James Thomson

On the face of it it is curious but factual that a good number of early Scottish players, the pioneers or at least those with Glasgow clubs, whilst they would work in the city they were not from there. And James Thomson was one of them, perhaps drawn to the game by club-camaraderie. Indeed his birth was almost in England, in late 1851 in Annan in Dumfries and his death was definitely South of the Border. He would towards the end of his life stay in Hornsey, specifically Highgate, in North London and is buried in East Finchley Cemetery but in a grave with an obvious Celtic Cross.  

James John Thomson, the Scottish spelling without a "p", would play as one of the half-backs in the internationals of 1872, aged twenty-one, in 1873 and again 1874, when he was captain for Scotland's first win, as he was for Queen's Park 1874 Scottish Cup victory. 

He was clearly a player of skill with a reputation and a potential future in the game, however, later that same year, in October 1874, work would take him not only from the football field, from Glasgow but Scotland itself. He would move first to Liverpool and a very successful career in the meat-trade. In time he would become Managing Director and Chairman of Eastmans Ltd, a large importer, largely from Argentina, and retailer of meat with six hundred shops in the UK. On his death in 1915 his estate was valued at £46,000, or a little short of £4 million in today's money. 

However, in 1880, recorded still as a Mercantile Managing Clerk, he would return to Scotland at least once, indeed to Dumfries itself, and to marry. But he and the former Sarah Dunbar would not stay. A year later as part of the city's large Diaspora they were living in Liverpool's Toxteth, than a prosperous suburb, he a Manager in a Provisions Importer with no obvious involvement with football, even as it took off in the city. Everton had been founded in late 1878 and its then rival, Bootle, the following year.    

It was also that same year, 1881, that the Thomson's first child, a daughter, was Liverpool-born, as were the next four, two girls and two bots. Yet by the time their fifth child of seven, a son, Henry Bell Thomson, came into the World in early 1890 they had already in about1888 moved on to Kentish Town in London, the father now a Dealer/Director. And it is in London they would stay. But there are further twists to the story. The boys the family seem to have travelled to the four corners of the World, one of the girls to New Zealand. In 1913, shortly before his father's death, Harry Thomson, a clerk, at the age of twenty-three, would leave Britain for Argentina. There he was married at St. Andrew's Kirk in Buenos Aires in 1915, to seventeen year-old Argentine-born Alice McFarlane. And he would die still in Buenos Aires in 1947. In the meantime they would have three children, all of whom seem to have anglicised their surname to Thompson and lived out their lives not as Scots or English but Argentines. 

Birth Locator:

Annan, Dumfries-shire

Residence Locator(s):

1861 - Wellington St., Annan, Dumfries-shire

1871 - N/A

1881 - 67, Hartington St, Toxteth, Liverpool

1901/1911 - 12, Broadlands Road, Highgate, London


Grave Locator:

East Finchley Cemetery, London


See also

Other Sources:


Scottish Sports History


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