Category Archives: Walmsley

A memorial to Joseph Hume 1856

Willis’s Rooms, St James’s

There are three parties in the field desirous of raising a memorial to the late Mr. Hume. In April last, a body of working men met and took steps towards raising funds : in September, there seems to have been a simultaneous but independent move by a section of the House of Peers; and a number of persons who held a meeting in Marylebone, over which Sir Benjamin Hall presided. Earl Fortescue and Lord Hatherton were instrumental in collecting the signatures of thirty Peers to a circular convening a meeting held a short time since in Willis’s Rooms ; and at an earlier date Sir Joshua Walmsley and others got together the signatures of 250 Members who express a desire that the monument erected should be one set up in the House of Commons. On Saturday last, representatives of all the parties met at Willis’s Rooms. Earl Fortescue occupied the chair. Earl Granville, Lord Panmure, Lord Hatherton, and the Duke of Somerset, represented the Peers; Sir Benjamin Hall, Sir Joshua Walmsley, Mr. William Ewart, Mr. Edward Ellice, Lord Robert Grosvenor, represented the Commons ; and Mr. Wall, the Secretary of the Working Men’s Association, represented that body. In the course of the proceedings, each party described the share it had respectively taken, and a common understanding was arrived at. It was resolved that Mr. Hume had a claim to a “lasting record of the gratitude of his countrymen” for forty years of disinterested services ; that a subscription should be opened for the erection of some public monument in his honour ; that no sum subscribed should exceed ten pounds; that a committee should be entrusted with the promotion of the subscription ; and that Sir Benjamin Hall, Colonel Sykes, and Mr. Roebuck, the trustees of the Working Men’s Association, should be the trustees of the Committee.

The above text was found on p.5, 23rd February 1856 in “The Spectator” 

[Close by the St. James’s Theatre, on King Street, St James’s (almost opposite Christie’s) are “Willis’s Rooms,” a noble suite of assembly-rooms, formerly known as “Almack’s.” The building was erected by Mylne, for one Almack, a tavern-keeper, and was opened in 1765, with a ball, at which the Duke of Cumberland, the hero of Culloden,(a rather curious choice of words) was present. Almack, who was a Scotchman by birth, seems to have been a large adventurer in clubs, for he at first “farmed” the club afterwards known as “Brooks’s.” The large ball-room is about one hundred feet in length by forty feet in width, and is chastely decorated with columns and pilasters, classic medallions, and mirrors. The rooms are let for public meetings, dramatic readings, concerts, balls, and occasionally for dinners. Right and left, at the top of the grand staircase, and on either side of the vestibule of the ball-room, are two spacious apartments, used occasionally for large suppers or dinners.] from Old and New London: Volume 4. Originally published by Cassell, Petter & Galpin, London, 1878.

Advertisements

M.P.s object to Sir George Grey’s Police Bill 1856

City of London Police

Initially I just liked this because it seemed to be a group of independent-minded M.P.s objecting to government centralising power. The more one looks into it the odder the group. M.P.s like Michael Bass, and Joshua Walmsley have a trade background, Lord Henry Lennox is the son of the Duke of Richmond, and even more oddly a government minister at the time, and John Roebuck rather magnificently just seems to object to everything.

Sir George Grey’s Police Bill has called forth a good deal of opposition from municipal authorities. On Wednesday, one hundred gentlemen, including twenty-eight Mayors and nine persons deputed by Corporations, and twenty-four Members of Parliament, met at Herbert’s Hotel, Palace Yard, to protest against the Government bill ” for securing a more efficient system of police for the counties and boroughs in England and Wales.” The Lord Mayor of York occupied the chair. The Mayors of Birmingham, Cambridge, Halifax, Rochester, Portsmouth, Southampton, Leicester, Brighton, Leeds, Sheffield, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Winchester—Mr. Roebuck,[John Arthur Roebuck (1802 – 1879) M.P for Bath 1832 -1847, then Sheffield  1849 -1879. Apparently, in general, he took up an attitude of hostility to the government of the day, of whatever party, which he retained throughout his life. In one of his pamphlets Roebuck denounced newspapers and everybody connected with them, with the result that John Black, editor of The Morning Chronicle, challenged him to a duel which was fought on 19 November 1835, but neither party was injured.] Mr. C. Forster,[later Sir Charles (1815 – 1891) Liberal M.P for Walsall 1852-1891] Mr. Bass, [Michael Thomas Bass, (1799 – 1884) was a brewer, and Liberal M.P for Derby 1848 -1883. He built the Bass Brewery into the largest brewery in the world. His obituary in the Brewers Journal said that he was known more “in the House of Commons for his regular attendance than for any feats of oratory.” His proposed legislation against organ grinders on the grounds that they were street nuisances was unsuccessful] Colonel Smyth, [ John George Smyth (1815–1869), Tory M.P for York 1847-1869, and a Colonel in the 2nd West York Militia] Lord Henry Lennox, [Lord Henry George Charles Gordon-Lennox (1821–1886), Tory M.P for Chichester 1846-1885. He held office in every Conservative government between 1852 and 1876, and was a close friend of Benjamin Disraeli.] Sir Joshua Walmsley, [see elsewhere in the blog] Members of Parliament — participated in the proceedings. The shape the objection to the measure took was that it was aggressive, encroaching, unconstitutional ; that it would create a police force that would become the tool of the Government of the day ; that it would wrest power out of the hands of the people and place it in the hands of the Government ; that it would virtually repeal the Municipal Corporation Act ; and that, if conceded, the downfall of local and municipal influence would speedily follow. The resolutions adopted accordingly characterized the bill as “subversive of local self-government,” and expressed a determination to meet it with a strenuous opposition. It was also arranged that a deputation should wait on Sir George Grey.

