Thursday, July 28, 2011

George Dobson, Sr.: Ill-Fated Immigrant

While I didn’t intend to post another Dobson bio this soon, I was suddenly reminded that today is the anniversary of the death of my sixth great grandfather, George Dobson, Sr. (1721-1773).
On a late spring morning, in 1773, a coastal vessel from Boston dropped anchor in Cumberland Creek, near Fort Cumberland, Nova Scotia. The landing marked the end of a long journey for the family of George and Mary (Barker) Dobson, a journey that had begun a few months earlier in the Yorkshire Dales town of Sowerby.
Earlier that year, George and his son-in-law William Wells had resigned from their obligations to the local Methodist chapel known as the New Room in Thirsk, Yorkshire. Both men were early Methodist leaders in their corner of Yorkshire, and Margaret (Dobson) Wells (George’s eldest daughter and William’s wife) reportedly nursed early Methodist leaders after they were attacked with stones.
Newspaper account of Dobson family arrival in Boston
The Dobson and Wells families sailed from Liverpool, England, and arrived in Boston in mid-April. The Massachusetts Gazette, and Boston POST-BOY and The Advertiser for Monday, April 19, 1773, records their arrival in that New England port. Their stay there was to be a short but sad one. The object was to purchase land from John Winslow, a landowner in Cumberland, Nova Scotia. (Winslow was one of many New Englanders who had settled in post-Acadian Nova Scotia and had decided to return to the Thirteen Colonies on the eve of the American Revolution.) While the details of the land sale were being finalized, Jane Wells, William and Margaret’s young daughter born the November before, died and was buried somewhere in Massachusetts.
George Dobson's obituary
George’s time in the New World was to be almost as brief. He died from the effects of a fever on July 28, 1773, and was buried in the small graveyard to the west of Fort Cumberland, where his gravestone may still be viewed (albeit after being buried and nearly forgotten for decades).
His estate was quite substantial, but problems soon arose between the family and the executor. George's elder brother, Richard, embarked on a journey the following year to help Mary and the children settle the estate. Richard was 72 at the time he left Yorkshire, accompanied by a servant, and the harsh Maritime climate proved too much for him. He died in April 1775 and was buried next to George.
Members of the Dobson Family History Group decipher the
inscription on George's newly unearthed gravestone (1998)
While George didn’t have much time to explore his new home, his family certainly made it their own. There are still descendants living within a stone’s throw of George’s 1,725 acres of rolling farmland sloping down to the Tantramar Marshes. Others have spread out throughout the globe.
Many of George and Mary’s descendants have been noted as being tall men and women with heights of between six foot two and six foot six being recorded. They are also known to be great storytellers, who love nothing better than the opportunity to sit down and spin a yarn.
They have also made their mark on many aspects of society. Their several greats grandchildren include the current Canadian Prime Minister; one of the inventors of the personal computer; a past chairman of the board of the Royal Bank of Canada; a head of the Canadian Press and editor of the Canadian Reader’s Digest; and one of the first female Rhode’s Scholars.

No comments:

Post a Comment