Thomas Leishman Devlin

Founder of the business of T L Devlin, Trawler Owners


Early Years

Thomas Leishman Devlin was born at 5 Annfield, Newhaven, in 1854, son of Thomas Devlin and Christina Devlin.

Thomas' middle name, 'Leishman', first appeared on his marriage certificate, when he married Grace Darney on February 22, 1882. In earlier documents, his name was given as 'Thomas Devlin'.  [John D Stevenson]

In 1871 he was working as a 'Fish Merchant' with his father.  Seven years later, he was working as 'Fish Merchant and Salesman' on his own account.

Marriage and Family

In 1882, Thomas married Grace Cochrane Darney in Edinburgh.  They had three children, all born at Newhaven:

-  Elizabeth   b.1884-  Thomas Leishman   b.1887

-  Robert   b.1889

In 1890, Grace's mother, Elizabeth Mossman, died in April 1890, leaving over 40,000 to be shared amongst her 4 sons and 3 daughters,  in the ratio of 1 part per son to 1.5 parts per daughter. 

Grace's 7,000 share of this inheritance may have enabled Thomas to begin his major investments, first in property and later in trawlers.


Thomas acquired the trawler GRACE from his father in 1887.  He sold it two years later, but went on to buy many more trawlers from the 1890s onwards, beginning with COMMODORE in 1890. 

This was the start of the T L Devlin, trawler owning business, the largest private fleet of steam trawlers in Britain.

For further details, see Recollections and Trawlers.


In addition to his trawling business, Thomas had an interest in many other businesses.  He was a director of many companies, including:

-  Dundee Steam Trawling Co

Madelvic Car Factory, Granton

-  North British Cold Store, Leith

-  Scotts Shipyard, Kinghorn

He became a very successful businessman, and amassed an estate of 429,522: 3s 6d by the time of his death in 1919.  He left the ownership of his trawling business to his wife, Grace.

Grace retained control of the Devlin business until her own death, in 1941, at  the age of 91.



Thomas lived in rented accommodation, until the late 1880s, but then appears to have started investing in property.  His investments began with:

-  1887:  A self-contained house was being built at Blantyre Terrace, Merchiston.
He took out a 1,000 mortgage for this house, and redeemed it in 1888.

-  1888:  The house in which he was living on 2nd floor at 60, Hawthornvale.
A shop at 14 Parsons Green Terrace and house above the shop.
Land on which three houses were to be built in road to be called Stirling Road, Trinity.  For these he took out a 1,600 mortgage, and redeemed it in 1889.

He bought houses in 1891, paying 950 to Robert Robertson, builder, Jessfield, for property at 5 + 7, Strowan Terrace.

Strowan Terrace was the name given to houses on the N side of the road at the W end of East Trinity Road.

In 1888, Thomas was living at 60 Hawthornvale.  He later owned and lived in houses at 203 Newhaven Road then 25 Stanley Road.

Other Interests

Thomas worked to support the Liberal Party in Leith.

He presented an ornamental fountain in Starbank Park and a drinking fountain at Annfield to the people of Leith in 1910.

The details above have been supplied by John D Stevenson (Trinity, Edinburgh:  January 2007)



T L Devlin (Trawler Owners)


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