The Watson family of Allendale and Tyneside (Watson 2a)

 

Jacob Watson = Hannah Bell

     |         other children

Joshua Watson = Esther Watson

      |         other children

Joseph Watson = Sarah Spence

      |         other children

Robert Spence Watson = Elizabeth Richardson

      |         other children

Mary Spence Watson = Francis Edward Pollard

 

youthful cdv of Mary Spence WatsonM1. MARY POLLARD born SPENCE WATSON

Mary Spence Watson was born on the 7th February 1875, at Moss Croft, Gateshead, Durham. At three months old her mother thought her "a most engaging child." At the age of one she wrote that "dear little Mary now toddles about, & grows daily in intelligence & sweetness, & we say of her, as I suppose we said of each of the others in turn, "the sweetest baby ever seen."".1

Even as a baby, she went on the family holidays to Norway, in 1876 and 1877, accompanied by her nurse. At four she was "bonnie & bewitching", and at five her mother recorded that

 

Mary is an active little thing, always wanting some employment, delighted to nurse baby, or do any little useful office she can. When the new school opens for the Summer term (in May) she is to go to the Preparatory Class wh we hope will be opened chiefly on the Kindergarten system, for little girls & boys.2

In 1881 she was a scholar, living with her family and four general servants at Bensham Grove, Bensham Road, Gateshead. Her bedroom at Bensham was small, and looked out onto two public houses and mean streets—but she never wanted to change it. At the kindergarten, among other things, she was "learning to sing so nicely." At Christmas of 1881 Mary played (or read the part of) Tiny Tim in the family's production of A Christmas Carol. In 1882 she went to Norway for the summer with her family. That Christmas she played Cinderella in her sister Ruth's production; and at Christmas 1883 she played the Duke of Norfolk in the family's Richard II. By 1884 she was attending the Gateshead High School for Girls, winning the prize for reading in that year; she was still at school there in 1888. In 1885 she had again summered in Norway. Her aunt Caroline Richardson, at this time, found her "a fascinating child, so good & sensible & practical". "She is quite different to the others a truly 'charming variety' as gardeners say. Her humour & naivete make her a gay companion & yet she has such solid capacity." At the end of August 1886 she spent a week at Heugh Folds, Grasmere, with her younger siblings, during which she made her first ascent of Helvellyn. That Christmas she played Mrs Bouncer in the family Box and Cox.3

 

 

 

In February 1887 she visited Lewes with her mother. Later that year she holidayed with her family at Ørnaes, inside the Arctic Circle. In December that year she won two school prizes, for term work and exam work. The following year the family again holidayed at Ørnaes, and then from November she spent six months in Dresden, with her eldest sister Mabel, learning German, music and drawing (in December her mother wrote to Mabel, expressing concern about the direction Mary’s drawing lessons were taking). They returned with their parents via Berlin, where they saw the Kaiser, Bismarck, and the King of Italy. By 1888 Mary was apparently already toying with vegetarianism, as she notes with satisfaction that her mother didn't make Bertha or herself eat meat while she was away.4

In July 1889 her mother noted:

 

Mary is going to York in August, poor little Mary—we believe it is for her good, & that she will, after the first few weeks are over, be very happy—but the parting will be a great trial on both sides. She is such a sensitive fastidious little thing that we know there will be many pangs, but she needs a little sterner discipline—a little recognition that her own feelings, her own pains & pleasures are not of all importance—still we know how her loving little heart will suffer—& dread it for her.4A

On the 7th August 1889 she started school at the Mount, in York, where she remained three years. The 1891 census finds her as a scholar, living at the school in Driffield Terrace, Micklegate, York. In later years her schoolfriend May Bradley reminisced about school life with Mary: "I used to think you the jolliest girl in the School and, do you remember, how you tried to make one do naughty things? Hiding under the teacher's desk was one . . ."; she recalled "sitting next a smiling bright eyed Mary Spence Watson, whose lips whispered mischiefvous things & whose long lovely brown hair, was hanging down her back". One piece of mischief was when, on finally giving in to badgering to perform at the school concert, a short piano solo by Mary Spence Watson was announced, upon which she sat down at the piano, played a scale, and walked off. Partly, incidents such as these reflected her shyness and natural diffidence. Yet she didn't really make the best use of her school time—possibly she felt she couldn't meet the demanding requirements of her parents, and couldn't live up to their reputation.5 Mary herself recalled:

 

My parents sent me to the Mount, to cure my self will & selfishness (I was spoilt, though not by them,) but though it did me good in some ways it certainly was not good for my health, but it was very spartan in those days, quite different from now.5AA

Mary, Bertha & Arnold Spence Watson

Mary, Bertha and Arnold Spence Watson

In 1890 Mary holidayed with the family at Osen, Norway. Of her holidays at that time she recorded "No children could ever have had such a happy time as we did" . . .5A

In 1891 she took out a 5s. subscription to the Friends of Russian Freedom, renewing annually till at least 1894.5B

Mary had great difficulty in coming to decisions, including the important ones about her own future. She left the Mount in June 1892. Her parents, despairing of knowing what was the best for her, decided to send her on a domestic science course, with a view to her teaching the skills she learned. In January 1893, she went away to the School of Domestic Economy in Edinburgh, where in September she was living at 3 Atholl Crescent (she had spent the whole of July on holiday with her family in Wales). Though by October that year she was growing weary of the subject, in April 1895 she was notified that she had been awarded the 1st Class Diploma in Plain & High Class Cookery, of the Northern Counties School of Cookery, as well as a 2nd class for Laundry. She undertook some teaching practice as part of her training, but doesn't seem to have taken up teaching as a profession at any time. At some point, at this period, her parents sent her to live for a month with the family of one of their servants, to learn at first hand what life was like for those less privileged than herself; they may have felt that Mary was finding life a little too easy; the lesson was salutary.6

In July 1894 she holidayed with the family in Norway, her diary recording her feeling of shame that even on her ninth visit there she could still speak no Norwegian (and in 1896 she stated explicitly that she knew no language but English). On this occasion she tried skiing, or 'snow-shoeing' for the first time. Around 1895–6 she performed the naming ceremony at the launch of the Low Walker at her uncle John Wigham Richardson's Neptune shipyard.7

In January 1894 Mary recorded going with her father to the Northumbrian Small Pipes competition, and was sufficiently attracted to piping that in April she recorded that she wanted to learn to play them herself, actually had a go in August, and in November bought a set of pipes for £3.6.0. By February 1895 she was taking piping lessons from Richard Mowat, the competition winner.7A

In April 1896 she acted as bridesmaid at her sister Mabel’s wedding in Newcastle. Later that year she spent three weeks touring North Italy with her sister Evelyn, as well as a month later in the year in Ireland, where she did a lot of walking—over 90 miles, in one week.8

 

Mary, Bertha & Arnold Spence Watson, in a stolkjoere in Norway

Mary, Bertha and Arnold Spence Watson, in a stolkjoere in Norway

Throughout August of 1897 she was on a yachting tour off the coast of Scotland, aboard the Griffin. It was here that the romance with Francis Pollard developed.9

By May of 1898 the romance was evidently proving problematic. Mary was very reserved about expressing her love, and seemed constantly beset by doubts, so that the relationship was constantly vacillating.10

In the summer of that year Mary spent six weeks with her parents and her sister Bertha in the Dauphiné Alps—her first Alpine climb with her father. She wore 'rational' dress for the purpose; she was also one of the first lady cyclists in the Tyneside area to adopt this form of dress. By the date of this holiday it is also clear that Mary had committed herself to teetotalism.11

In April 1899 she visited Ireland, and in July spent three weeks in Plombieres, in Vosges, with her sister Ruth. While there she weighed herself, finding herself, at 9 st. 1 lb., four pounds heavier than she'd been in Ireland, a difference she put down to vegetarianism, which she'd evidently recently adopted. In August she went on a yachting holiday, from Oban, with her family. At the end of September she began visiting the workhouse on a regular basis. At the end of November, at a Friends' soirée, she first saw the cinematograph demonstrated. In March 1900 her nerve (and Bertha’s) was commended by Cronwright Schreiner, after the disturbance outside Bensham Grove during his visit. In the summer of 1900 she again holidayed in Switzerland.12

By November 1900 Mary had taken a position in nursing at the Infirmary, Leicester. She stayed there six months, the 1901 census recording her there as a pupil hospital nurse.13

The summer holiday of 1901 was spent with her family at Loch Maree, a holiday Mary particularly enjoyed.14

By 1902 she had defined a role for herself in her workhouse visiting—that of reading aloud to blind women inmates: she recorded reading Pilgrim's Progress and Uncle Tom's Cabin to them.15 In April that year she was bridesmaid at her sister Bertha's wedding in Newcastle.15A

By 1902–3 she was receiving income in her own name from shareholdings, including holdings in the Redheugh Bridge and Electric Supply companies. Still living at home, she paid this over to her mother.16

In April 1903 she went on a month's tour of Tunisia, with her sister and brother-in-law Bertha and Bowes Morrell. Dressed in her rationals, they went everywhere on muleback. While in Tunisia, they visited a harem, of which Mary gives an interesting account in her diary.17

In the middle of 1903 Mary was feeling uncertain of her place in the world, and where her work should lie. Francis Pollard put it to her that perhaps her vocation was to be the head of a family. Whether this argument was persuasive can't be stated; but in August, on the platform of Northallerton station, she finally agreed to marry him. By the beginning of September, she had told her family of her engagement. On the 11th of that month Frank wrote to her: "What amuses me, madam, is that although thou has been swearing all thy life to be an old maid, & art still swearing not to be married for 'ages', yet thou has evidently carefully considered where to get married, what to wear, how to get the most presents, how many rooms (not to mention beds) to have, how to do without a servant, what kind of socks to make, & what time thy husband ought to retire to rest. Reconcile these things, my dear! are they all within the last week?"18

In October 1903 she spent a fortnight in southern Ireland.19

At some point Mary had herself become active in the Gateshead Liberal Party—she was an indefatigable treasurer of the Gateshead Women's Liberal Association till her resignation at the end of 1903.20

In February and March of 1904 she spent six weeks in Algeria, with her parents.21

signature of Mary S.W. PollardMary was still beset by doubts about marriage, and at the end of May she was still trying to persuade Frank to defer the wedding till Christmas, "but he was obdurate, and perhaps I'll be glad!". In June, at a temperance festival, she had her palm read, and recorded the reading with apparent approval: "Said I was wilful, fair amount of mental ability, cd play well with practise, rather changeable, agreeable to people, secretive, like things neat, not showy . . ." Just three weeks before their wedding, Mary noted: "We can't agree on papers & carpets which is distressing. Will we agree on anything?" On the 3rd August 1904, at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, Mary Spence Watson married [I2] Francis Edward Pollard, at the Friends' meeting house, All Saints, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The bride was simply but tastefully attired in satin. The couple received 230 wedding presents, not just from relations but also from family friends and well-wishers, including Lady Trevelyan, Mr & Mrs J.W. Graham, Arnold Rowntree, Thomas Pumphrey, Joseph Rowntree, Seebohm Rowntree, John Wilhelm Rowntree, Mr & Miss Volkhovsky, Canon Moore Ede, and three of the maids at Bensham Grove. After a reception at Bensham Grove, Mary and Frank honeymooned on the Isle of Arran, returning to Bensham for one night at the beginning of September, before moving into their new home.22

Frank and Mary PollardOn the 3rd September 1904 the couple took up residence at 18 Bootham Crescent, York. Ten days later their one servant—Jennie Wedgewood, a day girl of 13, on 2/6 a week—began work there. Only a month later Mary was again looking for a servant, a situation often to be repeated during her married life.22A

In March 1905 Mary and her new servant Nellie surprised a burglar in flagrante, at her sister Mabel's house, but subsequently was unable to identify him at a parade.22B

From mid-April to May of 1905 Mary was in the Canary Islands with her parents and her sister Ruth. Conditions in the hotel sound somewhat primitive, for she notes that they "had an awful time catching huge cockroaches, centipedes & mosquitoes in our bedrooms." For part of this time Mary acted as amanuensis to Robert Spence Watson, who was writing his History of the National Liberal Federation; she took about half an hour's dictation a day. She brought a praying mantis back to England with her.23

In October Mary attended her first WLA committee in York, and immediately took an active part in Liberal activities there, collecting subscriptions and canvassing in the municipal elections. In the autumn term of 1905 Mary was giving private music lessons, for which she received £2/10/-. In February 1906 she began visiting the men's ward at the workhouse, although initially she didn't enjoy it; in March she began reading The Pickwick Papers to them. That summer Mary and Frank spent a month in Ireland. Mary's cultural tastes were evidently quite broad, for in September she was quite excited to see Newcastle United beat Everton 1-0 at home, while in November she attended a concert given by Clara Butt.23A

Their first child, Robert Spence Watson (1907–1984), was born at the beginning of 1907, at 18 Bootham Crescent. When the midwife arrived, Mary noted, "I felt as if I could weep gallons. I don't want our present happy life disturbed." The couple took on a nurse for Robert. Their six-week summer holiday that year was at Coxwold and Bridlington.24

The family spent three weeks in Grasmere in April 1908.25

A serious reader, from at least 1897 Mary kept detailed records of her reading. On average, from 1897 to 1908 she read about 39 books each year, of which the great majority were quite high-brow—classics, &c. From 1910 to 1943 she averaged 37 books a year. As the years moved on, she spent more time reading—from 1944 to 1953 she averaged 61 books a year; in the final four years of her life, her average had reached 82.26

On the 13th June 1908 Mary and her sister Bertha helped carry the York banner at the great Women's Suffrage Procession in London; Mary had a seat on the platform, at the assembly in the Albert Hall. She found it "a great and memorable day."27

In August 1908 the family holidayed at Bensham and Kirk Newton.28

From September that year until February 1939 Mary employed a regular maid, of whom 10 were employed for an appreciable length of time. They were paid £12 or £14 p.a., when just starting out, or £20-27 if experienced.28A

In 1909 the Pollards' first daughter, Margaret Watson (1909–1986), was born at 18 Bootham Crescent. At the end of that year they moved to 44 Queen Anne's Road, York, which they rented.29

In January 1910, after a political meeting, Mary was introduced to Lloyd George, whom she found very nice, finding the occasion most exciting.30

During the childhood of their children, the Pollards received periodic financial help from Mary's parents, as well as from her aunt Caroline Richardson; she continued to receive payments from Aunt Car's estate into the 1920s.31

In April of 1910 the family spent a fortnight at Heugh Folds. In August they holidayed at Bensham and at Beadnell.32

In February of 1911 the Pollards spent a month touring Italy. At the Castle Rotonda they had a "rather interesting" experience: ". . . we were rewarded by seeing some flying machines, I think a monoplane, rather graceful like a dragonfly in the distance, & a biplane. When they are near they make a horrid noise." Their holiday was interrupted by the telegram announcing Mary's father's death; they immediately returned home for the funeral, but decided to resume their continental tour afterwards. This took them in the next couple of months, to Greece, Palestine and Egypt. Though clearly a fascinating holiday, Mary was too close to her recent loss to enter into the spirit of the occasion. In August of 1911 the family holidayed at Dunstansteads and at Bensham. At Christmas that year her account books record that she catered for nine people and two maids.33

In 1912 a second daughter, Caroline Watson (1912–1987), was born at 44 Queen Anne’s Road.34

In August 1912 the family holidayed at Rayheugh Farm, and at Dunstansteads. They spent a couple of weeks at Bensham over the Christmas and New Year of 1912–3.35

In March 1913 Mary attended a political meeting on the subject of women's suffrage. The meeting was disrupted by suffragettes, whom she found "revolting", finding shameful their obstruction of free speech. In this connection one may mention, parenthetically, Mary's renowned gullibility, an illustration of which is that she was once persuaded of the existence of a cuckoo clock which said "Votes for Women" every half hour.36

The family spent a fortnight at Grasmere in April that year. At the end of June Mary attended a women's suffrage procession in Harrogate, leafleting for the cause. Through August and September the family holidayed at Bensham and at Bamborough. In October she was again leafleting for women's suffrage; on the 14th of that month it fell to Mary to propose the affiliation of the local Women's Liberal Association to the Liberal Women's Suffrage Union (the vote went against her).37

In February 1914 she spent a fortnight at Bensham. In April the family spent a further two weeks at Sleights. On the 10th July that year they moved house, to 8 Clifton Dale, York.38

On August 4th, while staying at Bensham, Mary wrote in her diary: "During night cd not sleep, because of men shouting that England has declared war on Germany. It is wicked & awful." The following day, curiously, she wrote "If only it was agst Russia." On the 12th October she wrote: "The war gets worse & worse & is terribly depressing. It is awful to be fighting agst Germany."39

In mid-November 1914 the Pollards' youngest child, Ruth (1914–1982), was born. In the early years of the Pollard family—February 1909 till April 1916—in addition to their maid, they employed a nursemaid for the children, on £12 or £14 p.a. From January 1916 to July 1919 they employed a second maid.40

In April 1915 the family spent three weeks at Oldstead Hall, Coxwold. For six weeks over the summer they stayed at Bensham, apart from one week at Wheel Birks.41

During 1916 Mary witnessed at least three Zeppelin raids, though bombs fell far from the Pollard home. In May of that year she was asked to become President of the York branch of the Women's International League; she refused, but agreed to a Vice-Presidency. In November Mary and Frank helped distribute Ponsonby's leaflet 'Why Must the War Go On' in York, which was later banned under the Defence of the Realm Act. In January 1917 they both attended a lecture by Bertrand Russell, and afterwards met him over coffee at Arnold Rowntree's. For a fortnight in March they gave shelter to the wife and baby of a conscientious objector.41A

At some point during the war Frank Pollard was apparently threatened with arrest as a conscientious objector; Mary found the strain at this time very great. In February 1918 she took on as charwoman a German widow of 57, for whom she felt sorry; the woman had to report to the police station every week. In May that year she recorded an interesting encounter she had with some soldiers, in a train compartment: "They were dreadful, & determined to fight on til the Germans are crushed (though one was on his 4th leave!) At last I read my book in despair, but before I left the carriage I told them I did not agree with them in the least, but that I was a Quaker & disapproved of all war, & that I didn't want any of them to be hurt & they "thanked me very much." The women in the carriage took their part so it was 4 to 1."42

On the 14th December, newly enfranchised, Mary voted in what she saw as the unfair khaki election. Determinedly independent, she and Frank voted separate ways, though neither for the successful candidate.42A

She spent several weeks at Bensham in the early months of 1919, at the time of her mother's death. For the last half of August that year, Mary was stricken with influenza compounded with an ear abscess.43

From 1916 to 1919 Mary received a total of £444 from the estate of her aunt Caroline Richardson; she gave £50 of this to Leila and Malcolm Sparkes (Malcolm was at that time imprisoned as a conscientious objector, in Wormwood Scrubs). On 23 December 1919 Mary received £219-16-1 from the sale of furniture from Bensham Grove. From mid-1919 until well into the 1920s, she began to receive sporadic, but appreciable, financial support from Bowes and Bertha Morrell; she also received occasional gifts of money from her sister Evelyn Weiss.44

By mid-1920 the family was anticipating removal to Reading. This took place in mid-October of that year, a new home being made at Whiteknights House, in Eastern Avenue.45

After Frank's resignation from his job, the family subsisted on Mary's unearned income. This continued to be sufficient to maintain a maid, as well as paying for weekly visits by a washerwoman and a gardener; Mary always trained the maids herself. She always kept meticulous household accounts, right down to the last halfpenny, balancing them faithfully each week—probably an essential procedure, in view of the uncertainty of the family income.46

