Sir James Lumsden


The eldest son of James Lumsden the stationer, Lumsden became a partner in the family firm and, along with his brother George, took over its running when his father retired in 1852. The company was by now one of the largest traders in Glasgow.

In 1860 Lumsden became Lord Dean of Guild, a post which included admission to the Town Council. In November 1866 he was elected Lord Provost, although not unanimously. In 1867 he was appointed a Deputy-Lieutenant of Lanarkshire and he also acquired the estate of Arden, on the western shore of Loch Lomond. In 1868 he was knighted, in 1869 was appointed Deputy-Lieutenant of Dumbartonshire, and in 1870 he became chairman of the Glasgow and South-Western Railway Company. He also had several spells as chairman of the Clydesdale Bank.

He died in Glasgow on 22 March 1879.

MR., afterwards Sir, James Lumsden was the eldest son of the subject of the immediately preceding memoir, and was born in Glasgow in 1808. He, like his father, received the earlier part of his education at the Grammar School of Glasgow, and thereafter he attended the Arts classes in the University of Glasgow. Having been destined for the business carried on by his father, he had no sooner left College than he entered the counting-house in Queen Street, and having, after a few years of diligent training, made himself a thorough master of the business in all its departments, he was admitted a partner of the firm of James Lumsden & Son, then one of the largest mercantile firms in the city. Mr. Lumsden, senior, having retired from the business in 1852, it was subsequently carried on by Mr. James Lumsden and his brother Mr. George Lumsden, now of Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh.

In 1849 the subject of the present notice entered for the first time upon what may be termed the first phase of public life by becoming one of the directors of the Glasgow and South-Western Railway Company. In 1860 he was unanimously elected to the office of Lord Dean of Guild - an office which gave him for two years a seat in the Town Council, where he had ample scope for displaying his excellence of judgment and his admirable business habits, in addition to his upright and honourable bearing and courteous demeanour. To the duties of the office of Lord Dean of Guild he devoted himself with great zeal, and with a thoroughly judicial mind, and when he ceased to occupy the chair the opinion both of the public and of the profession was that he had acquitted himself in his high office with infinite credit to himself and with great benefit to the community.

In the autumn of 1866 there was a strong expression of feeling in the community, and among many of the members of the Town Council, to the effect that Mr. Lumsden, who on his ceasing to be Lord Dean of Guild had been returned as one of the Councillors, and who in 1865 had been appointed to the office of Treasurer, should be called to the office of Lord Provost. Accordingly at the ensuing election in November, 1866, he was elected to that office, not unanimously, however, for the election was carried by a majority of only four - there having been a feeling among some of the Councillors that the preference ought to be given to one who had filled the office of magistrate, - an office which Mr. Lumsden had not only never filled, but had also on several occasions declined to accept.

In 1868, during the second year of his provostship, he had the honour of entertaining Lord Stanley, now Earl Derby, on the occasion of his visiting Glasgow for the purpose of being installed as Lord Rector of our University; and a few days afterwards he presided with great tact and good sense at a non-political banquet given to his lordship by the citizens of Glasgow. In the same year the foundation stone of the new University Buildings at Gilmorehill was laid by Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales.

On that occasion Mr. Lumsden had the honour of entertaining Her Royal Highness and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales at luncheon; and a few days afterwards it was intimated to him by letter from the Prime Minister, Mr. Disraeli, then in attendance on the Queen at Balmoral, that in commemoration of the visit of their Royal Highnesses, Her Majesty had been pleased to signify her intention of conferring upon him the honour of knighthood. This honour, which was well merited by one who in the third generation had reflected honour upon his native city by his unwearied benevolence and high and honourable bearing as one of our city princes, was warmly appreciated by all classes of the community.

In 1867 Sir James Lumsden acquired the beautiful estate of Arden, situated in the parish of Bonhill, on the western shore of Lochlomond, and erected upon it, at great expense, one of the most tasteful and elegant, besides one of the largest, mansions in the West of Scotland.

In 1870, on the death of Sir Andrew Orr, who like himself had been Lord Provost of Glasgow, he became chairman of the Glasgow and South-Western Railway Company, of which he was a large shareholder, and of which from 1849 downwards he had been one of the directors. During his chairmanship many questions of great importance to the various railway interests throughout the country presented themselves, and to every one of them he applied himself with unfailing conscientiousness, great soundness of judgment, and great business experience.

As he had retired from the business of James Lumsden & Son in 1876, his subsequent life was devoted to the chairmanship of the Railway Company, to the directorship of the Clydesdale Bank, of which he was several times chairman, to the continuance of the benevolent efforts which had from his early years occupied no small part of his time and attention, and to the improvement and adornment of his beautiful estate in Dumbartonshire.

In 1867 Sir James was appointed a Deputy-Lieutenant of Lanarkshire, and in 1869 a Deputy-Lieutenant of Dumbartonshire. He was throughout life what his father had also been, a member of the Established Church of Scotland, and in politics he was what we should now be disposed to term a mild Liberal.

Sir James died at Glasgow on 22nd March, 1879, predeceased by Lady Lumsden, who died in 1878, and survived by three daughters, and by one son, Mr. James Lumsden, now of Arden, a Deputy-Lieutenant of the County of Dumbarton.

Among the many friends who followed his remains to the grave there was but one feeling - that in him the city had lost one of its most honourable men, one of its best-loved citizens.

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