Hunter, McWilliam & Co.

Heating apparatus suppliers

Hunter, McWilliam & Co. were a firm of heating engineers, established relatively late in the careers of the two founders. Henry Hunter (born c. 1844) had been a grocer and spirit merchant in Muirkirk, Ayrshire, and a member of the local School Board, when he became bankrupt. 1 His business was sold to pay his creditors in 1875, and he legally discharged his debts two years later. 2 Forced to change career to support his family, he had become an engineer's clerk in Glasgow by 1881. 3 This may have been a specialist heating engineer, as he was certainly working for one by the 1891 census. 4 By the latter year he was 47, and living in St James's Road where the commercial city centre merges into the industrial East End, with his two cabinetmaker sons.

By 1894 Hunter had gone into partnership with William McWilliam, a professional heating engineer 12 years his junior. Hunter, McWilliam & Co. were based at 28 Milton Lane, amid workshops, small flats and tradesmen's yards north of the city centre. 5 McWilliam (born c. 1856) had come from Banffshire with his brother John, an engine-fitter, who lived with McWilliam and his wife, also a migrant, from Campbeltown in Argyll. 6 This trio lived together for at least a decade, and were still together in the 1901 census. 7

In 1904, Hunter disappeared from the local directories, having probably retired or died. That year, McWilliam teamed up with Charles Blair, a much younger ironworks clerk from Coatbridge, to form Hunter, McWilliam & Blair, heating engineers. 8 They continued to trade from the same works in Milton Lane, Cowcaddens, though the company title was abbreviated to McWilliam & Blair some time after 1913, when they were classed as 'smiths' in the Valuation Rolls. 9 In 1917, despite being the younger man, Blair retired, and McWilliam carried on the firm in his own right. 10


1: Glasgow Herald, Births, 16 November 1869, p. 5; School Boards, 18 March 1873, p. 4; Edinburgh Gazette, 3 August 1875, p. 562.

2: Glasgow Herald, Notice, 29 July 1875, p. 1; Bankrupts, 28 October 1875, p. 5; Edinburgh Gazette, 1 October 1875, p. 644; 28 August 1877, p. 642.

3: Henry Hunter, Census 1881, Parish: Glasgow Inner High; ED: 10; Page: 9; Line: 7; Roll: cssct1881_228, [accessed 26 May 2012].

4: Henry Hunter, Census 1891, Parish: Glasgow Barony; ED: 25; Page: 19; Line: 2; Roll: CSSCT1891_263, [accessed 26 May 2012].

5: Glasgow Post Office directories, 1893–9.

6: William McWilliam, Census 1881, Parish: Glasgow St George; ED: 21; Page: 20; Line: 9; Roll: cssct1881_233; Census 1891, Parish: Glasgow St George; ED: 23; Page: 5; Line: 21; Roll: CSSCT1891_271, [accessed 26 May 2012].

7: William McWilliam, Census 1901, Parish: Glasgow St George; ED: 18; Page: 20; Line: 2; Roll: CSSCT1901_294, [accessed 26 May 2012].

8: Glasgow Post Office directories, 1903–6; Charles Blair, 1901 Census, Parish: Old Monkland; ED: 33; Page: 36; Line: 12; Roll: CSSCT1901_34, [accessed 26 May 2012].

9: Valuation Rolls, Glasgow, 1913–14, Survey Book 593, Ward 16, p. 199, at [accessed 26 May 2012].

10: Edinburgh Gazette, 25 December 1917, p. 2652.