Charles Cowan

1735 - 1805

Merchant who gave rise to a paper-making dynasty. Born in humble circumstances in Fife, Cowan became a merchant in Leith and did well trading in tea, wine and paper. In 1779, he decided to extend his business beyond trade into manufacture and purchased one of a number of mills on the River North Esk at Penicuik and named it Valleyfield Mill.

He lies buried in the Canongate kirkyard, where his memorial records "Here are interred the mortal remains of Charles Cowan, merchant in Edinburgh, who died 23rd February 1805, aged 69 years and of Marjory Fidler, his wife, who died 30th November 1819, aged 85 years. Their descendants, 123 in number, grateful for their example of integrity & benevolence have erected this monument in the year 1831." His son Alexander Cowan (1775 - 1859) took over running the family business.

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