Thomas Dowsett
Thomas Dowsett appears in two categories on Southend Timeline, he is listed under town trader and in who’s who. The first Mayor of Southend, Mr Thomas Dowsett, died in January, 1906, aged 68. His family had been in Rochford Hundred for over 300 years and he was the son of a Prittlewell bootmaker. At the age of ten he was earning a few pence by scaring birds. He went to Prittlewell Church School and later worked at the Ship Hotel, He saved enough to apprentice himself to his cousin, James Dowsett, who was a hairdresser at Prittlewell and so keen was he to save money that he shaved people in public houses. When he was 19 he married Miss Eliza Ann Bradley at Rochford Congregational Church. He first met her when he was one of a band of boys standing in the street and she gave him a tract and asked him to go to a service at the mission hall in North Street. When he started business he was threatened with extinction unless he opened shop on Sunday’s, but he refused and gradually people respected his views and business prospered. He joined the Congregationalists, then worshipping in the old British school in the High Street. He was one of the three original deacons in Congregationalism in Southend and started the Sunday School. Mr Dowsett had many shops and was a big land and property owner. He helped in the negotiations when the Local Board bought the old wooden pier for £10,000 the original cost of the pier was £42,000. He bought the Pier Hotel in 1881 for £750 and his second marriage was to Miss Clarissa Bentall. When the town council was formed in 1892 he was chosen as the first Mayor of Southend and the following year became an alderman. After six years on the council he retired owing to ill health. The boy who scared birds and used to scramble in the mud and sea for coins thrown by Lord Mayors of London when they visited the Crowstone, left £222.713 on which duty was £14,000.
One of Thomas Dowsett Shops est 1857
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