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165 Years Ago Today. Founder William McBeath.

165 Years Ago Today. Founder William McBeath.

On the 7th May 1856 our Founder William McBeath was born in the village of Callander.

Willie’s dad Peter owned a general store on Callander’s Main Street and the family home was above the store which today is The Waverley Hotel.

William had an older sister Jane and a brother Peter. Another boy was born after William but he like so many other children of the time died in infancy. Tragically, William’s dad Peter McBeath passed in November 1864. Shortly afterwards, his wife took William and his sister Jane to Glasgow to start a new life.

By the time of the 1871 census, the McBeath's were living at 17 Cleveland Street, living in the same close were five members of the McNeil family, including brothers Peter and William. It was here that the boys first made contact.

The following year, at the beginning of 1872,the boys had an idea to form a football team.

William McBeath played in our first ever match v Callander and according to fellow Ranger William Dunlop ‘’William was awarded man of the match but then spent a week in bed recovering due to his exertions!”.

In 1874, incredibly at the age of just 17,William McBeath was elected as Rangers first ever President. This highlights how young the founders of our Club were.

By 1878 William was a commercial traveller and after marrying a Jeannie Harris he moved to the Crosshill area of Glasgow .Within a year the family had moved to Bristol in what was almost certainly the most settled and happiest period of William’s life.

In 1884 at the Club’s ‘Annual Hop’ his friends and fellow Founders honoured William for the role he played in its conception and presented him with a gold badge. This was at an event held in the St. Andrews Hall which is at the rear of today’s Mitchell Library in Glasgow.

Sadly, the remaining period of William McBeath’s life is clouded in mist.

What happened to cause a breakdown in the happy family life of the McBeath's is uncertain. William’s son Norman was sent to Glasgow to live with his grandmother. Norman McBeath died in Glasgow, aged eighty-three, in 1973.

William last few years make for unpleasant reading. He moved from town to town, found himself in court on charges of fraud (of which he was acquitted) and married for a second time. He then moved to Lincoln and stayed at 57 Cranwell Street and 34 Vernon Street.

Tragically the deterioration in William McBeath’s life continued until his death in a workhouse at Lincoln in 1917. He was certified "imbecile”. The evidence of his state of health suggests he had actually suffered from Alzheimer’s. Medical terminology back then was brutal to say the least."

William McBeath was buried in an unmarked, pauper’s grave in Lincoln Cemetery but there is a happy ending to his story.

During his research for the Gallant Pioneers book Gary Ralston found William’s final resting place. The grave is now marked with a fitting stone which was paid for by the worldwide Rangers support and placed there by a group of fellow supporters.

As we celebrate our 55th Title we today remember Founder William McBeath.

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