Dundee Family History · Hutcheson Family History · Sinclair Family History

John Sinclair and Elizabeth Hutcheson

Elizabeth Hutcheson was born in 1816, the child of John Hutcheson, a mill manager and his wife Elizabeth Reid.


She met a young man called John Sinclair, who was working as a clerk in the mill office.

John had been born on 2nd July 1813 in Paisley, the son of a skilled weaver, Alexander Sinclair and his wife Margaret Stevenson. He was the first child of eight children. They left Paisley and came to Dundee around 1824. He was also known by the Gaelic form of John, Iain.

By the time of the 1841 census, the couple are married and living in the Cowgate in Dundee. Their first child had been born in October 1840 and they had called her Elizabeth.

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The Cowgate was a very different place in the 19th century from the way it is today. Apart from the mills, the river ran almost to the end of the street.Dundee was a much smaller place, but a very busy one.

dundee 1832

During the 1840s, the family grew. Margaret was born in 1842, Jane in 1845, John in 1850 and Charlotte in 1851. By the time of the 1851 census, the family had moved away from Dundee, up the hill to Lochee’s High Street to live with Elizabeth’s sister Margaret. In the previous census, Margaret was living with her mother, Elizabeth, so this had probably been the family home. John was now working as a machine maker at Cox’s Works.


It is almost impossible to imagine how noisy Lochee was. The works were relatively new, having been established in 1841, but it now covered 33 acres and by the height of its business employed 5000 people. The Sinclairs were living in the shadow of the works.


lochee 1859
The OS map of 1859 shows Burnside Street running horizontally between the cooling ponds.

In 1854 their son Alexander Reid  was born, followed by Edward in 1855, Harriet Georgina (or Lyell) in 1857 and Isabella Baxter in 1859. As the family became more prosperous, the children’s given names seem to have become grander. Isabella’s middle name was no doubt in recognition of the fact that the Baxter family had given John his first chance in life, in an office, not the weaving floor.

Lochee High Street, the Sinclair’s house is the right hand door. You can see Cox’s stack, the mill chimney, looming behind the house.

In 1856 John had been promoted to East Mill in Blinshall Street

john sinclair po 1856
Dundee Post Office Directory entry for 1856
East Mill
East Mill, Blinshall Street.

Life seemed reasonably good for the Sinclairs. Blinshall Street was about a mile and a half from Lochee High Street and so not too far to return home every night.

But on 24th February 1860, John became unwell. Thirteen long days later, he died of Typhoid. That year on 67 were admitted to DRI, less than half the previous and next years. One wonders how many of those were from East Mill. Certainly, the rest of the Sinclair family were not taken ill. The Scouringburn ran directly under East Mill and was possibly the source of this outbreak of the disease.

john sinclair death.JPG

John outlived his father, but not his mother. She lived directly across the High Street from them in Colville’s Land, Flight’s Lane. Elizabeth’s parents were dead, but her sister, Margaret was still living with the family in 1861 and listed as a “Laundress” so would have been bringing in a much needed income. By 1861, oldest daughter Elizabeth has left home and is working as a live in servant. Daughter Margaret is working as a machinist, Jane a linen weaver, Charlotte, only 14, a linen yarn weaver. John, Alexander and Edward were still scholars and Harriet only 3 years old and Isabella not yet 1. This cannot have been an easy life for any of them. By 1863, Charlotte is dead.

On 3 August 1869, John married Davina Gorrie. They are both 19 years old. They go to live in South Mid Street, next to her mother. Like his father, John becomes a jute manufacturer’s clerk. Unlike his father, he stays with Cox’s Camperdown Works for all his working life. On 21st May 1870, their only daughter, Betsy McFarlane Smith Sinclair was born. On 22 September 1871, their first son, Edward Thomson Sinclair, was born.

So, by the time of the 1871 census, Elizabeth is 53 and a grandmother twice over. Her sister has died, but she has only one child, Isabella, not working. Daughter Elizabeth is working as a servant at Airlie Lodge, a fine house which stood where Dundee University now stands. Margaret is still a machinist, Jane a power loom weaver, Alexander is a mechanic and Edward and Harriet (aged 13) factory workers.The family are now living at 110 Logie Street, a new street, with better facilities than those they had had in Lochee’s High Street. John’s mother and brother Russell live at number 106. Their flat was just up the road from where John had been buried in 1860.