The deputation appointed at the meeting waited on Sir George Grey on Thursday, and stated the objections they entertain to the centralizing principle of the bill. They declined to offer any suggestion as to its amendment, and demanded its entire withdrawal. Sir George said he was obliged to them for their opinion ; he agreed with Mr. Roebuck that the House of Commons is the proper place to discuss the bill ; he could not withdraw it. On retiring, the deputation returned to Herbert’s Hotel and repeated their resolves to meet the bill with a strenuous opposition. Mr. Roebuck advised them not to make the constituencies only, but the Members, “uncomfortable.” Thus, Southampton might strongly intimate to the Attorney-General that a word from him would go far to stop the bill.

The above text was found on p.5, 23rd February 1856 in “The Spectator” 

 

The Leicester election annulled in 1848

Election Committees Leicester (Borough).

The committee appointed to inquire into the allegations contained in the petition agains the return of Sir Joshua Walmsley and Mr. Richard Gardner, the sitting members for the borough of Leicester, met again yesterday at 11 o’clock in Room 3.  Members- Mr. K. Seymer (Chairman);- Sir J. Trollope, Mr. D. Morris, Mr. W. Christie, and Mr. Fergus.

Mr. Macaulay, on behalf of the petitioners, said, that Messrs. Sansome and Parker, the persons who had so often been brought before the committee by name, had promised to meet the petitioners’ agents since the last sitting of the committee, but had failed in their appointment. The learned counsel left it to the committee to form an opinion on the non-fulfilment of the appointment, and then called

Mr Harrison, a clerk to the petitioners’ agents, who deposed to having spoken to Mr Parker and Mr Sansome who had promised to attend to any appointment.   A time was mentioned but they did not attend. A time was mentioned but they did not attend.  At the time the appointment was made nothing was said as to the purpose  for which they were wanted.

Mr. Macaulay, then summed up the evidence he had adduced in support of the petition. Mr. Crowder, Q.C., replied at great length; and the committee, after deliberating with closed doors for a considerable time, came to the following resolution:-

” That Sir Joshua Walmsley, Knight, and Mr. Richard Gardner, were not duly elected burgesses to serve in the pre.sent Parliament for the borough of Leicester.”

” That the last election for the said borough was a void election. “

” That Sir Joshua Walmsley, Knight, and Mr. Richard Gardner were, by their agents, guilty of bribery at the last election. “

” That it was not proved that those acts of bribery were committed with the knowledge or consent of Sir J. Walmsley and Mr. Gardner.”.

The inquiry terminated at a quarter-past 5 o’clock.

The Times, June 1, 1848

A Pen Portrait of the House of Commons, 1854

The main text in this post is Chapter XXX. from ” The American Fugitive in Europe. Sketches of Places and People Abroad. By Wm. Wells Brown.”  published in Boston, Cleveland Ohio, and New York in 1855 which reprinted all of his earlier book “Three Years in Europe” with additional material up to, and including, his return to the United States. It’s an astonishing piece of writing, and all the more extraordinary for the fact that William Wells Brown was born into slavery in Kentucky in 1814, escaping to Ohio aged 20. At the time of writing, he was still potentially at risk of being returned to slavery as a result of the Fugitive Slave Act  of 1850, which ”  required that all escaped slaves were, upon capture, to be returned to their masters. Brown had legally become a free man in 1854  when it had been bought by Ellen Richardson of Newcastle, England. 

The choice of M.P.’s he describes is an interesting mixture. The majority he chooses could all be described as radical, pro-free trade, and in favour of greater Parliamentary reform; though there are sketches of Disraeli, Palmerston, and Gladstone, the great majority represent the newly industrialized cities of the north-west. 

 

 

The House of Commons  –  1854

The Abbey clock was striking nine, as we entered the House of Commons, and, giving up our ticket, were conducted to the strangers’ gallery. We immediately recognized many of the members, whom we had met in private circles or public meetings. Just imagine, reader, that we are now seated in the strangers’ gallery, looking down upon the representatives of the people of the British empire.

