ROBERT RANKIN and CO.
ST. JOHN, N.B.
Opened 1822 Closed 1876
This firm was inaugurated by Mr. Robert Rankin in
May, 1822, he being then only twenty-one, and it was the second off-shoot
from the parent stem. Their business and routine was much the same as that
described on page 50; indeed, such eventually became the case with all the
houses subsequently started. The selection of St. John was a wise one, for
the harbour is one of the best on the American coast, and is open all
winter. True, the Bay of Fundy, with its abnormal rise of tide
of 70 feet, abounds in fogs even in summer, but
these drawbacks did not outweigh the advantages of the port. There are
indications that R. R. & Co. early took over some portion of the business
of Mr. Strang, of St. Andrews, New Brunswick, who died in 1824. Doubtless,
the firm had its struggles and disappointments, but brains and hard work
were bound to tell. All I know is that they prospered immensely,
until Mr. Rankin left for home in 1838, leaving behind him a splendid and
Mr. John Pollok junior was then admitted a partner. He
was reputed a man of brilliant parts, but whether from the removal of the
guiding hand, or other causes, the business did not receive sufficient
attention. John Pollok had a brother James, who was in charge of the
Nashwaak mills, and who died about 1847 of consumption, accelerated, it is
said, by the curse of all countries. About 1849, sinister rumours were
afloat about Mr. John Pollok's habits, and the visits of Mr. Alexander
Rankin to St. John were frequent; but I think Mr. Pollok remained a
partner till he died in 1852 at St. John, his wife dying the same year at
Bromborough Hall, the home of her sister, Mrs. Rankin. Mr. George Young, a
son of our Glasgow solicitor, had gone out to St. John in 1839, and was
admitted as partner in 1845. As partner, however, he brought none of that
force to bear that alone could have redeemed the situation. Possibly it
was for this reason that, in 1851, Mr. Francis Ferguson was withdrawn from
Bathurst, and made a partner in St. John. If the intention was to
galvanise the concern, I fear the choice of man was not a happy one. At
all events, things went from bad to worse. Francis Ferguson and George
Young were continually at loggerheads. At length, in 1856 1 believe, when
at home in the Liverpool office, Mr. Young retired, or was retired, from
the concern. Mr. Gilmour was present at the interviews.
The lumber lands held by the firm
up the Rivers St. John and Tobique were of very considerable extent. On
the Nashwaak River the firm worked extensive forests and a very large
mill, in what were, for some time, very favourable circumstances, but lack
of adaptability on the part of the later management to changing
conditions, made it in subsequent days only an incubus. It was decided to
sell the Nashwaak Mills and lands, notwithstanding their advantageous
position, and they were purchased by a Mr. Gibson for a comparatively
small sum. He introduced some changes of method, particularly in the mode
of shipping the deals. It had previously been the practice to float the
deals down to St. John, and there to sort out and classify them in piles
on the wharf, where they might lie for some time, only to be unpiled,
tallied and taken on shipboard. This involved considerable expense, which
Mr. Gibson got rid of by floating the produce of the mill as it rose from
the saw, direct to the ship loading at St. John. Thanks to the economies
thus made, Mr. Gibson, in a few years, became a rich man, though he was
working a property that had only brought loss under the Previous
management. It was the old story of Columbus and the egg. Of course, at
first there was an indisposition on this side to buy cargoes that had not
a specification showing the qualities as well as lengths, etc., but that
was got over. Mr. Gibson did furnish a specification which showed the
dimensions only, and for the rest, by consistent shipping to the larger
markets, such as Liverpool, he established a reputation, and his cargoes
commanded the market price relative to value received, which was all that
was achieved on previous practice. An innovation it doubtless was, and
there would at first be some difficulties and prejudices to overcome.
Whether any proposition for adopting such a course was ever submitted to
Mr. Rankin and Mr. Gilmour I do not know. I think it would have commended
itself to them.
The firm of R. R. & Co. also had mills at Portland, St. John, and the
original dwelling-house was contiguous to the office there. The firm did
not work their own shipyard, but for all purposes it was just the same.
Mr. Thomson, one of the most practical and up-to-date builders of the
period, possessed the confidence of Mr. Rankin, and was financed by him,
and as a result, some of the finest specimens of the wooden ship of the
period were turned out. Some were adopted for the firm's fleet, but in the
majority of cases they were sent home to be vended in this country.
