Return to Subscriber listings and search...

Mr Christopher Kerr

A writer, setting up his own business in 1818 and acting as Town Clerk from 1822 to 1869. A major figure in Dundee, who played a part in the development of railways in the area and improvements in the town's water supply.

Subscription value in 1863:


Relative to inflation up to 2024:


Relative to income compared to 2024:


Personal details and history

Full name

Christopher Kerr

Date of birth


Place of birth




Marital status


Name of spouse

First- Jane Hackney[2] Second- Margaret Webster,[3] daughter of Mr James Webster of Flemington[2]


Margaret Thornton (1826),[4] Jane Hackney (1827),[5] Anne Hackney (1829),[6] William Hackney (1830),[7] Christopher (1833)[8] and Catherine Chalmers (1834).[9] No children in second marriage.

Home address

Hawkhill House, Dundee, c.1824-1830.[10]
Ferry Road, Dundee, c.1834.[11]
Craig Tay, Ferry Road, Dundee, c.1837-1838.[12]
Kilcraig, Ferry Road, Dundee, c.1842-1869.[13]
Meigle House, Meigle, Perthshire, c.1841-1857.[14][15]
Arthurstone House, Meigle. Perthshire, c.1858-1869.[16]

Age at death:


Place of death:

London after several operations for gravel (kidney stones)[2]

Date of death:



Family plot, Roodyards, Dundee[2]

Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers

Religious affiliation

Episcopal Church, a member of the episcopal church and one of the managers of St Pauls church and representative for Diocesan Synod.[2]

Political affiliation

Conservative. His adherence to these politics counted against him when "the burgh was disfranchised in 1831, and the Town Council elected under the New Municipal Act, Mr Kerr, who had always been a staunch Conservative, even when Conservatism was most unpopular, and was too conscientious to trim his sails with every varying phase of the political barometer, lost his office as Council Clerk, Mr Barrie alone performing that duty."[2] He carried on as conjunct town clerk.

Clubs / societies

Clerk, Public Seminaries, c.1829-1838;[17] ordinary director, Forfarshire and Perthshire Fire Insurance Co., c.1829-1830;[18] C & J Kerr, clerks, Dundee & Newtyle Railway Co., c.1834-1847;[19] trustee, Webster Mortification, c.1844-1847;[20] chairman, Local Board of Proprietors, National Fire & Life Insurance Company of Scotland (C. Kerr & Co, law agents), c.1850-1859;[21] C. Kerr & Co., agents, Argus Insurance Co., c.1850-1859;[21] C. Kerr & Co., law agents, Dundee Gas-Light Co., c.1850-1862;[22] manager, Tay Ferries, c.1850-1869;[23] chairman, Local Board for Life Assurance Business, Scottish National Insurance Co. (also law agent), 1861-1869[24] factor, William Steven or Stephen Mortification, c.1861-1862;[25] factor, George Browne's Mortification, c.1861-1865[26] and clerk, Dundee Eastern Necropolis, c.1869.[27]

Public offices

Town Clerk 1822-1869 also Council Clerk until burgh disenfranchised in 1831. Justice of the Peace for the Dundee District of the County of Forfar, c.1829-1869.[28] Clerk, Dundee District, Forfarshire Statute Labour Trust, c.1834.[11] Clerk, Appeals against Assessed Taxes, c.1834.[11] Assessor, Burgh or Bailie Court, c.1834[11] and c.1867-1869.[29]

Related subscribers

Subscriber no.22 – John B. Baxter – fellow Dundee writer and house guest at Meigle in 1841.

Subscriber no.186 – Pattullo & Thornton – Thomas Thornton was a former employee.

Career and worklife


Writer/Solicitor[30] and Town Clerk[30]



Place of work


Work address

111 Murraygate, Dundee, c.1818-1822.[2]
High Street, Dundee, c.1824-1838.[31]
26, Castle Street, Dundee, c.1842-1869.[32]
Town Clerk's Office, Town House, Dundee, c.1869.[27]

Career to date:

Educated at Dundee Academy as a bursar from Webster's Mortification and then the University of Edinburgh.[2] While still a boy he was apprenticed to William Small, the town clerk. He started his own business as a writer in 1818 and after a struggle created an extensive law practice at the office in Castle Street. He added a factorage element to his business and went on to manage a number of estates across Forfarshire. In his role as Town Clerk he was involved with the development of the railways, the water company and public seminaries for the town.[2] He was appointed conjunct town clerk with William Barrie in 1822 and carried on his private legal business with his brother, John Kerr. The firm of C. & J. Kerr continued until 1847, when the new firm of C. Kerr & Co. was formed with Mr C. Kerr, Mr John Kerr, Mr David Reith, Mr Thomas Neave, and Mr John Morrison as partners. This firm survived for a few years after John Kerr died in 1853. After William Barrie's death in 1854, John Anderson was appointed conjunct town clerk along with Christopher Kerr. About 1858 Kerr dissolved the partnership of C. Kerr & Co. and continued in business without any partners. John Anderson died in 1864 and Kerr continued in the office of town clerk on his own.[2]

More information

Christopher Kerr was the son of William Ker and Margaret Hackney and was born in Dundee in 1797.[1] He married Jane Hackney, sister of Provost William Hackney, in 1825[2] and the couple had six children between 1826 and 1834. Jane died at Kilcraig on 3 March 1839[2] and he was married for a second time in 1842 to Margaret Webster,[3] a daughter of Mr James Webster, of Meathie and Flemington.[2] She had been born in Montrose, c.1800.[33]

Like a number of the other subscribers to the Albert Institute, Kerr sought a country residence to escape the cares of business and took Meigle House[14][15] and latterly the neighbouring Arthurstone House[16] in Perthshire in addition to his long-term Dundee residence of Kilcraig.

