Category Archives: Lancashire

Liverpool and the Irish Famine 1847

This is largely taken from Chapter IV. of Tom Burke’s ” Catholic History of Liverpool “, 1910. He is not a disinterested party. He was Liverpool born and bred, with Irish parents. He was for many years, a magistrate, councillor, and Alderman on Liverpool City Council where he represented Vauxhall ward as a member of the Irish Nationalist Party. Liverpool Scotland constituency, which Vauxhall was part of, returned T.P. O’Connor as an Irish Party M.P. for 44 years between 1885 and 1929, the only constituency outside Ireland ever to return an Irish Nationalist Party MP. None of this really detracts from the power of Tom Burke’s writing. The rest of the post of his with the original footnotes from the book bracketed, and in italics, along with a couple of additional explanations of mine also in bracketed italics.

Over to Alderman Burke:

A dark cloud fell upon Liverpool in the last months of the year [1846], and when it passed away, a new Catholic Liverpool arose, with new problems and fresh difficulties, many of which are not yet solved. No man can understand aright the Liverpool of the second half of the nineteenth century, who does not seriously study the dread incidents which the November and December portended.

From the point of view of public health, Liverpool had degenerated into one of the worst towns in the Kingdom. Narrow streets, narrower courts, overcrowded alleys, and bad drainage, were exacting a heavy toll of disease and death. Streets were left unswept for as long a period as three weeks, in working class quarters, the Town Council being much too busy with the interests of party to occupy itself with such mundane affairs. The Tories were blind to all warnings; in capturing the Council Schools they had exhausted their mandate. To promote sanitary reform, a Health of Towns Association had been formed in the Metropolis, and the first Liverpool branch was founded in St. Patrick’s schoolroom.

Just as, half-a-century later, it was reserved for Liverpool Catholic public men to fight the battle of housing reform, so in the early forties it was left for the Catholic leaders to speak out against the criminal neglect, by the Corporation, of the important question of public health. Sir Arnold Knight, M.D., father of a future Bishop of Shrewsbury, and of a distinguished Jesuit, delivered the address at this gathering, presided over by Mr. R. Sheil. His speech is painful reading, descriptive of the conditions under which the labouring classes were compelled to live, conditions which made moral or physical health well-nigh impossible. Sir Arnold stated, that in London one out of every thirty-seven of the population died annually; Liverpool’s proportion being one in twenty- eight. In the Metropolis, 32 out of every 100 children died before reaching the age of nine ; Liverpool had the unenviable record of 49. Nor was this all. In the densely populated streets and courts of Vauxhall Ward, this number went up to 64, an appalling rate of mortality. Physical deterioration had set in, or, as the Catholic Knight put it, Liverpool men “were unfit to be shot at “, an allusion to the rejection of 75 per cent of the recruits for the army.

This speech gives the answer to much of the superficial criticism of the result of Irish ” habits “ on the general health of towns. The death roll gives the needed and only reply to the puzzle which has worried Catholic statisticians as to the causes which have operated to prevent the prolific Irish from being one-half, at least, of the population of Liverpool. Sixty- four out of every hundred Irish children dead before nine years of age, from preventible causes ! !

The Irish poor did not build the narrow streets nor the dirty courts, they did not leave the streets unswept, and had no responsibility for stinking middens, left unemptied at their very doors, nor did they create the economic conditions which drove them across the channel, and in turn made life in Liverpool the burden it really was. Drink ! Yes, they drank ! No wonder ! where drink alone could bring forgetfulness of present misery. But for the small band of priests who laboured amongst them, and the faith they brought from Ireland, Irish Liverpool had become heathendom. The demoralisation of child life caused by exclusion from the schools, in 1841, had sown its seeds, and a deadly harvest was to be reaped a generation later, which, even to the twentieth century, has made Liverpool a bye-word to every stranger entering its gates.

It was too late for any body of men to cure the evil, when the famine years sent hundreds of thousands of Irishmen and women into the very streets and alleys, where over-crowding and disease had become every-day features, and excited no surprise. The closing months of 1846 ended in ” an inpouring of wretchedness from Ireland; streets swarming with hungry and almost naked wretches.”   Written by a friendly hand, these words fail to convey an adequate picture of the scenes witnessed every day during November and December, 1846.

At the meeting of the Select Vestry,[the official title of the Liverpool Board of Poor Law Guardians] December 15th, 1846, the captains of the coasting vessels were censured for carrying over such large numbers of immigrants, and it was seriously suggested that Liverpool should follow the example of the Isle of Man authorities, by refusing permission to land. It is pleasant to record that the first meeting held to raise funds for the relief of the famine stricken, was organised by the Irish navvies, then constructing the railway to Bury. The meeting was held in the schoolroom underneath St. Joseph’s chapel, Grosvenor Street, on November 30th, every navvy putting down one day’s wages on the table as his tribute to the unfortunate people of his own country. In the church, the first sermon for the same object was preached by Father McEvoy, parish priest of Kells, in the fertile plains of Meath, who received fifty-two pounds from the poor labourers of St. Joseph’s parish. The new year, 1847, opened inauspiciously. During the six days, January 4th to 9th, the Select Vestry relieved 7,146 Irish families, consisting of 29,417 persons, of whom 18,376 were children.

From the 13th to the 25th of the same month, 10,724 deck passengers arrived from Irish ports, and during the month of February they came pouring in at the average rate of nine hundred per day. So dreadful was their poverty that we have the authority of the Rector of Liverpool, speaking on the 26th of February, that nine thousand Irish families were being relieved, a number which increased to eleven thousand by the end of March. The Stipendiary Magistrate had given an instruction to the police to keep a record of the number of immigrants, and, at a meeting of the justices summoned by him to consider suitable measures to cope with this serious menace to health and peace, he stated that, from the first day of November, 1846, to the twelfth day of May, 1847, the total number of Irish immigrants into Liverpool amounted to 196,338. Deducting the numbers actually recorded as sailing to America, no less than 137,519 persons had been added to the population of Liverpool. When the year ended, the total number of immigrants, excluding those who were bound for America, reached the immense total of 296,231, all ” apparently paupers.” [Head Constable Dowling’s Report to the Watch Committee.]

