Copyright
William Drysdale.

Old faces, old places and old stories of Stirling (Volume 1) online

. (page 6 of 25)
Online LibraryWilliam DrysdaleOld faces, old places and old stories of Stirling (Volume 1) → online text (page 6 of 25)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


March, 1818, he entered the service of the National Bank of
Scotland, in the Perth branch, in his 14th year. From thence
he went to Dundee, Inverness, and Kirkcaldy, always ascending
in position. In 1845 he opened a branch at Burntisland as
agent, and there his business capacity pointed him out as a
suitable person for managing the municipal affairs of the burgh,
and for three years he filled the Provost's chair.

In 1848 he removed to Stirling, being appointed joint agent
of the National Bank with the late Mr Patrick Connal, and on
Mr Connal's retirement in 1853 succeeded to the sole agency.



64 OLD STIRLING.

On coming to Stirling he at once took a warm interest in the
institutions of the town, commencing his municipal career in
1856, and so satisfied were the electors with his performance of
duty that in 1861 he was raised to the Provostship, retiring in
1867.

Provost Murrie was one of the gentlemen who started the
Volunteer movement in Stirling, and was the first Captain of
the 2nd Stirlingshire Artillery Volunteers. He was one of the
original directors, and latterly chairman of the Stirling and
Bridge of Allan Tramways Company. He was also a member of
the first School Board in Stirling, and an honorary Sheriff-
Substitute. Occupying the post of elder in the West Church
(which owed much to his liberality), he frequently represented
the Burgh and Presbytery of Stirling at the General Assembly.
The " troops of friends " he had were the natural results of his
genial disposition, his easy accessibility, his readiness to aid,
and his desire to do good to all with whom he came in contact.

Provost Ran kin.

1867-1870.

Provost William Rankhi died at Sauchie House, Baker
Street now the Boys' Industrial School on 7th January,
1875, at the great age of 87. Born at Falkirk in 1788, he came
to Stirling about the year 1814, and commenced business as a
cork-cutter in Baker Street, and subsequently went into the
china trade, which he carried on with considerable success.
From the first he took a deep interest in the improvement of
his adopted town, so that for the last fifty years of his life his
name was a household word in Stirling. He was instrumental,
along with Dr William Forrest, in getting a good supply of
water for the town. He was also one of the founders of the
School of Arts, and was president when he died. He gave valu-
able assistance to Mr William Drummond in the laying out and
beautifying of the Cemetery. An elderly " Son of the Rock,"
now in America, writing to the publisher of this volume, says
" I suppose it is much changed, but no doubt Stirling remains
beautiful as ever, and to no one is it more indebted than to
Bailie Rankin, who had the interest of the town at heart."



NOTABLE CITIZENS OF STIRLING. 65

One of the important events in his life was a visit he paid to
Rome, of which he gave an account in a little book, entitled,
" Rome : Its Temples, Palaces, and Public Buildings." He also
took great interest in the Macfarlane Museum, Bridge of Allan.
It is also to him the people of Stirling are indebted for the
Smith Institute, as it was entirely through his exertions that
Mr Smith was induced to sign his will before last going abroad.

He took deep interest in the struggles that ended in Catholic
Emancipation ; in the passing of the Reform Bill ; and the
repeal of the Corn Laws. He was present at the trial of Baird
and Hardie for the Bonnymuir Rising, procuring admission by
disguising himself as a young lawyer. For many years Mr Ran-
kin was a Town Councillor and Magistrate, occupying the Pro-
vost's chair for the three years preceding 1870, when he retired
from public life. He stood election twelve times, and hi ten
was successful.

Mr Rankin's services were not unappreciated, his fellow
townsmen, on 23rd January, 1873, presenting him with his
portrait, painted by Sir George Harvey, R.S.A.

Provost Robert Anderson.

1879-1882.

A native of Clackmannan, after serving his apprenticeship in
Alva Mr Anderson came to Stirling about 1850. After working
as a journeyman for some years, he entered into partnership
with Mr James Johnston, their joinery workshop being in
Murray Place, behind where Mr John Brown's grocery shop is
now situated. On Mr Johnston retiring to take up the wood
merchant's business of the late Mr James Reid, in Abbey Road,
Mr Anderson continued in his own name until failing health
compelled him to retire.

Provost Anderson commenced his municipal career in 1868,
and in 1869, when the town was divided into wards, he was
apportioned to Baker Street, of which he was a representative
until his retiral from the Council. In November, 1870, he was
chosen a Magistrate, and in 1879 elected to the Provost's chair.
The principal feature of his Provostship was the initiation of
E



66 OLD STIRLING.

the scheme for the blocking of the streets. When a young man
he took deep interest in the working-men's friendly societies in
the town. He died 4th January, 1889, aged 66.



