A photograph of a portrait of Alexander Speirs of Elderslie (1714-1782). The painting was by Sir Daniel Macnee and was a copy of an original by William Cochrane.
Speirs was the son of an Edinburgh merchant and was a plantation owner in Virginia before returning to Glasgow in the 1740s and becoming a leading tobacco merchant principally through his partnerships in Alexander Speirs & Co, Speirs, Bowman & Co and Speirs, French & Co. He amassed a huge fortune and became a partner in a range of commercial ventures and industries in the Glasgow area, including the Glasgow Arms Bank, the Wester Sugar House, Smithfield Ironworks and Pollokshaws Printfield Co.
Speirs built a splendid mansion at Elderslie and in 1770 purchased the Virginia Mansion on Ingram Street. He was Glasgow's treasurer in 1755 and served as a Bailie in 1757 and 1762. He married Mary, the daughter of the tobacco merchant Archibald Buchanan of Silverbanks and Auchentorlie. Their son Archibald (1758-1832) inherited the father's business empire.
Reference: Mitchell Library GC f941.435 OLD
Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Libraries Information and Learning
Alexander Speirs & Co, Elderslie House, mansions, plantation owners, portraits, Speirs, Bowman & Co, Speirs, French & Co, Tobacco Lords, tobacco merchants, Virginia Mansion