Bro Joseph Ellison


Joseph Ellison was a Freemason, member of Lodge Temperance 2557, a merchant Seaman, an Engineer Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Navy 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, Newcastle Upon Tyne on the 18th April 1904 he was initiated into the Mysteries and Privileges of Ancient Freemasonry. He was recorded as a 28 year old Engineer living at the Provincial Houses, Harrogate.  On the 20th June he was passed to the second or Fellowcraft degree and raised to the Sublime degree of a Master Mason on 18th July 1904.

Joseph was the son of Joseph Ellison, ( 1840 – 1918) from Wallsend, a locomotive engine driver for the North Eastern Railway Co., and Margaret Elizabeth Ayres (1849 – 1922) from Coundon, Co. Durham. They were married in Gateshead on the 25th December 1871 and had five children of which only four survived:

  • John Thomas (b 1874, Satley, Co. Durham)
  • Joseph Linsey (b 25/01/1876, Satley, Co. Durham)
  • Bolam (b 1879, Gateshead)
  • William (b 1892, Gateshead)

Driving a locomotive for the N. E. Railway Co., paid well and the Ellison’s appear to have had a good standard of living as Joseph senior at his death on the 29th December 1918 left £1843 14s 7d in his will to his wife Margaret who in turn left £3201 18s 1d to two of her sons, William, a draughtsman and Joseph, a mechanical engineer.

Joseph was educated in higher grade schools in Gateshead and served a six year apprenticeship with the same company as his father, the N. E. Railway Company, as a fitter and the 1891 census records him as a 15 year old apprentice fitter. After completion of his apprenticeship he worked for a year with Hawthorn Leslie & Co, Wallsend on Tyne, a shipbuilder and locomotive manufacturer.

Joseph married Christina Ann Hope (1880 – 1960) from Gosforth in Newcastle in 1898 and they had four children:

  • Arthur Hope (b 1899, Hull)
  • Blanche (b 1901, Gateshead)
  • Christina Ann (b 1903, Harrogate)
  • Bolam (b 1904, Harrogate)

Joseph spent the next nine and a half years at sea, initially as a Marine Engineer then Chief Engineer with a 1st Class Board of Trade Certificate. The 1901 census shows him as an Engineer on board the S.S. Hathor of Newcastle, a steel screw steamship, built at Howdon in 1894 by Palmer’s Ship Building Co… It’s interesting to note that barely a year after the census on the 15th June 1902, the S.S. Hathor ran aground on the Island of Stroma, Pentland Firth. The ship was under the command of Mr. Edward R. Calder and the Board of Trade inquiry found that the serious damage to the S.S. “Hathor” was caused by the default of the master, who was alone responsible. The Inquiry, however, was of the opinion that the default was not due to any neglect or want of care, but was due to errors in judgment. It’s not known if Joseph was on board at the time.

The 1901 census records that Joseph’s wife, Christina, is living with his parents in Gateshead with their first two children, Arthur and Blanche. By the 1911 census the family have moved to Whitley Bay but Joseph is absent with Christina shown as the head of the household. Joseph was working at the Wallsend Slipway & Engineering Co. Wallsend on Tyne at the time and it’s likely he was away at sea again.

During the course of the First World War, the Royal Navy hired or purchased many yachts, trawlers and motor drifters and used them as Auxiliary Patrol vessels, and it appears that Joseph joined the Royal Navy on temporary service on 14th July 1917 to help with the repair of these vessels. He was first attached to HMS Victory on 14th July 1917, a shore based depot in Portsmouth, for a course of instruction in the duties of an Engineering Officer and then moved to HMS Idaho, a special services vessel, on 22nd July 1917 for fleet duties in connection with Yachts, Trawlers and Drifters.

Joseph was then attached to HMS Zaria on 10th November 1917 to assist the Engineer Commander on the staff of the Rear Admiral commanding Orkneys and Shetlands for fleet duties in connection with Yachts, Trawlers and Drifters.  The Commander of HMS Zaria wrote in December 1917 that he was “a very zealous officer who has shown much ability in carrying out his technical duties” HMS Zaria was originally built as a passenger/cargo ship but was requisitioned by the Royal Navy and used as a store and depot ship.

Joseph was granted the rank of Acting Engineer Lieutenant Commander (Temporary Service) on the 30th October 1918. The Commander in charge of Orkney Trawlers wrote that he “has carried out his professional duties with great ability and zeal”

Then in March 1919 the Commander of HMS Zaria wrote that Joseph was an “Exceptional Draughtsman, has been in charge of the engineering shop and responsible for repairs and upkeep of the Auxiliary Patrol vessels attached to base, duties which he has carried out in the most satisfactory manner and shown much ability and tact.”

He was attached to HMS Victorious, a repair ship for the Grand Fleet, Scapa Flow, on 22nd February 1919 to assist Engineer Commander Perkins then to HMS Thalia, a base ship, on 13th March 1919 to assist Engineer Captain Murray in the return of Trawlers and Drifters to owners. He was demobilised from the Royal Navy on 13th September 1919.

Joseph resigned from Lodge Temperance on the 15th November 1920.

Christina died in March 1960 aged 79 and Joseph in June 1968 aged 92.