Category Archives: Families

Jonathan Binns, Assistant Agricultural Commissioner on the late Irish Poor Enquiry. 1835

In 1835 the Government established a Royal Commission whose brief was ” to inquire into the condition of the poorer classes of our subjects in Ireland and into the various institutions at present established by law for their relief; and also, whether any, and what further measures appear to be requisite to ameliorate the condition of the Irish poor, or any portion of them.”

Jonathan Binns travels in Ireland. The route in 1835 is in red, and the route in 1836 in green.

The reports which were published as a result of the Commission’s investigations give a most detailed account of social conditions in the country in the 1830’s. One of the topics which the Commission had to look at was agriculture and the conditions of the agricultural workers.  The assistant commissioner who had responsibility for this part of the inquiry was  Jonathan Binns. He paid two visits to Ireland, and in the course of these he travelled through nearly every county in the country.

His decision to write an account of his travels was motivated, he says, by ” a desire to promote, on the part of the inhabitants of this country (England) a more familiar acquaintance with the real situation and dispositions of the Irish people, and to encourage a more practical sympathy for their sufferings.”

The work was published in 1837, in two volumes, and its title was ” The Miseries and Beauties of Ireland.”

From  The Storeys of Old.   Mr. Jonathan Binns was a native of Liverpool, and then later Lancaster. His mother was one, Mary Albright of Lancaster. He was a skilled agriculturist and became Secretary of the Lancaster Agricultural Society in 1812, succeeding the Rev. James Stainbank, Rector of Halton and Vicar of Kellet.

Mr. Binns was the first person to have gas introduced into his house at Lancaster. His office was on Castle Hill, and his residence was in West Place. In 1824 he published a map of Lancaster made from his own survey; this map represents the character of Lancaster in 1821, and has all the old paddocks and wells marked upon it. In 1837 be published his book, ” The Miseries and Beauties of Ireland.” He was one of the original members of the Lancaster Literary, Scientific and Historic Society. He was an Assistant Commissioner engaged in an Agricultural Inquiry in Ireland. Mr. Binns married Rachel, daughter of William Streknay, a member of a well-known Yorkshire Quaker family. The marriage took place at the Friends’ Meeting House, Oustwick, near Hull. Mr. Binns died at Edenbreck, Lancaster, on the 10th March, 1871, aged 85 years. It may be added that Mr. Binns was appointed High Constable of Lonsdale South of the Sands on the 23rd April, 1842.  The Storeys of Old. There is no listed author, and the book is not dated but the forward is dated 1st March 1911  Carlisle, Cumberland, . 

He’s also a great, great, great, great grandfather.

 

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The Society for Effecting the Abolition of the African Slave trade, Liverpool 1788

The Wedgwood Medallion. Josiah Wedgwood created this design which became popular in the campaign against slavery and featured on brooches, tea caddies, and plates.

In May, 1787, the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the African Slave trade was instituted in London. The Committee consisted of Granville Sharp (chairman, and father of the cause in England), William Dillwyn (an American Quaker), Samuel Hoare, George Harrison, John Lloyd, Joseph Woods, Thomas Clarkson, Richard Phillips, John Barton, Joseph Hooper, James Phillips, and Philip  Sansom. With the exception of Sharp, Clarkson, and Sansom, all the members were of the Society of Friends……………

In January 1788, the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the African Slave trade made its first appearance before the public of Liverpool with a well-written address, designed  to prove that the traffic, which was then said to bring about £ 300,000 a year into the Port of Liverpool, was immoral and unjust, and one which ought to be abolished, as unworthy of a Christian people. A list of members of the society was published in the same year, from which it appears that there were eight riteous persons still left in Liverpool, who had not bowed the knee to Baal. Their names, and the amount of their subscriptions were as follows:-

                                                                       £    s.    d.

Anonymous, Liverpool                               2.   2.    0.

Dr Jonathan Binns, Liverpool                    1.   1.    0.

Mr Daniel Daulby, Liverpool                     1.    1.    0.

Mr William Rathbone, Liverpool              2.    12.  6.

Mr William Rathbone Junr, Liverpool      2.    2.    0.

Mr William Roscoe, Liverpool                  1.     1 .   0.

Mr William Wallace, Liverpool                 2.     2.    0.

Mr John Yates,Liverpool                           2.     2.    0.

There are two footnotes

1. Baines, Picton, and others state only two Liverpool names – those of William Rathbone and Dr Binns – figured in the list of original members. In the printed list at the Picton Reference Library, we finf eight subscribers, as above. “Anonymous” was probably Dr. Currie.

2.  Jonathan Binns, M.D. was for many years senior physician to the Liverpool Dispensary. He published, at Edinburgh, in 1762, Dissertatio Medica in Auguralis de Exercitatione. He superintented, for some time, the school belonging to the Society of Friends, in Yorkshire,[Ackworth School]  and whilst there, published an English Grammar, and also a Vocabulary. He removed to Lamcaster, where he practised as a physician untilthe time of his death, in 1812, aged 65 years. – “Smithers’ History,” p. 433.

From “ History of the Liverpool Privateers, and Letters of Marque, with an account of the Liverpool Slave trade.. “ Gomer Williams  1897

Sources for the footnotes

“ History, directory and gazetteer of the county palatine of Lancaster vol 1”:  Edward Baines  1824

Liverpool, its commerce, statistics, and institutions; with a history of the cotton trade” :  Henry Smithers:  1825

Lancashire and Cheshire, past and present: “  Thomas Baines:   1867

Memorials of Liverpool : historical and topographical, including a history of the Dock Estate vol 1 & 2” :  Sir James Allanson Picton  1875

Education, Politics, Religion, and Bigotry in Liverpool in the 1830’s and 1840’s

This post is a combination of extracts from  The Life Of Sir Joshua Walmsley, By His Son, Hugh Mulleneux Walmsley. Chapman And Hall, 193, Piccadilly.  1879. and Thomas Burke’s ” Catholic History of Liverpool,”  Liverpool : C. Tinling & Co., Ltd., Printers, 53, Victoria Street. 1910.  Both are slightly partisan sources. Uncle Hugh’s biography of his father is uncritical to put it mildly, but it does quote his father apparently verbatim, which is nice. Tom Burke takes a pro-Catholic, and Irish Nationalist position, but that doesn’t detract from the power and polemic in his writing.

