David Robertson Esquire
David Robertson, became a partner in the firm of 'Moon, Langlands & Co,' drapers, clothiers and general warehouseman after having served more than a decade in their employ. A founder of Dundee's Young Men's Christian Association, he also served as President.
Subscription value in 1865:
Relative to inflation up to 2019:
Relative to income compared to 2019:
Personal details and history
Name of spouse
Age at death:
Place of death:
Union Grove, Magdalen Green, Dundee
Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers
Elder in St Mark's Established Church
Clubs / societies
President - Young Men's Christian Association: Director - Dundee Royal Infirmary: Committee member - Dundee Royal Infirmary: Director - Royal Lunatic Asylum: Director - Dundee Industrial Schools Society: Director - Anglo-Indian Christian Union: Hon. Vice President - Dundee Boys' and Girls' Religious Association: Pesident - Sabbath School Teachers' Union: Trustee - Equitable Property Investment Society of Dundee:
David Robertson declined to stand for the Town Council in 1858:
Career and worklife
Career to date:
David Robertson, a relative of William Moon, entered into the drapery business as an employee of 'Moon & Langlands,' drapers and merchants about the year 1833. He remained in their employ for a further 13 years before being assumed into the firm as a partner in 1846. Thereafter, the firm came under the title of 'Moon, Langlands & Co.' Their successful business strategy was to 'charge the very smallest possible profit, for ready money and, they trust, by attention and punctuality, to merit an increasing share of public favour.' It had been the practice to haggle or negotiate 'abatements' or discounts although 'Moon, Langlands & Co' took pride in their approach of only ever offering the lowest possible prices. Partner William Langlands elected to leave Dundee (and the firm) circa 1854 in order to join his brothers in Australia, whereupon a copartnery between William Moon and David Robertson was established. The name of the firm remained the same.
David Robertson, born in the parish of Newtyle, began his working life, around the age of 18 years, as an employee of William Moon (also a native of Newtyle). He was found to have been assiduous in his approach towards business and was assumed as a partner in the firm of ‘Moon, Langlands & Co.’ by the time he was 30 years old.
He and his wife, Penelope Moon, (William Moon’s niece) bore no family and David’s focus outwith work was ultimately centred upon religious and benevolent enterprises.
“Coming to Dundee at an early age, Mr Robertson was long engaged in business in the town, and for many years before his retirement in 1874, he was the active partner of the firm of Messrs Moon, Langlands, & Co., drapers, clothiers, and general warehousemen. A very successful merchant, he entered carefully into every detail of his business, and was most thorough and painstaking in everything he did. But even when head of so large a warehouse, and exercising an effective control over its every department, he devoted a great amount of time and attention to those religious and philanthropic undertakings which for the past ten years have been his sole occupation. Mr Robertson has been in one way or another connected with most of the religious, charitable, and educational institutions of Dundee…” 
“But it is the Young Men’s Christian Association with which Mr Robertson has been more especially identified…He has spared neither time, pains, nor money in the service of the Association, devoting indeed for many years his chief energy to its management.”  “This institution mainly owes its origin to the Christian philanthropy and intelligent energy of Mr David Robertson… ;and it is gratifying to find that the respectable young men of the town have so much appreciated the objects of its establishment, that it promises to become one of the most prosperous institutions of the kind in Scotland. The building, which is situated in the Constitution Road, immediately to the north of Ward Chapel, contains reading rooms, class rooms, and a lecture hall. Extra accommodation is soon to be provided, for the various classes, &c. , a sum of upwards of £5000 having recently been subscribed for that object.” (Nominal value at 2018: Relative to income £4,000,000)
1874 witnessed the retiral of David Robertson from the business with which had been associated for more than 40 years. The local press intimated the dissolution of his copartnery with William Moon as of 15 May 1874, they having been the only partners. He thereafter left the business, ‘having amassed considerable means, and retired into private life.’ This ‘private life’ enabled him to become evermore immersed in the religious causes he favoured.
The 1881 census listed as ‘visitors’ to Union Grove, Magdalen Green, ‘Major Whittle, (age 40) Evangelist, born America. Mr Jas McGranahan, (age 40) Evangelist, born America, and Mrs Jas (Addine) McGranahan, (age 38) born America.’ Further, we have Elspeth Duncan, (age 80) Mother-in Law, born Newtyle, (William Moon’s sister) residing with the Robertsons.
