Collection MS 102 - Peter Carmichael of Arthurstone (1809-1891)

Identity area

Reference code

MS 102


Peter Carmichael of Arthurstone (1809-1891)


  • 1837-2019 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1.66 metres

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Peter Carmichael was born in Fife on 21 March 1809, and was the son of James Carmichael, a local flax mill manager who later established a mill in Dundee. He was educated at Dundee Grammar School and apprenticed at Monifieth Foundry in the making of textile machinery. Carmichael worked as an engineer in London and Leeds until 1833 when he returned to Dundee to become mill manager for Baxter Brothers.

Peter Carmichael was made a partner in 1852 and senior partner in 1872 (on the death of Sir David Baxter), remaining in close association with the firm until his death on 6 May 1891. He was described as the 'great motive power in the development of textile manufacturing in Dundee'.

Peter married Margaret Carmichael (no relation), daughter of the engineer James Carmichael and they had three sons, James Drummond Carmichael, Charles Carmichael (who died in infancy) and William Baxter Carmichael, and a daughter Grace Margaret Carmichael. All of his children suffered periods of ill health and all predeceased their father.

In 1869 Carmichael purchased the estate of Arthurstone near Meigle in Perthshire, and in the 1880s erected a church at the nearby village of Ardler in memory of his son, James Drummond Carmichael (1849-1881). He has been described as an expert manager of men and inventor of machines and a concerned and active public citizen, with wide interests in nature, religion and church affairs, literature and art. Peter Carmichael was a noted philanthropist, giving generous donations to various churches, Dundee Royal Infirmary and the Mars Training Ship among many other causes. He was one of the founders of Dundee Sailors Home. When he died his estate was valued at £516,000 and his will included several bequests to charitable organisations including £3000 to Dundee Royal Infirmary.

Archival history

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Biographical works. c.1891;Miscellaneous notes and accounts. 1837-1990; Patents. 1846-1859; Cash books (James Carmichael). 1874-1924; Photographs. C 1830-1890;Correspondence from Alexander Monfries to Peter Carmichael. 1881-1890; Correspondence between D. Bruce Peebles, and Peter Carmichael 1882-1890; Correspondence from Thomas Marsden. 1845 - 1847; Correspondence addressed to Peter Carmichael and Baxter Brothers, Dundee. Letters are principally from James Carmichael, brother of Peter, writing from Ailly-sur-Somme, France, 1845-1847; Correspondence from Messrs Sheil and Small, solicitors. 1882 - 1883; Correspondence from William Japp. 1890; Miscellaneous correspondence, mainly to Peter Carmichael from family, friends, business associates and others. c 1844-1889; Correspondence relating to the Trust Disposition and Settlement by Sir David Baxter of Kilmaron, Bart. 1869-1879; Miscellaneous bundle, pertains to estate and family matters. 1870-1918; Correspondence relating to a trust fund settled on Captain Ludovic M. Carmichael. 1876-1877; Financial material relating to income received by Peter Carmichael from a variety of sources. 1879 - 1885; Miscellaneous items and correspondence dating mainly from the first half of the twentieth century. Relates to the origins, history and genealogy of the Carmichael family and to Arthurstone House. 1903 - 1960; Arthurstone, Loburn, New Zealand. 2019; Plans. 1837-1909


Not expected

System of arrangement

Usually chronological within series.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Open for consultation subject to preservation requirements. Access must also conform to the restrictions of the Data Protection Act (2018), General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR, 2018) and any other relevant legislation or restrictions. Clinical information is closed for 100 years.

Conditions governing reproduction

Reproduction is available subject to preservation requirements. Charges may be made for this service, and copyright and other restrictions may apply; please check with the Duty Archivist.

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

The records are on paper and include photographs and plans.

Finding aids

Descriptive list. Subject source lists and databases are also available.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

* MS 11 Baxter Brothers & Co Ltd contains a notebook and other records relating to Peter Carmichael. MS 105/XX Shiell and Small: Executries and Trusts MS 390 Records relating to James Carmichael, 1776-1853, Engineer, Dundee and family
* MS 390

Related descriptions

Notes area


Substantial extracts from the autobiographical reminiscences of Peter Carmichael and from letters collected and edited by Alexander Monfries (a friend of Carmichael and tutor to his children), are published in Enid Gauldie, ed., The Dundee Textile Industry, 1790-1885 (Scottish History Society, 1969). This work is focused on the Dundee Textile Industry 1790-1885. Enid Gauldie writes (p.xli): "Cuts have been made where the subject is of the narrowest family interest and in particular when it concerns, as it often did, the ill-health and misfortune of Carmichael's children, none of whom outlived him." In fact, some of the "family" material would be interesting to anyone concerned with Victorian middle-class life in that period - family life with its sense of humour, holidays, religion, the Victorian view of death, the treatment of mental health (Carmichael's son William) and other illnesses, views of nature, literature and art and how the wealthy Dundonian spent his money. In addition, other subjects of interest omitted include: national and local events, the local church and religion (including a delightful story about Sabbath observance), references to the Bereans, Rowland Hill and Moody and Sankey; various social and economic matters - e.g. a Scottish earthquake, aurora borealis, the storm at the time of the Tay Bridge disaster; lint and the spinning trade, particularly near Crieff; flax production, in particular near Glamis; local education; the Temperance movement; the moral Victorian factory manager's attitude to his work and workers; industrial pollution (smoke control); factory fires; railways; the coming of electric light and telephone; Scots in London;

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Description control area

Description identifier

MS 102

Rules and/or conventions used

Description compiled in line with the following standards: International Council on Archives, ISAD(G) General International Standard Archival Description; International Council on Archives, ISAAR(CPF): International Standard Archival Authority Record for Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families; National Council on Archives, Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997



Dates of creation revision deletion


  • English



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