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Colin Dunlop Donald

Born 1815, died 1886.

Mr. Donald’s death is the removal of an old landmark. He was little over the three score years
and ten, but he had lived all these years here, and been prominent from an early age, and he
represented an old social and an old business connection.
His father, Colin Dunlop Donald, was son to Thomas Donald and Janet Dunlop; his mother,
Marion Stirling, was daughter to John Stirling and Janet Bogle – these Donalds and Dunlops,
Stirlings and Bogles being leaders of our old burgher aristocracy; and his firm of M’Grigor,
Donald and Co. is made up of two leading firms, of which the one is now in the fourth
generation and the other goes back to 1769. He did not discredit the position he was born to.
Come of a handsome race by father and by mother, he was a man of fine presence; he had
simple but admirable manners. Born and bred in Glasgow, and a Glasgow writer all his days,
he had this mark of breeding about him, that you could not but recognise the gentleman, but
could not have guessed his line of life. You could not even have told where he came from; his
speech at once betrayed the Scotchman, but he spoke the Scotch which educated people spoke
here before Glasgow had worked up an accent of her own. A man of few words and dry
manner, some thought him cold or haughty. They did him an injustice. He had deep feelings
and a kindly nature, and though not just the man to take a liberty with, he was uniformly
courteous wherever courtesy was due. As president of the Society of Writers, and afterwards
as Dean of Faculty of Procurators, he did his best for the interest and the honour of this
profession; and he was a prominent supporter of the Conservative party. Beyond this he
moved little out of the circle of his own friends. There he was always welcome. He was not a
reader of books, but he was a close reader of men, and he was full of shrewdness and of
humour, unmixed with malice. In business the lines fell to him in pleasant places. He was all
his life in a first-class law firm – as enviable a position as man can have – and he had the
additional pleasure that comes of general respect. Other lawyers here may have had quicker or
keener intellects; no one stood better alike with clients and with professional brethren: An
admirable adviser, having great common-sense and a long and varied experience of business,
he had the fullest confidence of his clients. To his opponents he was perfectly straightforward
and fair; and he never fought for trifles, but, if fight he must, he fought hard, for he had a stiff
He was born on 5th September, 1815, and married in 1853 Helen Bogle, daughter of Archibald
Hamilton, and leaves by her two sons – Colin George, a captain in the 7th Royal Fusiliers, and
Archibald Hamilton, of M’Grigor, Donald and Co. – and two daughters. Mrs. Donald died in
1877, and her husband now lies beside her in the quiet churchyard of Row. M’Grigor, Donald
and Co., of which Mr. Donald was a leading partner, was made up of two good old firms – a
M’Grigor firm and a Donald firm. The first was founded in the end of last century by
Alexander M’Grigor. He is said to have come (like the Monteiths of Henry Monteith and Co.
and the Campbells of J. and W. Campbell and Co.) from the Loch of Monteith. If so, he must
have come young, for he was at our Grammar School under old John Dow in the same class
with Alexander Houston, Kirkman Finlay, Sir Neil Douglas, and Senex. He was a shrewd and
successful man of business, a leading member of the old Glasgow Whigs, lover of books, and
founder of the famous library now owned by his grandson and namesake. In process of time
Mr. M’Grigor assumed his son, Alexander M’Grigor, jun., and his son-in-law, Patrick
Murray, and the firm became M’Grigor, Murray and M’Grigor. Mr. Murray, still remembered
as an eager and able lawyer, died in 1838, and the founder in 1839, and Alexander M’Grigor,
the son, carried on for some years by himself and in his own name. In 1847 he assumed his
son, Alexander Bennett M’Grigor (now head of M’Grigor, Donald and Co.), and James
Stevenson, who had long been his clerk, and the firm became M’Grigors and Stevenson. The
second Alexander M’Grigor, who had long been in delicate health, died in 1853, and in 1858
James Simpson Fleming was assumed, and the firm became M’Grigor, Stevenson and
Fleming. Mr. Fleming had been law secretary to the Western Bank, and had afterwards won
great credit as liquidator of that unfortunate concern. In 1871 the death of Mr. Stevenson and
the appointment of Mr. Fleming to the management of the Royal Bank led to an
amalgamation with the firm of C. D. Donald and Sons. This old business was founded in 1769
by John Maxwell of Dargavel – office, Horn’s Court, Argyll Street. Dargavel was known in
law as John Maxwell, jun., to distinguish him from another Glasgow writer, John Maxwell of
Fingalton, who was known as John Maxwell, senior, and had his office in Moodie’s Wynd.
John Maxwell junior’s son, another John Maxwell of Dargavel, succeeded, and was in turn
succeeded in the business by Colin Dunlop Donald.
Colin Dunlop Donald was son of Thomas Donald of Geilston and Janet Dunlop. Thomas
Donald was one of the Virginia Dons who was ruined by the American war; Janet Dunlop
was daughter of Provost Colin Dunlop of Carmyle, another Virginian, but one of those who
rode the storm. C. D. Donald was at the Grammar School under old John Dow, a year of two
later than Alex. M’Grigor. He was dux three years out of the four years, and was extremely
ill-pleased when a colonial interloper beat him the fourth year. He had his law education
chiefly in Edinburgh under Dundas and Wilson, the well-known W.S. Returning to Glasgow
he succeeded to the Maxwell business, and added to it a good connection of his own with the
old Virginians, the later West Indians, and the leading men of the day. He was for a short time
in partnership with John Park Fleming, father of J. B. Fleming, and for a short time with John
George Hamilton. In 1824 John George Hamilton retired on becoming a partner in Henry
Monteith and Co., and for 18 years Colin Donald carried on alone. He was able to do it, being
a man of great industry, method, common-sense, and force of character. He was a thorough
old Tory in politics and out of politics, sticking to his house in St. Enoch Square long after
every other private resident had left it, and sticking to the last to candles in his office. In 1842
he assumed his sons Thomas and Colin, under the firm of C. D. Donald and sons. He died in
1859, but the style of the firm was kept up till 1871. At the amalgamation in this year Thomas
Donald retired, retaining the commissary clerkship; he had been appointed to this in 1858 in
succession to his father, who had held the office from 1817.