1945: James Auld, Lead-lighter & Glazier (1873-1945)

James Auld (1873-1945) is recognised as an employee of the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company between 1888 and 1898. He was also a  grandson of the principal partner of the company James Ferguson (1818-1894).

Photos from family history collections dating from 1898 from Australia & New Zealand.

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James Auld was the second eldest of nine children and was born on the 27th of August 1873 at his parent’s chandlery and grocery business premises in Flinders Street Melbourne. His parents, Thomas Auld (1838-1913) and Janet Kay Ferguson (1844-1925) were natives of Scotland who married in the West Melbourne Presbyterian Church in 1871.

His mother was the second eldest daughter of James Ferguson, a principal partner of the pioneering stained glass company Ferguson & Urie of North Melbourne. James Ferguson arrived aboard the Tamerlane on the 29th April 1853 and after establishing the company in North Melbourne he sent for his family who arrived aboard the Emma in 1855.

It had long been suspected that James Auld had been an apprentice to his grandfather’s stained glass firm but no evidence had been found to make any association with him and the Ferguson & Urie Company, despite it being known that he was a Glazier and Lead-light craftsman by trade.

A funeral notice in August 1896 reveals the first small clue as to where James learnt his craft. In August 1896, a Ferguson & Urie employee named, James ‘Jim’ Urie (1870-1896)[1], the son of James Urie[2], died. An account of Jim Urie’s funeral in the local tabloids referred to the names of his coffin bearers as “…the deceased’s fellow employe’s…”[3] One of those employees was James Auld. Many other confirmed employees of the firm were also listed as pall bearers, such as; John Scott[4], Charles William Hardess[5], Frank Clifford Lording[6], E. R. King[7], James Ferguson Jnr[8], and J. M. Gilligan[9].

It can be surmised that James Auld was apprenticed to his grandfathers firm when he was about the age of 14 or 15 (circa 1888) where he learnt his trade as a Leadlight-glazier in the firm.

In 1890 Ferguson & Urie partner James Urie died[10] followed by James Ferguson in 1894[11] and the business ceased trading in 1899[12].

James spent some time in Western Australia circa 1898, but for how long is unknown. The last dated photograph of him in Victoria was in Melbourne in June 1899 and sometime after this he left for New Zealand where he gained employment with “Robert Martin, Ltd[13], sometime between 1900 and 1903. This firm were decorators in Manners Street Wellington[14] and whilst they were primarily renowned for their wall papers and other decorations, they had their own dedicated stained glass department under the direction of stained glass artist Chester Edward Carter (1862-1908)[15]. At the 1898-99 Auckland Exhibition the company was awarded a first prize for a stained glass window[16]. In 1900 the Wellington Industrial Association published a detailed report of their visit to Robert Martin Ltd in Wellington. The article provided an in depth description of the company’s business premises and stained glass department and of the specialist employees it stated;

“…Special men have been procured by Mr. Martin for each branch of the work here described – men having both English and Australian experience…”[17]

James Auld married Charlotte Mary Clarke (1876-1937) in Wellington on the 9th April 1903[18] and between 1904 and 1915 they had seven children;

Ian Kay (1904-1992), Marion Una (1906-1977), Stella Mary (1907-2010), Eric James (1908-1998), Jessie Olive (1910-2009), Irene Florence (1913-1914) and Frances Norma (1915-1987).

In 1907 James returned to Melbourne with Mary and their first three children, Ian, Marion and Stella aboard the “Maheno” in November 1907[19]. Family lore has it that they intended on staying in Australia but within a short time were reminded of the Australian summer heat and they subsequently returned to New Zealand circa mid 1908.

In 1913 James formed a business partnership with a Mr. Patrick Gleeson as “Auld & Gleeson”[20] in Gisborne and by the 1930’s they had premises in Taranaki Street Wellington which advertised as Oil and Colour Merchants, Leadlight Makers, Glass Bevellers as well as for Painting supplies, Wallpapers, Window Glazing, and Bevelled Mirrors.

