Biographies & Obituaries

These pages contain biographies and/or obituaries of notable miners leaders, inspectors, coal owners and others with links to the industry.

Miners Leaders

Keir Hardie

The Late Mr Keir Hardie - From Miner To M.P. - Mr J. Keir Hardie, M.P., died in a nursing home in Glasgow yesterday. Following upon a breakdown in his health, he was ordered a six months' rest, and went to the Isle of Arran for a time. Recently, however; Mr Hardie went to Clarkston, where he resided with his brother, but a few days ago his condition became such as to necessitate his removal to a nursing home. Pneumonia developed, and he passed away peacefully yesterday. 

Mr James Keir Hardie was' the son of working-class parents, and was born in Laigh Brannoch, Old Monkland, on August 15, 1856. When he was seven years of age he started work in a coal mine, and continued to work as a miner up to his twenty fourth year. In 1880, he was appointed secretary of the Lanarkshire Miners' Union, a position in which his fondness for organisation was first given scope. Two years later he became editor of the Cumnock News, a local weekly paper, having previously done a good deal of writing on topics of interest to miners and on labour questions generally. At that period, his interest in the working classes and their conditions began to extend over a wider range , and in order to devote himself more completely .to the work of furthering the interests of the men among whom he moved he severed his connection with the newspaper. In the year 1888, which was marked by a considerable extension of the labour movement, he appeared as Labour candidate for Mid-Lanark, and polled 619 vote as against 2917 given to the Unionist, Mr Bonsfield, and 3917 to Mr Phillips, who was returned in the Radical interest. In 1892 he successfully contested the constituency of South West Ham, and continued to hold the seat till 1895. During the Trade Union Congress, which met in Glasgow in 1892, a conference of working-class leaders from all over the country was held, and in it he took a prominent part. Out of the conference and subsequent proceedings the Independent Labour Party arose, and was launched with Mr Hardie as its leading spirit. From its very inception the party claimed a great deal of his attention and interest, and in 1900 he was elected chairman and chief organiser. In the year 1907 he visited India and Australia, and came into renewed prominence by reason of the hostile criticism , which many of his public utterances elicited, both in this country and abroad. He became M.P. for Merthyr Tydfil in 1901, and retained the seat until his death. At the General Election of 1906, he was recognised as the leader in the House of Commons of the then definitely constituted Labour party. He was editor and proprietor of the Labour Leader, and a frequent contributor to magazines and reviews , while he also made extensive use of pamphlets as a means of propagating his ideas.

That Mr Hardie owed much of his prominence to the fact that he was the first of the Labour group in the House of Commons is undoubted, and he was regarded as the pioneer of the party which represented a section of the community which, he held, had hitherto been inarticulate and impotent in the affairs of the country. He made his entry into Parliament clad in a tweed suit and cap, and was preceded to the House by a procession headed by a band, while Labour leaders all over the world hailed his advent as marking the dawn of a new era in politics. Mr Hardie's long connection with the Labour movement made him well known - perhaps it should be said notorious - everywhere , and his tenacity of purpose was one of the greatest assets which he as a leader possessed. All who came in contact with him were conscious of a striking and forceful personality in which the dominating traits were an intense zeal in the pursuit of his ideals. Whatever might be the opinions of his methods of propaganda, there could be little doubt as to the earnestness and determination with which he approached any task which he took in hand. In the early days when the Socialist movement in this country began to develop, Mr Hardie was something of a malcontent . He admitted allegiance to the Social Democratic Federation, which was then being heard through the voice of William Morris, and also to the Fabian Society, but did not wholly admire the methods of either. The former group, in the view of some of its critics, tended to become too abstract , while the latter devoting itself to educational work desired rather to spread its tenets quietly than to undertake aggressive constructive work. Impatient of abstractions, and keen on quick results, Mr Hardie adopted methods which were criticised even insider the movement , of which he was the central figure, a condition of things which lasted throughout his career. Indeed, the very fervour with which he prosecuted his aims actually militated against him in many instances; he approached things with such zest that he often failed to see that his methods were impracticable . His mind's eye only saw the desired culmination of his dream, and he took no account of the intervening processes of preparation. This tendency and his demand for short . roads to reform lessened the value of his political work, and even his usefulness to his own party. ¦ He had not the contemplative cast of mind , or the stability of the true reformer; he had not even the complete self-command which is the first essential of the successful agitator.

As a platform speaker, Mr Hardie was resourceful and effective, and the rashness of some of his statements was no doubt the result of a desire to drive home his point at all costs rather than of a desire to mislead. Wide reading, was often apparent, particularly in his conversation, while his foreign travels provided him with many arguments in favour of his points of view. He had a strong belief in. the receptive powers of the working class mind, and even when addressing an audience of workmen he did not hesitate to illustrate his point with a metaphor from science, or amplify it with a sonnet. There can be little doubt that he found inspiration for all his efforts mainly in an intense sympathy, with the class from which he sprang, and one of the most popular stories of him is characteristic. As he was entering the House of Commons one day a policeman stopped him. "Are you at work here, mate?" he asked. "Yes," was the laconic reply. "On the roof?" "No, on the floor," and he passed on without revealing himself. [Scotsman 27 September 1915]

William Small

The Late William Small, Miners' Secretary - Last night the public learned with deep regret that William Small, best known as the Lanarkshire miners' secretary, had died suddenly at his residence, Olivia Cottage, Blantyre. While family tea was being prepared, deceased was talking cheerily when he suddenly expired , death being attributed to failure of the heart's action. Small had a chequered career, commencing in the drapery line in Glasgow and continued in Cambuslang. At the time the late Alexander M'Donald died, Andrew M'Cowie, an enthusiastic Scoto-Irishman, thought he saw in Small a successor to M'Donald. Mr Small had not been successful in business, and he embarked on the uphill work of organising the Lanarkshire miners For over twenty years Mr Small devoted himself to keeping alive the. flickering flame of unionism amongst the miners, but somehow or other, as the present County Union became established on its present substantial basis, Mr Small appeared to be dropped aside. He was a man of very considerable ability, and he did good work in Blantyre as a member of the School Board and otherwise. He has left two daughters and three sons. He has died at the age of fifty-three. [Scotsman 24 January 1903]

William B. Small

FORMER GENERAL SECRETARY OF LANARKSHIRE MINERS - The death occurred yesterday at his home in Bothwell of Mr William B. Small, who for different periods was assistant to or general secretary of Lanarkshire Mineworkers’ Union and over a long series of years an agent of the same organisation. A son of the late Mr William Small, Blantyre, one of the early pioneers of Trade Unionism for miners in the county, Mr Small was at first apprenticed to law. In 1918 when the late Mr Duncan M. Graham was elected to Parliament, he was appointed acting general secretary of the L.M.U. In 1922 he succeeded Mr Graham as general secretary, and continued in office until 1927. In 1934 he was restored to his office, but a change was again effected some years later. For many years he was a member or the Executive Committees of the Lanarkshire and Scottish Unions of Mineworkers. He was 73 years of age. [Scotsman 26 February 1944]