On 13th September, John and Davina have another son, David Cockburn Sinclair. On Christmas Eve 1873 daughter Elizabeth marries George McGregor, a young man who does very well and they become quite wealthy. In 1875, Alexander marries Charlotte Sandeman, and their story is told here. But in 1876, Harriet dies, aged only 21.

Edward is story is a sad one. In 1880 he drowned in a cooling pond at Cox’s Camperdown Works. Elizabeth’s first daughter was also born that year, and called Elizabeth Sinclair McGregor.

In 1881, they are still living at 110 Logie Street. Elizabeth has only Margaret, now a mantle maker, Jane, now a jute rather than linen weaver and Isabella, who has become a vest maker, at home.The end of year 1881 brings another child for John and Davina, on 11 December.

But, as you may already have read, John and Davina lost their son Edward Thomson Sinclair in another drowning accident in 1883. Shortly afterwards, Davina died too, followed by Elizabeth’s daughter Isabella in 1885.

Isabella death Dundee Evening Telegraph - Monday 06 April 1885
Dundee Evening Telegraph – Monday 06 April 1885

Son John married for a second time in 1885, a widow who lived just down the street from him, Agnes Carrie. They had a shop in Liff Road together and lived there with all their children, ten in total.

Elizabeth died in 1889 of a cardiac arrest, at 110 Logie Street. The death was reported by her son John. She outlived her parents, her husband, her sister, some of her children and grandchildren and still managed to live until 72, not bad for Victorian Lochee.

The offspring of John Sinclair and Elizabeth Hutcheson-

Elizabeth born Dundee 1840, died Dundee 1910. Married George McGregor.

Margaret Stevenson Sinclair born Dundee 1842, died Dundee 1921.

Jane Hutchison Sinclair born Dundee 1845, died Dundee 1924

John Sinclair born Dundee abt 1850, died 1894 married Davina Gorrie 2) Agnes Reoch nee Carrie

Charlotte Hutchison Sinclair born Dundee 1851, died Dundee 1863

Alexander Reid Sinclair born Lochee 1854, died Invergowrie 1930 married Charlotte Bowman Sandeman.

Edward Thomson Sinclair (1) born Lochee 1855 died Lochee 1880

Harriet (Hariot) Lyell (Georgina) Sinclair born Lochee 1857 died 1876.

Isabella Baxter Sinclair born Lochee 1857, died Lochee 1885.

sinclair grave whole
Balgay Cemetery, Section D, plot 296. The marker for John and Charlotte’s grave at Logie is either lost, or it was in the section which has now been built on.

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Dundee Family History · Sinclair Family History

The terrible tales of the Edwards Sinclair

It isn’t unusual for a family to name a child after their uncle or aunt. It isn’t unusual for one of them to die. But for both of them to die a few years apart and in the same tragic way makes it unsurprising that the name has not been used in that family since.

The first Edward Sinclair was born in 1855, in High Street, Lochee. His father was a mill manager, but died when he was only 5. The second Edward Sinclair was the son of Edward’s brother John and was born in South Mid Street, Lochee in 1871 and christened Edward Thomson Sinclair.

First Edward worked at Camperdown Jute Mill, otherwise known as Cox’s. His father’s death made the family poor and he worked from a young age and by 1880 was working as a mechanical engineer, so he was a clever child, like his father and grandfather before him.

edward sinclair 1 Dundee Evening Telegraph - Saturday 14 February 1880.png

                                                             Dundee Evening TelegraphSaturday 14 February 1880

Quite how he fell into the cooling ponds at the mill will never be known, but he met his death on Saturday 14th February 1880.

edward sinclair Dundee Courier - Monday 16 February 1880edward sinclair Dundee Courier - Monday 16 February 1880 2

This, you would think, was tragedy enough for one family. But three years later, Edward’s brother, John, lost his eldest son in a drowning accident at Broughty Ferry.

