Three Scott Brothers – Dundee

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photo by messrs prophet, dundee likely john, james, and alexander scott
Photo By Messrs Prophet, Dundee – Probably Brothers – John, James, & Alexander Scott

Who I Believe In This Photo

Left, Sitting: John Scott, b. 22 Jun 1872
Centre, Standing: Alexander Greig Scott, b. 09 Aug 1879
Right, Sitting: James Scott, b. 25 Mar 1877

I’m unable to precisely date this photo – and admittedly, when I was downloading photos from my cousin Elinor Clements Facebook – I hardly looked at the photo. I was too busy trying to make sure I had a copy of all the old photos, unknown or not, so I could examine them later.

About a week ago, I wrote about the possibility of using Google’s face technology to help identify, and then later how I was not having much luck with it.

I seldom look at photos on my mobile device, but yesterday, when I opened up the Google Photo app, I noticed that its face technology had begun to do some work on the old photos I had been uploading from my PC to the platform a couple of weeks ago or more. When I clicked, with my mobile device, on the face I had set for my Great-Grandfather John Scott, the above photo also appeared – I had never added the faces in the photo previously. As an aside, Google’s face recognition technology is pretty screwy – but this photo it may have got right. Others, it has gotten absolutely totally wrong.

When I examined this photo more closely however, I realized I was likely looking at a photo of the three surviving brothers of the Dundee Scott Family, however taken at a later date than 1885. The eldest in this photo certainly does resemble other known photos of John Scott, b. 22 Jun 1872.

I hate to make a claim that I am certain this is a photo of John, James, and Alexander; it likely does include John but the other two could be friends of his. But I doubt that. Assuming it is them, all three obviously look older than the photo taken about April, 1885.

So what year was this photo taken? We can’t get any hints at this point from the name of the photography studio, a “Messrs Prophet, Dundee.” Research indicates that originally, the Prophet photographers had studios in Dundee, Perth, and Edinburgh. Originally it was a father and son operation, but later the Prophet sons would take over from their father. The business continued to exist into the 1960’s and were known for school photography in parts of Scotland.

Apparently they operated in Dundee out of two addresses, 58/59 Wellgate Street and 23 High Street from 1884 onward. So far, I’ve been unable to determine when they put “Messrs Prophet” on their photos.

By 1890, (five years after the family photo, 1885), John Scott was 18 years old. Personally, I think he looks to be in his young 20’s in the above photo. His brother James (likely the one on the right) would be 13 by 1890, and Alexander (standing), 11 years old.

Personally, I think Alexander looks at least 14 years old, and that would put James at about 16, and John at about 21 years old. So, my guess is that this photo was taken in 1893 or later.

I’m not sure when exactly John Scott left Dundee and went to Scotland but he was married in Belfast by 1896. Could this photo have been taken just before he left Dundee, perhaps 1895?

The Future Of The Scott Brothers

Perhaps John already had plans when this photo was taken, to go to Belfast. But in that moment, I wonder if any of the brothers would realize that out of the three of them, it would be Alexander that might be seen as the most adventurous, in that after getting married, he and his wife would head off to America where they would remain for the rest of their lives.

James was the only one to stay in Scotland. As I have time, I’ll try to create individual profiles for all of them.

Do you have different ideas, or see where I may be wrong? Please leave a comment below!

The Scott Family In Dundee, 1885

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