Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Dawson, John
DAWSON, JOHN (1827–1903), trainer of racehorses, born at Gullane, Haddingtonshire, on 16 Dec. 1827, was a younger son in the family of seventeen children of George Dawson, who had previously trained horses at Bogside, in Ayrshire, by his wife Jean Alison. Three brothers who survived infancy, Thomas (d. 1880), Joseph (d. 1880), and Matthew [q. v. Suppl. I], also became expert trainers. All were brought up about their father's training stable at Gullane. Thomas, the eldest, left Gullane in 1830, and settled at Middleham, in Yorkshire, where he trained for Lord Eglinton. In 1838 he was joined by his brother Matthew as 'head lad,' and later Joseph and John also served apprenticeships at Middleham. In 1853, Joseph went to Hsley. Thomas trained Ellington and Pretender, who won the Derbys of 1856 and 1869; Matthew prepared Thormanby (1860), Kingcraft (1870), Silvio (1877), and Melton (1885). Joseph alone of the brothers failed to saddle a Derby winner, but he trained winners of the Two Thousand, One Thousand, and St. Leger.
In 1857 John left his eldest brother's stable at Middleham, and took Hamilton House, at Compton, Berkshire, a village which adjoins Hsley. At Compton he trained Bel Esperanza, the first of four winners of the Lincolnshire Handicap which he saddled. In 1861 he removed to Warren House, Newmarket, where he lived for the remainder of his life. Shortly after settling there he was appointed private trainer to Prince Batthyany and General Peel, and in 1863 Lord Vivian became a patron of the stable. In later years horses belonging to Mr. R. C. Naylor and Sir Robert JarcLine [q. v. Suppl. II.] were trained at Warren House. The Lincolnshire Handicap was won for Prince Batthyany by Suburban in 1862, and by Vandervelde in 1867; and for Sir Robert Jardine by Wise Man in 1889. For Mr. Naylor, Dawson won the Cesarewitch with Jester in 1878. In 1875 he won the Derby with Galopin. Dawson had four other successes in classic events. He trained Petrarch to win the Two Thousand Guineas and the St. Leger in 1876 for Lord Dupplin; Elizabeth the One Thousand Guineas in 1880 for Mr. T. E. Walker; and Disraeli the Two Thousand in 1898 for Mr. Wallace Johnstone. Other patrons included General Owen Williams, Mr. E. Loder, Mr. Renfrew, and Mr. C. Alexander.
Dawson's triumphant career was checked by the sudden death, in 1883, of Prince Batthyany. One of the two-year-olds belonging at that time to the prince was St. Simon, who won all the races for which he started, and afterwards had a most distinguished career at the stud. Immediately after Prince Batthyany's death, St. Simon was sold to the duke of Portland, and went into Matthew Dawson's stable. Perdita II, who, when mated with St. Simon, produced Florizel II, Persimmon, and Diamond Jubilee, bearers of Edward VII' s colours, was for a time trained at Warren House. Dawson gave up training in 1900. He died on 13 May 1903, and was interred in Newmarket cemetery. In 1855 Dawson married Miss Grant Peddie. Of his five children, George and John enjoyed a reputation as trainers. A daughter, Ellen Rose (d. 1884), married Fred Archer [q. v. Suppl. I], the jockey. A cartoon portrait appeared in 'Vanity Fair' in 1896.
[Notes from Mr. John A. Dawson, of St. Albans House, Newmarket; Baily's Mag; liv. 235-7; Sportsman and Sporting Life, 14 May 1903; Ashgill, Life of John Osborne, p. 32; Ruff's Guide to the Turf.]