The Pattison Crash
last updated June 10th 2014

PATTISON, ELDER & CO How it started

"What Happend When?
time frame
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As per the letter head the company was established 1847. If so Walter Gray Pattison (1829-16.01.1890) was only 18 years. It is likely that the name of the company was taken 1882 when his two eldest sons and Mr Alexander Elder took over. Before that the name was Walter Pattison Company.
1851 his title is ”General Merchant and Agent”. He first lived at Summer Lodge Leith and then at Seacliff Trinity.

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From the start they were dealing with dairy products etc. and Walter Pattison was also an agent for insurance companies. He was also head of Leith Chamber of Commerce until 1884. Walter Pattison married 1957 to Elizabeth Rose Paterson and they got 8 children, 4 boys (Robert, Walter, William, John) and 4 girls (Effie, Laura, Margaret and Gilchrist).
When he died 16th January 1890 his assets as per the inventory was £38,732 19s 0d and the debts £18,480 12s 10d leaving a balance of £20,252 6s 2d.
In the list of attest following items appear:

and in the list of debts:


The oldest son of Walter Pattison, Robert Paterson Pattison (1859 - ) entered the company in 1882. It is often stated that he leased Teaninich distillery from 1850 – 1869 (for example Wikipedia). For obvious reasons this is not correct. (This person was Robert Pattieson). In February 1882 his father retired and Robert and Alexander Elder continued the business under the name Pattison, Elder & Company as per a notice in the Edinburgh Gazette.

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Robert Pattison was released from prison in January 1903. “The morning was cold and dark, and no one was waiting for Pattison, or any of the other prisoners.”


The younger son, Walter Gilchrist Gray Pattison (1860-1908) started to work for the company in 1880 as a traveller and
became a partner to Pattison, Elder & Co in 1885. From 1890 to 1896 he was an active partner in Pattison, Elder & Co and in Pattison Limited until the stoppage.
1882 he married Miss E. Swan, daughter of Mr James Swan (later one of the directors in Pattison Limited). He was released from Perth General prison in April 1902 where he spent 9 months. “The meeting between husband and wife was of a particularly pathetic and touching nature, and they afterwards proceeded to the Station Hotel, where they had breakfast”.
1908 he died in Pancras London 48 years old.

The role of Mr Alexander Elder is a bit unclear.. When Alfred Barnard visited Pattison, Elder & Co, he was managing the office and ware houses in No 33 Commercial Street, London.
Alexander Elder became a partner in 1882 but after December 1889 seemed to be a salaried partner (£1,000 per year).
There are records of an Alexander Elder in Edinburgh (1823-1897) – who won price for his “Royal Holyrood Sauce” , but I can not say for sure that it is the same Alexander Elder but in time it suits as the last advert for this sauce is in 1879.

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Click on the images to expand/shrink Advert from 1855 – Caledonian Mercury

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Click on the images to expand/shrink Advert from 1879 – Leicester Chronicle

The balance sheet December 31st, 1882 states that the capital was shared as follows:
• R. Pattison £1800
• A. Elder £500
• W. Pattison (the father) £2000 + bills for £1050
After the crash during examination in July 1899 Robert Pattison says when he was asked about the flotation. ”There was a third party in the firm of Pattison, Elder & Co who also shared the profits. When the firm was floated (1896), as Pattison’s Limited that party had a considerable amount of the business.” He was asked by the Trustee ”Why was not he a partner of the flotation agreement?” and he replied – ”I don’t know.” The London branch made a big loss (£8,000) from 1891 -1894 and that was perhaps a reason.
If the above information is correct Alexander Elder was born 1822 and died in December 1897, which can explain why he was not called in as a witness at the trial. It is not much written about the company prior to the float in 1896 except for Alfred Barnards visit. (see separate sheet) and some legal action against merchants.

Census Transcription 1851
Inverness Courier - Thursday 26 August 1852
Caledonian Mercury – Thursday 27 December 1855
Caledonian Mercury - Tuesday 30 May 1865
Edinburgh Evening News - Tuesday 22 April 1884
Leicester Chronicle - Saturday 22 November 1879
Edinburgh Evening News - Saturday 02 April 1892
Edinburgh Evening News , Saturday October 14th 1893
Evening Telegraph - Thursday 30 December 1897
Yorkshire Evening Post - Tuesday 09 July 1901
Dundee Courier - Wednesday 10 July 1901
Dundee Courier - Friday 18 April 1902
Southern Reporter - Thursday 22 January 1903
Advocates Library/National Library of Scotland