David Scrimgeour Esquire
David Scrimgeour, of Arbroath, became a mill manager, firstly for 'Brown & Miller,' in Dundee. Compared to other subscribers, it would appear that he led a quiet life but was an active member of the Forfarshire Christian Union.
Subscription value in 1863:
Relative to inflation up to 2023:
Relative to income compared to 2023:
Personal details and history
Date of birth
Place of birth
Name of spouse
Still born (1842): Marjory (1843): David (1848): Agnes (1850): George (1852): William (1856): Jane (1859): Robert Stiven (1864): Mary Adelaide (1866): Jane Sturrock:
Age at death:
Place of death:
Carron Villa, Wormit, Fife
Date of death:
Western Cemetery, Perth Road, Dundee
Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers
Clubs / societies
Forfarshire Christian Union - a Committee member
Subscriber 149 – Oliver Gourlay Miller – Employer of David Scrimgeour and witness at his second marriage in 1857.
Career and worklife
Place of work
O G Miller:
Career to date:
David Scrimgeour was quoted in a newspaper (in 1862) as having been connected with mills for 25 years, estimating his entry into the trade circa 1837, at an approximate age of 15 years. Perhaps his early mill experiences had been alongside his father, William Scrimgeour, who was mill manager at Inch Mill in Arbroath. David Scrimgeour began his true working life, in his later teens, as a 'machine maker.' This was how he was described at the time of his marriage in 1840. He was then variously described as a mechanic and as an engineer. However, his listing in the Dundee Directory of 1850 elevated his role to 'Mill Manager at Brown's Mill.' He remained in the same employ up to and beyond the time of pledging a subscription towards the building of the Albert Institute in 1863.
David Scrimgeour (recorded as Scrimzeour), was born to William Scrimzeour and Marjory Millar in Ferguston, St Vigeans, in 1822. His father, William was employed as mill manager of Inch Mill in Arbroath. Inch Mill was owned by Andrew Duncan, manufacturer, shipowner and Provost of Arbroath.
David Scrimgeour arrived in Dundee as a teenager and was employed, at first, as a mechanic. At the time of his father’s death in 1852, he was described as ‘sometime mechanic in Dundee, now Mill Manager there.’ His employment as mill manager extended from 1847, within the mills of William Brown, becoming thereafter ‘Brown & Miller.’
By 1864, William Brown, having, it was declared, ‘retired from his favourite trade, he is still an enthusiastic spinner, and takes delight in witnessing the onward progress of mill-spinning. Mr Brown became a flax-spinner about 55 years ago (circa 1809) and he is now the father of the trade.’ His account of life and times within one of his mills (East Mill) gives a fascinating insight into his operations. His notes to mill managers affords a vivid impression of expectations within the mill. He suggested a Master or Manager of a mill should be ‘chaste, temperate, moderate and devout, scrupulously just in his ministrations and severely exact in the discipline of his hands; upon which he should know his glory and his success in a great measure depend.’ Further, he added:
‘Hands in a Mill should always be kept busy. The more closely they are held at their work, the more comfortable they are. If allowed to leave their places they are continually sighing after something they have no business with and rendering themselves uneasy. It is mistaken humanity to indulge them in ease, idleness or play. When in fault they should be reprimanded first calmly then seriously then sharply. Great care should be taken to point out their faults and explain their duty to them. Young ones or beginners especially should have their business frequently pointed out and explained. There is scarcely anyone so backward or corrupt that may not be improved by unremitting attention and patient and persevering efforts on the part of the overseer.’
On William Brown’s retirement, the Arch, the Column and the South mills in Guthrie and Brown Street were taken over by Oliver Gourlay Miller, his son in law and former partner.
By 1861, David Scrimgeour had not only wed for a second time but had taken up residence in Ward House in Session Street. It was described as having been a ‘self-contained Dwelling House, together with Stable, Coach House and 3 Small Warehouses.’ Ten years earlier, The 1851 census recorded that his former employer, William Brown had resided there. Ward House was to remain his home for a considerable time, into the 1890s. From Ward House, three of David Scrimgeour’s daughters were married and two of his sons died.
David Scrimgeour’s employer, Oliver Gourlay Miller eventually left Dundee and Scotland, to take up farming in Manitoba. The Column Mill, of which he was manager, passed to J Carmichael. It was put up for sale in 1889 when it was sold to George Carmichael for the upset price of £3,000.
Having worked under ‘the father of the trade,‘ William Brown, with his experience and sagacity, David Scrimgeour would likely have been well equipped to deal with and be cognisant of the smooth operating procedures of a mill and its workforce. His abilities as a mechanic would also have come into play. It would seem that his services were more than adequate as the longevity of his position testifies.
Having moved to Carron Villa in Wormit in the mid 1890s, David Scrimgeour, after working for almost six decades in the textile trade, died there, at the age of 83.
- Old Parish Registers. St Vigeans. Births. (1822). 319/ 40 30. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Old Parish Registers. Dundee. Marriages. (1840). 282/ 220 429. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Statutory Registers. Dundee. Marriages. (1857). 282/1 313. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1850. P.154. National Library of Scotland website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1853- 54. p.210. National Library of Scotland website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1856-57. p.137. National Library of Scotland website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1858-59. p.184. National Library of Scotland website.
- Census Returns. Dundee. (1871). 282/2 14/ 4. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Statutory Registers. Forgan. Deaths. 431/ 28. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Burial Lair Records for the Western Cemetery. Friends of Dundee City Archives website.
- Dundee People's Journal. 5 November 1864. p.5. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Dundee Courier. 8 June 1877. p.2. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Dundee Courier. 14 May 1888. p.2. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1861-62. p.336. National Library of Scotland website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1861-62. p.203. National Library of Scotland website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1864-65. p.266. National Library of Scotland website.
- Dundee Advertiser. 21 February 1862. p.5. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Legal Records. Wills and Testaments. Forfar Sheriff Court. (1852). SC47/ 40/ 21. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Brown, William. & Hume, John (ed). Early Days in a Dundee Mill, 1819-23. Extracts. (1980). Dundee Abertay Historical Publication 20. pp. 20-36.
- Dundee Courier. 5 August 1871. p1. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Census Returns. Dundee. (1851). 282/ 28 46. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee. 1892-93. p.350. National Library of Scotland website.
- Dundee Advertiser. 13 July 1889. p.4. British Newspaper Archive website.
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