Henry Dunlop


The third son of a Renfrewshire cotton trader, Dunlop was born in Linwood on 7 June 1799. After education at Glasgow High School and Glasgow University, he entered the family business of James Dunlop & Sons.

He was better known for his political activities, having entered the town council in 1833. In 1837 he contested a bitterly disputed election for the provostship, only succeeding to the post after a judgement in the House of Lords in 1838. An interest in ecclesiastical matters led to his move, in the Disruption of 1843, from the Church of Scotland to the Free Church. He was chairman of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce in 1841, 1850 and 1862, and in 1848 was appointed Deputy-Lieutenant of Lanarkshire.

Twice married, to Ann Carnie and Alexina Rankin, he fathered seven sons and three daughters and died in Edinburgh on 10 May 1867.

AMONG the well-known citizens of Glasgow probably few names have had a more prominent place for nearly half a century than that of Henry Dunlop of Craigton.

His father, James Dunlop, sprung from a good Renfrewshire stock, was one of those who, at the end of last century, in the infancy of the cotton trade in Scotland, was distinguished by the mechanical ability which he displayed in developing that industry from which so large a share of the commercial greatness of the city of Glasgow has sprung. Associated with some of the pioneers of the cotton-spinning trade, James Dunlop settled at Linwood, in Renfrewshire, in the management of one of the earliest mills established in Scotland.

His wife was Bruce, daughter of the Rev. James Alice of Paisley, and at Linwood, on the 7th June, 1799, Henry Dunlop, their third son, was born. Receiving his early education at the High School of Glasgow, he passed several years at the University, and thereafter commenced his business career with his father and brothers, who had acquired cotton mills at Barrhead and Gateside, on the Water of Levern, where they conducted the business of cotton-spinning under the firm of James Dunlop & Sons. At a subsequent period they erected another mill at Broomward, in the east-end of Glasgow, carried on spinning and weaving extensively, and in connection with that established a large mercantile business.

The name of Henry Dunlop is, however, most generally known from the position which he occupied in political and municipal affairs, from the active interest which he took during a long connection with the city of Glasgow in every movement affecting the social well-being of its inhabitants, and from the sterling excellence and uprightness of his character.

In his early manhood he threw himself with energy into the great political contest which culminated in the passing of the Reform Bill of 1832. As an earnest and consistent Liberal of the old constitutional school, too judicious and reflecting to be rash or reckless, too generous to be distrustful of the people, too loyal to be forgetful of the just rights of the Crown and the legitimate authority of the law, he was the friend of civil and religious liberty in times when these were really in danger, and he was the friend of parliamentary and municipal reform when that cause was in the shade, and it required some courage to befriend it.

Mr. Dunlop entered the Town Council shortly after the passing of the Reform Bill, having been elected in 1833, and, devoting himself to the duties of his office, he was in 1836 chosen as one of the Bailies. In the following year Lord Provost William Mills of Sandyford retired from office, and the selection of a successor gave rise to what has perhaps been the most notable contest in the municipal history of Glasgow. The rival candidates who presented themselves were the well-known East India merchant, John Fleming of Claremont, and Henry Dunlop. For some time previous, and on the day of the election, the excitement among the citizens was intense. Fifteen councillors voted for Fleming; fifteen for Dunlop. The retiring Lord Provost gave his casting-vote for Mr. Fleming, but he was opposed by the senior acting chief magistrate, Henry Paul, who voted in favour of Mr. Dunlop.

Amidst much excitement the chain of office was placed round Mr. Fleming's neck by the retired Lord Provost. From the Council Chamber the disputants passed to the Court of Session, and finally to the House of Lords, where a decision, which now rules the procedure at municipal elections in Scotland, was obtained only in the succeeding year. That decision placed Mr. Dunlop in the Lord Provost's chair. During the remainder of his term of office he fulfilled all the duties of his position with that dignity and suavity of manner which he so particularly possessed.

He continued to fill the position of Town Councillor until 1843, and from 1841 to 1842 was Deputy-Chairman of the Clyde Trust. During his Lord Provostship Mr. Dunlop became deeply interested in the controversy on ecclesiastical affairs which was then raging. As an elder of the Church of Scotland he attached himself to the Non-intrusion party, and took a prominent part in the Church Courts; he also allied himself in the closest ties of friendship with the leaders of his party - Drs. Chalmers, Cunningham, Candlish, and Buchanan. In the General Assembly of 1839 he was selected to second the motion for the suspension of the Strathbogie ministers. In 1841, in furtherance of the interests of his party in the Church, he contested the representation of the county of Bute as a Liberal, but the contest ended in his defeat. In 1843 he was a Member of Assembly, and witnessed the memorable Disruption of the Church, and, being one of those who signed the Protest, he cast in his lot with the Free Church, to which he firmly adhered for the remainder of his life.

Endowed with an enlightened and well-cultivated mind, and using the experience with which an active business life had furnished him, Mr. Dunlop was a prominent member of the Merchants' House and the Chamber of Commerce. With the latter he was connected for thirty-seven years. During most of this period he was in the Directorate, and filled the office of Chairman in the years 1841, 1850, and 1862. In conducting the business of the Chamber many of his surviving colleagues must still remember how he displayed his capacity in the broad grasp of general principles, specially on such questions as Free Trade, Currency and Banking Reform, and most notably in reference to the subject of cotton supply during the struggle between the Northern and Southern States of America. In furtherance of this object he devoted much attention to the improvement of the native cotton of India, and the extension of its cultivation. Mr. Dunlop was for twenty years Deputy-Chairman of the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway Company, and a Director of the City of Glasgow Bank many years prior to its unfortunate downfall. In 1829 he purchased the estate of Craigton, and there for many years he resided. In 1848 he was appointed a Deputy-Lieutenant of Lanarkshire.

His death, which took place on the 10th of May, 1867, at Edinburgh, called forth from the press and from all the societies and public bodies with which he had been connected, expressions of the warmest esteem and affection, conveyed with their deepest sympathy to his widow and children.

Mr. Dunlop was twice married; first, in 1825, to Ann, daughter of J. Carnie, and of this marriage had one son, James, who survives him, and a daughter who died in early life. His second wife was Alexina, daughter of John Rankin of Greenock, by whom he was survived, leaving seven sons and two daughters.

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