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Significant Scots
Alexander Riddoch


Alexander Riddoch was one of three sons born to John Riddoch and Isabel Dow and christened on the same day, 1 September 1745, in the village of Comrie, Perthshire. The old myth of the penniless Scots boy who rose to fortune remains, in his case, undemolished by later research. His father is described in the parish register as ‘in Cultybraggan’ which must have been either a croft or a very small farm in hilly country a few miles from Comrie. When Alexander came to Dundee he was described as ‘a ketteran bit callan, wha starved in the Hieland’ with his ‘wee tattered kiltie scarce covering his knee’. It was, of course, common to exaggerate the humble origins of Scotsmen who succeeded in business and the lampoonist had cause to emphasize his vulgarity, but there is no reason to suppose any degree of prosperity in Riddoch’s background. Comrie and the lands around it belonged in 1745 to the Dukes of Perth and was let to a number of small tenant farmers but after the ’45 the Forfeited Estates Commissioners put most of the small farms into the hands of one farmer and displaced a number of small tenants, making it necessary for their sons to leave the neighbourhood in search of work.

One Artful and Ambitious Individual, Alexander Riddoch (1745-1822)
(Provost of Dundee 1787-1819) by Enid Gauldie (pdf)


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