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Messrs Mather & Chalmers

James Mather and William Chalmers, both born in Dundee, were managers of Malcolm and Ogilvie and Baxter Brothers jute mills respectively before taking over the Scouringburn Mill in 1863 to c1879.

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Details and history

Name of company:

Messrs Mather & Chalmers

Company address:

Scouringburn Mill/Burnside Works
Miln's East Wynd

Number of employees:

Approx 200

Nature of business:




Date ceased trading:



In 1821 the Scouringburn Mill was a small mill with two hand loom rooms and by 1871 it had grown into a four storey building.[1]

From 1863 through to 1876 the owners were James Mather and William Chalmers.[2]

In the 1861 Scottish census James Mather, aged 32, was listed as living in Mather Lands with his wife Isabella (Skinner), three sons, William, James and John, aged 8, 4 and 1 respectively and his daughter Isabella aged 6. James was born in Arbirlot, Forfarshire, 22 October 1828, the son of William Mather and Ann Forbes[3] and his wife Isabella in Kingskettle in Fife[4]. He married Isabella, maiden name Skinner, 15 December 1851.[5]. In the US Federal Census of 1880 he was listed as a widower and living in Cedar, Martin, Minnesota[6]. James died in Seattle, Washington, 8 July 1905, aged 78.[7].

In the 1861 Scottish cenus William Chalmers, aged 36, was listed as living at 34 Cotton Road with his wife Jessie, three daughters Elizabeth, Helen and Isabella aged 8, 4 and 2 years respectively and his two sons James aged 6 and John aged 8 months. William was born in Dundee, 23 February 1825, the son of James Chalmers and Susan Scott[8] and his wife Jessie in Strathmartine.[9]. He married Jessie, maiden name Simpson, 4 December 1851.[10]

James was formerly manager at Messers Malcolm & Ogilvie’s Lower Dens Mill[11] while William was formerly manager at Messers Baxter Bros & Co, Lower Dens Mills[12]. Both left these positions to open ‘Mathers and Chalmers’ in 1863.[11][12]

In December 1867 a fire started in the premises at Scouringburn Mill. This led to the destruction of the Old Mill Building situated between East and West Miln’s Wynd. The estimated cost at the time was £14 – 15,000 along with the loss of employment for an estimated 150 workers.[13]

The Scouringburn Works were listed under Mather and Chalmers in the Dundee Directory, 1864-65[2] through to 1876. In the 1876-77 Dundee Directory the listing changes to William Chalmers and Son[14] and in the 1880-81 Directory the listing for Scouringburn Works changes to Hutchison and Gray[15]. In May 1881 there was a fire in the works[16] and shortly after local newspaper reports of Hutchison and Gray’s bankruptcy.[17]

Both men were elected as members to the Liff and Benvie Parochial Board in 1871[18] and William Chalmers was elected Councillor in Dundee for the second ward in 1868.[19]


  1. Watson, Mark. (1990) Jute and Flax Mills in Dundee. Tayport: Hutton Press Ltd. p. 224.
  2. Dundee Directory 1864-65. National Library of Scotland website.
  3. Scotland Select Births and Baptisms 1564-1950.
  4. 1861 Census Scotland. Dundee. 282/1 27/29. Scotlands People website.
  5. Scotland Select Marriages 1561-1910.
  6. 1880 US Federal Census. Cedar, Martin, Minnesota. Roll: 626; Page: 188A; Enumeration District: 153.
  7. Washington Death Records 1883-1960.
  8. Scotland Select Births and Baptisms 1564-1950.
  9. 1861 Census Scotland, Dundee. 282/1  24/52. Scotlands People website.
  10. Old Parish Records. Mains and Strathmartine. Marriage. 4 December 1851. 307/60 139. Scotlands people website.
  11. Dundee People's Journal, 7 February 1863, p.5. British Newspaper Archive website.
  12. Dundee Advertiser, 2 February 1863, p.2. British Newspaper Archive website.
  13. Dundee Advertiser, 12 December 1867, p.3. British Newspaper Archive website.
  14. Dundee Directory 1876-77. National Library of Scotland website.
  15. Dundee Directory 1880-81. National Library of Scotland website.
  16. Dundee Evening Telegraph, 31 May 1881, p.4. British Newspaper Archive website.
  17. Dundee Courier, 26 July 1881, p.3. British Newspaper Archive
  18. Dundee Courier, Wednesday, 2 August 1871, p.4. British Newspaper Archive website.
  19. Dundee Courier, 25 November 1868. British Newspaper archive 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.