- Birth*: Alexander Miller was born in 1852 at Dundee, Forfarshire, Scotland, ; record not found - LDS - GROS.
- He was the son of James Miller jute warehouseman and Janet Milne.
- (Deceased) Death*: Alexander Miller died on 5 January 1893 at Dundee Royal Lunatic Asylum, Westgreen, Liff, Forfarshire, Scotland, , 1893 deaths in the parish of Liff & Benvie in the county of Forfar, ref 2; Alexander Millar joiner single; 1893 January fifth 4h 0m am Dundee Royal Lunatic Asylum Liff; male aged 41 years; parents James Millar warehouseman (dec) and Jessie Millar ms Milne; asphyxia during epeleptic fit sudden as cert by James Rorie MD; signed James Hayes attendant; registered 1893 January 6th at Liff Alexander McCaskie registrar; annotated see RCE Vol I pg 74, January 17 1893 AMC reg.1
- (Deceased) Death RCE: His death registration was corrected on 11 January 1893 at Procurator Fiscal's Office, Dundee, Forfarshire, Scotland, , (annotated April 26th 1894 ...) page 74 Register of Corrected Entries for the parish of Liff & Benvie in the county of Forfar; The following report of result of a precognition has been received touching the death of Alexander Millar, registered under no 2 in the Register Book of Deaths for the year 1893; Alexander Millar, joiner, male, 41 years, single; 1893 5th January Dundee Lunatic Asylum Westgreen Liff usual residence 166 Scouringburn Dundee; parents James Millar warehouseman (dec) and Jessie Milne or Millar; cause of death Suffocation caused by Deceased having it is supposed fallen out of bed during an epileptic fit and lain upon the floor of his bedroom in such a position as to obstruct breathing, as certified by Drs Rorie and Dalgety Westgreen Asylum; signed Procurator Fiscal's Office Dundee 11th January 1893, cert by W Dunbar Dep PF; registered 1893 January 17th at Liff Alexander McCaskie regsitrar.2
- Occupation*: Alexander was House Joiner.
- Church Records*: He was recorded in Tay Square Church 1876 Communicants record book : first time Oct 1870 in October 1870 at 166 Scouringburn, Dundee, Forfarshire, Scotland, .3
- (Witness) Death: He witnessed the death of James Miller jute warehouseman on 14 June 1881 at 166 Scouringburn, Dundee, Angus, Scotland, ; 1881 deaths in the district of St Mary in the burgh of Dundee, ref 334; James Miller jute warehouseman married to Janet Milne; died 14 June 1881 11hr 53m PM, 166 Scouringburn, Dundee; male aged 62 years; parents James Miller auctioneer (deceased) and Elizabeth Miller ms Anderson (deceased); cause of death phthisis pulmonalis 2 years, as cert by David MacEwan MD; informant Alexander Miller, son (present); registered 15th June 1881 at Dundee Jas Anderson Registrar.4
- (Witness) HistoricalBackground: The Gazetteer of Scotland published by W Chalmers in 1803 gives this description of the Parish of Liff, Benvie and Invergowrie : The united parishes are about 3 miles in length and nearly the same breadth. The surface rises with an easy ascent from the Tay, except towards the south west where it joins to the parish of Dundee. The higher ground forms a ridge, stretching obliquely in a direction from East to West, and behind is an extensive tract of muir, where there are some plantations, but no marks of cultivation. The muir is bounded by the water of the Dichty, which rises in the parish of Lundie, and runs south and east through the valley of Strathmartin. There are several villages, viz, Locheye, Millhouse, Liff, Benvie and Invergowrie: the latter is noted as the site of the first Christian church erected on the north side of the river Tay.
The first Statistical Account of Scotland for the parish of “Liff and Bervie (sic)” written around 1792 by the then incumbent of the parish church, the Rev. Mr Thomas Constable, describes the parish in great detail. He states that the union of the parishes of Liff and Bervie happened in November 1758 and that Liff comprehended the old parishes of Logie and Invergowrie; both of which, as appears from the records of the kirk-session, were united to it before the middle of last century (which of course was sometime during the 17th century). From his descriptions, it seems that the amalgamated parish included parts of Lochee (written then as Locheye, although the pronunciation probably hasn’t changed) and Balgay Hill. Describing the land to the east of Balgay Hill he says it is either wholly planted or cultivated, and a low narrow dale, extending from thence westward through the village of Bervie …Along this agreeable exposure, are interspersed houses, trees, and fields in culture. Talking of the watercourses in the parish he describes the burn of Invergowrie, and here, in the months of March and April, sea-trout are sometimes found of 4lbs weight.
