John Glassford

Biography of John Glassford

John Glassford matriculated at the University in 1728 as an Arts student.

Born in Paisley in 1715, he became a tobacco merchant. One of Glasgow's leading 'Tobacco Lords', John Glassford’s wealth was based upon the expropriation of labour of enslaved people and he was also a personal slave-owner in Scotland. The famous Glassford family portrait – now stored in the People’s Palace in Glasgow - was painted around 1765 by Archibald McLauchlan of the Foulis Academy of Fine Arts. Set in the Shawfield Mansion, Glassford’s Palladian mansion, Glassford is present with his family and the shadowy figure of a young black servant on the left of the painting. Some accounts have suggested the child had been painted over, though restorative work at the People’s Palace in 2007 revealed the image had faded due to the build-up of grime and dirt over the centuries.

Glassford’s connections with the slave economies in the Atlantic world are not in any doubt: he owned plantations and 21 stores in Virginia and Maryland. Glassford died at his Dougalston estate on 27 August 1783.


John Glassford
Born 1715.
Died 27 August 1783.
University Link: Student
GU Degree: Arts, 1728;
Occupation categories: merchants; tobacco merchants
Record last updated: 1st Jul 2019

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  • Student

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