Bailie John Christie.

Died 1st December, 1881.

Born in Stirling in 1817, theN eldest of a family of ten, after
receiving a sound education he entered the service of Mr
William Graham, who had his ironmongery shop at the foot of
Bank Street. He was a most ingenious youth, and his reading
was not only of an omniverous character, but it may actually
be said that he devoured books, and applied himself with in-
domitable courage and industry to the study of the various
sciences. The construction of a microscope was a feat which
gave him immense gratification. Phrenology was another of
his studies, and his acquaintance with this subject pointed him
out as a suitable assistant when, by permission of the Crown, a
cast was taken of the head of Allan Mair, the last person
executed in Stirling.

The limits of Stirling being too small for Mr Christie, he got
employment in Walsall, Staffordshire, where, an election taking
place, and he being an earnest worker in the cause of reform,
he wrought hard for that party, having Mr Cobden and Mr
John Bright among his colleagues. Returning to Stirling in
1841, Mr Christie commenced business in a shop which stood
where Messrs W. & A. Johnston, King Street, have their
drapery establishment, removing in 1854 to handsome and
commodious premises in Murray Place, which' had not till then
a single shop with any pretensions to beauty, and with only a
few decent buildings.

Mr Christie first stood for the Town Council in 1856, and was
returned third on the poll, there being no wards at that time.
In 1861 he resigned his seat, having to go to Australia on busi-
ness, but in 1863 he was again returned to the Council, and
afterwards promoted to the Magistracy. To Mr Christie is
due a great part of the credit for the restoration of Cambus-
kenneth Abbey Tower, as also the alterations on the Guild Hall.



NOTABLE CITIZENS OF STIRLING. 67

His acts of kindness were many, most of them only known to
himself ; he was always ready with advice or assistance, and it
was one of his gentle traits that he took no offence when his
counsel was not followed. In private life he was the most
entertaining of companions.



Bailie Andrew Drummond, Dean of Guild.

Died 8th March, 1885.

Born in Stirling in 1806, Mr Andrew Drummond was one of
the brothers of Mr William and Mr Peter Drummond, after
mentioned, and commenced business in Baker Street along
with his brother James, afterwards removing to No. 1 King
Street, where a large trade, more especially in tartan drapery
goods, was done. Mr Drummond for some time acted as
Secretary and Treasurer of the Stirling Steamboat Company.
In 1852 he was chosen Dean of the Guildry, also entering the
Town Council the same year. In 1857 he was elected a Magis-
trate, but retired the following year, and did not seek re-
election. He never ceased, however, to take a lively interest
in local affairs.

Bailie Yellowlees.

Died 6th November, 1886.

Born at Parkly, near Linlithgow, in 1799, his father being a
farmer and small proprietor there, he was the youngest of seven
children, all of whom, except one, lived to be octogenarians,
and remarkable for physical stature and strength. His father
giving him the choice of any trade or profession excepting a
lawyer, he chose the leather trade, for which Linlithgow has
been so long famous. After prosecuting his trade at Falkirk,
he became manager to Mr Paterson of Tullibody, with whom he
kept up a life-long intimacy. In 1825 he began business in
Stirling, and shortly thereafter had an experience which he
always regarded as a special providence in his history. He
had found reason to transfer his bank account from the old



68 OLD STIRLING.

Stirling Bank to the then newly-opened Commercial Bank, and
had scarcely done so when the Stirling Bank failed, bringing
ruin on many of its customers. Mr Yellowlees took an active
part in both municipal and imperial politics, and was, on 5th
November, 1833, elected a member of the first Town Council
after the passing of the Reform Act. He continued to take an
interest in municipal matters until his retiral in 1870, hav-
ing been between those dates for twenty-five years a member
of the Town Council, and for eleven of them a Magistrate of
the burgh.

Along with Dr W. Forrest Mr Yellowlees took active part in
securing a suitable supply of water from the Touch Hills for
the burgh ; was a Water Commissioner for many years, and on
his retiral from the Town Council and Water Commission, was
presented by both bodies with special acknowledgments of
his long and valuable services. He was President of the Stir-
ling Sabbath School Teachers' Union, and for a quarter of a
century, along with the late Mr William Harvey, watchmaker,
conducted a Sabbath School at Causewayhead. He was a
Trustee of the Stirling Tract Enterprise, and Director and
Chairman of the Stirlingshire Building and Investment Society,
as well as of the Industrial School.

