Robert McNair famous Glasgow Character

Robert McNair was a famous Glasgow Character

Glasgow has always been noted for its characters and we find that even away back in the days of the 18th century merchants the city was not without its colourful personalities.

One of them at that time was Robert McNair, a merchant and general dealer who lived in what is known now as Parkhead.

It is claimed that he started his business with a basket of half spoiled fruit. Robert and his wife, who was also his business partner, had a shop at the corner of King Street and Trongate.

Brightly Dressed

The premises were of a gaudy appearance and the proprietors dressed in such a gay fashion that they were the talk of the town.

Among his other whims McNair ordered that the key-stones of the arches above his shop be cut so as to represent ludicrous human faces. It was a source of amusement to him on market days to join the crowds of country folks who were gazing at the faces, and hear their remarks about them.

They Prospered

Despite his rather queer ideas, Robert McNair and his wife prospered. He became the owner of extensive property and land in the outskirts of the town.

Part of it was Little hill of Tollcross, which he bought for £100. On this site he built a two storey mansion planned by himself and Mrs. McNair. This he named after her, Jeanfield Mansion House, it stood on the grounds of what is now Jeanfield Cemetery.

In Trouble

McNair eventually fell into trouble with Excise authorities, and an action was brought against him in Edinburgh. The Court Advocate after narrating the facts, concluded his address by reminding the jury that if they brought a verdict for the Crown ,they would according to the custom of the day, receive a guinea each and there supper.

Not to be outdone, McNair rose and asked if he might speak. He was allowed, and he said.

His Offer

Gentlemen of the jury you have heard what the learned Advocate for the Crown has just said.

Now here i am I Robert McNair, merchant in Glasgow, standing before you, and I promise you two guineas each, and your dinner to boot, with as much wine as you can drink, if you bring in a verdict in my favour.

The verdict was returned in his favour and after this trial the Crown never again made any attempt to influence a jury in this way.

Taken from Eastern Standard 1951