James Scott


Born in Glasgow, Scott joined the calico printers of James Black and Co at age 16 and became a partner at age 20. From 1835 he took an interest in the railways, then retired from business in 1847. Within five years he returned to establish what was to become Scotland's largest cotton spinning firm, and in 1856 also rejoined his old firm.

From 1871 he began to take an interest in the Scottish oil industry, erecting works over mineral fields at Clippens in Renfrewshire and at Pentland. He sat on the Glasgow town council from 1846 to 1855, including four years as treasurer. The formation of Kelvingrove Park was largely his work. He also served as a Justice of the Peace, as a Deputy-Lieutenant, and as an income tax commissioner.

He married Jane Galbraith in 1848 and they had five sons and five daughters. He died on 24 April 1884.

JAMES SCOTT was born in Glasgow in May, 1810, and was the eldest son of Thomas Scott, who came to Glasgow in 1800. His father was the seventh son of Alexander Scott, an extensive farmer in Muiravonside, where the family were settled for many years. His mother was Helen Inglis, daughter of Robert Inglis, of Flask, Linlithgowshire.

Mr. Scott was educated at the Grammar School of Glasgow, and at Polmont School, Stirlingshire. Through the influence of his uncle, William Inglis, the senior partner of Inglis, McCalmont & Co. (now McCalmont Brothers), he was taken into the firm of James Black & Co., calico printers in Glasgow, at the age of sixteen, where he displayed so much energy and ability that Mr. Black made him a partner at the early age of twenty.

In the next few years he devoted himself principally to the affairs of James Black & Co., his partner being frequently absent on account of ill health. Under his able management the business increased very rapidly, and in 1835 the firm acquired the property and print works of Dalmonach, in Dumbartonshire, which they largely extended and improved. Referring to this part of his career, Joseph Irving, in his work on Dumbartonshire, remarks:- "In the year 1835, Dalmonach passed into the hands of James Black & Co., through whom, and particularly by the extraordinary enterprise of the late Mr. Black's surviving partner, James Scott of Kelly, it has attained its present position in the foremost ranks of printing."

Mr. Scott took a great interest in the railway movement from 1835 to 1845, and at a later period, through his connection with the estate of Stobcross, he was the means of developing the great mineral and goods depots adjacent to the Queen's Dock.

He retired from business in 1847. He married in 1848 Jane M. Galbraith, daughter of Andrew Galbraith, merchant in Glasgow. They had five sons and five daughters, eight of whom survived him. In 1849 he purchased the estate of Kelly, which he disposed of in 1866.

Mr. Scott was of too active a temperament to remain long out of business, and about the year 1852 he started with his younger brother the firm of J. & W. J. Scott & Co. In 1856 he rejoined by request his old firm of James Black & Co. The first-named firm developed into the largest cotton spinning work in Scotland, but the business was not prosperous and the mills were sold in 1869.

In 1871 Mr. Scott's attention was drawn to the Scottish oil industry, then in its comparative infancy, and although upwards of sixty years of age he entered into it with great interest, and taking the mineral fields at Clippens, in Renfrewshire, he erected works there. The energy which he evinced in this new sphere of business was surprising. Acquiring extensive shale fields at Pentland, he erected works there also. Two years before his death (which took place on the 24th of April, 1884) the business merged into the present Clippens Oil Co. (Limited), of which he became chairman, and up to the last he continued to interest himself actively in its affairs.

Notwithstanding the varied and engrossing nature of Mr. Scott's commercial enterprise, he did not shrink from undertaking the discharge of the high and important duties of citizenship in the municipal rule and government of the city. He was a member of the Town Council from 1846 to 1855. For a short period of his term of office he was a magistrate, and for the last four years City Treasurer, at the same time acting as deputy-chairman of the Clyde Trust, and he was a most able administrator. Regarding this part of his career, one who was formerly associated with him says - "Very few of the present generation can realize the value of Mr. Scott's services in connection with the municipal rule of the city. He became a town councillor at an important era of the municipal history of Glasgow, the Act of 1846 having extended the city boundaries over the Parliamentary area so as to include the various districts known as Gorbals, Calton, Anderston, and Bridgeton. This led to the inception of the Loch Katrine water supply, the formation of public parks, museums, and galleries of art. In all these he took a leading part. To him we are mainly indebted for the formation of the Kelvingrove Park; and it afforded him gratification during his later years to see the crowds of citizens enjoy the advantages of the recreation ground which he had done so much to secure. The great object, however, to which he devoted special attention was the improvement of the Clyde, so as to render the harbour of the Broomielaw suitable for the accommodation of the increasing shipping trade, and the commercial interests of Glasgow and its neighbourhood. In conjunction with the engineer of the Trust, Mr. Brebner, who was succeeded by the afterwards famous John Ure, the increased size of modern steam vessels was anticipated, and the works of the Clyde Navigation designed on a scale to meet such requirements; indeed, the present prosperous condition of the Clyde Navigation Trust is in a great measure attributable to the works executed or designed during Mr. Scott's term of office as deputy-chairman. He had great ideas regarding the varied industries of Glasgow, and its importance as a leading commercial centre; and these, when times of depression recurred, influenced his sanguine and far-seeing temperament, and enabled him to forecast future progress and returning prosperity."

Mr. Scott's interest as an extensive heritable proprietor in Bothwell Street and Blythswoodholm led him to obtain, at his own expense, an Act of Parliament for the construction of Bothwell Circus in order to provide the means of direct communication between Bothwell Street and St. Vincent Street, an undertaking which has in the highest degree been advantageous to the city. His design included the formation of an extensive system of arcades on the Holm lands opposite Gordon Street; but ultimately he was induced to transfer his interest to the Caledonian Railway Company, who had it in contemplation to utilize the ground for a railway station. He, however, erected the property situated between Hope Street and Wellington Street, which is known as Bothwell Buildings, a structure which bears evidence to his cultivated taste as regards architectural design, and his knowledge of structural arrangement in the adaptation of business occupancies.

Mr. Scott was Deputy-Lieutenant for Renfrewshire, Justice of the Peace for Dumbartonshire, Renfrewshire, and Lanarkshire, and one of Her Majesty's Income Tax Commissioners.

Mr. Scott was a member of the Church of Scotland, but was liberal and unsectarian in his views and charities, willing always to help and give if the cause was worthy. He possessed a kindly, generous disposition, ever desirous of helping and advising the young who had difficulties to contend with, many of whom can recall his kind words of counsel and encouragement. While occupying for many years a position of commanding influence within the city, he was singularly free from any tendency towards ostentation or display. Quiet in his manner, he was a man of deeds, not words; and few have left to the rising generation a better example of the qualities which enable a man, by earnest and honest application to the duties of life, to raise himself to an honourable position among his fellow-citizens.

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