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Robert Thompson                                  1819-1910
Robert was born on 23 November 1819 of Robert Thompson and Sarah Lowes, at Monkwearmouth Shore. In 1837 Robert joined with his father and brothers Joseph Lowes, and John, and two of his father's brothers, to open a yard at Washington Staiths (Coxgreen). He
Robert Thompson
married Sarah Barbar, the daughter of Richard Barbar, a mason, on 9 June 1839 at Monkwearmouth. During the industrial depression of the early forties, the Coxgreen yard went out of business, and Robert found work in a Southwick yard. His father went to sea. After the depression, Robert Sr. became foreman for John Candlish, Southwick, and was soon joined by Robert Jr. and brothers Joseph Lowes and John.

In 1846 Robert Thompson senior and his three sons opened a yard at the North Sands, styled as Robert Thompson & Sons. No agreement was made, only the wage arranged. The father took 30s a week in wages, son Robert 27s and his brothers 24s; thus pointing to the leading position which son Robert had already secured.

The yard prospered. Young Robert was the chief draftsman.
  Disputes were however arising between Robert and his father and in 1850 he left the yard. Joseph Lowes, who had designed the emigrant ship Achilles, persuaded his brother to rejoin the yard. A partnership agreement of 1853 gave Robert a quarter share in the yard. He then designed the first wooden vessel, built on the Wear, having iron diagonal straps. This was the 936 ton City of Carlisle, built for Edmund Graham, of Newcastle. She was a full rigged ship, the largest built by Thompsons up to that time, and was the fourth order received from the owner. Mr. Graham presented Robert Thompson Jr. with a gold watch to show his appreciation in designing the City of Carlisle, which proved to be one of the fastest ships in the eastern trade at that time.

Robert was 35, when he again decided to branch out on his own. On August 8, 1854, he bought the patent slipway and shipbuilding yard then occupied by John Candlish, from the executors of W. Tanner, and commenced to build at Southwick. The establishment of this business led to some confusion because there were now two Robert Thompson yards, each independent, for the next six years.

His first ship was the little wood barque Graces (449 tons), built in 1855 for Thomas Coxon, of North Shields, and there followed 21 of much the same type until he commenced building composite ships ten years later. In all, 18 very fine composite ships (iron frames with a wooden hull), more than any other Sunderland yard, were built by Robert - the first the Southwick in 1865 and the last in 1874.

Robert began building in iron with the SS Irishope (1,113 tons) in 1868. Although a few other Wear yards had preceded him in iron shipbuilding, he was in advance of the great majority of shipyards there, including the main family yard. Many very smart sailing ships were built in the "iron" age, the last of them was the barquentine Regent (386 tons), built in 1892 - an iron ship, although steel had been introduced at the yard in 1888.
The launch of the Admiral L'Hermite in 1903
  The firm was styled Robert Thompson and Sons when the junior members of the family came to the yard. In 1880, he took over the Bridge Dockyard, which had been idle for some years, and established a ship repair business.
Robert on 90th birthday
From it came some spectacular broadside launches. This method of launching was used because the narrowness of the site precluded the ships being sent down the slipway in the normal fashion. The final broadside launch was the Admiral L'Hermite in 1903.

Robert died at West Hall, Whitburn, on 18 July 1910, at age 90. The firm, Robert Thompson & Sons Ltd., continued with his sons James Elliot, Joseph Lowes and Richard Charles at the helm.




Sarah Barbar                                        1821-1866                 (1st Wife)
Sarah was born on 30 November 1821, the daughter of Richard Barbar and Sarah Elliot, in North Biddick, County Durham . She married Robert Thompson on 9 June 1839. She died on 26 April 1866, at age 45.

They had the following children:
Sarah Elizabeth Born abt 1840   Washington Married James Henry Wood Culliford
Isabella Born 7 Jan 1842     Died 1 Oct 1845, age 4
James Elliot Born 3 Nov 1844   Sunderland Married Isabella Borthwick Douglas
Isabella Born 24 Dec 1846   Monkwearmouth Shore Married Henry Hay Wake
Robert Born 12 Feb 1849   Monkwearmouth Shore Died 13 Dec 1851 age 3
Margaret Jane Born 14 Mar 1851   Monkwearmouth Shore Died 13 Oct 1851 age 8 Mo.'s
Margaret Jane Born abt 1853   Monkwearmouth Shore Married John Lockie Clark
Robert Born abt 1854     Died 3 Dec 1854 age 7 Mo.'s
Robert Born abt 1855     Died 30 Aug 1860 age 5
Richard Charles Born 15 Aug 1857   Monkwearmouth Married Dorothy Clark
Millicent Featherstonehaugh
Joseph Lowes Born 22 Mar 1859     Married Emma Herring
Viginti Tertius Born 9 Jun 1862     Married Violet Allison
Euphemia Barnes
Henry Born 14 Nov 1863   Southwick Married Margaret "Minnie" Dove
Birth of Parents
Robert Thompson b: 23 Nov 1819     c: 16 Jan 1820     Monkwearmouth, St. Peter's, County Durham
1st son of Robert Thompson and Sarah Lowes, Monkwearmouth, Shipwright