Alexander McDonald

Death of Mr Alexander Macdonald, M.P. - Even to those who were intimately acquainted with the condition of the health of Mr Macdonald, M.P., for sometime past, the announcement that he died at his residence, Wellhall, near Hamilton, yesterday afternoon, will be received with great surprise and regret. For a considerable time the deceased has been far from well. Towards the close of the session of 1880 he was attacked with rheumatism aggravated by a bronchial affection , which necessitated his leaving London and returning to Wellhall, where he was attacked by other ailments. At that time his life was almost despaired of but he so far recovered as to be able to take part in some conferences of miners' delegates towards the end of the year and when Parliament resumed in January last he returned to London to attend to his Parliamentary duties. Even then, Mr Macdonald was feeling far from well; but he was anxious to take part in the Protection of Life and Property (Ireland) Bill, that he refused to adopt the advice of his friends and take a holiday in some warmer climate. After this bill became the law, Mr Macdonald was slow to leave London but he was prevailed upon to do so towards the end of July, only to return, however, as soon as the passing of the Land Bill appeared likely to be endangered by the action of the House of Lords. On his return to his residence in Scotland, he set on foot the agitation amongst the miners for an increase in their wages, and made a long speech on the subject at one of their meetings in Hamilton. At the late conference of miners, at Manchester, a week or two ago, over which it was intended he should preside, he was unable to be present owing to the condition of his health, and contented himself with sending a written address. A day or two later he was prevailed upon to go to Leeds, as his presence was urgently required in connection with the National Miners' Union, and much against the advice of his friends he undertook the journey. The effect of the fatigue in his enfeebled state of health was disastrous, for Mr Macdonald returned to Wellhall on Saturday week, suffering from jaundice. His medical attendant, however, hoped that he would have strength to battle with the disease, and little apprehension of a fatal result was entertained. So recently as Friday last, Mr Macdonald was able to leave his room, and spent some time in the grounds with his gardener. On Sunday he did not feel so well, and Dr Thomson, of Motherwell, who had been his medical attendant for many years, deemed it prudent to call in Dr Loudon, of Hamilton , to see him. Yesterday morning Mr Macdonald was able to attend to his correspondence in bed, and to dictate replies to several letters. As the day wore on, however, he became worse, and on Dr Thomson being sent for, it was resolved to have a further consultation with Dr London and Dr Dougan, Glasgow, in the evening; but death took place in the interval. The hon. gentleman's only surviving brother in this country, Mr Archibald Macdonald , Armadale, Bathgate, arrived in the afternoon. He had been seeing him on Wednesday, and was asked to remain, but was unable to do so. Mr Macdonald's. first expression on seeing his brother yesterday was, "Man, I have looked long for you," and added a wish that he might not leave him again. He then handed him an unopened American letter which, proved to contain the announcement that their brother James had died at Brazil, Indiana , on the l5th inst. On the letter being read,.he looked in his brother's face, saying "Well you have read it, and I will be the next to follow; no person can go before me." It soon began to be manifest that a serious change had taken place in his condition, and a few minutes past three he expired, his last moments being apparently passed without much suffering.

Mr Macdonald, who was in the sixty first year of his age, was born in the farmhouse of Dalmaconter, New Monkland. His father, who for some years followed the occupation of a sailor, somehow gave up sea life and began work as a collier in Fifeshire. The conditions of mining, always hazardous, were very different in those days from what they are now. Like most of his fellows, young Macdonald was sent into the pit at eight years of age to assist his father. Even as a lad, according to his own statement, he was so much impressed with the fearful conditions under which the miners worked that he resolved to do his utmost when he grew up to bring about a change. It is probably due to the impressions which Mr Macdonald imbibed at this early period of his life, as to the hardships under which the miner worked, that in his later years he was apt, in advising the miners how they might improve their condition , to run counter to well-known economic laws. Being a lad of much intelligence and energy, he turned his attention to educating himself, and at a comparatively earl y age he had mastered a sufficient amount of knowledge to enable him to relinquish the life of a collier and turn to teaching Although, he had left mining as an occupation, he had still a warm interest in the welfare of those engaged in that calling, and he set himself resolutely to help the men in obtaining some better protection from the dangers attendant upon their work, and the amelioration of the lamentable mode of life they then lived under the truck system; It was during one of the struggles for the redress of some of their grievances that Mr Macdonald came prominently to the front among the miners . In a short time his zeal and practical knowledge led him to be appointed one of their principal representatives. Through his exertions unions were formed all over the country, and the miners contributing regularly they soon became wealthy and powerful. He was ultimately appointed secretary for Scotland in which capacity he frequently went to London for the purpose of urging members of Parliament and others to interest themselves in securing greater degree of safety for the miner, and there is no doubt that in this way he succeeded in bringing about much useful legislation. His labours, however, were not confined to Scotland. His services were often sought by the mining bodies of England, and in 1863 he was rewarded by being elected president of the Miners' National Union - an office he filled for the long period of seventeen years. He was subsequently appointed president of the Trade Union Parliamentary Committee. While still holding these positions, he was in 1874 returned to Parliament by the working men of Stafford as their representative , his expense being paid by a subscription amongst the miners of the United Kingdom. He prided, himself upon being a practical miner; and when recently characterised in a London paper as an amateur working-class member, he emphatically repudiated the assertion in a very characteristic letter in which he set forth his claim to being considered a working-class member. There can be little doubt that much. of the advice which Mr Macdonald gave to the miner was wrong and unwise, but that it had in view the social elevation of the miner need not be doubted. During the great period of activity in the coal and iron trades six or seven years ago, his influence was paramount amongst the miners but in later years a considerable change had taken place in this respect, and new advisers were springing up, though more recently Mr Macdonald's counsel was again being sought and acted upon. He was a man of considerable ability and great force of character, and in his own house there were few more genial men than Alexander Macdonald.

Mr Macdonald, who was never married acquired, shortly after his return to the House of Commons, the residence of Wellhall, where he spent most of his time between the sessions of Parliament. [Scotsman 1 November 1881]

Funeral of Mr Alexander MacDonald, M.P. - The funeral of Mr Alexander Macdonald, M.P., of Wellhall, took place yesterday. The funeral was made as private as possible, in deference to the wish of the deceased; but there were many signs of public interest in the ceremony, such as the presence of representatives of the various miners' associations and other trades unions with which Mr Macdonald had been connected, the presence of the large crowds of men and women along the route of procession, and the tolling of the Hamilton town bell. The interment took place in the New Monkland Churchyard, where his mother lies, and where he expressly wished to be buried. Shortly after ten o'clock the friends of deceased and the trades representatives assembled at Wellhall, the residence of deceased, where the body was lying. Religious services were conducted by Rev. Mr Watt, uncle of deceased, prior to the removal of the coffin, which had been covered with wreaths sent by the Miners' National Union and other friends. The service over, the cortege, which included the hearse, drawn by four horse, with postilion, and twenty-four carriages, was arranged, and proceeded slowly along the avenue to the Wellhall Road. The chief-mourners were :— Mr Archibald Macdonald, Armadale, Bathgate, brother of the deceased; Mr George Macdonald, nephew; Mr John Macdonald, nephew; and Rev. Wm. Watt, Norristown, Perthshire, uncle of the deceased.

The various miners and other trade associations were represented as follows :
Miners' National Union - Messrs B Pickard, vice-president; J Bryson, J Wilson, F Cowey, J Forman, J Toyne, J Nixon, treasurer; W Crawford, secretary.
Northumberland Miners - Messrs T Burt, MP, and R Young.
Durham Miners' Federation Board, including Miners, Mechanics, Cokemen, and Enginemen - Messrs N Wilkinson, W H Patterson, W Johnson, T Hindmarsh, T Hart, L Trotter.
Durham Miners' Association - Mr S Hill
Cleveland Miners' Association - Messrs T Dunn and R Rowland
Yorkshire Miners' Association - Messrs J Frith, W Parrott.
Lancashire Miners' Association - Messrs J Beech, T Ashton, W M'Kay, T Aspinwall
Cumberland Miners' Association - Mr A Sharp
Trades Union Congress (Parliamentary Committee) - Messrs H Broadhurst MP; John Inglis, and William Paterson, Glasgow.
Fife and Clackmannan Miners' Association - Mr John Weir.

