Ye olde Raitt shoppes

Mrs J. Raitt


Mrs J. Raitt of 60 Helen St (presumably her shop) according to her ad on 20 December 1894 was offering Christmas and New year Specialities - specifically cakes and shortbread (plain and ornamental); fancy bread and biscuits (of every description); fruits (table and cooking); Gouda, Wilts and American cheese; and provisions of the finest quality at the lowest market prices. Five shilling orders received a calendar. The same ad was repeated on 27 December 1894. A year later on 26 December 1895 she was offering the same produce as New Year Specialities (no calendar!). And a few days later on 2 January 1896 the same ad appeared again. Her ads for 13, 20 and 27 March 1902 offers  home-made marmalade and fresh country eggs. In addition an ad five years later on 25 July 1901 notes that Mrs Raitt, grocer, 60 Helen St. was the local tea agent in Arbroath for Glasgow-based Cooper & Co.’s celebrated teas. This ad was clearly placed by Cooper & Co. as it was repeated on numerous occasions - always listing their local agents - including Mrs Raitt.


The next ad concerning Mrs Raitt was one placed by Misses Mary Raitt and Annie M’Laren on 16 October 1902 who begged to intimate that they had taken over from Mrs Raitt the grocery and confectionary business long carried on by her at 60 Helen Street. They planned to continue the business in its entirety and hoped that by giving personal attention to customers they would merit a continuance of the patronage bestowed upon Mrs Raitt. They stated that only groceries and confections of the best quality were dealt in. After this date, the ads in the newspaper were placed by Raitt & M’Laren, grocers and confectioners. Wasting no time they placed an ad in the paper 23 October 1902 to the effect that home-made flour scones, treacle scones, drop  scones and oat cakes - new every day, plus hot pies and bridies on Fridays and Saturdays were available from Raitt & McLaren’s, 60 Helen Street. The ad also noted they were the local agency for sale of Copper and Co.’s celebrated teas. The same ad was rerun on for 6 November 1902 On 1 and 8 January 1903 the new proprietors placed an ad for home-made marmalade - their own make and that season’s marmalade. The ad was repeated on 15 January 1903. At the end of the year, on 17 and 24 December 1903, they were offering Christmas Fare at Raitt & M’Laren’s. On offer was cheese: finest Goudas at 7d per Lb,  finest American Wilts at 8d per Lb, and reductions on halves and wholes; cakes - a splendid assortment, at prices ranging from 5d to 4s.; special - a nice assortment of fancy boxes of biscuits and shortbread, very suitable for Christmas and New Year presents; and fresh country eggs at 1s 10d per dozen. Readers were exhorted to note the address - 60 Helen Street. The same ad, though now labeled New Year Fare, was repeated on 31 December 1903. There don’t seem to be to many other ads placed by Raitt & McLaren, although Cooper & Co. were still placing ads listing therm as their tea agent in Arbroath. Then on 29 March 1906 they placed an usual ad - would the party who changed a £1 note on Saturday, please call. [at] Raitt & M’Laren, grocers, 60 Helen Street. They also placed a series of ads for a property to let. The one on 26 July 1906 says To sub-let, mid-flat, 31 St Mary Street - immediate entry, if desired, free of taxes. Apply there, or Raitt & M’Laren.


The 1895 Valuation Roll for St Vigeans has Mrs Raitt as the tenant/occupier of a shop and back shop at 60 Helen St. But who might she be? Is J her own initial or that of her husband? In its listing of trades and professions under the heading of Grocers (unlicensed) and Provision Dealers, the Arbroath Yearbook for 1894, 1899 and 1901 has an M. Raitt of 60 Helen St, but interestingly under the list of female voters at the address of 61 Helen St, is Helen Raitt (also there in the 1899 yearbook!) Checking the 1901 census for either of these, we find a Mary K. Raitt, single, 31, born Arbroath and a grocer assistant living with her mother, Eleanor Raitt, widow, 65, born Inverarity, a grocer at  27 Spink St, St Vigeans. (The 1905 Valuation Roll has Mrs Raitt as the tenant/occupier of a dwelling house at 25 Spink Street. In the 1895 Roll Mrs Raitt was the tenant/occupier of three rooms at that addresses.) The same census does show a Helen Raitt living in Helen St but at number 92 rather than 61, wife of restaurant keeper William Raitt (see below) - though the 1895 Valuation Roll has Helen Raitt as the tenant/occupier of the attic at 61 Helen Street. Mary K. Raitt is in the 1891 census for 53 Helen St - she is 21, unmarried, and a confectioners shop woman. Also in the household is her father James S. Raitt, 56, moulders labourer, born Forfarshire; and mother Eleanor D., 55, born Inverarity. So I think it is clear that Eleanor Raitt is the Mrs J. Raitt - she also turns out to be the Helen (an alternative for Eleanor) at 61 Helen St.


