The Late Mr. Serjeant Bellasis – August 1893

A Serjeant-at-Law (SL), commonly known simply as a Serjeant, was a member of an order of barristers at the English bar.  The Serjeants were the oldest formally created order in England, having been brought into existence as a body by Henry II. There were rarely more than 40 Serjeants. The Judicature Act 1873, removed the need for common law judges to be appointed from the Serjeants-at-Law, removing the need to appoint judicial Serjeants. With this Act and the rise of the Queen’s Counsel, there was no longer any need to appoint Serjeants, and the order ceased after seven hundred years.

MEMORIALS OF MR. SERJEANT BELLASIS.

The lives of men who have lived well, or fought well, or studied well, must always possess some interest for the student of human nature. Their struggles are probably akin to his struggles, their joys and sorrows are identical. In all creative and dramatic art, as in all literature, the human element is the centre of interest, —the actors on life’s stage command our deepest attention.

Light has been shed broadly and powerfully on all the leaders of the great Oxford movement. Their motives and main-springs of action have been analysed and dissected until little is left to analyse or dissect. The battle-field is still whitened with innumerable relics of a doubtful battle. Profoundly interesting as were those times, and profoundly momentous the issues of them, it seems hardly possible to learn anything fresh about them. ” Tracts for the Times, “ “No. 90, “ the Gorham decision, the Anglo-Prussian bishopric, the Anglican succession,—it is inevitable that all biographers of men who lived in those times should describe the same well- known facts and repeat the same well-worn phrases. There seems hardly space for another biography of an individual who played a part, though a comparatively small one, in a movement of which Dean Church and Mr. W. Ward have so lately recounted to us the principal events, giving us such brilliant portraits of the principal actors.

In the preface to this Memoir of the late Mr. Serjeant Bellasis, we read:— ” It has been deemed that some notice of Mr. Serjeant Bellasis, beyond the two or three columns in the National Dictionary of Biography, would not be out of place among the memoirs of the time ; for the late Serjeant, although not one of the more conspicuous public men of his day, nevertheless played some part in the Tractarian Movement of 1833, in connection wherewith he has left papers of interest. He was also an able and, for nearly a quarter of a century, a notable member of the Catholic body. “

The Serjeant’s early life and legal career are dismissed in the first chapter ; the rest of the volume is chiefly taken up with theological arguments and writings on the questions of the day, and letters from well-known people. Some of these letters  have already appeared in Mr. R. Ornsby’s Memoir of James Hope-Scott. Edward Bellasis was born in 1800 at Basilden, a pretty village on the Thames, of which his father was the vicar. Dr. Bellasis died when his son was an infant, and shortly afterwards his widow married the Rev. Joseph Maude, a Low Churchman, whose intimate friends were chiefly Quakers and Evangelicals. The household was taught to pray against ” the machinations of Popery “ and the ” devices of the Bishop of Rome ; “  card-playing and theatre-going were forbidden. In spite of this prohibition, young Bellasis went to Drury Lane, and there ran against his step-father’s brother, the Rev. John Maude, in the pit, who remarked,—” If you tell of me, I’ll tell of you. “ He seems to have had a love of play-going all his life, and to have encouraged private theatricals in his children’s holidays. He was called to the Bar in 1824, and began a long and very successful career, being almost exclusively employed in Parliamentary business, often connected with railways, until his retirement in 1866. There is a graphic account of his receiving the ” degree of the Coif “ and the ancient forms and ceremonies attending the creation of a Serjeant-at-Law. His intimate friend, Mr. Badeley, was his ” colt, “ and presented the rings to the Lord Chancellor and the Judges. The Queen’s ring was ” large and massive enough to cover two joints of the finger. “ In conjunction with Mr. Hope-Scott, the Serjeant was appointed trustee of the Shrewsbury estates, a duty that both fulfilled with characteristic disinterestedness and high principle. ” There was a great deal in common in the dear Serjeant and Hope-Scott, “ wrote Dr. Newman; ” This similarity is what made them such great friends. “ The history of one is in great measure a counterpart of that of the other. Both were distinguished members of the Bar, both followed the Anglican revival with the greatest interest, finally both joined the Church of Rome, Bellasis in 1850, Hope-Scott in 1851, and Badeley, the third point in this friendly triangle, in 1852.  When the news of the conversion [of Mr. Serjeant Bellasis] reached Quernmore Park, the residence of Mr. Garnett,[his father-in-law] Mrs. Bellasis’ aunt, Miss Carson, as a sincere Evangelical, was naturally much distressed, and the old family cook, seeing her mistress in tears, inquired the cause.  ‘ Mr. Bellasis had gone over to Rome.’ Ah ! ‘ replied the cook, ” tis a pity. Isn’t it very cold there ? Hard nigh upon Rooshee, rye heard tell.’ “ Mr. Bellasis seems always to have had an inquiring mind in regard to religious matters, and to have started in life with a decided bias against ” Popery.” A visit to a Roman Catholic chapel in Moorfields in 1820 only ” impresses him with the superiority of the reformed Protestant religion. “ However, foreign travel corrected many of his ideas about the Roman Catholics. He notes the earnestness of the people at their prayers, and the admixture of devout observances with their ordinary daily occupations. He came home still a ” thorough Anglican,” but he could neither abuse, nor listen to abuse, of Catholicsor Catholicism. After his second marriage in 1835, Mr. Bellasis took a house in Bedford Square, and then began the intimacy with Mr. Oakeley, of Margaret Street Chapel, in whose footsteps, in religious matters, the Serjeant closely followed. Mr. Oakeley gave him letters of introduction to some of the most prominent leaders of the Oxford movement,—Newman, W. G. Ward, and J. B. Morris. He made several visits to Oxford, and got to know Hope-Scott, Badeley, Dr. Pusey, and Bounden Palmer ; he also stayed with the Yonges at Otterbourne, and met Keble and Wilberforce. ” We have had a rather pleasant, interesting man visiting us,” writes Canon James Mozley to his sister in January, 1840, ” a Mr. Bellasis, a barrister from London, very High Church, a friend of Ward of Balliol, who happens to be away just now, Newman and others have entertained him. It is amusing to see the variety of a Londoner in Oxford. Of the London element lie retains enough to make a change from what one commonly sees here ; though with none of the disagreeable features of it,—for example, he is so much more fluent, and can give regular narrations with spirit, showing a person who has been accustomed to argue and make speeches. “ In one of the Serjeant’s letters to his wife, there is a graphic account of Newman’s farewell sermon at Littlemore; he used to say afterwards that there was not a dry eye in the church, except Newman’s own. In 1845 the Serjeant wrote to his brother, ” I do not conceal from any one that I hold what you call ultra opinions; “ but he goes on to say, ” it has never occurred to me that it is the duty of persons holding such opinions to quit the Church of England. “ He had, however, thought much on the subject, as we read in the Memoir :—” The Serjeant himself had painfully gone through all stages, from Low Evangelicism to extreme High Churchmanship, until at length the time came when he found little of real difficulty in any Catholic doctrine. This is sufficiently illustrated, some time before his actual conversion, by a little paper of September, 1847, referring to Confession, perhaps a greater stumbling- block to Protestants inclined to Catholicism than anything else after Papal supremacy. “ The Serjeant was accustomed to weigh difficult questions, and to analyse the balance of evidence ; his excessive pains to get at the exact truth of Catholicism abroad gave Dr. Scholl, of Treves [Trier], the idea that he was too cautious ever to leave his own Church. “Ala, ce pauvre Monsieur Bellasis, it a taut de scrupules ; it n’entrera janmis dans l’Eglise.” Outward and visible signs and symbols. always attracted him—” believing himself to be a man without much sentiment or feeling, he said that he relied greatly upon externals in religion “—and he was always most exact in all outward observances. Much is said of his great industry and power of concentration. He writes of himself,—” It is my nature to be eager in whatever I take up, whether it is meteorology, geology, theology, or business ; “ but no recreation was ever allowed to interfere with business. His family life seems to have been particularly happy ; he was devoted to his children, and drew up many wise rules of conduct for their instruction, which are worth reading and copying. With one daughter, afterwards a nun, he kept up a playful warfare as to the amount of their mutual love. In 1871, he wrote to her:—” I have got a puzzle for you : St. Alphonsus says that of all love, paternal love is the strongest; now I think I have checkmated you.” There are many instances told of his unvarying kindness and courtesy to strangers, and to any one who served him or needed his help. Mr. Hope-Scott’s clerk, who saw him every day, said he never once knew the Serjeant ruffled or disturbed, and never heard him utter a harsh or unkind word. ” He died at Hyéres,” wrote his friend, Hope-Scott, during his own last illness, “l eaving an example to us all,” and Archbishop Manning and Dr. Newman echoed the words.