Education, as with so many other things, was a hornet’s nest of politics, religion, bigotry, racism, and class. The Municipal Reform Bill of 1835 had resulted in a huge landslide vote for the Reformers or Whigs giving them a total of 44 councillors and 15 aldermen, against only 4 Tory councillors, and a single alderman.  Until the Reform Act Liverpool had always been a Tory corporation. So it was a radical change.

The first extract is Chapter IX of Hugh Walmsley’s book.

On the eve of the termination of the reform council’s first year in office, [November 1836]  when, according to a clause of the Municipal Reform Bill, sixteen of its members were to go out, Mr. Walmsley read a paper, entitled, ” What has the new council done ?” In it he passed in review the abuses that had been found prevalent, and the Acts that had been framed. Notwithstanding the difficulties with which it had to contend, the Council had effected a saving to the borough fund of ten thousand pounds per annum. In this paper he also expounded the system by which the Educational Committee had opened the Corporation schools to all sects and denominations.

Let us glance at this act of the council, one that raised a storm in Liverpool, the like of which had not been known. Mr. William Rathbone and Mr. Blackburn took the lead in the movement. Mr. Walmsley devoted to it what time he could spare from the arduous task of reforming the police.

The feeling that impelled the Educational Committee to advocate the adoption in the Corporation schools of the Irish system of education, was awakened by the spectacle of the multitude of children in Liverpool debarred from every chance of instruction. The report drawn up by the committee showed that besides numerous Dissenters, there were sixty thousand poor Irish Catholics in the town. The old corporation had quietly ignored this alien population, but threw open the doors of the Corporation schools to children of all sects, provided they attended the services of the Established Church, used the authorised edition of the Bible, and the Church Catechism. This virtually closed these schools against the Irish. The new council maintained that the State had the same responsibility as regards these children as it had towards others ; and the Educational Committee drew out a plan from that of the Honourable Mr. Stanley, Secretary for Ireland in 1831, [later Prime Minister three times as the Earl of Derby] Dr. Whately, and others, for the education of the Irish poor. Early in July, the committee laid its scheme before the council. The schools were to open at 9 A.M, with the singing of a hymn. The books of the Irish Commission were to be used. Clergymen of every denomination were invited to attend at the hour set apart for the religious instruction of the children of the various sects. The town council unanimously adopted the plan and made it public.

The storm now burst over Liverpool, and crowded meetings were held at the amphitheatre and elsewhere, to protest against the Act, and to promote the erection and endowment of other schools, where the un-mutilated Bible would form a compulsory part of every child’s education. In vain the council invited its accusers to come and see for themselves, the un- mutilated Bible forming part of the daily education. The cry continued to be raised by the clergy, and to be loudly echoed by their agitated flocks.

” Dissenting and Roman Catholic clergymen came,” said Mr. Walmsley, ” eagerly, to teach the children of their respective flocks during the hour appointed for religious instruction ; but with the exception of the Rev. James Aspinall, the English clergy stood obstinately aloof. Soon, in addition to the meetings, the walls were placarded with great posters, signed by clergymen. These exhorted parents not to send their children to the Corporation schools, promising them the speedy opening of others, where the un-mutilated Word of God should be taught Some of the lower classes maltreated children on their way to the schools, pelted and hooted members of the committee as they passed. The characters of Mr. Blackburn, Mr. Rathbone, and my own were daily assailed in pulpits and social gatherings. Still we persevered, answering at public meetings the charges brought against us, and inviting our detractors to come and visit the schools. So particular was the Educational Committee that each child should be taught according to the creed of its parents, that every sect seemed represented. I remember one child, on being asked the invariable question on entering the schools, to what persuasion her parents belonged, answered, to the ‘ New Church.’ We were puzzled to know what the ‘ New Church ‘ was ; it proved to be Swedenborgian. She was the single lamb belonging to this fold, yet a teacher of her creed was found ready to undertake her education.”

To illustrate to what degree fanaticism blunts the moral sense of those who blindly surrender themselves to its influence, we quote the following fact :  ” One day, when the hour of religious instruction had come, a clergyman of preponderating influence entered the schoolroom of the North School. The large room was divided into two compartments by a curtain drawn across it ; on one side were the Roman Catholics, on the other were the Protestants. The latter, divided into several groups, were gathered round different teachers. My wife, who seconded with all her heart this scheme of liberal education, was a daily visitor in the North School. She taught a class there — the Church Catechism and lessons from the authorised version of the Scriptures.”

“The clergyman made the circuit of the room, passing near each group. He at last approached my wife’s class and lingered near it. The lesson was taken from the Scriptures. It was no class-book of Biblical extracts she was using, but the Bible as it is used in the Protestant Church. The reverend visitor listened to the questions put and answers given, and to the children reciting their verses. The following Sunday my wife and I went to church. The preacher that day proved to be the clergyman who had a few days before visited the school. The sermon was eloquent, and, as usual, was directed against the spread of Liberalism and the ‘ Radical council.’ In the midst of the torrent of denunciation the preacher emphatically asserted that, some days before, he had visited the Corporation schools in the hour of religious instruction, and that no Bible was in use during that time.”

