27 Nov

Gentleman Greenlees

Allanna Brough, Archive

In my last post I talked about two of the early shareholders of The Picture House, Whisky Distillers William Greenlees and William McKersie, but I concentrated on Mr. McKersie mainly because of the women in his life. This was perhaps unfair to Mr. Greenlees so I thought that I should try to redress the balance.

William Greenlees was born in Campbeltown in 1850. He was the son of a Grocer, his Father running a shop at Stewarton. William began his career as a Bank Clerk before becoming one of the co-owners of Longrow Distillery in Campbeltown in 1887. In 1912, he bought 100 shares in The Picture House. He also held shares in Bennet & Coys of Glasgow. The architect H.E. Clifford designed his beautiful villa “Redcliff” on Kilkerran Road.

As I have mentioned before, I like to go digging. Mostly because I am quite nosy and I ask too many questions. But I like detail. I like complete stories. I like mysteries. There are always clues along the way that help build a picture of a person, some indication of their character or lifestyle.

It wasn’t too difficult to track William’s life and career, after all, anyone can check a Census document or a Marriage Certificate. But William Greenlees never married so there was no wife or children to track down. I had the facts but, all through my research, apart from his obvious business success, I struggled to get a sense of William the man. And then I read his will…

William left £250 to his nephew, with the rest of his Estate to be shared between his three brothers and two sisters.

However, William also left £300 to his servant Kate Galbraith and a further £500 to his housekeeper Margaret McKendrick. (Margaret had been William’s housekeeper for at least twenty years.) William died in 1922, so these were considerable sums of money.

I think that this showed William to be a man who recognised loyalty and wanted to reward it, I think that this shows William to be a man who cared about people, whatever their position in life.

I  think William Greenlees was a Gentleman.

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