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Scots and Scots Descendant in America
Part V - Biographies
George Anderson Gay


GEORGE ANDERSON GAY is noteworthy among a large group of Scottish merchants who came to America at about the same period, the middle of the nineteenth century, and all of whom, in various cities, have attained signal success.

Mr. Gay was born in Crail, Fifeshire, Scotland, September 28, 1854, the son of Captain Alexander and Isabella (Anderson) Gay. He entered school in his native town, but left at a very early age and served a four years’ apprenticeship in the general store of Sharp & Murray, Cellardyke, Fife.

He came to the United States in 1871, and for a short time worked in a small dry goods store in Meriden, Conn. In September of the same year, he went to Hartford and secured a position with the dry goods firm of Brown, Thomson & McWhirter. Beginning in a very minor capacity he advanced through all the branches of the business until shortly after Mr. McWhirter’s retirement, when he became a member of the firm, which has since been krnown as Brown, Thomson & Company. Upon the retirement of Mr. James

M. Thomson, January 1, 1896, Mr. Gay became the senior partner of what is now one of the largest and most successful department stores in Connecticut. This store, housed in its own fine building, occupies almost an entire city block, and is a monument to the industry and foresight of its present senior partner. His career has been marked by sterling character and devotion to business rather than by the mere desire to make money, though that has come as a natural result of the reputation established by the great firm with which he has been connected for so many years.

Mr. Gay is an honoured citizen of Hartford, interested in the local welfare of the city and connected with many of its important civic and business activities. He is a director in the Hartford National Bank, the Standard Fire Insurance Company and the Syndicate Trading Company, New York, and Vice-President of the Scotch Realty Company, New York. He is a director in the Hartford Chamber of Commerce, Connecticut Merchants’ Association, and Almy ‘s Limited, Montreal, Canada, a member of St. Andrew’s Society of the State of New York, Hartford Club, the Country Club of Farmington, Miramichi Fish and Game Club, life member of the Balcomie Golf Club (Crail, Fife, Scotland), Hartford Curling Club, and the Robert O. Tyler Post Citizens’ Corps, Hartford.

With Mrs. Gay he visits Scotland every second year and travels extensively abroad. He has always taken great interest in Crail, and maintains a fine home there and has contributed generously in many ways to the beauty and development of his native town. His latest gift was the purchase in 1911 of the grounds known as Fountain Park and their improvement and addition to the Public Gardens, giving Crail one of the finest approaches and entrances in the country. He not only purchased the grounds and transformed the entire gardens by the erection of walls, railings, bridges, etc., but gave an endowment for maintenance, to be known as the Hendrietta Gay Lothian Bequest, in memory of his late sister, a resident of Crail. The completed Public Gardens were officially presented to the burgh, July 1, 1914, by Mr. John Guthrie, a cousin, in behalf of Mr. Gay, and accepted on behalf of the citizens by Provost Scott with great demonstration. Both made eloquent addresses, recounting the history of this ancient burgh, and expressing gratitude to their distinguished townsman and pride in "his career, his character and his princely generosity," which had enabled Crail to be "beautiful as well as ancient." This memorable celebration was "the most brilliant day," in the opinion of the townspeople, that Crail had known since June, 1538, when Mary of Guise, King James V, and their gay escort, passed through on their way to St. Andrews to their marriage.

Mr. Gay is genial and whole-hearted, beloved by his employees and a wide circle of friends. His benefactions in Hartford, the city of his adoption, are equally appreciated. His hand has always been extended in helpfulness to those about him.

He married, February 26, 1890, Elizabeth Winton Robb, of Hartford, whose parents were both of Scottish birth. Mr. Gay has taken special interest in three of his nephews, whom he has educated at Yale. He is a great lover of art and has a large and choice collection of etchings, also many water-colors and oil-paintings, which he has collected largely on his visits to the art centers of Europe. He is a member of the Congregational Church, and has always been interested in every Christian work.


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