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John Colville Esquire

Colville worked for the same bank, in the same street, all his life. He was an only child, who never married and so his family died out on his death. Without his charitable donations, he might never have been remembered.

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Personal details and history

Full name

John Colville

Date of birth


Place of birth




Marital status


Name of spouse

Not applicable


None known

Home address


Colville's Land, Turnpike Road, Lochee 1851
High Street Lochee 1861
2 Whorter Bank Lochee 1881


10 Springfield
Dundee 1901

Age at death:

80 years[2]

Place of death:

10 Springfield, Dundee[2]

Date of death:




Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers

Religious affiliation

Member Lochee East United Free Church[4]

Political affiliation


Clubs / societies


Public offices


Related subscribers

None known, but he worked next door to James Spence and Company and Shiell & Small were directly across the road.

Career and worklife





Place of work

National Bank of Scotland Branch Office

Work address

National Bank of Scotland Branch Office
Reform Street

Career to date:

John Colville worked for the National Bank, in its new offices, in Reform Street, Dundee. He began his working life there in his mid twenties and by his thirties was listed as an accountant there.[3]

More information

John Colville was born in Lochee to John Colville, mason and his wife, Grace Thomson. John Colville senior died in 1836,[5] when his son was only five years old.[1]

Despite losing her husband so young, Grace Colville did not go out to work. The 1841 census gives her occupation as “Independent”[6] and the 1851 census “Proprietor of Houses.”[7] Grace’s death record lists her husband’s occupation as ‘mason’s overseer[8] while her father’s occupation was as a ‘mason – journeyman.’[8] From later Valuation Rolls, it would seem her living came from rented properties in the Lochee area, possibly built by her father as speculative building projects.

John Colville, an only child, lived with his mother until she died in 1881. Thereafter, he lived with only a housekeeper.

An article, praising his long term office  at his church, gives an idea of what John Colville was like:

“A financier, he belongs to the school of Scottish bankers whose helpfulness laid the foundation of Scottish prosperity. His banking experiences have not dulled his cheery optimism, and to-day he is as alert as in the years of the Henderson regime at the National Bank. Mr Colville lives a life at once strenuous and simple. He is in Reform Street in the early morning hours before the young who are something in the city are moving office wards. When his banking day ends I have never been able to discover, and as an office-bearer and worker he has every devotion to every duty he  undertakes. I have a theory that the pawky humour with which Mr Colville is blessed has proved the elixir vitae to the banker. That he retains his youthfulness apparent, and with his many friends I hope to witness the celebration of the Colville Diamond jubilee.”[4]

Colville worked for the the National Bank throughout his working life. He was able to afford to retire, due to a pension from his long time employer and a number of sound investments, to the extent that when he died, he left the sum of £9927 1 1, but no will.[9] At the time of his death he had many shares, for example in the:

  • Scottish Reversionary Company – £2812.10
  • The steamship Den of Ogil Company Ltd – £120
  • The Northern American Trust Company Ltd – £1004
  • Lindsay and Low Ltd – £105 12 6
  • The British Investment Trust Ltd – £614 8
  • The National Bank of Scotland – £400[9]

He had many substantial outstanding loans to individuals[9] and forty odd cheques uncashed[9] that were made payable to him. He also owned properties at:

  • 4, 8, 10, 12, 14 St Ann Street, Lochee[9]
  • 2 Whorterbank, Lochee[9]
  • House and Shop at 1 High Street, Lochee (formerly known as ‘Colville’s Land’)[9]

It is notable that he owned all the even numbers of the street, but that, it would seem, is because the other side was not built. “The West side is open and unenclosed land; but on the East are some very neat cottages one and two storeys high with small gardens &c. attached.”[10] None of the properties would have fetched a great deal of rent, although they would have produced a steady income.

Perhaps John Colville saw the Albert Institute as a wise investment rather than a worthy cause. One thing is for sure, his life might well have been forgotten were it not for his taking shares in that building.


  1. 1831 Colville, John (Old Parish Registers. Births. (1831). 301/ 40 22. Liff, Benvie and Invergowrie) p.22 of 429. ScotlandsPeople website.
  2. 1911 Colville, John (Statutory Registers. Dundee. Deaths. (1911). 282/1 354). ScotlandsPeople website.
  3. Dundee Postal Directory, 1861-62. p.17. National Library of Scotland website.
  4. Dundee Evening Telegraph. Thursday, 09 April 1908. p.8. British Library Board. British Newspapers Archive website.
  5. Legal Records. Wills and Testaments. Dundee Sheriff Court. (1837). SC45/ 3/ 3. ScotlandsPeople website.
  6. 1841 Census. Scotland. Parish: Liff, Benvie and Invergowrie. ED 130 p.5. Line 890. Ancestry website.
  7. Parish: Liff and Benvie; ED: 103; Page: 35; Line: 1; Roll: CSSCT1851_63; Year: 1851. Ancestry website.
  8. Colville, Grace. (Statutory Registers. Deaths. (1881). 282/5 1). ScotlandsPeople website.
  9. 1912 Colville, John (Wills and Testaments. Reference SC45/31/70. Dundee Sheriff Court) Image 279 Last image 289. ScotlandsPeople website.
  10. Records Ordnance Survey. Name Books Forfarshire (Angus) OS Name Books, 1857-1861 Forfar (Angus) volume 19 OS1/14/19/37, Scotlandsplaces website.

The information above about John Colville 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.