June 20 1877
My dear Mrs Stevenson,
The Members of the Life Brigade heard with very deep regret of the death of their Treasurer the late Mr Arch. Stevenson. From the formation of the Brigade Mr Stevenson took a great interest in it and although latterly circumstances prevented his being often amongst us he from time to time gave proof that he was not unmindful of its welfare.
I have been requested by the Committee (and I do so with much sorrow) to convey to you the sympathies of the members of the Brigade in your heavy affliction, trusting that this feeble expression from a small portion of the fellow townsmen of your late respected husband will afford you a little consolation.
A wish has been expressed to have a Portrait of Mr S hung up in the Watch House and we will take it as a great kindness if you could spare me a carte de visite to get enlarged.
Mrs Malcolm joins me in kind regards and much sympathy.
Believe me, Yours very faithfully
Source: Minute book 1 of South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade
The death of Mr Archibald Stevenson is an event which South Shields mourns, just as every community in the land mourns when it is for ever deprived of the presence of one of the worthiest and most prominent of its members. The career which has closed within the cabin of an outward-bound Australianman, promised, less than three years ago, to become one of varied usefulness to the town with which Mr Stevenson had been connected from his boyhood. A love for public work had animated the deceased from the time when, by virtue of his years and opportunities, he could fairly lay claim to a share in the active life which was passing around him. Like many another young English gentleman, Mr Stevenson threw himself heartily into the Volunteer movement, and continued to hold his command in the local Artillery until failing health induced him to retire, which he did under circumstances specially complimentary to his zeal and efficiency as an officer. He was not, however, allowed to rest even when bearing the heavy burden incidental to the close personal supervision of great manufactory and at different times he acted as a member of the Town Council, Poor-Law Guardian, member of the School Board, and Justice of the Peace. Without ambition in the loftier sense of the term, Mr Stevenson was yet ambitious of doing good, and the measure of success which rewarded his efforts in fields of usefulness that do not spread out before the gaze of the public, is not unknown to some of those who can best speak of the tenderness of his nature. Coming a stock which inherits the ennobling gift of Giving, Mr Stevenson's purse was ever ready when there was good be done to South Shields itself, or to be done only in corner, where individual distress might be sending up the wail of which the busy world so seldom takes much account. There are few even of our great towns which can well spare men of this stamp, and when from a comparatively small borough like South Shields there takes place the removal of one who was both able and willing to serve his neighbour, the loss is felt to be a public calamity. In the course of a long illness Mr Stevenson had sought for health in the far East, in the Highlands of Scotland, and on the shores of the English Channel, only to find that weakness increased as he strove to regain his strength. A voyage to Australia was at last decided on, as offering the surest hope of recovery; but a few days before the vessel in which he had embarked with his wife and one of his children reached Adelaide, the unequal contest came to a close, and one of the manliest and truest of his race yielded up his life at the early age 38. The day of Mr Stevenson's death was last Friday week, the 19th of January, or eight days before the ship arrived at her port. The termination of the voyage being so close at hand, the body was not buried at sea, but was taken on to Adelaide and interred there. That Archibald Stevenson should thus have found his grave so far from the place which had so much of his heart, peculiarly saddening but the lamentation for him will be as widespread as if his remains had this day been committed to the dust close by the Works where he was so much beloved.
Source: Shields Daily Gazette 30 January 1877