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Significant Scots
Sir William High


The son of George High, a master joiner, and his wife Magdalena Powrie, William was born in Murrygate, Dundee on 31 Aug 1857. He started out as an apprenticed joiner, but became a fish salesman and auctioneer*. He had a shop at 9 Wellgate in Dundee and in 1884 he married Christina Dempster, daughter of James Dempster, a fellow fish salesman and his wife Christina Robertson.

William High became owner of several trawlers including the "Conquest", a wooden paddle steamer, built in 1867 at North Shields, and brought from Alloa for William High in 1890 to serve as a trawler DE36. The "Flying Scotchman" was an iron paddle steamer, built by J. T. Eltringham of South Shields in 1879. She was bought from owners in Milford Haven in 1890 by William, and she was registered as a fishing vessel, with the serial DE 42.

In 1899 William entered the city council as a representative of the sixth ward. He was also a convenor of the Gas and of the Public Health Committee. He was also a magistrate, the hospital-master and kirk-master. A photo, taken in November 1923 to mark his appointment as Chief Magistrate (Lord Provost of Dundee), resides on the Tayside Maritime, the Dundee City Council, and on SCRAN websites. The original hangs in the Dundee City Council Chambers.

In 1924 one of the Tay ferries, carrying passengers between Dundee and Newport, was named after him. He was a Justice of the Peace, was given the Order of the British Empire and later knighted in 1929. Sir Willliam High died 1 January 1934  at age 76.  His funeral was the 4th of January 1934, and he is buried at

Western Cemetery, Perth Road, Dundee.

* In 1901, the fish market (managed by James Walker, superintendent) housed several fishmongers: George Cantrell, William High, Robert Cook, and Cameron & McFarlane. Gove & Mowatt, the fish curers, were also based there. Cameron & McFarlane are listed in the Dundee Directory as steam trawler owners and fish auctioneers, while William High is listed as fish auctioneer, steam tug and trawler owner.

Thanks to Mary for sending us this information.


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