The already overcrowded Irish quarters gave some kind of shelter to the new comers ;  its character makes the heart sick, even when read in cold print. No less than 35,000 were housed in cellars, [ Liverpool Mercury, 1847.] below the level of the street, without light or ventilation; 5841 cellars [Gore’s Annals of Liverpool.]  were ” wells of stagnant water “ or, as an official report to the Corporation puts it, 5,869 were found, on examination, to be ” damp, wet, or filthy.” In the district now known as Holy Cross parish, not then formed, and in St. Vincent’s, an appalling state of affairs prevailed. In Lace Street, Marybone, in a cellar 14 feet long, ten wide, and six in height, twelve persons were found endeavouring to breathe, and, ” in more than one instance, upwards of forty people were found sleeping “ in a similar underground dungeon. [Medical Officer s Report for 1847. W. H. Duncan, M.D. ] The Stipendiary shocked the town by his narrative of a woman being confined of twins, in a Lace Street cellar, crowded with human beings. In Crosby Street, Park Lane, now occupied by the Wapping Goods Station, of the L. & N. W. Railway Company, 37 people were found in one cellar, and in another eight lay dead from typhus.

The unfortunates ” occupied every nook and corner of the already over-crowded lodging houses, and forced their way into the cellars (about 3,000 in number), which had been closed under the Health Act of 1842. In different parts of Liverpool, fifty or sixty of these destitute people were found in a house containing three or four small rooms, about twelve feet by ten.” [Head Constable Dowling’s Report to the Watch Committee.] By February, the mortality from fever was eighteen per cent, above the average, and four months later was 2,000 per cent. above the average of previous years.[ W. H. Duncan, M.D. Report to the Health Committee, 1847.]

Smallpox broke out and carried off 381 children, and an epidemic of measles added 378 to the total. In Lace Street, already mentioned, one-third of the inhabitants, that is to say 472 persons, died from fever during the year. In the Parish of Liverpool, the weekly mortality by the month of August reached 537, as against the usual average of 160 ; while in the extra parochial districts of Toxteth and Everton, it was 111 against 50. The curse of mis-rule in Ireland, and mis-government in Liverpool, had come home to roost, and he who would pass judgment on Irish poverty or “crime “ of later years, let him read the story which every stone of the charnel houses in Vauxhall, Exchange, Scotland, Great George and Pitt Street Wards, told and still tell. Here were sown the dragon’s teeth, and they have sprung up, not in armed men, but workhouses, reformatories, and gaols.

Regulations of all kinds were brought into force to put a much-needed check on this enormous influx, but without avail for at least a year. The Poor Law authorities returned 24,529 to their native parishes during the years 1847 and 1848 ; [See Dr. Mackay’s article on Liverpool in Morning Chronicle.]  it was only a drop in the ocean, for vessels were arriving daily with fresh contingents. Deck passages from Dublin cost as small a sum as sixpence, which probably tempted thousands to try their fortune in our midst. It stands to the infinite credit of the citizens that distinctions of race, religion, and party were obliterated in presence of this awful visitation, and that they united to succour the sick and hungry, both in the town and the country from whence they came. There were two exceptions, which only served to bring out this noble generosity in strong relief.

Vestryman Mellor gleefully exclaimed, at a meeting of the Select Vestry, ” when they are all gone, we will people Ireland with a better set,” and Dr. Hugh McNeill [ vicar of St Jude’s, and later St Paul’s, Princes Park, Liverpool (1834-1848), and a virulently anti-Catholic preacher,] characteristically accused the Irish clergy of refusing to dispense the English Relief Funds, unless the recipients paid them a consideration. These men were the sole exceptions to the truly Christian spirit which prevailed in all classes. Bishop Sharples acted with commendable promptitude. Summoning a meeting of Catholics in the Concert Hall, Lord Nelson Street, he had the pleasure of receiving two thousand pounds from his flock in the course of a few minutes. This sum was subscribed by less than fifty persons, and was dispatched next day by the treasurer, Mr. C. J. Corbally, in equal shares to the Archbishops of Cashel and Tuam. Church collections were immediately taken, and one thousand pounds came from this source; St. Patrick s heading the list with £ 118 16s. 7d., a few shillings more than the amount subscribed by St. Nicholas .

A name never to be forgotten in the annals of Liverpool Catholicism appeared for the first time in print, in connection with the famine fund, that of a young priest, Father James Nugent, who preached at St. Alban’s, Blackburn, and handed £ 72 12s. 8d. to the Liverpool treasurer. It was related by the journals of the day, that the Post Office was besieged by Irish labourers, sending small sums of money home to their afflicted kinsfolk. The condition of Ireland was bad, but it may well be doubted whether that of Liverpool was not worse. Where were the mass of new-comers to be housed? Where was employment to be found? Whence could be drawn clergy to come to attend to their spiritual needs? If church and school accommodation was deficient before 1847, it was surely deficient now.

In January, 1847, the Rector of Liverpool informed the Government that dysentery had assumed alarming proportions, due to the cabbages and turnips which formed the only food of the first immigrants. February saw eight hundred cases of typhoid ; the reading of the death-roll each Sunday morning in the churches sending a cold shiver through the immense congregations. Hurriedly the parish authorities set up fever sheds, in Great Homer Street on the North, and Mount Pleasant on the South, and fitted up a hospital ship in the Mersey, to cope with the new terror. Then came the awful visitation of typhus. Liverpool Protestantism bowed its head in reverence at the heroism of the handful of Catholic Priests.

