The History of Leith

September 12, 2004

The Thomson Window at South Leith

The inscription runs-William Thomson died 28th March 1889. Sarah Wishart his wife died 13th December 1889.

James Thomson born in the year 1756 was the son of a bonnet laird at Loanhead. He followed the building trade when he came to Leith. James Place, John’s Place and Thomson’s buildings were erected by him. He is also said to have built the first Leith Academy in 1796 or 1806.
It was quite natural for one working so much in stone to get into touch with marble quarries in Italy. This led to the buying of a sloop which may be called the forerunner of all the various ships which the generations of the Thomsons have owned. He had some connection with the Henderson’s who founded the well known Anchor Line and who have still some business connection with Leghorn. James Thomson had two sons Alexander and William. Alexander was for some years in Italy but ultimately he returned home and joined his brother in business. William from the first applied himself diligently to the business at Leith and greatly expanded it. He opened up connections with Australia and Japan. Like other Leith business men he invested the capital he was amassing in other lines of industry as for example in the north British Rubber Company. Unfortunately he was a shareholder and co-Trustee in the City of Glasgow Bank but he was able to survive the severe ordeal of the successive calls which were made on the Shareholders. He bought the estate of Craigbinning in the Parish of Ecclesmachan and retired from business in 1875, The Thomsons were never members of South Leith Church. They were members of Coburg Street United Presbyterian Church as long as they resided in Leith. William Thomson was an Elder with and a close friend of Dr Harper and Dr Stevenson successively.

Two members of the family are still in the business and much respected in Leith and Edinburgh-Mr William Thomson and Sir James Thomson. Another brother F.C.Thomson is one of the M.P.s for the City of Aberdeen. He became also Solicitor General for Scotland.

Source-South Leith Records 1925 David Robertson and Rev William Swan

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