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Scots and Scots Descendant in America
Part V - Biographies
William Coverly


THE Anchor Line of steamships is a great institution wholly due to Scottish enterprise. It was founded by the Henderson Brothers, Glasgow, in 1852, and had its beginning in one small vessel, from which time it has grown rapidly and successfully until now it represents world-wide interests and owns many fine ships. Since 1865, when it established its regular New York-Glasgow service, the New York office has been one of the most important in the system. This prominence is due to its presiding genius, Mr. William Coverly, who has been its head practically since its establishment.

Mr. Coverly was born in Glasgow, Scotland, July 4, 1840, and was the son of William Coverly and Christina (Henderson) Coverly. He received his education in the normal and high schools and in private schools in his native city, and subsequently was engaged for about five years as an accountant. In 1864, Mr. Coverly came to New York, and entered the employ of Messrs. Francis MacDonald & Company, who were at that time the agents in New York for the Anchor Line. The founders and owners of this line, Thomas, John, David and William Henderson, were younger brothers of Mr. Coverly ‘s mother, a relationship which doubtless favourably influenced the young man’s fortune in his new line of business. In 1872, when Henderson Brothers decided to open their own office in New York, Mr. Coverly was made a partner in the firm and the head of the house in the United States, where he continued until his retirement from active business, December 31, 1914. As a manager, Mr. Coverly displayed marked efficiency and great executive ability, and consequently the great success attained by the Anchor Line at New York may be, in a large measure, attributed to his capable management. He is the oldest and most respected of the prominent steamship men of New York.

With business capacity of the highest order, he is gifted with a charm of manner and a personality so engaging as to make him immensely popular among his business associates and the public generally. Together with qualities of mind of a high order, nature and habit have given him a perfection of face and form which fully warrants the sobriquet of the "Handsome Scotsman," applied to him by his fellow members of the Produce Exchange.

Besides his connection with the Anchor Line, Mr. Coverly is President of the Conquest Consolidated Mining Company, a trustee of the East River Savings Institution, and a director of the Oregon Smelting & Refining Company. He has been a member of the St. Andrew’s Society of the State of New York since 1870; is a member of New York Burns Society and New York Yacht Club (New York), Oxford, Crescent Athletic and Atlantic Yacht Clubs (Brooklyn), and is prominent in Masonic circles and in the order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.

Mr. Coverly ‘s residence is 247 Washington Ave., Brooklyn. He was Senior Warden of St. James’ Protestant Episcopal Church, in that borough for over 30 years. He married, January 17, 1866, Margaret Amelia Slamm. His daughters by this marriage are Mrs. Lillias D. Cooke, wife of Alexander B. Cooke, of the firm of Libaire & Cooke, stock brokers, and Margaret C. Fischer, wife of Frederick G. Fischer, of William R. Grace & Company. August 25, 1909, he married Rebecca Frances Chapman. At home and in business Mr. Coverly is a genial, gentle, lovable man; one who has successfully combined great ability and financial reward with all the finer graces of life.


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