Alexander, J. J.


Obituary

Published in DA Transactions, 1942.

J. J. Alexander
1865–1942

JOHN JAMES ALEXANDER, M.A., F.R.Hist. SOC., J.P., was the eldest surviving son of Joseph Alexander, J.P.; his mother was Mary Frances Gouldsbury Long, daughter and heiress of Francis Gouldesbury Long, M.D., of Heath Hill, Co. Donegal. Mr. Alexander was born 12th November 1865 at Imlick House, near Carrigans, in the same county, and went to school first at the Academy and then at Foyle College, in Londonderry, from which he proceeded to Queen’s College, Belfast in 1883, and St. John’s College, Cambridge in 1887. During the period of his education he won at least thirteen exhibitions and scholarships, in mathematics, physics, and chemistry. He took first class degrees at the Royal University of Ireland in 1886, 1889, and was finally eighth wrangler at Cambridge, in 1890, proceeding M.A. of the latter university in 1895.

In the same year he became head master of Tavistock Grammar School, and remained in that office till his retirement in 1928. Here he founded the cadet corps, and was captain of it from 1917 to 1928. During his residence in that town he was Chairman of the Urban District Council, and took a prominent part in the drafting of the Council’s Act when much of the Duke of Bedford’s property was taken over by the town; in this connexion he gave evidence before Committees of both Houses of Parliament. He was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1912, and in 1922–23 was Chairman of the Exeter Branch of the Historical Association. At one time he was Chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Headmasters’ Association.

On retirement he settled in Paignton in 1928, and was not backward in continuing his civic work. In 1933–35 he was Chairman of the Archaeological Section of the Torquay Natural History Society and at one time a Governor of the University College of the South-west, and chairman of the Cambridge University Extension Society in Paignton. In that town he was Vice-chairman of the School Trust, of the Belfield Charity, and the local branch of the League of Nations Union. From 1935 to 1937 he was Chairman of the Paignton West Ward Ratepayers’ Association.

In Tavistock he had always taken the most active interest in local affairs and history; in his retirement his interest in such things remained undiminished, but his activity was somewhat decreased by advancing age.

When he joined the Devonshire Association in 1909 as a life member Mr. Alexander at once made his mark as a historian, particularly of the Anglo-Saxon period, as it affected Wessex and Devon. Some sixty of his papers have appeared in the Transactions, and the last of this long series will be found in this volume. The papers and reports are noteworthy for straightforward English, logical argument, and the unmistakable pleasure he took when he could expose any fabulous belief, however popular. His mathematical training gave him great help in this. He was a most painstaking worker, of accurate scholarship and sound judgement.

He served on the Council of the Association for more than thirty years; was President of the Paignton Meeting in 1932, Hon. Editor of the Transactions in 1931 and 1932; and for many years Reporter on Early History and on Parliamentary Representation, and the Association’s representative on the South Devon Regional Planning Committee.

He married in 1895 Miss Alice Martha Uran, younger daughter of Mr. J. P. Uran, of Mannamead, Plymouth, who survives him, together with his children, Arthur Francis Alexander, Assistant Director of Education for the County of Dorset; J. L. M. Alexander, A.M.I.C.E., now a Captain in the Royal Engineers and serving abroad; and a daughter, Sylvia Mary, the wife of Squadron Leader A. H. Goldie, R.A.F.

Mr. Alexander died 17th July, 1942, after an illness of several weeks, at the residence of his son-in-law at Paignton.


Papers published in DA’s Transactions

Year     Vol. Pages
1909 J. J. Alexander Bere Alston as a Parliamentary Borough 41 152-178
1910 J. J. Alexander Tavistock as a Parliamentary Borough, Part I 42 258-277
1911 J. J. Alexander Dartmouth as a Parliamentary Borough 43 350-370
1911 J. J. Alexander Tavistock as a Parliamentary Borough, Part II, 1688-1885 43 371-402
1912 J. J. Alexander Devon County Members of Parliament. Part I. The early Plantagenet period (1212-1327) 44 366-381
1913 J. J. Alexander Devon County Members of Parliament. Part II: The middle Plantagenet period (1327-1399) 45 247-269
1914 J. J. Alexander Some Notes on Tavistock History. 1st Series 46 156-175
1914 J. J. Alexander Crowndale 46 278-283
1914 J. J. Alexander Devon County Members of Parliament. Part III: The later Plantagenet period (1399-1485) 46 478-496
1915 J. J. Alexander Devon County Members of Parliament. Part IV 47 357-371
1915 J. J. Alexander Some Notes on Tavistock History. 2nd Series 47 372-395
1916 J. J. Alexander The Athelstan Myth 48 174-179
1916 J. J. Alexander Devon County Members of Parliament. Part V 48 320-340
1917 J. J. Alexander Devon County Members of Parliament. Part VI 49 363-375
1918 J. J. Alexander An Otterton Notebook 50 493-502
1918 J. J. Alexander Devon County Members of Parliament. Part VII 50 589-601
1919 J. J. Alexander When the Saxons came to Devon, Part I 51 152-168
1920 J. J. Alexander When the Saxons came to Devon. Part II 52 293-209
1921 J. J. Alexander When the Saxons came to Devon. Part III 53 168-179
1922 J. J. Alexander When the Saxons came to Devon. Part IV. [Boniface, Egbert, etc.] 54 187-198
1923 J. J. Alexander An Irish Invasion of Devon [1067?] 55 125-130
1924 J. J. Alexander When the Saxons came to Devon. Part V [Egbert, Alfred, Athelstan] 56 263-278
1925 J. J. Alexander Devon County Members of Parliament, Part VIII: Supplement 57 311-320
1926 J. J. Alexander The Early Boroughs of Devon 58 275-287
1927 J. J. Alexander Exeter Members of Parliament. Part I. 1295 to 1377 59 289-309
1928 J. J. Alexander Exeter Members of Parliament. Part II. 1377 to 1537 60 183-214
1929 J. J. Alexander Exeter Members of Parliament. Part III. 1537 to 1688 61 193-215
1929 J. J. Alexander Dartmouth as a Parliamentary Borough 61 217-218
1930 J. J. Alexander Exeter Members of Parliament. Part IV. 1688 to 1832 62 195-223
1931 J. J. Alexander The Beginnings of Lifton 63 349-358
1932 J. J. Alexander The Saxon Conquest and Settlement (Presidential Address) 64 75-112
1932 J. J. Alexander The Place Names of Torbay 64 539-542
1933 J. J. Alexander The Beginnings of Ilfracombe 65 207-212
1933 J. J. Alexander East and North Devon Place Names 65 353-377
1934 J. J. Alexander South Devon Place Names 66 279-313
1935 J. J. Alexander Devon River Names 67 399-419
1936 J. J. Alexander Early Owners of Bradley Manor [near Newton Abbot] 68 187-195
1936 J. J. Alexander Early Owners of Torbryan Manor 68 197-214
1937 J. J. Alexander Tavistock in the Fifteenth Century 69 247-288
1938 J. J. Alexander Early Owners of Fulford Manor [Dunsford] 70 199-211
1938 J. J. Alexander Leading Civic Officials of Exeter, 1330-1537 70 405-421
1939 J. J. Alexander Tavistock in the Thirteenth Century 71 221-230
1939 J. J. Alexander Devon Magnates in 1294 and 1324 71 289-299
1940 J. J. Alexander Devon Magnates in 1434 72 283-303
1941 J. J. Alexander Early Barons of Torrington and Barnstaple 73 153-179
1942 J. J. Alexander The Beginnings of Tavistock 74 173-202