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Sir David Richmond

14th July 1843 - 8th January 1908

Sir David Richmond’s grave, the Necropolis, Glasgow
(Image courtesy of Mary Rennie, a Richmond descendent)

Sir David Richmond,
Lord Provost of Glasgow,
by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925),
courtesy of
David Richmond was born on 14th July 1843 and baptised on the 24th in Kilmadock Parish, Perthshire. He was the ninth of the ten known children of James King Richmond and Mary Lauchlan, both originally from Ayrshire.

David Richmond was married to Bethia Shanks on 7th January 1870, at the bride’s home at 123, West Nile Street, Glasgow, after Banns according to the Forms of the Established Church. David was entered as an iron tube manufacturer and a bachelor, aged twenty-six. He was resident at 18, Great Hamilton Street, Glasgow. Bethia a spinster, was aged twenty-four. Her parents were entered as Robert Shanks, a portioner, and Agnes Shanks, MS Moffat.

As ‘Bailie Richmond’, he was one of the guests at the banquest given in honour of the tragedian Henry (later Sir Henry) Irving by the Pen & Pencil Club, at the Fine Art Institute in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, on the evening of Friday, 27th November 1891. The Glasgow Evening News of Saturday, 28th, records:

The Glasgow Pen and Pencil Club last night entertained Mr Henry Irving in the Fine-Art Institute, the chief salon of which was for the time being converted into a dining-hall. There was a large and brilliant company, close upon 200 sitting down at the festive board. Genial and ever-popular Dr Underwood occupied the chair, and was surrounded by such worthies as, of course, Mr Henry Irving, Mr Harry Furniss, Colonel Cody, Sir Andrew McLean, Bailies Richmond and Guthrie, Councillor Simons, &c.

‘Colonel Cody’ refers to the legendary frontiersman and showman ‘Buffalo Bill’, whose Wild West show was then fulfilling a lengthy winter engagement at Dennistoun in the city's East End. Also among the distinguished company that night was Irving’s private secretary, Bram Stoker, better known as the author of the horror classic Dracula.

David Richmond was also a ‘sportsman’, or at least what shamefully passed for one in his day. The Glasgow Evening News, of Saturday, 13th August 1892, Clydeside Echoes column, recorded:

Bailie Richmond shot 9½ brace grouses, and 10½ brace rabbits yesterday on Craigowmill Moor, Kinrosshire.

David Richmond served as the Lord Provost of Glasgow from 1896 until 1899. In 1899 he was knighted by Queen Victoria. In the same year he received further civic recognition when Richmond Park, Glasgow, was opened and named after him.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow
(Courtesy of Mary Rennie)

Sir David, as he would become, receives a mention in the autobiographical work W. F. Frame Tells His Own Story (W. Holmes, Glasgow, 1905), at pp. 90-91. Its author, William Flint Frame, was a celebrated comedian of his day.

It was on the 8th November, 1898, that a farewell dinner was given to me in the Windsor Hotel, Glasgow, by a number of leading citizens, presided over by Bailie Simons. On that occasion I was presented with an illuminated address. Amongst other names on it were Sir David Richmond, Sir William R. Copland, Provost James Kirkwood, Bailie Malcolm Campbell, David Fortune, Walter Freer, and Sir Henry Irving.

Sir David Richmond died on 15th January 1908, at 7h 40m am, at 53, Albert Drive, Glasgow. He was an iron tube manufacturer, aged 64. The cause of death was acute pneumonia (lobar), from which he had been suffering for two days. The informant was Jas A. Richmond, his son, of 7, Newark Drive, Pollokshields.

Sir David’s former residence at Broompark, Albert Drive
(Courtesy of Mary Rennie)

The following entries are excerpted from the Glasgow Herald, 16th January 1908:


Richmond.- At Broompark, Pollokshields, on the morning of the 15th, Sir David Richmond, in his 65th year. - Funeral on Saturday, 18th, from Pollokshields Parish Church, where service will be held at 2 o’clock, to Necropolis; friends desirous of being present kindly intimate to Messrs Wylie and Lochhead, 96 Union Street; carriages at St George’s Church till 1.30. - This is the only intimation and invitation.

Yesterday morning Sir David Richmond, who was in his sixty-fifth year, died at his residence, Broompark, Pollokshields. He began business in Glasgow in 1867. Twelve years later he entered the Town Council, and was elected Lord Provost in 1896. After his period of office he continued to interest himself in the affairs of the Clyde Trust, and in this sphere also his colleagues conferred upon him the highest honour they could pay him by unanimously electing him chairman so recently as November.

‘Bethia-Moffat Richmond’, ‘Widow of Sir David Richmond Knight, Iron & Steel Tube Manufacturer’, followed her husband to the grave on 28th March 1917, at 8h 35m p.m. at 11, Crossloan Road, Glasgow. Her usual residence was given as Broompark, Pollokshields, Glasgow. She was 72 years of age. On this occasion, her father was designated as a starcher, deceased. The causes of death were a cerebral haemorrhage, which appears to have afflicted her some years before, and cardiac failure, which was apparently the immediate cause of death. The informant once again was Jas. A Richmond, her son, resident at Cairnhill, Pollokshields.

