Sir William Burrell (1861–1958) was a Scottish shipping merchant and philanthropist.
Born on 9 July 1861 in Glasgow, Burrell was the third of nine children in a family, which ran a shipping business.
Burrell joined this business in 1875, at the age of 14, and took over the firm when his father died. Burrell and his brothers were successful in business by ordering ships during economic downturns, and using these modern vessels to full capacity when the economy recovered. Using this method the family managed to become rich. This allowed Burrell to spend his time collecting antiques, and he managed this by his eye for a bargain.
In 1901 he married Constance Mary Lockhart Mitchell, the daughter of another ship owner. Burrell was knighted in 1927 for services to art and for his public work.
In 1944 Burrell donated his collection to the city of Glasgow, with £250,000 to house it. The conditions of this include the request that the collection should be in a rural setting. This posed a problem until the council acquired Pollok Country Park. A custom-build museum, the Burrell Collection, was finally opened in 1983 – even this is large enough to display only a portion of Burrell's collection. Provand's Lordship in Glasgow also displays some of his collection of 17th century Scottish furniture.
William Burrell died at Hutton Castle in the Scottish Borders on 29 March 1958, at the age of 96. He is buried in Largs, where he had a holiday home in Nelson Street, along with his wife Constance who died on 15 August 1961 aged 86.
- William Wells, Burrell, Sir William (1861–1958), rev. Richard Marks, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.