This page is an attempt to outline what I know about my Williamson ancestry in as "readable" format as possible. Please note whereas I try to ensure that what I publish is correct, and to differentiate between what is supported by documentation etc, and what is, in my opinion, a reasonable assumption, everything should be treated with caution. IF you have come across information that you believe is relevant to your own research please either verify it independently or drop me a line to confirm its validity. Equally if believe something is incorrect, or if you wish to add any details or discuss please get in touch using the Contact Form.

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The furthest back we can trace our Williamson ancestry is to an Alexander Williamson and Agnes Henry (no relation as far as is known)who were married in January 1804 in New Monklands (Airdrie?). However there is a possibility Agnes was one and the same as the Agnes Hendry born born on 6 April 1784 in New Monkland, the daughter of John Hendry, a Farmer, and Agnes Fraser. For further details of John Hendry and Agnes Fraser and their other children - click here.

Alexander and Agnes had at least five children, Janet born on 18th November 1804, Agnes born on 25th September 1806, Margaret born on 20th September 1810, James born on 28th August 1812, and Alexander (the next generation in out family history) born on 2nd October 1814. All these events are recorded in the parish register of New Monklands at Kippspark Farm near Airdrie where Alexander, the father, was farming. (For further details of the known children of Alexander Williamson and Agnes Henry - See Appendix A)

There was an Alexander Williamson recorded as at Kippark in the Farm Horse Tax Rolls 1797-1798, Volume 04, Page 83 as owning two horses liable for tax. This maybe Alexander prior to his marriage or possibly his father?

Farm Horse Tax Rolls 1797-1798, Volume 04, Page 83

There is a headstone marking the burial place of Alexander Williamson and Agnes Hendry in the churchyard of Wellwynd Church in Airdrie. When the photo was taken as can be seen there was a fallen stone lying over the stone which made photographing and transcription problematic. However the inscription as could be seen was transcribed as "The property of Alexander Williams(on)? And Agnes Hendry & Their children 1808?". When I visited in 2010 with the hope of being able to figure out more of the inscription the council had "tidied up" and re-erected the fallen stone hard against the Williamson stone thereby completely preventing any additional inscription being deciphered! I was not amused!

Williamson Headstone in Wellwynd Church graveyard

(with grateful thanks to www.memento-mori.co.uk)

The property of Alexander Williams(on)

And Agnes Hendry &

Their children


Interestingly there is a headstone in the New Monklands church at Glenmavis which bears the inscription "A. WILLIAMSON and A. HENRY 1824". It would seem likely that this refers to "our" Alexander Williamson and Agnes Henry but what its significance is or that of the date is currently unknown. Further research may shed some light! It is possible that the date, 1808, on the stone in the Wellwynd cemetery refers to the purchase of the lair, and it maybe significant that there is a gap in the births of the children, which otherwise fit the not uncommon pattern of one every two years for this date. Was the loss of an infant what triggered the need for a burying place? It is also possible that this second stone marks where Alexander and Agnes were laid to rest was oppsosed to Wellwynd. Alternatively dos it mark the interment of one or more of their family \ children? There is a James Williamson that I have been unable to trace. Does this stone mark his burying place and does 1824 mark the date of his demise?

Second Williamson Headstone in Old Monkland Church graveyard

On 25th April 1842 Alexander Williamson, their son and the next generation in our family history married a Jane Glen. The marriage was registered in the OPR as "Alexander Williamson, Spirit Dealer in Glasgow, and Jane Glen residing there, married 25th April by Mr Alexander Nisbett Misister of the Albion Church, Glasgow". Jane was the eighth of nine children born to Alexander Glen, a vintner, Margaret Paul. (For further details of Alexander Glen and Margaret Paul - See Appendix B). 10 months prior to their marriage at the time of the census of 1841 there is a record of an "Alex Williamson, waiter, aged 24, born in Lanarkshire" working as a waiter at 116 Trongate. This would be "next door" to the Burns Tavern run by William Elliot and his wife Helen Glen. This Helen Glen was the sister of Jane Glen, "our"Alexander's future spouse. It would therefore seem not unlikely that this "Alex Williamson, waiter", is "our" Alexander, and he met his future wife through being next door to her sister and brother-in-law. Co-incidently William Elliot has an Isobella Williamson working for him. Although I have no evidence that she was connected with either Alexander Williamson .....?

