Records of Webster, Steel & Co, piece goods manufacturers and merchants, Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content


  • Webster Steel & Co administrative records;
  • Webster Steel & Co shareholders' records;
  • Webster Steel & Co correspondence;
  • Webster Steel & Co accounting records;
  • Webster Steel & Co staff records;
  • Webster Steel & Co property records;
  • Steel, Murray & Co, Durban property records;
  • St Lucia Sugar Co annual reports and accounts.

Administrative / Biographical History

Webster, Steel & Co, piece goods manufacturers and merchants at 33 Renfield Street,  Glasgow, Scotland, was formed  c1863  by  James A Steel and  James Muir. In  1865 , a branch was formed in  Valparaiso, Chile under the name of  Houstoun, Muir & Co, and in  1869  a branch in  London was formed under the name  Houstoun, Steel & Co. In  1873 ,  Webster, Steel & Co opened a branch in  Natal, South Africa under the name  Steel, Atkinson & Co. In  1874 ,  John Muir, father of  Sir John Muir of  James Finlay & Co, and senior partner of  James Finlay & Co Ltd, textile manufacturers, tea planters and merchants, Glasgow, became a partner in  Webster, Steel & Co.  Webster, Steel Co were agents for  James Finlay & Co in  South America. The South African part of the business was carried out by  Steel, Murray & Co. In  1875 , the Vaparaiso branch changed its name from  Houstoun, Muir & Co to  Steel, Hedderwick & Co, which one-year later was liquidated. The London branch changed its name from  Houstoun, Steel, & Co to  Webster, Steel & Co. In  1884 , the Natal branch changed its name from  Steel, Atkinson, & Co to  Steel, Murray & Co, which was wound up in  1931 . Throughout the  1880s and 1890s ,  Webster, Steel & Co and its subsidiaries had a number of partners who variously died or retired instigating the changes of company name but, by  1895 ,  Sir John Muir was the sole partner.  Sir John Muir always had an interest in  Webster, Steel Co and there is plenty of documentary evidence to his personal financial stake. After his death in  1903 , his Trustees continued the business until taken over by  James Finlay & Co Ltd in  1924 .  Webster, Steel & Co were still trading in  1950 .


Files arranged as received.

Access Information

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Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

None which affect the use of this material

Conditions Governing Use

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

Any work intended for publication that is based on research from this collection must be approved in advance. Apply in the first instance to Archives and Special Collections, email:

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 248 procedures. Duplicates have been removed.


None expected

Related Material

See GB 248 UGD 091/1/1/2/8 ff. 245-7, and ff. 263 for the 1924 continuation of business under the same name. See GB 248 UGD 091/1/4/2/1-6, which show Sir John Muir's interest in Webster, Steel Co; and see also GB 248 UGD91/26/2/1.

Material in other repositories: GB 059 Finlay Campbell & Co and Finlay Muir & Co (British Library: Oriental and India Office Collections)


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

Description compiled in line with the following international standards: International Council on Archives, ISAD(G) Second Edition, September 1999and National Council on Archives, Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names

Scotland is the location of all place names in the administrative/biographical history element, unless otherwise stated.

Collection catalogued by members of Glasgow University Archive Services staff. Catalogue converted to Encoded Archival Description by Michelle Kaye, Archives Assistant (Cataloguing), May 2012. Additional material catalogued and converted into Encoded Archival Description by Peter Morphew, Cataloguing Archivist, January 2016.