Cecilia Douglas (1772-1862). Art Collector and Slave Owner.

To avoid confusion donor Cecilia Douglas will always be in bold.

In 1862 Mrs Cecilia Douglas (nee Douglas) bequeathed oil paintings and sculptures to the then Glasgow Corporation. The paintings, thirteen in total consisting of an old master, copies of old masters and other originals, initially were on display in the Mclellan Galleries in Sauchiehall Street. Currently they are located in the Glasgow Museum Resource Centre or on display in Kelvingrove Art Galleries.

Figure 1. Willem van Aelst (1627-after 1687). Still Life: Herring, Cherries and Glassware. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (www.artuk.org)
Figure 2. Vincenzo Camuccini (171-1844). The Death of Julius Caesar. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (www.artuk.org).

She and her husband Gilbert represented two different branches of the Douglas family. Hers, according to one source, perhaps wishful thinking, descended from the Douglas Earls of Angus via the Douglas families of Cruixton and Stobbs,[1] Gilbert’s from the Douglases of Mulderg in Ross-Shire.[2] Her mother was a Buchanan, descending from the Buchanans of Leny, Gilbert’s mother was a Robertson,  daughter of a farmer from Balcony (Balconie). Interestingly there is a line of descent chart which shows the Robertson family descending from Edward I of England and his wife, the daughter of the king of France.[3] All pre-eminent families, particularly the Douglases and the Buchanans who were heavily involved in the West Indies in the 18th century, owning plantations and dealing in sugar and tobacco.

Gilbert Douglas

Gilbert’s paternal ancestry can be traced back to Hector Douglas, the first of Mulderg, who is mentioned in the 1644 Valuation Roll of the Sheriffdom of Inverness and Ross. He seems to have been the proprietor of the estate from around 1630.He died before 1653, his son Hector succeeding him being “retoured as heir of his father” (legally recognised). Son Hector had married Bessie Gray around 1630 producing at least three sons, however his time as owner of the estate was short lived as he died around 1657, to be succeeded by son Robert. Robert, his brother another Hector who succeeded him, both had no issue the estate passing on to a third brother, first name unfortunately not known. This brother was succeeded by his son Hector who was Gilbert’s great grandfather. Around 1718 the Douglases ceased to own Mulderg, Gilbert’s great grandfather’s eldest son (Hector!) being the last.[4]

The second son was Robert [5] who married Catherine Munro in 1703.[6] She was his second wife and they had three children one of whom was yet another Robert, a farmer in Balcony, who was Gilbert’s father. He married Janet Robertson, daughter of farmer Hugh Robertson also of Balcony, Gilbert being born in 1749. He was baptised in the parish church of Kiltearn in Ross-shire.[7]

Cecilia Douglas

From 1378 to 1660 there were twelve Douglas Earls of Angus, the last one being William Douglas, who became the Marquis of Angus in 1633. No clear connection has been established between the Earls and Cecilia’s father John Douglas, a Glasgow merchant, however I believe his first traceable direct ancestor, and Cecilia’s paternal great great grandfather was Robert Douglas, an Edinburgh merchant who married Helen Hunter in 1665.[8] According to the Douglas Archives website they had a son, Robert of Cruixton, who married Rachael McFarlane, who in turn had a son named William, John Douglas’s father. William was a merchant in Leith. He married Katherine Dunlop of Garnkirk[9] and died in 1772.[10]

John Douglas was born in Leith in 1727.[11] He married Cecilia Buchanan in 1766,[12] the daughter of George Buchanan, a maltman, burgess and guild brother of Glasgow. Her paternal ancestry can be traced back to Walter Buchanan of Leny in the 16th century, his grandson Andrew Buchanan of Gartacharn being her great grandfather. She shares this ancestry with Mary Buchanan, the wife of Alexander Speirs, who also was Andrew’s great granddaughter.

Andrew’s son George was a maltman in Glasgow, a member of the Trades House from 1674, where he held a number of positions. At various times he was also a Glasgow Bailie and Deacon Convener of the Trades House. He married twice, his second wife being Mary Maxwell, daughter of Glasgow merchant Gabriel Maxwell. They had ten children, seven sons and three daughters.

The eldest was also George, born in 1686 who followed in his father’s footsteps becoming a maltman in Glasgow. He was also Glasgow Burgh Treasurer at one point and became a Bailie in 1732.[13] He married three times, his third wife Cecilia Forbes, whom he married in 1736,[14] being the mother of Cecilia Buchanan who was born in 1740.[15]

George’s younger brothers Andrew, Neil and Archibald, who was Alexander Speirs’ father in law, were heavily involved in the American tobacco trade becoming Glasgow’s largest tobacco importer by 1730.[16]

The Family of John Douglas and Cecilia Buchanan

John and Cecilia had eleven children, all born in Glasgow, as follows:

