George Simpson (-)

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George Simpson was a coal master at Benhar. By 1868 he had constructed the Benhar Oil Works and went on to have interests in numerous oil works and companies throughout West Lothian, Lanarkshire and Fife including Uphall Oil Works, Boghall (Starlaw) Shale Oil Works, Benhar Paraffin Oil Works, Binnend Oil & Mineral Works and Broxburn - Simpson's Works.

Despite Simpson's many business interests, including a partnership with Edward Meldrum (E Meldrum & Company) and a partnership with Edward Meldrum and Peter McLagan (the Uphall Mineral Oil Company), the Uphall Mineral Oil Company Ltd (later the Uphall Oil Company Ltd) was the only one to be associated with him that achieved any kind of sustained success. Although Simpson always operated within the laws in force at the time, he gained himself a somewhat notorious reputation on account of his questionable business dealings in the Scottish oil industry:

"Our old friend George Simpson, of Benhar notoriety, is once more to the front. I had always thought him buried for good. He was the vendor of the Lanark Oil Company, and apparently so satisfactorily to himself that this week he makes his bow in connection with the "West Lothian." I suppose he thinks that in these times of cheap money anything with the word "oil" in it will go down." Scottish Financier, October 1883 in McKay, Scotland's First Oil Boom, 2012.

  • Newspaper references
    • SEQUESTRATION OF GEORGE SIMPSON'S ESTATES. To-day the Lord Ordinary formally gave effect to a petition praying for the sequestration of the estates of George Simpson, coalmaster, at one time connected with the Benhar Coal Company.

      Edinburgh Evening News, 28th February 1869



      On Friday a meeting of the creditors of Mr. George Simpson, late managing director of the Benhar Coal Company, was held in Lowell's rooms — Mr Dove presiding. It was stated that the liabilities of the bankrupt amounted to £104,959 amd the assets £37,565. The assets include heritable property of the calue of £119,000, bonded to the extent of £95,000; household furniture at Lauder Road, Edinburgh, valued at £3,080, life insurance for 24,000, valued at £1,900, and the remainder of the assets is made up of shares in the Clyde, Benhar, and Binnend Coal Compamies, and the Uphall Oil Company. The Chairman laid before the meeting two proposals — one for a public sequestration and the other to liquidate privately. It was agreed to adopt the latter corse. The creditors at the meeting represented debts to the amount of about £55,000.

      The Falkirk Herald, 15th March 1879


      A SPECULATION WHICH FELL THROUGH. Sheriff Rutherford, in Edinburgh Sheriff Court today, made avizandum of an action by William Somerville, oil merchant, Reston House, Hamilton, against George Simpson, Lomond House, Trinity, Edinburgh. Pursuer sues for £160. He states than in an agreement was entered into between pursuer, defender, and 13 others, relative to the purchase of certain mining claims in New Mexico. The agreement set forth that defender had obtained or was acquiring provisionally these claims, and, among other things, it was agreed that each subscriber should pay in the meantime only £150 on account of his share £500. Pursuerer avers that the whole of the subscribers to the agreement paid the defender (the first party) this sum, and that little, if any, money had been used by him in connection with the undertaking for which it was paid. Counsel for defender today maintained that the action should be one of accounting merely, and that the accounting should not with one individual, but with all the parties to the agreement. He denied that pursuer had received all the money, and stated, when asked, that what he had received was £1350, all which had been used in his own and a civil engineer's expenses travelling to Mexico to ascertain about the claims. When he got there he ascertained that by the laws of the land no alien could acquire heritable assets, and accordingly no company was formed.

      Edinburgh Evening News 28rd March 1893


      FAILURE OF A SCOTTISH COLLIERY PROPRIETOR. At Cardiff Bankruptcy Court yesterday, George Simpson, mining engineer and colliery proprietor, came up for his first public examination. The debtor stated that originally he was in business in Scotland. He failed in 1879 and his liabilities on that occasion were £159,576, and were principally on account of securities at ths bank. He believed dividend of about 1s 6d the £1 was paid. He went to the South Wales district a couple of years ago. His Welsh liabilities were about £15,000 to £17,000. The principal creditor was Mr M'Lagan, a partner of his, who was down for £35,000. He held £40,000 worth of securities, which consisted of shares in various mining concerns.

      Edinburgh Evening News, 17th June 1893