As the period drew nigh for the November election to replace the retiring third of the council, the religious zeal of the town burned higher. To the imagination of frightened Protestants, theConservatives presented themselves in the reassuring role of ” Defenders of the Faith.” They played the part so well that seven Tories replaced seven of the sixteen Liberal councillors who had retired.

Matters had now reached such a pitch that, at the next meeting of the board, Mr. Birch moved that the schools be discontinued, the property sold, and the Corporation trouble itself no more with the question of education. The proposition was so unexpected that the debate upon the motion was adjourned for a fortnight.

When the day for the debate arrived, the Educational Committee were ready to meet their opponents. In long and able speeches, Mr. Rathbone and Mr. Blackburn met and refuted every objection. They sketched the history of the mixed system of education, showed its essential fitness to the requirements of Liverpool, where the number of Catholics and Dissenters rendered the question of education as knotty to solve as the Government had found it to be in Ireland. They described the difficulties they had already surmounted, and earnestly pleaded that no change should be introduced into the committee’s plans until fair time for trial had been allowed it. Mr. Walmsley also spoke. He made no attempt to refute the quibbling assertions advanced against the system, but he went straight to the heart of the subject, to the humanity and justice that were the very core of it. This was no political or party question, but one in the decision of which the moral training and future welfare of a number of children were involved. He showed that one thousand three hundred children were daily taught in the schools; if the majority were Catholics, it proved only their greater need of schools. ” The result of giving them up,” he said, “would be to give up to vice and ignorance children whose hopes we have raised towards better things. It has truly been said that ‘ he who retards the progress of intellect countenances crime, and is to the State the greatest criminal.’ ”

By a large majority of votes, the council decreed that the mixed system should be continued in the schools.

In the month of August, 1837, Mr. Wilderspin, to whom the committee had entrusted their arrangement and organisation, announced that his work was finished. Before retiring, he wished an examination to take place of all the scholars. Clergymen attended to put the little Protestants through a sifting and trying ordeal. The result of this trial will be best expressed in an extract from a letter of the Rev. J. Carruthers. ” The examination proves that the teaching given is not of a secular kind, but on the contrary embraces an amount of instruction far exceeding what is usual in either public or private seminaries. The Bible is not excluded, is not a sealed book. The amount and accuracy of Biblical knowledge possessed is astonishing.”

Thus the children silenced by their answers the cry raised against the mutilation of the Scriptures. The innocent replies proved better than could the ablest defence, in what spirit the Educational Committee had worked, and in what spirit their enemies had judged their efforts.

Before separating, the audience who had been present, and who for the most part had come to criticise, united in passing a vote of thanks and congratulation to the Educational Committee for the work they had done, and for the excellent state of the schools.

We have dwelt at some length on this attempt of the council to establish a free and religious scheme of education in Liverpool, for it was destined to prove the rock ahead on which Liberalism was to split.

The following is from Tom Burke. The wording in brackets is from footnotes in the original; and he is calling the Reformers, or Whigs, Liberals, not a term they themselves would have used at the time.

Tom Burke tells us of ” the delicate relations between the English and Irish Catholics of the town, and the ease with which the susceptibilities of the latter could be touched in a tender spot. “

The differences were momentarily forgotten over the memorable fight for the schools at the November election of 1841. Somewhat prematurely the Liberal party announced that if returned to power they would build schools in every district of the town to be conducted on the same lines as the two schools already in existence. McNeill and his Tory followers paraded the streets with open [Life of William Rathbone, by Miss Eleanor Rathbone. ] Bibles attached to long poles, and strenuously appealed to the electors not to allow the erection of any schools unless Catholics and Dissenters would accept instruction from the authorised  version of the Scripture. ” Converted priests “ harangued frenzied Protestant audiences, and were described by John Rosson, quoting Edmund Burke, ” as only qualified to read the English language,” and went on to say that as scholars they were ” despicable “ and as divines ” grossly ignorant men “ These Orange zealots forgot in their blind fury that the outcome of a Tory Protestant victory would be to force the Catholics to build schools for themselves, else they had never undertaken the campaign which aroused the worst passions of one section of the community and effectually destroyed for many years peace and harmony among the diverse sections which made up the Liverpool of the early forties.

Wild stories were put in circulation of the ” murder “ of seven Protestant clergymen in Ireland, which so inflamed the Orange population of Toxteth that they smashed up an anti-Corn Law meeting in Great George Place, confusing, in their frenzy, economics with ” Popery.” They then marched to St. Patrick s Chapel, and shattered the windows of both schools and church. The wife of a policeman was saying her prayers quietly in the church when the infuriated mob made the attack, and, as the consequence, lost her life from fright, an incident which increased animosity on both sides. The Conservative party, emboldened by the strife, demanded that no prayers should be recited in the Council schools save those to be found in the Anglican liturgy, and that no teachers should be appointed outside those who professed the Protestant faith as defined by Dr. McNeill. A lady had been appointed a teacher at the North Corporation School, on the  recommendation of the Protestant Bishop of Ferns. Coming from Ireland, her orthodoxy was suspected and the Conservatives in the Council refused to ratify the decision of the Education Committee. The Liberals declared that they declined to make religious belief a test, but had no objection to informing their opponents that the lady in question professed the Protestant faith. On this assurance, and for ” the maintenance of truth,” the Conservatives withdrew their opposition. They had, however, secured their object, the ” maintenance “ of religious controversy, and had so well succeeded that they fought the elections with an air of confidence, which was abundantly justified by the results.

