO Directory of 1884-85 p.457. There are no entries for that address in the Directories before that date, Morton previously staying in Annette Street.
[xl] Valuation Rolls (1855) Scotland. Glasgow, Cathcart. William McIntosh and Alex. Morton. VR01020047-/428.
In 2014 the Underwood Trust donated £1,000,000 to the Merchants House of Glasgow to ‘establish an expendable fund to be used for the benefit of deprived people in Paisley and Glasgow’, the funds to be disbursed in accordance with the guidelines provided by the Trust.[i]
The Underwood Trust was founded on 1st August 1973 by Robert Clark and his wife Mary Black Lang Clark, and was named after Robert’s childhood home at 21 Underwood Lane, Paisley.[ii] Their respective family backgrounds, particularly in the case of Clark, were not well to do, but by the time the Trust was founded the family was worth several millions of pounds, their wealth coming from property, cinema, television, and investment activity.
Robert Clark’s grandfather, James, was born in Airdrie around 1829.[iii] He married Isabella Munn in Dalry, Ayrshire in 1851[iv] and was employed as an ironstone miner. Isabella had been born in Paisley also around 1829 [v] but at the time of her marriage both she and James were described as ‘of the parish of Dalry’.[vi] They lived in one of the six Peesweep Rows there[vii] which housed miners and their families and consisted of one hundred and twelve dwellings, some with two rooms, and others with one. What they all had in common however was little or no sanitation and inadequate fresh water supply. Five of the rows had no wash houses, the sixth had four for eleven houses. The rent for one of these dwellings was typically £3 12s per annum. In 1912 the writer who recorded the conditions detailed above finished his report by saying, “This finishes the description of the Peesweep Rows. We wish they were finished in the material sense as well, for the only thing more melancholy than the Peesweep Rows was the anxiety of some of the women to show us how well pleased they were with their houses, and the fear that the latter would be condemned and shut up”.[viii]
By 1871 they had four sons: Robert and John, both coal miners then aged 20 and 16 years respectively, James who at the age of 13 years was a furnace labourer, and Arthur aged 6 years.[ix] The census of 1871 also records that James the father was unfit for work and on the 10th December of that year he died from emphysema of the lungs, which he had suffered from for several years[x].
Isabella continued to live in the Peesweep Rows for the next ten years, latterly with sons James and Arthur (both miners) in Wee Peesweep Row[xi], probably the worst of all the Rows in that it consisted of ten single apartments, all measuring fifteen feet by eleven feet, with the floor level being about eighteen inches below the outside road surface[xii]. She died there in July 1881 of phthisis (tuberculosis).[xiii]
Her story does not quite end there as, surprisingly, considering the conditions in which she lived, she left personal estate to the value of £73 8s 11d, consisting of savings in the Post Office which arose from a single deposit of £30 Isabella made on 20th December 1880, plus interest, an insurance policy from the Scottish Legal Funeral Society worth £15 16s, and household furnishings and other items.[xiv] Using RPI changes from 1881 to 2014 that is equivalent to £6680 today. Other financial measures make it worth much more; economic power of that sum being equivalent to £110,000.[xv] Where this ‘wealth’ came from is not clear. James, who was confirmed as her executor, she died intestate, worked as a labourer at the time of his mother’s death[xvi] and it seems unlikely that his brothers were in any better financial situation. Son John, Robert Clark’s father, had married in 1874, and in 1881 was working as an iron miner, and living in one of the Peesweep Rows, Double Row, with his wife and two sons.[xvii]
Note; all financial comparisons in this report are initially based on RPI changes and then economic power.
John was born in 1855 in Dalry [xviii] and married twice, firstly to Jane Nelson or Neilson in 1874[xix] with whom he had several children.[xx] They lived in Dalry, John working initially as a miner and then by 1885 as a millworker. Between 1881 and 1885 they moved from the miners dwelling in Double Row to Smith Street in the centre of Dalry,[xxi] a clear improvement in circumstances.