There, in the centre of the room, shines the fine, open, glossy brow and speaking face of Alexander Hastie, a Glasgow merchant, a mild and amiable man, of modest deportment, liberal principles, and religious profession. He has been twice elected for the city of Glasgow, in which he resides. He once presided at a meeting for us in his own city.

On the right of the hall, from where we sit, you see that small man, with fair complexion, brown hair, gray eyes, and a most intellectual countenance. It is Layard with whom we spent a pleasant day at Hartwell Park, the princely residence of John Lee, Esq., LL.D. He was employed as consul at Bagdad, in Turkey. While there he explored the ruins of ancient Nineveh, and sent to England the Assyrian relics now in the British Museum. He is member for Aylesbury. He takes a deep interest in the Eastern question, and censures the government for their want of energy in the present war. [ The Crimean War ]

Joseph Hume

Not far from Layard you see the large frame and dusky visage of Joseph Hume. He was the son of a poor woman who sold apples in the streets of London. Mr. Hume spent his younger days in India, where he made a fortune; and then returned to England, and was elected a member of the House of Commons, where he has been ever since, with the exception of five or six years. He began political life as a tory, but soon went over to radicalism. He is a great financial reformer, and has originated many of the best measures of a practical character that have been passed in Parliament during the last thirty years. He is seventy-five years old, but still full of life and activity–capable of great endurance and incessant labor. No man enjoys to an equal extent the respect and confidence of the legislature. Though his opinions are called extreme, he contents himself with realizing, for the present, the good that is attainable. He is emphatically a progressive reformer; and the father of the House of Commons.

Edward Miall M.P.

To the left of Mr. Hume you see a slim, thin-faced man, with spectacles, an anxious countenance, his hat on another seat before him, and in it a large paper rolled up. That is Edward Miall. He was educated for the Baptist ministry, and was called when very young to be a pastor. He relinquished his charge to become the conductor of a paper devoted to the abolition of the state church, and the complete political enfranchisement of the people. He made several unsuccessful attempts to go into Parliament, and at last succeeded Thomas Crawford in the representation of Rochdale, where in 1852 he was elected free of expense. He is one of the most democratic members of the legislature. Miall is an able writer and speaker–a very close and correct reasoner. He stands at the very head of the Nonconformist party in Great Britain; and The Nonconformist, of which he is editor, is the most radical journal in the United Kingdom.

 

William Johnston Fox M.P.

Look at that short, thick-set man, with his hair parted on the crown of his head, a high and expansive forehead, and an uncommon bright eye. That is William Johnson Fox. He was a working weaver at Norwich; then went to Holton College, London, to be educated for the Orthodox Congregational ministry; afterwards embraced Unitarian views. He was invited to Finsbury Chapel, where for many years he lectured weekly upon a wide range of subjects, embracing literature, political science, theology, government and social economy. He is the writer of the articles signed “Publicola,” in the Weekly Dispatch, a democratic newspaper. He has retired from his pulpit occupations, and supports himself exclusively by his pen, in connection with the liberal journals of the metropolis. Mr. Fox is a witty and vigorous writer, an animated and brilliant orator.

Richard Cobden M.P.

Yonder, on the right of us, sits Richard Cobden. Look at his thin, pale face, and spare-made frame. He started as a commercial traveller; was afterwards a calico-printer and merchant in Manchester. He was the expounder, in the Manchester Chamber of Commerce and in the town council, of the principles of free trade. In the council of the Anti-Corn-Law League, he was the leader, and principal agitator of the question in public meetings throughout the kingdom. He was first elected for Stockport. When Sir Robert Peel’s administration abolished the corn-laws, the prime minister avowed in the House of Commons that the great measure was in most part achieved by the unadorned eloquence of Richard Cobden. He is the representative of the non-intervention or political peace party; holding the right and duty of national defence, but opposing all alliances which are calculated to embroil the country in the affairs of other nations. His age is about fifty. He represents the largest constituency in the kingdom–the western division of Yorkshire, which contains thirty-seven thousand voters. Mr. Cobden has a reflective cast of mind; and is severely logical in his style, and very lucid in the treatment of his subjects. He may be termed the leader of the radical party in the House.

Thomas Macaulay M.P.

Three seats from Cobden you see that short, stout person, with his high head, large, round face, good-sized eyes. It is Macaulay, the poet, critic, historian and statesman.  If you have not read his Essay on Milton, you should do so immediately; it is the finest thing of the kind in the language. Then there is his criticism on the Rev. R. Montgomery. Macaulay will never be forgiven by the divine for that onslaught upon his poetical reputation. That review did more to keep the reverend poet’s works on the publisher’s shelves than all other criticisms combined. Macaulay represents the city of Edinburgh.

Joseph Brotherton, M.P.

Look at that tall man, apparently near seventy, with front teeth gone. That is Joseph Brotherton, the member for Salford. He has represented that constituency ever since 1832. He has always been a consistent liberal, and is a man of business. He is no orator, and seldom speaks, unless in favour of the adjournment of the House when the hour of midnight has arrived. At the commencement of every new session of Parliament he prepares a resolution that no business shall be entered upon after the hour of twelve at night, but has never been able to carry it. He is a teetotaller and a vegetarian, a member of the Peace Society, and a preacher in the small religious society to which he belongs.

