John Dobbyn by Al Hooper

The excerpts in this account of the Dobbyn family were taken from the book "A Dobbyn Family History compiled by Norine Wolfe".

The Dobbyn family in these stories are: John Dobbyn 1819-1911 my fourth great uncle, John's wife Jane Laird 1825-1892, their sons Richard John Dobbyn 1850-1950 and Charles “Charlie” Sydney Dobbyn 1852-1935.

“Richard and Charlie and some of their friends were visiting the Shetland Mill (built by their father John) which was run by water power and using an eight-sided octagonal shaft. The shaft did not seem to be running too fast so the boys thought it would be fun to ride on it. Charlie being the most adventurous tried it first. He was nearly torn in half when the wheel stopped and the sluice gate closed. They could not pick him up so his mother Jane was brought and when she arrived she rolled him onto a blanket, carried him up to her house, put his entrails back into place stitched him up and poured camphor over all. Then she called for the doctor. When the doctor arrived he found there was very little to be done. Charlie was the son who had two wives, seventeen children and lived to be 83 years old.”

As an aside- Jane Laird was the grand-daughter of Lord Alfred and Lady Elizabeth Scarlett.

“John Dobbyn was known to keep large sums of money in his house so he could pay his employees in cash. When Jane was home alone she was visited by a man demanding cash. She had a flag pole and would raise a flag so her neighbors could see if anything was wrong. She raised the flag, then told the man her husband was on the way home. The man insisted Mr. Dobbyn was fourty miles away and would not be able to get home. Jane knew this to be true, but kept denying it and calmly started to peel potatoes. Eventually her neighbor walked in and the persistent would- be- robber left in haste.”

“Jane died in Melita Manitoba in 1892. In her final years she was unable to move but her three sons visited her regularly. She would request that Charlie lift her because he was the gentlest. After all, Charlie owed his life to her his life twice over.”