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Sir John Ure Primrose

Honorary President 1888 - 1912
Chairman 1912 - 1923


Sir John Ure Primrose, Bart., LL.D, was one of the leading figures in the city of Glasgow in the years before and after the turn of the twentieth century.  A leading politician and businessman, he led a busy and varied life.

The future chairman of Rangers Football Club was born in Glasgow on 6 October, 1847 to William Primrose, merchant-miller, and Annie Ure.  Annie’s father, John, was also a merchant-miller.  Her brother, also John, would serve as Lord Provost of Glasgow in the period 1880-83.  His nephew would follow him as the first citizen just over twenty-years later. 

John Ure Primrose would spend his business life with the family firm, William Primrose & Sons, Centre Street Flour Mills.  He would eventually become senior partner.  His political life began as a member of the Govan Police Commission.  He joined the Town Council as a representative of the Kingston ward.  From 1891 to 1895 he served as a city magistrate, being the senior magistrate in 1895.  In 1903 he was elected Lord Provost.

Sir John became a member of Rangers Football Club in August, 1887, the month in which First Ibrox Park was opened.  At the annual meeting in 1888, the future baronet but at that time Councillor Primrose, was elected Honorary President.  He only vacated this office on becoming chairman some twenty-four years later.

When William Craig proposed Sir John as successor to James Henderson in 1912, he accepted on the condition it be an interim appointment.  This interim appointment lasted for eleven years!  A great believer in fair play, Sir John was a great supporter of the Glasgow Merchants Charity Cup, raising many thousands of pounds for institutions in Glasgow and the West of Scotland.  A member of the Glasgow Choral Union, he possessed a fine tenor voice and was honorary choirmaster to the Ibrox UF Church.  By coincidence, William Wilton was also a choirmaster.

Sir John presided at the Club’s Jubilee dinner held, a year late, on 9 April, 1923.  He resigned from the chairmanship in July of that year.  He died at his Dumbreck home on 29 June, 1924.  He had been in ill-health for some time.

Sir John Ure Primrose - New Eastwood Cemetery (4)

We were advised recently that Sir John lay at Craigton Cemetery, a matter of yards from one of his successors, Joseph Buchanan.  Further investigation revealed, though, the plot contains the remains of the first Lady Primrose and, indeed, the second Lady Primrose.  Sir John’s grave is, in fact, at New Eastwood Cemetery.  He lies there with the third Lady Primrose who had survived her husband.

Sir John Ure Primrose - New Eastwood Cemetery (3)

Sir John’s surname was responsible for a popular football quiz question of the seventies.  “What is Bob Wilson’s middle name?”  The answer is “Primrose”.  The former Arsenal and Scotland goalkeeper is a grand-nephew of Sir John, on his mother’s side of the family.  Family tradition dictated he take his mother’s maiden name as his middle name.


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