Subsequently the family moved to George Street in Paisley which is where Jane died in 1894 from phthisis leaving John with five children of school age, plus the two eldest boys who were both working. By that time however he had improved his employment situation having become a wringing machine agent.[xxii] His second wife was widow Elizabeth Jamieson whom he married in 1898 in Glasgow, according to the forms of the Christian Brethren.[xxiii] She had four children aged from a few months to 10 years from her previous marriage.[xxiv]
The combined family in 1901 consisted of eleven offspring ranging from 4 years to 19 years all living with their parents in Clavering Street, Paisley, by which time John had become a sewing machine agent.[xxv] Three more sons were born to the couple, Walter in 1900,[xxvi] Joseph in 1902, [xxvii]and Robert, who would become co-founder of the Underwood Trust, in 1904.[xxviii] Sometime after Robert’s birth the family moved to 21 Underwood Lane which is where they were living by 1911.[xxix]
Robert left school aged fourteen and went to work as an office boy in the Glasgow law firm of Maxwell Waddell in Hope Street, Glasgow. The leading partner of the firm John Maxwell appears to have encouraged Robert to attend university, which he did, graduating from Glasgow MA, and LLB, after which he returned to Maxwell’s company as a fully-fledged solicitor.[xxx] During this period Robert’s father John died in 1920[xxxi] leaving an estate valued at £1297 18s 4d,[xxxii] a not insignificant sum (equal to between around £48,000 and £400,000 today depending on the measure used.[xxxiii]) considering his start in life in Dalry. A ‘rags to riches’ story in less than fifty years. As Robert’s life progressed there was to be an exponential change in that story as his career and business activities blossomed. Initially that was due to his relationship with John Maxwell whose interests went beyond that of practising law.
In 1912 Maxwell became part owner of a cinema in Glasgow. By 1922 he owned twenty and had set up Waverly Films, distributing films locally for Wardour Films of London. He took over Wardour in 1923 moving to London in 1925. Two years later he bought Elstree Studios and established British International Pictures (BIP) as a production and distribution company. In 1929 the company made Britain’s first talkie, ‘Blackmail’, directed by the young and upcoming Alfred Hitchcock. He continued to buy cinemas and in 1928 established Associated British Cinemas (ABC) which within a year had a circuit of 80 cinemas.[xxxiv] In 1929 at the request of Maxwell Robert Clark moved to London to become Maxwell’s assistant subsequently reading for the English Bar becoming a qualified lawyer in England as well as Scotland.[xxxv]
In 1930 his mother Elizabeth died at the family home at 21 Underwood Lane.[xxxvi] Two years later Robert, on the 10th September, married Mary Black Lang at Mossvale Church of Scotland. Mary was a school teacher and lived in Paisley, Robert lived in London at 101 Finchley Road.[xxxvii]
Mary’s family had been resident in Paisley since the early part of the 19th century. Her paternal grandfather Matthew Lang married Elizabeth Young in 1866, both residents of Paisley, he being a journeyman joiner, Elizabeth a threadmill worker.[xxxviii] Her maternal grandfather Joseph Black, a widower, married Janet Cooper in 1869, in the Paisley home of the bride. Joseph was a warehouseman and Janet was described as a warehouse worker.[xxxix]
It’s clear that Mary Black Lang’s family background, although working class, was better off financially than that of Robert’s which had centred on mining, living in miner’s rows in Dalry, and in conditions which were hardly basic. Her paternal great grandfathers’ occupations had been that of grocer and baker,[xl] whilst her maternal great grandfathers had been respectively a shawl weaver and cowfeeder, (stockman who rears cattle, selling them on for slaughter).[xli][xlii]
Her father William Lang was born circa 1871 in Paisley[xliii]. He initially worked as a commercial clerk[xliv] but in due course became a journeyman joiner like his father.[xlv] He married Mary’s mother, Mary Black, a threadmill worker, in 1893. [xlvi]
About 1904 Matthew Lang set up the joinery firm Matthew Lang and Sons situated in McGowan Street, Paisley, William working with his father in the company.[xlvii]
Mary Black Lang was born in 1905 at Buchanan Terrace, Paisley,[xlviii] the last of four children. Her mother unfortunately died 4 years later, age 37 years, from pernicious anaemia[xlix] leaving William to care for Mary, and her two sisters and brother, who was the oldest at 13 years.[l] In 1912 William married again, his second wife being Williamina Rose Milne who came from Dundee.[li]
In early 1913 grandfather Matthew Lang died at ‘Langholm’, 27 Greenock Road, Paisley, age 74 years.[lii] He left an estate valued at £3201 2s 6d, (between £284,000 and £2.4 million today).[liii] A trust was established, administered by his sons William and David and two others, which essentially gave liferent of household goods and their home plus income from the estate to his wife Elizabeth. Income from the estate was also given to Matthew’s four children.[liv]
Mary’s father William died at ‘Langholm’ in 1932,[lv] a few months before she married Robert Clark. He also left a significant estate valued at £3483 3s,[lvi] (between £200,000 and £1.5 million today).[lvii] As for the Clarks but much more significant, a picture emerges of the Langs growing in prosperity to such an extent that their personal wealth was much more than ordinary working class families would achieve or aspire to.
