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1750  Few vessels, fishing boats apart, have been built before this time in Arbroath.

1750s-1770s Ship Carpenters & builders David & John Kenny operate next to the harbour.

1751  Weavers, by an act of parliament, can now work anywhere without being a guild member.


1752-4  The Examinational Roll (a list of persons adhering to the Church of Scotland & of age to be examined in the Catechism) & Duty Roll (listing those Burgesses liable for feu-duty or similar duties paid into the  common good) of Arbroath Parish, list the current population. They are part of a series that may run between 1739 and 1795 and are the earliest Angus example of such rolls and include two maps - one being ' The Burgh Of Arbroath ' showing it's limits as (north) Stobcross & Barngreen, (east) the Abbey, Kirk Square & Newgate & (west) Brothock Water, Millgate & the Harbour. Grimsby, Ladyloan, Ponderlaw & Horologe Hill are still areas of arable land. The other map shows 'The Parish Of Arbroath'. Click here:


1753  The Town Council acquires the Abbey precinct and subsequently lays out the Abbey streets.

1755  Webster estimates the population at 2,098.


1762  The Old (Parish) Church at Kirk Wynd is 'enlarged or repaired'.

1768  (Nov 4) David Taylor is born in Broomhill, Arbirlot. Captain Taylor will command the "Sir Joseph Banks" tender during the Bell Rock Lighthouse construction & later be 1st Superintendent of the Shore Establishment at the Signal Tower.

1769 The Town Council sell the old school on School Hill & build Hill School on Hill Terrace.


1770  Red Castle, in decline, is only partially roofed.

1770 John Wesley visits Arbroath.

1772  St John's Wesleyan Church is built, the first service held on May 6. Affectionately

known as the 'Totem Kirkie', it is the only remaining octagonal church in Scotland.

1772  Part of the Abbey collapses immediately prior to the visit of Pennant.

1773  Dr.Samuel Johnston (b.1709 d.1784) relates that the sight of Arbroath Abbey alone  

would have made his journey worthwhile. His travels throughout Scotland, accompanied by

his friend James Boswell, are described in his book ' A Journey To The Western Islands of Scotland '. Click here:

1773  The Lorne Bar, 17 Horner's Wynd (later Commerce Street), is licensed as an inn.

1773  David Kenny, shipbuilder & town councillor, dies.

1775 (-1815) are the Arbroath weavers prosperous years.

1776  The biggest Arbroath built vessel up to this date, the brig 'Unity' is launched, probably built by the Kenny family.

1778  (May 18-Jun 5) Chas Greenhill, factor at Beachamp (Boushan) attempts to have a large quantity of oat meal shipped from Arbroath but is obstructed & attacked by a mob including more than 100 women. The mob take over the ship, destroying muskets, removing the mainsail & compass & offload meal. Up to 75 guard are mustered to control the affray, a rabble in Market Gate resulting in the seizure of cudgels & the arrest of some women. A Mr Jolly lets it be known that 'he had sold it to the trade at what price they pleased to put upon it'. The ship sails with the meal it has. A Mr Robt Davidson (shoemaker) is accused of being a member of the guard who confiscate an effigy of Mr Greenhill which had been destined for a fiery end at 'the Cross'. From 23rd May to 5th June a guard is maintained but no further disturbance occurs.    (Courtesy of Angus Council).

1779  The Town Council  petitions Govt to provide warships as protection for convoys in the North Sea where havoc is taking place with merchant shipping. (Source: M.O.D.)

1779 (Mar15) David Clark (son of James Clark, watchmaker & Elizabeth Torn) is born in Arbroath. He will join the RN in 1795, & serve as Midshipman and Master's Mate during the Napoleonic conflicts aboard HMS Sandwich, Edgar, HM Sloop Swallow, HMS Goliath & HMS Barfleur until his death aboard HMS Alarm from yellow fever on May 5th 1799. Twenty-nine letters will survive from his time at sea and eventually come into the care of Angus Archives.

1779  The Town Council resolves to abandon the old tolbooth & build a new Town House on the site of the Town Clerk's Office, with a prison on the ground floor and the Council Chambers on the first floor. A third floor will be built by the Guildry Incorporation for it's own use.

1779-1813  Shipbuilder William Kenny operates next to the harbour.


1780  (Dec 27)  Alexander Adams is born in Arbroath. He will become Commander of King Kamehameha's sandalwood trading fleet, Honolulu Harbour Pilot & be credited with designing the Hawaiin flag. He will die in Honolulu in 1871. In Nov 2006 a historical novel  by Katherine Kama'ema'e Smith will be published featuring Alexander Adams as a main character.

1781  (May 23) The French privateer 'Fearnought' anchors in Arbroath Bay. Captain Fall demands £30,000 and on being refused fires cannonballs into the town. Chimney pots fall & fingers are burned from lifting hot cannon balls but no great harm is done.

