Charles Cowan

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Charles Cowan
Born (1801-06-07)June 7, 1801
Crail, Fife
Died 1889 (aged 87-88)
Nationality Scottish
Occupation Paper-maker (1819-1847)
Edinburgh MP (1847-1859)

Charles Cowan (7 June 1801 – 1889) was a Scottish politician and paper-maker.

He was the son of Alexander Cowan, papermaker and philanthropist, and Elizabeth Hall, daughter of George Hall a merchant in Crail in Fife. He was the eldest of eleven children, eight of whom survived until adulthood.[1] He followed his father into the paper-making industry.

He would later write the article on this for the Encyclopaedia Britannica.[2] In May 1819, he was sent to learn the papermaking trade at St Mary Cray, Kent, where he worked at either Lay's or Hall's mill on the River Cray.[3]

In the general election of June 1847, he ran as a Radical free-trade candidate in Edinburgh, defeating the incumbent Whig Thomas Babington Macaulay. His initial election was declared null and void due to his being a party to a government contract, but he was re-elected in a second election that December.[4] He was re-elected in the 1852 election in second place on the ballot, and returned unopposed in the 1857 election. He did not stand in 1859, and retired from politics.


  1. ^ Oxford National Dictionary of Biography: Cowan
  2. ^ Six generations of Cowans at the Valleyfield Mills, Penicuik Community Arts Association
  3. ^ Rootsweb
  4. ^ Oliver & Boyd's new Edinburgh almanac and national repository for the year 1850 Oliver & Boyd, Edinburgh, 1850
  • Ian Machin, 'Cowan, Charles (1801–1889)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William Gibson-Craig
Thomas Babington Macaulay
Member of Parliament for Edinburgh
With: William Gibson-Craig to 1852
Thomas Babington Macaulay 1852–56
Adam Black from 1856
Succeeded by
Adam Black
James Moncreiff