successive Glasgow worthies, James Monteith,
Esq., manufacturer, Anderston, born 1734, and his son Henry, Lord Provost
of Glasgow (1814-16 and 1818-20), were descended from a Highland laird in
the neighbourhood of Aberfoil who had been often harried, and at last
ruined, by the raids of Rob Roy and the clan Gregor, on account of his
sturdy and stubborn refusal to pay black-mail
to MacGregor Mohr.
Mrs. James Monteith’s house was
situated in Bishop Street —
one of those low-roofed
old-fashioned but commodious houses so common at that period, full of
comfort and kindly associations. It was the invariable custom in the
family, even after they had separated and had got homes of their own, to
meet in .the Bishop Street mansion every Saturday afternoon to dine with
the old folks, and renew the old household intercourse. At these meetings
the conversation often took a political tone when the stirring events of
the time, especially those connected with the revolt of the American
colonies, were warmly discussed. On that and other matters the old man
strongly denounced the policy of the British Government, and his views
were warmly supported by all his sons, with the exception of Henry,
subsequently one of Glasgow’s most honoured men.
Henry defended the action of the
Government with much energy and talent, greatly to the annoyance of his
worthy father. One day when the discussion among the young folk had been
more than usually warm and protracted the old man rose, and thus addressed
his ambitious, and, as he judged, mistaken son:
"Oh! Harry, Harry, a’ things will be
set right, man, when ye’re made Lord Provost o’ Glasgow, and, maybe,
member o’ Parliament as weel !"
The good old father did not live
to see his bantering forecast realised, but it was remembered when his
talented son had attained the highest honours that his fellow-citizens
could confer upon him.