Around 1922 they had an Austrian boy, Anton, to stay with them for a year. They had a fortnight's summer holiday in 1922, at Totland Bay in the Isle of Wight. The following year they holidayed in Switzerland.47

In May 1925 the family moved house within Reading, to 'Fairlight', 9 Denmark Road, which they were later to purchase (March 1928) for £1300. That year she and Frank donated £2.2.0 to Friends’ New Premises Appeal.48

They spent three weeks that summer at Heugh Folds, and three weeks the following year on holiday in Pembrokeshire.49 For most of January 1926 Mary was sick with mumps, and quarantined.49A

Mary S.W. PollardFrom 1926 until at least 1935 Mary helped to run a children's play hour, at the Folk House in Reading.50

The family spent three weeks at Heugh Folds in 1927; the following year they holidayed on the continent. For three weeks in September 1929 the family holidayed on Arran, on the occasion of the Pollards' silver wedding anniversary. In 1930 they spent a fortnight on a houseboat on the River Yealm, in Devon. For the last three months of that year the Pollards had a French exchange student living with them, for whom Caro made the return visit. For the first quarter of 1931 they took a part-time paying guest. It was at this time that Mary joined the Archaeological Society in Reading. Later that year they holidayed in Normandy; on this occasion, very unusually, Mary recorded that "I was thoroughly bored, & thankful to leave." In February 1932 she helped open up the Folk House as a recreation room for the unemployed, and herself dispensed tea and cakes at 1d each. In the summer Frank, Mary and Ruth Pollard went on a fortnight's cycling tour of Shropshire, cycling 250 miles in all (by the following August, when the cyclometer she had bought for this holiday broke, she had ridden nearly 1000 miles).51

In May 1933 Mary attended Yearly Meeting, and in November she was asked to become an Elder of Reading meeting. She declined, but agreed to become an Overseer. In November 1933 Frank gave a highly condensed account of Mary's activities: "Mary is busy with Liberal Women, B.W.T.A. [ . . . ], Townswomen's Guild, making plum puddings—as well as her natural & numerous household engagements." She was Registrar of the B.W.T.A. (British Women's Temperance Association) from 1932 to 1938.52

Mary was elected as a member of the XII Book Club in Reading in 1924, and she and Frank participated regularly thereafter, the Book Club sometimes meeting at their house. The Club's minute book records Mary reading to the group once in 1924, once in 1926, three times in 1927, and once in 1931. Mary resigned in May 1951, after Frank's death, whereupon the Book Club made her their first Honorary Member. In June 1934 Mary spent three weeks at Tor Height, Margaret's home, where her first grandchild had just been born.53

In August 1934 Mary (taking Ruth out there) visited Oberharz, in Germany, where she recorded listening to Goebbels on the wireless, regretting that her German wasn't adequate to keep up with the political talk.54

On the 24th January 1935 the Pollards managed to strike a deal on the sale of their house (for £1040), and immediately began looking for a house to rent, as had been their wish since at least November 1932. In February, as ward secretaries for the National Peace Ballot, Mary and Frank were much preoccupied with canvassing and counting of ballot papers. On the 27th March 1935 the Pollards moved to 22 Cintra Avenue, Reading (rent £75 for 3 years, rates about £6); even on a hectic day like this Mary's sense of fun broke through, as she noted that she "did stilts to show Florence" (the maid).55

In July that year Mary and Frank, with Ruth and her boyfriend John, spent three weeks in Cornwall. From October 1935 to March 1936 Mary took German lessons at the university. For a fortnight over the new year she stayed with Ruth in Montpellier. On the 24th January she took Florence to see the lying-in-state of King George V, at Westminster Hall. She spent a fortnight at Tor Height around the beginning of March. On the 11th of that month, after the news that Hitler had moved troops into the demilitarized zone, she noted that "I can hardly sleep with thinking how near we are to war again."55A

On the 24th November 1936, Mary took part in a debate at the Townswomen's Guild on 'The girl of to-day is happier than 50 years ago'. She noted "I spoke against, very badly." At the beginning of December, she found the critical week, following the news of the King and Mrs Simpson, most thrilling and dramatic; she approved Baldwin's approach, and considered abdication the best thing.55B

In March 1937, after a family suggestion that Mary should buy a £12 radio, she went out and bought an aged but serviceable Morris Cowley car—a two-seater, "with hood and dickey"—for £18—an example of her tendency to be unpredictable (Frank and Ruth were "astonished", Robert thought her "stupid"), though perhaps it shouldn't have occasioned surprise, given that she had taken driving lessons as far back as 1933. The car, bought in the spring, was sold in the autumn. In January 1939 she bought an Austin 7 for £22.10.0; at some point she later bought a Triumph.56

In July that year Frank, Mary and Ruth holidayed in Ireland.57

In March 1938 Mary bought a cottage in Hampshire, for £300. Until she regretfully parted with it in mid 1948, 'Mushroom Cottage' was a popular retreat for family and others—especially valued during the war years.58

In April that year Frank, Mary, Ruth and Caro holidayed in the Netherlands.59

On the 30th August 1938, Mary wrote in her diary, perceptively: "Last night we heard that poor Czecho Slovakia has been sacrificed for the peace of the world & everyone is wild with joy & full of praise of Chamberlain—later one grew more critical, for it is not peace with 'honour' & as he says we must re-arm quickly is it peace at all?"60

Throughout the whole of 1939 a teenaged German Jewish refugee, Wolfgang Weyl, stayed with the Pollards, before emigrating to the USA.61

In August that year the Pollards holidayed with their daughter Margaret Dale, and her family, in the Lake District. In November that year a woman named Joyse came to lodge with them, at 5/- a week plus gas and electricity, also dinners at 1/-.62

In August 1940, on a shopping expedition to London, Mary, Caro and Ruth were caught in air raids; Mary's diaries give an interesting account of this experience. The following month, the Pollards took in, as a paying guest, a young woman friend of Ruth's—Joan Francis—who was expecting a baby, and finding life too risky in Croydon. By October, Mary was regularly helping out with the dinners at the local community centre, for up to 200 evacuees—mostly Jews from the East End of London. Later that month Mary and Joan set up a nursery class for evacuated children, in the community centre in Whitley; Mary soon took sole charge of this. By February of 1941 she was also assisting with the billeting of evacuees. During the Second World War, notwithstanding her basic anti-war position, Mary's diary comments on the progress of the war verge distinctly on the patriotic.63

From March 1939 to September 1941 Mary employed a daily maid only, and in the latter month her maid gave notice, as she wished to work in a factory. From then on, the Pollards never employed a full-time maid, though Mary employed hourly-paid charwomen till at least 1952.64

By August 1942 the Pollards were regularly taking in refugees—though never more than one at a time—as paying guests.65

Mary hardly ever spoke at Meeting, though she did so on the second Sunday of January 1942, in Frank’s absence. In November Mary was again made an Overseer of Reading meeting. In this capacity she was remembered as "always thinking of others and one to whom one went when in trouble."66

In March 1944 Mary lent Mushroom Cottage to a woman who had been bombed out of her home in London—apparently a stranger to her. That month she was attending frequent committees for the Free Church Women's Council, with which she remained involved until 1947.67

On VE Day in 1945, Mary wrote in her diary: "It is almost unbelievable that after 5¾ years of terrible war (nearly 6) the Germans have at last surrendered & the awful slaughter ceased. But our bombing of them has been ghastly & as for their concentration camps they were too wicked for words. Many of the Germans sank to the level (or worse) of beasts. Now we must pray that a just & good peace will be made."68

In August 1945 Frank and Mary Pollard spent a fortnight at Heugh Folds, with all their children and their families also in Grasmere. While they were there, the Japanese surrendered. Mary noted: ". . . at last this frightful war is over, but the Atomic bomb was a wicked thing."69

 

Mary S.W. Pollard, Mushroom Cottage, 1948

Mary S.W. Pollard, Mushroom Cottage, 1948

From 1947 to 1951 a Miss Ruthven lodged with them, at 15/- a week, rising to 17/-, including gas and electricity.69A

The Pollards spent a couple of weeks in York, in the summer of 1949.70

In February 1950 Mary worked hard for the Liberals in the general election campaign, addressing envelopes, &c.71

In July she spent a fortnight at her daughter Caro's home. In December, having suffered increasing deafness for a couple of years, she acquired her first hearing-aid.72

At the beginning of 1950 the Pollards decided to start house-hunting, and had in fact just secured a new house when Frank died. His death was a great shock, but one she met with resilience. She took the decision to go ahead with the move, and on the 1st May removed to 'Hawarden', Sulhamstead Road, Burghfield, Reading.73

Mary spent the last week of June 1951 with the Becks at Fortis Green Avenue, London, and later in the summer spent three weeks with them at their new home in St Albans, before going on to Goathland with them. In July 1951 Mary joined the Anti-Slavery Society. Around the end of May 1952 she spent a couple of weeks with the Hardies; while there, she decided to leave 'Hawarden'. On the 17th September, after 32 years in Reading, she moved to 'Burnside', Homestead Estate, Menston, near Leeds, Yorks.74

Mary spent three weeks with the Becks, over the Christmas and New Year of 1952/3. At the beginning of June 1953, she watched the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II live on television, finding the new queen "wonderful". Later that summer she again spent a couple of weeks in St Albans. On the 4th October she recorded in her diary, "Made my great decision to stay in North." December of 1953 she spent with the Dales, at Mumbles.75

It seems that at Menston Mary was lonely, not knowing many people in the neighbourhood. On 3rd May 1954, therefore, she moved in with the Hardie family, at Netherdale House, Eldwick, near Bingley, Yorkshire. In July, and again in November, she spent a fortnight or so staying at St Albans.76

She spent a further fortnight with the Becks in February 1955, and while there participated in a memorable family celebration of her 80th birthday. Later that month she had a bad faint, at bedtime, and noted in her diary, evidently shocked, "Thought it the end". Though ill for a week, she was well enough by mid-April to visit her niece Lydia Morrell at Malahide in Ireland, and to spend a further fortnight in St Albans.77

In mid-May she voted conservative in her local election—the only occasion at this period upon which she noted in her diary how she cast her vote, so perhaps exceptional—although only a few days later she records hearing Harold Macmillan speak, so perhaps her political sympathies were beginning to lean to the right.78

She spent a fortnight at York in June. In August she sold her most recent motor car, which occasioned some sadness. She spent a fortnight at St Albans in October 1955, and three weeks there in June 1956. In August that year she took a fortnight's holiday at Heugh Folds, with the Becks.79

From her marriage in 1904 to 1957 Mary kept detailed accounts, much of which survive, including most of her annual summary accounts. These cover her spending on the household and her family, but don't include Frank’s own spending, and don't include income. Some points from these accounts79A:

Mean annual spending on housekeeping, 1909/1950: £235.56 (decimalised)

Highest spending year, housekeeping: 1920/21 – £235.56

Lowest spending year, housekeeping: 1910/11 – £123.16

Mean annual spending, food only, 1909/1957: £105.33

Highest spending year, food only: 1920/21 – £166.43

Lowest spending year, food only: 1952/53 – £51.01

Mean food expenses per person per week, 1909/1950: £0.49

Highest year for food expenses per person per week: 1949/50 – £0.89

Lowest year food expenses per person per week: 1911/12 – £0.29

Mean annual spending on wages, 1909/1957: £32.71

Highest spending year, wages: 1940/41 – £55.88

Lowest spending year, wages: 1955/56 – £11.93

Mean annual spending, her own dress, 1910/1957: £22.57

Highest spending year, her own dress: 1948/49 – £40.96

Lowest spending year, her own dress: 1943/44 – £6.29

Dress for Robert was itemised 1910/1924 (annual mean £9.97), for Margaret 1910/1928 (annual mean £8.25), for Caro 1912/1931 (annual mean £9.44), and for Ruth 1915/1932 (annual mean £7.05)

In 1957 she attended an old people's club for a time, but tended to find it boring, and didn't like the childish games played there. Around the end of April 1957 she spent ten days with the Becks; she spent a couple of weeks in York, around the beginning of July.80

Mary S.W. Pollard in old ageIn 1958 Mary spent three weeks in St Albans in April; then in August the family reunited for a week, at Middleton-in-Teesdale—all the families of all her children present with her there. She spent two weeks over the Christmas and New Year of 1958–9 with the Becks.81

Mary hadn't perhaps really been able to feel settled, at Netherdale, and with the children growing up round her may have felt she wasn't getting quite the peace and quietness that she wanted. In 1957 Bowes Morrell had shown her round the Ingram's Almshouses in York, that he had acquired; she had found them delightful. Possibly, in his loneliness after the death of his wife Bertha, Mary's sister, Bowes may have persuaded Mary to move to York, partly for his own companionship. Whatever her reason actually was, Mary moved into 1 Ingram Flats, Bootham, York, on 19 October 1959.82

By February 1960 her son Robert was concerned about Mary's mental well-being, and there was talk of her returning to Netherdale rather than being left alone. She spent a week and half with the Beck family, in July 1960.83

Increasingly infirm, around February 1961 Mary went back to stay with the Hardies at Netherdale.84

It was said of her that she gave loyal and unfailing support to her husband in his public work for peace and for the Liberal Party and later to her children in the causes to which they devoted themselves. She shared in the life of Reading meeting and also provided a home background for young people and others needing rest or relaxation or those in trouble . . . She was always ready with sympathy and help and although not seeking the limelight for herself was adventurous and had a zest for meeting people and for new experiences. She was a woman of vigour, who inspired great affection. At the same time she was not an easy person to get to know—strong in her opinions and principles, and rather trailing the clouds of glory of her exceptional upbringing; she was also a very shy person, underestimating her own worth, and too willing to defer to others.86

For nearly 40 years she was a member of the Association for Moral and Social Hygiene; she was also a member of the Friends' Temperance Union, the National Anti-Vaccination League, and in later years of the Euthanasia Society.87

She was always a great letter-writer, but increased this activity after 1951, and did not stop writing letters until about 7 days before her death.88

By December 1961 Mary was feeling alone and tired, and had effectively given up the will to live; she was refusing food, and badgering her doctor to join the Euthanasia Society. On the 28th January 1962 she died at Netherdale, of coronary artery disease and senility. She bequeathed her body to the Leeds School of Anatomy, though having rued the fact that she would never know what they would find out. A memorial service was held at the Friends' meeting house on Clifford Street, York, at 1pm on Friday the 2nd February. At probate of her will, her effects were valued at £26,836.12.0 (£410,606 at 2005 values).89

Mary Spence Watson was the fifth child, and fourth daughter, of [M2] Robert and [O1] Elizabeth Spence Watson.90

 

1 birth certificate; TNA: PRO RG 11/5033 f97 p14; letters from Elizabeth Spence Watson to Mary Spence Watson (Pollard); Elizabeth Spence Watson: 'Family Chronicles/Home Records', and supplement; The Friend NS XV.Apr:107

2 Reminiscences of Robert Spence Watson; Percy Corder: The Life of Robert Spence Watson. London: Headley, 1914; Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"

3 PRO RG 11/5033 f97 p14; Mary S.W. Pollard's 'A Few Reminiscences'; inscription in book now at TWAS; report card now at TWAS, letters from Caroline Richardson to Mary or Elizabeth Spence Watson; Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard (Ms); Heugh Folds visitors’ book, in possession of Elisabeth Ryan; Bensham Grove visitors' books

4 letters to Mabel Spence Watson, TWAS, including Acc. 213/256; Corder, op. cit.; catalogue of Tyne & Wear Archives Service; Mary S.W. Pollard: Reading register, 1897–1908, and sequels, Ms; Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"

4A Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"

5 letters from Mabel Spence Watson to Mary Spence Watson (Pollard); Mount Old Scholars Annual Report, 1983; letter from May Bradley to Mary Spence Watson (Pollard); interview with Sidney Beck, begun Easter 1986; PRO RG 12/3887 f119 p4; The Mount School, York. List of Teachers and Scholars 1784–1816, 1831–1906. 1906, York: Sessions

5A diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard (Ms); Mary S.W. Pollard: Reading register, 1897–1908, and sequels; Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"

5AA letter from Mary S.W. Pollard to Caro Hardie, 1960-09-17, in my possession

5B Free Russia

6 interview with Sidney Beck; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; Mary S.W. Pollard—birthday book; letters from Robert to Mary Spence Watson; letter from Northern Counties School of Cookery to Mary Spence Watson (Pollard); Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"; Mary Spence Watson’s Knitting &c. notes; The Mount School, York. List of Teachers and Scholars 1784–1816, 1831–1906. 1906, York: Sessions

7 Mary Spence Watson, Commonplace Book; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

7A diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

8 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; letter of 1896-04-25 from Evelyn to Robert and Elizabeth Spence Watson, now at TWAS; book of newspaper cuttings compiled by Robert Spence Watson, now in Newcastle Central Library

9 letter from Hugh Richardson to Mary Spence Watson 1 June 1897; Francis E Pollard: diary; Mary S.W. Pollard: Reading register, 1897–1908, and sequels

10 letters from Frank Pollard

11 Mary S.W. Pollard's 'A Few Reminiscences'; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; Mary S.W. Pollard: Reading register, 1897–1908, and sequels

12 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; Mary S.W. Pollard: Reading register, 1897–1908, and sequels; Craven, Ann (2004) ‘Elizabeth Spence Watson: a Quaker working for peace and women’s suffrage in nineteenth century Newcastle and Gateshead’, MA dissertation, University of Newcastle upon Tyne

13 letters from Elizabeth Spence Watson to Mary Spence Watson (Pollard); letters from Robert to Mary Spence Watson; letters of Mary S.W. Pollard; Mary S.W. Pollard: Mss of speeches; PRO RG 13/3010

14 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; Mary S.W. Pollard: Reading register, 1897–1908, and sequels

15 Mary S.W. Pollard: Reading register, 1897–1908, and sequels

15A Newcastle Daily Leader 1902-04-03

16 Mary S W Pollard—book of accounts, wedding gifts, &c; Ms

17 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; Mary S.W. Pollard: Reading register, 1897–1908, and sequels

18 letters from Frank Pollard; Mary S.W. Pollard: Italian Tour diary (Ms)

19 letters from Frank Pollard

20 1903 Annual Report of the Gateshead Women's Liberal Association

21 Elizabeth Spence Watson: Album / holiday itinerary, now at TWAS; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

22 DQB; marriage certificate; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; Mary S.W. Pollard—book of accounts, wedding gifts, &c; Ms; The Friend XLIV:546, The British Friend XIII Aug:240; book of newspaper cuttings compiled by Robert Spence Watson, now in Newcastle Central Library

22A-B diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

23 letters of Mary S.W. Pollard; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

23A Diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

24 letters from Lucy Pollard to Mary Spence Watson (Pollard); diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; Mary S.W. Pollard: Journal; source mislaid; The Friend XLVII:64, 1907-01-25

25 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; Mary S.W. Pollard: Reading register, 1897–1908, and sequels

26 Mary Spence Watson, Commonplace Book; Mary S.W. Pollard: Reading register, 1897–1908, and sequels

27-8 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

28A diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

29 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; Mary S W Pollard—book of accounts, wedding gifts, &c.; The Friend XLIX:192, 1909-03-19, The British Friend XVIII Apr:112

30 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

31 Mary S W Pollard—book of accounts, wedding gifts, &c.

32 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

33 Mary S.W. Pollard: Italian Tour diary; Mary S.W. Pollard: Diary of tour of Greece, Palestine, & Egypt, 1911; Ms; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; Mary S.W. Pollard: account books

34 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; source mislaid; The Friend LII:374, 1912-05-31, The British Friend XXI June:180

35 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

36 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; l1 (source reference misplaced)

37–9 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

40 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; daughter's birth certificate; Ruth Beck: Memoirs

41 Mary S.W. Pollard: Reading register, 1897-1908, and sequels

41A diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

42 draft testimony to MSWP, by Robert S.W.Pollard; letters of Mary S.W. Pollard; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

42A diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

43 letters of Mary S.W. Pollard; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

44 letters from Bertha Morrell to Mary Spence Watson (Pollard); Mary S W Pollard—book of accounts, wedding gifts, &c.

