THE Chairman of the Wilsons and Clyde Coal Company, Limited, is a son of James Wilson, J.P., coalmaster, Airdrie, was born at Airdrie in 1844, and was educated at Airdrie and Glasgow Academies. His business undertaking is one of the largest of the kind in Britain, and employs over three thousand persons; his mineral and residential estates in Lanarkshire, Fifeshire, Perthshire, and Kinross extend to some eight thousand acres; and he has seats at Airdrie House, Airdrie, and Kippen House, Dunning. His estates near Lochgelly in Fife alone employ some 1,200 miners, and bring to the surface some 1,500 tons of coal per day. One of his pits there is the deepest in Scotland, descending over 2,280 feet. He was chosen in 1894 to represent Kelvinside Ward on Glasgow Town Council, and was elected M.P. for the Falkirk Burghs as a Liberal Unionist in 1895. He left the Unionist Party in 1903, when it departed from the recognized doctrines of Free Trade, but he retained his seat till the General Election of 1906. He retired then from the Falkirk Burghs, as there was already a Liberal candidate in the field and though unanimously adopted as candidate for the Wick Burghs he did not go to the poll. After the General Election his services were recognised by the King conferring upon him the dignity of a baronetcy, in July, 1906. Among the measures in which he has taken special interest was the Workmen's Compensation Act of 1897, and he has done efficient service as a member of the Conciliation Board of Mining, as a Government Examiner of Mining for the Manager of Mines Certificate, and as a member of the Government's Private Legislation Procedure Committee (Scotland). He is at present a member of the Royal Commission on Canals and Waterways, which sat in 1907 to consider the question, among others, of water communication throughout Great Britain and Ireland and between east and west in Scotland. Shooting and golf are his amusements. In the Parliamentary Golf Match of 1899 he reached the semi-final, and in 1902 he took second prize. Sir John's home-coming at Airdrie House after his acquisition of that estate in 1896 was made the occasion of great rejoicing in the town. The day was observed as a half-holiday, with processions of trades and friendly societies, and the new laird opened the public park, was entertained to luncheon, and was presented with the freedom of the burgh. Since then he has been the means of bringing several new industries to the district. He has travelled widely in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. In particular, in 1905, he made a journey, along with his eldest son, of over five thousand miles in India, visiting the scenes of the Mutiny, and travelling as far as the Khyber Pass and the higher valleys of the Himalayas. On that occasion, along with his son and Lord Kitchener, he was most hospitably entertained at Calcutta and Barrackpur by the Viceroy, Lord Curzon, whom he had known previously as a fellow-member of the House of Commons. He married, first, in 1878, Margaret B. M. Robertson, and secondly, in 1889, Emma Alexandria Binnie, and has a family of three sons and two daughters. He is J.P. and D.L. for Lanarkshire, and J.P. for the County of the City of Glasgow and for Fifeshire.

Back to Index of Glasgow Men (1909)