ANNAND James (1843 – 1906)

SCOTTISH JOURNALIST, LIBERAL MP, SON IN LAW OF THOMAS BURT

Situated in the Unconsecrated/East Section of Jesmond Old Cemetery.

Born in Nether Kinmundy, Longside, Aberdeenshire, the eldest son of crofter and blacksmith Robert Annand and his wife Margaret Moir. There were three other siblings, Mary, who was born in 1846 but died within a year, and Robert, born in 1850, who also died within a year – how tragic – and Robert Cumming (1852 – 1921).

Nether Kinmundy

After completing his education at the village school, James Annand began his working life following in his father’s trade as a blacksmith in Longside. He then became a schoolmaster and a journalist, moving to London to write for the Spectator, amongst others. Thereafter, he edited several newspapers in the north east of England; from 1874 to 1877 he edited the Newcastle Daily Chronicle, from 1877 to 1885 the South Shields Gazette and, finally, from 1885 to 1895, he was editor of the Northern Weekly Leader.

The 1881 Census has James living in Tynemouth, with a ‘housekeeper’, and his occupation is identified as ‘editor of newspaper.’ In the 1901 Census, James is living in South View Terrace, South Shields, alongside two ‘servants’, and his occupation is recorded as ‘journalist/author.’

After an unsuccessful bid for a Parliamentary seat in Tynemouth in 1892, he was elected as a Liberal M.P. at the general election in January 1906, with a majority of 1,830, as the Member of Parliament for East Aberdeenshire. Unfortunately, he died in London 16 days later, on the 9th February 1906, before he had an opportunity to take his seat, making him the third shortest serving MP in history. The Evening Chronicle, dated Saturday, February 10, 1906 gives an account of his death, stating that, “Mr. James Annand died suddenly last evening from angina pectoris, whilst on a visit to his friend, Mr. Martin, at 39, Craven Street, Strand, London, who was his colleague on the Newcastle Leader from 1885 to 1895. He was suddenly taken ill but assistance was immediately sent for and Mr. Annand recovered sufficiently to be able to converse with those around him. He chatted freely with Mr. Martin and said he hoped to soon be quite well again. Within forty-five minutes of his first seizure, however, Mr. Annand had another attack, and passed away at 5 o’clock in the presence of Mr. Martin and the doctor.”

He was briefly married to Mary ‘Millie’ Hannah Burt, daughter of Thomas Burt, in 1899 until her death on 2 September 1900. At the time of her death, the couple were residing at 56, Grove Road, Clapham Park, Surrey.

The Shields Daily News reported on Monday, February 12, 1906 that “the remains of the late Mr. James Annand, M.P. for East Aberdeenshire, who died suddenly in London on Friday, will be removed to Newcastle for interment beside his late wife, daughter of Mr. Burt, M.P., in Jesmond Old Cemetery. The funeral will leave Newcastle Central Station at noon on Tuesday.” Additional detail is provided in the same edition, where the report states that “there was a very general expression of sorrow among all classes in Ripon on Saturday morning on the announcement of the sudden death of Mr. J. Annand, M.P., in London. During his residence in Ripon, he had lived for the most part a quiet and retired life, but he had made many friends among all classes, and was held in high esteem. At the Liberal Club, of which he was a member, the flag was hoisted at half-mast. Mr. Annand was on the committee of the Mechanics’ Institute. He lectured last year to the members of the Agricultural Association, and was helpful to the churches of various denominations.”

The Evening Chronicle, on Tuesday, February 13, 1906, gives a detailed account of James’ funeral, excerpts of which state that “the circumstances of Mr. Annand’s death were particularly sad, and much sorrow had been expressed in Newcastle and up and down Tyneside, where he was well-known and held in much esteem. The body, enclosed in a polished oak coffin, had been brought from London the previous evening, and the vehicle in which it rested, surrounded by wreaths, lay during the night at the west dock of the Central Station. The coffin bore a plate with the inscription – “James Annand, died Feb. 9th, 1906, in his 63rd year.” A great number of mourners and friends gathered at the Central Station to await the removal of the body; and the company included many representatives of local Liberal Associations, and many of Mr. Annand’s former journalistic colleagues on Tyneside and elsewhere. The company gathered in the station portico. The coffin was placed in the hearse at the west dock and the carriages moved down to the portico, whence, shortly after noon, the procession to the cemetery began. There were some fifteen carriages, besides an open landau filled with wreaths. Snow was falling as the procession moved to the graveside, and continued to fall during the burial service. The Rev. Metcalf Grey gave a short address. He said that under circumstances like these, it was right that they should express the appreciation which they all felt for the character of the departed. Those who had known him under varied circumstances had learnt to respect and to love him. They appreciated his devotion to principle, they honoured him for his faithfulness to the ideals he held, and they respected him and loved him for the generous spirit that he always manifested even to those who might be opposed to his views. They were there to acknowledge the valued public services which he had rendered to his country, and they were also there to express their sympathy with those who had lost him.”

On his death, his gross estate was valued at ¬£11,104, the whole of which was left in trust for his infant son, James Burt Annand, until he attained the age of 23. His address at the time of his death was given as the ‘Firs’, Ripon.

The Aberdeen Daily Journal, of Tuesday, July 9, 1907, writes that, “the well-known Fraserburgh solicitor, Mr. J. Leslie McCallum, now practising in Edinburgh, has undertaken the congenial task of writing a memorial sketch of the late Mr. James Annand, M.P. for East Aberdeenshire. The life-story of this journalist and politician will be given to the world in book form only on condition that at least 2500 copies are taken up by subscription beforehand.”

I wonder if it ever got printed??