Mr. Young married Mr. Thomson's
daughter, and they eventually went to live in London.
There was never very much life in
the business after Mr. Rankin left St. John, and on his death in 1870 and
the withdrawal of Mr. Allan Gilmour on 31 December of the same year, Mr.
Ferguson and his son continued the business for their own behoof under the
old name. The most charitable thing to say is that the luck had left the
house. Their monetary undertakings to Mr. Rankin and Mr. Gilmour were
never fully met, and in a few years the father, the son, and the firm were
alike dead and buried.
Appended is a cutting from a St. John newspaper of
above illustration represents the wharves and warehouses of the largest
export and import firm that represented St. John for at least a quarter of
a century. From 1822 to i86o Robert Rankin & Co. were at the head of St.
John merchants. The position of the property is one of great historical
interest. The mound on the left hand side of the illustration is all that
remains of an extensive fortified trading post, that existed over two
centuries ago. It was not merely a quantity of earth thrown up for
temporary use, but a finished defensive work built by skilled workmen. The
earth for ramparts and embrasures was brought to the spot and planted on
the solid rocks—the passage ways were inlaid with beach stones, laid both
with regard to size and regularity, with mathematical precision, and
imbedded in cement so firmly, that if an endeavour was made to break the
mass, the stones would break before the cement. After the evacuation of
the French it seems as if this important point was left without a tenant,
and it was not until the property became part of the Simonds estate that
any effort was made to re-establish the former glory of this important
Pollok, Gilmour & Co., of Glasgow, in their day and generation were one of
the largest shipowners of Great Britain, being owners of 120 square
riggers. In 1822 they commenced their campaign in Canada, and established
branch houses in St. John, Chatham, Bathurst, Douglastown, Miramichi,
Quebec and other ports, under the style of Robert Rankin & Co., with
of the extensive wood warehouses now standing give sufficient proof of the
enterprise. They were erected in 1825. The brick building was erected for
offices in 1842. For many years this house and its branches controlled an
enormous amount of New Brunswick business. They imported for at least
one-half of the merchants of St. John. In 1853 they loaded 130
square-rigged vessels. From 1825 to 1840 their ship-yard on their property
turned out a large number of vessels of from 300 to 500 tons. The St.
John, Faside, Miramichi, and other well-known regular traders were built
in their yard.
appears their shipbuilding department was given up, and the yard rented to
Mr. George Thomson, who built the largest vessel up to that date that had
been launched. She was of 700 tons register, and so great was the
rejoicing that schools were closed and a general holiday was observed pn
the day she took the water.
Mr. Thomson was likewise the owner and resident of a
marine villa, known as Thomson's ark. It appears that a piece of old Royal
Navy junk in the shape of H.M. ship Dcvdalus was sold to a private firm,
and found her way to St. John for a cargo, got into business difficulties,
got wandering round the harbour for some time, and was finally sold to Mr.
Thomson. She was a thorough oak-built vessel. Mr. Thomson conceived the
more novel plan of converting the same into a residence. She was hauled up
alongside the wharf and a house built there. Her lower deck served as a
cellar, etc. She remained stationary at all times of tide. Mr. Thomson's
ship was afterwards rented to Nevins & Co., and some of the finest vessels
ever launched in St. John can claim that spot as their birthplace.
I think the craft alluded to was one I heard
Mr. Rankin speak of—The Marchioness o/ Queensberry, built in 1838,
and described in Lloyd's Register as 668 tons, and that her builder said
of his handiwork: 'I'm thinking they'll never get ahead of, or improve on
that,' or words to that effect.
also of an amusing incident at the launch. The conditions of wind, weather
or tide being unpropitious, Mr. Rankin and Mr. Thomson were anxiously
consulting as to whether it would be wise to let her go, when a very
ragged Irishman interposed with: 'Ach let her rip; I'll risk her.'
Born at Mains House, Mearns, Renfrewshire, 31 May,
Married 17 March, 1829
Died 3 June, 1870
With Mr. Allan Gilmour, and several others who were afterwards associated
with the firm, Robert Rankin attended the Mearns School under Mr. Jackson,
of whom a short account has been given. He joined the staff at Grangemouth
on his fourteenth birthday; thence he was drafted into the Glasgow office,
15 December, 1816, and he must have there shown decided efficiency. I
remember him telling me how he came to be appointed cashier,
a duty previously religiously performed by Mr. Arthur Pollok himself.