Undaunted, they went from room to room in crowded houses ; from cellar to garret, ministering to the sick. They were never absent from hourly attendance in the hospital wards. Here at least there was some privacy, but in the crowded rooms and cellars it was next to impossible to hear the last confession, unless the priest lay down beside the sick man to receive the seeds of disease from poisoned breaths in return for spiritual consolations. In very truth they were braver men than ever faced the lions in a Roman amphitheatre.

If life must be sacrificed, it were fitting that St. Patrick’s should provide the first victim. Father Parker, rector for seventeen years, succumbed to typhus on April 28th, aged 43, [Buried in the vaults of the church. Dr. Youens sang the Requiem; the sub-deacon was Father Nugent] and was followed on May 26th by the scholarly Benedictine, Dr. Appleton, of St. Peter’s, who exchanged the Presidency of Douai College for a martyr s crown, won in the pestilential cellars of Crosby Street. The fine sanctuary of the church recalls his last work for the oldest ecclesiastical building in Liverpool, and the tablet on the walls of the church reminds succeeding generations of his great charity. St. Patrick’s again rendered two more victims, Father Grayston succumbing on the 16th June, aged 33, and his colleague, Father Haggar, [ Died at the house of Mr. Denis Madden, 116, Islington.] aged 29, following him seven days later. A third priest who had left the plains of Westmeath to work among his people in England, the Rev. Bernard O Reilly, was also stricken down. The rector of Old Swan, Father, afterwards Canon, Haddocks, took him from the presbytery at Saint Patrick’s to his own house, in the country, where he recovered in a most miraculous manner, and lived to become the third Bishop of Liverpool. St. Mary’s then took up the beadroll of death ; Father Gilbert, O.S.B., aged 27, and Father William Dale, O.S.B., aged 43, succumbing to typhus on the 31st May and 28th June respectively.

On the 22nd August, Father Richard Gillow, [He founded the St, Vincent de Paul Conference at St. Nicholas.] a member of a most devoted Catholic family, yielded up his young life he was but 36 years of age at St. Nicholas , and on the 28th September, the death of Father Whitaker, at St. Joseph’s, completed the death-roll for the year. Father Whitaker’s career was unique. He entered Douai with the intention of becoming a Benedictine, and after some years abandoned his undoubted vocation for the study of medicine. On the eve of qualifying he changed his mind and resumed his ecclesiastical studies at St. Sulpice, Paris. From thence he proceeded to Ushaw, where he was ordained, and after serving on the mission at Bolton, York, and Manchester, found an early grave in the slums of Liverpool. The deaths of these priests; [ To these should be added Father Nightingale, who died March 2nd, and Father Thomas Kelly, D.D,, who died May 1st.]  made a profound impression on a town which had witnessed 15,000 deaths from famine and fever, and exalted in the estimation of the Protestant citizens the character and dignity of the priesthood. The strain on the surviving clergy, most of whom suffered severely, was intense. They lay at night on chairs and sofas in their clothes, awaiting the sick calls which never failed to come, fearful lest the time spent in dressing might mean the loss of the Sacraments to some poor wretch lying in his dismal hovel. [ See Ushaw Magazine, June, 1895.] To the townspeople such heroism conveyed the reason why Catholics reverenced the office of the priest ; for Catholics it knit fresh bonds between them and the clergy.

In the midst of these scenes of desolation the sad news arrived from Genoa that the great defender of the poor Irish, the brilliant advocate of Catholic claims, had given up his soul to God. The death of O”Connell added to the grief and suffering of the poor immigrants, whose confidence in his powers knew no bounds. It was announced in the ” Tablet “ that his body would pass through Liverpool on its way to mother earth, but the authorities, fearing an outbreak, induced his unintelligent son to alter the arrangements. Instead of coming to Liverpool from Southampton, the coffin passed through Chester, where it rested one night before the altar in the city of St. Werburgh, and on the 26th July, 1847, arrived in Birkenhead. The steamer ” Duchess of Kent ” lay in the Mersey, en route for Dublin. Its quarter-deck was covered with an immense black canopy, under which the coffin was placed, surrounded by lighted tapers, and covered with a pall still in the possession of the Benedictines at St. Mary’s. To relieve the poignant feelings of the Irish multitudes they were allowed in relays to board the steamer and kneel for a few moments before the remains of the ” Liberator.” The evening before, the body of the O’Conor Don, M.P., lay in similar state ere it passed down the swiftly flowing waters of the Mersey to the land from whence he sprang. By November the tide of immigration began to slacken, and the black cloud of death and disease became less heavy and sombre. As the months rolled on, every quarter of the town had suffered, and, excluding those who had succumbed, sixty thousand of the inhabitants had suffered from fever and forty thousand from diarrhoea or dysentery. [Dr. Duncan s Report, page 18.]

The year 1848 opened with a great improvement in the death-rate from ” Irish fever,” but scarlatina and influenza now began to play havoc with the juvenile population. The deaths from fever during 1848 had fallen to 989; scarlatina claimed 1,516, and other zymotic diseases accounted for 4,350. [Dr. Duncan s Report, page 18.] From January, 1848, to April, 1849, 1,786 fatal cases of scarlatina occurred with children under 15 years of age, and when, in 1849, the horrors of Asiatic cholera were superadded, out of 5,245 deaths 1,510 cases were those of the  same tender years, not including the 1,059 carried off by dysentery. [Dr. Duncan s Report, page 18.] The importance of these figures from the point of view of Catholic Liverpool is that seven-eighths of the dead were Irish; [Dr. Duncan s Report, page 18.] famine at home being exchanged for death abroad.

