Papers of James Fleming, brewer, Edinburgh, Scotland

Scope and Content

  • Scrapbook belonging to James Fleming 1818-1851;
  • Family tree of Fleming and Johnston families 1981;
  • Promotional material 1963-1964;
  • The History of the Summerhall Brewery by Colin M Warwick 1997.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Fleming was a relation of Robert Fleming, brewer at Summerhall Brewery, Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1815. James came to Summerhall Brewery around 1818, and whilst there, kept a "scrap book" of copies of letters, brewery business, (that chiefly concerned breweries other than Summerhall), and religious tracts. If a copy letter of 1824 is to be wholly believed, James came to be a more permanent fixture at the brewery at the request of his relation Robert, who, suffering from ill health, was proposing to bestow on James a share in the business.

But Summerhall has a history that both pre and post dates James Fleming's family's occupancy and subsequent interest in it. The brewery was probably in existence by 1704, when one Robert McClellan bought land situated to the South of Edinburgh, from Anne Byres. McClellan was describing himself as "gardener at Summerhall" the following year, and it is likely that he was soon brewing because he was one of the 1725 Petitioners signing his name to a petition against a malt tax imposed in 1725. It is perhaps more than coincidence that his first wife was a member of a well known family of brewers. A definite record of there being a brewery on the site appears in records dated 1733 when McClellan went into liquidation, and then again when he disposed of the brewery around 1739. And so it was that Thomas Bryson, who was probably working at the brewery before 1739 became brewer at Summerhall, remaining there until at least 1788, and witnessing the fire that claimed the brewery in 1739. It seems Thomas was still residing at Summerhall in 1788, or it may have been his son Peter, who took definite possession of the brewery in 1792. In 1795 it was the turn of Robert Clunie as brewer, though the brewery was owned by Francis Macnab, gardener at Summerhall. Clunie moved from Scott's Brewery in Gibbet Loan to Summerhall, remaining until 1815, when Robert Fleming, property dealer  and relation to James, took over.

Whilst Robert owned Summerhall Brewery, William Robertson, also a property dealer, began working at the brewery, and it was he who became the next brewer in 1826, up until 1861. The 1851 Census Records show that 11 men were working at the brewery in this year, but by 1871 the Census Record shows a workforce of 120 men, 4 boys, 3 clerks and 2 travellers. This is perhaps indicative of the fact that in 1862, for the first time in the Brewery's history, a limited liability company took control. The company was named Robin, McMillan & Co Ltd, and was owned by two business partners of the same names from Glasgow. In 1889 Summerhall Brewery was bought for GBP 320,000 by Edinburgh United Breweries Ltd, but around 1908 the company sold the brewery. Nothing further is known about the company, and it is possible that it no longer existed after 1908.


The material is arranged according to the Scottish Brewing Archive classification scheme used within all SBA collections.

Access Information

Access to records within this collection is open, however an appointment may be required. Please email Archives and Special Collections for advice:

Acquisition Information

Mr Muriset and Colin Warwick

Other Finding Aids

See also University of Glasgow Collections

File level list available in searchroom

Alternative Form Available

No known copies of this material

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the ArchivistReproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 248 procedures

Custodial History

The collection was previously stored with the rest of the Scottish Brewing Archive at Heriot-Watt University. It moved to the University of Glasgow in 1991. Custody of the Scottish Brewing Archive was transferred to Glasgow University Archive Services in 2008.


None expected

Related Material

  • GB 248 EUB: Records of Edinburgh United Breweries Ltd

Location of Originals

This material is original

Geographical Names