Commenting on the population, the Rev Constable notes that in cases of marriage here, it often happens, that the man is far less advanced in life than the woman he marries. The former depends much on the experience of the latter, and generally too on the savings of her industry, to enable him to begin with some comfort a married life: This disparity of years happening on the side of the woman, must needs be a hinderance to population. And in a footnote he continues The register of baptisms … is not to be considered as giving an accurate account of the births in it. Children that are still-born, or die unbaptized are never mentioned in the public register; besides there are parents, who sometimes from neglect, and sometime from parsimony, do not insert in it their childrens’ names, and by Dissenters this duty is often omitted entirely. He is equally critical of the recording of deaths – particularly due to a perceived rivalry over mortcloths with the church at Logie in the neighbouring parish of Dundee!
There then follows lengthy discourse on the state of the land, the methods employed in the agriculture of the time, the prices paid for horses for the plough and the numbers of “milch cows”. The areas described as Locheye and Milehouse (so called to mark the distance from Dundee) seems to have housed various manufacturers, mainly of the course linens, known from their breadth as “yard wides” and “three quarter wides”.
Familiar place and road names pop up throughout the text – Pitalpin ; known then as Pitalpie or Pit of Alpin and ascribed to being the scene of a memorable engagement in the 9th century between the Picts and Scots in which the latter were routed and Alpin their king slain. Apparently the king’s head was transported to Abernethy for public viewing, but his body was buried at Pitalpie. On top of a small hill east of Pitalpie there was still visible a stone called the King’s Cross.
The parochial school averaged 35 scholars, but it was noted that it was extremely difficult for the children to attend during the winter months as the roads were almost impassable. It appears that this was viewed by Mr Constable as a meagre school roll and he states the whole emoluments are too inconsiderable for a teacher of any merit or capacity. And he regarded the five private schools as for the most part indifferently taught. The poor did not seem the cause any major difficulty, seeming to have been provided for in the usual way from the income of the church from mortcloth hiring, proclamations of marriage, rents of a few seats in the church and collections at the church door.
In the Second Statistical Account written in September 1842 by the Rev. George Addison, DD, minister of the parish of Liff and Benvie we find some clarification (and disagreement with the Gazetteer of earlier years – or maybe there were further boundary changes) of the extent of the parish. He admits that the lands of Logie, Balgay and Blackness are indeed part of the parish and that a considerable portion of the suburbs of Dundee to the west and north is built on these lands. But dismisses unreservedly the inhabitants of the parish of Logie … as … having, from time immemorial, been connected with Dundee, quoad spiritualia, it will not be necessary to take any further notice of this part of the united parish! He also notes that for nearly two centuries the minister of Dundee had received an annual payment of twelve bolls of barley … expressly for the sacraments and marriage to the heritors and inhabitants of the lands of Balgay and Logie, and the lands of Blackness. Mr Addison describes the parish as situated at the south-west corner of the county of Forfar, being bounded on the west by the parishes of Fowlis Easter and Longforgan (both in Perthshire) on the on the South, by the river Tay; on the east, by Dundee and the United parish of Mains and Strathmartine; and on the north, by the Dighty, a small river which divides it from the parishes of Auctherhouse and Lundie. The extent is about 6 miles from east to west, and 4 miles from north to south. … There is no river in the parish. … Near the village of Benvie is a spring strongly impregnated with iron. It was formerly in great repute as a tonic, and was applied externally in cutaneous disorders, but is now entirely neglected.
There is tremendous discussion of the geology of the area, involving red and gray sandstone and a discovery of fossil organic remains in the den of Balruddery by Mr Webster, the proprietor. It is noted that there is nothing very peculiar or rare in the botany of this parish … but … the romantic dells and glens which abound in this neighbourhood are, in the season, richly clothed with the most beautiful plants and flowers.
There are four mansion houses briefly described – the House of Gray (owned by the Rt Hon Lord Gray), Camperdown House (the Rt Hon Earl of Camperdown), the mansion house at Invergowrie (Alexander Clayhills, Esq) and Balruddery House (Robert Webster, Esq). Other land-owners are noted as Frederick Lewis Scrimgeour Wedderburn, Esq. of Wedderburn and Birkhill, William Henderson, Esq. Of Mylnefield, Mr Thomas Watson, Liff and Mr James Waddel.
The population is discussed and from this it is apparent that some form of census was taken at irregular intervals from the middle eighteenth century, if not earlier. Genealogists are aware of nation-wide 10-yearly censuses taken from 1801, but are advised that the first one of any real benefit to them is the 1841 census. But it is interesting to read that the wrangle over the village of Lochee continues … that village now being politically connected with Dundee, or within the Parliamentary boundary, the population at the last census (June 1841) was taken in connection with Dundee, and not with this parish. On that account, the precise amount of the inhabitants of Lochee is not known to me; but it cannot be under 3000 souls. Mr Addison, in his concern with the moral and secular welfare of the parish, notes that seven illegitimate children were born within the parish in the previous three years, but in most cases the parents married afterwards; that three of the patients in the Dundee Lunatic Asylum are parishioners, as is one in the care of a family at the expense of the kirk-session and five by their relations; and that a brother and sister are deaf and dumb. He generously states that the character of the people is by and large peaceable and industrious, and, with a few marked exceptions, sober.