Such a life as the Serjeant’s does not contain much of deep interest to the general reader. His contributions to the literature of the day consisted of a few pamphlets, and the Memoir is naturally written from a devout Roman Catholic point of view ; but the surroundings of his life were interesting, and he was intimate with men whose names are written in Church history. It was probably Dr. Newman’s example and influence that finally led the Serjeant to abandon the Church of England. As Sir Francis Doyle has written,—” That great man’s ardent zeal and extraordinary genius drew all those within his sphere, like a magnet, to attach themselves to him and his doctrine.”

From The Spectator 5 August 1893, Page 18

Obituary of Eliza Jane Bellasis, 27 Oct 1898

I published the original version of this obituary almost two years ago, when it was simply a slight curiosity about some fairly well connected upper-class English Catholic converts. The Bellasis surname crops up every so often in some of the weddings, and more specifically so does that of Mrs. Dalglish-Bellasis. The Catholic Who’s Who and Year-Book of 1908 helped a little bit with its entry on Eliza Bellasis’s son William

Dalglish-Bellasis, William — son of Serjeant Bellasis and brother of the Lancaster Herald; educated at the Oratory School, Edgbaston; is a Director of the Cornbrook Brewery Company, Ltd.; married, first, Miss Mary Walmesley, and secondly, Mrs Dalglish, widow of J. Campsie Dalglish, of  Wandara, Goulburn, New South Wales. Mrs Dalglish- Bellasis is numbered with her husband among the “founders” of the new Cathedral. Her eldest son by her former marriage, Mr Alexander Dalglish, married (1897) Mary Josephine, daughter of the Hon. Joseph and Mrs Maxwell Scott, of Abbotsford, and great-granddaughter of Sir Walter.

What it didn’t throw up immediately was very slight family connections, and more to the point family connections from two very different branches that only became apparent nearly sixty years later. Amongst the mourners are members of the Bowring family, a Miss Lescher, [though which one is unspecified], and of course Mrs Dalglish- Bellasis. Lewin Bowring C.S.I. (son-in-law) is one of the sons of Sir John Bowring, and is a second cousin of Hugh Mulleneux (1841 – 1921)’s wife Fanny. Hugh is Adeline and Joshua Walmsley’s nephew. In one of those pleasing twists of fate, William Dalglish-Bellasis, Lewin Bowring’s brother-in-law turns out to be married to another cousin. In this case his first wife Mary Walmesley , who is completely un-related to Sir Joshua and Adeline Walmsley, but is the grand-daughter of Joseph Francis Lescher (1768 – 1827). He is Harriet Grehan [neé Lescher]’s uncle, and Harriet is of course 3x step-great Granny.

William Garnett was the Tory M.P. fo Lancaster between 1857 and 1864, and the family were Lancashire cotton merchants.

Obituary of Eliza Jane Bellasis, 27 Oct 1898

We regret to have to record the death of Mrs. Eliza Jane Bellasis, widow of Mr. Serjeant Bellasis, on Friday, the 21st inst., at her residence, 22, Prince of Wales -terrace, Kensington, W. The only daughter of William Garnett, of Quernmore Park, Lancaster, and Lark Hill (now Peel Park) Salford, she was born in 1815, and was consequently in her 84th year. She died on the 63rd anniversary of her wedding day, having been married on October 21, 1835, at St. Peter’s Collegiate Church (now Cathedral), Manchester.

