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Scots and Scots Descendant in America
Part V - Biographies
A. F. Rattray Greig


ALEXANDER FIDDES RATTRAY GREIG, Chicago, one of the best known expert accountants in this country, was born in Constitution Street, Aberdeen, Scotland, January 5, 1846. His father, James Brown Greig, a master mariner, who spent most of his life at sea, was also born in Aberdeen, April 4, 1819, and died in Invercargill, New Zealand, in 1896. He was descended from many generations of Scottish ancestors and his coat-of-arms was three rampant lions. His wife, Augusta Louisa Amelia Saliskofski, a daughter of Major von Saliskofski, of the Prussian army, and a devoted friend of William I, King of Prussia and later Emperor of Germany, was born in Stettin, December 7, 1824, and died in Invercargill, August 1, 1882. Mr. Greig often recalls hearing his mother relate how, when she was about six years of age, on some great public occasion, she carried a large, beautiful bouquet of flowers, a gift from her father to the King of Prussia. The King was so pleased that he lifted the child up in his arms and kissed her affectionately amidst the applause of the great assemblage. There were six children of this marriage, in the order of their ages: Alexander Fiddes, Margaret, Auguste Veronica, James Brown, Jr., Frances Ann G., and William Catto; the last two born in Australia. All survive except Auguste Veronica (Mrs. Alexander Cross), who died in Invercargill, April 2, 1909, and all except Alexander reside in New Zealand. However, there were two other children born some time after the birth of William Catto, both of whom died in infancy: Richard Smith, buried in Newcastle, N. S. W., and Andrew Stobo, buried in Invercargill, N. Z. All the children were baptized in the Presbyterian faith.

Alexander was named for his father ‘s brother, the late eminent Alexander Fiddes Greig, M.D., of Fyvie, near Aberdeen. From his fourth to his sixth year, he attended Ledingham ‘s Grammar School, on Correction Wynd, Aberdeen, leaving school in 1852 to sail from Liverpool, with his father, mother, two sisters and a brother on the ship Yarrow, of which his father was captain, hound for Geelong, Victoria, Australia. The family resided in Geelong for several years, from which port the father traded in his own brigantine, the Mary Ann. Here, Alexander attended the National Grammar School for two years, and for one year was a student at the noted Academy, Morrison’s Scotch College, afterwards spending several years aboard his father’s ship, trading along the coast of Australia and to New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Captain Greig then sold his ship and retired from professional sea life, settling with his family in Invereargill, New Zealand, of the port of which city Captain Greig was the Chief Harbor Master for several years.

In June, 1863, Alexander, a lad of seventeen; began his business career as a clerk in the counting-house of Calder, Blakelock & Company, general merchants, Invercargill, where he was employed until July, 1868. In December of that year, he became cashier and accountant for the large commercial house of W. & G. Turnbull & Co., Dunedin, New Zealand, remaining with them until April, 1870. From 1870 to 1879, Mr. Greig was engaged in the coal business in Geelong, Australia, buying and selling coal and coke at wholesale and retail. At the same time he studied the principles of the higher accountancy and marine insurance average adjusting.

Owing to his wife’s poor health, Mr. Greig removed to America in 1880, upon the doctor’s recommendation, bringing her and their daughter Maud, then about nine years old, from Sydney to San Francisco on the steamship Australia.

Since coming to the United States, Mr. Greig has engaged chiefly in the professional business of public accountant with headquarters in Chicago. He is a master of his profession and conducted some of the most intricate and difficult audits and investigations, with such success as to receive the highest commendation of some of the leading commercial and legal firms of the country. He holds Diploma No. 52 of the State of Illinois, issued by the University of Illinois, dated March 23, 1904, conferring upon him the degree of Certified Public Accountant. Mr. Greig has been auditor and expert accountant for Nelson, Morris & Co., Packers, Chicago, for four and one-half years, chief accountant and office manager of the Union Car Company, Depew, New York, and when it was absorbed by the American Car Company, St. Louis, he was assistant directing accountant and helped organize the auditing department of that company. He has been accountant and auditor for the Interstate Press, Publishers, Chicago, which operates eighteen branch offices in various parts of the world; office manager and auditor for the Elgin Creamery Company, operating 135 creameries and stations; and has held salaried positions with other important companies. He was the first to introduce the loose-leaf system of accounting, having installed it in the order department of Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett & Co., hardware, in 1882.

Mr. Greig has been a member of the Illinois St. Andrew Society since April 16, 1904. He is a Fellow of the Illinois Society of Certified Public Accountants (Certificate No. 33) ; Fellow of the American Association of Public Accountants (Certificate No. 310) ; and regular member of the Illinois Institute of Accountants (Certificate dated March 25, 1907).

Mr. Greig married, March 22, 1869, Miss Margaret Kirk, daughter of Robert and Christina Kirk, of Dunedin, New Zealand. The Kirks were from Fifeshire, Mrs. Kirk, Christina Hay, being the daughter of Mr. Hay, of Hay & Scholbred, linen weavers, of Dunfermline or Kirkcaldy; Mr. Greig ‘s young wife died shortly after coming to the United States in 1880. He married, May 29, 1881, Miss Hannah M. Rattray, daughter of the late David Rattray, of an old American family of Scottish descent, and incorporated his wife ‘s name into his own, having ever since his residence in Dunedin, New Zealand, been favourably impressed with the name "Rattray". This was the name of one of the principal streets of Dunedin, a city named after Edinburgh, Scotland, both names being synonymous; while the street was named after Mr. Rattray, of Dalgetty, Rattray & Company, the large and well-known com mercial house of New Zealand. When the Duke of Edinburgh visited Dunedin in 1868-1869, he remarked on one occasion, when addressing the citizens at a banquet given in that city in his honour, that it was an interesting and rare coincidence to find himself addressing the citizens of a city named after the one he represented in the Antipodes. The original name of Edinburgh was Dunedin.

Maud, Mr. Greig’s daughter by his first wife, married Austin L. Claflin, in Chicago, April 27, 1892, and died in Cleveland, Ohio, October 31, 1911, leaving two beautiful children: a son, Carlyle Cook Claflin, and a daughter, Mercedes Tennessee Claflin, who reside in London, England, with their father who remarried. Mr. Claflin is a nephew of Lady Cook, widow of the late Sir Francis Cook. A daughter, Lucile, by the marriage with Miss Rattray, married, September 30, 1912, in Chicago, Chevalier Lo Verde, of Palermo, Sicily. She is gifted with a fine mezzo-soprano voice and has studied with some of the most distinguished Italian masters. Mr. Greig ‘s home is 4552 Ellis Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.


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