Glasgow - City of Sculpture
By Gary Nisbet
William Fulton & Sons
(fl. c. 1790-1836)

An iron foundry established in the late 18th Century by William Fulton (1737-1813), an anchor smith and bellows maker, his workshop was in the Trongate, opposite the Tron Church.

He is listed in the Glasgow PODs from 1790, which record that he later moved his smithy to 43 Mitchell Street at the eastern extremity of the city and on the border of the now disappeared village of Grahamstown in 1801, where he continued to trade as an anchor smith.

Two years later, he brought his son Alexander (1781-1807) into the business, changing the firm's name to William Fulton & Son.

As well as producing the anchors for the ships that sailed from the Clyde to the furthest outreaches of the British Empire, carrying the commerce and emigrants to sustain and populate it, they also produced the iron mortuary cages that enclosed the graves of the families who built their fortunes on Glasgow's mercantile fleet, to protect them from grave robbers and body snatchers.

Most of the cages were erected at the height of the "Ressurectionists" trade, which supplied the anatomy school in Glasgow's Old College with quantities of fresh cadavers for their research from freshly dug and unprotected graves.

A particularly good example of these cages is around the grave and wall mounted monument of the paper maker, James Russell (d. 1798), in the Ramshorn Kirkyard in Ingram Street (close to the former site of the Old College in the High Street).

This was cast in the Classical style with four panels of railings formed by spears bound together with horizontal rails at top and bottom, and with Adam-esque urns as finials above the slender columns at its corners. It was 'signed' by the foundry on its front: W Fulton & Sons Glasgow. The foundry was probably responsible for the other (unsigned) cages and the mort-safe that are still in the Kirkyard, and they possibly produced the railings and gates of the kirkyard itself.

After the death of Alexander on 18 August 1807, and William Fulton on 9 December 1813, the firm was continued by another, unidentified, son until around 1836, when it disappeared from the PODs . William and Alexander Fulton were buried in the Ramshorn Kirkyard, their badly worn memorial tablet positioned on the same wall as that of James Russell and his cage.

Sources:

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