It was around this time that Alexander Williamson took over the King's Arms Inn, in Trongate, Glasgow, from a Mr. D. MacGregor, as it is in the Glasgow Street Directory of 1842/3 that Alexander Williamson is first listed at the King's Arms Inn. For more details of the King's Arms Inn and its history - click here

There is poster on display in the Peoples Palace Museum in Glasgow, advertising the King's Arms Inn with the information that Alexander Williamson "now occupies the Old Established and Well Frequented House", which is assumed to date from this period, probably circa 1843. Alexander and Jane had their first child, a daughter Margaret, on 15th March 1843 in Glasgow. On 6th October 1844 their second daughter Agnes, next generation in our family history , was was born at the King's Arms Inn at 66 Trongate, Glasgow. (For further details of the known children of Alexander Williamson and Jane Glen - See Appendix H)

Poster advertising the King's Arms. Circa 1843
Click here for larger image

There was an advert in "Bradshaw's monthly railway and Steam Navigation Guide" by George Bradshaw published for 1845, in which Alexander points up the considerable enlargement of the premises and extolls the drink, food, and accomodation now provided, including a Coffee room.

Bradshaw's monthly railway and Steam Navigation Guide for the King's Arms. 1845

There is an engraving by by William Simpson from 1849, which includes the Kings Arms. The distinctive outline of the building can be seen on the far side of the Trongate next to the building with the triple pointed outline and with a coach outside.

For the census of 31st March 1851 Alexander Williamson and Jane Glen were still resident at the King's Arms, with their daughter Agnes and a further three children, Alexander born on 26th August 1846, Jane Elliot born on 18th July 1848, and John Powers born on 9th October 1850. Their first child, Margaret, who is recorded in the Glasgow Parish Register as born on 15th March 1843, does not appear in this census, and would appear to have died in infancy.

Along with Alexander Williamson's immediate family, the 1851 census for the King's Arms also lists two guests and a nephew, James McMaster, son of Jane Glen's older sister Margaret, living at the inn. Also recorded are seven servants employed at the inn, suggesting a busy and profitable enterprise.

1851 Census (31st. March) Glasgow (546) Book 6. Page 18

King's Arms Inn, 66 Trongate, Glasgow.

Name Relationship Age Occupation Where Born
Alexander Williamson Head 36 Inn Keeper New Monklands, Lanarkshire
Jane Williamson Wife 29   Glasgow, Lanarkshire
Agnes Williamson Daughter 6 Scholar Glasgow, Lanarkshire,
Alexander Williamson Son 4 At Home Glasgow, Lanarkshire
Jean Williamson Daughter 2 At Home Glasgow, Lanarkshire
John Williamson Son 5mths   Glasgow, Lanarkshire
Thomas Powers ** Visitor 56 Retired Proprietor Ireland
Thomas Russel Visitor 36 Woollen Merchant Airth, Stirlingshire
James McMaster Nephew 15 Wright/Joiner Govan, Renfrewshire
Duncan Stewart Servant 23 Boots Dull, Perthshire
Margaret Patterson Servant 35 Cook Invermoriston, Inverness-shire
Christina Leggat Servant 20 Barmaid Glasgow, Lanarkshire
Mary MacFarlane Servant 24 Kitchenmaid Brigton, Lanarkshire
Mary Black Servant 17 Parlourmaid Slammanan, Linlithgowshire
Margaret McIntyre Servant 17 Chambermaid Glasgow, Renfrewshire
Mary Robertson Servant 16 Nurserymaid Cumnock, Ayrshire

** Appears as a witness at the registration of the birth of Alexander Williamson and Jane Glen's daughter Helen, born on 4th February 1852. Where John Powers Williamson born on 9th October 1850 got his middle name ?