  • William, b. October 1766.[17] Matriculated at Glasgow University in 1778.[18] Died before 1828, the Trust deed of Cecilia Douglas, written in 1828 refers to him as her late brother as she bequeathed to his daughter Rosina £250.[19] As the name Rosina in the Scotlandspeople records for that time is rare there is some reasonably strong evidence, but not fully conclusive, that William was a ship’s captain, had married Rosina Service, daughter Rosina being born in 1811.[20] She died in 1912,[21] the widow of Peter Drew whom she married in 1854,[22] her father being described as a master mariner.
  • George, b. May 1768.[23]
  • John, b. May 1768.[24]  What happened to his twin George has not been established except that he matriculated at Glasgow University in 1780 and died young.[25] John also matriculated at Glasgow[26] and afterwards was significantly involved with the sugar trade in Demerara, (British Guiana, now Guyana) probably on his own initially but subsequently with his brothers through the family firm of J. T. and A. Douglas & Co. Probably/possibly his involvement in the trade was through Gilbert Douglas who owned plantations in the West Indies. He actually lived in Demerara around 1800 owning, with his brothers, at least three sugar plantations directly, plus others indirectly as mortgagees.[27] Whilst there he fathered three children, two boys and a girl, with a free creole woman. The second son James, born in 1803, was to have an astonishing career considering his parents never married and his mother was of mixed European and black descent. He came to Scotland with his brother Alexander, possibly with their father, for his early schooling and in 1819 they both went to Canada to work in the fur trade for the North West Company. By 1821 James was working for the Hudson Bay Company. He married Amelia Connelly, who was half native Canadian, half white in 1827 and continued to rise through the Hudson Bay Company, eventually being transferred to British Columbia to run its operation there with a wide range of responsibilities. By 1851 he had been appointed governor of Vancouver Island. When it became officially a crown colony in 1859 he became the first governor of British Columbia, holding the two posts until his retirement in 1864 at which point he became a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. He died in 1877.[28]
Figure 3. Sir James Douglas. From Dictionary of Canadian Biography. (source Wikimedia Commons).

John returned to Glasgow before 1809, probably around 1806/07 as the first time the family firm of J. T. snd A. Douglas & Co., located at 51 Virginia Street, appeared in the Glasgow Post Office Directory was in the 1807 edition.[29] He married Jessie Hamilton, the daughter of a Greenock merchant in 1809[30] and they had at least three children, one boy named for his father and two girls.[31] I have the impression that he returned to Demerara at some point but there is no clear proof of that. He eventually moved to Edinburgh living at Moray Place where he died in 1840. His estate in Scotland was valued at just under £71,500, the majority of it in bank, railway and canal stock.[32] Today that would be worth between £7m and £290m.[33] His estate in England was valued at ‘under £20,000’, being finally settled in 1862, his brother Thomas being by that time the sole surviving executor,[34] John’s wife Jessie having died in 1861 at Moray Place.[35]

  • R0bert, b. 20 July 1770.[36] Not mentioned in her 1828 Trust deed presumably having died before then.
  • Cecilia, b. 28 February 1772,[37] more of whom and husband Gilbert to follow.
  • Neil, b. 24 February 1774.[38] Matriculated at Glasgow University in 1786 then  became a partner in Douglas and Brown, cotton spinners.[39] Joined the Rifle Brigade in 1801 as a second lieutenant and had an extremely successful military career. By 1811 he had attained the rank of major and had fought with Sir John Moore in Portugal and Sweden. He was no desk soldier being wounded twice between 1810 (Busaco) and 1815 (Quatre Bas). In June of that year he had commanded his battalion at Waterloo. He continued to progress through the ranks becoming by the end of his career Lieutenant General of the 78th regiment in 1851. He was an aide de camp of William IV from 1825 to 1837 and from 1842 to 1847 was governor of Edinburgh Castle.[40] He was awarded many honours being made a Commander of the Order of Maria Theresa in 1815 by the Austrian emperor,[41] in 1831 he was knighted becoming a Knight-Companion of the Royal Hanoverian Guelphic Order,[42] finally becoming a Knight Commander of the Bath. I’ve not been able to clearly identify when he was given this last honour but when he was appointed to Edinburgh Castle in 1842 he was described as a KCB.[43] In 1816 he married Barbara Robertson, the daughter of George Robertson, a banker of Greenock.[44] They had at least one son, Sir John Douglas, who like his father became a soldier. He fought in the Crimean War and was involved in dealing with the Indian Mutiny of 1857. He reached the rank of general in 1880.[45] Sir Neil Douglas died in Brussels in 1853.[46]
Figure 4. Sir Neil Douglas. National Portrait Gallery of Scotland.
  • Thomas Dunlop, b. 1 February 1776.[47] He began his business life as an apprentice hat maker with Thomas Buchanan (a relative of his mother?) in Glasgow and by 1801 had his own hat making business located between Brown Street and Carrick Street.[48] Following the partnership with his brothers John and Archibald in 1807 he continued as a hat maker until 1816, the last year he appears in the Glasgow directory as such.[49] From 1823 until 1857/58 he was described as an insurance broker. From 1807 until 1855 he continued to be a partner of J. T. and A. Douglas & Co., that being the last year the company appeared in the Glasgow directory [50]. He married Rose Hunter of Greenock in May 1808,[51] there being, apparently, no children of the marriage. He was a member of the Board of Green Cloth, a Glasgow whist and supper club from at least 1809 and in 1845 bought the Dunlop estate in Ayrshire, which was once owned by the Dunlop family his grandfather William Douglas had married into.[52] He died in 1869 at Dunlop House, his wife Rosina pre- deceasing him.[53] His inventory of assets totalled over £64,000 in Scotland and £176,000 in England, combined total being £241,600.[54] Today this would equate to around £500m in terms of economic worth.[55] In his trust settlement of 1867 he made several bequests to the families of his brothers, other family members, servants, farm hands and charitable institutions, however the most significant beneficiary was Thomas Dunlop Douglas Cunninghame Graham, who I believe was a nephew or great nephew, but not proven.[56]
  • Archibald, b. 10 October 1778.[57] Reliable information about Archibald has been difficult to get, however like his brothers he matriculated at Glasgow University in 1789.[58] He clearly was a partner in the family business but rarely appeared in the Glasgow directory. There is an Archibald Douglas, stocking manufacturer, in the 1801 directory, becoming Archibald Douglas & Co, hosiers by 1807, thereafter no further entries. Similarly his personal life only becomes clear through his Trust settlement of 1860. In the Regality Club of Glasgow publications he is described as a merchant in 1811 and a member of Glasgow Golf Club in 1815.[59] In addition to being a partner in J. T. and A. Douglas and Co. he was also a partner, with brother Neil, in Douglas, Brown and Co., cotton spinners. He purchased the estate of Glenfinnart in Argyllshire in 1845 where lived for the rest of his life.[60] He died there in 1860 and it is in his Trust document that you get primary evidence that he married and had children. He married firstly Christina Riddell in 1810, then Harriet May in 1828, and finally Anna McNeill in 1838. There appears to be children only of the last marriage, namely John, a colonel and Assistant Adjutant General of Cavalry who was his executor and main beneficiary, and daughters Anna Glassford and Eleanor Louisa, who pre deceased him. His estate was valued at over £28,000.[61]
  • James, b. 8 August 1779.[62] Very little known about this brother except he seems to have lived and died in Demerara. The only evidence I have for that is that there is a reference to his death in the July-December 1853 issue of the Official Gazette for British Guiana concerning a share of the Good Hope plantation there being transferred to his brother Thomas Dunlop Douglas.[63] In his sister Cecilia’s Trust deed of 1828 he is described as ‘of Demerara’[64] however it’s possible he may have returned to Glasgow on occasion as in his brother John’s will in 1840 he is described as a merchant in Glasgow.[65] In his only entry in the Glasgow directory in 1850/51 he is described as a partner in the family company his house address given as 234 St Vincent Street. [66]
  • Colin, 25 November 1781.[67] Matriculated at Glasgow University in 1793 and graduated M.D. in 1802.[68] He is very likely to have died unmarried before 1828 as sister Cecilia does not mention him or any family of his in her Trust settlement of 1828
  • Cathrin, b. 16 January 1784.[69]

