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A History of our Firm
Chapter I - Pollok, Gilmour & Co., Glasgow, John and Arthur Pollok, Allan Gilmour senior, George Sheriff

Opened 1804
Closed 31 December, 1873

John and Arthur Pollok, brothers, and Allan Gilmour (to avoid confusion hereafter referred to as Allan Gilmour senior) passed their boyhood's days together at the Mearns school, in the eighties and early nineties of the eighteenth century. To judge by his correspondence, Allan Gilmour senior may not have been as proficient, or at any rate not as diligent, a pupil as the Polloks. For some time thereafter they seem to have gone on different ways. Allan Gilmour senior carried on a small timber business in the Mearns, but when we next meet him in 1804, he has blossomed into a timber merchant, trading in Glasgow, and there is some ground for supposing that before this date he had made a trip to Norway, and had conceived the idea of importing timber thence.

Meanwhile the Polloks seem to have been bound apprentices to their uncle in Glasgow, who, on the expiry of their indentures, sold the business to them. It would appear that already before this date the Polloks, or Arthur Pollok alone, had done some timber business at Grangemouth. Certainly, after the firm of P., G. & Co. was founded at Glasgow, a business was for many years continued at Grangemouth under the style of Arthur Pollok & Co. Perhaps it was through their mutual interest in the timber trade that the Polloks were led to renew their old connection with their schoolfellow, Allan Gilmour senior.

In 1804, Allan Gilmour being then twenty- nine, John Pollok twenty-six, and Arthur Pollok twenty-four, the three young men from the Mearns joined in co-partnership as Pollok, Gilmour & Co. Their office was at 119 Stockwell (now Stockwell Street), Glasgow, and here it remained until in 1824 they removed to 6 (afterwards renumbered 19) Union Street. This property, consisting of the street flat and sunk storey with cellars, was purchased by the Company, and held until its re-sale, after the dissolution of the firm in 1874. It is now occupied by a branch of the British Linen Company's Bank.

Some years ago Mr. William Ritchie—the heir of Mr. William Ritchie herein named—lent me, for transcription, a copy of the first articles of partnership of Pollok, Gilmour & Co. The articles. read :-

John and Arthur Pollok, Grocers in Glasgow, and Allan Gilmour, Timber Merchant there, having agreed to Trade in Company, at Glasgow under the Firm of Pollok, Gilmour & Co., and at Grangemouth under the Firm of Arthur Pollok & Co., here bind themselves to observe the following resolutions, viz.

1st. That their Joint Stock shall amount to Three Thousand Pounds, One Thousand of which to be advanced by J. Pollok, One Thousand by A. Pollok, and One Thousand by A. Gilmour, and on no account shall any of them draw out any part of their stock, but if it is thought advantageous, they shall have it in their power to advance their Stock equally to whatever sum they may find convenient.

2nd. That a proper Sett of Books shall be kept (of which this is Day Book A/c) in which shall be narrated every Transaction of the Concern, and the Said Books shall be regularly Balanced on the 31st day of December annually.

3rd. That they shall all pay their whole attention to this business, and none of them shall be concerned in any other, either directly or indirectly, without the consent of the other Partners, and they shall receive equal Shares of the Profit, or sustain equal proportion of the Loss that may arise from their dealings, but none of them shall draw out any of the profit that may appear at Balancing untill the next Balance following, and if at that Balance there is again a profit (and not otherwise) the former profit may then be taken out. It being understood that Subsisting money shall be allowed, but that this shall not exceed the Sum of One hundred pounds to each Partner per Annum.

4th. That this Contract shall continue for Six Years from this date, but any of the Partners shall have it in his power to withdraw from the same at the end of Three Years from this date, upon his having given intimation in writing to the other Partners Twelve Months before, in the event of which two-thirds of his Share of Stock and profit shall be paid him in 3 equal moities at Three, Six, and Nine Months after said Balance, and whatever part may be collected of his remaining one-third at the following Balance shall then be paid him, and so on, at every succeeding Balance.

5th. That in the event of the Death of any of the Partners before the expiry of this agreement, the Stock and Share of profits of said Partner, as appeared at the preceding Balance, with Interest thereon from the date of said Balance, shall be paid at the following Balance, the two-thirds in Three, Six, and Nine Months, and the remaining one-third as above stated in case any of the partners shall withdraw from the Concern.

6th. That if any difference shall arise during the Term of this Copartnery between any or all of the Partners, the same shall be adjusted according to the opinion of Men uninterested and experienced in business, mutually chosen.

We hereby promise in the transacting of this business most pointedly to adhere to the above Six Resolutions, and upon the request of any one of us, these with whatever others that may be thought proper by us all, shall immediately be extended on a proper Stamp in a Legal Manner, and untill then we consider ourselves as completely bound to observe the above as though it was extended in a Legal Manner on proper Stamped paper. Signed this first day of January, One thousand eight hundred and Six Year.


It will be noticed that the date of these articles is 1 January, 1806. In this narrative I have given the date of the foundation of the firm as 1804, on information received from numerous sources. This date is supported by the evidence of John Pollok in Gilmour v. Gilmour (1852), in which he says, 'The company (P., G. & Co.) was formed about the year 1804.' Note the Scottish caution of 'about,' a self-guarding caution apparent in other parts of his evidence ; the possibility of his being challenged as to the date 18o6 in the articles of co-partnership may have presented itself to his mind. But two dates would be firm in John Pollok's memory as in any other business man's—the date of his first going into business, and the date of his first partnership. He had not to trouble himself about any marriage date, for he never married. I take the view that the three men were from 1804 to i8o6 working together and practically in partnership, yet not under any formal agreement. How else could these canny Scots have got the mutual confidence which led them to hotch-potch their savings under so informal an agreement? Though they had been at school together, they would scarcely have come at once into binding partnership without the mutual experience which two such years would give them. I prefer, therefore, to adhere to the date 1804 as the date of the foundation of the firm. In any case, there are only two years in doubt.