Morton Peto M.P.

In a seat behind Brotherton you see a young-looking man, with neat figure, white vest, frilled shirt, with gold studs, gold breast-pin, a gold chain round the neck, white kid glove on the right hand, the left bare with the exception of two gold rings. It is Samuel Morton Peto. He is of humble origin–has made a vast fortune as a builder and contractor for docks and railways. He is a Baptist, and contributes very largely to his own and other dissenting denominations. He has built several Baptist chapels in London and elsewhere. His appearance is that of a gentleman; and his style of speaking, though not elegant, yet pleasing.

 

John Bright, M.P

Over on the same side with the liberals sits John Bright, the Quaker statesman, and leader of the Manchester school. He is the son of a Rochdale manufacturer, and first distinguished himself as an agitator in favour of the repeal of the corn-laws. He represents the city of Manchester, and has risen very rapidly. Mr. Cobden and he invariably act together, and will, doubtless, sooner or later, come into power together. Look at his robust and powerful frame, round and pleasing face. He is but little more than forty; an earnest and eloquent speaker, and commands the fixed attention of his audience.

 

 

W.E. Gladstone M.P. by G.F. Watts,1859

See that exceedingly good-looking man just taking his seat. It is William Ewart Gladstone. He is the son of a Liverpool merchant, and represents the University of Oxford. He came into Parliament in 1832, under the auspices of the tory Duke of Newcastle. He was a disciple of the first Sir R. Peel, and was by that statesman introduced into official life. He has been Vice-president and President of the Board of Trade, and is now Chancellor of the Exchequer. Mr. Gladstone is only forty-four. When not engaged in speaking he is of rather unprepossessing appearance. His forehead appears low, but his eye is bright and penetrating. He is one of the ablest debaters in the House, and is master of a style of eloquence in which he is quite un-approached. As a reasoner he is subtle, and occasionally jesuitical; but, with a good cause and a conviction of the right, he rises to a lofty pitch of oratory, and may be termed the Wendell Phillips of the House of Commons.

Disraeli

There sits Disraeli, amongst the Tories. Look at that Jewish face, those dark ringlets hanging round that marble brow. When on his feet he has a cat-like, stealthy step; always looks on the ground when walking. He is the son of the well-known author of the “Curiosities of Literature.” His ancestors were Venetian Jews. He was himself born a Jew, and was initiated into the Hebrew faith. Subsequently he embraced Christianity. His literary works are numerous, consisting entirely of novels, with the exception of a biography of the late Lord George Bentinck, the leader of the protectionist party, to whose post Mr. Disraeli succeeded on the death of his friend and political chief. Mr. Disraeli has been all round the compass in politics. He is now professedly a conservative, but is believed to be willing to support any measures, however sweeping and democratical, if by so doing he could gratify his ambition–which is for office and power. He was the great thorn in the side of the late Sir R. Peel, and was never so much at home as when he could find a flaw in that distinguished statesman’s political acts. He is an able debater and a finished orator, and in his speeches wrings applause even from his political opponents.

Lord Palmerston, M.P. c.1855

Cast your eyes to the opposite side of the House, and take a good view of that venerable man, full of years, just rising from his seat. See how erect he stands; he is above seventy years of age, and yet he does not seem to be forty. That is Lord Palmerston. Next to Joseph Hume, he is the oldest member in the House. He has been longer in office than any other living man. All parties have, by turns, claimed him, and he has belonged to all kinds of administrations; tory, conservative, whig, and coalition. He is a ready debater, and is a general favorite, as a speaker, for his wit and adroitness, but little trusted by any party as a statesman. His talents have secured him office, as he is useful as a minister, and dangerous as an opponent.

Lord Dudley Coutts Stuart (1803-1854), MP

That is Lord Dudley Coutts Stuart speaking to Mr. Ewart. His lordship represents the populous and wealthy division of the district of Marylebone. He is a radical, the warm friend of the cause of Poland, Hungary and Turkey. He speaks often, but always with a degree of hesitation which makes it painful to listen to him. His solid frame, strongly-marked features, and unmercifully long eye-brows are in strange contrast to the delicate face of Mr. Ewart.The latter is the representative for Dumfries, a Scotch borough. He belongs to a wealthy family, that has made its fortune by commerce. Mr. Ewart is a radical, a staunch advocate of the abolition of capital punishment, and a strenuous supporter of all measures for the intellectual improvement of the people.

 

Lord John Russell, M.P.