Manchester Cathedral

After various conferences with Mr. (afterwards Cardinal) Manning, she followed her husband into the Church in 1851, being received by Father James Brownbill, of the Society of Jesus. During her brief last illness she was attended by Dom Sweeney, O.S.B., of Bath, and by her eldest and youngest sons, both priests. The funeral took place on Wednesday last, the 26th inst., at St. Mary Magdalen’s, Mortlake. High Mass of Requiem was sung at 11 a.m, by the Rev. Michael Fanning, Administrator of the Pro-Cathedral, the Rev. Richard Garnett Bellasis assisting as deacon, and the Rev. Henry Lewis Bellasis as sub-deacon. The Rev. Charles Cox conducted the choir ; Dom Sweeney and Father Hogan were also present in the sanctuary, and former acting as master of ceremonies. The mourners were Mr. Edward Bellasis (son), Mrs. Edward Charlton, Mrs. Lewin Bowring, and Miss Clara Bellasis (daughters), Mrs. Dalglish-Bellasis (daughter-in-law), Mr. L. B. Bowring, C.S.I. (son-in-law), Commander Edward F. B. Charlton, R.N., William L. S. Charlton, George V. B. Charlton and Lieutenant Vincent L. Bowring, R.N. (grandsons), Miss Mary T. Bellasis, Miss Elise J. Charlton, and Miss Edith M. Bowring (granddaughters), Mrs. W. J. Palmer (niece), and Messrs. R. Oliver, and C. Oliver (cousins). Among others present were Lady Clifford, Mrs. West, Miss O’Donnell, Mrs. Barry Farrell, Miss Lescher, and Mr. E. R. Crump. Mr. Dalglish-Bellasis was unable to be present owing to indisposition.

St. Mary Magdalen, Mortlake

The Rev. Father William Kerr, S.J., said a few words at the close of the Mass, taking for his text : ” Thou bast loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. “ The first thing that it occurred to him to say with regard to the excellent woman whose loss they deplored, was that hers had been a happy life and he for one could not grieve over so happy a death. God led souls to Him in divers ways. It was her lot to be blessed in her saintly husband, blessed in her family (no less than five of whom were in religion). Not that she never suffered. None could know what interior trials those whom the Lord loved underwent. It was suffering (the loss of a child) that led her and her husband into the church. Both had sprung from Protestant families in the North, of the old school, with no leanings to Catholicism, but with prejudices against it. Yet once a Catholic how zealous was she, as well as her husband, for Catholic interests. In season, and (one might almost say) out of season, she was the valiant woman, ever active in dissipating error and falsehood about the Church. Yet she could show herself the good Catholic she was without offence to those without the fold. A woman impatient of wrong-doing and sayings full of charity and alms deeds, one who did her duty lovingly and bravely in that station of life to which she was called, she aimed, as she told the Benedictine Father who knew her well in her later years, at making Almighty God the centre of all her actions.

And for 25 years a widow, she remained to the last the living centre of her family ; to her latest hour she was unselfish, and she thought of others rather than of herself. Her natural gifts and acquirements insured for her a wide influence beyond the circle of her home. That home his own parents had known and loved, and so he thought he had some sort of right to speak about her now that she was gone. What such a loss was he knew by experience, and he could confidently tell them that mourned that day what he had found in his own case, that very soon their sorrow would pass, and their joy remain. Joy was the key-note of her life, and they would meet her again joyfully, if they were worthy, ” among the spirits of the just made perfect. “ R.I.P.

The above text was found on p.27, 29th October 1898 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .

Wolverton Park – Hampshire

For about ten years from the late 1850’s the Walmsley family had moved from London to the rather leafier surrounds of what they called Wolverton House [now Wolverton Park] in Hampshire.

The present house is a two-storey Georgian building faced in ashlar. The entrance was originally on what is now the garden side, and has seven bays, a balustraded parapet, an Ionic porch with coupled columns, and slightly lower recessed wings. On the present entrance front the centre is of five bays and the wings run forward to embrace an entrance court. The house perhaps took its present form after it was acquired by the 1st Duke of Wellington in 1837, but the core is probably 18th century. It was perhaps built for Sir Charles van Notten Pole, although it could be earlier; the wings are additions of the 1820s.

Wolverton Park, Hampshire

Inside, the house has a two-storey entrance hall with a cantilevered staircase rising, as a result of the reorientation of the house, from just inside the front door.

Wolverton Park, entrance hall

 

There is also an exceptionally handsome drawing room with simple plasterwork and a fine marble chimneypiece.

Wolverton Park, Yellow Drawing Room
The Folly, Wolverton Park, Hants

This is an ancient site: there was a royal deer park here in the 12th century, which was granted in 1215 by King John to Peter FitzHerbert, whose descendants owned it until the 15th century. The parish church, which stands above the park, was rebuilt in 1717 in classical style, and the park was landscaped in the 18th century. By 1810 there was a folly summerhouse with a spire in a plantation in the park.

Descent: Thomas Dyneley (d. 1502); to widow, Philippa for life and then to daughter Elizabeth, wife of George Barrett (d. 1525) and later of Sir John Baker, kt.; to son, Edward Barrett (d. 1586); to grandson, Edward Barrett (d. 1644), 1st Lord Newburgh of Fife; sold by the trustees of his will to George Browne (fl. 1661-69); to son, Sir George Browne; to daughter, Elizabeth (1671-88), wife of Sir Jemmett Raymond; to son, Jemmett Raymond (1688-c.1772); to second cousin, Dame Elizabeth Worsley (d. 1774); to son, Edward Meux-Worsley of Gatcombe House (IoW), who sold 1782 to Sir Charles van Notten (later van Notten Pole), 1st bt. (d. 1813); to son, Sir Peter Pole, 2nd bt. (1770-1850), who sold 1837 to Arthur Wellesley (1769-1852), 1st Duke of Wellington; to son, Arthur Richard Wellesley (1807-84), 2nd Duke of Wellington; to nephew, Henry Wellesley (1846-1900), 3rd Duke of Wellington; to brother, Arthur Charles Wellesley (1849-1934), 4th Duke of Wellington; to son, Arthur Charles Wellesley (1876-1941), 5th Duke of Wellington; to son, Henry Valerian George Wellesley (1912-43), 6th Duke of Wellington; sold 1943 to Mrs H. Andreae of Moundsmere Manor; sold 1959 to Thomas Sidney Hohler (later Astell Hohler) (1919-89); to daughter, Isabelle (b. 1955), wife of Martin Sereld Victor Gilbert Hay (b. 1948), 24th Earl of Erroll. The house was leased by the Dukes of Wellington (tenants included Wallace James Walker) and is leased today.