As Indicated previously John Douglas senior was a Glasgow merchant. Around 1775 he purchased from John Miller a plot of land in what became Miller Street.[70] In the same year he and two other city merchants were charged by the Sheriff Depute of the County of Lanark, with ensuring that the Clyde from Dumbuck Ford to the Broomielaw had been deepened in accordance with the contract between Glasgow and a Mr. Goldburne, which was confirmed as seven feet at an ordinary neep tide![71]

What kind of merchant he was is not entirely clear as entries in the Glasgow directories don’t always specify. His first entry in the1783 John Tait directory simply says he was a merchant in Miller Street.[72] However in the Jones directories in 1789 and 1790/91 the only John Douglas entry in each states he was a wine and rum merchant, located in Miller Street.[73] Confusingly another source states he was the father of Sir Neil Douglas, which is correct, but then goes on to describe him as an insurance broker.[74]

I have not been able to clearly identify when John Douglas died but it must have been after 1803, the date of his last entry in the Glasgow directory and before 1810, the date of his wife Cecilia’s death where she was described as the relict (widow) of merchant John Douglas.[75]

J. T. and A. Douglas and Co.

The company lasted for just under fifty years, the final entry in the Glasgow directory being in 1854. Its main area of operation had been the sugar plantations it or the brothers owned in Demerara and Berbice in British Guiana. They had an involvement with at least six plantations Union, Better Hope, Enfield, Good Hope, Belmont and Windsor Forest either as owners or mortgagees which collectively had 1155 slaves. Additionally there were five more slaves presumably household for either John or James. When slavery was abolished they claimed compensation, eventually receiving as owners £41517 and a further £48874 from other owners which paid off the outstanding mortgage debt.[76] The total of these sums, £90391, equate today to £392m in terms of economic power.[77] That sum was in addition to the profits they made over the lifetime of the company, the majority of that time investing in human misery to their clear advantage. That misery erupted into a slave rebellion in Demerara in 1823 which was savagely put down by the military with hundreds of slaves killed, those who weren’t being sentenced to 1,000 lashes and hard labour.[78]

Cecilia and Gilbert Douglas

Cecilia and Gilbert married in Glasgow on the 26th January 1794.[79] There were no children of the marriage. As a farmer’s son Gilbert presumably spent his early working life on his father’s farm in Balcony, however there is not a great deal known about his subsequent business activities. At the time of his marriage he was described as a merchant in Glasgow but the usual sources to confirm that such as the city directories, the Merchants House and the Scottish Record Society records of burgesses etc, contain no reference to him. Nor is there any record of matriculating/graduating from the University. What is known is that at the time of his death he owned a cotton plantation called Fairfield in Demerara and a sugar plantation called Mount Pleasant, on the island of St. Vincent, where he had lived for a period.[80] How and when he acquired them has not been discovered.

In 1800 he bought the Douglas Park estate from Major-General John Hamilton of Orbiston,[81] following which he engaged architect Robert Burn to build a mansion on the site of the old Orbiston House based on plans apparently prepared in 1795.[82] He also bought the estate of Boggs from Hamilton a year later. He and Cecilia lived there for the rest of their lives.

