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Glasgow University Archive Services

Records of James Finlay & Co Ltd

Collection Summary

Reference Code

GB 0248 UGD 091



Extent and medium of the unit of description

30.5 metres

(122 boxes, 188 volumes)

Existence and Location of Originals

This material is original.

Name of creator

James Finlay & Co Ltd | 1909-: | textile manufacturers, tea planters and merchants | Glasgow

Biographical History

Administrative History

In 1750 James Finlay established the firm of James Finlay & Co in Glasgow. In 1792 (James Finlay having died some time previously) the senior managing partner of the firm was his son, Kirkman Finlay, who had the following co-partners; William Finlay, John Wright, James Frederick Gerock, Leitch and Smith per Archibald Smith, David Russell, John Gordon, Gordon & Co and Alexander Gordon. In 1798 the company purchased mills at Ballindalloch and soon became major textile manufacturers, later purchasing additional mills at Catrine (1801) and Deanston (1808). The firm also established many trading connections overseas, initially on the Continent, but later further afield. These trading operations were facilitated by a staff of travelling agents and by the formation of branch establishments in major trading centres. These establishments included Finlay & Co (Manchester, 1799), John Thomson & Co (Helgoland, 1807), Struthers, Kennedy & Co (Malta, 1809), Finlay Hodgson & Co (London 1809).

Gradually the company's trading activities outstripped their textile manufacturing business and in 1844 the works at Ballindalloch were sold. In 1858 the company merged with Wilson, James and Kay. Although the firm had had connections in India since 1817 through their association with Ritchie Steuart & Co, Bombay, these ties were strengthened in the late nineteenth century. In 1862 Finlay Clerk & Co were established in Bombay and in 1870 it became known as Finlay Muir & Co and opened a branch in Calcutta. In around 1882 the firm began to diversify into tea estate management. In 1909 the company became incorporated as a limited liability company, James Finlay & Co Ltd. The company became a public limited company in 1924 and a wholly owned subsidiary of the Hong Kong based John Swire & Sons in October 2000, whilst retaining its head office in Glasgow.

Scope and Content

Scope and Content

The records of James Finlay & Co Ltd consist of:

  • financial records (1789-1969)
  • production records (1814-1964)
  • administrative records (1835-1956)
  • plans (1872-1956)
  • staff records (1881-1972)
  • photographs (1960)




Businesses and Organisations


[View administrative information]

Components of this collection