I have spoken of the agreement as informal. They seem not to have been afraid of being their own lawyers, and the agreement was evidently home-drawn (vide clause 4, '3 equal moities '), and merely an unwitnessed writing on the front page of their day-book. And there is no evidence of there being any subsequent agreement of a more formal kind. It was under the terms of this document that Allan Gilmour senior was paid out when the partnership was dissolved, as will be seen below, and under its terms that he quarrelled with his partners for going to live during the summer months some four miles distant from the office as being a breach of the agreement.

In the original firm, thus humbly started with a capital of £3,000, Allan Gilmour senior seems to have been the traveller, the investigator, and not a little of a pioneer. It was he who made journeys to North America (an enterprise not lightly undertaken in those days) and to Norway, to open out new lines of trade. One does not hear of the Polloks having been abroad at any time. John acted generally in the markets of England, Scotland, and Ireland, vending the Canadian, Norwegian, and Baltic produce imported by the firm, or (later) shipped by their branches under contracts with home consumers. Arthur Pollok was an office man, controlling the finances, and restraining, so far as he could, the somewhat ambitious enterprises of Mr. Gilmour.

As to the methods of the office, it may be noted that the partners—at any rate, Messrs. John and Arthur Pollok—sat in a box-like arrangement in the vestibule, something like a porter's lodge, in order that anyone going in might have an opportunity of putting his business before the partners —or, as is equally probable, in order that the partners might see all that was going on. It was and is an unusual course; but for long it was adopted by all the concerns, with this modification, that instead of the senior it was the junior partner who sat in the outer office, and was thus enabled to take part or not, as he pleased, in anything that was passing at the counter.

Of Allan Gilmour senior's very daring enterprises in America something will be said later. When at home he lived with the two Polloks at a house which still stands (or stood on the occasion of the writer's last visit to Glasgow), 24 Carlton Place, near Jamaica Street Bridge, which remained the property of the firm till sold in 1855. Across the road there was a smooth stretch of greensward down to the river carefully protected, or was so recently. In the river in front lay the firm's timber-rafts, sent up from Port Glasgow for the local supply at Glasgow—the Clyde was then a mere stream. The house has become a machine-shop, but it still bears traces of having been a stately, dignified terrace- house, and could have claimed relationship with the 'mansion' of to-day. In this house the partners lived a very retired, but a pleasant and kindly life. Though they spared little time from their business, they could relax and have their little functions. In an old letter before me from an Irish client of P., G. & Co. I read 'I often think of the quiet, pleasant little dinner parties at 24 Canton Place, of the three old gentlemen with their solicitor, Mr. Young,' who lived at No. 22, next door; and, doubtless, the port, if not the toddy, would pass merrily. But long hours of business, hard work, toddy, and even the smoke of Glasgow did not diminish the longevity of the partners, though Glasgow is not exactly the place to attract anyone in search of long life. The resident partners in P., G. & Co. must have been Fortune's favourites, or owed much to the healthy simplicity of the Mearns; for Allan Gilmour senior died in his seventy-fourth year, John Pollok in his eighty- second year, Arthur Pollok in his ninetieth year, Allan Gilmour junior in his eightieth year, and George Sheriff in his eightieth year; and I might fairly add that Daniel Carmichael, disappointed of his partnership, was prematurely cut off in his seventy-third year. This gives an average of as near eighty years as makes no matter.

It is evident that the three partners, during the years of their association, lived in a relation of singularly intimate and cordial friendship. Their sharing a single house would be enough to prove this, but there is further proof both of their friendship and of their kindly memory of the country parish whence they sprang. They seem to have arranged for and prepared their burial-places, corresponding in size and position on either side of the Mearns church burial-ground. They appear also to have erected their monuments beforehand, differing in form, ample in size, and of the period sufficiently stately. Allan Gilmour senior's heir, however, seemingly forgot to make any record of his birth, death or virtues, although three ample tablets were provided for the purpose; they stand to-day entirely free of the mason's art.

To return to the early progress of the firm, P., G. & Co. early obtained control over a large import business from the Baltic in such articles as tar, hemp, and flax, but their chief staple was wood— in the early days from the Baltic, and later from British North America. The development of the latter business was the chief work of Allan Gilmour senior. After he had made one or more voyages to Canada, and had seen the potentialities of the lumber trade there, the decision was made to open a house at Mirarnichi, and in the year 1812 James Gilmour (the brother of Allan Gilmour senior) and Alexander Rankin, both of whom had been educated at the Mearns school, and had some experience in the Glasgow office, were as cadets despatched there. When it was found that these gentlemen had satisfactorily acquitted themselves at Miramichi, and that there were prospects of still further developments, other young men, mostly relatives, mostly connected with the Mearns parish, and mostly after some probation in the Glasgow office, were sent to be under tutelage at Miramichi. Among these I would mention :-

John Rankin (Mearns), went out about 1814.
Robert Rankin (Mearns), went out 1818.
Allan Gilmour (Mearns), went out 1821.
William Ritchie (Mearns), went out 1822.
Arthur Ritchie (Mearns), went out 1825.
Robert Ritchie (Mearns), went out 1825.
Richard Hutchison (Mearns), went out about 1825.
Francis Ferguson (Dunlop), went out 1829.
John Ferguson (Dunlop), went out about 1832.