There were then in Vauxhall Ward, to take only one part of the typical Irish quarters, 27 streets, 226 courts, and 153 cellars. In the street houses 6,888 persons found a shelter, and in the courts, exclusive of the cellars, 6,148; or, as the Rev. Dr. Cahill put it, they crowded the desolate garret, the putrid cellar, and the filthy lane. In normal days in this district and Scotland Ward the deaths were in the ratio of one to fourteen of the residents as compared with one to thirty-eight in Rodney and Abercromby wards. According to a census taken by a well-known Anglican clergyman, Canon Hume, who made a house-to-house visit, there were 3,128 children between the ages of three and a half and twelve without the slightest school accommodation, and if we include those up to fourteen years of age, at least one thousand more must be added to the number. ” Crime,” as the word was then used, had begun to increase. In 1845 there were 3,889 cases; in 1846, 4,740; in 1847, 6,510, in 1848, 7,714; and in 1849, 6,702. The cause we have already indicated. Mr. W. Rathbone, at a meeting to raise funds, declared that it was the Irish landlords and not the people who ought to have been forcibly immigrated. Mr. Rushton, in his report to the Home Secretary, dated April 21, 1849, gives his view of the increase in ” crime.”

” I saw from day to day the poor Irish population forced upon us in a state of wretchedness which cannot be described. Within twelve hours after they landed they would be found among one of three classes, paupers, vagrants, or thieves. Few became claimants for parochial relief, for in that case they would be discovered and might be sent back to Ireland. The truth is that gaols, such as the gaol of the borough of Liverpool, afford the wretched and unfortunate Irish better food, shelter, and raiment, and more cleanliness than, it is to be feared, many of them ever experienced elsewhere ; hence, it constantly happens that Irish vagrants who have offered them the choice of being sent back to Ireland or to gaol in a great many cases desire to go to prison.”  This awful picture was confirmed by the Prison Commissioners in the same year, who speak of ” the intensity of the distress, and the vast immigration of Irish paupers who commit petty offences in order to be sent to prison. At the time of our visit to the gaol more than one-third of the males were of this description, and more than half of the females.” Here are two official statements as to the origin of ” Irish crime,” to be aggravated as the succeeding years rolled on by the same causes, poverty, overcrowding, casual employment, and the natural consequence of all three, excess in drink. Compare these figures with the annual report furnished to the justices by the Anglican Chaplain of the gaol.

In the year 1841 there were 201 prisoners committed to the Assizes for serious crime, 35 being Catholics; committed to the Sessions for less serious crimes 317, 66 being Catholics. The Courts of Summary Jurisdiction or Police Courts committed 1,541, the Catholics numbering 486. From a population numbering a third of the whole these figures show no sign of ” Catholic crime “ being in undue proportion; [See Mr. Edward Bretherton’s reply to Lord Sandon, who, in a speech in the House of Commons said Catholics were one-fourth. 1843.] decidedly the reverse, especially in the Assize and Sessions cases.

For the year 1842, 41 Catholics were sent from the Assizes out of a total of 185 ; from the Sessions 100 out of 472, and from the Police Courts 513 out of 1,536. During the year 1843, 1,410 prisoners were sent to Kirkdale Gaol; 78 Dissenters, 280 Catholics, and 1,036  Protestants. Crime began with the poverty of the victims of the great famine, and was due to causes over which they had little control.

Their children were the greatest sufferers, the inheritors of a sad past. The want of schools was the main cause, for, as Father Nugent wrote sixteen years later in his first report to the justices, “education is not an absolute preservative against crime, yet it must always be an incalculable advantage towards gaining an honest livelihood, and making a position in a town like Liverpool.” [Annual Police Report, October 26th, 1864.] The children’s story has yet to be told.

The Corporation now plunged headlong into the work of sanitary reform, and blundered badly. The solution of the whole question lay, according to their notion of things, in closing insanitary cellars. From 1847 to 1849 they ejected 25,015 persons who dwelt in cellars, a desirable course to pursue provided they offered better surroundings or knew that private enterprise would supply them. One result did accrue, which was to overcrowd still more the houses already too fully occupied. [See Dr. Duncan’s report. He appealed to his committee to proceed cautiously in the evictions.]  Tenement houses have been Liverpool’s second greatest curse, the fruitful cause of intemperance amongst women and even worse evils. Local authorities had not then the powers obtained thirty years later, and on that score the Liverpool Town Council was not entirely blameworthy. It was, however, unsympathetic, short-sighted, indifferent.

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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.

The Garstang Farmer’s Society Annual Meeting and Show 1818

Royal Oak Hotel, Garstang, Lancashire

On the 16th September 1809 the following announcement appeared in the Lancaster Gazette:

“In consequence of a request made to me, as Chairman of the Association assembled at Garstang for the Protection of Property, on Tuesday the 7th September inst, to convene a meeting for the purpose of taking into consideration the propriety and utility of forming an Agricultural Society, as useful and beneficial to the neighbourhood, – I hereby accordingly desire a meeting of the gentlemen who think themselves interested therein at the Royal Oak in Garstang on Thursday the 28th day of September inst at one o’clock in the afternoon.”

Alex Butler
Kirkland Hall, September 9th, 1809

 

Garstang Agricultural Society was formed in 1809 with the aim of being “ useful and beneficial to the neighbourhood, ” and held its first exhibition in 1813. There were 13 prizes, “ premiums, ” for crops and stock, and 12 ” sweepstake “ prizes for stock.

The following is from 1818.