Now, I do have some details on this family in my Raitt master file. Eleanor is Eleanor Deuchars born in Inverarity about 1836 to George Deuchars and Janet Miller. In the 1841 census Eleanor is down as Helen. She married James Rait (sic) on 15 January 1858 in Inverarity. He was born in Kirkden on 14 February 1835 and died in Arbroath on 7 June 1892; Eleanor died there in April 1928. James was the eldest son of David Raitt and Mary Steel who married about 1834 and who had several other children. (They appear in the Early Raitts in Angus tree as descendants of Alexander Raitt - but I will need to do some further work on this whole family.) James and Eleanor seem to have had some ten children between 1859-1880 - Mary Keir Raitt being born on 8 May 1969.


In the 1861 census for Denside Cottar House, Forfar there is James Rait, 26, ploughman, born Forfarshire; wife Hellen, 25, born Inverarity; sons William, 2, born Inverarity; and James 0, born Forfar; and visitor Mary Rait, widow, 55, laundry maid, born Careston. Mary will be the mother of James.


In the 1871 census for 26 Kyd St, Arbroath we find James Raitt, 36, foreman at foundry, born Forfarshire; wife Eleanor, 35, born Inverarity; children: William, 12, mill worker, born Inverarity; Alexander, 8, scholar, born Eassie; Jane Ann, 6, born St Vigeans; Allan, 3, born Arbroath; and Mary, 1, born Arbroath.


In the 1881 census for 12 Hannah St, Arbroath, James Raitt is 46, labourer at iron works; wife Elleanor is 45; son Alexander, 18, is an unemployed baker; daughters: Jane A., 16, general servant domestic; Charlotte, 9 and Jemina, 7 are both scholars; son Allen, 13, is a jute packer mill worker; David, 4; and John, 1 - the latter two both born Arbroath. Mary is not yet found in 1881. Interestingly, at 18 Hannah St is my great great grandmother Elizabeth (Dorward) Raitt and her daughter Margaret Philips Raitt.


In the 1891 census for Helen St, St Vigeans there is James S. Raitt, 56,  moulders labourer; wife Eleanor D., 55; and children: Mary K, 21, confectioners shop woman; Charlotte K, 21 canvas weaver; Jemima, 17, domestic servant; and John M., 11, scholar.


In 1901, as noted already above, living at 27 Spink St, St Vigeans we have

Eleanor Raitt, widow, 65, born Inverarity, a grocer and her daughter Mary K. Raitt, single, 31, born Arbroath and a grocer assistant.


Neither Eleanor nor Mary are yet found in the 1911 census.


It would seem that after her husband died, Eleanor Raitt joined forces with her daughter Mary to run a grocery business in Helen St perhaps in order to make ends meet or perhaps to help out in a thriving business. Although Eleanor is listed as the tenant/occupier in both Helen Street and Spink Street, it is daughter Mary who is listed in the Arbroath Directories as the tradesperson at 60 Helen Street. Her mother had the lease on the grocer’s shop which Mary would have run. Clearly Eleanor did not want to continue working much longer after she was 65. I wondered who the Annie McLaren might be who Mary Raitt took into the business after her mother dropped out. Could it have been Mary’s sister Jane Anne - but she married John Beattie. Intriguingly, their sister Jemima did marry James Mathewson McLaren and was living in Dundee in 1901 and in Arbroath in 1911 - but in the census she has no occupation - and anyway, why call her Annie? And I thought that Eleanor’s son, Alexander, unemployed baker in 1881 might have made the bread and cakes they sold, but he appears to have become a moulder like his father and was in Forfar with a wife in 1891 and in 1901 they had moved to Glasgow.

A trawl through the Arbroath Herald and Advertiser in the 1890s and 1900s yields several small ads placed by individuals named Raitt in Arbroath and so I thought it might be instructive to try and find out a little more about these people and whether and how they might be related. There seem to be four main sets of names: Mrs J. Raitt in Helen St;  J. Raitt in Panmure St; William Raitt in Guthrie Port; and J. and W Raitt, also in Guthrie Port. They did not place many ads it would seem and many were in the Miscellaneous columns and comprised just a line or two. Possibly cost of placing an advert was a factor, but it is more likely that there was no need to (except for announcing special events such as Christmas and New Year, or a move of premises, or a bargain sale) because people would pass by their shops, many would return, and free advertizing would be had by word of mouth from satisfied customers. What is perhaps surprizing, though, is that there appears to be no Grand Opening ad for any of the shops. This page is probably overly long and I shall seek to reduce it in due course by moving details to other pages once when I have gathered more information on some of the families.