As to manufacture – Within the last sixteen or seventeen years, three spinning mills have been erected in the village of Lochee, and one at Denmiln, in the parish. Whatever advantages may accrue from these establishments, they have a very unfortunate effect on the morals and pauperism of the community. The chief, if not sole, product was coarse linen, principally for exportation, which had supplanted the weaving of household linen. Hand-spinning was almost obsolete. Many employed in the spinning and weaving found they had to supplement their income with agricultural employment when they could get it, mainly in spring and at the harvest time. Addison estimates that around 2000 folk in Lochee were employed in manufacture at this time and comments … The depressed state of the linen trade, for some time past, has been severely felt by the operatives in this quarter. Many families have, in consequence, been brought to a state of indigence and destitution. But he states elsewhere … At Bullion, near Invergowrie, an extensive work for bleaching and dying yarn and cloth has lately been established. The necessary erections have been made with great care, and at considerable expense. There is on the premises a water-wheel of 14 horses’ power, and a steam-engine of 6. A gasometer has been fitted up solely for the use of the work.
For the farmers, trade was brisk with near-by Dundee. Weavers and the like were persuaded by low feus to take up Mr Wedderburn of Birkhill’s offer of small portions of land on the turnpike road to Meigle and Coupar-Angus giving them a convenient location for their trade.
In about 1830, at last the parochial school was moved to a far better, but undisclosed, location (the writer assumes all readers will know where it is (the present spot)!) but it was recognised that having the school at Denmiln was most inconvenient and almost inaccessible in winter. Another school was built, in the questionable Lochee, in 1837. The year before the Account was written, a “school of industry” for young females was initiated under the patronage of Countess of Camperdown. In total, about 500 children were receiving education of some sort in the parish at this time.
Mr Addison describes his concern over the steep rise in pauperism, with the need in 1841 to recourse to a legal method of assessment. Including the upkeep of the inmates of the Lunatic Asylum and the fatherless babies, he indicates that 49 folk required some sort of aid, with an average of 7 shillings per head per month spent. He is critical of the apparent moneygrubbing attitude that prevailed, and in particular, the difficulty of bringing absent fathers to account – nothing in this world is new!
His last comments support the recurring theme of “bad Lochee”! The number of public-houses in the parish of Liff proper is four, situated generally at considerable distances from each other. In Lochee there are at least twelve, including shops where spirits are sold, both in and out of doors. Poor old degenerate Lochee!10,11,12
- [S50] General Record Office for Scotland, online www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk, General Record Office for Scotland (Edinburgh, Scotland), GROS statutory deaths 1893 Liff 301/00 0002 [Sep 2011].
- [S50] General Record Office for Scotland, GROS statutory deaths 1893 Liff RCE [Sep 2011].
- [S21] Headstone Photograph; , Tay Square Church records at Dundee City Coucil Archives [Sept 2017].
- [S50] General Record Office for Scotland, GROS statutory deaths St mary Dundee 282/2 334 [May 2004].
- [S17] General Record Office for Scotland, online www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk, General Record Office for Scotland (Edinburgh, Scotland), Parish of Liff, Parliamentary Burgh of Dundee; 10 Lowdens Alley.
- [S17] General Record Office for Scotland, GROS census 1871 Liff & Benvie [May 2004].
- [S17] General Record Office for Scotland, 1881 British Census, 166 Souringburn, Liff & Benvie, Forfar, Scotland 0203482 282-2 17 24.
- [S9] Website Ancestry.co.uk (www.ancestry.co.uk) Source Citation: Parish: Liff and Benvie; ED: 17; Page: 24; Line: 13; Roll: cssct1881_83; Year: 1881. Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1881 Scotland Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Scotland. 1881 Scotland Census. Reels 1-338. General Register Office for Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland. [May 2011]
- [S17] General Record Office for Scotland, GROS census 1891 Liff & Benvie, Dundee [May 2004].
- [S49] Website Web Site online (www.) http://www.genuki.org.uk/node/98277.
- [S49] Website Web Site online (www.) http://stataccscot.edina.ac.uk/static/statacc/app/index.html#/viewer/osa-vol13-Parish_record_for_Liff_and_Benvie_in_the_county_of_Forfar_in_volume_13_of_account_1/?search=liff
- [S49] Website Web Site online (www.) http://stataccscot.edina.ac.uk/static/statacc/app/index.html#/viewer/nsa-vol11-Parish_record_for_Liff_and_Benvie_in_the_county_of_Forfar_in_volume_11_of_account_2/?search=liff
Mother*: Janet Milne b. 22 Dec 1823, d. 6 Jun 1896