The basis of Robert and Mary’s wealth was therefore what had come to them through their respective families. However it is what they did as a couple and ultimately as a family that transformed their personal financial standing from the reasonably well to do, to being multi-millionaires.
In 1933 ABC, BIP, and Wardour Films were consolidated into a single company called the Associated British Picture Corporation (ABPC).[lviii] Whilst Robert continued to work for Maxwell in the new company he also looked for opportunities on his own behalf and in 1935 he set up his own cinema distribution company in Scotland, Caledonian Associated Cinemas.[lix] In 1938 with his wife Mary, he established the Langholm Investment Trust (named after her childhood home in Paisley), whose objective was to invest in land, tenements and hereditaments.[lx] Mary was chairman and Robert the governing director.[lxi] As will be demonstrated later, investment in property was to be key to Robert’s success. In between this business activity two sons were born in 1935 and 1938, in Hendon, Middlesex.[lxii]
In 1940 John Maxwell died,[lxiii] after which, in 1942, Robert became a director of ABPC.[lxiv] He continued to progress with the company, taking charge of Elstree Studios five years later, eventually becoming executive director in charge of film production in 1949.[lxv] He also pursued his own separate business interests with Caledonian Associated Cinemas and the Langholm Trust, and in 1948 established Taylor Clark (Scotland) Ltd. whose registered office was, and is, 185 St. Vincent Street, Glasgow, its business being the buying and selling of real estate.[lxvi] The company is a private limited company, now known as Taylor Clark Properties Ltd., wholly owned by Taylor Clark Ltd, the eventual name of the Langholm Trust, which became the Equity Trust Ltd in 1962 and finally its current name in 1988.[lxvii] In 2015 the Scottish company share capital was £17,500,000.[lxviii]
The purchase of the shares of a little known and poorly performing investment trust in 1951[lxix] was in time to be the main means by which the Clark family fortune was founded. The Stock Conversion and Investment Trust had been established in 1888 primarily to convert existing stock (mainly LMS railway stock) into more than one class of security.[lxx] It’s not particularly clear who purchased these shares but by 1953 Robert Clark is chairman of the trust and in partnership with estate agent Joe Levy (the eventual founder of the Levy Foundation)[lxxi]. Levy was initially the major shareholder, Clark’s shareholding was both personal and through his previously established companies. The trust became heavily involved in the London property market of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, particularly with office and commercial developments. This was not a universally popular activity as it often involved the demolition of serviceable housing stock. However the trust was so successful in this venture that the shareholders’ funds increased from £13,155 in 1953 to £45,559,000 by 1972,[lxxii] in terms of economic power worth over £1 billion today.[lxxiii]
Robert continued with his ABPC career and in 1955 ABC Television was established servicing Birmingham midweek and London at the weekends. [lxxiv] Three years later he relinquished his role as executive in charge of film production, but remained a director of the company[lxxv] eventually being appointed ABPC’s first chief executive in 1966.[lxxvi] During his time in charge of film production he made a number of very popular films including the Dambusters (Michael Redgrave and Richard Todd), The Hasty Heart (Richard Todd, Ronald Reagan and Patricia Neal), The Dancing Years (Dennis Price) and Ice Cold in Alex (John Mills and Sylvia Sims).[lxxvii]
