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William Brown & Co.

Constitution Copartnership
Date of Formation post 1813
Date of Dissolution 1858
Office 24, Stockwell St, Glasgow
Oil works Rosebank Oil Works

William Brown & Co were a long established firm of oil and colour merchants that seem among the first to consider production of oil from cannel coal. The company's bankruptcy proceedings in 1858 reveal that the partners of Wm. Brown & Co. along with landowner John Bain established the Clydesdale Chemical Company in 1855, proprietors of the Rosebank Oil Works. In 1860 James Young won a legal action against the Clydesdale Chemical Company for breach of patent. Following the insolvency of the Clydesdale Chemical Company, Bain & Carlile, and then Thomas Carlile & Co continued oil production at Rosebank, paying licence royalties to James Young.

Bankruptcy proceedings indicate that Wm. Brown & Co. operated a separate plant alongside the Clydesdale Chemical Company's Rosebank works in Cambuslang, operating under the title the "Sperm Oil Company" or the "Hyper-Sperm Oil Company" which produced a range of oil products including paraffin. Hindsight suggests that these complexities may have been intended to conceal the fact that processes were being employed that breached Young's patent.

It may be of relevance to note that George Hutchinson & Co., based at Bishop St. Oil Manufactory, are listed in Glasgow Post Office directories for 1861 and 1862 as "Manufacturers of Hyper-Sperm oil" - perhaps a coded reference to paraffine oil

The Glasgow Post Office Directory for 1858 list the firm as William Brown, Sons & Co. oil merchants and colour manufacturers, 24, Stockwell St; works 117 Port Dundas Rd. Despite the bankruptcy proceedings the firm continued in business as oil and colour merchants into the 1860's, retailing oils produced at Rosebank Oil Works.






Additional Resources



Saxoline Oil

Advertisements from The Glasgow Herald 14th August 1861


Fire.-On Wednesday night, about nine o'clock, fire broke out in the oil and colour works of Messrs. William Brown & Co., situated at Stirling Street, Cowcaddens. - The fire was occasioned by an escape of some liquid from one of the stills. - The district engine, with the Central and West of England brigades, were in attendance, but the flames were speedily extinguished without much serious injury having been sustained. The damage, we believe, is covered by insurance.

The Glasgow Herald 18th July 1856


THE Estates of WILLIAM BROWN & COMPANY, Oil Merchants and Colour Manufacturers in Glasgow, and William Brown, James Brown, and Charles Wilsone Brown, all Oil and Colour Merchants there, the Individual Partners of that Company, as Partners thereof, and as Individuals were sequestrated on the 14th day of December 1857, by the Court of Session. The first deliverance is dated 14th December 1857.

The Edinburgh Gazette 15th December 1857


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