1675 – 1760
Thomas Davison was a Newcastle merchant. He supported the Annual Benefit Societies in Newcastle that paid members a total of £1,600 in benefits annually during the 18th century. In that era, mutual organisations of this kind offered a measure of protection against the scourge of poverty consequent upon old age, injury or the death of a breadwinner.
In 1754, Davison and his two sisters, Mary and Timothea, gave £1,200 to be applied to the support of "six unmarried women to be daughters or widows of burgesses". The eighteen pensioners belonging to the charity were each given a comfortable apartment and a weekly allowance of 5 shillings. The building is recorded as being named as “Davison’s Hospital”
The hospital was under the same roof, as two other hospitals, which must have worked together. The following inscription on a stone above the door reads;
"This hospital for six unmarried women, to be daughters and widows of burgesses, built on the ground and at the common charge of the corporation of this town, was founded by Thomas Davison, Esq. of Ferry Hill in the county of Durham, A. D. 1754."
The hospital was built in a neat and elegant style. Each of the pensioners had a light, commodious bed-room, with a kitchen, and pantry. They had the same income and quantity of coals [crucial for keeping warm] as the brethren and sisters of Jesus' Hospital [the largest almshouse in Newcastle built in 1681, by public subscription. It sits just under the Pilgrim Street Roundabout and it largely intact to this day].
A presumed son of Thomas Davison, Thomas Davison Jr., by a deed of trust dated 19 August 1755, created the Thomas Davison the Younger Charity, which continues today under the administration of the Freemen of Newcastle. This provides grants for young residents of Newcastle worth £2,600 in need of assistance in setting up a business.
Brand, J. (1789). The History and Antiquities of the Town and County of the Town of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne: B. White & Son.
Freemen of Newcastle website. Available here (Accessed: 06/08/2018).
History, Directory & Gazetteer of Durham & Northumberland. (1827).
Mackenzie, E. (1827). Charitable institutions: Hospitals: Historical account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne: Mackenzie and Dent, pp. 528-531.
Northumberland Archives. Milburn Estate Records, NRO 4978/C/1/1, Woodhorn, Northumberland.