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Strang, John (1795-1863) (DNB00)


STRANG, JOHN (1795–1863), author of ‘Glasgow and its Clubs,’ was the son of a wine merchant in Glasgow, where he was born in 1795. He received a liberal education, and had special training in French and German. His father died when he was fourteen, leaving him a competency. In due time he succeeded to the business, for which he had but small liking. In 1817 he spent some time in France and Italy, which begot in him a deep love of continental travel. Presently, when at home, he began to contribute to periodicals tales and poems translated from French and German. His youthful translations from the German of Hoffmann and others, when collected into a volume, introduced him to men of letters in London and in France and Germany.

Having artistic as well as literary tastes, Strang sketched some of the outstanding features of Old Glasgow, and he detected the site which his zeal and advocacy ultimately secured for what became the picturesque Glasgow necropolis. In 1831 Strang made a long tour in Germany, writing thence many letters subsequently published. For the first six months of 1832 he edited the ‘Day,’ a literary paper, to which he contributed original articles and translations. In 1834 he was appointed city chamberlain of Glasgow, holding the office worthily for thirty years. He regulated the finances of the city, and helped to improve its architectural features. In recognition of his literary merit and public services, Glasgow University conferred on him the honorary degree of LL.D. He spent his last summer in France and Germany, contributing to the ‘Glasgow Herald’ a series of letters from ‘an invalid in search of health.’ He died in Glasgow on 8 Dec. 1863. In December 1842 Strang married Elizabeth Anderson, daughter of a distinguished Glasgow physician, Dr. William Anderson. She survived him. As ‘Geoffrey Crayon,’ Strang published in 1830 ‘A Glance at the Exhibition of Works of Living Artists, under the Patronage of the Glasgow Dilettante Society.’ In 1831 appeared his pamphlet, ‘Necropolis Glasguensis,’ advocating the site of the new garden cemetery. In 1836 he published, in two octavo volumes, his acute and observant ‘Germany in 1831,’ which soon reached a second edition. Besides reading before the British Association at various meetings papers on the city and harbour of Glasgow, he prepared for the corporation elaborate and accurate reports on the ‘Vital Statistics of Glasgow,’ and on the census of the city as shown in 1841, 1851, and 1861; and he wrote the article ‘Glasgow’ for the eighth edition of the ‘Encyclopædia Britannica.’ His most important work is ‘Glasgow and its Clubs,’ 1855. This is a valuable record of the society and manners of western Scotland in the second half of the eighteenth century. It speedily ran through several editions. In 1863 appeared ‘Travelling Notes of an Invalid in Search of Health,’ the preface to which Strang wrote ten days before his death.

[Glasgow Herald, 9 Dec. 1863; Irving's Dict. of Eminent Scotsmen.]

T. B.