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John Adam Esquire

John Adam, a founder and partner of Halket & Adam, Dundee, was a philanthropist, remembered for his outstanding work for Dundee Royal Infirmary and the Dundee Industrial Schools Society. He was also remarkable for his longevity, living to 94 years of age.

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Personal details and history

Full name

John Adam

Date of birth

1811 (est)

Place of birth

Liff, Invergowrie[1]



Marital status


Name of spouse

Helen Halket[2]


Helen; Wilhelmina and John;[3][4] Jessie, died 1877; Elizabeth, died 1885[5]

Home address

224 Perth Road


2 Magdalen Place

Age at death:

94 years[8]

Place of death:

2 Magdalen Place, Dundee[8]

Date of death:



Western Perth Road Cemetery Section VII 176B[9] (See photo)

Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers

Religious affiliation

Member of Ward Road Congregational Church[10]

Political affiliation

Not known

Clubs / societies

Keen angler[10]

Public offices

A member of the Police Commission: Chairman and Director of Dundee Royal Infirmary and thereafter Vice-President till his death:[10] Director of Dundee Industrial Schools Society and then Vice-President:[11]

Related subscribers

Career and worklife


Rope, Twine and Sail Manufacturers, also sacking[1]



Place of work

Halket & Adam, Dundee Rope Works[12]

Work address

25 Dock Street

226 Perth Road

Career to date:

Founder and partner in the firm of Halket & Adam, Dundee, Rope, Twine and Sail Manufacturers, also sacking[1]

More information

Business career

John Adam was one of the founding partners of Halket & Adam, set up in 1837.[10]

He was married to Helen Halket and, following the death of her brother, William Halket, in January 1848, she became owner of William’s half share in the business.[13] In 1851 the firm employed over 100 hands.[1]

In 1853 John Adam was made a Burgess of Dundee by virtue of his marriage to Helen, who was the daughter of William Halket (father of the aforesaid William Halket who died in 1848) a Burgess and manufacturer in Dundee.[14]

Halket & Adam were exhibitors at the International Exhibition of 1862.[15]

John Adam retired in 1876.[10]

In 1893, John Adam junior, the subscriber’s son, received a patent for a “continuous hanking machine for cord or ropes.[16]

Halket & Adam’s works suffered serious fires in 1899[17] and 1904[18] but were rebuilt.

Halket & Adam was incorporated under the Companies Acts in 1931, following sale to Mr J.P. Crystal, a partner of the firm of Robert Baxter & Co, sack and twine manufacturers, Dundee, on the death of John Adam junior.[19]

Dundee Industrial Schools Society

The Dundee Industrial Schools were set up to care for and educate poor and neglected children and prepare them for adult life. John Adam was a Director of Dundee Industrial Schools Society from a very early period in their history and as Convener of the Home Committee, he played a very important role in the management of both the schools and the home.[11] He was involved in improving education for ‘part- timers’ (children under the age of 13 years), especially those involved in the rope and twine trade.

The first school was opened in Dundee in 1846 between Tay Street and Temple Lane. It moved to new premises in Ward Road and in 1856 it was certified for use as a reformatory. The boys were removed to a bigger site, in less polluted environs, in Baldovan in 1878. In 1880 John Adam is recorded as having attended the first annual visit to the school in Baldovan.[20] Some limited accommodation was available for girls there from 1893 but most of the girls remained in Ward Road, before being relocated to bigger premises at Balgay Park in 1896.[21] John Adam laid the foundation stone for the Girls’ School at Balgay in 1896.[22]

He remained a generous donor to the Society up to the time of his death.[11]

Dundee Royal Infirmary

John Adam was a Director and then Chairman and thereafter Vice-President until his death of Dundee Royal Infirmary. In his obituary, the Dundee Evening Telegraph  noted that it was his connection with and work on behalf of the Dundee Royal Infirmary that “above all entitled him to the gratitude of Dundee citizens.”[10]


At the time of his death in 1905 John Adam, at 94, was one of the oldest citizens of Dundee. In his obituary, the Dundee Evening Telegraph commented that his reminiscences included the celebration of the victory at Waterloo and the times of King William IV[10]. He left his estate, then valued at about £34,000, to his family.[23][4][3]









  1. Census Records. Dundee. 1851. 282/83/21. p.21 of 30.
  2. 06/05/1848 Halket, Helen (Old Parish Registers Marriages 301/40 296 Liff, Benvie and Invergowrie), p.296 of 429.
  3. 1906 John Adam (Wills and testaments Reference SC45/31/58, Dundee Sheriff Court).
  4. 1906 John Adam (Wills and testaments Reference SC45/34/11, Dundee Sheriff Court).
  5. Gravestone of John Adam. Western Cemetery, Dundee. Section VII, Lair 176B
  6. Dundee Postal Directory, 1861-62.
  7. Dundee Postal Directory, 1867-68.
  8. Statutory Registers. Dundee. Deaths. 1905. 282/ 1 331.
  9. Dundee City Council Burial Records
  10. Dundee Evening Telegraph. Monday 30 October 1905. Obituary, p.3.
  11. Dundee Evening Telegraph. Wednesday 01 November 1905. Obituary p.5.
  12. Scottish Post Office Directory, Dundee Directory.
  13. 1852 Halket,William. (Wills and testaments Reference SC45/31/10. Dundee Sheriff Court).
  14. The Dundee Lockit Book. 5 December 1853. ID 8415.
  15. Dundee Advertiser. 19 November 1861. Dundee Exhibitors at the International Exhibition of 1862.
  16. Dundee Courier. 18 February 1893. New Patents.
  17. Dundee Courier. 1 April 1899. Alarming Fire in Dundee.
  18. Dundee Courier. 16 July 1904. Alarming Fire in Dundee.
  19. Dundee Courier. 25 June 1931. Sale of Dundee Ropeworks.
  20. Dundee Courier. 28 September 1880. Dundee Industrial Schools.
  21. Children's Homes Website: The Institutions that became home for Britain's children and young people.
  22. Dundee Courier. Monday 27 April 1896. Dundee Industrial Schools.
  23. London Evening Standard. Friday 1 June 1906. Recent Wills.

The information above about John Adam 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.