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Robert Small Esquire

Robert Small, the youngest child of William Small, Town Clerk of Dundee, included the Baxter family among his immediate relatives. Being versed in the merchant trade, he forged a business as a coal merchant and also, brick and tile manufacturer.

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Personal details and history

Full name

Robert Small

Date of birth


Place of birth




Marital status


Name of spouse




Home address

Ferry Road

Age at death:

52 years[2]

Place of death:

Miln's Buildings, 144 Nethergate, Dundee.[2]

Date of death:



Dundee Eastern Cemetery[5]

Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers

Religious affiliation

Not known with certainty - many other family members were declared Episcopalian

Political affiliation


Clubs / societies

Public offices

Related subscribers

Subscriber   18 – Edward Baxter – cousin of Robert Small

Subscriber   23 – Eleanor Baxter – cousin of Robert Small

Subscriber   24 – Mary Ann Baxter – cousin of Robert Small

Subscriber   29 – David Baxter – cousin of Robert Small

Subscriber   35 – W E Baxter – son of Robert Small’s cousin, Edward Baxter

Subscriber   57 – William Collier – brother in law and cousin of Robert Small, married to Margaret Small

Subscriber 222 – David Small – brother of Robert Small

Subscriber 231 – William Small – brother of Robert Small

Subscriber 238 – Anthony Trail – husband of Agnes Collier, cousin of Robert Small



Career and worklife





Place of work

Robert Small & Co

Work address

Yeaman Court[4]
Yeaman Shore

Career to date:

As early as 1841, Robert Small had entered into a career in the mercantile trade, listed as a merchant.[6] In 1845, Robert Small, together with his elder brothers, Henry and William, were all listed as merchants, operating from Peter's Court (St Andrew's Place) in the Cowgate.[7] Shortly afterwards, Robert Small was declared as a merchant and shipowner, the barques, 'George Fyfe' and 'Lord Palmerston' and the brig, 'Marcellus,' were all listed with Robert Small as their owner.[8] These were all ships built between 1839-43.[8] A few years later, in 1851, Robert's occupation was further identified to be one as a 'Flax Merchant.'[3] It was not until his listing in 1853, that Robert Small's dealings altered to be declared as that of 'Coal Merchant,' based at Yeaman Shore.[9] This was to remain the basis of his trading for the remainder of his working life.

More information

Robert Small, the youngest of 5 children, was born to William Small, writer, and his wife, Charlotte Baxter, in December of 1818.[1] He was not yet 4 years of age when his father, William (Town Clerk of Dundee), died in 1822.[10][11] His mother, Charlotte (Baxter), was left to raise her family of six by herself, within the family home of Eden Bank (sometimes Edenbank), West of Springhill, on the North side of the Broughty Ferry Road.[12] Her husband died intestate, having realised an estate valued at more than £10,000.[11] Hopefully, Charlotte also had the additional support of her extended Baxter family.

Perhaps the most notable of Robert’s siblings was David, the eldest son, who became a prominent writer (solicitor) and Procurator Fiscal within Dundee, a partner in the firm of ‘Shiell & Small.’

Robert and his brothers, William and Henry, all became merchants in the town. Another brother, John (named after his maternal grandfather, John Baxter),[13] was resident in Canada at the time of his mother’s death in 1860.[14] His sister, Margaret, married her cousin, William Collier, also a merchant.

While his siblings David and Margaret married and left the family home of Eden Bank, William, Henry and Robert Small remained unmarried and lived with their mother, Charlotte. Henry Small died at Omoa, Honduras in 1846,[15] leaving William and Robert remaining with their mother.

During the 1850s and 60s, Robert Small incorporated the making of bricks and tiles into his business. His name was associated with the Errol (Inchcoonans Tile Works) Brickworks, which opened in 1855,[16] firstly producing pottery (a short-lived venture), bricks and field drainage tiles, using alluvial clay.[16]

Robert Small’s estate identified him as having belonged to the firm of ‘Robert Small & Co.’ Merchants, Brick and Tile Manufacturers at Dundee and Pitfour[17] (Pitfour Patent Brick Co) at St Madoes[18] in the Glencarse. It also stated that he possessed a licence to use ‘Hoffman’s Patent Kiln’[17] – this for the firing of the bricks and tiles. This kiln was patented in 1858 by German, Friedrich Hoffman.[19]

Robert Small and his elder brother, William died within months of each other in 1870.[20][2]

After William’s death in August of that year, their home at Eden Bank was put up for sale, the selling agent being older brother David, of ‘Shiell & Small.’

Robert, now on his own, purchased his new home at Miln’s Buildings, on the Nethergate,in September,[21]‘A dwelling house in Miln’s Buildings was exposed for sale yesterday and was sold at the upset price of £1,100 to Mr John Shiell for Mr Robert Small, merchant,’[21] this purchased just a few months before his death there in December.[2]


After the death of Robert Small in December of 1870, a report appeared the following Spring, declaring;

‘It is understood that the contractors for the Tay Bridge have arranged for the obtaining of a large quantity of bricks from Messrs Robert Small & Co., brick and tile manufacturers, Dundee.’[22]

It was claimed that the requirements were for ‘several millions of bricks,’[23] – quite a coup for Robert Small’s successor, his nephew, Francis (Frank) Collier.[24][25]



  1. Old Parish Registers. Dundee. (1818). 282/ 100 304. ScotlandsPeople website.
  2. Statutory Registers. Dundee. Deaths. (1870). 282/2 736. ScotlandsPeople website.
  3. Census Returns. Dundee. (1851). 282/ 3A 10. ScotlandsPeople website.
  4. Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1864-65. p.184. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies.
  5. Find A Grave website
  6. Census Returns. Dundee. (1841). 282/ 4 1. ScotlandsPeople website.
  7. Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1845. p.84. National Library of Scotland website.
  8. Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1846-47. p.163. National Library of Scotland website.
  9. Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1853-54. p.212. National Library of Scotland website.
  10. Legal Records. Wills & Testaments. Brechin commissary Court. (1823). CC3/ 5/ 7. ScotlandsPeople website.
  11. Monumental Inscription. Western Cemetery.
  12. Ornance Survey Name Books. Forfarshire (Angus). 1857-1861. Volume 30. ScotlandsPlaces website.
  13. Old Parish Registers. Dundee. Births. (1811). 282/ 90 489. ScotlandsPeople website.
  14. Legal Records. Wills & Testaments. Dundee Sheriff Court.(1860). SC45/ 31/ 16. ScotlandsPeople website.
  15. Dundee, Perth & Cupar Advertiser. 13 November 1846. British Newspaper Archive website.
  16. Listed Building Entry. LB48180. Historic Environment Scotland website.
  17. Legal Records. Wills & Testamnets. Dundee Sheriff Court. (1871). SC45/ 31/ 23. ScotlandsPeople website.
  18. Scotland's Brick Manufacturing Industry website.
  19. Graces Guide to British Industrial History website.
  20. Statutory Registers. Dundee. Deaths. (1870). 282/ 4 205. ScotlandsPeople website.
  21. Dundee Courier. 29 September 1870. p.2. British Newspaper Archive website.
  22. Dundee Advertiser. 24 May 1871. British newspaper Archive website.
  23. Dundee People's Journal. 20 May 1871. p.3. British Newspaper Archive website.
  24. Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1871-72. p.88. National Library of Scotland website.
  25. Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1874-75. p.243. British Newspaper Archive website.

The information above about Robert Small 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.