Sarah Barbar b: 30 Nov 1821  c: 23 Dec 1821                        Holy Trinity, Washington, County Durham
daughter of Richard Barbar, Quarryman, and Sarah Elliot, of North Biddick
Marriage
9 Jun 1839
Robert Thompson
Sarah Barbar
Monkwearmouth St Peter's Parish                    1839 2Q Sunderland 24 240
of full age bachelor shipwright of Monkwearmouth Shore, father Robert Thompson shipwright
of full age, spinster, of Monkwearmouth Shore, father Richard Barbar, mason
Wit: Robert Heppell and A Robson, by Francis J. James, Min., by Banns
Children
Sarah Elizabeth Thompson b: abt 1840   Washington, County Durham       1840 2Q Chester-le-Street 24 32
daughter of Robert Thompson and Sarah Barbar

1841 Census  
7 June 1841 North Biddick, Washington Parish, County Durham
North Biddick Born in this County?
Robert Thompson
Sarah
Sarah
Age 20
Age 20
Age 1
Ship Carpenter Yes
Yes
Yes
23 Nov 1819
abt 1821
abt 1840

Isabella Thompson b: 7 Jan 1842     c: 14 Aug 1842     All Saints, Cox Green, Penshaw, County Durham
daughter of Robert Thompson and Sarah Barbar       Died: 1 Oct 1845     Age 4 Yrs.
James Thompson b: 3 Nov 1844     Bishopwearmouth South, Sunderland
son of Robert Thompson, Carpenter, and Sarah Barbar, 6 Zion Street, Sunderland
Note that Birth Certificate does not show middle name of Elliot.
Isabella Thompson b: 24 Dec 1846  c: 4 Apr 1847   Monkwearmouth Shore       1846 4Q Sunderland 24 324
daughter of Robert Thompson and Sarah Barbar, Shipwright, 6 York Street
Robert Thompson b: 12 Feb 1849     c: 28 May 1851   St. Peter's, Monkwearmouth   1849 1Q Sunderland 24 349
son of Robert and Sarah Thompson, York Street, Shipbuilder
Died: 13 Dec 1851 Age 3 Yrs.     Buried 16 Dec 1851 Holy Trinity, Southwick
Margaret Jane Thompson b: 14 Mar 1851     c: 28 May 1851       Monkwearmouth Shore       1851 1Q Sunderland 24 356
daughter of Robert Thompson and Sarah Barbar, 7 York Street, Monkwearmouth Shore,
Shipbuilder             Died 13 Oct 1851 age 8 Mo.'s

1851 Census   31 March 1851 Monkwearmouth Shore, St. Peters, Sunderland
7 York Street
Robert Thompson
Sarah (Wife)
Sarah E.
James
Isabella
Robert
Margaret J.
Age 32
Age 30
Age 11
Age 6
Age 4
Age 2
Age 2 Wks.
Master Shipbuilder in
co-partner with R. Thompson
Scholar
Scholar
Durham
Durham
Durham
Durham
Durham
Durham
Durham
Monkwearmouth Shore
North Biddick
Washington
Sunderland
Cox Green
Monkwearmouth Shore
Monkwearmouth Shore
23 Nov 1819
abt 1821
abt 1840
3 Nov 1844
24 Dec 1846
12 Feb 1849
14 Mar 1851

Margaret Jane Thompson b: abt 1853           Monkwearmouth Shore       1853 2Q Sunderland 10a 312
daughter of Robert Thompson and Sarah Barbar, Shipbuilder
Robert Thompson b: abt 1854  c: 22 May 1854   Third Primitive Methodist Circuit
son of Robert Thompson and Sarah Barbar     1854 1Q Sunderland 10a 285
Died: 3 Dec 1854 4Q Sunderland 10a 271   Buried 6 Dec 1854 Holy Trinity, Southwick
Robert Thompson b: abt 1855  Monkwearmouth Shore
son of Robert Thompson and Sarah Barbar
Died: 30 Aug 1860 Age 5 Yrs.       Buried 3 Sep 1860 Holy Trinity, Southwick
Richard Charles Thompson b: 15 Aug 1857       Monkwearmouth       1857 3Q Sunderland 10a 443
son of Robert Thompson and Sarah Barbar           Died: 2 Feb 1919
Joseph Lowes Thompson b: 22 Mar 1859       Dock Street Methodist Chapel
6th son of Robert Thompson and Sarah Barbar, 50 Bridge Street, Shipbuilder
Monkweaqrmouth Shore, 1859 1Q Sunderland 10a 459

