Edward Donner

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Sir Edward Donner, 1st Baronet (2 August 1840 – 29 December 1934), was a British banker, philanthropist and supporter of Liberal causes.


Donner was the eldest son of Edward Sedgfield Donner, a solicitor, of Scarborough, Yorkshire, and his wife, Elizabeth. He was educated at the Royal Institution School in Liverpool and at Corpus Christi College, Oxford.[1]

Donner was head of the shipping firm of Chamberlin, Donner & Co. and from 1904 chairman of the Manchester and Liverpool District Banking Society.[2][3] He was one of the founders of the Manchester High School for Girls in 1874[4] and was a governor of the Victoria University of Manchester and of the Manchester Grammar School.[2] He resided at Oak Mount, Fallowfield, and his firm's offices were in Aytoun Street, Manchester. Towards the end of his life he was known as the Grand Old Man of Manchester.[1]

In the late 1870s he organised an appeal for funds for the high school and in 1877 a new constitution was adopted which made the school a joint stock company instead of a voluntary association. Before this change Donner was personally responsible for the school finances and legally liable in case of a lawsuit.[5] He was lord of the manor of Cayton.[6] He donated the Ashfield estate, now part of Platt Fields Park in Rusholme and Fallowfield, to the city of Manchester. Among his other benefactions were donations to the University, particularly to its Physical Laboratory, to the Manchester Grammar School, to the High School for Girls, where he was a governor for 61 years, from 1874–1934. It was said of him in 1892 that "the school [MHSG] owes more to him than to any living man", and on another occasion "he was incapable by temperament of anything but moderation and courtesy, whether on the platform or in private life, [and] he did much to sweeten and elevate the public life of the city".[7]

Donner was also one of the leading supporters of the Liberal Party in Manchester. He entertained Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman on the prime minister's visit to the city in 1907[8] and was created a baronet, of Oak Mount in the City of Manchester, later that year.[9] In 1908 he was chairman of Winston Churchill's election campaign for Manchester North West (Churchill was defeated by William Joynson-Hicks).[8]

Donner married Anna Maria Cunningham, elder daughter of William Cunningham, a banker, of Manchester, in 1866.[2] Anna Maria, Lady Donner, was awarded the DBE for her work in organising the Fairview Auxiliary Hospital, Fallowfield. The couple had no children.[1] Sir Edward Donner died in 1934, aged 94 and the title became extinct for lack of heirs.


  1. ^ a b c Manchester High School for Girls (1974); p. 32
  2. ^ a b c Walford, Edward. The County Families of the United Kingdom; or, Royal manual of the titled and untitled aristocracy of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, page 107, edition 59, 1919.
  3. ^ 100 Years of Manchester High School for Girls, 1874–1974. Manchester: Manchester High School for Girls (compiled by K. L. Hilton); pp. 32–33
  4. ^ Manchester High School for Girls (1974); p. 31
  5. ^ Manchester High School for Girls (1974); p. 10
  6. ^ Cayton Parish Council (information from an account compiled in the 1880s)
  7. ^ Manchester High School for Girls (1974); pp. 32–33
  8. ^ a b Clarke, P.F. Lancashire and the New Liberalism, p. 231. Cambridge University Press, 1971.
  9. ^ "No. 28084". The London Gazette. 29 November 1907. p. 8331. 
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Oak Mount)