James Galloway Weir
6 July 1839 – 18 May 1911
James Galloway Weir,
(6 July 1839-18 May 1911) was a Scottish businessman and Liberal Party politician.
Born in Scotland, he was the son of a builder, James Ross Weir. He was a pupil at Dollar Academy before moving with his family to London as a young man.
He worked as a travelling salesman for a haberdashery company before he went into business on his own account in 1863 importing sewing machines. He retired from business in about 1879/80 to pursue politics full-time.
Weir's brother, John Weir became the secretary of the Fife and Kinross Miners' Association. He unsuccessfully contested the Falkirk Burghs constituency in 1885, when he got a derisory vote. He was elected MP for Ross and Cromarty in 1892.
He was also elected to the London County Council in 1892 to represent Islington East as a member of the majority Liberal-backed Progressive Party.
James Galloway Weir died at his home in Frognal, Hampstead in 1911 aged 71 and was buried at Marylebone Cemetery.
1866. The Year of Black Friday
... Very similar in size, form and action was the '"Raymond" machine built in Canada and introduced into this country by Mr. James Galloway Weir, who sold it under his own name as the " Weir '' machine. This was an exceedingly well-made little thing, and getting introduced to one or two of the aristocracy, who considered it quite sufficient for the use of their maids, it spread, particularly among ladies of rank, to a perfectly astonishing degree. The business of Mr. Weir was conducted under a veil of something like secrecy, commencing with a small office in Featherstone Buildings, High Holborn, afterwards removing to premises very little more commodius in Carlisle Street, Soho Square. Here it was maintained for many years with great success, sufficiently so at least to enable Mr. Weir to retire some years ago with a fortune estimated at £ 60.000. He was in it long enough to witness its rise, its culmination and its decline; for like many other machines it passed through all those stages and when he retired the machines had become utterly unsaleable. He was almost the only Englishman (and he was a Scotchman) who was able permanently to retire on a fortune. Instead of wasting the profits already made, like so many unfortunately have done in vain attempts to resuscitate a falling business, he withdrew from the trade and its conflicts and devoted his energies to the public service. In the second County Council election of March, 1892, he was returned as one of the representatives for East Islington and at the General Election the July following he was returned to Parliament as member for the Ross and Cromartie division in the Gladstonian interest. He has been well known since as one of the most inveterate and pertinacious questioners in the House of Commons, where, let us hope, he will long continue to render good service to his Country...
The Story of the Sewing Machine
WITH REMINISCENCES, PERSONAL AND GENERAL
by Newton Wilson
The Sewing Machine Gazette 1894