From Stafford there were present Mr John Geddes, who had been Mr Macdonald's Parliamentary agent; Mr Horsfall, representing the Stafford branch of the National Union of Rivetters and Finishers, and the Labour Representation League; and Councillor Smith, another member of the Labour League.

Among other friends of Mr Macdonald there were present Mr john E Livesey, Wigan, Mr Thomas Halliday, Bolton, late president of the Miners' Amalgamation; Baillie Archibald, as representing the Town Council of Hamilton; Mr John Watson, of Earnock; Mr Simpson, C.E., Glasgow; Mr Lucas, writer, Glasgow; Mr M'Lachlan, accountant, Coatbridge, &c.

The cortege on emerging into Wellhall Road, turned towards Hamilton, and proceeded slowly between the lines of miners of the district, who had left off work in order to pay a last tribute of respect to the deceased. While the funeral procession was passing through Hamilton, most of the public places of business were closed, the window blinds of private houses drawn down, the town bell was tolled, and a large concourse of people lined the streets on either side. The procession passed through Motherwell and Holytown, and reached the New Monkland Churchyard early in the afternoon, when the coffin was consigned to the grave. [Scotsman 8 November 1881]

Robert Steel

A Veteran Miners’ Leader - Mr Robert Steel, Motherwell, can lay claim to being one of the oldest, it not the oldest, miners leaders in Great Britain, and it is gratifying to find that the arduous labours and sufferings he has endured through a long life on behalf of the miners of Scotland have not been forgotten by them, but that he is shortly to receive a testimonial at their hands. The miners of this country have not hitherto been quick to reward those who have spent the best years of their lives in their service; but perhaps no one is more deserving of such an honour than Mr Steel, and a brief outline of his career may not be without interest to our mining readers. For the purpose of this sketch, the writer called upon Mr Steel at his residence in Motherwell, but, instead of finding the veteran leader enjoying a well-earned rest in the evening of his days, he was nursing an injured limb at the fireside, having, only a short time previously, had his foot bruised by a fall of coal in the pit. Although within a few years of seventy, he is still in harness. Mr Steel was born in the February of 1829, and is a native of South Lanarkshire, the village of Wilsontown, in Carnwath parish, being his birthplace. He was the son of a miner, and having been born in the days when there were no School Boards nor Factory Acts. Bob had to enter the pit when a little over seven years of age, and has thus all his lifetime been connected with mining. He remembers well, although then just a boy, of the first strike the miners of Scotland ever had, and tells of how on that occasion the families of the miners were turned out of their houses, and, with no shelter, had to camp in the fields and woods. To the youngsters, such as Bob himself was in those days, this experience was not without its amusements, and he says he can recollect well of the old "wag-at-the-wa' ' clocks hanging on the branches of the trees, while the boys (Bob among them) would amuse themselves by throwing stones at them, the one family making the other's cleek a mark to aim at.

Mr Steel has a very retentive memory, and can go over all the strikes, from '38 down to the present time, and relate the circumstances and incidents connected with each in a manner which is surprising. In the strike of 1842 he remembered that the rate of wages was 3s per day, and after a strike, of from 17 to 22 weeks the miners got 6d of an increase. What he considered a very strange thing about that strike was the fact that the masters opened their stores, and supplied the strikers with goods, &c, and even went the length of distributing money among them to purchase milk. This appeared to be a case in which the masters courted a strike, and the only explanation to be given of it was that the masters wished to get rid of their surplus stocks at high prices, because, as soon as that was accomplished the miners got an increase of a sixpence per day, and work was resumed forthwith. A year later this 6 was lost again, and in subsequent years the rate of wages was as low as 1s 9d and 2s 2d. In the year 1844 Mr Steel, being much interested in the affairs of the miners, remembers of an English leader, belonging to Northumberland, named Martin Judd, who offered a prize of £5 for the best essay on "How to Better the Condition of the Miners," and this prize was gained by a man named Forbes, who belonged to Holytown, the scheme propounded in the essay being a restriction in the output by one-third. This was put in force about March, and by the month of May the miners had 5s for what previously only brought 2s 2d. There is a valuable lesson in this for the miners of the present day. But perhaps it is as a leader that the miners are most interested in Mr Steel, and it was only through diligence and perseverance that Mr Steel came to the front as he did. Education in these early time; was very scanty, especially among the miners crises, but Bob devoted some of his time to self-improvement with satisfactory results, as in later years it enabled him to feel as much at home among a group of M.P.s as amongst his companions at the working face.

It is fully 48 years since he began to take a leading part in mining affairs, being at that time only 19 years of age. For upwards of twenty years he was the right-hand man of the late Alexander Macdonald. and besides being miners' agent in different parts of the country was president of the Lanarkshire Miners' Federation at the time when it was at its strongest. In 1887, when the masters and men met in conference in Glasgow he was chairman on both days, and his eloquence and argumentative abilities stood him in good stead on occasions such as these, when he frequently proved too much for his opponents. Mr Steel was also one of those examined by the Royal Commission on Mining Royalties in the December preceding the last railway strike. Indeed, no man in the country has been more active on behalf of the miners than "old Bob Steel." He was invariably chosen to form one of a deputation to managers when any dispute arose, and this brought him into conflict with the masters. He was well known by headmark by most of the managers and masters and frequently when he appeared with a deputation he was greeted with the salutation - "You're here, Steel; what do you want?" and from this he knew to expect something, and oftener than not he would soon be compelled to lift his "graith" and go elsewhere. On one occasion a subscription was about to be started to send him to America, but he was fortunate in securing work in the Mossend district under an assumed name, and as some time elapsed before he was discovered be got working away. At the time he was hunted from district to district by the employers, being compelled to flit no fewer than 17 times within four months. It is needless to add that the miners owe much to their leaders and not the least to old Bob Steel. Of course he feels the burden of years beginning to weigh heavily upon him, and although not so able as formerly to take his place in the forefront of the battle yet his heart is always with the miners, and he is not slow to render any help he can in the way of advice, that the testimonial about to be presented to him will be liberally supported is almost certain, and that an interest is being taken in the movement by gentlemen outside the Miners' Union is shown by the fact that Mr John Colville. M.P., has agreed to become treasurer of the fund. [Dundee Courier 3 September 1896]

Michael Lee

Fife Trade Unionist's Death - Mr Michael Lee, who was for many years prominently identified with the Trade Union movement in West Fife, died at his residence, Rose Crescent, Dunfermline, yesterday morning. In his younger days, he worked in the pits in the Lochgelly district. He became a delegate to the Executive Board of the Fife, Clackmannan, and Kinross miners Union, of which he was chairman for a period, and latterly he was appointed to the permanent staff as disputes secretary, a position from which he retired in 1925. For some years he was chairman of the Fife Federation of the I.L.P. Miss Jenny Lee, who was Member of Parliament for North Lanark in the last Parliament, is a grand-daughter. Mr Lee was 80 years of age. [Scotsman 17 August 1932]

Robert Smillie

Robert Smillie - Death of Veteran Miners' Leader - Colourful Career - Mr Robert Smillie (“Bob” Smillie) the veteran miners' leader, died in Dumfries yesterday in his 83rd year. He was a former president of the Scottish Mineworkers' Union, and also of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain, his presidency of the latter organisation extending from 1912 to 1921. From 1923 until 1929 he was Socialist F.P. for Morpeth. As the leader of several big national strikes of miners, he crossed swords with Prime Ministers and Government representatives. During the Great War, when he took his stand boldly as a Pacifist, he was offered in turn the Controllerships of food, coal, and shipping, as well as the Ministry of Pensions, but he declined to take them.

