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Alexander Burton

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#1 HistoryFan

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Posted 06 March 2014 - 11:52

I'm trying to find some details about Alexander Burton. He was from GBR and raced at Mercedes in the early beginings of Grand Prix racing. He replaced Camille Jenatzy after his eye injuries in the 1906 Grand Prix in France and both were classified on 10th place. Burton is not the real name of him.


Has anyone more information about this guy? Why raced he under a pseudonym? What is his racing career about?


#2 Vitesse2

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Posted 06 March 2014 - 12:04

As was sometimes the case in the period, the 'works' Mercedes were actually privately owned and effectively loaned back to the team. "JT Alexander Burton was a prominent customer from the power-boat scene, an exceedingly rich - and heavyweight - Englishman living in Cannes."


Source: Mercedes and Auto Racing in the Belle Epoque, 1895-1915 By Robert Dick


You could actually have found this for yourself by simply searching Google for "Jenatzy" + "Burton" and clicking on the third link ...

#3 Vitesse2

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Posted 06 March 2014 - 13:20

However, a little further research suggests that Robert may be at least partly wrong.


There was certainly a motor-boating prize called the Alexander Burton Trophy.


But the initials 'JT' suggest that this individual might be one Joseph Tucker Burton-Alexander. He was born in Braemar in Scotland on July 17th 1879 and attended Edinburgh Academy: in 1898 he enrolled at Cambridge University. He seems to have been a railway enthusiast, with a particular interest in long non-stop runs and rail speed records and in 1900 and 1902 he had letters on the subject published in The Times. These give his address as 'The Bury, Pavenham, nr Bedford' - which is also the address specified when he entered Cambridge and said to be that of his father. He also published a book on the subject, entitled Runs in Three Continents: Being a Short Record of Actual Performances on Some European, Canadian, Australian and American Railways


However, military records on Ancestry show his address at discharge after the Great War (he served in the military censor's office in the War Office in London with the rank of lieutenant) as 'Chateau de Gandels, Revel, Haute Garonne, France.'


Today, the chateau appears to still exist:




The Bury was demolished in 1960 after a fire.




Without knowing Robert's sources, which would perhaps enable further investigation, it would seem impossible to verify whether these two individuals are one and the same.

#4 ensign14

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Posted 06 March 2014 - 17:53

I think he was the only British participant in the first Grand Prix. 

#5 ReWind

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 18:21

[...] it would seem impossible to verify whether these two individuals are one and the same.


It seems they are one and the same.


From this source about Pavenham Manors:

The only son son of Mary and W.B. Alexander, Joseph Tucker Burton Alexander, was, according to Dr. Linnell, spoilt. He spent time at Cambridge, then went France, married a Frenchwoman, and immediately on coming into the estate in 1904, began to mortgage it heavily. By 1909 there was £39,000 owing on various mortgages, which forced the sale of the estate . The Bury itself was sold in 1919, together with the Home Farm. It is said that he was very keen on cars, and was last heard of applying to Lord Luke for a testimonial as chauffeur. (Dr. Linnell)


His French wife was Marie Elizabeth Debeau according to the marriage announcement in the Bedfordshire Times, 4th April, 1913, cited here.


If anyone has access to ancestry there should be more info to find, maybe even the date of his passing.

#6 ReWind

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 17:29

It seems the correct spelling of his wife’s name is Marie Elisabeth Dabeau.


A mountaineer called J.T. Burton-Alexander in July 1899 ascended the Piz Palü and in September 1901 climbed the Piz Prievlus. The same man? Would have been pretty young then.

#7 BRG

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 17:55

He would have been a Cambridge student by then, so popping off to the Alps in the long vacs would have been perfectly normal for a chap.