J. Raitt


According to his adverts J. Raitt of 15 Panmure St (presumably his premises) was a boot and shoe-maker selling ladies and gents hand-sewed boots, shoes, slippers etc. He had made items by hand for nearly half a century and was obviously proud of his handiwork since his ads were fuller than most - offering quality, durability and real value to his customers with prices comparing favourably to machine-made boots and shoes.


I thought at first he might have been one on “my” Raitts - after all James Raitt, second son of my great great grandfather’s elder brother, Alexander Raitt, was a boot and shoe maker in Arbroath at that time. However, it becomes clear that the J. Raitt in question is actually John Raitt, a contemporary. Where my James Raitt worked and who for is not known - although there were more than a few shoemakers in Arbroath. Since he is not listed as a tradesman in the Yearbooks then presumably he did not have his own business.


In the Arbroath Herald and Advertiser for 22 October 1891, J. Raitt placed a lengthy ad which was repeated on 29 October 1891. The ad proudly proclaimed “best value for money, quality is the test of excellence, everybody admits that hand made-boots and shoes are vastly superior to the best that can be turned by machines of any kind - in fact there is no machine that can do the work like well-trained hands - a fact admitted by all who have any knowledge of boots and shoes, that when hand-made, they wear double the length of time that they will do if machine-made. This is worth thinking about.” The ad continues with “J. Raitt has made boots and shoes by hand, for nearly half a century, and he is prepared to offer better value in hand-made boots and shoes that can be turned out by any machine. If you want to go through the storms of winter with dry and comfortable feet, have a look at the quality and price of Raitt’s hand-made goods and give them a trial” (judicious capital letters everywhere!). Then, in italics, “For comfort, durability and real value, they stand first.” Next, “A large stock of hand-made boots and shoes of all sizes always on hand, at prices that will compare most favourably with those charged for machine-made goods.”  Some eighteen months later on 2 March 1893 there was an ad “Now going on. Special clearing sale. Great Reductions. J. Raitt’s great clearing sale of ladies’ and gent.’s hand-sewed boots, shoes, slippers etc is now going on. All the goods are hand-made from the very finest materials, and will be cleared out at immense reductions. Come early and secure the bargains [at] 15 Panmure Street, Arbroath.” A reduced text ad for  9 March 1893, simpley announced J. Raitt’s great clearing sale of ladies’ and gent.’s hand-sewed boots, shoes, slippers etc is now going on [at] 15 Panmure Street, Arbroath. The following year, on 8 March 1894, he again had a great clearing sale of hand-made boots and shoes. “J. Raitt begs to announce that his great clearing sale of the whole stock of ladies’ and gent.’s hand-sewed boots, shoes, slippers etc. is now going on.” Again he repeated that all the goods are hand-made from the very finest materials, and will be cleared out at immense reductions. He told customers to see the window for prices and again suggested they come early for bargains.


The reason for these clearing out sales (which many shops do of course) was probably because John Raitt wanted to retire. In the paper for 24 May 1894 came the announcement under the heading of hand-made boots and shoes - transfer of business. “John Raitt, bootmaker, 15 Panmure Street begs to thank his numerous customers and the general public for the liberal support accorded to him during the past fifty year. In announcing his retiral, he begs to intimate that he has transferred the business to his son, George S. K. Raitt, who has  had long experience in all branches of the business, and has been associated with him in its management for many years.’ The ad continues “In reference to the above, George S. k. Raitt would specially announce that all work entrusted to his care will be turned out in the very best style - first class materials only being used. By strict personal attention to business and moderate charges, he hopes to merit and secure a continuance of public patronage.” And here, for the first time we specifically see a reference to repairing - “All repairs, either hand or machine-made, will have careful attention, at lowest charges.” Unlike his father, George didn’t seem to advertize.


In the Arbroath Yearbook for 1891 and 1894, John Raitt, 15 Panmure Street, is listed in the trades and professions as a tradesman under Boot and Shoe Makers and Dealers (Retail). In the Yearbook for 1899 and 1901, it is George K. Raitt, 15 Panmure Street, who is listed.


