century association biographical archive

Earliest Members of the Century Association

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John H. Gourlie

Stockbroker/Civic Affairs

Centurion, 1847–1891

Full Name John Hamilton Gourlie

Born 20 January 1807 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Died 14 April 1891 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Buried Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York

Proposed by N/A: Founder

Elected 13 January 1847 at age thirty-nine

Archivist’s Note: Treasurer of the Century Association, 1849–1851; secretary, 1857–1858; designated an honorary member in 1889. Uncle of John H. Gourlie Jr. He proposed more members than any other Centurion. An address he delivered in the clubhouse in April 1856 was published as a pamphlet and is available at “The Origin and History of ‘The Century’.”

Century Memorials

John H. Gourlie was one of the most valued members of the Century, and one of its founders. He, if any man ever did, represented its spirit in the community. With a fine literary taste, well read, appreciative, capable of maintaining a prominent part in any gathering of cultivated men, he had beside that modest simplicity united to a genial convivial temperament, which made his chair always the centre of a group of friends, brought him into contact with nearly every member, and endeared him to all.

Until within a few years the rooms of the Century always maintained a strong rivalry with his bachelor home for the monopoly of his late hours, but failing sight has recently withdrawn him from our companionship, yet as he wrote when the Club placed him upon its list of honorary members, he was with us in spirit to the last.

Henry E. Howland
1892 Century Association Yearbook

Gourlie was born in New York, was sent to his uncle’s farm near Lake Champlain as a boy and made his way back at about eighteen. He got a job as clerk in a bank and rose to be the head of the firm. He became the head of the Stock Exchange in 1857. A close friend of William Cullen Bryant, he wrote poems, essays and art criticism for the Evening Post. He was also a member of the Sketch Club. A portrait of him by Thomas Rossiter (painted c. 1854, member 1847–1871) is in the Century collection. He wrote on the early history of the Century Association.

William A. Frosch
“Our Original Amateurs, 2009”