South Shields Local History Group

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Frederick Seitz

Frederick Seitz was born in Hohebach, Wurttemberg, Germany in 1857.  He arrived in South Shields in 1891 having previously spent 10 years in Newcastle.  His first pork butchers shop was in the corner of South Shields Market at 13 Market Place (near the current toilets).  In 1899 he moved to 11 Market Place next door to the Norfolk and Suffolk public house.  Fred and his wife had five children all of whom were born in England.

On 7th May 1915 the Lusitania was sunk by a German U-Boat with the loss of 1193 lives and as a consequence there were riots in many cities in the United Kingdom and on Saturday May 15th at 9.00 in the evening the riots spread to South Shields.  Fred Seitz “received notice to leave in October last, and had been away since.  Only his wife and children were living in the shop”.  Fred Seitz was either deported or interned, probably in the Isle of Man. The Shields Daily News give the following account of the attack on his shop:

Shields Daily News, MAY 17. 1918.

Attacks on So. Shields Pork Shops.
Fifteen Persons Arrested.

     Riotous scenes occurred in South Shields on Saturday night, when determined attacks ware made upon the premises of seven supposed German pork butchers situated in different parts of the town.
      Shortly after the public-houses closed at nine o’clock, crowds began to assemble in the vicinity of the shops, and fully 10,000 persons congregated in the Market Place.  Missiles of all descriptions, including cobble stones, were hurled at the pork shop situated on the west side of the Market Square, and stones were also thrown at the dwelling houses above, practically every window in the place being broken.
       As each crash of glass was heard cheers were raised by the crowd, and cries “Remember the Lusitania” were heard on all sides.  The occupants of the premises were at supper when the disturbance commenced, and succeeded in making their escape from the rear of the premises unmolested.
     The disturbance continued for about two hours, and during the attack on the pork shop many of the stones smashed the windows of a public house and confectioner’s shop adjoining.  A soldier was struck in the face with stone, and a police officer received a blow in the back from a cobble stone.
       Many attempts were made to rush the doors of a shop, and the attitude of the crowd became so alarming that the military had to be sent for, and a detachment of soldiers took up position in front of the premises.  In co-operation with a large number of police officers they made concerted move, and eventually succeeded in clearing the people out of the Market Place.  
         An excited crowd then rushed into Mile End Road, where they commenced to attack two more pork shops.  All the windows were smashed, and the premises adjoining were damaged.  A policeman was struck on the jaw with a full lemonade bottle and rendered unconscious.  He was carried into shop close by, where he was brought round, and while he was being attended the window of the shop was broken by the crowd outside.  A special constable was slightly cut the face by a stone.
      Some of the crowd broke into one of the pork shops, and secured possession of a clock which they smashed to pieces in the street.  Simultaneously with the rioting in the Market Place and Mile End Road considerable damage was done to pork shops in Frederick Street, John Clay Street, and Westoe Lane.
      During the disturbances 15 arrests were made.

Fred Seitz 1915 (STH0004368, South Tyneside Libraries)

Fortunately South Shields born Matilda Carney heroically rescued the children by leading them though the back door to safety in her own home.  A truly heroic act with an angry crowd of between 5 and 10,000 people at the front of the shop.

John Hertrich a German born but naturalised British subject also had his Mile End Road shop attacked.

John Hertrich, 1915 (STH0011235, South Tyneside Libraries)

Fred Seitz died in Germany on February 21st 1920. 

His wife Wilhelmina Seitz died in 1931 in South Shields and is buried at Harton Cemetery.

British Newspaper Archives
Census data
Durham at War
Terry Ford
Trade Directories

South Tyneside Libraries

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