Scottish shale Scottish shale

East Hermand Shale Co.

Declared bankrupt in 1872
Registered office:


An ambitious, but ultimately unsuccessful firm set up to develop oil works at East Hermand. The firm was established in 1866 as a copartnership between Dunnet and Ferrie, but this was dissolved later that year when Ferrie failed to invest the agreed capital. Dunnet carried the business forward on his own account until 1868 when joined by James Brown who brought necessary capital the partnership.


  • Matthew Dunnet - (1866-1872)
  • James Ferrie - (1866)
  • James Mungo Brown - (1868-1872)

  • Newspaper references
    • THE Subscriber, James Ferrie, Retired by mutual consent from the Copartnery Concern comprehending the several Firms of THE NIDDRY CHEMICAL COMPANY, THE LEOOLEUM SHALE COMPANY, and FERRIE, DUNNETT, & COMPANY, respectively, Chemical and Shale Oil Manufacturers, latterly carrying on business at Hermand, near West Calder, of which Copartnery Concern he and the other Subscriber, Matthew Dunnett, were the sole Partners, as on the 31st day of December 1866. The Subscriber, Matthew Dunnett, who continues the business, is authorised to uplift and discharge all accounts and other debts due to, and will pay any debts due by the said Copartnery Concern.
      M. DUNNETT.

      Edinburgh Gazette, 3rd January 1868


      THE Estates of The EAST HERMAND SHALE COMPANY, carrying on business as Shale Oil Manufacturers at East Hermand, West Calder, as a Company, and Matthew Dunnett, Shale Oil Manufacturer, residing at Hermand House, West Calder, and James Mungo Brown, Shale Oil Manufacturer, residing at No. 8, Valleyfield Street, Edinburgh, the Individual Partners of the said Company, as such, and as Individuals, were Sequestrated on the 4th day of November 1872, by the Court of Session.

      Edinburgh Gazette, 5th November 1872


      The examination in bankruptcy of Matthew Dunnet and James Mungo Brown, individual partners of the East Hermand Shale Company, West Calder, was made on Thursday, in Edinburgh, before Sheriff Hamilton ……. Dunnet, after being sworn, deponed "ln 1866 I began business in the manufacture of crude oil from shale in partnership with James Ferrie. We took the sub-lease from Messrs Thomson (sic, Thornton?) of the East Hermand shale field in July 1866. The duration of the lease was thirty-one years from May of that year, and the rent was payable either in fixed rents or in lordships at the option of the proprietor. My capital consisted of sums borrowed from my friends. I had capital under the contract with Mr Ferrie was £1000, his being £2000. In consequence of Mr Ferrie not putting in the capital stipulated, the partnership was dissolved in December 1866.

      Up to that time we had been going on with the erection of the works. For the next twelve months I continued erecting the works and developing the shale fields on my own account, and in December 1867 I arranged with Mr J. M. Brown to join me as at lst January 1868. He was to furnish £2500, and I was to furnish £2000 of capital. Both of these obligations were implemented. From the beginning of 1868 up to our stoppage we were periodically extending; the work at an aggregate outlay of about £19,600, which was provided by cash advances and by parties with whom we were trading. I attribute my difficulties to our capital being too small for the largeness of our business, and to losses sustained on contracts made in the opening of the present year, and the great rise in the price of coal. If the works were still of the value equivalent to their cost, the firm would be solvent and able to meet its obligations". Mr James Mungo Brown, after being sworn, concurred in omnibus with Mr Dunnet so far as related to the period after which he became a partner.

      Falkirk Herald, 12th December 1872