Christopher Kerr had a great interest in the history of Dundee:

During the latter three years of his life, Mr Kerr was at great personal trouble, and put himself to considerable expense in order to bring the ancient records of the town into a proper state of arrangement. He had compiled five large manuscript volumes, taken from these records, in illustration of our mediaeval municipal customs and laws, and intended to publish them.[2]

Having suffered for some years with kidney stones Christopher took the opportunity to have a series of operations in London while there in connection with the Dundee Water Bill which was before parliament. He succumbed to a fever and passed away at his daughter’s home in London on 1 June 1869.[2] His body was brought back from London to Kilcraig. His funeral was presided over by Rev McNamara of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and attended by elected members of the town council and officials and many other local citizens. He was laid to rest in Roodyards Cemetery, Broughty Ferry.[34]

The subscription list to the Albert Institute also mentions C.W. Kerr. This refers to his son, Christopher Webster Kerr, who was born 14 April 1833.[8] The middle name Webster seems to relate to his stepmother and was perhaps added later as a simple way of distinguishing the older and younger men. In 1841 C.W. Kerr was a visitor at the house of Professor John Fleming of New College, 22 Walker Street, Edinburgh. At this time he was a 17 year old student of philosophy. He first appeared in the Dundee directory in 1856 at 116 Ferry Road[35] and by 1858 at 115 Ferry Road, Dundee. At the latter date he was described as part of the firm of C. Kerr & Co.[36] In 1861 Christopher Webster Kerr and William Kerr junior are both described as writers at 26 Castle Street, with the former now living at Auchterhouse.[25] By 1864 Christopher Webster Kerr was described as a land agent at 26 Castle Street and lived at the Cottage, Ferry Road, Dundee.[37]  Christopher Webster Kerr pre-deceased his father on 10 October 1868, aged 35.[38] He is also buried at Roodyards.[39]


  1. Old Parish Records. Dundee. Birth. 9 May 1797. FHL film no.993424. Ancestry website.
  2. Norrie, W. (1873) Dundee Celebrities of the Nineteenth Century. Dundee: William Norrie. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  3. Old Parish Records. Monikie. Marriage. 6 July 1842.. FHL film no.993494. Ancestry website.
  4. Old Parish Records. Dundee. Birth. 14 July 1826. FHL film no.993402. Ancestry website.
  5. Old Parish Records. Dundee. Birth. 11 September 1827. FHL film no.993402. Ancestry website.
  6. Old Parish Records. Dundee. Birth. 9 May 1829. FHL film no.993402. Ancestry website.
  7. Old Parish Records. Dundee. Birth. 29 August 1830. FHL film no.993402. Ancestry website.
  8. Old Parish Records. Dundee. Birth. 14 April 1833. FHL film no.993402. Ancestry website.
  9. Old Parish Records. Dundee. Birth. 1 November 1834. FHL film no.993402. Ancestry website.
  10. Dundee Directories, 1824-1830. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  11. Dundee Directory, 1834. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  12. Dundee Directory, 1837-38. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  13. Dundee Directories, 1842-1869. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  14. 1841 Census Scotland. Meigle. 379 ED3 p.4. Ancestry website.
  15. Dundee Directories, 1850-1857. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  16. Dundee Directories, 1850-1857. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  17. Dundee Directories, 1829-1838. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  18. Dundee Directory, 1829-30. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  19. Dundee Directories, 1834-1847. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  20. Dundee Directories, 1844-1847. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  21. Dundee Directories, 1850-1859. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  22. Dundee Directories, 1850-1862. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  23. Dundee Directories, 1850-1869. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  24. Dundee Directories, 1861-1869. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  25. Dundee Directory, 1861-62. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  26. Dundee Directories, 1861-1865. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  27. Dundee Directory, 1869-70. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  28. Dundee Directories, 1829-1869. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  29. Dundee Directories, 1867-1869. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  30. Dundee Directories, 1824-1869. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  31. Dundee Directories, 1824-1838. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  32. Dundee Directories, 1842-1870. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  33. 1851 Census Scotland. Dundee. 282 ED3A p.14. Ancestry website.
  34. Dundee Courier, 10 June 1869. British Newspaper Archive website.
  35. Dundee Directory, 1856-57. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  36. Dundee Directory, 1858-59. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  37. Dundee Directories, 1864-1868. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  38. Statutory Registers. St. Andrew, Dundee. Death. 1868. 282/4 672. ScotlandsPeople website.
  39. Monumental Inscriptions in Angus Vol. 4 Dundee and Broughty Ferry. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.



The information above about Christopher Kerr 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.