Robert Benson Jowitt -
Robert Benson Jowitt (1839 – 1914) inherited the dynastic wool merchants’ enterprise; Robert Jowitt (Sr) & Sons, which had been engaged in the manufacture of union and woollen cloths for over half a century. The family business grew to hold an esteemed position in the trade and commerce of Leeds.
Robert B Jowitt is relevant the Potternewton Mansion Heritage story, because between 1890 and together with Sir James Kitson and Company, locomotive and general engineer, E. Schunk of Schunk and Company, he moved into residential estates carved out by the break-made additional purchases in 1887, 1890, and 1891; He sold the thirty-five acre estate and the former Brown mansion to Leeds Corporation (Leeds City Council) in 1900 for £35,000.
Robert B Jowitt was a magistrate for Leeds as well as for the West Riding, ‘having qualified for the city in 1887, and for the county in 1888. It was as a West Riding Justice of the Peace that he was best known a judicial capacity. He was one of the most regular attenders at the Court for the Skyrack Division, held at Leeds after five years went on to become Chairman in 1893.
He was a member of the Weekly Board of the Leeds General Infirmary for no less than 28 years and for nearly 20 years, chairman and honorary treasurer. He strove to extend the impact and improve the financial resources of the infirmary. An empathy for human suffering and the plight of the poor was ‘the mainspring of his energies’. Patients and staff alike (both medical and nursing) were indebted to him for many acts of kindness.
Under his chairmanship the Infirmary greatly improved. During that period upwards of £88,000 was spent on additions to the hospital buildings, while the annual income increased from £15,000 to £24,000.Under his Chairmanship patient treated annually rose from 4,000 to 6,300 and the number of out-patients increased from about 14,000 to nearly 30,000.
As a member of the Council of the Yorkshire College—the forerunner of the Leeds University—and as Chairman of the infirmary, Robert Jowitt was able to give valuable assistance to Leeds School of Medicine was amalgamated with the Yorkshire College.
Robert Jowitt had a major impact on charity in the city:
- The Cookridge Convalescent Home, of which he was a committee member
- Training school for nurses — which gave him a keen appreciation of the value of good nursing,
- Leeds District Nurses’ Institution, of which he was chairman
Robert Jowitt declined to receive any personal testimonial or even to be entertained at banquet and had to be persuaded to sit for a portrait (painted by the Hon. John Collier), which now can be found at Leeds University.
Robert Benson Jowitt died at the age of 75, at his residence, Huret Wood Lodge, Tunbridge Wells, where he had resided since he left Leeds. Though he had left Leeds, for health reasons, his work in connection with the City’s philanthropy was still gratefully remembered.