Owing to his many interviews and general work, Mr. Pollok would, not
infrequently, find at the end of the day that he could not get hi balance.
His desk must have been within view of Mr. Rankin's, and he would call out
to him that he was short so much, give him the book, and ask him if he
remembered anything that would guide him. Generally Mr. Rankin could.
Ultimately, one day, Mr. Pollok said, 'I am thinking, lad, you are more
fitted for this job than I am; take it over.'
I have before me Mr. Rankin's
personal expenditure book, i August, 1815, to 31 December, 1822. Neither
book nor expenditure is heavy. It contains the following laconic
Robert Rankin, born 31 May, 18oi.
Went to John Wilson, Glasgow, 4
April, 1814; left him 18 May, 1815.
Went to Mr. A. Pollok, Grangemouth,
31 May, 1815 ; left there for Glasgow 15 December, 1816.
for Miramichi io April, 1818; arrived there 12 May, 1818.
Miramichi for St. John 15 May, 1822; and got there 20 May, 1822.
In the previous year he had made
a prospecting trip, but, for reasons stated hereafter, he did not really
start the business at St. John till the summer of 1822.
The book shows evidence of a Spartan self-
discipline. The item of 'a poor woman' often occurs, and his church
donations, if not of large amount, are of weekly regularity. A present
from Mr. Arthur Pollok of £1 1s occurs more than
once. Restricted in means as he must have been, he was able to afford a
periodical present of snuff to one, old James Bogle.
From the time he went to Glasgow it would seem clear
that his destination was to be Miramichi, for he soon secures the services
of one, Charles Du Bois, at the remuneration of £1 11s
6d per quarter, to teach him French. In a few months' time he
treats himself to a copy of The Adventures of
Telemachus, my own friend of later days. I never was aware that he knew a
particle of French—he was always so reserved about himself.
In November, 1817; an entry appears 'Received my
share of my father's effects, after providing for my mother, £45.'
One gleans that for his three years' services he was
credited by Pollok, Gilmour & Co., with £30,
£35 and £40; and that they appreciated these services is evidenced by
their presenting him on his leaving with £40.
The independent, thrifty Scotch blood was there; he
cut his coat according to his cloth; it may be assumed not easier to do
then than now. To Miramichi he went not only without liabilities,
but with a credit of £32 8s 9d in Pollok, Gilmour and Co.'s books. At
Miramichi he must have let himself go more freely, though still in
moderation—doubtless he had no small position to maintain there. Clothes
are expensive, and silk handkerchiefs are de rigueur; balls and concerts
were patronised, but these must have been of a primitive order. The church
is not forgotten, but compared with other claims benefits liberally.
Two items puzzle me, one which
recurs to debit, for road money, and another (to credit) yearly for
Treasury Warrant. Can there have been a capitation assessment for the
construction of roads, and did the Treasury make a grant to the early
Miramichi he received a yearly salary of £100 sterling, plus board, and on
his leaving there an amount of £398 6s sterling was transferred as on 25
February, 1823, to his credit in the books of Robert Rankin & Co., St.
John. Clearly he could not be accused of extravagant living. Not the least
doubt the same austerity in early life, and the same subsequent
recognition of what was required of them, characterised the Gilmours, the
Ritchies, and others. Mr. Rankin's account book happens to survive, but
theirs would be much like it if they could be produced.