Ah! we shall now have a speech. See that little man  rising from his seat; look at his thin black hair, how it seems to stand up; hear that weak, but distinct voice. O, how he repeats the ends of his sentences! It is Lord John Russell, the leader of the present administration. He is now asking for three million pounds sterling to carry on the war. He is a terse and perspicuous speaker, but avoids prolixity. He is much respected on both sides of the House. Though favourable to reform measures generally, he is nevertheless an upholder of aristocracy, and stands at the head and firmly by his order. He is brother to the present Duke of Bedford, and has twice been Premier; and, though on the sunny side of sixty, he has been in office, at different times, more than thirty years. He is a constitutional whig and conservative reformer. See how earnestly he speaks, and keeps his eyes on Disraeli! He is afraid of the Jew. Now he scratches the bald place on his head, and then opens that huge roll of paper, and looks over towards Lord Palmerston.

Sir Joshua Walmsley, M.P. 1794 -1871

 

That full-faced, well-built man, with handsome countenance, just behind him, is Sir Joshua Walmsley. He is about the same age of Lord John; and is the representative for Leicester. He is a native of Liverpool, where for some years he was a poor teacher, but afterwards became wealthy in the corn trade. When mayor of his native town, he was knighted. He is a radical reformer, and always votes on the right side.

 

 

Joseph Hume, M.P.

Lord John Russell has finished and taken his seat. Joseph Hume is up. He goes into figures; he is the arithmetician of the House of Commons. Mr. Hume is in the Commons what James N. Buffum is in our Anti-Slavery meetings, the man of facts. Watch the old man’s eye as he looks over his papers. He is of no religious faith, and said, a short time since, that the world would be better off if all creeds were swept into the Thames. His motto is that of Pope:


“For modes of faith let graceless zealots fight:
His can’t be wrong whose life is in the right.”

Mr. Hume has not been tedious; he is done. Now for Disraeli. He is going to pick Lord John’s speech to pieces, and he can do it better than any other man in the House. See how his ringlets shake as he gesticulates! and that sarcastic smile! He thinks the government has not been vigorous enough in its prosecution of the war. He finds fault with the inactivity of the Baltic fleet; the allied army has made no movement to suit him. The Jew looks over towards Lord John, and then makes a good hit. Lord John shakes his head; Disraeli has touched a tender point, and he smiles as the minister turns on his seat. The Jew is delighted beyond measure. “The Noble Lord shakes his head; am I to understand that he did not say what I have just repeated?” Lord John: “The Right Hon. Gentleman is mistaken; I did not say what he has attributed to me.” Disraeli: “I am glad that the Noble Lord has denied what I thought he had said.” An attack is made on another part of the minister’s speech. Lord John shakes his head again. “Does the Noble Lord deny that, too?” Lord John: “No, I don’t, but your criticism is unjust.”  Disraeli smiles again: he has the minister in his hands, and he shakes him well before he lots him go. What cares he for justice? Criticism is his forte; it was that that made him what he is in the House. The Jew concludes his speech amid considerable applause.

William Ewart Gladstone

All eyes are turned towards the seat of the Chancellor of the Exchequer: a pause of a moment’s duration, and the orator of the House rises to his feet. Those who have been reading The Times lay it down; all whispering stops, and the attention of the members is directed to Gladstone, as he begins. Disraeli rests his chin upon his hat, which lies upon his knee: he too is chained to his seat by the fascinating eloquence of the man of letters. Thunders of applause follow, in which all join but the Jew. Disraeli changes his position on his seat, first one leg crossed, and then the other, but he never smiles while his opponent is speaking. He sits like one of those marble figures in the British Museum. Disraeli has furnished more fun for Punch than any other man in the empire. When it was resolved to have a portrait of the late Sir R. Peel painted for the government, Mr. Gladstone ordered it to be taken from one that appeared in Punch during the lifetime of that great statesman. This was indeed a compliment to the sheet of fun. But now look at the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He is in the midst of his masterly speech, and silence reigns throughout the House.


“His words of learned length and thundering sound
Amazed the gazing rustics ranged around;

And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew
That one small head could carry all he knew.”

 Let us turn for a moment to the gallery in which we are seated. It is now near the hour of twelve at night. The question before the House is an interesting one, and has called together many distinguished persons as visitors. There sits the Hon. and Rev. Baptist W. Noel. He is one of the first of the Nonconformist ministers in the kingdom. He is about fifty years of age; very tall, and stands erect; has a fine figure, complexion fair, face long and rather pale, eyes blue and deeply set. He looks every inch the gentleman. Near by Mr. Noel you see the Rev. John Cumming, D.D. We stood more than an hour last Sunday in his chapel in Crown-court to hear him preach; and such a sermon we have seldom ever heard. Dr. Cumming does not look old. He has rather a bronzed complexion, with dark hair, eyes covered with spectacles. He is an eloquent man, and seems to be on good terms with himself. He is the most ultra Protestant we have ever heard, and hates Rome with a perfect vengeance. Few men are more popular in an Exeter Hall meeting than Dr. Cumming. He is a most prolific writer; scarce a month passes by without something from his pen. But they are mostly works of a sectarian character, and cannot be of long or of lasting reputation.

