John Thomas DOBNEY (c.1785–1866)
His second wife Mrs Mary Dobney née Arnett (1806–1861)
St Paul section: Row 11, Grave A16 [St Paul ref. M.7]

John Thomas Dobney


AUGUST 30TH 1866




John Thomas Dobney was born in Westminster, London in c.1785.

He and his first wife Ann (who was born in Bath in c.1782) had the following children:

  • Henry Hamlet Dobney (born in Westport in Malmesbury, Wiltshire on 31 December 1808 and entered by his father in the Abbey Row Baptist Church, Malmesbury register on 18 July 1809)
  • Eliza Dobney (born at Bath in c.1810)
  • Mary Dobney (born at Wallingford in 1814 and entered by her father in the Thames Street Baptist Chapel register there on 15 August)
  • Melanchthon Dobney (born at Wallingford on 1 March 1816 and entered by his father in the Thames Street Baptist Chapel register there on 22 March): no reference after his birth, and may have died in childhood
  • Angelina Dobney (born at Wallingford on 9 January 1818 and entered by her father in the Thames Street Baptist Chapel register there on 8 March)

The name of his son Melanchthon means “black earth”, and was adopted as a surname by Luther’s collaborator Philipp Schwartzerdt (a translation of his original surname from German to Greek).

John Thomas Dobney and his first wife Ann evidently began their married life in Westport, Malmesbury, Wiltshire, where he served as the Resident Minister of the Baptist Congregation at Abbey Row Baptist Church; by 1810 they had moved to Ann’s home-town of Bath; and between 1810 and 1814 they moved to Wallingford, where Dobney was the Protestant Dissenting Minister at Thames Street Baptist Chapel until at least 1818.

His eldest son Henry Hamlet Dobney, a Baptist Minister like his father, had married a woman called Ann by 1837.

When civil registration began near the end of 1837, John Thomas Dobney was appointed Superintendent Registrar of Births, Marriages, and Deaths for the Oxford district. Robson’s Commercial Directory of 1839 lists him as running a boarding school in New Inn Hall Street as well as working as Superintendent Registrar.

By 1841 he appears to have given up the boarding school and was listed in the Post Office Directory as living at 14 Walton Place (the present 17 Walton Street) and his occupation as “superintendent registrar, & agent to the Union fire & life office”. He also represented the North Ward on the city council, and was one of the Guardians of the Poor.

His eldest daughter was married near the beginning of 1838:

  • In the first quarter of 1838 in Oxford (probably at her father's register office), Eliza Dobney married Henry Hatch.

On 12 December 1843 Dobney attended a meeting in the council chamber to discuss the question of a public cemetery, and gave “a very interesting report, showing the extent and present state of the church yards in this city”. By 1845 he was on the General Cemetery Committee, and would have been involved in discussions.

In the 1847 Post Office Directory, John Thomas Dobney was listed as the Superintendent Registrar (of Births, Marriages, and Deaths in the Oxford district) at 14 Walton Place (now 17 Walton Street).

His youngest daughter was married in 1849:

  • On 2 October 1849 at her father’s register office, his youngest daughter Angelina Dobney married George David King of Hythe, Kent, and the marriage was announced in Jackson’s Oxford Journal.

At the time of the 1851 census John Dobney (65) was still living and working at 14 Walton Place (now 17 Walton Street) with his wife Ann (69), their grandson John Hatch (5), and a 13-year-old housemaid.

John Thomas Dobney’s first wife Ann Dobney died in Oxford in 1854 (reg. third quarter). She does not appear to have been buried in St Sepulchre’s Cemetery.

In 1855 in Oxford, John Thomas Dobney married his second wife Mary Arnett. Born in Holywell, Oxford on 26 September 1806 (with her birth recorded in the register of the New Road Baptist Chapel), she was the daughter of John Arnett, head of the Bible Department at Oxford University Press, and Sarah Timberlake who were married at St Ebbe’s Church on 23 May 1796. She was the sister of Joseph Arnett, who in 1861 was described as the Registrar of Marriages as well as a printer, so it was doubtless through him that Dobney met her.

By the time of the 1861 census John Dobney (75) was living at 23 Walton Street with his second wife Mary (56), correctly described as born in Oxford but wrongly recorded as Ann (the name of his first wife), plus their housemaid, and they had a railway clerk boarding with them. He was still working as Superintendent Registrar.

His second wife Mary died in 1861. Although her grave is described by St Paul as being Section M.8 rather than M.7, it seems very likely that she was buried in this grave:

Mrs Mary Dobney née Arnett died at the age of 55 on 25 September 1861 and was buried in Section M.8 of St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 29 September 1861 (burial recorded in the parish register of St Paul’s Church).

Her death notice in Jackson’s Oxford Journal read:

Sept. 25, in Walton-street, after a long and painful affliction, Mary, daughter of the late Mr. John Arnett, of the University Press, and wife of Mr. J. T. Dobney, Superintendent Registrar of the Oxford District, aged 55.

John Dobney died in 1866:

† John Thomas Dobney died in St Giles’s parish, Oxford at the age of 80 on 30 August 1866 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 4 September (burial recorded in the parish register of St Paul’s Church).

Surviving children of John Thomas Dobney and his wife Ann
  • Henry Hamlet Dobney (born 1808) was living at Bower Place in East Maidstone in 1841 with his wife Ann, and was described as a Baptist minister. They do not appear to have had any children. In 1848 he published a book on Chartism entitled The New Reform Movement (Maidstone: W. Sycklemoore), and went on to write a number of other books. In 1851 he was living at 3 Marsham Street, West Maidstone with his wife Ann and their niece Jane Clarke (13) and was more precisely described as the Baptist Minister of King Street Chapel. His wife died at the age of 60 near the start of 1870, and at the time of the 1871 census Henry was living with Jane (23), who was now described as his adopted daughter. In 1873 in the Hackney district he married Louisa Elizabeth Pine and they had one daughter, Mary. At the time of the 1881 census Henry (71) was still living at 3 Marsham Street, with his second wife Louisa (39) and their daughter Mary (5), plus three servants. He died at Maidstone at the age of 74 on 4 December 1883. He was described in his probate record as a Minister of the Gospel, and his effects came to £2,557 3s. 9d.
  • Eliza Dobney, Mrs Hatch (born c.1810) was aged 40 and living at 132 High Street in 1851 with her husband Henry Hatch (32), who was a boot & shoe factor employing three persons, and their children Henry (11), Richard (9), Mary (4), and Eliza (3). By 1861 Eliza and Henry were living in Park Town with their daughter Mary (14) and their two servants, and Henry was now a linen draper. In 1871 she was paying a visit to her daughter Mary (Mrs Maryon) in Clifton; and in 1881 she was visiting her sister Angelina King in Hampshire. By 1891 she was a widow of 80, and was again visiting Angelina, this time in Huddersfield.
  • Mary Dobney (born 1814) is hard to trace, but may have married.
  • Angelina Dobney, Mrs King (born 1818) was aged 32 and living at 19 Town Ditches, Southampton in 1851 with her husband George King (22), who was a draper employing four assistants and two servants, and their daughter Anne (eight months). In 1861 they were living at Millbrook Road in Millbrook, Hants with their daughter Florence (3), and George was now a clerk to a provision merchant. They were still there in 1871 with Annie (20), Norman (17), and Florence (12), and George was now a grocer. In 1881 George was a grocer and wine & spirit merchant at the same address, and employed a staff of four: Florence was still with them, and her sister Eliza was visiting. In 1891 Angelina (72), who was described as married but without her husband, was the housekeeper of a hatter in Huddersfield, and again her sister Eliza was paying her a visit.



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