45 letters from Nellie Gurney to Mary Spence Watson (Pollard); Ruth Beck: Memoirs, DQB; letters of Mary S.W. Pollard; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard (Whiteknights/White Knights)

46 Ruth Beck: Memoirs; interview with Sidney Beck

47 Ruth Beck: Memoirs; Ruth Pollard: diary

48 Ruth Beck: Memoirs; letters from Frank Pollard; The Friend LXV Supp.:7 1925-10-09; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

49 Ruth Pollard: diary; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

49A diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

50 letters from Frank Pollard; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

51 Ruth Pollard: diary; letters from Frank Pollard; Ruth Beck: Memoirs; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

52 letters from Frank Pollard; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; The Friend 92:448, 1934-05-18

53 Visitors Book, Frank & Mary Pollard, 1928–61; interview with Sidney Beck; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; XII Book Club Minute Book, Reading Experience Database; letter to Mary Pollard from Margaret J. Dilks, in my possession

54 letters of Mary S.W. Pollard; Diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

55 Visitors Book, Frank & Mary Pollard, 1928–61; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

55A–B diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

56 Ruth Beck: Memoirs; The Friend 6 Apr 1962; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; Mary S.W. Pollard: account books

57 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

58 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; information from Sidney Beck; draft testimony to MSWP, by Robert S.W.Pollard

59–60 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

61 Visitors Book, Frank & Mary Pollard, 1928–61; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; Ruth Beck: Memoirs; letter from Ernst C.E. Eberstadt, in my possession

62 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; Mary S.W. Pollard: account books

63 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; my own knowledge or hypothesis

64–5 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

66 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; draft testimony to MSWP, by Robert S.W.Pollard; Sidney & Ruth Beck’s Mass-Observation diaries (D 5021 & 4247)

67–72 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; possibly Mary’s hearing had been suffering for some time, in view of her letter to The Friend of 1934-05-18 (92:448), pleading for more audible speakers at Yearly Meeting.

69A Mary S.W. Pollard: account books

73 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; The Friend 6 Apr 1962; information from Sidney Beck; Visitors Book, Frank & Mary Pollard, 1928–61; S.J. & R. Beck, Visitors' Book; interview with Sidney Beck; letter from Mary S.W. Pollard to Caro Hardie, in my possession

74 Sidney Beck: Ms Diary; S.J. & R. Beck, Visitors' Book; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; information from Sidney Beck; autograph book presented to MSWP by Reading Meeting, 1952; Visitors Book, Frank & Mary Pollard, 1928–61; will; Mary S.W. Pollard: account books; letter from C.W.W. Greenidge, in my possession

75 S.J. & R. Beck, Visitors' Book; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

76 Visitors Book, Frank & Mary Pollard, 1928–61; interview with Sidney Beck; Diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; S.J. & R. Beck, Visitors' Book

77 S.J. & R. Beck, Visitors' Book; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; letter from Mary S.W. Pollard to Caro Hardie, in my possession

78 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

79 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; S.J. & R. Beck, Visitors' Book

80 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

81 S.J. & R. Beck, Visitors' Book; Sidney Beck: Ms Diary

82 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; Visitors Book, Frank & Mary Pollard, 1928–61; interview with Sidney Beck; will; information from Sidney Beck; index to wills and administrations, Principal Registry of the Family Division

83 S.J. & R. Beck, Visitors' Book; letter from Robert S.W. Pollard to Caro Hardie, in my possession

84 Visitors Book, Frank & Mary Pollard, 1928–61; interview with Sidney Beck; letter from Margaret Dale to Caro Hardie, 1961-01-29, in my possession

85 interview with Sidney Beck

86 DQB; The Shield, Nov. 1962 (organ of the Josephine Butler Soc.); interview with Sidney Beck

87 The Shield, Nov. 1962; draft testimony to MSWP, by Robert S.W. Pollard

88 draft testimony to MSWP, by Robert S.W. Pollard

89 letter from Robert S.W. Pollard to Caro Hardie, in my possession; death certificate; index to wills and administrations, Principal Registry of the Family Division; draft testimony to MSWP, by Robert S.W. Pollard; The Friend 120:146, 1962-02-02

90 birth certificate; Corder, op. cit.; marriage certificate


a young Robert Spence WatsonM2. Rt Hon. Dr ROBERT SPENCE WATSON, LLD, DCL, FRGS

Robert Spence Watson was born on the 8th June 1837 at 10 Claremont Place, Gateshead. At the age of three he killed his first trout at Rothbury, and began going to meeting, where he amused himself by trying to catch flies and making the elastic in his gloves jump. At the same tender age he first proposed to Lizzie Richardson, his future wife. In 1841 the census found him living with his family and two (perhaps three) servants, at Summerhill Terrace, Westgate, Newcastle upon Tyne. In mid May 1842, with his family, he spent a week with his Spence grandparents in North Shields. By the age of six he could repeat the whole of Scott's 'Marmion' and 'The Lady of the Lake'. At the same age, in 1843, he stood side by side with John Bright on the hustings in Durham city. Around 1844, with his father, he made what he believed to be the first through rail journey from Gateshead to London. At the age of seven he suffered a very serious illness, from which he was told he was going to die; he was in fact weak and ill for a long time. Around Christmas 1845, as he remembered 43 years later, Jonathan Priestman spent a day with him at Penham, teaching the "little laddie" how to skate. In 1846 he became a pupil of Dr Collingwood Bruce; and in October 1848 he went to Bootham School, York, which he attended until 1852 (the 1851 census recorded him as a scholar there). When he went to Bootham he was given 100 words to spell, and was the only boy who got 99 right—the one wrong being 'fuchsia'. On one occasion he was one of a trio of boys plotting to show a panorama in one of the class-rooms; one painted the pictures to wind off the roll; another was stump-orator to describe them; and a third took the gate money; Robert was stump-orator. He was captain of the cricket first XI, and won an English prize; his love of literature, his critical taste and his ability to memorize poetry remained with him all his life and were a delight to his family and friends. At Bootham he was characterized as a boy of high spirits, a warm heart and the capability to stand up strongly for what he believed to be right. He was the only boy at school who could stand up and make a speech—he gave his first lecture at 16.1

Before his 16th birthday in 1853 he went to University College, London; though he tied for the 1853 English language and literature prize, junior division, he neither matriculated nor completed the course, to his later regret. While in London, he was looked after by John Bright at Westminster meeting. In the same year he heard Gladstone give his first budget speech to the House of Commons. That year he spent a fortnight with his uncle James Foster in Sandgate, Kent, and also spent six or seven weeks in Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, acting as interpreter for Myles Birket Foster, who was working on his Rhine book. He also visited the Lake District and the Highlands of Scotland, with his father—at one point sharing a coach with James Buchanan, who three years later became President of the United States.2

In 1854, with his sister and father, he made his first visit to the continent, during which they travelled to Holland with M. Rochussen, the Prime Minister. He was shown round the battlefield of Waterloo by one Sergeant Munday, a veteran of the battle. In the same year he helped to organize in Newcastle the little band of opponents to the Crimean War. In 1855 he was a member of the Newcastle Scientific and Literary Society, to which he spoke on ‘Our Living Authors’ (between 1855 and 1859).3

 

From 1856, for some years, he had a large share in the management of the Newcastle Shoe-Black Brigade, which often meant rough and dirty work at midnight with vagrants and young thieves, many of whom later became competent and honest workmen as a result of his influences. Around this time, too, he helped with the running of a class at Newcastle Friends' Adult School, which laid the foundations at once of an intimate knowledge of working class life and a close friendship with many of the workers. He was reverent and devout and gave to his scholars the very best, both intellectually and spiritually, carefully preparing Scripture lessons for his class; often on week-day evenings he gave them subjects for their own private study, and these were mainly concerned with English literature.4

From 1858 to 1860 he was apparently a student in London, though in November 1858 he gave a lecture on 'Northumbrian Ruins' at the King's Head Inn in Allendale. In 1859 he was groomsman at his sisters' double wedding in Newcastle. While in London it appears he was invited to become a member of the firm that later became Morris & Co., but was unable to afford it at that time. He spent September 1859 touring Northumberland and the Borders with T. Harwood Pattison, and in the late summer of 1860 he spent three weeks touring Germany and Switzerland. At about this time he took articles with his father. He was admitted to practise as an attorney in the Trinity Term of 1860, and was in partnership with his father, trading as J. & R.S. Watson, by 1862; he remained a practising solicitor for the rest of his life.5

In the late 1850s he had come under the personal influence of Garibaldi, Kossuth, and Felice Orsini, and it is said that he was much inclined to fling over the Quaker's unconditional objection to war and join Garibaldi's 'Thousand' which landed in Sicily in 1860.6

In January 1861 he was secretary to the Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Derwent, and Weardale Railway. In the census that year he was recorded as a solicitor, living with his parents, three servants, and two visitors, at Bensham Grove, Gateshead. In that year he went on his first real climbing holiday, spending a month with Henry Tuke Mennell, walking round the North country. In September he went on a walking tour in Switzerland, during which he climbed the Cima di Jazzi and the Théodule. In July of 1862 he went on holiday to Switzerland, on his own; that year he joined the Alpine Club (of which by 1911 he was one of the oldest members).7

In 1862 he became Secretary to the Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society, a position he retained until 1893, through which he was to exert much influence. He first met Gladstone in October of 1862.8

Robert Spence Watson in legal attire

signature of Robert Spence WatsonIn April 1863, at Newcastle Monthly Meeting, Henry Tennant and Robert Foster were appointed to enquire into Robert’s clearness to marry, and the following month, no obstacles being found, they were liberated to marry, and Robert Spence and Robert Foster were appointed to ensure conduct according to good order. On the 9th June 1863 he married [O1] Elizabeth Richardson, at the Friends' meeting house, Pilgrim Street, All Saints, Newcastle. He was described as of Bensham Grove, Gateshead, a solicitor, and an attorney at law.9

 The Newcastle Journal reported as follows:

 

MARRIAGE FESTIVITIES.—Yesterday morning, the marriage ceremony was celebrated between R. Spence Watson, Esq., solicitor, and Miss Elizabeth Richardson, daughter of Edward Richardson, Esq., South Ashfield, Elswick Lane, at the Friends' Meeting House, Pilgrim Street. There was a large muster of the relatives and friends of the happy couple, who arrived in ten carriages, and entered their place of worship under a canopy placed across the pavement in Pilgrim Street. The interesting ceremony was performed in the usual manner adopted by the Society of Friends. After it was over, the bride and bridegroom received the hearty congratulations of all present. A large number of the younger branches, who had been present, enjoyed the remainder of the day in pic-nic parties in the neighbourhood of the town. A most gratifying feature of the day's proceedings was the treat given to the children of the Ragged Schools. Mr. Watson is one of the secretaries to the gentlemen's committee of the Ragged Schools, and his bride one of the secretaries to the lady's committee. The children of the schools, after having had breakfast in order to commemorate the auspicious event, were drawn up in the court-yard shortly after eight o'clock, the girls under the care of the schoolmistress, on one side, and the boys, under the care of Mr. Morgan, on the other side of the yard, the whole acting under the direction of Mr. G.A. Brumell. They then sung several songs, after which a number of cannon, which had been mounted in the yard, were fired; and as each cannon was discharged, the children cheered loudly. They again sang a number of songs, and gave a hearty cheer for the future happiness of the two secretaries, whose marriage they were met to celebrate. The children dispersed to amuse themselves, and at the time appointed for the wedding, nine o'clock, a rocket was fired, and the cheering again commenced. The children then went to their school duties. At noon, the same rejoicings were repeated, with the addition of a small present for everyone who attended the schools, which had been kindly provided by the bride and bridegroom. From different parts of the building flags were hung out, which, together with the cheering, made those in the neighbourhood aware that something out of the ordinary was going forward. The countenances of the children betokened happiness and contentment, and the wish of each child was, that every joy and comfort might be showered down upon the happy pair, who had done so much for their benefit. At Messrs. Richardson's tannery, Newgate Street, a number of flags were displayed.

And the Newcastle Guardian and Tyne Mercury reported:

 

WEDDING AT THE FRIENDS' MEETING HOUSE.—The marriage of Mr. Robert Spence Watson, son of Mr. Joseph Watson, solicitor of this town and Bensham Grove, Gateshead, with Miss Elizabeth, third daughter of Edward Richardson, Esq., South Ashfield, Newcastle, was solemnised at the Friends' Meeting House on Tuesday. Long before the time appointed for the ceremony taking place, the vicinity of the chapel was crowded by persons anxious to see the bridal party, which, about half-past nine, arrived in seven carriages—four of them being distinguished by having outriders, and the whole of the horses, postilions, &c., wearing wedding favours. The bridal party comprised Mr. and Mrs. Richardson, Mr. and Mrs. Watson, the Bride and Bridegroom, Mr. H.T. Mennell and Miss Jane Emily Richardson, Mr. Thomas Whitwell and Miss Emily Watson, Mr. Joseph Watson jun., and Miss Lucy Fenwick, Mr. John W. Richardson and Miss Alice Richardson, Mr. William Joshua Watson and Miss Ellen Ann Richardson, Mr. George W. Richardson and Miss Helen Watson, and Master Herbert Watson and Miss Gertrude Watson. The bride and bridesmaids were all gracefully dressed in white. The meeting house was filled by a large audience, chiefly friends of the parties, many of whom had come from a distance. Upon the bridal party proceeding to the table the usual forms were gone through, after which Mr. Charles Brown, of North Shields, delivered an appropriate and impressive discourse from the words "Commit thy ways to the Lord." The happy couple took their departure by the 1.30 p.m. train for the south, en route to Switzerland, where they intend to spend the honeymoon. The children of the Ragged Schools, of which the happy couple were secretaries, had rejoicings on the occasion, and at Messrs. Richardson's establishment in Newgate-street, various flags were displayed in honour of the event.9A

Robert and Elizabeth Spence Watson

Quaker marriage certificate for Robert Spence Watson and Elizabeth Richardson (with apologies for the poor focus)

On their wedding night, at the London Bridge Terminus Hotel, the hotel was evacuated for a time, on account of a fire. They honeymooned in Switzerland and North Italy, where they made the first ascent of the Balfrin, 12,474 ft. From 1863 to 1874 the couple lived at Mosscroft, Elysium Lane, Gateshead, which had been built for him. They had six children: Mabel Spence (1864–1907, born at Moss Croft, Gateshead), Ruth Spence (1866–1914, b. Moss Croft), Evelyn Spence (1871–1959), [M1] Mary Spence (1875–1962), Bertha Spence (1877–1954), and Arnold Spence (1879–1897).9

In 1865–6 Robert was practising as a solicitor in partnership with his father; their office was at 10 Arcade, Newcastle.10

In 1865 Robert and Elizabeth, with Emmie and Allie Richardson, holidayed in Switzerland, where Robert, with H.T. Mennell, ascended Mont Blanc, on 27 July. At the end of July 1866 he suffered a severe cold, followed by pleurisy. In January 1867 he subscribed a guinea to the Newcastle soup kitchen. That summer he spent six weeks in Switzerland and Italy; on 25 July he made the first ascent of the Sasso di Chiarena, mistaking it for Monte Tresero; and four days later, with Elizabeth, ascended the Ortlerspitze. In the latter year, on the nomination of Francis Galton, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He made his first visit to Norway, with his wife, in 1868. A dexterous fisherman, he was especially keen on Norway's salmon fishing.11

From at least the 1860s he kept a commonplace book, the surviving second volume of which shows a taste for schoolboy howlers, humorous mistranscriptions and mistranslations, and foreign proverbs, as well as more conventional verse and prose.11A

In the 1860s his interest in education came to the fore. In 1868 he published a paper he had read to the Lit. & Phil. in March that year, entitled 'A Plan for Making the Society More Extensively Useful, as an Educational Institution'—the germ of the later University of Newcastle.12

During 1868 he assisted Francis Galton with his notable book, published in 1869, on Hereditary Genius, by researching among northern wrestlers and oarsmen; though he set off with the strongest prejudice against the notion that cultivated qualities are passed down from parent to child, the facts he obtained entirely turned him round.13

Shortly after Christmas 1868 he had a mild attack of scarlet fever, followed by gastric fever, and was ill a long time.13A

In the autumn of 1869 he and Elizabeth spent three weeks on the continent, visiting Switzerland, Belgium, Nuremburg, Prague, &c.14

From October 1869 to February 1870 Robert visited London 12 times, "& is quite wearied with so many harrassing journeys. He generally travels at night, & although he sleeps easily, it is a fatiguing process, & he has had far too much of it."14A

Robert Spence WatsonHe and Elizabeth were abroad in 1870, when war began between France and Germany; they had considerable difficulty in getting back. Not long afterwards, at the invitation of the Society of Friends, he went to Alsace-Lorraine as one of the commissioners of the War Victims Fund for the distribution of relief to the non-combatants in the Franco-German War, spending three weeks there over October and November, during which at one point he was close to being shot as a spy. His duties at Metz were "Investigating distress, convoying provisions, distributing relief." On Christmas day that year he gave his parents a fur rug and an easy chair. At the beginning of March 1871 he spent a further two weeks in Paris, organising distribution in the department of the Seine, returning home just eleven days before the proclamation of the Paris Commune, in the course of which many of the villages he had assisted were plundered by their own countrymen. The pamphlet he published, The Villages round Metz, gave a vivid picture of his experiences and a haunting picture of the awful waste and the grim horror of the war. In 1873 the French government, through the duc de Broglie, offered him the Legion of Honour, but he declined the distinction; he was, however, presented with a gold medal which was specially struck in acknowledgment of his services.15

Christmas Day 1870 had also seen his initiation as a Freemason, in the Northumberland Lodge at Newcastle, on the same occasion as his wife's cousin Henry Richardson. He 'passed' on 7 February 1871, and was 'raised' on 5 September that year. The history of Northumbrian Masonry records:

 

On his return to England, Mr. Watson lost no time in applying for admission to the brotherhood, and was initiated in Northumberland Lodge, No. 685, Newcastle, of which lodge he became the Worshipful Master on the 7th of November, 1876. Bro. Watson further states [. . .] that in his work in France (after he had been made a Mason), especially in the Department of the Seine around Paris, of which he took special charge in the distribution of the Fund, he found Masonry of very great assistance.16A

In 1871 the census recorded him as an attorney &c. of Leasham [sc. Elysium] Lane, Gateshead; the household included two domestic servants. In that year he was elected a member of the Newcastle school board at its foundation—the election marking Spence Watson's first real prominence in Newcastle. He continued to sit on the board till 1892, and was for a long time vice-chairman; but this was one of his less successful activities, and he had some personal share in the continued shortcomings of the Newcastle elementary educational system. Also in 1871 he helped to found the Durham College of Science, later to become Armstrong College, and still later Newcastle University. It may safely be said that he was for many years the real soul of the institution, preserving its continuity through many changes, and always aiming at a fuller development of the comprehensive plan which he had originally formed; he was honorary solicitor to the college. He was recently described as "a pioneer in the field of expanding university education, especially for women." He visited Switzerland in 1871.16

