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William Keiller Esquire

A member of the famous Dundee marmalade manufacturing family and junior partner in the business. He was subsequently sent to take charge of the Guernsey works of the company, but ended his days in London.

Subscription value in 1863:

£20

Relative to inflation up to 2020:

£2000

Relative to income compared to 2020:

£16000

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Personal details and history

Full name

William Keiller

Date of birth

14-09-1829[1]

Place of birth

Dundee[1]

Gender

Male

Marital status

Married[2]

Name of spouse

(1). Mary Steel Macnee in 1859[2] (died 1883). (2). Catherine Bell.[3]

Children

Arnold William (1860),[4] Edith M. (1861),[5] William A. (1863),[6] Edwin A. (1865), Ernest S. (c.1867)[7] Maud E. (c.1869)[7] and Ethel M. (c.1873)[7] to Mary Steel Macnee. Gordon W. and Clifton M. (c.1888),[3] Eric Bell (c.1890)[3] and Leila Catherine (c.1892).[8] to Catherine Bell.

Home address

21 Castle Street, Dundee.[9]
30 Reform Street, Dundee.[10][11]
7 Dock Street, Dundee.[12]
1 South Tay Street, Dundee.[13]
Prospect Place (Constitution Road), Dundee.[14]
1 Euston Terrace, St Peter Port, Island of Guernsey.[15]
Fernwood, Albert Road, Wandsworth.[7]

Age at death:

Place of death:

Fernwood, Wimbledon Park, Surrey.[17]

Date of death:

25-01-1899[17]

Buried:

Unknown

Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers

Religious affiliation

Congregationalist

Political affiliation

Not known.

Clubs / societies

None found

Public offices

None found

Related subscribers

Subscriber no.118 – Alexander Keiller – William’s brother and head of the family business.

Subscriber no.147Methven & Norrie – William Norrie was the uncle of William Keiller’s second wife.

Career and worklife

Occupation

Confectioner

Employment

Junior partner[18]

Place of work

James Keiller & Son

Work address

1 Castle Street and New Inn Entry, Dundee.[19]
2 Castle Street, Dundee.[10]
1 Castle Street (shop) and Rankine's Court, Murraygate (works), Dundee.[12]
2 Castle Street and Rankine's Court, Dundee.[14]
Meadowside, Rankine's Court and 2 Castle Street, Dundee.[20]
Meadowside (workshops and bakehouse), Rankine's Court (warehouse and offices), New Inn Entry (warehouse), Campbells Close (cellar floor and ground floor), Cross land at top of Grays Close, Dundee.[21]

Career to date:

Born in 1829, William Keiller would have been brought in to the expanding family business at an early age but in a subordinate capacity. The death of his father, James, in 1839 left the business in the hands of his mother, Margaret Spence. In 1841, shortly after his father died, the 11 year-old William is living at home with his 40 year-old mother and his siblings: Ann (20), Alexander (15), Catherine (14), Margaret (12), Wedderburn (5) and Elizabeth (3), plus two female servants.[22] As the 1840s progressed, however, William's elder brother, Alexander, took on an increasingly important role and, after Margaret's death in 1849, it was Alexander who took charge. In the 1851 census William is living at Reform Street with his older sister, Margaret, who is acting as housekeeper, his younger brother, Wedderburn, and their London-born cousin, Margaret Robertson, who is a shopkeeper. William is described as a master confectioner employing 10 men and 50 women. Wedderburn was an apprentice confectioner. The subordinate position of William and his younger brother, Wedderburn, was regularised in the contract of co-partnery drawn up in 1860 between the three brothers with Alex gaining a controlling interest in the firm.[18] The year previously, William had married and was now living at one of the two properties in Prospect Place,[23] off Constitution Road, acquired by Margaret in 1849 and transferred to Wedderburn on her death. Wedderburn had been sent by Alexander to manage their newly opened manufacturing establishment in St Peter Port, Guernsey. On Wedderburn's death in 1867, William was sent to Guernsey in his place together with his wife and young family. Although he regularly returned to Dundee for short visits, he made his home in St Peter Port until the works closed in 1879 at which time he moved to London.[18]

More information

William Keiller was born in 1829, the son of James Keiller and Margaret Spence. He married Mary Macnee in Glasgow in 1859[24] and the couple had the following children in Dundee: Arnold William (1860),[4] Edith M. (1861),[5] William A. (1863)[6] and Edwin A. (1865).[25]

