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John Gee

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John Gee (1840-1902) of Wood and Gee

1902 Obituary [1]

Death of Mr Alderman Gee, J.P. - It is with regret we record the death of Mr Alderman Gee, J.P., whose busy life closed somewhat unexpectedly on Monday. The sad news came as a great shock to many in the town who had seen him so recently attending to his various duties, apparently as healthy as ever he was in his life. And here it may be remarked that as regards health the late alderman had been particularly fortunate up to three months ago. For the long period of thirty years Mr Gee had not had a doctor attending him, but about three months ago he had an attack of influenza while on a visit to the Isle of Man, and had to return home where he was confined to bed for nearly six weeks, during which time he developed gout.

He was, however, able to attend to his public duties, and for the past month he could be seen going about his business with his usual zeal and cheeriness. It was on Friday the fatal illness commenced. On that day the alderman attended the final meeting of the Wigan and District Tramways Company, Limited, and at the close of business he suddenly became faint. He had to be assisted from the room and taken to his residence in Park-view in a cab, and Dr Berry and Dr Blair were called in. It was found that haemorrhage of the brain had taken place, and on Sunday morning the patient had a parylitic stroke. The haemorrhage did not cease, and Mr Gee passed quietly away at noon on Monday. The news was received with sincere regret by the general public, and everywhere deep sympathy is expressed for the bereaved family.

Mr Gee was born in Schofield-lane, Wigan, on the 30th December, 1840, and is therefore in his 62nd year. His father was a mechanic and kept a shop as well, and died of cholera when the deceased alderman was only 13 years of age. Alderman Gee began his education at St Catherine’s School and afterwards went to the Wigan Grammar School. When he was 14 he was apprenticed to the late Mr James Gee, joiner and builder, of Millgate, but, owing to his father’s death he had to relinquish this occupation and assist his mother in her shop. In this way he got into the grocery business, in which he has been very successful.

When he was 21 he married Miss Ellen Hatton, daughter of the late Thomas Hatton, of Ince, and who held a seat on the governing body of that township. Mr Gee then opened a business at the end of Longshoot, Scholes, and subsequently he built the premises in Scholes where his son, Councillor J. T. Gee, carries on a large provision trade.

Alderman Gee, however, did not confine his attention to the grocery trade. He identified himself with other undertakings, and in nearly every case with success. He joined the firm of Knott and Wood, engineers and ironfounders, who occupied the Water Heyes and the School-lane Foundries. After the retirement of Mr Knott from the firm, Mr Gee and Mr Wood retained the business under the style of Wood and Gee, this being the firm at the present day. The business increased, and it became necessary to build larger works, and hence the erection of the large foundry at Barley Brook, Frog Lane.

About ten years ago, when the old Wigan Tramway Company went into liquidation, the late alderman, at the sale in London, purchased the concern for the sum of £4,500. After working them for a short time himself, the concern was floated into a limited company under the style of the Wigan and District Tramways Company. Mr Gee was appointed a director, and this position he held up to his death. It will be remembered that only last week the tramway undertaking was transferred to the Wigan Corporation.

Some time ago Mr Gee entered partnership with Mr Ormrod, brickmaker, of Orrell, and continued for some three or four years. This was at the time he resided at Green Bank Villa, Orrell, and when he sat on the Wigan Board of Guardians for that district. He was also at one time a director of the firm Timberlake and Co. Limited, and of the Kew Gardens, Southport.

He was a large shareholder in the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, and was well known and highly respected by the people of Douglas, in whose undertakings he was much interested.

It must not be forgotten that he was a member of the firm Worswick and Gee, who erected the Royal Court Theatre in King Street. He was also instrumental in forming the Wigan and District Billposting Company, of which he was a director.

In the public life of the town the late alderman occupied a prominent position, and he will be as much missed from this as from other spheres in which he moved. In politics he was an ardent Conservative, and Parliamentary and Municipal elections were of great interest to him. Years have elapsed since he first contested Scholes Ward as one of the Conservative candidates for a seat on the Town Council. His colleague was the late Mr William Crompton, colliery proprietor, and their opponents were Messrs Swift and Worsley. Mr Gee was successful and retained possession of the seat for some time, until he was opposed by Mr Thos Worthington, who fought single-handed against Mr Gee and Mr R. Richards, now Alderman Richards. Mr Gee was defeated by a small majority, but he fought Mr Worthington three years later and was successful, and he retained of the seat till he was made an alderman in 1876, and this latter position he held to the time of his death.

In 1891 he was appointed a magistrate for the borough. For some time he represented Wigan on the Board of Guardians, and he filled other public offices with characteristic zeal.

He was a member of the Library Association in which he took a deep interest, and whose annual gatherings he attended as often as possible. He was a liberal supporter of the Wigan Operatic Society, and of the charities of the town, and his donation was a practical proof of his interest in the new Technical College.

For many years he was a very active member of the Wigan Subscription Bowling Green, and was for two years the president. In 1892, the Wigan Subscription Bowling Green team won the Lancashire and Cheshire County Bowling prize, and the trophy, a cup, which bore an inscription and the names of the bowlers, was presented to Mr Gee.

The deceased was a Churchman and for many years was a churchwarden and sidesman at St Catharine’s Church, Wigan. He was a member of the Board of Management of the schools and for some years was a director and steward of St Catharine’s Building Society.

Mr Alderman Gee leaves a widow and four children; two sons and two daughters. The eldest son is Mr Councillor Gee, J.P., leader of the Conservative party in the council, and who was Mayor of the town for the years 1898 and 1899

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Wigan Observer 1902/10/10