There is an Advert for Alexanderder Williamson's Kings Arms in the 1852 publication of the "Guide to Dumfries and Surrounding Neighbourhood via the Glasgow and Soth-Western Railway" by Robert Wilson

An Advert for Alexanderder Williamson's Kings Arms
Guide to Dumfries and Surrounding Neighbourhood

The Williamson family remained at the King's Arms Inn until 1854, during which time a further two children were born to them, Helen on 3rd July 1852, and another John, born on 4th February 1854. It is assumed their first son John Powers, born just over three years previously, had died in infancy.

Sometime in the next year or so the family moved to the Balloch Inn, on the bank of the River Leven where it joins Loch Lomond. The move to Balloch was probably necessitated by the demolition in 1854-1855 of the building that housed the King's Arms at 66 Trongate, as the building that stands there today bears the date 1855. It must have been a huge change to move from the hustle and bustle, noise, and no doubt smell of Trongate to the peace and relative calm of the Balloch Inn on the banks of the River Leven near where it enters Loch Lomond.

25" to the mile 1860 OS map showing the Balloch Hotel
reproduced with courtesy of the National Library of Scotland

It was at the Balloch Hotel on 21 June 1855 that Alexander and Jean's next child, James Williamson was born. His birth certificate includes the information that John was his mother's 9th child with 3 boys and 3 girls living and 1 boy and 1 girl deceased. Going by the children I have identified James was actually her 8th child and I am inclined to believe this is correct, but...? The son that had died was presumably the John Powers born on 9th October 1850 in Glasgow. The daughter that had died would apear to be Margaret born on 15th March 1843 in Glasgow, missing from the 1851 census but there is also daughter Helen born on 3 July 1852 who I suspect died pre-1857 as there was a daughter Janet Ellen born in the January of 1857. As no obvious death of a Helen Williamson appears in the statutory BMD records between 1855 and 1857 so on the face of it it looks like she also died pre 1855 so ....?

The Balloch Hotel
- date unknown - circa 1890?
post dates the building of the new brdge in 1887

In the July of 1855 the Dundee, Perth, and Cupar Advertiser carried an advert for "Williamson's" Balloch Hotel, extolling its location adjacent to the railway station and Balloch Pier as a overnight stay prior to a trip up Loch Lomond on board one of the excursion steam ships which plied the Loch. Alternatively boats were available for hire for peasure or fishing.

Advert for Williamson's Balloch Hotel
Dundee, Perth, and Cupar Advertiser 13 July 1855

A further addition to the family was born at the Balloch Inn, Janet Ellen Williamson born on 21st January 1857 but the family were to leave the Hotel very shortly thereafter. In an announcement in the Glasgow Herald of 11 May 1857 Alexander gave notice of his intention of taking up the lease of the newly refurbished Queen's Hotel in neighbouring Helensburgh on "Whitsunday next", (15 May 1857). (For further details of the Queens Hotel - See Appendix I.).

Advert from the Glasgow Herald of 11 May 1857
intimating Alexander Williamson's forthcoming tenancy of the Queens Hotel
and the refurbishment it has undergone.

The following month the Glasgow Herald of 17 June contained not only Alexander Williamson announcement that he had now opened the newly renamed Queens Hotel, but also, immediately above, was an announcement in a similar vein by his successor at the Balloch Hotel, John Mitchell.

Announcement of not only Alexander Williamson opening the Queens Hotel in Helensburgh
but also John Mitchell's accession to the Balloch Hotel
Glasgow Herald - 17 June 1857.

<...and the "Picturesque Guide to Warwickshire" of the same year carried a full page advert extolling its comforts and attractions of Alexander Williamson's newly refurbished Queens Hotel, including of course the hot and cold salt baths!

Advert for Alexander Williamson's newly refurbished and renamed "Queens Hotel" Helensburgh
from Black's Picturesque Guide to Warwickshire of 1857 extolling its comforts and attractions,
including of course the hot and cold salt baths.