In January of 1872 he holidayed with his family in Tenerife. In August that year he had been much overworked, was suffering extremely from headaches, and was ordered by the Doctor to go abroad for a month. He accordingly went to Switzerland with Elizabeth, to recuperate. In this year, too, he was recorded as ascending the Galdhøpig in Norway. The following year he fell ill with diphtheria, and retreated to Glasgow to convalesce. In May 1873 Robert spent a month in Italy with his brother Joe ("poor Uncle Joe"), and in September he and Elizabeth, with her brother John and sister Allie, spent three weeks in Switzerland. In addition to ascending the Col du Grand Cornier, the Triftjoch, and Monte Rosa, the Alpine Club Register records that he made a long and perilous search for a missing tourist on rocks south of Findelen glacier. In the summer of 1874 the couple spent a fortnight in Belgium, during which Robert was able to show his wife the scene of some of his work during the war. That August he read a paper on ‘Teaching and the Church’ to the Conference of the Friends’ First-day School Association at Darlington, at which he and Elizabeth, and his sister Gertrude, represented Gateshead; the paper was subsequently printed in The Friend and The British Friend.17

In 1873 Joseph and Robert Spence Watson, solicitors, were recorded as holding 20 £10 shares (out of 800) in the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Turkish Bath Company Limited, formed the previous year. In 1878 Robert held just three shares in this company, but on 6 August 1879 he received 24 shares in part payment of the company’s debt for services rendered.17A

In April 1874 he played (or read the part of) Shylock in the family's production of Ye Marchand of Venyse at Mosscroft, and later that month Brutus, in Julius Caesar; in May he played the Fool in King Lear, and in November the King in Richard II. That year he founded the Newcastle Liberal Association, of which he was president until 1897.18

In August 1874 Watson caught one of his clerks, Thomas Bartholomew Porter, embezzling £176 13s. 4d. from the firm, but at his trial he asked for leniency for the young man; Porter was sentenced to four months' imprisonment.18A

He was for some time Secretary to the Newcastle and Gateshead Anti-Slavery Society. In 1875–6 he led the successful campaign against Disraeli's Fugitive Slave Circular, at one stage threatening to indict the Prime Minister.19

 

In late 1875, after his father's death, the family moved to Bensham Grove, Bensham Road, Gateshead, where Robert and Elizabeth spent the rest of their lives.20

In late March 1876, in response to the proposal to give the Queen the title of Empress of India, he chaired a meeting at the town hall in Newcastle "to petition the House of Lords to reject the frivolous and dangerous attempt to imperialise the British Constitution". In 1876 he was given a signed and personally inscribed copy of the first, limited, edition of Two Rivulets, by Walt Whitman, as well as a similarly inscribed copy of Leaves of Grass.20A

In 1876 he presided at the Newcastle meeting of the TUC. In the following year he sat behind Gladstone and Chamberlain on the platform at the inaugural meeting of the National Liberal Federation. He had early been introduced into political affairs by his father, and was a warm and faithful supporter of Gladstone, who (it's said) came to heartily reciprocate his friendship in later years.21

In October 1876 he purchased a parcel of the Redheugh Estate near to the Redheugh Bridge, bounded by the Rabbit Banks to the north, by Tyne Road East to the south, by Redheugh Bridge Road to the east and partly by land sold to Laurence Henry Armour and partly by land sold to John Graham to the west, formerly part of St Helen's Close, reserving all mines, including the rights reserved to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners by a lease of 1 July 1866, paying 3s p.a. for tithe rent-charge. Covenants included contributing to the construction of a public road, Tyne Road East. The purchase price was £262. 10s plus £2311. 16s. 8d.21A

In 1876 and 1877 he holidayed with his family at Aardal and Faleide, Norway. At some point in 1877 he went riding to the Lakes, with Elizabeth and Mabel; he had an old lame horse called ‘Chieftain’, as well, apparently, as ‘Rosie’ and ‘Kitty’. In October 1877 he spent three weeks on the continent with John Wigham Richardson, visiting Florence, Budapest, Vienna, &c., on business in connection with the passing of the Treaty of Commerce between protectionist Austria and free trade Hungary. At the beginning of June 1878 he was with Elizabeth at Pooley Bridge; that autumn Robert and Elizabeth spent six weeks touring northern Italy. In late 1879 he spent five weeks in Morocco, visiting the sacred city of Wazan, which no Christian European had entered before, obtaining an introduction to the great cherif of Wazan and his English wife. This was the first pleasure trip he had taken without Elizabeth since their marriage. In 1880 he published A Visit to Wazan, the Sacred City of Morocco (of which a copy was ordered by John Greenleaf Whittier in February 1881).22

Bensham Grove

Bensham Grove

In 1879, in response to the Zulu War, he published The History of English Rule and Policy in South Africa, a defence of both Zulus and Boers which sold nearly a quarter of a million copies, and was still in print in South Africa over a hundred years later.23

In 1880 he was pressed to stand as one of the two MPs for Newcastle and Gateshead, but declined, acting instead as agent to Albert Grey, the successful candidate for South Northumberland.23A

In June 1880 he visited Sweden, on business connected with some large sawmills at Sundsoal or Lündsvall, in north Sweden. In September that year he took a hiking holiday in the Scottish Lowlands; at this time he visited Grasmere for the inaugural meeting of the Wordsworth Society, of which he served on the committee. Closer to home, he was a founder-member of the Gateshead Early Rising Association, whose members took long walks before breakfast during the summer, meeting at 6:15 at the gates of Ravensworth Villa; the association also promoted foot-racing.24

His solicitor's practice was evidently prospering, for the census in that year listed four general servants in the Spence Watson household. In that year he became legal adviser to Joseph Swan, British inventor of the electric light bulb, to whom he suggested the formation of a limited company; he was to become, in 1887, an initial shareholder in the Sunbeam Lamp Company. From 1883 till at least 1894 he was recorded as a partner in Watson and Dendy, of 141 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle. The firm came to possess one of the leading commercial practices in the North.25 It thrives to this day, trading as Watson Burton LLP, now also with a London office at 30 St Mary Axe (the 'Gherkin').

Robert Spence Watson in academic dressFrom at least 1881 Spence Watson knew he suffered from a serious heart condition. In that year, and in 1882, the family spent six weeks in the summer in Norway, perhaps partly for health reasons. They were based, once again, at Faleide. In 1881 Robert became a life member of Den Norske Turistforening (the Norwegian tourist organisation). In 1882 Elizabeth recorded that "In the Alden river he caught one very large salmon, 3ft 10 in length which was kippered & brought home & much approved." In 1883 he and Elizabeth, with Mabel and Ruth, toured Switzerland and North Italy. In that year he was granted an honorary LL.D. from St Andrews University.26

In February 1882 he gave the following testimonial to Mr F.D. Siemms, surgeon chiropodist from Berlin: "Mr Siemms has this day extracted corns from my feet with much skill, and in a rapid and painless manner."26A

In 1884 he was the arbitrator in the Northumberland Mines Dispute. From 1864 to 1894 he pioneered the settlement of industrial disputes by arbitration, becoming the recognized arbitrator in the coal trade in the North. In October 1885, at the time he was engaged in his fourth arbitration, in the iron trade, his wife noted "It is indeed a heavy task—little do either masters or men know the long hours of anxious earnest toil given to this work, nor the pain wh a reduction in wages costs him. They would both trust him even more did they know all this." In 1889 he was involved in an arbitration with the North Eastern Railway. In 1891 Earl Spencer described him as "perhaps the greatest living authority in England" on labour questions. A Marxist historian of the late 1970s described him as a "key figure in promoting the new rapprochement between capital and labour", saying further that it "would be wrong simply to describe Spence Watson as representing the interests of a capitalist class, for he had the support of the trade unions in all the cases in which he acted as arbitrator. He epitomises rather the ambiguous role of the Liberal Party in this period in trying to reconcile the inherent conflict between a capitalist class and the working classes. . . . Objectively, therefore, the role of Liberals like Spence Watson was a reformist one, which while bringing some gains to the working class was primarily directed at stabilising the relationship between employer and employed."27

In the summer of 1884 the family again spent six weeks at Faleide. Robert made an attempt on Lodalskaupe from Erdal; he “forced a sporting but unnecessary passage through the Greidungsbræ icefall, which cost so much time that he had to abandon the peak; skirted it and descended to Bodal.” William Morris spent the night at Bensham Grove on 15 November 1884.28

In March 1885 Elizabeth noted "R. is now very busy—far too many engagements—lectures on "Domestic Reforms" "Peace" &c—& often looks sadly tired & overworked . . ." From 1885 to 1911 he was president of the Tyneside Sunday Lecture Society. He was a secretary of the Ragged and Industrial School for over 30 years, and was "the central figure in the excellent management of the school," playing "a major role in raising the profile of Industrial Schools nationally through the success of the Newcastle school which he had helped to mould."29

In January of 1885 Spence Watson announced his conversion to the cause of Irish Home Rule. He organized the first public meeting at which members of the cabinet spoke on the Home Rule Bill. He became an ardent campaigner for Home Rule, and in April 1887 published his longest pamphlet, on England's Dealings with Ireland, an important contribution to the campaign; in 1893 he published Home Rule for Ireland: Fear or Hope?.30

In 1885 the family spent the summer with Elizabeth's sister Caroline in Ørstenvik, Norway. In 1886 Robert and Elizabeth went on a trip to the Tyrol. Kelly’s Directory of 1886 described him as one of two hon. secs to the Newcastle Ragged & Industrial School; member of the Public Libraries Committee (but not of the Council); one of two hon. secs to the Lit & Phil, Westgate Rd; FRGS, LLD, of 141 Pilgrim street, res. Bensham grove, Gateshead. In 1887 and 1888 the family spent their summers at Ørnaes, Norway, within the Arctic Circle; during their first stay there Spence Watson shot an eagle, and had it stuffed; they also had bear's paw for breakfast, which no-one liked, as it looked like a human arm. He still enjoyed a little shooting the following year, his daughter Mary recording his shooting of "a splendid sea-gull" and "a lovely little duck." Evelyn noted that at Ørnaes "we lived mainly on father’s fish".31

On New Year’s Day of 1887 the Pall Mall Gazette published a review by Oscar Wilde of Joseph Skipsey’s Carols from the Coal-fields, with a short biography by Robert Spence Watson.31A

At the beginning of 1888 his friend John Morley related in a letter to him that Sir William Harcourt, on a recent visit to the Spence Watson household, had found there "a cultivation and refinement not always to be had in the bosom of the 'Earnest Radical'." At the end of 1888 Robert wrote to Mabel and Mary “I have certainly been badly knocked up with cold and over-work, & I can’t get rid of my cold, but it is not so bad now.” In the spring of 1889 Robert and Elizabeth toured in Italy, visiting Rome, Naples, Sicily and Venice; from there they moved on to Dresden and Berlin.32

From 1889 his political sentiments moved leftward, with labour. He helped to establish a general shipyard union in Newcastle.33

Robert Spence Watson, portrait by ReidHis interest in literature still active, he published in 1890 a work on Caedmon, the First English Poet. In March that year he gave a lecture on 'Irish Songs', with musical accompaniment (probably in Newcastle).34

In the same year, with the revolutionists Kropotkin and Stepniak, and his own daughter Evie, he founded the Society of Friends of Russian Freedom. He was its first Treasurer, and he remained President till his death (though still Treasurer in 1904). He had a hand in many an escape from Siberia; and at the same time he developed a great friendship with Stepniak, Kropotkin, and Volkhovsky. In 1895 he wrote the introduction to Stepniak's Nihilism as It Is; after his death, Volkhovsky wrote: "In his handsome, brilliant and noble personality, I learned to admire and love the English people . . .".35

Among other friends of his may be mentioned William Morris, H.H. Asquith, and Fridtjof Nansen.36

In 1890 Robert Spence Watson was elected President of the National Liberal Federation, which he remained until 1902. On this occasion Sidney Webb wrote to him: "We don't care so much for what you say. You won't tell us much that is new and we shan't agree with you, but you are honest and have no axes to grind."37

The family holiday of 1890 was spent at Osen, in Norway. On the 3rd July Spence Watson caught a 34lb salmon, beating the local record.37A

In February 1891 he was one of two trustees for the debenture holders of the Lands Trust Company Ltd. The 1891 census records him as a solicitor, an employer, living with his family at Bensham Grove; the household includes his nephew and biographer-to-be, Percy Corder, a cook, and two other domestic servants.38

In December 1891 a reception was given in his honour at the Eighty Club (a grouping of Liberal MPs first elected in the 1880 General Election). His obituary in The Times recorded that "Probably no man outside Parliament exerted a wider political influence than he did in those days". It seems widely acknowledged that it would be wrong, however, to conceive of Spence Watson as a politician of the machine because he played a part in organisation, since he cared nothing for the machine except as the means to obtain support for the great causes he had at heart. He personally had no desire to enter the House of Commons, and refused all invitations to become a parliamentary candidate (he was, for example, shortlisted for the candidacy at Rochdale in 1895, but withdrew).39

Towards the end of 1891 the Spence Watsons spent six weeks on a tour of Spain, with a few days in Tangier. In 1892 Robert spent six to eight weeks at Bryn Cothi, in Caermarthenshire.40

Around this time he was described as having a large, genial presence, though of no great stature, ". . . but strongly knit, as became one noted for Alpine climbing, his twinkling eyes and fine, kindly face were set amid a tumbling mass of ruddy hair—beard and hair alike suggesting some touch of Viking blood." "His voice alone was a stimulus to talk, so full and strong and vibrant with energy was it, and with just a touch of the 'burr' of Northumberland in the pronunciation."41

He spent the whole of July 1893 on holiday with his family in Wales. That year he became Vice-President of the Newcastle Lit. and Phil., of which in 1897 he published the History.42

In 1893 and 1894 he subscribed £21 to the Society of Friends of Russian Freedom, in respect of Elizabeth and himself. In January 1894 he presided at a lecture at Prince’s Hall, Piccadilly, by George Kennan, on Siberian Exiles. That summer was spent with the family at Skjolden and Maristuen, in Norway. In the autumn of that year he spent a week in Ireland, with John Morley. In the spring of 1895 Robert and Elizabeth spent two to three weeks in the Pyrenees. In May that year Robert was a signatory to the appeal for Bootham School, and personally subscribed £25.43

In the mid 1890s Spence Watson was on the committee of the Northumbrian Small Pipes Society, of which he was a life-long member; a player himself, he wrote a history of the instrument.44

He took a prominent part in the Liberal Party's adoption of the radical Newcastle Programme (he had chaired the meeting in October 1891, at which Gladstone had presented the programme; on this occasion Gladstone noted in his diary "Dr Sp. Watson excellent"). On the 27th March 1896 Lord Rosebery told the National Liberal Federation his view of why the Liberal government fell in June 1895: "It fell because, with a chivalrous sense of honour too rare in politics, and with inadequate means, it determined to fulfil all the pledges that it had given in Opposition. It had, I think, given too many pledges—partly owing to you, Dr. Spence Watson." Despite this apparent rebuke, on moving the vote of thanks Spence Watson was received with loud cheering. The following March, he resigned as President of the Newcastle Liberal Association; he had attempted to the previous year, but had been dissuaded.45

In November 1895 he introduced and chaired the debate on ‘Friends and Social Questions’ at the Society of Friends' major Manchester Conference. In July 1896 he had an article published in The Friend, on ‘The War Spirit.’46

The family holidayed in Ireland in 1896. Robert said at the time that it might be the last time they were all together, and so it proved, but in more tragic circumstances than he probably imagined. Robert and Elizabeth and three of their children holidayed in Norway in 1897, but in November of that year their only son Arnold was taken from them at the age of 18. Characteristically, within a day of his death Robert expressed his grief by writing a sonnet in Arnold's remembrance.46A

In May 1898 he wrote the lead obituary to Gladstone, in The Friend, and on 27 May, with Thomas Ellis, MP, he headed the procession of representatives of Liberal Associations that marched past Gladstone’s catafalque in Westminster Hall, concluding the lying-in-state; the following day he was present at the funeral itself, in the triforium at Westminster Abbey, with a place from which he could see the actual interment. In the autumn of that year he spent six weeks touring in the Dauphiné Alps, with Elizabeth and his daughters Mary and Bertha. In late October he and Elizabeth stayed at Studley. The family summer holiday of 1899 was in Scotland, with a base at Oban.47

 

Robert and Elizabeth Spence Watson, with the office staff

Robert and Elizabeth Spence Watson, with the office staff

During the winter of 1898/99 he attended, and addressed, meetings on the Tsar’s Manifesto, in York, Ripon and Newcastle. In 1899 he was recorded as owning 250 preference shares in Wigham Richardson & Co., his brother-in-law's shipbuilding firm. By 1898 his legal practice had expanded to Watson, Dendy and Burton, still of 141 Pilgrim Street. By 1906 Dendy had been replaced by Spence Watson's nephew Percy Corder.48

In October 1899 Robert chaired a public meeting on the Alliance Programme, at the Free Trade Hall. In December 1899 he signed the letter of appeal for the Bootham School Building Fund, personally subscribing £200. In July 1900 he had an article in The British Friend, on ‘The War and After’. In the late summer of that year Robert and Elizabeth spent at least a month on holiday in Switzerland and Germany, accompanied for part of the time by Bertha and Mary. Mary noted at the time:

 

It is sad to see the contrast in Father since last year in Scotland, all owing to overwork during that horrible electric light business in May, in London. He has never recovered from it & can hardly walk at all, which is most disappointing, & almost makes us not wish to go walks, for it seems so queer without Father, who used to be so strong.48A

In a letter to Campbell-Bannerman in November that year, he says of himself that he is ". . . one who is growing too old to do much of the fighting, but who for 47 years has served as a private in the Liberal ranks under the good old banner. I have often had moments of deep depression lately when all things have seemed turned topsey-turvey & to be going wrong . . ."49

 

In January 1900 he spent a week or two in Grange-over-Sands, with his wife and Mary. The 1901 census records him as a solicitor living with his daughter Bertha at Bensham Grove, with a cook, a housemaid, and an under-housemaid. In July that year he planted a commemorative tree near the Science School at Bootham. The summer of 1901 he had a long fishing holiday in Scotland. In April 1902 he was on a committee for a proposed memorial to the Venerable Bede, chaired by the Bishop of Durham. In the summer of 1902 he spent three weeks in Germany, followed by three weeks in the south of France in the Autumn. In December 1902 he gave an address on Peace, at Leeds Friends’ Meeting House. In the spring of 1903 he and Elizabeth spent six weeks in Italy and Switzerland, to restore their health (in June, a report in The Friend commented that he was "looking older"); he visited Ireland in the autumn. In the spring of 1904, they spent two and a half months in North Africa (Algiers and Tizi-ousel) and Corsica, Robert recovering from two bouts of (near-) pleurisy within five weeks; at that time he doubted whether he would return. By June he had been diagnosed as suffering from angina pectoris. He had a severe attack of pericarditis, and within a week of recovering from that came down with enteritis. In June and July of 1904 he had much worry, as solicitor to the Tramways Company, over the Tyneside Tramways Bill, which brought him into dispute with the Corporation. He did his best not to let his health get in the way of his activities, and in November 1904 Mary recorded that, in London, he had attended no less than seven meetings in a single day—Liberal, SFRF, &c. In the spring of 1905 he spent six weeks in the Canaries, with Mabel and Hugh Richardson, at the outset of which he suffered a heart attack, from which it was thought he would not recover. While in the Canaries, he worked on his history of the National Liberal Federation. In June he spent a fortnight in Hampshire, where he had a slight stroke. At the beginning of July he felt compelled to give up his Education, Free Library and Art Committees. After his recovery he began going to the office again, for three hours a day. But he suffered another stroke in March 1906, which brought him close to death. It has been suggested that—like Mabel—he was afflicted with Renard's disease. He was well enough by June, however, to speak at and chair a peace rally in Birmingham; that month, too, he went for his first ride in a motor car—25 miles in two hours.50