The Garstang Farmer’s Society held their annual Meeting and Show on the 24th September The Premiums awarded are as follow

To:

Alexander Whitehead      the Premium of Two Guineas for a crop of Red Clover of the first year

Samuel Hinde Esq.           Two Guineas for a crop of Turnips to be consumed on the farm

Robert Whiteside              Two Guineas for a crop of Potatoes

David Hawthornthwaite   a Cup or Three Guineas for a Long horned Bull of any age

Jonathan Binns                  a similar premium for a Short horned Bull

Joseph Fielding Esq.          ditto for a Long horned Heifer

William Thulfall                 ditto for a Short horned ditto

Samuel Hinde Esq.            Two Guineas for a two shear Leicester Ram

Jonathan Binns                  ditto for a pen of two shear Leicester Ewes

Robert Whiteside               a Cup or Three Guineas for a two year old Colt

John Whiteside                  ditto for a two year old Filly or Mare

The subscribers and the public were much gratified with the Stock shown particularly the Leicester Sheep which were large and beautiful animals They afterwards dined at the Royal Oak Joseph Fielding Esq. President in the Chair where the evening passed very agreeably to all parties

Short-Horned Bull

Sweepstakes at the Garstang Meeting

Ram any age       Jonathan Binns

Ewe any age       Ditto

Yearling Ewe      Ditto

Yearling Ram     William Thulfall

Tup Lamb          Samuel Hinde Esq

Ewe Lamb         David Hawthornthwaite

 

From:  The Farmers Magazine, A Periodical Work Exclusively Devoted To Agriculture And Rural Affairs, Edinburgh, 1818 

Manchester – so much to answer for…….

The_Massacre_of_Peterloo

The Massacre of Peterloo, 16th August 1819

One hundred and ninety seven years ago yesterday, between 60 – 80,000 people gathered on St Peter’s Field in Manchester at a meeting for parliamentary reform. The crowd was charged by the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry, and the 15th Hussars; between 10 and 20 people were killed and hundreds more injured in what quickly became known as the Peterloo Massacre.

The Manchester & Salford Yeomanry were a relatively inexperienced militia recruited from among local shopkeepers and tradesmen, a large number ran or owned pubs.  For some reason, this came to mind .. “They smelt of pubs and Wormwood Scrubs, and too many right wing meetings.”

The Manchester Observer had recently described them as “generally speaking, the fawning dependents of the great, with a few fools and a greater proportion of coxcombs, who imagine they acquire considerable importance by wearing regimentals”  they were subsequently described as “younger members of the Tory party in arms”, and as “hot-headed young men, who had volunteered into that service from their intense hatred of Radicalism”.

They were also drunk.

Just after 1:00pm the Yeomanry received an order that the Chief Constable had an arrest warrant which he needed assistance to execute, and sixty cavalrymen of the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry, led by Captain Hugh Hornby Birley, moved into the crowd. As they became stuck, they began to panic, and began to attack the crowd with their sabres.

At about 1:50 pm, Lieutenant Colonel Guy L’Estrange commanding the 15th Hussars arrived; he ordered them into the field to disperse the crowd with the words: “Good God, Sir, don’t you see they are attacking the Yeomanry; disperse the meeting!”

The 15th Hussars formed themselves into a line stretching across the eastern end of St Peter’s Field, and charged into the crowd. At about the same time the Cheshire Yeomanry charged from the southern edge of the field.

At first the crowd had some difficulty in dispersing, as the main exit route into Peter Street was blocked by the 88th Regiment of Foot, standing with bayonets fixed. One officer of the 15th Hussars was heard trying to restrain the, by now out of control, Manchester and Salford Yeomanry, who were “cutting at every one they could reach”: “For shame! For shame! Gentlemen: forbear, forbear! The people cannot get away!”

By 2:00pm the crowd had been dispersed, leaving eleven dead and more than six hundred injured.

Peterloo was hugely influential in ordinary people winning the right the vote; it led to the rise of the Chartist Movement, which in turn led to the formation of Trade Unions; and it resulted in the foundation of the Manchester Guardian newspaper.

freetradehallcard

Free Trade Hall, Manchester

Percy Bysshe Shelley was in Italy, and did not hear of the massacre until 5 September. His poem, The Masque of Anarchy”, subtitled “Written on the Occasion of the Massacre at Manchester” was sent for publication but not published until 1832, thirteen years after the massacre, and ten years after Shelley’s death.

The Free Trade Hall in Manchester, built to commemorate the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, was also partly built as a “cenotaph raised on the shades of the victims” of Peterloo. The land it was built on was given by Richard Cobden.

This isn’t really a shameless attempt to bring in the UK’s second greatest city (you can pretty much guess the gold medal winner), well it probably is. Ok, so, Manchester, one of the world’s great cities, along with London (obviously), Venice, Florence, New York, probably Glasgow………

Anyway,  Sir Joseph Thackwell, GCB, KH, (1781 – 1858) commanded the 15th Hussars from 1820 to 1832. So he may well have been at Peterloo. It’s probably too much to hope he was the officer “trying to restrain the out of control Manchester and Salford Yeomanry”, but it is at least possible. But, a year after the massacre, he was in command of the regiment.

He was, later, a lieutenant general in the British Army. He had served with the 15th Hussars in the Peninsular War at Sahagún (1808) and Vitoria (1813), and lost his left arm at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. He was promoted to a major at Waterloo, and made a brevet (honorary) lieutenant-colonel in 1817. So he was almost as senior as Lieutenant Colonel Guy L’Estrange, but didn’t out-rank him on the day. Guy L’Estrange does sound like one of Becky Sharpe’s conquests………..

But on the day, with a joint operation combining the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry, the Cheshire Yeomanry, and the 15th Hussars, he would have had equivalent rank to L’Estrange.

