Very few Dundonians know the origin of the name Peep o’ Day Lane, and are apt to associate it in some remote way with the Irish rebels of 1798 who call themselves “Peep o' Day Boys”. But it has a much more aristocratic history than that. In a map of Dundee dated 1803, there is shown as existing at this spot the Peep o’ Day Mansion, which had formerly been the residence of the Hon. Walter Ogilvy of Clova, who became sixth titular Earl of Airlie. This Walter Ogilvy was the younger brother of the famous Lord Ogilvy of 1745, who raised a Forfarshire Regiment to fight for Prince Charlie, and escaped from Culloden to France.
Walter was born at Cortachy Castle in 1733, educated at Edinburgh University and was admitted as an Advocate in 1757. He never practised his profession, but led the life of a younger son of the nobility. It seems probable that he had built this mansion either at the time of his first marriage in 1761, or at the time when his brother, Lord Ogilvy, returned from France in 1778.
He was married for the second time in 1780, and lived at Peep o’ Day Mansion when not in resident at Balnaboth in Glenprosen. By his second wife he had eleven children. When his nephew, David, son of Lord Ogilvy, died in April, 1812, Walter succeeded to the title. He died in 1819, aged 86 years.
His eldest son, David, became seventh Earl of Airlie, and the Peep o’ Day Mansion was abandoned. It was removed when the Dundee Gas Works were established in Dock Street; but the name of the old aristocratic dwelling still survives in “Peep o’ Day Lane”. It is probable that the name was descriptive of the position of the house – facing towards the east where the dawn would be visible.
Adapted from: ‘Glimpses of Old and New Dundee’ – A.H. Millar, January 1925