Adamson Dawson Russell


Adamson, more commonly known as Adam, was a Freemason; member of Lodge Temperance 2557; Councillor, Sheriff and Lord Mayor of Newcastle Upon Tyne and one of our forgotten war heroes. He is not listed in the Lodge Temperance WW1 Roll of Honour although the Lodge registers clearly show he was on war service.

At the Lodge Temperance 2557 meeting held at the Assembly Rooms on the 19th  April 1915, Adamson was proposed by Bro. J. G. Usher and seconded by Bro. Frank Elliott as a fit and proper person to be made a Freemason. He was a 23 year old Auctioneer living at 100, Raby Street, Byker, Newcastle Upon Tyne. At the meeting of Monday 17th  May 1915 a successful ballot was held. He was initiated into the Mysteries and Privileges of Ancient Freemasonry on the 19th July and was passed to the second or Fellowcraft degree two months later on 20th September. He was raised to the Sublime degree of a Master Mason on 18th October 1915. He continued his Masonic career as a founding member of Bernicia Lodge No. 4479, consecrated on December 18th 1922 and meeting at the Masonic Hall, West Avenue, Gosforth. Adam is shown on the petition as a Junior Steward with Lodge Temperance 2557.

Adam was the eldest child of William Russell of St Peter’s, Newcastle, variously an Engineering Driller and Wardrobe salesman, and  Rachel Alice Dawson of Elswick, Newcastle who were married in Newcastle in 1890. They were also interested in public life, his mother being a Guardian and his father a member of the old Burial Board. They had 7 children but sadly only 4 survived childhood:

  • Adamson Dawson (b 1891)
  • Thomas (b 1894)
  • Agnes Maud ( 1898)
  • Alice Winifred (b 1900)

He was born in Byker, Newcastle and in the 1911 census taken on 2nd April was living with his parents and siblings; Thomas, Agnes and Winnie. The family were occupying 100, 102 and 104 Raby Street, Byker and Adamson was recorded as an auctioneer.  His parents are shown as Wardrobe Dealers which  may explain why they are occupying three properties.

Little is known about Adam’s military career. His Army Service Record is held by The National Archives, Kew but has not been digitised and cannot be downloaded. However; his Medal Roll Index Card clearly shows he was a 2nd Lieutenant with the Northumberland Fusiliers and was awarded the Victory and British War Medals. The reverse of the card lists his address as 12 Dilston Terrace, Gosforth, Northumberland. Also, the Supplement to the London Gazette of 28th August 1918 reported that Adamson Dawson Russell of the Northumberland Fusiliers was promoted from the Officer Cadet Units to 2nd Lieutenant.

Adam married Edith Ella Thurston in Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1918. They had at least 5 children:

  • William (b 1919)
  • Thomas (b 1924)
  • Joan (b 1926)
  • Winifred (b 1927)
  • Irene (b 1928)

Adam was first elected as a Labour Councillor to Newcastle City Council on December 30th 1925 representing St. John’s Ward which stretched from the Redheugh Bridge in the west to the boundary with St Andrew’s and St Nicholas Wards in the east . In 1936 he was appointed Sheriff after the death in office of the incumbent William Taylor, then local newspapers reported on August  9th 1939 –

 Mr Adamson Dawson Russell, Labour member of the Newcastle city council, has been nominated by his party for the position of Lord Mayor next year.

He was elected as Lord Mayor for the year at the Newcastle City Council Annual Meeting held on 9th November 1939 and re-elected for another year at the Annual Meeting on 9th November 1940. His proposer commented “ A Novocastrian – he commenced business at the age of 18 and made a success of it. He is one of the most prominent City Auctioneers, Estate Agents and Valuers. During the Great War he enlisted as a Private in the Coldstream Guards and attained the rank of Captain”. This reference to the Coldstream Guards is questionable as all the evidence suggests he was with the Northumberland Fusiliers and achieved the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.

During his time as a Councillor on Newcastle Upon Tyne City Council he also served as Sheriff in 1936.  As Lord Mayor, he was on several committees including Chairman of the Estate and Property Committee, a member of the Newcastle Corporation Municipal Aerodrome Committee and become Patron of the Institute of Mining Engineers. He served until 1945.

His career was not without problems and he appeared before the Magistrates as several newspapers around the country reported:

3rd May 1943, A former Lord Mayer of Newcastle, Mr Adamson Dawson Russell, found guilty of conspiracy to sell goods by auction at his sale rooms without a Board of Trade licence and was at Newcastle yesterday fined a total of £2000, with 25 guineas costs. He had pleaded guilty of two charges of selling goods, and not guilty to two charges of conspiracy. He was found guilty  of a conspiracy to sell goods by auction at his saleroom without a board of trade license.  He was fined £2000 with £25 guineas costs.

Adam died at his home, 12 Dilston Terrace, Gosforth on 19th November 1946 after a somewhat prolonged illness and left £1900 to his widow Edith Ella Russell. The Newcastle Evening Chronicle of November 20th 1946 reported :

Russell – Gosforth, 12 Dilston Terrace, November 19, aged 56. Adamson Dawson Russell, dear husband of Edith Russell. Service Crematorium, Friday 11 am. No Flowers.

It also reported on the inside pages in the “Northern Outlook by Eldon”:

“`Mr. Adam Russell. Another well known city personality, whose death yesterday was reported in the later editions of last night’s “Evening Chronicle” was Mr. A. D. Russell, twice Lord Mayor of Newcastle. He died, aged 55, at his home in Gosforth.

He was Lord Mayor in 1939-40 and 1940-41. Sheriff in 1936 and had been a socialist member of the City Council since 1925.

In professional life he was a Fellow of the Auctioneers and Estate Agents Institute of the United Kingdom, of which he was chairman in 1935, and was also a Past Master in Freemasonry.

It was 40 years ago that he began his career as auctioneer, valuer and assessor in the city.”

His death was also announced at the Newcastle City Council annual meeting of November 20th 1946.

Page updated 25/01/2015