Select Baxter Miscellany
- Early Baxters in Scotland
- Sir David Baxter and Baxter Park
- George Baxter of the Upper Bryn in Montgomeryshire
- The Funeral of Wynne Edwin Baxter
- Simon Baxter the Empire Loyalist
- Helene Baxter on the Titanic
- Jim Baxter’s Short Footballing Career
Early Baxters in Scotland
George Fraser Black in his 1946 book The Surnames of Scotland gave the following early instances of the Baxter name in Scotland.
“Between 1200 and 1240 Reginald Baxtar witnessed the gift of the church of Wemys in Fife. Geffrei le Baxtere of Lossithe in Forfar took an oath of fealty in 1290. Thomas dictus Baxter, burgess of Irvine, made a grant in 1323 for support of a chaplain in the parish church of Irvine. William Baxtare was a crossbowman at Edinburgh castle in 1312. Robert Baxter was a town official in Aberdeen in 1398. Baxter was and still is a common surname in Angus. As Forfar was a royal residence the first Baxters there may have been the royal bakers.”
Sir David Baxter and Baxter Park
By the 1850’s David Baxter of Dundee had become the owner of one of the largest linen industries in the world. His company employed around 5,000 local people. His philanthropic work began at that time. He built tenement housing at low rent for his employees.
In 1861 David and his sisters Eleanor and Mary Ann purchased 36 acres of “pleasure ground” in Dundee. They commissioned Sir Joseph Paxton, who was considered to be one of the best designers of the Victorian era, to design the park.
In 1863 David Baxter received a knighthood and in the same year Baxter Park was officially opened and handed over to the people of Dundee. The opening ceremony was on September 9th and was a huge event featuring a parade and a speech by Lord Russell. It was attended by between 30,000 and 60,000 people and the day was set aside as a public holiday.
A statue of Sir David Baxter was placed inside the sandstone pavilion. But it had to be removed due to vandalism in 1894.
George Baxter of the Upper Bryn in Montgomeryshire
George Baxter the writer died on 17th January 17, 1854 in the 39th year of his age. His obituary read as follows:
“George Robert Wythen Baxter of the Upper Bryn, Llanllwcliaiarn was the only son of George Trotman Baxter of Hereford and was born in the year 1815.
He was a member of an old family long settled in the neighborhood of Newtown and claimed among his ancestry the celebrated Nonconformist divine, Richard Baxter, and Hugh Baxter of Ystradfaelog (1687) and Richard Baxter (1690), the names of the two latter being recorded as benefactors to the poor of Trefeglwys and Llanwnog.
He was the author of The Book of the Bastiles, an attack upon the Poor Law, the Bastiles being the workhouses; Humor and Pathos; and several other works.
A handsome marble tablet was erected to his memory by his mother in Llanllwchaiarn Church.”
The Funeral of Wynne Edwin Baxter
Wynne Edwin Baxter had been Coroner for London for 33 years and was known as the ‘father of the London coroners.” Before that he was Coroner for Sussex for seven years. In all he conducted over 40,000 inquests, from the Brighton Railway murder of Isaac Gold to the victims of German air raids during the First World War.
He died in 1920 and his funeral took place on October 6. The coffin was adorned with massive brass fittings and covered in floral tributes and was conveyed to the church on a wheeled hand-bier from 170 Stoke Newington Church Street, with mourners following on foot in silence. Along the route, the blinds of private residences were drawn and the Public Library and many of the shops were shut and exhibited black shutters or boards.
The church bells of St Mary’s, the scene for the service, played Abide With Me as the procession approached. Some 52 years earlier Wynne had married his wife Kate at the same church. The service, opened to the playing of Angels ever Bright and Fair by Sister Ada on the organ, was conducted by Rev. Crombie and assisted by Rev. Le Couteur. Baxter had been Churchwarden at St Mary’s for over 25 years.