1782  (Feb 2)  James Chalmers, inventor of the adhesive postage stamp and the uniform postage rate, is born in Arbroath.

1782 (d. 1824)  David Carey, poet & novelist, is born in Arbroath.

1783  The Balchristian Church opens.

1783  A gun battery of six twelve pounders is installed after the attack by Captain Fall's privateer during the American war.

1783 (Sep 29 - Michaelmas)  Charles Allan is elected Provost of the burgh.

1784 (Feb 25)  John Colvill is elected Town Clerk, following the retirement of John Mudie. He will serve until 1812 and be the creator of the Colvill Mortification.

1788  The Parish Church 'enlarged or repaired'.

1788  The flagstone covered floor of St Vigeans Chapel is uncovered.

1788  (May 15)  Neil Arnott M.D.(d. 1874), scientific inventor & physician to Queen Victoria, is born in Arbroath. He publishes 'Elements of Physics' & a treatise on warming & ventilation. He invents a stove which burns fuel economically, a smoke consuming grate, a ventilating chimney valve & a water bed. See illustrations below:









1789  The harbour's west pier is rebuilt.


1790  An engraving shows the Abbey similar to how it will appear in the early 21st century, only it's west front walls higher.

1790  David Corsar's factory begins production.

1790  Arbroath is the main sailcloth producer in Scotland.

1790  Around now Arbroath has about 30 vessels equalling over 1,700 tons gross.

1790 (-1821)  The Rev. John Gowans is minister of Lunan Parish.

1790  The flax industry starts in Arbroath about this time.

1790-91  Some Arbroath wages are (per day): Mason 1sh.8d,  Carpenter 1sh.4d.

Food prices: Oatmeal (peck) 1sh.1d, Cheese (lb) 3 1/2d, Beef (lb) 4 1/2d.

1791  The first Sabbath School opens in the Townsend district.

1792  1,055,303 yards of osnaburgs & brown linen is produced in the town which, in the same year, employ nearly 500 weavers in sailcloth manufacture.

1793  The first local spinning mill is built on the Brothock near Letham Grange.

1794 Several Corps of volunteers are recruited from all over Angus to provide coastal defence as well as carry out civil duties. (MOD)

1795  Francis Webster & Sons, weavers, are established.

1795  William Patterson is born in poverty in Arbroath. At 15 he is apprenticed to a London shipbuilder.  In 1823 he moves to Bristol & about 1831 takes possession of his own shipyard. His clipper style Velox is very much admired. He is selected by his friend Brunel to build the 'Great Western' (1838), the first transatlantic liner. He draws the hull & builds Brunel's next ship, the 'Great Britain'. The largest ship in the world, built of iron & with screw propulsion, she is the mother of all modern ships. He rebuilds the 'Demerara' (1851) which had been damaged on her maiden voyage - it is the world's largest sailing ship.  Patterson becomes a member of the Institute of Naval Architects when it is founded in 1860. He retires to Liverpool in 1865 & dies there in 1869.  

1797 (Sep 17)  Abbey Church, built at a cost of £2,000, opens.

1797  A public subscription library is set up.

1798  A lighthouse is erected at the harbour.

1799  From this year Auchmithie fisher families are given incentives to relocate to Arbroath's "safer harbour". In the late 1700s Auchmithie's population is around 180 & the village boasts 6 fishing boats.

'Towards the century's end', St Vigeans Kirk roof is replaced, an east gallery built & the belfry  repaired.

1799  The poem 'A Farewell To Arbroath' is left in the Arbroath Coffee-Room, apparently written by a member of the Meigle & Couper Yeomanry Cavalry. Click here for it's lyrics:

1799  Captain Joseph Brodie attempts several times to have a light installed on the Inchcape Rock. The longest successful mounting lasts five months until the great winter storms wash it away. Seventy shipwrecks occur along Britain's east coast, including two on Inchcape Reef itself.

1799  (Sep 8)  James Bowman Lindsay (d. Jun 29, 1862) is born in Carmyllie, near Arbroath. On the evening of July 25th, 1843, whilst a science teacher in Dundee, he succeeds in obtaining a constant electric light (43 years ahead of Edison & Swann). He will also be first to demonstrate wireless telegraphy through water.

1750 - 1799



a French privateer


John Wesley

The Octagonal Wesleyan Chapel,        Ponderlaw, (from an 1859 map)

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Abbey Church

is built in 1797

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The 'Great Western'

The 'Great Britain' launched

An Arbroath man builds the biggest ships in the world

The William Patterson memorial plaque, Engineers Walk, Bristol

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A 1780 gravestone in

the Abbey churchyard





[email protected] Samuel Johnson (by Joshua Reynolds) c1772





Terry McCrodden recites

his poem 'Arbroath Smokie', tracing the roots of the

town's famous delicacy

click play !

Arbr Stat Accounts 1791-1799 Pic_4474

A 1781 cannonball