George Gunn Ireland Esquire
George Ireland, junior, was the son of George Ireland, house agent, Blackness Terrace, Dundee. He worked in the flax and jute industry until his early death from chronic bronchitis and asthma. His final business partner was Henry Boase.
Subscription value in 1863:
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Relative to income compared to 2023:
Personal details and history
George Gunn Ireland
Date of birth
Place of birth
Married 27-11-1852 Liff Parish
Name of spouse
Helen Millar, born 1855; George James; born 1858; Robert Lindsay, born 1860; Thomas Duff, born 1862; David Bell, born 1864; Henry Boase, born 1866; Annie Musgrove, born 1868; 
Age at death:
Place of death:
Newport on Tay, Forgan Parish
Date of death:
Western Cemetery, Perth Road, Dundee - Reg. vol. 4, Reg. No. 1381, Comp. 6
Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers
Clubs / societies
Subscriber 39 – Dr Henry Boase – was the father of Henry Boase, partner of George Ireland of ‘Ireland & Boase’
Career and worklife
Owner and Partner
Career to date:
George Ireland appeared in the 1851 census, as a 'mill spinner's clerk,' in his early twenties. In 1854, an advert was placed in the local press regarding Barrack Street Mill for sale or let. The Dundee Directory of 1856-57 saw the first listing of George's concern ' Ireland & Millar' operating from the said Barrack Street Mill. As flax spinners and manufacturers, George Ireland and his partner James Millar worked Barrack Street Mill continuously until James' death in 1861. George Ireland then continued operating Barrack Street Mill with James' widow Betty as his partner. 1862 saw the dissolution of their partnership. At the time of pledging his subscription for the Albert Institute, George was the sole partner of Barrack Street Mill, the smallest mill in town.
George Gunn Ireland (k/a junior) was the son of George Ireland, a house factor, and his wife Janet Leslie. Having grown up in Dundee, he appeared in the 1851 census, together with his soon to be wife, Janet Bell and her brother David, at Kirkton of Auchterhouse. At the time, George was listed as a ‘Millspinner’s Clerk.’ The location of his employment as a clerk may only be surmised. It is possible that George’s connection with Barrack Street Mill began before he became its operative owner.
Barrack Street Mill was built in 1833 when George was but a boy. Owned by brothers William and George Thoms (another brother David was employed as a clerk at the works) it was located on the west side of Barrack Street. A notable fact about the mill was, that at its inception, the person responsible for operations was Peter Carmichael – who was later to become a renowned mill manager and engineer and the only non-family partner of Baxter Brothers. It was written by him, “My first occupation after my return to Dundee in August 1833 was the starting of a new mill belonging to ‘Thoms Brothers & Co.’ It stood at the corner of Barrack Street and is now part of the works of ‘Don Brothers, Buist & Co.’ (from 1873). The machinery, which was of the most approved kind, was driven by an engine of 16 hp. The mill was kept going busily and produced good yarns………..I had not been there long when he did some things which displeased me and it was reported that I was going to leave. Upon this, Mr William Baxter had a consultation with me and engaged me as manager of the new mill his firm were building in the Upper Dens and I entered my duties there on Friday, 6th December 1833.
The rest of his story was, as is it said, ‘history.’
Not long after his marriage to Janet Bell, an advertisement appeared in local press in 1854 – ‘Barrack Street Mill for sale or let.’ Within the sale were listed – ‘Steam Engine, Machinery, Turning Lathe etc. Besides the mill are Counting House, Warehouse accommodation, Tow Shaking House etc.’ That George Ireland and James Millar rose to the call of the advert, shortly thereafter, to form the company of ‘Ireland & Millar,’ is surely in little doubt. George gave his daughter Helen the name ‘Millar’ (a mark of respect perhaps) at the time of her birth in 1855. The Directory listed them as a going concern in 1856-57.
