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John White Esquire

Born, the son of a pendicler, at Pitmiddle in the Carse of Gowrie, John White established, what was to become, a long-standing grocery business in Dundee. His later years witnessed a return to his beloved homeland near Kinnaird.

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Personal details and history

Full name

John White

Date of birth


Place of birth

Pitmiddle, Kinnaird, Perthshire[1][2]



Marital status

Married[3] - wed on 01-12-1857

Name of spouse

Lilias Maxwell Dorward[3]


Mary (1858): George (1860): John (1864): Lilias Elizabeth (1866): Charles Duncan (1869): Ann Isabella (1871): James Johnstone (1873): Alexander Roberston (1875)[4]

Home address

Pre 1863 addresses include:

36 South Tay Street (1856)[5]

23 Hawkhill (1857)[3]

3 Craig Street[6]


5 Brown Street (1861-1891)[2][7]

Age at death:

82 years[8]

Place of death:

Guardswell, Kinnaird, Perthshire[8]

Date of death:



Western Cemetery - Reg Vol 7. Reg No 3054. Comp 6.[9]

Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers

Religious affiliation

Free Church - according to John White's marriage record[3]

Political affiliation


Clubs / societies

Dundee Grocers' Benevolent Society - President[10]

Public offices

Parish Council of Kinnaird - re-elected President[11]

Related subscribers

Career and worklife


General Grocer[2]



Place of work

John White, Family Grocer & Wine Merchant[12]

Work address

33 West Port[13][14]

Career to date:

The first listing for John White, as a grocer, appeared the Dundee Directory for 1856.[5] At the time, he would have been approximately 23 years of age.[1] The location of his premises was at 4 Hawkhill,[5] a stone's throw from where he later continued his business at 33 West Port.[13] It would seem that up to the point of having pledged his subscription to the Albert Institute, John White's career took one direction - that of a grocer and spirit dealer.

More information

John White was born the son of John White, a pendicler, and his wife, Elizabeth Gray, at Pitmiddle in 1833.[1]

John White married Lilias Maxwell Dorward in 1857[3] and fathered eight children in total. The 1861 census indicated that Lilias, aged 24 and John, aged 27, were living at 5 Brown Street with their two children, Mary aged 2 and George aged 1.[2] By the 1871 census, a further four children were listed – John, Lilias, Charles and Annie.[15] By 1881, another two children, James and Alexander, were recorded.[16]

There is no indication to confirm what drew John White and his interest towards Dundee and the grocery trade. What is clear is that he must have possessed a good business acumen, with an ability to make shrewd decisions.

He ultimately ran a grocer’s business which operated from 33 West Port and regularly advertised in the local press, for example in the Dundee Advertiser of 1863.[17]

From small beginnings as a grocer on the Hawkhill, John White expanded to become a Grocer, Tea and Wine Merchant, at a location close to a very salubrious area of the town, with South Tay Street, Park Place, and the residences on the south side of the Hawkhill on his doorstep.

Seven years after the death of his wife, Lilias, aged 44 years, in 1880,[18] John White, although retaining his business in Dundee, took out a lease near his boyhood home.

‘The farm of Guardswell, prettily situated on the braes of the Carse, in the parish of Kinnaird, presently in the occupancy of Mr Patrick Constable, Baledgarno, has been let on lease to Mr John White, grocer, Dundee, who at present rents the house.

This is one of the moderate-sized and easily managed farms for which there is a demand, though at much less rents than formerly.’[19]

So, while retaining his address at 5 Brown Street, Dundee, John White also maintained a country residence for himself and his family.

At the time of his own death in 1916,[8] John White had extended his interest in farming pursuits. By then, he owned a half share in the farm of Guardswell, a half share in the farm of Outfield and a third share of another neighbouring farm of Moncur.[8]

After his death, the transfer of his grocer’s certificate was made over to his eldest son, George;

‘The grocer’s certificate at 33 West Port, formerly held by his father was transferred to George White, Guardswell, Inchture.’[20]

As to what became of John White’s farming interests, his concerns were put up for sale in 1917, the year after his death;

‘Guardswell Farm and Outfield, the latter including the village of Pitmiddle and the ground let as holdings to the villagers, fetched £4,100 and £4,00 respectively.’[21]



  1. Old Parish Registers. Kinnaird. Births. (1833). 368/ 40 11. ScotlandsPeople website.
  2. Census Returns. Dundee. (1861). 282/2 20/19. ScotlandsPeople website.
  3. Statutory Registers. Forgan. Marriages. (1857). 431/ 6. ScotlandsPeople website.
  4. Scotland Selected Births. -  Accessed via Ancestry website.
  5. Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1856-57. p.152. National Library of Scotland.
  6. Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1858-59. p.201. National Library of Scotland website.
  7. Census Returns. Dundee. (1891). 282/2 13/19. ScotlandsPeople website.
  8. Statutory Registers. Kinnaird. Deaths. (1916). 368/ 2. ScotlandsPeople website.
  9. Western Cemetery Burial Lair Records. Friends of Dundee City Archives website.
  10. Dundee Advertiser. 4 February 1869. p.3. British Newspaper Archive website.
  11. Dundee Advertiser. 19 December 1899. p.6. British Newspaper Archive website.
  12. Dundee Courier. 23 December 1861. p.1. British Newspaper Archive website.
  13. Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1861-62. p.221. National Library of Scotland website.
  14. Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1864-65. p.199. National Library of Scotland website.
  15. Census Returns. Dundee. (1871). 282/2 12/ 7. ScotlandsPeople website.
  16. Census Returns. Dundee. (1881). 282/2 13/ 23. ScotlandsPeople website.
  17. Dundee Advertiser. 18 December 1863. p.2. British Newspaper Archive website.
  18. Statutory Registers. Dundee. Deaths. (1880). 282/2 362. ScotlandsPeople website.
  19. Dundee Advertiser. 15 April 1887. p.6. British Newspaper Archive website.
  20. Dundee Courier. 12 April 1916. p.4. British Newspaper Archive website.
  21. Perthshire Advertiser. 12 December 1917. p.4. British Newspaper Archive website.

The information above about John White 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.