On 10 April, 1818, he had sailed
for Miramichi, and in the spring of 1821 the project arose of his founding
a firm at St. John. I remember him telling that to get there he had to
travel, first by land from Miramichi to Fredericton, a distance in direct
line of about 6o miles, and thence by river or road to St. John. But there
was no recognised road between Miramithi and Fredericton, so he had to
travel up the Mirarnichi River and down the Nashwaak River—probably thrice
the distance. Unfortunately it fell for him that the conditions were such
that it was quite impossible to travel either on wheels or by sleigh ; the
snow was melting by day, and during the night a frozen crust formed on the
surface, quite penetrable up to one's thigh; this made it impossible for
beast, and very irksome and painful for man to travel. But the object had
to be achieved, and, accompanied by an Indian, he set out on foot for
Fredericton. Between them they carried, mostly in bullion, and partly in
silver Mexican dollars, the capital with which he intended to start his
business. It must have been a difficult undertaking so to cover those
miles, but it was done. Arriving eventually at St. John, he found
conditions there, in his opinion, not such as to justify his starting in
business; so, after looking around and obtaining information which might
be useful for him on another occasion, he returned to Miramichi. In the
following year he travelled the same route again —this time on horseback,
as Mr. Kirk wrote me; there was still no road. Circumstances were now much
more favourable; and thus in the summer of 1822 he opened at St. John, a
business which, for many years, was both large and profitable. On 17
March, 1829, he married Ann, eldest daughter of John Strang, of St.
Andrews, New Brunswick, an uncle of William Strang mentioned later.
Mr. Rankin's life at St. John was
an arduous one, and under him business developed quickly. What he
undertook and carried through, especially during the summer season, seems
beyond belief. When I visited New Brunswick in 1869, an old man who had
been the stevedore for loading the ships, told me that on many occasions
when he went to the office at daylight for his day's orders, he would
find, not Mr. Rankin fresh after an ordinary night's rest, but Mr. Rankin
who had been at work till the small hours of the morning, yet fit and
ready for another day's work, having snatched an hour or two of sleep in
the office itself. This sort of thing went on until, in 1838, he was
recalled to Scotland by the dissensions between Mr. Gilmour senior and the
Polloks. He was accompanied by his wife and family.
Amid so much strife and worry,
what must not a tombstone in the Mearns Kirkyard tell of sorrow. It is of
the loss from scarlet fever, while he was staying at his partner's (Mr.
Gilmour's) house, shortly after his arrival, of two of his three children.
The record is of Helen Rankin, 13 December, 1838, aged six years and four
months; Agnes Rankin,, 23 December, 1838, aged four months.
Earlier in the same year he had
lost another child at St. John.
I have it on the authority of my brother, that Mr.
Rankin had for some time previously looked forward to ultimately retiring
direct from the St. John house, returning to Scotland, and acquiring a
property. The upheaval in the home business, and his loyalty to the
concern forbade this. In the result, further extensions being thought
advisable, it was decided that he should open a house in Liverpool. After
making a brief return visit to St. John, he carried out this design by
opening the firm of Rankin, Gilmour and Co., Liverpool, late in 1838, or
early in 1839. He took up his residence at 64 Upper Parliament Street,
then one of the most desirable neighbourhoods in Liverpool. In 1851 he
removed to Bromborough Hall, Cheshire. About 1857, with his wife, son, and
daughter, he made a tour in Canada, New Brunswick and the United States.
At the scenes of his former labours he was received with open arms—indeed,
at many places he had an almost Royal reception.
Mr. Rankin was a man entirely
free from ostentation, unobtrusive, a very silent man, but one to arrest
attention, not from what he might say, but from his ordinary bearing. His
benefactions, public and private, were as liberal as they were
unostentatious. His letters were clear in construction, tersely expressed,
and logical; in comparison with the hasty productions of the present day,
they were a pleasure to read. Indited for the guidance of the partners
abroad, they were, to my own knowledge, written with a fluent pen; but
everything was clear, nothing involved, and there could be no difficulty
in determining his meaning. He had a perfect mastery of figures and of
bookkeeping—to him a well-kept system of books was a delight. A strong
financier, this department of the home affairs soon devolved on him, and
it was no light or easy matter. He had a love of order, was quick in
decision, and maintained, as all the merchants in that day had to do, a
close eye upon the leading markets and articles of produce. Once having
ascertained that any article was at a price such as had not been known
within any reasonable period, he had no fear in purchasing and storing to
await a rise. A good buyer, he was also what few men are, a wise and
competent seller, and would not regret if the buyer had a profit; while,
if the transaction turned out differently from what he had anticipated, he
knew how to act promptly and minimise his loss. Of some of his successors—
excellent buyers—it was justly said: 'Leave to them the buying, but to the
office-boy the directions about selling.'
An instance of his kindly
disposition and unflinching sense of duty was furnished me by Mr. Jardine
when speaking of his early reminiscences. He was apprentice and salesman
to Dempsey, Frost and Co., to whose business he eventually succeeded. Mr.
