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James Blackwood Anderson Esquire

A native of Fife, James Blackwood Anderson spent nearly 30 years of his working life trading from Dundee. His business experienced a final bankruptcy in 1874, after which the entire Anderson family members disappeared from any public records in Scotland.

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Personal details and history

Full name

James Blackwood Anderson

Date of birth

c1820 - a possible birth on 31-08-1820[1] requires further confirmatory evidence

Place of birth

Anstruther[2] (Easter),[1] Fife



Marital status

Married[3] - wed in Edinburgh on 10-04-1843[3] - his marriage was also registered in Dundee

Name of spouse

Jessie Irvine Reid[3]


Allan Edward (b1844): Margaret (c 1846): Elizabeth (b 1848): James William (b 1849): Josiah (b 1852): Amelia Dorcas (b 1855):

Home address

41 Reform Street (1851)[4]

1 Windsor Place (1853-1860)[5][6]

Broadhaugh (1860-1865)[2][7]


Springfield (1865-1874)[8]
Perth Road

Age at death:


Place of death:


Date of death:




Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers

Religious affiliation

Free Church - an elder of Free St John's Church[9]

Political affiliation


Clubs / societies


Public offices


Related subscribers

Subscriber 22 – John Boyd Baxter – was the husband of Margaret Edward, aunt of Anderson’s partner, Edward Guild

Subscriber 70 – Allan Edward – was the brother of Elizabeth Edward, mother of Anderson’s partner, Edward Guild

Subscriber 72 – James Edward – was the brother of Elizabeth Edward, mother of Anderson’s partner, Edward Guild

Career and worklife


Merchant:[10] Shipowner, Exporter of goods for the foreign trade and Commission Agent (1862-69):[11]


Self Employed

Place of work

J B Anderson

Work address

59 Cowgate[6][10]

Career to date:

At the time of his marriage in 1843, James Blackwood Anderson, aged approximately 23 years, declared himself to be a 'Commission Agent.' He later reported that he had embarked on a path as a commission merchant circa 1846.[12] Perhaps that was the point at which he set up on his own account. From 1850-1862, he reported that he traded in partnership with Edward Guild, under the style of 'Anderson & Guild,'[12] as Merchants, Shipowners and Commission Agents.[12][11] The co-partnery of 'Anderson & Guild' was dissolved in July 1862,[13] after which time, James Blackwood Anderson resumed trading on his own account.

More information

James Blackwood Anderson came from the Anstruther area in the East Neuk of Fife.[1][2] He married in Edinburgh in 1843.[3] His wife, Jessie Irvine Reid was the daughter of William Reid, previously a printer to trade.[3] His marriage record declared him to have been a Commission Agent in Dundee at the time.[3]

With a growing family of 4 children,[4] James B Anderson, a flax merchant,[4] entered into a partnership with Edward Guild during 1850.[11] Edward Guild’s father, John Guild, already operated as a linen merchant,[14][15] as did his older brother, Alexander, who later traded as a linen merchant in Belfast and New York.[15]

The firm of ‘Anderson & Guild’ traded for 12 years between 1850 and 1862, when their partnership was dissolved.[11] It was reported that ‘debts by Anderson caused the dissolution of their business.’[16]

At the establishment of ‘Anderson & Guild,’ James Black Anderson later stated that:

‘When the firm started, I had capital of £1,000, which included my furniture. When the firm dissolved in 1862, I had an interest in two ships, the shares standing in the names of the individual partners.[11]

The two ships referred to were the barques ‘Bonanza,’ (built in 1847) and ‘Trossachs,’ (built in 1856). James Blackwood Anderson continued to be a shareholder of both ships after the dissolution of ‘Anderson & Guild.’