 Josh and Adeline were leasing the house from the 2nd Duke of Wellington. In the 1861 census, Josh describes himself as ” Knight, J.P. “ and Adeline’s occupation was given as ” Lady “. There were three children there, James, aged 34, and Emily, 30, and Adah, aged 21.  The household comprised of the family, plus the cook, Maria Butts (60), three housemaids, and three male servants. Richard Pratt, the butler was only twenty-four, Tommy Smith was a sixteen year-old house boy, and Charlie Jacob, the groom was twenty.

Tracing the family over the twenty year period from the 1851 census through to the 1871 census, Maria Butts is the only servant who stays with them for more than ten years. She shows up as the cook at Wolverton Park, and then ten years later she is the housekeeper at Hume Towers in Bournemouth.

The Walmsley Portraits

This is probably a good point to pause the Walmsley stories. Josh’s biography has come to an end. There is an up-dated version of the children of Joshua Walmsley posted fairly recently. If you haven’t seen it, it’s here. The only remaining thing to do is some faces to put to the names. By rights there should be at least one portrait of Adeline, and probably more of the girls, but they have yet to be unearthed.

Sir Josh – himself

Sir Joshua Walmsley (1794-1871), Mayor of Liverpool;Thomas Henry Illidge ; © Walker Art Gallery; Liverpool

Sir Josh – himself-again

Sir Joshua Walmsley, M.P. 1794 -1871; William Daniels, © Victoria & Albert Museum

Charles Binns (1815-1887)

Charles Binns

Joshua Walmsley II. (1819-1872)

Captain [Joshua] Walmsley; William Daniels, © Victoria & Albert Museum
James Walmsley (1826-1867)

James Walmsley as a boy; William Daniels; © Victoria and Albert Museum
Adah Adeline Walmsley Williams. (1867-1959)
Mrs Charles Russell (neé Adah Walmsley Williams); John Singer Sargent, 1908
Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid.

Sir Josh and the National Sunday League – 1867

This is from March 1867, Josh was seventy three at the time, and it was ten years since he had been defeated in the General Election of 1857. Entertainingly, St Martin’s Hall had been the venue for the First International of the International Workingmen’s Association three years earlier attended by Karl Marx. The hall had a 500 seat lecture theatre, and a 3,000 seat main hall. It was on Long Acre, in Convent Garden.

The annual meeting of the National Sunday League was held last evening at St. Martin’s Hall, Sir Joshua Walmsley in the chair. The chairman having briefly addressed the meeting congratulating it on the success which had attended the movement, the secretary read the report for the past twelve months, which stated that during the year the organization of the League was consolidated, and its internal arrangements considerably modified to meet the requirements of the members. Parliament would shortly be called upon to consider the laws which now denied to the masses rational freedom and recreation on Sunday. In the Spring on two Sundays, the Council invited Crystal Palace shareholders to spend social and recreative afternoons with them at the Crystal Palace, and on each occasion 600 were present. Discourses on Egypt, Pompeii, the extinct animals, &c., were delivered by various friends, and the resources of the Palace and grounds fully availed of for the purposes of instruction. Tho public notice taken of those Sunday meetings by the press was followed by a Sabbatarian memorial to the directors for the suppression of the practice, but their efforts had been defeated by the decisive resolution of tho Board.

The Crystal Palace at Sydenham Hill.

 

The Sunday bands in the parks had proved as popular as hitherto. The Church Congresses at York and Rochester had given striking proofs that the more liberal-minded among the clergy were determined that puritanical views should not any longer sever the people from the Church. The Rev. Newman Hall, Mr.Samuel Morley, and others had expressed views considerably in advance for liberty and toleration of the policy hitherto experienced from the party to which they belonged.

The Bandstand, Hyde Park.

Ten Sunday evening meetings had been held at St. Martin’s Hall, which had been conducted by an association distinct from the League. Mr. Baxter, the chairman of the Lord’s Day’s Society, had instituted a prosecution against the lessee of St. Martin’s Hall for permitting that institution being used for popular Sunday services. Sir Thomas Henry had, however, left the trying of the question on its real issue to a superior court. The Press had spoken out fearlessly on the opening of museums and providing rational recreation for the people. It had been said that the League was in favour of Sunday trading. Such was not the case, but at the same time it was necessary that ” some must work that all may rest.” The primary object of the League was to open national museums and galleries, and the opportunity for action, which must come before long, would no doubt find a Council as ready as that which had acted during tho past twelvemonths. The chairman moved the adoption of the report, which was seconded by Sir John Bowring, and carried unanimously. Addresses were then delivered by Mr. Baxter Langley, and others, and the meeting terminated after a vote of thanks had been accorded to Sir Joshua Walmsley for his dignified conduct in the chair.

The above text was from the Times, Friday March 22, 1867. p.12.

Life of Sir Joshua Walmsley – Chapter XXVIII.

CHAPTER XXVIII. This chapter covers fourteen years from 1857 until 1871. As usual with Uncle Hugh, it is more political than personal, though the letters quoted in this chapter are more two old friends commentating on politics, and rather softer in tone. The whole chapter does have a rather valedictory tone.

Wolverton Park, Hampshire

For most of this time Josh and Adeline had retired to Wolverton Park, in Hampshire, a rather grand house they rented from the 2nd Duke of Wellington. In the 1861 census, Josh describes himself as ” Knight, J.P. and Adeline’s occupation was given as “Lady” There were three children there James, aged 34 and Emily, 30 and Adah, aged 21.  The household comprised of the family, plus the cook Maria Butts (60), three housemaids, and three male servants. Richard Pratt, the butler was only twenty-four, Tommy Smith was a sixteen year-old house boy, and Charlie Jacob, the groom was twenty.