In due time these were again drafted out from Miramichi to form or take their parts in the various firms enumerated above (p. 4). In this way were founded the houses of Gilmour, Rankin & Co., Miramichi (1812); Robert Rankin & Co., St. John (1822) ; Allan Gilmour & Co., Quebec (1828); William Ritchie & Co., Montreal (subsequently Gilmour & Co.), (1828); Arthur Ritchie & Co., Restigouche, New Brunswick (1833); Ferguson, Rankin & Co., Bathurst, New Brunswick (about 1835). The capital for these concerns was largely provided by the parent firm, and so far as the personal element went the control fell principally to Allan Gilmour senior. It was he who mainly selected the young men, and he had indited a special 'Letter of Instructions' to them, of which he was very proud. He frequently crossed and recrossed the Atlantic, to inspect the branch houses, and before he returned always left precise instructions as to the work to be done by the foreign partners before the next season. Till 1839 all matters, including domestic, concerning the foreign houses and their stores, fell to be dealt with at Glasgow. Spring and autumn orders for these stores would be a heavy matter; except absolute provisions, everything had to come from this side to meet the wants of small communities on the other. When the foreign houses began shipbuilding (as will be recorded below), all but the wood itself for the various shipyards had to go from this side. The store requisition sheets would literally cover everything from a needle to an anchor.

The development of this very varied business, and the connection with the foreign houses, involved the gradual building up of a large fleet of ships. P., G. & Co. early entered upon shipowning - true, in a very modest way—in what year I cannot tell; but before Allan Gilmour senior retired from the firm its fleet, I have heard, had become the biggest in the United Kingdom, and that in the thirties and forties it numbered over 100 vessels. One informant states 130. No doubt the latter number would include vessels which had been sent home for sale, but which, from absence of market, would from time to time have to be sailed.

The first thirty years of the firm's existence thus saw a very rapid growth in wealth and importance. I like to think of these three stalwarts, born in comparative obscurity, making for themselves a position in the front rank of commercial life by the remarkable strength of their characters, and at the same time inspiring others with intense enthusiasm.

But with wealth came the breaking up of the old close friendship between the partners. The breach may have come about gradually, but it showed itself in a marked way in 1837. The Polloks had bought an estate named Broom, about four miles outside Glasgow, where they went to live during the summer months. To this Allan Gilmour senior demurred very strongly. He took his stand on Clause 3 of the articles of partnership, which required that the partners should 'pay their whole attention to the business,' and forcibly asked how it would be possible for them to do this at such a distance from Glasgow! He also asserted (and perhaps this was a principal cause of bitterness) that the Polloks had purchased the property of Lochlibo, in Mearns, over his head. His letters show that in this matter he was very irate, and from what one hears of his temperament, one can understand that his irritation was ever an increasing quantity. The following year (5 January, 1838) he retired from the firm.

The basis for paying him out was the balance sheets of the foreign concerns as on 30 June, 1836, and the balance sheet of P., G. & Co. as on 30 June, 1837. On this basis he received, in accordance with the articles of partnership, on 24 January, 1838, the sum of £150,000. This was a good return on the £1,000 he had invested thirty-two years before, and it must be remembered that he had been buying some properties meantime. His subsequent correspondence gives very clear and terse intimation that he did not feel he had got out of the concern all he ought to have.

Though feeling between the former partners must have been pretty strained, he had continued to live with the Polloks till shortly before his retirement from the firm. Then, for a short period, he took a house for himself in Glasgow, and finally, having purchased the property of Hazledean in the Mearns, he removed there. For some time previously he appears to have been nursing a scheme for the disruption of the firm, which, however, to his annoyance, survived his withdrawal. He either believed, or professed to believe, that the timber trade was going to ruin, and did his best to persuade the foreign partners, other than the Polloks, especially his nephew, Allan Gilmour, to come out 'while there was yet time.'

The retirement of Allan Gilmour senior involved the reconstruction of the firm, and Allan Gilmour, of the Quebec house, who now came to Glasgow, Alexander Rankin, of the Miramichi house, and Robert Rankin, founder of the Liverpool house of Rankin, Gilmour & Co., which had been established in 1838, were also admitted to partnership in P., G. & Co. as from 1 January, 1839.

The following succinct statement of the later history of the firm has been supplied by Messrs. A. & G. Young :-

Messrs. John Pollok and Arthur Pollok retired from business as at 31 March, 1853, and the notice of their retiral shows that besides the original Glasgow firm of Pollok, Gilmour & Co., there were then in existence the following firms, viz.

(1) Rankin, Gilmour & Co., at Liverpool.
(2) Allan Gilmour & Co., at Quebec.
(3) Gilmour & Co., at Montreal.
(4) Gilmour & Co., at Ottawa.
(5) Gilmour, Rankin & Co., at Miramichi.
(6) Robert Rankin & Co., at St. John.
(7) Ferguson, Rankin & Co., at Bathurst.
(8) Hoghton, Rankin & Co., at New Orleans.
(9) Pollok, Hoghton & Co., at Mobile.
Mr. John Pollok died at Broom House, Renfrewshire, on 14 February, 1858.
Mr. Arthur Pollok died at Lismany, County Galway, on 30 January, 180.

The partners of the firm, after the death of Mr. Alexander Rankin and the retirement of the Messrs. Pollok, would thus be Mr. Allan Gilmour, of Glasgow, and Mr. Robert Rankin senior, of Liverpool. A Contract of Copartnery executed in 1861 shows that in the interim between the retirement of the Messrs. Pollok and that date, Mr. George Hoghton, merchant, of Liverpool, and Mr. William Strang, merchant, in London, had been admitted as partners of the firm. The terms of the contract are a little vague as to whether Messrs. Hoghton and Strang were partners of the Glasgow house before the contract in question, but the inference is that they were. They certainly, if not previously admitted, did become partners by the contract of 1861, and at the same time there were admitted Mr. Robert Rankin junior, merchant, in Liverpool, and Mr. George Sheriff, merchant, in Glasgow. The contract deals inter alia with the Glasgow, Liverpool and London houses, and it is provided that Mr. Gilmour, of Glasgow, and Mr. Sheriff only should be entitled to use and subscribe the name of the Glasgow firm of Pollok, Gilmour & Co., that Messrs. Rankin senior, Hoghton, and R. Rankin junior, only should be entitled to use and subscribe the name of the Liverpool firm of Rankin, Gilmour & Co., and that Mr. String alone should be entitled to use and subscribe the name of the London firm of Gilmour, Rankin, Strang & Co.

