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Anthony Trail Esquire

Anthony Trail, born a son of the manse at Panbride, became a sea captain. Having made a maritime career with the Honourable East India Company, Anthony Trail retired from the service in 1849, applying his skills within Dundee's Local Marine Board.

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Personal details and history

Full name

Anthony Trail

Date of birth

31-08-1808:[1] date of baptism - 16-09-1808:[1]

Place of birth




Marital status


Name of spouse

Agnes Collier[3]


Thomas David - born 1850:[4] Elizabeth Isabella - born 1852:[5] Edward Trail - born 1854:[5]

Home address

Church Street
Broughty Ferry[4]


17 Seafield
Broughty Ferry[5][6]

Age at death:

69 years[7]

Place of death:

Seafield, Broughty Ferry[7][2]

Date of death:



Barnhill Cemetery[8] - Anthony Trail's funeral was a private affair at the request of his relatives[8]

Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers

Religious affiliation

Anthony Trail's great grandfather, grandfather and father (Trail) were ministers of Panbride Parish Church (1716 – 1843):[9]

Political affiliation


Clubs / societies

Royal National Lifeboat Association - A member of the local Committee of Management:[10] Dalhousie Relief Fund - A member:[11] Royal Alfred Institution for the Aid of Indigent Shipmasters - A member:[11]

Public offices

Dundee New Gas Light Company - A Director:[12] Superintendent of Mercantile Marine Office - appointed by the Board of Trade:[2][13] Examiner in Navigation at the port[14] - Masters and Mates:[2] Lieutenant's commission in the Royal Naval Reserve:[2][13] A member of the Executive Committee of the Mars Training Ship Institution and the Lifeboat Institution:[2]

Related subscribers

Subscriber      1 – Alexander Anderson – an executor for Anthony Trail’s estate:

Subscriber.  23 – Eleanor Baxter – cousin of Anthony Trail’s wife, Agnes Collier:

Subscriber   24 – Mary Ann Baxter – cousin of Anthony Trail’s wife, Agnes Collier:

Subscriber.  29 – Sir David Baxter – cousin of Anthony Trail’s wife, Agnes Collier:

Subscriber   43 – Dr Christie – brother in law to Anthony Trail (married to Anthony’s sister, Margaret Biss Blake Trail):

Subscriber   57 – William Collier – brother in law to Anthony Trail (brother of Anthony’s wife, Agnes Collier):

Subscriber 230 – Robert Small – a cousin of Anthony Trail’s wife, Agnes Collier:

Subscriber 231 – William Small – a cousin of Anthony Trail’s wife, Agnes Collier:

Subscriber 222 – Messrs Shiell and Small – David Small was a cousin of Anthony Trail’s wife and an executor for Anthony Trail’s estate:

Subscribers 19, 57, 70, 109, 121, 123, 177, 179, 212 – George Burnett, William Collier, Allan Edward, George Jameson, John Kirkland, J Z Kay, David Pitcairn, Charles Parker, John Symers – all as fellow officers and members of the Local Marine Board:


Career and worklife


Shipping Master[5]



Place of work

Mercantile Marine Office[13]

Work address

Harbour Buildings (Custom House Buildings[13])

Career to date:

Anthony Trail spent a considerable portion of his life at sea, chiefly with the Honourable East India Company.[11] He was a midshipman on board the 'Kent' when the vessel was burned in the Bay of Biscay.[11] He had command of one of the boats which left the ship and ensured the lives of a number of the crew and passengers.[11] He retired from a seafaring life in 1849 (the year he married Agnes Collier). In 1850, Anthony Trail took up his public offices within the Marine Board in Dundee. He held that position for 28 years (from 1850-78)and, it was said, 'with great credit to himself and satisfaction to the community.'[11]

More information

Anthony Trail was the 8th of 11 children born to the Reverend David Trail (of Panbride Church) and his wife, Elizabeth Biss. His father David, was the 3rd generation of Trails to have become ministers of the Established Church at Panbride.

Although Anthony himself did not choose a life in the ministry, his sister Dorothea married William Robertson, minister at Carmyllie, sister Ann became a nun at St Margaret’s Convent in Edinburgh and his brother Robert elected (after the disruption within the Church) to become a minister of the Free Church at Boyndie,[15] thereby adding yet another generation to find a calling in the Church.

