James Oswald (merchant)

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James Oswald (2 May 1779 – 3 June 1853) was a Scottish merchant and Member of Parliament (MP) for Glasgow.

Early life[edit]

James Oswald was born on 2 May 1779, the fifth child and second son of Alexander Oswald of Shieldhall, Glasgow and Margaret Dundas [1] and was the grand-nephew of Richard Oswald (merchant).[2]

He was the paternal first cousin of Richard Alexander Oswald[3] and paternal uncle of Alexander Haldane Oswald,[4] both Members of Parliament.

On the death of Richard in 1841, James Oswald succeeded to the family estate at Auchincruive,[3] and the estates of Cavens and Preston in Kirkcudbright,[5] by deed of Entail (Fee tail) specified by Richard Oswald.[6]

Career[edit]

Shortly after the founding of the Glasgow Bank by Alexander Dennistoun in 1809, Oswald joined other influential merchants there.[7]

Oswald’s older brother, Richard Alexander Oswald was also a merchant in Glasgow and together they owned a mill in Barrowfield. In 1812, they formed Oswald, Stevenson & Co., a company formed for mercantile transactions in cottons and yarns, with Nathaniel Stevenson and his brother James. On the death of Richard Alexander Oswald in 1821, James Stevenson took control of the cotton branch while Oswald remained in partnership with Nathaniel for a further nearly 40 years,[8] with Oswald retiring from the company which operated in Glasgow and Manchester on 31 December 1848.[9] Another of Oswald’s business ventures was a company called Oswald, Tennant & Co., which went into bankruptcy due to a "trail of rapid commercial misfortunes connected with India".[10] It is not clear when this occurred, but the company was still trading in 1837 [11]

In 1828 James Oswald was on the Committee of the Trustees for the Parish of Govan [12] Prior to becoming an M.P., Oswald commanded the Glasgow squadron of mounted Yeomanry.[13]

James Oswald was Liberal Member of Parliament for Glasgow from 10 December 1832 until 26 May 1837, when he accepted the Chiltern Hundreds.[14] Oswald returned to Parliament upon the death of Lord William Bentinck on 24 June 1839, when he stood against Feargus O’Connor, a well known Chartist.[15] Oswald was one of the leading supporters of the movement that led to the Reform Act 1832.[16] and one of the first M.P.’s for Glasgow to be elected by manhood suffrage.[4]

Described as a "powerful orator",[4] and a "steady, consistent, honourable man" [16] who claimed to "always put the interests of my country and cause of reform first" [15] he is credited with 20 recorded contributions in Parliament during his terms of office.[17] It is said that while in Parliament, Oswald "seldom troubled the House unless he had something particular to say".[16]

On 20 February 1833, Oswald was appointed with Sir Robert Peel and others to a parliamentary select committee to classify and prepare abstracts for petitions presented to the house.[18] In February the following year, he was appointed to another select committee to scrutinise the education, practice and usage of the medical profession in the United Kingdom.[19]

Oswald is described variously as a Liberal or Whig. In 1835, he was appointed to the acting committee for the management of the affairs of the Radical Whig Association, formed to protect the interests during a surge in conservative activity.[20] On 16 February 1841 he was appointed to a select committee to investigate the laws concerning the exportation of machinery.[21]

He remained in Parliament until 29 July 1847.[17]

Oswald died on 3 June 1853 at Edinburgh.[22] He was buried at Glasgow Cathedral.[23]

