Sir George Elliot, 1st Baronet

Sir George Elliot, 1st Baronet

Sir George Elliot, 1st Baronet, JP (18 March 1814 – 23 December 1893) was a self-made businessman from Gateshead in the North-East of England. A colliery labourer who went on to own several coal mines, he later bought a wire rope manufacturing company which manufactured the first Transatlantic telegraph cable. He was also a Conservative Party Member of Parliament (MP).

Elliot was the eldest son of Ralph Elliot, a coal miner. He started work at the age of 9 as a trapper boy at Whitefield Pit, Penshaw, and eventually owned this colliery later in his life. In 1849 he became a wire rope manufacturer and his company, Glass & Elliot, manufactured the first Atlantic cable.

Sir George became an MP on November 26th 1868 and he was created a Baronet on May 15 1874. In his capacity as an MP made arrangements for the new tongue of Big Ben, in Westminster, London, to be forged at Hopper’s Iron Foundry in Houghton-le-Spring.

His local residence was Houghton Hall at Houghton-le-Spring; his London residence was in Portland Place.

The Baronet title was passed to his son, George William Elliot, and his grandson, also George Elliot. It was extinguished in 1911 upon the death of his great-grandson, Charles Elliot.

Sir George Elliot: Fiendish colliery owner or a generous man who never forgot his humble start in life?

Some notable events in Sir George's life, some of which highlight his aims in improving the working conditions of the country's miners.

1815 – George Elliot was born in Gateshead, the eldest son of Ralph Elliot, a miner. Some records suggest he was born on March 18th 1814.

1836 – George married Margaret Green of Shiney Row.

1840 – George entered into a partnership and purchased Washington Colliery.

1849 – George purchased Kuper & Co, wire rope and telegraph cable manufacturer and formed a partnership with R.A. Glass.

1862 – October 30th – a Church of England faculty was issued for the Elliot Vault at Hillside Cemetery in Houghton-le-Spring, Durham.

1866 – George Elliot’s Telegraph Construction & Maintenance Company laid the first Atlantic cable.

1864 – George purchased Whitefield Colliery, where he had worked as a boy. The pit closed in 1879.

1868 – November 26th - George Elliot became a Member of Parliament for North Durham until 1880.

1868 – George was president of the North of England Institute of Mining Engineers.

1873 - Sir George Elliot and William Hunter, of Sandhoe, Northumberland, opened Kimblesworth Colliery.

1878 – Sir George erected a stone tomb in the churchyard of All Saints’ Church, Penshaw. The inscription read as follows: To his father, mother and brothers Sir George Elliot Bart MP In token of he reverent love and affection Also to Ralph Elliot, his dearly beloved son

1874 – George was created a Baronet (Bart) in recognition of his work for public services. He advised Benjamin Disraeli to invest in the Suez Canal, which resulted in England having control of the shipping route to India. He was a financial advisor to the Egyptian Khedive (the viceroy under the Ottomans), and also received an honour from the King of Portugal – the grand cross of the military order of Our Lady of Villa Viciosa.

1874 – Sir George’s eldest son, Ralph of Chester Square, London, died aged 35 at the Cape of Good Hope.

1874/5 - Sir George was president of Durham University Society.

1876 - Sir George was Provincial Grand Master of the Freemasons.

1877 - Sir George gifted the 130 foot tall tower and spire to St Mary’s Church, West Rainton, in memory of his daughter, Elizabeth.

1882 – Sir George purchased land in Aberamman as a gift in memory of Lady Margaret Elliot and his daughter Elizabeth. Work commenced on the construction of St Margaret’s Church and was completed in 1883.

1883 - Sir George was president of the Association of Mining Engineers.

1886 – George Elliot became a Member of Parliament for Monmouth District until 1892.

1886 - The Elliot Home for Seamen, in Temple Street, Monmouth, Monmouthshire, is a stone building, erected in 1886 by the late Sir George Elliot, Bart. M.P. for Monmouth district, 1886-92; attached is an institute and modern church for the seafaring population, with residence for the chaplain, established and maintained under the auspices of the Mission to Seamen Society.

1889 - Sir George gifted the stained glass window of the Baptism, Resurrection and Ascension to All Saint’s Church, Penshaw, in memory of his brothers and son.

1890 – Bram Stoker visited Sir George’s residence at the Royal Crescent in Whitby. Sir George owned an Egyptian princess mummy and this inspired Bram Stoker to write the ‘Jewel of the Seven Stars’ horror novel in 1903. Modern day CT-scans revealed the mummy to have a penis!

1893 – December 23rd - Sir George Elliot died. He had exhausted himself working on a plan to amalgamate the entire coalfields of Great Britain. Sir George had proposed that, to improve the working conditions of the miners, a proportion of the coal industry profits should be paid into a fund for retired miners. Mr and Mrs R Clayton-Swan, the tenants of Solberge Hall, Northallerton, North Yorkshire, attended the funeral of Sir George Elliot Bart, grandfather to Mrs Swan. Fire swept through Solberge Hall while they were away. Sir George was buried at Houghton Hillside Cemetery on December 28th 1893. His title became extinct in 1911 upon the death of his great-grandson, Charles Elliot.

1973 – The railings around the Elliot Vault were removed when the headstones at Houghton Hillside Cemetery were bulldozed by Houghton Urban District Council.


* "Lanagan, Paul; (2004). Houghton Hillside Cemetery Guide Book & Map, Houghton-le-Spring. ISBN-13: 9780954325350
* Rushford, Frank H; (1950). Houghton-le-Spring: A History, Durham"

External links

* [ Sir George Elliot] Atlantic Cable Pioneer
* [ The Elliot Baronets' Vault] at Houghton-le-Spring Hillside Cemetery

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