THOMAS WILSON (1773 - 1858)
Wilson was born in Low Fell, Gateshead. He received very little education and was sent early to the mines. He studied in his leisure time and made two abortive efforts to establish himself as a schoolmaster, then from 1799 to 1803, he worked for John Head, a Newcastle merchant and underwriter before entering the counting house of Losh, Lubbin, which later became Losh, Wilson and Bell. Within two years Wilson became a partner and remained so for the rest of his life. In 1835, Wilson was elected one of the first two councillors of Gateshead. His bust was sculpted by the younger Dunbar and is now in the Shipley Gallery.
Throughout his life, Wilson devoted all the time he could to intellectual pursuits, and collected an excellent library. He contributed to the local Diaries for sixty years and acquainted himself with every aspect of mining life. The Pitman's Pay, Wilson's chief literary work, appeared originally in Mitchell's Newcastle Magazine in 1826-28 and 1830. Other poems were contributed to the Tyne Mercury and some of these were reissued with notes by John Sykes, compiler of local records. The Pitman's Pay is a metrical description, much of it in mining language, of the incidents and conversations of colliers on their fortnightly pay nights. Others of Wilson's verses, the poem entitled 'On seeing a mouse run across the road in January' for example, show him to have made a close study of Burns. Some consider that in the 'Tippling Dominie' Wilson is perhaps seen at his best.
Wilson died at Fell House, Gateshead, and was buried in the family vault at St John's, Gateshead Fell. His funeral was attended by the Mayor and town council.