The Timsons : A Short Study of One Generation

The name of Timson was very prominent in this area in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but for this article we shall concentrate on the family of Samuel and Alice Timson. Samuel Timson, a master tailor, the son of a gardener, married Alice Rowland of Hendon in 1854. Samuel and Alice produced thirteen children and a number of them went on to lead lives of distinction, contributing in an active way to the life of the community in Berkhamsted and further afield. One son distinguished himself in a different way. Somewhat of a mystery surrounds him.

Samuel Rowland Timson, the eldest, worked for William Cooper & Nephews, and became instrumental in establishing Cooper’s overseas branches, especially in South Africa and South America. He also played an active role as Governor of Berkhamsted School, crossing swords with Dr Fry, the Headmaster over alleged misapplication of income in the boarders’ favour (in which George Loader mediated).

S R Timson

Younger brother Charles was manager of the private company of William Cooper & Nephews and later vice-chairman of the public company Cooper McDougall & Robertson, which was formed in 1925. He was responsible for setting up the first branch in Galveston, Texas in 1890 and became managing director of Coopers in the U.S.A. He was recognised as a loyal worker and was no doubt a very capable, if less colourful, individual than his elder brother.

John Robert became a certificated teacher and organist and moved away from Berkhamsted. It was left to Arthur Bernard Timson to carry on his father’s business since he remained in Berkhamsted and became a tailor. His daughter, Ada Catherine Timson brought the name of Timson to prominence once more since she was to become Headmistress of Victoria Girls’ School for many years. No trace can be found of Frederick Albert after 1871. Of the remaining three boys two of them, Ernest Alfred and Harold Harvey Timson seem to have been affected by the wanderlust of their two older brothers.

The youngest boy, Octavius Paul, had seven brothers before him as examples, largely of success, to live up to or to attempt to surpass them. From programmes in the Society’s collection we know he was an active member of the Berkhamsted Dramatic Club. He became Grandmaster of the Independent Order of Oddfellows, Great Berkhampstead District.

Whatever the cause may have been he began to live beyond his means and to succumb to temptation. With headlines of “big deficiencies in public accounts” and a warrant issued for his arrest, Octavius Paul just disappeared. Somebody must know what really happened to O.P. Timson, who had brought shame on the family name.

Jenny Sherwood, Chronicle, v.XIV, pp.16-22.