Their venture may have been a modest one. At the time of James Millar’s death, the value of his share as a partner in the company amounted to £355. He had also been a registered owner (with an eighth share) of the vessel ‘Queen Hortense’ of Dundee, the shares from which formed part of the stock and assets of the said firm. After the dissolution of their firm, George Ireland continued to operate Barrack Street Mill for a few years more, until the expiry of the lease in 1865.
The year 1866 became a landmark in George Ireland’s career. Having left Barrack Street Mill, he entered into business with his contemporary, Henry Boase, the son of Dr Henry Samuel Boase (Claverhouse Bleachworks). At the time of his own retiral, Henry Boase indicated that he had joined George Ireland’s firm in Barrack Street on the 1st January 1865 – therefore their working relationship had already been established before going into partnership. The pair then founded the business of ‘Ireland & Boase,’ jute and flax spinners and manufacturers, with the construction of ‘Wellfield Works’ in Kemback Street. Once again, in recognition of his new partner, George named his son, born that year, ‘Henry Boase Ireland.’
Wellfield Works was built at the peak of the jute milling industry. Described as a medium scale jute mill with 2 engine houses, the gateway entrance was dated 1866. It consisted of a 3 storey, 14 bay, iron-framed mill with 2 sheds to the north. This new mill was said to have been built using profits from the American civil War. By 1871, 375 persons were employed at the mill. George Ireland, together with his partner, operated Wellfield Works until his untimely death, at the age of 44 years, in 1871. Afflicted by chronic asthma and bronchitis, a mill environment was perhaps injurious to his wellbeing. His spinning works, at Wellfield Works, continued in business after his death but was then known as ‘Henry Boase, Spinner & Manufacturer.’
Mrs Ireland continued to live in Newport on Tay after her husband’s death. Two of their sons entered into the world of jute and flax as merchants – Robert Lindsay Ireland became a partner of ‘Robertson, Ireland & Co.’ before emigrating to Australia. His younger brother Henry Boase Ireland formed ‘H B Ireland & Co., Jute and Flax Merchants.’
- Old Parish Register. Dundee. Birth. (1827). 282/ 160 87. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Old Parish Register. Liff, Benvie & Invergowrie. (1852). 301/40 383. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Census Record. Forgan, Fife. (1871). 431/ 4/ 16. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Postal Directory, 1858-59. p.143. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Dundee Postal Directory, 1864-65. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Dundee Directory, 1867-68. DundeeCentral Library, Local Studies.
- Dundee Postal Directory, 1869-70. p.148. Dundee central Library, Local Studies.
- Statutory Registers. Forgan. Deaths. (1871). 431/28. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Old Dundee Graveyards and other Burial Records. Western Cemetery. Friends of Dundee City Archives website.
- Dundee Directory, 1856-57. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Dundee Postal Directory, 1861-62. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Dundee Voters' Register, 1865-66. Friends of Dundee City Archives website.
- Census Record. Auchterhouse. (1851). 273/ 3/ 5. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee, Perth & Cupar Advertiser, 12 May 1854. p.2. Findmypast website.
- Legal Records. Wills & Testaments. Dundee Sheriff Court. (1863). SC45/31 18. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Advertiser, 14 January 1862. p.1. Findmypast website.
- Watson, Mark. (1990). Jute and Flax Mills in Dundee. p.195. Tayport. Hutton Press Ltd.
- Gauldie, E. (ed.(1969). The Dundee Textile Industry, 1790-1885 from the papers of Peter Carmichael of Arthurstone. Scottish Historical Society, 4 Ser. Vol 6. pages 52-53. Edinburgh.
- Dundee People's Journal, 11 February 1865. Findmypast website.
- Dundee Directory, 1867-68. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Dundee Courier, 13 May 1889. p.3. Findmypast website.
- Wellfield Works. British Listed Buildings website.
- Watson, Mark. (1990). Jute and Flax Mills in Dundee. p.233. Tayport. Hutton Press Ltd.
- Dundee Postal Directory, 1875. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
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