National Records of Scotland

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George Coats, Baron Glentanar (1849-1918)

George Coats, Baron Glentanar (1849-1918)

Industrialist

George Coats had a successful career in the Paisley thread industry founded by his grandfather, James Coats. He worked for the family firm run by his father and uncles. It amalgamated with its American associates and other businesses to become J and P Coats Ltd. By the early 20th century it was one of the largest companies in the world. George Coats was created baron on 29 June 1916. At the time of his death he was one of the wealthiest men in Scotland. The records of Coats Viyella plc, 1830-2002, which cover the period of his involvement with J and P Coats, are held by University of Glasgow Archive Services.

Birth in 1849

George Coats was born on 11 February 1849 the lawful son (S. L.) of Thomas Coats, Thread Manufacturer, Ferguslie House and Margaret Glen. The entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) for Paisley Abbey gives the date of birth in one column and the date of registration, 31 December 1855, in the next. Statutory civil registration was introduced in Scotland on 1 January 1855 but some of the OPRs were updated for a couple of years after that.

Birth entry for George Coats

Birth entry for George Coats (18 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 559/7, page 418

1851-1871 censuses

In 1851 George Coats, 2, was enumerated with his family at Ferguslie House. The census return for the district of Paisley Abbey in the county of Renfrew gives his father's occupation as cotton thread manufacturer. (National Records of Scotland, 1851/559/57, page 19)

In 1861 George Coats, 12, scholar, was enumerated with his family at Ferguslie House. The census return for the district of Paisley Abbey burgh in the county of Renfrew gives his father’s occupation and employer details as: Sewing Cotton Manuf[acture]r, Acting Partner, firm of J and P Coats. Employing 1172 persons. Also coal master, Acting Partner of the Nilshill Coal Co[mpany] employing 150 persons.

1861 census return for George Coats

1861 census return for George Coats (132 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1861/559-1/28, page 19

In 1871 George Coats, 22, was enumerated with his family at Ferguslie House. The census return for the district of Abbey burgh in the county of Renfrew gives his occupation as commercial clerk (National Records of Scotland, 1871/559-1/28, page 18)

Marriage in 1880

George Coats, 31, Thread Manufacturer, married Margaret Lothian Black on 23 December 1880. The entry in the statutory register of marriages for the district of St George in the City of Edinburgh gives his address as Ferguslie House, Paisley. They married at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh after banns according to the forms of the Episcopal Church.

Marriage entry for George Coats

Marriage entry for George Coats (81 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1880/685-1/436

1881-1911 censuses

In 1881 George Coats, 32, thread manufacturer, was enumerated with his wife at 5 Claremont Terrace in Glasgow. The census return for the district of Kelvin in the county of Lanark shows that the household included a visitor, James T Black, publisher, widower - his father-in-law. (National Records of Scotland, 1881/644-9/47, page 6)

In 1891 George Coats, 42, gentleman, living on private means, was enumerated at Race Course Road, Belisle (Belleisle), with his wife and two daughters. The census return for the district of Ayr lists 13 servants.

1891 census return for George Coats

1891 census return for George Coats (145 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1891//, page

In 1901 George Coats, 52, thread manufacturer, was enumerated at Mansion House, Forest of Glentanar, with his wife, two daughters and son. The census return for the district of Aboyne in the county of Aberdeen records that the house had 59 rooms with one or more windows.

1901 census return for George Coats

1901 census return for George Coats (76 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1901/170/1, page 4

1905 and 1915 valuation rolls

In 1905 J and P Coats Ltd were recorded as owners of substantial numbers of properties in the Paisley area. This valuation roll entry for Paisley burgh shows the thread, dye and spool works, warehouses and offices as well as the Clerks' Dining Hall, the bowling and tennis green and club-house. The proprietors were members of the Coats family including George Coats.

1905 valuation roll for J and P Coats

1905 valuation roll for J and P Coats including George Coats (86 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, VR1905/66/71, page 43

In 1915 George Coats is named of the proprietor of Estate of Glen Tanar in Aberdeenshire. The valuation roll for the parish of Aboyne lists over 60 houses, cottages, farms and lands as well as a quarry. It continues onto the next page and provides the names of tenants and occupiers of the various properties.

1915 valuation roll for J and P Coats

Detail from page 2 of the 1915 valuation roll for George Coats (59 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, VR1915/87/109, pages 2-3

Death in 1918

George Coats, 68, Thread Manufacturer (retired), died at 6 am on 26 November 1918. The entry in the statutory register of deaths for the district of Aboyne in the county of Aberdeen gives his place of death as Forest of Glen Tanar. The informant was his son, Thomas Coats, who was present at the death. The cause was pseudo angina. He had also suffered from emphysema for eight years.

Death entry for George Coats

Death entry for George Coats (59 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1918/170/17

Testament of 1918

The testament of the Right Honourable George, Baron Glentanar was registered at Aberdeen Sheriff Court on 2 April 1919. It included his will, an inventory and three corrective inventories (eiks). These records are indexed under the surname Glentanar rather than Coats. His gross estate was valued at £4,361,625, 8 shillings and 4 pence which would be worth in the region of £127 million today (based on The National Archives' currency converter).

  • George Coats nominated the trustees of his trust disposition and settlement of 22 January 1915 as his executors. He makes provisions for his wife including 'as her absolute property all horses, carriages, motor cars, yachts ...'; for his son, Thomas, on reaching the age of 25 all his heritable and real property in Scotland and England (with the exception of the Estate of Glen Tanar which he directed to be entailed); and for his daughters, Charlotte and Lillian, Marchioness of Douro. He made bequests to people in his employment. He also requested that his art collection was not to be dispersed. On 12 June 1916 he added a codicil. (National Records of Scotland, SC1/37/140, pages 345-356)
  • The original inventory was registered on 2 April 1919. It lists shares in companies in Scotland, England and abroad. (SC1/36/179, pages 1466-1477). It was followed by three corrective or additional inventories.
  • The first, dated 10 September 2020, lists moveable estate that had been undervalued, omitted or overvalued. The value of the estate was increased by £15,642, 15 shillings and 11 pence. (SC1/36/182, pages 744-751)
  • The second of 7 November 1921 relates to amounts due from the estates at Glen Tanar and Belleisle. (SC1/36/185, pages 813-818)
  • The third of 8 December 1922 includes an increase in the value of leasehold premises at 11 Hill Street, Berkeley Square, London as adjusted by the Official Valuer, Somerset House; and watches and other personal items which were valued at £300.

Third eik for George Coats

Detail from page 1105 from the third additional inventory for George Coats (87 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, SC1/36/188 pages 1105-1108