John Davidson


John Davidson was a joiner, born in Brechin around 1840, who spent most of his working life there. His father, a currier (leather worker), died young and his mother became a vintner, to support the family. The Davidsons apparently relocated in the 1820s and 30s, from Roxburghshire to Arbroath, and then to Brechin. 1

An apprentice slater by 1861, Davidson was still living at home in River Street ten years later. 2 He appeared in local directories from 1877, residing and working in South Esk Street, Brechin, and had a workforce of six men in 1881. 3

In 1875, he won a contract worth £17 18s 0d for slating the new gate lodge at Brechin Cemetery. For the next two decades, he worked steadily in the local area. Projects included several for Brechin-based architect William Fettis, who extended the burgh's board schools at Tenements (now Montrose Street) in 1881, employing Davidson. 4 In 1887, Davidson supplied slaterwork for Brechin Auction Marts Co.'s enlarged livestock market, and the following year, roofed 'a range of dwelling house[s] ... fronting City Road' for David Dakers, manufacturer. 5 Another Fettis design was 'a new villa ... on the glebe lands at Trinity Road', for Messrs Aitken, bakers. 6 For a brief interlude around 1891, Davidson became a farmer at Kilgarie Farm, in nearby Menmuir. 7 However, he soon resumed his old trade, slating Auldbar Schoolhouse (1892), and Brechin Town Council's Trinity Muir slaughterhouse improvements (1893). 8

Davidson stopped advertising in the local directory around 1907, and probably retired, his two children having reached adulthood. 9 His unmarried sisters, working as linen powerloom weavers, still occupied the childhood home in River Street in 1901. 10


1: Census data, [accessed 9 June 2013].

2: Census data, [accessed 9 June 2013].

3: Worrall's Directory of the North-Eastern Counties of Scotland ... 1877, Oldham: John Worrall, 1877, p. 118; census data, [accessed 9 June 2013].

4: Dundee Courier, 23 December 1875, p. 3; 8 July 1881, p. 7; 'William Fettis', Dictionary of Scottish Architects, 1840–1980, [accessed 8 June 2013].

5: Dundee Courier, 9 June 1887, p. 3; 3 April 1888, p. 3.

6: Dundee Courier, 12 November 1890, p. 4.

7: Census data, [accessed 9 June 2013].

8: 'Epitome of Local Events: August', Brechin Almanac 1892, Brechin: Black & Johnston, 1892, p. 9; Dundee Courier, 22 February 1893, p. 3.

9: Census data, [accessed 9 June 2013; Slater's Royal National Commercial Directory of Scotland 1907, p. 2054.

10: Census data, [accessed 9 June 2013].