National Records of Scotland

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Isabella Elder (1827-1905)

Isabella Elder (1827-1905)

Champion of women's education

Isabella Elder was widowed in 1869 and used her wealth to support education and health charities in Govan and elsewhere. Her philanthropy created, among others, the John Elder chair of naval architecture, Elder Park and Elder Free Library. She donated the building and lands for Queen Mary College for Women and provided funding for its medical school. In 1906 the public paid for a statue of Isabella Elder to be erected in Elder Park. Her role in promoting opportunities for women in higher education was recognised in 2015 when the University of Glasgow named the Isabella Elder Building in her honour.

Birth in 1827

Isabella Ure was born on 15 March 1827, the daughter of Alexander Ure and Mary Ross in Hutchesontown. The single line entry in the Old Parish Register for Glasgow gives the date of baptism as 27 April.

Birth and baptism entry for Isabella Elder

Birth and baptism entry for Isabella Elder nee Ure (6 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 644-9, page 168

1851 census

In 1851 Isabella Ure, 22, was a visitor, in the house of Mary Mackenzie at 34 Portland Street in the parish of Gorbals. The census record shows that her widowed mother, Mary Ure, proprietress, was also enumerated as a visitor there.

1851 census record for Isabella Elder (nee Ure)

1851 census record for Isabella Elder (nee Ure) (45 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1851/644-2/72, page 18

Marriage in 1857

Isabella Ure married John Elder, master engineer, on 31 March 1857. The entry in the statutory register of marriages for the district of Blythswood in Glasgow gives the place of marriage as her home at 145 Hill Street, Garnet Hill, Glasgow.

Marriage entry for Isabella Elder

Marriage entry for Isabella Elder (52 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1857/644-6/139

1861 census

In 1861 Isabella Elder, 32, was living with her husband and three servants at 121 Back Street. The entry in the district of Blythswood gives his occupation as engineer and shipbuilder.

1861 census record for Isabella Elder

1861 census record (25 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1861/644-6/28, page 2

Death in 1905

Isabella Elder died on 18 November 1905 aged 77 years. The entry in the statutory register of deaths for the district of Kelvin in Glasgow. It is perhaps fitting that the cause of death was certified by a female doctor, Marion Gilchrist.

Death entry for Isabella Elder

Death entry for Isabella Elder (33 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1905/644-9/1299

Will and testament

Isabella Elder's will and inventory were registered at Glasgow Sheriff Court on 27 December 1905. The will includes provision for the establishment of The Elder Cottage Hospital in Govan.

Detail from Isabella Elder's will

Detail from Isabella Elder's will (62 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, SC36/51/140, page 174

The inventory includes items bequeathed to the Corporation of Glasgow.

Detail from Isabella Elder's inventory

Detail from the inventory of Isabella Elder (59 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, SC36/48/199, page 40