The Liberals were swept out of the Council by this whirlwind of passion ; only three being returned at the poll. Every retiring Liberal Alderman was ousted, and until 1892 the Liberal party remained in a hopeless minority. The Catholic Aldermen Sheil and Roskell, fell with their Liberal colleagues, and William Rathbone suffered his third defeat in Great George Ward. Flushed with victory, the Tories resolved upon a policv of making it impossible for any Catholic child attending further the Corporation schools. The educational treaty of peace was rudely torn up, never to be restored, as the Nonconformists very naturally were driven into bitter hostility against the party which had practically resolved to teach at the expense of the ratepayers, the authority of the Church of England. The elections were fought on the first of November, and by the first day of the following month the Catholics learned with dismay the intentions of the dominant party. They took up a firm but dignified attitude and presented the following remonstrance to the new Corporation :

” It being generally understood that it is in contemplation to discard the Douai Version of the Bible entirely from the Council schools, and to require that all the children shall use the Authorised Version of the Established Church, and shall, moreover, join in a common form of prayer at the beginning and end of school, the Catholic clergy of Liverpool beg most respectfully to state to the Council that they cannot conscientiously concur in such an arrangement, whereby the religious principles of the children attending the schools will be compromised ; and pray that the contemplated changes may not be adopted.”

Then follow the signatures of the Rev. Dr. Youens (St. Nicholas ), Fathers Wilcock (St. Anthony’s), Thos. Fisher, O.S.B. (St. Mary’s), and Dale, O.S.B. (St. Peter’s).

Councillor Smith proposed that separate schools should be provided for the Catholics in poor districts. The debate which ensued was characterised by truculency and tolerance. Unitarianism and ” Popery “ were regarded as convertible terms by the Conservative leaders, and in insulting and contemptuous language the Catholic claim to be regarded as citizens was flouted and rejected. Why the Unitarian body should have been singled out for reproach was probably due to the fact that the leading Liberals, with few exceptions, belonged to that community, and distinguished themselves not only by their entire sympathy with the cause of religious toleration, but gave many practical tokens of sympathy with the Catholics of the town.

The Catholic children had no option but to withdraw from the Council schools, an action which gave intense satisfaction to the Tories, especially with regard to the North Corporation School. True to the course which had been mapped out beforehand, the Council schools were now turned into adjuncts of the Established Church, and all children in the Bevington Bush School were compelled to attend on Sundays and marched to the church service in St. Bartholomew’s, Naylor Street, unless the parents objected.” To mark his ” abhorrence “ of this policy, the Earl of Sefton sent a donation of twenty-five pounds to St. Anthony’s Schools, Scotland Road,[” Another kind of Town Councillor arose, who, with great pretension to religion, most irreligiously and unjustly, expelled from the public schools Catholic children by the hundreds.” St. Anthony’s Report, 1842.] and many other Liberals, including Sir Joshua Walmsley [ Mayor of Liverpool, 1839-40 ; afterwards M.P.] followed his example. The Catholic mind was finally made up. ” Schools of our own ! “ was the cry which resounded from every home as well as every pulpit. Thus the Tories of Liverpool may be styled the promoters of that magnificent series of Catholic schools which have sprung up in every quarter of Liverpool, to which came the teaching orders who lifted elementary education to the highest pinnacle of perfection. The bigoted Evangelicals did not anticipate such a result. Had they been far-seeing, instead of being blinded by rancour and partisanship, they would have seen that their policy would eventually bring about this result.

What would have happened had McNeill not driven the Liberals from power is now an interesting speculation. Every ward in Liverpool would have had its Council school, and under the disinterested management of a Liberal Education Committee most Catholic children would have been in attendance. Mixed schools are not looked upon with friendly eyes by Catholics, but the success of a six years experiment, and the poverty of the labouring classes, would, in all human probability, have prevented the erection of purely Catholic schools for a generation.

Where were the teachers to come from ? was the anxious query heard on all sides. The Government had made no provision for training teachers. Ireland came to the rescue, so far as the boys were concerned, and with the advent of the Irish Christian Brothers [The same work has been undertaken in Rome by the Irish Christian Brothers, at the express request of Pope Pius the Tenth. ] to St. Patrick s a new era of usefulness and charity was begun for that fine body of teachers. Later on they came to St. Anthony’s, St. Nicholas , St. Mary’s, and St. Vincent’s. Without payment or reward, save the voluntary offerings of the parents, these cultured men did a noble work for the poor children of their own race. To make them practical, earnest Catholics was their first aim ; to equip them for the battle of life was an easy matter for a body which had long distinguished itself by practical aims which have since disappeared from curriculums framed by more ambitious but less successful educationalists. For forty years they laboured in the town, and their departure under the pressure of the Act of 1870 caused widespread dissatisfaction.

To them belongs the distinction of founding the first evening continuation schools, in St. Patrick’s, during the year 1842, which were attended by one hundred and twenty Irish adults, anxious as most Irishmen have ever been for education. Such an impression was created by this experiment that Dr. Ullathorne, O.S.B., paid a special visit to St. Patrick’s to preach a sermon in its support. The Benedictines at St. Mary’s summoned a special meeting on December 16th, 1842, in the Grecian Hotel, to consider the sad plight of the great numbers of poor children in that district. They adopted a resolution regretting the decision of the Town Council, and resolved to issue an appeal to friends of education ” of all ” denominations to provide means of dealing with these “unfortunate children.” [Liverpool Albion.] Fathers Fisher, Wilkinson and Dale addressed a letter to the senior churchwarden of the Parish of Liverpool, Mr. W. Birkett, pointing out the condition of the poor children of St. Mary’s, and expressing the hope that the community would provide means for their instruction. The impertinent reply which followed illustrates the unfortunate tone and temper of the official Anglicans towards the Catholics of that day. Mr. Birkett began and ended by denying the right of the three Benedictines to claim the title of priests or be called “reverend,” as they had not been ordained in conformity with the laws of the Church of England. It became necessary to give this gentleman an elementary lesson in the doctrine of the Church whose self- appointed spokesman he had become, and Father Wilkinson was selected by his brethren to perform that duty. How well he performed the task may be gleaned from this crushing reply :

“With regard to my Orders, though I have not entered the ministry by making the declaration required by the rubrics of the Established Church, permit me, sir, to inform you, that the rubrics of that Church recognise the validity of my Orders ; and, if from a desire to have less labour and more pay, or any other equally creditable motive, I were to apostatize from the faith of my fathers, and embrace a creed in conformity with the laws of this realm, a Bishop of your Church would readily admit the validity of my Orders, and at once appoint me to a curacy. And now, as to my designating myself a Catholic clergyman, I am a humble member of the ancient faith, Catholic in every attribute, and in every sense, Catholic in all ages and in every nation ; Catholic by the received and admitted consent of mankind ; properly designated Catholic in history, geography, in the works of travellers, in the Senate, at the bar, in the public journals, in the drawing- room, and in every other department and locality, unless an exception be found in the vestry of Our Lady and St. Nicholas.”

