James Davitts

James Davitts was initially a partner with James Murray and John Bushby in the Brewery Company of Gatehouse, which was founded in 1769. James was the also the manager, and later proprietor, of the local tannery, through which he made a considerable fortune. The partnership put the Gatehouse Brewery up for sale in 1781 and, when it failed to sell, James bought out the other partners and continued the business on his own account.

When he died in 1806, at the age of 73, he left instructions that a cheese, which he had kept for forty years, should be broken open at his funeral. His daughter Mary married John McWilliam and their son, John McWilliam junior, operated the brewery from at least 1825. A Mr Archibald probably ran the brewery for a short time before John succeeded to the business.

Location: Gatehouse of Fleet

Active: 1781 - 1806

Status: Closed

Breweries and other buildings

The Gatehouse Brewery was completed in 1771, and was described as "a large 3-storey brick and rubble building on an L-plan, with a 2-storey dwelling-house at one end". The buildings survive and are now used for a mix of residential and commercial purposes.


Map of 1849 showing the Gatehouse Brewery
Map of 1849 showing the Gatehouse Brewery
© National Library of Scotland, 2015


We do not currently hold any images of items related to James Davitts, and would welcome any information or images related to his business.

Other Sources of information

Web resources

Gatehouse folk - then and now. Last accessed 17th January 2016.


The National Records of Scotland holds a printed advertisement for the sale of the Gatehouse Brewery (Ref : GD113/4/156/304) in 1781.

Books and periodicals

Donnachie, I. Industrial archaeology of Galloway (South-west Scotland, including Wigtown, Kirkcudbright and adjoining parts of Dumfries). Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1971.

Hume, J. R. The industrial archaeology of Scotland, 1: The Lowlands and Borders. London: B. T. Batsford, 1976.