Mr Smillie leaves a widow, six sons, and two daughters.

By the death of Robert Smillie there is removed one who, in the face of many obstacles, made himself a power in the world of British labour. His adversaries in politics, and industrial affairs will be among the first to admit that he owed the success of his career to qualities that were inherent in the man, and that he turned them to account with remarkable strength of will, consistency, and singleness of purpose. A Scotsman by descent, and reared in the lowliest ranks of life, he had given evidence of the possession of many of the traits supposed to characterise the Scots - caution; along with resolute and logical persistence in the line of policy and conduct which he had adopted as his own; taciturnity, except when there was occasion to speak. " dourness," in short.

Born of Scottish parents in Belfast in 1857, Robert Smillie had the minimum of the school education that fell to the share of lads brought up in the sphere and class to which he belonged. He started his working life as a riveters' boy in a Govan shipyard; but, disliking this occupation, he went into the mines, and for many years he laboured underground. He made his home in Larkhall, in the midst of depressing surroundings which, no doubt, by restricting his range of vision and sympathies, helped to confirm a natural bent towards pessimism and antagonism to the classes that were more highly placed and happily situated, There is a tradition of harsh treatment in the form of family eviction, suffered in his early career, that may have affected his social outlook.

Strength Of Character - By sheer force of character and ability, Mr Smillie slowly worked his way to a position that gave him to an unprecedented extent control of the miners' organisation, first of his district, then of Scotland, and finally of Great Britain. Personal magnetism or popularity had little to do with this rise. Smillie's was hardly a nature either to court or to win popularity, even among those whose cause he championed. He gathered about him more jealousy than personal liking on his way upwards. This is sharply indicated by the fact that during his early efforts to enter Parliament he was beaten in seven contests, although in every case he chose working-class constituencies, and repeatedly that in which he dwelt, Mid Lanark. When he was elected for Morpeth in 1923 he was too old to make a Parliamentary career, but he was always listened to with respect in the House of Commons until his membership ceased in 1929. But although he failed to obtain proof at the polls of the confidence of Labour, and of his right to speak on its behalf, the "Miners' Napoleon," as somebody has called him, knew how to make himself respected and obeyed in the sphere of industrial organisation, strategy, and tactics which he had made his own. He was the chief creator and shaper, and, finally, dictator of the Scottish Mineworkers' Union, of which he had been president since 1894; he was a main founder of a school of Trade Unionism strongly opposed to the old, and he became president of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain. Enlarging the scope of his influence and objects, as he shifted the centre of his activities from Larkhall to London, he had a large hand in the formation of the so-called "Triple Alliance."

Businesslike Methods - Although Mr Smillie could, on occasion, speak, and speak to some purpose , he was never seen at his best on the platform. He had a flair for diplomacy, as well as for organisation, and he knew and practised the virtue residing in silence. He often managed to keep the world of industry and politics guessing as to his immediate intentions, as well as his ulterior objects. If his theories were advanced, his methods were businesslike ; he was careful of showing his hand, or of putting his foot out further than he could draw it back again; in fact, he had a logical Scots head on his shoulders - which made him all the more formidable and dangerous Nobody ever doubted Robert Smillie's earnestness or his personal disinterestedness. His schemes for the nationalisation of mines and other machinery and materials of national wealth raised highly controversial issues, but he had persuaded . himself that they would bring about an upturn and reconstruction of society and industry that would put a final end to the evil conditions of which he had seen more than enough in his youth on the Clyde. A great opportunity of standing in the limelight came when, as the leading member of the Labour representatives on the Whitley Coal Commission of 1918, he conducted the cross-examination of the Duke of- Northumberland, Lord Durham, and other leading coal and land owners. On that occasion he revealed dialectical faculties with which he had not previously been credited, and deservedly strengthened his reputation and influence with a large section of the community which remained with him to the end of his active career. [Scotsman 17 February 1940]

David Gilmour

Former Miners' Leader - Late Mr David Gilmour - In the death of Mr David R. Gilmour, which occurred at Seamill, West Kilbride, there has been removed one of the founders of the Lanarkshire Minors' union, and one who in his day was well known in Trade union circles over a wide area. Mr Gilmour had suffered from indifferent health recently and was living in retirement in Ayrshire, of which county he was a native. Mr Gilmour worked in the mines in Ayrshire and as a young man moved to Central Lanarkshire, where he followed his calling in several of the collieries in the Hamilton district, which was afterwards the scene of his labours in the administrative work of the Lanarkshire miners' union, in which he took a prominent part. With the outbreak of war, differences of outlook made a change of opinion among the miners and those he was associated with but Mr Gilmour continued to hold their personal esteem. Mr Gilmour adopted the orthodox view of the war, and took the line of the co-ordination of all forces to fight it to a successful finish, in pursuance of which he acted as a labour adviser to the Ministry of National Service, the result of his convictions was his severance from the union which he had helped to found. In many struggles of the miners towards improved conditions he took his full share, and his work was distinguished by a tactful handling of many difficult and sometimes delicate situations. Nationally, he was recognised by his appointment on the Executive of the Scottish Mineworkers' union. In addition to his Trade union activities, Mr Gilmour served as a member of both Hamilton Town and Parish Council. In 1912 he acted upon a Royal Commission on housing. For his war services he was decorated with the O.B.E. [Scotsman 14 September 1926]

Robert Chisholm Robertson

Former Miners' Leader - Death of Mr Robert Chisholm Robertson. - The death occurred at Stobhill Hospital, Glasgow, yesterday, of Mr Robert Chisholm Robertson , at the age of 70. Mr Chisholm Robertson was one of the pioneers of Trade Unionism among the Scottish miners, and for several years was the Secretary of the Forth and Clyde miners' Association. A struggle arose between him and Mr Robert Smillie for the leadership, which ended in Mr Chisholm Robertson's defeat. He was regarded as probably the most polished orator that ever addressed the Scottish miners. Some years ago he retired from miners' affairs, and took up business in Glasgow. He was one of the first three I.L.P executive members elected for Scotland. In his later years, Mr Chisholm Robertson became almost anti-Socialist, and for at least ten years after his retirement he wrote frequently to the Press, criticising the Robert Smillie policy. He contended that the miners should concentrate on Trade Unionism and leave politics alone. Mr Chisholm Robertson contested Stirlingshire in the General Election of 1892. [Scotsman 14 March 1930]

