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].