On the retirement of Mr. George William Hoghton, and the death of Mr. Rankin senior, the partners left were Mr. Gilmour, of Glasgow, Mr. Strang, Mr. Robert Rankin (formerly known as junior), and Mr. Sheriff.

Mr. Gilmour, of Glasgow, retired from the concern on 31 December, 1870, and he survived until 18 November, 1884.

Mr. Gilmour, of Glasgow, was thus a partner of the firm of Pollok, Gilmour & Co. from 1 January, 1839, to 31 December, 1870, but his connection with the concerns dates from 1821, when he went to St. John, New Brunswick. He was transferred to Quebec in March, 1828, and returned to Glasgow in 1838-39 at the time of his admission as a partner of the Glasgow house.

At the time of the retirement of Mr. Gilmour, of Glasgow, viz., 31 December, 1870, Mr. John Rankin, Liverpool, was admitted a partner of the Glasgow house as well as of the Liverpool and London firms.

Mr. George Sheriff retired on 31 December, 1873, and the concern of Pollok, Gilmour & Co. was then wound up, and the firm ceased to exist, having, as has been seen, carried on business continuously from 1804.

From the time of the retirement of Allan Gilmour senior, the control exercised by the parent firm over its offshoots became less close, and the work of dealing with the foreign houses came to be divided between P., G. & Co. and the Liverpool firm of R., G. & Co. When Mr. Allan Gilmour came to Glasgow, and Mr. Robert Rankin to Liverpool, the work of supplying the foreign houses was divided, to meet the special facilities of the respective places. The business of bankers for the general traders, who had outgrown the stage of being supplied from the firm's stores abroad on wholesale terms, and the supplying of a number of shipbuilding clients, nearly all came to Liverpool. The ship management and ships' accounts, so long as the wooden ships lasted, fell to Glasgow—Mr. Allan Gilmour having special capabilities therefor. He and Mr. Robert Rankin were altogether opposed to abandoning wood for iron ships, and it was only after much persuasion that they were induced to consent to the building of the iron ship St. Mungo. With the management, however, they would not identify themselves, and this went to Mr. Strang, London, so long as they remained in business; thereafter it came to Liverpool.

Owing to realizations, the wooden fleet once the biggest in the United Kingdom—had been reduced to eight or ten at the time that Pollok Gilmour & Co. ceased to exist, and these were taken over by R., G. & Co. and G., R., S. & Co., and managed from Liverpool.

Indeed, after Mr. Gilmour's retirement, the Glasgow house ceased to have any effective existence. Whether Mr. Sheriff had capabilities I doubt—at any rate he initiated nothing. Mr. Strang and Mr. Robert Rankin junior were very unwilling to continue him as partner, but Mr. Gilmour's influence and firmness prevailed.

At the expiration of the partnership in 1873 Mr. Sheriff elected to retire from business, and the house, after years of honourable and successful l dealing, ceased to exist. Mr. Sheriff's eldest son John, and James Hunter, son of the Mearns schoolmaster, who had both been in the Glasgow office for some years, then joined in partnership as Hunter, Sheriff & Co. to conduct the old timber business. James Hunter had up till then been right-hand man in the office. They conducted a fairly successful business for several years, but misfortunes overtook them, not altogether through their own fault. James Hunter died shortly afterwards. Mr. John Sheriff died io September, 1908, suddenly, whilst on a visit to Arran.

The following is an extract from an article in the Scottish Field of 10 November, 1910:-

'The firm of Pollok, Gilmour & Co. took part in the rise and development of the Canadian lumber trade, and also saw the culmination and decline of the wooden shipbuilding industry. The extent of the firm's operations is indicated by the inscription on the frame of an oil painting at Woodbank of the good ship Marchioness of Queensberry: "The property of Pollok, Gilmour & Co., Glasgow. Built at St. John, New Brunswick, 1824, by themselves. The largest ship in the lumber trade, and of the 78 vessels composing the fleet of Pollok, Gilmour & Co. the only one that made three voyages in one season." The firm at first traded only with Norway and Sweden, but soon diverted their business to America, where extensive forests were acquired, and sawmills erected on a scale previously unknown. Their tonnage of shipping exceeded that of any contemporary firm in England or Scotland. Upwards of 6,000,000 cubic feet of timber were annually shipped, to prepare which required over 15,000 men and 600 horses and oxen. It is worthy of remark that the firm introduced the novelty into their fleet of sending most of their vessels to sea upon the total abstinence principle, a system which was found to work well for all concerned.'


John—Born 1778 Died 14 February, 1858, at Broom
Arthur—Born 25 December, 1780 Married 1818 Barbara Thomson Died 30 January 1870, at Lismany

John and Arthur Pollok were the sons of Thomas Pollok, of Faside, Mearns. The farm of Faside had been bought by Thomas' father, Allan Pollok, of Craigton, about 1707, and passed' first to Thomas, and then successively to John and Arthur. It was sold when all the Scottish properties of the family were disposed of, as will be seen hereafter. Meanwhile the original family place, Craigton, had gone to Allan Pollok's second son, from whom it has descended in the direct line to James Pollok, of Blackhouse. He recently rebuilt the Craigton house; but until then there could be seen over the door the initials, 'A. P.' (Allan Pollok) and 'M. W.' (his wife, Margaret Warnock), with the date 1666.