A diner was held on Friday 7th May 1858 to celebrate the opening of the Queens Hotel which was reported in the Glasgow Herald of the following Monday. During the proceedings various speeches were made most of which made refence to the expansion of Helensburgh, the forthcoming opening of the Helensburgh railway on May 17th, and as a result the need for a good hotel, something previously missing. I would assume that Alexander would have been aware of the plans for the railway and this is may well have been what prompted his taking over the Bath Hotel and transforming it into the Queens. No doubt with the arrival of the railway, not only would the hotel's clientele grow with those visiting the town, but it would also include with wealthy Glasgow merchants and their families who were to build seaside villas in and around Helensburgh. The full article can be read by clicking here. If you wish to read the full article click here.

A tenth child Catherine was born on 20th October 1858 the birth being recorded at the Queens Hotel, East Clyde Street, Helensburgh but sadly Catherine died on 23 November 1858 just over a month after her birth.

The Queens appeared in the Dunbartonshore OS Names bok of 1860, confirming its name as the Queens Hotel, although highlighting the fact that some individuals still refered to it as the Baths.viz. "A commodious hotel with extensive stabling attached, the property of James Smith Esq. of Jordanhill. The2 former nme of the hotel was Baths Hotel by which name it is still known to a number of people. It is named on the sign board "Queens Hotel Late Baths"".

Queens Hotel - Dunbartonshore OS Names book of 1860
Glasgow Herald 12 October 1891

The building was also named the Queens Hotel on the 25" to the mile OS map showing East Clyde Street, Helensburgh, surveyed 1860. Interestingly the outline of the building changes very little between this map and the version revised 1897.

25" to the mile 1860 OS map showing the Helensburgh and the Queens Hotel
reproduced with courtesy of the National Library of Scotland

It is at the Queens Hotel that we find the family for the census of 8th April 1861, with the inclusion of their eleventh child, William Cunningham Patterson, born on 15th February 1860, and seemingly named after a lodger, William Cunningham Paterson, a "Landed Proprietor". Amongst the nine servants listed in the Hotel are two Glens, Andrew Glen, a Coachman, who was almost certainly Jane's brother and a Margaret Glen, a handmaid, probably a further relative of Jane's but as yet unidentified. The omission of Helen, born in 1852, from this census suggests that she also may have died in infancy. As I suspect the daughter who had died according to James's 1885 birth certificate was Margaret, the assumption would be that Helen after 1855 but before 1861.

1861 Census (8th April) Row (Rhu) (503) Book 11. Page ?

Queens Hotel, East Clyde Street, Helensburgh.
Name Relationship Age Occupation Where Born
Alexander Williamson Head 47 Hotel Keeper Glasgow, Lanarkshire
Jane Williamson Wife 40   Glasgow, Lanarkshire
Agnes Williamson Daughter 16   Glasgow, Lanarkshire
Alexander Williamson Son 14 Railway Clerk Glasgow, Lanarkshire
Jeannie Williamson Daughter 12   Glasgow, Lanarkshire
John Williamson Son 7   Glasgow, Lanarkshire
James Williamson Son 5   Glasgow, Lanarkshire
Ellen Williamson Daughter 4   Balloch, Dunbartonshire
William C. P. Williamson Son 1   Balloch, Dunbartonshire
Thomas MacDonald Servant 23 Waiter Inverness
Alex MacGregor Servant 27 Coachman Perthshire
James Drummond Servant 29 Coachman Dumbarton
Andrew Glen Servant 38 Coachman Lanarkshire
Agnes Munro Servant 30 Coats Ayrshire
Margaret Glen Servant 20 Handmaid Lanarkshire
Ellen Walker Servant 19 Barmaid Row (Rhu)
Margaret Buchanan Servant 17 Handmaid Lanarkshire
Flora McDougall Servant 21 Nursemaid Islay
William C. Patterson Lodger 38 Landed Proprietor Glasgow, Lanarkshire

Over the next six years Alexander and Jean's family was completed with the births of a further three children, Janet Brown on 23rd March 1862, Louisa Graham on 15th February 1864. Sadly Janet died on 23 November 1864 aged 2, and Louisa aged 2 on 12 May 1866. Alexander and Jean's fourteenth and final child was born on 20th October 1867, and named Margaret Craig after a married sister of Alexander Williamson.

