The graveyard of St Mary Magdalene contains the family tomb of Sir William Pearce, Baronet.
William Pearce was born in Brompton (now part of Gillingham) in 1833, and trained at Chatham Dockyard as a designer and naval architect. In 1863 he began working for Robert Napier and in 1864 he was made manager of Napier's shipyard in Govan.
He became a partner of John Elder & Co in 1869, which by the 1880's employed around 5000 men. In 1885 he was returned as the first MP for the new constituency of Lanarkshire, and in 1887 he was created a Baronet for his services to ship building.
He died in 1888 leaving estate valued at over a million pounds.
Although he is buried here, Sir William also has a number of memorials to him in Scotland. Until the 1970's the Sir William Pearce Cenotaph stood in Craigton Cemetery in Glasgow. The bronze bust, figures and relief panels for the monument were created by Albert Toft (1869-1949), but the monument was removed when it was repeatedly vandalised.
A statue of him sculpted in 1894 by Edward Onslow Ford (1852 - 1901) stands opposite the Pearce Institute in Govan. It is apparently know locally as "the black man" because of the colour of the tarnished bronze.
Incidentally, Edward Onslow Ford also sculpted the 1890 statue of General Gordon which stands in Chatham, and which was repeated at Khartoum in 1904.
This picture shows a view of the left of the tomb (before someone added graffiti).
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Brief biography of Sir William Pearce on The Govan Story site.
Short biography of Albert Toft, on the Glasgow Sculpture site.
|The Glasgow Sculpture Site|
Biography of Robert Napier.
All photographs copyright 2000, 2001 Jason Ross