Television was beginning to play a large part in ABCP’s activities, in 1961 contributing £2.5 million to company profits.[lxxviii] In 1967 the Independent Television Authority (ITA) required ABC Television and Rediffusion Television to merge, the new company becoming Thames Television.[lxxix] Thames when established was run by ABPC board members with Robert Clark being deputy chairman of both companies.[lxxx]
The growth and development of ABPC had for some time attracted interest from organisations wishing to buy the company. After a protracted, acrimonious take-over battle, and several offers which were rejected, EMI finally bought the company in 1969 for £63 million, equivalent to somewhere between £1 billion and £2 billion today.[lxxxi]
On the completion of the take-over Robert Clark left the company with no thoughts of retirement, “being firmly ensconced behind his desk at the explosive growth company Stock Conversion”.[lxxxii]
He also continued to be actively involved in the companies he or his family owned, and he and his wife Mary became directors of the Underwood Trust they set up in 1973.
The Clark ‘empire’ eventually consisted of the companies already mentioned, his share- holding in the Stock Conversion Investment Trust and a myriad of other subsidiary and associated companies mainly wholly owned by Robert and his family; his two sons now being senior partners, shareholders or directors in each enterprise. Other family members were also shareholders and in due course some would become company officers.[lxxxiii]
In February 1984 Robert was awarded a honourary LLD from Glasgow University.[lxxxiv] He died later that year at his home in London[lxxxv] leaving an estate valued at over £855,000 net (between £2.2 million and £4.6 million today)[lxxxvi], £250,000 of which he bequeathed to the Underwood Trust.[lxxxvii]
Some years later in 1997 the journalist Jack Webster wrote an article in the Glasgow Herald entitled “Lost in the confines of our mediocre obsessions”. In it he bemoans the fact that Robert Clark, despite his work with cinema and television, was largely unknown to the public. When he died there had been no obituary in the Times or any other London newspaper: nothing at all in the public domain which acknowledged his achievements, whilst others of lesser stature and achievement (he mentions Chris Evans and Anthea Turner), in his view, are lauded beyond comprehension.[lxxxviii]
Six months after Robert’s death the family sold their 22.4% (11.7 million shares) holding in the Stock Conversion and Investment Trust to Stockley property group realizing just over £70 million, (between £185 million and £365 million today).[lxxxix]
Robert’s wife Mary died in 1993 aged 87.[xc] She left an estate valued at over £3.1 million, (between £5 million and £8 million today),[xci] bequeathing all her shares in Taylor Clark Ltd to the Underwood Trust.[xcii]
From James Clark to Robert Clark occurred an amazing transformation. James lived in accommodation in a miner’s row in Ayrshire that was basic and insanitary, dying from a typical miner’s disease at the early age of 42. His grandson Robert lived in St James Square in Westminster, London SW1,[xciii] was at the heart of the British cinema and television industries, and was a significant player in the London property market in the 1950s to the 1970s. He died aged 80, a multi-millionaire, having also, with his wife Mary, set up a multi-million pound charitable trust to aid the less fortunate in Glasgow and Paisley.
Both the Trust and the Taylor Clark group of companies continue to operate successfully, the company’s latest returns showing shareholder funds at over £170 million.[xciv] Currently they are involved with BAM Properties in a £100 million development of Atlantic Square (Argyle Street /Broomielaw, James Watt Street/York Street) in the heart of Glasgow’s International Financial Services District. The development, scheduled to start in the autumn of 2017, will provide mainly office accommodation with some retail outlets and residential accommodation.[xcv]
Header and figures 1 and 2 from: Dalry Remembered. The Dalry Local History Group 1985.