John sinclairs son death Dundee Evening Telegraph - Friday 29 June 1883

The first Edward had drowned at work, the second whilst having a day at the seaside.

edward sinclair 1883 Dundee Courier - Friday 29 June 1883
1883 Dundee Courier – Friday 29 June 1883

The fact it took some time to find the body must have made things much worse.

edward sinclair Dundee Advertiser - Friday 29 June 1883
Dundee Advertiser – Friday 29 June 1883
john sinclair body found Dundee Advertiser - Wednesday 04 July 1883
Dundee Advertiser – Wednesday 04 July 1883

But sadly, this was not the end to the tragedy. The loss of her son brought on the premature death of Edward’s mother.

davina sinclair Dundee Advertiser - Thursday 16 August 1883
Dundee Advertiser – Thursday 16 August 1883

This article mentions a “a family of six”, but as yet I have been unable to trace the birth of many of them.

John Sinclair and Davina Gorrie-

Betsy Smith McFarlane Sinclair born Lochee 1870 died 1957 married 1) Hugh Buchan 2) John Webster

Edward Thomson Sinclair born Lochee 1871 died Broughty Ferry 1883

David Cockburn Sinclair born Lochee 1873 died ?

John Gorrie Sinclair born Lochee 1881 died
Lansing, Ingham County, Michigan, USA 3 Oct 1943  married Elizabeth

Peter Hackney Sinclair born Lochee 1875

Harriet Sinclair born Lochee 1877

Robert Sinclair born 1879


and three other children, likely to have been born between 1874 and 1880.

John Sinclair and Agnes Carrie

Charles Sinclair b. 1887

Dundee Family History · Paisley Family History · Sinclair Family History

Archibald Sinclair, the travelling weaver and his wife, Margaret Stevenson

Margaret Stevenson was born in Paisley around 1787. Archibald was probably around the same age, but they both did well at hiding from the 1841 census, so we have little detail to go on.

They were married at Paisley Middle Church on 7th June 1812.Their first son was born on the 2nd of July 1813 and they called him John. Then follow Archibald, Janet, Peter and Malcom. By the time of Malcom’s christening, in 1822, the family are living in Eaglesham and return to Paisley for the christening, this time in Paisley Abbey. By December 1823, the family are living in Dundee at the time of the birth of their next son, George. In 1825 they have another daughter, Margaret, also in Dundee and then another son, Russell, this time in the village of Strathmartine, to the back of Dundee.


Archibald was a weaver, so it is likely he was following work, as you can see from this map, there were many mills on the Dichty Water and that was probably what took them to Strathmartine. Dundee was built on flax and jute mills.

Russell is their last child and by the time of the 1861 census, the next time we can find them, they are living in Lochee.Where they are from 1824 to 1861, unfortunately I have not found out. However, by 1861, Archibald is dead and only Russell is still at home.They are living at Collville’s Land, in Flight’s Lane in Lochee, just across the road from son John’s family.Margaret is working as a linen winder, aged 74 and Russell as a bundler. They were poor.

Flight’s Lane is marked with the orange dots.

By 1871, Margaret is not working, Russell is working as a bundler and they have moved to 106 Logie Street. The address was knocked down to be a petrol station many years ago and is now a vacant lot.

Margaret died, aged 86, in 1873.

Their descendents-

John Sinclair born Paisley 1813- died Lochee 1860 married Elizabeth Hutcheson 

Archibald Sinclair born Paisley  abt 1813-? married Margaret McCallum

Janet Sinclair born Paisley 1816-?

Peter born Paisley 1817 died? married Ann Bruce

Malcom or Malcolm born Paisley 1822- died? 

George Sinclair born Dundee 1824 died? married Agnes Cable

Margaret Sinclair born Dundee 1825- died?

Russell Sinclair born Strathmartine 1824- died Lochee 1924


Dundee Family History · Sinclair Family History

Russell Sinclair, the last one at home.

Russell Sinclair was the last of the Archibald Sinclair and Margaret Stevenson’s  children, born 12 March 1824 in the Strathmartine district of Dundee.He was the eighth child and they were all born in a ten year period, the first six having been born in Paisley.

