Peter McLagan (1823-1900)

First name:
Second name:
Date of birth:
Date of death:
Occupation type(s):

Proprietor & Director of various oil works


Peter M'Lagan (or McLagan) of Pumpherston was born in Demerara (Guyana). His father, Peter M'Lagan (senior), made his fortune in trade with the West Indies and subsequently purchased the Pumpherston estate. Peter M'Lagan served as M.P. for Linlithgowshire between 1865 and 1893, notably defeating John Pender in the hotly contested election of 1868.

Peter M'Lagan was quick to recognise the value of minerals on the Pumpherston estate, establishing small oil works on his own account, and subsequent entering partnership with Edward Meldrum and George Simpson as the Uphall Mineral Oil Co. It appears however that he amassed little wealth from these oil enterprises

Much later in his life, M'Lagan's continued association with the notorious George Simpson, then active in the Welsh coal trade, led in 1893 to M'Lagan's bankrupy, his resignation as an M.P. and withdrawal from public life.

Oil industry interests

  • Newspaper references
    • Mr Peter M'Lagan's Bankruptcy

      In the Edinburgh Sheriff Court House yesterday, Mr Peter M'Lagan, ex-M.P., appeared for examination in bankruptcy before Sheriff Hamilton. In answer to Mr Duncan, representing Mr Reginald Norman, Philpott Lane, Fenchurch Street, London, one of the creditors, the bankrupt said that he began in1887 or 1888 to endorse accommodation bills for George Simpson, and he attributed his present position entirely to his connection with Mr. Simpson and those bills.

      Asked if it was not fact that at the beginning of this year the bankrupt considered himself hopelessly insolvent, and still continued to endorse hills for the Welsh anthracite Collieries, he replied that did not consider himself insolvent the time. He had given the information to his trustee as to his holdings in the London and Yorkshire Bank, and the Royal Insurance Company, the money he raised from Mr Claude Magniac, stockbroker, London, had gone like all the rest, to pay bills that had renewed or otherwise.

      In reply to Mr Wilkie Croall, bankrupt said he had no business but that of a director of public companies. He was a director in the Parkhall Colliery Company, the Welsh Anthracite Company, the Central Collieries Company, and the Phospho Compnny, and he derived £500 or £600 from these sources. His income from the Pumpherston estates was £4,000, and he estimate his total income at between £3,000 and £4,000 per annum. His expenditure was about £4,000. He was not partner with Simpson or Mr Calder in any business The information given by Mr Simpson to the official receiver that bankrupt was a partner with him in his transactions was not true. After further examination the statutory oath was administered. The state of affairs submitted showed liabilities amounting to £112,188, and assets amounting to £34000. The assets are exclusive of the bankrupt's interest in the estate of Pumpherston and his claims against George Simpson's estate and the number of non-marketable stocks and shares belonging to him.

      The Dundee Courier, 24th June 1893


      The Late Mr. M'Lagan

      By the death of Mr Peter M'Lagan of Pumpherston, the county of has lost a well-known and much-respected citizen. For the long period of years (from 1865 till 1893) the deceased gentleman represented the county in Parliament, and at the time of his retiral from Parliamentary life he had seen the longest period of service of any Scottish representative in the House of Commons.

      Mr M'Lagan, who died in London on Saturday morning, was born in Demerara in 1823. His father made a fortune the West Indies, and purchased the estate of Pumpherston, to which the late member for the county succeeded. The property is chiefly known as a rich mineral field, and which minerals have been long worked the Pumpherston and Broxburn Oil Companies.

      Mr M'Lagan. who had been well known as one of the leading agriculturists of Scotland, received his early education at Tillicoultry School. From there he went to Edinburgh University, and afterwards became a member of the University Council. first he entered the House of Commons a Conservative.