Thomas Pollok was a captain of volunteers during the French Revolutionary War, and John and Arthur Pollok, as young men, were also members of the corps, and used to walk the eight or nine miles from the Mearns to Paisley, and back, every day for their drill. Thus early they showed the keenness about anything that they undertook which marked them in later life. Some years after leaving school they went to Glasgow to work under their uncle. On this point Captain J. A. Pollok, of the 42nd Highlanders, writes me:-' Messrs. John and Arthur Pollok must have come to Glasgow before 1799. My great-grandfather was a "home-trader," which (as far as I can make out) meant that he conducted a grocer's business, in King Street, Glasgow. John and Arthur Pollok were apparently apprentices with him, and lived in his house. King Street was where the Municipal Offices now are. My grandfather sold the business to Arthur Pollok in 1804.'

For 'Arthur Pollok' in the last sentence we shouldprobably read, 'John and Arthur Pollok,' for John, as has been already stated, seems to have continued the grocery business in Glasgow under the style of John & Arthur Pollok, while Arthur developed a timber business at Grangemouth. This, at least, is the view suggested by the opening clause of the P., G. & Co. articles of partnership.

I have dealt elsewhere with their share in the foundation and organisation of Pollok, Gilmour and Co., and with the firm's business routine. Here I am concerned mainly with their personal history and characters. But I find the subject somewhat difficult to deal with. In the first place I do not find it easy to realise them as separate personalities, for they present themselves to my vision as forming jointly one side, while Allan Gilmour formed the other, of a house once in perfect harmony, but ultimately divided. And in the second place they have left behind them no such documented record as their partner. No doubt they had their lawsuits ; but they do not seem to have indulged in any case involving the unfolding of private affairs and the delineation of character, as their partner did. There is no Pollok lawsuit which compares with the case of Gilmour v. Gilmour for the light which it sheds on the customs and characters of those concerned in it.

John Poilok never married. Arthur Pollok married Miss Barbara Thomson, of Edinburgh, in 1818. She died in 1821 at the birth of her first child, a daughter, who ultimately married her cousin, Allan Pollok, son of Allan, a third brother of the above, who was laird of some properties in the Mearns. Of this daughter and her husband I shall have more to say.

During his brief wedded life Arthur Pollok lived at Grangemouth. But on the death of his wife he came to live at Glasgow with his brother and Allan Gilmour senior. The close companionship of the trio, thus begun, was only interrupted when the brothers went to live at Broom in 1837. But whether at Canton Place or at Broom, their life was alike simple and uneventful. Regularity and punctuality governed all their actions. In Glasgow, they regularly attended St. Enoch's Church, but I do not think they accepted any church office. So methodical were they that I have heard that as they daily went home from the office to 24 Canton Place to dine, at the old-fashioned hour of four o'clock, the gutter-snipes at the Broomielaw (place dear to all Glaswegians!) would range themselves and chant in bellman fashion, 'Four o'clock, four o'clock, the Polloks (pronounced Pokes) going to their denner! ' They visited little, and never travelled more than business necessitated. Their relaxations were few. John 'compounded' for another weakness' he was inclined to,' ' by damning' cards, which 'he had no mind to,' because they involved gambling. Arthur, on the other hand, was uncommonly fond of a game of whist, and neither John's deprecatory remarks, nor the possibility of losing a modest shilling or two on an evening's play, would daunt him. Broom had the reputation of being a hospitable house. In winter there were little whist parties, and toddy in moderation; for despite the period in which they lived they were both very abstemious men; and of a summer evening there not infrequently were strong contingents for bowls. The brothers bred a greyhound or two, and now and then coursed, but only at impromptu friendly meetings of the lairds and farmers of the neighbourhood. John, but not Arthur, also shot a little; and this ends the list of their relaxations.

They early began to invest their savings in land, partly owing to a land-hunger natural to men who came from a race of farmers, partly because they were keen politicians, and wished to control voting qualifications. Their first purchases were naturally in the Mearns. The purchase of Broom and of Lochlibo (their largest holding in Scotland) has already been recorded. Over both of these purchases they came into conflict with Allan Gilmour senior. They also acquired other smaller estates in the Mearns. In 1847 the estate of Ronachan in Argyllshire was bought, whether by the two brothers jointly, or by Arthur alone, I do not know; it is immaterial, for, as John died first, all his property came to Arthur. But the largest, and in the event the most unfortunate, of all these purchases was made shortly after the brothers retired from Pollok, Gilmour & Co., in 1853, out of the profits of their long partnership. This consisted of the Irish estates of Lismany, Glinsk and Creggs, in Galway, formerly the property of the Eyres of Eyrescourt. The purchase was a very large one, how large I have no accurate means of knowing, but first and last over £1,000,000 must have been spent upon it. It was made, I believe, to meet the vaulting ambition of the son-in-law, Allan Pollok, and it led his father-in-law into many difficulties. The land was good, though it included a good deal of bog, and the tenantry were in a wretched state.

Allan Pollok, on taking possession, at once determined to change entirely the previous methods of cultivation, and to manage the estate on the most advanced principles. In particular, he resolved to amend the existing condition of small and squalid holding by creating a series of large, indeed immense, farms. To this end he made a clean sweep of the existing tenants, in some instances burning their houses. Though he gave ample— and indeed generous—compensation, he inevitably drew upon himself the enmity of the country folk —and their shooting-irons; at that time landlord- shooting had not become the popular sport- it afterwards became. Little Allan Pollok cared; he had a nerve of iron. He went on farming large farms, improving the land, and building houses for the large farmers he intended to instal. He built handsome steadings, corn-mills, wood-mills, dairies, etc., on a princely scale. But on the capital required to enable a man to work one of these large farms he could afford to be a landowner on a fairly large scale himself, and so avoid subjection to a somewhat capricious and overbearing landlord such as Allan Pollok was. The farms, consequently, nearly all remained unlet most of the property under paid management yielded little return; Allan was no financier, and Arthur Pollok, now an old man, had to go over to the rescue. Once at Lismany, there was no escape; he remained until his death, surviving his daughter by four years.

