Christopher Rawson

Christopher Rawson was the eldest son of John Rawson and Nelly Stansfield.

His father disinherited him when he rejected the family's banking business and ran away to sea.

In 1805, he distinguished himself whilst serving as Chief Officer on the East India Company's ship Exeter fighting the French in the China Seas.

He was offered a knighthood by George III, but declined on the basis that he felt he was not wealthy enough to live up to the title.

In 1805, he returned to the family.

On 25th January 1808, he married Mary Anne Brooks at St Margaret's Church, Westminster. As a wedding gift, his mother bought back Hope House – her family home – for 1000 guineas. Christopher and Mary Anne had no children.

In 1810, when a man forged a £250 bill in the name of Rawson's bank, Christopher apprehended the man single-handedly, and the culprit was subsequently executed.

In 1811, he became a partner in Rawson's Bank.

In 1813, he was a member of a Committee supporting those affected by the Luddites.

In 1826, he published The meditation of Marcus Aurelius.

He was a great patron of the arts – see Halifax Subscription Concerts. He had a collection of Greek coins and Greek marble figures which J. B. Leyland study in his early career. In 1830, he was the founding president of the Halifax Literary & Philosophical Society and exhibited his collection of Greek figures there.

He was one of the subscribers to John Horner's book Buildings in the Town & Parish of Halifax [1835].

In the 1830s, he bought the decaying Old Cragg Hall which he used as a shooting lodge and a country residence.

He was strongly against Anne's relationship with Ann Walker, and he raised a drunken mob to make effigies of the ladies and burn them in Halifax.

Around 1836, he enclosed an area of his land at Erringden and divided it into 4 tenant farms with laithe-houses. Around this time, during alterations at some cottages which he owned at Cragg Vale, workmen discovered a set of dies which had been used by the Cragg Vale Coiners.

He joined Rawson's Bank and was the first chairman in 1836. He remained as Chairman until 1843 when the bank became the Halifax & Huddersfield Union Banking Company.

There are stories which told how, every Friday morning, he would ride up to Cragg Vale and spend the day at Cragg Hall, giving coins to the children and money for a drink to the workmen he met.

In 1838, he compiled a book of prayers and selected readings from the scriptures, entitled Spiritual retirement.

In the 1840s, he was President of The Calder Vale Agricultural Society.

He was Lord of the Manor of Southowram.

He was a Magistrate and Deputy Lieutenant for the West Riding.

He was a Freemason.

He was one of the first investors in the South Australian Company which partly financed the development of the State of South Australia. For many years, he was a Director of the Union Bank of Australia, now the ANZ Bank, one of Australia's largest banks.

He had interests in several local coal mines, and this made him a business rival of Anne Lister who claimed that he raided her coal mines.

He was buried in the graveyard of Holy Trinity Church, Harrison Road.

See Democrinus rawsoni

© Malcolm Bull 2020
Revised 20:38 /8th November 2020 / 6473

Page Ref: ZZ_29

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