Francis Clayton Scott (1881-1979)
Life and family
Francis Scott was born Francis Schott on 6 August 1881 in Bolton, the family name being changed to Scott in the late 1880s. He was the youngest of three children having an older brother Samuel Haslam (1875-1960; DCB) and a sister Jane Millicent (1879-1964). His father was James William Scott Bt. (1844-1913; DCB), a cotton spinner and manufacturer, who was the son of John George Schott (1816-1858), a merchant whose family originally came from Frankfurt, and Sarah Anne Kinder (1815-1895). On 16 April 1874, James Schott, as he then was, married Anne Jane Haslam (1849-1922) daughter of John Haslam (1818-1876), a cotton manufacturer, and his wife, Jane (1817-1899). Francis Scott grew up in Bolton but spent time in Windermere as his father had purchased The Yews on the Storrs Hall Estate in 1896. He was educated at Bedales and then followed his brother to Oriel College, Oxford obtaining a BA in 1903.
On 31 August 1911 in Birkenhead, Francis Scott married Gwendolen Frieda Martha Jager (Frieda) (1887-1973) daughter of George Jager (1846-1903), a sugar refiner, and his wife, Georgina (1857-1949). They had two children Joan Frieda (1912-2008) and Peter Francis (1917-2010). Joan, who became a doctor, married John Trevelyan (1903-1986), Secretary of the British Board of Film Censors and had two children, James and Sara. Peter married Prudence Milligan (b.1926) in 1953 and they had four children, Alexander, Madeleine, Rebecca and Charlotte. After they divorced, he married Alison Grant (b.1947) in 1968.
Francis Scott, from 1912, suffered increasingly from a hip problem which cause him to spend several months in Egypt in 1914. In subsequent years, he spent several months in Bath until the problem was solved by an operation. By 1921, Francis had purchased Matson Ground, Windermere which became his home until his death. Frieda died on 29 March 1973. The following year, Francis married Elsa Marion Gatey (1904-2008), the daughter of Edward Dickson McNaughton (1874-1936) and his wife Constance Marion Molyneux (1873-2007) of Milnthorpe. Elsa was the widow of Norman Gatey (1902-1964) a solicitor of Windermere. Francis and Elsa did not have any children. Francis died on Matson Ground on 1 January 1979 and Elsa died there on 10 March 1995.
Francis Scott showed a potential interest in business matters and his father determined to set up a business both to provide Francis with a career and to develop the family resources. His son having considered various businesses and decided on insurance, James Scott founded the Provincial Insurance Company Ltd in 1903 in Bolton with himself as Chairman, his son, Samuel, a director and Francis as company secretary. Starting in the initial small office, Francis read insurance periodicals to learn the business and then developed the company by a personal mastery of all its affairs. On their father’s death in 1913, Samuel became Chairman and Francis, Managing Director. In the early years of the company, partly because of Francis’ absences due to ill health, Samuel took an active part in the daily management of the company and the brothers were, in effect, partners in the business. In the 1920s, Samuel withdrew from active involvement in day to day management and Francis became the driving force behind the development of the business. Francis introduced a number of original approaches to insurance including the country discount for British motor vehicles. He also adopted new investment policies between the wars which emphasised equity involvement before this became accepted orthodoxy. Francis became Chairman when Samuel retired in 1946 and served until 1956. He retired from the Board in 1959.
Both Francis’ and Samuel’s wives suffered ill health and desired a move to Westmorland, a move which would allow them to live in the area they loved, but Sir James would not agree. Following Sir James’ death in 1913, the head office moved eventually to Sand Aire House, Kendal in 1919. The company steadily expanded in terms of both volume and of types of insurance becoming one of the leading insurers in the British market with a substantial international organisation. The company is now part of the AXA group.
Francis Scott directed a large part his wealth generated by the Provincial Insurance Company into philanthropy. His particular interests were music and the arts, youth development, local community and conservation of the natural environment. Support for local music took various forms including his being Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Mary Wakefield Westmorland Festival in 1935. Arts and the local community came together with his work and financial support to help to found the Abbot Hall Gallery in Kendal. In the 1950s, Abbot Hall, a fine eighteenth century building, was facing demolition so a group of local people formed a charitable trust. Under the chairmanship of Francis Scott and with the help of his son Peter, The Lake District Art Gallery Trust restored the building and opened it as an art gallery in 1962.
Francis Scott purchased the Brathay Hall Estate from the Redmayne family (qv) in 1939, intending that the Hall should be used for a charitable purpose. The war intervened and he did not set up the Brathay Hall Trust until 1946 by which time he had seen a need for leadership training. He offered the Hall as a base for the National Association of Boys Clubs and ran courses involving outdoor education and cultural activities for boys from low socio-economic backgrounds who lived in northern cities. In 1950, Francis Scott felt that the Brathay programmes needed to diversify and he financed additions to the Estate including a boat house, a theatre and extra dormitories to offer a broader range of activities than Outward Bound. He consulted with industrial firms in the north who supported the courses as a way of bringing out latent talent and facilitating the well-rounded development of the youth of post-war Britain. The Brathay Trust is still a very active and highly regarded provider of self-development courses for young people.
