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John Lawrie and the origins of Lawrie and Symington

Some of the staff of Lawrie and Symington towards the end of the 19th century

Some of the staff of Lawrie and Symington towards the end of the 19th century

 

John Lawrie first set up business as an auctioneer in Lanark in 1840 and entered a partnership with his nephew James Symington in 1862. Business grew rapidly as auctions replaced hand-selling at fairs as the common form of agricultural exchange. On September 24th 1867, Mr Lawrie and his nephew Mr Symington held their first Livestock Sale.  Since then the Company has diversified into a number of different areas including St. Andrews Meat Wholesale Co., Forfar Auction Market, Country Supplies Outlet , and still trades today.

The following article, taken from the Glasgow Herald on the 26 august, 1858  discusses the  role of  John Lawrie in the early development of the company, and the esteem in which he was held:

DINNER AND PRESENTATION TO MR. JOHN LAWRIE, AUCTIONEER, LANARK
On Friday last, a number of Mr. Lawries’s friends entertained him to a splendid dinner in the Clydesdale Hotel.  The chair was ably filled by John Wilson esq. of  Westsidewood and David Stodart Esq, City of Glasgow Bank acted as croupier.  After the usual loyal and patriotic toasts, Mr Wilson rose and in a very eloquent speech allude to Mr. Lawries’s qualities as a businessman and an auctioneer, his upright and gentlemanly way of doing business, his strict integrity and obliging manner in which he conducted all  his sales to the entire Satisfaction of both his employers and purchasers, and a number of qualifications too numerous to mention: indeed from the fact he is regularly employed in seven adjoining counties , and oftentimes taken to the Highlands to conduct extensive sales of timber, was sufficient to satisfy an entire stranger as to his talents as an auctioneer.  In consideration of the obligations under which the gentlemen farmers and wood merchants of the Upper and Middle wards of Lanarkshire were indebted to him, he has much  pleasure in representing them and presenting him with a gold watch and appendages  and a splendid gold brooch  for Mrs Lawrie as a token of their respect and esteem (The chairman sat down amid great applause)

Medal made by Cassels Jewellers, 1872

Medal made by Cassels Jewelers, 1872

 

It is interesting to note that both the presentation watch and brooch were supplied by a local  jeweler, Jas Cassels.   Though there is now no trace of these items,  the standard of workmanship can perhaps be gleaned by looking at the medal on the left, which also bears the names of Cassels, and which was made for the Agricultural Society, Lanark, in 1872.  The newspaper article goes on to state that the value of the 2 items  was £40 – this was a huge sum of money in those days, equivalent to perhaps £1500 in today’s prices

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