Dempsey was an eccentric character, also a speculator, and the usual
position was that while a goodly sum might stand to his credit in the
partnership account, a larger was at his debit on his private account.
Such was the position when he died, holding considerable undeveloped
property, terribly encumbered. His sons-in-law, John Torr and Thomas H.
Holderness, merchants in Liverpool, and Mr. Rankin were his executors. His
affairs were in such a tangle, and his financial position so involved,
that the former two, after due consideration, could see no other course
than to resort to the Court of Chancery. That would have left the widow
penniless. They withdrew, and Mr. Rankin, single- handed, carried on the
executorship, succeeded in compromising claims, advanced money to develop
the property, and after infinite worry, when he handed over the Trust some
years before his death, Mrs. Dempsey was in receipt of an income of £800 a
For sport he had no great predilection, though, as I have said, if he had
followed his own liking he would, in 1838, have settled down to a country
life, for he had a love for farming and especially for live stock, a taste
which he was able to exercise to a greater or less degree from 1851
onwards, when he went to live at Bromborough. He liked his beasties, and
they loved him.
Mr. Rankin early made his mark in Liverpool, and was quickly singled out
for election to the old Dock Committee, subsequently constituted as the
Mersey Docks and Harbour Board. Of this latter he was elected Chairman
(January, 1862)—the highest honour Liverpool has to bestow.
An unusual incident in connection
therewith was the friendly rivalry between Mr. Rankin and Mr. Ralph
Brocklebank, each desirous to place the 'other in the Chair. Neither were
men disposed to alter their judgment once formed, but Mr. Brocklebank was
even less accustomed than most of his generation to have his will
thwarted, and Mr. Rankin eventually yielded and assumed the Chair.
About 1865 or so, I remember him
being invited to meet and advise, with a small committee of experts, in
regard to the financial affairs of the Great Western Railway, then in a
dubious, if not parlous, condition. His, I was informed, was the guiding
hand in their deliberations; the investigation was a continuous and
prolonged one, and on the scheme they eventually drew up, the company
floated into its present prosperous state.
Natural diffidence, I think,
prevented him really enjoying the position of Chairman of the Dock Board,
nor was he altogether in good health. He resigned that office in November,
1863, and was succeeded by Mr. Brocklebank.
As an instance of his public
spirit I have the following from Mr. John Temple, one of the actors in the
laying and recovering of the first Atlantic cable. There was considerable
difficulty in raising the funds to start the enterprise, then considered
very quixotic. Mr. Rankin early advanced £1,000 thereto. After the first
failure there was immensely more difficulty in gathering together the
funds for raising the lost cable and for making a second attempt. Only few
words were required, and he advanced a further £1,000. His love for
progress doubtless dictated the action that so many as well placed
refrained from, for to my knowledge he eschewed the use of the cable or
the telegraph wire as much as he could.
The life-long strain of heavy
physical and not less heavy brain work, combined, if I may say so, with
the all too regular life he had led, forbade that elasticity and power to
rebound that Nature required. With Mrs. Rankin, he made a long trip to the
Mediterranean, but came back none the better, rather worse. About this
time, on 23 August, 1869, there happened the greatest trouble of his life,
the death of his daughter, Annie Maclver, who was drowned at Menai
Straits; a cruel blow in his enfeebled state of health. Mr. Rankin
received the news, stunned possibly, but with characteristic calmness—'
God's will be done' were the only words he uttered—but the sorrow of it
entered his soul. Her life of usefulness was all too short ; she was
probably somewhat in advance of what was at the period considered to be a
woman's sphere. She had high ideals, was practical, and to do good was her
aim. It was she—the first to move in such a direction— who induced the
Cunard Co. to provide facilities and accommodation for the Company's
clerks dining on the premises at, to themselves, very much reduced cost.
This was before the day of cafés, and also of tramway facilities for their
getting home to lunch. With her, too, was the inception of a house of
residence (the first in England) for shop girls whose homes were not in
Liverpool, and subsequently the name of Bromborough House was given to the
home in her memory. Not by any means of the advanced woman type of to-day,
there was much, I believe, of social improvement she would have
accomplished had her life been prolonged. Mr. Rankin never properly
recovered health or spirits, and died at Bromborough on 3 June, 1870.