Nor was Anthony the only one to have joined the Honourable East India Company as his brother David became an assistant surgeon, also with the Company.[15] He died at Trichinopoly in 1845.[15] His brother John, a Captain in the Bengal Engineers, died in 1864.[15]

Anthony Trail, while a seaman with HEIC, rose in position from midshipman to Captain. The purposes of his voyages can only be supposed but, it would appear, they took him to far flung parts of the globe and offered witness to many events.

CHINESE GUNS – A piece of Chinese artillery, taken from the Admiral’s junk at the island of Chusan has been sent to this country by Captain Trail, son of Dr Trail of Panbride, who was present with the expedition (this at the time of the first opium war). The gun is exactly six feet in length, with a bore of about two inches in diameter, thus admitting a ball of about two pounds in weight, and has much the appearance of one of our street lamp posts, only it is not quite so thick. It is composed of separate bars, looped together after the manner customary with artillery in ancient times, of which the celebrated gun “Mons Meg” in Edinburgh Castle is a specimen. Apparently it is of considerable antiquity, the touch hole being greatly enlarged, and the gun otherwise worn by rust. We are inclined to think that in an engagement it would be more apt to prove destructive to those who worked it than to those against whom it was to be used. Captain Trail has handsomely presented it to the museum of the Dundee Watt Institution.’[16]

Doubtless, Anthony Trail’s voyages for the Company as Captain were not always uneventful though the same may be said of his voyages as a passenger, so the following report testified:

SHIPWRECK OF THE STEAMER ENTERPRISE IN THE INDIAN SEAS – Letters have been received in town from the passengers on board the Enterprise, that give various details of her narrow escape from destruction. The landing of the ladies is described as a most perilous affair, from the heavy surf that was beating on the rocky islet. We believe they were borne ashore in the arms of the officers and people, who were half swimming, half wading, as the boat could not go close in or she would have been dashed to pieces by the surf on grounding. How, in such circumstances, the helpless females were put on the rock and taken off in safety, we cannot conceive; but it was chiefly owing to the skill and intrepidity of Captain Trail, a passenger, who had charge of the boat. At one time everyone supposed that the steamer must go to pieces.

It was stated that the occurrence ‘will possess considerable interest to many of our readers, from the circumstances that Captain Anthony Trail (son of the Reverend Dr Trail of Panbride) was on board the vessel, and, as will be seen, acted a distinguished part in the rescue of his fellow passengers.’[17]

After a life on the high seas, Anthony Trail’s life settled on dry land from 1849, when he both retired from the service and gained a wife in Agnes Collier.





  1. Old Parish Registers. Panbride, Baptisms. (1808). 316/10 242. ScotlandsPeople website.
  2. Dundee Evening Telegraph, Friday 27 December 1878.
  3. Old Parish Registers. Panbride. Marriages. (1849). 316/30 216. ScotlandsPeople website.
  4. Census Records. Monifieth. (1851). 310/ 6/ 19. ScotlandsPeople website.
  5. 1861 Census Scotland, Monifieth; ED: 5; Page: 6; Line: 18; Roll: CSSCT1861_44. Ancestry website.
  6. Census Records. Monifieth. (1871). 310/ 6/ 31. ScotlandsPeople website.
  7. Statutory Registers. Monifieth. Deaths. (1878). 310/ 153. p.51 of 56. ScotlandsPeople website.
  8. Dundee Courier, 3 January 1879. p.2. Findmypast website.
  9. Carnoustie Panbride Church website.
  10. Dundee Courier, 18 February 1862. p.1. Findmypast website.
  11. Dundee Evening Telegraph, 27 December 1878. p.2. Findmypast website.
  12. Dundee Advertiser, 2 June 1865. p.3. Findmypast website.
  13. Dundee Postal Directory, 1864-65. p.14. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  14. Dundee Courier, 25 February 1876. p.5. Findmypast website.
  15. Mitchell, Alison (ed). Monumental Inscriptions (pre 1855). Angus. Volume 2. (1996). The Scottish Genealogy Society.
  16. Northern Warder & General Advertiser for the Counties of Fife, Perth & Forfar, 3 August 1841. p.3. Findmypast website.
  17. Dundee, Perth & Cupar Advertiser, 31 December 1847. p.2. Findmypast website.

The information above about Anthony Trail 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.