In January 1847, Matthew’s name appears as an Interim Committee Member in the notices of a proposed company, the “Ayrshire Malleable Iron Company”. The company planned to build a malleable iron works in Ayrshire to service “the increasing demand for all kinds of iron” in Scotland, and the Prospectus predicted “an annual profit of at least twenty per cent”.
In the event, the venture proved to be a disaster. Slaven (1975, p.122) reports that “internal tensions” helped to cause the company to fail by 1849. A court case regarding unpaid debts in 1855 (amounting to L. 6120) notes that “in February 1847, the Blair Iron Company was united with the Ayrshire Malleable Iron Company, under the name of the Ayrshire Iron Company”. Another court case regarding unpaid debts in 1853 notes that “the Ayrshire Iron Company sustained very heavy losses, and was dissolved in May 1848”. A similar picture is painted in a court case dating to June 1849. An item in the Bankers’ Magazine reports a meeting of the shareholders of the Ayrshire Iron Company held on 22 Dec 1847, recording debts of £80,347 and proposing to offer to pay creditors “10s in the pound on all claims against the company”. There were 20 shillings in the old British pound, so in modern parlance the shareholders were proposing a “haircut” of 50% on all their debts. It’s unclear what personal liability Matthew had for these unpaid debts.
“Prospectus of a Joint Stock Company for the Manufacture of Malleable Iron”. Caledonian Mercury, 14 January 1847, p.1 col.1 (pdf image)
Prospectus and share offer for the newly-formed “Ayrshire Malleable Iron Company”. Matthew is listed as a committee member. Full text is provided below.
“Prospectus of a Joint Stock Company for the Manufacture of Malleable Iron”. Manchester Courier, 16 January 1847, p.2 col.1
A repeat copy of the same Prospectus.
“Prospectus of a Joint Stock Company for the Manufacture of Malleable Iron”. The Railway Times, 16 January 1847, p.85 col.3
A repeat copy of the same Prospectus. This one was found via a Google Books text search performed by Mike Sutton.
PROSPECTUS OF A JOINT STOCK COMPANY FOR THE MANUFACTURE OF MALLEABLE IRON, TO BE CALLED THE AYRSHIRE MALLEABLE IRON COMPANY.
CAPITAL — L.200,000, divided into 10,000 Shares of’ L.20 each; L.10 per Share to be called up in the first instance, by four instalments, at intervals of at least Three Months.
Twenty Shillings per Share to be Deposited when the Shares are Allocated.
Chairman — Captain W. F. Blair of Blair, } Directors in the
Hugh Miller, Esq. of Midton, Provost of Ayr } the Glasgow & Ayr Railway. John Brown, Esq. Provost of Kilmarnock.
James Miller, Esq. merchant, Ayr.
William Croil, Esq. merchant, Glasgow.
Alexander Guthrie, Esq. of Mount, Ayrshire.
Thomas Biggart, Esq. DaIry.
John Hamilton, Esq. of Dunfillan.
Patrick Matthew, Esq. of Gourdie Hill.
James Fraser Miller, Esq. engineer, Ayr.
Alexander Alison, Esq. of the Blair Iron Works.
George Young, Esq. one of the Magistrates of Kilmarnock.
Thos. Drummond, Esq. of Craigie.
(With power to add to their number.)
Solicitors and Interim Secretaries.
Messrs J. & A. Tennent, 40, George Square.
Mr John Watt, 32, St Enoch Square.
Western Bank of Scotland.
British Linen Company.
THE immense quantity of Pig Iron now sent to England, to be manufactured into Malleable Iron, and brought back here for consumption, the increasing demand for all kinds of Iron, and the cheapness of Coal and Pig Iron in Scotland, evidently point out that country as by far the best for works of this description; and in no part of it are there so many advantages as in the district in which the proposed Work is to be erected. Rich in minerals, the cost of producing Pig Iron is such, as places Ayrshire in a most favourable position, compared with the other districts of Scotland; and it is a matter of surprise that, while Lanarkshire has several Malleable Iron Works, this locality is still unsupplied, though in the midst of abundant fields of superior Coal — surrounded by Iron Works — intersected by Railways, and bounded by good Shipping Ports. Also, this part of the country being now looked to for supplying the deficiency caused by the working out of the other mineral districts.
The site for the proposed Works has been fixed near to Dalry, thus securing by Railway Carriage, easy access to the various Shipping Ports, and internal communication throughout the whole Kingdom; while supplies of the best description of Pig Iron can be had from the Glengarnock, Blair, Eglinton, Muirkirk, Lugar, and Portland Iron Works, all in the county of Ayr, and several of them close to the proposed site. The supply of Coal is abundant and cheap in this part of Ayrshire.
To those who know anything of the Iron Trade, it is almost superfluous to say, that few undertakings in this country have been, and are now, more successful than Malleable Iron Works; while to those ignorant of the trade, it is only fair to add, that the Engineer employed by the Company shows in his Report an annual profit of at least Twenty per Cent. on the paid up Capital.
The Report, &c. can be seen at the Office of the interim Secretary; and so soon as two-thirds of the number of Shares are applied for, the Company will be considered as formed, and a Meeting of the Shareholders called for appointing Directors, to whom will be entrusted the management of the affairs of the Company.
A large portion of the Shares are already taken up by parties connected with the Iron Trade, which is the best guarantee as to the merit of the Company and the success of the undertaking.
Every information will be afforded intending Subscribers at the Office of the Interim Secretaries.
Applications for Shares in the subjoined Form may be addressed to Messrs Foulds & Cockburn, Sharebrokers, 58, St Vincent Street, or Mr Alex. W. Forbes, 83, Queen Street, Glasgow — Messrs John Robertson & Co. 15, Royal Exchange, Edinburgh — Mr John Fox, 31, Great Winchester Street, or Mr H. J. Bolding, Tokenhouse Yard, London — Mr J. Richardson, 3, Commercial Bank Buildings, Cook Street, Liverpool — Mr Edward Ashworth, Manchester — Messrs Stansfeld & Wise, Leeds.
To the Interim Secretaries, Ayrshire Malleable Iron Company.
GENTLEMEN, Please insert my name as a Subscriber for Shares in the Ayrshire Malleable Iron Company; and I hereby bind myself to pay the Deposit and to subscribe the Deed of Copartnership prepared by the Interim Committee when required. I am, Gentlemen.
Your most obedient servant,
Full name and designation