James Cochran Stevenson

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James Cochran Stevenson (9 October 1825 – 11 January 1905) was an English industrialist at Tyneside and a Liberal politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1868 to 1895.


Stevenson was born at Glasgow, the son of James Stevenson, a merchant of Glasgow and his wife Jane Stewart Shannan, daughter of Alexander Shannan, merchant of Greenock. He was educated at High School, Glasgow (where he was gold medalist in junior and senior mathematical classes), and at Glasgow University. The family moved to Jarrow in 1844 when his father became a partner in the Jarrow Chemical Company which was an alkali works. After his father retired in 1854, James managed the company with one of his father's partners, John Williamson. Under their control it became the second largest chemical company in the UK.

Stevenson took an active part in civic life, campaigning for improvements in sanitation, road-widening, river Tyne development schemes and more. He was a Life Commissioner appointed by the Tyne Improvement Act, and chairman of the Tyne Pilotage Commissioners. He was mayor of South Shields and a J.P. for County Durham and for South Shields. He was Lieutenant-Colonel commanding the 3rd Durham Artillery Volunteers, a member of General Council of Glasgow and a Fellow of the Institute of Chemistry.[1] He was also for a time the owner of the Shields Gazette.

At the 1868 general election Stevenson was elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for South Shields.[2] He held the seat he retired from Parliament at the 1895 general election.[3]

Stevenson died at the age of 79.

Stevenson was a religious man with a strong sense of public duty and commitment to the local area, but his chemical works, using the Leblanc process, caused pollution and imposed harsh working conditions on employees, despite being the first Tyneside factory to offer a Saturday half holiday.[4]


Stevenson married Elisa Ramsay Anderson, daughter of Rev. James Anderson, D.D., of Morpeth in 1855. Their daughter Hilda was also an MP and married Walter Runciman, 1st Viscount Runciman of Doxford (1870–1949), who was an important member of the Baldwin and Chamberlain governments in the 1930s. Another daughter Louisa married Sir Kenneth Skelton Anderson, 1st Baronet of Ardtaraig (1866–1942), the son of the Rev. Alexander Anderson and Mary Gavin of Aberdeenshire. He was the owner of the Orient Steam Navigation Company.[5]

He had many siblings who included Flora Stevenson, J. J. Stevenson and Louisa Stevenson.


  1. ^ Debretts Guide to the House of Commons 1886
  2. ^ Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1977]. British parliamentary election results 1832–1885 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 281. ISBN 0-900178-26-4. 
  3. ^ Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1974]. British parliamentary election results 1885–1918 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 191. ISBN 0-900178-27-2. 
  4. ^ Francis Goodall, ‘Stevenson, James Cochran (1825–1905)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 6 Aug 2008
  5. ^ Collection of Sir Kenneth Skelton Anderson at The British Library of Political and Economic Science

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Robert Ingham
Member of Parliament for South Shields
Succeeded by
William Robson