History of the Dalls: Thomas Dall 1811 -1891


Thomas Dall was born in Arbroath, 1911 (according to the press cutting) and married Ann Robertson in February 1843 (see marriage certificate). A handwritten list shows that Ewen was born in 1841, which would make him illegitimate and Elizabeth, born 1843 conceived out of wedlock. From the string of births that followed it does not seem possible that the dates of birth could be later, and it also seems unlikely that a “respectable” middle-class man who managed a weaving mill would have lived in sin with Ann Robertson for two years. Either someone made a mistake in the dates or they could have had a “Scotch wedding” (i.e. agree to be man and wife in front of witnesses – an alleged common practice in Scotland in those days) and then got “churched” later on.


Thomas Dall with Ann and family migrated to New Zealand in 1852 (see press clippings). What the press article does not say is that the family travelled steerage, no doubt to save money in the best Scotch tradition, but which must have been a real ordeal as accounts of migrant ships of those times reveal. Perhaps this was a toughening up for the time ahead, as they were among the first pioneer settlers and must have endured a good deal of hardship, apparently living in a slab hut and ploughing with oxen to begin with. Not much has come down about Thomas as a person. He was apparently a typically dour taciturn Scot with a dry sense of humour. Thomas’ sister Mary remained in Arbroath and married a John Strachan, a tailor. They lived at 128 High Street, where she and Thomas were born. It was still a tailor’s shop in 1979, but sells mostly ready-made clothing.


Ann Dall, mother of William Dall

Ann Dall (nee Robertson) – mother of William Dall

Ann Robertson 1819 – 1908


Wife of Thomas, born in Scotland, but nothing is known of her except for a reference in a press cutting.


Children of Thomas Dall and Ann Robertson


Ann produced offspring from 1841 – 1859 (10 born), Mary being born a few years later. Thomas died in infancy, Jessie died at 36, but most of the remainder lived until 80 or older. Except for Elizabeth who married Robert Mackie (see obituaries), William and George Bruce, they do not appear to have left any descendents in Australasia, although there are indications that a Thomas and a Sydney Dall existed in Australia. Douglas Dall was adamant (letter 1975) that there were no surviving direct line Dall descendents other than himself, Morven and me. There are almost certainly Mackie and perhaps Rea descendents somewhere (the Mackies went back to UK).


It appears that Thomas’ family broke up. There is a reference to this in a letter from William Dall (my grandfather, son of Thomas) to his wife at the time Jessie died. Also in the account for the Estate of Thomas Dall, deceased, dated 1908, Ewen and Ann are not mentioned. In this will George Bruce (known as Bruce) received more than William, who was older. This probably was the beginning of the lasting enmity between the brothers, although Bruce was supposed to have done something dreadful (to brother William, no doubt).


Ann Rea bore two sons, Martin Thomas and John Ewen. Elizabeth’s Mackie’s children were George Norman, Margaret, Alice (married Anderson), Jeannie (married Stout), Florence (married Richards). Jessie had one child (name does not appear). Alexander married a Mary Marshall about 1880 and had a child Vera Lucy in 1882.

Thomas Dall

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