Russell stayed at home when his father died, living with his mother until her death. He was an active part of the community as can be seen from the two amusing cuttings below.russell sinclair Dundee, Perth, Forfar, and Fife's People's Journal - Saturday 21 May 1859

Clearly Russell was an advocate of temperance and the James Scrymgeour for whom he is being the marshall on this occasion, is the father of Edwin Scrymgeour, future Prohibitionist MP for Dundee.russell sinclair Dundee Courier - Wednesday 24 August 1859russell sinclair Dundee Courier - Wednesday 24 August 1859 2russell sinclair Dundee Courier - Wednesday 24 August 1859 3

In 1859, the date of both these events, he is living in Flight Lane, Lochee with his mother and is a Bundler at Cox’s jute mill, Camperdown Works. Before her death they moved to 106 Logie Street and after her death, he moved to 2 Peebles Lane. He appears in both the 1881 and the 1891 at this address, on the first occasion he is listed as an “unemployed mill worker” and on the second he is “living on private means” Peebles Lane is no longer there and there appear to be no photos of it. However, it was described as “A short & narrow lane leading Northwards from the South Road Lochee, the few houses bordering which are two storeys high and in good repair.” He is living on his own and not working, so it would seem likely that a member of his extended family is paying his rent.

By 1901, he has moved up the road  towards Lochee and to 71 Perrie Street.

Here he died, on 18 March 1904, alone in his garden.

russell sinclair Dundee Evening Telegraph - Saturday 19 March 1904russell sinclair Dundee Courier - Monday 21 March 1904

Russell Sinclair did not marry and had no known children. He was the uncle of Alexander Reid Sinclair.

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Dundee Family History · Sinclair Family History

Alexander Reid Sinclair, from poor boy to property investor.

Alexander was born in 1854 in Lochee, the son of John Sinclair and Elizabeth Hutcheson . John was a machine engineer at Cox’s jute mill in Lochee. Alexander was the sixth of nine children, born in quick succession and by the end of the 1850s, John Sinclair had risen to mill manager at East Mill in Blinshall Street.

In 1860 the family were living in Lochee High Street, the Cox’s jute mill was right behind where they lived.

Lochee High Street, the Sinclair’s house is the right hand door. You can see Cox’s stack, the mill chimney, looming behind the house.

But, on 9th March 1860, having been ill for thirteen days, John died of typhoid. The family go from relatively prosperous, to poor overnight.

By April 1861, at the time of the census, Elizabeth is caring for eight children aged from 1 -18 and her sister-in-law Margaret is living with them (as she was in 1851). By 1871, Alexander has got a job as a mechanic at Cox’s Camperdown Works.

Logie Street
Logie Street, in the shadow of the graveyard.

On 16th July, 1875, during the Dundee holiday, Alexander married Charlotte Sandeman. He was living with his mother at 110 Logie Street at the time of the marriage and Charlotte, just round the corner, at 18 Union Place. Alexander’s sister Maggie and Charlotte’s brother George, were the witnesses and the wedding took place at Charlotte’s home. Since both her parents were dead, she was living with her aunt.

wedding alexander sinclair
Wedding of Alexander Sinclair to Charlotte Sandeman at her grandmother’s home.

Their first child was a daughter, born two years later and they called her Elizabeth Hutcheson Sinclair, although she was always known as “Lizzie”. Her middle name came from Alexander’s mother’s maiden name. A year later, a second daughter was born, Charlotte Sandeman Sinclair and she was known as “Lottie”.

In 1881, a son, named after his father, Alexander Reid Sinclair, was born. The family called  him “Sandy”. The family are listed in the census as at 2 Gellatly’s Buildings, which is at the North West end of Lochee. In 1883, their son George Sandeman Sinclair is born, followed by his brother, David, in 1888.

The census of 1891 has the family living at 26 Pitfour Street, then a new tenement, opposite cottage houses built by Charlotte’s grandfather. (by a strange twist of fate, one of Alexander and Charlotte’s great granddaughters lived in the same street as a student in the 1990’s, but was unaware of the family connection) Alexander is now working as an iron turner.

pitfour street
A 19th century plan showing Pitfour Street marked in red.

