sobota, 17 listopada 2018

James Tolkien (1800–1855): a mayor, a major, an adventurer


Teignmouth & Shaldon Museum: Teign Heritage

A member of the English branch of the Tolkien family from Danzig (Gdańsk) and Prussia who most resembled his continental ancestors in his profession was James Tolkien (1800–1855), son of a furrier from London, Daniel Gottlieb Tolkien (1746, Danzig – 1813, London). He was a cousin of George Tolkien (1784–1840), J. R. R. Tolkien's great-grandfather.

James was born on 20 May 1800 and he was baptized on 15 June of the same year in the church St Mary Le Bow in the City of London (so he could be considered as true "Cockney"?), very close to the house of his family at 60 Cheapside. These Tolkiens in London were early Methodists of John Wesley and their chapel was Wesley Chapel by City Road. When James was 13 he lost his father, Daniel. His grandson, James Kenneth Tolkien wrote: "James Tolkien [...] grew to manhood and entered the British Navy as Surgeon."

In 1830 James Tolkien was a surgeon from 9 Cambridge Place, Hackney Road
This was a residence bought by his father, Daniel G. Tolkien, a furrier from London
His grandson wrote that James Tolkien had "many adventures on sea and land". One of them was described the The Sporting Magazine (November 1831, vol IV, no. XIX, p. 57, see here) where we can read that in 1831 James Tolkien was a Mayor of Teignmouth. This is interesting because we know that Prussian ancestors of James Tolkien, for example his great-great-great-grandfather, Michel Tolkien (1610–1690) from Globuhnen in Ducal Prussia were also mayors (German Schultz; they were hereditary mayors according to the Culm law). They also served military, for instance all Prussian Schultze had to serve in units of Prussian Army. In 1831 there was a meeting of the Royal Sailing Society. During the meeting the Secretary of the Society proposed to enrol the name of Major [James] Tolkien among the Honorary Members of this Institution. "He therefore proposed that Major Tolkien, Mayor of Teignmouth who had saved the crew of a French brig bound from Bordeaux to Dunkirk when in imminent danger of perishing should become an Honorary Member of the Society" (see here).

According to his grandson, James Kenneth Tolkien, he was finally cast on one of the West Indies, the cruiser on which he had sailed having been totally wrecked. "The natives greeted him a little too warmly for his liking and he did not altogether relish the way in which they scrutinized him. He related afterwards that it was undoubtedly their intention to make a meal of him. Their superstition, however, was his safety; for, being a physician of no mean reputation among those of his own nation, and, with the experience he had acquired among sailors and soldiers afflicted with fevers or maladies peculiar to those tropical regions he was enabled to cure many of the natives who were stricken at that time. Seeing the results of his skill and the speedy recovery of those whom they had believed lost, they immediately hailed him as a great healer and a divinity. Dr. Tolkien was at last picked up by a passing schooner and delivered once more into civilization. Soon afterwards he received his release of honor from the Navy and entered a detachment of the standing Army which was sent to Canada at the time of the Rebellion of  1837. He was among those stationed at Kingston, Upper Canada." Looks like fate of Robinson Crusoe!

About the Canadian Rebielions of 1837-1838 read here
Twenty miles distant lived one, Miss [Margaret] Bell, whom he chanced to meet when on a professional call. Miss Bell was of Scotch and Holland descent. Her mother's family, the Van Valkenbergs, are traced to that portion of the Eastern States made famous by the Knickerbockers. They were U. E. Loyalists and emigrated to Canada shortly after the Revolution. At the termination of the Rebellion Dr. Tolkien and Miss Bell renewed their acquaintance, which resulted in his leaving the Army and becoming a married man at the age of thirty-eight. He made a home in Bath, Ont.[ario], where he worked up a practice as physician and surgeon, but afterwards moved to Sydenham, a few miles distant, in which village my father, Daniel [Witherspoon] Tolkien, was born" (Note 7). My father's parents died when he was very young, and, at an early age, he went to live with an uncle, from whom he obtained his knowledge of farming, which occupation he followed until shortly after my birth."

St John's Anglican Church, Bath, Ontario, Canada
(Google Maps)
From the genealogical sources we know that James Tolkien and Margaret Bell had their wedding ceremony in small Anglican Church of St John's in Bath, Canada West on 27 February 1738. Their first son, Daniel Witherspoon Tolkien was born on 12 June 1846. Last address of James Tolkien was Sydenham, Grey, Ontario, Canada.

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