The principal traits in the character of Bailie Yellowlees were
his upright and sterling honesty. He was ever faithful to his
convictions of right and duty, and, conscientious even to stern-
ness, he never failed to have the courage of his opinions, the
frank avowal of which always commanded respect, although it
often failed to ensure popularity. In his capacity of Magis-
trate, his strong and clear common-sense, and the shrewd
judiciousness with which he balanced facts and supported his
opinions, made him invaluable on the bench or as a counsellor
and friend.

Bailie John MacEwen, Dean of Guild.

Died 8th April, 1887.

Bailie John MacEwen commenced life as a writer in Stirling,
but afterwards joined his brother, Daniel, in the grocery busi-



NOTABLE CITIZENS OF STIRLING. 69

ness. On August 20th, 1830, he was admitted a Guild brother,
and in 1853 was chosen Dean of Guild. In November, 1854,
he was returned to the Town Council, and promoted to the
bench in November, 1856. Mr MacEwen, had he chosen,
might have been Chief Magistrate, but he declined the office.
He was a man of sterling honesty and uprightness as a
merchant.



Bailie Shearer, Dean of Guild.

Died 24th January, 1890.

Robert Stewart Shearer was one of the best known resi-
denters in Stirling. A native of Bridge of Allan, he came to
learn the bookselling business in the shop of his uncle, the late
Mr John Shearer, postmaster and stationer, King Street.
After serving his apprenticeship, he commenced business in the
shop in tKat street now occupied by Mr Crockart, gunsmith,
from which he removed to the premises on the opposite side,
where the business is still carried on by his son. Mr Shearer
was twice Dean of Guild, and was a Magistrate of the burgh
for one term. When Dean of Guild he succeeded in getting
the Corporation to vote 1000 to assist in erecting the large
Public Halls in Albert Place. He was also instrumental in pre-
serving for the town " John Cowane's Chest " (now in the Guild
Hall). He was also compilef and publisher of a series of
popular tourist guides to Stirling and district. Of an anti-
quarian turn of mind, Mr Shearer took not a little interest in
relics of the past, and was a contributor to the " Transactions
of the Stirling Natural History and ArchaBological Society."

Mr Shearer was a man with strong religious convictions, and
in a lively way conscious of the responsibilities that surround
every human life. This shaped the course of his own life into
active every day usefulness for the general well-being of the
town in which he lived, and for the assistance of those who
had not been so fortunate in worldly circumstances. What-
ever duty he felt called upon to do, he engaged in with untiring
energy until the object he had in view was attained.



70 OLD STIRLING.

Bailie Low, Dean of Guild.

Died 27th January, 1890.

Mr Thomas Low was in his seventy-first year at the time of
his death. He entered the Town Council in 1864, continuing
until 1872, when he retired. He was again elected in 1876,
and finally retired in 1879. He was Dean of Guild from 1867
to 1870, and again from 1876 to 1879. In 1870 he was proposed
as Provost against Mr George Christie, but retired, and was
elected First Bailie. Mr Low was very popular, both as a
Magistrate and as Dean of Guild, for his open honesty and
plain speaking. In connection with the Guildry he devised
not a few liberal things, and succeeded in increasing the weekly
amount paid to the pensioners of Cowane's Hospital. He was
also successful in getting the much-admired stained-glass Avin-
dow erected in the Guild Hall, to the memory of John
Cowane, the founder of Cowane's Hospital. He also did good
service as a director of Stirling Royal Infirmary by suggesting
improvements which have proved valuable to the management.
His liberality was not confined to his trusteeship, as he was
ever a generous subscriber to any worthy object. In social
life Mr Low's company was much enjoyed, his conversational
powers being excellent ; he was also gifted with a fine musical
ear, and could sing a song with taste. He was a man of strong
common sense, undoubted integrity and straight-forwardness,
and one who had always the interest of the ancient burgh at
heart.

Bailie James Millar.

/

Died 7th April, 1890.'