Around 1900, Alexander gets a huge promotion and becomes manager of Larchfield Works in Walton Street. The mill belonged to James Prain and produced spun jute. With this job came a house and the family moved to 200 Scouringburn.

walton street mill 2
An aerial view of the Scouringburn (now called Brook Street) and Larchfield works can been seen around the nearest chimney to the front of the picture.

The mill was a sprawling series of buildings, in the heart of Dundee’s jute mill area, poor housing and poor people, all working harder than they were able lived all around. The life of the city surrounded them.

The Scouringburn was so called because it was the stream used for washing clothes, but by this time the water was underground. For some reason the council renamed the street “Brook Street” in the middle of the 20th century.

The 1901 census tells us that all the now working children are still living at home. Lizzie is a draper’s assistant, Lottie an assistant teacher, Sandy a clerk, George a blacksmith’s apprentice and David an engraver’s apprentice.

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In 1907, Lizzie married a pharmacist, John Robertson, in Victoria, Australia. He was Scottish, so we have to assume they had met in Dundee before she travelled across the world to marry. She never returned and died there in 1962.

In 1910, David emigrated to the USA, arriving in Buffalo and ending up in Glen Ellen, California. I intend to tell his story separately, but again, he never returned to Dundee and died in the USA in 1967.

Sandy and George still lived with their parents at the mill house. Lottie met a young architect, William Gauldie and had a long courtship with him, before marrying him in 1911 and moving to the small village of Invergowrie on the outskirts of Dundee. William seems to have been quite hard to tie down. In 1898 he started his own business and it was expanding throughout the first decade of the 20th century. With the help of his brother, James Hay Gauldie, an Edinburgh lawyer, William decided to build some houses in Invergowrie to rent, to pay for one for himself and his new wife. His father in law to be and brother both invested in the project. Where Alexander got the money to invest from is not recorded.

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All three boys were called up for World War I. George died on 24th April 1918.

Lizzie had no children and it was not until December 1918 that Lottie and William produced their only son, William Sinclair Gauldie, who is pictured with his Sinclair grandparents at the top of this page.

In 1922, the Sinclairs made the unusual move of retiring and left the Scouringburn for Invergowrie. Sandy, now a commercial traveller, came with them. They moved into a small house in Errol Road, designed by their son in law.

Gowrie Cottage and two others in Errol Road, designed by William Gauldie

Lottie had found adapting to a quiet life hard, especially compared to the hustle and bustle of the Scouringburn. Her brother’s death and the birth of her son had meant that having her family close was a great comfort. Sadly, in 1924. Sandy died of cancer.

Alexander and Charlotte lived on in Invergowrie until his death in 1930 and her death in 1935. They are buried in Balgay Cemetery. The three children who outlived them are missing from the headstone.

Sinclair grave Balgay
Sinclair Family grave, Balgay cemetery, Dundee. Alexander, Charlotte and Sandy are buried here and George is mentioned on the stone.

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Dundee Family History · Sinclair Family History

The tale of a military blacksmith-George Sinclair

dundee 1900
A map of Dundee in 1900, George’s father managed Larchfield Works and they lived on the site.

George Sandeman Sinclair was born in 1883, the second youngest of five children, brought up in relative prosperity, but in the poor area. His father Alexander Reid Sinclair was a mill manager and George was an apprentice blacksmith by the 1901 census.

For whatever reason, George did not marry and stayed at home with his parents. By the start of World War One he was 31 and must have felt relatively safe that he would not be called up. By 1916 a shortage of young men meant he was and into the dangerous occupation of a Smith/Gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery.

He spent the first six months training, but by October 1916 he was in France and thrown straight into battle. An officer from his regiment described the 22nd of October as “pure hell”.

On the 15th of March 1917 he was admitted to the field hospital with Pleurisy, by the next day he was sent back to the field.

On the 22nd of December 1917 he was wounded by gunshot in his left side, but discharged the same day.

On 24th April 1818, the little luck he had ran out and he was killed and buried in Borre, Departement du Nord, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France, Plot: I. B. 10.

His parent’s stone in Balgay Cemetery, Dundee, mentions both him and his brother Alexander as well as his parents.

The Sinclair Family grave, Balgay Cemetery, Dundee.
The Sinclair Family grave, Balgay Cemetery, Dundee.

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