Quoting the full title of the old parish church was the unkindest cut of all; devotion to Our Lady or St. Nicholas not being a prominent feature of the principles of the unfortunate recipient of this well-merited castigation.

The better educated members of the English Church heartily enjoyed Father Wilkinson s ready and apt reply. Church warden Birkett was snuffed out, and did not venture again into the fields of religious controversy.

 

St Patrick’s, Park Place, Toxteth

Liverpool had expanded hugely over the course of the eighteenth century, from a small fishing town with a population of 5,714 in 1700, to a 1,400% increase of population to 77,708 in 1801. The population more than doubled again by 1831 to 165,221. The vast majority was immigration from Ireland.  The pressures this created on the need for housing, schools, and churches form a rather murky undertone to almost everything that happens in Liverpool, and particularly the politics. There are other strands as well, the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, the Corn Laws in 1815, a succession of poor Irish harvests in the 1820’s and 1830’s, the fight for Catholic emancipation leading to the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829, and the fight for Parliamentary Reform.

The following is largely extracted from Thomas Burke’s ” Catholic History of Liverpool,”  Liverpool : C. Tinling & Co., Ltd., Printers, 53, Victoria Street. 1910.  The wording in brackets is from footnotes in the original.

” The opening year of the nineteenth century witnessed a large influx of poor Irish people into Liverpool. One writer attributed the immigration to the passage into law of the Act of Union [Brook’s History of Liverpool.] which abolished the Irish Houses of Parliament, and provided for the future government of Ireland from Westminster. It is difficult to see how such an Act was directly responsible for sending the Irish of 1801 in large numbers to Liverpool, though it is certain that the result which ensued therefrom created the Irish Liverpool of a later date.

In the year 1821, the Catholic population, estimated by the numbers attending Mass on the Sunday mornings, was 12,000, as compared with a total seating accommodation of 56,200 in all the Anglican and Dissenting places of worship in the town. From a census taken in this same year we learn that the total number of houses occupied were 19,007, the average number of dwellers therein amounting to 5.84.

A distinguished Liverpool Irishman, [Henry Smithers, in  Liverpool, Its Commerce, Statistics, and InstitutionsWith a History of the Cotton Trade, T. Kaye, 1825]  calculated that ten years earlier (1811) there were 21,359 Catholics living inside the town boundaries. As corroborating this opinion, a priest attached to St. Nicholas speaking at a public meeting in the schools in 1830, declared that the Catholics numbered not less than one-third or one-fourth of the entire population, [165,221 in 1831]  and called special attention to the definitely ascertained fact that in the course of twenty-three years the number of Catholic baptisms had increased 340 per cent. [Liverpool Mercury, 21st May, 1830.]

More churches were needed.  The next extension of church accommodation took place at St. Peter’s, Seel Street, the extended church being opened on November 27, 1817.

In 1822, another influx of Irish immigrants arrived in the town, due to the severity of Irish landowners, who demanded their pound of flesh notwithstanding the generally depressed condition of Irish agriculture.

The newspapers record the sequel in these words. ” Crowds of indigent poor sought relief at the workhouse in Cumberland Street, and at the parish church of St. Peter’s, Church Street.” It would be an interesting item of historical value could we calculate the heavy cost to Liverpool ratepayers of Irish misgovernment, and a no less interesting speculation would be the progress of Catholicism in Liverpool had Pitt failed in carrying into law the ill-fated Act of Union. This second exodus from Ireland to Liverpool must have been very considerable, as a local historian* tells us that around the Exchange not fifteen in a hundred were natives of the town owing to the numbers of poor Irish  arriving daily. This immense mass of Catholics around the Tithebarn Street and Vauxhall Road area, entailed serious consequences social and economic to the town which have not wholly disappeared to this hour (1910), and brought about the erection of further chapels and schools, but for which the citizens of Liverpool had been brought face to face with insoluble problems of crime and lawlessness. Liverpool has failed entirely to realise its debt to the devoted Catholic clergy and the energetic Catholic laymen who saved the situation to some extent both in the twenties and the terrible years which were soon to follow.

This Irish congestion had a curious sequel if we are to credit the statement that when the “cabbage patches “ which lined ” the road to Ormskirk,” had to give way to much needed sites for dwelling houses, the new street was called Marie-la-bonne, modified to Marybone, at the request of the Catholics ” who began to occupy the houses erected.”! Agricultural land now assumed a high value as ” eligible “ building sites, and brought in its train as a logical result the awful problem of housing the poor which perplexes local and imperial statesmen ignorant of the one method of solving the difficulty.

St Patrick’s, Park Place, Toxteth

St. Mary’s Chapel, just sixty-six feet long and forty-eight broad was sorely taxed to find room for the thousands who sought to hear Mass therein…… A similar state of affairs existed at the South end of the town. Seel Street Chapel was utterly unable to cope with the congested Irish population living in the streets off Park Lane and St. James Street, and a lay committee took in hand the erection of a new church to supply the spiritual needs of this Irish colony.