What makes a successful and prosperous ship owner, also an assiduous and knowledgeable collector of art, become a Glasgow Corporation councillor? Is it a sense of civic duty, to give something back as it were? Is it to gain a different kind of influence, or to pursue a political view or philosophy? Or did it ‘just happen’?
Following his death in March 1958 the collector in question, Sir William Burrell, was quoted in an article in the Glasgow Herald by the then Lord Provost of Glasgow Andrew Hood as saying “I sold all my ships so I could become a councillor with the aim of helping to solve Glasgow’s slum housing problem”.[i]
He clearly became a councillor; being elected in 1899, however did he have a political objective and did he sell his ships to achieve it? Additionally by what process did he become a candidate in the municipal elections? Did he have any particular political viewpoint? Who or what influenced him politically?
The answers to these questions lie within the period 1897 to 1899 during which time all the events which resulted in Burrell becoming a councillor, occurred.
In 1899 two seemingly unconnected events happened, one planned, the other unforeseen, which, in combination, set the scene for Sir William Burrell (then plain mister) becoming a Glasgow Corporation councillor.
The last few years of the 19th century saw significant demand for ships coupled with high shipping rates. In keeping with their previous practise of buying ships when the industry was depressed and selling them in boom periods, Burrell and Son sold their entire fleet, some 25 vessels, between 1897 and 1899 most of which had been built between 1892 and 1894, when shipbuilding was in a slump. This was the second occasion they had sold their fleet in this manner and there was to be a third subsequent to the end of the Great War.[ii]
In a letter to his friend R.S. Dods dated 3rd January 1902 the architect Sir Robert Lorimer (who at that time was heavily involved with Burrell’s furnishing of his house in Devonshire Gardens) tells of Burrell explaining his company’s business tactic of buying and selling ships. Lorimer describes it as the nimblest he’s ever struck and quotes Burrell as saying he puts the money into 3% stock and “lies back until things are absolutely in the gutter” at which point he starts to buy new ships at rock bottom prices. Burrell described it to him as “making money like slate stones”. He also told him that he expected to be buying ships again in 1904,[iii] in the event it was 1905.[iv]
The sole purpose of the manoeuvre was to make money, and lots of it. Nothing wrong with that of course but there was clearly no intent to sell his ships for any other reason, it was purely a business imperative. That being so it’s difficult to accept he had any political objective in mind when he did so. Perhaps he came to that later.
The company continued to function as shipping agents and insurance brokers in the following few years and to charter ships whenever they secured cargo. Nonetheless compared to earlier years the company’s activities were clearly much reduced.[v]
Burrell continued to add to his collection, which already included paintings, tapestries, sculptures and ceramics, with more funds and at least initially, with more free time to do so.[vi]
The Municipal elections in 1899 were to be held on Tuesday 7th November. At that time there were 25 wards in the city and by the 1st October all the candidates for each ward had been identified and declared. Burrell’s name was not amongst them.
One of the candidates was Robert Murdoch, head of Robert Murdoch and Co., Iron and Steel Merchants, who was also one of three sitting members for Ward 10 (Exchange). He was the retiring member for 1899 and was standing again, unopposed for re-election.
Unfortunately for Mr. Murdoch, who had been a councillor for 10 years, on the 15th October he died suddenly at home, aged 75 thereby creating a vacancy in the ward.[vii]
Exchange ward was at the heart of the city and was the centre of the city’s business and commercial activity. It took in George Square, the City Chambers, Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale Bank, the GPO, the Custom House, and at No.54 George Square, the Burrell and Son offices. In 1895 the city assessor James Henry in accordance with the City of Glasgow Act 1891 (Divisional Administration) presented a report proposing a rearrangement of the 25 municipal wards, primarily to ensure that any given ward in its entirety was in a single parliamentary constituency. After a period of debate the issue was finally settled in April 1896. Exchange ward boundaries were established to the north as Bath Street and Cathedral Street, its southern boundary was Clyde Street, and it was bounded east and west by Stockwell Street/Glassford Street/John Street and Jamaica Street/Mitchell Street/ West Nile Street respectively, all contained within the Central Parliamentary Division.[viii] Its electoral roll was 2087 and it had a rental valuation of £450,190, the smallest roll and highest rental (by a significant margin) of any of the city wards. [ix]
The ward contained some of the most influential and powerful people in the city and it would be expected that its representatives on the council would come from that community. In due course that’s what happened when Richard Hubbard Hunter was persuaded to come forward to fill the vacancy caused by Murdoch’s death.[x][xi] He was a wealthy business man who was the managing director and chairman of Hunter, Barr & Company, a company which had been started by his father in 1843. They were wholesale warehousemen dealing in textiles and had branches in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Leeds and Newcastle.
