Streetwise: Gray’s Close

Gray’s Close

Gray’s Close, in the High Street, which was contiguous to Rankine’s Court, has disappeared entirely. No definite trace has been found of the Gray who gave his name to the Close; but so early as 1520 the name was so applied to the passage in documents of that time.

For generations the family of Smith, clock-makers-or “knock-smiths,” as they were called – lived in one of the houses in this Close, from about 1660 till at least 1732, when the existing clock in the old Town House was made and erected by one of them. Here also resided in one of the mansions, only recently removed, no less than six Provosts of Dundee, as shown in the following lists:

William Kinneris, 1646–47; Sir Thomas Mudie, 1648–53; David Maxwell, 1723–25; James Fairweather, 1729–34; Patrick Maxwell, 1735–36; David Brown, 1820–25. These names might give some dignity to the principal mansion in Gray’s Close. Sir Thomas Mudie was Provost when the Siege of Dundee took place in 1651; David Maxwell of Bogmill was projector of Newport-on-Tay, and became bankrupt by that speculation; and it was James Fairweather that proposed and carried through the building of the old Town House in 1732.

Source: ‘Glimpses of Old and New Dundee’ – A.H. Millar, January 1925