A rather fuller biographical account is given in Who’s Who in Glasgow in 1909:


THE late Sir David Richmond, managing director of the firm of David Richmond & Company, Ltd., iron tube manufacturers in Rose Street, Hutchesontown, and Govan, was born at the village of Deanston, near Doune, 14th July, 1843, was educated at Glasgow High School, Athenaeum, and Mechanics’ Institute, and spent three years, on account of delicate health, in Australia and New Zealand. He returned to Glasgow in 1867, however, and began tube manufacture and brass-founding. He was also latterly chairman of the Broxburn Oil Company and the Clyde Valley Electrical Power Company, and a director of Messrs. Henry Widnell & Stewart, John Gray & Co., the local board of the Scottish Union and National Insurance Company, the Tharsis Sulphur and Copper Company, and the United Collieries.

Sir David first entered Glasgow Town Council in 1870 as a representative of the old 14th ward, and he remained associated with the same constituency till his retiral in 1899. He was a bailie from 1882 to 1886, in which year he was senior magistrate. Among other offices he was Convener of the Parliamentary Bills Committee for a number of years, and from 1887 to 1890 he was City Treasurer. He was the first Lord Provost after the rearrangement of the municipal wards, and the re-election of the whole Town Council in 1896 consequent on the recent vast extension of the city. During his term of office, Queen Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee and Mr. Gladstone died. To commemorate the former event, Sir David proposed the reconstruction of the Royal Infirmary, and for that purpose, before he retired, £86,000 had been raised; and as a memorial to Mr. Gladstone, at a meeting convened by the Lord Provost, it was determined to erect the statue now in George Square, for which £4,000 was subscribed. Sir David was also called upon to collect and transmit £57,983 for the relief of the famine in India in 1897; and £3,633 as the citizens’ contribution towards the Gordon College at Khartoum, advocated by the Sirdar of Egypt, Lord Kitchener. Sir David had also the honourable task of entertaining the Duke and Duchess of York, when they visited the city in 1897 to name the Princes Dock and lay the memorial stone of the Fine Art Galleries at Kelvingrove. In 1898 the Convention of Royal, Parliamentary, and Police Burghs met in Glasgow contrary to its previous custom, and Sir David was appointed Chairman. In the same year the union of the old City and Barony Parishes took place, and the Lord Provost acted as returning officer at the election of the new combined Parish Council. He also, in 1876 and 1899, respectively, opened Tollcross Park and Richmond Park, to the latter of which he was asked by the Corporation to allow his name to be attached. Under his reign the Corporation decided to adopt the over head electric system for the street cars, and arrangements were made for the great Glasgow International Exhibition of 1901, while Lady Richmond formally opened the new Glasgow Bridge across the Clyde.

In recognition of his many services the Lord Provost received the honour of knighthood from Queen Victoria in 1899. A further testimony to his ability and fairness was given more recently, when on the appointment by Government of a Commission to enquire into the condition of hospitals at the seat of the Boer War, regarding which damaging allegations had been made by Mr. Burdett-Coutts, M.P., Sir David Richmond was one of the three sent out. He was also appointed a member of the extraordinary panel under the Local Government Act to consider Scottish applications for Provisional Orders; and on the retiral of Sir Nathaniel Dunlop in 1907 he was elected Chairman of the Clyde Trust. Sir David died at his residence in Pollokshields on 15th January, 1908.

The Glasgow Story adds a further perspective and outlines the many civic innovations over which Sir David presided:

Richmond (1843-1900) was a director of David Richmond & Co, tube makers, and Lord Provost of Glasgow from 1896 to 1899. Glasgow Corporation was dramatically expanding its municipal services during these years. In the arts the People’s Palace was opened (1898), the foundations for Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum laid (1897) and building work for the International Exhibition of 1901 started (1899). Additional electricity generating stations were provided and a municipal domestic electricity supply and an electric tramway service were inaugurated (1898). New police and fire stations were built, public baths and wash-houses such as Maryhill Baths (1898) and Springburn Baths (1898) were opened and Tollcross Park (1897) and Richmond Park (1899) were laid out.

Richmond was knighted in 1899 for his services to the city.

Brothers and Sisters

Sir David was the ninth of ten known children and the last of those born at Deanston. All but the first and last were born and baptised in Kilmadock Parish, Perthshire. His brothers and sisters were:

Hugh, born at Kilmarnock on 3rd September 1826

John, born on the 14th August 1828 and baptised on the 17th

Elizabeth, born on 25th July 1830 and baptised on the 8th August

Margaret, born on 15th October 1832 and baptised on the 22nd

Mary, born on 9th November 1834 and baptised on the 16th

Jean, born on 12th November 1836 and baptised on the 24th

James, born on 10th December 1838 and baptised on the 24th

Alexander, born on 29th June 1841 and baptised on the 30th

Janet, born at Glasgow on 5th November 1846