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.
Subscription value in 1863:
Relative to inflation up to 2021:
Relative to income compared to 2021:
Personal details and history
Name of spouse
David (1822-1864): Mary: (1824-1856)
Age at death:
Place of death:
Date of death:
Family plot - Howff
Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers
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:
None known - his obituary declared that he had not entered public life
Career and worklife
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. Towards the end of the 1820s, their business was listed as having been in William Street (north), before moving to a more permanent location of North Lindsay Street (east) in the early 1830s. 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. 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, with St Peter's Church (1836) in particular, having been attributed to Hean Brothers. 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.
Alexander Hean, the oldest son of David Hean and Mary Cairncross, 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, whereupon the three brothers continued under the same title, ‘carrying on a large and extensive business as a builder and contractor’ up to 1850. Alexander, like his father and brother Peter had been ‘wrights’ to trade, with brother David having been a ‘mason.’
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. 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.’
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.’ 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.’ The following year, in 1837, the Hean brothers tackled the building of St Aidan’s Church in Broughty Ferry.
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).’ 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. He involved himself with much ardour in the causes of the Free Church, also bequeathing sizeable sums of money to them on his death. 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.’
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.’
- Old Parish Registers. Dundee. Births. (1795). 282/ 80 33. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Census Records. Dundee. (1851). 282/ 40/ 17. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Census Records. Dundee. (1841). 282/ 115/ 19. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Old Parish Register. Dundee. Marriages. (1818). 282/ 140 295. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Old Parish Registers. Dundee. Marriages. (1837). 282/ 220 293. ScotlandsPeople website.
- The Dundee Directory, 1846-47. p.117. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- The Dundee Directory, 1856-57. p.23. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- The Dundee Directory, 1861-62. p.37. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Statutory Registers. Dundee. Deaths. 1865. 282/ 1 372. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Advertiser. 30 March 1865. p3. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Dundee Courier. 11 April 1865. p.3. Findmypast website.
- The Dundee Directory, 1824-25. p.123. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- The Dundee Directory, 1828-29. p.28. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- The Dundee Directory. 1834. p.22. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Legal Records. Wills and Testaments. Dundee Sheriff Court. (1843). SC45/ 31/ 6. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Courier. 16 June 1877. p.2. Findmypast website.
- McKean, Charles & Walker, David. (1993). Dundee: An Illustrated Architectural Guide. Dundee Institute Of Architects. p.86.
- Ordnance Survey Large Scale Town Plan. Dundee. 1857-58. National Library of Scotland website.
- Gifford, John. The Buildings of Scotland: Dundee and Angus. Newhaven and London. Yale University Press. p.156.
- Architect Biography Report. Scottish Dictionary of Architects website.
- Legal Records. Wills and Testaments. Dundee Sheriff Court. (1865). SC45/ 31/ 18. ScotlandsPeople website.
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