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The Scottish Nation

DUNN, WILLIAM, of Duntocher, an enterprising mechanic and successful agriculturist, was born at Gartclash, in the parish of Kirkintilloch, county of Dumbarton, in October 1770, and was educated at the parish school, and partly at the neighbouring village of Campsie. Before attaining his eighteenth year, he was deprived of his father and mother, and left with four brothers, all much younger than himself, and a sister, dependent on him for advice and support. From early life, he evinced superior mechanical skill, inventive powers, and an acute mind, and was remarkable for his sagacity, industry, and perseverance. The first situation which he held was in the establishment of Mr. Waddington, a cotton-spinner, at Stockingfield, near Glasgow, with whom he learnt iron-turning and machine-making. There he remained for three or four years, and was afterwards in Messrs. Black and Hastieís works, at Bridge of Weir, from which he went to Pollokshaws, to the works of John Monteith, Esq. About the year 1800 he determined, with the proceeds of the sale of Gartclash, a small property of which his father was proprietor, and to which he had succeeded as eldest son, amounting to a few hundred pounds, to attempt business for himself, and commenced a manufacture of machine works in High John Street, Glasgow, which has long been on an extensive scale.

      About 1802 he acquired a small spinning-mill in Tobago Street, Calton of Glasgow, and six years afterwards he purchased the Duntocher mill, situated about seven miles from that city, which had been previously used for spinning wool and cotton yarn. A few years afterwards he purchased from the Faifley Spinning Company the Faifley mill, which stood about a mile distant from the other, and applied it to the same purpose. In 1813 he purchased the Dalnotter Iron works, which had been used for slitting and rolling iron, and manufacturing implements of husbandry; and after having greatly enlarged the two mills he already possessed, he was encouraged by the constantly increasing business that flowed in upon him, to build upon the site of these iron works, the Milton mill, the foundation of which was laid in 1821, and which was burnt down about 1846. Finally, the Hardgate mill was built in the same neighbourhood in 1831. All these works, lying contiguous to each other, were exclusively applied to the spinning and weaving of cotton. The change which they produced in the neighbourhood was immense. When Mr. Dunn completed his first purchase, in 1808, the village of Duntocher hardly deserved the name of a village; but under his auspices it soon became a thriving and populous locality. The men and women employed at the works, previous to that purchase, did not exceed a hundred and fifty, while their number at the date of Mr. Dunnís death was about two thousand.

      The profits which his constantly increasing business brought him, he expended on the purchase of land in the neighbourhood of his works; and at his death his estates formed one compact and unbroken property, extending upwards of two miles along the banks of the Clyde, and about three miles along the banks of the Canal. Upon this property, about twelve hundred acres of which was farmed by himself, he employed as quarriers, wrights, farm servants, and others, more than two hundred and fifty men. The total amount of wages which he annually paid in the parish was about thirty-five thousand pounds sterling. The wages of the engineers and others employed in his works in Glasgow were also of a high amount.

      Mr. Dunn died at Mountblow, on the 13th March, 1849, leaving, it is said, upwards of five hundred thousand pounds. By his last will, after several annuities, and a bequest of a thousand pounds to the Royal Infirmary, Glasgow, besides various sums to other charities, amounting in all to three thousand pounds, clear of legacy duty, he left his whole possessions to his sole surviving brother, unfettered by restriction of any kind, indicating, at the same time, that failing him, his property should descend not to one individual, but in certain proportions amongst those most nearly related to him.

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