Lismany was but a modest mansion, but provided offices and out-buildings that to-day might satisfy the requirements of a meet of the Automobile Club.

It was at Lismany that, with Mr. Thomas Pollok, of Liverpool, I saw Mr. Arthur Pollok for the first and only time, about the year 1860. I cannot believe that the shrewd and able old man had ever contemplated such a wild scheme as his headstrong and ambitious son-in-law had drawn him into. Doubtless need had followed need, and extension extension.

The old man was endeavouring to unravel the tangle that things had got into, and the last years of his life must have been the bitterest. It was too much for his failing vigour; valiantly till his death in January, 1870, he addressed himself to redeeming the position. He could only put the brake on. With the exception of the jointures (of £30,000 each) which he had previously set aside for each of his granddaughters, the immense joint fortunes of his brother and himself had practically been expended on the venture. At the date I have spoken of, 1860, Allan Pollok was already discussed by the country-side as 'a distressed man.'

A change in the plan of campaign, and a curtailment of expenditure was needed. The new policy was successful, and now a handsome income is obtained from the estates, though very inadequate to the original expenditure.

I had, in 1908, the following communication from an old gentleman of eighty-three—a relative and near neighbour in Ireland, and therefore well acquainted with the Polloks and the Irish properties:-

'I remember Mr. Arthur Pollok told me the first craft they bought was a 90-ton coaster, and he, at the same time, said that the largest vessel that could come up to the Broomielaw in those days was 150 tons.

'John and Arthur retired from business in the early fifties. They desired to invest the money they had made in landed property; and at the time property was supposed to be selling very cheap in the Encumbered Estate Court in Dublin. Misfortune led Allan and his wife to go to Ireland, and they bought a pretty large property in County Galway, formerly part of the estates of the Eyres of Eyrecourt Castle, who had once held very large properties in that and King's County. The Polloks got a Government title with their purchase, stating the names and number of the tenants and their interest in the holdings, nearly all being represented as yearly tenants subject to a six months' notice to quit. This was simply a misrepresentation of the facts; when Allan Pollok served them with notices to quit, the tenants fought him in the Courts, and put him to endless trouble and costs. The Authorities repeatedly warned him, whenever he and his wife were known to be coming to Ireland, that their lives were not safe. They saw there were only two courses—either to acknowledge that they had made a mistake in coming to Ireland and sell again, or to face the difficulties before them. Unfortunately, they adopted the latter course, and took the plan of buying all the stock, crop, etc., of the tenants at a great deal more than they were worth. In that way they managed, only in some degree, to satisfy the tenants, some of whom went to America, while others refused to quit their holdings, and others stayld and worked on the property, assisting in making the improvements. Allan Pollok's idea was to make the farming like that of the Lothians, so he built large steadings, and turned the country into large fields, levelling the great bulk of the fences. The times favoured him, as grain then brought good prices, and cattle and sheep became very dear. But though he was a very good farmer, and a great improver of land, he was not a good man of business. As it has turned out, a great deal of the money spent was wasted, for the great importation of live and dead meat has changed the style of farming very much, while, as for the grain crops, it does not pay to grow them except where the straw can be well sold near a city.

'Allan's wife died, a comparatively young woman, 3 May, 1866, and he died 22 March, 1881, aged sixty-five. His son lived an extravagant life, and died in 18gi. To pay off encumbrances, all the Scotch properties were sold, and some of the Irish also, to the Estate Commissioners, who, of course, re-let to the present tenants. I often wonder what Allan Pollok would think, bad as things were in his day, if he could come back and see the state the country has come to; his idea of large farms completely tabooed, and the grass land being bought by the Estate Commissioners and divided into ten to forty acre farms, and given to small tenants.

'I think the first outlay in Ireland by the Polloks was about 600,000, and their incomes followed into the land, so that they had both given all their money to Allan and his family before they died. What the present rental of the Irish property is I have no means of knowing, but quite apart from the extravagant and unremunerative improvements initiated, all Irish property is much depreciated.

'The two properties of Lismany and Glynsk with Creggs were nearly of the same acreage, and I was told on good authority each of them included over 20,000 acres, but there is a great deal of bog in both, especially on Glynsk and Creggs, on which there are a great many small tenants on very bad land. There were some small properties purchased adjoining them, but I don't think their names are of importance.

'Mr. Pollok built large flour and meal mills, which he carried on himself, and he put up threshing mills on many of the farms—ten or eleven in all I think—and large steadings attached, which I may say are now put to very little use. The present owner's name is Allan Bingham Pollok; he is the great-grandson of Arthur Pollok.

'The largest property in Scotland was Lochlibo; next to it came Ronachan. They also had Broom in the Mearns, with some adjoining and several outlying farms, for the old gentlemen were keen politicians, and bought them for the votes connected with them. But the property that I most regretted to see sold was the farm at Faside.'

Mr. James Pollok, of Blackhouse, writes me:

'I never knew two finer men than Mr. John and Mr. Arthur Pollok, so kind and natural in manner, and very superior to anything like purse-pride. Mr. John was very outspoken, would give you a growl when you deserved it; would stand up for his own way, and not be easily daunted, even on the prospect of a lawsuit. His sports were coursing and shooting. Mr. Arthur was quieter, and not so outspoken; more of a thoughtful reader. He was intimate with Mr. Murray, the publisher. I never knew him to lift a gun. His amusements were bowling, curling, and whist.'

