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Alexander Nicol Gibb Esquire

Alexander Gibb died at 42, having never left home or married. His life might well have been forgotten, had it not been that he bought shares in the Albert Institute. Like several other subscribers, he lived in Westfield Place, Dundee.

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Personal details and history

Full name

Alexander Nicol Gibb

Date of birth


Place of birth

Dundee, Angus[1]



Marital status


Name of spouse

Not applicable


None known

Home address

Ogilvie's Close, Dundee 1841:[2]
19 Crichton Street, Dundee 1842-1852:[3]
15 Westfield Place, Dundee 1854-1868:[4]
17 Westfield Place, Dundee 1869-1872:[5][6]

Age at death:

42 years[7]

Place of death:

Westfield Place, Dundee[7]

Date of death:



Western Cemetery, Dundee[8]

Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers

Religious affiliation


Political affiliation

Liberal - Alexander Gibb was on the Committee for the Return of George Armitstead in 1868[9]

Clubs / societies

Dundee Chess Club[10]

Public offices

None known

Related subscribers

Subscriber 26 – Matthew Blaikie – copartner of Alexander Gibb within the firm of Blackie & Gibb (co-partnery dissolved 1868)[11]

Career and worklife


Linen merchant's clerk:[12] / Spinner[13]


Employee: Self employed: Co-partner in the firm of 'Blackie & Gibb':

Place of work

Linen merchant's clerk: Assistant in a butcher's shop: Clerk: Linen merchant:

Work address

Martin's warehouse, Commercial Court, Dundee[14]
McGavin's Court, Cowgate, Dundee[15]

Career to date:

Alexander Gibb worked as a clerk in a linen merchant's office, then on his own account whilst helping his mother run the family butcher's shop. Once the shop was sold, he continued running his business, until he died at 42.

More information

Alexander Nicoll Gibb was born in Dundee’s town centre, in February 1829 to William Gibb, flesher, and his wife, Susan Smith. He was to be the oldest of seven children and one of only two boys in the family.

In the census of 1841, when he was twelve, the family were living in Ogilvie’s Close, directly behind his father’s butcher’s shop[2]. The family were relatively prosperous, there were two servants listed and it is significant that they had a shop, not a market stall. The 1851 census showed that he and his brother were both still at home, although the address is given as that of the shop, 19 Crichton Street[16]. Alexander had started work as a “linen merchant’s clerk” and his brother John was listed as a wine merchant’s clerk[16]. Sometime between then and 1854, the family moved out of the town centre, to leafy Westfield Place[17]. The middle class street was described in 1861 thus:

“A narrow, paved roadway extending Southward from the Perth Road to Magdalen Yard Road. There are some good dwelling houses in this thoroughfare some, built as Detach’d Villas with gardens attached & others in the Cottage style. They are principally occupied by retired Bankers, Writers & others.”[18]

The family was well regarded in the town. In 1851, the sellers at the Forfar market alluded to the practice of a buyer’s ring, or the knocking out of goods at an illegal auction, meaning the seller does not get the true market value and the buyers have control of the market[19]. William Gibb’s reputation for honesty is such that the farmers and cattle dealers subscribed to a meal to “give publicity to their good feelings towards one who has attended the Forfar Weekly Markets for a number of years and has never given countenance to the unskilful practice of Selling Stock by Roup.”[19]Clearly, William Gibb was a trusted and much liked buyer. However, in August 1854, he died, leaving a business to be run[17]. He was buried in the Western Cemetery, in a grave purchased by his son Alexander.[20]

The significance of his father’s death is, that in the census of 1861, Alexander had become a shopman as well as a clerk, his brother a shopman and all his sisters were still at home and not working.[21] Alexander’s mother ran the butcher’s shop and it is clear she ran it with a flourish, as an upmarket and superior shop, continually paying the best prices at market. For example:

“Dundee Latter Fair. — The show of cattle on the Fair Muir on Tuesday exceeded in number anything seen there for several years back ; and many of the lots were of excellent quality and first-rate condition. Buyers, however, were neither so numerous nor anxious to avail themselves of the opportunity of purchasing as on many previous occasions. In consequence the market ruled dull, and many lots left unsold. The highest price given for cattle was in the case of Mrs Gibb, flesher, Crichton Street, who bought twelve beasts from Mr Miller at £22 each. There was also a good show of horses, but the demand was not brisk.”[22]

In 1851, Alexander Gibb advertised the lease of a warehouse, so it would seem he was in business in his own right by that date[23]. Perhaps that explains why he called himself ‘merchant,’ not ‘shopman’ when he purchased his subscription to the Albert Institute. In 1864, his mother sold the family business[24] and mentions started to appear, with some regularity, of imports that Alexander made into the Port of Dundee.

