Rowntree A-Z

John Stephenson Rowntree (1834-1907)

Grocer and tea dealer, born 2 May 1834, eldest of the three sons of Joseph Rowntree (Senior) and Sarah Rowntree. He entered his father’s business at 28 Pavement, as a grocer and tea dealer. In 1868 a former apprentice, Thomas Hills, joined him, in due course becoming a partner (styled as Rowntree Hills and Co, provision merchants). The partnership lasted until 1887 and John retired in 1892.

He married Elizabeth Hotham (1835-1875), daughter of a linen draper in Leeds, by whom he had nine children. Elizabeth was killed in a carriage accident at Ingleton. His second marriage was to Helen Doncaster, daughter of a steel manufacturer in Sheffield. There were no children of the second marriage.

John S Rowntree became a teacher in the adult school at an early age and had a lifelong interest in education. He was a trustee of the Flounders Institute and served in the Association promoting the Training of Women Teachers. He was honorary secretary to the York Schools Committee and treasurer of the Mount School.

He was a JP and a member of the City Council as alderman and lord mayor in 1881.

As a young man he wrote Quakerism, Past and Present (1859) a devastating analysis backed by statistics, that was criticised by conservative-minded Friends.

 Arnold Rowntree was the youngest of John’s four surviving sons.

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