Thomas W. Howie

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Thomas W. Howie
TW Howie.jpg
Thomas W Howie
Thomas Wyllie Howie

(1856-04-08)8 April 1856
Died18 July 1927(1927-07-18) (aged 71)
Falkirk, Scotland
OccupationMine-owner, councillor
Spouse(s)Barbara Picken
ChildrenMargaret Howie
Robert Wyllie Howie
Bethia Howie
Martha Howie
Barbara Howie
Jean Howie

Thomas Wyllie Howie, JP (8 April 1856 18 July 1927) was a Scottish captain of industry.

In the late 19th century a captain of industry was a business leader whose means of amassing a personal fortune contributed positively to the country in some way. This may have been through increased productivity, expansion of markets, providing more jobs, or acts of philanthropy. This characterisation contrasts with that of the robber baron, a business leader using political means to achieve personal ends.



Howie was born in Riccarton, Ayrshire, on 8 April 1856 to Robert and Bethia (Wyllie) Howie, into a wealthy industrial family who had been active in the Covenanting movement. He was born at the family home, Newhouse, an estate house nearby the fireclay mine which the family owned. There he was brought up alongside his cousin, who would become the mining magnate John Howie. The house is now a residential care home. Howie's father, Robert, died at the Crichton Institution in Dumfries, a private lunatic hospital, when Thomas was 27.

Riccarton, Ayrshire village in United Kingdom

Riccarton is a village and parish in East Ayrshire, Scotland. It lies across the River Irvine from Kilmarnock, this river forming the boundary between Riccarton and Kilmarnock parishes, and also between the historical districts of Kyle and Cunningham. The name is a corruption of 'Richard's town', traditionally said to refer to Richard Wallace, the uncle of Sir William Wallace. The parish also contains the village of Hurlford.

Covenanters member of an scottish religious group

The Covenanters were a Scottish Presbyterian movement that played an important part in the history of Scotland, and to a lesser extent that of England and of Ireland, during the 17th century. Presbyterian denominations tracing their history to the Covenanters and often incorporating the name continue the ideas and traditions in Scotland and internationally.

John Howie was a wealthy Victorian captain of industry and investor, the proprietor of the renowned J & R Howie Hurlford Fireclay Works. He would have been about 350th on a notional Rich List of Britain at the time, with a fortune equal to over £200 million today. At his death, he was one of the richest men in Scotland.


He and his wife settled in Falkirk where he became a partner in Campbell & Co Fireclay Works and coal mine, Roughcastle. He later became owner of the business. Previous to settling in Falkirk the Howie family lived in Hurlford, where they owned the renowned Hurlford Fireclay Works (until it was bought by Armitage Shanks), which produced pottery, bricks, chimneys, garden ornaments and enamelled sanitary ware (lavatories, baths, urinals etc.) The family owned much of the town, including Marchmont Place, Salisbury Place, Collier Row, Office Row, Chapel Cottages, Skerrington Row and Howie's Square. They also owned small mining villages, including Hemphill.

Falkirk town in Scotland

Falkirk is a large town in the Central Lowlands of Scotland, historically within the county of Stirlingshire. It lies in the Forth Valley, 23.3 miles (37.5 km) north-west of Edinburgh and 20.5 miles (33.0 km) north-east of Glasgow.

Hurlford village in United Kingdom

Hurlford is a village in East Ayrshire, Scotland. It has a population of 4,968. Hurlford's former names include Whirlford and Hurdleford. The village was named Whirlford as a result of a ford crossing the River Irvine east of Hurlford Cross, near Shawhill. It shares its name in Gaelic, Baile Àtha Cliath with the Irish capital Dublin.

Armitage Shanks

Armitage Shanks is a British manufacturer of bathroom fixtures and plumbing supplies, now part of the Ideal Standard group.

A supporter of the Unionist Party, Thomas Howie was a Justice of the Peace and elected a Stirling County Councillor for Falkirk, Vice-Chairman of the Parish Council, as well as Chairman of the Landward Committee.

The Unionist Party was the main centre-right political party in Scotland between 1912 and 1965.


Howie married Barbara Picken, sister of the Town Clerk of Glasgow, and had six children: Margaret, Robert Wyllie, Bethia, Martha, Barbara and Jean. His sons attended the High School of Glasgow and his daughters St. George's School for Girls, Edinburgh.

The High School of Glasgow is an independent, co-educational day school in Glasgow, Scotland. The original High School of Glasgow was founded as the choir school of Glasgow Cathedral in around 1124, and was the oldest school in Scotland, and the twelfth oldest in the United Kingdom until its closure in 1977. It remained part of the Church as the city's grammar school until coming under local authority control in 1872, and closed in 1977, when the private Drewsteighnton School adopted the name. The school maintains a relationship with the Cathedral, where it holds an annual service of commemoration and thanksgiving in September. It counts two British Prime Ministers, two Lords President and the founder of the University of Aberdeen among its alumni.

Death and legacy

At a Water Board outing he was taken ill and never recovered, dying in 1927. The local newspaper at the time remembered him as a 'bright and cheery man', and notes that he 'took a deep interest in parochial affairs and was particularly sympathetic towards the deserving poor'. Thomas Howie is buried in Falkirk Cemetery. On his death, his share of the brickworks business was valued at £12,000, which is equivalent to over £2,300,000 in today's terms (relative GDP per capita).

Street named after him

A street, Howie Place, in Falkirk, is named after him. It is nearby the site of the brickworks he once owned.


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