The Annual Dinner Benevolent Society for the Relief of the Aged and Infirm Poor 1883

Albion Tavern, 172 & 173 Aldersgate Street, Aldersgate EC1

I wasn’t going to do any more of these for a while. There are relatively few members of the family there. Uncle Edmund (Bellord), and cousin John, as well as Frank Harwood Lescher, who is a first cousin by marriage (to Mary Grehan – Paddy Grehan III’s daughter), he’s also the nephew of Harriet Grehan (neé Lescher) who is also Mary Grehan’s step-grandmother. herman Lescher is his brother.

The main reason for posting this one is the absolutely extraordinary speech by the chairman. I can’t quite work out if he’s scolding them, teasing them, speaking more bluntly than he intended it to sound, or whether the “highly felicitous terms” and “equally happy manner” are just euphemisms for a bit pissed.

The annual dinner of the Benevolent Society took place on Monday at the Albion, Aldersgate-street, and was presided over by the Hon. Mr. Justice Day, supported by the Bishop of Emmaus. Among those present were Mgr. Goddard, Canons Gilbert, D.D., V.G., Wenham, Moore, O’Halloran, McGrath, and Murnane; Very Revv. P. Fenton, President of St. Edmund’s College, Stephen Chaurain, S.M.,Vincent Grogan, Michael Kelly, D.D., and Michael Watts Russell ; Revv. W. E. Addis, J. J. Brenan, D. Canty, G. Carter, C. Conway, D.D., C. A. Cox, J. E. Crook, G. S. Delaney, E. English, M. Fanning, W. Fleming, J. Hussey, C. Harington Moore, E. F. Murnane, T. F. Norris, P. O’Callaghan, M. O’Connell, D. O’Sullivan, E. Pennington, Leo Thomas, D. Toomey-Vincent, C.P., T. Walsh, and J. Wright ; the Abbé Toursel, and the Abbé Richard ; Sir James Marshall and Judge Stonor ; Drs. Carré, Hewitt, and McDonell ; Messrs. J. Bans, W. Barrett, C. J. Standon Batt, E. J. Bellord, J. G. Bellord, A. J. Blount, George Blount, James Brand, Arthur Butler, George Butler, George Butler, junior, John Christie, H. A de Colyar, E de V. Corcoran, J. Conway, E. Curties;, Samuel H. Day, W. H. Dunn, V. J. Eldred, A. Guy Ellis, R. M. Flood, E. J. Fooks, J. Fox, Garret French, J. B. Gallini, W. O. Garstin, Dickson Gray, E. Hackney, W. B. Hallett, J. S. Hansom, A. Hargrave, W. D. Harrod, A. Hawkins, A. Hernu, H. Hildreth, Thomas Hussey, Thomas Hussey, junior, J. J. Keily, K.S.G., Stuart Knill, K.S.G., G. P. Kynaston, Denis Lane, F. D. Lane, C. Temple Layton, F. Harwood Lescher, Herman Lescher, Sidney Lickorish, W. H. Lyall, G. S. Lynch, J. P. McAdam, Francis McCarthy, M. McSheehan, James Mann, J. J. Merritt, Wilfrid Oates, T. O’Neil, Bernard Parker, F. R. Wegg-Prosser, L. J. Ratton, Eugene Rimmel, E. W. Roberts, G. St. Aubyn, M. A. Santley, Joseph Scoles, A. W. C. Shean, Charles Spurgeon, C.C., Philip Thornton, M. E. Toomey, G. A. Trapp, E. F. Devenish Walshe, John Wareing, Thomas Welch, and Stephen White.

After the concluding grace had been said by the Bishop of Emmaus, Mr. Justice Day in giving the health of the Pope, said he really did not know how to deal with his Holiness without incurring ecclesiastical censure. If he wished him a long life, he might be accused of desiring to keep him out of heaven, if a short one he would be denounced as a traitor. But of this thing he was sure he could leave the toast of the Pope to the good wishes of such an assembly as he had the honour to preside over.

“The Queen, “The Prince of Wales and the rest of the Royal Family,” were the next toasts.

Mr. Justice Day then rose to propose ” Success to the Benevolent Society.” He found it was usual to make an appeal for the charity, and if he did not make one it would be no fault of their excellent secretary (Mr. A. Butler, whose name was received with loud cheers), who had filled his (the chairman’s) pockets with details and statistics of the society. But the more he respected their secretary the more he resisted him. He was not going to make an appeal, He was afraid he could not make use of the stock excuse of want of custom of public speaking, nor could he say he was a man that knew nothing about charity, for he was a most charitable man (and he could lay his hand on his heart when he said so). He had been engaged all his life in getting for others what they could not get for themselves. He had had to appeal to juries for justice which judges denied. What would be the good of any appeal from him ? He saw before him a number of well-known charitable gentlemen who came there full of interest in the Benevolent Society and determined to support it to the best of their means. What more could they desire? He had no faith in after dinner speeches. If he attempted to rise into the higher regions of oratory, he would be sure to break down and fall into weariness and dulness. He saw on the title page of their report that this was stated to be ” the oldest Catholic charity in the metropolis,” he presumed that meant the oldest charity in the hands of Catholics, for it was a very long way off from being the oldest, Catholic charity in London was well known by its ancient charitable endowments. This charity was established at a time of hardship, penalty, and trials of our ancestors, and they naturally sought a way of supplying the wants of the old and infirm of their community and founded this charity, and he called on them to support it by their generous contributions this day. He was glad to see the merchants and bankers of the City of London contributed to this excellent work, which was entirely carried out by unpaid officials. He saw they gave gave 150 pensioners what ?—three and four shillings a week !  Not enough for the comforts, barely enough for the necessaries of life !  Let them think of that and of the many applicants who were eagerly waiting to get even this small pittance to eke out their subsistence for the few remaining years of their life.

[According to “The Art of Dining; or, gastronomy and gastronomers”  by Abraham Hayward. pub. John Murray, London 1852,  the ordinary price for the best dinner at this house [The Albion] (including wine) is three guineas. If the prices were still about the same in 1883, the dinner cost the equivalent of one month’s pension for each of the 150 pensioners.]

The collection was then made, which amounted to £1,040.

The Chairman afterwards proposed, in highly flattering terms, the health of his Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, for whom the Bishop of Emmaus replied, in eulogistic expressions, of the great charity of his Eminence to all men.

Sir James Murshall proposed, and the Very Rev. Canon Murnare replied for, the ” Bishop of Southwark.”

The Bishop of Emmaus, in highly felicitous terms, proposed the health of the Hon. Justice Day, who replied in an equally happy manner.

Then followed the healths of the “Bishop of Emmaus,”  “The Clergy of Westminster and Southwark,”  “The Stewards,” given by the hon. chairman, and replied to by Judge Stonor, after which the proceedings terminated.

1st December 1883, Page 34

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