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Maccann And Mexborough


Crane Driver
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Purely for my own amusement I have been looking into the family history of ‘Professor’ John Hill Maccann, patentee of the duet system that bears his name. I find that his father, also John Maccann, had a concertina business in Birmingham around 1857-60, and also managed a ‘Juvenile Concertina Band’ in which the professor’s mother, Sarah Hill, was apparently a player. John senior was some 20 years older than Sarah and had been married before, from which he had two daughters, the professor’s half-sisters, Sarah Elizabeth and Louisa Harriett. One account of John Maccann’s Juvenile Concertina Band from 1858 mentions the players being ‘accompanied by Miss Maccann’, presumably one of these daughters. Unfortunately it doesn’t say which one, nor on what she accompanied them.

 

Louisa Harriett Maccann married a George Dunk and they moved to Yorkshire, arriving in Mexborough around 1879. George was a colliery labourer. There is a newspaper report from 1896 of an excursion from Mexborough to Hickleton Hall, Doncaster, at which a brass band played and “Mrs Dunk of Mexborough contributed melody on the concertina”, so she seems to have been accepted as an accomplished amateur player. The Mexborough Concertina Band apparently traced its origins back to 1884, just a few years after Louisa arrived in the area.

 

The Dunks had several children including John Hillham Dunk and Joseph Maccann Dunk. Both the latter were born in Mexborough and by 1911 were working in the colliery offices. The Mexborough Concertina Band drew heavily on the colliery for players. Did the Dunk brothers, “Professor” Maccann’s nephews, also play with the band? Did their mother, Maccann’s half-sister who had probably played with ‘John Maccann’s Juvenile Concertina Band’ in the 1850s, have a hand in the formation of the Mexborough Concertina Band? It seems a bit of a coincidence if they didn’t. Are there still records of the people who were involved in the Band during the first 30 years of its existence?

 

I apologise if all this is known already, but I haven't found it laid out anywhere else.

 

Andrew

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My father William Isaac Dunk was born on the 12th March 1911 in Great Grimsby, Lincolnshire. His father William moved from the Barnsley area to the East coast in the early years of the 20th century. I have little detail about the family at this time. Nothing at all suggests that we were connected with the Dunks you mention. It's interesting though!

 

Peter Dunk, Leeds, Yorkshire, 1953.

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  • 2 months later...

Further to this, I've now found an advert from a Birmingham paper dated Thursday March 31 1859, which transcribes as below:

 

Mr J Macann and his two daughters. These beautiful players on the English and German concertina give lessons daily at 76 Coleshill Street, Birmingham. Accordions and Concertinas made to order. All instruments warranted. Repairs done on the best principle. Harmoniums for sale or hire. Private and Quadrille Parties attended, with from Two to Twenty performers.

 

All was not well in the Macann (sic) household, as an account of the Birmingham Police Court , Monday May 30 1859 makes clear:

 

A concertina player, named John Macann, was summoned for assaulting his daughter, Harriett Macann. The defendant, it appeared, seized the girl by the hair, pulled her to the ground, and kicked her several times. She produced a handful of hair which she stated her father had torn from her head. Macann, when called on for his defence, pleaded intoxication. He was ordered to find sureties to keep the peace, or go to jail for two calendar months.

 

Given that Macann's performers were billed as a 'Band of Hope' Temperance outfit, I guess that something else lay behind John's intoxication. Perhaps Harriett had just discovered that her father had got one of the band players, Sarah Hill, a girl about Harriett's age, pregnant - John Hill Maccann was born about 1860. Whatever, the Mac©anns left Birmingham around this time.

 

All human life is here.

 

Andrew

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  • 3 weeks later...
Louisa Harriett Maccann married a George Dunk and they moved to Yorkshire, arriving in Mexborough around 1879. George was a colliery labourer. There is a newspaper report from 1896 of an excursion from Mexborough to Hickleton Hall, Doncaster, at which a brass band played and “Mrs Dunk of Mexborough contributed melody on the concertina”, so she seems to have been accepted as an accomplished amateur player. The Mexborough Concertina Band apparently traced its origins back to 1884, just a few years after Louisa arrived in the area.

 

The Dunks had several children including John Hillham Dunk and Joseph Maccann Dunk. Both the latter were born in Mexborough and by 1911 were working in the colliery offices. The Mexborough Concertina Band drew heavily on the colliery for players. Did the Dunk brothers, “Professor” Maccann’s nephews, also play with the band? Did their mother, Maccann’s half-sister who had probably played with ‘John Maccann’s Juvenile Concertina Band’ in the 1850s, have a hand in the formation of the Mexborough Concertina Band? It seems a bit of a coincidence if they didn’t. .

 

Looking at old emails to Bob Gaskins, from 2003, I see that I suggested that possiblity to him then (I thought I had!) - you'd certainly wonder... :huh:

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