Scrapbooks of Jenny (Janet) Maxwell Coutts (1909-2008), Councillor and Provost of Kirkintilloch

Scope and Content

Scrapbooks of newspaper clippings relating to Jenny Coutts time as councillor and provost covering the period 1958-1975, plus loose pages from a scrapbook 1976-1977.

Administrative / Biographical History

Janet Maxwell Barclay, known as Jenny, was born in 1909 in Carnwath, South Lanarkshire, Scotland, the daughter of Gavin Barclay, a meal miller, and Janet Maxwell, a teacher. After leaving Lanark Grammar School she completed a secretarial course and worked in offices in Bath Street, Glasgow, Scotland. She married William Coutts in Glasgow in 1939. In 1949 the couple moved with their two sons to Lenzie, East Dunbartonshire, Scotland.

In 1958 Jenny Coutts stood as a candidate in the Town Council elections in Kirkintilloch, East Dunbartonshire, Scotland. On 5th February 1958 she defeated her opponent by 470 votes to 465. Her win made her the first female councillor of Kirkintilloch and only the fourth woman in the Burgh of Kirkintilloch to contest an election. In May 1959 Jenny Coutts defended her council seat with 771 votes to 630 in her favour. She served the Fourth Ward of Kirkintilloch Town Council as an independent councillor for twenty years, making her one of the longest serving council members.

On 13th May 1964 Jenny Coutts became Kirkintilloch’s first female provost. Her first official duty was to open a new sewage works in Kirkintilloch. A year later, she welcomed HM Queen Elizabeth II to Kirkintilloch on a visit to Peel Park.

Jenny Coutts was a Justice of the Peace and contributed to the Kilbrandon Committee which led to the establishment of the Children’s Hearing System in Scotland. She was a member of Kirkintilloch Town Council’s County Council Team and the County Education Committee. On 3rd June 1970 she became the Vice Chair of the new Social Work Committee for the County of Dunbarton. In 1973 she was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her services to social work.

Jenny Coutts was involved in church work in Lenzie. She also established a lunch club in the Hillhead area of Kirkintilloch, a branch of the charity Save the Children, and the Abbeyfield retirement home in Lenzie.

She died on 18th March 2008 at the age of 98. An environmentally friendly burial service was held at Langfaulds Cemetery, Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire, Scotland. Over 150 people attended the memorial service at Lenzie Union Parish Church.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Transferred to the Archives Service by the Library Service (Local Studies)

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Julie Devenney, Archives Volunteer, October 2017. Edited by Janice Miller, Archivist, April 2021.