Sweet Family West of Scotland

Alexander SWEET

Person Chart


Father Date of Birth Mother Date of Birth
James Alexander SWEET 23 NOV 1797 Mary Ann GRAHAM 29 Dec 1800

Person Events

Event Type Date Place Description
Birth 12 Oct 1843 Langside, Cathcart
Christening 12 NOV 1843 Cathcart
Marriage 14 Jun 1870 Henrietta Street, Pollokshaws, Lanarkshire
Death 17 NOV 1921 Craigshields, Skelmorlie, Scotland


Union Bank of Scotland
"Alexander Sweet entered the service of the Union Bank of Scotland on 16 May 1864, at Glasgow office, as a Clerk in the Accountants Department. His first pay was £1.10.0, paid on 2 June 1864. This was increased to £2.18.4 on 2 July 1864.

He was a Clerk in the Accountant's Department all his working life in the Bank. His monthly salary rose from £1.10.0 in 1864, to £22.18.4 in September 1911. When he retired, his annual salary was £285. He was paid an allowance of £185 per annum after he retired. (He may have retired on 2 April 1920)"
Source: Bank of Scotland records.

This appears to conflict with Wallace Graham Grant's assertion that Alexander was Chief Cashier of the Bank. In the book "The Union Bank of Scotland 1830-1954", Norio Tamaki has an analysis of Salaries of "Major Officials of the Union Bank, 1885". At this time the Glasgow Cashier was G.N.Hill on a salary of £1,500 and the Glasgow Accountant was G Willcock on a salary of £600. Given that Alexander retired on a salary of £285 I think he was pretty far down the pecking order. In the same book there is an organistaion chart dated 1885 that shows that reporting to the General Manager (among other departments ) there was a Casher's department with 8 employees and an Accountant's Department with 47 employees. There appeared to 6 grades of clerk in the bank and in the early 1880s 1st grade earned £60 - 100 per annum rising to the sixth grade earning an average of £282 per annum. So it is possible that Alexander was a senior grade in the Accountant's Department but certainly not the Chief Cashier.

The Union Bank of Scotland was formed in 1830 and grew particularly through acquisitions. Apparently, from the period 1867 to 1885 the bank declined in market share, for which the general manager, Charles Gairdener, was criticised. SG Checkland ScottishBanking a History 1695 to 1975.

See below he was renting Braehead for £40 per annum in 1905. So he would have a reasonable disposable income.
8 Obituary

Death notice In the Glasgow Herald 18 Nov 1921
SWEET - At Craigshields, Skelmorlie on 17th Inst, Alexander Sweet J.P. aged 78 years late of the Union Bank of Scotland Ltd and formerly of Braehead. Funeral on Sat 19th inst to New Cathcart Cemetery. Friends desirous of attending will please meet cortegeat Cemetery Gates at 12 noon, the only intimation and invitation no flowers.

Obituary 19 Nov 1921, Glasgow Herald page 10 6th column

Death of Mr Alexander Sweet

Mr Alexander Sweet, whose death occurred at Craigshields, Skelmorlie was widely known in horticultural circles. He came from a family who made horticulture their favourite study. For seven years he was editor of the Scottish Gardener and he was the author of "Villa and Cottage Gardening", a standard work. Mr Sweet who was 78 years of age was a native of Langside. He was intended for the medical profession but after the death of his father he entered the service of the Union Bank where he remained for 49years until he went to Skelmorlie a few months ago.

Mr Sweet spent the whole of his life in the parish of Cathcart in the public affairs of which he was a prominent figure. He joined the Cathcart company of the 3rd Renfrewshire Volunteers in 1864 and as a young man he was also a member of the Cathcart Memorial Board. He was an office bearer in the Cathcart Unionist Association and many years ago his name was added to the Commission of the Peace. It was his intention to prepare a detailed history of the Parish but failing eye sight compelled him to abandonthe idea. The Sweet family, who belonged to Kent , traced their ancestors back to the time of William the Conqueror. The main branch emigrated northward and have been settled in Town Yetholm for over 300 years .
Exhibitiin Illustrative of Old Glasgow 1894
Lent by Alexander Sweet
1665 Cannon Ball found on the battlefield of Langside. Turned up in 1869 by the plough, imbedded in the earth about one foot beneath the surface. Shown to the Glasgow Archaeological Society, and referred to by A.M.Scott in his book about the Battle of Langside

Alexander Sweet, Braehead, Cathcart

I have Alexander's copy of this book which has a dedication on the fly leaf:
"To my friend Alexander Sweet Esq. by whom part of the local information contained in these pages was communicated.
A Scott.

