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Matthew Blackie Esquire

Matthew Blackie was a flax-dresser, merchant, auctioneer and commission agent in Dundee. He was for a time co-owner (and sometime owner) of Tayport Spinning Mill. He did not take part in public life except as an active Free Church member.

Subscription value in 1863:


Relative to inflation up to 2024:


Relative to income compared to 2024:


Personal details and history

Full name

Matthew Blackie

Date of birth

circa 1827

Place of birth




Marital status


Name of spouse

Margaret Matthew[2]


Thomas William;[3] Elizabeth:[4] Matthew:[5] William Matthew;[1] Margaret;[6] Jane Lowden;[1]James Renny;[7] Agnes Glenday;[1] Georgina Anderson;[1] Alice;[1] Alexander:[8]

Home address

Clepington Feus
Dundee 1856-1857[9]

Clepington Cottage
Dundee 1858-1860[10]

16 Dallfield Walk
Dundee 1861[11]

20 Westfield Place
Dundee 1864-68[12]

Ferry Port on Craig (i.e. Tayport) appears to have become his home town from 1869 onwards, moving between a number of properties as a tenant occupier. In 1875 residing at "Tay Cliff," Ferry Port on Craig,[13] and in 1885 at a "house and garden" in Albert Street, Ferry Port on Craig.[14] In 1894-95, he was residing in Castle Street, Ferry Port on Craig.[15]

Age at death:

68 years[16]

Place of death:

Castle Street, Ferry-Port-on-Craig[17]

Date of death:



Dundee Western Cemetery[18]

Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers

Religious affiliation

Free Church[17] While living in Dundee, Matthew Blackie was precentor in the Hilltown Free Church:[19] Became an elder of the Free Church in Tayport on 6 June 1873:[19]

Political affiliation

None known

Clubs / societies

Baltic Reading-Room Committee Member:[20] Tayport, Parochial Board Deputy Chairman:[21] Member of Tayport School Board:[22]

Public offices

None known

Related subscribers

  • Subscriber 81 – Alexander Gibb merchant, Cowgate  – possible related subscriber to Matthew Blackie of ‘Blackie & Gibb,’ Merchants, 14 Panmure Street, Dundee[23]

Career and worklife


Flaxdresser, Merchant, Flaxspinner, Auctioneer and Commission Agent


Self-employed owner

Place of work

Blackie & Gibb[24]

Work address

George's Place
Union Street
Dundee 1855[9]

Coupar's Alley
16 Wellgate
Dundee 1861-64[11]

Blackie & Gibb, Merchants
Smith's Building
14 Panmure Street
Dundee 1867-68[24]

10 Panmure Street
Dundee 1869-1870[25]

Ritchie and Blackie(Flax and Jute Spinners)
10 Panmure Street
Dundee 1874-76[26]

Matthew Blackie, Commission Merchant and Auctioneer
123 Murraygate

Career to date:

Matthew Blackie began his working life, as his father Thomas had done, as a flaxdresser. He appeared as such in the Dundee Postal Directories from 1853 until 1857.[28] Thereafter, from 1858 up to the time when he pledged his subscription for the building of the Albert Institute, he was listed aa a merchant.[29] Subsequently, he entered into partnership with Alexander Gibb, trading as Messrs Blackie & Gibb.

More information

 1868  Dissolution of Blackie and Gibb Partnership:

“The copartnery business hitherto carried on by Messers M. Blackie and A. Gibb, sole partners thereof, as spinners and merchants at Dundee and Tayport, under the firm Blackie & Gibb has been dissolved by mutual consent. Matthew Blackie is authorised to uplift and discharge all debts due to the late firm, and all debts due by said firm will be paid to him.”[30]

1876  Stoppage of Works at Tayport:

“On Thursday evening the flax, tow, and jute spinning mill at Tayport, belonging to Messrs Ritchie & Blackie, was closed, owing to the bad state of trade. About 250 hands were employed at the works, and are now going idle.”[31]

1877  Sale of Tayport Works:

“Yesterday the spinning mill at Tayport known as “The Tayport Works,” and all the steam-engines, machinery, etc., in the works together with the vacant ground, the manager’s cottage, and the block of houses consisting of 20 two-roomed dwelling houses for millworkers, lately occupied by Messrs Ritchie & Blackie, were sold in Lamb’s Hotel to Mr D. Ritchie, one of the former proprietors, at the upset price of £15,200 (nominal value at 2018: Relative to income – £12,160,000).”[32]