A native of Gargunnock, in 1825 Mr Millar came to Stirling
to learn the baking business with Mr Samuel Forrester, Broad
Street. He afterwards spent some years in Glasgow and
Greenock, coming back to Stirling in 1835 and commencing
business in Baker Street, and, with half-a-century's persever-
ance, built up the extensive connection which still bears his



NOTABLE CITIZENS OF STIRLING. 71

name in Stirling to-day. When a young man Mr Millar took
an active interest in political matters, and in the agitation in
favour of the Reform Bill of 1832, took a prominent part in the
" City of the Rock." Mr Millar commenced public life in 1848,
when he entered the Town Council, of which he remained a
member till 1873. He was Convener of the Seven Incorporated
Trades for a number of years, till he was appointed Bailie in
1867. He was also one of the Captains of the High Constables
of Stirling. In connection with the erection of the Albert
Halls he took an active part, as well as in the Royal Infirmary.
He was also Chairman of the Stirling Combination Poorhouse
Board, succeeding the Right Hon. Lord Balfour of Burleigh.
Mr Millar was locally famed for his success as an arbiter. How
much litigation he prevented during the course of his long and
useful career it would be difficult to determine, and if ever the
epitaph, " Blessed are the peacemakers," deserves to be written
on the tombstone of any one, the memory of ex-Bailie Millar is
entitled to be so honoured.



Bailie James Gray.

Died 2nd May, 1890.

Mr Gray was born at Slamannan, where his father was a
farmer. After serving his apprenticeship with a seedsman in
Falkirk, he came to Stirling to the firm of Messrs William
Drummond & Sons. After 14 years' service there he started
business in the Craigs, and raised there the extensive seed,
grain, and feeding stuff business of James Gray & Co. Despite
the demands upon his time by his wide trade connection, Mr
Gray found leisure to take part in objects connected with the
public weal. Shortly after coming to Stirling he allied himself
with the Temperance movement, and was always ready to lend
his countenance to the furtherance of the cause. Whilst many
philanthropic and v other agencies had in him a warm friend and
generous contributor, he took special interest in the welfare of
the young, and succeeded Mr Peter Drummond in the super-
intendentship of the Free North Church Sabbath School, being
a zealous office-bearer in that congregation. Along with a



72 OLD STIRLING.

number of other gentlemen he lent valuable assistance in
establishing the Stirling Working Boys' and Girls' Religious
Society. He was called upon to enter the Town Council on
18th March, 1878, for Port Street Ward ; was elected Bailie in
1884, and was promoted to First Bailieship in 1885.

Mr. John Davidson, Writer, Dean of Guild.

Died 2nd April, 1875.

Born in Stirling about the year 1814, Mr Davidson served
his apprenticeship in a law office here, and after studying in
Edinburgh for some years, returned to Stirling, and was in
course of time assumed as a partner in the business where he
had served his apprenticeship, the firm being Hill, Cathcart &
Davidson. A separation taking place, Mr Davidson carried on
business alone. In 1861 he was appointed Collector of Taxes
and Distributor of Stamps, and in 1874 was appointed, along
with Mr Stevenson, agent for the British Linen Bank. Mr
Davidson was always a peacemaker, and at the beginning of
any case counselled against litigation, and, unless the case was
of a glaring nature, systematically advised compromise, which
in many cases resulted in saving to both parties.

Mr Davidson was a Town Councillor for a number of years,
and was also Dean of Guild. With a clear head, good judg-
ment, sterling honesty, and great resource in conversation, he
acquired a considerable influence among all classes indeed he
became an undoubted favourite, always the same happy, cheer-
ful, and warm-hearted man. He displayed at all times great
tact and sensitiveness to an extreme degree of the feelings of
others. He was the poor man's friend, and his kindness was
at all times devoid of ostentation or patronage, while his ser-
vices and purse were always at the call of every good cause.

Mr. George Mouat, Dean of Guild.

Died 24th July, 1893.

Mr George Mouat was a Son of the Rock, having been born
here in 1803, and at the period of his death had nearly com-



NOTABLE CITIZENS OF STIRLING. 73

pleted his 90th year. Educated at the Grammar School, he com-
menced business as a silk mercer in the shop presently occupied
as a chemist's in the Municipal Buildings. In the same year,
being just 21 years of age, he entered the Guildry Incorporation,
and at the date of his death had been a member of that body
for the long period of 69 years. He served for some years in the
Town Council, and was twice elected Dean of Guild. During
one of these terms 1845 he carried into effect the planting
with trees of the north-eastern slope of the Abbey Craig. He
was also a member of the High Constables of Stirling, and took
considerable interest in the body.

Possessed of a wonderfully acute and retentive memory, Mr
Mouat was an excellent raconteur, and his knowledge of men
and affairs connected with Stirling was very extensive. Indeed,
in his later years, nothing delighted him more than recounting
the transactions of the various bodies with which he was con-
nected, as well as giving reminiscences of events in the earlier
part of the century.



Sir John Hay, Bart.

