Hugh Dawson TATE (a.k.a. “Tinker”) was the only child of Hugh Norton TATE, a captain of steamships on Lake Nyasa / Malawi (Africa), and Maud Elizabeth Tate (née SCRUBY), a nurse. He was born in London on 3 April 1913.
Hugh Dawson’s father died in England from suicide in 1915 when Hugh was only two. After that his mother Maud returned to Africa to work as a nurse for several years in Nigeria, and Hugh was brought up in the household of his paternal uncle, George Temple TATE (known by our family as ‘Grandpa Tate’) – a medical practitioner in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, England. Here he was known as “Tinker” as there was already another Hugh in the family (Hugh Temple TATE).
In 1921 Maud and Hugh Dawson (aged eight) emigrated to Vernon, British Columbia, Canada so Maud could help her friend Mrs MARSDEN run the Grange Hotel, a local boarding house. However, the next year Maud and Hugh Dawson moved to Rochester, New York, United States, where Maud became an insurance nurse.
Although Hugh Dawson was confirmed in an Episcopal (Anglican) Church in Rochester, he attended two local Catholic schools (Nazareth Hall and the Aquinas Institute). He also became involved in amateur dramatics there.
Hugh Dawson’s graduation photo – Aquinas Institute
Source of photo: The Arete: Senior Annuals of the Aquinas Institute, Rochester, New York: 1932, page 30
He then studied Philosophy at the University of Toronto’s St Michael’s College for two years (1932-33 and 1933-34), where he also performed in the College play; and later did some professional acting in New York and Rochester.
In 1935, at the age of 22, Hugh Dawson returned to England to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (R.A.D.A.) in London.
After graduating from R.A.D.A., he worked as a professional actor, occasionally in London and the North of England, but most often in holiday resorts on England’s south coast. He belonged to two repertory-theatre companies: the Forbes Russell Company (1938-1940) and Harry Hanson’s Court Players (1940-1954 or later).
For over 20 years (from about 1943–1964) he lived at 23 Belsize Crescent, Hampstead, London NW3. He also spent some of 1945 in the King George V Sanatorium, Godalming, Guildford, Surrey (which treated people with tuberculosis – TB). He had a successful lung operation for TB about this time.
Hugh Dawson’s mother Maud returned to England after he did and, from 1945 until her death in 1956, lived with him at Belsize Crescent.
As far as we know Hugh Dawson did not marry or have any children. By 1956 he appears to have been working as a ‘civil servant’.
In the mid-1960s his correspondence with the Mansfield Tate family stopped suddenly; and when his uncle’s wife (Janet TATE) died in 1971, the family was unable to find him to let him know. They believed he was last seen going for walks with his Siamese cat in the ‘West Country’ (i.e. south-west England).
However, a few years later a Hugh (D) Tate was listed in telephone directories in Bath (1977-1980) and in nearby Combe Down (1982-1983).
Currently, what eventually happened to Hugh Dawson Tate is a mystery.
Click on the picture below to see a more detailed life history of Hugh Dawson Tate and his mother Maud.
Tate family tree for Hugh Dawson TATE
Image sources (top of page)
Left and middle: Maskill family photograph collection
Right: St. Michael’s College, The Thurible, The Year Book of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto, 1933. Volume xxiv, page 75. https://archive.org/details/stmyearbookofstmich1933testuoft/page/75/mode/1up (image cropped)
Download the more detailed life story of Hugh Dawson Tate and his mother Maud for sources of the information on this page.
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