The Maritime History of Dundee

Records of the Scottish High Court of Admiralty

which mention ships and/or people of Dundee

All the records are in manuscript, either bound volumes or bundles of loose papers. They are held at West Register House, Charlotte Square, Edinburgh (the Dundee to Edinburgh buses stop at the door of WRH).

Registers of Decreets - 17th Century


Nine Registers of Decreets survive from the 17th century, two of which are mainly concerned with Prize cases. The other seven volumes record the kind of shipping and mercantile cases which made up the everyday business of the court.
The notes below briefly record the main facts of each case, and often this is all that is recorded in the Register, together with the decision of the judge. However, in some cases evidence was brought for both pursuer and defender, containing much background detail. These long decreets also record much of the minutiae of the legal arguments. In these instances a note has been added in brackets - eg. (3 pages of details). All money is in Scots currency unless otherwise indicated. Scots currency is only stipulated in certain cases, in order to avoid confusion.
The Registers of Decreets also contain Bonds of Caution. Most of these are dated at Edinburgh and witnessed by the writer, often the depute clerk of the HCAS, and his servant, or by an official messenger. To avoid repetition, the names of witnesses have only been given where other individuals were involved.

Register of Decreets 1627 - 1631

p28 Edinburgh Tolbooth: 1 March 1628
James Faithie, merchant of Dundee, v John Shanks, master of the Archangel of Leith.
Faithie has acquired 1/8 of the ship (worth 2200 merks) in payment of debts due him by Andrew Anderson merchant of Edinburgh. He wants to sell his share of the ship. There is mention of “The said ship being pressed for transportation of certain of Colonel McKay’s soldiers over sea for the King of Denmark”.
Persons mentioned:    Duncan Campbell, messenger
                                    John Binning merchant of Edinburgh

p132    Edinburgh Tolbooth: 28 January 1629
Robert Hall skipper of Leith master of the bark Angel v Patrick Baxter merchant of Dundee.
In September 1628 Baxter freighted the said bark to go from Leith to Dysart and then to Dundee, for 80 merks. Hall took in Baxter’s goods at Leith and at Dysart, and arrived at Dundee on 21 September, where he unloaded. He has not been paid his freight.

p134    same day
Patrick Baxter merchant of Dundee v Robert Hall skipper of Leith.
Hall loaded at Dysart as much French salt as the bark would carry, ie 152 ½ bolls Dysart measure. At Dundee he only unloaded 134 bolls.

p136    Edinburgh Tolbooth: 26 February 1629
Robert Hall skipper of Leith master of the bark Angel v Patrick Baxter merchant of Dundee.
In September 1628 Baxter freighted the said bark to go from Leith to Dysart and then to Dundee, for 80 merks. Hall took in Baxter’s goods at Leith and at Dysart, and arrived at Dundee on 21 September, where he unloaded. He has not been paid his freight.

p153    Edinburgh Tolbooth: 12 May 1629
Arthur Morton of Pittowie becomes cautioner for Captain John Daw captain of the Comfort of Crail, that he will pay Alexander Pedie skipper of Leith (acting for Andrew Fletcher mariner of Dundee), four shares of the three prizes lately taken by Captain Daw, worth 20 merks per share.

p321    Edinburgh Tolbooth: 3 April 1630
Jacob Jansen bo’sun of Magdalene of Gothenburg and Jacob Manson, Andrew Anderson, Thomas Turason and Claus Peterson, mariners of the said ship v Antonie Vanderworth merchant of Gothenburg
The said Antonie freighted the said ship (skipper Halbert Doddis) to load timber et al at Gothenburgh for a port in southern Spain. He hired the pursuers for monthly wages:
1 October 1629           Jacob Manson, mariner         4 ½ rex dollar per month
1 December 1629       Andrew Anderson, mariner    4 ½ rex dollars per month
1 December 1629       Thomas Turason, mariner     4 rex dollars per month
1 December 1629       Jacob Janson, bo’sun            4 ½ rex dollars per month
1 January 1630           Claus Peterson, cook           4 ½ rex dollars per month
The ship was driven off course by a storm, and came into Dundee in March 1630. Vanderworth, who was on board, has had the ship loaded at Leith and has thereby broken the intended voyage to southern Spain. He should therefore pay the pursuer’s their wages, plus £1 a day maintenance on shore in Scotland.