1861 Census RG9-3781 8 April 1861 Southwick, County Durham
Carley House
Robert Thompson
Sarah (Wife)
Sarah E.
James
Isabella
Margaret J.
Richard C.
Joseph L.
Plus two servants
Age 41
Age 38
Age 21
Age 17
Age 14
Age 8
Age 3
Age 2

Apprentice
Scholar
Scholar
Durham
Durham
Durham
Durham
Durham
Durham
Durham
Durham
Monkwearmouth Shore
Biddick
Washington
Sunderland
Monkwearmouth
Monkwearmouth
Monkwearmouth
Monkwearmouth
23 Nov 1819
abt 1821
abt 1840
3 Nov 1844
24 Dec 1846
14 Mar 1851
15 Aug 1857
22 Mar 1859

Viginti Tertius Thompson b: 9 Jun 1862  c: 23 Jul 1862 Holy Trinity, Southwick, County Durham
son of Robert Thompson and Sarah Barbar, of Carley Lodge, Southwick, Shipbuilder
      Vintertius Thompson 1862 2Q Sunderland 10a 531
Henry Thompson b: 14 Nov 1863  c: 6 Jan 1863 Holy Trinity, Southwick, County Durham
son of Robert Thompson and Sarah Barbar, of Carley Lodge, Southwick, Shipbuilder

Death
Sarah (Barbar) Thompson Died 26 Apr 1866  Age 45           Holy Trinity, Southwick      1866 2Q Sunderland 10a 309
Buried 30 April 1866, Holy Trinity Churchyard

Southwick Holy Trinity Church - Stained Glass Windows Dedicated to Sarah Thompson

1871 Census RG10-5019 3 April 1871 Southwick, County Durham
Carley Lodge
Robert Thompson (Widr)
Isabella (un)
Margaret J. (un)
Viginti T.
Henry
Plus four servants
Age 50
Age 24
Age 18
Age 9
Age 6
Shipbuilder Employing
250 men and boys
Durham
Durham
Durham
Durham
Durham
Sunderland
Sunderland
Sunderland
Sunderland
Sunderland
23 Nov 1819
24 Dec 1846
14 Mar 1851
9 Jun 1862
14 Nov 1863

1871 Census RG10-4874 3 April 1871 Ricmond St. Mary, Yorkshire
Frenchgate Grammar School
Joseph L. Thompson
Richard C. Thompson
Age 12
Age 13
Scholar Sunderland
Sunderland
Durham
Durham
2 Mar 1859
15 Aug 1857

Carley Lodge



Lillias Scott Simpson                           1838-1922                             (2nd Wife)
Lillias was born 13 March 1838, in Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland, the daughter of George Baxter Simpson and Clementina Borthwick Minto. She resided in Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne when she married Robert Thompson on 29 June 1875 at the Jesmond parish church. They then resided at Carley Lodge, Southwick.
They had one child:
Mabel Born 24 Mar 1876   Sunderland Married Harold Douglas Briggs
Birth
Lillias Scott Simpson b: 13 Mar 1838   Edinburgh Parish, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland
daughter of George Baxter Simpson and Clementina Borthwick Minto
Marriage
29 Jun 1875
Robert Thompson
Lillias Scott Simpson
Jesmond Parish Church, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland   1875 2 Qtr Newcastle T 10b 49
of full age, widower, Shipbuilder of Southwick, son of Robert Thompson, Shipbuilder
of full age, spinster, of Jesmond, daughter of George Baxter Simpson, Merchant
Wit: John Thompson and John Gray Taylor, by R. Morrison Herdman, Minister

Child
Mabel Thompson b: 24 Mar 1876 c: 28 Jul 1876  Holy Trinity, Southwick, County Durham
daughter of Robert Thompson and Lillias Scott Simpson, Carley Lodge, Southwick, Shipbuilder
   Child was originally named Blanche, but was changed to Mabel after initial registration.