Thomas Milner Gibson, the Anti-Corn-Law Leaguer defeated in Manchester had won a by-election in Ashton-under-Lyne on 14th December 1857. He was the maternal great-grandfather of the Mitford sisters, through Thomas Gibson Bowles, the illegitimate son he had with a servant girl. Tommy Bowles founded both Vanity Fair, and The Lady.

The assassination attempt on Napoléon III referred to was planned and carried out by Felice Orsini who Josh had met at the American Ambassador’s dinner in 1854. Rather splendidly, his bombs were made for him by Joseph Taylor, an English gunmaker based in Birmingham.

When Parliament again assembled, every vestige of the Anti-Corn-Law League had disappeared from the benches of the House. Mr. Cobden, Mr. Bright, Mr. Fox, Mr. Milner Gibson, and Sir Joshua Walmsley had been unseated. Meetings were held to express sympathy with them. ” I had previously determined,” writes Sir Joshua, “ That if defeated at Leicester, I would retire into private life ; and despite several requisitions to represent constituencies, I adhered to this resolution. “ The session of 1857 closed without any Reform Bill being brought before the House.

Mr. Cobden, writing from Midhurst, 18th July, says: ” Looking at the servility of the House of Commons, and the absence of all earnestness in politics, I think we have no reason to be dissatisfied with our bargain — free air and exercise in place of being in a committee-room at Westminster. ”

Lord Palmerston, 1855

The news of the attempt of the 16th January [it was actually the 14th January 1858] on the French Emperor’s life, had been received with reprobation by all classes throughout England ; but an official despatch from Count Walewski, accusing England of fostering crime and of erecting assassination into a doctrine, evoked a different feeling. Leaving unanswered and unnoticed Walewski’s despatch, Lord Palmerston, on the 8th February, moved for an alteration of the ” Conspiracy to Murder Bill. “ This brought on protest upon protest, against England altering her domestic laws at the dictation of a foreign power.

On the 19th, Lord Palmerston moved the second reading of his bill. Mr. Milner Gibson proposed an amendment, censuring Government for not having replied to the Walewski note, and his amendment was carried.

Before this vote of censure the Ministers retired, and Lord Derby came into office. The attacks of the French Colonels following closely on all this, roused public indignation to a high pitch. Mr. Cobden’s ideas on this subject are expressed in the following letter, dated 21st April, 1858 :

” Dear Sir Joshua,

” It was very kind of you to think of me. Your letter found us in great trouble. My poor brother, as you know, a sufferer from nervous pains. has been taken to his rest. The last two weeks were awful. It seemed as if the disease had seized suddenly on the spinal cord and moved slowly upwards, torturing him to death by inches. He underwent, for a fortnight almost, one continued paroxysm of agony. We could not witness it without praying God to release him and take him to Himself But I do not the less feel the void which his loss has occasioned. He was little known beyond his own family circle. His shyness and modesty prevented him from mixing in society. But he had a rare intelligence, and a memory so extraordinary, that I used to resort to it as to an encyclopaedia. I feel as if the daylight were partially withdrawn from my house. . . . “

” We shall, of course, be very quiet, and I do not feel any call at present to interfere in politics. I never saw so little above the political horizon worth fighting about. When the struggle is between Dizzy and Sam, earnest politicians may be excused for standing aside and taking a holiday. I quite agree with you about the scandalous tone of our papers respecting the state of France. But the worst part of the business is, that they are evidently bent on making bad blood between the two nations, for the sake of political capital. The Times, Economist, &c., only discovered those dangers and discontents in France after Palmerston’s downfall. “

” They want now to make it appear that his return to power is necessary for the French alliance, forgetting that he alone was the cause of the popular outcry in Hyde Park, against France and the Conspiracy Bill. The fact is, he wished to divert the attention of the House and country from domestic questions, and therefore he brought in that bill. A wise and honest minister would have prevented any public discussion on such a subject, by settling it privately, and showing to the French Government that it was unwise to moot it publicly, and thus rouse the well- known jealousy and pugnacity of our countrymen. But he was ‘ hoist with his own petard,’ and I hope he will not again intrigue himself into office. …”

But few letters remain now to be quoted of the correspondence extending over so many years between the two political allies and friends. An interval of nearly three years occurs before we find Mr. Cobden’s next letter, addressed to Sir Joshua in his retreat at Wolverton Park.

Wolverton Park

It is dated Algiers, where, after negotiating the Commercial Treaty with France, Mr. Cobden had gone to recruit his health, already impaired by the fatal malady that was too soon to rob England of his eminent services. From it we give the following extract ;

” 9th March, 1861.

“I am sorry to see your brief allusion to the unfavourable state of your health. I hope it is but a slight and temporary indisposition. For myself, though every year reminds me that I have passed my meridian, I have reason to be thankful for having come here for the winter, where the weather has been exceptionally fine, as it has been unusually severe in England. If you find your respiratory organs affected, you would find great benefit from a winter residence here. The hotels and lodgings are all full of visitors, the majority of whom are of course British. I intend to remain here till the end of this month. “

” The state of politics and the proceedings in the House offer but small temptations to return to one’s post — you have certainly the best of it in your rural retreats. In a letter which I got lately from Bright, he observes : ‘ What sensible fellows are Crook and Titus Salt to return to the care of their businesses and families. The worst feature in public matters is the apathy and indifference of people to domestic questions. It seems as if we had become blases by the excitement of foreign revolutions and wars, and had no longer any appetite for home politics. It will be well for us if material reverses recall us to a sense of what is due to ourselves. “

“It will give us pleasure when we again find ourselves at home (where I have scarcely found myself for two years), and renew our personal intercourse with your family. In the meantime, my wife joins me in kind regards to Lady Walmsley and all your circle, and I remain, “

” Very truly yours,

” R. COBDEN. ”

Two letters belong to the year 1864. We give them in their order :

George Stephenson by William Daniel © Victoria and Albert Museum.

” Midhurst, 6th March, 1864.

