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Dobson and Son, Hay and Corn Dealers

From the Barwicker No. 106
June 2012

Charles Dobson was the son of John Dobson who in 1786 farmed at Austhorpe. When Charles was born in 1812 the family were living at Brown Moor. Barwick in Elmet. Family tradition tells that Charles worked on his father's farm in Austhorpe from 1825 when he was about 13 years old. In 1839 Charles married Sarah Furniss and his occupation was then Hay Dealer of Austhorpe. By 1851 he was employing 4 men to work 30 acres and White's Directory of 1853 lists him as farmer of Colton.

The 1861 census shows Charles as a Farmer and hay dealer of 27 acres. He gradually built up the business with the help of his sons. “Dobsons Hay and Straw” consisted of a large warehouse at 70, 72, and 74 Victoria Road (just south of Leeds railway station) and as Charles grew older his sons Alfred, Walter and Charles looked after its day to day running. Alfred's wife, Maria nee Binns. also worked in the business. Upon Alfred's death in 1882 from tuberculosis, caused by the straw dust, Maria wanted to take over but was not allowed. Charles (Alfred's father) was still alive at that time although he died in 1883. In his will all his assets were to be sold and divided between his children.

It is unknown exactly what happened but the business was continued by Charles's surviving brother, Enoch Dobson. Enoch had initially been a miner but changed to a Market Gardener just before this happened. Maybe it was because Maria was a woman that she was not allowed to manage the business.

Maria's grandson says that she told him she was very angry and decided to go into competition with her own business. Maria moved to 20 Victoria Road. (It is unknown whether she continued to work for the Dobson business or did indeed set up in competition but by !891 she is living at 20 Victoria Road and is listed as a Com and Hay dealer. In 1911 she has no occupation and is living with her son at 20 Trafford Avenue, Harehills.) Maria's son did not continue in the same occupation.

Enoch Dobson put his sons in to manage the business and it was Samuel Dobson who was listed in 1888 as Dobson, Hay and Straw dealer at Poplar House, which I believe was a house and used as a collection centre for the hay. The main warehouse was at 70, 72 and 74 Victoria Road, Leeds, (south of the main railway station in Leeds).

An article in the London Gazette 1893 reads that the partnership between Enoch Dobson and Samuel Dobson. of Hay. Straw and Com Dealers at Seacroft near Leeds and 70 to 74 Victoria Road, Leeds in the name of Dobson and Co has been dissolved by mutual consent from January 1893. The future business to be carried on by Samuel Dobson. However in the Yorkshire Industry and Commerce 1893 there is an article reference to Maria Dobson. It states that she is a well respected lady and has continued the business (started by the father) of her late husband Alfred Dobson deceased over 10 years ago. The business is Hay, Straw and Horse Corn Dealer and lists many items of animal feed, barley, split beans and maize etc. This leads me to believe she did continue in some part of the business, however when she died in 1915 she left very little. Samuel continued the business with his sons. In his will dated 1914 Samuel said he was in partnership with his brother. George Whitakcr Dobson. as "Dobson and Co”. He passed his share on to his son. Harold Herbert Dobson. In 1911 Harold lived in Poplar House a 6 room house. Stanks in 1911 with his wife Pollie (nee Townend). Harold Herbert Dobson, Poplar House, Corn Merchant is listed in a 1936 directory.

If anyone knows more about what happened after this I would be very interested to know what became of the people, business and buildings.

Ref: Yorkshire Industry and Commerce 1893 - Maria Dobson. Hay Straw and Horse Corn Dealer. Perseverance Warehouse, Victoria Road, Leeds.
London Gazette issue 26379 page 1419 -Enoch Dobson and Samuel Dobson partnership change.
Censuses and occupations shown on baptisms etc.
Family information passed down.

(Ann Wilkinson is one of our overseas subscribers)

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