I know of no more abstemious and
devoted life. His wife and life-long helpmate continued to reside at
Bromborough Hall till 1873. She then went to live at Manor Lodge,
Bournemouth, where she died 5 February, 1875.
Of his family of seven children,
four died young, Sir James Rankin alone survived to a ripe age.
SIR JAMES RANKIN, BART., J. P.,
(M.P. 1880-1906 and
Born 25 December,
Married 12 January, 1865
Died 17 April, 1915
Rankin, the only son who survived to maturity of the family of Robert
Rankin, was educated at first privately, subsequently at the Royal
Institution School, Liverpool, and at Trinity College, Cambridge (1st
Class Natural Science Tripos, 1865). He married in the same year Annie
Laura, daughter of Christopher Bushell, J.P., of Hinderton, Cheshire.
During that winter he attended pretty regularly at Rankin, Gilmour & Co.'s
office, but not with any idea of coming there permanently. He devoted
himself mostly to acquiring a knowledge of bookkeeping. Mr. Rankin, about
this time, 1865, purchased the estate of Bryngwyn, in Herefordshire, and
conveyed it by deed of gift to his son, who, a year or two later,
purchased the Lyston estate adjoining, making in all a property of 3,300
acres, and thither went to reside in 1866. He built a new residence,
1868-70, a fine country seat, and immediately found in the district plenty
of scope for all his energies. He joined the Hereford
Rifle Volunteers, of which he became major, bestowed much time and
attention on all matters agricultural, was no mean breeder of high-class
stock, gave much attention to the better organisation of the friendly
societies, and worked hard for the good of all classes in the community.
He was largely instrumental in
the founding and building of an Agricultural College outside Hereford,
which, however, failed to be properly utilised, and is now turned into a
most successful training college for women teachers. He built and
presented to the city an excellent free library. In this, as in all
matters educational, he was a pioneer. In 188o he was elected member for
Leominster Borough, after a stout contest, and sat therefor till, under
the Redistribution Bill, it was disfranchised. Thereafter he sat,
1886-1906, 19101913, for the Leominster Division of Herefordshire. To
devote so many years of one's life to Parliamentary work—work in the real
sense—the while giving a broad-minded and active interest to matters
philanthropic, imperial as well as local, means a big strain, however
strong the will and the constitution. He did not relax in his work on the
Herefordshire County Council, of which he was an Alderman; upon him as
Chairman of its Education Committee fell much arduous effort, both before
and after the passing of the Act of 1902. The most of the organisation and
reorganisation fell upon his shoulders. While Parliament was sitting, most
Friday evenings he returned to Bryngwyn for his committees, etc., at
Hereford on Saturdays and Mondays, returning to the House on Monday
appointed to the position of Chief Steward of the City of Hereford in
1878, the duties of the position being honorary. True, he resigned the
Mastership of the Fox Hounds, which he had held from 1877 to 1884, but
meantime he had become Chairman of the Central Emigration Society, and
also of the National Provident League in London. He introduced a Bill for
Old Age Pensions, which Mr. Chamberlain backed, but he did not succeed in
obtaining a place for its second reading. He devoted himself strenuously
to party political organisation; he was Chairman of the National Union in
1894, and treasurer of that Union till 1906, when he lost his seat in
North Herefordshire. He was Chairman for many years of the Midland
Division of the National Union, covering ten counties, and also for
twenty-five years was Chairman or President over the county party
certainly worked hard for the good of the community; his labours, like
those of John Gilmour, were fitly recognised by a baronetcy. In
Parliament, instead of posing before the reporters, he devoted himself
largely to Committee work, of which he was allotted probably more than his
full share; and of several Committees he was Chairman, e.g., the
Committees on the widening of the Strand, the London Water Companies, and
an important Select Committee on the production and sale of gas by the
London Gas Companies.
In appreciation of his services the county— all
conditions and colours of politics—subscribed for, and in 1907 presented
to him his portrait by H. G. Herkomer, a replica of which was given to the
contributed several papers upon social as well as scientific subjects ;
among the former, 'State Emigration,' 'Housing of the Poor,' and 'Old Age
I cannot say he worked himself to death, his almost too constant devotion
to the duties devolved on him involved such strain that he fell into bad
health, and died in 1915.