In Helensburgh, on 17 December 1867, two months after the birth of Margaret, their eldest daughter, Agnes, married Ebenezer Hendry, a Merchant's Clerk. Ebenezer was the son of Ebenezer Hendry, a hotelier like Alexander, and Isabella Thomson and the witnesses were Hugh Douglas Rogerson and Margaret Hendry. (SEE ONLINE HENDRY FAMILY HISTORY).


 Advert for the Alexander Williamson's Queens Hotel from the Slaters Directory 1867

Four years later, for the census of 3rd April 1871, Alexander Williamson and Jane Glen are still at the Queens Hotel.

1871 Census (3rd April) Row (Rhu) (503)Book ? (last one before training ship)

Queens Hotel, East Clyde Street, Helensburgh.

Name Relationship Age Occupation Where Born
Alexander Williamson Head 54 Hotel Keeper Airdrie, Lanarkshire
Jane Williamson Wife 51   Glasgow, Lanarkshire
Agnes Williamson Daughter 26   Glasgow, Lanarkshire
Alexander Williamson Son 23 Manufacturer of mineral waters Glasgow, Lanarkshire
John Williamson Son 17   Glasgow, Lanarkshire
James Williamson Son 15   Glasgow, Lanarkshire
Ellen Williamson Daughter 14   Balloch, Dunbartonshire
William Williamson Son 11   Row (Rhu), Dunbartonshire
Margaret Williamson Daughter 3   Row (Rhu), Dunbartonshire
Ebenezer Hendry Son-in-law 26   Stirling, Stirlingshire
Ebenezer Hendry Grandson 2   Row (Rhu), Dunbartonshire
Agnes Hendry Grand-daughter 7 mths   Row (Rhu), Dunbartonshire

In this census Alexander and Jane have their married daughter, Agnes, with her two year old son, Ebenezer, her baby daughter, Jean, and her husband Ebenezer Hendry, staying with them at the hotel, possibly down for an Easter break from their house at 256 Dumbarton Road, Glasgow. It is interesting to note that both the babies are recorded as born in Row (Rhu), although the family were living in Glasgow at the time. Along with the immediate family, there were ten servants and four guests listed in this census.

Shortly after this census on 9 July 1871 at the Queens Hotel and shortly after her fourth birthday Margaret Craig, Alexander and Jane's youngest daughter died. She was their seventh child to have died in infancy.

Alexander Williamson and Jean Glen

Date unknown but probably circa mid 1870's.


I had a matching image (below) of the gentleman to the left who I had always assumed to be Ebenezer Hendry. Fortunately descendents of Alexander Williamson and Jean Glen in Australia had this set of photographs identified as their ancestor's Alexander Williamson and Jean Glen, which they kindly supplied, also allowing the positive identification of my photograph as Alexander Williamson.


Seven years after this census, in 1878, Alexander Williamson, was caught in the City of Glasgow Bank collapse, along with hundreds of other middle class Scots, (including our Ebenezer Hendry - see Hendry Family History). Due to the lack of limited liability Alexander's shareholding holding of £650-00, would have made him liable for £17,875-00, an enormous sum in those days (approx £2,000,000 as of 2020). The fact that he survived bankruptcy, as he seems to have done, is remarkable, especially when it is considered that he was one of only 254 out of the 1819 shareholders to do so.

Alexander Williamson's shareholding \ liability with the City of Glasgow Bank

from the list published by the Otago Daily Times , 28 November 1878, Page 2

Complete list avalable on the web  HERE

willbank.jpg (7002 bytes)

One reflection of this financial calamity may be the drop in the number of servants employed in the hotel from ten for the 1871 census, to three for the 1881 census.

