He was born in Hastings in 1844, the son of 'Mr Hastings', Mayor Thomas Ross (week 29) and grandson of my 3 x great grandfather on my adopted side, William Bird. I found out a lot about him from articles in The Hastings & St Leonards Observer and the narrative in mauve below comes directly from these articles.
The pier at Hastings opened in August 1872 and Thomas was one of the Pier Directors. Some little time after the Pier was opened Mr Ross, as a shareholder, suggested the holding of dramatic entertainments and, acting upon his proposition, the Board secured the services of Mr Loredan, a well-known actor, who stayed here for some time and, our readers know, such performances now form a chief feature on the Pier.
There is no record I can find of the "well known actor" !
Thomas was also connected with the Hastings and St Leonards Steamboat Company, and at its first formation was a managing director.
The Paddle Steamer Seagull was owned by the Company and was in service between 1877 and 1896. The image comes from a Victorian stereoscope card and shows PS Seagull leaving Hastings Pier.
He was also connected with the Hastings Rowing Club which was founded in 1868 and which makes it one of the oldest sports clubs in the town. He was one of the best amateurs of his day and won numerous cups. The Club was kept afloat through his energy and pecuniary support. One of the galleys possessed by the Club was named Captain Ross, after him.
I don't know if Thomas is one of those appearing in this 1880 Club photograph but it is likely.
Mr Ross took an active part in the formation of the Royal Naval Artillery Volunteers, and was offered the first commission of the Hastings Battery, but he did not see his way clear to accept it. He was connected with the force for some time, and attended the Royal Naval Review, held at Windsor.
While enthusiastically greeted by those who had campaigned for a truly volunteer force the RNAV was not taken as seriously by the Government and the Admiralty as many thought it should be. The volunteers were unpaid, they had to buy their own uniforms and pay for their own travel and meal expenses; despite this the RNAV attracted many willing volunteers. However, in 1891 the volunteers chose to disband themselves rather than be amalgamated with the army.
A week later, "At the annual meeting of the local Steamboat Proprietors the Chairman referred in terms of regret to the absence due to illness of co-director Mr T.G.Ross. I am glad to be able to report that Mr Ross is now sufficiently recovered to take outdoor exercise. On one or two days he was reduced to such a state of prostration that his life was almost despaired of. Keen sympathy was felt for him and many inquiries as to his condition were made at Tudor House."
"We regret to have to record the death of Mr Thomas George Ross, of Tudor House, St. Helens Road, which sad event occurred suddenly Saturday last, at his residence, at the age of 51 years, from heart disease.
The deceased gentleman had been confined to his home a considerable time, and had been a great sufferer. He was the son of the late Mr Thomas Ross, whom many of our older readers will remember was Mayor of Hastings for five times, Justice of the Peace, etc.
The Hastings Rowing Club have sent a handsome wreath, in the shape of an anchor, and a letter of condolence, and the flag at the Club House has been hoisted half-mast high. Mr J. C. Miller, as captain of the Rowing Club, has also sent a wreath."
"A few months ago mention was made in the local papers of the generous gifts made by Mrs Ross of Tudor House, to the Hastings Museum. And now, this open hearted, public-spirited lady has asked and received permission to erect a drinking trough at the Queens Road entrance to the Park. The want has been a long existing one.
General gratitude is due, and will be offered, to the generous souled donor. There is peculiar fitness in the fact that this enriching of the Museum with historic relics and the erection of a trough adjacent to the pleasure gardens should be the act of the widowed daughter in-law (her story was told in week 26) of the gentleman who, for more than a generation, was Hastings' chief and most trusted archaeologist and antiquarian, who worked most assiduously for the acquisition by the town of the land now known as Alexandra Park, and who lived for many years, and ultimately died, in a house overlooking the public gardens." This, of course refers to Mayor Thomas Ross (week 29).
Alexandra Park had officially been opened on 26th June 1882 by the Prince and Princess of Wales (Princess Alexandra) - a year after Mayor Thomas Ross had died.
The event attracted great interest in the media of the day, including the London Illustrated News. A luncheon was held for about 400 people in the Warrior Square Rooms and Thomas Ross was among the list of those attending.
The Hastings and St Leonards Observer gave a colourful account of the Park and concluded that in Alexandra Park "one meets with all that is beautiful and refreshing. Nor is it too much to say that the Park will make one of the most picturesque and characteristic features of Hastings. The inhabitants, in short, will now be able to boast of a park - and a park in its loveliest sense - equal, if not superior, to most parks in England and certainly superior to any park in any other seaside resort".