NS4076 : The John Proudfoot Memorial

taken 11 years ago, near to Bellsmyre, West Dunbartonshire, Great Britain

The John Proudfoot Memorial
The John Proudfoot Memorial
This memorial is located within NS4076 : Dumbarton Cemetery, and is only a short distance from NS4076 : The White Memorial and NS4076 : The Bennett Memorials. The inscription below the statue reads as follows (note that "Monte Video" is so spelled there):

"Sacred to the memory of John Proudfoot, Merchant,
Liverpool, Rio Grande do Sul,
and Monte Video,
who died at Liverpool
on the 7th of March 1875,
Aged 64 years."

For a later photograph giving a clear view of the memorial, see NS4076 : The John Proudfoot Memorial.

In what follows, I have relied mainly on the inscription itself (which, reasonably, would be the most reliable of the written sources), and on the biographical sketch that is provided in Donald MacLeod's "The God's Acres of Dumbarton" (1888).

According to MacLeod's book, John Proudfoot was "born in Dumbartonshire" in 1811, but later left for South America. After some sojourns there, he returned to Scotland, and lived for some time at Dunglass Castle (NS4373 : Dunglass Castle and the Henry Bell Monument). It is interesting to note in this connection that a ship named "Dunglass" was built for Proudfoot's company by T. Wingate and Co, shipbuilders at Glasgow. For other vessels owned by his company, see the other photograph of the memorial (the link was given above). On returning from Portugal, where he had gone for the sake of his health, Proudfoot died at Liverpool (as noted in the inscription).

[MacLeod also mentions another memorial that was located in front of this one: "in front of this noble work of art there is laid on the turf a memorial stone cross over the remains of a sister of John Proudfoot, bearing this inscription: In loving memory of Jane Proudfoot, who died at NR7283 : Taynish House, Argyllshire, 22nd November, 1880, aged 79 years."]

According to MacLeod, the statue, which stands eight feet tall, is the work of the sculptor Sir John Steell; it was cast in Sir John's foundry, Edinburgh [a reference to Steell's bronze foundry, which was located in the city's Grove Street]. The pedestal, which is seven feet high, is made of Binnie freestone. In accord with John Proudfoot's wishes, the monument depicts him at work in South America: "it was preferred by him that in his memorial he be depicted as a working man of the country where he had spent most of his days"; he was "not ashamed of the struggles of his early days in South America". He is shown holding a spade, although it cannot be seen clearly from this angle.

Some other works help to flesh out the details of his time abroad. One of these is called "The English in South America" (M.G.Mulhall, 1878), and is about the many English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh individuals who made their mark there. Chapter 36, "The English in Brazil", discusses Proudfoot, a Scot (the next two people discussed in that chapter are Henry Law, an engineer from Dublin, and William Gilbert Ginty, another Irish engineer). Researchers should be forewarned that, aside from the author's chauvinism, the work is marred by various factual errors: for example, the author writes that Proudfoot died at Lisbon, on the 8th of March 1875, in his 74th year; this is wrong on all three counts (see the inscription). For what it is worth, it seems that Proudfoot helped establish businesses in Rio Grande do Sul and in Montevideo, and that his attempts to branch out into cotton farming at Rio Grande were unsuccessful (although this was his only business failure).

[Mulhall claims that Proudfoot was from Glasgow, but, as should be apparent from the above, Donald MacLeod's statement that Proudfoot was from Dumbartonshire is far more likely to be correct. Although some other works state that Proudfoot was from Glasgow, these all appear to have relied on Mulhall as a source.]

Shortly thereafter, Proudfoot was involved in a project to lay a submarine cable. The details of this project, which was completed within a surprisingly short time, are confirmed in the book "History of the Telephone and Telegraph in the Argentine Republic 1857-1921" (Victor M. Berthold, 1921), which mentions that the River Plate Telegraph Company "was formed to work a 15-year concession which had been granted to Messrs. John Proudfoot and Matthew Gray of London on December 10, 1864", and that the Company "provided for a land and submarine line from Buenos Aires to Montevideo (Uruguay). This line was opened to the public November 30, 1866."

The River Plate Telegraph Company, of which John Proudfoot was one of the founders, was one of many companies that, after a long series of mergers, would eventually give rise to Cable and Wireless Ltd.
Dumbarton Cemetery

The cemetery was formally opened on the 4th of October, 1854, replacing the overcrowded parish churchyard. See the Geograph article "Dumbarton Cemetery" Link for a detailed discussion. For biographies of many of those buried here, and for descriptions of their memorials, see Donald MacLeod's "The God's Acres of Dumbarton" (1888), and the same author's "Dumbarton: Its Recent Men and Events" (1898). By 2010, there was concern that Dumbarton Cemetery would run out of space within a decade; New Dumbarton Cemetery Link was subsequently created uphill from the existing cemetery, and opened at the end of December 2015.

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NS4076, 149 images   (more nearby search)
Photographer
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Date Taken
Tuesday, 15 February, 2011   (more nearby)
Submitted
Thursday, 24 February, 2011
Geographical Context
Burial ground, Crematorium 
Sculptor (from Tags)
John Steell 
Category
Memorial > Memorial   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 4089 7613 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:57.1064N 4:32.9879W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 4088 7612
View Direction
Northeast (about 45 degrees)
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Dumbarton Cemetery  Memorial 

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