Correspondence of William Dixon, 1788-1859, coal and iron master of Govan Colliery, Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

Correspondence of William Dixon of Govan Colliery Office and Calder Iron Work Office, Glasgow, to:

  • Tod & Romanes, W.S., Edinburgh, dated 21 April 1829 to 11 November 1836 (9 letters)
  • John Thomson, cashier, Royal Bank, Edinburgh, dated 21 April 1829 (1 letter)

Correspondence addressed to Tod & Romanes, W.S., Edinburgh from:

Administrative / Biographical History

William Dixon (1788-1859) was the second generation owner of the iron and coal dynasty of the Dixon family of Calder and Govan, Glasgow, Scotland. His father had come to Glasgow from Northumberland, England, in 1771, and with his experience in coal working he took leases in Govanhill, Glasgow, and was amongst the first to exploit the Monkland coal field in North Lanarkshire where with David Mushet he established the Calder Iron Works. His youngest son, William, inherited the business in 1822  when it was the largest coal and iron concern in Europe.

William was a buccaneer who extended the business, purchasing numerous estates at Carfin, Crosshill, Broomelton, Earnockmuir, Mosesfield and elsewhere. But while the empire grew under his vigorous management, it also lost ground to newer firms like William Baird & Co, coal and iron masters, Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire. While companies such as Baird's poured their money into leases of minerals, especially in Ayrshire, Scotland, William Dixon poured over quarter of a million pounds into litigation, and at his death in 1859 , his financial affairs were being put into order by a body of trustees. He was not insolvent, but serious illiquid. His son, William Smith Dixon (1824-1980), inherited the business in 1859, turning it into t joint stock company in 1873  as William Dixon Ltd.

Slaven, A and Checkland, A, , vol.1Dictionary of Business Biography 1860-1960 (Aberdeen, 1986)


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

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Purchase : Edward Hall, bookseller : Gravesend : 1960 : ACCN 4096

Other Finding Aids

Item level descriptions are available via the department's online manuscripts catalogue available at by searching for call reference MS Gen 533/22-33

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Archivist's Note

Compiled by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, February 2003

No alterations made to date

Conditions Governing Use

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

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

Appraisal Information

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

Custodial History

Held by Edward Hall


None expected

Related Material

GB 248 UGD 1 and UGD 191 Records of William Dixon Ltd

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Corporate Names