THOMAS DIXON (1770-1849), of Ballycastle, County Antrim, married Mary McNeill in 1804. His only son,
THOMAS DIXON (1805-68), of Larne, County Antrim, merchant and ship-owner, married Sarah, daughter of Daniel McCambridge and Sally Stewart, in 1834. His 3rd son,
DANIEL DIXON (1844-1907), born at Larne, County Antrim, was educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and subsequently joined his father’s business, becoming a partner in 1864.
His brother, Thomas S Dixon, was also a partner.
The firm, Messrs Thomas Dixon & Sons, thrived and expanded into shipping, becoming owners of the Lord Line, which was formed in 1879 and operated services between Belfast, Dublin, Cardiff and Baltimore. They also sailed to Gulf of Mexico and several South American ports.
In 1917 the company went into liquidation and sold its two remaining ships to the Head Line (Ulster SS Co.).
The Lord Line ran between Baltimore and Belfast every ten days. Daniel Dixon was a director of the Ulster Steamship Company, which owned the Head Line.
Sir Daniel was also chairman of the Ulster Marine Insurance Company and a director of the Belfast & County Down Railway.
It was his association with Belfast Corporation which brought him into public prominence: In 1872 he became a councillor for Dock Ward, in which his firm’s premises were located; and, nine years later, he became an alderman.
He felt strongly that the Belfast tramway system ought not to be private property and saw to it that it was owned and run by the ratepayers.
He was closely involved in the movement to build the City Hall and the Infectious Diseases Hospital at Purdysburn.
In 1892, Dixon became Mayor of Belfast for the first time, and was the first incumbent to receive the title of Lord Mayor by Royal Charter from Queen Victoria.
In the same year he was knighted. He was re-elected in the following year and occupied the mayoral chair five more times between 1901-06.
In 1902 he was appointed a Privy Counsellor and was created a baronet the following year.
In politics Sir Daniel was a staunch Conservative and a resolute opponent of Gladstone’s Home Rule proposals.
- Mayor of Belfast, 1892
- High Sheriff of County Down, 1896
- Lord Mayor of Belfast, 1893, 1901-3, 1905-6 & 1906-7
- MP for North Belfast, 1905-07
In 1905 he won the North Belfast by-election for the Unionist Party and successfully defended the seat in the general election of 1906.
Sir Daniel was a member of the Church of Ireland and generously supported the building of Belfast Cathedral.
He erected the “Joseph” window in the Cathedral's south aisle in memory of his brother, Thomas, and his son, Lieutenant Percy Dixon, 3rd Battalion Royal Fusiliers, who died at Cairo, 26 August 1902, aged 20.
Dixon’s first wife was a daughter of James Agnew. His second, whom he married in 1870, was a daughter of James Shaw.
They lived at Ballymenoch, Holywood, County Down, and worshipped at Holywood Parish Church, where Sir Daniel was a member of the select vestry for 14 years.
It was on the morning of Sunday 10 March 1907 as he was walking from his home to church when he complained of sudden pain and, instead of continuing to church, he made for his son Herbert’s house near by.
There, in spite of the efforts of his sons, Herbert and Daniel, and a nurse, he died of cardiac failure within minutes.
Sir Daniel left £307,151 in his will which equates to about £28 million in today's money.
On his decease, Sir Daniel was survived by his wife, four sons and five daughters. His eldest son,
THE RT HON SIR THOMAS JAMES DIXON (1868-1950), 2nd Baronet, JP, a privy counsellor, of Graymount and Drumadarragh, succeeded in the baronetcy. His other sons were Daniel, Frank and Herbert.
- High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1912
- High Sheriff of County Down, 1913
- NI Senator, 1924
- HM Lord-Lieutenant of Belfast, 1924-50.
The 2nd Baronet was succeeded in the baronetcy by his younger brother,
THE RT HON SIR HERBERT DIXON, 3rd Baronet, OBE, PC, (1880-1950),
born in Belfast; educated at Harrow and Sandhurst; commissioned into the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and served in the 2nd World War. Sir Herbert was elected Unionist MP for Belfast Pottinger in 1918, becoming representative for East Belfast four years later. He was also sent to Stormont in 1921 as a MP for Belfast East, being appointed Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Finance; and was finally elected MP for Belfast Bloomfield in 1929. Sir Herbert was appointed OBE in 1919 and appointed privy counsellor of NI in 1923.In 1939, Sir Herbert was created BARON GLENTORAN, of Ballyalloly in the County of Down.
He served as Government Chief Whip from 1921-42 and as Minister of Agriculture at Stormont, 1941-43.
In 1950 he succeeded his elder brother as 3rd Baronet.
The 1st Baron married the Hon Emily Ina Florence Bingham, daughter of Arthur, 6th Baron Clanmorris, in 1905. He died in 1950, and was succeeded in the titles by his son,
DANIEL STEWART THOMAS (1912-95), 2nd Baron and 4th Baronet, KBE,
educated at Eton and Sandhurst; appointed ADC to the General Officer Commanding NI in 1935; Grenadier Guards, 2nd World War; mentioned in dispatches; and in 1950; MP for Belfast Bloomfield at Stormont; Minister of Commerce, a post he held until elected to the NI Senate in 1961.MAJOR THOMAS ROBIN VALERIAN, 3rd and present Baron and the 5th Dixon Baronet, CBE.
He was then minister in, and leader of, the Senate for three years, becoming its last Speaker in 1964. Lord Glentoran was said to have had such a grand demeanour that once, when visiting America, a Texas newspaper carried the headline "Irish Royalty to Visit Texas".
The 4th Baron was appointed KBE in 1973. Lord Glentoran was also HM Lord-Lieutenant of Belfast from 1950-85. In 1933 he married Lady Diana Mary Wellesley (died 1984), daughter of 3rd Earl Cowley, by whom he had three children.
I have written about him here.
First published in August, 2010.