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
1909J. J. AlexanderBere Alston as a Parliamentary Borough41152-178
1910J. J. AlexanderTavistock as a Parliamentary Borough, Part I42258-277
1911J. J. AlexanderDartmouth as a Parliamentary Borough43350-370
1911J. J. AlexanderTavistock as a Parliamentary Borough, Part II, 1688-188543371-402
1912J. J. AlexanderDevon County Members of Parliament. Part I. The early Plantagenet period (1212-1327)44366-381
1913J. J. AlexanderDevon County Members of Parliament. Part II: The middle Plantagenet period (1327-1399)45247-269
1914J. J. AlexanderSome Notes on Tavistock History. 1st Series46156-175
1914J. J. AlexanderCrowndale46278-283
1914J. J. AlexanderDevon County Members of Parliament. Part III: The later Plantagenet period (1399-1485)46478-496
1915J. J. AlexanderDevon County Members of Parliament. Part IV47357-371
1915J. J. AlexanderSome Notes on Tavistock History. 2nd Series47372-395
1916J. J. AlexanderThe Athelstan Myth48174-179
1916J. J. AlexanderDevon County Members of Parliament. Part V48320-340
1917J. J. AlexanderDevon County Members of Parliament. Part VI49363-375
1918J. J. AlexanderAn Otterton Notebook50493-502
1918J. J. AlexanderDevon County Members of Parliament. Part VII50589-601
1919J. J. AlexanderWhen the Saxons came to Devon, Part I51152-168
1920J. J. AlexanderWhen the Saxons came to Devon. Part II52293-209
1921J. J. AlexanderWhen the Saxons came to Devon. Part III53168-179
1922J. J. AlexanderWhen the Saxons came to Devon. Part IV. [Boniface, Egbert, etc.]54187-198
1923J. J. AlexanderAn Irish Invasion of Devon [1067?]55125-130
1924J. J. AlexanderWhen the Saxons came to Devon. Part V [Egbert, Alfred, Athelstan]56263-278
1925J. J. AlexanderDevon County Members of Parliament, Part VIII: Supplement57311-320
1926J. J. AlexanderThe Early Boroughs of Devon58275-287
1927J. J. AlexanderExeter Members of Parliament. Part I. 1295 to 137759289-309
1928J. J. AlexanderExeter Members of Parliament. Part II. 1377 to 153760183-214
1929J. J. AlexanderExeter Members of Parliament. Part III. 1537 to 168861193-215
1929J. J. AlexanderDartmouth as a Parliamentary Borough61217-218
1930J. J. AlexanderExeter Members of Parliament. Part IV. 1688 to 183262195-223
1931J. J. AlexanderThe Beginnings of Lifton63349-358
1932J. J. AlexanderThe Saxon Conquest and Settlement (Presidential Address)6475-112
1932J. J. AlexanderThe Place Names of Torbay64539-542
1933J. J. AlexanderThe Beginnings of Ilfracombe65207-212
1933J. J. AlexanderEast and North Devon Place Names65353-377
1934J. J. AlexanderSouth Devon Place Names66279-313
1935J. J. AlexanderDevon River Names67399-419
1936J. J. AlexanderEarly Owners of Bradley Manor [near Newton Abbot]68187-195
1936J. J. AlexanderEarly Owners of Torbryan Manor68197-214
1937J. J. AlexanderTavistock in the Fifteenth Century69247-288
1938J. J. AlexanderEarly Owners of Fulford Manor [Dunsford]70199-211
1938J. J. AlexanderLeading Civic Officials of Exeter, 1330-153770405-421
1939J. J. AlexanderTavistock in the Thirteenth Century71221-230
1939J. J. AlexanderDevon Magnates in 1294 and 132471289-299
1940J. J. AlexanderDevon Magnates in 143472283-303
1941J. J. AlexanderEarly Barons of Torrington and Barnstaple73153-179
1942J. J. AlexanderThe Beginnings of Tavistock74173-202