John Wilson, Miner's Agent

Death of Mr John Wilson, Miners' Agent - The death is announced of Mr John Wilson, miners' agent, which took place at his residence in Portobello yesterday morning. Last summer Mr Wilson caught a chill, and phthisis being threatened, he took up temporary residence at West Linton, where he made good progress. A month or two ago, however, he became worse, and he was removed home to Portobello. Mr Wilson was a native of Broxburn, and from boyhood till the age of twenty-three worked as a shale miner in the employment of Broxburn Oil Company. He also studied with the view of entering the ministry. In 1887 a movement began among the shale miners, the object of which was to obtain better wages and shorter hours of employment. To that movement Mr Wilson gave his whole-hearted support, and the miners soon recognised him as their leader. A strike was entered upon, which lasted over six months, and the men, by reason of Mr Wilson's advocacy in all parts of the country, received a great amount of public sympathy and financial support. Eventually the men went back to work, under greatly improved conditions, and henceforth Mr Wilson remained as the paid agent of the shale miners, and latterly of the West Lothian coal miners as well. In Broxburn he also took a great interest in political and local affairs, and was for a considerable time a member of Uphall School Board. At the same time be was a prominent member of Edinburgh Trades Council, and he was induced to become a candidate for the Parliamentary representation of the Central Division of the city. Removing to Glasgow in 1895, Mr Wilson continued to lead an active public life, and attempted to enter Glasgow Town Council as a Labour candidate, but failed. [Scotsman 10 April 1912]

Mine Inspectors

Ralph Moore

The Late Mr Ralph Moore, Inspector of Mines - A notable figure in the mining world has passed away in Mr Ralph Moore, whose death took place on Saturday at his residence, 13 Claremont Gardens, Glasgow. Mr Moore, who was in his seventy fifth year, was for over a quarter of a century Government Inspector of mines for the East of Scotland, and in that capacity made many friends, both in this country and abroad, by whom he was much respected. Mr Moore was born near Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1822. Shortly afterwards his father Mr Robert Moore, took up the position of manager of Sir George Suttie's Prestongrange collieries near Tranent, and it was in that district, that Mr Ralph Moore, spent his early years. In 1840, at the age of eighteen, he left the east country for Glasgow, and entered the service of the Summerlee Iron Company as mining engineer. Ten years later, in partnership with Mr Alexander, the late inspector of mines for the West of Scotland, he started business in Glasgow as a civil and mining engineer. During this period the rising young engineer began to make his mark among his fellows, and the pamphlets on mining matters which he published about this time attracted considerable attention. In 1860 he published "A Geological Section of the Coal Fields in Lanarkshire," classifying the different coal series of the county for the first time. Some of his papers were read to scientific societies in Edinburgh, and Mr Moore was the recipient of several medals for these efforts. In 1862 he was appointed Government inspector of mines for the East of Scotland, a position which he filled for twenty-six years. On his retirement in 1888 he was presented with his portrait by a number of the coal and iron masters and managers. While Government inspector, Mr Moore was able to take an active interest in improvements in mining, and it was chiefly owing to his exertions that improved mechanical ventilation was introduced in Scottish collieries. After his retiral he made several professional visits to the United States in connection with the proposed formation of public companies. He had an extensive correspondence in America with mining people, some of whom had gone from this country, and others he had met there. In the course of his long connection with mining in Scotland, he saw great changes, and his diaries contain many reminiscences of the state of the colliery districts in his early days. As an instance, he relates that when he went to Tranent originally the coal was brought up by ladders, and women were employed in that work. In the formation of the Mining Institute of Scotland Mr Moore took a prominent part, and he was president of the Society for two terms; but mining matters did not absorb all his activity. He took a deep interest in all that pertained to engineering, and was a member of the Institute of Engineers and Shipbuilders, of which body he at one time was vice-president. A paper on cable tramways which he submitted to that society secured for him the society's gold medal. In ordinary public matters Mr Moore took little part, but during a residence at Rutherglen he was returned for the Town Council of that ancient burgh, and he was likewise a Justice of the Peace for Lanarkshire. Mr Moore is survived by his wife and a. grown-up family. [Scotsman 16 November 1896]

J.M. Ronaldson

A Mine Inspector's death In A Train - At Cambuslang Railway Station yesterday afternoon, on the arrival of a Glasgow-bound train from Strathaven, an elderly gentleman was observed reclining against one of the carriage windows. It was seen that something was seriously wrong, and Dr James Wilson, Cambuslang, who was summoned, pronounced life extinct, and death to be due to heart failure. The body was identified as that of Mr John Martine Ronaldson, Inspector of Mines, residing at 44 Athole Gardens, Kelvinside, Glasgow. He was aged about sixty and was known all over Scotland. Mr Ronaldson was born in County Tipperary sixty years ago, but his parents removed to Scotland while he was still a child, and his boyhood was spent in the parish of Dunbar. He was educated in the Free Church school there, and at Edinburgh Institution. On leaving school he went to learn mining engineering under Mr Archibald Hood at Rosewell Colliery, Whitchill. An industrious and studious lad, he prepared himself for the Government examination for assistant inspectors of mines, and at the examination in London he passed with credit. He was appointed in February 1875 assistant to the late Mr. William Alexander, Inspector of Mines for the West of Scotland district, and in February 1886,on the death of that gentleman, he was appointed to the charge of the district. He investigated many accidents in his district, which included all the Hamilton coalfields, and extended from Ballachulish in the north to the English-Borders, containing about 64,000 miners. From 1888 to 1800 he was president of the Mining Institute of Scotland. A member of the Westbourne United Free Church, Glasgow, he took a deep interest in Church matters and also in work among children. He was president of the Scottish Society for the Humane Treatment of Pit Ponies. [Scotsman 23 November 1909]

Coal & Iron Owners

See also:

William Dixon

The North British Mail announces the death, in London, of Mr William Dixon of Govan Ironworks. [Scotsman 25 February 1859]

DEATH OF WILLIAM DIXON, ESQ., OF GOVAN - In our obituary of yesterday we were sorry to observe the death of our townsman, William Dixon, Esq. , of Govan and Calder Iron Works, who died in London on the 23d curt. He was one of our most enterprising and energetic citizens and one, too, who during a long life has done the State good service. To mental qualities of no ordinary kind he united great administrative capacity, having from his youth pursued a course of active industry which well entitled him to be ranked as one of the originators and controllers of the coal and iron trade of Scotland. But while he pursued with ardour his own large and varied individual undertakings, he was not inattentive to the welfare of the public. Perhaps no man in the West of Scotland took a more lively interest in Public affairs, or devoted more time or money to protect the community from real or supposed grievances. In early life he joined as a politician the small Liberal knot of men in Glasgow who were linked together by the name of Charles James Fox, and was henceforward ever found ready with purse and presence to support the principles of that distinguished statesman. He took an active and prominent part in the preliminary efforts made in Glasgow for obtaining a Reform in Parliament, and on the passing of the Burgh Reform Act for Scotland was elected one of the City Council in 1833, under a statute that destroyed self-election, and which gave to the people the choice of their own city legislators. Mr. Dixon, in fact, belonged to that body of first class citizens who constituted the first Reformed Town Council of Glasgow. Having in the course of a few years felt that his personal interests in respect to railway communication with the harbour were antagonistic to those of the River Trust, he at once honourably resigned his Councillorship, but was again returned to the Council Board on the extension of the Municipality. At the general Parliamentary election in 1847, he offered himself as a candidate for the representation of this his native city ; but although he obtained 1814 votes, out of a constituency of little more than 4000, he was defeated by the then Lord Provost. (Hastie), and his then not sufficiently well-known colleague, John Macgregor. In consequence of bad health Mr. Dixon has been obliged for some years to absent himself very much from Glasgow, having resided during that period either on the Continent or in the neighbourhood of London ; but fromnthe mighty industries with which his name was connected, it was not possible for him to dissociate himself from the minutest matter that belonged to Glasgow. The large works at Govan and Calder, with all their many ramifications throughout the country, which Mr. Dixon was mainly instrumental in calling into existence, and the thousands of workmen who depended on these for employment and support, must now be deprived of his active governing advice ; but it is to be hoped, for the benefit of the country, that a similar spirit to that which actuated their late master will still guide these important industrial establishments, and watch over those engaged in carrying them forward. In private, Mr. Dixon was known to many as a kind and unswerving friend, and in all of his many acts of kindness he exhibited a feverish anxiety to keep these - from public observation. Mr. Dixon was in the seventy-first year of his age, and has left an only son and daughter to bewail the loss of a kind and indulgent father. [Glasgow Herald 25 February 1859]

