Sue Young Histories

Abraham Dixon 1820 - 1900

November 15, 2009

Cherkley CourtAbraham Dixon junior 1820 - 1900 was a British manufacturer at Abraham Dixon and Co, and the Director and Principle Partner of Rabone Brothers, who travelled frequently to Brussels, and became a most wealthy merchant. Abraham Dixon junior, was a Sponsor of Lloyds Bank in Birmingham (his brother George Dixon MP was a Director of the bank), alongside his friend and founder **John Taylor,

Abraham Dixon junior was a Trustee of the Birmingham Homeopathic Hospital (alongside Edwin Bullock, Robert Lucas Chance, Henry Christian, Josiah Mason, Henry van Wart), and a sponsor of the Birmingham Royal Institution for the Blind,

Abraham Dixon junior and his partner ***William Waring Taylor** operated as Abraham Dixon and Co, also known as Taylor Dixon and Co, in Huddersfield and in London, though they went bankrupt in 1844,

Abraham Dixon junior was also a prizewinning pig breeder, and horticulturalist, and it is possible he knew the family of Edwin Bullock at the local Farmer’s fairs, where the Bullock family also exhibited Game Fowl, Abraham Dixon junior also submitted lunation returns to the House of Commons, an interest he shared with his friend, homeopath *James Johnstone,

Abraham Dixon junior lived at Cherkley Court in Surrey, also the home of Max Aitken 1st Baron Beaverbrook,

The Dixon family was a long established and landed gentry originating in Beeston, Nottinghamshire, and Belford in Northumberland and in Yorkshire, Abraham Dixon junior’s father, Abraham Dixon senior, was already operating as Abraham Dixon & Co in London, and was an established Wool manufacturer in 1818,

Eleven years earlier, the house had appeared in Country Life as the home of Abraham Dixon (junior) (April 28, 1900).

Dixon had flourished, commercially, in a Birmingham company that exported oil lamps, garden forks, cutlery and particularly guns, as well as other products from the Workshop of the World, to Central and South America.

His brother, George Dixon, was MP for Birmingham for many years. Abraham’s health was not robust. It may have been the search for better air—Surrey was regarded as particularly healthy by the Victorians—that took him to the Surrey Downs.

As he observed to his niece, Katie: ‘One day out here adds ten years to your life.’

There was a house here before, from which the Tuscan style stables survive, but by 1871, Dixon had built a new one. It was in the French Renaissance View over the Italian garden with its tranquil lily pool to the yew woods of Mickleham Valley…

In 1893, a fire caused by a lighting fault reduced Cherkley to a shell. However, Dixon rebuilt it as it was, and the Country Life photographs show a house laden with creeper, set off by parterres and rejoicing in a conservatory and tropical house lit by different coloured electric lights.

The conservatory was, in turn, destroyed by fire in 1942.

Dixon died, aged 92, in 1907, and his widow, Margaret, followed him in 1909.

Abraham Dixon junior’s Obituary is in the Kew Bulletin in 1907,

Of interest:

Silbings of Abraham Dixon junior 1820 - 1900,  Joshua, William, Sarah Anna, Mary, George, Thomas,

Abraham Dixon senior 1779 - 1850, father of Abraham Dixon 1820 - 1900, was married to Laetitia, the aunt of Mary Taylor 1817 - 1893, the lifelong friend of Charlotte Bronte,

From Abraham Dixon (senior) was the husband of Mary Taylor’s aunt Laetitia, and head of a family that Charlotte Bronte and Emily Bronte met and visited in Brussels.

Formerly of Leeds, he was making a living as an “inventor” in Brussels. Earlier a son, Abraham, had described him as “stumbling from scheme to scheme & disappointment to disappointment” (CBL, v. 1, p. 297).

He lost two daughters in 1836, and his wife in 1842, after which his Leeds home, 35 Springfield Place, was sold by auction.

A letter from Mary Taylor to Ellen Nussey (1 Nov 1842) suggests that he was a taciturn man: he is equated with Emily. Hay Hall in Birmingham later became the family home. Charlotte Bronte was invited to spend Christmas with them and the Taylors in 1849…

Abraham Dixon senior, was prosecuted for fouling a waterway with ’noysom soapsudds’ at Skipton in ?, and he was also a Foreign Agency merchant residing in Leeds in 1831,

George Dixon 1820 – 1898George Dixon 1820 – 1898 was a councillor, Mayor, and MP in Birmingham, England. He was a major proponent of education for all children, son of Abraham Dixon senior, brother of Abraham Dixon junior 1820 - 1900,

From Born in 1820 in Gomersal, Yorkshire, he was educated at Leeds Grammar School and learned French in France.

He moved to Birmingham in 1838 with his brother and joined Rabone Brothers, a firm of (hardware) merchants (which exported all over the World,

He became a partner in 1844 and rose to become head of the firm in which he remained all his life.

In 1885 he married the sister of politician James Stansfeld, daughter of James Stansfeld, a judge in Halifax.

Dixon entered local government as a councillor for Edgbaston in Birmingham in 1863. He was elected Mayor in November 1866.

In July 1867 he resigned office to become a parliamentary candidate for Birmingham after the death of William Scholefield and was elected Member of Parliament (MP) on 23 July 1867.

He was elected to the School Board in 1873, and chairman in 1876, after retiring from parliament when his wife became ill. He resigned from the board in 1896. In 1885 he became MP for Edgbaston and continued in Parliament until his death in 1898.

One of his first achievements as Mayor in early 1867 was a private conference he held in his house for the leading men of the town to discuss a possible remedy for the lack of education for children.