      At the general election of 1868 he was opposed by the late Sir John Pender, Middleton Hall, and this was one of the most memorable contests which the county had experienced modern times. Again returned as supporter of Conservative principles, he subsequently saw fit to change his views, and ultimately joined the Liberal party. The deceased gentleman, however, had always been regarded as a moderate rather than an advanced Liberal. In 1830 (the year of the memorable Midlothian campaign) he had as his opponent Mr J.P.B. Robertson, Lately Lord President of the Court of Session, but again the electorate returned him by a large majority. the elections of 1885. 1886, and 1892 was opposed by Captain Thomas Hope of Bridgecastle, and on each occasion he succeeded in retaining the seat for his party. In consequence unfortunate business troubles, severed his connection with Parliament in 1893, after which he ceased take any active part in public life. At the by-election he was succeeded Captain Hope, who had been unsuccessfully opposed by the present member, Alex. Ure Q.C. The constituency's change in political faith was, however, brief, for Mr Ure was returned the general election in 1895.

      For many years M'Lagan was a staunch and earnest supporter of temperance reform, and his name was also associated with what is known as the Ground Game Act. His Local Veto Bill was one which received considerable support the country, and on several occasions he introduced the measure Parliament, but despite his efforts was never successful in carrying it into law. In 1892 the deceased gentleman was chairman the House of Commons Committee Public Petitions. He was a deputy-lieutenant for the county, and was also a Justice of the Peace for Edinburgh and Linlithgowshire, besides being a director of several public companies in this and other counties. For some years, and up the time of resigning his seat in Parliament, he had filled the office Grand Master Mason of the Provincial Lodge of Linlithgowshire.

      Of a generous and kindly nature, Mr M'Lagan was, apart politics, universally respected alike in the House of Commons and the country. To local institutions and charities he gave freely. Mr M'Lagan, who was in his 77th year, was predeceased by his wife some years ago, and he has left no family. He is succeeded in the estate of Pumpherston by his cousin, Mr Charles Gibson, Craigdhu, Pitlochry, which place Mr M'Lagan often visited Mr. Gibson, a gentleman well known in the Atholl district of Perthshire, where his family have lived for many generations. Mr Gibson has identified himself with the promotion of recreation in connection with Pitlochry and district, and a keen curler and bowler. From his genial and kindly character have no doubt that Mr Gibson will prove himself to be worthy successor and landlord the late M'Lagan.

      It is understood that Mr Gibson was Liberal in politics, but is a strong supporter of the Government as regards its policy with reference to the South African question. The remains of the late Mr M'Lagan were interred in Mid-Calder Churchyard on Tuesday. As a mark of respect to Mr M'Lagan's memory the schools of the parish were closed for the day and all business in village suspended for the time. The funeral procession, which left Cader Hall, the residence of Mr H. P. Taylor, deceased's step-son, was one of the largest ever seen in the parish, and was attended by a large number of relatives the deceased, personal friends, many the clergy from neighbouring parishes, and the general community. The pall-bearers were H. P. Taylor, step-son Messrs Haldane, Edinburgh ; Mr Gibson, Mr James Stoddart of Howden; the Master of Torphichen, and Lord Torphichen.

      The Falkirk Herald, 8th September 1900


      THE LATE PETER McLAGAN. The remains of the late Peter McLagan, of Pumpherston, and ex MP for Linlithgowshire, whose death was announced on Monday, were interred in Mid-Calder Churchyard yesterday. As a mark of repect to Mr McLagan's memory the schools of the parish were closed for the day, and all business in the village suspended for the time. The funeral procession, which left Calder Hall, the residence of Mr H.P. Taylor, deceased's stepson, was one of the largeset ever seen in the parish, and was attended by a large number of relatives of the deceased, personal friends, many of the clergy from neighbouring parishes, and the general community. The pall-bearers were Mr H.P. Taylor, stepson; the Messrs Haldane, Edinburgh; Mr Gilson, Mr James E Stoddart of Howden; the Master of Torphichen, and Lord Torphichen.

      The Scotsman, 5th September 1900

  • Related file records
  • Related file records

    File name Type Description Tags
    Correspondence of Peter McLagan and The Pumpherston Oil Co Ltd None Correspondence of Peter McLagan and The Pumpherston Oil Co Ltd dating from 30th October, 1890 to 8th January, 1894. -