Monday, September 19, 2016

Public Memorials to an Old Glasgow Family

After leaving the Glasgow Necropolis, we wandered by the Cathedral (just across Wishart Street from the Necropolis) as well as the nearby Hospital, where we found two different renditions of the same coat of arms.

The Hutcheson arms from the memorial just outside the Cathedral

The Hutcheson arms on the Hospital which the brothers founded

The arms are those of George and Thomas Hutcheson, generous and revered philanthropists in the early 17th Century in Glasgow.

Burke's General Armory blazons the arms as: Argent a fess vert surmounted of three arrows, the middlemost in pale, the other two bend dexter and sinister wise, points meeting in base gules in chief a boar's head erased sable. (It seems to me that it would more correct to blazon the arrows as the middlemost palewise, the other two bendwise and bendwise sinister, and more concise to blazon the them as "in pile" or possibly "pilewise", but what do I know?)

The following information comes from the on-line version of the Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 28:

Thomas Hutcheson (1589-1641), joint-founder with his elder brother George of Hutcheson's Hospital, Glasgow, followed, like his brother, the profession of public writer, and was keeper of the register of sasines of the regality of Glasgow and district. Besides ratifying on 27 June 1640 the deeds of his brother, he by deed dated 9 March 1641, mortified certain bonds amounting to twenty thousand merks for the erection, in connection with George Hutcheson's hospital, of  'a commodious and distinct house of itself for educating and harbouring twelve male children, indigent orphans, or others of the like condition and quality, sons of burgesses.' This was supplemented by the mortification on 3 July 1641 of bonds amounting to a thousand merks, and on the 14th of an additional sum of 10,500 merks to assist in building the hospital. He laid the foundation-stone on 19 March of the same year. He died on 1 Sept. following, in his fifty-second year. He was buried beside his brother George on the south side of the cathedral church of Glasgow, where there is a Latin inscription to his memory.

This portrait of Thomas Hutcheson is thought to be by Anthony Van Dyck

George Hutcheson (1580?-1639), of Lambhill, Lanarkshire, joint-founder with his younger brother Thomas, of Hutcheson's Hospital, Glasgow, was the son of John Hutcheson, an old rentaller under the bishops of Glasgow in the lands of Gairdbraid. His mother's name was Janet Anderson. He became a public writer and notary in Glasgow, and by his success in business added considerably to the wealth he had inherited from his father. He acquired a high reputation for honesty, and as an illustration of his moderation in his charges, it is stated that he would never take more than sixteen pennies Scots for writing an ordinary bond, be the sum ever so large. He died, apparently unmarried, 31 Dec. 1639, and was buried on the south side of the cathedral church of Glasgow. By deed bearing date 16 Dec. 1639 he mortified and disposed a tenement of land on the west side of the old West Port of Glasgow with yard and tenements there, for the building of 'one perfyte hospital for entertainment of the poor, aged, decrepit men to be placed therein,' for whose maintenance after the hospital should be built he also mortified certain bonds amounting to the principal sum of twenty thousand merks. The inmates were to be aged and decrepit men above fifty years of age who had been of honest life and conversation. Other mortifications to the hospital were made by his brother Thomas.

(Why is it that, having just passed my 68th birthday, the phrase "aged and decrepit men above fifty years of age" bothers me? Yes, I understand that life expectancy in the 17th Century is not what it is today, but still, "aged and decrepit" at 50?)

From other sources, we find that:

Thomas Hutcheson also bequeathed £1,000 for the rebuilding of the ruinous buildings at the Old College, and 2,000 marks to employ "ane bibliothecare [librarian]". The librarian was to be appointed by the College authorities and "be the counsall of the burgh of Glasgow" for a period of four years.

Thomas' wife was Marion Stewart, who died in November 1670. She was the daughter of James Stewart of Blackhall. She commissioned the tomb, which was built in in the Jacobean style around 1641, and restored by architect T.L. Watson and sculptor William Vickers in 1902. The monument also commemorates her through her initials, which are entwined with her husband's on its front, and her family's coat of arms (for photographs, please see below).

Balfour Paul's An Ordinary of Arms blazons the arms of Stewart of Blackhall as: Or a fess checky azure and or, overall a lion rampant gules. (Burke's General Armory cites two versions, one which matches Balfour Paul, and one which places the fess overall, as in the depiction on the Hutcheson monument.)

George Hutcheson is also buried here (indeed, he was the first to be buried), but he is not mentioned on the monument at all, despite his being as generous and revered a philanthropist as his brother.

The Stewart of Blackhall arms

The marshalled arms of Thomas and Marion (Stewart) Hutcheson at the top of the memorial


  1. Very interested in French Heraldry, does the French Heraldic Office survive, did it survive the French Revolution, where might its archived documents be in France - rgds Shaun O'Byrne

    1. There is no longer an official heraldic authority in France. You can find the Armorial Général de France compiled by M. d'Hozier on the website of the National Library of France (BnF) by clicking the link to it under "Some Good On-Line Armorials and Ordinaries" in the left-hand column of this blog.