Robert Spence Watson convalescing in Teneriffe

Robert Spence Watson convalescing in Tenerife

In 1904 he was a promoter of the proposal for the Tyneside Tramway Company to run an electric tramway within Newcastle. He was also a founding director of the Swan Electric Light Company, and of the Newcastle Electric Supply Company, and one of the promoters, in 1905, of a large scheme for electric extension in London. In 1905 and 1907 he was also a director of the County of Durham Electrical Power Distribution Co. Ltd.50A

In 1905 he subscribed £10 to the SFRF Russian Relief Fund. At least from 1906, and until his death, Spence Watson was President of the Peace Society.51

On the 11th July 1906 he was presented to the King and Queen on their visit to Tyneside (for the opening of Armstrong College), wearing a new (11 guinea) scarlet gown and black cap. At this time he had just been offered a knighthood by Campbell-Bannerman, but had refused.51A

Robert Spence Watson in Privy Council dressWhen the Liberal Party were about to leave office, he was approached by the Patronage Secretary to the Treasury with the idea of conferring on him some honour or distinction, as a token of gratitude; he had only to name it and it was assured. He replied solemnly that he would like to be made Archbishop of Canterbury (though he is also said to have coveted the positions of Commander-in-Chief of the Army or Navy, and even of the Sultan of Turkey!). He was in fact created a Privy Councillor, in July 1907, on the nomination of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman; Edward VII allowed him to dispense with the ceremonial wearing of a sword.52

In September 1906 he was made an honorary D.C.L. of Durham University. In December that year was published his History of the National Liberal Federation. By May of 1907 Bensham Grove was on the telephone—no 8 Gateshead.53

In the spring of 1907 his doctor informed him that, though he had no trace of pleurisy, the right lung had never yet properly filled so that he only had part of it to breathe with, and there was some adhesion in the left lung—but no new problems. He made his will in October 1907.55

Around the end of February 1908 he had another heart attack, and was seriously ill for a time. In June he had a slight attack of congestion of the brain. By October he was well enough to be attending his office for two hours a day.56

Robert and Elizabeth spent several months of the winter of 1909 at Ventnor, Isle of Wight. That year Robert published Joseph Skipsey, a biography of the pitman poet. In early February his bust in marble, by Christian Neuper, was unveiled at the Free Library. In May of that year he holidayed with Elizabeth on the Isle of Wight. By 1909–10 Watson, Burton & Corder, solicitors and commissioners for oaths, occupied Pilgrim House, 139 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle. Spence Watson was separately described as Secretary to the Redheugh Bridge Company.57

By 1910 he was vice-chairman of the Newcastle Public Libraries Committee. In that year he became first president of Armstrong College; and in 1911 chairman of the Newcastle-upon-Tyne grammar school. He had also been president of the Friends' Guild of Teachers, since at least 1900.58

From March 1910 he was seriously ill, requiring a nurse—and by August two nurses; he was under morphine, his mind wandering. In the election of December 1910 he was eager to vote, but was not permitted to go out for the purpose. He died at Bensham Grove at 8:30pm on the 2nd March 1911, after a serious relapse the day before, followed by some hours of unconsciousness. His constitution enfeebled, the cause of death was given as bronchitis and heart failure. He was buried on the 6th March, in Jesmond Old Cemetery, Newcastle. Sixteen carriages took part in the funeral cortege, of whom Bensham servants—seven—occupied the third and fourth; over a hundred people are named as attending, in press reports—about the same number as the wreaths and crosses. His will was proved at Durham on the 6th May, his estate being valued at £35,850.5s.10d. (£2,045,658 at 2005 values).

Before the funeral, Elizabeth had received the following message from the Prime Minister:

I deeply deplore the death of my old friend, who during so many years strove so devotedly for freedom and all high causes. His death is an irreparable loss to us, and I beg you and your daughters to accept our heartfelt sympathy.—H.H. Asquith.59A

The Annual Monitor described him as one of the Liberal Party's "boldest, ablest and most distinguished leaders." The Times saw him as "an eager and even an advanced Liberal"; and the Westminster Gazette said of him that "Never was there a man in whom the passion for human right and justice burned with greater fervour. He was an advocate of peace among nations, of justice at home, of the real elevation of the poor and oppressed, and he saw in politics the means to his goal in all these things." The American Journal of International Law noted that his death "was a distinct loss . . . to the friends of progress and humanity in the world at large."60

A recent academic study (Kota Ito, 2006) considers Spence Watson to be "the key figure in the civic public life of Victorian Newcastle.60AA

In May 1917 the Newcastle Corporation sent a telegram to Russia to congratulate them on the revolution, and saying that "they thought they wd like to have a telegram from N/C. the birthplace of Dr Spence Watson & Jos. Cowen."60A

More than a quarter of a century after Spence Watson's death, in 1937 his old clerk Jameson wrote to Mary Pollard the following touching tribute:

 

Your letter makes me think of times of long ago when we had for our Chief your glorious Father, Fair minded, kindly, genial and able. When I came to the office in August 1882 he was having a holiday. On his return the first time he saw me and had spoken to me he did me a kindness. That is over 55 years ago. I don't know how many generations have to pass before another such man is vouchsafed to us but although now in my 73rd year I have not experienced such a pleasure although meeting many fine men.61

Robert Spence Watson was the second child and first son of [M3] Joseph and [N1] Sarah Watson.62

 

1 Dictionary of National Biography; TNA: PRO RG 6/1149; documents donated to Tyne & Wear Archives Service 2005; Reminiscences of Robert Spence Watson; Annual Monitor 1912; Friends' Quarterly Examiner 45:259 1911; Percy Corder: The Life of Robert Spence Watson. London: Headley, 1914; Friends' Quarterly Examiner:51; Diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard (Ms); The Friend LI:164–7, 1911-03-17; RSW letter to Mabel & Mary Spence Watson, TWAS Acc. 213/259; PRO HO 107/824/10 f20 p33; HO 107/2353 f231 p32; Robert Spence letters to Robert Foster, in my possession

2 Corder (1914); Newcastle Journal, 1853-07-16; Reminiscences of Robert Spence Watson; Journal, Newcastle Central Library. In the afterword to the 1853 edition of Longfellow's Hyperion, there is a description of the tour made by Birket Foster, the engraver Henry Vizetelly, and Robert Spence Watson, retracing the steps of 'Paul Flemming', i.e. Longfellow himself; RSW himself is referred to merely as 'another friend', but there is a striking reference to him from their visit to Weinheim, where Vizetelly records:

I believe we were indebted for the offer of the two rooms to an idea which had penetrated the old miller's head, that the friend who accompanied us was a person of some consequence, as, after watching him attentively for a considerable time, he suddenly leant over the table in a very anxious way, and asked me in a gruff whisper, "Is he a Baron?" Had I been able to have answered this inquiry in the affirmative, I expect an appeal to my friend would have followed, asking for his good offices on behalf of the imprisoned son.

3 Reminiscences of Robert Spence Watson; Corder, op. cit.; Annual Monitor 1912; John William Steel: A Historical Sketch of the Society of Friends ‘in Scorn called Quakers’ in Newcastle & Gateshead 1653–1898. London & Newcastle, Headley Bros. 1899: 101

4 DNB; RSW: 'Education in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Two Lectures'. Newcastle: 6

5 Reminiscences of Robert Spence Watson; DNB; Newcastle Journal, 1858-11-20; Mary Sturge Gretton: Re-Cognitions (Oxford 1951, private): 15; M.S.G.: 'A Personal Recollection', in Manchester Guardian 1911; 1862, 1868 & 1872 Law List; The Friend; John William Steel: A Historical Sketch of the Society of Friends ‘in Scorn called Quakers’ in Newcastle & Gateshead 1653–1898. London & Newcastle, Headley Bros. 1899: 102; Journals, Newcastle Central Library

6 Annual Monitor 1912; Sergius Stepniak: Nihilism as It Is. London: Unwin, n.d.

7 Newcastle Journal, 1861-01-14; PRO RG 9/3800 f39 p27; Corder (1914); DNB; Journals, Newcastle Central Library; ‘In Memoriam’, Alpine Club Journal 15: 648–9, 1911; Alpine Club Register: 368–9

8 Friends' registers in PRO (RG6); Corder (1914); DNB

9 Minutes of Newcastle Monthly Meeting 1861–67, TWAS MF 170; documents donated to Tyne & Wear Archives Service 2005; daughter's birth certificates; marriage certificate; Joseph Foster: A Pedigree of the Forsters and Fosters of the North of England; Evelyn SW copy of RSW letter, in book of cuttings now at TWAS; Corder (1914); 1871 census returns; Elizabeth Spence Watson: 'Family Chronicles/Home Records', and supplement; marriage digest; The Friend 1863-08-01 p. 196; The British Friend 1863-07-01 p. 181; ‘In Memoriam’, Alpine Club Journal 15: 648–9, 1911; Alpine Club Register: 368–9; Ms journal of their wedding tour; The Friend IV:146 1864-06-02; The British Friend 1864-07-01; Evelyn Weiss (July 1928) 'Bensham Grove', in the Bensham Grove Settlement Magazine, pp1-3

9A Newcastle Journal, 1863-06-10; Newcastle Guardian and Tyne Mercury, 1863-06-13

10 Ward's Directory of Newcastle & Gateshead

11 Alpine Club Register: 368–9; Reminiscences of Robert Spence Watson; Newcastle Journal, 1867-01-21; letter to me from Royal Geographical Society; Corder (1914); Annual Monitor 1912; Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"; Ms journal of their wedding tour; J. Edmund Clark (1923) 'Henry Tuke Mennell', Bootham 11.6:311-321

11A Commonplace Book B

12 DNB; pamphlet as described

13 John Wigham Richardson: Memoir of Anna Deborah Richardson Newcastle 1877: 219; my own knowledge or hypothesis; Corder (1914)

13A Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"

14 Catalogue of Tyne & Wear Archives Service; Reminiscences of Robert Spence Watson; Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"

14A Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"

15 DNB; Annual Monitor 1912; Northern Echo 15 Feb 1919; Newcastle Courant, 1873-06-20; William K. Sessions: They Chose the Star. 2nd edn 1991, York; Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"; poem in Wayside Gleanings; John Strachan (1898) Northumbrian Masonry, and the Development of the Craft in England. London: George Kenning: 164–5; General Report of the Committee of the War Victims Fund to the Meeting for Sufferings, 1871; Wikipedia

16 RG 10/5051 f63 p24; DNB; Annual Monitor 1912; Corder (1914); E.I. Waitt: 'John Morley, Joseph Cowen, and Robert Spence Watson. Liberal Divisions in Newcastle Politics, 1873–1895'. Ph.D. thesis, Manchester Univ., Oct. 1972: 37; letter to author from Nicholas Morrell; Reminiscences of Robert Spence Watson; Reminiscences of John Theodore Merz. London: Blackwood (privately printed), 1922: 289 & 306; The Times 3 Mar 1911; Marriott, Dan (2002) ‘Robert Spence Watson. A Pioneer of Education in the North’, University of Durham MA dissertation

16A Library and Museum of Freemasonry; London, England; Freemasonry Membership Registers; Description: Register of Contributions: Country and Foreign Lodges, 966-1050 (1832); 668-748 (1863); John Strachan (1898) Northumbrian Masonry, and the Development of the Craft in England. London: George Kenning: 164–5

17 RSW & ESW letters now at TWAS; RSW letter to Mabel Spence Watson, TWAS Acc. 213/13; Reminiscences of Robert Spence Watson; Catalogue of Tyne & Wear Archives Service; FQE:98; Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"; The Friend NS XIV.Aug:243-6; The British Friend XXXII.254-7, 277; Alpine Club Register: 368–9

17A www.victorianturkishbath.org/5COMPANIES/AtoZCo/NewcastleSF.htm, accessed 2006-09-24

18 Mosscroft visitors' book; DNB

18A Alnwick Mercury, 1874-08-29

19 Reminiscences of Robert Spence Watson; Annual Monitor 1912

20 Robert Spence Watson: Caedmon: The First English Poet. London: Longmans Green; Reminiscences of Robert Spence Watson; death certificate; 1881 census returns; Ward's Directory of Newcastle & Gateshead

20A http://cgi.ebay.ca/Walt-Whitman-Two-Rivulets-1876-1st-ed-INSCRIBED_W0QQitemZ6584339950QQcategoryZ29223QQcmdZViewItem, accessed 2006-09-20; www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/BookDetailsPL?searchurl=y=9&bi=920683728, accessed 2008-08-13; The Guardian 1876-03-30

21 Corder (1914); Robert Spence Watson collection, House of Lords R.O. Hist. Coll. no. 136; my own knowledge or hypothesis, Journal of the Friends' Historical Society

21A Catalogue of the Redheugh Estate deeds (BRA 715), 58

22 Corder (1914); RSW & ESW letters now at TWAS; Reminiscences of Robert Spence Watson; Catalogue of Tyne & Wear Archives Service; DQB; Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"; family letters, TWAS Acc. 213/24 and /25; autograph book order advertised on eBay, HTTP://CGI.EBAY.CO.UK/WS/EBAYISAPI.DLL?VIEWITEM&RD=1&ITEM=330260249350&SSPAGENAME=STRK:MEWA:IT&IH=014, accessed 2008-08-09

23 DQB; pamphlet as described; my own knowledge or hypothesis

23A Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"

24 E. Spence Watson: Notes to RSW Reminiscences; Catalogue of Tyne & Wear Archives Service; Manders (1973) A History of Gateshead

25 DNB; PRO RG 11/5033 f97 p14; Merz (1922), op. cit.: 257; Kelly's Directory; Robert Spence Watson collection, House of Lords R.O. Hist. Coll. no. 136; Yorkshire Post 3 Mar 1911; Oliver M. Ashford: Prophet—Or Professor? The Life and Work of Lewis Fry Richardson. Bristol: Adam Hilger 1985; Ward's Directory of Newcastle & Gateshead

26 Three holiday journals, 2 by ESW & 1 by RSW, now at TWAS; Evelyn Weiss: Ms Foreword to TS RSW Reminiscences; my own knowledge or hypothesis; Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"; doctoral degree certificate now at TWAS; The Times; information from Per Gran, in email to me of 2008-07-01

26A Newcastle Courant, 1882-03-10

27 DNB; Bootham School Register. 1914; Daily News obit.; Corder (1914); Benwell Community Project: The Making of a Ruling Class. Newcastle 1978: 41; Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"; The Coming Work of the Liberal Party. Speeches by Dr. Spence Watson . . . 1891: The Eighty Club

27A Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"; Diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

28 Three holiday journals, 2 by ESW & 1 by RSW, now at TWAS; Elizabeth Spence Watson: 'Family Chronicles/Home Records', and supplement; Alpine Club Register: 368–9; ; www.marxists.org/archive/morris/works/chrono.htm, accessed 2006-04-15

29 Corder (1914); Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"; Marriott, Dan (2002) ‘Robert Spence Watson. A Pioneer of Education in the North’, University of Durham MA dissertation

30 E.I. Waitt: 'John Morley, Joseph Cowen, and Robert Spence Watson. Liberal Divisions in Newcastle Politics, 1873–1895'. Ph.D. thesis, Manchester Univ., Oct. 1972: 280; Corder, op. cit.; pamphlets as described

31 Merz (1922), op. cit.: 280; Corder (1914); RSW & ESW letters now at TWAS; Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"; Kelly’s Directory of Newcastle-on-Tyne and Suburbs; note by Evie Weiss on ESW letter to Mabel, TWAS Acc. 213/250

31A www.gutenberg.org/files/14240/14240-h/14240-h.htm, accessed 2006-09-20

32 Robert Spence Watson collection, House of Lords R.O. Hist. Coll. no. 136; RSW & ESW letters now at TWAS; Friends' Quarterly Examiner: 290; Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; RSW letter to Mabel & Mary, TWAS Acc. 213/260

33 Waitt (1972), op. cit.: 322, 330

34 DNB; John Rowland (1960) Progress in Power. London: Merz and McLellan, pp. 42-6; printed songsheet in my possession

35 DNB; Corder (1914); Annual Monitor 1912; book as described; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; The Friend XXX Dec:313–5; To the Arctic Zone, 1890, reprinted from Free Russia; Free Russia 5.7-9, July–October 1904

36 The Friend 51:164-7 1911; The Times 6 Mar 1911

37 DNB; Corder (1914)

38 Vol. III of RSW Cuttings, Newcastle Central Library; The Scotsman 1891-02-07; RG 12/4176 f60 p46

39 DQB; Westminster Gazette obit.; The Times 3 Mar 1911; DNB; Corder (1914); Rochdale Observer, 1915-01-02

40 RSW & ESW letters now at TWAS; Reminiscences of Robert Spence Watson; Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"

41 M.S.G.: 'A Personal Recollection', in Manchester Guardian 1911; Westminster Gazette

42 Friends' registers in PRO (RG6); DNB; The Friend XXXVII:35–6; Diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

43 Free Russia; Waitt (1972), op. cit.: 414; Corder (1914); Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; The Friend XXXIV:47; The British Friend IV May: ads 17

44 Catalogue of Tyne & Wear Archives Service; Transactions & Annual Reports of the NSPS 1894 & 1897

45 Annual Report, National Liberal Federation, 1896 119 & 123; my own knowledge or hypothesis; Mary Spence Watson, Commonplace Book; The Gladstone Diaries 2 Oct 1891

46 The Friend XXXV:759–60, 1895-11-22, XXXVI:433–4; The British Friend IV Nov:319–10; Hope Hay Hewison: Hedge of Wild Almonds (London, 1989)

46A diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

47 The Friend XXXVIII:317; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; DNB; The Journal of John Wodehouse First Earl of Kimberley for 1862–1902: 463; The Times, Saturday, 1898-05-28, p 8, issue 35528; Sheffield Independent, 1898-05-30; London Daily News, 1898-05-31

48 The Friend 1899-01-06; The British Friend VIII Feb:34–5, Mar:65; PRO BT 8596/62618; Ward's Directory of Newcastle & Gateshead; letterhead in front papers to my copy of Corder, op. cit.; letterhead of letter from Robert Spence Watson to Evelyn Weiss, now at TWAS

48A The Friend 1899-12-01 Supplement; The British Friend IX July:190–2; Corder (1914); diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; The Guardian 1899-10-18

49 Corder (1914); British Library Add. Mss 41236 f. 22

50 Mary Spence Watson, Commonplace Book; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; Catalogue of Tyne & Wear Archives Service; Elizabeth Spence Watson: Album / holiday itinerary; E. Spence Watson—watercolour sketches possessed by me; letters of Mary S.W. Pollard; Corder, op. cit.; BL Add. Mss 43638; RG 13/4751 f106 p54; The British Friend X July:198–9; The Friend XLII:800, XLIII:392; The Times

50A The Guardian 1904-04-15, 1905-04-08; Corder (1914); DNB; The Scotsman 1906-07-12