The dedication of the church leaves no doubt as to the nationality of the poor for whom it was founded and quite a thrill of enthusiasm swept over the Irish population at the announcement that the Park Place Church was to be placed under the protection of the Apostle of Ireland. [Strong opposition was offered by the Protestant body to the erection, on the ground that there was plenty of accommodation already.]  Touched by the needs of the Irish poor many of the leading Liberals gave substantial assistance towards the undertaking, and the poor contributed their mite generously and whole heartedly. The English Catholics of the town were generous to a degree and on the 17th of March, 1821, not many months after the project had been conceived, the foundation stone was laid amidst scenes of jubilation, probably never equalled since that memorable day.

St. Patrick’s feast occurred on a Saturday that year, not the most suitable day for public rejoicings or processions, but the day mattered not, the heart of Catholic and Irish Liverpool was touched in its tenderest part, and a great procession was the result. Those were the days of great faith. Consequently the day was opened by the Irish Society attending Mass at St. Mary’s, a compliment to the parent church as well as a thanksgiving to God, and then reforming, the procession wended its way to St. Anthony’s, where the second half of the procession had also heard Mass at an early hour. Led by several carriages in which were seated the rector of St. Nicholas, Father Penswick, Father Dennet, of Aughton, and the preacher at the ceremony, Father Kirwan, St. Michan’s, Dublin, the monstre procession moved off on its long march to Park Place. Then followed the Irish Societies, wearing their regalia, bearing banners and flags, and accompanied by numerous brass and fife bands, including the Hibernian Society, Benevolent Hibernian Society, Hibernian Mechanical Society, Benevolent Society of St. Patrick, Amicable Society of St. Patrick, Free and Independent Brothers, Industrious Universal Society and the Society of St. Patrick. The last named organisation was founded specially to raise funds for the new church. Behind these organisations which comprised fifteen thousand men, marched the school children from the schools of Copperas Hill and the Hibernian School in Pleasant Street.

That year the famous Irish regiment [Connaught Rangers.] whose exploits under Wellington in the Peninsular War were still remembered, was stationed in the town. On hearing of the proposed procession they expressed a keen desire to take part in it, and the Officer in command appealed to the War Office for the necessary permission, which was readily given. Their appearance in the procession, many of them bearing signs of their services to the King, aroused the sympathies of the liberal minded non-Catholic population and kindled the enthusiasm of their countrymen to fever heat. In the absence of the Vicar Apostolic who sent his blessing, Father Penswick well and truly laid the foundation stone, and amidst the jubilation ” of the thousands of English Catholics in the town ” and the plaudits of the immense crowd of native born Irishmen, the new mission was launched on its notable career. The festivities concluded by four public banquets held in Crosshall Street, Sir Thomas Buildings, Ranelagh Street and Paradise Street.

St Patrick’s, Toxteth – interior

Two years later the unfinished building began to be used and quite a surprise was felt by the average citizen at the strange and unique spectacle of hundreds of men and women kneeling outside the walls of the church on Sunday mornings, unable to obtain admission to the sacred edifice which was crowded to its utmost capacity as far as its condition permitted. Father Penswick, who was the head and front of the scheme for founding the church, made a herculean effort to finish the building. To this end he founded in his own parish an auxiliary branch of the Society of St. Patrick and raised a considerable sum of money. Many distinguished Irish ecclesiastics crossed over to Liverpool and preached in the still unfinished building; the Professor of Rhetoric at Maynooth one Sunday morning collecting two hundred pounds. Irish and English Catholics worked harmoniously until a foolish murmur was spread abroad that Father Penswick intended to put an English priest in charge of the mission and that he intended to frustrate the idea of the lay Trustees to make the ground floor of the church free for ever.

This latter proposal, afterwards carried out, is a striking light on the poverty of the masses of the people at that time. An angry correspondence sprang up in the newspapers and retarded the collection of the needed funds, but eventually the rumours were dispelled by the appointment of Father Murphy.

On the 22nd August, 1827, the church was opened by ceremonies of such splendour and solemnity as had never before been witnessed by Liverpool Catholics of any preceding age. Over forty priests were seated in the chancel, coming from all parts of Lancashire and Cheshire. As a compliment to the founder of the church, Father Penswick was invited to sing the High Mass, an eloquent sermon being preached by Father Walker (later on one of the resident clergy), who had a high reputation as a pulpit orator. The amount collected inside the church on that day reached the large sum of three hundred pounds. The papers of the day paid special attention as usual to the musical portion of the service which was of a very high character, and specifically mentioned a  young priest named White whose singing attracted much public attention. He had but recently returned from his studies in Rome and was asked by Pope Leo the Twelfth to join the choir in the Sistine chapel. This flattering offer was declined; the young Levite preferring the hard work of a mission in his native Lancashire to musical fame in the Eternal City. On the Sunday following the ceremony the church was opened free to the public as had been arranged by the Trustees; a stone laid in the outer west wall inscribed with this condition stands to this hour to perpetuate this curious condition. Mr. John Brancker, one of the noblest spirited public men of a generation remarkable for the high character and unselfishness of so many of its leading citizens on the Liberal side, had given generously to the funds for the church. He gave one special gift which against his own wishes told succeeding generations of his great charity. The fine statue of St. Patrick which stands outside the church was ordered by him from a Dublin firm of sculptors and placed in position in November, 1827. It has the distinction of being the first Catholic emblem displayed to public gaze in Liverpool since St. Patrick s Cross in Marybone had been destroyed.

Thirty four years later in 1861, the future Mgr. Henry O’Bryen was the 3rd curate at the church.

A Quaker Funeral, Liverpool, 1774.

