Isabella Elder

Other names: 
Maiden name: Ure

Isabella Elder was left a wealthy widow after the death of her husband, marine engineer and shipbuilder, John Elder. She ran his business for a short time after his death, and then devoted herself to philanthropic projects, including endowing a chair of naval architecture at Glasgow University, providing property for Queen Margaret College, establishing a School of Domestic Economy in Govan, providing Elder Park and financing Elder Cottage Hospital and Elder Free Library.

Isabella Elder, nee Ure (1828-1905) was the daughter of a Glasgow lawyer who, as an adult took particular interest in promoting opportunities for women in higher education.
In 1857, she married marine engineer and shipbuilder, John Elder (1824-1869) who was a partner in Randolph, Elder and Co. Marine engineers in the city. This firm was to become one of the world's leading shipbuilders and marine engineers.

In 1869, Isabella was widowed and became the sole owner of her late husband's business for nine months. Ownership was the transferred to a partnership led by her Isabella's brother, John Ure.
Thereafter Isabella devoted her life to philanthropic projects in Govan and Glasgow.

In 1885 she set up a school of domestic economy in Govan, to teach young women how to prepare nutritious meals, darn, mend, starch and perform other tasks required in managing a household on a budget. She also made a number of contributions to engineering and Astronomy at Glasgow University.

In 1883, Isabella bought North Park House in the West End of Glasgow and then donated it to the Queen Margaret college. This became the first college in Scotland to provide higher education for women.

'The Baillie' (A Glasgow news periodical) described Isabella Elder as 'a true woman, wise benefactress of the public and of learning'.

The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women
Based on an entry by Joan McAlpone
Elder Park Heritage Trail booklet.
published by Glasgow City Council.
The University of Glasgow Story
Isabella Elder's Portrait On the Glasgow University website