However, in 1866, ‘Bonanza,’ on her way to Newport, Monmouthshire, to load coals for the Cape of Good Hope, was wrecked on Barry Island, with the loss of 9 lives.[17] At the time, Anderson held 20/64ths of the vessel but failed, though fully insured, to recoup the value of his shares or its cargo.[11]

The ‘Trossachs’ was sold in Valparaiso in July of 1869.[11] Here too, Anderson sustained further losses later stating that – ‘I considered my loss in her was £1,460. I nominally held 24/64th shares of her, but I was really the owner of 36/64ths.’[11]

Around this time, James Blackwood Anderson was joined in business by his eldest son, Allan Edward Anderson. They traded as commission agents and merchants, firstly from 59 Cowgate,[7] then from 20 Reform Street, Dundee.[18]

It would appear though, that Allan Edward Anderson added to his father’s liabilities. This was to prove the case just a few years later in 1870, when James Anderson was held as surety for his son[18] in a case raised by The Lochruan Distillery Company in Campbelltown.[19]

‘The nature of the agency was that Allan Anderson should take orders for whisky, collect accounts as they fell due, and remit the amounts thereof when paid to the pursuers, he getting the usual commission. He had a discretionary power to sell either for cash – ie for payment on delivery or within 30 days of fulfilment of the order – or on credit at 3, 4, or 6 months. The said Allan Anderson acted as the pursuer’s agent from April 1867, till April 1869, when he left Dundee, leaving considerable sums due to the pursuers and other parties.’[19]

It fell to James Anderson, the guarantor for his son, to make payments due – Allan Anderson, having absconded.[19]

Circumstances did not appear to improve for James Anderson between the years 1870-74. By 1871, his losses, accrued from 1866, amounted to more that £5,000.[11] Limping on for a further 3 years. James Blackwood Anderson faced a further examination of his affairs in 1874.[20]

This would appear to have been the last straw for the hopes and aspirations in Dundee trading for James Anderson.

From that date (1874), no further trace of James Blackwood Anderson, or the members of his family, has been uncovered in Scotland’s public records.


  1. Old Parish Registers. Anstruther. Births. 402/ 40 32. ScotlandsPeople website.
  2. Census Returns. Forgan. (1861). 431/ 3/ 24. ScotlandsPeople website.
  3. Old Parish Registers. Edinburgh. Marriages. 685/ 1 670. ScotlandsPeople website.
  4. Census Returns. Dundee. (1851). 282/ 71 /16. ScotlandsPeople website.
  5. Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1853-54. p.132. National Library of Scotland website.
  6. Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1858-59. p.101-2. National Library of Scotland website.
  7. Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1864-65. p.91. National Library of Scotland website.
  8. Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1867-72. National Library of Scotland website.
  9. Dundee Courier. 14 June 1866. p.4. British Newspaper Archive website.
  10. Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1864-65. p.91. National Library of Scotland website.
  11. Dundee Courier. 24 January 1871. p.3. British Newspaper Archive website.
  12. Dundee Advertiser. 24 January 1871. British Newspaper Archive website.
  13. Dundee Advertiser. 9 July 1862. p.1. British Newspaper Archive website.
  14. Census Returns. Dundee. (1861). 282/2 25/ 14. ScotlandsPeople website.
  15. Statutory Registers. Carnoustie. Deaths. (1878). 274/ 73. ScotlandsPeople website.
  16. Perry's Bankrupt Gazette. 26 July 1862. British Newspaper Archive website.
  17. Yorkshire Gazette. 13 January 1866. p.3. British Newspaper Archive website.
  18. Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1869-70. p.92-93. National Library of Scotland website.
  19. Dundee Courier. 16 November 1870. p.3. British Newspaper Archives website.
  20. Dundee Courier. 9 June 1874. p.1. British Newspaper Archive website.

The information above about James Blackwood Anderson has been collated from a range of digital and hard copy sources. To the best of our knowledge it is correct but if you are relying on any information from our website for the purpose of your own research we would advise you to follow up the sources to your own satisfaction. If you are aware of an inaccuracy in our text please do not hesitate to notify us through our Contact page.