In 1947, Francis Scott assisted in the foundation and, later, in the management of St Catherine’s Foundation Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Great Park which, under the benevolent interest of King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth, brought together students and academic staff from widely different cultural and religious backgrounds to discuss big social and ethical issues of the day. The previous year he had offered the use of Patterdale Hall to the Diocese of Carlisle for the purpose of a Youth Centre. His interest in, and support for, youth development also led to him becoming Chairman of the Cumberland and Westmorland Boys Clubs and of the Dominions Fellowship Trust through which he provided hospitality for Commonwealth students visiting Britain.
In 1963, The Francis C Scott Charitable Trust was set up by Francis’ son, Peter Scott, together with his sister, Joan, and his parents, Francis and Frieda. The trust was endowed with shares from the Provincial Insurance Company with wide powers to distribute funds for charitable purposes, especially music and the arts and youth and social work. The Trust funded many organisations which reflected Francis Scott’s interests, in particular the Brathay Trust. It continues to be a very valuable source of funds for many organisations supporting young people in challenging circumstances in Cumbria.
Francis Scott shared his brother, Samuel’s, interest in landscape preservation, working with the National Trust and making individual gifts. He was also closely involved with the Lake District Farm Estates Ltd. In 1937, he purchased the Patterdale Hall Estate and then entered into covenants with the National Trust for its protection. The following year, he presented Jenkin Field, a beauty spot on the shores of Ullswater, to the local council on condition that it was left in its natural state. In 1941, with his wife, he gave 107 acres of land at Brathay Hall to the National Trust and two years later gave The Close at Patterdale.
Lake District Farm Estates Ltd was established as a provident society in 1937 as a response to threatened development, in particular forestry, in the Lake District. The company was formed to buy land, for which the infant National Trust did not have resources, and then to covenant with Trust for the land’s preservation. By 1945, the company had purchased and preserved nine farms following their first purchase in 1938 of Highwallow Barrow Farm in Dunnerdale where the covenants prevented the erection of unsightly buildings and other interference with the amenities of the farm. Francis Scott was the Chairman of the Committee of Management. He supported the idea of the Lake District as a National Park presiding over the opening of an exhibition of photographs in 1938 which had been formed as pictorial propaganda for the scheme. He was also a vice-president of the English Lake District Association.
It could be said that Francis Scott’s most important public service was the contribution he made by his philanthropic and conservation activities but he did hold formal office in the county. In 1934, he was High Sheriff for Westmorland and between 1942 and 1951, he was a county councillor and acted as Chairman of the Education Committee for some years.
After the Head Office of the Provincial Insurance Company moved to Kendal in 1919 and he had purchased Matson Ground, Francis Scott could live and work in the Lake District which he and Frieda both loved. Whilst his remaining slight physical incapacity prevented him from enjoying the most active of sports, he relished yachting on Windermere being Commodore of the Royal Windermere Yacht Club in 1927. He also enjoyed fishing and shooting and was an aficionado of powerful cars driven at high speed. He became actively involved in the wider life of the community both in the public offices he held and by the causes he supported philanthropically, in particular, landscape conservation. Francis Scott rediscovered a strong Christian conviction in his middle years and this became the driver behind many of his activities. Nationally, this included his support for St Catherine’s Foundation Cumberland Lodge. Locally, he became more involved in parochial activities and Toc H.
Whilst undoubtedly a very successful business man with shrewd and realistic commercial judgement, his friends remembered him for his natural charm, irresistible warmth in personal relationships and private generosity. His considerable philanthropy and love of Westmorland is perpetuated in the work of the Francis C Scott Charitable Trust.
- Primary sources
- England and Wales Census 1851-1911
- Manchester Non-Conformist Marriages 1758-1937
- England and Wales Civil Registration Marriage Index 1837-1915; 1916-2005
- England and Wales Civil Registration Death Index 1837-1915; 1916-2005
- England and Wales Civil Registration Birth Index 1837-1915
- National Probate Calendar Index of Wills and Administrations
- Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer 21st January 1938
- Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer 1st August 1938
- Aberdeen Press and Journal 1st October 1938
- Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer 13th July 1939
- Penrith Observer 16th April 1946
- Westmorland Gazette 6th January 1979
- Westmorland Gazette 7th November 2008
- Kelly’s Directory for Westmorland, 1921
- B L Thompson, The Lake District and the National Trust (1945)
- Oliver M Westall, A Family Policy – a brief history of the first 75 years of the Provincial Insurance Company (1978)
- Oliver M Westall, The Provincial Insurance Company 1913-1938. Family, Markets and Competitive Growth (1992)
- Ian Jones, The Royal Windermere Yacht Club Celebrates 150 years 1860-2010 (2010)
- John Cousins, research study for Friends of the Lake District referred to at www.lakestay.co.uk/ldfe.html