From the Book of Eminent Burgesses of Dundee 1513 to 1885.

Sir David Baxter, Merchant - 27th October 1817

 

DAVID BAXTER, MERCHANT IN DUNDEE, WAS ADMITTED BURGESS IN RIGHT OF
WILLIAM BAXTER, MERCHANT, BURGESS OF DUNDEE, HIS FATHER.

DAVID BAXTER, afterwards SIR DAVID BAXTER of Kilmaron, Bart., was the second son of WILLIAM BAXTER, and the younger brother of EDWARD BAXTER, who was admitted Burgess on 21st November, 1816 (vide page 248). He was born in Dundee on 13th February, 1793, and educated at the Academy there. His first business experience was as manager of the Dundee Sugar Refining Company, and he afterwards entered into the flax spinning company which his father and brothers had established in 1825, and which ultimately became one of the largest industries of this kind in the kingdom. DAVID BAXTER was latterly the head of the firm, and its prosperity was largely owing to his prudence, foresight, and business capacity.

The only public offices which DAVID BAXTER held were those of Police Commissioner in 1825, Harbour Trustee and Guild Councillor in 1828, and Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce. In public affairs, however, he took an active part, and was especially interested in the Parliamentary elections, affording his support to candidates professing advanced Liberal opinions. Out of the immense fortune which he had acquired in his manufacturing business he made many munificent donations to the Burgh, one of these gifts being a field of thirty five acres on the estate of Craigie, which was purchased by him and his two sisters and handed over to the inhabitants of Dundee on 9th September, 1863, as a recreation ground, to be known in all time coming as the Baxter Park.

In recognition of the donors, a marble statue of SIR DAVID BAXTER, executed by SIR JOHN STEELL, R.S.A., and subscribed for by 17,731 persons, was erected in the pavilion of the Park, with a suitable inscription, commemorating the Misses BAXTER and their deceased father, WILLIAM BAXTER of Balgavies. In the beginning of that year (1863) a Baronetcy was conferred Upon SIR DAVID BAXTER by HER MAJESTY, on the recommendation of LORD PALMERSTON, for his services in the advancement of commerce and industry. He subscribed £7,000 towards the erection of the Albert Institute, and at his death left a sum of £30,000 for the erection and endowment of the Convalescent Home at Barnhill. The University of Edinburgh was also made the recipient of his bounty. In 1863 he founded the Baxter Mathematical Scholarship and the Baxter Philosophical Scholarship, each of the annual value of £60 for four years. Two years later he founded the Baxter Physical Science Scholarship and the Baxter Natural Science Scholarship, of the same annual value, and each tenable for two years. The Chair of Engineering in this University was founded by him in 1868 by an endowment gift of £5,000, supplemented by an annual Parliamentary vote of £200.

By his Will, SIR DAVID BAXTER bequeathed £20,000 for the purpose of acquiring ground, erecting necessary buildings, and endowing a Mechanics' Institution in Dundee or immediate neighbourhood, "for the education of boys or young men in those branches of learning necessary or useful for working mechanics and other craftsmen." The Technical Institute is now (1887) being built on a site acquired by SIR DAVID BAXTER'S Trustees from University College. This latter Institution was founded in 1880, mainly through the munificence of Miss MARY ANN BAXTFR, a sister of SIR DAVID (vide page 262). Through an arrangement which has been entered into between the Trustees of SIR DAVID BAXTER and the College, these two Institutions are to be managed so as to be of mutual assistance to each other.

Sip. DAVID acquired the estate of Kilmaron, near Cupar, Fife, in 1856, and in 1863 he added to it the neighbouring property of Balgarvie, and his principal residence for some time before his death was at Kilmaron Castle. Whilst at Edinburgh in March, 1872, he had a stroke of paralysis, from which he only partially recovered; and he died at Kilmaron on 13th October in that, year, aged seventy nine. He was married in 1833 to ELIZABETH, daughter of ROBERT MONTGOMERY of Barnahill, Ayrshire, but had no children. The heritable and personal property left by SIR DAVID BAXTER is said to have amounted to £1,200,000.