“Orion (foreign ship), Mulder, from Archangel, 119 bales undressed flax, 580 cwt; 63 bales codilla of flax, 300 cwt; 136 bales tow of flax, 670 cwt —Alexander Gibb.”[25]

“Heinrich, (Prussian ship), Stewarts, from Konigsberg” – 123 bales tow of flax, 591 cwt. — Alexander Gibb.”[26]

It is significant that Gibb appears to have dealt solely in flax, he was not importing jute. He was successful in business, feeling able to lend money to others, including the Eastern Club[27]. Perhaps, if he had lived longer, he might have ventured into jute, like many of his contemporaries.

Sadly, on March 1st, 1872, aged only 42, Alexander Gibb died at Westfield Place, of a “disease of  brain.[7]



  1. Old Parish Registers. Dundee. Births. (1829). 282/160 196. ScotlandsPeople website.
  2. Parish: Dundee; ED: 21; Page: 12; Line: 650; Year: 1841, via Ancestry website.
  3. Dundee Post Office Directories, 1842-1852. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  4. Dundee Post Office Directories, 1854-1868. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  5. Dundee Post Office Directories, 1869-1872. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  6. Dundee Courier, Saturday 02 March 1872. p.4. British Library Board via the B.N.A. website.
  7. Statutory Registers. Dundee. Deaths. (1872). 282/1 112. ScotlandsPeople website.
  8. Western Cemetery. 3 1 251 6 1,a,b,c 03 August 1854. Friends of Dundee City Archives website.
  9. Dundee Courier, 9 September 1868. p.4. Findmypast website.
  10. Dundee Courier, Saturday 27 December 1862. p.2. British Library via the BNA website.
  11. Northern Warder and General Advertiser. 22 September 1868. p.7. Findmypast website.
  12. Parish: Dundee; ED: 18; Page: 5; Line: 9; Roll: CSSCT1851_60; Year: 1851, via Ancestry website.
  13. Parish: Dundee; ED: 2; Page: 20; Line: 23; Roll: CSSCT1871_49, via Ancestry website.
  14. Dundee Courier, Saturday 29 September 1866. p.4. British Library via the BNA website.
  15. Dundee Courier, Friday 22 October 1869. p.1. British Library via the BNA website.
  16. Parish: Dundee; ED: 18; Page: 5; Line: 9; Roll: CSSCT 1851_60; Year: 1851. via Ancestry website.
  17. Old Parish Registers. Dundee. Deaths. (1854). 282/290 76. ScotlandsPeople website.
  18. Ordnance Survey Name Books Forfarshire (Angus) OS Name Books, 1857-1861. Forfar (Angus). volume 33. OS1/14/33/53.
  19. Dundee, Perth, and Cupar Advertiser, Friday 26 December 1851, p.1. British Library Board via the BNA website.
  20. Gibb Alexander Merchant Dundee. Mr Alexander Gibb and his heirs, 3 1 251 6 1,a,b,c 03 August 1854. Western Cemetery. Friends of Dundee City Archive website.
  21. Parish: Dundee; ED: 13; Page: 31; Line: 11; Roll: CSSCT 1861_40, via Ancestry website.
  22. Dundee People's Journal, Saturday 25 September 1858. p.3. British Library Board via the BNA website.
  23. Dundee, Perth, and Cupar Advertiser, Tuesday 16 March 1852. p.1. British Library via the BNA website.
  24. Dundee Courier, Saturday 11 June 1864. p.2. British Library via the BNA website.
  25. Dundee Courier, Saturday 10 October 1863. p.4. British Library via the BNA website.
  26. Dundee Courier, Saturday 13 February 1864. p.4. British Library via the BNA website.
  27. Dundee Courier, Saturday 19 August 1871. p.3, British Library via the BNA website.

The information above about Alexander Nicol Gibb has been collated from a range of digital and hard copy sources. To the best of our knowledge it is correct but if you are relying on any information from our website for the purpose of your own research we would advise you to follow up the sources to your own satisfaction. If you are aware of an inaccuracy in our text please do not hesitate to notify us through our Contact page.