Nat Gould

His life and books

Sir Thomas Dakin

Sir Thomas Dakin (1808 – 1889) owned the tea merchant business which traded at No. 1 St Paul’s Churchyard in London, but he would not have been active there. He was born in Knutsford, Cheshire on 8 February 1808, educated there and at London University. He first worked for a wholesale and export druggist in the City which became Dakin Brothers in 1859, and had wide-ranging commercial interests. He promoted technical education and lectured on chemistry and electricity. He became a Freeman of the city of London in 1836, an Alderman in 1861, Sheriff in 1864 and Lord Mayor in 1869. He was elected MP in 1865 for Thetford in Norfolk, and knighted at Windsor in 1872. Sir Thomas Dakin died at his home in West Kensington aged 82 on 24 May 1889, following a short illness caused by a fall on a Thames Conservancy barge.

Dakin sold the premises of the tea firm in St Paul’s Churchyard in the early 1850s to the Commissioners of Sewers for a large sum when Bazalgette was building the London drainage system.

Nat Gould records in The Magic of Sport that Dakin had promised his father financial help in setting up the Manchester business. That may have been so, but Sir Thomas was not the man killed in the coffee mill explosion (page 10) that resulted in assistance never arriving.

As regards this error, Nat Gould does say that he wrote “unaided by reference books” (The Magic of Sport page v) and that “What I have put down I have experienced at first hand”. However he was not then born, and is remembering fifty years later what his father must have told him. But we can surely forgive Nat for this lapse, as he records much that would otherwise be now unknown.