In March a public meeting was held in the Town Hall where the Birmingham Education Society was formed along the lines of one created in Manchester and Salford in 1864. The society raised money to pay the school fees of some children, and raised awareness of the need.

The Education Societies paved the way for the bolder and more political National Education League which started in Birmingham in 1869, chaired by Dixon, with support from Joseph Chamberlain (vice chairman, later chairman of the executive committee) , Robert William Dale, Jesse Collings (honorary secretary of the League, and of the Education Aid Society), and William Harris.

The National Education League resolved that a bill should be prepared for the next session of Parliament to give non-sectarian education to all children. After some political promises and compromise the Elementary Education Act 1870 (Forster’s Act) was passed, meeting some of the requirements of the League, and the first School boards were elected.

The National Education League continued to campaign for a further seven years and elementary education (to age 12) eventually became free and compulsory in England and Wales. In 1867 Dixon introduced a bill to establish school boards in areas where there were already sufficient schools. This bill was rejected.

One of Dixon’s experiments was the creation in 1884 of Bridge Street Technical School in the old Cadbury’s premises (John Cadbury was also on the Management Committee, and paid for and built the Birmingham Homeopathic Hospital), bought by him, converted to a school at his own expense, and leased to the board at a nominal rent.

It taught science and mechanics to 400 of the brighter boys for two years beyond normal school leaving age. This was a great success and was repeated in large towns across the country, and led to the Technical Instruction Act, which formalised the finance of this type of school.

In 1888 the technical school moved to occupy the Oozells Street Board School as the George Dixon Higher Grade School and included girls. Waverley Road Higher Grade School was created in Small Heath in 1892 for 555 children.

Dixon was made an honorary freeman of Birmingham in 1898, the year he died.

The 1906 George Dixon Schools (now George Dixon Primary School, George Dixon Lower School, and George Dixon International School and Sixth Form Centre) in Edgbaston are named after him.

Indirectly, through the school, he gave his name to the television character Dixon of Dock Green, who first appeared in a film, The Blue Lamp produced by a former pupil there, Michael Balcon.

Jacob Dixon{::}** {::}(1818-1890)** LRCPMD 1827 was a British orthodox physician who converted to homeopathyhomeopathic physician at the Charlotte Street Institution, a member of the British Homeopathic Society, and a Medical Officer at the London Homeopathic HospitalJacob Dixon was a proponent of magnetism, and a member of the Zoist Group in the 1850s. Jacob Dixon was active in organising early British spiritualism, and secretary to the London Spiritualist Movement (later the Spiritualist Union), and he edited a journal, edited The journal of Health, and The Two Worldsdevoted to homeopathy, spiritualism and abstinence, and The Spiritual Messenger_ _with Kenneth Robert Henderson MacKenzie.

Joshua Dixon 1810 - , son of Abraham Dixon senior, brother of Abraham Dixon 1820 - 1900,

Thomas Dixon 1821 - 1865, brother of Abraham Dixon 1820 - 1900, was also known to Charlotte Bronte,

… son of Abraham Dixon senior. Charlotte Bronte’s description of William Smith Williams as “a pale, mild, stooping man of fifty – very much like a faded Tom Dixon” (to MT, 4 Sep 1848) gives us some idea of how she saw him.

Like his brother he traveled backwards and forwards to Brussels, studying German at one time with Leopold I Belgium’s librarian. He took first class honors at mathematics at Cambridge in 1844 and won a Fellowship at Jesus College…

*James Johnstone was President of the British Homeopathic Society, President of the British Homeopathic Congress, Surgeon and Physician for the Diseases of Women and Consultant in Midwifery at the London Homeopathic Hospital.

Rabone Brothers, of which Abraham Dixon junior was the Director and Principle Partner) employed George Dixon (also a Director) and Thomas Lloyd of Lloyds Bank in Birmingham:

About 1780 Smethwick Hall seems to have been the home of the Rabone family, prominent Birmingham merchants.

Richard Rabone was living there in 1834, and when he died in 1838 aged 85, he was said to have resided there for almost sixty years. It is uncertain whether he died there as in 1835 Edward Rabone was said to be the occupant. He still lived there in 1850…

Rabone Brothers supplied chests of tools to the Military, metals, oils and paints to America, India and Australia).

**John Taylor, father of Mary Taylor 1817 - 1893, the aunt Laeticia Taylor, married to Abraham Dixon senior, was a button maker and iron producer and dealer, and a founder of Lloyds Bank in Birmingham (with** Abraham Dixon junior and** George Dixon?) with Sampson Lloyd:

The origins of Lloyds Bank date from 1765, when button maker, John Taylor and iron producer and dealer, Sampson Lloyd II set up a private banking business in Dale End, Birmingham. The first branch office opened in Oldbury, some six miles (10 km) west of Birmingham, in 1864.

*William Waring Taylor, partner of Abraham Dixon junior, brother of Mary Taylor 1817 - 1893, emigrated to Australia in 1842, no doubt due to Taylor Dixon and Co going bankrupt in 1844,

Was this a family member?, Abraham Dixon, injured at a horse fair in Ireland, when an ‘unruly mare’ kicked him and broke his leg? (reported in Charles DickensAll The Year Round in 1863?) It appears that the name of Abraham Dixon was engraved on the harness of the poor beast, and that Abraham Dixon was ’not the murderer…’ (reported in John Chapman’s The Westminster Review, Volumes 79-80 in 1863),


Any views or advice in this site should not be taken as a substitute for medical advice or treatment, especially if you know you have a specific health complaint