Peter Hean Esquire
Peter Hean, a wright, married Elizabeth Small and had eight children. He and his brothers were responsible for the construction of several of Dundee's buildings, including the erection of St Peter's Church. He was involved with several groups and organisations.
Subscription value in 1863:
Relative to inflation up to 2023:
Relative to income compared to 2023:
Personal details and history
Place of birth
Married - (11-10-1826)
Helen Small (1827-1868): David Smith (1830-1891): James (1829-1857): Mary (1832-1907): Peter (Jnr) (1835-1889): William Smith (b.1837-1861): Alexander (1838-1853): Robert (1840-1842):Charles (1843-1921):
New Cemetery, Constitution Road, Dundee
Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers
Free Church - Elder of Free St John's for many years: Commissioner to Free Church of Scotland General Assembly in Edinburgh: Convenor of the Parochial Board:
Clubs / societies
Operative Masonic Lodge (Guillan's Close, Overgate) - Depute Master:
Justice of the Peace: Elected to the Magistracy (1842), later becoming Senior Bailie: Dundee Parochial Board - Chairman: Works Committee of the Harbour Board - Convener: Dundee New Gas Light Company - a Director (1850 - 1868): Dundee Water Company - a Director: Dundee Lunatic Asylum - a Director: Dundee Seminaries - a Director: Dean of Guild (Guildry Incorporation): Dean of Guild & Baillie for the Commissioners of Police for the Burgh of Dundee: The Guildry Incorporation - an Assessor: Dundee Harbour, Royal Arch, Special Committee - a Member: The Guildry Member of the Harbour Trustees (1856-1870): Dundee District of Forfarshire Prison Board - a Committee Member: National Fire & Life Assurance Company of Dundee - a Dundee Board Member: River Tay Lifeboat and Humane Society - a Member of the Committee of Management: Member of the Joint Committee on the Pilotage of Dundee Harbour Trust: Dundee Royal Infirmary - a Senior Director: Morgan Hospital - a Governor (1861-62): Committee Member of Dundee District & Forfarshire Prison Board: Trustee of the Pilotage of the River Tay & Harbour of Dundee: Royal Orphan Institution - a Director (ex officiis): Dundee High School - a Director (ex officiis): Morgan Hospital - a Governor (ex officiis): Institution for the Deaf, Dumb and the Blind (ex officiis):
Career and worklife
Retired (approx 1851)
Career to date:
Peter Hean was assumed into the building trade through the business which belonged to his father, David Hean. In 1824, 'David Hean & Sons' operated from premises in Barrack Street. Towards the end of the 1820s, their business was listed as having been in William Street (north), before moving to a more permanent location of North Lindsay Street (east) in the early 1830s. Peter and his older brother Alexander were 'wrights' to trade, (as was their father) while his brother David was a 'mason.' Together, the three brothers continued to operate a successful wrights, building and contractors concern, titled 'David Hean & Sons,' continuing after the death of their father in 1843. It was reported that 'David Hean & Sons' was well known in the building trade of Dundee. The firm was reputed to have built many of the Free Churches in the district, with St Peter's Church (1836) in particular, having been attributed to Hean Brothers. At the time of pledging his subscription towards the building of the Albert Institute, Peter Hean had been retired from the family business for approximately 12 years.
Peter Hean, son of David Hean and Mary Cairncross, joined forces with his two brothers, Alexander and David, as a partner in the well known, established firm of ‘David Hean & Sons,’ founded by his father in Dundee. His father, David Hean, died in 1843, whereupon the three brothers continued in business under the same title. David Hean and his sons Alexander and Peter had been ‘wrights’ to trade, with son David having been a ‘mason.’
The family lived in Small’s Lane, which ran from the east side of Small’s Wynd and north of St John’s Free Church. A parallel lane was named Hean’s Lane. Their property was described as ‘that piece of ground with the house built thereon, lying to the east side of Small’s Wynd, commonly called Mill Wynd.’
Peter Hean’s Wife, Elizabeth Small, was a daughter of James Small, a manufacturer (sailcloth) of Small’s Wynd.
The firm of ‘David Hean & Sons’ was credited with having built the original, timber railway bridge at Perth, together with several buildings in Reform Street and Lindsay Street in Dundee. The building of St Peter’s Church in St Peter’s Street, the Church Hall and Church Officer’s House in 1836 was also attributed to the Hean brothers.. St Peter’s was noted to have been ‘remarkably douce for a Revivalist Kirk – yet this was the seat of the Reverend Robert McCheyne, a major player in the Evangelical revival who made the rafters ring.’ The following year, in 1837, the Hean Brothers tackled the building of St Aidan’s Church in Broughty Ferry.
It was reported that ‘during the time they carried on business, they enjoyed so much prosperity that he (Peter) and older brother (Alexander) were able to retire not long after the death of their father.’ Alexander and Peter Hean retired from the building and contracting business in which they were involved by 1850/51. Their younger brother David carried on for a spell thereafter.
At the time of his death, Peter Hean owned 3 shares of the Albert Institute (Ltd) – Numbers 780-782, valued at £3. He also owned a considerable number of properties in Reform, Crichton, Lindsay and Willison Street and others in Small’s Lane, Small’s Wynd and Candle Lane.
A man declared to have been of ‘indomitable perseverance, remarkable energy with foresight, sagacity and clearness of judgement,’ Peter Hean eventually succumbed to complications as a consequence of a severe cold, contracted after an International Flower Show, in September 1876.
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- Statutory Registers. Dundee. Deaths. (1877). 282/ 3 274. ScotlandsPeople website.
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- Dundee Post Office Directory, 1834. p.22. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- McKean, Charles & Walker, David. (1993). Dundee: An Illustrated Architectural Guide. p.86. Royal Incorporation Of Architects in Scotland.
- Legal Records. Wills and Testaments. Dundee Sheriff Court. (1841). SC45/ 31/ 6. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Map. Ordnance Survey. Large Scale town Plan (Dundee). 1857-58. National Library of Scotland website.
- Scottish Dictionary of Architects. Architect Biography Report.
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