Born 1775, Retired from P., G. & Co., 24 January, 1838 Died 4 March, 1849

Allan Gilmour was the son of Allan Gilmour, of South Walton, Mearns, who had married Elizabeth Pollok. His sister married David Ritchie; of their issue more anon.

From what one can learn—and in 1908 he was still just remembered by a few in the Mearns parish—he was not without kindliness of disposition; but he must have been odd-tempered, susceptible to flattery, irritable and litigious, yet far-seeing and of untiring energy. In his latter days he was undoubtedly vindictive, and with feeble health came at times feeble mind; but in the main he was able to exercise his strong will to the last. In his parish and on the mart he was spoken of as A. G. (pronounced 'Ah G.')—a distinction such as one might expect to attach to some potentate.

At his best he must have been a strong man; an active-minded, able-bodied, and enterprising man. As the history of the succeeding firms shows, he had a rare capacity for selecting his young men. They received their early training under his partners, John and Arthur Pollok, in the Glasgow office, and were later drafted abroad. The senior of all these was Alexander Rankin, who was early established at Miramichi, and to whom were sent out in rapid succession John and Robert Rankin, and Mr. Gilmour's nephews, Allan Gilmour and William, Arthur and Robert Ritchie. In sending the young men to Alexander Rankin, Mr. Gilmour showed sound perception, for, perhaps, no one could have better trained them in the business methods of the Company, wherein the keenest attention to detail was combined with an all-prevailing sense of business probity. Allusion has already been made to Mr. Gilmour's 'Letter of Instructions' to the young men, of which he was rather proud.

Mr. Gilmour himself often crossed and recrossed the Atlantic to inspect the houses already established, and to exploit new fields. From these journeys he would send home as opportunity offered in returning vessels a diary, which, if not a literary production, conveyed his business impressions of the moment. But, as he made his progress, his conclusions, runningly recorded, were, I have been told, apt to be altered and realtered, and they thus afforded little guidance to his partners. Still he thought highly of them, and, Gladstone-like, was able on most occasions to point to the day and date on which he had advised in a sense different from the manner in which the Polloks had acted. Unhappily, none of these diaries have been preserved.

Before Allan Gilmour left for home each partner abroad would have his work for the coming winter allotted to him; certain things were to be done, certain grounds were to be investigated, and reports must be sent home for his partners' information, or produced to Mr. Gilmour on his arrival out next spring. The foreign partners must have indeed lived strenuous lives; for nothing was too small to escape the lash of Mr. Gilmour's tongue, hardly anything too big for him to adventure. One year—it cannot have been long after the Quebec office had been established—he carried out a most successful operation, an absolute corner in lumber. Report has it that, excepting the small remnant stock from the previous season, he succeeded in securing in advance all the supply that was coming down the St. Lawrence for summer shipments. This he did by sending his agents up that river and the Ottawa to intercept and purchase rafts on the way down. His plans were carried out so quietly and successfully that. the other shippers in Quebec were completely taken by surprise, and to fulfil their contracts for shipments to the United Kingdom or elsewhere had to come to him, for he alone could supply. This kind of enterprise (and there was certainly at least one other similar transaction in Norwegian timber) gave the Polloks a most uneasy time in financing the unlooked-for transactions, which, however, ultimately swelled their coffers considerably.

The Report of the Select Parliamentary Committee on Timber Duties records that Mr. Gilmour senior in his examination on 21 July, 1835, stated :-

'That he had been eight seasons in America (or part of eight seasons); that previously he had had four seasons in Norway, Sweden, and Russia; that Pollok, Gilmour & Co.'s mode of business was, in Canada generally, to purchase from the lumberers (who made it) their produce as it arrived at Quebec, but that in New Brunswick they first had to pay a stumpage to the Crown Lands Office, then to furnish the lumberers, sent in August and September, with provisions and goods; that he estimated they amounted to 5,000 persons annually in the Company's employ, with the use of 1,500-2,000 horses and oxen, also belonging to the Company; that they were paid the current price at time of, and of the port of shipment that the Company had shipped over 300 cargoes in the year 1834 from British North America; that as regards shipbuilding he considered the cost of a New Brunswick-built vessel £8 ros per register ton, whilst the Quebec-built ship of white oak and rock elm would cost £12 to £14 per register ton, though inferior ships could be built at Quebec at about £9 per register ton. He speaks of Russian and Norwegian sailors getting 15s per month, whilst English owners paid 50s to 60s; that the Norwegian sailors were provisioned on black rye-bread and stock fish at a cost of 4d to 5d per day, but that the English ship cost a shilling per day. He had been well over the Swedish lands, but could not get above Memel, for, as he says, it was in Buonaparte's time, and he could not get from the French the pass to go further north which was accorded to him by the Swedish Authorities.

For many years he lived with the Messrs. Pollok in close fellowship at Canton Place. It would almost seem that it was merely the increase of his infirmities and temper that led to a rupture. Friction between them grew slowly, but steadily, until undoubtedly Mr. Gilmour had conceived an intense dislike to the Polloks, and, worse still, a desire to do them harm. He decided to retire, and to make his retirement shake the foundations of the concern. He laid before the foreign partners his views as to there being troubles ahead in the timber trade; it was going to ruin, he asserted; and while there was yet time he urged them to come out from the firm along with himself. His greatest desire was that his favourite nephew, Mr. Allan Gilmour (then of Quebec, but subsequently of Glasgow) should do so. The latter would not conform to such wish, which much irritated the old man still in many ways his fondness for this nephew continued to show itself. Throughout the correspondence that ensued, Mr. Allan Gilmour maintained his attitude, and while manifesting alike the respect and gratitude due to his uncle, conceded nothing that was derogatory to the position he occupied. Apparently the uncle acquiesced, if reluctantly. After a time he sought interviews with another nephew, Allan Gilmour of Ottawa (Shotts Allan). But he also declined; and I have heard that, forgetting hospitality's laws, old Mr. Gilmour absolutely turned his nephew out into the night, and this in the country.