James Baird

The Late Mr Baird of Cambusdoon - After a few weeks' illness there has just passed from our midst a man who, through a career of well-directed and successful industry crowned by many works of practical benevolence had come to occupy a prominent position in society: we refer to James Baird of Cambusdoon, who died at his Ayrshire residence yesterday morning. Some five or six weeks ago while in London, Mr Baird was attacked with bronchitis, having caught cold after returning from a short visit to Paris. He was attended by Sir George Burrows and Dr Covey, and after three weeks' illness recovered sufficiently to come home to Cambusdoon. Here, however the ailment assumed a more serious form, being complicated with disease of the kidneys and bladder, which grew gradually worse. About a fortnight ago the symptoms became so alarming that medical aid was again called in. Dr Wield, Ayr, was first sent for, and when he saw the nature of the case he requested the assistance of Professors Buchanan and Gairdner, Glasgow. These gentlemen were unremitting in their attendance, and everything that medical skill could devise was done to grapple with the malady and allay the pain, which is said to have been intense. After a few days' treatment, Mr Baird rallied a little, and some hope was entertained that he might recover; but within the past few days his condition again assumed a more critical aspect, and the medical gentlemen almost anticipated the result which has supervened. On Sunday the patient was able to be out of bed, and seemed to enjoy his meals. His old jocular manner, in spite of his illness, occasionally peeped out, and he conversed freely with the company in the house. Monday morning found him apparently a good deal better, and when Professors Buchanan and Gairdner left in the forenoon they fancied that the disease had abated. In this, however, they had been mistaken, for an unfortunate change took place soon after. When they returned to Cambusdoon in the evening they found Mr Baird unconscious, and at a quarter past two yesterday morning he breathed his last in presence of his wife, Mr Whitelaw, M.P., Dr Wield, and Mr Miller (his factor).

The history of the Baird family, is remarkable, as showing how much can be accomplished by indomitable energy and perseverance. We have not to go far back to find Mr. Baird's ancestors in the position of farmers - and that in a very humble way - and now it is perhaps no exaggeration to say that the family may be regarded as about the wealthiest in Scotland. James Baird was born at the little village of Kirkwood, near Coatbridge, in the early part of 1803, so that he had at the time of his death attained his 74th year. His father, Alexander Baird, leased a small farm on the Drumpellier and Rosehall estates, and also acted as the local miller. He was a shrewd, clever man, and though his means were limited, he resolved to give his family - ten in number, of whom James was the fifth - the benefit of a good education. James was accordingly sent to the pariah school of Old Monkland,where he received elementary instruction at the hands of Mr Cowan, then parochial schoolmaster. Young Baird can scarcely be said to have manifested any special aptitude for study ; but as he grew up, his father had been gradually working himself into a better position, and instead of being set to work when his school education came to a close, the lad was sent to Glasgow University to acquire some knowledge of the higher branches. The characteristics which had shown themselves in the sturdy little schoolboy at Old Monkland did not leave James Baird when he went to college. His jovial, rollicking disposition made him a favourite with fellow students, while it probably had some effect in preventing him from making much progress in study. What he wanted of booklearning , however, was amply compensated for in after life by a fund of common-sense and mother-wit which might be regarded as hereditary. His stay. at the University was of brief duration, and on leaving it he was taken into partnership with his father and elder brothers, who by this time had commenced to deal in coals. Shortly afterwards a day level pit was started by William, one of the brothers, at Rochsolloch, and, though worked in a very humble way, this soon paid itself and began to yield a fair profit. This may be described as the commencement of the family connection with mining, and so successful had it proved that the father and brothers were encouraged to form a partnership for the working of mines at Maryston and Gartsherrie. During these years young James paid great attention to the practical management of the concern, and even then showed qualities which might be expected to make their mark in the commercial world. In 1829 , if we mistake not, two furnaces, of the primitive character then in use were built at Gartsherrie, and from that humble beginning sprang the famous firm whose ramifications now extend through so many mining districts. The erection of these furnaces was a fortunate step in the family career, for they turned out so profitable that additional blasts were soon erected, and were followed in later years by the commencement of iron works in different districts of Ayrshire. Neilson was at this time engaged in perfecting his hot blast, and to James Baird he doubtless owed a good deal of the success which attended its introduction. In 1835 or 1836, Alexander Baird, the father of this enterprising family, died, and the extensive concern which had by that time grown up was left in the hands of his sons. James, who had shown himself a thoroughly practical man, undertook the active management, and to his vigour and clearheadedness much of the success of the firm is attributed. Year by year the business extended, new pits were opened, additional blast furnaces put up, and the number of employees largely increased, till now the Gartsherrie works turn out about 100,000 tons of pig iron yearly, and give employment to between 3000 and 4000 persons. In 1846 the firm purchased ground at Stevenston, in Ayrshire, where they erected eight furnaces, known as the Eglinton Iron Works. Their next acquisition was the Blair Ironworks in 1862, followed by the purchase , in 1856, of the Lugar and Muirkirk and, in 1864 , of the Portland Ironworks , all in Ayrshire . The total number of furnaces connected with these various works is 42, and in December last 29 of these were in full blast, producing on an average 700 tons of pig-iron daily. Altogether, there cannot be fewer than 10,000 men and boys employed by the firm, a fact which of itself conveys some idea of the present extent of an undertaking that sprang from so humble a beginning. Up till about 1862, Mr James Baird continued in the active management of the concern ; but since that time , though retaining his interest, he has retired, from the business, Mr Alex. Whitelaw, M.P., occupying his place at the head of affairs.

Though Mr Baird's attention must have been largely absorbed in business, he nevertheless found time to concern himself in political, educational , and social questions. In 1851 he contested the Falkirk Burghs in the Conservative interest in opposition to Mr Loch, factor to the Duke of Sutherland, and was, after a keen contest, returned by a majority of 55. He had not sat a year in the House of Commons when a dissolution took place, and he had again to seek the suffrages of the electors, his opponent on this occasion being Mr Anderson, London. Curiously enough, Mr Baird was returned by exactly the same majority as he had secured in the previous election. He seldom spoke in the House; indeed the atmosphere of Westminster did not seem to be altogether congenial to his tastes and in 1857 he retired from Parliament, Mr Hamilton of Dalziel, and afterwards Mr Jas. Merry, succeeding in the representation of the burghs. After his withdrawal from Parliament, Mr Baird devoted much attention to religious and educational questions; and it is well known that his money was freely given to build churches and schools in different parts of the country. In educational matters he was a staunch supporter of the so-called "use-and-wont " platform ; and an emphatic utterance in favour of religious education made by him in the City Hall, Glasgow, in December 1871, was followed soon after, by the foundation of "The Baird Lectures" for the defence of orthodox teaching and the exposure and refutation of error and unbelief. The act of Mr Baird's life, however, with which perhaps his name will be chiefly associated hereafter was the foundation, in 1873, of the "Baird Trust," to administer the substantial fund of £500,000 bestowed by him for behoof of the Church of Scotland, Whatever view may be taken of this munificent donation to the Church, there can be no doubt that Mr Baird' s intention was the furtherance of religion , though it is perhaps to be regretted that the application of the money should have been hampered by conditions distasteful to not a few of the more liberal members of the Establishment.

