Robert Grimman Kennedy Esquire
Robert Kennedy was, from 1864, a linen and jute manufacturer at Wellington Works, Dundee. Prior to that, he was employed by Messrs A. & D. Edward & Co. He became a Justice of the Peace and actively supported many local institutions.
Subscription value in 1863:
Relative to inflation up to 2023:
Relative to income compared to 2023:
Personal details and history
Robert Grimman Kennedy
Date of birth
01-11-1832 (baptised 12-12-1832)
Place of birth
Alice Arnot, born 1868: Francis Howard, born 1873: Edwin Sturrock, born 1875: Robert Ernest, born 1879:
Age at death:
Place of death:
The Pines, Seafield Road ,Broughty Ferry
Date of death:
Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers
Presumed Established Church - based on forms at time of marriage
Clubs / societies
Dundee Choral Society
Subscriber 70 – Allan Edward – Robert Kennedy was employed by A. & D. Edward before acquiring his own business.
Subscriber 72 – James Edward – Robert Kennedy was employed by A. & D. Edward before acquiring his own business.
Subscriber 148 – Messrs Malcolm, Ogilvie & Co – Robert Kennedy’s sister in law was Adelina Perchard Malcolm, daughter of George Malcolm, flax spinner.
Subscriber 162 – W. R. Morison – Robert Kennedy acquired Wellington Works from W.R. Morison.
Career and worklife
Flax Spinner and Manufacturer
Place of work
10 Panmure Street
Career to date:
Robert Grimman Kennedy began his working life on the clerical staff of the Aberdeen Shipping Company under his grandfather. He then became a clerk for Messrs A. & D. Edward & Co., Dundee, with whom he remained for fifteen years. By 1861, Robert Kennedy was described as a flax spinner and manufacturer. In 1864, Robert Kennedy purchased Wellington Works, Wellington Street, Dundee, from Mr. W. R. Morison and from that time, carried on the business with considerable success.[Obit ] Also, by 1864, shortly after pledging his subscription, 'R G Kennedy & Co.', was reported to be operating with 1 engine, of 10 hp, driving 35 power looms and providing work for 120 hands at his Wellington Street Works.
Robert Grimman Kennedy was born in Dundee on 1st November 1832, to John Kennedy, shipowner, and Matilda Sturrock. Robert would have been around 25 years of age when his father, John, died suddenly at Christiansand in Norway, in 1857. It was reported that his father had sailed to Norway to look after the wreck of the ‘Louisa of Dundee,’ which had been wrecked in November of 1856. A few years later, Robert’s older brother John, also a shipmaster, lived within a separate household. It would appear that it fell to Robert to support his widowed stepmother, younger sisters and brother and the family was to be found at Lower Crescent House, Magdalen Green, by 1861.
In 1863, Robert Kennedy was not yet fully established in his career as a flax spinner and manufacturer. He was still to acquire ‘Wellington Works.’ This he did in 1864. Purchased from W R Morison, Wellington Works consisted of power loom sheds during the 1860s. Further development saw it become a ‘4-storey, 8 bay front, with iron framed ground floor and wooden floors above,’ by 1874.
By 1865, Robert Grimman Kennedy, aged 32 years, married his younger (by 12 years) cousin, Ann Sturrock at Burnhead, Auchterhouse. The couple were eventually to make their family home in the more salubrious surroundings of Broughty Ferry.
During the 1870s, Robert Kennedy’s younger brother, James Stewart Kennedy, joined the firm. He too had risen through the ranks from having earlier been a commercial clerk in the flax trade. Their older brother, John, previously a master mariner, turned his hand to the business of rope and sail making. He, along with his partner, James Rae, operated from Step Row. John’s death, early in 1890, heralded a grisly event, when his partner took his life by cutting his throat with a penknife, within their premises in Dock Street. A report in the local press suggested ‘Financial embarrassment in consequence of the death of his partner, Mr Kennedy, is assigned as the cause of the act.’
In later life, Robert Grimman Kennedy took a sympathetic interest in the charitable life of the city and held a number of public offices. He became Vice-President of the Dundee Royal Infirmary and held a similar office in the Dundee Institution for the Blind. He was also a member of the Dundee Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. He became a Justice of the Peace for the County and City of Dundee and also served on the bench for the Dundee District of the County of Forfar. He was identified with the affairs of University College, Dundee, becoming a Life Governor.
Robert Grimman Kennedy died 26 July 1912, at his home, ‘The Pines,” Broughty Ferry. The firm he established, ‘R G Kennedy & Co,’ closed in 1970. An outline plan, made some years earlier in 1961, for the redevelopment of nearly 15 acres in the Hilltown area, was drawn up at an estimated cost of £2 million. One of the casualties of the proposed scheme was ‘Wellington Jute Works,’ under ownership of ‘R G Kennedy & Co, Textiles Ltd.’ – the end of a firm which had survived for more than 100 years.
- Old Parish Registers. Dundee. Births. (1832). 282/170 117. ScotlandsPeople website
- Statutory Registers. Parish of Auchterhouse. Marriages. (1865). 273/ 1. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Courier. 14 September 1865. p.4. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Census Records. Dundee. (1841). 282/ 23/ 17. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Census Records. Dundee. (1851). 282/ 21/ 12. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Directory, 1858-59. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Census Records. Dundee. (1861). 282/2 27/ 5. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Directory, 1864-65. p.139. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Dundee Directory, 1867-68. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Census Records. Dundee. (1871). 282/3 17/ 20. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Directory, 1874-75. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Census Records. Monifieth. (1881). 310/ 8/ 5. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Directory, 1887-88. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Census Records. Monifieth. (1891). 310/ 6/ 19. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Statutory Registers. Monifieth. Deaths. (1912). 310/277. ScotlandsPeople website.
- From records of Dundee Choral Society held in Dundee City Archives.
- Dundee Evening Telegraph. 27 July 1912. p.1. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Warden, Alexander J. The Linen Trade, Ancient and Modern. (1864). London. Longman. p.656.
- Dundee Courier. 14 January 1857. p.3. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Watson, Mark. Jute and Flax Mills in Dundee. (1990). Tayport. Hutton Press. p.233.
- Dundee Directory, 1871-72. p134. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
- Aberdeen Press & Journal. 30 April 1890. p.6. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Bygone Dundee Live Archive website. Leisure & Culture Dundee.
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