Dr Henry Samuel Boase
Dr Henry Samuel Boase, of a notable Cornish family, was a chemist, physician, banker and industrialist. He became a partner in a long lasting bleaching company at Claverhouse, on the outskirts of Dundee.
Subscription value in 1863:
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Relative to income compared to 2021:
Personal details and history
Henry Samuel Boase
Name of spouse
Elizabeth Valentine Stoddard
Henry (1825): Anna Maria (1828): Alfred William (1830): Elizabeth (1831): Arthur (1833): Mary Valentine (1835): John (1837): Anna (1840): Laura Bingham (1843): Samuel Stoddard (1847):
Age at death:
Place of death:
Seafield House, Magdalen Place, Dundee
Date of death:
Western Cemetery, Perth Road, Dundee
Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers
Clubs / societies
Subscriber 29 – Sir David Baxter – a partner in Boase & Co
Subscriber 38 – William Lindsay Boase – a nephew of Henry Samuel Boase
Subscriber 51 – Messrs Cox Brothers – William Cox of Snaigow was Henry Samuel Boase’s son in law, having married his daughter, Elizabeth Boase
Subscriber 107 – George Ireland – the business partner of Henry Boase, eldest son of Henry Samuel Boase
Subscriber 263 – George Clement Boase – younger brother of Henry Samuel Boase
Subscriber 291 – Hector Turnbull – business partner of Henry Samuel Boase
Career and worklife
Master Linen Bleacher
Place of work
Career to date:
Having firstly studied chemistry at Dublin (under Edmund Davy), from 1815, Henry Samuel Boase subsequently studied medicine at Edinburgh. There he was admitted M.D. in 1821. This was followed by a return to Cornwall where he practised as a physician for a short spell only. Between the years 1822-1837, Boase's interests were focussed solely on geology. He became a geologist of considerable repute. In 1822, he was appointed Secretary to the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall - an appointment he held until 1829. He also, during that period, undertook a geological survey of the entire county of Cornwall. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1837. Henry Boase, coming as he did from a banking family, also became a partner in the Penzance Union Bank, until its dissolution in 1838. That same year (1838), Henry Samuel Boase arrived in Dundee where two of his younger brothers, Charles William and George Clement, were already established within the banking industry of the Dundee Royal Bank. Henry, however, with his knowledge of chemistry (which he had studied at Cork), led him to take part in the bleaching business of 'Messrs Turnbull & Co.' at Claverhouse. On the death of the managing proprietor, Henry Samuel Boase became wholly in charge of the works until his own death in 1883.
Coming from an extensive Cornish family, Henry Samuel Boase was born in Knightsbridge, London, the 3rd child and eldest son of Henry Boase (1763-1827), a banker, and his wife Ann Craige.
His early education took place in Chelsea, London, before going to the Tiverton Grammar School. In 1815, Henry Samuel Boase was sent to Dublin to study under Edmund Davy, Professor of Chemistry to the Royal Dublin Society.
This was a path which was, eventually, to stand him in good stead for the greater part of his working life although, not before he had embarked upon the study of medicine, geology and banking, between the years 1821-37.
By 1838, Henry Samuel Boase’s arrival in Dundee saw him enter into partnership as managing partner, within the bleaching company of ‘Messrs Tunbull & Co,’ at Claverhouse. It has been recorded that there had been a Bleachfield at Claverhouse from the end of the 18th century, having been operated at the time by ‘Thomas Collier & Co.’ By 1814, the firm of ‘Turnbull & Co,’ was founded by Hector Turnbull, in partnership with William Baxter and joined, in 1838, by Henry Samuel Boase. It was reputed to have been the largest Dundee Bleachfield of the early 19th century and was fed by a system of lades, ponds and dams.
Hector Turnbull’s son, John, then the managing proprietor of the works, died in 1847. Another son, Hector Turnbull, retired in the early 1860s. In 1865, ‘Turnbull & Co,’ described as ‘bleachers of Claverhouse, yarn millers at Trottick and calenderers in Dundee,’ was then owned by the co-partnery of Sir David Baxter and Henry Samuel Boase. By December of 1865, the name of the firm changed to ‘Boase & Co,’ with Sir David Baxter owning half the company – the other half was held by Henry Samuel Boase and his 2nd son, Alfred.
The listings for Dr Boase in the local Directories indicated that he had resided within the town of Dundee, before taking up residence at Claverhouse by 1851. He then took up residence in the recently constructed mansion house (c. 1840) to the west of the Claverhouse complex. Currently, this edifice holds a ‘B’ listing and is described as follows:
‘S ELEVATION: 4-bay, originally 3-bay; end bays bowed with ground floor ashlar canted windows. Off-centre architraved doorpiece with bipartite to right. Verandah with valance on two cast-iron columns. 4 single lights over. Piended slate roof, conical over bows, with overhanging eaves.’
The firm of ‘Boase & Co’ encompassed a range of interests, including ‘yarn bleachers, yarn millers and calenderers at Claverhouse, Trottick & St Andrew’s Street Calender.’
The bleaching of yarn was widely recognised as having been an important industry in the locality, though, like other kindred occupations, it had developed amazingly since the introduction of jute.
The only fresh water stream of any importance in the neighbourhood of Dundee was the Dighty. For several miles of its course – from Sunnyhall, Lundie, at its western headwaters to Panmurefield (Daniel Drimmie) at its eastern end – it was studded with numerous bleaching works. Although these works were, at the time, located beyond the boundaries of Dundee, they were still inseparably connected with the trades of Dundee. Many of the larger firms of jute spinners acquired bleach fields of their own and made this an adjunct of their industry.
Claverhouse Bleachfield stood on the north side of the ‘Dighty Water.’ It was reputed to have been the most successful and longest lived of the bleach fields on the Dighty, not least because those downstream had to contend with its pollution. Another reason was attributed to Henry S Boase and his labours.
‘The success of Claverhouse Bleachworks was partly due to its position on the river, which ensured a clear and uninterrupted water supply but also to its efficient and intelligent management.’
Dr Henry Samuel Boase devoted his attentions to the management of the Claverhouse Bleachfield. In connection with these works, he took out a patent for ‘improvements in the process of drying organic substances.‘
Regardless of any improvements, the bleaching of cloth and yarns remained arduous, wet work of long hours – some workers claiming working weeks of 104-107 hours. In 1857, Boase had spoken of conditions regarding hours wrought, the labour performed and remuneration received (by workers) leading to a ‘Report on Bleaching & Dyeworks Bill.’ It would appear from a fascinating letter submitted to the local press afterwards, that Boase had painted a somewhat ‘rose-tinted’ perspective of affairs. His declarations were hotly refuted within the letter:
‘Let him (Boase) ponder these figures well and say how he has got over in his report this mountain of oppression for I call it nothing else.’
The census of 1861 indicated that Boase employed 95 men, 23 women, 22 boys and 17 girls. However, these numbers may not have been constant. Often, more workers were taken on during the summer months when the weather was less likely to be inclement and the process of bleaching less likely to be interrupted.
By 1870, Dr Boase had left his mansion at Claverhouse for the gentle slope towards Magdalen Green in Dundee. The following year, he had ceased to take any share of the business of ‘Boase & Co,’ and had repaired to his new residence of Seafield House on Magdalen Place.
At Claverhouse, Henry Samuel Boase was succeeded by his son, Alfred. The firm remained a successful enterprise until after WW2, although, in its latter years, was absorbed into the dealings of ‘Baxter Brothers.’
Reputedly well known for his benevolence and having been a liberal contributor to many public and private charities, one of his gifts was that of 93 volumes to the Dundee Free Library, housed in the Albert Institute.
Declared to have been of the ‘strictest integrity,’ Dr Henry Samuel Boase M.D. lived out the remainder of his life at Seafield House.
Note: Henry Samuel Boase was the author of a number of publications on geology and other matters.
- Memorial Inscription, West Wall. Western Cemetery. Dundee
- Cornishman. 17 May 1883. p.5. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1845. p.11. National Library of Scotlands website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1842-43. p.10. National Library of Scotland website.
- Census Returns. Dundee. (1841). 282/ 54/ 17. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Census Returns. Mains. (1861). 307/ 1 1/ 7. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1871-72. p.75. National Library of Scotland website.
- Statutory Registers. Dundee. Deaths. (1883). 282/1 225. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Courier. 7 May 1883. p.3. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Ward, J. T. Charles W. Boase. Three Dundonians. Abertay Historical Society. (1968). Publication No. 13. p.14.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1861-62. p.219. National Library of Scotland website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1864-65. p.196. National Library of Scotland website.
- Histories of Scottish Families. Account of the Family of Boase or Bowes. National Library of Scotland website.
- Cornishman. 26 October 1933. p.9. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1829-30. p.14. National Library of Scotland website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1837-38. p.10. National Library of Scotland website.
- Gauldie, Enid E. Scottish Bleachfields 1718-1862. B Phil. Thesis. Dundee University Library. 1966.
- Archives Hub. Ref. GB 254. MS 10. (1838-1966). Dundee University Archives.
- McKean, Charles; Walker, David. Dundee - An Illustrated Architectural Guide. (1984). Royal Incorporation of Architects. p.161.
- Dundee Courier. 27 July 1901. p.6. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Dundee Advertiser. 29 July 1890. p.6. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Census Returns. Mains & Strathmartine. (1851). 307/ 2/ 8. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Listed Buildings Index. LB25116. Historic Environment Scotland website
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1867-68. p.101. National Library of Scotland website.
- Watson, Mark. A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Tayside. (2013). Association for Industrial Archaeology. p.47.
- Dundee Advertiser. 7 May 1883. p.5. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Dundee, Perth & Cupar Advertiser. 2 February 1858. p.3. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Dundee Courier. 6 September 1870. p.2. British Newspaper Archive website.
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