I came across this piece from a newspaper article written by George J Binns in 1932. He turns out to be a first cousin four times removed, and Jonathan Binns, MD, 1747-1812, his great-grandfather is, by our generation, a great, great, great, great, great-grandfather. Apparently there is a transcript of the diary in the Liverpool Central Library.

The request for records of Victorian funeral customs has recalled to me the following account of a Quaker funeral at Liverpool, in 1774. It is taken from the diary of Jonathan Binns, MD, 1747-1812, my great-grandfather.

July 16. Was at the Funeral of Sarah Chorley, late wife of JnChorley Mercnt in Liverpl to which there was a general invitation of Friends given at the week day Meeting before & a particular invitation on Cards sent along with white Gloves to the Friends with whom they were more particularly acquainted; as also to a few Gentlemen of their particular acquaintance; & to all the Ladies that she had visited since she came to town: the form of invitation was as follows.

   “Doctor Binns’ attendance is desired to

   the funeral of Sarah Chorley tomorrow at

   2 o’clock to go out at 3.

   July 15, 1774.”

The Uncles aunts & nearer relations not only of the deceased but also of Jno Chorley’s sat in the room where the Corps lay; the Cousins & the BEARERS in another room upstairs; the Ladies in another; all the Friends (except relations or Bearers) in the large Parlour; and the Gentlemen were in a room at their neighbour Savages…..

  The procession from their house in Hanover Street, to our Meeting house & Burial Ground was as follows.

The Men invited to the funeral went first without order; next the Eight Women Bearers drest in long Hoods & light drab Gowns went two & two: after them the Hearse containing the Corps drawn by two black Horses; the driver had no black Cloaths but no Cloak as is customary; next to this JnChorley, his late Wife’s Mother & one of her Sisters, then another Chariot with the other Sister & two other aged female relations who cou’d not very well walk.

The rest of the relations followed on foot, & after them the Women drove up the rear.

     The streets were lined with a great number of spectators, & it was with great difficulty that we got to the Meeting house Doors, as they were kept shut, to prevent the rabble from filling the Meeting house before those that were invited got it: on which accthe astonishing crowd which had collected together on the occasion cou’d not easily recede to make way by reason of the narrowness of the street, & others pressing down at the other end; at length with some difficulty & danger of driving over people, but without any hurt (so far as I cou’d learn) the Hearse got just past the doors, the Corps was taken out & carried into the Meeting house under hand by the Eight bearers by towels passed thro’ the handles affixed to the sides & ends of the Coffin which was made of fine Mahogany, with the Initials of her name and her age in brass nails upon the lid. Four or more Friends stood at the doors to keep out rude people.

     Two stranger public Frds were invited & came viz Margt Raine from Crawshaybth & Sarah Taylor frManchester. they were at Lancaster on acct of the Quarterly Meetg when the News got there of S Chorley’s death; they therefore came directly thence.

   After sitting in Meeting abt 2 hours & something having been said by my Father & Sarah Taylor it was broke up & the bearers then took up the Corps & bore it to the side of the Grave when (after a few minutes stillness) it was let down & covered up. Then the relations & others withdrew, some of the nearest related returned in carriages to JC’s there were likewise Coaches order’d for the Bearers who accompanied them: and thus ended this truly solemn solemnity.

    NB:  A Dinner was ordered for thirty people (at Banner’s the Goldn Fleece in Dale st) that were to come at a distance; tho several came yet only six dined there.

George J Binns.

Notes & Queries, 27th August 1932 “

The Binns Collection In The Liverpool Public Library

I came across a paper entitled ” The Binns Family Of Liverpool And The Binns Collection In The Liverpool Public Library By Eveline B. Saxton, M.A., A.L.A. ”  which was published as part of the ” Transactions Of The Historic Society Of Lancashire And Cheshire Vol. CXI.  For The Year 1959 “. Miss Saxton seems to have been, at one time, the Assistant-in-charge of the Local History Department, Liverpool Public Libraries. She was also a long-serving member of the Council of the Lancashire and Cheshire Historic Society. One gets the feeling that there is probably rather more to her that that brief description implies.

Miss Saxton throws up almost as many questions as she answers in her paper, she starts:

” All students of Liverpool local history will be acquainted with the most interesting collection of maps, views of old Liverpool and Lancashire, and portraits of old Lancashire worthies in the Liverpool Record Office, which goes by the name of the Binns Collection, and is contained partly in thirty five elephant folio volumes and partly in a number of very large boxes. The originator of the collection was a Liverpool Quaker named Thomas Binns, and it is a remarkable fact that though he was born in Liverpool and belonged to a family esteemed and respected in the town in both public and private life for over a hundred years, when he died in 1842 so little was known of his origin that the prominent Liverpool paper, the Albion, described him as having been born in Ireland. “

She continues:

” It is yet more remarkable that, in spite of two other important Liverpool papers stating that he was born in Liverpool, his Irish birth was accepted as the true version and the error perpetuated in an article in the Lancaster Guardian of 8 April 1911. He was in fact born in Church Street, where his father had lived for over five years, on 24 November 1771, and his name appears in the register of births for the Quarterly Meeting of Lancashire.”

“In 1932 a letter arrived at the Liverpool Reference Library from a Mr. George Binns, a solicitor in Lancaster, who had seen the reference to this Thomas Binns from Ireland in the Lancaster paper, and wrote to refute the statement. He expressed a desire to inspect the Binns Collection on a coming visit to Liverpool, and later not only sent to the Library all the data he could collect on Thomas Binns and genealogical notes on the family, but also lent a transcript of the letters and diaries of Jonathan Binns, the uncle of Thomas, a prominent Liverpool doctor, with permission to copy as much as was thought necessary for the Library records.”

