National Records of Scotland

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Sir William Burrell (1861-1958)

Sir William Burrell (1861-1958)

Art collector

Sir William Burrell was born into a shipping family and ran the business with one of his brothers after his father's death. They eventually sold the entire fleet and this enabled him to concentrate on the collecting of art and antiques. He kept a record of acquisitions throughout his life and they were held at Hutton Castle, which he had purchased in 1916, or loaned to art galleries. He was knighted in 1927 for services to art. In 1944 he donated 8,000 items to his home city of Glasgow with funding for a new museum building to display the collections. This was to be in a rural setting within easy reach of the city centre. The Burrell Collection in Pollok Country Park opened to the public in October 1983.

Birth in 1861

William Burrell was born on 5 July 1861, the son of William Burrell, shipping agent and Isabella Guthrie. The entry in the statutory register for the district of Glasgow Blythswood gives the place of birth as 3 Scotia Street.

Statutory birth entry for William Burrell

Birth entry for William Burrell (44 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1861/644-6/526

1871 to 1901 censuses

In 1871 William Burrell, 9, scholar, was enumerated at Abbey Park in St Andrews with the headmaster and other boarders at his school. He is listed fourth from the bottom of the page in the census record for the district of St Andrews and St Leonards.

1871 census record for William Burrell

1871 census record for William Burrell (87 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1871/453/1, page 1

In 1881 William Burrell, aged 19, commercial clerk, was enumerated with his family at Ellon Bank in the village of Bowling. The census record for the district of Old or West Kilpatrick shows his father, William, was a forwarding agent, his brother George, a clerk, and brother Adam, an engineer draughtsman.

1881 census record for William Burrell

1881 census record for William Burrell (42 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1881/501/2, page 28

In 1891 William Burrell, aged 29, shipowner was enumerated at Devonshire Terrace in Glasgow with his mother and two sisters. The census record for the district of Partick gives his mother as head of household.

1891 census record for William Burrell1891 census record for William Burrell continued

1891 census record for William Burrell (27 and 23 KB jpegs)
National Records of Scotland, 1891/646-3/46, pages 53-54

In 1901 William Burrell, 39, ship owner, and his wife Constance were visitors at Torwood the home of Henry Hutchinson, East India merchant. He and his family are listed on the previous page of the census record for the district of Renton. The last column shows that one of the household servants spoke Gaelic and English (G E) 

1901 census record for William Burrell

1901 census record for William Burrell (34 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1901/494-2/1, page 31 

Marriage in 1901

William Burrell, 40, shipowner, married Constance M L Mitchell on 10 September 1901. The entry in the statutory register for the district of Partick gives the place of marriage as Westbourne United Free Church in Kelvinside and his address as 4 Devonshire Gardens.

Marriage entry for William Burrell

Marriage entry for William Burrell (54 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1901/646-3/336

1911 census

In 1911 William Burrell, 49, shipowner, was enumerated with his wife, daughter and five servants at 8 Great Western Terrace in the district of Glasgow Hillhead. The house had been designed by Alexander 'Greek' Thomson.

1911 census record for William Burrell, part one

1911 census record for William Burrell, part two

1911 census record for William Burrell (37 and 35 KB jpegs)
National Records of Scotland, 1911/644-12/22, page 25

Death in 1958

William Burrell, 96, shipowner (retired) died on 29 March 1958. The entry in the statutory register for the district of Hutton in Berwickshire gives the place of death as Hutton Castle. The informant was his daughter Marion Burrell.

Death entry for William Burrell (40 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1958/745/4