During his lifetime he travelled extensively throughout Europe and to Japan, China, Egypt and Australia. John remained a bachelor until his 50th year when he married Alison Pearson, his cousin once removed in 1901. Alison was the daughter of Alexander L Pearson and no children resulted from the marriage.
On his father's death in 1866, at the tender age of 15, John Charles became the 17th and ultimately last Laird of Craigends. His fathers Iron & Steel works were held in trust for him and the company was run from London by his father's partner James Merry. Affairs in Glasgow were attended to by his cousin, John Cuninghame of Glasgow until the attainment of his majority. However his father would appear not to have intended that his son played an active part in running the Iron & Steel business he set up with James Merry, Merry & Cunningham Limited, as his son was given no practicalor technical experience of the business. However, in 1876, 10 years after his fathers death, he became actively involved in the running of the Company and during his lifetime he held the position of Chairman and Managing Director. At it's peak the company employed 5,000 men in steelworks at Glengarnock, Ardeer and Carnboe as well as in the numerous coal pits to be found in Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire and Ayrshire. During his lifetime he was Chairman of the Glengarnock Iron & Steel Co, Director of the Glasgow & South Western Railway and Director of the Standard Life Insurance Company.
He spent 28 years in the Renfrewshire militia, and retired in 1900 with the rank of major. John was actively interested in politics and served two terms with Renfrewshire County Council. An active Unionist he stood three times for Parliament between 1885 and 1910 however was unsuccessful each time. Leisure activities he enjoyed included hunting with the Renfrewshire, Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Hounds, leasing deer forest for the season, recreational shooting (usually at his estate in Wigtonshire, and Grouse Shooting for which he had an estate at Upper Foyers, near Inverness. He bred Clydesdale horses at Craigends estate and established two dairy herds at Dunragit and Park in Wigtonshire and reared sheep at Upper Foyers in Inverness.
He died on the 30th January 1917 in London aged 65 and is buried
at Kilbarchan(On the drive between Brookfield and Bridge Of Weir). The Inscription says
Death is swallowed up in victory.
In ever loving memory of WILLIAMINA MARGARET PEARSON.
Daughter of the late B.A. Cuninghame R.N. & Widow of Alexander L Pearson.
Born 2nd December 1842. Died 2nd July 1923.
Also her daughter HELEN LAURA PEARSON
Born 13th June 1868. Died 16th March 1961.
ELSPETH CLARE CUNINGHAME PEARSON
Died 4th July 1979. Widow of AHI Woodgate.
His estate value at the time of death was valued at just short of one million pounds, a remarkable sum in those days.
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