” Thomas Binns died on 27 December 1842, and  Gore’s Liverpool Advertiser of 5 January 1843, said,  “At his house, Mount Vernon, at the age of 71, Thomas Binns, a member of the Society of Friends. He was a native of Liverpool, and was for a long period highly respected in business, filled the offices of chairman of the Underwriters’ and other associations, and was treasurer to the Infirmary, at the important era of the building of the present edifice”. But however honourably he fulfilled his obligations in business and public, Thomas’s real interest was in the collecting of items of local topography. He was a born collector, and when he died he left, in addition to real property in Liverpool and North Lancashire, the collection of material illustrating the county of Lancaster which we now know as the Binns Collection. It numbered over 6,000 items (the number has of course been greatly increased since then), and comprised maps, plans, views, portraits, MSS. and rare printed items, including broadsheets and election squibs. Many of the portraits are fine mezzotint engravings. While making the collection Binns commissioned certain items, notably the sepia drawings of Liverpool streets and buildings made by James Brierley in 1828-29, which are a valuable contribution to our knowledge of Liverpool topography at that period. “

Liverpool Public Library was started in 1852, and  ” In the 2nd Annual Report, 1854, of the Free Public Library occurs this note: “A valuable addition has been made to the Library during the past year, by the purchase from the Executors of the late Mr. Thomas Binns, of the collection made by that gentleman, illustrative of the history of the County of Lancaster, and more especially of the town of Liverpool.”

The collection cost £ 300 in 1853, [ a modern day equivalent of just over £ 300,000 ]

So far, so simple. Then she drops the following into her paper: ” There are about fifty items in the Binns Collection either drawn or engraved by Jonathan Binns, Thomas’s nephew. He was the son of Dr. Jonathan Binns, the younger son of the first  Jonathan to settle in Liverpool. ” On this one, she is wrong, well, part right, part wrong. Jonathan Binns (1785 – 1871) was Thomas Binns first cousin, not his nephew. But it adds a whole new set of ingredients to the story.

Going back to the Sir Joshua Walmsley story.  Sir Josh’s eldest daughter Elizabeth married Charles Binns on the 6th August 1839. Charles Binns “came from a Quaker family with strong Liverpool connections.”

Charles Binns is the grandson of Dr. Jonathan Binns, (1747 -1818), and one of seven children of Jonathan Binns, (1785 – 1871).  Miss Saxton takes an interesting line on both Jonathan Binns. Dr. Jonathan was a most interesting character,” which is true, but she takes a slightly harsh line with Jonathan junior, who she almost portrays as a Forest Gump character.

She quotes ” a letter sent by a member of the Binns family, which gives an account of the doctor’s strange treatment of his elder son, Jonathan. “Dr. Binns”, says the writer, “appears to have grossly neglected the education of his son, the late Mr. Jon. Binns of Lancaster. He did not have him taught Latin, History or Geography, and at an early age put him to learn farming with a mere yokel, while on the other hand the other [younger] son (William), who died young, was apprenticed to a physician in Darlington to start his career as medical man.”   and

” Mr. Jon. Binns spent much valuable time in after life in learning things he should have been taught when young. He was over 6ft. high and marvellously handsome, clever in all ways, and most expert with his pencil”. and then:

” His father did advance the money to set him up in a farm, but he gave this up in 1819, and began business as a land surveyor in Lancaster. His great work is the map of Lancaster which he published from an actual survey made in 1821: during its preparation he collected a number of old people’s recollections.”

We’ll come back to both in other posts, but Dr. Jonathan Binns, (1747 -1818), was one of the only two Liverpool persons who signed the first list of the Abolitionists of Slavery. He then became the Superintendent of Ackworth School [the Quaker boarding school], which both his sons attended.

Jonathan junior’s great work was not a map of Lancaster, though he did make one, but actually a two volume work “The Miseries and Beauties of Ireland”  Jonathan Binns 1837 which is fascinating, and, with hindsight, slightly heart-breaking at the same time. It’s in part an account of two years travelling round Ireland, and in part a description of poverty in Ireland, and also very practical plans and suggestion to improve agriculture, and alleviate that poverty.

It’s a tragedy he wasn’t listened to more.

 

Quaker Petition to Parliament for the abolition of the slave trade 1783

Transcription from the Yearly Meeting minutes (Volume 17/298 – 307)

To the Commons of Great Britain, in Parliament assembled.

The Petition of the People called Quakers,

Sheweth –

That your Petitioners met in this their annual assembly, having solemnly considered the state of the enslaved negroes, conceive themselves engaged in religious duty, to lay the suffering situation of that unhappy people before you, as a subject loudly calling for the humane interposition of the Legislature.

Your Petitioners regret, that a nation professing the Christian Faith, should so far counteract the principles of humanity and justice as by a cruel treatment of this oppressed race, to fill their minds with prejudices against the mild and beneficent doctrines of the Gospel.

Under the countenance of the laws of this country, many thousands of these our fellow-creatures, entitled to natural rights of mankind, are held, as personal property, in cruel bondage; and your Petitioners being informed, that a Bill for the regulation of the African trade is now before the House, containing a clause which restrains the officers of the African Company from exporting Negroes. Your Petitioners, deeply affected with a consideration of the rapine, oppression, and bloodshed attending this traffic, humbly request that this restriction may be extended to all persons whatsoever, or that the House would grant such other relief in the premises, as in its wisdom may seem meet.

Signed in and on behalf of our yearly meeting, held in London, the 16th day of 6th month, 1783.

 

Petition from London Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends, presented to Parliament on 16 June 1783

The petition that the Yearly Meeting sent to Parliament is transcribed in both the Yearly Meeting minutes (Volume 17/298 – 307) and Meeting for Sufferings minutes (Volume 36/ 408 – 413).  This transcript is from the Yearly Meeting minutes.

This was the first petition made to Parliament and was signed by 273 Quaker members, including William Rathbone, Dr Jonathan Binns, and Samuel Hoare Jnr.