He was a man of strong religious conviction and had a background of philanthropic works and had, among other charitable activities, joined with William Quarrier in setting up the orphan’s home at Bridge of Weir. He also established the Sailors Orphan Society of Scotland, which continues to provide assistance to the children of seamen to this day.[xii][xiii]
At the Exchange Ward committee[xiv] annual meeting held on 25th October in the Lesser Trades Hall in Glassford Street, following accounts of Corporation business given by the other sitting councillors of the ward (Robert Graham and Thomas Watson), Hunter addressed the meeting saying he was concerned about the amount of money the city was borrowing, that he would not follow any particular party line but would use his judgement to determine matters in council. As reported in the Glasgow Herald it was a fairly brief statement. He was unanimously adopted as a ‘fit and proper person to represent the ward’.[xv]
Usually (but not always) that would have been that and Hunter would have been elected to the council without opposition.
However, that was not to be. On the 30th October the Glasgow Herald carried a short notice which said that on the preceding Saturday (28th) William Burrell had been ‘waited upon by a deputation from the electors of the Exchange Ward’ requesting him to put himself forward as a candidate for the ward vacancy. His answer was expected later that day.[xvi]
Who these electors were is not stated. Were they ward committee members despite the unanimous vote recorded for Hunter, or were they associates of Burrell (business or otherwise) who felt he would better represent their interests rather than the philanthropic Hunter?
At any rate Burrell gave his answer in the affirmative.[xvii] With one week to go to the election Burrell is now a candidate. Clearly not a pre-planned event unless he foresaw the unfortunate Mr. Murdoch’s demise!
Burrell’s decision to stand as a candidate in the election did not pass without response. Two letters to the Herald written on the 31st October and published on the 1st November gave divergent views on the situation. One was clearly in support of Burrell, the writer stating that he was glad there was to be a contest, that Burrell was Glasgow born and bred (Hunter was born in Inverkip) and that Burrell was a safe and competent individual to deal with ‘schemes’ which are ‘crowding’ on to the Town Council. The letter writer was not identified.[xviii]
The other, from ‘a large ratepayer’, basically criticised Burrell for creating a contest especially when he and Hunter were essentially saying the same thing, that Hunter was a larger ratepayer than Burrell, and had been endorsed by the Ward committee and a subsequent public meeting of electors. He encouraged voters to show their disapproval of Burrell’s candidature by voting for Hunter.[xix]
The election however did not go Hunter’s way with Burrell gaining 911 votes to his 522, thereby being duly elected to be the third member for the Exchange ward.[xx]
Why did he win? He was a latecomer to the contest and had no obvious political background. Was Hunter too much of a philanthropist for his fellow business ratepayers liking, was it local man versus outsider, bearing in mind that Hunter was born in Inverkip? Was there another reason?
