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Alexander Hean Esquire

Alexander Hean was a highly respected citizen and builder in Dundee. He, of the firm of 'David Hean & Sons,' along with his brothers Peter and David, were credited with the erection of many, significant buildings in Dundee.

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Personal details and history

Full name

Alexander Hean

Date of birth

15-05-1795[1] - named after Alexander Hean and Alexander Ramsay[1]

Place of birth




Marital status


Name of spouse

1 - Isabella Lesslie - married 23-11-1818:[4] 2 - Margaret Butchart - married 20-02-1837:[5]


David (1822-1864): Mary: (1824-1856)

Home address

Small' Wynd[3]
Small's Lane

1 Bank Street[6]


Laurel Bank[7][8]
North End of Constitution Road[2]

Age at death:

69 years[9]

Place of death:


Date of death:



Family plot - Howff

Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers

Religious affiliation

Free Church:[10] Elder of Free St John's Church:[11] Member of the Parochial Board[10] Representative of the Dundee Presbytery:[10]

Political affiliation

Not known

Clubs / societies

Dundee New Gas Light Company - a Director (1856-1862): Dundee to Arbroath Railway (1856-1862) - a Director: Indigent Sick Society - an Office Bearer:[10]

Public offices

None known - his obituary declared that he had not entered public life[10]

Related subscribers

Subscriber 104 – Peter Hean – younger brother of Alexander Hean

Subscriber 186  Messrs Pattullo & Thornton – Thomas Thornton was the husband of Alexander Hean’s niece, Helen Small Hean

Career and worklife


Formerly Wright/Builder



Place of work

Formerly of David Hean & Sons, Wrights & Builders[7][8]

Work address

Barrack Street[12]

William Street[13]

Lindsay Street (east)[14]

Career to date:

Alexander Hean was assumed into the building trade through the business which was founded by his father, David Hean. 'David Hean & Sons' operated from premises in Barrack Street.[12] Towards the end of the 1820s, their business was listed as having been in William Street (north),[13] before moving to a more permanent location of North Lindsay Street (east) in the early 1830s.[14] Alexander and his younger brother, Peter were 'wrights' to trade, (as was their father) while his brother David was a 'mason.' Together, the three brothers continued to operate a successful wrights, building and contractors concern, titled 'David Hean & Sons,' continuing after the death of their father in 1843.[15] It was reported that the firm of 'David Hean & Sons' was well known in the building trade of Dundee. The firm was reputed to have built many of the Free Churches in the district,[16] with St Peter's Church (1836) in particular, having been attributed to Hean Brothers.[17] At the time of pledging his subscription towards the building of the Albert Institute, Alexander Hean had been retired from the family business for approximately 12 years.[2][16]

More information

Alexander Hean, the oldest son of David Hean and Mary Cairncross,[1] joined forces with his two younger brothers, Peter and David, as a partner in the well known established firm of ‘David Hean & Sons,’ founded by his father in Dundee. His father, David Hean, died in 1843,[15] whereupon the three brothers continued under the same title, ‘carrying on a large and extensive business as a builder and contractor’[10] up to 1850. Alexander, like his father and brother Peter had been ‘wrights’ to trade, with brother David having been a ‘mason.’[15]

The family lived in Small’s Lane, which ran from the east side of Small’s Wynd and north of St John’s Free Church. A parallel lane was named Hean’s Lane.[18] Their property was described as ‘that piece of ground with the house built thereon, lying to the east side of Small’s Wynd, commonly called Mill Wynd.’[15]

The firm of ‘David Hean & Sons’ was credited with having built the original, timber railway bridge at Perth, together with several buildings in Reform Street and Lindsay Street in Dundee. The building of St Peter’s Church in St Peter’s Street, the Church Hall and Church Officer’s House, designed and constructed in 1836, was also attributed to ‘builder-architects David Hean & Sons.’[19] St Peter’s was noted to have been ‘remarkably douce for a Revivalist Kirk – yet this was the seat of the Reverend Robert McCheyne, a major player in the Evangelical revival who made these sober rafters ring.’[17] The following year, in 1837, the Hean brothers tackled the building of St Aidan’s Church in Broughty Ferry.[20]

It was reported that ‘during the time they carried on business, they enjoyed so much prosperity that he (Peter) and older brother (Alexander) were able to retire not long after the death of their father (1843).’[16] Alexander Hean and his younger brother Peter retired from the building and contracting business in which they were involved by 1850/51. Their younger brother David carried on for a spell thereafter.

During his retirement, Alexander Hean travelled extensively in Europe and the Middle East.[10] He involved himself with much ardour in the causes of the Free Church, also bequeathing sizeable sums of money to them on his death.[21] Having been an elder of Free St John’s Church (both before and since the Disruption), The Reverend Laing extolled Alexander’s virtues, declaring him to have been ‘upright and honest – known and esteemed of this congregation.’[11]

According to his obituary in the Courier, Alexander Hean had been a kind hearted and well respected member of the community who left ‘no enemy behind him.’[10]



  1. Old Parish Registers. Dundee. Births. (1795). 282/ 80 33. ScotlandsPeople website.
  2. Census Records. Dundee. (1851). 282/ 40/ 17. ScotlandsPeople website.
  3. Census Records. Dundee. (1841). 282/ 115/ 19. ScotlandsPeople website.
  4. Old Parish Register. Dundee. Marriages. (1818). 282/ 140 295. ScotlandsPeople website.
  5. Old Parish Registers. Dundee. Marriages. (1837). 282/ 220 293. ScotlandsPeople website.
  6. The Dundee Directory, 1846-47. p.117. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  7. The Dundee Directory, 1856-57. p.23. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  8. The Dundee Directory, 1861-62. p.37. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  9. Statutory Registers. Dundee. Deaths. 1865. 282/ 1 372. ScotlandsPeople website.
  10. Dundee Advertiser. 30 March 1865. p3. British Newspaper Archive website.
  11. Dundee Courier. 11 April 1865. p.3. Findmypast website.
  12. The Dundee Directory, 1824-25. p.123. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  13. The Dundee Directory, 1828-29. p.28. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  14. The Dundee Directory. 1834. p.22. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  15. Legal Records. Wills and Testaments. Dundee Sheriff Court. (1843). SC45/ 31/ 6. ScotlandsPeople website.
  16. Dundee Courier. 16 June 1877. p.2. Findmypast website.
  17. McKean, Charles & Walker, David. (1993). Dundee: An Illustrated Architectural Guide. Dundee Institute Of Architects. p.86.
  18. Ordnance Survey Large Scale Town Plan. Dundee. 1857-58. National Library of Scotland website.
  19. Gifford, John. The Buildings of Scotland: Dundee and Angus. Newhaven and London. Yale University Press. p.156.
  20. Architect Biography Report. Scottish Dictionary of Architects website.
  21. Legal Records. Wills and Testaments. Dundee Sheriff Court. (1865). SC45/ 31/ 18. ScotlandsPeople website.

The information above about Alexander Hean 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.