The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Sir James Matheson

Sir James Matheson

A carte-de-visite portrait of Sir James Matheson (1796-1878), who co-founded the Hong Kong-based trading conglomerate Jardine Matheson & Co and made a fortune from the Chinese opium trade.

Born at Lairg, Sutherland, Matheson co-founded with Dr William Jardine the Jardine Matheson company in Canton in 1832. He later returned to Scotland and, in 1844, purchased the Isle of Lewis for £190,000. He commissioned the renowned architect Charles Wilson to design him a castle residence. Building work started in 1847 and the £60,000 project took seven years to complete. A further £49,000 was spent landscaping the grounds of the castle. He was created the Baronet of Lewis in 1851 for his generosity in alleviating the sufferings of the inhabitants of the island during a period of famine. On his death the estate fell to his widow, Lady Mary Jane Matheson, and subsequently to his nephew, Donald Matheson.

He appears in the Post Office Directory of 1862, living at Stornoway House, 13, Cleveland Row, London, on the eastern edge of Green Park. According to the same source, Sir James Matheson, Bart. was a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and M.P. for Ross and Cromarty.

Photographed by Camille Silvy of London on 26 April 1861.

Code: 126096
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© Paul Frecker 2019