Family History Research: Staff Stories in Business Records

Further to our family history flickr sets, to celebrate ‘Who Do You Think You Are Live’ at the SECC this weekend, we wanted to introduce some individual stories found within our Business and University records.
Here are some individual staff stories found within the records of the Scottish Business Archive located in the University of Glasgow Archive Services:

John Eadie:

John Eadie accepting his 70 years' service gold watch (Ref: STOD201/2/16/2/8)

John Eadie accepting his 70 years’ service gold watch (Ref: STOD201/2/16/2/8)

John Eadie worked in the Design Room of James Templeton & Co Ltd for just three months short of seventy five years. He received an MBE in recognition of his long service and died in 1957, aged eighty-nine. The Templetonian, the company’s in-house magazine, provides details about his reaching 70 years of service and his retirement. The Stoddard-Templeton design archive includes three of his carpet designs.
In December 1938, Eadie appears in the Templetonian magazine as a ‘Prominent Templetonian’: a section dedicated to valued staff members of the company. Here we learn that Eadie entered the design room in 1882 aged just 14. The article continues:

“John Eadie refuses to grow old… during the past forty years quite a big proportion of the best of our designs have come from his hands…”

In 1952, the Templetonian reports that Eadie was presented with an inscribed gold watch from the directors to mark seventy years’ service to the company:

“In closing, Mr Anderson conveyed the deep sense of appreciation felt by the directors of Mr Eadie’s valued service.”

Carpet design by John Eadie (Ref: STOD/DES/38/3/18)

Carpet design by John Eadie (Ref: STOD/DES/38/3/18)


A.W. Strachan:

In 1903, Mr Strachan accepted a three year contract with Finlay, Muir & Co to continue to work on their tea estates in India.
Men were recruited in Britain to manage the Finlay tea estate business overseas and the archive collection contains a wonderful series of Managers and Assistants Letterbooks (GUAS Ref: UGD 91/1/6/3/1) which provide a wealth of information about the men working as managers and assistants on Finlay’s tea estates.
We can follow Mr Strachan’s career from entries in these books. The registers track the progress of the men sent to estates and contain summaries of the correspondence back and forth from the local superintendents to head office in Glasgow about the recruitment and performance of staff members.
In the case of Mr Strachan, he was initially plagued by ill health. By late 1904 he was posted to Goombira for a three year contract and in the following years reports of his conduct are mainly favourable:

“He is very pleasant to work with and is not above asking if he is not sure about anything…”

In August 1908, his career with Finlay’s dramatically changes when Mr Strachan is attacked by a tiger (see image).

Passage in the letterbook reporting the tiger attack

Passage in the letterbook reporting the tiger attack (Ref: UGD91/1/6/3/1) (click to enlarge)

Following this attack Mr Strachan was transferred to the general hospital in Calcutta until he was fit enough to return home in November on the ship SIMLA with a first class passage arranged by the company.

Unfortunately Mr Strachan’s injuries were such that he could not be re-appointed to work with the company on their estates again, and he has no further entries in the letterbook.


The collections in the Scottish Business Archive can provide a lot of information about the staff of Scottish businesses and our flickr set can show you the types of records you can use to research the individuals.

If you would like to consult any of the records from the Scottish Business Archive, please contact the Duty Archivist at: to make an appointment.

Stay tuned for more stories from the archive!

Categories: Archive Services

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