Papers of James Gourlay, 1804-1871, accountant

Scope and Content

Papers of James Gourlay relating to Glasgow's water supply, in particular the Loch Katrine project, and Kelvingrove Park 1852-1868.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Gourlay was born in St Andrews in  1804 . His father, Robert Gourlay, was an ironmonger who died in 1811. In 1819, once James had just left school, the family moved to Glasgow. He was then apprenticed to the firm of Kerr & Adam, smallware manufacturers. James set up in business with his brother Robert, under the firm name of R & J Gourlay, working as a commercial traveller. In  1838  he established the Commercial Travellers' Society of Scotland, remaining as its treasurer until his death. He continued with his brother until  1836 , when the latter retired from the business, and James joined Mr John Knox, and the firm became Gourlay & Knox. In  1841  he gave up the wholesale country trade, and started as an accountant at 24 Queen Street and from  1848-1855  he served on Glasgow's City Parochial Board, where he worked on reforming rates and taxes. From  1849  he served on the Town Council and from  1853-1855  was instrumental in opposing the proposal to supply Glasgow with water from Loch Lubnaig instead of Loch Katrine. In  1850  he became a burgh magistrate. In  1855 , following a brief retirement, he accepted an offer to work for the Bank of Scotland on the south side of Glasgow. Gourlay died at Bothwell in  1871 .


The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Donated by Dr James T. Farquhar, Barr, Ayrshire, 18 February 1998


These papers were deposited with Mrs Ruby Thompson, West Bergholt, Essex until 1995 and transferred to University Library via Sheila Craik, 17 July 1996. See memo by Sheila Craik and MS Farmer 586-588.

Other Finding Aids

Details of descriptions are available via the department's online manuscripts catalogue accessible from the University of Glasgow Library, Department of Special Collections, searching by the call number MS Gen 1675.

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Archivist's Note

Fonds level description compiled by Andrew Thomson, Hub Project Archivist, 01 June 2005.

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Keeper of Special Collections.

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 247 procedures

Custodial History



None expected

Related Material

With published pamphlets, etc, concerning Glasgow, shelved at Mu Add. 189-199, q38-41, f29-38 - see printed books catalogue for details.

Location of Originals

This material is original


John Burnet, History of the water supply to Glasgow (Glasgow, 1869); Supply of water to the City of Glasgow: reports from John Frederic Bateman ... on the various schemes for supplying Glasgow with water (Manchester, 1853); To commemorate the public services of the late Robert Stewart, Esq., of Murdostoun, Lord Provost of the City of Glasgow from November 1851 to November 1854, to whose unwearied exertions the inhabitants are mainly indebted for the abundant water supply from Loch Katrine, the discussions in the Town Council on the subject have been collected [by James Gourlay] ... (Glasgow, 1868).

Geographical Names