On page 69 there is reference to cannon balls weighing 1lb 10 and 3/4 ounces: "one of them is in possession of a gentleman residing in Cathcart". However Scott plays down the authenticity of the cannon ball being used at Langside.

The book was published in 1885.
10 Directory entries:
1875 to 1876 as below
1878 to 1890 (did not chack all dates) PO Glasgow Directory Lindsay House, Cathcart
1883 Trade Directory: Alexander Sweet, Union Bank of Scotland (Ltd); house Lindsay House, Cathcart
1882 to 1905 (did not chack all dates) PO Glasgow Directory Braehead, Cathcart
1881-2 and the 1885-86 directories:

Alexander Sweet, Union Bank of Scotland, Residence :Lindsay House, Cathcart

Notes made by Alexander Sweet:
From Glasgow Directories
1787 Thomas Sweet, Manufacturer, Wareroom, north side, Bell's Wynd
1789 ditto ditto 3rd flat Horn's Land, North Side Argyle Street
1804 ditto ditto 626 Argyle Street
1812 ditto Quarter Master, 427 Gallowgate
1820 ditto Billet Master, 1 Charlotte Lane, house 2 Barrowfield Road
1825 ditto ditto ditto ditto
1825 George Sweet & Co, Ale and Porter Cellars, 1 Charlotte Lane
1829 Thomas Sweet, Quarter Master, Charlotte Lane, house 2, Canning Street, Calton
1829 George Sweet & Co, Wine Cellars, 1 Charlotte Lane
1839 Thomas Sweet, Billet Master, 15 Charlotte Lane, house 38, St Andrew Square
1839 George Sweet, Wine Cellars, ditto ditto ditto

Above Thomas Sweet, my grandfather, = A Sweet, Cathcart
ditto George Sweet, his eldest son, Known as Bailie or the Calton Bailie George Sweet
3 Census 1871 (Copy on file)
Living at Lindsay House
Alexander Sweet Head aged 27 Bank clerk born: Renfrewshire, Cathcart 4 rooms with windows
Barbara D W Sweet Wife aged 27 Bank clerk's wife Renfrewshire, Paisley
7 Sweet Holm

PMS has a picture of Sweet Holm with two people outside it next to a car. The photo is credited to Charles Sweet of Rothesay, a professional photographer with 19 Battery Place amongst his studios.

On page 185 of "Bygone Yetholm" this same picture is reproduced with the legend that the "vehicle was owned by Mr Elliot of Clifton Park, Morebattle and it is stopped at the Nicholl cottage, near the south end of Town Yetholm. The date on the back of thephotograph is 23 September 1909".

PMS had written to Bill Rae of the Yetholm History Society referring to the house as Sweet Holm and mentioning the Sweet connection to the village. He replied writing that the photo has on the face of it "Sweet Holm, Town Yetholm, Roxburghshire"; I suspect this is the same as I have. He wrote that the cottage is known in the village as Nichol cottage (see below). However he added that on the back there is handwritten:
"Mr J.G.Houston, Edinburgh
23 Sept 1909
Alex Sweet
Rolls of Elliot of Clifton Park"

John Gray Houston was a cousin of my father, I recall we had family gatherings from time to time. I suspect that he gave the photo to the Yetholm society. Alexander Sweet is my GGGrandfather who died in Skelmorlie in 1921.

The connection to Robert Nicholl is interesting. PMS visited Robert Nicholl (now dead) at his home in Yetholm and he was able to tell me that his aunt lived in Sweet Holm (or Orchard Cottage as they named it) until 1956 when a wind blew off the thatch andthe cottage then decayed as neither the Nicholls nor the landlord Wauchope was prepared to pay for the repair. Robert told me he remembered the connection to Sweet... they were from Kent he said.