Interestingly, John Raitt also had property to let - an ad for 12 February 1891 offers a two-roomed house to let at 11 Panmure Street. Splendid out-door accommodation. Apply, John Raitt, bootmaker. A later ad on 1 March 1906 offers an attic to let at 13 Panmure Street for a rent of £3 15s. Apply Raitt, bootmake, Panmure Street. (This will be George letting this property.) In the 1905 Valuation Roll for St Vigeans, George S. K. Raitt is the tenant/occupier of a dwelling house at 13 Panmure Street and the shop at no. 15. He is occupying the same premises in 1915 and 1920.


In fact, the family must have been doing rather well earlier for in the 1895 Valuation Roll for St Vigeans we learn that George S. Raitt was the tenant/occupier of a house 2nd flat at 13 Panmure Street and the shop at 15 Panmure Street; however John S. Raitt was the owner of both premises as well as being the owner of two rooms at 11, Panmure Street; 2nd flat at 11, Panmure Street (where he was also tenant/occupier), two separate one rooms at 13, Panmure Street, plus a store yard at 13 Lindsay Street. Ten years earlier, in the 1885 Valuation Roll, John was the tenant/occupier of the shop at 15 Panmure Street, 2nd flat at number 13 Panmure Street, and house tea store at 11 Panmure Street. However, the owner of all these properties, as well as the store year at 13 Lindsay Street, was Mrs John Raitt. They also had the properties in the 1975 Valuation Roll - with Mrs John Raitt owning the house low flat at no. 11, the 2nd flat at no. 13 and being the owner/tenant and occupier of the 2nd flat at no. 11 and the house shop at no. 15 in addition to the store yard in Lindsay Street (then no. 17). Quite why these properties were in the name of John’s wife as opposed to his own is not known - possibly for tax or similar purposes.


The John Raitt in question was actually John Sibbald Raitt, christened on 4 June 1823 in St Vigeans, the eldest of six children of James Raitt and Marjory Sibbald who married in 1882. James appears to have been the son of David Raitt and Margaret Watt with ancestors likely going back to David Reat born in St Vigeans in 1690 and including the Raitts of Conon and Colliston. John married Jane Maria Knight on 18 July 1851 in St Vigeans. She was born on 29 March 1832 in Fetteresso, Kincardineshire to David Knight and Emily Spencer (who seems to have been born in England.) John and Jane had ten children between 1852-1872 and although they are listed in my Raitt master file I have not yet actually followed up on all of them - however, I will now do this in the near future. John died on 10 December 1899 in Arbroath, ten years after his wife Jane who died on 28 November 1889 also in Arbroath. There is a little obituary in the Arbroath Herald for 14 December 1899 noting that he “was almost the last of the old colony of Scottish shoe-makers, many of whom were very well-known men in Arbroath a generation ago. He “stuck it to the last” to the end of his days, and always cherished an unwavering conviction that the old ways were the best in his trade.” This is certainly evidenced in his advertisements in the local newspaper.


John raised a stone in Arbroath Abbey to his wife’s memory as well as that of several of his children (see under graveyard inscriptions and also Raitt family graves. The eldest son, James, was born in 1853, but died in 1858. Another son, John Sibbald, born in 1861 died in 1890 - there is a terse announcement in the death column of the Arbroath newspaper where it says he is the second son - presumably young James was not counted, because the second son was George Spencer Knight Raitt who took over his father’s business. George was born on 8 November 1856 in St Vigeans - his father’s occupation was master shoemaker. As a shoemaker journeyman George married Mary Ann Tawser, born in 1861 in Longside, Aberdeenshire, on 31 December 1890 and they had five children between 1892-1901. I will look further into these. George died in Arbroath on 11 June 1938, his occupation being master bootmaker. It appears the business may have died with him because it looks like his brothers did not enter the profession, neither did his sons.


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1841 census for St Vigeans, living at Cotton of Colliston, is James Raitt, 45, farmer; wife Marjorie (40); children: John S. (15, boot closer); Margaret W. (13); Jess (11); David (9); Marjorie (7); and Barbara (5).


1851 census for 15 Panmure St., St Vigeans has John Raitt, 27, born St Vigeans, master boot maker employing five men; and his sister Marjorie, 18, born St Vigeans.


1861 census for 21 James St, Arbroath has John Rait (sic), 38, born St Vigeans, master boot maker; wife Jane M., 29, born Fetteresso, Kincardineshire); children George S. K., 4; Ann F., 1; John S., 2m - all born St Vigeans. Also there is Emily Knight, 55 (born 1806, England), mother-in-law, and shoemaker widow.


1871 census for 11 Panmure St, Arbroath has John Raitt, 48, born St Vigeans, master bootmaker employing 2 men and 1 boy; wife Jane, 39, born Fettersso; children George, 14; Ann, 12, scholar; John, 9, scholar; Marjory, 7; and David, 4 - all born St Vigeans.


