Thursday, 21 February 2019

3. Patrick Dott (1867-1938): his family

It seems to me to be clear from the history of their married life, that Annabel and
Patrick were a mutually supportive couple, united in their views.  Patrick's career determined the pattern of their lives, and it seems appropriate to give a proper account of his background and family.

Did Annabel know Patrick Dott before she went out to South Africa?  I don't know.  There is a possibility that they had known each other for a long while, because they grew up not far apart and their early lives ran in parallel.  

Their fathers were both Customs officers in the East End of London.  They died within five years of each other, leaving widows in their early forties with very young children.  Patrick and his siblings were all born in Stepney or in Mile End, where Annabel was born.  The widows and their children lived in Hackney, a couple of miles apart.  Annabel may have gone to the same school as Patrick's sisters.  It seems to me very possible that the families knew each other.

Patrick was born in Stepney on 26 September 1867, the eighth child.  He had a younger brother who died at the age of six months when Patrick was two, and two younger sisters.  He was named William Patrick, but seems always to have been known as Patrick.  

His parents came from Scotland – his father James was born in Kinross and his mother Betsey Forfar in nearby Milnathort.  It seems that James was already working in London when he and Betsey married and she joined him there; all their eleven children were born there.  James was 15 years older than his wife.  She was 23 when her first child was born, and nearly 42 at the birth of her last.

By January 1870, when James and Betsey's baby son died on a visit to relatives in Scotland, the family was living at 120 Stepney Green.  The 1871 census finds James and Betsey at that address, together with eight children and a 14 year old general servant.  James Dott died there five years later on 21 April 1876 at the age of 59.  His eldest child, James, was nearly 20 and his youngest, Bessie, was not yet 2 years old.  

On James's death, Betsey was left to bring up six sons and four daughters.  One would expect that, with such a large family, money must have been more of a problem to the widowed Mrs Dott than it was to the widowed Mrs Hall.  However, Mrs Dott was to leave a much larger estate.  She was clearly a very good manager of her finances, will have been financially assisted by her unmarried sons, and may, of course, have inherited some money.  

By 1890 she had bought 96 Lauriston Road, Hackney and her sons John and Patrick were paying her rent for their rooms.  At this time Lauriston Road, as seen in Charles Booth's poverty map, bordered on "Middle class. Well-to-do" streets but was itself rather more mixed ("Some comfortable, others poor").

By 1901 the family had left London for 'Wycombe', 78 Auckland Road, Upper Norwood.  This was a neighbourhood of senior clerks and women of independent means.  It was a desirable place to live, built on high ground in attractive woodland.  Mrs Dott's new home was a medium-sized detached house on the east of the road; it was demolished in 1967 and a block of flats stands in its place (see Auckland Road on the Croydon Database website)

Mrs Dott lived there in comfort with her unmarried children, keeping a cook and a housemaid.  It appears from the censuses that her sons John and Thomas were inhabitants of the house, not visitors, and doubtless made a financial contribution.  Mrs Dott died there on 1 June 1911.

Mrs Betsey Dott and her children

Patrick was not quite 21 when his elder brother Hugh (1859-1907) married Eliza Baylis in 1888; Hugh was a lithographer (the 1891 census description), and stationer & printer (the 1901 census description).  In 1890, the eldest brother James (1856-1933) married Emily Williams; James was a wood hoop importer and Emily ran a millinery business.  Both James and Hugh had families.  

John and Thomas Dott were twins, born in 1861.  Neither married.  John died in 1922 and Thomas in 1945.  John was an insurance broker; Thomas seems to have been a more flamboyant character, and something of a rogue.  He began his working life as a clerk to a firm of wharfingers, before being employed by the Union Bank of London and then in Australia by the Union Bank of Australia.  He came back to Britain in 1894 and went into business on his own account, selling Australian properties while the Australian boom lasted.  After that he bought the Woorgreen Colliery in the Forest of Dean for £8,000 on a lease from the Crown.  In 1916 he registered as a money lender, but two court cases established that he had been carrying on the business before registration.  At much the same time he set up as a theatre proprietor.  In early 1918 a Captain Levy took him to court over an agreement made in 1916 for profits accruing from the lease of the Strand Theatre.  Levy wanted the agreement set aside as unconscionable, extorted from him at a time when he was in financial difficulties.  (The biographical details I have set out above were given by Thomas under cross-examination.)  The judge set aside the agreement.  

Alexander (1863-1943) was a jute merchant who lived in India.  On his return, he and his surviving sisters Christina, Hilda and Bessie made a home together.

Patrick's sisters were Christina (1857-1940), Janet (1865-1906), Hilda (1872-1957) and Bessie (1874-1957).  The censuses indicate that they remained at home with Mrs Dott.  Christina described herself in the census of 1881, when she was staying with friends in Milton in Gravesend, as "supported by her mother".  Janet studied art, describing herself as an art student in the 1891 census.   I wonder if she taught art afterwards.  She died at the age of 40.  Bessie studied at the Guildhall School of Music and was much praised in a report of a students' concert in The Era on 1 December 1894:
Miss Bessie Margaret Dott, a promising pupil of Herr Pauer, proved her command of the keyboard and a graceful style in Moszkowski's 'Caprice Espagnol,' which Miss Dott gave with requisite vivacity and brilliancy, her playing evoking hearty applause
In her later career as a concert pianist, the Croydon Advertiser and the Norwood News carried frequent reports of Bessie playing locally.  I have found reviews of her concerts in the Chelmsford Chronicle in 1896, the East Anglian Daily Times in 1908, and in the Evening Star (Ipswich) in the same year.  I would expect she also taught the piano.

Bessie was not the only musical member of the family.  There are several newspaper reports of parish concerts organised by Patrick, and it's clear that his singing was much appreciated.  One of his brothers was the organist at the St George's Mission Church at South Norwood and the sisters, according to the newspaper report of Patrick's induction as vicar of Woodside, Croydon, were "well known as brilliant musicians".

Of the ten children, only Patrick, James and Hugh married.  Alexander, Christina, Hilda and Bessie lived together until their deaths.  Christina and Alexander died during the War; Hilda and Bessie died within months of each other in 1957.

Very many thanks to Catherine Brown for the photograph of the Dott family

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