GILMOUR, RANKIN, STRANG and Co.
Opened 1 January, 1852
Closed 31 December, 1889
The heavy financial transactions, the
unsatisfactory agency of John and William Jaifray, the death of the
former, the subsequent disappearance of the latter, and the general
opening for developing a lucrative business in the world's centre were
doubtless the motives that induced Mr. Rankin and Mr. Gilmour to
initiate this concern. The popularity of Mr. Strang in Liverpool was
undoubted, and his activity boundless. In addition to serving the
requirements of the Glasgow and Liverpool offices, he quickly
attracted to his firm a large agency business—particularly in ship
consignments, not then the beggarly business it now is. He had also to
handle the timber consignments, not only of the parent but also of the
foreign firms, and of Price Bros., of Saguenay—a very large account,
as, I think, this firm commanded the whole of that river's product.
His firm collected all the Bills Receivable, and
the Bills Payable were domiciled at their office 63 Fenchurch Street.
This meant a good deal of detail, but otherwise the burden was not
heavy, as Glasgow and Liverpool provided the wherewithal. The monthly
cash statement or finance memorandum was prepared in Liverpool, and as
Mr. Hill could have testified, required elaborate consideration. Mr.
Rankin himself, till ill-health overtook him, personally and solely
looked to it. The London staff was a small one.; at first it consisted
of Mr. Sampson and Mr. Oliver only; then came James Hutchison and E.
G. Price for- a time; later Mr. William Alexander from the Liverpool
office replaced Mr. Sampson who left, with Mr. E. G. Price to be his
manager. Mr. Hutchison left at the time Hutchison & Jarvie opened a
branch house in London, and Mr. Price left to establish a direct
agency for the Saguenay firm—it would have been infinitely wiser to
have given the latter the partnership he asked for. During the later
years not a little cotton business of Messrs. Harvey Bros. and Harvey
& Sababathy passed through their hands. With Mr. Strang's failing
health the firm closed 31 December, 1889.
Entered P., G. & Co., 1837
Died 31 August, 1902
William Strang, born in
Kilbride parish, adjoining Mearns, in May, 1825, entered Pollok,
Gilmour & Co.'s office, Glasgow, in 1837, and the fact that he has not
been given an earlier place is because he, being the founder of a
firm, must appear under that firm's rotation. He was transferred to
the Liverpool office on its opening, or shortly after, founding the
London office of Gilmour, Rankin, Strang & Co. in 1852.
From the time he came to
Liverpool his life must have been a busy one, as the work entailed
upon the staff throughout was very heavy. He had an excellent business
manner, and commanded the confidence and respect of everyone. Long
after he left Liverpool enquiries for him were frequent from those he
knew here. He lodged in modest quarters in Wesley Street with Donald
Kennedy, and around that neighbourhood centred quite a community of
young Scots, including William Main and John Lindsay, who were both in
the office, and afterwards became Lindsay, Main & Co., of Adelaide;
Donald Currie, who became Sir Donald Currie, Bart. (then a very junior
clerk in Macfie & Sons, and afterwards with D. & C. Maclver, where he
quickly rose to the top) ; W. J. Fernie also, who at times electrified
these youngsters with financial schemes and projects such as in later
years he put into practice, sometimes with marvellous success, at
others with dismal failure.
On Donald Kennedy's marriage,
Mr. Strang removed to a small house, No. 88 Lodge Lane, now
demolished, but he soon thereafter went to London, and R. R. II became
In 1859 he married Miss
Hutchison, daughter of Captain Robert Hutchison (Hutchison & Jarvie)
and niece of Mr. Allan Gilmour, and by her had ten children, of whom
are now living only Allan, John, and Walter in New Zealand, and Annie
(Mrs. Taylor Young), till lately in Sydney, N.S.W. The two first-named
sons were each for a short time associated with the Liverpool firm,
but climatic conditions, which had proved so fatal to other members of
their family, rendered residence in Australia advisable. The step has
been eminently justified. They are prosperous and strong; the only
disadvantage is that they are so far from home.
Allan, after being at
Coopers' Hill, came to Liverpool in 1884. He had an experience of one
or two voyages in the engine room of the St. Ronans, and then entered
as apprentice with Messrs. James Jack & Co., engineers. On their
closing he joined our office staff, wherein he was a willing worker,
having a strong preference for the dock part. In 1887 he had a trip to
India on one of the steamers, and visited some of the adjacent
countries. His chest not being strong, he went to Australia in 1889.
Ultimately, accompanied by his brother Walter, he went to New Zealand
in 1891, and settled there.
John, after some experience
with Alexander Harvey in London, joined our staff here in 1888,
leaving again in 1889 to join in partnership William Alexander in
Liverpool. This was hardly a successful venture, and, moreover, his
health providing matter for consideration, he left Mr. Alexander in
1891, and joined his brothers in New Zealand.
To make the connection more
clear, I may say that William Alexander was originally clerk with
Bell, Gouldie & Co., our brokers; then clerk with Rankin, Gilmour &
Co., subsequently manager with Gilmour, Rankin, Strang & Co., London,
and on their closing became a partner of Alexander Harvey in London,
who controlled Harvey & Sababathy, Bombay. At the date I name William
Alexander had come down here and opened an agency for Sababathy,
Bombay. The native was not only headstrong, but wily.
After Mr. Hoghton left for
New Orleans, Mr. Strang became manager at the Liverpool office until,
as before said, he went to London in 1852 to take the place of William
and John Jaffray, who had not conducted the business there
satisfactorily. There Mr. Strang quickly gathered about him a number
of warm friends. Keen in business, he was too anxious to get the last
half-crown per standard on the deals he vended. The timber trade was
and is one of bills and very long credit, and this half-crown
frequently meant just the difference between a sound and a shaky
buyer—a good or a bad bill. In consequence dishonoured bills were
somewhat numerous, dividends large or small had to be taken thereon,
and the difference between these and the face of the bill represented
a great deal more than the half-crown additional price he had
obtained. In practice very thrifty, and in everything very straight,
he was distinguished by a happy faculty for discussing any matter
about which he had no desire to commit himself, in such a way as to
leave you at the end of the discussion fairly satisfied, yet having
achieved nothing. The captains who went to him with demands which he
had no wish to concede, would say that without declining their
requests he had been very nice and conciliatory, but that they could
never manage to get any further. Of a most kindly disposition, he
would take endless pains to serve his friends. He took great interest
in the Royal Alfred Asylum for Aged Seamen, was vice- chairman of the
Worcester Training Ship for Naval Cadets, and was an active member of
committee of the Chichester and Arethusa Training Ships for poor boys.
He also interested himself considerably in the affairs of his church.
He was a valued member of Lloyd's Registry for Classification of
British and Foreign Ships, and a director of the General Life
Insurance Co., and of the Surrey Commercial Dock Co., and for some
time chairman of the latter. He undertook many arbitrations for his
business friends very successfully—indeed, his opinion on business
matters was much sought for and valued. A martyr to gout, he had to be
away a great deal from the office during the last years of its
existence, and it was indeed from this cause more than anything else
that he expressed a desire to retire on 31 December, 1889, when the
house was closed. His family had scattered, but he continued to reside
at Blackheath, and on their periodical visits to this country to
receive them there. He died 31 August, 1902.