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The Story of The 1883 Map of Auchtermuchty by George Jamieson

Unravelling the Mystery of the Map

In early 2018 a local resident mentioned that she had an old map that the Heritage Group might be interested in.  Of course, the answer was a resounding, “Yes please”!  She had bought this map some years previously in an antique shop in St Andrews Road, Cupar as a present for her husband. 

The map was loaned to the group and after some searching, a facility was found that could copy it and produce digitised copies.  The original is now nicely re-framed and is back with its owner. 

It is a very large-scale map dated 1883. It was drawn by George Jamieson, architect, Dundee and is entitled:–
Map of the Town and Surroundings of Auchtermuchty - Giving the Dates of the Houses that have Dates upon them”.  

As well as detailing these date stones, there is a huge amount of minute detail even down to telegraph poles, wells and summer houses. It is a very useful reference tool for the Heritage Group and extremely interesting for anyone who knows Auchtermuchty.

Immediately it became clear that this map may be a one-off and it raised some questions such as:-

1.  Who was George Jamieson?
2.  Why would a Dundee architect make a map of Auchtermuchty?
3.  Where has it been since 1883?

So, some detective work began.

1883 Zoom Map.JPG
1883 map.jpg

1. Who was George Jamieson?

George Jamieson was born in 1862 to parents George and Isabella Jamieson (nee Rutherford) in Dundee. In 1871 the family was living in a tenement at 13 Ellen Street. George Jamieson Snr was employed as “Mill & factory time keeper”.  Research revealed that both of George's parents were born in Auchtermuchty and they married and lived in the town before moving to Dundee – presumably for better work prospects.
George’s father was brought up in Bowiehill, Auchtermuchty, in a family of weavers. George’s uncle, David Jamieson, had a chemist shop at the foot of Kilnheugh.

According to the website of the Scottish Architects, young George was apprentice to Alexander Hutcheson of Dundee from 1875 to 1879, remaining as improver until 1881.  He then spent four years in the office of James Maclaren before becoming chief assistant to Alexander McCulloch, who took him into partnership in 1894.
As well as becoming a successful architect in Dundee he had a remarkable record of service in Tay Square Church, Dundee. He became Session Clerk in 1900 and was also superintendent and organist of the Sunday School from 1896 . He died in 1939.

2.  Why would a Dundee architect make a map of Auchtermuchty?

There doesn’t appear to be an answer to this question so far, but it has been suggested that as George was only 21 at the time and not quite finished his training, this might have been a project towards his qualification as an architect – an apprentice piece?  We can also assume that he still had close family ties with the town.

3. Where has the map been since 1883?

The whereabouts for the first 50 years are a little unknown but an article already in the Heritage Group’s possession yielded this interesting snippet………..

In February and March 1934 the Rev James Bell, minister of the South United Free Church on Burnside, wrote a series of three articles in the Fife News entitled “Auchtermuchty Fifty Years ago – Reminiscences of the Burgh’s many Activities”.  In the opening paragraph of the first article James Bell writes “In a recent issue of the “Fife News” it was stated that the Town Council of Auchtermuchty had been presented with a map of the town as it had existed fifty years ago, in 1883.  This map is a beautifully executed piece of work by George Jamieson, architect, Dundee, who is a (nephew) of Mr David Jamieson, an old well-known native of the burgh, whose chemist’s
shop was at the foot of the Kilnheugh

The original Fife News article indicates that "the gift was handed to the Provost in fulfilment of an old promise by Mr Thomas Jamieson from Glasgow".  Thomas Jamieson, a house joiner of Glasgow, was a first cousin of architect George Jamieson, so it could be assumed that the map stayed in the Jamieson family from 1883 to 1934. 

During the 1970/80s Ted White of John White & Son (Weighing Machines) Ltd clearly remembers seeing the map hanging in a solicitors office in Cupar.  How the map found its way from the Auchtermuchty Town Chambers to a Cupar solicitor’s office was then investigated.

During the 1920s and 1930s the Town Clerk of Auchtermuchty Town Council was a Mr Alfred E Grosset (1872 - 1946). His obituary in the Dundee Evening Telegraph of 29 March 1946 gives us some relevant points in his life.
In 1935 he retired from the position of senior partner in the firm of Messrs Drummond, Johnstone & Grosset, writers, Crossgates, Cupar.”  “For 20 years he was town clerk of Auchtermuchty, being succeeded by his nephew, Mr I. W. Mclnnes.  When Mclnnes joined the Forces, Mr Grosset returned to look after the affairs of the town.”  “Mr Grosset, who was unmarried, was appointed Hon. Sheriff (of Cupar) in February 1937”.

Perhaps during a refurbishment or re-organisation of solicitors offices in Cupar the map was disposed of and ended up in the antique shop, got sold and brought back where it belongs.

This treasure has certainly created a lot of interest and copies now hang in living rooms around the town!  If you would like to purchase a copy of the 1883 map please get in contact with us at 

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