Jesse was a chemist, at the cutting edge of the Industrial Revolution in
Newcastle manufacturing dyes and drugs, and subsequently, following the
financial failure of this business, as a distiller and nursery gardener in
Edinburgh. His career is an example of Edinburgh's participation in the dynamic,
turbulent economic development of the Regency period.
- - August 1811
Distillery (now the site of Lochrin Place) from 1807-1811
- Religious views
- His son John was baptised in infancy but was
'christened' by Sandford. Elsewhere in the register Sandford explains the distinction:
'privately baptised at birth, and afterwards received into the church
- Prior to coming to Edinburgh he had been a manufacturer
of chemicals in Newcastle, his main partner being Frederick Glenton. They are
described variously as 'Chemists, Druggists, and Colourmen' and 'Manufacturers
of Sal Ammoniac'. In 1800 the firm was 'Taylor, Glenton and Ness', but that year
John Taylor was replaced by John Peacock (8). In 1803 the firm folded, and the
process of resolving the business's affairs continued until 1809: he was finally
certified bankrupt in July 1808 (8,9). By 1807 he was in Edinburgh and appears
to have been a clerk at Lochrin Distillery (3) and in business in James
Campbell's nursery (6). Lochrin Distillery was founded about 1780 by John Haig.
The still house was excavated in 2005 prior to the site's residential
development. Lochrin was a large industrial operation, investing in new
technology, and running into financial trouble, as it tried to keep ahead of the
excise. The Haigs also had a distillery at Canonmills. There was a boom in
industrial whiskey production in the 1780s following the ban on private stills,
and much was imported to England for gin until a prohibitive excise caused this
trade to collapse. The distillery ran into trouble in 1810 but appears still to
have been operating in 1814, avoiding the excise by producing spirit as fast as
possible in low-volume stills (resulting in poor quality). These barriers to
producing good quality whiskey began to be removed in 1814 but the distillery
closed at some point. It was open in 1821 and continued to operate
intermittently until 1848 (4).
- Wealth at death
- He died intestate, and must have had entangled
business affairs, since his creditors met after his death to settle his affairs.
The English and Scottish creditors and business partners were still arguing
about them two years later. (5)
- Assessed taxes 1811
- His house had 16 windows and a rental value of
- Chapel connection
- baptism, 1810
- Marion Ness
- John (1803), 'Christened on this occasion (1810), having
been baptised in infancy', Marion (1810)
- Janet Haig was a member of
his employer's family.
- Registers of Charlotte Chapel (NAS CH12/3)
- Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1818
- Assessed taxes for the Burgh of Edinburgh year ending at Whitsunday 1811, National Archives of Scotland E327/51
- Richard Heawood, 'Excavations at Lochrin Distillery, Edinburgh', Industrial Archaeology Review 31.1 (2009) pp.34-53 (available online)
- Caledonian Mercury, 22 August 1811, 11 September 1813.
- Jesse Ness' Will, National Archives of Scotland
- See Alexander Robertson
- London Gazette, 16 December 1800, 17 March 1804, 14 June 1808, 4 November 1809
- Bury and Norwich Post 27 July 1803.
- National Library of Scotland Town Plans / Views, 1580-1919 (Edinburgh), online accessed 1 November 2011.
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