1881 census for 11 Panmure St, St Vigeans has John Raitt, head, 57, bootmaker; wife Jane, 47, born Fettersso; sons George S. H., 23, unmarried, bootmaker; John, 19, unmarried, engineer (mechanic); David, 14, scholar; Frank G., 9, scholar; daughters Ann F., 21, unmarried, dressmaker; Marjory, 17, unmarried.


1891 census for 11 Panmure St, Arbroath has John S. Raitt, 66, widower, shoemaker; daughter Annie F., 31, housekeeper, unmarried; daughter Marjory S., 27, canvas weaver, unmarried; and son Frank G., 17 (1874), printer. Son George S. K., 35, shoemaker is living in Maule Street, Arbroath with his wife Mary S. K., 30, born Longside, Aberdeenshire.


Living at 13 Panmure Street, Arbroath in the 1901 census are George S. K. Raitt, 44, shoemaker, born Arbroath; wife Mary A., 40, born Longside, Aberdeenshire; children: Frank G., 9, scholar; John S., 8, scholar; Marjory C., 5; and Norman S., 0 - all born Arbroath.


In 1911, still at 13 Panmure St, we find George S. K. Raitt, 54, bootmaker (employer); wife Mary A., 50, born Buchan, Aberdeenshire; children: Frank G., 19, law clerk; John S., 18, law clerk; Marjory C., 15, at school; and Norman S., 10, at school.

Wm. Raitt


William Raitt of 9 Guthrie Port (presumably his shop) was a fruiterer and confectioner as well as a merchant. He was the local agent for the London-based Mac Tea Co. - Indian tea growers and importers. In addition he sold wreaths (in glass cases), potatoes and apples - and presumably other produce too. He placed fairly frequent ads for his wreaths but eventually sold off a fine collection of them at bargain cost prices. For instance, on 29 March 1894 he placed an ad in the Miscellaneous column of the Arbroath Herald and Advertiser announcing “Best potatoes, 3d and 4d per stone, wreathes in glass cases from 5s upwards, at Raitt’s Fruiterer and Confectioner, 9 Guthrie Port. On 10 May 1894 he placed a similar ad for “Best Champion potatoes, 4d per stone; Bruces, 3d; Onions, Egyptian, 3½ lbs for 4½d; wreaths in glass cases, 5s upwards. Raitt’s, 9 Guthrie Port. Presumably he had a glut of wreaths, for on 17 May 1894 he placed an ad saying “Wreaths, wreaths. - All who want to buy a wreath at a moderate price, should visit Raitt’s 9 Guthrie Port, and make a selection.” Expanding his stock, his ad for 22 November 1894 stated “Champion potatoes, per stone, 7d; American apples, 7lb for 1s 6d; M’Nee’s teas at 3½d, 4d, 5d and 6d per qr. At Raitt’s, 9 Guthrie Port.”  However, on 13 December 1894 he had an ad offering wreaths in glass cases to be sold off cheap. Come and see the bargains at Raitts, 9 Guthrie Port. He followed this up with an ad on 17 January 1895 exhorting customers (and others) to “try the Mac Tea Co’s teas at 1s 4d, 1s 8d, 1s 10d and 2s. Agent for Arbroath - William Raitt, Fruiterer and Confectioner, 9 Guthrie Port.” This is actually the first time we learn from his ads that his name is William. In the same issue is another ad - for the London and Edinburgh-based Indian tea growers and importers, the Mac Tea Co., Ltd naming Wm. Raitt, merchant, 19 Guthrie Port, Arbroath as the local agent. Whether William himself placed the ad or the Mac Tea Co. is not clear - though given the mistake in the address, then maybe it was the latter. Exactly the same ad appeared on 7 February 1895. The wreath part of his business was clearly not doing so well! On 4 April 1895, William had a removal sale - fine selection of wreaths to be sold off at cost price. He urged people to come early and secure a bargain. Then on 21 May 1895 he placed an ad “Bargains, bargains. Wreaths in glass cases, complete, from 5s up. Intending purchasers should visit Raitt’s, 9 Guthrie Port.” Quite what kind of wreaths these were is not clear - were they for placing on memorials, used in funerals, hanging on the front door - though why they should be in glass cases (and complete!) unless it was to preserve any freshness is a mystery - or did people simply collect such items?!


