Laurence William Adamson,

Laurence William Adamson

Father was son of a Cumberland banker and member of the Dublin Bar who migrated to the Isle of Man, where he became Seneschal of the Island

Was succeeded in this by his only surviving son, Lawrence William

He and his family left the Island in 1866 - his son, L.A. Adamson, went on to become the famous headmaster of Wesley College in Melbourne and the subject of a rather hagiographical study in 'Adamson of Wesley: ed by Felix Meyer Melbourne:Roberstson & Mullens Ltd 1932; as part of this there was a brief autobiography -


I was born in Douglas, in the Isle of Man, 1860. My paternal grandfather, son of a Cumberland banker, was a member of the Dublin Bar, and migrated to the Isle of Man, where he became Grand Seneschal of the Island, and was succeeded in that office by his only surviving son, Lawrence William, my father. My mother was a daughter of Captain J. T. E. Flint, who also lived in Douglas. He had been Commander of an East Indiaman, The Alfred, which had visited Melbourne in 1846, at the second land sale he had bought very cheaply certain blocks in the city to be. These he sold later in the early fifties at what seemed an enormous profit to a Captain in the East India Company’s service. The city blocks comprised two in Collins Street, on one of which the New Zealand Company’s Office now stands, and the other at the west corner of Collins and Exhibition Streets, going back to Little Collins Street. He also bought a large acreage on the west side of the Yarra near what is now known as the Johnston Street Bridge, and a still larger acreage in Geelong, now in the suburb of Newtown. He sold all these in the early fifties, but never got the full amount owing to some misfeasance. Had he lived long enough, he must have regretted being too precipitate. He died five years before I was born, but after I had read Treasure Island, I could not help connecting him with the cry of the Parrot, "Captain Flint—Pieces of Eight." He was the second son of Colonel James Flint, who had distinguished himself by defending the fort of Trajar successfully against Tipu Sahib in 1790. My grandfather’s elder brother was in the Navy, and served as Flag-Lieutenant to Admiral Sir Thomas Livingstone when in command at St. Helena, watching Napoleon. My grandfather on my father’s side I remember very well, as he did not die until the seventies. He always dressed in the fashion of the forties, and took snuff, which I disliked very much. He was a great antiquarian, and I think that from him I gained my strong taste for history. He spoke in the language of Dr. Johnson, and I recollect his saying to my grandmother, when kidneys were served for breakfast, "More, more of these internal horrors, Elizabeth ?" I think that I also inherited from him a liking for baked rice, for whenever it appeared at table, he would say in ponderous tones, "A noble grain." My paternal grandmother had been a Miss Warmsley. She was a very lively old lady, and when at an advanced age delighted in evading my aunt’s care and taking me out with her to gather mushrooms. It was a collector’s zest, for I don’t think she cared much for them as food. She used to insist that each of us searched a field separately. I always let her have the best of it, whereupon she used to chuckle with pardonable pride at my defeat. Then came the return to the house, and the meeting with my horrified aunts. They never blamed me, as they knew the masterful old lady’s wiles, but I used to enjoy the fun almost as much as she did.

I can remember my first years in the Isle of Man fairly accurately. We lived in a house called "Ballabrouie", half way between Douglas and Bradden, with spacious grounds and on a slight rise from the Douglas Road. It was here that I imbibed my first love for dogs, among whom I have had many faithful and wise friends. We had a peculiarly savage-looking descendant of the old English bulldog mastiff breed. She was called "Vick," and when I feared retribution for my sins (which I dare say were many) I used to take refuge in her kennel, from which no one had the courage to extract me. I remember well being taken by my father to the Tynwald Court, to hear the laws of the Island recited, and I remember the clergymen under whom we alternately sat at St. George’s, Douglas, and at Kirk Bradden. The Rev. Mr. Hawley, at St. George’s, was always clothed in black, even with black kid gloves, and the costume was always associated in my mind with his rather vivid exposition of Hell. The imps who were to drag away the sinful associated themselves with the costume of the preacher.

The Rev. Mr. Drury, at Kirk Bradden, or "Passon" Drury, as he was called, was a different type, huge in figure, and of a jovial disposition. His sermons were of a much more cheerful type than were Mr. Hawley’s.

In 1866 we left the Island for Newcastle-on-Tyne. The death of my aunt’s husband necessitated my father becoming Chairman of Directors of John Abbot & Co., Gateshead, in order to look after the interests of his widowed sister, Catherine Abbot.

Family visits to John Abbot must have been common for the 1861 census finds:

ADAMSON, John N. 6yr born I .O.Man~
ADAMSON, Lawrence lyr I .O.Man
(Sons of Ann Adamson, visitors to John Abbot, 4 Saville Place, Newcastle.





Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 1999