51 Free Russia; Corder (1914)

51A diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

52 Annual Monitor 1912; DQB; Theodora E. Clark: 'Robert Spence Watson', in The Friend 1911, 51:164-7; Corder (1914); BL Add. Mss 41242 f. 253; DNB; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; The Times & Yorkshire Post 3 Mar 1911; Privy Council admission paper in possession of Kathie Coleman

53 DNB; Corder (1914); diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; letterhead on letter from Robert Spence Watson to Mabel Richardson, now at TWAS; The Times

54 Benwell Community Project: The Making of a Ruling Class. Newcastle 1978; Yorkshire Post 3 Mar 1911

55 letter from Robert Spence Watson to Mabel Richardson, now at TWAS; will

56 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

57 DNB; diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; Ward's Directory of Newcastle & Gateshead; Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"; Alice Mary Merz, 'Family Notes', typescript

58 Ward’s Directory of Newcastle-on-Tyne; Corder (1914); DNB; The Friend 40:39 1900, XL:39–41

59 diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard; letters of Mary S.W. Pollard; Northern Mail 3rd March 1911; Yorkshire Herald obit.; Yorkshire Post 3 Mar 1911; death certificate; DNB; obit.—Daily News; Corder, op. cit.; National Probate Calendar; accounts of funeral in Newcastle Daily Journal and Yorkshire Herald ; The Friend LI:180, The British Friend XX Mar:86

59A The Scotsman 1911-06-03

60 The Times 3 Mar 1911; Annual Monitor 1912; American Journal of International Law 5.3:752–3, July 1911; see also the tributes from his associates in the Society of Friends of Russian Freedom

60AA Kota Ito (Dec 2006) 'The Making of the Civic Community—Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1850–1900', University of Leicester PhD thesis

60A diaries of Mary S.W. Pollard

61 letter from _ Jameson to MSWP 16 Dec 1937

62 Anne Ogden Boyce: Records of a Quaker Family: The Richardsons of Cleveland. London: Samuel Harris, 1889

Bibliography


portrait of a young Joseph WatsonM3. JOSEPH WATSON

Joseph Watson was born on the 4th September 1807 in St John's parish, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He was educated at Ackworth School from 1817 to 1819; but in those days the discipline was severe and unsuited to those boys who had special attractions at home, and he was not sorry to leave it. When his younger brothers met him at the coach office they refused to walk home with "the funny little old man" (as the gamins of that day called him), attired in broad-brimmed beaver hat, Friends' coat and vest with brass buttons, knee breeches, grey stockings, and shoes with plain buckles. He went afterwards to the famous school at Darlington kept by the brothers Cowan. Here he was in a more congenial atmosphere, and made great progress under those enlightened masters. His remarkable memory retained throughout life much of the Greek and Latin poets, with whose worlds he then became familiar. While at Ackworth he became the friend of John Bright, a friendship he retained throughout his life.1

After leaving school he became clerk in Backhouse and Company's Bank, in Darlington, where he remained for nearly two years, gaining that knowledge of accounts which enabled him afterwards to take a leading part in all legal enquiries in which figures were involved. He had an unusual gift for mental arithmetic and he never lost this. In 1860 he had a contest with George Parker Bidder, the famous calculating boy, in which he came off victorious.2

Wishing to have a more independent life, by 1827 he was articled to Messrs Kirkley and Fenwick, a well-known firm of solicitors. In 1827—described as a gentleman—he was granted by his father an annuity of £2.2.0 a year for life, payable out of a plot of land of 18 acres 3 roods & 5 perches in the Forest Greveship of East Allendale, Northumberland, one of the two plots late part of Allendale Common which were, upon the division of parts of Hexhamshire and Allendale Common, allotted to Joseph Watson late of Shildon near Blanchland yeoman decd in respect of his copyhold estate at Tedham then held of the Manor of Hexham, to be paid half-yearly. He spent the year 1829–30 in London, attending law lectures by Professor Amos at University College, then recently opened. In April 1830 he was living at 33 Poultry, London. In one term he shared the first prize, writing to his parents that "It is unnecessary for me to say that this is the greatest event in my life." As he expected, however—partly due to his study being disrupted by Yearly Meeting—he didn't do so well in the final exam, coming second. As a prize, his professor gave him a copy of Perkins' Profitable Book, bound in red morocco and gilt, with a handsome inscription. In the Easter term of 1830 he was admitted to practise as an attorney.3

In April and October 1831 he was one of two Newcastle representatives to Monthly Meeting, and in July that year was one of 45 men Friends who signed the certificate for George Washington Walker. In February 1815 he again represented Newcastle at Monthly Meeting, along with Edward Richardson. He was a Quaker in religion, and in politics a fiery reformer. He was a member of the council of the Northern Political Union. In 1831 he spoke on the Reform Bill at a mass meeting (50,000 strong) on the Town Moor. When the Lords threw out the first Bill, he was among a dozen politicians who met at Sir John Fyfe's house in Newcastle to consider whether, in the event of the ultimate defeat of the measure, open rebellion would not be justifiable. The story tells that Watson, as a Quaker, was alone in opposing such extreme measures. In any event, another of the twelve reported the discussion to the authorities, and it is clear that, had the bill been defeated, all the conspirators would have been arrested.

In May 1832 he addressed a public meeting of the inhabitants of Gateshead and its vicinity, held at Oakwellgate, to look at what need to be done to secure the Bill’s passage. The political climate had just changed, and Earl Grey had been returned to office.

 

“Tell me not,” said he of revolutions effected by violence. Talk not of an appeal to physical force. Here is a revolution, the most glorious that is recorded in the annals of this or any other country, carried forward without tumult, and concluded without bloodshed [cheers].


Following a rousing and popular address, he moved one of the resolutions, which was carried unanimously.4

He was an ardent lover of civil and religious liberty; and his rare oratorical gift made him a powerful ally of the Liberal party in the mighty struggles which went forward in the late Twenties and early Thirties. His speeches in favour of Catholic Emancipation, the Abolition of Slavery in the West Indies, and the Reform Bill, were filled not merely with eloquent passages (which indeed abound) but with the glow of generous conviction. He sheltered fugitive slaves, including Frederick Douglass; and he was a friend of William Lloyd Garrison, as well as Garibaldi and Kossuth. A frequent speaker at public meetings on Corn Law reform, he was a northern secretary of the Anti-Corn Law League, and was secretary for the great Anti-Corn Law Bazaar held in London.5

As a young man, he fell in love with [P1] Jane Wigham, and it is said that he set off the same day as [O2] Edward Richardson, to propose to her; his suit was unsuccessful. Many years later, he was delighted when his son Robert married the daughter of his old love.6

signature of Joseph WatsonIn January 1832 he was one of the readers at the Essay Meeting at Summerhill, and read his own ‘Magazine Ditty’, "a very clever six-line verse on the events of the Past and the Coming Year." In February 1834 he was one of two representatives from Newcastle at Monthly Meeting, held there, as he was in September, at the meeting held at Sunderland; on the latter occasion he was appointed to the committee in charge of deeds and papers relating to trust property. On the 1st August that year he wrote a poem, ‘The Day of Jubilee’, to celebrate the abolition of Slavery.6A

In 1833 he was living at Bensham Grove, and practising as a solicitor at 23 St Nicholas' Churchyard, Newcastle; the firm's London agents were Richardson, Shield & Hall (by 1836 Shield & Harwood).7

 

In February Monthly Meeting appointed William Brown, James Gilpin and Thomas Robson to enquire into Joseph’s clearness to marriage; at the March meeting, there being no obstacles, Henry Brady and Edward Richardson were appointed to ensure conduct agreeably to good order, and to prepare abstracts of the marriage certificate. On the 12th March 1835 he married [N1] Sarah Spence, at the meeting house in North Shields; at this date he was described as an attorney at law, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, as he was at the births of his three eldest children. They had twelve children: Lucy (1836–1918), [M2] Robert Spence (1837–1911), Esther Mary (1838–1903), Joseph (1840–1873), William Joshua (1841–1896), Sarah Jane (1842–1848), Emily (1844–1913), Charles John (1846–1846), Helen (1848–1922), Sarah Anna (1849–1849), Herbert (1852–1873), and Gertrude (1854–1930); all births were recorded by Durham Quarterly Meeting, the two eldest (at least) being born at (probably 8) Claremont Place, Gateshead. In June 1835 and April 1837 Joseph was one of the two Newcastle representatives to Monthly Meeting. In February 1836 he signed the testimony to Thomas Richardson. In December 1835 he was one of four signatories to a paper on Friends being chosen as town councillors—reporting from a committee to examine the provisions of the Municipal Reform Bill in this regard; the committee concluded that members should not hold municipal offices, though there was no longer a legal bar; this was because office holders had to declare they would uphold the established church. In January 1837 he was one of four men appointed by Monthly Meeting to look at the implications of the new law on births, marriages and deaths.8

By 1838 the family were living at 4 Claremont-place, Gateshead; at some time they apparently also lived at 8 Claremont Place (or perhaps the houses were re-numbered); in December 1838, however, Joseph’s residence was given as 10 Summerhill Terrace, Westgate, Newcastle. From 1838 onwards Joseph is usually described as a solicitor.9

He was a keen fisherman, being exceedingly skilful in taking bull-trout upon the small trout fly—many a time he took one or two weighing seven and a half pounds. In his son's opinion, he was "the best of the old-fashioned fishers." He also wrote verse, being the author of the ballad ‘The Legend of the Lambton Worm’; he was a tolerably regular contributor for some years to Tait's Edinburgh Magazine, and the anti-slavery album called The Bow in the Cloud, and that produced by the young Friends of the district at that time, entitled the Aurora Borealis, have important poems by him; and the latter one of the few Quaker stories which have been written by a Friend and full of the right Quaker atmosphere; in fact he assisted with the preparation of this latter album, which was considered "a very creditable production of its kind." He had a rare talent for epigram, and did good work with it upon many occasions. His great love of children led him to write many a pretty story for their delectation. He was quite happy when he could have a children's party, eight or ten wee ones, all to himself, showing them toys and telling them tales; after 1839 he introduced the family to the German-style Christmas, with a tree hung with candles and all sorts of curious things, including gingerbread donkeys.10

 

Joseph Watson with an unidentified son

Joseph Watson, with an unidentified son

An ardent lover of literature and a frequent contributor to the Newcastle Magazine, he excelled in light sketches of a popular character, but sometimes he left the region of prose and produced poems of considerable merit. One of his pieces, entitled “An Address to St. Nicholas Steeple,” appeared in the Magazine and became very popular. Several literary productions from his pen also appeared in the Newcastle Daily Chronicle. He represented Newcastle at Monthly Meeting in August 1838 and August 1839. In February 1840 he was one of five men appointed by the Meeting to prepare a memorial on Sufferings, to go to the Secretary of State; this was signed the following month. In December 1840 he signed the testimony to Margaret Bragg.10A

In March 1840 he was living in Summerhill Terrace, Westgate, Newcastle. In November of that year, assisted by a Mr Greenhow, he carried a series of resolutions on the expediency of establishing a Collegiate Institution in Newcastle. In 1841 he donated £5 and subscribed £1 to the North of England Agricultural School. The census that year recorded him as a solicitor, living at Summerhill Terrace with his wife, four children, two servants, and a third person, probably also a servant. In the latter half of May 1842 Joseph and his family spent a week with his father-in-law in North Shields; towards the end of the visit they all visited the supposedly haunted Willington Mill. In 1843 he took a leading part in the return of John Bright as MP for Durham City. In October and November that year he had letters published in The British Friend, on the subject of anonymous writing.11

Around 1844, with his son Robert, he made what was believed to be the first through journey from Gateshead to London by rail.12

In the early 1840s he went to Vauxhall to see George Catlin and his North American Indians. He had much correspondence with Catlin and was much interested in the question of the North American Indians.13

By 1842 he was living at (6) Elswick Villas, where his children were born in that year, 1842 and 1846. He was present at the death of his father-in-law [N2] Robert Spence in 1845. By 1847 his solicitor's office had apparently moved to 25 St Nicholas' Churchyard; at this date he was a member of the Newcastle and Gateshead Law Society. The family home was by then given as 6 Elswick Terrace, Newcastle. That year Joseph Watson was an active worker on the Liberal Committee which successfully united the sections of the local party to secure the return of two Liberal members, Messrs Ord and Headlam. By 1848 he and his family had apparently moved to (1 or 2) Gresham Place, St Andrew, Newcastle, where his next three children were born. In April that year he was one of the Friends who visited George Miller Robinson regarding his reinstatement.14

In 1836 his father-in-law’s connection in the banking company of the Messrs Chapman, had led him to take an active part in the conversion of the bank into the Newcastle, Shields, and Sunderland Union Banking Company. At this time he occupied himself very much in business affairs, and became an attorney of considerable practice. He was solicitor to, and a large shareholder in, the Newcastle, Shields and Sunderland Union Joint Stock Banking Company, which failed in late 1847; he had been advising them to meet their creditors and shareholders as early as March. Edward Richardson offered him pecuniary assistance at this time, which however he declined. He devoted himself with great regularity and punctuality to the duties of his profession, and soon recovered lost ground. His legal opinion in connection with mercantile and commercial matters was highly thought of, and his intimate acquaintance with the bankruptcy laws especially secured for him a large connection in that branch of legal practice, and he was one of the leading attorneys in the Newcastle Bankruptcy Court up to the period of its abolition. He was prominent in founding the well-known banking business of Messrs Hodgkin and Co., of St Nicholas’ Square, Newcastle, to which he was solicitor. He subsequently prepared the Bankers Limited Liability Act and saw it through Parliament (it was passed in 1862).15

In March 1848 Joseph Watson acted as one of four secretaries of the Newcastle Polytechnic Exhibition, to be opened on 24 April. Around the beginning of July 1848 he wrote to Charles Dickens, inviting him for a now-unknown occasion. Dickens graciously declined. He wrote again in December 1855, Dickens again replying that he was too busy.15A

In 1851 the census recorded him as a solicitor, living at 2 Gresham Place, St Andrew, Newcastle upon Tyne, with his wife, five children, and two house servants. That year he was local secretary to the Great Exhibition.16

In 1852 he was secretary to the Coquetdale Angling Club. He was secretary of the Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society from 1852–1860, and for many years was chair of the Newcastle Fine Arts Society.17

He appears in the 1853 electoral register as a resident of Newcastle, qualified to vote by possession of one undivided third part of a freehold house in Bensham Lane. That year, with Robert, he visited the English lakes and the Highlands. In 1854 he spent two weeks on the continent with his children Lucy and Robert, travelling to Holland with M. Rochussen, the prime minister; they were shown round the field of Waterloo by Sergeant Munday, a veteran of the battle. He visited Rothbury every year till 1870.18

On 13 February 1854 he advertised in The Times as solicitor for the petition for the appointment of an official manager of the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Marine Insurance Company, under the Joint-stock Companies’ Winding-up Acts 1858 & 1849; London agents: Shield & Harwood, 10 Clement’s Lane, Lombard Street, London.18A

On 30 May 1855, a gentleman, of Newcastle, he was co-executor of his father's will. That year he was variously described as an attorney, of Royal Arcade, Newcastle, and a solicitor, of Arcade and 2 Gresham Place; and in 1858 as a solicitor, of 10 Arcade, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, resident at 4 Summerhill Grove, Newcastle. By 1857 his firm's London agent had become J.U. Harwood, and the following year S.R. Pattison (by 1868 Pattison, Wigg & Co.). By 1860 Joseph was a member of the Metropolitan & Provincial Law Association.18B

In July 1859 he was present at his daughters' double wedding in Newcastle; local newspaper coverage referred to him as "our much respected townsman, Joseph Watson, Esq., solicitor." In his will, dated 23rd August 1860, he is described as a gentleman. That month he seems to have travelled at least as far as the continent with Robert, on his 3-week tour. In 1861 the family was living at Bensham Grove, where they employed three domestic servants; two visitors were also present. He owned a number of houses in Elysium Lane, Gateshead.19

He was one of the founders and first secretary of the Victoria Blind Asylum. He was a kind and worthy man in all the relations of life, and as a solicitor held a high place in the Town.20

By 1862 he had taken his son Robert into partnership, trading as J. & R.S. Watson; their office was at 10 Arcade, Newcastle. Joseph was now a member of the Solicitors' Benevolent Association. In 1863 the private ledger for E. & J. Richardson includes an account for J. & R.S. Watson, showing payments of £456-0-0 for “Expenses o/a Whittle Dean Water Co.” and £52-5-3 just described as “Lawyers Bills.” In July 1865 the firm was paid £8/8/2½ by David Richardson.21

As he advanced in years his public appearances became rare, but his Liberal convictions strengthened. Never was he heard to greater advantage than when in 1868 he took the leading part at a public breakfast, given in the Assembly Rooms, Newcastle, to William Lloyd Garrison, for whom he performed a similar service 21 years previously. It was indeed a meeting of brave old men, eloquent once again in the cause for which they had fought so stoutly for so many years, side by side, though in distant lands.22

On 15 February 1869 Joseph Watson’s firm advertised in The Times, as solicitors to the official manager of the Newcastle, Shields and Sunderland Union Joint-Stock Banking Company, to be wound up on the 15th March. Pattison, Wigg, Gurney & King, 50 Lombard Street, London, were acting as their London agents.22A

In September 1869 he wrote ‘Rothbury’, a poem in dialect. For Christmas 1870 he and Sarah were given a fur rug and an easy chair by their son Robert. In 1871 his domestic circumstances were as in 1861; the servants are described as a domestic servant, a house servant, and a cook/servant.23

After his wife's death in August 1871 he felt his loss acutely—for him the world was changed—but he bore up bravely, and found some relief in looking over the countless letters which brought back all the past. He went to Rothbury for a few days (or more) after the death. He also had printed a booklet, In Memoriam Sarah Watson.23A

By 1872 Joseph was recorded as a member of the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Incorporated Law Society.23B In 1873 Joseph and Robert Spence Watson, solicitors, were recorded as holding 20 £10 shares (out of 800) in the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Turkish Bath Company Limited, formed the previous year.23C

He felt his son Herbert's death in March 1873 a terrible blow. In 1873 he went out to Italy for ten days, during the final illness of his son Joe. In January 1874 he wrote and printed his poem ‘A Tale of Florence’ in memory of “my beloved son” Joseph.24

In 1874 he was resident in Newcastle, and a registered voter in Gateshead by virtue of his ownership of one undivided third part of a freehold house in Bensham Lane.25

Though one who spoke little about religious matters, his voice was always raised on the side of righteousness, and his quiet but effectual testimony to the truth carried conviction into many quarters where such teaching is but seldom received. Shortly before his death he wrote several poems of much beauty, breathing that spirit of Christian resignation which he had in life so truly exemplified.26

He was described as "a man of great integrity, and much esteemed by all persons who came in contact with him both in business and private life." "Being one of the oldest lawyers in Newcastle, Mr. Watson was well known; and his pleasant and genial manner secured for him the respect not only of his professional brethren, but of all who knew him." "He was a fine specimen of a good North Country Englishman and a Quaker. A man with no pretence and no vain show, but a man of strong, solid intellect, earnest conscientiousness, deep and true religious feeling."27

the mature Joseph WatsonAlthough in later years his action in public affairs was less prominent than in those early days when great principles summoned indomitable energy to inculcate their truth and defend them from detraction, he still maintained a warm sympathy with all popular movements, and did not hesitate to throw himself into the breach, when occasion offered, as of old. Still, he was rather a watchful observer and keen sympathiser than an active combatant in recent political strife. His natural modesty prevented him from coming forward as a leader of men, but he thought vigorously, had a keen sense of humour, and could wield a polished and caustic pen. He won genuine respect as a reputable and useful citizen, and as a warm and generous friend.27A