Joseph Thackwell commanded the 15th Hussars from 1820 to 1832. He then served in India, commanding the cavalry in the First Anglo-Afghan War (1838–39), the First  and Second Anglo-Sikh Wars (1845–49). The reason for bringing this in to our story is that he had married Maria Audriah Roche, [eldest daughter of Francis Roche of Rochemount, County Cork (an uncle of Edmond Roche, 1st Baron Fermoy).] in 1825,  and, more importantly, he bought Aghada Hall n 1853, and died there in April 1859.

So, Joseph Thackwell was the first person to own Aghada since John Roche had built it in 1808. The house had been in the Roche family for forty five years, but JR’s dream of creating a Roche dynasty, with a landed inheritance, had failed. Both male Roche heirs, his nephews’ James Joseph, and William, had died without male heirs. So the estate was sold with the beneficiaries being JJ, and William’s daughters.

Lady Thackwell [Maria A. Roche] shares a surname with John Roche, and his heirs, but is at best a tangential relation, and more likely no close relation at all. Her branch of the Roche family were neighbours of “our” Roches, substantial landowners in county Cork, important and influential, – Maria was a first cousin of the 1st Baron Fermoy; which coincidentally makes her the first cousin five times removed from Diana, Princess of Wales. But when it comes down to it, probably not much more than someone deciding – “you know that nice house down on Cork harbour, quite close to a lot of my family……… can we buy it?”

Peterloo also resonates in other parts of the story…… It’s a shocking, shameless, massacre. It is not defendable in any way. The crowd attendance was approximately half the population of the immediate area around Manchester. But it led to the  Great Reform Bill of 1832, it led to the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 in part through the efforts of Richard Cobden, and, amongst others, his next door neighbour Sir Joshua Walmsley, – another character in our story.

But most of all, one hundred and ninety seven years on, we should doff our caps to the people of Manchester.

The Masque of Anarchy -September 1819

1

As I lay asleep in Italy

There came a voice from over the Sea,

And with great power it forth led me

To walk in the visions of Poesy.

2

I met Murder on the way–

He had a mask like Castlereagh–

Very smooth he looked, yet grim;

Seven blood-hounds followed him:

3

All were fat; and well they might

Be in admirable plight,

For one by one, and two by two,

He tossed them human hearts to chew

4

Which from his wide cloak he drew.

Next came Fraud, and he had on,

Like Eldon, an ermined gown;

His big tears, for he wept well,

Turned to mill-stones as they fell.

5

And the little children, who

Round his feet played to and fro,

Thinking every tear a gem,

Had their brains knocked out by them.

6

Clothed with the Bible, as with light,

And the shadows of the night,

Like Sidmouth, next, Hypocrisy

On a crocodile rode by.

7

And many more Destructions played

In this ghastly masquerade,

All disguised, even to the eyes,

Like Bishops, lawyers, peers, or spies.

8

Last came Anarchy: he rode

On a white horse, splashed with blood;

He was pale even to the lips,

Like Death in the Apocalypse.

9

And he wore a kingly crown;

And in his grasp a sceptre shone;

On his brow this mark I saw–

‘I AM GOD, AND KING, AND LAW!’

10

With a pace stately and fast,

Over English land he passed,

Trampling to a mire of blood

The adoring multitude.

11

And a mighty troop around,

With their trampling shook the ground,

Waving each a bloody sword,

For the service of their Lord.

12

And with glorious triumph, they

Rode through England proud and gay,

Drunk as with intoxication

Of the wine of desolation.

13

O’er fields and towns, from sea to sea,

Passed the Pageant swift and free,

Tearing up, and trampling down;

Till they came to London town.

14

And each dweller, panic-stricken,

Felt his heart with terror sicken

Hearing the tempestuous cry

Of the triumph of Anarchy.

15

For with pomp to meet him came,

Clothed in arms like blood and flame,

The hired murderers, who did sing

`Thou art God, and Law, and King.

16

We have waited, weak and lone

For thy coming, Mighty One!

Our purses are empty, our swords are cold,

Give us glory, and blood, and gold.’

17

Lawyers and priests, a motley crowd,

To the earth their pale brows bowed;

Like a bad prayer not over loud,

Whispering — `Thou art Law and God.’ —

18

Then all cried with one accord,

`Thou art King, and God, and Lord;

Anarchy, to thee we bow,

Be thy name made holy now!’

19

And Anarchy, the Skeleton,

Bowed and grinned to every one,

As well as if his education

Had cost ten millions to the nation.

20

For he knew the Palaces

Of our Kings were rightly his;

His the sceptre, crown, and globe,

And the gold-inwoven robe.

21

So he sent his slaves before

To seize upon the Bank and Tower,

And was proceeding with intent

To meet his pensioned Parliament

22

When one fled past, a maniac maid,

And her name was Hope, she said:

But she looked more like Despair,

And she cried out in the air:

23

`My father Time is weak and gray

With waiting for a better day;

See how idiot-like he stands,

Fumbling with his palsied hands!

24

`He has had child after child,

And the dust of death is piled

Over every one but me–

Misery, oh, Misery!’

25

Then she lay down in the street,

Right before the horses’ feet,

Expecting, with a patient eye,

Murder, Fraud, and Anarchy.

26

When between her and her foes

A mist, a light, an image rose,

Small at first, and weak, and frail

Like the vapour of a vale:

27

Till as clouds grow on the blast,

Like tower-crowned giants striding fast,

And glare with lightnings as they fly,

And speak in thunder to the sky,

28

It grew — a Shape arrayed in mail

Brighter than the viper’s scale,

And upborne on wings whose grain

Was as the light of sunny rain.

29

On its helm, seen far away,

A planet, like the Morning’s, lay;

And those plumes its light rained through

Like a shower of crimson dew.

