Generation: B

John Matheson, "Senior"

Born: 1791 Died: 1860
Father: John Matheson, "The Diarist"
Mother: Elizabeth Gunn and Margaret MacIntosh

Jane Gray

Born: 1795 Died: 1858


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John Matheson "Senior" of John Matheson and Co. Ferdenge Works, Besshead. Jane of Rothsay, Glasgow. Married 1815. Residing in Lauriston. "for some years a salesman and clrek with Henry Monteith and Co."

Left no will. They had 9 children, of whom 5 died early. 4 buried with their parents, 2 buried with their husbands and 3 died early. Graves not known.

Having mastered The Diary, I feel I could spend a fine night with the Diarist, talking about his youthful jobs in Sutherland, his contacts with Major George Sutherland the Tacksman, his different schools, his early struggles in Glasgow, and why he joined 16 benefit societies! I would have to tell him that his accountancy was beyond me, but that he was a good businessman.

Now, what about his son?

Highlanders have an odd way of thinking, says my wife.

The Diarist's son, John Matheson (1791-1860) became known in Glasgow business circles as "John Matheson, Senior", and the Diarist's oldest grandson became known there as "John Matheson, Junior". As neither long survived the old man, it would almost seem as if they had both become more well known than he. May be! Alas! There is very little documentation, and no personal diary to follow.

When John Senior was born on Friday 12th March 1791 to Elizabeth Gunn his two Matheson Aunts, Elspeth age 10, and Ann, age 5, must have heard the news with surprise and pleasure. Not so the Diarist's parents. The Diarist was sent off to Glasgow for a year. I surmise the grandparents took over the care of the child from his mother, and they were greatly helped by Elspeth and Ann. From the city and from the Army the father would without any doubt be sending home remittances regularly, for the benefit of his son, and all at home. The content of the will shows how grateful the Diarist must have been to his two young sisters for their share in looking after Senior in these early years, at Brea, in Strath Carnaig. John Senior spent the first 16 years of his life in Sutherland, and probably got a reasonable schooling at Dornoch, more than his father had received.

On 16th June 1807 John Senior came to the city of Glasgow, and soon after was employed as a salesman and clerk in the same firm as his father, Henry Monteith and Co. Warehousemen, in weaving and the Turkey Red industry.

Somewhere towards the end of 1814, when he was about 23 years old, he told his father that he was about to marry his lady friend, Miss Jane Gray, daughter of James Gray, a builder, and age 20. I expect the Diarist received the news without alarm! The marriage took place on 31st January 1815, the ceremony being conducted by the Rev. Mr. Mushart (sic) Wishart? of Shettleston, and John Senior's first child was safely born on 30th June 1815, to become a gifted young lady later. She was to be followed by eight more brothers and sisters whose fates will be followed in due course.

The Diarist's memo book has an entry dated 31st December 1826 thus: "Expenses or cash given to my son John from the time he came to Glasgow in 1807 until 1826 as per small a/c book - 285/1/10". Then follows: "Loan of 50 to James Mason, in 1833, the builder", i.e. his son's father-in-law. Evidently builders needed money in those distant days, as they still do!

Later: The Diarist "got 92 from John my son carried (sic) earned during his apprenticeship".

In due course John Senior became Managing Director (probably owner) of the Ferenese Print Works, Barrhead, near Glasgow. The firm then became "John Matheson and Co." Calico Printers and Turkey Red Dyers.

On 12th June 1860, at the age of 69, John Senior died at his home at 185, St. Vincent Street, Glasgow. The doctor certified the cause of death as "disease of the heart, liver, kidneys and bladder for several months". He showed his independent spirit by having a vault of his own, being buried at Epsilon No. 46, in Glasgow Necropolis, his widow and four children following in due course.

Well, Dear Reader, the descendents of John Senior today don't know as much about him as I have here recorded. The records of the Chamber of Commerce do not hold more. I think he became a Guild Brother or Burgess of Glasgow, but I have lost the paper which was my authority. His wife Jane Gray Matheson died at 15 Craigmore, Rothsay on 3rd July 1858, some two years before her husband, age 63. My notes state that he left no will, but I have no doubt he was wealthy, having inherited some property in Monteith Row and elsewhere from the Diarist, his father.

John's eldest child, Jane Gray Matheson, married her father's first cousin, and thus became the mother of the Rev. Dr. George Matheson, "The Preacher". Her qualities will be noted later, with those of her husband.

Meanwhile, for the record, here are the fates of the other eight children of John Matheson, Senior:

John Matheson, Junior, born 6/10/1817, died 12/11/1878. See Appendix. Margaret. born 2/6/1819. She married George Coats, a very wealthy childless widower (of the Thread firm in Paisley). She had no family by him, and inherited his fortune. James Gray Matheson, born 13/7/1821. Fate unknown. Henry Matheson, born 29/2/1824, died 30/10/1842, age 18. George Matheson, born 17/9/1827, died 6/11/1835, age 8. Donald Matheson K.C.B. Born 30/9/1830. See Appendix. Helen Matheson. Born 30/9/1830. A twin. Lived ultimately with Sir Donald at 6, Park Terrace, Glasgow. Died 4/1/1881 (Epsilon 46!). William Matheson. Born 4/3/1835. Died 9/2/1834, age 11 months.

All a sad story for John Senior, because none of these eight children produced any grandchildren for him, so far as anyone knows!

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