1881 Census RG11-5004 4 April 1881 Southwick, County Durham
Carley Lodge
Robert Thompson
Lillias T. (Wife)
Richard C.
Mabel
Age 61
Age 43
Age 23
Age 5
Ship Builder Employing
900 Men & 70 Boys
Ship Builder
Durham
Scotland
Durham
Durham
Monkwearmouth
 
Monkwearmouth
Sunderland
23 Nov 1819
13 Mar 1838
15 Aug 1857
24 Mar 1876

1881 Census RG11-0168 4 April 1881 Hampstead, London, Middlesex
16 & 17 Downshire Hill
Cornelius Woodman
Fanny (Wife)
Vi. T. Thompson (Boarder)
J. L. Thompson (Boarder)
Age 42
Age 43
Age 18
Age 22
Draper
 
Ship Broker
Ship Builder
Hertford
Somerset
Durham
Durham
Tring
Windmill Hill
Sunderland
Sunderland
abt 1838
abt 1837
9 Jun 1862
abt 1859

1881 Census RG11-4331 4 April 1881 Branham Cum Oglethorpe, Yorkshire
Branham College
Henry Thompson Age 17 Scholar Durham Sunderland 14 Nov 1863

1891 Census RG12-4162 6 April 1891 Whitburn, County Durham
West Hall
Robert Thompson (M) Age 71 Ship Builder and JP Durham Sunderland 23 Nov 1819
Plus Nine servants: Domestic, Cook, 3-Maids, General Servant, Gardener, Coachman, and a Groom

1891 Census RG12-2776 6 April 1891 Matlock, Derbyshire
District Hydropathic Establishment
Lillias Thompson (M)
Mabel
Age 50
Age 15
Visitor
Visitor
Sunderland
Sunderland
Durham
Durham
13 Mar 1838
24 Mar 1876

1901 Census RG13-4738 1 April 1901 Whitburn, County Durham
West Hall
Robert Thompson
Lillias (Wife)
Mabel (u)
Age 81
Age 62
Age 25
Ship Builder Durham
Edinburgh
Durham
Sunderland

Sunderland
23 Nov 1819
13 Mar 1838
24 Mar 1876
Plus Four servants


Death
Robert Thompson Died 18 Jul 1910, Age 90,   West Hall, Whitburn, County Durham   1910 3Q South Shields 10a 390
Buried with first wife, Sarah, in Southwick Holy Trinity Churchyard

The Robert Thompson Memorial

Summary of the Will of Mr. Robert Thompson
of Whitburn West Hall, County Durham
1819 - 1910       Dated 28 September 1906
Trustees and Executors: Sons Richard Charles, Joseph Lowes, and Viginti Tertius Thompson,
and son in-law Henry Hay Wake.
Wife Lillias Legacy of £ 500, plus £ 700 per year
Daughter Sarah Elizabeth Culliford Legacy of £ 1,000 plus a £ 7,500 Trust Fund
Son In-Law Henry Hay Wake,
Widower of Daughter Isabella
Legacy of £ 1,000 plus a £ 6,300 Trust Fund
Daughter Mabel Briggs Legacy of £ 1,000
Son James Elliot Thompson Ground rents from properties in Southwick, plus a £ 12,500 Trust Fund
Grandsons (Sons of the late Harry Thompson)
Harry Nash Thompson
George Thompson
£ 150 per year, plus £ 2,500 at age 25
£ 150 per year, plus £ 2,500 at age 25
My Three Sons The residuary Trust Fund
That the West Hall Estate, at Whitburn, shall be kept in the family for as long as possible.



Southwick HOLY TRINITY CHURCHYARD
      PHOTOS BY T.G. WHITE
IN
AFFECTIONATE
REMEMBRANCE
OF
SARAH
MY BELOVED WIFE
WHO DIED 26TH APRIL 1866
AGED 45 YEARS
ALSO ROBERT THOMPSON
OF WEST HALL, WHITBURN
ELDEST SON OF THE LATE
ROBERT THOMPSON
WEST HOUSE, FULWELL
BORN NOV. 23 1819.
DIED JULY 18 1910

THE BURIAL PLACE
OF
ROBERT THOMPSON
ALSO HER CHILDREN
ISABELLA
WHO DIED OCTOBER 1ST 1845
AGED 4 YEARS
ROBERT
WHO DIED DECEMBER 13TH 1851
AGED 3 YEARS
MARGARET JANE
WHO DIED OCTOBER 13TH 1851
AGED 8 MONTHS
ROBERT
WHO DIED DECEMBER 3RD 1854
AGED 7 MONTHS
ROBERT
WHO DIED AUGUST 31ST 1860
AGED 5 YEARS
Death
Lillias Scott (Simpson) Thompson Died 4 Feb 1922, Age 83,     Hampshire         1922 1Q Portsmouth 2b 849
 

25 February 1922                                                       Probate
THOMPSON, Lillias Scott, of 18 Nightingale-raod, Southsea, Hampshire, widow, died 4 February 1922, Probate London, 25 February, to Mabel Briggs (wife of Harold Douglas Briggs). Effects: £1,706 1s. 7d.

PICTURE CREDIT
The picture of the launch of the Admiral L'Hermite is from the book
"WHERE SHIPS ARE BORN, SUNDERLAND 1346-1946, A History of Shipbuilding on the River Wear" by J. W. Smith and T. S. Holden.
Published by Thomas Reed and Company Limited, Sunderland   1946