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George Dickson (I)
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* We owe great gratitude to our cousin Michael Dickson who made this and other treasures accessible and consented to their publication here.

Also George's father William Dickson, who came from Warton, Lancashire, died rather young, in 1804, at 41, of an infectious disease in Gibraltar. George Frederick, a single child anyway, was an orphan at the age of 17. All the more remarkable is the path of success which he was able to follow from early on and all his life long. And for all his life this success was closely connected to South America, in particular to the territory which was going to become Argentina.
As one of the first steps on this ladder, George Frederick Dickson - who was familiarly called Frederick - learnt French from a Romish priest, and later learnt Spanish, initially teaching himself when his father who encouraged this in a letter was still alive. According to the chronicle by his daughter-in-law, Harriett, he started work with Mr [John?] Hodgson in Bucklersbury, a small road in the City of London, as she says, very close to Mansion House, and it was Hodgson who sent Frederick, and his own son, out to South America in 1807. He was at the age of 20, then, and aiming for Buenos Aires, but then was re-routed to Montevideo, and may have spent some time in "the Brazils" because the British had just been thrown out of Buenos Aires and Montevideo. 1809 is specified as the date G.F.Dickson started in Buenos Aires when he was not older than 22.
Now a whole decade of apparently great commercial success followed which was connected to Buenos Aires and the territory of the Rio de la Plata (River Plate, later: Argentina). Starting already in 1810, the country - on the background of the Napoleonic occupation of the mother country, Spain - was on its way to independence which was reached in 1816 though an approximately stable situation and fixed borders and territory were not to come for decades.

A fundamental change came about  in 1821. In the month of May G.F.Dickson still remained in Montevideo (opposite Buenos Aires, on the banks of the Rio de la Plata as well), but only a few weeks later in London a legal controversy took place, leading - as a late consequence of a financial conflict that started in 1817 - to the dissolution of Dickson's commercial partnerships, as reported by the "European Magazine and London Review". The case seems to have gained some prominence, even, among jurisprudents of the time because it was very controversial whether the dissolution of the partnership really took effect in a legal sense (see below).


First page of a longer article in which the case and the judgement are extensively discussed (not the only review of the case)

For G.F.Dickson now a new period of his life began, since he - at first together with his  remaining partner Montgomery - moved the location of his firm and also his own main place of residence back to England, i.e. to Liverpool / Everton. South America, though - and particularly Rio de la Plata (later Argentina) - stayed his preferred professional target area.


The complete dispute is to be found through Google Books in

"Reports of cases argued and determined in the Court of King's bench"



Frederick Dickson was the only child of

William Dickson

(II) and  

Sarah Willatt

. He married

Jane Jones

on 10th September 1811 in London. They had 8 (6 surviving) children; their youngest child was

Arthur Benson Dickson

, Robin und Katya Müller's great-great-grandfather.

Jane Jones
George Frederick
Sarah Willatt
William Dickson (II)
Arthur Benson
Frederick Cartwright Dickson
Thomas Ashton Dickson
Jane Elizabeth Dickson
George William Dickson
Spencer Naylor Dickson
G.F.Dickson in Liverpool
G.F.Dickson the Botanist
G.F.Dickson in London
G.F.Dickson of Abbots Reading
G.F.Dickson the Diplomat

born 2nd May 1787 in Manchester, England
died 14th February 1859 in London, England

George Frederick Dickson

George Frederick Dickson was born in Manchester, where his mother came from (and her paternal Willatt family), who died, when he, her only child, was not even one year old. It was probably in Manchester, as well, where he spent his childhood, here his grandmother

Sarah Willatt, née Benson

, for 2 decades (1772 - 1793) led the post office, as the successor of her husband

John Willatt

who had died in 1772,  just 40 years old, and as an early female entrepreneur, with the help of her daughter Martha.


Above: this water colour, created in 1818 by the renowned painter E.E.Vidal, shows the "Quinta de Riglos"*, the country house inhabited by G.F.Dickson. It gives an impression of the economical and social advancement fulfilled in a few years, culminating in Dickson's later functions as an Argentine consul and even minister (in 1853, for a short time).

"la hermosa casa de recreo Quinta de Riglos, enfrente al Socorro y al terreno de Zuloaga, sobre las barrancas del Retiro, con vista al río"
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Family history Müller - Humphreys
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Above: George Frederick Dickson as a young man *

Baptism_Buenos Aires_21May1816 Kopie

Left: Baptism record of G.F. Dickson's son Thomas Ashton Hodgson Dickson (here he is wrongly called "Thomas Dick- son Dickson"). Thomas was born 13th January 1816 and baptised 21st May 1816: "... se llama Tomas hijo legitimo de Don Federico Dickson, y de Doña Juana Dickson". In the absence of a wider confessional selection in Buenos Aires - an Anglican Church was not be established before 1825 -, it was a Catholic baptism; like his sib- lings the boy was baptised into the Anglican faith after their eventual return home (23.01.1823  in




Manchester 1787 - 1821  Buenos Aires


When he returned home in 1811 to marry Jane Jones, a barrister's daughter  from Pentonville, London, he was already called an "esquire* of Buenos Ayres" in a press notice (see above). He had first got to know her brother Thomas who invited him to his parental home where Frederick then met his future wife.
* The title "Esquire", as John Humphreys (who contributed a considerable amount of the information of this and other pages) points out, is a slightly ambiguous statement of British rank. The phrase "George Frederic Dickson Esq. of Buenos Ayres" states his name, British status and current home. At the time 'Esquire' meant that he came from an 'armigerous' family, i.e. he was descended from someone with a coat of arms - probably a knight, though other possibilities exist. This changed later. By the middle of the 20th century any British man might be formally addressed as "Esq.", but by now it has rather gone out of style entirely.

The Anchorena family belonged to G.F.Dickson's most important trade partners; he bought, e.g., wood from them, and delivered luxury goods.
From the German book  "Die Familie Anchorena"
( the person mentioned is an Anchorena brother):
From: Galmarini, H.R., Los negocios del poder. Reforma y crisis del estado 1776 - 1826

In 1812 the restrictions for foreign merchants in the Buenos Aires territory were lifted. For the  young Dickson as an entrepreneur now splendid opportunities emerged, since British merchants

dominated the trade

in Buenos Aires anyway. This was, from the  beginning of the 19th century on, accompanied by quite an influx of

British settlers

, as well.
One year later, only, in 1813, G.F.Dickson wrote to Arthur Benson of Abbots Reading, his first cousin once removed, remarking that he had remitted 500,000 dollars to England since arriving back in Buenos Aires in 1812. He was clearly very successful in business. Indeed, already then, at the age of 26, "

Jorge Federico Dickson

" - as he was called here very soon -    belonged to the most important merchants of the country  (see left) and made, together with his partners  McNeile and Montgomery and another Briton called Brittain, 30% of the import and export (especially gunpowder, meat, wood, and textiles). His firm also worked as a bank from early on.

Five of G.F.Dickson's children were born in Buenos Aires (two of them, though, died as infants and did not survive their first year). Some of his altogether 8 children (i.e. of the 6 surviving ones) kept their connections to South America, be it for the good or the bad: one son became, at 23, the tragic victim of a shooting on the streets of Montevideo, Uruguay, another son consul general of Chili.


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