Category Archives: primitive methodist

George Dodds (1810-1888): walking the talk

My great great great grandfather, George Dodds (1810-1888) had an extraordinary life when looking through a 21st Century lens.  He was born at Ouseburn, Newcastle Upon Tyne on 19 November 1810. He had to start work at 10 years old because his family had become impoverished.  He eventually became a campaigner for Temperance, and on behalf of the poor.  For the last year of his life he was Mayor of Tynemouth.

It’s fortunate for the researcher of family history to find such a high profile ancestor, because there are several newspaper articles, published during his lifetime, that tell about his life.  It is even more fortunate that such articles are easily accessible for those with Internet connections these days. I accessed articles about George Dodds’ life from the Auckland Libraries’ Digital Library.

According to his obituary (Newcastle Weekly Courant, Saturday, December 8, 1888; Issue 11160), George Dodd’s father was a butcher and his first job was at a pottery, earning 1 shilling per week. By 14 years old, he was apprentice at the flax dressing mill of Messers Plummer & Co., at Ouseburn, Newcastle Upon Tyne (the mill is part of Ouseburn’s industrial history).

Ouseburn's industrial past

Ouseburn’s industrial past: http://www.ouseburnnewcastle.org/

On 9 October 1833, George married Frances Middleton at All Saints Church.  Frances continued with her dressmaking business after marriage, but also encouraged George to give up the booze. He signed the pledge on 24 September 1836.  George was eventually able to pay back the publicans he’d owed money to as a result of the “drunken sprees” of his youth.

Following this, he became a member of the Newcastle Upon Tyne Primitive Methodist Chapel, where he rose to be a “prominent member”.

His ready wit, and great command of simple, but effective language, made Mr. Dodds a capital speaker…

Some gentlemen financially sponsored George to travel the north of England for three years as a temperance missionary .

… Mr Dodds was compelled to travel hundreds of miles on foot; and to Mr P.T. Winskill, the author of “The Temperance Reformers”, he once remarked, “You may judge I could not get rich out of it; sometimes I arrived at home penniless, and had it not for my dear Fanny we could not have lived.”

George also worked three years in Scotland “in the same cause”.  Later, back in Newcastle, he became a temperance hotel keeper, and then started a business as a coffee roaster. Meanwhile he continued to campaign actively and intensely for the temperance cause.

A profile of George Dodds following his election as Tynemouth mayor, included the following image of him (Newcastle Weekly Courant 18 November 1887).

George Dodds Newcastle Weekly courant 18111887

The article accomanying the image, says that, when he was a flax mill apprentice, Dodds did not take an active part in the trade union movement, because he did not agree with the often adopted method of using physical violence.  It says that, when he tramped the villages of the north to deliver his temperance message, George

[proclaimed]  his own meetings by means of a handbell, and …[spoke] from a chair or any other impromptu platform…

As a result of his wife’s illness, they moved to Cullercoats in 1864, where he

… laboured with great success among the fishermen.

George was also chairman of the directors of the Newcastle Permanent Benefit Building society.

When the announcement of George’s election as mayor was pending, a snippet in the Newcastle Weekly Courant ( Friday, November 18, 1887; Issue 11105) stated that many, especially publicans, in Tynemouth were opposed to Dodd’s stance on temperance.

W. M Patterson, in “The Metropolis of Four Counties: Newcastle and Gateshead”, from Northern Primitive Methodism (1909), stated:

And there are the two renowned Georges! Mightier men in the temperance world have been rarely produced than George Charlton and George Dodds. They had their hands on State affairs, too, and lived to see the enfranchisement of the workers and other reforms for which they laboured incessantly and with commanding force. The growing municipalities on the river also claimed their attention, and each borough in which they resided gave them the highest seats, for George Charlton was Mayor of Gateshead and George Dodds was Mayor of Tynemouth.

The two George’s were together prominent members of the middle period of Primitive Methodism in Newcastle Upon Tyne, and both opposed policies of the British Conservative Party.

The Monthly Chronicle of North Country Lore and Legend” (January 1889), said this of George Dodds.  He,

was elected a member of the Tynemouth Town Council in 1877, and had thus served eleven years as an efficient and useful member of that body. He had been a Guardian of the Poor in the Tynemouth Union for fifteen years, and was connected with most of the philanthropic and benevolent institutions in the borough.

It added that, on his death, George had been “the last surviving member of the original committee of the Newcastle Temperance Society”.  This image accompanies the text:

George Dodds Monthly Chronicle of North Country Lore and Legend Jan 1889

George died on Wednesday 7 December 1888, a couple of weeks before his granddaughter, Fanny Jane Sinclair (née Brignal), died.

George Dodds led a very worthy life, walking the talk of temperance and service to the poor and to workers.

Alan Heath’s 2009 video of Cullercoats: includes several shots of Beverly Terrace where George and Francis Dodds lived at one time.  It is also the street where John Sinclair (James Sinclair’s father) had one of his residential properties.

A fuzzy amateur video of Cullercoats in the 1950s:

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Filed under biography, George Dodds, history, newcastle upon tyne, politics, primitive methodist, temperance

A life too short: Fanny Jane Brignal 1863-1888

My great grandmother, Fanny Jane Brignal, like many women in the 19th Century had a short life, dying in child birth.  Nevertheless, she played a very important role in giving life to 4 children, 2 of whom migrated to New Zealand.

The 1861 Census shows that Fanny Jane’s parents were living with her younger brother, George Dodds Brignal (2 yrs) in the All Saints Parish at Newcastle Upon Tyne.  Fanny’s father William Anthony Brignal was born in Durham, and his occupation at this Census is “Wholesale Druggist”.

