James Lapsley

James Lapsley's story shows how the lives of the elite and the lower middle class intercepted in Regency Edinburgh. As a hairdresser and perfumer, his clients were the wealthy residents of the New Town. He was married in the same church that they attended, and lived amongst them, but not on the same streets. It was an aspirational environment for his children, two of whom rose into the professinal class while the two others appear to have been unable to live within their means.

- 1829 (when his wife took over his business)
Lapsleys mostly came from Perthshire and Argyll (6)
Lapsley's business in Edinburgh started about 1817 in 186 Rose Street, moving around 1819 to 37 Hanover Street.
Perfumer and hairdresser.
Chapel connection
1817 (marriage)
Married on
25 November 1817
Anna Underwood
  1. James Lapsley (possibly from a previous marriage or illegitimate: Anna descries him as 'son of my deceased husband') m. Ann Smith and had 5 children. He continued his father's business, appearing with his mother in the Post Office directory in 1841, and then taking over the business from her in 1843. However, this year he went bankrupt, his sequestered estate administered by John Tod. His problem appears to have been his financial management rather than the viability of his business, as in 1845 his business becomes 'James Lapsley and Co.', until 1850 when it disappears from the Post Office Directory, presumably on his death (he predeceased his mother).
  2. Jemima Ann Lapsley (m. David McNeilie, Deputy Director of Chancery, son of David McNeilie WS, and lived at South Clerk Street Edinburgh.
  3. Daniel Underwood Lapsley (who also appears to have suffered from poor financial management: his mother left him a £75 annuity 'strictly alimentary and not to be assignable by the said Daniel Underwood Lapsley or affectable by his debts or deeds or by the diligence of his creditors ... and the amount thereof to be set apart to secure the said annuity my said trustees shall be the sole judges'. (3)
  4. William Ferguson Lapsley, who practiced in Glasgow then went to Perth, Australia (3) He was Principal Medical Officer for the Convict establishment, and became Deputy Surgeon-General of the British Army. His son James Underwood Lapsley (b.1859 in India) married in St George's Cathedral, Perth, Ellen Augusta Glyde. His wife was Elizabeth Ann. The family returned to Scotland when William retired but James returned to Australia in 1884. (4 and 5)


  1. Registers of Charlotte Chapel (NAS CH12/3)
  2. Edinburgh Post Office Directory
  3. Anna Underwood's Will, National Archives of Scotland
  4. The Western Mail (Perth, Australia, 11 June 1887) p.14
  5. 'Crashaw's House' in Register of Heritage Places Assessment Documentation (Heritage Council of Western Australia) p.4 (Online accessed 1 August 2011)
  6. Great Britain Family Names 1881 (Online accessed 17 August 2011)

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