William Burrell

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Sir William Burrell Jr. (9 July 1861 – 29 March 1958) was a Scottish shipping merchant and philanthropist.


Born on 9 July 1861 in Glasgow, Burrell was the third of nine children to William Burrell Sr. and Isabella Guthrie, who 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 became 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.

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-built 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.[1] 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.

Awards and honours[edit]

Burrell was knighted in 1927 for services to art and for his public work.

The Freedom of the City of Glasgow was conferred upon him on 26 May 1944.[2] He was the recipient of the 1946 St Mungo Prize, awarded to the individual who has done most in the previous three years to improve and promote the city of Glasgow.[3]


  1. ^ "Death of Sir William Burrell. Art Donor and Benefactor". The Glasgow Herald. 31 March 1951. p. 7. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  2. ^ "Freedom of Glasgow. Honour to Sir William Burrell". The Glasgow Herald. 27 May 1944. p. 6. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  3. ^ A P Somerville. The Glasgow Story http://www.theglasgowstory.com/image/?inum=TGSS00044. Retrieved 5 August 2017. Missing or empty |title= (help)

Further reading[edit]

  • Marks, Richard (1983) Burrell, a portrait of a collector: Sir William Burrell 1858 - 1961. Glasgow: Richard Drew ISBN 0-86267-033-0

External links[edit]