In 1856, friends and admirers of Oswald commissioned a statue by Baron Marochetti. Originally erected in Sandyford Place, off Sauchiehall Street, it was moved to the north-east corner of George Square in 1875, after the Council were petitioned by his great-nephew, Richard Alexander Oswald. It had long been felt by Oswald’s friends and family that he should be accorded the same honour as his political opponent Robert Peel, whose monument had been erected in George Square in 1859.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Old Parish Registers Births in Scotlands People on-line database [www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk] (purchase required) accessed 27 November 2011
  2. ^ Smith, John Guthrie & Mitchell, John Oswald "The Old Country Houses of the Old Glasgow Gentry" (James MacLehose & Sons, Glasgow, 1878) [1] pp. passim
  3. ^ a b Will Richard Alexander Oswald d. 1841 in Scotlands People on-line database [2] (purchase required) accessed 26 November 2011
  4. ^ a b c d "Public Sculpture of Glasgow" McKenzie, Raymond & Nisbet, Gary (Liverpool University Press, 2002)[3]
  5. ^ Edinburgh Gazette, Issue 5861 published on 29 May 1849
  6. ^ Edinburgh Gazette Issue 3944 published on 11 March 1831
  7. ^ MacLehose, James Memoirs and portraits of one hundred Glasgow men who have died during the last thirty years and in their lives did much to make the city what it now is. (Glasgow: James MacLehose & Sons (1886)) [4]
  8. ^ MacLehose, James Memoirs and portraits of one hundred Glasgow men who have died during the last thirty years and in their lives did much to make the city what it now is (Glasgow: James MacLehose & Sons (1886) [5]
  9. ^ Edinburgh Gazette, Issue 6264 published on 15 March 1853
  10. ^ Mackenzie, Peter: Old Reminiscences of Glasgow & The West of Scotland Vol. II (James P. Forrester, Glasgow (1890))[6] pp. 44
  11. ^ Pigot & Co’s National Commercial Directory of the Whole of Scotland (Pigot & Co., London and Manchester (1837))[7] pp 595
  12. ^ "Caledonian Mercury" (Edinburgh, Scotland), Monday 10 November 1828; Issue 16726 in Infotrac Gale Group on-line database [8](subscription required) accessed 28 November 2011
  13. ^ Mackenzie, Peter: Old Reminiscences of Glasgow & The West of Scotland Vol. I (James P. Forrester, Glasgow (1890))[9]
  14. ^ "Liverpool Mercury" (Liverpool, England), Friday 19 May 1837; Issue 1359 in Infotrac Gale Group on-line database [10] (subscription required) accessed on 28 November 2011
  15. ^ a b "The Times", Thursday 27 June 1839; pg. 6; Issue 17079; col B in Infotrac Gale Group on-line database [11] (subscription required) accessed 27 November 2011
  16. ^ a b c "Caledonian Mercury" (Edinburgh, Scotland), Monday 9 January 1837; Issue 18212 in Infotrac Gale Group on-line database [12] (subscription required) accessed 27 November 2011
  17. ^ a b Hansard 1803–2005
  18. ^ "The Times", Saturday 23 February 1833; pg. 4; Issue 15096; col E in Infotrac Gale Group on-line database [13](subscription required) accessed 27 November 2011
  19. ^ "The Times", Thursday 13 February 1834; pg. 5; Issue 15400; col A in Infotrac Gale Group on-line database [14] (subscription required) accessed 27 November 2011
  20. ^ "The Times", Friday 22 May 1835; pg. 3; Issue 15797; col D in Infotrac Gale Group on-line database [15] (subscription required) accessed 27 November 2011
  21. ^ "The Times", Friday 23 April 1841; pg. 6; Issue 17652; col C in Infotrac Gale Group on-line database [16] (subscription required) accessed 27 November 2011
  22. ^ "The Glasgow Herald" Monday 6 June 1853; Issue 5254 in Infotrac Gale Group on-line database [17] (subscription required) accessed 27 November 2011
  23. ^ Old Parish Deaths and Burials in Scotlands People on-line database [www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk] (purchase required) accessed 27 November 2011

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for Glasgow
18321837
With: James Ewing 1832–35
Colin Dunlop 1835–36
Lord William Bentinck from 1836
Succeeded by
John Dennistoun
Lord William Bentinck
Preceded by
John Dennistoun
Lord William Bentinck
Member of Parliament for Glasgow
18391847
With: John Dennistoun
Succeeded by
John MacGregor
Alexander Hastie