Register of Decreets 1675 - 1678

NB The pages in this volume are not numbered

Edinburgh: 28 February 1676

Robert Lindsay merchant of Dundee, part owner of the Marie of Dundee, becomes cautioner for her skipper Thomas Gray, William Watson, Andrew Bathgate, Thomas Moodie, Andrew Wardroper merchants of Dundee, David Ramsay skipper there and the widow of John Stirling merchant, owners of the said ship, that they will make her forthcoming to Alexander Stewart writer of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh: 18 October 1676

John Bains merchant of Edinburgh, becomes cautioner that Robert Clerk merchant (once of Edinburgh, now of Gothenburg) will make forthcoming to James Gilchrist merchant of Edinburgh:
Edward of Prestonpans, John Waddell master, now at Dundee
William of North Queensferry, John Greg master, now at Leith

Edinburgh: 21 December 1676

James Gilchrist merchant of Edinburgh v Patrick Strachan merchant of Dundee and Robert Clerk merchant (once of Edinburgh, now of Gothenburg).
Clerk and the late John Reid merchant of Edinburgh, owe the pursuer £690 8s 6, by a bond dated 27 September 1647. He has arrested Clerk’s ship the James and Edward of Prestonpans, John Waddell master, at Dundee, with her cargo of timber, pitch and oil. He has also arrested money in the hands of the said John Waddell and of Patrick Strachan, John Rodger, John Pilmor, John Bruch and Alexander Pitcloth merchants of Dundee.

Edinburgh: 12 January 1677

Alexander Stewart servant of Sir David Nevay senator of the College of Justice, creditor and executor dative of the late John Stirling merchant of Dundee  v Captain Thomas Gray master of the Marie of Dundee, Andrew Basket, Thomas Moodie, Andrew Wardroper, Robert Lindsay, David Ramsay merchants and William Watson maltman of Dundee, Isobel Stirling sister of the late John and widow of James Kinloch and [ ] Stirling her sister, wife of James Alison ex-bailie of Dundee.
The late John Stirling owed Stewart 500 merks plus £100 interest. He was owner of a 1/8 share in the Marie, which now belongs to the pursuer as his executor. The rest of the defenders are the other owners of the ship, from whom Stewart is claiming 1/8 of her profits.

Edinburgh: 30 March 1678

John Scrymgeour, John Pilmour, John Brune and Thomas Moody merchants of Dundee v Robert Cruikshanks merchant of Aberdeen and George Fairweather skipper of Dundee master of the Good Intention of Dundee
The pursuers are 7/8 owners of the ship, once of Aberdeen, which is now at Dundee. They want to have her rouped but Cruikshanks, owner of the other 1/8, will not agree to the sale.

Edinburgh: 25 November 1678

George Davidson merchant of Dundee, becomes cautioner that Patrick Patillo merchant of Dundee will make his share of the Isobel, master George Baird (currently at Dundee), will be forthcoming to David Ramsay skipper of Dundee.

Edinburgh: 2 May 1678

David Machin skipper burgess of Dundee, becomes cautioner that Thomas Ross merchant of Dundee, master of the Fortune of Dundee, will make the ship forthcoming to Henry and Agnes Moffat, children of the late Henry Moffat merchant of Leith and William James feltmaker of Edinburgh, husband of the said Agnes.

Edinburgh: 23 May 1678

John Anderson merchant of Dundee, becomes cautioner that Joseph Abercrombie skipper of Dundee, will make his goods forthcoming to John and Thomas Skinner, John Allan and David Donaldson merchants of Brechin.


Register of Decreets 1678 - 1680

Edinburgh: 14 August 1678

James Man merchant of Dundee, becomes cautioner that David Ramsay master of the Black Cock of Dundee, forthcoming to Patrick Patillo merchant of Dundee.

Edinburgh: 4 January 1679

William Potter skipper of Leven becomes cautioner that John Arnot of Balcomie will make the profits of his ship the William of Leven, now at Dundee, forthcoming to James Finlayson merchant of Leith.
Witness: Simon Darsie apothecary of Leven.
Alexander Watson jnr merchant of Dundee, attests the sufficiency of Potter as cautioner.

Edinburgh: 10 January 1679

John and James Man, Thomas Bower, John Bruce and George Davidson merchants of Dundee   v   John Simpson skipper of Kirkcaldy
The pursuers have venditions from Simpson to 7/8 of the Patience of Dundee, all dated 18 June 1675:
John Man                    1/8
James Man                  1/8
Thomas Bower           1/8
John Bruce                  1/8
George Davidson        1/8 + 2/8 sold to him by George Adamson skipper burgess of Dundee in October 1676, Adamson having bought his share on 18 June 1675
Davidson is selling his share to Alexander Raitt merchant of Dundee. The pursuers want the ship rouped, but Simpson will not make an inventory of her equipment, without which the roup cannot proceed.

