Papers of Alexander Dennistoun, 1790-1874, University student, merchant, politician and founder of the Glasgow suburb of Dennistoun, Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

  • Lecture notes, 'Origin of Influence and Authority among Mankind', early 19th century

Administrative / Biographical History

Alexander Dennistoun was born in 1790, the eldest son of successful merchant, James Dennistoun of Golfhill and Mary, daughter of William Finlay of The Moss, Stirlingshire. He undertook his education at Glasgow Grammar School and then continued onto the College (University) of Glasgow. During his time at the University Alexander attended classes in Greek in session 1803-04, and then went on to study Latin in 1804-05; Greek in 1805-1806; Logic in 1807-08 and Ethics in 1808-09.

Alexander formally matriculated at the University of Glasgow in William Richardson 's Humanity class in 1803. According to his matriculation entry in W. Innes Addison's The Matriculation Albums of the University of Glasgow from 1728 to 1858 his brothers William Dennistoun , James Dennistoun and John Dennistoun , as well as his son-in-law William Young Sellar also attended the University.

Following his education, both Alexander and his brother John had become well-established in the family firm, J&A Dennistoun, which had been established by his father James Dennistoun and James's brother Alexander and had evolved to become a powerful mercantile house. In approximately 1820, Alexander is known to have resided in New Orleans where the firm had launched a branch to enhance their place in the cotton trade. Once back in Great Britain, he took up position at the Liverpool branch whilst living in Cheshire. In 1823, he married Eleanor Jane, the youngest daughter of John Thomson of Nassau, New Providence. Prior to his father's death in 1834, Alexander and his wife Eleanor lived in Havre, and also Paris where he spent his time during the revolution of 1830, before returning to reside at Golfhill.

Alexander was also seen to be a enthusiastic politician, and served Parliament for the County of Dunbarton in 1834 where he defeated Alexander Smollett of Bonhill whilst standing as a Liberal. However, parliamentary life did not suit Dennistoun and he stepped down in 1837 when Parliament dissolved. In 1843 a significant amalgamation occured as Glasgow Union Bank joined the Glasgow and Ship Bank to form the Union Bank of Scotland. This was an institution of which Alexander Dennistoun was frequently a director.

Alexander's wife Eleanor died at Golfhill in 1847, and it was between Golfhill estate and his summer quarters at Lagarie that Alexander spent the remaining years of his life.

He is primarily remembered for founding the Glasgow suburb of Dennistoun. By doing so he added a number of neighbouring properties to Golfhill including Craig Park, Whitehill and Annfield. Mr James Salon was appointed as architect which led to surveys and the design of streets and terraces. It is thought that Alexander took great pride in the improvements and developements within the Dennistoun suburb. He died at Lagarie in 1874 at the age of 84 years.

Source: MacLehose, James, Memoirs and Portraits of One Hundred Glasgow Men , 1886. Available via the Glasgow Digital Library


Listed by box. Items are generally listed in their original order

Conditions Governing Access


Acquisition Information

Gift : William J. Elder : Aug 2010 : ACCN 3497


Collection box listed by Rachel Bell, Archive Assistant, 6 Sep 2010. Collection level description created by Rachael Muir, Archive Assistant, 23 May 2012. Edited by Emma Yan, Assistant Archivist (Accessions), 12 June 2012.

Other Finding Aids

File list available by request to the Duty Archivist

Family Names

Geographical Names