So who was this William Raitt? Interestingly, in the listings of trades and professions in the Arbroath Yearbooks for the period, there is no mention of William Raitt as a tradesman even though there are headings such as Confectioners; Fruiterers, Florists and Greengrocers; and Grocers (both licenced and unlicenced). There also seems to be no record of him in the Valuation Rolls (especially 1895) being the owner, occupier or tenant in Guthrie Port. However, the 1895 Roll shows that a William Raitt is the owner of two rooms at 86 Helen Street, and also the owner, tenant and occupier of an attic at 88 Helen Street. (The 1899 and 1901 list of voters gives Wm Raitt, factory worker, at 88 Helen Street - so this almost certainly is the same person.) A William Raitt - possibly the same man? - is also the owner of two rooms at 90 Helen Street. In the 1905 Valuation Roll William Raitt is still the tenant occupier of the dwelling house at 88 Helen Street, while another (?) William Raitt is the tenant/occupier of house and shop, Gowanbank Estate of Denfield.


And there do not seem to be any relevant William Raitts in the 1891 and 1901 censuses unless he was moonlighting from another job. In 1891 there is a William Raitt, 74, a married farmer at Colliston Mill; a William Raitt, 26, unmarried, at Highlands of Conon, but he is a quarrier; and another aged 55, unmarried, is a flax reeler (overseer) at Gowanbank (this will be the one who was at 88 Helen Street in 1901). In the 1901 census we have William Raitt, 65, flax yarn beamer, at 88 Helen Street (with his son, also William, 21, an apprentice engine pattern maker; William Raitt, the quarrier or now stone quarry man, 36, single, and still at Highlands; then lastly William Raitt, 29, married, restaurant keeper, at 92 Helen Street (this is my grandfather!). This William might possibly be the owner of the two rooms at 90 Helen Street in the 1895 Valuation Roll. In any event it is very interesting to see that individuals named William Raitt own and/or occupy properties at 86, 88, 90 and 92 Helen Street, while David Raitt was the tenant/occupier of two rooms at 69 Helen Street and Helen Raitt was the tenant/occupier of a shop and back shop at 60 Helen Street and an attic at number 61!


On balance I think that this William Raitt is probably my grandfather. In the 1891 census he was a bar tender in Glasgow and clearly returned to live at the family home (which in 1891 was 15 St Vigeans Road or in 1901 24 Howard Street) because his address at the time of his marriage on 2 January 1899 was given as 24 Howard Street. However his occupation at marriage was given as insurance agent. His army discharge papers in 1919 note that he had been variously a waiter and ship’s steward - and he had also been a baker and restaurant keeper, and at his death in 1928 his occupation was a drapery traveller. If this is the indeed the right William, then he must have returned from Glasgow between April 1891 and March 1894 - probably sometime earlier than that if he had to find premises and set up his shop.


In the 1894 Arbroath Yearbook, the list of male voters shows David Raitt, painter, living at 92 Helen Street - this is William’s elder brother. In 1899 he was living at 31 Hannah Street. However, it is puzzling to see that neither William nor his mother, Mary, appear to be in the list of voters in 1894 or 1899. William possibly gave up his fruit and tea shop to join with his younger brother John Purvis Raitt, a pastry chef, in setting up a pie, pastry and cake business. (see J & M. Raitt) Interestingly, it seems as though his premises at 9 Guthrie Port had been taken over by Alf Matthews. An ad place in the Arbroath Herald and Advertiser for 22 September 1898 under Specific Articles for Sale says “ Alf. T. Matthew’s subscription sale. - A. T. M. will be greatly obliged if all subscription books are returned to 9 Guthrie Port, or 5 Ladyloan, by to-morrow (Friday) evening.”

J. & W. Raitt


J. and W. Raitt of 30 Guthrie Port (previously at 41 Guthrie Port) were known for their fresh pies and bridies; pastry and biscuits (also confections); buns and shortbread; and soda scones and cookies. In addition to possibly supplying Mrs J. Raitt in Helen St they also catered for balls and marriage parties. They advertized a few times for a strong lad to work in their pastry baking trade - preferably with some experience.