To such men the country owes more than it acknowledges;
the worst of it is that to the willing horse is always left the heft of
son, Reginald, succeeded to the baronetcy and lives on the property.
JOHN POLLOK JUNR.
Married Margaret Strang
Married Miss Thomson,
St. John, about 1854
Died 27 December, 1909
It is convenient to place these two men together.
They were successors to Mr. Robert Rankin when he left St. John. John
Pollok had been some years in St. John before George Young came out, and
it was to him that the partnership and control were given at the time
above referred to, 1838-9. He had for some time previously proved an
assiduous assistant to Mr. Rankin.
Young was a son of Mr. George Young, of Messrs. G. & A. Young, solicitors,
Glasgow, who conducted our Glasgow firm's legal business from start to
finish. His father lived at 22 Canton Place, next door to the Polloks and
Allan Gilmour senior. He entered the Glasgow office in 1834, attending the
University classes at the same time. In 1839 he went out to St. John. From
what is before me, Mr. Young was somewhat disappointed that two years
later he, being then twenty-one, was not, as he had anticipated, admitted
into partnership—a somewhat ambitious aspiration.
In 1841, when in ordinary course he expected he
would have become a partner, losses had accumulated. Evidently the dry-rot
had soon set in. It was not considered fair that he should be burdened
with such losses, so it was arranged to defer his admission as partner. He
became a partner in 1845.
In 1841 and
subsequent years, the nerves and sinews of all the houses were strained to
meet the inexorable demands of A. G. senior upon them. As Mr. Young was
not without capital, I think it most probable that the recognition of the
liability that would be assumed, and a sense of what was due to a young
man entering life in the circumstances then existent, deterred Mr.
Alexander Rankin from assuming him earlier into the partnership.
I first met Mr. Young about 1856, when he was
staying at the old Waterloo Hotel, Liverpool, which stood where the
Central Station now is. I imagine he returned to St. John, but in 186o—
certainly 186i—he had established himself here. I remember him as a
delightfully pleasant man, with the hopefulness of a Micawber, and the
cheerfulness of a Mark Tapley; but his affairs did not prosper. He
ultimately went to London to live, and on 27 December, 1909, aged 89, died
at 21, Beechcroft Mansions, Streatham.
Pollok was proud, self-reliant and a general favourite. Not less a
favourite was George Young; both were social successes, but in the
business dismal failures. This undoubtedly suffered from want of
attention. John Pollok either built or acquired a somewhat pretentious
house on Prince William Street, ever called the Pollok house. I do not
know but that he made it firm's property, for it was there that Francis
Ferguson afterwards went to live. The guiding hand of Mr. Robert Rankin
had been removed, and neither John Pollok nor George Young could "carry
corn," neither did they work in accord. Mr. Pollok's habits became
irregular. No such allegation can be made about George Young; but he was
easy-going, good-natured and lacking in force. It sufficed Mr. Pollok to
come to the office late and go early. Mr. Young rarely appeared till 6
p.m. and left soon after, in each case one cancelling largely what the
other had done. What could such management avail? Useless were the
frequent visits of the all too kindly-hearted Alexander Rankin from
Miramichi, to try and mend matters—an Allan Gilmour senior to fire the
actors out would have been a benefit probably to the men themselves, no
less than to the concern. John Pollok died at St. John in 1852, and in the
same year his wife, who had come home the previous year, died at
Bromborough Hall, a grief-stricken, heart-broken woman.
To fill his place Francis
Ferguson had been withdrawn from Bathurst, but I doubt if this effected
any improvement. John Pollok and George Young had at least lived in peace
and harmony; now it was a cat-and-dog life between George Young and
Probably less successful than any of his compeers and
juniors, he survived every one of them —say those who were either partners
or employees in responsible positions in any of the concerns at the time
he was so connected with our firm, including those who were at that time
serving their novitiate. Some of these eventually became partners, e.g.,
George W. Hoghton, William Strang, Robert Rankin junior, George Sheriff,
James A. Bryson. Such was equally the case with the partners resident
abroad. Mr. Hill, who practically remained in active service to the last,
and so claimed to be the remnant of the 'Old Guard,' pre-deceased him by
a somewhat dismal chapter, as stated under R. R. & Co., George Young
retired, or was retired, in 1856.