John Richard Stubbs (1838-1916) came to Middlesbrough in February 1861 as a newly qualified solicitor some eight years after the new town was incorporated as a borough in 1853. An active and gregarious man and an excellent shot, he soon took his place in the social, professional and sporting life of the area.
John was born in Boroughbridge, the son of Thomas Stubbs and Mary Henlock. His family tree is set out in The Genealogical History of the Family of the late Bishop Stubbs (1915, Volume 55 of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society). John and Bishop William were cousins on both their fathers' and mothers' sides – their fathers were brothers and their mothers were second cousins. John's immediate family is to be found on page 71 with one error. His sister Alice did not die in 1891 but survived until 1921.
His diaries cover the years 1853, 1855-7, 1858/9, 1860, 1862-74 and 1876-1907. The entries are not descriptive or reflective, but consist of short notes of his activities. They give us a glimpse of the daily life of his home town of Boroughbridge and the nearby villages, his school days in Settle and his adult life in Coatham and Middlesbrough, but the principal value to Teesside historians must lie in the record they provide of the circles of professional connection, friendship and kinship which lay behind the municipal and business life of Middlesbrough.
I plan to begin on John Stubbs' papers next and to post pieces from research I did some years ago – one result of this can already be seen in the article on Branwell Brontë's Honest & Kindly Friend. I have decided that the best way to make the contents of the diaries available to fellow local historians is to photograph the pages and add a note of the names mentioned to each blogpost so that they will be found by a search engine.
We shall see (eventually) how this new project goes!