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John Dowding (1806 - 1896)
|John Dowding, the son of Thomas Dowding and Sarah Watkins born in 1806, married Mary Sims at Flaxley on 1st March 1838.1 By 1841 they were living at the Tanhouse, Blaisdon, where John was farming around 50 acres.2,3 The 1851 census records him as a farmer of 105 acres born at Longhope.4 They were still living at the Tanhouse in 1861.5|
John and Mary had a large family:
|By 1871 John and Mary had moved to Velthouse Lane6 and it is possible that they were living there as early as the 1860s. The 1881 and 1891 censuses record them at Sutridge Cottage, Velthouse Lane, Longhope.7,8 It would have been at The Tanhouse or Sutridge Cottage that John discovered the Blaisdon Red plum about which Roach9 said "Blaisdon Red was a seedling discovered by a Mr. Dowding of Blaisdon in Gloucestershire and first recorded in 1892. It is a red-blue plum mainly used for processing and has been grown especially in its native area of Huntley."|
In a longer article H.V. Taylor said : 10
"Gloucestershire men are agreed that this plum was sent out by a Mr. Dowding of Blaisdon Village, Gloucestershire. Three hundred acres of it are grown in this area, but seldom planted in quantity elsewhere. Almost without exception the trees are planted in grass orchards.Humphrey Phelps' article "Plum Crazy" in the August 1987 edition of The Countryman gives a fuller account of the rise and fall (and rise again) of the Blaisdon Red Plum.
Tree-growth vigorous, upright, making a tall sturdy tree, most resistant to fungus diseases. The shoots are downy, leaves round, medium size, very dark in colour.
Fruit medium size, long oval, tapering somewhat to the stem. Claret red in colour and coming ripe early in September. Picking commences in August as soon as the plum develops colour, and continues over a period of three weeks.
Flesh greenish, hard, very acid.
It is poor for dessert, but cooks well and makes an excellent red jam. A reliable cropper and suitable for producing cheap plums by rough methods.
Season: early September."
John Dowding died on 15th February 1896 aged 91 years, Mary had died 21st December 1894 aged 83 years, both deaths occured at Sutridge Cottage and were attributed to the effects of old age.11 They are buried in the same grave by the gateway of the churchyard of St Michael, Blaisdon, next to the grave of their unmarried daughters Mary Elizabeth and Ellen Ann. The tombstone of their young son Thomas Edmund, who died aged 11 years, and Joseph, Sarah Albina, Anna Maria and Albert Longney, who died in their infancy, stands nearby.
John's will, dated 27 Dec 1894 and proved at Gloucester on 11th March 1896, was witnessed by his son Henry Dowding and nephew William Hyett Bailey.12 He left his personal estate to his unmarried daughters Mary Elizabeth and Ellen Ann. Sutridge Cottage was left in trust to his sons John and William with bequests of £200 each to Mary Elizabeth and Ellen Ann.