The Mayor of Stoke Newington, local magistrates, the Acting Coroner for East London, Dr E K Houchin, and men from H Division were in attendance, along with many others. Official bodies such as the Worshipful Body of Founders, the Hackney Board of Guardians, the War Pensions Committee and the Stoke Newington Conservative and Unionist Association were represented.
The only hymn was Thine for Ever, God of Love, with the church bells ringing out For ever with the Lord as the cortege left St Mary’s for Lewes. A simple inscription of “Wynne Edwin Baxter, died 1st October 1920, aged 76 years” adorned the polished oak.
Simon Baxter the Empire Loyalist
In early 1778 Simon Baxter and his son Benjamin were together in New York for a time. There is a family tradition that Simon fell into the hands of the Whigs and was ordered to be executed as a traitor. When led out for execution he apparently broke loose and fled with the rope around his neck and succeeded in reaching General Burgoyne’s army in safety.
However that may be, he was certainly in a list of prisoners sent from Newport, Rhode Island in the prison-ship Lord Sandwich which came to Boston harbor in March 1778. He was later released and returned to New York where he survived a smallpox scare.
By the end of 1781 it had become clear that as a Loyalist Simon had lost all rights of protection in America. He thus petitioned and was granted his request to remove his family to New Brunswick in Canada. They arrived at Fort Howe there in March 1782.
Simon received from the British Government a grant of 2,000 acres of land in New Brunswick and another 3,000 acres by a warrant in 1782 for his services in the French War. His sons William and Joseph received 500 acres each. Meanwhile he had been proscribed and banished and lost his estate in Alstead, New Hampshire under the Confiscation Act.
Helene Baxter on the Titanic
In 1862 when Hélène was born, her family had social standing in Quebec but no money. At the age of twenty she married Jim Baxter, a diamond broker with money but no social standing.
Diamond Jim ended up in jail. But she was well provided for. Her husband had investments in France, Switzerland and Belgium. She sold the family mansion in Montreal and later her husband’s investment in the Baker Block. She then took her son Quigg and married daughter Zette on excursions to Europe. She found it advantageous to escape Montreal each autumn and enjoy the social scene in Paris or Brussels before returning in the spring with a fresh supply of jewelry.
In 1912 they joined the Titanic at Cherbourg on her maiden voyage. They were booked into the second most luxurious suites on the ship, right next to the managing director of the White Star Line.
Helene Baxter was ill with nausea during most of the voyage, but found the throb of the engines relaxing. When the ship stopped in mid-ocean, she had an anxiety attack. Her son Quigg carried her up the Grand Staircase and put her and his sister into lifeboat six. As he kissed them goodbye he gave his mother a sterling silver brandy flask so she might keep warm on the open ocean; and she berated him for his drinking. She never saw him again.
After the disaster she returned to Montreal but never recovered from the effects. She died in her apartment in 1923 and was buried in the Baxter family plot in Notre Dame de Neiges cemetery.
Jim Baxter’s Short Footballing Career
Jim Baxter is generally regarded as one of Scotland’s greatest ever
footballers. His peak playing years were in the early 1960s with the Glasgow club Rangers whom he helped to win ten trophies between 1960 and 1965 and where he became known as “Slim Jim.”
However, from his earliest days at Ibrox, he would be seen in the shower in the mornings sucking on peppermints – trying to rid himself of the effects of serious drinking before training had begun.
Perhaps his background as a pit-boy in Fife lay at the core of
this impulsive drinking behavior.
He started drinking really heavily during a four-month layoff caused by a leg fracture in December 1964. His fitness suffered and he was transferred to the English club Sunderland in 1965. In two and a half years at Sunderland he played 98 games and scored 12 goals, becoming known for drinking himself unconscious the night before a match and playing well the next day. At the end of 1967 Sunderland transferred him to Nottingham Forest who gave him a free transfer back to Rangers in 1969 after 50 games.
After a further rather ignominious year with Rangers, Baxter retired from football in 1970 at the age of 31. Following his retirement he applied for and was given a publican’s license. In 1994 he had two liver transplants. He died seven years later.
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