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Messrs. John & A. Mills

This long established family run linen manufacturing company occupied premises in the Cowgate from at least the 1830s. The two original partners both died in the early 1860s, but continued from the same premises under their younger brother.

Subscription value in 1863:


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Details and history

Name of company:

Messrs. John & A. Mills

Company address:

20 Cowgate, Dundee, c.1834-1838.[1]
41 Cowgate, Dundee, c.1842-1847.[2]
39 Cowgate, Dundee, c.1850-1868.[3]
47 Cowgate, Dundee, c.1869-1879.[4]

Number of employees:


Nature of business:

Linen manufacturers



Date ceased trading:


Related Subscribers

Subscriber no.4 – George Armitstead – fellow member of Monthly Tract Society with James Mills.



The two original partners, John and Alexander Mills, both appear in the Dundee Directories as manufacturers from as early as 1834. It is possible that they were also the John and Alexander Miln/Milne who appeared in the directories as manufacturers in Wellgate as early as 1818, although the fact that Alexander was still a teenager makes this questionable.

(Note: In the baptismal and marriage registers the family name is given as Miln, or Milne.  In the death entries it is Mills, as it appears in other sources such as the Dundee Directories.)

John Mills

Born 20 October 1795, son of Robert Milne, weaver, and Elspeth* Herald,[6] he is probably the John Mills who is listed along with Alexander in the Dundee Directory for 1834 as a manufacturer at 20 Cowgate. By 1840, John and Alexander have premises at 39/41 Cowgate and this continues as their business address. John served on the weekly committee of Dundee Royal Infirmary for a short time.[7] He was also a director of the Monthly Tract Society.[8]

The home address of John and Alexander was 13 Wellington Street. John was unmarried and died 18 August 1861 as the result of an accident at Carnoustie railway station.[9][10][11]

* This is her name as given in the baptismal register entry for John.  Other register entries record her name as Euphan.

Alexander Mills

Born 6 January 1801, son of Robert Miln, manufacturer, and Euphan Herald, he married Ann Findlay.[12][13] For much of his working life he lived at the same address at Wellington Street, Forebank, as his brother, John.  Ann died on 17 April 1842 and was buried in the New Howff  burial ground, Constitution Road.[14] Alexander Mills was a house visitor on behalf of Dundee Royal Infirmary about the same time, perhaps inspired by his wife’s illness and death.[15] John lived in Victoria Street, c.1846-1850, but was back at 13 Wellington Street by 1853. Alexander died at 13 Wellington Street on 14 March 1863.[13]  He was blind by 1861 according to the census.[16]

James Mills

Around the time of the deaths of John and Alexander the Dundee Directories indicate that another brother, James, was in effect running the company. He continued to do so until the business ceased trading, c.1878.[5]

James was born 10 January 1806, the son of Robert Miln, weaver, and Euphan Herald.[17]  He is in the directory as a manufacturer at the same addresses as his brothers, 39 Cowgate and 13 Wellington Street, in 1850,[7] but is later at the Ladywell Factory and living at 18 Forebank Road.[18] By 1856 he was back at 13 Wellington Street and was now described as being part of the firm of John & A. Mills, merchants and manufacturers, 39 Cowgate.[19]

James was on the committee of the Monthly Tract Society for many years, latterly acting as its treasurer.[20] He also became a house visitor for Dundee Royal Infirmary, as well as serving on its weekly committee alongside his brother, John, for a short time.[7] He was also a director of the Watt Institution.[18] He may have been the James Mills who was Dundee Bowling Club’s champion in 1853[18] and subsequently served on its committee.[21] At the time of the 1861 census, James, unmarried, was living with his brothers at 13 Wellington Street and is described as a linen manufacturer.[16] The address later changed to 11 Wellington Street, but was probably the same house.[4]

James went on to be a member of Dundee Parochial Board, c.1864-1872, serving on a number of its committees;[22] he was a director of the Royal Orphan Institution, c.1867-1878[23] and he served again on the committee of Dundee Royal Infirmary, c.1874-1875.[24] James died on 13 September 1878, aged 72, and with his death the company ceased to exist.[25]



  1. Dundee Directories, 1834-1838. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  2. Dundee Directories, 1842-1847. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  3. Dundee Directories, 1850-1868. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  4. Dundee Directories, 1869-1879. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  5. Dundee Directory, 1878-79. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  6. Old Parish Records. Birth. 1795. Dundee. 282/80 64. ScotlandsPeople website.
  7. Dundee Directory, 1850. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  8. Dundee Directory, 1858-59. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  9. Statutory Registers. Death. 1861. Panbride. 316/21. ScotlandsPeople website.
  10. Register of Corrected Entries. Panbride. 23 August, 1861. 316/00 0011. ScotlandsPeople website.
  11. Report of accident in Dundee Courier, 19 Aug 1861. British Newspaper Archive website.
  12. Old Parish Records. Births. 1801. Dundee. 282/80 452. ScotlandsPeople website.
  13. Statutory Registers. Death. 1863. 1st District, Burgh of Dundee. ScotlandsPeople website.
  14. Old Parish Records. Death. 1842. Dundee. 282/270 293. ScotlandsPeople website.
  15. Dundee Directory, 1842-43. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  16. 1861 Census Scotland. Dundee. 282/124/22. ScotlandsPeople website.
  17. Old Parish Records. Birth. 1806. Dundee. 282/90/170. ScotlandsPeople website.
  18. Dundee Directory, 1853-54. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  19. Dundee Directory, 1856-57. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  20. Dundee Directories, 1846-1868. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  21. Dundee Directories, 1856-57 and 1861-62. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  22. Dundee Directories, 1864-1872. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  23. Dundee Directories, 1867-1878. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  24. Dundee Directory, 1874-75. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  25. Statutory Registers. St. Andrew, Dundee. 13 September 1878. 282/4 794. ScotlandsPeople website.

The information above about 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.