4 Moray Place – the Frazer family

Four Moray Place was in the hands of the Frazer family for the first 85 years. This is their story.

James Frazer

James Frazer was born in Glasgow in 1815, the son of James Frazer and Isabella Bannatyne.

He was married on 23 January 1849 in the Presbyterian Church of Ballymacarrett, Belfast, to Rosanna Agnew, eldest daughter of the late Joseph Agnew, Esq, of Redhill, near Moira, County Down . At the time, he was working for the newspaper The Banner of Ulster. Rosanna’s maternal grandfather was the Rev William Moffat, himself a Scot, of the Secession Church in Moira .

The couple moved back to Glasgow, and in 1851 were at 9 Bellgrove Street in the east end, with a mysterious 9-year-old Richard McNeil, born in Java, “a gentleman’s son”. Bellgrove Street was adjacent to the Cattle Market. James was working as a General Commission Agent.

By 1861 he had become a publisher, printer and newsagent. The family were living at 121 North Montrose St, Townhead. Their fourth child had just arrived, and they moved to the newly built 4 Moray Place shortly thereafter.

The printing business

James had premises at 67 Union Street, and at 1 Royal Bank Place (now housing the Nationwide Building Society, Buchanan Street). As well as providing printing services and stationery, he was the agent for a number of publications including the Scottish Farmer and the Protestant Layman.

Newspaper advert

Advert for Frazer’s printing services. Glasgow Morning Journal 20 Nov 1862

Henderson’s Guide

In 1854 the Henderson Brothers were in business as an excursion and news agent, and commenced publication of Henderson’s Conveyance Guide. They found it unprofitable, and sold it in September 1855. They weren’t very successful generally, and went bust in 1858 .

The guide continued however, and was taken over by James Frazer. Published monthly at 2d, it contained around 70 pages with all the latest railway and coach timetables and details of Clyde steam sailings. It covered Scotland, Ireland and the North of England, the local equivalent of the better-known Bradshaw’s Guides.

Advert for Hendersons Guide. Caledonian Mercury 1860

Advert for Hendersons Guide. London Morning Herald 8 Apr 1862

The guide continued in print for over two decades, although Frazer eventually replaced the Henderson name with his own.

Advert for Frazer’s Guide. Glasgow PO Directory 1879

After many years in Union Street, he moved to 15 Drury Lane, where he invested in the latest steam-driven printing presses. In 1881 he was recorded as a letterpress printer employing 4 men and 6 boys.

Advert for Frazer’s printing services. Glasgow PO Directory 1879

James died at Moray Place in 1892 at the age of 77. His wife Rosanna outlived him by thirty years, passing away in May 1922 aged 92.

The Frazer children

The Frazers had five children, four before moving to Moray Place, while the fifth was born there in 1867. All the children lived at Moray Place for the remainder of their lives. None married or had children.

Their first child, William Moffat Fraser (b.1852), worked in his father’s business, but died at 44 in 1897.

Their second, James Frazer (b.1855), died aged 24 in 1880.

Isabella Bannatyne Frazer (b.1857) worked as a Glasgow School Board teacher.

Rev. Joseph McNeill Frazer (b. 1860) attended Glasgow University and became minister of Langside Old Parish Church from 1897 until shortly before his death in 1927. Joseph was present at the unveiling of the Langside School war memorial in June 1920, leading prayers before buglers of the 2nd Gordon Highlanders sounded the last post .

Langside Parish Church was designed by Alexander Skirving in the gothic style, and erected in 1882 atop the hill at Langside. Skirving added the adjacent Langside Battlefield Memorial in 1887, and the Langside Hill Free Church (the “Church on the Hill”) in 1895. The Victoria Infirmary was built immediately behind Langside Church in 1890, and they formed quite a collection of Victorian buildings at the top of the hill.

Langside Old Parish Church and Battlefield Monument. Source: Caingram

Langside Church, aerial view, with Victoria Infirmary behind. Source: HES, via PastGlasgow

Langside Church closed in 1975, and the building was used to store medical records for the Victoria Infirmary until it was destroyed by fire in 1981, and replaced sadly by a hospital staff car park .

OS Map of 1952 showing the two Skirving churches and the monument at Battle Place. Note also how the trams stopped and turned round in the middle of the roundabout, and the tram shelter, now also gone. Source: NLS Maps

Their last child, John Alexander Somerville Frazer, was born at Moray Place in 1867. He also worked in his father’s business as a printer, but he too died young, at 37, in 1904.

Thus Rosanna outlived all but two of her children. Isabella, the teacher, lived on to the age of 90, dying at Moray Place in April 1948. She was the last of the Moray Place Frazers.

Epilogue

The entire Frazer family were interred together at Craigton Cemetery, and their grave marker still stands.

Frazer grave marker, Craigton Cemetery, Sep 2023. Source: Author’s own

And then there was the minor character of their early 1870s lodger, BH Remmers, who I overlooked. It turned out he was quite a character; read his story in a separate piece — The Lodger.

Additions and corrections are welcome.

References

1.
Downie AC. Life in a 20th Century School. Langside Primary School 1906-2006 [Internet]. 2007. Available from: https://bygone.bungoblog.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/Langside-Primary-School.pdf
1.
NAS Catalogue - Langside Old Kirk Session [Internet]. [cited 2022 Sep 26]. Available from: https://catalogue.nrscotland.gov.uk/nrsonlinecatalogue/browseDetails.aspx?reference=CH2/859&
1.
Bankruptcy Proceedings. Glasgow Morning Journal. 1858 Nov 20;
1.
Marriages. Belfast News-letter. 1849 Jan 30;
1.
Moira Presbyterian Church | Lisburn.com [Internet]. [cited 2022 Oct 10]. Available from: http://lisburn.com/churches/Lisburn-churches/moira-presbyterian-church.html

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for this great post Andrew.

  2. Douglas Anderson

    October 18, 2022 at 6:06 pm

    These stories always leave me wanting to know more. How unfortunate that a large family like that should all die so young. The last surviving daughter living to age 90 and on her own in that large house.
    Thanks again Andrew for another thought provoking article

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