Various guesses have been made as to the amount of the deceased gentleman's wealth and the income likely to accrue yearly to his firm. It is impossible in the meantime to give any idea of Mr Baird's private fortune; but it is believed that in prosperous years the profits derived from the concern of which he was so long the head exceeded a million sterling. As a landed proprietor, Mr Baird occupied a prominent position. In 1853, he paid £22,000 for the estate of Cambusdoon in Ayrshire, and four years afterwards £90, 000 for Knoydart in Invernessshire. Six years later he purchased the estate of Muirkirk at a cost of £135,000 and he inherited from his brother the estate of Auchmedden, in Aberdeenshire, which cost about £60,000. Mr Baird was also the possessor of smaller properties in Ayrshire, while other members of the family own estates in different parts of the country valued at no less than two and a-half millions sterling. A Depute-Lieutenant of Ayrshire and Inverness-shire, he took an active part in county business, on which he brought to bear the same sagacity and energy which had so largely contributed to his own success in life. In private life Mr Baird was a genial, kindhearted man. His manner, to those who did not know him, might appear bluff and uncourteous, but underneath his somewhat rough exterior there was a warm heart, and in a quiet, unostentatious way he employed a part of his wealth in educating poor children, and assisting persons in distress. As a public man he never showed any aptitude for speaking, his utterance being disjointed, and his style anything but elegant. If , however, any one tried to poke fun at him, the chances were that Mr Baird's ready wit turned the laugh against his assailant. He had a fund of quaint stories, which it was his delight to retail in society. He is also said to have been particularly fond of reading Burns' poetry, of which he could recite many passages; and nothing pleased him more, when he had friends at Cambusdoon, than to point out spots which the Ayrshire bard had hallowed.

Mr Baird was twice married. His first wife Charlotte, daughter of the late Mr Robert Lockhart of Castlehill, died in 1857, five years after their union. In 1859, he married Isabell Agnew Hay, daughter of the late Admiral Hay, who survives him. There has been no issue of either marriage. [Scotsman 21 June 1876]

George Grant-Suttie

Death of Sir George Grant-Suttie - We have to announce the death of Sir George Grant-Suttie which occurred on Wednesday at Grantham-house, Putney. The late baronet was the only son of Sir James Grant-Suttie, fourth baronet, by Katherine Isabella, second daughter of Sir. J. Hamiltoun, of Bangour, and was born on the 1st of August, 1797. For some years he served in the Scots Fusilier Guards. He married, in 1829, Lady Harriet, seventh daughter of Francis, seventh Earl of Wemyss, and by her, who died May 30,1858, he had a family of four sons and two daughters. He succeeded to the baronetcy on the death of his father, Sir James, in 1836, and was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Haddingtonshire in 1854. The late baronet's father, Sir James Suttie, assumed the additional surname and arms of Grant on the decease of his aunt, Janet Grant, Countess of Hyndford, when he inherited the estates of Preston-grange. He is succeeded in the baronetcy by his eldest son, James, born in 1830. [Times 21 June 1878]

William S. Dixon

Death of Mr W. S. Dixon, of Glasgow - Mr William Smith Dixon, the leading partner of the firm of Dixon & Co., of the Govan and Calder Ironworks , died at his residence, Grosvenor Place, London, yesterday morning. Mr Dixon had been in delicate health for some time, and he only recently returned from a long sojourn on the Continent, when the illness which has ended fatally began. As the superior of Govanhill, a rising suburb of Glasgow, Mr Dixon presented it, jointly with Crosshill, with a handsome Burgh Hall, at a cost of about £10,000, It was the intention of the deceased to be present at the opening ceremony, but delicate health prevented his presence on that occasion. Mr Dixon was a landowner both in Lanarkshire and Linlithgowshire, and a Deputy-Lieutenant for Lanark and Ayr. [Scotsman 17 June 1880]

John Watson

The Late Sir John Watson, Bart. Of Earnock. - A notable man in Sir John Watson, Bart of Earnock , passed away yesterday morning at the ripe age of 79. Up to the last he was hale and hearty. A few weeks ago he proceeded on a short holiday tour in the North, but the heat wave was too much for him. He was prostrated during the passage in the Caledonian Canal and at once returned home. Dr Crawford, his local medical adviser called in Dr Gemmell, who did not consider that there were any alarming symptoms, and on Sunday Dr Heron Watson, on being telegraphed for, on his arrival corroborated the views of the local and Glasgow doctor, and indicated the belief that a rest for ten days would put matters right. Notwithstanding, the patient never recovered his vitality, and he passed quietly away yesterday morning.

Sir John was the architect of his own fortunes. He was born in Kirkintilloch on the 9th of July 1819, and was therefore in the seventh-ninth year of his age. His father was a builder and contractor, but afterwards engaged in mining pursuits with considerable success, in which he was followed by his son. His lot was not altogether a successful one, but by indomitable perseverance he commanded success, and became one of the pioneers in the development of the Lanarkshire coalfields. In a limited sense the heyday of his career was when he was developing the coalfields of Wishaw and Dalziel under respectively Lord Belhaven and Mr Hamilton, now Lord Hamilton. His greatest success was when he acquired in the early seventies the estate of Neilsland, following up this triumph with the acquisition of that of Earnock. Up to that time there were doubts as to whether it would have been possible to have, at the great depths which were then little known in Scottish mining experience, to work the coal at a profit. With his wonted shrewdness Sir John, when he opened up the Earnock - which, it may be stated, is likely to go on tor 150 years at least - laid down the most advanced mechanical appliances. He was the first in Scotland and second in the United Kingdom to introduce electric light as an adjunct of mining. He was nothing if not thorough in all matters relating to his business concerns. He was popular, and deservedly so, in all his private relations. On acquiring the estates of Neilsland and Earnock, Sir John spared no money in the way of planting and improving the farms, the steadings of which were mostly rebuilt. He was twice married, his first wife being Miss Agnes Simpson, daughter of Mr. R. H. Simpson, coalmaster, Rutherglen, by whom he had two sons and eight daughters, all of whom are married. He is survived by his second wife, a daughter of Mr Peter M'Kenzie, editor of the “Reformers' Gazette.” He received the Baronetcy from Lord Roseberry in 1895. He is succeeded by his eldest son, Mr John Watson. [Scotsman 27 September 1898]

Archibald Russell

The personal estate of Mr Archibald Russell of Auchinraith, and of Glasgow coalmaster, a generous supporter of the Church of Scotland, who died on tho 19th of April, aged seventy-three years, has been valued at £569,170. [Scotsman 3 September 1904]


John Scott Haldane, scientist

DEATH OF NOTED SCIENTIST  - Professor J . S . Haldane's Work for Humanity  - Valuable Mining Investigations - Professor John Scott Haldane, the famous scientist died at his home at Oxford at midnight on Saturday. He was 76. He became gravely ill early in February with bronchial pneumonia, and had a critical relapse twelve days ago. His daughter, Mrs Naomi Mitchison, the authoress, and his son, Professor J. B. S. Haldane, were called to the bedside. There was a slight improvement in Professor Haldane's condition during the last few days but the bulletin issued on Saturday night stated that he was very weak.