He died in 1807 at Douglas Park,[83] his deed of settlement in St. Vincent naming Cecilia and her brothers as trustees of his estate. She specifically was bequeathed half shares in the two plantations as well as life rent of the Douglas Park and Boggs estates.[84]

As it turned out the plantations had debts which Cecilia paid off by continuing to sell the Demerara produce for a time and eventually her half share in the plantation itself.[85]

Figure 5. Orbiston House. From: Smith, John Guthrie and Mitchell, John Oswald. (1878). The Old Country Houses of the Old Glasgow Gentry. 2nd ed. Glasgow: James Maclehose and Sons.

The remainder of Cecilia’s life does not reflect that of a typical Victorian lady. She travelled to Italy and lived there for an extended period, she purchased the estate of Orbiston, adjacent to her own and renamed the whole estate and house Orbiston,[86] and she had a number of significant industrial and financial investments which included the Forth and Clyde Canal (£3536), the Bank of England (£7977) and various railway stocks (over £9700).[87] She also retained her half share in the ownership of the St. Vincent plantation which had 231 slaves. When slavery was abolished in 1834 she claimed compensation and in 1836 was duly awarded £3014.[88] She collected art in many different formats, paintings, sculptures, furniture and so on, the collection in due course being donated to Glasgow.[89]

Figure 6. The Tontine Building in 1868, photographed by Thomas Annan. From ‘ Glasgow’s Treasure Chest’ by James Cowan, ‘Peter Prowler’. Published June 1951, page 393.

In December 1860 she came into the ownership of the Tontine building in Glasgow. The Tontine scheme in 1781 financed the reconstruction of the old Tontine Hotel creating what became known as the Tontine Building. Individual shares were purchased at £50 per share, there being a total of one hundred and seven shares sold. Two shares were bought in young Cecilia’s name one of which was by her grandfather William Douglas, the other by Glasgow merchant Alexander McCaul. The objective of the scheme, apart from having a grand civic building, was that the last living share holder would have ownership of it. That turned out to be Cecilia,[90]although it was a close run thing as she was the oldest of four survivors in February of that year.[91]

She died at home in 1862 in her ninety first year, essentially from old age.[92] She left a personal estate valued at just over £40,365. In accordance with her Trust deed her bequests included family and a number of charities and organisations, and individual members of her domestic staff.[93] In accordance with her husband’s Trust deed the Orbiston estate was left to his grandnephew Robert Douglas.[94]

She and her husband are commemorated by a plaque on the wall of St. Bride’s Collegiate Church in Bothwell inscribed as follows:

To the memory of Gilbert Douglas of Douglas Park
Born 28th May 1749 Died 10th March 1807
and also of Cecilia Douglas of Orbiston his wife
Born 28th Feby 1772 Died 25th July 1862

Before her death she funded a window in Glasgow Cathedral dedicated to her husband and her parents and siblings, which was completed in October 1862, part of it being shown below.[95]

Figure 8. Kind Permission of Heritage Environment Scotland.

In 2013 articles about the paintings bequest to Glasgow appeared in the Herald newspaper, one entitled “The Paintings Sullied by Slavery”. It goes into detail about the Cecilia Douglas fortune being founded on slavery and asks the inevitable question about whether paintings with their financial provenance should ever go on show. A complex question with no easy answer. The following are two telling and moving extracts referring to the conditions on the Douglas plantation in St. Vincent.

  • “Slavery conditions on the Mount Pleasant estate on St. Vincent were brutal. Large gangs of slaves would spend much of the day digging holes for the sugar cane and constantly weeding the plantation, with women not spared such physical labour.”
  • “The slaves die off because they are being worked in very difficult conditions very hard with inadequate nutrition.” [96]

It’s clear that the fortunes of the family of Cecilia Douglas, both paternal and maternal, came about, either directly or indirectly through the exploitation of African slaves, the extracts above indicating what little regard they had for the enslaved people creating their fortunes.

Glasgow generally has come late to the idea that slavery underpinned the city’s commerce from around the Act of Union to the mid 1800’s. This was a major ‘self-denial’ that persisted well into the twentieth century, the following, which was printed in the Herald in 1883, being typical of the mindset that existed until fairly recently..

 “The American War of Independence finished the latter (the tobacco lords), but the trading instinct of Glasgow was not to be denied, and prompted no doubt by its favourable situation for the purpose, the merchants of Glasgow embarked largely in the West India (West Indies) trade. The other great sugar ports were London, Bristol and Liverpool, and it is to Glasgow’s lasting honour that while Bristol and Liverpool were up to the elbows in the slave trade Glasgow kept out of it. The reproach can never be levelled at our city, as it was at Liverpool, that there was not a stone in her streets that were not cemented with the blood of a slave.” [97]

References.


[1] Douglas Archives. http://www.douglashistory.co.uk/history/index.htm

[2] Ross, A.M. (1895) The Genealogy of the Families of Douglas of Mulderg and Robertson of Kindeace and their descendants. Dingwall: A.M. Ross and Co. pp. 9-12.

[3] Ross, op. cit. p.18.