30

With step as soft as wind it passed

O’er the heads of men — so fast

That they knew the presence there,

And looked, — but all was empty air.

31

As flowers beneath May’s footstep waken,

As stars from Night’s loose hair are shaken,

As waves arise when loud winds call,

Thoughts sprung where’er that step did fall.

32

And the prostrate multitude

Looked — and ankle-deep in blood,

Hope, that maiden most serene,

Was walking with a quiet mien:

33

And Anarchy, the ghastly birth,

Lay dead earth upon the earth;

The Horse of Death tameless as wind

Fled, and with his hoofs did grind

To dust the murderers thronged behind.

34

A rushing light of clouds and splendour,

A sense awakening and yet tender

Was heard and felt — and at its close

These words of joy and fear arose

35

As if their own indignant Earth

Which gave the sons of England birth

Had felt their blood upon her brow,

And shuddering with a mother’s throe

36

Had turnèd every drop of blood

By which her face had been bedewed

To an accent unwithstood,–

As if her heart had cried aloud:

37

`Men of England, heirs of Glory,

Heroes of unwritten story,

Nurslings of one mighty Mother,

Hopes of her, and one another;

38

`Rise like Lions after slumber

In unvanquishable number,

Shake your chains to earth like dew

Which in sleep had fallen on you —

Ye are many — they are few.

39

`What is Freedom? — ye can tell

That which slavery is, too well —

For its very name has grown

To an echo of your own.<

40

`’Tis to work and have such pay

As just keeps life from day to day

In your limbs, as in a cell

For the tyrants’ use to dwell,

41

`So that ye for them are made

Loom, and plough, and sword, and spade,

With or without your own will bent

To their defence and nourishment.

42

`’Tis to see your children weak

With their mothers pine and peak,

When the winter winds are bleak,–

They are dying whilst I speak.

43

`’Tis to hunger for such diet

As the rich man in his riot

Casts to the fat dogs that lie

Surfeiting beneath his eye;

44

`’Tis to let the Ghost of Gold

Take from Toil a thousandfold

More than e’er its substance could

In the tyrannies of old.

45

`Paper coin — that forgery

Of the title-deeds, which ye

Hold to something of the worth

Of the inheritance of Earth.

46

`’Tis to be a slave in soul

And to hold no strong control

Over your own wills, but be

All that others make of ye.

47

`And at length when ye complain

With a murmur weak and vain

‘Tis to see the Tyrant’s crew

Ride over your wives and you–

Blood is on the grass like dew.

48

`Then it is to feel revenge

Fiercely thirsting to exchange

Blood for blood — and wrong for wrong —

Do not thus when ye are strong.

49

`Birds find rest, in narrow nest

When weary of their wingèd quest;

Beasts find fare, in woody lair

When storm and snow are in the air,1

50

`Asses, swine, have litter spread

And with fitting food are fed;

All things have a home but one–

Thou, Oh, Englishman, hast none!

51

`This is Slavery — savage men,

Or wild beasts within a den

Would endure not as ye do–

But such ills they never knew.

52

`What art thou Freedom? O! could slaves

Answer from their living graves

This demand — tyrants would flee

Like a dream’s dim imagery:

53

`Thou art not, as impostors say,

A shadow soon to pass away,

A superstition, and a name

Echoing from the cave of Fame.

54

`For the labourer thou art bread,

And a comely table spread

From his daily labour come

In a neat and happy home.

55

`Thou art clothes, and fire, and food

For the trampled multitude–

No — in countries that are free

Such starvation cannot be

As in England now we see.

56

`To the rich thou art a check,

When his foot is on the neck

Of his victim, thou dost make

That he treads upon a snake.

57

`Thou art Justice — ne’er for gold

May thy righteous laws be sold

As laws are in England — thou

Shield’st alike the high and low.

58

`Thou art Wisdom — Freemen never

Dream that God will damn for ever

All who think those things untrue

Of which Priests make such ado.

59

`Thou art Peace — never by thee

Would blood and treasure wasted be

As tyrants wasted them, when all

Leagued to quench thy flame in Gaul.

60

`What if English toil and blood

Was poured forth, even as a flood?

It availed, Oh, Liberty,

To dim, but not extinguish thee.

61

`Thou art Love — the rich have kissed

Thy feet, and like him following Christ,

Give their substance to the free

And through the rough world follow thee,

62

`Or turn their wealth to arms, and make

War for thy belovèd sake

On wealth, and war, and fraud–whence they

Drew the power which is their prey.

63

`Science, Poetry, and Thought

Are thy lamps; they make the lot

Of the dwellers in a cot

So serene, they curse it not.

64

`Spirit, Patience, Gentleness,

All that can adorn and bless

Art thou — let deeds, not words, express

Thine exceeding loveliness.

65

`Let a great Assembly be

Of the fearless and the free

On some spot of English ground

Where the plains stretch wide around.

66

`Let the blue sky overhead,

The green earth on which ye tread,

All that must eternal be

Witness the solemnity.

67

`From the corners uttermost

Of the bonds of English coast;

From every hut, village, and town

Where those who live and suffer moan

For others’ misery or their own.2

68

`From the workhouse and the prison

Where pale as corpses newly risen,

Women, children, young and old

Groan for pain, and weep for cold–

69

`From the haunts of daily life

Where is waged the daily strife

With common wants and common cares

Which sows the human heart with tares–

70

`Lastly from the palaces

Where the murmur of distress

Echoes, like the distant sound

Of a wind alive around

71

`Those prison halls of wealth and fashion,

Where some few feel such compassion

For those who groan, and toil, and wail

As must make their brethren pale–

72

`Ye who suffer woes untold,

Or to feel, or to behold

Your lost country bought and sold

With a price of blood and gold–

73

`Let a vast assembly be,

And with great solemnity

Declare with measured words that ye

Are, as God has made ye, free–

74

`Be your strong and simple words

Keen to wound as sharpened swords,

And wide as targes let them be,

With their shade to cover ye.

