Alexander Houston or Houstoun the elder, of Jordanhill

1709 - 1777


  1. Baptised 12/05/1709, son of Andrew Houstoun of Calderhall and his wife Isobel Elphinstone. Lead partner from 1742 in Glasgow's premier West India House, Alex Houston & Co, which originated as partnership of William McDowall I and James Milliken I of Nevis and St Kitts.

  2. Second cousin of William McDowall II. The father, William McDowall I brought Houston into his sugar business from the late 1720s as his agent in Port Glasgow and in Glasgow's South Sugar House. Houston's brother William captained McDowall's sugar ships (for example, The Industry, from 1731).

  3. From 1727, The McDowall (Thomas Milliken master) regularly used the London ports (London, Deal, Gravesend, Dartmouth) in McDowalls name. On McDowall's return to Britain from St Kitts, he began changing his sugar ports from the Thames to the Clyde. In 1735 The Industry, Wm. Houston Master (and the McDowall, Thos Milliken Master), for St. Kitts are listed as belonging to 'Jas Milliken & Co'. When the Port Glasgow Customs accounts become available from 1742 (the year after James Milliken's death), all the company's ships are listed under Alexander Houston.

  4. Married Elizabeth Rae, 03/10/1743 in Govan. Children baptised in the parishes of Glasgow or Renfrew: Elizabeth (1744), Isobell (1745), Jean (1746), Andrew (1748), Robert (1749), Johanna (1751), Alexander (1752), Christian (1754), James (1756). Three of these children are in the LBS database: Alexander Houstoun of Clerkington, Robert Houstoun Rae and Andrew Houstoun of Jordanhill.


  1. GROS OPR Births 690 20 161 Kirknewton and East Calder; Douglas Hamilton’s ‘Scottish Trading in the Caribbean: The Rise and Fall of Houstoun & Co.’, in Ned C. Landsman (ed), Nation and Province in the First British Empire: Scotland and the Americas, 1600-1800 (Bucknell University Press, 2001), 94-126.

  2. William McDowall II's paternal grandfather William McDowall, 17th of Garthland, was the brother of Alexander Houston's paternal grandmother Jean McDowall. Letter William McDowall, Castle Semple, to David Alexander, St Kitts, 25/09/1730: “I recommend my two kinsmen William and Alexander Houstons”.

  3. London Press ship notices; John Gibson, The History of Glasgow, from the earliset accounts to the present time... (1777) p. 10; Port Glasgow Customs accounts for eg The Dove, The Rose, The Pretty Betsy, The Elizabeth, The Eglinton and The Kingston, all to/from St Kitts, Antigua and Montserrat.

  4. GROS OPR 690 20 161 Marriages; baptisms for children from GROS OPR Births via Scotlandspeople.

We are grateful to Stuart M. Nisbet for his assistance with compiling this entry.

Further Information

Elizabeth Rae
West India merchant

Legacies Summary

Commercial (1)

Founding partner
Alexander Houstoun & Co.
West India merchant  

Relationships (7)

Father → Son
Father → Son
Father → Son
Other relatives
Notes →
First cousin once...
Second Cousins
Business partners
Business partners
Notes →
Fergus Paterson is shown by Douglas Hamilton as partner in Houstoun and Paterson, 'which ran the Grenada operations for Houstoun & Co.' There is no date given, and it is possible the business...

Addresses (1)

Jordanhill, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Central Scotland, Scotland