Further along sits a man still more eloquent than Dr. Cumming. He is of dark complexion, black hair, light blue eyes, an intellectual countenance, and when standing looks tall. It is the Rev. Henry Melville. He is considered the finest preacher in the Church of England. There, too, is Washington Wilks, Esq., author of “The Half-century.” His face is so covered with beard that I will not attempt a description; it may, however, be said that he has literally entered into the Beard Movement.

Edward Bulwer Lytton

Come, it is time for us to leave the House of Commons. Stop a moment! Ah! there is one that I have not pointed out to you. Yonder he sits amongst the tories. It is Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, the renowned novelist. Look at his trim, neat figure; his hair done up in the most approved manner; his clothes cut in the latest fashion. He has been in Parliament twenty-five years. Until the abolition of the corn-laws, he was a liberal; but as a land-owner he was opposed to free trade, and joined the protectionists. He has two country-seats, and lives in a style of oriental magnificence that is not equalled by any other man in the kingdom; and often gathers around him the brightest spirits of the age, and presses them into the service of his private theatre, of which he is very fond. In the House of Commons he is seldom heard, but is always listened to with profound attention when he rises to speak. He labors under the disadvantage of partial deafness. He is undoubtedly a man of refined taste, and pays a greater attention to the art of dress than any other public character I have ever seen. He has a splendid fortune, and his income from the labors of his pen is very great. His title was given to him by the queen, and his rank as a baronet he owes to his high literary attainments. Now take a farewell view of this assembly of senators. You may go to other climes, and look upon the representatives of other nations, but you will never see the like again.

The Great Anti-Slavery Demonstration of 1851 in London

William Wells Brown

The main text in this post is from ” Three Years in Europe: or Places I Have Seen And People I Have Met.” by William Wells Brown, published in London in 1852. It’s an astonishing piece of writing, and all the more extraordinary for the fact that William Wells Brown was born into slavery in Kentucky in 1814, escaping to Ohio aged 20. At the time of writing, he was still potentially at risk of being returned to slavery as a result of the Fugitive Slave Act  of 1850, which ”  required that all escaped slaves were, upon capture, to be returned to their masters and that officials and citizens of the free states had to cooperate in this law. ”  Officials who did not arrest an alleged runaway slave, and made them liable to a fine of $1,000. Brown’s freedom was finally secured when it was bought by an English lady in 1854. He was also an abolitionist lecturer, novelist, and historian, and the first published African-American playwright in 1858. Slavery in the United States was partially abolished by the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, for 3 million, out of 4 million slaves, and finally completely, by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1865.

Fugitive Slaves in England.

The love of freedom is one of those natural impulses of the human breast which cannot be extinguished. Even the brute animals of the creation feel and show sorrow and affection when deprived of their liberty. Therefore is a distinguished writer justified in saying, “Man is free, even were he born in chains.” The Americans boast, and justly too, that Washington was the hero and model patriot of the American Revolution,–the man whose fame, unequalled in his own day and country, will descend to the end of time, the pride and honour of humanity. The American speaks with pride of the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill; and, when standing in Faneuil Hall, he points to the portraits of Otis, Adams, Hancock, Quincy, Warren and Franklin, and tells you that their names will go down to posterity among the world’s most devoted and patriotic friends of human liberty.

It was on the first of August, 1851, that a number of men, fugitives from that boasted land of freedom, assembled at the Hall of Commerce in the city of London, for the purpose of laying their wrongs before the British nation, and, at the same time, to give thanks to the God of freedom for the liberation of their West India brethren on the first of August, 1834. Little notice had been given of the intended meeting, yet it seemed to be known in all parts of the city. At the hour of half-past seven, for which the meeting had been called, the spacious hall was well filled, and the fugitives, followed by some of the most noted English Abolitionists, entered the hall, amid the most deafening applause, and took their seats on the platform. The appearance of the great hall at this juncture was most splendid. Besides the committee of fugitives, on the platform there were a number of the oldest and most devoted of the slaves’ friends. On the left of the chair sat Geo. Thompson, Esq., M.P.; near him was the Rev. Jabez Burns, D.D., and by his side the Rev. John Stevenson, M.A., Wm. Farmer, Esq., R. Smith, Esq.; while on the other side were Joseph Hume, Esq., M.P., John Lee, LL.D., Sir J. Walmsley, M.P., the Rev. Edward Matthews, John Cunliff, Esq., Andrew Paton, Esq., J. P. Edwards, Esq., and a number of colored gentlemen from the West Indies. The body of the hall was not without its distinguished guests. The Chapmans and Westons of Boston, U. S., were there. The Estlins and Tribes had come all the way from Bristol to attend the great meeting. The Patons, of Glasgow, had delayed their departure, so as to be present. The Massies had come in from Upper Clapton. Not far from the platform sat Sir Francis Knowles, Bart.: still further back was Samuel Bowly, Esq., while near the door were to be seen the greatest critic of the age, and England’s best living poet. Macaulay had laid aside the pen, entered the hall, and was standing near the central door, while not far from the historian stood the newly-appointed Poet Laureate. [Alfred Lord Tennyson] The author of “In Memoriam” had been swept in by the crowd, and was standing with his arms folded, and beholding for the first time (and probably the last) so large a number of colored men in one room. In different parts of the hall were men and women from nearly all parts of the kingdom, besides a large number who, drawn to London by the Exhibition, had come in to see and hear these oppressed people plead their own cause.