[4] Ross, op. cit. pp. 9-12.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Marriages. (OPR) Scotland. Inveraray and Glenaray. 24 August 1703. DUGLAS, Robert and MONROE, Catherine. 513/  20 174. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[7] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Kiltearn. 28May 1749. DOUGLASS, Gilbert. 070  10 30. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[8] Marriages. (OPR) Scotland. Edinburgh. 28 March 1665. DOUGLASS, Robert and HUNTER, Helen. 685/1 440 77. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[9] Douglas Archives. http://www.douglashistory.co.uk/history/index.htm

[10] Grant, Francis J. ed. (1899). The Commissariat Record of Edinburgh. Register of Testaments. 1707 – 1800. Edinburgh: Scottish Record Society. p. 78. https://archive.org/details/scottishrecordso03scotuoft/page/78

[11] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Leith South. 11 March 1727. DOUGLAS, John. 692/2 50 286. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[12] Marriages. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 5 January 1766. DOUGLAS, John and BUCHANAN, Cecilia. 644/1 260 20. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[13] Glasgow’s Benefactors. Alexander Speirs – Tobacco Lord (1714-1782) Part 2. https://glasgowbenefactors.com/

[14] Marriages. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 29 August 1736. BUCHANAN, George and FORBES, Cecilia. 644/1 250 58. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[15] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 14 February 1740. BUCHANAN, Cecilia. 644/1 120 25. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[16] Glasgow’s Benefactors. Alexander Speirs – Tobacco Lord (1714-1782) Part 2. https://glasgowbenefactors.com/

[17] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 1 October 1766. DOUGLAS, William. 644/1 140 332. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[18] Addison, W. Innes. (1913). The Matriculation Albums of Glasgow University from 1728 to 1858.p. 122. https://archive.org/details/matriculationalb00univuoft/page/n7/mode/2up

[19] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 13 December 1862. DOUGLAS, Cecilia. Inventory, Trust Disposition and  Settlement. Glasgow Sheriff Court Wills. SC36/51/44, and Inventory. Glasgow Sheriff Court Inventories. SC36/48/49.  www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[20] Births. (OPR). Scotland. Girvan. 1 September 1811. DOUGLAS, Robina. 594/  20 250. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[21] Deaths. (SR) Scotland. Row, Dumbarton. 14 August 1912. DOUGLAS, Rosina. 503/  79.  www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[22] Marriages. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 1 September 1854. DREW, Peter and DOUGLAS, Rosina Elizabeth. 644/1 440 503.  www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[23] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 8 May 1768. DOUGLAS, George. 644/1 150 59. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[24] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 8 May 1768. DOUGLAS, John. 644/1 150 59. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[25] Addison, op. cit. p. 128.

[26] Ibid

[27] University College London. John Douglas. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/8520

[28] Ormsby, Margaret A. “DOUGLAS, Sir JAMES,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 10, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003. http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/douglas_james_10E.html.

[29] Directories. Scotland. (1807). Glasgow directory. Glasgow: W. McFeat and Co. p. 31. https://digital.nls.uk/directories/browse/archive/90147779

[30] Marriages. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 15 January 1809. DOUGLAS, John and HAMILTON, Jessie. 644/1 280 97. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[31] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 16 April 1841. DOUGLAS, John. Inventory, Trust Disposition and  Settlement. Edinburgh Sheriff Court Inventories. SC70/1/60. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[32] Ibid.

[33] Measuring Worth (2021). https://www.measuringworth.com/m/calculators/ukcompare/

[34] Testamentary Ancestry. England. 9 April 1862. DOUGLAS, John. National Probate Calendar. (Index of Wills and Administration). 1858 – 1995. p. 147. https://www.ancestry.co.uk

[35] Deaths. (SR) Scotland. Edinburgh. 6 December 1861. HAMILTON, Jessie. 685/1 935. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[36] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 20 July 1770. DOUGLAS, Robert. 644/1 150 208. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[37] Births (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 28 February 1772. DOUGLAS, Cecilia. 644/1 150 311. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[38] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 24 February 1774. DOUGLAS, Neil. 644/1 160 80. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[39] Addison, op. cit. p. 147.

[40] Stephens, H. M. “DOUGLAS, Sir Neil, (1774-1853)” In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/7913

[41] London Gazette (1815) 23 September 1815. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/17064/page/1941

[42] London Gazette (1831) 23 September 1831. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/18853/page/1947

[43] London Gazette (1842) 29 April 1842. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/20095/page/1172

[44] Marriages. (OPR) Scotland. Greenock. 26 August 1816. DOUGLAS, John and ROBERTSON, Barbara. 564/3 40 450. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[45] Girard, Charlotte S. (1986/87) Some Further Notes on the Douglas Family. (PDF) BC Studies, no.72, Winter 1986-87. University of Victoria, British Columbia. http://www.douglashistory.co.uk/history/Documents/douglas%20family%20notes.pdf

[46] Stephens, H. M. “DOUGLAS, Sir Neil, (1774-1853)” In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/7913

[47] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 1 December 1776. DOUGLAS, Thomas Dunlop. 644/1 160 218. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[48] James Maclehose and Sons. (1891). Minute Book of the Board of Green Cloth. 1809-1820. Glasgow: James Maclehose and Sons. https://electricscotland.com/history/glasgow/greencloth.pdf

[49] Directories. Scotland. (1816) Glasgow directory. Glasgow: A. McFeat and Co. p. 49. https://digital.nls.uk/directories/browse/archive/90712736

[50] Directories. Scotland. (1854/55) Glasgow directory. Glasgow: William Mackenzie p. 113. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[51] Marriages. (OPR) Scotland. Greenock. 28 May 1808. DOUGLAS, Thomas Duncan and HUNTER, Rosina. 564/3 40 322. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[52] Girard, Charlotte S. (1986/87) Some Further Notes on the Douglas Family. (PDF) BC Studies, no.72, Winter 1986-87. University of Victoria, British Columbia. http://www.douglashistory.co.uk/history/Documents/douglas%20family%20notes.pdf

