Triple tragedy for poor John

HISTORIAN John Oxley who has researched the history of the buildings in Church Square
HISTORIAN John Oxley who has researched the history of the buildings in Church Square

JOHN Robert Mowbray was a Hartlepool man through and through.

Professionally, he was a fantastic success, but his family circumstances were tragic.

He started out as a work lad for William Gray in 1850, and his career was on the up.

He worked in the goods office of Ralph Ward Jackson’s West Hartlepool Harbour and Railway Company.

By his 18th birthday, he had become a clerk in a timber yard and built up a huge knowledge about the timber import trade.

Between the 1870s and 1880s, he had become a discharge and forwarding agent for timber merchants.

By 1891, he was doing so well, he and his family had become resident in Collingwood House which had already had links to some well-respected figures in Hartlepool’s history.

Its background has been researched by town man John Oxley, 66. John has processed its history into a book which is now on sale at £4.99.

But like some of Collingwood House’s predecessors, John’s story was soon beset with unexpected tragedy. His second son, John Coulson Mowbray, died aged 31, in October 1879.

By July 1901, his first son William had died aged 36. Eight years later, his youngest son Victor had passed away.

The Census of 1911 showed all that was left of the family was John Robert – who was by then 68 and a contractor stevedore – along with his wife Margaret, 65, and daughter Ann Elizabeth, 36.

There was also a domestic servant.

Our thanks go to Mr Oxley for sharing his newly published book which is packed with much more information than has been shared on these pages.

Copies are available in the Central Library, in York Road.

Anyone else with information on their own family tree should contact Chris Cordner on (01429) 239377 or emailing