About this time very many strange acts on the old gentleman's part would seem to indicate softening of the brain, yet it was hardly so, for as often as not his old will retained the mastery, and his actions were clear and determined. In 1849, however, he had something more than a threatening of paralysis, and the fear of death was before him. Further appeals to his favourite nephew were still unsuccessful. About this time he was frequently visited by his brother, James Gilmour, of Polnoon, formerly of Miramichi, and his sons, James and Allan. With this brother there had existed a coldness, James Gilmour having made a marriage at Miramichi of which Allan Gilmour senior disapproved. With him Allan Gilmour senior was more successful. I understand his offer to each of them was that he would see that they who followed his lead and withdrew would escape the doom he was preparing for the parent firm, in fact, be secure of their capital interest. Eventually the services of solicitors, other than those Mr. Allan Gilmour senior usually employed, were called in to make a fresh Will, under which James Gilmour of Polnoon, and his son Allan, were made heirs. To make the Will valid in event of his early demise (which did occur) it was necessary, according to Scotch law, that he should attend 'Kirk and Market' within a reasonable time of its execution. This was carefully attended to, and in no very fit state the old gentleman was got to attend in Glasgow on market day, and there before witnesses to purchase a cheese. Likewise he put in some appearances at church.

Many stories were current at Mearns as to what had been the state of Mr. Gilmour senior's mind and capacity before and at the time of this alteration of his Will. A suit to invalidate the new Will was very naturally entered by Mr. Allan Gilmour, of Quebec, in whose favour the original Will ran; but with a high sense of what was fitting, if not just, he, on the evidence adduced in Court by the other side, withdrew the action. Undoubtedly there was ample ground for its being undertaken. Old Mr. Gilmour did, however, leave the West Walton farm to his nephew. With what truth I know not, but I sometime heard that he only did so to comply with the then Scotch law requirement in view of previous Will. Be that as it may, Mr. Allan Gilmour refused to recognise the legacy, and never lifted the rent. The tenant, I understand, conscientiously paid the rent to a legal factor, and it was only when Sir John Gilmour inherited that the legacy became operative.

Besides the property of Hazeldean, where he lived and died, he owned Fingalton, Kirkhouse and several farms, and he had acquired the estate of Eaglesham at a cost of about £200,000 from the Eglinton family.

Mr. Gilmour senior was a keen sportsman and an excellent shot, and nothing gave him greater pleasure than to snatch some hours with his gun. The Twelfth at that period was a solemn function. Daylight would see him on the moor; there was no greater dallying than the muzzle-loaded gun called for, and only darkness drove him home.

Could he revisit the glimpses of the moon it would be interesting to hear his comments upon the Telegraph and the Telephone, the Submarine and the Suffragette, the Turbine and the Territorial, the Steel girder sky-scraper building wherein wood has little part, the Motor car and the Aeroplane, the Daylight Bill, the Woman Voter, and the fashionable hour for Dinner, Old age pensions and the Land question, the Ground Game Act and the Breech-loader, and much else.

Born 1807, Became partner 1861,  Died 1 September, 1887

I propose connecting the history of individual partners with the firm which they founded, or with which they immediately acted. Hence I write of Allan Gilmour, whose place otherwise should come here, under Allan Gilmour & Co. I proceed to Mr. Sheriff, the only resident partner of P., G. & Co. who was not primarily concerned with one or other of the branch houses.

Before entering the office of Pollok, Gilmour & Co. Mr. Sheriff was in the office of Messrs. J. & A. Scott & Co., timber merchants, Glasgow. In 1833 he had been successful in obtaining an appointment in the Excise Service, but immediately afterwards he was offered an engagement with Pollok, Gilmour & Co., which he preferred. He was fortunately able to transfer the Excise appointment to his brother. Mr. Sheriff married in 1837, and had, I think, a family of sixteen children. Some time before his admission as a partner in Pollok, Gilmour & Co. Mr. Sheriff was offered the position of manager, or secretary, to a new steamship company then being formed. He decided, however, to remain where he was, and Mr. Allan Gilmour, then in charge of the firm, and esteeming his services very greatly, was much gratified with his decision. When Mr. Sheriff became a partner in 1861 there was considerable friction with Mr. Carmichael, who was his senior in the service. Mr. Carmichael thought that he should have got a partnership also, but this Mr. Gilmour would not agree to. The difficulty was ultimately smoothed over by the increase of Mr. Carmichael's salary to £I,000 per annum. He did not, however, remain long in the service of the firm after Mr. Sheriff became a partner. Assiduous and unobtrusive, Mr. Sheriff does not appear to have made any special mark in the concern—indeed, such was Mr. Gilmour's individuality that it would have been difficult for even a stronger man to do so. In a subsidiary way he would have many strings to tend. Eminently respected, conscientious, and of placable temper, he went about his duties, not originating, but carrying out.

Mr. Strang, of the London house, and Robert Rankin ii, of the Liverpool house, had no desire to continue the connection after 31 December, 1870, when Mr. Gilmour retired; but Mr. Gilmour felt so strongly that his wishes prevailed, and the partnership continued for three years more. Then Mr. Sheriff retired, and the firm was closed. He continued to reside at Glasgow (13 Atholl Gardens) till his death, which took place at Crieff, 1 September, 1887.


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