In late 1874 he bought books for all the grandchildren, writing their names in them, but, as if he had had some presentiment of what was going to happen, he said to the family, when they laughed at him for being so beforehand, "We cannot tell what may happen before Christmas." He had had a cough and cold, but made rather light of it, going in to work as usual. About six o’clock on Thursday evening, 10th December, he left his office in Pilgrim Street, and went home, where he was then in very good spirits, and his family noticed nothing to cause them to anticipate that he was soon to be overtaken by an illness which was to end fatally. He busied himself about some law matters, and sat up writing till a later hour than was usual, and soon after retiring was seized with illness, and was attended by one of his daughters. Two doctors were called in, but their services were unavailing, and on the 11th December he was taken much worse. The following day he made a codicil to his will, to reflect his wife's death since the date of the will itself. The doctor said at once there was great danger—he was suffering from a complication of disease—bronchitis, heart complaint &c. He thought from the very first he would not rally, and he spoke to his family with calm and joyful anticipation of the approaching end. He told of his happiness, of his faith in Jesus, the only Refuge, and of the joy he had in looking forward to meeting with the beloved ones gone before. The watching continued until Monday, the 14th when he quietly passed away, at Bensham Grove, the cause of his death being given as pneumonia. On the 17th he was laid in the family vault at Jesmond beside his wife and his son Herbert, an immense concourse of people joining the procession of 26 coaches from Bensham to the cemetery; amongst those present were the mayors and town clerks of Newcastle and Gateshead, as well as Joseph Swan and Theo Merz. Whilst the coffin was being lowered into the vault, two of the lady mourners placed two immortelles upon it, one at the head and the other at the foot. A meeting was afterwards held in the meeting house—very largely attended—when Thomas Hodgkin, R.B. Butler and Thomas Pumphrey all spoke very beautifully, dwelling on Joseph Watson’s special characteristics—his love and tenderness, and child-like faith; a Mr Rutter noted that "Even in his last illness, when most people would be wrapped up in themselves or their families, he was much interested about establishing a soup kitchen for the poor on his own premises." His will was proved at Durham on the 25th February 1875, his estate being valued at under £18,000 (£822,600 at 2005 values); this included Bensham Grove and Mosscroft, the proceeds of some recently sold freehold land at the (Viaduct?) in Gateshead, a £2000 life assurance policy, and shares in the Redheugh Bridge Co. & the Newcastle Gas Co.28

Robert wrote the following of his father:

. . . But this last change! the father, so beloved,
So wise, so true, so gentle,—he hath passed
Away from us to whom he ever proved
A refuge from life’s cold and bitter blast.
Could tenderest love and prudent spirit last,
He were immortal; and from him we learned
To sorrow us with hope; his lot is cast
With those for whom his heart so fondly yearned:
His day’s work done his rest is due and nobly earned.28A

Joseph Watson was the eldest child of [M4] Joshua and [M9] Esther Watson.29

*** For an exhaustive treatment of the lives of Joseph and Sarah Watson, you are welcome to download this .pdf file. Note that it is a very large file—21 Mb. ***

 

1 TNA: PRO HO 107/2405 f74 p68; PRO RG 6/628; Quaker birth certificate; Yorkshire Post 3 Mar 1911; Ackworth School Centenary Committee: List of the Boys and Girls admitted into Ackworth School 1779–1879, Ackworth 1879; RSW in John William Steel: A Historical Sketch of the Society of Friends 'in Scorn called Quakers' in Newcastle & Gateshead 1653–1898. London & Newcastle, Headley Bros. 1899: 169

2 RSW in Steel (1899) :171; Percy Corder: The Life of Robert Spence Watson. London: Headley, 1914; Northern Mail 3rd March 1911

3 Corder, op. cit.; documents donated to Tyne & Wear Archives Service 2005; RSW in Steel (1899) :171; 1862, 1868 & 1872 Law List; Newcastle Central Library RSW Cuttings V. 3 N920 W341

4 Minutes of Newcastle Monthly Meeting, TWAS MF 169; obit. of Robert Spence Watson Daily News 3 Mar 1911; Steel (1899), op. cit.: 338; Tribune 9 Oct 1906; Sansbury, Ruth: Beyond the Blew Stone. 300 Years of Quakers in Newcastle. 1998: Newcastle-upon-Tyne Preparative Meeting. pp. 167-8; Newcastle Central Library RSW Cuttings II

5 DQB; Reminiscences of Robert Spence Watson;, RSW in Steel (1899) : 171-2; Tribune 9 Oct 1906; Sergius Stepniak: Nihilism as It Is. London: Unwin, n.d.; Corder, op. cit.; obit. of Robert Spence Watson Daily News 3 Mar 1911; obit. of Robert Spence Watson Annual Monitor 1912; Newcastle Central Library RSW Cuttings V. 3 N920 W341

6 Evelyn Weiss: Ms Foreword to TS RSW Reminiscences

6A Steel (1899) : 129; minutes of Newcastle Monthly Meeting, TWAS MF 169; poem; RSW Cuttings II, Newcastle Central Library

7 Ihler's Directory of Newcastle & Gateshead, 1833; 1833, 1835–37, 1839–40, 1843–47, 1850, 1852, 1854–55 Law Lists

8 Minutes of Newcastle Monthly Meeting, TWAS MF 169; Philip Spence: Robert and Mary Spence. 1939; PRO RG 6/202, /527, /1149, /1245; DQB; son's birth certificate; Steel, op. cit.: 80; The British Friend; Corder (1914); Sansbury, loc. cit.

9 Corder, op. cit.; 1861 & 1871 census returns; daughter’s birth certificate; son's marriage certificate; Ward's Directory of Newcastle & Gateshead; DQB; The British Friend

10 RSW in Steel (1899) :171-2; Corder, op. cit.; DQB; Reminiscences of Robert Spence Watson; Sansbury (1998): 157-8; Newcastle Central Library RSW Cuttings V. 3 N920 W341

10A Newcastle Central Library RSW Cuttings V. 3 N920 W341; minutes of Newcastle Monthly Meeting, TWAS MF 169

11 Robert Spence Watson: History of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (1793–1896). London: Walter Scott, 1897: 270; f6 (source reference misplaced) 45:259 1911; RSW in Steel (1899) :171-2; son's birth certificate; TWAS MF 188; clipping in volume at Newcastle Central Library; HO 107/824/10 f20 p33; Robert Spence letters to Robert Foster, in my possession

12 Corder, op. cit.

13 Reminiscences of Robert Spence Watson

14 father-in-law's death certificate; White's Newcastle & Gateshead Directory, 1847; 1847 Law List; The British Friend; Newcastle Central Library RSW Cuttings V. 3 N920 W341; children’s birth certificates; son’s death certificate; minutes of Newcastle Monthly Meeting, TWAS MF 169

15 Reminiscences of Robert Spence Watson; Friends' Quarterly Examiner; Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edn; Newcastle Central Library RSW Cuttings V. 3 N920 W341; Robert Spence letters to Robert Foster, in my possession

15A The Guardian, 1848-03-15; The Letters of Charles Dickens, Vols 5 & 7 (1978) ed. Graham Storey and K.J. Fielding. OUP

16 HO 107/2405 f74 p68; RSW in Steel (1899) :171-2

17 RSW: 'Northumbrian Story and Song', in Northumbria, Lectures delivered to the Lit. & Phil., Newcastle-upon-Tyne, on Newcastle in History, Literature, and Art, by Thomas Hodgkin, RSW, R. Oliver Heslop, and Richard Welford. Newcastle: Reid, 1898: 158; Watson (1897); Newcastle Central Library RSW Cuttings V. 3 N920 W341

18 electoral register; Reminiscences of Robert Spence Watson; Corder, op. cit.

18A The Times

18B Durham Probate Records, DPRI/1/1855/W8; Slater’s Commercial Directory of Durham, Northumberland and Yorkshire; Kelly’s Directory of Northumberland and Durham; 1857–58, 1860, 1862, 1868 & 1872 Law Lists; Whellan’s Directory of Northumberland

19 will; RG 9/3800 f39 p27; Reminiscences of Robert Spence Watson; The Friend; RSW Journal, Newcastle Central Library

20 W. Harris Robinson in Steel (1899) : 70

21 Ward's Directory of Newcastle & Gateshead; 1862 & 1868 Law Lists; E. & J. Richardson private ledger, TWAS Acc. 161/330

22 RSW in Steel (1899) :172; clipping from local paper in volume at Newcastle Central Library (which says it was an evening event, rather than a morning)

22A The Times

23 poem; poem in Wayside Gleanings; PRO RG 10/5051 f64 p25

23A Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"

23B 1872 Law List

23C www.victorianturkishbath.org/5COMPANIES/AtoZCo/NewcastleSF.htm, accessed 2006-09-24

24 Reminiscences of Robert Spence Watson; Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"; printed poem

25 electoral register

26 RSW in Steel (1899), op. cit.: 172; poem of Nov 1874

27 Merz (1922), op. cit.: 221-2; Dr Thomas Hodgkin, in Bootham Magazine (York Old Scholars Assn magazine) V.5:369-9 Nov 1911; Newcastle Central Library RSW Cuttings V. 3 N920 W341

27A Newcastle Central Library RSW Cuttings V. 3 N920 W341

28 death certificate; Gateshead Observer 19 Dec 1874; National Probate Calendar; will and probate; documents donated to Tyne & Wear Archives Service 2005; Elizabeth Spence Watson's "Family Chronicles"; death/burial digest; Newcastle Central Library RSW Cuttings V. 3 N920 W341

28A poem in Wayside Gleanings

29 DQB; Newcastle Central Library RSW Cuttings V. 3 N920 W341

Bibliography


M4. JOSHUA WATSON

Joshua WatsonJoshua Watson was born on the 15th August 1771, in Allendale.1

In 1796 he witnessed the marriage of David Carrick and Mary Wilson, at Cornwood. As a young man he worked as a lead miner—apparently before 1803, though he is still described as such in 1806. In this occupation he was a member of a most democratic confraternity. Each man took his bit of ground to be explored at a certain figure from the Lord of the Manor: there was not the relationship of master and servant.2

But the town had its fascination for him, and he came to Newcastle in 1804, after staying for a year or perhaps less in the catchment area of Carlisle Monthly Meeting. He lived in the Side—then almost a fashionable quarter of Newcastle—over the shop in which he carried on the business of a cheesemonger. In 1805 he witnessed the marriage of Elizabeth Watson and Thomas Tessimond, at Allendale.3 In April 1806 he placed the following advertisement in The Newcastle Courant:

JOSHUA WATSON,

late with mr daniel oliver, cheesemonger,

BEGS Leave to acquaint the public, that he has taken the Shop lately occupied by Mrs Samuel Nicholson, Cheesemonger, next Door above Mr. Craike, Woollendraper, Foot of the Side, Newcastle, where he has laid in a good Stock of Cheese of different Sorts; also Butter, Bacon, and Hams; and he hopes, by his steady Attention to Business, to be enabled to merit the Favour of those who may honour him with their Custom.

Newcastle, April 4, 1806 3A

signature of Joshua WatsonIn July 1806 Newcastle Monthly Meeting appointed David Sutton, Joseph Procter, and John Mounsey to investigate Joshua’s clearness to marry, with David Sutton to publish his intentions at first day morning Meeting in Newcastle. On the 27th August 1806 he married [M9] Esther Watson at Allendale meeting house; he was described as a cheesemonger, of St Nicholas's parish, Newcastle. They had three children: [M3] Joseph (1807–1874), William Wigham (1809–1847), and Joshua (1811–1888), all being born in St John's parish, Newcastle. By November 1806 Joshua had subscribed £100 towards the fund for the new meeting house in Newcastle. He was one of two representatives to Monthly Meeting in December 1806, as well as in February, May, and November 1807; on the latter occasion he was accompanied by Isaac Richardson. He represented Newcastle there again in June 1808, in March 1809 (with David Sutton), May 1809, December 1809 (with David Sutton again), in May 1810, in October and November 1811, in June 1817, September 1818, July 1819, in October 1820, and in February 1827.4

Behind his house and shop his garden ran up steeply to the Moot Hall. When his eldest son, Joseph, was born, in 1807, he was anxious that the child should have plenty of fresh milk; and, laying down the little garden, or garth, in grass, he bought a cow: but the problem was how to get it into the garden! A long and steep flight of stairs intervened between the Side and the garth. Joshua Watson was little of stature but a Hercules in strength, and the story goes that he carried the astonished cow up the stairs and deposited it in the garden,—no doubt with much groaning of spirit on the part of both! He was indeed a Hercules. In early youth he had thrown the champion wrestler of Cumberland; had leaped on to the head of a wild stag at bay in a rocky pool, and held it down until ropes were brought and it was led securely away. With old-fashioned gallantry, when acting as guide in his native parts to two lady Friends engaged in the ministry, he threw himself over an open pit-working and made for them a bridge of his body that they might pass over the narrow but perilous strait to the fair land beyond, otherwise inaccessible for them.5

In late 1814 and early 1815 he took action in the Sheriff's Court for recovery of debt, from a few individuals. In September 1815 he purchased premises in the Side, at an auction at Wallace's, through a Mr Richardson; he took a £1000 mortgage from Benjamin Slater; the purchase was completed at the George Inn, on the 26th September; conveyancing fees totalled £57.10.0d.6

In 1818 he purchased two allotments on Gateshead town fields, from a Mr Fairweather, and another there from a Mr Gibbon; conveyancing fees amounted to £20.15.6d. It may be that these transactions relate directly to his purchase that year of Bensham Grove, as a country cottage for his children. Possibly he overstretched himself, for around 1819 he borrowed £600 from a Margaret Watson, of which he had only been able to return £100 by July of 1820.7

In 1821 he was one of the subscribers to Westgarth Forster's A Treatise on a Section of the Strata, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, to the Mountain of Cross Fell, in Cumberland.7A

He didn't vote in the 1820 election, but did in 1832, for Charles Attwood, voting as an inhabitant householder, a shopkeeper, of the Side; he also voted in 1835, as a householder, for William Ord and James Aytoun.8

In May 1823 he leased a shop and bakehouse in the Side to a Richard Mort, for £75 per annum. He appears to have owned nos 17, 19 and 21, in the Side.9

It appears that Joshua hadn't entirely lost interest in lead mining, for on the 1st November 1825, at an auction at the house of Mrs Wallace, Innkeeper, Newcastle, he purchased 1/64 part of Foreshield Grains Lead Mine, for £31—held under lease of the Commissioners and Governours of Greenwich Hospital at one fifth Duty.10

In September 1827, a cheesemonger of Newcastle, he granted an annuity of £2.2.0 p.a. each to Joseph and Jacob Watson, payable from "All that Plot or parcel of land containing eighteen Acres three Roods and five perches more or less lying within Forest Greveship in East Allendale . . . being one [each—bsb] of the two plots or parcels of land late part of Allendale Common which upon the division of certain parts of Hexham Shire and Allendale Common were set out and allotted to Joseph Watson late of Shildon near Blanchland yeoman deceased in respect of his copyhold estate at Tedham then held of the manor of Hexham . . . now in the Occupation of John Robson Joseph Philipson and Thomas Hetherington as tenants to and under . . . Joshua Watson . . ."11

In 1828 he was a subscriber to the Royal Jubilee School. In October that year the Courant reported that "A Scotch cabbage has been grown in the garden of Mr Joshua Watson, at Bensham, near this town, of the extraordinary weight of 37 lbs.".11A

In February 1829 he was among the signatories to an open letter to the Mayor, requesting a meeting to consider the expediency of petitioning Parliament for a Removal of the Civil Disabilities which affect His Majesty’s Roman Catholic Subjects.11B

His cheesemonger’s business flourished. In 1827, now himself living at Bensham Grove, the business was located at 109 Side, as it was in 1829, 1833, 1838 and 1840 (at the latter date described as Joshua Watson and Son, Cheesemongers/Provision Merchants); at the end of 1830, describing himself as cheese-monger, butter and bacon-dealer, and general commission agent, he advertised in the Courant, to say that he had taken his son William Wigham Watson into partnership. In the period 1830–1846 his mean annual turnover was slightly over £10,300. Business fluctuated quite a lot, with peaks in 1831, 1840, and 1845, and troughs in 1830, 1839, and 1846. Overall the trend was upward to 1840, and then declined. Interestingly, in 1839 his account books record payments—apparently investments—in the Northern Railway Company. In 1840, first year of the penny post, the firm kept a letter book, in which the receipt of about 700 letters is recorded.12

In December 1830 his stock book as a provision merchant valued the business at £2030-9-3, including £994-12-9 stock in trade; there was a further £595-15-4 owing to the business. in December 1834 the valuation was £2060-7-11. In 1832 the stock included:

	184 sides of bacon
	36 spoiled bacon
	141 Hams
	cut bacon
	672 OM cheese
	627 Plain cheese
	526 OM cheese
	559 Gouda
	50 Firkins of Butter
	33 Bushels of Peas
	21½ Boxes of Oranges
	Butter on the counter
	72 Bladders of lard
	Empty Casks
	6 Hams
	Fish
	Grease & Tar
	Paper
	Fixtures
	Oats & Beans

1833 is similar, plus:

	Edam & Yorkshire cheeses
	Plain & Cot Cheese
	6 Casks of Herring
		and minus oranges

1834 also has:

	Old Hams, new hams, & spoiled hams
	Peas & Barley
	1 sack of flour
	9 Bundles of Sprats
	27 Tongues

1835 also has:

	82½ casks of herring (29 Dec)
	5 Plucks


His suppliers were listed as Backhouse, Etches, Smith & Holland, Haansbergen, Harrison, Reed, R. Elliott, J. Elliott, Reavely, Bradshaw, and Jos Watson. The stock book for 1843–1848 gives more detail on his suppliers: he bought bacon from J. & T. Sinclair, Belfast; butter from Thomas Martin, Allendale; Gouda cheese from Haansbergen, Newcastle; American cheese &c. from James McAllister, Newcastle; lard from U.J. & A. Duffield, Belfast; hams from Thomas Little, Carlisle; and herrings from Morton & Taylor, Alnwick, as well as from Yarmouth and Sunderland.12A

In January 1831 he was a signatory to an open letter to the Mayor, requesting a public meeting about petitioning Parliament against the Bill then pending for establishing a General Register IN LONDON, for all Deeds and Instruments affecting real Property in England and Wales.12AA

In July 1831 he was one of 45 men Friends who signed the certificate for George Washington Walker. He attended Newcastle Monthly Meeting in August 1831, August 1834, February 1835, November 1836, and June 1841. In April 1834 he subscribed 5s. to the Friends’ sabbath school, of which he was on the first committee, as well as being one of the teachers (though he had stopped teaching by 1840). In May 1834 he donated 18 books and one monthly magazine to the school, and in September he was listed as one of its seven librarians. In February 1836 he signed the testimony to Thomas Richardson, as he did to Margaret Bragg in December 1840.12B

On 3 November 1833 his shop in the Side was burgled:

 

A robbery of a more daring and important character was committed on Sunday night last, by breaking into the shop of Mr Joshua Watson, cheese-monger, of the Side, one of the principal thoroughfares of the town. This was effected by taking off the padlock, and by picking the other lock by which the front door was secured. The depredators carried away three tills containing copper to the amount of between £2 and £3. Two of the tills were afterwards found in different parts of the street, one with eight-pence and the other with two-pence remaining in it: the third, containing letters, &c., was found on the Quayside.12BA

It appears that in July of 1837 Joshua Watson was sued for libel, though no details have yet been discovered beyond the following announcement that appeared in the Courant on the 21st of that month:

 

CHARLES PROCTOR RIPPON, Plaintiff, and JOSHUA WATSON, Defendant

I, JOSHUA WATSON, of Bensham, the above-named Defendant, regret that any Thing which I have said should have been construed to apply to the above named Plaintiff, which I never intended, and I feel obliged by his staying this Action on my paying the Costs, and declaring (which I hereby do) that the Report which I mentioned was, on Enquiry, found to be untrue, and that I know of Nothing to affect his Character as a Tradesman or a Man.