If there was, it was probably related to Sir Samuel Chisholm and his politics. Chisholm was one of two candidates for Lord Provost that year (he was duly elected at the first meeting of the new council) and was a radical Liberal.[xxi] Thomas Gray, who was the Town Treasurer, spoke at Hunter’s pre-election meeting in the Merchant’s House on 2nd November suggesting the contest was not between Hunter or Burrell but which of the two would be more aligned to the politics of Chisholm. He felt Chisholm was being unfairly treated because of views being expressed that his appointment “would result in unnecessary and wasteful expenditure and that as he was an abstainer the city’s hospitality would suffer”.[xxii]
One individual in particular, to whom I’ll return to later, vigorously promoted these views over a number of years. Gray clearly was of the opinion that Hunter, perhaps because of his philanthropic activity, was more in tune with Chisholm than Burrell would be. The day before the election the Herald carried a notice from the Progressive Union, combining Christian, Philanthropic and Temperance agencies, supporting Hunter.[xxiii]
What were Burrell’s politics and influences then? His background would indicate he would at least lean towards the Conservative party. He was an extremely wealthy individual, was a successful business man, already had an extensive collection of artwork, and lived in Glasgow’s West End at 4 Devonshire Gardens with his mother and sisters Mary and Isabella.[xxiv] Additionally, his father William senior was described in his obituary in the Herald in 1885 as “a keen Conservative and active in a minor way in local politics in Bowling and Old Kilpatrick.”[xxv] It’s difficult therefore to see him having any contrary political views.
Another, perhaps more significant, influence was probably his brother in law Charles John Cleland who had married Burrell’s younger sister Janet Houston Burrell on 14th June 1888.[xxvi] Cleland worked for his father’s stationers company and in 1891 he was elected as one of three councillors for Glasgow Ward 25 (Maryhill). He had a deep interest in politics and was Vice Chairman of the Glasgow Conservative Association in 1909. He was also a member of the Conservative Clubs in the city.[xxvii]
In 1907 he was honoured with membership of the Royal Victorian Order (M.R.V.O.)[xxviii] and in 1917 was invested as a Knight Commander, Order of the British Empire. (K.B.E.).[xxix] At one time he was also Deputy Lieutenant for the County of the City of Glasgow. He remained a councillor for Maryhill until 1907 when he retired from public office. However he stood for the Exchange Ward in 1929 and was duly elected subsequently becoming sub convener of the new Education Committee. He finally retired from politics in 1934.[xxx]
Cleland had three daughters, one of whom, Jessie Muriel Cleland, married Sir Richard Dawson Bates in 1920.[xxxi] He was an Ulster Unionist politician who was in the forefront of opposition to Irish Home Rule prior to the First World War and subsequently.[xxxii]
Cleland had significant influence as a politician and it’s probable that when Burrell was approached to stand as a candidate that he would seek advice from his brother in law and be guided by him, maybe even encouraged by him to stand.
One other influence on Burrell may have been the views of fellow business man and collector Arthur Kay. He was a director of Arthur and Co. whose offices were located at 78 Queen Street, approximately 350 yards from Burrell’s offices. He was also the individual referred to earlier who had a deep aversion to Samuel Chisholm and all he stood for.
Kay had much in common with Burrell in terms of collecting and had a similar approach in that he would rather trust dealers than academics when it came to seeking advice. Like Burrell he had started collecting early in life and was wary about alerting potential rivals to his interest in a particular item. It’s probable therefore they were acquaintances possibly even friends through their interest in art and their business activities. They would certainly mix in the same business circles and be aware of each other’s collecting activity and preferences,[xxxiii] an example of which is; around 1900 Kay bought Manet’s Un Cafe Place du Theatre Francais, which was eventually purchased by Burrell.[xxxiv] In 1907 they were founding members of the Provand’s Lordship Society in Glasgow. They therefore had a lot in common in business and art, and as I’ll show, their approach to civic governance.
Kay was the second largest ratepayer in Glasgow, after the railway companies and was vigorously against what he called Municipal Trading such as running tram systems, municipal telephone services, housing and so on, the sort of activities Glasgow’s citizens in due course readily accepted as municipal services. He also had concerns about the financing arrangements of the Council and the burden, actual and potential, it put on business ratepayers.[xxxv] He specifically was against the Housing Scheme proposed by Sir Samuel Chisholm which was in response to the Housing of Working Classes Act 1890, the scheme proposing a municipal solution to the problem.[xxxvi]
In general Kay was against the encroachment of the council into activities that he felt were the province of business, that the cost of doing this was being placed on the business ratepayers in particular, and that the debt caused by the council’s financial arrangements (stock issues) would ultimately default to the ratepayer. He was the founder of the Glasgow Ratepayers Federation and a member of the Citizen’s Union, both organisations being against Municipal Trading and all that it implied. He wrote pamphlets on the subject, delivered speeches to various bodies including the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, and on June 25 1903 gave evidence to a parliamentary committee during which he stated he is fundamentally against Municipal Trading and that ‘it is the opinion of a great many ratepayers – if all these undertakings are on the rates, a day will come when our representatives are not so reliable as they are at present – they may be socialists.’[xxxvii]
There is no evidence to suggest Burrell was a member of any of these organisations and there is no doubt most ratepayers (or council tax payers today) would support a reduction in their rates burden. However when Burrell spoke at his pre-election meeting at the Merchant’s House on the 1st November his ‘manifesto’ was very much in line with the essence and some of the specifics of Kay’s views.