In 1915 Auld & Gleeson were awarded a Government tender at Gisborne to supply “…paints, oils, colors, etc…” “…for the period ending June 30, 1916…”[21] This undoubtedly increased their trade turnover and along with their reputation for quality workmanship and materials enabled them to expand and employ more craftsmen in the trade. In 1920 they advertised for an apprentice, requesting a “Smart Lad” to learn the lead-light and glazing trade at their premises in Gladstone Road at Gisborne[22]. Later they were able to expand the business to include premises in Napier and Gisborne.

In many of the New Zealand electoral rolls James’s occupation was listed as a “Glass Merchant,”  “Lead Glazier,” and other variations of the same.

In December 1938 James visited his six surviving sisters at Moonee Ponds in Melbourne and its thought that at this time he gifted them a handmade lead-light fire-place screen, most likely of his own workmanship. The screen still exists and has been handed down to Australian descendants of his sister Isabella Stella Burleigh (nee Auld 1884-1980).

James’s wife Mary died on the 23rd August 1937 at the age of 62[23] and was buried in the Karori cemetery. James died eight years later on the 12th of February 1945[24] at the age of 71 and was buried with Mary.

The other partner in “Auld & Gleeson”, Patrick Gleeson, sold his business interests in the company and retired to Auckland where he died in 1965 aged 78 [25]. The new business owners, “Smith & Smith,” retained the “Auld & Gleeson” Company name and built a new warehouse in Jackson Street Petone in the mid 1960’s where James Auld’s second eldest son Eric was an employee of the firm until his retirement in the 1970’s.[26]

James’s second eldest daughter, Stella Mary Fowler (nee Auld 1907-2010), lived to the extraordinary age of 103 years and although during her lifetime she had revealed very little of her fathers history in the glazing trade, after she passed away in 2010 five extraordinary pieces of family history were uncovered.

The designs for Ferguson & Urie stained glass windows:

Amongst Stella’s family history were four hand drawn and water colour painted designs for secular stained glass windows [images]. One rectangular window depicts a woman with long blond hair surrounded with the letters which make up the word “INDUSTRY”. On either side of her are two blue birds in diamond shaped quarries and the rest of the window depicts floral designs with the inclusion of three crimson bullseyes above and below the central image.

The second design is of a rectangular window which depicts another image of the long haired woman picking and eating an apple from a tree. The surrounding floral designs include fourteen glass bullseyes of varying colours.

The third design is of an arch shaped window of simple leadlight design with no figurative element and the fourth design depicts three long thin rectangular windows incorporating arch shapes with glass bullseyes of varying sizes and colours.

Along the edge of two of the designs, stamped in purple lettering, are the words, “For Ferguson & Urie”[27]. It is not known whether this series of windows were ever made but written in pencil on the reverse of one of the designs is what appears to be the dimensions for the windows and the name “…for Johnston” and at the bottom is what appears to be an estimate for the creation of the windows of  “15/- per foot.

Based on the patterns and designs for the windows it is estimated that the drawings were most likely created in the mid to late 1890’s. No other detail is known.

The E. L. Yencken Glass Cart Photo:

Another of Stella’s historical items was an original photo of the employees of the “E. L. Yencken” lead-light and stained glass Company of Melbourne. The photo depicts a horse drawn cart adorned with lead-light glass panels that has been decorated for the eight hour week procession and has the company employees next to it.

At the top of the cart can be seen the Royal Crown with the numbers “888.” Below this, within the lead-light windows can be seen the letters “E” and “R” on the far left and right of the cart. The date of the photo can only be estimated as between 1901 and 1910 as this is the period of King Edward’s (E.R) reign from the 22nd January 1901 until his death on the 6th of May 1910. The Eight Hour March, which began on April 21st 1856, continued each year until 1951 and since then Australian workers continue to enjoy the Labour Day public holiday celebrated by a public holiday on the 2nd Monday in March each year.

