Preparing for Death
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Robert McCowan (Mar 7 1821-Mar 14 1880) was a fairly well-to-do Chartered Accountant and Stockbroker in Glasgow, Scotland. He was the sixth son of William McCowan, farmer and carrier in Capon Acre and an older brother of David McCowan, who came to be one of Glasgow's most notable philanthropists. Quite ill for at least the last 6 years of his life and feeling death draw neigh, Robert's papers reveal a keen sense of responsibility and concern for his young son, Robert William.


87 St. Vincent St., Glasgow
16th June 1874

To the Trustees and Executors named in my Trust Disposition and Settlement

My Dear Friends

I have appointed you my Trustees and Executors in my Settlement of this date, and I hope you will accept the offices. My wishes are pretty clearly explained in that Deed, but I take leave in this form to add a few instructions.

With regard to my Dear boy I am particularly anxious about his correct upbringing. He is an extraordinary precocious boy and has wisdom far beyond his years. He was formerly a slender child, but he seems to have got over that delicacy, though he still requires to be very well looked after and cared for regarding hs food, clothing and health generally. He has since 1st September last been at Mr. Wilson's Boarding School, Meigle House, Perthshire, and has thriven wonderfully and got quite strong, besides making great improvement in his education. My intention is to send him back to Mr. Wilson for another Session or two and thereafter to the University. If he is young at my death I would like that a certain portion of my household furniture should be retained for him until he reached majority or to be used in a house rented for his special use, should this be deemed expedient by you. The surplus articles of furniture not required for him might be sold.

If however you think it advisable and he cares for it himself, you are at liberty instead of renting a house to store the Furniture until he reaches majority as before mentioned, when he would be able to consult with you as to his own position, and in the meantime to board him with some one in a healthy locality where there are few boarders kept.

In the event of your resolving to take a house for him you will require to engage a housekeeper, and whether you select one from my own relations or from strangers, she would require to be of a peculiarly good temper, and of a kindly and affectionate disposition. He is a strange boy, and does not agree with harsh treatment or unkindness in any shape. Reasoning and kindness suit his temperament best, and should my death happen before he has finished with Mr. Wilson, I think you could not do better than continue him with Mr. Wilson.

I have no idea what business he should be or what profession he should adopt. No doubt I have a kind of liking that he should succeed to my own profession having been at so much pains in establishing it, but as he may be young at my death, it is unnecessary for me to leave any definite instructions on the subject. I am quite satisfied that you will advise him as to what is best for his interest at the proper time.

Above all I would like if spared to manhood that he should be early married, and I earnestly pray God to direct him in his own good time to a prudent suitable and religious wife.

Should I at my death be residing in my present house 12 Lynedoch Place, I request that you will sell the same as it is too large for my boy to occupy. As it is a good house and handsomly furnished I should think you will readily get 6000 for it.

In case at my death I may not have erected a tombstone or monument at my burying place   in the Necropolis, I request that you will get this done. Perhaps a plain stone of Aberdeen Granite will be the most suitable but I would not like much money spent in this way, probably fifty pounds or less might suffice.

The wages of my present servants are viz: Isabella Paterson 11 half year and Elizabeth Clark 10 do inclusive of Tea, and should they be in my service at my death I request that you will give each a gratuity of Five pounds besides the customary allowance for mournings.

You will be entitled to my interest in the Capital Stock of the Glasgow Stock Exchange, and also to Ten pounds from the Commercial Travellers Society of which I am a Member.

In the event of my present partner Mr. Andrew McD. Houston, continuing the business on his own account, I recommend you to afford him every assistance in your power in prosecuting the business.

Trusting you will excuse all the trouble I am entailing upon you, I commend you to God and to the Word of His Grace and in the hope of meeting in the Great Assembly above where there shall be no parting because no sin, to enjoy fellowship and communion with the Lamb for ever and ever, I am

My Dear Brother & Nephew
Yours affectionately in Jesus
Robt McCowan


Strathclyde Regional Archives, T-MR/245: Trust of Robert McCowan, chartered accountant and sharebroker in Glasgow, 1874-1881

The Scarboro Heights Record V12 #2
The McCowans' Who's Who, Vol. 7