“My dear Walmsley,

“The two little pigs have duly reached, and promise to be a good addition to our Sussex stock ; many thanks for them. “

“Perhaps you have already seen the enclosed; if not, you will be glad to see that our friend Kossuth has just had a legacy of a thousand pounds, which I have no doubt will be just now very acceptable to him. By-the-way, I hear that the Hungarian refugees are beginning to turn their faces homewards, that Klapka is already at Turin, where there is said to be a plot hatching, and that unless Austria is as usual very lucky, she will have more fighting in the Adriatic than in the Baltic, and with worse results. It seems as if there would be a general commotion in the East of Europe, but wars and revolutions sometimes fail to come when they are most expected. “

“ I am going to town on Tuesday for a week or ten days before the Easter recess. But I really cannot help considering it an ignominious employment of one’s time to be a party to the hollow proceedings in the House. “

“With our united kindest regards to Lady Walmsley and your circle,

” Believe me, yours very truly,

“ R. COBDEN.

” If you should have Stephenson’s portrait photographed, I hope you will let me have a copy. ”

and

” At Mr. Paulton’s, 15, Cleveland Square,

11th March, 1864.

“My dear Walmsley,

” I have been amused by the article in The Standard. It is the first I have heard of my promotion. But there is, of course, not the slightest foundation for the report. I could not undertake any post requiring me to work in the City in the winter time. During the frost and fog of that season, I cannot breathe in the London air. I am strangely affected with a sort of asthma in certain states of the atmosphere. Since I have been in town, the weather has been so bad that I have not been down to the House once. No other medicine suits me but the thermometer at 70c. “

” Respecting the engraving or lithographing of my likeness, to which you kindly refer, I really do not know where it originally appeared, whether in London or Manchester. “

“ The proceedings of the House are dull beyond all example. There will be nothing done till Gladstone brings in his Budget. If the Tories were united and willing, they might have office at any time. But it looks as if the two chiefs had a tacit compact, by which it was understood that there is to be no change during the natural life of the Parliament or of the Premier. “

” I find Mr. and Mrs. Paulton very well, and Hargraves has got over the winter better than last year. They are looking to a migration to their country-place in the summer in the neighbourhood of Woking. My wife is here ; she joins me in kind remembrance to Lady Walmsley and your circle.

” Believe me, yours truly,

” R. COBDEN. ”

Death was soon now to sunder this friendship of thirty years, ” on whose surface,” says Sir Joshua, ”there was not a flaw. I think I possess Cobden’s last, or very nearly his last, letter. “ It runs thus :

” Midhurst, 18th March, 1865.

” My dear Walmsley

“ It was very kind of you to think of me with your prescription, which I have no doubt, in a given case, would be very useful. My throat trouble has, however, been somewhat peculiar. I have had what doctors call nervous asthma, which affects me only when the weather is cold or foggy. I am now pretty well, and am only waiting for fine weather to resume my duties in town. I hope in a few days to be able to leave home. There is some difficulty in knowing what one is to go to the House for at present. I confess I feel very little pride or satisfaction in lending myself as a witness to the hollow sham that is going on there. I suppose you will be paying your periodical visit to London. If so, I shall be happy to shake hands with you. My wife joins in kind regards to Lady Walmsley and your circle, and,

“ Believe me, yours very truly,

” R. COBDEN. ”

But this hand-grasp was never to be given. Mr. Cobden, confined to the house since November by bronchitis, brought on by the exertion of a long speech delivered in an overheated hall to his constituents, was in no fit state to undertake a journey up to London in the bitter cold of that spring. Three days after the date of the foregoing letter, on the 21st March, he came up to town, intending to take part in the debate on the Canadian defences. Bronchitis had seized him ere he reached his journey’s end. He was at once conveyed to his lodgings in Charles Street, where he died on the 2nd of April.

Our narrative now draws to a close. When Sir Joshua lost his seat in the electoral contest of 1857 he determined to retire from public life. ” My political career was now over, “ he says. ” I was fifty-six years of age when I entered Parliament. I could not at that late period acquire the facility of quick debate— so important to a public man, and which can be successfully cultivated only in the flexible years of youth — but I was up to the toil and drudgery such a life imposes upon whoever conscientiously enters into it. Whenever I addressed the House, I invariably obtained a patient hearing, for I was careful always to master the subject upon which I spoke. ”

After his eventful life, he was now entitled to allow himself a margin of rest. He took the lease of Wolverton Park, Hants, part of the estate presented by the nation to the Duke of Wellington. In this beautiful retreat, hedged round by friends, and ever exercising a genial, courteous hospitality, he spent some happy years. Horticultural pursuits and field sports had still the charm they had in the old days at Ranton Abbey. Nor was he forgotten by the nation. Requisitions from Liberal constituencies, inviting him to come forward and stand for their representation in Parliament, were on various occasions addressed to him. But he was firm in his resolution not again to enter the House of Commons as a member of its body.

Yet he watched with unflagging interest the progress of Reform, contributing articles in its support to The Daily News and other Liberal journals. Almost to the end, he kept up his connection with the Sunday League, remaining its president until within a few years of his death. To the last he was what he had always been — a man of the people ; from the people he sprang, and with them ran the strong current of his manly, generous sympathies. It was this sense of fellowship that led his voice and hand to be ever among the foremost of his day, in advancing every question and cause that involved their true interest and welfare.

In 1870, Sir Joshua removed to Bournemouth. Some time previously he had decided to build a house on an elevated stretch of moorland, and to end his days in this beautiful watering-place. His unabated mental and physical energy seemed to give assurance that he had yet many years to live, and he himself looked forward to a good old age. The building of the house and the laying out of his grounds were a source of much interest and pleasure to him. One day, before the building was completed, he gave the house its name. A few friends were assembled, when, raising a glass of wine to his lips, Sir Joshua gave : ” To the memory of my old friend, Joseph Hume, “ and accordingly the house was called ” Hume Towers. ”

The hope of spending some years in active rural enjoyment was not destined to be realised. In  November, 1871, he died, after a brief illness. His widow survived him till September, 1873.