Amongst those present at this meeting were Burrell’s brother George and his brother in law Bailie Charles Cleland. He opened by saying he ‘came before the electors neither as a stranger or an outsider’.
The key elements of his address dealt with Corporation finance as follows: expenditure, greatly increased in recent years due to municipalisation of the city, now time to call a halt as capital expenditure exceeded reserves; ratepayer burden generally increasing; flotation of stock to raise capital inefficient and excessive; Corporation would be better off paying attention to savings on large items rather than getting involved in ‘crotchets and fads’ such as the municipalisation of bread and milk, and the manufacture of policeman’s helmets; was against the Free Libraries Act as it would increase the rate burden on businesses in the city, from which they would get no benefit, (this at a time when Andrew Carnegie was building free libraries all over the world, including Glasgow); the Building Regulations Act imposed several unnecessary and oppressive restrictions on the erection of business premises and that some of the Act’s clauses should be eliminated and others amended.
A Mr. John Wilson asked Burrell why he had decided to stand for election without going to the Ward Committee either publically or privately. Burrell stated he had been pressed to do so and having agreed he would not turn back. A vote of confidence in Burrell was then proposed and seconded which was carried. Wilson had put forward an amendment to the motion saying there was nothing to suggest that Burrell would be better than Hunter, however it was not seconded.[xxxviii]
It may be that Burrell came to these views by himself, however what is not in doubt is that his comment that he had become a councillor to help solve Glasgow’s slum housing problem is not borne out by the facts.
He sold his ships for business reasons, no other. His candidature was pure happenstance. There was nothing in his ‘manifesto’ to demonstrate he wanted to help solve Glasgow’s slum housing problem. In fact he allied himself to the views of an individual (Kay) who was specifically against improving working class housing through municipal action.
There is one further question to be pondered, how effective was he as a councillor?
In the Herald article of 1958 Andrew Hood further quotes Burrell who told him that “after seven years as a member of the corporation I became so disappointed over my inability to realise my ambition.”[xxxix]
As ever with Sir William Burrell, there is probably more to it than that.
[xiv] In 1896 the Lord Provost of Glasgow Sir James Bell defined ward committees as voluntary bodies, the special functions of which were to deal with candidates for office and in a minor degree, with the elected and sitting representatives. They would also nominate or recommend a candidate for municipal elections which in practical terms would be a strong endorsement of the candidate to the electorate. Scottish Archive Network Ward Committees 1860 – 1974 Person code NA 18958 http://220.127.116.11/catalogue/person.aspx?code=NA18958&st=1&tc=y&tl=n&tn=y&tp=y&k=ward+committees&ko=a&r=GB243&ro=s&: accessed December 2013.
[xxvi] Marriages. Scotland. Old Kilpatrick, Dumbarton. 501/00. 14 June 1888. CLELAND, Charles John and BURRELL, Janet Houston. GROS Data 501/00 0036. http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk: accessed September 2012.
[xxxi] The Peerage, person page13507. ‘Jessie Muriel Cleland was the daughter of Sir Charles John Cleland. She married Sir Richard Dawson Bates, 1st Bt., son of Richard Dawson Bates and Mary Dill on 8 April 1920. She died on 31 October 1972.’http://www.thepeerage.com/p13507.htm: accessed October 2013.