With a little judicious research I think I have pieced together their baking and pastry shop business and it would appear that John and William Raitt took over going concerns, not once, but twice, and that is the reason they moved from 41 Guthrie Port to 30 Guthrie Port! I think it is important to give a little of the history as revealed by advertisements, not least because it shows the kind of products they came to offer. It was a search of the ads by location name as opposed to surname that has thrown up some very useful, interesting and pertinent information! As far back as 1891 J. B. Dick was a pastry baker and confectioner at 30 Guthrie Port offering, in his ad in the Arbroath Herald and Advertiser for 5 March 1891, “Forfar bridies and pies fresh every day. Also, very description of plain and fancy tea bread fresh daily. Pies and bridies up top a late hour on Friday and Saturday. Lemonade and ginger beer. Sitting accommodation. Real Forfar bridies, 2d, 3d, and 6d. Pies, 1d and 2d.” He had placed a shorter ad on 9 April 1891 to the effect that it was J. B. Dick’s Forfar bride shop at 30 Guthrie Port offering bridies daily and every description of pastry. Sitting accomodation. Aerated waters. Tea & coffee. A similar short ad was placed on 30 April 1891. These are the first intimations we have that the shop had also a kind of cafe on the premises. But he moved about this time from 30 Guthrie Port to 41 Guthrie Port, for on 7 May 1891 he placed an ad for “Dick’s Forfar bridies - daily - made from prime lean steak, 2d, 3, and 6d. Ball and private parties supplied. Every kind of buns and biscuits, daily. Removing to 41 Guthrie Port.” Then on 14 May 1891 he ran an ad which stated, along with the usual products from the Forfar bridie shop, that he was removing on Wednesday First (presumably that was the next Wednesday, i.e 20 May 1891). On 28 May 1891 and again on 4 June and 11 June 1891 he placed an ad noting that the Forfar bridie shop had removed to 41 Guthrie Port. The shop was offering bridies daily plus buns, muffins, fruit cakes, cookies, tea and coffee biscuits. Shops were supplied and he also wanted an apprentice.


On 6 June 1895 there was a proud advert proclaiming “At the Forfar bride shop, J. B. Dick, 41 Guthrie Port, Fresh every morning - cinnamon, hackle, tea and coffee biscuits, Paris buns, cookies, muffins, and every other kind of pastry and biscuits - quality perfection - to be had at most retail shops and grocers, and at J. B. Dick’s 41 Guthrie Port. On 19 December 1895, for New Year 1896, he returned thanks to his numerous customers and begged to remind them that he would be in a position to supply all kinds of cakes, including as a speciality lettered shortbread (on the shortest notice) at very moderate prices, plus marriage and christening cakes to order. The address is Forfar Bridie Shop, 41 Guthrie Port. Exactly the same add was placed on 2 January 1896. On 2 April 1896 Dick was offering hot X buns.s. But the New Year ad (for 1897) ad was used again a year later on 3 December 1896. A frequent advertizer, the one placed on 4 March 1897 boasts that Dick’s bridies, pie and pastry are biggest and best. Ask for them and see that you get them!


Then on 23 September 1897 we come across an ad to the effect “Bridie and pastry baking business for sale; doing a good and profitable business; Rent of shop and bakehouse, only £8. Apply, 41 Guthrie Port.” The same ad was repeated on 7 October 1897. It would appear that John and William were successful in their bid to take over J. B. Dick’s Forfar bridie and pie baking business at 41 Guthrie Port and they commenced placing their own ads. In the Arbroath Herald and Advertiser for 18 August 1898, they placed an ad for a strong lad wanted for baking trade. Apply J & W. Raitt, 41 Guthrie Port. On 8 September 1898, there was a simple ad “Try Raitt’s for pies and bridies, 1d, 2d and 3d each. Soda scones and pastry fresh every morning. Sitting accommodation. Raitt’s 42 Guthrie Port.” Then on 13 October 1898, they advertized for a lad, about 16, wanted to learn pastry baking. Apply, J. & W. Raitt, 41 Guthrie Port. Almost a month later on 10 November 1898 there was a similar ad for a “Strong lad, about 16, wanted for pastry baking. Wages to commence, [at] 7s. Apply. J. & W. Raitt, 41 Guthrie Port.” Another ad in the same issue noted “For a good pie or bridie, tea, coffee etc., visit Raitt’s Forfar bridie shop, 41 Guthrie Port.”


However, the brothers (for that is what they undoubtedly were) had availed themselves of another opportunity. On 27 October 1898 an ad had appeared in the Arbroath Herald and Advertiser stating Confectionary & Baking Business and Stock-in-Trade for Sale. The ad continued “To be sold, the stock-in-trade and goodwill of the confectionery and baking business carried on by the late Miss Elizabeth Johnston, at no. 30 Guthrie Port. The stock is small, and this is an excellent opening. Apply to Messrs J. & W. Macdonald, Solicitors, Arbroath, who will receive offers.” On 24 November 1898 another ad appeared this time announcing “Sweets and Confections for Sale. There will be sold by public roup on Saturday First, 26th inst., at 30 Guthrie Port, the whole confectionery and stock-in-trade and fittings which belonged to the late Miss Johnstone, including show and other bottles, and a varied and excellent collection of chocolates and sweetmeats, also oven suitable for small bakery business. Sale to begin at half-past two o’clock afternoon. Terms - cash. David Douglas, Auctioneer.” A few days later, on 1 December 1898, a terse ad announced that there was a shop to sublet at 30 Guthrie Port and to apply to J. &. W. Macdonald,  Solicitors.