1881 Census (4th April) Row (Rhu) (503) Book 13. Page ?

Queens Hotel, East Clyde Street, Helensburgh.
Name Relationship Age Occupation Where Born
Alexander Williamson Head 66 Hotel Keeper New Monklands, Lanarkshire
Jane Williamson Wife 60   Glasgow, Lanarkshire
John Williamson Son 27 Warehouseman Glasgow, Lanarkshire
Netty (Ellen) Williamson Daughter 21   Balloch, Dunbartonshire
William Williamson Son 19 Banker's Clerk Row (Rhu), Dunbartonshire
Mary Murray Boarder 30 Doctor's Wife England
Patrick M. Murray Boarder 48 Doctor Dumfries-shire
John Dunn Boarder 40 Merchant Renfrewshire
Thomas Davie Servant 24 Waiter Dunbartonshire
Sarah McAllister Servant 22 General Servant Argyll
Margaret Jack Servant 26 General Servant Shotts

There is a postcard from a water colour by the celebrated artist, H M Wimbush, entitled "Gareloch" which depicts Helensburgh from the East in 1883. The distinctive castellated outline of Alexander Williamson's Queens Hotel can clearly be seen in the righthand middle ground.

Gareloch an 1883 H M Wimbush Postcard - The Queens Hotel
is the white castellated building in the righthand middle ground.

On 5th January 1891, Jane Glen, Alexander Williamson's wife, died, aged 70. The death occurred at the Queens Hotel, and it is there, three months later, that we find the recently widowed Alexander for the census of 1891. An announcement of her death appeared in the Glasgow Herald the folowing day.

Jane Williamson, nee Glen
Glasgow Herald 6 January 1891

1891 Census ( April) Row (Rhu) (503) Book 2/3? Page 3

Queens Hotel, East Clyde Street, Helensburgh.
Name Relationship Age Occupation Where Born
Alexander Williamson Head 78 Hotel Keeper Monkland, Lanarkshire
John Williamson Son 37 Hotel manager Glasgow, Lanarkshire
W.C.P. Williamson Son 31 Clerk Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire
John Clunie Boarder 60 Corn Agent Glasgow, Lanarkshire
Ceolia Allison Servant 37 Housekeeper Parish of Balry, Fifeshire
James Thomson Servant 22 Waiter Croy, Dunbartonshire
Annie James McGiver? Servant 19 Housemaid Cardross, Dunbartonshire
Lily H. Chaliner Servant 20 Cook Glasgow?, Lanarkshire?
Jessie Thomson Servant 14 Barmaid Glasgow, Lanarkshire

Six months after this census Alexander's daughter Agnes, died, aged only 47, on 11th October 1891 in Stirling. An announcement of her death appeared in the Glasgow Herald the following day.

Agnes Hendry nee Williamson
Glasgow Herald 12 October 1891

The following month, on 17th November 1891, Alexander Williamson himself died, aged 77, still at the Queens Hotel. An announcement of his death appeared in the Glasgow Herald the following day, along with a further notice of his death in the Glasgow Evening Post which included a mention of his heavy losses due to the collapse of the City of Glasgow bank 17 years earlier. I suspect the this reference to the City of Bank collapse demonstrates the impact of this event not only on Alexander but on the wider community.

Alexander Williamson
Glasgow Evening Post 18 November 1891

Alexander Williamson
Glasgow Herald 18 November 1891

Both Alexander Williamson and Jean Glen were buried in Helensburgh Cemetery, close by their son Alexander, and his wife and baby daughter who had all predeceased them. In his will Alexander named his son-in-law, Ebenezer Hendry, as executor, along with Alexander Breingan, a local banker. The estate was valued at £3249 1s. 0p. (approx £201.651-00 today).

Inscription on first Williamson headstone in Helensburgh cemetry


On 27 May 1892 the Edinburgh Gazette carried an announcement from Alexander Williamson's trustees, Ebenezer Hendry and Alexander Breingan, that the Queens Hotel had been sold to Mr. Augustus Schnake, and declaring that they no longer had any interest therein.

For a potted history of the Queens Hotel courtesy of the Helensburgh Heritage Society with some wonderful images of the hotel through the ages - Click here