I have a letter from the owner (in 2004) of Mertoun Cottage who writes that Robert Nicholl mentioned to him that his grandfather told him that a gardener called William Sweet had come to Yetholm from the south of England somewhere, Kent or Surrey. Robertrecalled that the rent for Sweetholme at some stage had been payable to the Sweets and not Wauchope.
11 Eric Birkett notes

A remarkable man according to Wallace Graham Grant. Vigorous in mind and body, kind yet stern disciplinarian. retired as Chief Cashier of Union Bank Scotland in 1915; his signature was hand-written on its bank notes. His house, Braehead, Cathcart, was a meeting place for people of many interests- gardening, botany, fishing, water-colours and writing. He wrote many articles on gardening etc for the Glasgow Herald and "Villa and Cottage Gardening" (PMS has a copy). He walked and fished as a young man over the Renfrew and Lanarkshire moors with herbalist friend Dr Johnstone and engineer Thom who planned the reservoirs above Greenock, one named Loch Thom. He had the entry to many of the great gardens then in Glasgow, Aitkenhead, Pollok etc. Gaelic speaker. Clan Graham Society-" for Graham's wives and Graham's bairns and all who sleep in Graham's airms". The latter singularly broad minded for those days! He was also interested in the North British Israel Society which is believed to concern the possibility that the 'lost tribe' of Benjamin came to Scotland. His petite, cultured and calm wife Barbara Dunn Wright, a Macintyre, was reputed to have something of the 'second-sight' She did forecast her son Alex's sudden death in Malta, before the letter announcing it came, sitting in the sun at Skelmorlie, blind and serene, undisturbed. Wallace Graham Grant was with her at the time and said " they lived at Lindsay House, Cathcart in a tenement before moving to Braehead, the much loved house and garden on the banks of the River Cart. Here most of their children were born, and later the three graceful and beautiful girls lay in wait like spiders to catch husbands. Mary the eldest, bitterly disappointed, failed. She was always at hand to take over the running of the house during the numerous births. She kept a very outspoken diary, I was told, but it never came to light after her own death, maybe burnt quickly by someone who had cause! She cared for her parents until their deaths, then lived on at Craigshields, Skelmorlie, poor and independent until her own death. The house was bought for a song by her brother Willie, who soon re-sold and moved to Largs"
That ends the note attributed to Wallace Graham Grant.

Alison Sweet recalls that Braeside House "was then a country house with gardens running down to the River Cart". From my (PMS) visit there, I would say it may have been a country house but it would not stand entirely on its own. The gardens that exist nowdo look to be truncated and the ground sloping away from the house to the river has been built upon for further homes.

Barbara Birkett records that she had a "framed sampler given to her by Aunt Mary. Apparaently in Alexander Sweet's writing it states 'Sampler sewed by Ann Lyon, Miss Sweet's Great Grandmother descended from Lyon Herald Knight at Arms, who often mingled their blood with Royalty."

[I suspect the Miss Sweet is Jean McCulloch Sweet and the Ann Lyon married George
John Barr grandfather clock

Barrs Brae
Barr's Brae was one part of what was known as the "Pathway to the shore". This pathway started in Kilmacolm, came through Strathgryfe, past the present golf course and finished at the shore in what is now the health centre car park
The brae is said to take it's name from John Barr, a member of the first appointed Town's council in 1775. John Barr was a clock maker and examples of his work are now collectors pieces.
Erected in 1876 there is also mention of the "Glenn Boy's Well complete with a cup on a chain. The area was worked on by local people to bring it back to a popular beauty spot including James Boyd, Edward Burns, John Crossan, and Duncan Carnegie.

Barr worked in Port Glasgow from at least 1761 onward and still listed himself as a "watch and clock maker" in the 1783-84 Glasgow directory. Barr made sophisticated, fine quality mechanical works and housed them in the latest style cases John Barr was one of a legion of clock makers in Britain, but he was a good one and in the competition between nations for market, British watch and clock makers ruled.
"John Barr was established several of his marked clocks may date to the middle of the century and he supplied amoung other well to do people in Virginian USA
One such order a clock with "Moon Age to Shew the Days of the Month with Mahogany Case." He directed Hook to specially order the clock from John Barr at Port Glasgow, Scotland, at a cost of £8. Fearing that the clock face might fall off, he stipulated special care in its packing, noting that clocks recently ordered from other Virginia-based merchants had received considerable damage in transit."
Early Varginia - Buying Goods 1760-1810

