Adam Dawson (distiller)

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For other people with the same name, see Adam Dawson.

Adam Dawson (27 January 1793 – 1 October 1873) was a Provost of Linlithgow, West Lothian, Scotland and owner of St Magdalene Distillery in Linlithgow.


A prominent Scottish industrialist, Adam Dawson was born at Bonnytoun, Linlithgow, on 27 January 1793, the son of a distiller, Adam Dawson (1747–1836) and Frances McKell or Meikel (married 1783}.


The grave of Adam Dawson, St Michael's churchyard, Linlithgow

Adam Dawson was educated at Edinburgh University and was in many ways a busy man despite being subject to severe rheumatism through all his life. Occupying the position of a country gentleman he farmed his own land. A keen politician, he interested himself in all public affairs in his county; he was for nearly twenty years Provost of the burgh of Linlithgow (1830–1848), an office which his father had held before him, in which his brother succeeded him, and which his eldest son also held. He took an active part in the business of the firm of A & J Dawson of St Magdalene Distillery, of which he was a principal partner.

In politics he was an earnest and consistent Whig.[1] He was a keen supporter of Distillers in Scotland and had an interview with Sir Charles Wood, Chancellor of the Exchequer, at Downing Street to support Scotch Distillers.[2] He held the Chief Magistracy of Linlithgow, JP and was instrumental in the rebuilding of the Burgh Halls, Linlithgow, following a fire, which is commemorated by an inscription above the Burgh Halls, "Destroyed by fire 1847 restored 1848 Adam Dawson of Bonnytoun Provost".

Adam Dawson published a series of letters in the Falkirk Herald which he called "Rambling Recollections of Past Times" and which were afterwards reprinted for private circulation.[3]

Adam Dawson initially lived at Bonnytoun Farm House,[4] (now a listed building) and in the 1840s he built Bonnytoun House, a Tudor style house attributed to Thomas Hamilton. The house with its walled garden is protected as a category B listed building.[5] Following Adam Dawson's death in 1873, the 493 acres (200 ha) estate of Bonnytoun was sold to Robert Meikel, a wood merchant from Glasgow, for £20,000.

He is buried on the south-east outer corner of St Michael's Church in Linlithgow with his wife, Helen Ramage.


  1. ^ The West Lothian Courier, Saturday 11 October 1873, page 4
  2. ^ The Scotsman, 10 February 1847
  3. ^ "Rambling Collections of Past Times Embracing a Period from the Termination of the Last Till the Close of the Twentieth Year of the Present Century", by Adam Dawson, Esq of Bonnytoun, published 1 January 1868, printed at the Falkirk Herald Office, by A Johnston.
  4. ^ "BONNYTOUN HOME FARM AND ADJOINING STEADING (Ref:7471)". Historic Scotland. Retrieved 2015-07-18. 
  5. ^ "BONNYTOUN HOUSE WITH WALLED GARDEN AND ORNAMENTAL STACK (Ref:37360)". Historic Scotland. Retrieved 2015-07-18.