Edinburgh: 25 August 1679

Thomas Abercrombie skipper of Dundee, becomes cautioner that James Man and George Garden will make £2000 owing by them to Joseph Abercrombie skipper of the Fortune of Dundee, forthcoming to George Davidson merchant of Dundee.
At Dundee 21 August 1679
Witness: Thomas Coull barber of Dundee

Edinburgh: 12 September 1679

James Mackie [town] clerk of Burntisland becomes cautioner that Thomas Hoggan skipper burgess of Kirkcaldy, master of the Fortune of Kirkcaldy, now at Dundee, will make his ship forthcoming to Captain James Crawford, collector of HM customs in Fife.
At Burntisland 11 September 1679
Witnesses: Captain William Gedd skipper of Burntisland, Andrew Todd of Burntisland

Edinburgh: 14 November 1679

Robert Nicholson skipper of Leith, on behalf of other owners of the John of Leith   v   John Bruce merchant of Dundee
Bruce is pursued for freight for a voyage of November 1678. Leith to Dysart, Wemyss or Methil for coal, then to Dundee to unload and reload for Cambneuff, Nantes or Barneuff. Goods to be unloaded there and other goods loaded for Dundee. (3 pages of details)

Edinburgh: 13 January 1680

John Arnott skipper of Leven v William Watson son of William Watson merchant of Dundee
In August 1679 Arnott obtained a decreet of the HCAS for Watson jnr to pay him 830 rex dollars 22 stivers, which he promised Arnott, by an obligation dated at Rotterdam in July 1678, to clear Arnott of a bottomry for 2800 guilders, granted by him to Mr Peter Blesen. Watson has not paid him the money, and Arnot’s ship, the William of Leven is in danger of arrest for payment of the bottomry. The bottomry was granted while the William was under freight to Watson for a voyage from Gothenburg to Danzig and then to Stockholm. (3 pages of details)

Edinburgh: 25 August 1680

William Paton and George Clerk merchants of Edinburgh, become cautioners that the Henry of Dundee, master William Syme, ex-master William Oliphant, will be forthcoming to Lawrence Oppendorf merchant of Stockholm, John Eyrie merchant of Elsinore and George Galbraith merchant of Edinburgh their factor.

Edinburgh: 6 August 1680

Henry Feathy merchant of Dundee sells the Henry of Dundee, William Oliphant present master, now at Leith, to William Paton and George Clerk merchants of Edinburgh. The Henry was formerly the Annunciation, and was bought by Feathy before the magistrates of Carlshaven in Sweden, from Peter Bax, Frenchman, the sale being confirmed by the French Ambassador to Sweden.

Edinburgh: 2 September 1680

Patrick Corser skipper of Dundee, master of the Providence of Dundee and Andrew Morrison merchant of Dundee v Andrew and James Gray, sons of the late John Gray merchant of Dundee, and their tutors/curators; Andrew Gray of Longlogie, James Gray of Bullione and William Gray, James Lawson baxter and Peter Wedderburn merchant, all of Dundee

By a vendition of April 1674, translated by the sworn interpreter Alexander Wishart, the pursuers have right to the Providence. The defenders claim ¼ of the said ship as creditors to the said late John Gray, so she cannot be outred to sea. She is to be rouped at the Shore of Dundee, where she now lies.

Edinburgh: 23 October 1680

Henry Wilkie merchant of Edinburgh, becomes cautioner that John Arnott skipper of Leven, will make his ship the William and John forthcoming to William Watson ex-bailie of Dundee and Alexander Watson his son.

Edinburgh: 17 December 1680

William Smeaton ex-bailie of Kinghorn v David Ramsay skipper of Dundee, ex-master of the Andrew of Dundee, and John Paton servant of Michael Seaton of Burntisland
Paton owes £27 16s, part of £56 for a tierce of French wine.

Ramsay owes £1033 16s for goods shipped with him at Middleburgh in August 1674, to be delivered

Register of Decreets 1684

Edinburgh: 8 May 1684

Thomas Soutter merchant of Dundee, becomes cautioner that William Wittit and Andrew Allan will make their goods, arrested in the hands of Richard Gray master of the Packhouse and Weighouse of Dundee, forthcoming to James Lees of Dundee.
Witnesses:                  Andrew Abercrombie maltman of Dundee
                                   Andrew Fleeming painter of Dundee
                                   Andrew Clask glazier of Dundee


Register of Decreets 1686
p18 Edinburgh: 15 January 1686

Thomas Pearson merchant of Dundee, becomes cautioner that Thomas Pearson skipper of Montrose, master of the Thomas and Benjamin of London, will make his ship forthcoming to David Moodie merchant of Montrose and John Strachan was his factor.

p153 Edinburgh: 10 February 1686

Alexander Cockburn cordiner of Montrose, becomes cautioner that James Lees merchant of Dundee, will make his goods forthcoming to Thomas Duncan merchant of Dundee.

