William Lindsay Boase Esquire
The son of George Clement Boase, a banker, William Lindsay Boase became a prominent figure in Dundee as a jute manufacturer. An uncompromising Unionist, he was a well known figure in Scottish political circles.
Subscription value in 1863:
Relative to inflation up to 2023:
Relative to income compared to 2023:
Personal details and history
William Lindsay Boase
Name of spouse
Edgar Leslie (1868): George Herbert (1869): William Norman (1870): Ethel Euphemia (1874): Philip Meldrum (1875): Edward Russell (1876): Amy Janette Caroline (1880): Eliza Mary (1882): Lucy Marion Pitcairn (1888): Estelle;
Western Cemetery, Dundee
Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers
Catholic Apostolic Church
Clubs / societies
Justice of the Peace for Dundee and Forfarshire
- Subscriber 39 – Dr Boase – uncle of William Lindsay Boase
- Subscriber 71 – Alexander Easson – business associate of William Lindsay Boase
- Subscriber 107 – George Ireland – business partner of Henry Boase, cousin of William Lindsay Boase
- Subscriber 263 – George Clement Boase – father of William Clement Boase
Career and worklife
Flax / Jute Merchant / Manufacturer
Place of work
St Andrew's Street, Dundee
Career to date:
After the completion of his education, William Lindsay Boase spent a short spell in Luxembourg before taking up employment in London. He remained there for around 3 years. On his return to his native Dundee in the spring of 1861, William Lindsay Boase turned his attention to Dundee's staple trade. Not yet 21 years old, he purchased a factory at Johnshaven, from Alexander Easson, merchant in Dundee. His factory, a handloom operation, dealt in the manufacture of hemp sacking. This was to be the first of a number of later purchases and business ventures in the hemp / flax / jute trade.
Educated at the High School, Dundee until 1856, William then spent approximately 1 year in Luxembourg. While still a teenager, he arrived in London where he held a post in the Probate Office for approximately 3 years.
It was at this point, just entering his 20s, that the working life of William Boase took on a markedly different direction. His father and two of his uncles were employed in the banking and bleaching industries within Dundee – doubtless with a knowledge of many contacts for young William to explore.
By May of 1861, Boase had purchased the ‘West Factory’ at Johnshaven, Kincardineshire, from Alexander Easson, a merchant/manufacturer in Dundee. In 1863, the West Factory was described as follows:
‘A large building used as a factory weaving cotton woolen and formerly linen also a course material which is spun and woven here the weaving is all done with the hand loom – the property of Mr William Boase, Dundee.’
The premises were located at the west end of the village, on the side of the road, next to the sea. By 1866, they consisted of a large spinning mill together with a detached 2 storey building, the lower flat of which was used as a storeroom for the hemp, while the upper flat served as a ‘starching loft.’
During the 1860s, William L Boase went on to purchase/tenant a number of works and, by 1865, the ‘Maxwelltown Factory,’ the ‘Jamaica Works’ (proprietor) and a factory in Cotton Road (tenant) were all under his management.
In 1868, William L Boase entered the firm of ‘Boswell & Co,’ hemp spinners, Leven, Fife. The following year, his cousin, Edward Boase was assumed as a partner, the firm thereafter being styled ‘Small & Boase.’ Henry Watt Small died in June of 1869 – ‘formerly of the firm of ‘Thiebault & Small’ and for some time senior partner of the firm of ‘Small & Boase,’ Dundee. He spent a considerable time in America before entering on business in Dundee. He recently resided in Leven where his firm have a considerable business establishment.’
Ten years after setting out in the spinning trade, William Lindsay Boase, in 1871, could boast of having been:
‘Manufacturer and Spinner of Hemp and Flax Yarns – Senior Partner of the firm Small & Boase and employing about 500 hands.’
The firm of ‘Small & Boase’ was also associated with ‘Rockwell Works’ in Dundee. At that time, it was mainly a single storey canvas factory.
It has been declared that:
‘On 1 Dec. 1875, he purchased from Small and Boase their factory and business at Rockwell Works, Dundee, and carries on these works, and also the factories at Johnshaven and Maxwell-town, in partnership with Mr Thomas Murdoch who was admitted a partner in 1871, under the firm of – ‘W. L.Boase and Co.’
When operated by ‘W L Boase,’ a 3 bay extension to a 3 storey factory front was added in 1875. Rockwell Works was later incorporated into the firm of ‘Boase Spinning Co,’ a further development of William Lindsay Boase’s business enterprises..
Small & Boase continued until 1886 when it became the Boase Spinning Company then South Mills (Textiles) Ltd in 1968 being finally bought outright by Sidlaw Industries in 1973.
For almost 50 years, William Lindsay Boase had been deeply involved in Dundee’s spinning and manufacturing trade. He had been head of the of the firm of ‘W L Boase & Co’ of Rockwell and Jamaica Street Works, Dundee, West Factory in Johnshaven and Managing Director of the ‘Boase Spinning Company,’ (an amalgamation of Messrs Small and Boase, Leven, and William L. Boase and Co, Dundee), the proprietors of ‘Hawkslaw Works’ in Leven.
Mr Boase’s opinion was declared to have been held in high repute and he was frequently consulted on matters affecting the jute industry.
As to his political aspirations, William Lindsay Boase ultimately failed to secure election as a member of the House of Commons although he reportedly proved himself to be an accomplished candidate and earned the respect of his political opponents.
- Old Parish Registers. Dundee. Births. (1841). 282/ 190 29. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Old Parish Registers. Dundee. Births. (1841). 282/190 29. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Account of the Family of Boase or Bowes. National Library of Scotland website.
- Statutory Registers. St Andrews and St Leonards. Marriages. (1867). 453/ 6. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Courier. 21st April 1910. p.5. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1864-65. p.98. National Library of Scotland website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1869-70. p.102. National Library of Scotland website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1871-72. p.75. National Library of Scotland website.
- Scottish Post Office Directories. Dundee, 1874-75. p.106. National Library of Scotland website.
- Census Returns. Dundee. (1881). 282/1 15/ 1. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Census Returns. Dundee. (1891). 282/1 5/ 28. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Statutory Registers. Dundee. Deaths. (1910). 282/1 190. ScotlandsPeople website.
- The Scotsman. 21 April 1910. p1. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Montrose, Arbroath & Brechin Review. 30 January 1863. p.7. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Ordnance Survey Name Books. Kincardineshire. Volume 04. (1863). OS1/ 19/ 4/ 43. ScotlandsPlaces website.
- Stonehaven Journal. 11 October 1866. p.3. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Valuation rolls. Dundee Burgh. (1865). VR009800016 -/105. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Valuation Rolls. Dundee Burgh. (1865). VR009800016-/114. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Dundee Advertiser. 3 June 1869. p.3. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Census Returns. Dundee. (1871). 282/2 7/ 33. ScotlandsPeople website.
- Watson, Mark. Jute and Flax Mills in Dundee. (1999). Tayport. Hutton Press. p.97.
- University of Dundee Archives, GB 254 MS 66/1X.
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