The writer of this sketch was chosen chairman of the meeting, and commenced its proceedings by delivering the following address, which we cut from the columns of the Morning Advertiser:

        “The chairman, in opening the proceedings, remarked that, although the metropolis had of late been inundated with meetings of various characters, having reference to almost every variety of subjects, yet that the subject they were called upon that evening to discuss differed from them all. Many of those by whom he was surrounded, like himself, had been victims to the inhuman institution of slavery, and were in consequence exiled from the land of their birth. They were fugitives from their native land, but not fugitives from justice; and they had not fled from a monarchical, but from a so-called republican government. They came from amongst a people who declared, as part of their creed, that all men were born free; but who, while they did so, made slaves of every sixth man, woman and child, in the country. (Hear, hear.) He must not, however, forget that one of the purposes for which they were met that night was to commemorate the emancipation of their brothers and sisters in the isles of the sea. That act of the British Parliament, and he might add in this case, with peculiar emphasis, of the British nation, passed on the twelfth day of August, 1833, to take effect on the first day of August, 1834, and which enfranchised eight hundred thousand West Indian slaves, was an event sublime in its nature, comprehensive and mighty in its immediate influences and remote consequences, precious beyond expression to the cause of freedom, and encouraging beyond the measure of any government on earth to the hearts of all enlightened and just men. This act was the result of a long course of philanthropic and Christian efforts on the part of some of the best men that the world ever produced. It was not his intention to go into a discussion or a calculation of the rise and fall of property, or whether sugar was worth more or less by the act of emancipation. But the abolition of slavery in the West Indies was a blow struck in the right direction, at that most inhuman of all traffics, the slave-trade–a trade which would never cease so long as slavery existed; for where there was a market there would be merchandise; where there was demand there would be a supply; where there were carcasses there would be vultures; and they might as well attempt to turn the water, and make it run up the Niagara river, as to change this law.

It was often said by the Americans that England was responsible for the existence of slavery there, because it was introduced into that country while the colonies were under the British crown. If that were the case, they must come to the conclusion that, as England abolished slavery in the West Indies, she would have done the same for the American States if she had had the power to do it; and if that was so, they might safely say that the separation of the United States from the mother country was (to say the least) a great misfortune to one sixth of the population of that land. England had set a noble example to America, and he would to heaven his countrymen would follow the example. The Americans boasted of their superior knowledge; but they needed not to boast of their superior guilt, for that was set upon a hill-top, and that, too, so high, that it required not the lantern of Diogenes to find it out. Every breeze from the western world brought upon its wings the groans and cries of the victims of this guilt. Nearly all countries had fixed the seal of disapprobation on slavery; and when, at some future age, this stain on the page of history shall be pointed at, posterity will blush at the discrepancy between American profession and American practice. What was to be thought of a people boasting of their liberty, their humanity, their Christianity, their love of justice, and at the same time keeping in slavery nearly four millions of God’s children, and shutting out from them the light of the Gospel, by denying the Bible to the slave! (Hear, hear.) No education, no marriage, everything done to keep the mind of the slave in darkness. There was a wish on the part of the people of the Northern States to shield themselves from the charge of slaveholding; but, as they shared in the guilt, he was not satisfied with letting them off without their share in the odium.

And now a word about the Fugitive Slave Bill. That measure was in every respect an unconstitutional measure. It set aside the right formerly enjoyed by the a fugitive of trial by jury; it afforded to him no protection, no opportunity of proving his right to be free; and it placed every free coloured person at the mercy of any unprincipled individual who might wish to lay claim to him. (Hear.) That law is opposed to the principles of Christianity–foreign alike to the laws of God and man. It had converted the whole population of the Free States into a band of slave-catchers, and every rood of territory is but so much hunting-ground, over which they might chase the fugitive. But while they were speaking of slavery in the United States, they must not omit to mention that there was a strong feeling in that land, not only against the Fugitive Slave Law, but also against the existence of slavery in any form. There was a band of fearless men and women in the United States, whose labours for the slave had resulted in good beyond calculation. This noble and heroic class had created an agitation in the whole country, until their principles have taken root in almost every association in the land, and which, with God’s blessing, will, in due time, cause the Americans to put into practice what they have so long professed. (Hear, hear.) He wished it to be continually held up before the country, that the Northern States are as deeply implicated in the guilt of slavery as the South. The North had a population of 13,553,328 freemen; the South had a population of only 6,393,756 freemen; the North has 152 representatives in the House, the South only 81; and it would be seen by this that the balance of power was with the Free States. Looking, therefore, at the question in all its aspects, he was sure that there was no one in this country but who would find out that the slavery of the United States of America was a system the most abandoned and the most tyrannical. (Hear, hear.)”