[53] Deaths. (SR) Scotland. Ayr, Dunlop. 30 January 1869. DOUGLAS, Thomas Dunlop. 591/  1. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[54] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 26 March 1869. DOUGLAS, Thomas Dunlop. Inventory. Ayr Sheriff Court. SC6/44/34. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[55] Measuring Worth (2021). https://www.measuringworth.com/m/calculators/ukcompare/

[56] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 26 March 1869. DOUGLAS, Thomas Dunlop. Trust Disposition and Deed of Settlement. Ayr Sheriff Court Wills. SC6/46/6. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[57] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 10 October 1778. DOUGLAS, Archibald. 644/1 160 425. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[58] Addison, op. cit. p. 156.

[59] Girard, Charlotte S. (1986/87) Some Further Notes on the Douglas Family. (PDF) BC Studies, no.72, Winter 1986-87. University of Victoria, British Columbia. http://www.douglashistory.co.uk/history/Documents/douglas%20family%20notes.pdf

[60] Devine, T. M. An Eighteenth Century Business Elite: Glasgow West India Merchants etc. In : The Scottish Historical Review Vol 57, No. 168. Part 1 April 1978. pp. 40-67. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/27301

[61] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 22 January 1861. DOUGLAS, Archibald. Trust Deed of Settlement and Inventory. Dunoon Sheriff Court. SC51/32/11. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[62] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 8 August 1779. DOUGLAS, James. 644/1 170 14. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[63] National Archives. The Official Gazette, British Guiana. https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C2328165

[64] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 13 December 1862. DOUGLAS, Cecilia. Inventory, Trust Disposition and Settlement. Glasgow Sheriff Court Wills SC36/51/44 and Inventory. Glasgow Sheriff Court Inventories. SC36/48/49. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[65] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 16 April 1841. DOUGLAS, John. Inventory, Trust Disposition and  Settlement. Edinburgh Sheriff Court Inventories. SC70/1/60. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[66] Directories. Scotland. (1850/51). Glasgow directory. Glasgow: William Mackenzie. p. 97. https://digital.nls.uk/directories/browse/archive/87832080

[67] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 15 November 1781. DOUGLAS, Colin. 644/1 170 169. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[68] Addison, op. cit. p. 171.

[69] Births. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 16 January 1784. DOUGLAS, Cathrin. 644/1 170 305. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[70] Senex et al. (1884) Glasgow Past and Present. Vol 2. Glasgow: David Robertson and Co. p. 416.

[71] Senex, op. cit. p. 34.

[72] Directories. Scotland. (1783). John Tait directory for the City of Glasgow. Glasgow: John Tait. p.26. https://digital.nls.uk/directories/browse/archive/86338096

[73] Directories. Scotland. (1790/91) Jones Directory of Glasgow. Glasgow: Joseph Galbraith. p.16. https://digital.nls.uk/directories/browse/archive/87868910

[74] Senex, op. cit. Vol 3.p. 410.

[75] Deaths. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 2 July 1810. DOUGLAS, Mrs. John. 644/1 610 44. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[76] University College London. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs

[77] Measuring Worth (2021). https://www.measuringworth.com/m/calculators/ukcompare/

[78] Encyclopedia.com. Demerara Revolt. https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/demerara-revolt

[79] Marriages. (OPR) Scotland. Glasgow. 26 January 1794. DOUGLAS, Gilbert and DOUGLAS, Cecilia. 644/1 270 164. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[80] National Records of Scotland. CS96/4901-2. https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/research

[81] Smith, John Guthrie and Mitchell, John Oswald. (1878) The Old Country Houses of the Glasgow Gentry. 2nd ed. Glasgow: James Maclehose and Sons. http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/smihou/smihou079.htm

[82] Dictionary of Scottish Architects. www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/building_full.php?id=421189

[83] Deaths. (OPR) Scotland. Bothwell. 16 March 1807. DOUGLAS, Gilbert. 625/  20 222. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[84] Mullen, Stephen. ‘Douglas, Cecilia (1772-1862)’. In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/66964.

[85] ibid

[86] Ibid

[87] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 13 December 1862. DOUGLAS, Cecilia. Inventory, Trust Disposition and Settlement. Glasgow Sheriff Court Wills. SC36/51/44, and Inventory. Glasgow Sheriff Court Inventories. SC36/48/49. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[88] University College London. Cecilia Douglas. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/27301

[89] Mullen, Stephen. ‘Douglas, Cecilia. (1772-1862)’. In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/66964

[90] Senex et al. (1884) Glasgow Past and Present. Vol. 3. Glasgow: David Roberson and Co. pp. 287-289.

