which consists of the villages of Crich, Fritchley and Whatstandwell

Thomas Towndrow


The following information has been submitted by Prunella Bradshaw.

Thomas Towndrow, who was christened in Crich on 3 June 1810 the son of Richard and
Ann. He left Crich to find fame in America. He is credited with "inventing" a system of shorthand which preceded Pitman

May 28th 1898

Thomas Towndrow, a gentleman known all over the State and county as the oldest newspaper man living, and who for more than fifty odd years was associated with the New York Tribune on its reportorial staff, died at his residence, 66 Burling Lane, on Sunday. It is but two weeks ago that the PIONEER announced the anniversary of our deceased friend's eighty-eighth birthday, and up to Thursday of last week he was in fairly good health, having the infirmities of old age. He was stricken on that day with paralysis, and continued to gradually sink until death occurred at one o'clock Sunday afternoon (22nd May). Mr. Towndrow had resided here with his daughters, Mrs. William Lawrence and Miss Grace Towndrow, for the past ten years. He was a man whose so innermost desire was for the comfort and advancement of his fellowmen. When several years ago he was forced by age to relinquish his reportorial duties he took up the teaching of his short hand system,
which he began teaching in Boston in the year 1830. Mr. Towndrow laid prior claim to the authorship of shorthand writing. He always claimed that the Pittman system now in use in this country was his system modified.

Mr. Towndrow was born in Crich, Derbyshire, England, in 1810, and came to America in 1830 and began teaching a system in shorthand writing in Boston. He soon afterward came to New York, and was employed on the New York Herald. In 1839 he was sent to Utica as an agent of the British Government to report on the trial of Alexander McLeod for burning the lake steamer Caroline, which was being used by Canadian insurgents for the transportation of arms and ammunition. When the Tribune was started in 1841, Mr. Towndrow became one of its reporters and continued in active service until a few years ago. The latter years of his life were spent in Westchester County, where he was well known and highly esteemed.

On May 7, 1891, Mr. Towndrow celebrated his golden jubilee as a reporter on the Tribune, and was the recipient of many gifts from his friends, among them an engraved gold watch. Mr. Towndrow reported many interesting cases in his long career, and led an active life almost until its close. It was related of him that in the old days, when the cars ceased running at midnight, he used to walk ten miles between that hour and the time of going to press in " working up " a " story." At one time he was the police reporter for every paper in the city, turning out manifold copy to eight offices every night, and, in the search of news spending his days on trains and street cars and his nights in the police stations. To Mr. Towndrow belongs the credit of being the editor and publisher of the first newspaper in New Rochelle.

He was a writer of extreme truthfulness and impartiality and was a strong advocate of religious freedom

His funeral took place from his late residence Tuesday evening. Only the immediate relatives and friends of the family were present. Rev Canedy paid a worthy tribute to the deceased and his honoured career. There were several beautiful floral tributes. The interment was in Beechwood Cemetery Wednesday morning.

This was also in the New Rochelle Pioneer dated Jan 30 1897

The death of Sir Isaac Pitman in London Friday Jan 22 and numerous articles of his death proclaim him inventor of the system of short hand. This claim is unjust for the father of short hand was Thos Towndrow Esq. of New Rochelle whose short hand method was published in London prior to the Pitman system. Had our venerable friend received fair treatment at the hands of his publishers his, instead of the Pitman system might have been the universal method of shorthand today.

His brother William Towndrow had died previously.

New Rochelle Pioneer
Thursday Feb 13 1896

William Towndrow brother of our fellow townsman, Thomas Towndrow, at the age of ninety-years and five months died. Born Crich Derbyshire Sept 15 1803, and enjoyed uninterrupted good health until Sunday 9 Feb when, after attending the morning and evening services in his church, he became ill and passed away quietly without the least pain.


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