David Askin Edgar

David Askin Edgar was a Freemason, member of Lodge Temperance 2557 and one of our forgotten war heroes. He is not listed in the Lodge Temperance WW1 Roll of Honour although the Lodge registers show he was on war service.

David Askin Edgar (front row 3rd from left)

At the Lodge Temperance 2557 meeting held at the Royal Assembly Rooms, Westgate Road, on the 17th April 1916 Askin was proposed by Bro Thomas Storey and seconded by Bro W. B. Davison as a fit and proper person to be made a Freemason. He was a 33 year old dental practitioner residing at 4 Ashfield Terrace, Chester Le Street.  A successful ballot was held on 15th May and he was initiated into the mysteries and privileges of Ancient Freemasonry on 19th June 1916. He was passed to the second or Fellowcraft degree on the 21st August and raised to the Sublime degree of a Master Mason on 16th October 1916.

Unfortunately the service and pension records for David’s time during the war can’t be found so are likely among the 60% of the Service Records irretrievably damaged or lost as a result of enemy bombing in 1940. There are many David Edgars listed in the medal index cards and rolls but without an idea of his service it’s not possible to confidently identify him.

David Askin Jnr was born on 18th February 1883 in Benwell in the west end of Newcastle upon Tyne to David Askin and Mary Edgar. David Askin Snr was a shipyard worker from County Down in Ireland and variously employed as a ship’s caulker, chipper and ship’s plater in several locations on Tyneside including Benwell, Wallsend and Jarrow. He married Mary Hill in South Shields in 1881 and by 1911 David Snr had retired to the Joiner’s Arms public house on Gibson Street in Byker where Mary was the Manageress. They had 13 children of which 6 died young including:

  • David Askin (18/02/1883 – 18/12/1948)
  • Eliza Mary (1884 – 1885) Mary Waite (1885 – 1886)
  • William Rutherford (1887 – 1888)
  • Henry Waite (1889 – 1890)
  • Mary Hill (1890 – 1895)
  • Charles Berryman (1892 – 1907)
  • Henry Waite (1894 – 1894)
  • Percy Ernest (b 1896)
  • John Hill (b 1889)
  • Walter Cecil (b 1900)
  • Frederick Albert (b 1902)
  • Hilda May (b 1904)

David married Hannah Harle Brook in 1907 in Wallsend where she was living with her family. Her father John and brothers were all shipyard workers. David and Hannah had one daughter, Lilian born on 26th December 1909 in West Stanley. She married the prominent ornithologist and naturalist Calvert Noble-Rollin in Montreal, Canada in June 1938 while he was travelling around the Nova Scotia coast, bird watching and recording daily bird behaviour. He had a lifelong passion for trying to understand birds and their behaviour and was a member of the Natural History Society of Northumbria.

In the 1939 register David and Hannah were living at 3 Ashfield Terrace and David is listed as a Dental Practitioner and in the special constabulary of Chester Le Street, Durham County. In various directories and registers he is listed as living at number 3 or 4, Ashfield Terrace, so it’s unclear which property was his residence. We know that number 3 is now a washeteria with accommodation above and number 4 is still a dental practice. Perhaps he resided at number 3 and number 4 was his registered dental business.

Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette – Thursday 04 February 1937

He was a senior member of the East Durham District of the Public Dental Service Association and on several occasions chaired their annual dinner. He was also a keen golfer and a member and past President of the Chester Le Street Golf Club which is based at Lumley Park. The Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette of Thursday 12th May 1949 reported that:

“A competition which has been long wanted in Durham has at last been inaugurated. The Chester Le Street Club, to perpetuate the memory of a former chairman and captain of the club, has decided to organise an 18 holes scratch competition open to members of affiliated clubs in Durham and Northumberland on May 22. The trophy, to be named as the D. Askin Edgar Memorial Challenge Cup, will be held by the winner for one year.”

This trophy, now known as the Edgar Cup is still run in August each year and is one of the Chester Le Street Trophy competitions which is still hotly contested.

He was a senior member of the Chester-Le-Street Rotary Club being a Past President in 1929-1930 and during our research we made contact with Peter Smith Usher another Rotarian and Past President who commented:

“He (David Askin Edgar) was of large stature and made his presence felt whenever entering a room. He was a very influential man and held in awe by many and me, who knew him as a friend or through his Profession.”

It turns out that Peter Smith Usher is an active Freemason, Past Master, resident of Chester-Le-Street and incredibly the son of Bro Leonard Usher another Lodge Temperance member who served in the Great War.  You can read Bro Leonard Usher’s story here.

David died on 18th December 1948, aged 65 leaving £10,469 to his widow Hannah who died 29th December 1960 leaving around £10,000 to her daughter Lilian and son in law Calvert Noble Rollin.

Many thanks to Wbro Peter Smith Usher JP PPGJW and Past Master and member of Eardulph Lodge 6645 for all his help with this biography.