[91]Glasgow Herald. (1860) Last Survivor of the Glasgow Tontine. Glasgow Herald 13 October. p.3. https://www.nls.uk/

[92] Deaths (SR) Scotland. Bothwell, Lanark. 25 July 1862. DOUGLAS, Cecilia. 625/1 94. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[93] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 13 December 1862. DOUGLAS, Cecilia. Inventory, Trust Disposition and  Settlement. Glasgow Sheriff Court Wills. SC36/51/44, and Inventory. Glasgow Sheriff Court Inventories. SC36/48/49.  www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[94]Mullen, Stephen. ‘Douglas, Cecilia. (1772-1862)’. In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/66964

[95] Glasgow Herald. (1862) Glasgow Cathedral – Completion of the Four Great Windows. Glasgow Herald 13 October. p.4. https://www.nls.uk/

[96] Glasgow Herald. (2013) The Paintings Sullied by Slavery. Glasgow Herald 10 March. https://www.nls.uk/

[97]Glasgow Herald. (1883) The West India Association of Glasgow. Glasgow Herald 1 June. p.9. https://www.nls.uk/

A Victorian Spinster – Amy Esther Coultate (1852 – 1930)

How does it come about that an English spinster lady, of no note whatsoever as was typical of most of her class at the time, donate a painting to Glasgow? The answer lies not with her father William Miller Coultate who was born in England but with her maternal great uncle James  whose life, friendships and achievements were typical of the men who made the Industrial Revolution.

Figure 1 Letter to James Paton © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.

On the 13th November 1912 Miss Amy Esther Coultate of Colwyn Bay wrote to James Paton the Superintendent of Glasgow Corporation Art Galleries offering to Glasgow a portrait of the Scottish poet Thomas Campbell by the artist James Lonsdale.[1] In a second letter to James Paton Miss Coultate stated that she had always understood the portrait had been painted at the request of her maternal great uncle James Thomson who paid the artist 500 guineas, and had been done at Primrose House, Clitheroe, the home of her great uncle, where the poet sometime stayed.[2]

Figure 2 Thomas Campbell (1777-1844), Poet by Jamesonsdale (1777-1839). © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (www.artuk.org)

Miss Coultate was the middle child of three and was born in 1852 to William Miller Coultate and Eliza Jane Thomson, James Thomson’s niece, and was baptized at Holy Trinity Church in Habergham Eaves, a suburb of Burnley in Lancashire.[3] Her elder sister Marion Elizabeth and younger brother Arthur William were born in 1850[4] and 1856 respectively.[5]

Her father, born in Clitheroe, Lancashire in 1813, was a surgeon and a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in England. He had been in practice in Burnley since 1836 after completing his studies in Dublin. He was also vice president of the British Medical Association in Lancashire and Cheshire and had at one time been surgeon of the Fifth Royal Lancashire Militia.[6]

His wife Eliza Jane Thomson was born in 1821[7], the daughter of William Thomson, the brother of James, both of whom were calico printers. They married in 1849[8] and lived at 1 to 3 Yorke Street in Burnley for most of their married life and where William also had his practice.[9]

Amy’s mother died at a relatively young age in 1871.[10] As was typical for wives of the time perhaps she left very little, her ‘effects’ being valued at less than £20.

The family continued to live in Yorke Street and in the 1881 census, no occupation for any of the children is given despite them being well into their twenties.[11] In subsequent censuses the sisters are recorded as living on private means, Arthur is described as a gentleman when he married in 1883.[12]

Amy’s father died in 1882 from an apoplectic seizure. He left an estate valued at £4583 11s 11d, probate being granted to a fellow surgeon, Joseph Anningson, and Amy’s sister Marion Elizabeth.[13]

The two sisters, who never married, by 1901 were living together at Cae Gwyn,[14] Colwyn Bay. Marion died in 1902, leaving an estate valued at £3757 17s 2d, probate being granted to Amy.[15]

Both sisters clearly led very uneventful, unremarkable lives essentially living on their inheritances from their father. Amy’s one departure from the ordinary appears to have been a trip she made on the SS Hildebrand in 1920. Its departure port was Manaos, Brazil. Her port of embarkation was Lisbon, arriving in Liverpool on 25th March. At this time she was living in Southport.[16] She died on 29th October 1930 at the Barna Private Hotel, Hindhead, Surrey, leaving  an estate valued at £4155 0s 6d.[17]

If Amy’s life was that of a typical Victorian spinster, her great uncle James’s life was that of an educated, entrepreneurial, enlightened male of the Industrial Revolution. He was born in 1779 in Blackburn to John Thomson, (a “Scotch” gentleman), and his wife Elizabeth. His father was an iron-liquor merchant, a fixing chemical used in the calico dyeing industry.

In 1793 he attended Glasgow University befriending Gregory Watt, the son of James Watt and the poet Thomas Campbell. At the age of sixteen he joined the calico printing company of Joseph Peel & Co in London remaining there for six years developing his knowledge and understanding of the chemical technology involved in the industry through study and friendships with scientists including Sir Humphrey Davy and William Hyde Wollaston.

Joseph Peel was an uncle of Sir Robert Peel, 1st Baronet, and there is a suggestion, not proven, that James Thomson’s mother Elizabeth was a sister of Sir Robert. If true, that plus the fact of his father’s involvement in the calico industry would certainly have aided his employment with Joseph Peel.

He subsequently managed the company’s works near Accrington until 1810 at which time he set up his own calico printing company in partnership with John Chippendale of Blackburn, the new company eventually being established at Primrose near Clitheroe. He travelled extensively in Europe to further his business, his fundamental drive being to identify and implement scientific improvement to his printing processes. In 1821 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. He supported schools of design and the extension of copyright periods for dress patterns as he believed this would establish and enhance standards for the industry as a whole. His skill as a chemist and his process improvements in design and printing led to him being referred to as the ‘Duke of Wellington’ of calico printing.[18]

He married Cecilia Starkie in 1806[19] and had four sons and three daughters[20], which raises the question of how the painting came into Miss Coultate’s possession. With so many children the expectation would have been that one of his offspring would inherit. Unfortunately, this research has not established how it came to her; via her mother seeming the most likely route.