Edinburgh: 22 June 1686

William Whitit merchant of Dundee   v   Henry Daes merchant of Perth
Whitit shipped 210  bolls of malt on the Wolf of Dundee, John Corser master, for sale at Stavanger.. Henry Daes had an equal amount of malt on board. At Stavanger (Whitit being at Bergen) Daes sold all the malt for 10 ½ merks per barrel, Whitit’s share amounting to 535 dollars, of which he has received 350. He is still due 185 dollars at 56s per dollar. (13 pages of details)


Register of Decreets 1686 - 1687

Edinburgh: 13 June 1687

James Balfour merchant of Edinburgh, becomes cautioner for Andrew Allan merchant of Dundee, that his meal, oats et al, arrested in the hands of John Fraser skipper of South Ferry on the Fife side of the Tay, will be forthcoming to William Hendry of Airth and William Lamb of Plain.

Edinburgh: 23 June 1687

Robert Burn tailor burgess of Edinburgh, becomes cautioner that George Burn skipper of Bo’ness, will make his ship the Charles of Leith, arrested in St Johnston harbour, forthcoming to George Abercrombie skipper of Dundee.

Edinburgh: 19 July 1687
James Man merchant of Dundee v John Ochterlony merchant of Dundee

In March 1685 Man loaded on the Fortune of Dundee, Thomas Ross master, 61 bolls of very good malt and 30 bags containing 30 bolls of bere. Ochterlony was to sell the goods in Norway, buy deals with the proceeds and ship them on the Fortune. Ochterlony sold the grain at Fredricks Hall in Norway and loaded the ship with deals. He has presented fraudulent accounts (8 pages of details).

Register of Decreets 1688 - 1692

Edinburgh: 16 November 1688

John Glover merchant of London et al v George Walker master of the Catherine ex of Dundee now of Kirkcaldy

Glover owns half of the said ship. The other owners, represented by George Clerk jnr merchant of Edinburgh, are as follows:
Christine Blyth widow of Andrew Roger skipper burgess of Kirkcaldy – 1/16
John Durie and Euphame Blyth his wife – 1/16
Andrew Hogg mariner of Kirkcaldy – 1/16
David Miller merchant of Strathmiglo – 1/16
George Gray mariner of Kirkcaldy – 1/32

Walker has made several voyages in recent years but will not account with the owners of his ship. They apply to have her rouped.

Edinburgh: 8 September 1691

James Stewart skipper of Bo’ness v John Wilson skipper of Grangepans
At Dundee in June 1691 Wilson received from Stewart, aboard the ship of James Brugh skipper of Dundee, goods worth 335 dollars, of which 100 dollars-worth belonged to Stewart. As agreed, Wilson sold the goods in Norway and bought tar and deals which were shipped home with James Brugh. Stewart is owed profit of 34 dollars 3 orts, at 56s scots per dollar.

Edinburgh: 26 February 1692

Alexander Duncan of Lundie v Robert Rankin master of the James of Dundee and the other owners of the said ship
The pursuer is executor dative as creditor to the late Alexander Arbuthnot, ex-bailie of Dundee, together with James Alison ex-bailie of Dundee, who is executor in his capacity as executor to his late sister Isobel Alison, with William, Margaret and Anna  Alison, his brothers and sisters. The executors have right to Arbuthnot’s 1/8 share of the ship. The Alisons are also assignees to debts due by William Rate of Hallgreen and Alexander Rate his brother german.
The other owners of the ship: James Fletcher provost of Dundee, Alexander Blair Dean of Guild of Dundee, John Duncan ex-bailie of Dundee, David Drummond and Patrick Kinloch merchants of Dundee, and William Henderson in Overstoun, will not agree to the roup. (3 pages of details)

Edinburgh: 5 August 1692

James Auchinleck surgeon apothecary burgess of Edinburgh  v George, Earl of Winton and Sir John Ramsay of Whitehill
Sir John Ramsay and the late Sir Walter Seton of Northbank were appointed by the Earl of Winton as trustees to manage his estate. They bought slates from James Lyon merchant of Dundee to repair buildings at Port Seton. The slates were paid for by a bill for £30 sterling drawn on the late George Seton jnr, then Chamberlain to the Winton estate. The bill was endorsed by Lyon to James Clerk engraver of Edinburgh and by him to the pursuer.
(3 pages of details)

Edinburgh: 9 August 1692

John Lyon of Brigtoun v David Spence merchant of Edinburgh and Mr Robert Clelland writer of Edinburgh
In February 1690 Lyon shipped 100 bolls of oatmeal at Dundee on Thomas Ross’s ship, to be delivered at Leith to Alexander Jaffray writer of Edinburgh who was to sell it for Lyon for £6 per boll. The defenders sold the oatmeal without order from Lyon and owe him £600. (5 pages of details)