The intelligence that Sir John had died at his residence
in Edinburgh on loth June, 1862, was received with general
expressions of regret, not only in Stirling, but throughout the
entire midland district. Sir John held the office of Sheriff-
Substitute of Stirlingshire for the long period of 28 years,
from the duties of which discharged with acknowledged ability
he retired eighteen months previous to his decease. He was
familiar, kind, and even simple in his manners and disposition,
and his urbanity and invariable cheerfulness made him highly
popular among all classes.

Many characteristic anecdotes of Sir John will still be
remembered by his legal and other friends. He was an excel-
lent type of the "good old country gentleman," and his jokes
and witticisms had the ring of the genuine coin. He was held
in high respect by the legal practitioners of Stirling, with whom
he necessarily came much in contact ; and his abilities as a
judge have been freely and frequently recognised. His



74 OLD STIRLING.

familiar face, so well-known to all our townspeople, was long
missed.

Sir John was descended from the younger son of Hay of
Dalgery (a cadet of the noble house of Errol), who, soon after
the Reformation, acquired the estate of Park, a part of the
abbey lands of Gleuluce, in Wigtonshire. On the decease of
Sir Thomas, the fourth baronet, in 1794, without issue, the
estate of Park devolved upon his sister, while the baronetcy
reverted to his cousin, the descendant of James Hay, Esq.,
second son of Sir Charles, the second baronet ; and at the
decease of Sir William, the sixth baronet, the title devolved
upon his cousin, the late Sir John, who was the only son of
Lieutenant-Colonel Hay of the Royal Engineers, who fell at
the Helder.

Sir John was called to the Scottish bar in 1821, and received
the appointment of Sheriff-Substitute of Stirlingshire on
January 24th, 1834. He married, 30th June, 1836, Sarah
Beresford, daughter of John Cousins, Esq., of Weymouth, and
had issue six sons and two daughters. Lady Hay predeceased
Sir John, who was succeeded in the baronetcy by his eldest
surviving son, Arthur Graham.

"OWER THE WATER TAB CHAIRLIE."

From amongst the many humorous anecdotes which might be
given concerning Sir John, we select one which reveals perhaps
more than any other his pawkiness. On one occasion, having
before him a culprit who had been previously convicted, he
concluded his awarding of punishment with the remark, " Noo,
mind, if ever ye come back again, it'll be " (whistling the air)
" Ower the water tae Chairlie."

ONE OF SIR JOHN'S DECISIONS.

A merchant in town had between terms discharged his female
servant, who brought an action for wages and board. On the

case being called in Court, Mr M pled that he could not

keep the pursuer, as she was a glutton. Sir John asked him
how much it would take to keep her each week. " Would five
shillings do?" "Oh, a great deal more than that, Sir John,"



NOTABLE CITIZENS OF STIRLING. 75

was the reply. " Would six shillings do ? " Oh, more than
that." "Would seven shillings do?" "Yes, about that, Sir

John." "Then, Mr M you'll pay your servant her wages

and board wages at the rate of seven shillings per week until
the term."

SIR JOHN AND THE TAILOR.

One day a tailor was returning from his garden, situated in
Dumbarton Road, having under his arm, with unconscious
ostentation, a head of veritable Cabbage, when, meeting an
acquaintance on the Back Walk, he gravely informed him that
this was the first cabbage he had had that year. Sir John,
who happened to be passing at the time, looked at him, and
said that " He was sorry to hear he had had such a poor spring
trade."

SIR JOHN AND WILLIE DE GRASSE.

Willie, a harmless body who went about the town and country
with a donkey, dealing in any little thing by which he could
make a living, had got into a scrape of some kind which brought
him before Sir John. Willie was convicted, and sentenced to
thirty days' imprisonment. De Grasse, poor man, was in a
great state as to what would come over his donkey, and began
crying. " I'll take care of your cuddy, Willie," said Sir John,
which he did, keeping it at his stable in Upper Bridge Street,
where Willie, on recovering his liberty, received it greatly im-
proved, and supplied with a new set of harness.

SLR JOHN AND MR C

Sir John was not ashamed to carry home any purchase he
made, and liked to " take down " anyone whom he thought
carried too high a head. While settling an account for a pur-
chase he had made in a butcher's shop, Mr C , a well-known

and very dashing writer in town, happened to be passing. Sir

John hailed him, and on Mr C going in, he was handed a

gigot of mutton to hold until Sir John received his change.
Having got this, instead of relieving the writer of his load, he



Online LibraryWilliam DrysdaleOld faces, old places and old stories of Stirling (Volume 1) → online text (page 6 of 25)