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British Industrial History

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William McOnie

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William McOnie / M'Onie (1813-1894) of P. and W. McOnie, W. and A. McOnie and McOnie Harvey and Co

1813 Born, one of 3 brothers

1831 Married(1) Jean Stirling (1818–1867)

1840 Formed a partnership with his elder brother Peter McOnie as P. and W. McOnie.

1851 Joined his brother Andrew McOnie in creating the firm W. and A. McOnie.

1851 Living at 27 Gloucester Street, Waterloo Place, Gorbals, Glasgow: William McOnie (age 38 born Port of Menteith, Perthshire), Brass Founder. With his wife Jane McOnie (age 33 born Renton, Dumbartonshire). One servant.[1]

1851 Birth of son William McOnie, Junior

1867 Death of his first wife Jane / Jean Stirling

1868 Married(2) in Tradeston, Glasgow to Jane Jack Mitchell

1881 Living at "Heath Bank", St Andrews Road, Kinning Park, Glasgow: William McOnie (age 68 born Port of Menteith, Perthshire), Engineer. Employing 252 Men and Boys. With his wife Jane McOnie (age 51 born Glasgow). Also his niece Eliza Fergusson Bell (age 24 born Antrim, Belfast). Two servants.[2]

1891 Living at 43 St Andrew's Drive, Pollokshields, Glasgow: William McOnie (age 79 born Perthshire), Maker of Machinery Used In Sugar Refining. With his wife Jane J. McOnie (age 61 born Glasgow).[3]

Sir William was chairman of the African Steam Navigation Co, and a director of the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Co.

1894 February 3rd. Died aged 82. Of Heathbank, Pollokshields, Stirlingshire. Probate to several including David Richmond, tube manufacturer.[4]

1894 Will details. Mentions various family members.[5]


1894 Obituary [6]

We regret to have to record the death of Sir William M'Onie, of Glasgow, who died after a brief illness on the 3rd inst., at the ripe age of eighty-two.

The deceased gentleman belonged to the sturdy school of self-taught engineers, which during the last half century has been so instrumental in building up the industrial position of the West of Scotland.

Born in Stirlingshire, he went as a boy in company with the rest of his family to Glasgow, where he was in due course apprenticed to a grocer. Several years' experience only served to increase his dislike to the occupation, and while still quite a young man he abandoned it, and commenced, in partnership with a brother named Andrew, a general blacksmith business.

Some years later, 1840, this connection was dissolved, and William formed a fresh partnership with his eldest brother Peter, the two starting an engineering business which is still carried on as the Mirrlees, Watson, and Yaryan Company. This co-partnership was also dissolved in 1847.

In 1851 he rejoined his brother Andrew and founded the firm, which first under the title of Messrs. W. and A. M'Onie, and latterly as Messrs. M'Onie, Harvey, and Co. has attained a worldwide reputation as engineers and millwrights, principally in connection with sugar plant and colonial machinery.

Between the dates of the changes in the firm last mentioned, Sir William being then the sole partner of the firm, was joined by Mr. Robert Harvey, a gentleman well known in connection with the manufacture of sugar machinery, the business thereafter being carried on as stated under the firm of M'Onie, Harvey, and Co., and more recently as McOnie, Harvey, and Co., Limited, Sir William being chairman and Mr. Robert Harvey the managing director of the company, a position which the latter continues to hold. Owing to the increasing requirements of the business, a large addition to their already extensive premises in Scotland Street, Glasgow, is being built by the company.

In addition to his position as head of this extensive concern, Sir William was chairman of the African Steam Navigation Company, and a director of the Fairfield Shipbuilding Company.

He entered public life in 1867, when he became a member of the Glasgow Town Council. Thereafter he served the city in various capacities till 1883, when he was made Lord Provost. On his retirement from public life three years later, Her Majesty - in consideration of his long and valuable services - conferred on him the dignity of knighthood.

Sir William McOnie was a typical Scotchman, combining the characteristics of caution, shrewdness, and business enterprise with quiet social qualities which commanded universal respect and esteem.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1851 Census
  2. 1851 Census
  3. 1891 census
  4. The Engineer 1894/02/09
  5. Glasgow Herald - Thursday 10 May 1894
  6. The Engineer 1894/02/09