Glasgow Cowal Society, Literary Department


The name for this society refers to Cowal, a peninsula in Argyll and Bute in the Scottish Highlands, thus its members were almost certainly from the Highlands.

This group is a type of nineteenth-century county association. In the stricter sense, county associations were groups whose members (or whose parents) were former residents of counties across Scotland who had moved to Glasgow. This type of group incorporated elements of a benevolent society in that they could offer a combination of accommodation, advice, referrals, and general assistance to newcomers in the city when they arrived, while also offering aid to widows, unemployed members, or members undergoing financial hardship. In addition, they might offer to provide for the education of their members’ children, or money to support their higher education.

The Glasgow Post Office directory for 1903-1904 lists this society’s objects:

‘Its objects are (1) the intellectual and social improvement of the members, and (2) the relief of decayed and indigent individuals who are natives of the district of Cowal, and families or widows of natives resident within a circuit of five miles of Royal Exchange [in the city centre].’

(‘Glasgow Cowal Society’, ‘Charitable and Friendly Institutions’, Post Office Glasgow Directory for 1903-1904… (Glasgow: Aird & Coghill, 1903), p. 173)

Date of Existence


Source of Information

1. ‘Twentieth Annual Report of the Glasgow Cowal Society’, 24 April 1885 (MLSC, Glasgow Scrapbooks, No. 23, p. 193);

2. Glasgow Cowal Society, ‘Syllabus, 1885-86’, with Office Bearers for same (MLSC, Glasgow Scrapbooks, No. 23, p. 194);

3. ‘The Natives of Cowal’, Glasgow Herald, 17 February 1866, p. 6;

4. Glasgow Contemporaries at the Dawn of the XXth Century (Glasgow: The Photo-Biographical Publishing Co., [1901]), p. 196 (ML, Mitchell (GC) 920.04 GLA 499009);

5. ‘Glasgow Cowal Society’, ‘Charitable and Friendly Institutions’, Post Office Glasgow Directory for 1903-1904… (Glasgow: Aird & Coghill, 1903), p. 173


Mitchell Library (ML)

Mitchell Library Special Collections (MLSC)

National Library of Scotland

Reference Number

(See Source of Information)

Additional Notes

The Glasgow Herald is available at the Mitchell Library and the National Library of Scotland in both hard copy and microfilm (check libraries for availability in both formats). Digitised issues are also available through the British Newspaper Archive: