George Thomson Graham Esquire
A Dundee-born linen and jute merchant and manufacturer, who served as a Bailie and Kirkmaster for Dundee Town Council. Recovered from bankruptcy to re-establish himself as a respected participant in the jute trade.
Subscription value in 1863:
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Personal details and history
George Thomson Graham
Date of birth
Place of birth
Age at death:
Place of death:
Date of death:
Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers
Church of Scotland
Clubs / societies
Committee of Management, Tay Ferries, c.1869-1870. Director, Dundee High School, c.1869-1872. Ordinary Director, Royal Lunatic Asylum, c.1869-1875 and c.1900. Director, Public Baths, West Protection Wall, c.1869-1870. Assessor, Guildry Incorporation, c.1871-1872. Harbour Trustee, c.1871-1877. Convener, Nine Trades of Dundee, c.1874-1875. Ordinary Director, Royal Orphan Institution, c.1876-1881 and 1895-1897. Director, Dundee Institute for the Blind, c.1876-1877. Governor, Dundee Educational Trust, c.1890-1900.
Common Councillor, Dundee Town Council, c.1869-1871. Bailie, Dundee Town Council, c.1871-1872. Water Commissioner, c.1871-1872. Forfarshire Prison Board, c.1871-1872. Gas Commissioner, c.1874-1875. Liff & Benvie Parochial Board, c.1871-1875. Dundee Combination Parochial Board, c.1884-1895.
Career and worklife
Place of work
Career to date:
George Thomson Graham gained experience as a clerk at Luncarty Bleachfield, Redgorton, Perthshire, but was based in Leslie, Fife, before working as an accountant at Wallace Works in Dundee. About the same time as the subscription for the Albert Institute George T Graham, merchant, entered into partnership with John Mitchell junior in the firm of Mitchell & Graham. George was also one of the subscribers. The partnership was responsible for the building of the Baltic Linen Works in Annfield Road, Dundee in 1864. Mitchell & Graham were at the same address as John Mitchell senior in an office at 6 Cowgate, Dundee. The address later became 8 Cowgate, but may refer to the same premises. John Mitchell senior was the proprietor and Mitchell & Graham his tenants,
George Thomson Graham was born in Dundee in 1830, the son of James Graham and Agnes Wilson. His father was a weaver and also church officer at St. Peter’s Parish Church. His father remained with the Established Church at the Disruption. George was educated at the school attached to the church, leaving at the age of fifteen to become a clerk. He married Hannah Barclay in 1854 and the couple had two children. James sadly died as an infant in 1855. Isabella was born in Dundee in 1861. Hannah Barclay died, aged 40, in 1872 and George seems to have married Georgina, daughter of George Clark, wine and spirit merchant, soon afterwards. The couple had four sons.
George was an active participant in the public life of Dundee for thirty years, serving as a councillor and a bailie and also on the Dundee Combination Parochial Board and many other local bodies for many years.
In 1871, George was described as a manufacturer, employing 200 workers. The partnership of Mitchell & Graham continued until about 1879. John Mitchell junior died at Pole Park House on 29 October 1879. Sequestration proceedings under the 1856 Bankruptcy Act were commenced against the partnership on 27 December 1879 and concluded in 1883. Sequestration proceedings against John Mitchell junior, manufacturer, Dundee were separately commenced on 3 January 1880 and concluded in 1882. At the Dundee Bankruptcy Court in January 1880, John junior’s partner, George T Graham, related that the partnership began in about 1862 with a joint capital of £1,705 and having purchased ground on Hawkhill and Annfield Road, they built the mill and factory, which along with Grayfield House cost £41,081, of which £30,000 was a loan from John Mitchell senior, with the remainder to the credit of the firm. Owing to their limited capital Graham had “opposed the extensive building operations of his partner, but had always to submit.” The firm lost £7,150 8s 9d in its last three years and bad debts from trading amounted to over £6,000. Graham attributed the stoppage of the concern to the actions of Mr Hendry, law agent of Mr Mitchell senior, having after the death of the son stopped a cash credit at the bank for which the father was a security. Ordinary liabilities were about £17,000 and assets after deducting preferable claims about £6,000.
George T. Graham seems to have recovered fairly quickly from the bankruptcy of the Mitchell & Graham firm, setting up George T. Graham & Co., merchants, in 1880. His obituary described him as becoming a commission agent after the end of the partnership, but the firm was also described as manufacturers. The firm carried on under his management for another twenty years.
Under John Mitchell junior’s father’s will in 1885 he was bequeathed the estate of Arngask and Haysmill plus a legacy of £20,000, as his father had not revised the will he created in 1878. His erstwhile partner George T. Graham acted as the main executor.
George was an Established churchman, being connected to the South Church and serving on its kirk session. He subsequently joined St. David’s and was an elder there. During his time on the Town Council he acted as Kirkmaster. He took a major part in having St. Andrew’s Church transferred from the Trades to the Church of Scotland Trustees, so that it could be turned into a quoad sacra parish.
George died in 1900.
- Old Parish Records. Dundee. Birth. 19 April 1830. FHL Film No. 993402. Ancestry website.
- Old Parish Records. Leslie, Fife. Banns. 8 October 1854. 444/40 422 and Kemback, Fife. 10 October 1854. 433/20 114. ScotlandsPeople website.
- 1881 Census Scotland. St. Andrew, Dundee. 282/4 ED23 p.18. Ancestry website.
- Obituary Book No.2. 18 August 1900. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
- 1871 Census Scotland. St. Peter, Dundee. 282/1 ED19 p.1. Ancestry website.
- Dundee Directories, 1858-1868. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
- Dundee Directory, 1869-70. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
- Dundee Directories, 1871-1879 Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
- Dundee Directories, 1880-1891 Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
- Dundee Directories, 1891-1897. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
- Dundee Directories, 1897-1900. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
- Statutory Registers. St. Peter, Dundee. Death. 17 August 1900. 282/1 354. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Directories, 1869-1900. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
- Dundee Directories, 1869-1895. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
- Dundee Advertiser, 23 December 1863. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Dundee Directory, 1858-59. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
- Dundee Directories, 1861-1868. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
- Dundee Directories, 1867-1879. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
- Dundee Directories, 1880-1894. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
- Dundee Directories, 1894-1897. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
- Dundee Directory, 1864-65. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
- Dundee Advertiser, Wednesday, 23 December 1863. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
- Watson, Mark. (1990) Jute and Flax Mills in Dundee. Tayport: Hutton Press Ltd. [appendix 10].
- Valuation Roll for the Burgh of Dundee, 1871-72. Dundee City Archives.
- Statutory Registers. Leslie, Fife. Birth. 1855. 444/53 and Death. 1855. 444/41. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Statutory Registers. Dundee First District. Birth. 1861. 282/1 835. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Statutory Registers. St. Peter, Dundee. Death. 282/1 499. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Directories, 1864-1880. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
- Dundee Advertiser, 31 October 1879. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Concluded Sequestration Process under 1856 Bankruptcy Act, Mitchell & Graham & Co, Manufacturers, Dundee. 1879-1883. CS318/26/242. National Records of Scotland online catalogue.
- Concluded Sequestration Process under 1856 Bankruptcy Act, John Mitchell junior, Manufacturer, Dundee. 1880-1882. CS318/25/333. National Records of Scotland online catalogue.
- Dundee Courier, 19 January 1880. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Dundee Directories, 1880-1900. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
- Wills and Testaments. Dundee Sheriff Court. 12 September 1885. SC45/31/35 637. Scotlands People website.
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