James Paterson Esquire
James Paterson was a wealthy manufacturer, the owner of Heathfield Works, Hawkhill, which specialised in the production of jute carpeting. He never married and bought the estate of Kinnettles, near Forfar, where he built a 'splendid mansion.'
Subscription value in 1863:
Relative to inflation up to 2021:
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Personal details and history
Date of birth
Place of birth
Inverarity, near Forfar.
Name of spouse
40 Magdalen Yard Road, Dundee (1867-1882);
Also Kinnettles House, near Forfar (from 1864, see below)
Age at death:
Place of death:
40 Magdalen Yard Road, Dundee
Date of death:
Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers
Free Church of Scotland, Old St Paul's Church, Nethergate, Dundee
Clubs / societies
Dundee Chamber of Commerce: elected president in 1870.
Career and worklife
Owner, sole partner in jute factory
Place of work
Heathfield Works and Coldside Works, Dundee.
James Paterson & Co., Heathfield Works, Hawkhill, Dundee.
Career to date:
In 1838, James Paterson began his career as a clerk with Alexander White, a Dundee merchant, and rose to become confidential clerk of Kinmond and Hill. In 1850 he was taken into partnership with James Neish of the Laws, owner of Heathfield and Lawside works. When Neish retired in 1857, he became the sole partner in James Paterson & Co., Heathfield Works jute factory, Hawkhill, a position he retained up to his death in 1882.
James Paterson was born in 1819 in the village of Inverarity, near Forfar, the son of a farmer, and was educated at the village school. Despite this fairly humble start in life, his rise to wealthy factory owner and landowner suggests that he was a determined and talented individual. He secured a place in a Dundee merchant’s office, and rose to become a confidential clerk with Kinmond and Hill. In 1850, the prosperous merchant and manufacturer, James Neish, made him a partner in Heathfield Works. Neish was one of the first Dundee manufacturers to exploit the potential and market for jute goods, and the first to pioneer the production of jute carpeting. At Heathfield Works, they overcame technical difficulties and expanded into spinning, weaving and dying of jute carpets for the domestic and overseas markets. When Neish decided to retire early to his estate at the Laws in 1857, Paterson capitalised on the mid-century boom in the demand for jute products, in what was the greatest period of economic expansion in Dundee’s history. He extended Heathfield Works, and the manufacture of jute carpeting and backing for linoleum became its staple product.
By 1864, Paterson had acquired sufficient wealth to purchase a country estate at Kinnettles, near his childhood home, and eventually bought over part of the neighbouring estate of Invereighty. He is reported to have taken an intelligent interest in county affairs and the progress of the Liberal Party, but otherwise he was not active in municipal or political affairs. His main activities centred on running his business and the jute trade (he was elected president of Dundee Chamber of Commerce in 1870) and improving his estates. Paterson was a member of the Free Church of Scotland from its outset in 1843, a generous benefactor to and office bearer in Old St Paul’s Church, Nethergate, under its minister, the Rev Dr William Wilson. Paterson also served as a director of the Albert Institute Ltd and was on the Dundee board of the Scottish Equitable Life Assurance Society.
James Paterson never married and died in his Dundee home, aged 62, in 1882. His nephew, William Longair, and Thomas Cooper succeeded him as partners in Heathfield Works.
- Old Parish Records. Inverarity, Forfarshire. Birth. 25 June, 1819. 292/10 181. Scotland's People website.
- Obituary Book 1, copy obituaries of James Paterson of Kinnettles, pp.94-5; Dundee Year Book. 1882, p.86. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
- Statutory Registers. Dundee. Death. 17 March 1882. 282/1 100. Scotland's People website.
- Dundee Directory, 1864-65. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
- Obituary Book 1, copy obituary of James Neish of the Laws. d.22 May 1882. p.90.
- Lenman, Bruce, Lythe, Charlotte, and Gauldie, Enid, eds. (1969) Dundee and its Textile Industry (1850-1914). Dundee. Abertay Historical Society, no. 14. pp.25-30.
- Dundee Directory, 1867-68. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
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