It’s not known how Stella came into possession of these historical artifacts but it can reasonably be assumed that they originally belonged to her father James Auld.

Significant transcriptions:

Evening Post, New Zealand, Vol CXXXIX, Issue 37, 13th February 1945, page 1.

“AULD.- On February 12, 1945, at his residence, 82 Jubilee Rd., Khandallah, James, dearly-beloved husband of the late Mary Charlotte Auld, and father of Ian, Una, Stella, Eric, Jessie, and Frances; in his 72nd year.”

Evening Post, New Zealand, Vol CXXXIX, Issue 37, 13th February 1945, page 1.

“AULD.- The friends of the late James Auld are invited to attend his Funeral, which will leave our Chapel Tomorrow (Wednesday), February 14, 1945, at the conclusion of a service, commencing at 11 a.m., for Karori Cemetery. Robt. H. Wilson and Sons, Ltd., 164 Adelaide Rd.”

New Zealand – Evening Post Issue 40, 16 February 1945 Page 3.


The many friends of Mr. James Auld will regret to hear of his death at Wellington on Monday morning after a brief illness. Born in Melbourne Mr. Auld came to Wellington 47 years ago to the firm of Robert Martin, Ltd. In 1913 he joined Mr. P. Gleeson and started business in Gisborne, subsequently expanding to Wellington, Napier, and Petone. He retired from active business six years ago. Being of a kindly and reserved nature he endeared himself to all with whom he came in contact. He was a member of the Khandallah Bowling Club and also of the Masonic lodge. His wife predeceased him seven years ago. He is survived by two sons, Mr. I. K. Auld and Mr. E. J. Auld, and four daughters, Mrs. C. H. Fowler, Wellington, Mrs. A. T. Robinson, Mrs. D. Lee, and Mrs. S. R. Vincent, Gisborne. Six sisters reside in Melbourne.”


Robert Martin Ltd, Wellington New Zealand.


[2] James Urie (1828-1890) was a principal partner in the Ferguson & Urie stained glass firm.

[4] John Scott (1850-1919), appears in the 1887 Ferguson & Urie dinner portraits.

[5] Charles William Hardess (1859-1849), appears in the 1887 Ferguson & Urie dinner portraits

[6] Frank Clifford Lording (1860-1944) appears in the 1887 Ferguson & Urie dinner portraits.

[7] A photo of “E. R. King” appears in the 1887 company dinner portraits.

[8] James Ferguson Jnr (1860-1945), appears in the 1887 company dinner portrait.

[9] A photo of “J. M. Gilligan” appears in the 1887 company dinner portrait.

[12] The Ferguson & Urie Company closed in July 1899 after a 46 year history.

[13] Shop interior, including wallpapers, Robert Martin Ltd, Wellington. Shore Bennett, Beverley Doris, 1928- :Photographs. Ref: 1/2-173024-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22578337

[18] NZ BDM: 1903/2577, Presbyterian Church Kent Terrace Wellington

[19] PROV, index to Unassisted Inward Passengers, Nov 1907, Fiche 328, page 003.

[23] NZ BDM: 1937/27935, age 63.

[24] NZ BDM: 1945/28964.

[25] Patrick Gleeson born Cowwarr, Victoria, Australia VIC BDM: 1886/17478, died Auckland New Zealand age 78, NZBDM: 1965/27070 age 78.

[26] Janice Ball (nee Auld) – email 28th August 2013.

[27] Copies of items from James’s grandson, Errol Vincent, New Zealand 2010.


My gratitude to the Auld family descendants from New Zealand who have liberally contributed some fantastic family history and magnificent photos which appear on this and many other articles on the web site.

Short link to this page: http://wp.me/p28nLD-29m

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One comment on “1945: James Auld, Lead-lighter & Glazier (1873-1945)

  1. Hi Ray,
    Much appreciation for compiling this super article which contains interesting information and photographs previously unknown to me!
    Kind regards,

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