Fanny Jane was born in March 1863, in Newcastle Upon Tyne. [ England and Wales free BMD Index 1837-1915].

Fanny was 8 years old at the time of the 1871 UK Census.  She was living in the St Andrews Parish, Jesmond Ecclesiastical Parish in Newcastle Upon Tyne, with her family:

Father: William A Brignal 34 yrs  – Newspaper Publisher & registered (?) chemist.

Mother: Mary A. Brignal 33 yrs

Brother: William J Brignal 5 yrs

Servant: Kate Richardson 18 yrs

In the 1881 Census, William Brignal (45 yrs) and his wife Mary Anne Brignal (44 rs) are in the household of her parents (possibly visiting from Liverpool), George and Francis Dodds (both 70 yrs) and the Dodds’ grandson, George R Allison (16 yrs) at 51 Beverley Terrace, Tynemouth.  Also in the household are servants, Annie (21) and Mary (18) Richardson. George Allison is listed as a Commercial Clerk.

Curiously, at the time of the same census (1881), Fanny Jane’s husband-to-be James Sinclair (20 yrs) is living in his father’s household at 26 Beverley Terrace. Meanwhile, Fanny Jane Brignall (two Ls), 18 years old, appears on the 1881 Census record as living at 16 Low Hill in West Derby (Liverpool). Also in the household were Fanny’s brothers,

George Brignall (22 yrs) – Estate Agent

William Brignall (15 yrs) – Draper

Fanny’s cousin,

Isabella Brignall (20 yrs)

and a servant, Rhoda Adams (20 yrs)

This was likely to be the home of the parents, William and Mary Brignal.

Church Street, Liverpool, c.1880

Church Street, Liverpool, c.1880: from Streets of Liverpool.

In 1882, Fanny Jane returned to Tynemouth to marry James Sinclair. The marriage notice in the Newcastle Daily Journal, Wednesday June 7, 1862 says:

North Shields, Primitive Methodist Chapel on the 6th inst., by the Rev Vian Williams, asisted by Rev John Stoddard, James, eldest son of John Sinclair of Cullercoates, to Fanny Jane, only daughter of W. A. Brignal of Liverpool.

The marriage certificate records that the chapel was in Saville Street, that the witnesses were John Sinclair and Isabella Ella Marshall, and that James Sinclair’s Rank or Profession was “Tobacco Manufacturer”.  It also records that Fanny’s father, William Anthony Brignal’s occupation was “Journalist”.  It gives James age as 22 yrs and Fanny Jane’s as 19 yrs and states that both Fanny Jane and James were residing in Beverley Terrace.

The Newcastle Daily Journal of Thursday 12 October 1882, reports celebrations for the recent marriages of James Sinclair (bn 1861 son of John Sinclair) and his cousin, James (bn 1959 son of Robert Sinclair), who married Sarah Jane (née Brewis) in September of that year.

MARRIAGE CELEBRATIONS:  – On Tuesday evening, about 40 of the male employees of the firm of Messrs John and Robert Sinclair, tobacco manufacturers, of this city, were entertained to an excellent dinner at the Crown Hotel, Clayton Street, in celebration of the recent marriages of the Messres James Sinclair. After dinner, various toasts were given and duly honored, the toast of the evening, “Long life, happiness, and success to the newly married sons of the respected heads of the firm,” being admirably put by the Chairman (Mr Joseph Davidson), and enthusiastically received by the company. – Last night, about 200 employees of both sexes, including several invited friends, were further entertained to tea in the Temperance Hall, Nelson Street.  After tea, an adjourment was made to Northumberland Hall, Grainger Street, for the convenience of the unexpectedly large company, when Mr James Taite, jun., was called to the chair. A lengthy and exceedingly entertaining programme of songs, glees, violin solos, &c., was gone through, to the great delight and satisfaction of all present.  Mr John Sinclair, jun., ably presided at the piano on both occasions.

Grainger Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne poscard, posted 1902.

Grainger Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne poscard, posted 1902. [see more about this image, and the history of Newcastle at the Island Guide website.]

Sadly the newly wed Fanny Jane Sinclair only lived for just under 6 more years. Fanny Jane’s death notice:

NEWCASTLE, 17. Stratford Grove, Heaton, on the 20th inst., aged 25, Fanny Jane, the dearly beloved wife of James Sinclair, and daughter of W.A. and M.A. Brignal of Liverpool, and grand-daughter of the late Geo.Dodds of Cullercoats.

Above that on the same page in the BIRTHS section,

NEWCASTLE, 17. Stratford Grove, Heaton, on the 20th inst., the wife of James Sinclair of a daughter.

[See the Heaton History Group website for information about, and images of Heaton’s history]

Fanny Sinclair (22 yrs), as this daughter was named, was in the household of her aunts, Ann Lindsay (46 yrs), Jane Miller Sinclair (42 yrs), and Margaret Thompson (née Sinclair, 41 yrs) at 26 Beverley Terrace during the 1911 census.  Margaret’s husband Frederick William Thompson (accountant, 43 yrs) was also in the household, along with their children and some servants.

Fanny Jane’s older children were Marion Margaret (bn 1 Aug. 1883), William John (bn 1884) and Stephen/Stewart/James (bn c.1886)

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Filed under biography, fanny sinclair, james sinclair, john sinclair, liverpool, marion margaret sinclair, newcastle upon tyne, primitive methodist, tobacco, william anthony brignal, william john sinclair