Figure 3 James Thomson, FRS (1779-1850) by JamesLonsdale © Salford Museum and Art Gallery; (http://www.artuk.org)

James was mayor of Clitheroe in 1836-1837 and became a JP in 1840. He died at home on 17 September 1850 whilst preparing for the Great Exhibition of 1851. He is buried in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church, Clitheroe.[21]

The artist James Lonsdale was a friend of Thomson’s and was a frequent visitor to his home. He was a popular portrait painter of the day and painted many eminent individuals including British and foreign royalty. His portrait of Thomson is in the Salford Museum and Art Gallery.[22]

[1] Object Files at Glasgow Museum Resource Centre (GMRC), Nitshill.

[2] Ibid

[3] Baptisms (PR) England. Habergham Eaves, Burnley, Lancashire. 25 May 1852. COULTATE, Amy Esther. Register; Baptisms 1837-1863, Page 139, Entry 1108. LDS Film 1526142. Lancashire Online Parish Clerk Project. http://www.lan-opc.org.uk/Search/indexp.html

[4] Baptisms (PR) England. Habergham Eaves, Burnley, Lancashire. 29 March 1850. COULTATE, Marion Elizabeth. Register; Baptisms 1837-1863, Page 114, Entry 911. LDS Film 1526142. Lancashire Online Parish Clerk Project. http://www.lan-opc.org.uk/Search/indexp.html

[5] Baptisms (PR) England. Habergham Eaves, Burnley, Lancashire. 27 September 1856. COULTATE, Arthur William. Register; Baptisms 1837-1863, Page 202, Entry 1613. LDS Film 1526142. Lancashire Online Parish Clerk Project. http://www.lan-opc.org.uk/Search/indexp.html

[6] 1882 ‘The British Medical Journal’. Obituaries. 18 March 1882, p. 407. https://www.jstor.org/stable/25259247?read-now=1&refreqid=excelsior%3Acd2374b490787473193888b83225b8d4&seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

[7] Baptisms (PR) England. Clitheroe, Lancashire. 8 August 1821. THOMSON, Eliza Jane. Register; Baptisms 1813-1829, Page 93, Entry 741. LDS Film 1278857. Lancashire Online Parish Clerk Project. http://www.lan-opc.org.uk/Search/indexp.html

[8] Marriages (PR) England. Habergham Eaves, Burnley, Lancashire. 20 February 1849. COULTATE, William Miller and THOMSON, Eliza Jane. Collection: Lancashire, England Marriages and Banns 1754-1936. Reference Pr 3098/1/13. http://ancestry.co.uk:

[9] Census. 1861. England. Burnley, Lancashire. RG9, Piece: 3065; Folio: 12; Page: 18; GSU roll: 543073. http://ancestry.co.uk

[10] Testamentary records. England. 8 February 1872. COULTATE, Eliza Jane. Principal Probate Registry, Calendar of the Grants of Probate. p. 293. Collection: England and Wales National Probate Calendar 1858-1966. http://ancestry.co.uk

[11] Census. 1881. England. Burnley, Lancashire. RG11; Piece: 4146; Page: 11; GSU roll: 1341993.http://ancestry.co.uk

[12] Marriages (PR) England. Burnley, Lancashire. 6 January 1883. COULTATE, Arthur William and BRIDGES, Mary Jane. Lancashire, England Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1936 http://ancestry.co.uk

[13] Testamentary records. England. 20 May 1882. COULTATE, William Miller. Principal Probate Registry, Calendar of the Grants of Probate. p. 338. Collection: England and Wales National Probate Calendar 1858-1966. http://ancestry.co.uk

[14] Census. 1901. Wales. Llandrillo yn Rhos, Colwyn Bay, Caernarvonshire. RG13, Piece:5290; Folio:10; Page:11. http://ancestry.co.uk:

[15] Testamentary records. England. 19 December 1902. COULTATE, Marian, Elizabeth. Principal Probate Registry, Calendar of the Grants of Probate. p. 169. Collection: England and Wales National Probate Calendar 1858-1966. http://ancestry.co.uk:

[16] Passenger List for S.S. Hildebrand arriving Liverpool. COULTATE, Amy Esther. 25 March 1920. Collection: UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1870-1960. http://ancestry.co.uk

[17] Testamentary records. England. 3 January 1931. COULTATE, Amy Esther. Principal Probate Registry, Calendar of the Grants of Probate. p.791. Collection: England and Wales National Probate Calendar 1858-1966. http://ancestry.co.uk:

[18] Aspin, Christopher. (2004) Thomson, James (1779-1850). In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. http://www.oxforddnb.com

[19] Marriages (PR) England. Blackburn, Lancashire. 18 March 1806. THOMSON, James and STARKIE, Cecilia. Register; Marriages 1801-1809, Page 357, Entry 1419. LDS Film 1278807. Lancashire Online Parish Clerk Project. http://www.lan-opc.org.uk/Search/indexp.html

[20] Thomson baptisms Lancashire 1808 to 1820, parishes of Church Bridge and Clitheroe. Lancashire Online Parish Clerk Project. http://www.lan-opc.org.uk/Search/indexp.html

[21] Aspin, Christopher. (2004) Thomson, James (1779-1850). In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. http://www.oxforddnb.com

[22] Cust, L.H. (2008) Lonsdale, James (1778-1839) In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. http://www.oxforddnb.com