Professor Haldane will be cremated at Golders Green at 2 p.m. tomorrow. Following the service the ashes will be taken to Auchterarder, where they will be interred. The service will take place at Gleneagles Chapel, Auchterarder, at 3.30 p.m. on Wednesday. A memorial service will be held at New College, Oxford, at a date to be announced later. Physiologist, biologist, and philosopher, John Scott Haldane was a native of Edinburgh, where he was born in 1860, and a product of Edinburgh Academy and the Universities of Edinburgh and Jena. A brilliant member of a peculiarly gifted family, he demonstrated in his life and work that though there be sciences, such as, for example that of pure mathematics which appear to have a comparatively remote effect upon the progress of the human race towards greater comfort and a longer life span, in medical science at least the research worker may, if he strikes the right line, achieve results of immense benefit to humanity. That such results are not always reached without discomfort and even danger to the student is well known, and in Professor Haldane there was never lack of courage to face such discomfort

Haldane first began his investigations at the age of twenty-five and his greatest contribution to science and to the safety of mankind was in his work on the physiology of respiration in which connection he devoted himself greatly to the study of respiratory problems connected with the work of miners, and to questions of factory ventilation, and the effects produced in the human being by deep diving.

A son of the late Robert Haldane and the late Mary Burdon Sanderson and a brother of the late Lord Haldane and of Sir William Haldane, W.S., he graduated M.A. and M.D. at Edinburgh, from which University he received in 1921 the honorary degree of LL.D. He was also an M.A. and D.Sc. Of Oxford, an LL.D. of Birmingham, and a D.Sc. of the Universities of Cambridge, Dublin, Leeds, and Witwatersrand. He was at first demonstrator and later reader in physiology in the University of Oxford, and was Lecturer in Yale University in 1916, and Gifford Lecturer at Glasgow in 1927-28. He held various other lectureships, and gained many honours in the scientific world and was made a Companion of Honour in 1928. For his valuable research work the Royal Society awarded him the Copley Medal in 1936.

EXPERIMENT WITH POISONOUS GAS - An experiment which attracted wide attention was described by him in the British Medical Journal in 1930. Professor Haldane, in order to test the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning, shut himself up in a steel chamber with a companion and inhaled the fumes.

When a saturation of 30 or 40 per cent, was reached, he wrote, certain mental symptoms began to appear, and became more and more prominent with increasing volume. One of these symptoms was impaired memory for most recent happenings.

The pressure in the chamber corresponded to that found at 25,000 feet above sea level, and he and his companion, a Mount Everest explorer, were unacclimatized. Of one hour of his experiment he had not the slightest memory afterwards, although according to his companion who was less affected than himself , he was talking all the time and answering questions.

Until the pressure was increased his companion thought that he (Professor Haldane) was not suffering to any degree, but at length he noticed him take up a mirror to look at the colour of his lips, and found that he was looking without being aware of it at the back of the mirror.

The blanks of memory were often filled in with purely imaginary events. Along with failure of memory went failure of co-ordination of movement. The gait became like that of a drunken man, the handwriting became progressively irregular. Sensory perception of every kind seemed to be dull, and he tried to grasp at objects which were some distance away under the impression that they were within this reach.

WORK DURING WAR - During the Great War Dr Haldane was chosen by the Government to investigate German poison gas. In 1915 Sir Thomas H. Holland (now Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Edinburgh University), as President of the Institution of Mining Engineers , presented the Institution's gold medal to Dr Haldane. In making the presentation at the Institution's annual general meeting Sir Thomas Holland said no single institution could adequately express; appreciation of the way in which Dr Haldane's scientific work had been of direct humanitarian value to mining communities in every part of the world. As a direct outcome of his work there were hundreds of industrial workers now living who would not otherwise have been alive that day. Apart from its direct and immediately successful application to the cause of humanity, Dr Haldane's work had an independent value as an important contribution to the sum of scientific data and the progress of scientific thought. No one would guess to what extent Dr Haldane's work in the realms of chemistry and physiology would influence the amenities of the mining community, and reduce the avoidable dangers to valuable lives in this and other Industrial occupations. Sir Thomas Holland alluded to Dr Haldane's public work as a member of various Royal Commissions and other inquiries which had covered questions ranging from the ventilation of warships to the effects of the food and clothing of the soldiers.

Dr Haldane, in returning thanks, said the mining engineers met everlastingly with problems which called for solution, and his own experience proved to him how difficult and puzzling many of them were. Men of science could only contribute a little here and there towards their solution.

Professor Haldane was keenly interested in stratospheic flight and the use in that connection of respiratory apparatus he had designed. Last December he visited Persia to study sunstroke cases among oil workers.

Some years ago he declared his "wholehearted agreement" with General Smuts that anything which could properly be called scientific physiology was impossible apart from the conception of holism. Mechanistic theory, he said, failed to explain the fact that any species of organism constantly maintained its structure in face of all sorts of vicissitudes in environment. In physiology it failed to explain why the body reproduced, maintained, and regulated itself as it was always doing. (Holism (it may be noted) is the theory which makes the existence of “wholes" a fundamental feature of the world. It regards natural objects, animate and inanimate , as wholes, and not merely as assemblage of elements or parts.)

Professor Haldane, who served on several Royal Commissions, was the author of numerous papers, Blue Books, and works of philosophy and scientific thought. At the age of 23 he was joint author of " Essays in Philosophical Criticism." Later books included " Materialism," which "argues the final necessity of a spiritual interpretation of our Universe"; " The Philosophical Basis of Biology"; and "The Sciences and Philosophy." In 1891 Professor Haldane married Louisa Kathleen, Daughter of Coutts Trotter.

The Miners Friend - Deadly Gas Investigations  - By the passing of Professor Haldane the mining industry throughout the world has lost one of its greatest personalities. For nearly half a century he was concerned with the health and safety of miners, and was a pioneer in bringing scientific investigations to the benefit of miners. More than thirty years ago one of his most famous investigations dealt with the deadly gas "carbon monoxide,'' which is present in the afterdamp following a mine explosion and also at most underground fires. To obtain positive evidence regarding this gas, he exposed himself to its effects under controlled conditions in a chamber and recorded the effects as they occurred to him. He showed how this gas was a cumulative poison in the blood, so that even very small quantities were dangerous. He also evolved the well-known method of detecting its presence by birds or mice, which are more susceptible to its effects than human beings and therefore exhibit symptoms of its presence.

As a member of the Mine Rescue Research Committee he did much towards the development of mine rescue apparatus, whereby rescue teams are able to penetrate into irrespirable atmospheres and thus render aid to miners in distress.

He was an authority on miners' nystagmus, a serious disease of the eyes and nervous system to which miners are subjected as a result of insufficient illumination of the underground workings. He also investigated the effects of certain mine dusts on the lungs of miners and ascertained the cause of the deadly silicosis, or "miners' consumption" which was once the scourge of the gold mines of the Rand. and to a lesser degree, affected the health of coal miners until preventive measures were evolved. He was concerned with the fatigue of miners, especially those working in hot and deep mines. In this connection an important discovery was the loss of certain salts from the body by excessive perspiration and the effects of perspiration on the control of body temperature.

The results of his work have been given permanent record in numerous publications throughout the world, notably in those of the Royal Society and the Institution of Mining Engineers in this country.

Professor Haldane was chairman of several Health and Safety Committees appointed by the Mines Department. He. was also a past president of the Institution of Mining Engineers.

By his work the humblest miners benefited and to them his passing will be felt most of all, for he was indeed the miners' friend. [Scotsman 16 March 1936]