Glasgow Girls

Clydeside Capital, 1870-1920

Thomas Graham,
page 7 of 7

the principle that the House of Lords were never to carry resistance to any measure coming from the Commons beyond a certain point-beyond the time when it became evident that the Commons had a large majority for a measure. Since that memorable day in 1832 no serious attempt has been made by the House of Lords to carry resistance to the popular will any further than to give the House of Commons a reasonable time to reconsider their former decision.

James Oswald wrought for years patiently and prudently — even before he entered parliament — for those beneficial changes for his country and for his city. We, at this distance of time, cannot well measure his unflagging zeal, his tact, his courage, and his disinterested labours in the cause of Reform. That his work was highly appreciated is markedly evident from the fact that the citizens of Glasgow paid him the highest honour they could give by electing him as one of their representatives in the first Reform Parliament, along with James Ewing. He represented Glasgow from 1832 till 1837, and again from 1839 till 1847, and during his tenure of office throughout both of these periods he was ever unwearied in attending to the interest of the city he loved so well, and for which he had done so much. His natural shrewdness and thorough business habits rendered him one of the most influential of Scotch members in the House of Commons.

In 1841, on the death of his cousin, Richard Alexander Oswald, he succeeded to the estate of Auchincruive. He died in 1853, and this monument was raised to his memory shortly after, and was subscribed for by men of all shades of political opinion.

There is a most interesting account of the Oswalds, under the articles “Scotstoun” and “Shieldhall,” in “The Old Country Houses of the Old Glasgow Gentry,” by Mr. J. Oswald Mitchell, a descendant also of the minister of Dunnet. Scotstoun and Auchincruive are still held by his descendants, the former being the property of James Gordon Oswald, and the latter of Richard Alexander Oswald.

The Oswalds have other monuments to their prosperity and public spirit. The name frequently recurs in the roll of benefactors to our varied institutions. Among the founders of our Royal Infirmary was George Oswald of Scotstoun, along with David Dale, George Buchanan, James Coulter, and others. Their names will long live in these. They have given an example that many more might have followed.

Many more of our citizens might have distinguished themselves in this way. They have not taken their wealth with them, but little of it has been left for the public good. All honour, then, to those whose names are remembered in their good works. Had all acted in like fashion, by leaving something for public objects, our humane enterprises would be strong, our churches would be beautiful, and libraries, art galleries,* and museums would abound in every district. Glasgow would be filled with the monuments of those who have prospered within it.

* Since the above was written it has been announced that £90,000 has been secured for an Art Gallery. There was a surplus of £47,000 from the International Exhibition, and the Lord Provost (John Muir of Deanston) said he would give £15,000 if an effort were made to make it up to £100,000. This seems sure now. J. Campbell Whyte, Esq. of Overton, gave £5,000, and each of the following gave £1,000, viz.— Charles Tennant, Sir James King, Dr. J. A. Campbell, M. P., J. G. A. Baird, Esq., M.P., J. C. Bontine, Esq., Messrs. J. & W. Whyte, Messrs. Arthur & Co., Messrs. Bell Bros. & M’Lelland, Messrs. James Watson & Co., Messrs. The Summerlee & Mossend Iron Co., Messrs. Mann, Byars & Co., and Messrs. Geo. Smith & Co. Other well-known citizens make up the balance.


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