1877  Re-opening of Tayport Spinning Mill:

” The large spinning mill known by the name the Tayport Works, which has been standing idle for the last five months, commenced working operations this morning on short time, but will go on full time when trade gets brisker.”[33]

1895  Obituary: 

“Mr Blackie was born in Dundee. He was in Blairgowrie for a number of years, and then returned the city. When the flax trade was flourishing, about the year 1866, he went to Tayport, and in partnership with Mr Gibb built the large mill at the east end of the town, now known as the Tayport Spinning Company’s Works. Mr Gibb shortly afterwards retired, and Mr Blackie, after continuing the business for a time, was joined by Mr Ritchie. The works were carried on by them until 1876, when Mr Blackie left the business, which was continued by Mr Ritchie until 1882, when it again changed hands. Mr Blackie set up as an auctioneer and commission agent in Dundee, in which he was engaged until his attack of paralysis. Being one of the best judges of jute, his services were in much request in that respect. Mr Blackie was a Free Churchman, and when in Dundee was precentor for some time in Hilltown Free Church. He was ordained elder in the Free Church, Tayport, in June 1875, and always took a great interest in the welfare of the congregation. Being of quiet and amiable disposition; he never took any prominent part in public affairs. He, however, sat for some time on the School Board, and was one of the ratepayers’ representatives on the Parochial Board for some years.  …His wife died about 18 months ago (1893), and he leaves two sons and three daughters, all grown up. The deceased was well known and much respected, and much sympathy is expressed for the family.[17]

Note: the name Blackie was also corrupted to Blakie or Blaikie when recorded


  1. 1881 Census. Census (LDS) ref: 273587. ScotlandsPeople website.
  2. Old Parish Registers. Dundee. Marriages. 282/ 230 405. ScotlandsPeople website.
  3. Other Church Registers. Dundee Hilltown Free Church. 15th March 1853. ScotlandsPeople website.
  4. Census Records. Dundee. 1861. Ancestry website.
  5. Statutory Registers. Rattray. Deaths. 1859. 389/ 26. ScotlandsPeople website.
  6. Dundee, Perth, Forfar and Fife People's Journal. 30th November 1861. British Newspaper Archive website.
  7. Dundee Courier & Argus. 25th January 1866. British Newspaper Archive website.
  8. Census Records. Ferryport on Craig. 1881.
  9. Dundee Directory, 1856-59 and Valuation Rolls. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  10. Valuation Rolls, 1858-59. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  11. Dundee Directory, 1861-62. p.100 and p.117. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  12. Dundee Directory, 1867-68. p.100. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  13. Valuation Rolls 1875. VR010100021. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  14. Valuation Rolls 1885. VR010100031. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  15. Dundee Directory, 1894-95. Tayport Section. p.752. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  16. Statutory Registers. Ferryport on Craig. Deaths. 1895. 429/12. ScotlandsPeople website.
  17. Dundee Advertiser. 25th  March 1895. p.8. British Newspaper Archive website.
  18. Dundee Advertiser. 26th March 1895. p.8. British Newspaper Archive website.
  19. Dundee Courier, 25 March 1895. p.3. British Newspaper Archive website.
  20. Dundee Directory, 1856-57. p.30. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  21. Dundee Evening Telegraph. 12th August 1886. British Newspaper Archive website.
  22. Dundee Directory, 1878-79. p.533. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  23. Dundee Directory, 1867-68. p.131 and p.268. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  24. Dundee Directory, 1867-68. p.100 and p.268. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  25. Dundee Directory, 1869-70. p.101 and Dundee Directory, 1871-72.  p.13. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  26. Dundee Directory, 1874-75. p.404. and Dundee Directory, 1876. p.101. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  27. Dundee Directory, 1878-79. p.108. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  28. Dundee Directory, 1853-54. p.137. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  29. Dundee Directory, 1861-62. p.239. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  30. Northern Warder. 22nd September 1868. p.7. British Newspaper Archive website.
  31. Dundee Courier & Argus. Saturday 30th September 1876. British Newspaper Archive website.
  32. Dundee Courier & Argus. Saturday 3rd February 1877. British Newspaper Archive website.
  33. Dundee Evening Telegraph. Friday 23rd March 1877. British Newspaper Archive website.


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