— JOSHUA WATSON.12BB

In April 1838 Joshua was elected as an assessor for the borough of Gateshead, but resigned, having refused to sign the affirmation "according to the act of parliament, Mr. Watson objecting on the ground of his conscientious scruples with respect to the established church" . . . . In January 1839 he was co-signatory, with Joseph and others, of an open letter to the Mayor of Newcastle, requesting that he call a public meeting with a view to petitioning Parliament over the corn laws. In July 1840 he subscribed half a guinea to the Royal Victoria Asylum for the Blind.12C

His stock books for 1837 to 1847 and 1843 to 1848 list purchases by supplier and date. New items of stock include "Cold cheese", smoked ham, Wensleydale cheese (from 1846), Lancaster cheese (from 1847), Cheshire cheese (in 1848), sides of pork, and "old milk cheese". By 1840 he employed an apprentice, Jacob Brown (who described himself as the accountant). Brown appears on the 1841 census return for the Watson household at Bensham Grove, together with one domestic servant. That year he acted as co-executor of his father-in-law's will.13

In July 1842 Watson, Cheese & Bacon Factor of Newcastle, leased the firm's shop in the Side to John Lowthin & Musgrave Fallows, Bacon Dealers; he agreed to make the necessary alterations to separate the shop from the "Room and Offices above or adjoining". The rent was £70 p.a., the tenancy commencing 2 Aug 1842.14

In October 1846 he leased Bensham Grove to William Yellowley, grocer of Newcastle, for seven years commencing 7th November next, at £60 p.a.; the lease included "garden stable Coach house" etc.; and also referred to "the garden and the hothouse". . .; Yellowley could only sublet, without Watson's consent, the small house next the road, part of the said premises.15

Despite this, an 1847 directory still shows Watson living at Bensham Grove. In that year his business is described as a Cheesemongers, Butter and Bacon Factors.16

In August 1847 he purchased for £12 a double vault in the Westgate Hill General Cemetery, Newcastle—plot nos 302 & 303 in Ward N. It appears that he retired from business at about this time, for in December he let to James Fox & Samuel Sterling, auctioneers of Newcastle, the shop in the Side as lately altered, and which with other premises was lately used by Watson as a cheesemonger's shop; the rent was £75 p.a., starting immediately. In May 1849 he placed an advertisement in the Courant, saying he was transferring his cheesemonger’s business to Potts and Oubridge.17

In January 1848, at Monthly Meeting, he signed the testimony to Rachel Wigham, as he did to Daniel Oliver in September. He represented Newcastle at Monthly Meeting in North Shields in April 1849. In June 1849 he put up for sale an allotment of property near Tedham Green Estate, by auction at the King's Head Inn, Allendale Town; his reserve was £900, but the highest bid was £700, so presumably the property remained unsold.18

On his 78th birthday, in 1849, he crossed the High Level railway bridge from Gateshead to Newcastle, part of the way on a single plank; and was told, at the Newcastle side, by Robert Stephenson himself, that he was the first man who had done this.19

In December 1849 he was the sole executor and residual legatee of his sister Hannah Watson.20

In the 1851 census Joshua Watson is described as a retired cheesemonger, of Bensham Grove, Gateshead, living with his wife, son, daughter-in-law, grandson, and one house servant. He made his will on 12 April 1852:20A

 

This is the last Will and Testament of me Joshua Watson of the Borough and County of Newcastle upon Tyne Cheesemonger as follows (that is to say) I order and direct that all my just debts funeral and testamentary expences and the expence of proving and executing this my Will shall be paid off and discharged by my Executors hereinafter named as soon after my decease as conveniently may be and subject thereto I give devise and bequeath unto my sons Joseph Watson and Joshua Watson the younger their heirs executors and administrators All my real and personal estate and effects whatsoever and wheresoever and of what kind nature kind or quality soever the same shall or may be or consist of which I shall die seized or possessed of interested in or in any manner entitled unto to hold the same unto the said Joseph Watson and Joshua Watson the younger their heirs executors and administrators upon the trusts following (that is to say) Upon trust to pay the rents interests and annual proceeds thereof to my dear Wife Esther Watson for and during her natural life and from and after her decease - Upon trust as to one third full part or share of my said real and personal estate and effects (the whole into three equal parts being considered as divided) for my said son Joseph Watson his heirs executors and administrators absolutely for his and their own use and benefit - and as to one other full third part or share thereof Upon trust for my said son Joshua Watson the younger his heirs executors and administrators absolutely for his and their own use and benefit And as to the remaining one third full part or share of my said real and personal estate upon trust to pay and apply the rents interest and annual proceeds thereof towards the maintenance and education of my grandsons Thomas Carric [sic] Watson and Edward Watson until they shall respectively attain the age of Twenty One years And upon their respectively attaining the said age of Twenty One years Upon trust as to the said One third part of my real and personal estate and effects for the said Thomas Carrick Watson and Edward Watson their heirs and assigns for ever equally to be divided between and among them share and share alike and to take as tenants in common and not as joint tenants and in case either of my said grandsons shall depart this life before he shall attain his age of Twenty One years then as to his share of my said real and personal estate and effects upon trust for the survivor of them his heirs and assigns for ever - An I hereby direct that until my said Grandson Thomas Carrick Watson and Edward Watson shall respectively attain the said age of Twenty One years the rent interest and annual proceeds of One third part or share of my said estate and effects shall be paid to Mary Carrick Watson the widow of my late son William Wigham Watson towards the maintenance and education of her said children And in case my said grandsons Thomas Carrick Watson and Edward Watson shall both depart this life without having attained their respective ages of Twenty One years then I direct that the interest dividends and annual proceeds of their said One third part or share of my estate and effects shall be paid to my said daughter in Law the said Mary Carrick Watson and upon her decease the said One third part or share of my estate and effects shall be divided between the said Joseph Watson and Joshua Watson their heirs executors and administrators in equal shares and proportions and to hold to them as tenants in common and not as joint tenants and that the receipt or receipts of the said Mary Carrick Watson shall be full and sufficient releases and discharges for all sum or sums of money payable to her under this my Will notwithstanding her coverture — And I hereby authorize and empower my said Trustees at any time during the continuance of any of the said Trustees aforesaid either to mortgage any part of my real and personal estate or to absolutely dispose of the same either by public Auction or private Contract unto such person or persons for such price or prices and subject to such conditions or stipulations as to title or otherwise and in such manner in all respects as they shall think expedient with full power to vary rescind or abandon any contract and also to buy in the premises offered for sale at any auction or auctions without being answerable or accountable for any loss which may arise thereby and generally to do all acts and execute all powers necessary for completing any such sale or sales And I hereby declare that the receipt or receipts of my said Trustees and the survivor of them and the heirs executors administrators and Assigns of such survivor for any money payable under this my Will shall effectually discharge the person or persons paying the same from being answerable or accountable for the misapplication or non application thereof or of any part thereof or to enquire into the validity propriety or expediency of any sale or mortgage that may be made under this my Will. Provided always and I further declare that my said Trustees and each of them and the heirs executors administrators and Assigns of each of them shall be made charged and chargeable respectively only for such monies as they shall actually receive by virtue of the trusts hereby reposed in them notwithstanding their or either of their giving or signing or joining in giving or signing any receipt or receipts for the sake of conformity And the one of them shall not be answerable or accountable for the other of them or for involuntary losses And also that it shall and may be lawful for them with and out of the monies that shall come to their respective hands by virtue of the trusts aforesaid to retain to and reemburse themselves respectively and also to allow their Co Trustee all costs charges damages and expences which he or they shall or may suffer sustain expend or be put into in or about the execution of the aforesaid trusts or in relation thereto And I give to the said Joseph Watson and Joshua Watson the younger their heirs executors and administrators all estates vested in and for trust or by way of mortgage To hold the same to the said Joseph Watson and Joshua Watson the younger their heirs executors and administrators Upon the several trusts affecting the same respectively — And I hereby revoke and make void all former and other Wills by me at any time heretofore made and declare this only to be and contain my last Will and Testament And I hereby appoint the said Joseph Watson and Joshua Watson the younger Trustees and Executors of this my Will — In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand this twelfth day of Fourth month / April in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and fifty two

Joshua Watson

[witnesses: Mary Wigham, Lucy Watson]

Joshua Watson was described by his grandson Robert as "a good type of a North Country Friend, plain and direct of speech, resolute, a trifle irritable, and with his temper not always quite in control, no respecter of persons, one to whom the substance meant all, the form nothing. [ . . . ] under a stern and, to children, rather affrighting exterior, he had the gentlest and softest of hearts. A man of genuine and unaffected piety;—" one who never turned his back, but marched breast forward, "—and whose whole life was a simple, honest endeavour to do his duty towards God and man as a faithful follower of Christ."21

He appears in the 1853 electoral register as a resident of Bensham, qualified to vote by possession of one undivided third part of a freehold house in Bensham Lane. Described as a gentleman, he died of hydrothorax on Friday the 11th February 1853 at Elysium, Bensham, and was buried at Westgate Hill cemetery. His will was proved at Durham on the 30th May 1855 by his two surviving sons. His effects were affirmed Under £600 (£35,118 at 2005 values).22

Joshua Watson was the fourth child and third son of [M5] Jacob and [M7] Hannah Watson.23

 

1 TNA: PRO HO 107/2492 f140 p58, PRO RG 6/1271; Newcastle Central Library RSW Cuttings V. 3 N920 W341 says he was born in Cumberland; a source I have misplaced gives his birthplace as Huntwell

2 RG 6/355; RSW in John William Steel: A Historical Sketch of the Society of Friends 'in Scorn called Quakers' in Newcastle & Gateshead 1653–1898. London & Newcastle, Headley Bros. 1899: 131-3

3 Testimonies & Certificates 1788–1811 p. 105, Tyne & Wear Archives Service MF 188; RSW in Steel (1899), op. cit.: 131-4 (which says he came to Newcastle in 1803); DQB; RG 6/188

3A The Newcastle Courant, 1806-04-05, issue 6756

4 Minutes of Newcastle Monthly Meeting, TWAS MF 167, 168 and 169; minutes of Newcastle Preparative Meeting 1761–1814, TWAS MF 191; DQB; RG 6/355, /628, /1155; The Newcastle Courant, 1806-04-05, issue 6756 & 1806-08-30, issue 6777; DQB

5 RSW in Steel (1899)133-4; Yorkshire Post 3 Mar 1911; E. Spence Weiss: 'The Background of the Bensham Grove Settlement'

6 documents donated to Tyne & Wear Archives Service 2005

7 documents donated to Tyne & Wear Archives Service 2005; Percy Corder: The Life of Robert Spence Watson. London: Headley, 1914; E. Spence Weiss: 'The Background of the Bensham Grove Settlement' (which gives purchase of Bensham Grove as being in 1801)

7A Forster

8 Dictionary of Quaker Biography, Friends House Library, Ts

9–11 documents donated to Tyne & Wear Archives Service 2005

11A Sansbury, Ruth: Beyond the Blew Stone. 300 Years of Quakers in Newcastle. 1998: Newcastle-upon-Tyne Preparative Meeting, p. 116; The Newcastle Courant, 1828-10-18, issue 8022

11B The Newcastle Courant, 1829-03-07, issue 8042

12 Yorkshire Post 1911-03-03; White’s History, Directory & Gazetteer of Durham & Northumberland, 1827; Pigot & Co.’s Directory of . . . Northumberland . . . &c., 1828/9; Ihler's Directory of Newcastle & Gateshead, 1833; M.A. Richardson's Directory of Newcastle and Gateshead, 1838; documents donated to Tyne & Wear Archives Service 2005; RG 6/187, /527, /1155; Newcastle Central Library RSW Cuttings V. 3 N920 W341; Steel (1899): 69; The Newcastle Courant, 1831-01-01, issue 8136

12A stock books, TWAS DX 139/1 and /2

12AA The Newcastle Courant, 1831-01-29, issue 8140

12B Minutes of Newcastle Monthly Meeting, TWAS MF 169; minutes of Friends’ Sabbath School, Newcastle, TWAS MF 208

12BA Durham County Advertiser, 1833-11-08

12BB The Newcastle Courant, 1837-07-21, issue 8488

12C Northern Liberator, issues 24, 67 & 146, 1838-04-07, 1839-01-26 & 1840-07-25; The Newcastle Courant, 1839-01-25, issue 8567

13 stock books, TWAS 139/2 and /3; documents donated to Tyne & Wear Archives Service 2005; HO 107/296/9 f34 p15; Durham Probate Records, DPRI/1/1841/W8

14–5 documents donated to Tyne & Wear Archives Service 2005

16 White's Newcastle & Gateshead Directory, 1847; documents donated to Tyne & Wear Archives Service 2005; The British Friend

17 documents donated to Tyne & Wear Archives Service 2005; The Newcastle Courant, 1849-05-18, issue 9102

18 Minutes of Newcastle Monthly Meeting, TWAS MF 169; documents donated to Tyne & Wear Archives Service 2005

19 RSW in Steel (1899): 134-5; Corder (1914)

20 documents donated to Tyne & Wear Archives Service 2005

20A HO 107/2492 f140 p58; Durham Probate Records, DPRI/1/1855/W8

21 RSW in Steel (1899): 131 & 135; Corder (1914)

22 electoral register; Gateshead Observer 1853-02-12; Corder (1914); death certificate; widow's death certificate; death/burial digest; Durham Probate Records, DPRI/1/1855/W8

23 Corder (1914)


M5. JACOB WATSON

Jacob Watson was born around 1722.1

He lived in Huntwell until at least 1778, and afterwards in Tedham.2

He married, first, Ann Johnson (? – 1760, of Whitesham), on 15 May 1760, at Burnhouse, Coanwood, Northumberland; his bride survived the marriage by just six months.2A

He married, secondly, [M7] Hannah Bell, notice of the marriage being given in July 1765. Their children were: Hannah (1766–1850), Jacob (1769–1848), Joseph (1769 – after 1784), [M4] Joshua (1771–1853), Jane (1775–1870), Ann (1778–1827), Elizabeth (1778–1857), and Anthony (1781–1839).3

In 1766 he was of Farehill, High Aldston, Cumberland.3AA

In 1782 he witnessed the marriage of Joseph Watson and Rachel Wigham, and in 1796 of David Carrick and Mary Wilson, both at Cornwood. In 1805, described as a miner of Tedham, he witnessed that of Elizabeth Watson and Thomas Tessimond.3A

Described as a black smith, of Pathfoot near Allendale Town, he died on the 28th March 1813, and was buried at Wooleyburnfoot in Allendale on the 30th.4

Jacob Watson was the son of [M6] Anthony Watson.5

 

1 Percy Corder: The Life of Robert Spence Watson. London: Headley, 1914; TNA: PRO RG 6/385, /465

2 PRO RG 6/188, /355, /527, /1155, /1271; Corder (1914)

2A RG 6/1271

3 Corder (1914); RG 6/228

3AA RG 6/1271

3A RG 6/188, /355, /1271

4 Corder (1914); RG 6/385, /465

5 Corder (1914)



M6. ANTHONY WATSON

Anthony Watson lived in Tedham in 1737 His only known child was [M5] Jacob (c. 1722 – 1813).1

 

1 Percy Corder: The Life of Robert Spence Watson. London: Headley, 1914


M7. HANNAH WATSON born BELL

Hannah Bell was born on 27 September 1738, at Close, Carlisle.1

She married [M5] Jacob Watson, notice of their marriage being given in July 1765. Their children were: Hannah (1766–1850), Jacob (1769–1848), Joseph (1769 – after 1784), [M4] Joshua (1771–1853), Jane (1775–1870), Ann (1778–1827), Elizabeth (1778–1857), and Anthony (1781–1839). They were of Farehill, High Aldston, Cumberland, in 1766, but subsequently lived at Huntwell until at least 1778. In 1782 she witnessed the marriage of Joseph Watson and Rachel Wigham, and in 1796 of David Carrick and Mary Wilson, both at Cornwood.2

She lived at Tedham, but died at Tynemouth on the 13th September 1808, and was buried in Newcastle on the 16th.3

Hannah Bell was the daughter of [M8] David and [M11] Hannah Bell.4


1 Percy Corder: The Life of Robert Spence Watson. London: Headley, 1914; TNA: PRO RG 6/228, /1271, /1402

2 Corder (1914); PRO RG 6/228, /355, /1271

3 Corder (1914); RG 6/228

4 Corder (1914); RG 6/1402


M8. DAVID BELL

David Bell was born on 26 January 1697/8, in the catchment area of Kirklington Monthly Meeting.1

He married [M11] Hannah ____ before 1727. Their children were: Ann (1727 – ?), Elizabeth (1728 – ?), Rachel (1729 – ?), John (1736 – ?), [M7] Hannah (1738–1808), and Jane (1740/1–1795). Described as of Hillkilling in 1727, from 1736 until his death he lived at the Close, Carlisle.2

His burial on 14 July 1771 was recorded by Kirklington Monthly Meeting.3

David Bell was the only known child of [M9] John and [M10] Elizabeth Bell.4

 

1 TNA: PRO RG 6/1402

2 Percy Corder: The Life of Robert Spence Watson. London: Headley, 1914; PRO RG 6/301, /346, /1402

3–4 RG 6/1402


M9. JOHN BELL

Of Borrobie, Yorkshire, John Bell married [M10] Elizabeth Jaques on 10 July 1687, at the house of Anne Blackburne, High Ellington, Yorkshire. Their known children were: Hannah (1688–1729/30), and [M8] David (1697/8 – ?), both b. Kirklington, Yorkshire.1

Of Close, his burial on 10 July 1734 was recorded by Kirklington Preparative Meeting.2

 

1 TNA: PRO RG 6/1281, /1447, /1462

2 PRO RG 6/1402


M10. ELIZABETH BELL born JAQUES

Of Kirtlington, Elizabeth Jaques married [M9] John Bell on 10 July 1687, at the house of Anne Blackburne, High Ellington, Yorkshire. Their known children were: Hannah (1688–1729/30), and [M8] David (1697/8 – ?), both b. Kirklington, Yorkshire.1

Her burial on 18 February 1736/7 was recorded by Kirklington Preparative Meeting.2

 

1 TNA: PRO RG 6/1281, /1447, /1462

2 PRO RG 6/1402


M11. HANNAH BELL born ____

Hannah ____ married [M8] David Bell. Their children were: Ann (1727 – ?), Elizabeth (1728 – ?), Rachel (1729 – ?), John (1736 – ?), [M7] Hannah (1738–1808), and Jane (1740/1–1795).1

Her burial on 28 December 1762 was recorded by Kirklington Preparative Meeting.2

 

1 TNA: PRO RG 6/301, /346, /1402

2 PRO RG 6/1402


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