And now we cannot better wind up these memoirs than by quoting the touching words in which Sir Joshua describes what he owed to Lady Walmsley’s influence through life: ” My wife’s mild and gentle spirit, “ he says, ” constrained and tempered mine. Endowed with talent and excellent judgment, the advice she gave me in business, as well as in domestic matters, was in a great measure the source of my prosperity. I feel that but for her soothing influence and high standard of right, I might have gone sorely astray in the battle of life. She has indeed been to me all that woman could be. How much have I to be grateful for to Him who gave and has continued to me so good a helpmate. ”

THE END.

Life of Sir Joshua Walmsley – Chapter XXVII.

CHAPTER XXVII. This is yet again a very political chapter, with almost nothing about the family. By now Josh and Adeline are grandparents of four granddaughters, – all the daughters of Elizabeth Walmsley and Charles Binns. The girls range in age between seventeen year-old Adeline and eight year-old Emily. Three more granddaughters and one grandson follow in the 1860’s and 1870’s. At the time of the election, Josh is sixty-three.

Leicester Railway Station, 1857

Early in March, 1857, the following requisition, signed by one thousand three hundred and fifty-two electors of Leicester, was presented to Sir Joshua :

” We, the undersigned electors of the borough of Leicester, deem it our duty, under existing circumstances, to assure you of our confidence in your general conduct as our representative. There are points of difference between some of us and yourself, but your devotion to the interests of the constituency, your unflinching advocacy of all measures calculated to promote civil, political, and religious equality in the eye of the law, and your independent parliamentary conduct, so greatly outweigh these points of difference, that we request you will, whenever Parliament shall be dissolved, offer yourself for re-election, when we have the fullest confidence that the constituency of this borough will again triumphantly return you as one of their representatives. ”

” Leicester, 28th February, 1857. ”

The above requisition had been resolved upon at a large and enthusiastic public meeting at the New Hall, where the vast assembly had recorded a unanimous vote of confidence in Sir Joshua Walmsley ; coupling with his name that of Mr. John Biggs, who had succeeded to the representation on the sudden death of Mr. Gardiner, in June.

” This strong expression of feeling, “ says Sir Joshua, ” was called forth by the report that, at the following election, I would be opposed by Mr. Dove Harris, now brought forward by the Whigs and several influential townsmen. I had made enemies for myself by the course I had pursued in Parliament. “

” The warmth with which I had espoused the interests of the stocking-weavers had alienated from me the manufacturers of the town. My earnestness in the cause of Electoral Reform had rendered the Whigs as inimical to me as the Tories. These points of antagonism were, however, limited to certain sets of interests in the boroughs ; outside of them I had fast friends. My advocacy of the claims of the frame- work knitters had also drawn warm hearts to me; and among a liberal constituency the extension of the franchise being held to be a just and necessary measure, I, who had succeeded Joseph Hume in advocating it in Parliament, was consequently popular. “

” It would have taken something more than the banding together of the manufacturing interest and the old Whigs and Tories, to deprive me of the esteem of a constituency whose interests I had devoted myself to and laboured for during five years, whose political battles I had fought, whose political debts I had paid, and towards whom I had redeemed in letter and in spirit every pledge I had taken. “

” One cry there was, however, that had in it potency enough to rouse every sect and interest against me -the cry of the ‘ Desecration of the Sabbath.’ I had moved in Parliament for the opening of the museums on Sundays after church hours. I was president of the Sunday League. The clergy joined their vituperations to those of the manufacturers and Whigs ; and to crown these, the Tories promised to support the candidate brought forward to oppose me. ”

Timid spirits quailed before this rallying cry of the Opposition. The frame-work knitters, unfortunately outside the pale of representation, never swerved from their allegiance to Sir Joshua Walmsley . That much-abused ” Sunday cry “ had in it a ring of sympathy with the overworked multitude ; and they from their hearts wished him to succeed over his rivals.

The Houses of Parliament, 1852

Parliament was dissolved the first week in March [1857]. On receiving the above address, Sir Joshua consented once more to stand for Leicester. Free trade, popular education, liberty of conscience, a wider extension of the suffrage, were still the four cardinal points of his political creed recapitulated in his address to his constituents.

At a public meeting on the 16th March, he explained the position he meant in the future to take in relation to the question of opening the museums on Sunday. ” I regard it as an educational movement, and my advocacy of it is based upon my earnest desire to do justice to the working classes in the metropolis. I am not here to enter into the merits or demerits of the question — one upon which many of the most pious, talented, and virtuous ministers of the day do not agree. But I am free to admit that with such an expression of public opinion against me on this question, I should not be justified were I to bring it, under existing circumstances, again before the consideration of Parliament Further, I am bound to say, with all honesty and sincerity. I have not altered my opinion upon it one iota. All that I did believe I continue to believe ; but now that it is taken up adversely by a great body of those who have been my earnest and warmest supporters, men whom I esteem and who are esteemed and beloved by their fellow-townsmen, I should, if it were again brought before the House of Commons, tender my resignation to this constituency; before, I felt in a position to support it, or to bring it before the House.”

This declaration on the Sunday question did not pacify Sir Joshua’s opponents. The struggle began in right earnest ; and, ” for a fortnight, “ to use the words of The Leicester Mercury, ” the town was divided against itself by an election contest approaching in bitterness and violence to an implacable civil war. “ Placards covered the walls denouncing Sir Joshua as an infidel. The clergy held meetings, where resolutions were passed of uncompromising opposition to the candidate favourable to the principles of the Sunday League.

