Patrick Watson Esquire
Patrick Watson, son of a Dundee merchant, was a successful draper and silk mercer, with premises on the High Street in Dundee. He spent his retirement living in Clifton on the outskirts of Bristol.
Subscription value in 1863:
Relative to inflation up to 2023:
Relative to income compared to 2023:
Personal details and history
Date of birth
Name of spouse
Margaret (b.1835): Agnes (b.1837): Euphemia (b.1839): James (b.1841): Andrew (b.1843): Patrick (b.1849):
Age at death:
Place of death:
Tower Lease, Sneyd Park, Clifton, Near Bristol
Constitution Road Cemetery
Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers
Liberal - A member of the committee for the return of Sir John Ogilvy as MP for Dundee.
Clubs / societies
Temperance Society - Vice President: Working Men's Coffee and Newsroom - A director: Industrial Schools Society - Treasurer: Model Lodging House Association - A committee member: Dundee Royal Infirmary - Chairman of the weekly committee: Royal Orphan Institute - Mrs Watson listed as a 'Lady Governess':
Town Councillor. c.1869-70:
Career and worklife
Silk Mercers and Drapers
Place of work
Watson & Henderson
65 High Street
Career to date:
Patrick Watson succeeded to the drapery business established in 1790 by his father, James Watson, and carried it on with great success. There are references in the early Dundee directories to James Watson, draper, with premises in the High Street. It would appear from the entries in the directories that Patrick Watson worked alongside his father, effectively as partner, at least as early as 1834, the year he was married, and that he became sole owner by 1837. Advertisements of the time indicated that Patrick Watson employed sales persons and apprentices. He assumed Alexander Henderson, who had been one of his employees for 14 years, as a partner in 1860. The co-partnery of 'Watson & Henderson' was dissolved in 1868, on Patrick Watson's retirement.
Patrick Watson was born to James Watson, a merchant, and Margaret Hardie in 1809. In the year he was born, his father was listed in the Dundee Directory as having been a haberdasher and clothier. His premises were stated as having been on the east side of New Inn Entry on the High Street.
It would appear from Directory entries that Patrick was employed within his father’s business by the early 1830s and probably earlier, although he would not necessarily then have merited an entry. In his mid 20s, Patrick married Margaret Low, the daughter of Andrew Low, shipowner, on 1 September 1834, almost a year after the death of his mother, Margaret Hardie in 1833.
Settling into married life while managing a successful business, the Watsons became parents to 6 children, although James, Euphemia and Andrew predeceased their father.
Patrick Watson and his wife were Congregationalists and were to be found listed in the membership records of the Congregational churches in Dundee. Patrick was enrolled as a member of Ward Chapel on 10th February 1831. His sister, Mrs (Christiana) Thow, was already a member. Christiana, married Thomas Thow, writer in Dundee, on 7 Dec 1830. Patrick and Margaret transferred to Panmure Street Chapel when it opened in 1853. It was noted that they removed to Bristol in 1876. Patrick Watson was adhered to the ‘Sabbath Alliance,’ declaring his allegiance to the ‘obligation of keeping the Sabbath and the benefits which would result from its due observance and to secure for all classes the undisturbed possession of that day.’
Patrick Watson was reported to have been ‘one of the originators of the Industrial Schools in Dundee in 1846.’ It was reported that:
‘Mr Watson, until he left town to reside in England, took a deep practical interest in the everyday work of the institution and, from its establishment (1846) to 1864, when the schools were entirely dependent for support on voluntary subscriptions, acted as Honorary Treasurer. In this capacity, Mr Watson rendered valuable services to the society, not only by the attention of his duties to his office, but also by his assiduity in keeping its claims and usefulness before the community. Up to his death, Mr Watson manifested his unabated interest in the schools, by acting as a Trustee and contributing regularly and generously towards their support.’
It was further claimed that Patrick Watson had induced Lord Kinnaird and others to join him in establishing the first Industrial Schools of any note in Scotland. The first Model Lodging Houses in Scotland, Refuges for Fallen Women, Coffee Rooms, a Training Ship and Temperance Movements were specially his work from the mid 1840s onwards. It was said that ‘there was no more ardent advocate for the abolition of Government regulations of vice.’
It would appear from press reports and advertisements that Patrick Watson spent a great deal of time giving public lectures against the iniquities of the population at large, while extolling the virtues of living by God’s word, temperance and self respect. However, Patrick Watson’s public face as a Christian philanthropist was countered in one article which professed him, at times, to be ‘righteous overmuch’ – a damning indictment perhaps.
The Dundee Directories indicated that Alexander Henderson was assumed as a partner in 1860, having been employed by Patrick Watson for almost 14 years. Their business was titled ‘Watson and Henderson.’ Patrick Watson ceased to have an active interest in the business by 1868, at which time it became known as ‘Henderson and Lowson,’ still with premises in the High Street.
Mr and Mrs Watson were living in Howe Street, Edinburgh, at the time of the 1871 census although he retained his house at 162 Nethergate and remained on the roll of Panmure Street Chapel until leaving for Bristol in 1876. By 1881, Patrick Watson was described as being a ‘Retired Silk Mercer,’ living at Tower Leaze, Westbury on Trym, Gloucestershire.
After his death, Patrick Watson’s coffin was transported by train from England to the Caledonian Railway Station in Union Street, Dundee, his place of birth. At 3 pm, the mourners congregated at the station from where they followed the hearse, drawn by 4 horses and accompanied by about a dozen mourning coaches. They proceeded by Union Street, Nethergate, High Street, Reform Street and Euclid Street to Constitution Road Cemetery. The funeral was attended by many leading and influential citizens.
- Old Parish Registers. Dundee. Births. (1809). 282/ 100 99. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Census Records. Edinburgh. (1871). 685/2 51/20. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Old Parish Registers. Dundee. Marriages. (1834). 282/ 220 166. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Directory, 1837-38. p.84. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Dundee Directory, 1845. p.97. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Dundee Directory, 1850. p.170. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Legal Records. Wills and Testaments. Probate of Will and Codicil. Non Scottish Court. (1886). SC70/ 6/ 31. ScotlandsPeople website.
-  Dundee Year Book, 1886. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Dundee Courier. 12 June 1886. p.2. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Ward Chapel Congregational Church membership rolls. CH14/4/34, 35, 59. Dundee City Archives.
- Panmure Street Congregational Church membership roll. CH14/12/19. Dundee City Archives.
- Dundee, Perth & Cupar Advertiser. 20 March 1857. p.1. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Western Daily Press. 14 June 1886. p.3. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Dundee Evening Telegraph. 7 July 1886. p.2. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Dundee Directory, 1869-70. p.1. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Dundee Courier. 4 March 1868. p.1. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Dundee Directory, 1861-62. p.221. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Dundee Directory, 1829-30. p.54. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Dundee Directory, 1834. p52. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Dundee, Perth & Cupar Advertiser. 16 March 1860. p.1. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Dundee Directory, 1809. p.74. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Mitchell, Alison. (ed). Monumental Inscriptions, pre 1855. Volume 4. p.109. Scottish Genealogical Society.
- Dundee Directory, 1845. p.96. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Legal Records. Wills and Testaments. Dundee Sheriff Court. (1846). SC45/ 31/ 7. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Old Parish Registers. Dundee. Marriages. (1830). 282/ 220 33. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Courier. 19 January 1848. p.3. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Dundee Advertiser. 17 May 1871. p.2. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Census Records. Westbury on Trym. (1881). Class: RG11; Piece: 2504; Folio: 58; Page: 23; GSU roll: 1341604. Ancestry website.
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