Record

CodeNA7304
Dates1548-
Person NameRenny Family; family
Epithetfamily
ActivityThe Renny family was a prominent mercantile family in Arbroath for over 300 years. Their existence can be traced back to 1548. Bailie James Renny of Millhead House built Brothock Mill, the oldest spinning mill in Arbroath, and ran a candle works nearby, with a candle shop in Marketgate. One of the Bailie's twenty-two children, also called James, spotted the potential of the newly developed gaslight. James junior invented his own miniature gas-making apparatus and installed gaslight in the candle shop - ironically, the first property in town to be lit by gas. James went on to superintend the erection of the Arbroath gasworks, and subsequently the building of the Forfar and Kirkcaldy Gasworks. On 13 February 1826, a number of shops and public buildings in Arbroath were illuminated by gas for the first time.The Museum Society was established in 1843 to administer a collection which had begun with a donation of shells by a local fishwife, and was augmented in 1840 by the gift of an entire collection of curiosities belonging to Lieutenant Medley, RN, who had been stationed at Westhaven. The collection was initially housed in a large room in the old jail. Subsequently, the Town Council voted £50 to assist in obtaining more suitable accommodation, and the Society leased the upper floor of an old flax warehouse in Hill Street. The collection continued to grow, and in 1867 was moved to the upper hall of the new Public Buildings in the High Street.One of the outstanding benefactors of the Museum was William Renny (1794 - 1870), partner in the linen business of Messrs. Renny, Sons and Co. William was a member of the Town Council, and for a time Dean of Guild. In his obituary, he was described as having a 'warm-hearted, generous disposition'. He died on 12 July 1870 at 76 years old. Contributions to the Museum were also made by his brother, James Renny of Edinburgh, among them a collection of shells and British fishes, which had belonged to Professor John Fleming of New College, Edinburgh (1785 - 1857).
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