Thomas Dawson Lumb
Curate 1821 -1843
The Leeds Intelligencer reported the recovery of the body of Dawson Lumb of Methley on the 17th December, 1843 from the river Aire at Swillington Bridge as a ‘Distressing Occurrence’.
This blessed curate had served St Oswald’s and its parish faithfully from 1821 until his untimely death at the end of 1843. The incumbent at this time was the Hon. Archibald Hamilton Cathcart who was also the Rector of the church at (now nearby) Kippax where he resided, and at the same time who enjoyed the title of Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the West Riding.
One week earlier, the curate had left his residence at Churchside House to visit his uncle Richard Lumb at the Lowther’s Arms Hotel adjacent to the bridge at Swillington. He did not return and his absence in those following days would have been a source of huge concern to his wife and their five children along with parishioners of the village.
The inquest held on the 23rd December, at that same Lowther Arms before the Coroner, a Mr Jewison delivered a verdict of ‘Found Drowned’.
All the possibilities of how he may have entered the water would have been considered. However, it was generally thought that an accident at the bridge to the poor man in extremely foggy conditions was the most likely cause. It was most unlikely that local people would have considered that he had taken his own life.
Looking back, it is possible to deduce that the curate did not enjoy a satisfactory level of income given the fact that he carried out private schooling from his home at Churchside. There is little doubt in my mind that he would have solicited support for an improvement to his stipend (salary) from Cathcart, his successor Yorke Savile and the church authorities. We would not know the outcome of any such overture.
At this point I am indebted to Debbie Cunnew, a descendant who was interested enough to raise the matter in the first instance, she was later kind enough to send me a copy of the will of Richard Lumb, the uncle of Dawson Lumb. The contents of the will indicate that Dawson Lumb may have borrowed and accumulated debt with his uncle over the years, and in an act of kindness his uncle had bequeathed the sum of the debt to his nephew in the will. Additionally, the will did not indicate that there would be anybody to benefit from the death of Thomas.
We are not to know if Thomas was aware of the contents of the will. However we know that the poor man had recently lost a favoured son in a tragic shooting accident. We can also ascertain that Thomas would have been acutely aware of the preparations for the introduction of an act of parliament which would improve the conveyancing arrangements of sites for the construction of new schools. This would certainly include one to be aimed at Methley and would surely aggravate his small but private earnings from the school.
The recent installation of Yorke Savile as Rector would also considerable reduce the income levels as that incumbent would take on more of the duties of priest with christenings, marriages and burials.