My great uncle Rob [Francis Robert Buchanan Stewart] wrote the following:
"Robertson Buchanan Stewart joined the navy and served in the marines for many years. [According to my great aunt Mrs. Walker, Robertson Buchanan Stewart served on the famous warship Bellerophon]. He returned to Glasgow in 1821. He married his first cousin Martha Stewart.
"He founded a drapery business in the Cowcaddens and also Stewart and MacDonald in Buchanan Street (1829). In August 1829 his eldest surviving son Robert Buchanan Stewart was born following six daughters (Isobel, Amelia, Prances, Catherine, Margaret, and Martha) and a son, all of whom had died by the time Robert Buchanan Stewart was three.
"Robertson Buchanan Stewart married again, to a Miss Bannatyne of Bute, by whom he had three sons, Ninian, Alexander and Robertson. John's son, John R. Stewart, came from Canada to join them and later became manager of Stewart and Macdonald. (His mother was a Red Indian)."
Extensive references to this company, founded in 1826, and RBS can be found in the section on his son Alexander Bannatyne Stewart (1836-1880) in "Memoirs and Portraits of 100 Glasgow Men"
"Born on 30 October 1836, the son of a draper (RBS), Stewart entered the family firm relatively late, in 1866. ...
"IN the year 1826 two young men, R. B. Stewart [Robertson Buchanan Stewart] and John McDonald - following the example of J. & W. Campbell & Co., who, on beginning business in 1817, were the first in Glasgow to occupy the upper flats of a tenement as a retail soft goods warehouse - opened a wholesale and retail drapery warehouse in the first flat of a tenement at the foot of Buchanan Street.
"R. B. Stewart was of a Rothesay family which had settled in Glasgow, where the youth was brought up by his father in the coal agency business. John McDonald had come direct from Dumbarton school to serve his time in a warehouse in the Trongate of Glasgow, and he received his training there. Both young men after they started in partnership served behind their own counter, and soon became known for their personal diligence and for the integrity of their wares. The gradual extension of their business soon necessitated the extension of their premises along Argyle Street, and this was effected by the successive absorption of "Gordon's Land" and the "Argyle Inn." But about twenty years ago the firm began to extend its premises up Buchanan Street, until the frontage towards that street has become about equal to the frontage towards Argyle Street; from Buchanan Street it went back to Mitchell Street, in which street the wholesale business had a separate entry. The business had long become one of the largest in the city.
"John McDonald did not live to see the last extensions carried out. He died upon 28th May, 1860; his partner, R. B. Stewart, died in 1871. Such was the mutual confidence of Mr. Stewart and Mr. McDonald that no contract of copartnery subsisted between them down to within a year previous to Mr. McDonald's death.
"Alexander Bannatyne Stewart, the second son by a second marriage of old Mr. Stewart, was born at Glasgow on 30th October, 1836, and was educated for a professional career, but the idea of a profession was abandoned. About 1866 he became a partner of his father's firm, having for many years previous to that been engaged in the warehouse...
".... The Robertson-Stewart Hospital and the Parish Church in Rothesay were indebted to his generosity to the extent of some thousands of pounds, and he largely subscribed to the Bute charities...."
I found the following in Cowan's "From Glasgow's Treasure Chest": (a photograph was included)
"... there are two Atlantes, or Telamones, supporting the doorway at 146 Argyle Street [corner with Buchanan St]. These giants used to be jocularly pointed out to strangers as "Stewart" and “MacDonald”, these being the members of the famous firm who used to occupy the building."
The portrait of Robertson Buchanan Stewart depicted on the left was until recently in the Council Chambers in Rothesay. It has recently been acquired by a Bute resident and they have kindly provided me with this phototgraph of it. There is a close up of his face on the next page.
My name is Alasdair Broun and I was born and brought up in Scotland, son of a clergyman and a freelance journalist. I took up genealogy as a hobby when I was 17 and I went on to write a PhD thesis in philosophical psychology ... more >
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