Andrew James Clare


Andrew James Clare was a Freemason and member of Lodge Temperance 2557 which during WW1  was meeting at the Royal Assembly Rooms, Westgate Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Perhaps the most intriguing of the hand written entries in the Roll of Honor at the end of the Lodge Temperance 2557 Minute Book is the one for Andrew. It reads “Andrew James Clare, Boat Commandeered by Government”.

Andrew was a Mariner in the Merchant Marine and spent much of his life at sea, latterly as Captain for both R. Chapman and Son and the Thompson Steam Shipping Company. Chapmans built up a fleet of Tramp Steamers and by 1914 owned eight ships. At the outbreak of WW1 all their ships were taken up for war service operating as naval colliers and supply ships and it is likely that Andrew was working on one of these at the time. Three of their ships were lost during the Great War so it was a hazardous job.

In March 1941, Andrew was Captain of the S.S. Rio Dorado on a voyage from the Tyne to Baltimore. The Rio Dorado was a British cargo steamer of some 4,507 tonnes built at Blyth in 1924 and owned by the Thompson Steam Shipping Co. Ltd. As it neared Newfoundland in the North Atlantic on the 16th March it came under heavy gunfire from the German battleship Gneisenau and was sunk with the loss of all 39 crew.  Andrew was 57 years old.

Andrew was the son of John and Elizabeth Clare (nee Marshall) who were married at St. Philips Church, Elswick, Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1876. They had at least five children including:

  • ·         John C. (b 1878)
  • ·         Elizabeth Jane. (b 1880)
  • ·         Andrew James (b 09/06/1883 – d 16/03/1941)
  • ·         William Coughron (b 1885)
  • ·         Lottie (b 1888)

Andrew married Ann Elizabeth Batey in 1910 in Newcastle Upon Tyne. In the 1911 census Andrew was absent at sea but his wife Ann was living in the family home at 9, Miller Street, Bensham, Gateshead with her brother Atkinson, mother Elizabeth and her newborn daughter Beatrice. Andrew and Ann had at least three children who were all educated at Dame Allan’s Schools, including:

  • ·         Beatrice (b 1911)
  • ·         John (b 1913)
  • ·         Kathleen (b 1914)

 Andrew’s wife, Ann Elizabeth Batey, is of interest. She was born in Newcastle on 31 July 1885, the youngest of nine children of Thomas Batey (engineer, later waterman) and Elizabeth. An uncle was a tug owner, and the Batey family also had marine engineering interests. Her father died in 1889. The 1901 census records her as a student shorthand typist, and she probably learned bookkeeping at the same time. With Andrew being away at sea, Ann had main responsibility for the family finances, and from at least 1919 until shortly before her death in 1977, kept detailed domestic accounts. These are now at the Tyne and Wear Archives, Newcastle Upon Tyne, along with other family documents. Two of Ann’s brothers, John and Atkinson, founded the Batey Metallic Packing Co. Ltd. in September 1920 in the St. Peter’s Basin area of Byker, Newcastle Upon Tyne. It is still going strong today in Dunston, Gateshead.

At the Lodge Temperance 2557 meeting held at the Assembly Rooms on the 16th May 1910, Andrew was proposed by Bro H. Wood and seconded by Bro. W. G. Crowe as a fit and proper person to be made a Freemason. He was a 26 year old Marine Chief living at 11, Moor Avenue, Dunston. At the meeting of the 20th June 1910 a successful ballot was held and he was initiated into the Mysteries and Privileges of Ancient Freemasonry on the 19th September. He was passed to the second or Fellowcraft degree on the 20th February 1911 and  was raised more than a year later to the Sublime degree of a Master Mason at the Lodge of Industry No. 48 on the 26th August 1912. He signed his Grand Lodge certificate back at Lodge Temperance on the 16th September 1912. In 1937 the family moved from rented accommodation in Ravensworth Terrace to a newly-built house at 27 The Ridgeway, Kenton. Andrew was killed only a few years later and Mrs. Clare remained there until shortly before her own death. She is said to have worshipped throughout her life at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Newcastle.

The CWGC entry for Andrew James Clare

Andrew is commemorated in Newcastle Upon Tyne on the North East War Memorial Project Roll of Honour 1914-18 Lodge Temperance 2557 (NUT254)