Source: Portglasgow4U.co.uk People of Port Glasgow
4 Census 1881 (copy on file)
Lindsay House
Alexander Sweet Head Bank clerk aged 37 Born Cathcart
Barbara D Sweet Wife aged 37 born Paisley
Mary W D Sweet daughter Scholar aged 9 Born Cathcart
Archibald M Sweet son aged 6 scholar born Cathcart
Wallace G Sweet son aged 4 scholar born Cathcart
Catherine RF Sweet daughter aged 1 born Cathcart
Census 1911
Braehead 6 rooms with one or more windows and 4 people in the house
Aexander Sweet Head male age 67 Married Bank Clerk born in Cathcart, Renfrewshire
Mary Sweet Daughter female age 39 Single born in Cathcart, Renfrewshire
Jean Sweet Daughter Female age 27 Single Typist at Timber Broker born in Cathcart, Renfrewshire
William Sweet Son Male age 24 Single Bank accountant born in Cathcart, Renfrewshire

Interesting that William is a bank accountant.
Alexander's wife, Barbar, is staying with Jane Sweet at Inverkip.
Valuation rolls:
1875 Alexander is renting a flat in Lindsay House, Old Cathcart. VR114/30/481

1885 Alexander is renting a flat in Lindsay House, Old Cathcart. Rented from David and Margaret Lindsay per David Lindsay papermaker, Cathcart Mill for £17 per annum. interestingly there is also a William Robertson renting a flat in the same property. (See photo above of Lindsay House)

1905 Alexander is renting Braehead from Edward Gibbon, joiner, Holmhead, Rutherglen at an annual rent of £40 VR114/81/28
9 Will

Alexander Sweet, sometime clerk, Union Bank of Scotland, Glasgow residing at Craigshields, Upper Skelmorlie died 17 November 1921 at Craigshields aforesaid testate. Confirmation Kilmarnock 3 February to Wallace Graham Sweet and William Johnstone Sweet,his sons, Robert Grant and John Houston, his sons-in-law and Archibald Ross, Solicitor, Glasgow Executors. Will dated 25 May 1920 rendered Kilmarnock 25 Jan 1922. Value of estate £1208.19.1.

2 Braehead
In the valuation rolls of 1913-1914 Alexander is shown to be renting Braehead from Edward B Gibson, joiner, 18 Henrietta Place per James Gibson 20 Union Street, Glasgow.

PMS and Russell visited the property in july 2009 and spoke to the current owner who was selling the property at the time. The house was at one time a cottage; the gable end and change in stone colour is clear from the photos. There is an interesting garden but it is not what one would expect for such an acclaimed enthusiastic gardener. However there is a tall tree which we were told was a ginseng tree and apparently is difficult to grow in Scotland and there are not many of them, also when leaving the property and following its boundary wall round the corner there is a new building built in what could have been a part of a larger garden. So perhaps there was a significantly larger garden in its heyday.

There is a website with an interesting comparison "then and now" of the road running alongside Braehead

6 Census 1901 (copy on file)

Alexander Sweet Head aged 58 Bank Clerk Born Cathcart
Barbara Dunn Wright Sweet Wife aged 58 Born Paisley
Mary Wilson Dunn Sweet Daughter aged 29 Born Cathcart
Wallace Graham Sweet Son aged 24 Born Cathcart
Catherine RF Sweet Daughter aged 21 Born Cathcart
Jean Barr Sweet Daughter aged 17 Typist in office Born Cathcart
William J Sweet Son aged 14 Scholar Born Cathcart
5 Census 1891 (copy on file)

Braehead Road
Braehead Grange
Alexander Sweet Head aged 47 Bank clerk Born Langside rooms with windows 8
Barbara D Sweet wife aged 47 born Paisley
Mary WD Sweet Daughter aged 20 housekeeper (assisting) Born Cathcart
Archibald M Sweet Son 16 Shipping clerk Born Cathcart
Wallace G Sweet Son Aged 14 Mercantile clerk Born Cathcart
Catherine RF Sweet Daughter aged 11 Scholar Born Cathcart
Alexander Sweet Son aged 9 Scholar Born Cathcart
Jean B Sweet daughter aged 7 Born Cathcart
William J Sweet Son aged 4 Born Cathcart



Alexander Sweet by Charles Sweet of Rothesay

Lindsay House, Cathcart

Lindsay House

Cathcart Church

Alexander headstone Cathcart

Old Cathcart Church

Braehead 2009

Archie, Wallace Graham,Willie 1901 Braehead

1901 Braehead Cathcart Mary Jean Catherine Grant