At the close of this address, the Rev. Edward Matthews, from Bristol, but who had recently returned from the United States, where he had been maltreated on account of his fidelity to the cause of freedom, was introduced, and made a most interesting speech. The next speaker was George Thompson, Esq., M.P.; and we need only say that his eloquence, which has seldom if ever been equalled, and never surpassed, exceeded, on this occasion, the most sanguine expectations of his friends. All who sat under the thundering anathemas which he hurled against slavery seemed instructed, delighted, and animated. Scarcely any one could have remained unmoved by the pensive sympathies that pervaded the entire assembly. There were many in the meeting who had never seen a fugitive slave before, and when any of the speakers would refer to those on the platform the whole audience seemed moved to tears. No meeting of the kind held in London for years created a greater sensation than this gathering of refugees from the ” Land of the free, and the home of the brave.”  The following appeal, which I had written for the occasion, was unanimously adopted at the close of the meeting, and thus ended the great Anti-Slavery demonstration of 1851.

AN APPEAL TO THE PEOPLE OF GREAT BRITAIN AND THE WORLD.

We consider it just, both to the people of the United States and to ourselves, in making an appeal to the inhabitants of other countries, against the laws which have exiled us from our native land, to state the ground upon which we make our appeal, and the causes which impel us to do so. There are in the United States of America, at the present time, between three and four millions of persons, who are held in a state of slavery which has no parallel in any other part of the world; and whose numbers have, within the last fifty years, increased to a fearful extent. These people are not only deprived of the rights to which the laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitle them, but every avenue to knowledge is closed against them. The laws do not recognise the family relation of a slave, and extend to him protection in the enjoyment of domestic endearments. Brothers and sisters, parents and children, husbands and wives, are torn asunder, and permitted to see each other no more. The shrieks and agonies of the slave are heard in the markets at the seat of government, and within hearing of the American Congress, as well as on the cotton, sugar and rice plantations of the far South.

The history of the negroes in America is but a history of repeated injuries and acts of oppression committed upon them by the whites. It is not for ourselves that we make this appeal, but for those whom we have left behind.

In their Declaration of Independence, the Americans declare that “all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Yet one-sixth of the inhabitants of the great Republic are slaves. Thus they give the lie to their own professions. No one forfeits his or her character or standing in society by being engaged in holding, buying or selling a slave; the details of which, in all their horror, can scarcely be told.

Although the holding of slaves is confined to fifteen of the thirty-one States, yet we hold that the non-slave-holding States are equally guilty with the slave-holding. If any proof is needed on this point, it will be found in the passage of the inhuman Fugitive Slave Law, by Congress; a law which could never have been enacted without the votes of a portion of the representatives from the free States, and which is now being enforced, in many of the States, with the utmost alacrity. It was the passing of this law that exiled us from our native land, and it has driven thousands of our brothers and sisters from the free States, and compelled them to seek a refuge in the British possessions in North America. The Fugitive Slave Law has converted the entire country, North and South, into one vast hunting-ground. We would respectfully ask you to expostulate with the Americans, and let them know that you regard their treatment of the coloured people of that country as a violation of every principle of human brotherhood, of natural right, of justice, of humanity, of Christianity, of love to God and love to man. 

It is needless that we should remind you that the religious sects of America, with but few exceptions, are connected with the sin of slavery–the churches North as well as South. We would have you tell the professed Christians of that land, that if they would be respected by you, they must separate themselves from the unholy alliance with men who are daily committing deeds which, if done in England, would cause the perpetrator to be sent to a felon’s doom; that they must refuse the right hand of Christian fellowship, whether individually or collectively, to those implicated, in any way, in the guilt of Slavery.

We do not ask for a forcible interference on your part, but only that you will use all lawful and peaceful means to restore to this much injured race their God-given rights. The moral and religious sentiment of mankind must be arrayed against slave-holding, to make it infamous, ere we can hope to see it abolished. We would ask you to set them the example, by excluding from your pulpits, and from religious communion, the slave-holding and pro-slavery ministers who may happen to visit this country. We would even go further, and ask you to shut your doors against either ministers or laymen, who are at all guilty of upholding and sustaining this monster sin. By the cries of the slave, which come from the fields and swamps of the far South, we ask you to do this! By that spirit of liberty and equality of which you all admire, we would ask you to do this. And by that still nobler, higher, and holier spirit of our beloved Saviour, we would ask you to stamp upon the head of the slave-holder, with a brand deeper than that which marks the victim of his wrongs, the infamy of theft, adultery, man-stealing, piracy, and murder, and, by the force of public opinion, compel him to “unloose the heavy burden, and let the oppressed go free.”

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.

 

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.