The History of Blairgowrie's oldest legal practice
Alexander Robertson (1813-1889), a native of Blairgowrie, founded the legal firm of A. & R. Robertson & Black in 1838.
Alexander's father, Robert, had been appointed Agent for the very first Bank in the town - the Western Bank, which was established on 17th August 1832. Bank Business was carried out then over an Ironmonger's shop at The Cross, possibly where the former Post Office now stands. Later, banking business was moved to Leslie Street then to the High Street.
Alexander, the second generation of banker Robertsons became joint Agent with his father, when the Western Bank merged with The Bank of Scotland in 1838. Alexander Robertson was prominent in the affairs of the town and has been described as being "bred to the law". He was the Town Clerk of Blairgowrie for many years, and Council meetings were held in his law office. He retired in 1879 and died in Edinburgh ten years later.
It has been recorded that he was an agreeable genial man of obliging disposition who was a principal promoter of the Blairgowrie Gas Works - which proved to be a great benefit to the town. He was then a member of the first School Board of 1872. During his twenty years as president, the Blairgowrie Curling Club became one of the foremost in the country, and gained many medals during his period in office. He was influential in the building of St. Mary's Parish Church, which was demolished in 1973. The site is now a housing complex.
Alexander's third son, Robert, was born in 1840, educated in Blairgowrie, Perth and Edinburgh - and he followed in the footsteps of his father to become both bank agent and town Clerk (he became joint Clerk along with his father in 1862).
On entering the legal business, the firm's name changed to A & R Robertson. It is a matter of interest that it was Robert Alexander who produced the fine ballad "The Green Ladye O' Newton". He, like his father before him, was a man who figured prominently in the community - and in 1902, in recognition of his long connection with the town's affairs, he was honoured with a public banquet in the Royal Hotel, Blairgowrie.
In the 1980s's Robert Robertson Black, nephew of Alexander Robertson, entered the firm - and the name changed again - this time to A. & R. Robertson & Black, a name which has remained ecer since.
Robert Robertson Black's son Keith (1914 - 2005) entered the firm in 1944 after being invalided out of the Black Watch. On the death of his father he assumed control of the firm. In 1937 his sister, Ray (Mrs. Neish) entered the firm for a number of years. Five of Robert's family of six were all named after beauty spots in the area - Rau (Rae Loch) - Keith (Keith Falls) - Isla (River) - Clunie (Loch) and Blair (after Blairgowrie).
Although he retired in 1980 Keith Black was still a well-known figure in Blairgowrie. During his active life he was involved in many aspects of the life and leisure pursuits of the town and Blairgowrie Golf Club at Rosemount was described as his second home.
In 1951, Mr. James McPherson joined the firm and on his sudden and untimely death in 1986, Mr. John P. Gray became senior partner. Mr. Gray qualified in Master of Arts and Bachelor of Laws from Edinburgh University. He is a Writer to Her Majesty's Signet and is Clerk to the General Commissioners of Income Tax.
The long established firm has a legal and support staff of sixteen having since expanded into the property market, with Property Departments in Blairgowrie, Alyth and Coupar Angus.
Society of Writers to her Majesty's Signet.
Originally, the Signet was the private seal of the early Scottish Kings, and Writers to the Signet were those authorised to supervise its use - and later, to act as clerks to the Courts.
The earliest recorded use of the Signet was in 1369, and Writers to the Signet were included as members of the College of Justice when it was established in 1532. But the Society did not take definite shape until 1594, when the King's Secretary, as keeper of the Signet, granted Commissions to a Deputy keeper and eighteen other writers.
The function of the society has of course changed much since then, but every summons initiating an action in the Court of Session still "passes the Signet", meaning that it is stamped with the Royal Seal. The present Signet was made by the Royal Mint in 1954.
Mr. John P. Gray was invited to represent the WS Society by taking part in the procession to St. Giles' Cathedral at a special service of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, on Sunday 22 May, 2005.