Scottish shale Scottish shale

Methil Paraffin Oil Co.

Company number:
Not known
Share capital:
1864 or earlier
Sequestered 1869
Registered office:


Oil works:

Robert Carrick was previously manager of the Pirnie Coal Company's Pirnie colliery and John Arnott was a gas engineer, working in the north of England. At the bankruptcy hearing (see transcript below)the company's failure was on the collapse in the price of oil as a consequence of competition from imported American oils. Redwood suggests that the defective construction of the works, leading to leakage of product, may also have contributed to the downfall of the company. The company is also referred to as "The Methill Paraffin Oil Company".


  • Robert Carrick
  • John Arnott

  • Newspaper references
    • Edinburgh Gazette, 23rd January 1872

      TO THE CREDITORS ON The Sequestrated Estates of the METHILL PARAFFIN OIL COMPANY, Chemical Works, Methill, in the County of Fife, and of Robert Carrick, sometime residing at Ashgrove, near Leven, Scotland, and now residing at St. Louis, United States of America, and of John Arnott, Gas Engineer, Leeds, the Individual Partners of said Company, as such Partners, and as Individuals by virtue of a Deliverance of the Lord Ordinary officiating on the Bills (Lord Mackenzie), dated 20th January 1872, the said above designed Robert Carrick hereby intimates that he has presented a Petition to the said Lord Ordinary to be finally discharged of all debts and obligations contracted or for which he was liable as such Partner, and as an Individual, at the date of the Sequestration of said Estates, on 26th June 1869.—All in terms of the Bankrupt Statutes. JOHN GALLETLY, S.S.C., Agent of the said Robert Carrick.

  • Transcription of the Report of Bankruptcy Hearing of the Methil Paraffin Oil Company
    • The Bankruptcy of Methil Paraffin Oil Co.

      Bankruptcy Court - Yesterday

      Sheriff Hamilton and John Arnot, of the Methil Paraffin Oil Company, appeared for examination. There were present Mr. F.H. Carter CA, trustee of the estate, Mr John Innes, solicitor, Edinburgh, for Rev John Carrick, M.A. Maybole, for the bankrupt.

      Robert Carrick, one of the bankrupts, having been sworn deponed – Previous to the formation of the Paraffin Oil Company, I was manager of the collieries belonging to Messers Meldrum & Binnie, and afterwards with Mr. Binnie. Besides a fixed salary I was to at 5 percent on the profits of the business. I only got £25 when Mr Medrum left the business. There was never any division of profits awarded. In 1864, I along with Mr Arnot, gas engineer, Newcastle, entered into agreement with Mr Binnie to take from 4,000 to 10,000 tons of coal per annum for thirteen years for the manufacture of oil. I did not read the agreement. I afterwards discovered that it contained a clause that the arrangement was terminable every three years on twelve months notice being given. I took no objection to the agreement until my attention was called to the clause referred to by Mr Binnie giving me the notice to cancel the contract. As manager of the Pirnie Colliery Company, I sent the coal for the use of the oil company. Under the agreement, the tons were to be 20cwt. My practice was to sent 21cwt per ton, I did so for other customers. This was the practice in the district. I received notice from Mr Binnie of the termination of the agreement on the 22nd September 1866. Since the termination of the agreement, Mr. Binnie has raised an action against me in the Court of Session for £1884, 19s, 1d. due to him on the account of coal supplied, and the rent of the Methil Oil Works. I tendered £1,650 to Mr. Binnie. My reason for doing so was that I had no money to contest the action.

      The works closed in 1867. I did so because I found it impossible to make any profit in consequence of the introduction of American oil. My partner put £800 into the business, and some old materials of little value. When I began business, my capital consisted of abour £900 in the bank and the value of two ships which I realised shortly afterwards, and which amounted to about £1800. I put all of this into the business, as also £50 a year of my savings from Pirnie Colliery Company. I also consider that my partner is a creditor to the estate to the extent of £400 a year – that being the amount that I contributed by my services as the sole manager of the oil works. Although there was a provision in the contract of copartnery that there should be a balance at least every twelve months, no such balance was ever made.

      On 28th May last, whils the case was pending with Mr. Binnie, I handed to messrs Welch, writers, Cupar, a sum of £430 to pay certain creditors – namely, my brother, the Rev. John Carrick, the Royal Leven, Messrs Welch, and Mr Gelletly – as far as the money would go. Neither Mr Binnie nor any other creditor was to participate. The creditors mentioned had been pressing me for payment, and threatening diligence against me on the protested bills. My brother gor no part of the money; it wad divided between the bank and the agents. I have since given my brother £40. The £430 was part of a sum of £450 which I got from Messrs Colville and Gray, Coatbridge, for a part of the plant that I sold them. I do not know whether any of these things have been removed. The plant referred to was sold on 25th May. I cannot remember at the date of the sale the tender had been made to Mr. Binnie. My friends promised to assist me if Mr. Binnie would carry out the contract originally entered into. At the time I effected the sale of the plant, I had no funds, and knew of none out of which I could have paid Mr. Binnie and my other creditors, with the exception of anything I might have got from my partner. In January last, I assigned my furniture to my brother James, in repayment of two sums of £30 and £45 which he had advanced to enable me to live.

      Robert Arnot, having been sworn, deponed – I was a partner of the Methil Paraffin Oil Company, along with Mr. Carrick. I put £800 of cash into the business, and also material to the value of £214. I have only been two ot three times to the works. No balance sheet was every shown to me by my partner. Mr. Carrick told me that he had put between £2000 and £3000 into the concern.

      By Mr INNES – I did not show Mr Carrick an account of the price of the materials purchased by me. I did not undertake to devote my time to the management of the business. When the works were started in 1864, I was employed in Newcastle as a gas engineer at a salary of £400. In 1866 I went to Leeds, where I have a salary of £500. I continued there till within a few months since, when I left on account of £500. I have £100 of my salary unspent. My annual household expenditure was between £300 and £400. The statutory oath was then administered to the bankrupts

      The Glasgow Herald, 27th July 1869