Wedderburn Keiller had been sent by Alexander Keiller to manage their newly opened manufacturing establishment in St Peter Port, Guernsey. On Wedderburn’s death in 1867, William was sent to Guernsey in his place together with his wife and young family. In 1871 William is living at 1 Euston Terrace, St. Peter Port, Guernsey and is described as a master export confectioner, employing 25 men and 75 girls.[15] The Guernsey works situated as they were offshore were not subject to UK tax. This meant that Dundee handled the domestic market, while William in Guernsey dealt with the burgeoning export business and avoided British sugar tax.[18] Although he regularly returned to Dundee for short visits, he made his home in St Peter Port until the works closed in 1879 at which time he moved to London.[18] His relationship with his brother, Alexander, was not a cordial one, as evidenced by the letters written to William by his older brother that featured in Monty Don’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are on BBC.[26]

Further children were born to William and Mary in Guernsey: Ernest S. (c.1867)[7] Maud E. (c.1869)[7] and Ethel M. (c.1873).[7] After his wife’s death in 1883 he had further children with Catherine Bell in Wandsworth, London: twins Gordon W. (c.1888)[3] and Clifton M. (c.1888),[3] Eric Bell (c.1890)[3] and Leila Catherine (c.1892).[8] Catherine, who was born in Hillhead, Glasgow,[8] would appear to have been his first wife’s niece and had spent time with the family in Guernsey,[15] before becoming a teacher and living with another uncle and aunt, William and Margaret Norrie, in Broughty Ferry in the early 1880s.[27] William died at Wimbledon Park, Surrey, in 1899, aged 69.[17] He left an estate valued at £117,341 0s. 9d.[28] Catherine died in 1922 in Beckenham, Kent.[29]

Sources

  1. Statutory Registers. Dundee First District. Birth. 1860. 282/1 1118. ScotlandsPeople website.
  2. Statutory Registers. Milton, Glasgow. Marriage. 1859. 644/7 84. ScotlandsPeople website.
  3. 1891 Census England. Wandsworth, London. Piece 446 Folio 123 p.30. Ancestry website.
  4. Statutory Registers. Dundee First District. Birth. 1860. 282/1 1118. ScotlandsPeople website.
  5. Statutory Registers. Dundee First District. Birth. 1861. 282/1 1791. ScotlandsPeople website.
  6. Statutory Registers. Dundee First District. Birth. 1863. 282/1 1421. ScotlandsPeople website.
  7. 1881 Census England. Wandsworth, London. Piece 656 Folio 108 p.25. Ancestry website.
  8. 1911 Census England & Wales. Beckenham, Kent. RG14 Piece 3655 schedule no.99. Ancestry website.
  9. Dundee Directory, 1844-45. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  10. Dundee Directory, 1850. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  11. 1851 Census Scotland. Dundee. 282 ED71 p.13. Ancestry website.
  12. Dundee Directory, 1856-57. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  13. Dundee Directory, 1858-59. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  14. Dundee Directory, 1861-62. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  15. 1871 Census Channel Islands. St. Peter Port, Guernsey. Piece 5767 Folio 72 p.5. Ancestry website.
  16. England and Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, Jan-Mar 1899. Ancestry website.
  17. Copy Grant of Probate, 20 Mar 1899. Keiller archive. Ref. GDK/4/2/6. Dundee City Archives.
  18. Matthew, William. (1998) Keillers of Dundee: The Rise of the Marmalade Dynasty, 1800-1879. Dundee: Abertay Historical Society.
  19. Dundee Directory, 1846-47. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  20. Dundee Directory, 1864-65. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  21. Contract of Copartnery, 8 Jun 1867 and 25 & 30 Mar 1868. Keiller archive, ref. GD/K/4/2/1. Dundee City Archives.
  22. 1841 Census Scotland. Dundee. 282 ED19 p.1. Ancestry website.
  23. 1861 Census Scotland. Dundee First District. 282/1 ED18 p.65. Ancestry website.
  24. Statutory Registers. Milton, Glasgow. Marriage. 1859. 644/7 84. ScotlandsPeople website.
  25. Statutory Registers. Dundee First District. Birth. 1865. 282/1 392. ScotlandsPeople website.
  26. Who Do You Think You Are. Series 7, episode 4. BBC.
  27. 1881 Census Scotland. Monifieth. 310 ED2 p.28. Ancestry website.
  28. Calendar of Confirmations, 1899. Ancestry website.
  29. National Probate Calendar, 1922. Ancestry website.

The information above about William Keiller 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.