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William Clark Cowie (8 April 1849 in Friockheim, Forfarshire; – 14 September 1910 in Bad Nauheim) was a Scottish engineer, mariner, and businessman who helped establish British North Borneo and was Chairman of the British North Borneo Company.
Born on 8 April 1849, Cowie was the oldest of four children of the flax producer David Cowie (1825–1896) and Ann Cowie (1819–1906) in Scotland, where his mother ancestors had lived for generations. His three siblings were Mary, Andson and Edward.
The family moves to Arbroath on the Scottish east coast. His father was a director in the Wardmill Works of M. C. Thomson & Co., and Cowie trained as an engineer. He received private lessons with the aim of following his grandfather, an engineer in one of the first mills in Scotland.
Around 1873, Cowie married Flora Davidson. They had two children; Flora de Cruz (born 1874) and William Anson Edward Cowie de Cruz (born 1875). His wife died suddenly, aged 25, shortly after the birth of their second child.
Cowie then married Amy Constance Pead, and they had two children; Muara Gladys (born 1888) and Andson Gordon (born 1891).[
From April 1870, Cowie was hired as the chief engineer of Argyle under Captain Peter Orr and left Glasgow for Singapore on his 21st birthday.