Henry Horace Dorant

Date published: 15/09/2017
© Newbury Weekly News 14 January 1897, Berkshire Chronicle 16 January 1897


Mr. Horace H. Dorant, whose mortal remains were conveyed to the Cemetery last Monday, was a man of extraordinary character, and to readers of the “Field” the initials “H.H.D.” were most familiar, he for many years contributing a weekly report of the Kennet and Lambourn streams. Born at St. Albans, his father being a solicitor, and having the management of an estate, whose gardens and fishing were an important feature, his love for nature was fostered from childhood, and on the completion of his education, he being intended for the law, his health  broke down to some extent, and to use his own words, “he was allowed to run loose.” Making the acquaintance of a gun maker, a man of noble mind and full of sporting notions, the young man soon had plenty of shooting all round the district. On the death of his mother, and subsequent re-marriage of his father, things took a turn in the young man’s life, the law project was abandoned, and pianoforte making was selected. After apprenticeship in London, he started as a piano action-maker, and from that to a small manufacturer. Business went on for a time fairly well, but after a run of ill-luck, and an accident, by which Dorant was laid by for a long period, it was disposed of. Being tired of London, and sighing for the fresh air of the country, he came to Newbury to Mr. Alphonse Cary, with whom he has constantly been associated. The business rapidly increasing, Dorant took a large portion of the out door work, tuning, etc., and for a period of over 20 years he has been a familiar figure. Always an enthusiastic angler, he at once perceived the natural advantages that obtained in this district, and the Newbury Angling Association was the outcome of his suggestions, and after its inception, for years he gave it his warm and ardent support. At the time of the Fisheries’ Exhibition, he thought this locality should be represented, and in company with a few others, notably the late John Packer, Mr. Josh. Smith, Messrs. Paulin, Howe, Copas, and Walker, a local show was held in the Museum of the Literary and Scientific Institution, to raise a fund to pay the expenses of the cases to London. In this he took the lion’s share of the work. These, in conjunction with the lovely specimens of Mr. Marcus Lewis, were awarded the silver medal, and were certainly the finest exhibit in the gallery.

Dorant was well known to nearly all the leading piscatorial writers, and it is not to be doubted that through his reports and friendships, many wealthy persons fond of angling were induced to come to the neighbourhood. In cottage, villa and castle, or wherever a piano is to be found, Dorant was well known, and except one accident, in which he was pitched out of his trap in the dark, on Speen Hill, by which he was laid by for a few weeks, he has enjoyed good health. Lately, however, he has not been so robust, and has been struck down by a couple of fits, one at Nalder Hill, where he was found by Mr. Bingham, who kindly conveyed him home. From this he never properly recovered, and taking to his bed on Saturday, he passed calmly and peacefully away on Friday last.

Being of a happy disposition, keen witted, and full of repartee, and carefully sheathing the point of sarcasm, so that it should not pain, he made many acquaintances, who always were glad to greet him. Honest of purpose, generous hearted, sympathetic to all in trouble or poverty, unselfish to a degree, often putting himself to inconvenience to do a good turn for another, a firm friend possessed of many virtues and few faults.





The funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr. H. S. Hanington, the polished coffin being covered with beautiful wreaths sent by Mr. Cary, the Conservative Club, his fellow workers, Mr. R. Bance, Mrs. Ivatts. The inscription was:_


Died January 8, 1897,

Age 66


Newbury Weekly News14 January 1897


THE LATE MR. DORANT – The inhabitants of this district will lose the face of this well-known subaltern in the musical world. For the past quarter of a century Mr. Dorant has travelled West Berks incessantly as pianoforte tuner, and he was a trusted and reliable workman. His great hobby was piscatorial pursuits, and it is not too much to say that it is through his persistent tuition that the Kennet and the Lambourn streams of to-day are in their healthy and well-stocked condition for sportsmen. He was to the front in all fishing technique, and in him the sporting periodicals had a correspondent who knew what he was writing about. Mr. Dorant died on Friday last, of honourable age, leaving behind him the genuine respect of all who had the pleasure of knowing him and the pure latent talent so well o’vermantled with a humble visage.

Berkshire Chronicle 16 January 1897




 S – Jan. 8, at 17, Craven-street, Newbury, after a short illness, Horace Herbert (sic) Dorant, pianoforte tuner, aged 66.

Berkshire Chronicle 16 January 1897.


Horace Henry Dorant


Horace Henry Dorant was baptised on 26 December 1830 at  the Abbey, St. Albans,  Hertfordshire. His parents were James Annesley Dorant, a solicitor, and Jane,  nee Robson. His father also became Clerk to the Trustees of St. Albans & Dunstaple Turnpike Trust, Clerk to the Commissioners of Taxes, Hall’s Charities and Deputy Clerk of the Peace. His mother died in 1846 and his father re-married in 1848. In the 1851 census he was visiting the Offen family (or possibly boarding) in Shoreditch, Tower Hamlets, London. Thomas Offen, head of the family, was a Journeyman Undertaker. Aged 22 years Horace was already a Pianoforte Maker. A search in the 1861 census has found no trace of him. However an advertisement appeared in the Herts Advertiser dated 23 February 1867 as follows:-


HORACE H. DORANT – Pianoforte Manufacturer, 1, Haggerston Lane, Kingsland Road, London. PIANOFORTES on the three-years system of Hire and Purchase, at £2 12s. 6d.  per quarter. Agents for St. Alban’s, Messrs. Wells & Son, Watch and Clock Makers, Jewellers, &c., 15, High Street.”


In 1871 he was still residing at 1 Haggerston Lane, St. Leonard, Shoreditch, aged 41. The Pianoforte business had prospered and he was employing 2 men and 1 boy. His nephew William Adolphus Dison Dorant had joined him, aged 20 years, as a Tuner. As stated in his obituary he moved to Newbury where he joined the business of Alphonse Cary, a well-established music publisher and musical instrument dealer based at 47/48 Northbrook Street with works in Park Street.  In the 1881 census he is recorded boarding with the Walker family (the head is Frank Emesdorff Walker, a Gun Maker) in Northbrook Street. Later in the 1891 census he is recorded as a visitor at the Swan Inn, Bath Road, Thatcham.


He died aged 66 years on 8 January 1897 at 17 Craven Street, Newbury, and he was buried on 11 January 1897.




Sources:  Select Births & Christenings 1538-1975; 1851/1871/1881/1891 census; Herts Advertiser dated 23/2/1867 advert; Death Index 1Q 1897.


No Mrs. P. Code


Sources:Newbury Weekly News and Berkshire Chronicle

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