Today, we get to meet a man who worked as a journalist in the north east of England.
Samuel Robert Heenan
Samuel was the third child of Joseph (also known as Henry) Heenan from Maryborough in Ireland, and his wife Elizabeth Hogg, a Newcastle girl.
Samuel’s choice of career was, I suspect, heavily influenced by his father who was a newspaper agent in Newcastle on Tyne, Northumberland during the nineteenth century. That occupation could mean he was a representative who sold advertising or was a grandiose term for someone who sold newspapers on a street corner. Rather more likely is that he had a newsagents’ shop since in the 1879 Kelly’s Directory for Newcastle, he is listed as a newsagent at 44 Pilgrim Street.
This area in the Victorian era was a bustling thoroughfare of shops running from the river to Northumberland Street. Although the street name still exists, the lower part of the street, where the Heenans had their business, was demolished during the construction of the Tyne Bridge in the 1920’s. In later years, according to the census returns Joseph and his family, including Samuel, had moved to 13 Grey Street but he continued to be a newsagent. In 1871 he described himself as an agent for the Newcastle Chronicle – one of the most respected newspapers in the North East of England.
Joseph’s eldest son, William, was also a newspaper reporter. In 1871, when he was around 20 years old, he was working in that capacity and continued to do so well into his sixties. Sadly we won’t find his name as the author of any articles since the practice of including the journalist’s name with their article is a relatively modern practice.
Journalism was not Samuel’s first choice of career , despite the examples of other members of his family. The 1881 census records him as a 17 year old boy, living with his parents and occupied as an accountants’ clerk. That occupation changed over the next ten years because by the time of the 1891 census he is married and working as a journalist author. He continued in that capacity for at least ten years but by the time of the 1911 census he has changed careers once again.
The census records he and his family living in Liverpool. His occupation looks to be “Secretary – Care for Netamperance Syndicate” . All attempts to find out what this syndicate could have been have come to nothing but I strongly suspect this is not a correct interpretation of his handwriting (which is difficult to read). The nearest I can come to is the “Cure for Intemperance Syndicate.” This organisation was a limited company that featured in a court case in Liverpool in 1902 and was said to have claimed to have found a secret method of treatment called the “Leyfield-Hayden Cure for Alcoholism”. No further information about them was apparent in my web search.
By 1939 Samuel Robert Heenan was retired and living in Southampton with his wife. He died there in 1948.
- Census of England and Wales: 1886-1911 accessed via Find My Past.com and Ancestry.com
- National Register of England and Wales: accessed via Find My Past.com