The Whigs united with the Tories against the Reformer, and the manufacturers, resenting the part he had taken in the House of Commons in the frame-rent question, joined the other factions. Regardless of the antagonism and the misrepresentations rife on all sides, Sir Joshua persisted in his canvass. The poor frame-work knitters felt his cause was theirs and as he passed their cottage doors they, at all events, wished him ” God speed. ”

Market Place, Leicester

Friday, 27th March [1857], was the nomination-day, and a multitude filled the market-place. The cup of indignation was full to the brim when Sir Joshua saw how old friends had become enemies, how former political supporters had gone over to his opponents. His speech that morning exposed the inconsistency of those who some years ago had been his allies. ” Those gentlemen brought me to this town, having known me for nearly twenty years ; they then supported me, and glad and proud I am that they have not been able to bring one accusation against me. What did I pledge myself to on that occasion ? That in matters of commercial policy I should be, in the fullest sense, a free-trader ; that in matters of religion and education I should contend for perfect freedom and absolute equality ; and that, as regards the improvement of their representative institutions, I should advocate the scheme of reform embodied in Mr. Hume’s annual motion, which aims at securing the representation of every class of the community. I have fulfilled these pledges. ”  He went on to give a rapid sketch of the course he had followed in Parliament, showing that he had never swerved from the path he had pledged himself to follow. He spoke with great earnestness. Some twelve or fifteen thousand persons were assembled in the market-place, of which the great mass were non-electors, eagerly watching the proceedings of the day, and determined to pronounce their sentence, which they knew on the morrow they would be unable to record. At the close of all the candidates’ speeches, a show of hands being called for, the vast crowd arose, and an immense demonstration of feeling ensued in favour of Sir Joshua Walmsley.

The decision of this meeting was reversed next day in the polling-booths. The extraordinary excitement that had possessed the town for a fortnight reached its climax when the result was declared at four o’clock. The coalition had triumphed. Sir Joshua Walmsley was defeated. The votes were as follows :

1618 for Mr. Dove Harris,

1609 for Mr. Biggs,

1440 for Sir Joshua Walmsley.

Soon after the result was known, a concourse of people assembled in front of the hotel to hear the defeated candidate’s farewell words. An eye-witness described the assemblage as extending nearly the whole length of the street, computing it to have numbered some twenty thousand. This hotel was then the leading one in Leicester — a long, low, straggling building of the reign of Queen Anne. It has since been pulled down to make room for a handsome bank and other buildings. In a few words Sir Joshua — after thanking the assembly for the manner in which they had stood by one who was    opposed, not only by Tories, but by Whigs, who, deserting their colours and their principles, arrayed themselves against a man who, as far as he has been able, has stood forward here and elsewhere, during the whole course of his public life, to maintain, to the best of his ability, the rights and privileges of his fellow- countrymen “ — then urged those present  ” to unite hand and heart to carry out those great principles which secured to every man, who has intelligence enough to value it and exercise it, and who pays his rates and taxes, a right to vote for the man of his choice. ”

“ Yesterday, “ he went on, ” nine out of ten of the men of Leicester held up their hands for me ; and what would have been the result to-day if you, the hard- working, honest-hearted men of Leicester, if your votes had had weight in the balance ? May this be a lesson you will never forget. Remember they have defeated the man of your choice. “ Sir Joshua’s closing words enjoined to ” forget and forgive, “ while strenuously and peacefully striving for a juster state of things.

But all that night the town was excited, and bands of frame-work knitters paraded the streets, shouting Sir Joshua’s name. The Leicester Liberal papers next day teemed with expressions of regret at the defeat of the popular candidate. It was now decided that an address and a testimonial should be presented to Sir Joshua. The working classes especially responded to the movement, throwing their whole hearts into the work, to show honour and affection to the man who had devoted all the energies of his public life to the cause of justice, liberty, and true fraternity. Many were the wives of the stocking weavers who appended their signatures to the address of the women of Leicester, and who subscribed their pence to the testimonial to be presented to Sir Joshua Walmsley on his removal from the representation of the borough of Leicester.

On the 23rd of June [1857], the day fixed for the demonstration, long before noon, some thousands were assembled in front of Danett’s Hall, where Sir Joshua and Lady Walmsley were staying as guests of Dr. Noble. These electors and non-electors were waiting to escort the defeated candidate to the market-place. At half-past twelve the procession fell into rank. With some difficulty it made its way through crowded streets, that wore the aspect of a popular festival. Flowers festooned the houses ; flags and triumphal arches, bearing mottoes and greetings, decked the route. The cheering multitude, the bursts of music, the beauty of the day, made up a spectacle of brightness and cordiality that removed much of the bitterness that was naturally associated with this Leicester episode of Sir Joshua’s life.

A vast throng awaited the procession in the market-place. The Leicester Mercury estimated the numbers present at between twenty and thirty thousand. The testimonial, a centre-piece of massive silver, artistically designed, and two addresses — one signed by six thousand seven hundred and fifty women, and the other by five thousand six hundred and sixty- five electors and non-electors — were then presented.

There was also presented to Sir Joshua the pure white flag the ladies of Leicester had embroidered for him and Mr. Gardiner, on the occasion of the defeat of the petition against their election in 1852.

” I feel ,” said Sir Joshua, in the course of his brief speech of hearty acknowledgments, ” that this demonstration is a complete and ample reply, rebutting the calumnies recently circulated against me. ”

Temperance Hall, Leicester

A public soiree was held that evening in the Temperance Hall. Although the largest hall in the town, yet numbers were unable to obtain admittance.

” It would be impossible,” says the same eyewitness whose words we have already quoted, ” to describe the enthusiasm of the assembly, and the affectionate greeting given to Sir Joshua Walmsley.  “ Perhaps there never was an occasion on which the feelings of the disappointed majority of the population of a large town was more unequivocally expressed. ”

” We venture to say, “ remarks The Leicester Mercury ” that the proceedings of the 23rd June, 1857, will henceforth constitute one of the most interesting chapters in the history of the borough. Certainly no expression of public feeling was ever attended with more imposing circumstances. ”

Thus closed Sir Joshua Walmsley’s public connection with the borough of Leicester. It was also the closing scene of his public life.

Westbourne Terrace, looking south towards Hyde Park. 1843

Some time after the hubbub of that day’s excitement had subsided, a deputation of frame-work knitters waited upon him in his house in Westbourne Terrace. They came to thank him for his efforts in Parliament to alleviate their lot, and for his advocacy there of the right of the working-man to the franchise. They asked to be allowed to present Lady Walmsley with a pair of gloves or mittens they had woven in silk for her.

This humble testimonial was preciously kept by Sir Joshua, side by side with the silver centre-piece and the embossed addresses that had been presented to himself.