Messrs Whittle & McGranahan, American Evangelists, conducted a tour of Scotland in 1881 with Dundee being on their tour schedule. They conducted a series of evangelistic services, prayer meetings and lectures, not only at the Y.M.C.A. but also at Bell Street U.P. Church, the East Church, Broughty Ferry and at the Kinnaird Hall.
For David Robertson, ‘his last platform appearances were mostly in connection with the evangelistic meetings conducted by Major Whittle a few months ago, when night after night, although in but feeble health, he showed by his presence, his interest in the work. Major Whittle and his coadjutors were guests of Mr Robertson during their visit to Dundee. Indeed, it may be said of him that he kept an open house and a hearty welcome for all Christian workers from a distance, Young Men’s Association lecturers, and other visitors to Dundee…” 
David Robertson left £17,684 (current value £14,147,200) after debts, and in addition to the legacies left to family members, the following bequests are listed here from his will.
- The Young Mens’ Christian Association – £1000. (Nominal value at 2018: Relative to income £800,000)
- The Dundee Royal Infirmary – £1000. (Nominal value at 2018: Relative to income £800,000)
- The Industrial Schools Society – £500. (Nominal value at 2018: Relative to income £400,000)
- The Dundee Colportage Mission for the maintenance of two Colporteurs the sum of £1000. (Nominal value at 2018: Relative to income £800,000)
- The Dundee Sabbath School Teachers Union ‘of which I am president,’ £500. (Nominal value at 2018: Relative to income £400,000)
- The National Bible Society of Scotland – £250. (Nominal value at 2018: Relative to income £200,000)
- Statutory Registers. Lundie, Forfarshire. Marriages. (1859). 306/2. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Census Records. Dundee. (1861). 282/ 2 26/ 29. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Census Records. Newtyle. (1851). ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Courier, 26 October 1859. p.4. Findmypast website.
- The Aberdeen Journal, 13 July 1881. p.4. Death Notice. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Dundee Postal Directory, 1861-1862. p. 197. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Statutory Registers. Deaths. Dundee. (1881). 282/1 294. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Statutory Registers. Dundee. Deaths. (1881). 282/1 294. "As certified by John Robertson MB. CM.". ScotlandsPeople website.
- The Northern Warder and Bi-weekly Courier and Argus, 19 July 1881, p.3. British Library, British Newspaper Archive website.
- Obituary. The Weekly News, 16 July 1881. British Newspaper Archive. British Library website.
- Dundee Postal Directories, 1867-68, 1869-70, 1871-72, 1874-75, 1876-77, 1880-81. National Library of Scotland website.
- Dundee Postal Directory, 1878-79. p.54. National Library of Scotland website.
- Dundee Postal Directory, 1869-70. p.34. National Library of Scotland website.
- Dundee Postal Directory, 1880-81. p.49. National Library of Scotland website.
- Dundee Postal Directory, 1867-68. p.30. National Library of Scotland website.
- Dundee Postal Directory, 1874-75. p.62. National Library of Scotland website.
- Legal Record. Wills and Testaments. Dundee Sheriff Court. (1881). SC45/31/31. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Directory, 1864-65, p.23. National Library of Scotland website.
- Dundee Courier, 27 October 1858. p.2. Findmypast website.
- Dundee, Perth and Cupar Advertiser, 3 March 1846. p.1. British Newspaper Archive website.
- The Dundee Advertiser, 23 December 1863. p.1. List of subscriptions to the Dundee Albert Institute (public notices). British Newspaper Archive. British Library website.
- Dundee Postal Directory, 1864-65. p.178 and p.248. National Library of Scotland website.
- Dundee, Perth & Cupar Advertiser, 6 March 1846. p.3. Findmypast website.
- The Dundee Advertiser, 13 July 1881, p.5. British Newspaper Archive. British Library website.
- Dundee Postal Directory, 1874. p.11. National Library of Scotland website.
- Dundee Courier, 27 October 1858. p.2. Findmypast website.
- Aberdeen Press & Journal, 13 July 1881. p.3. Findmypast website.
- Census Records. Dundee. (1881). Scotlands People website.
- Dundee Courier, 29 March 1881. p.1. Findmypast website.
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