75

`Let the tyrants pour around

With a quick and startling sound,

Like the loosening of a sea,

Troops of armed emblazonry.

76

`Let the charged artillery drive

Till the dead air seems alive

With the clash of clanging wheels,

And the tramp of horses’ heels.

77

`Let the fixèd bayonet

Gleam with sharp desire to wet

Its bright point in English blood

Looking keen as one for food.

78

`Let the horsemen’s scimitars

Wheel and flash, like sphereless stars

Thirsting to eclipse their burning

In a sea of death and mourning.

79

`Stand ye calm and resolute,

Like a forest close and mute,

With folded arms and looks which are

Weapons of unvanquished war,

80

`And let Panic, who outspeeds

The career of armèd steeds

Pass, a disregarded shade

Through your phalanx undismayed.

81

`Let the laws of your own land,

Good or ill, between ye stand

Hand to hand, and foot to foot,

Arbiters of the dispute,

82

`The old laws of England — they

Whose reverend heads with age are gray,

Children of a wiser day;

And whose solemn voice must be

Thine own echo — Liberty!

83

`On those who first should violate

Such sacred heralds in their state

Rest the blood that must ensue,

And it will not rest on you.

84

`And if then the tyrants dare

Let them ride among you there,

Slash, and stab, and maim, and hew,–

What they like, that let them do.

85

`With folded arms and steady eyes,

And little fear, and less surprise,

Look upon them as they slay

Till their rage has died away.

86

`Then they will return with shame

To the place from which they came,

And the blood thus shed will speak

In hot blushes on their cheek.

87

`Every woman in the land

Will point at them as they stand–

They will hardly dare to greet

Their acquaintance in the street.

88

`And the bold, true warriors

Who have hugged Danger in wars

Will turn to those who would be free,

Ashamed of such base company.

89

`And that slaughter to the Nation

Shall steam up like inspiration,

Eloquent, oracular;

A volcano heard afar.

90

`And these words shall then become

Like Oppression’s thundered doom

Ringing through each heart and brain,

Heard again — again — again–

91

`Rise like Lions after slumber

In unvanquishable number–

Shake your chains to earth like dew

Which in sleep had fallen on you–

Ye are many — they are few.’

Rev Hewitt O’Bryen’s school Rochdale 1839

This was five years before the Rochdale Pioneers started the Co-Operative Movement…………

THIRTIETH ANNUAL REPORT of THE NATIONAL SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING THE EDUCATION OF THE POOR THROUGHOUT ENGLAND AND WALES (established ad 1811 incorporated 1817) LONDON 1841 Sold By J G And F Rivington St Paul’s Churchyard And Waterloo Place Pall Mall Also By Roake And Varty 31 Strand

The remaining factory cases are in the chapelries of Lees near Oldham and St James’s Heywood near Rochdale. To the former containing a population of 7000 your Committee granted for two years a sufficient sum to pay the salary of a mistress for the daily instruction of girls. The incumbent of the latter district the Rev Hewitt O’Bryen has under his pastoral charge a district containing about 8000 souls. He was probably among the first to bring into effectual operation the provisions of the Factory Act. [The Factory Act of 1833 restricted working hours to eight hours a day for nine to thirteen year olds, and twelve hours a day for thirteen to eighteen year olds, it also required children under 13 to receive elementary schooling for two hours each day.]

In a building erected with the aid of £160 from the Society he opened his school in January 1839 having previously succeeded by personal application in prevailing upon all the mill owners with only one exception to contribute towards the institution, 220 children one half of whom worked in factories were soon in regular attendance.

The details says Mr O’Bryen of this joint school, boys and girls being taught together, are as follows, it is open from nine to twelve am from half past one to half past four pm. Half the factory children come in the morning, and half in the afternoon, by an arrangement with the employers, the half which attend one fortnight in the morning attend the next in the afternoon and vice versa. The school opens with prayer. It consists of four classes in which boys and girls are mixed, the instruction for the first two hours consists of reading writing and ciphering conducted on the principle of mutual instruction with assistance from visitors who regularly act as monitors. The third hour during which the factory children remain of their own accord is devoted to simultaneous instruction. The lessons then given are in geography, grammar, history, Scripture, and the Catechism. This part of the instruction, I frequently conduct myself, the younger children who are incapable of it are sent under a monitor to the Infant school from which they have generally been drafted.

To assist this zealous clergyman your Committee made a grant of £50 for providing additional accommodations besides £10 annually for two years towards a pupil teacher to take especial charge of the factory children.

Hewitt O’Bryen is the third child, and second son, of Henry Hewitt O’Bryen, and Mary Roche, and another of John Roche‘s grandsons. He was baptised at Tracton Abbey, in a Catholic ceremony, like his brother John Roche O’Bryen, and elder sister Jane. When he became a member of the Church of Ireland is still unclear, or why for that matter.

He appears to have lived, at least briefly, in Limerick which would make some sense as he married Louisa Grace Ann Hoare, the daughter of the Reverend John Hoare, the Chancellor of the diocese of Limerick. They then seem to have moved to England. As seen above, he is in Lancashire in 1839, before moving to Norfolk where he was rector of Edgefield, Norfolk in 1845, where he died aged thirty three. His widow, Louisa, then moved to Derbyshire where she lived for some time at the home of her aunt, Alicia, wife of the Rev. Walter Shirley, rector of Brailsford, before moving to Bath where she died, aged 61, on 2 October 1861.