Patrick Colquhoun

Posted in Scottish Political Figures

Patrick Colquhoun / Political Figures

Born in Scotland in 1720, Colquhoun settled in Glasgow, after having spent several profitable years engaged in business in Virginia, N. America. In Glasgow he was active in civic affairs, and due to his successful efforts in persuading the government in Westminster to pass measures beneficial to Glasgow and Scotland, in addition to other work on behalf of civic improvements, he was elected lord provost of the city in 1782. He was re-elected in 1783.

That same year, 1783, he founded and became chairman of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce. From 1785-89 this diligent man worked hard for the sake of British cotton manufacturers in general, collating data which he presented to William Pitt, the P.M. in 1789. In 1789 he moved to London, and on the reorganisation of the police there in 1792 he was appointed a police magistrate. With his experiences in this position, he wrote one of his best-known works, Treatise on the Police of the Metropolis (1795).

His 'biggy' came out in 1814, with the Treatise on the Population, Wealth, and Resources of the British Empire. In this work, he set out a statistical portrait of the distribution of national income. It highlighted the poverty of the working classes, and for long was an influence on the social and economic reformers who followed.

His name is connected with Glasgow's Kelvingrove Park. Until the council purchased this site in 1852, Glasgow Green was the only public park in the city. The park was previously the policies of Kelvingrove and Kelvingrove House, the property of Provost Colquhoun. He died in 1820.

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