John and William clearly took advantage of this excellent opening on offer, not only to acquire new stock, but also to move into perhaps bigger and better premises or location. At what stage Elizabeth Johnston had taken over the lease at 30 Guthrie Port - and whether she too had the property at 41 Guthrie Port at some point - is not (yet?) known. It is possible that, when Dick moved from 30 to 41 Guthrie Port (for unknown reasons) in May 1891, she was successful in getting his shop to set up her own similar business. The negotiations to buy the stock and presumably rent the premises and divest themselves of 41 Guthrie Port clearly did not take John and William too long because on 9 February 1899 in the Situations Wanted and Vacant column there was an short ad asking for a “Strong lad, wanted for pastry baking, one sometime at trade preferred. Apply J. & W. Raitt, 30 Guthrie Port.” The address was a few doors away and in that same issue, the brothers had an ad which stated “ J. & W. Raitt beg to inform their numerous customers that they have removed to that shop, 30 Guthrie Port (formerly occupied by Miss E. Johnston) where they hope to be favoured with a visit from their numerous patrons. Pies and bridies, pastry and biscuits, soda scones and cookies. Fresh every morning. 30 Guthrie Port.” Less than a month later, on 2 March 1899, they were advertizing for a lad about 16 for pastry baking. Whether this was a replacement lad or an additional lad because the business was growing is not known. On 13 July 1899, they wanted a strong lad for pastry baking - exhorting applicants to apply at once. At the end of the year on 21 December 1899 there was an ad with the message “Try J & W Raitt’s buns and shortbreads, pastry and confections, pies and bridies. Balls and marriage parties supplied. All orders have prompt attention. 30 Guthrie Port.” The same ad was placed on 28 December 1899.


I am pretty sure that J & W Raitt were John Purvis Raitt and his older brother William Raitt (my grandfather). In the 1891 census for 15 St Vigeans Road, St Vigeans John is 16, a heckle machine worker, living at home with his mother, aunt, and brother David, apprentice painter. In the 1901 census he is living at 24 Howard Street, St Vigeans, aged 26 and a pastry baker on own account (i.e. self-employed), with his mother and aunt. At his marriage on 31 December 1901 (in Glasgow) his occupation was given as baker journeyman. While in the 1911 census for Earlston Avenue in Glasgow he is described as a 36 year-old pastry baker.


I have discussed William Raitt above. How much of the baking he did is not known - certainly given his various jobs (in 1894 and 1895 a grocer, later in 1895 he was a traveller, in January 1899 at marriage an insurance agent, and after a spell in the baker’s shop with his brother, after moving to Glasgow he was in 1911 an insurance agent again, and a drapery traveller at his death in 1828) he seems not to have been such a dedicated baker as his brother! However, with his experience of bar work in Glasgow, waiter and ship’s steward (probably when he was first living in Glasgow), he was most likely in charge of the refreshment room that the brothers had in addition to the bakers shop. In the 1901 census, as noted, William’s occupation was given as restaurant keeper on own account (self-employed). But he may very well have kept up as an insurance agent, because at the birth of his son, also William, in May 1901, this is his occupation given.


In the list of trades and professions in the Arbroath Yearbook for 1899 we find W. & J. Raitt, 41 Guthrie Port, under Bakers, and J. & W. Raitt, 41 Guthrie Port under Confectioners. Then in the 1901 Yearbook, we find not only W. & J. Raitt, 32 Guthrie Port, listed under Bakers, but also J. & W. Raitt, 32 Guthrie Port listed under Confectioners, as well as J. & W. Raitt, 32 Guthrie Port listed under Refreshment Rooms. I would imagine this to be a small cafe - some tables and chairs in the shop itself where customers could have a cup of tea or coffee and a cake - rather than a restaurant proper. It is interesting that the address is given as 32 rather than 30. Whether this is an error or they had expanded to the property next door is not known.


It looks though that the joint venture was fairly short-lived - only a couple of years. Sometime between May and December 1901, the whole family moved to Glasgow - John still a pastry chef, William still an insurance agent, and brother David still a painter.

G. H. Raitt

Mention should also be made of the shop at 125 Baker Street, Enfield, London belonging to George Horatio Raitt, picture frame maker. Details of George and his family and ancestors can be found on the London Raitts page. The photo below is of his shop in 1929.