Peter Brown Rattray Esquire
Peter Rattray operated a slater's business, centrally located in the Meadows of Dundee, for a good number of years. Declared, eventually, to have been among the oldest in that trade in the town, he managed his business with great success.
Subscription value in 1863:
Relative to inflation up to 2023:
Relative to income compared to 2023:
Personal details and history
Peter Brown Rattray
Date of birth
Place of birth
Mill of Adamson, Liff & Benvie
Name of spouse
Thomas (born 1836): Elizabeth Mackie (born 1847):
Age at death:
Place of death:
Montpelier House, Dundee
Date of death:
Balgay Hill, Dundee
Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers
United Presbyterian Church - an assumption based on the fact that Peter Rattray bequeathed £50 to the United Presbyterian Church, Tay Square, in his will
Clubs / societies
Bonnetmaker Trade - admitted Free Master (1856) and elected Deacon (1858):
Subscriber 256 – James Whitton – named trustee and executor for the estate of Peter Rattray
Career and worklife
Place of work
Career to date:
Little is known of Peter Rattray's work life or occupation before 1845. It may be presumed that prior to that date, he was a journeyman slater, plying his trade. It is certain that he was in the trade at an early age, having declared himself as such at the time of his marriage in 1834, aged 23 years approximately. However, in 1845, he was listed as having been a partner in the firm of slaters named ' Fyffe & Rattray,' operating from the west side of the Meadows. The location of the business of 'Fyffe & Rattray' was more clearly defined in the Directory of 1846-47, when it was described as having been at the foot of Constitution Road. In March of 1847, a notice was placed in the local press, indicating the dissolution of the co-partnery of James Fyffe and Peter Rattray, with both partners intending to pursue their own businesses. By 1851, Peter Rattray, by then a master slater at Barrack Street, employed 7 men. It would seem that he continued to run his slater's business from the same area into the 1860s, having been listed at 14 Meadowside (1864-65) and 9 Ward Road (1867-68). He retired in 1873 when he sold his business to Andrew Buttar.
The couple went on to have a number of children although only 2, Thomas and Margaret, survived into adulthood. His son, Thomas, also listed as a slater in the 1861 census, who then lived at 1 London Lane, Dundee, met his death 2 years later, at Old Calabar, West Africa. No evidence has been found as to the purpose of Thomas’ life in Old Calabar. Curiously, a Dr Peter Rattray, a medical missionary in Old Calabar and son of John Rattray, a house factor in Barrack Street, Dundee, was a missionary, from 1897, under the United Presbyterian church, the same church to which Peter Rattray, slater, was associated. Although a likely relationship between the two can be surmised, it remains unclear.
During the 1840s, Peter Rattray was a partner in the firm of ‘Fyffe & Rattray,’ slaters. After the dissolution of their partnership, both men set up their own firms, with Fyffe also acting as Superintendent of the Fire Brigade. It was in his role as Superintendent that Fyffe met his death, in 1870, at a great fire which occurred in Mary Ann Lane, off East Dock Street. The fire, which he was attending, caused a wall in the lane to fall outwards, burying Fyffe and others with its rubble. A monument to his memory was erected in the Western Cemetery.
It would seem that monetary success and an inclination towards a speculative venture, encouraged Peter Rattray to consider the construction of property in Ward Road. In 1864, the local press gave a report as to that which might be seen by a visitor to Ward Road and described thus:
‘….….telling him to fix his attention on a large excavation in the ground, we would inform him (the visitor) that in a few months, there would arise from that cavity, a permanent monument of our present success in the shape of a substantial and elegant block of buildings, the property of Mr Peter Rattray, slater.
We believe that the building, which Mr Rattray is about to erect, will be devoted to offices and dwelling houses. We suspected that the removal of the Sheriff Court to its present site (further to the west, within the same street) would have a tendency to draw the lawyers westward, and, in providing commodious offices, we presume Mr Rattray is of the same opinion. We have not yet been favoured with a sight of the plans but we are informed that the building will be 3 clear storeys high and be surmounted by a mansard roof.’
The building currently standing in Ward Road, between Nicoll Street and Rattray Street, fits the description perfectly. Although no claims for the name of ‘Rattray Street’ have been attributed to Peter Rattray, the suspicion suggests it to be so.
Peter Rattray became a well known figure within business and public affairs of Dundee. Having operated a successful slater’s business for a number of years, he removed himself to the outskirts of Dundee, to reside at the small estate of Montpelier, where he died in 1874.
- Old Parish Registers. Liff, Benvie & Invergowrie. 301/ 20 217. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Old Parish Register. Dundee. Marriages. (1834). 282/ 220 178. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1846-47. p154. National Library of Scotland website.
- Census Returns. Dundee. (1851). 282/ 33 8. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Census Returns. Dundee. (1861). 282/1 16/ 85. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Statutory Registers. Dundee. Deaths. (1874). 282/4 957. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Legal Records. Wills and Testaments. Dundee Sheriff Court. (1874). SC45/ 31/ 25. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Courier. 29 September 1858. p.3. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Dundee Year Book, 1871-72. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Dundee Year Book, 1867-68. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1864-65. p.173. National Library of Scotland website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1869-70. p.196. National Library of Scotland website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1845. p.34. National Library of Scotland website.
- Dundee, Perth & Cupar Advertiser. 26 March 1847. p.3. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Census Returns. Dundee. (1861). 282/1 16/ 83. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Advertiser. 14 December 1863. p.4. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Dundee Courier. 10 January. 1898. p.6. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1850. p.104. National Library of Scotland website.
- Dundee Courier. 1 October 1870. p.2. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Dundee Courier. 18 July 1864. p.2. British Newspaper Archive website.
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