A Quaker Funeral, Liverpool, 1774.

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

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

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

   “Doctor Binns’ attendance is desired to

   the funeral of Sarah Chorley tomorrow at

   2 o’clock to go out at 3.

   July 15, 1774.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

George J Binns.

Notes & Queries, 27th August 1932 “

The Binns Collection In The Liverpool Public Library

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

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

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

She continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Ackworth School

Ackworth School, from the Great Garden by Mary Hodgson, ( as part of the illustrations for the history of the school in 1879 )

This is the preface to the ” Ackworth School catalogue : being a list of all the boys and girls educated at that institution, from its commencement in 1779, to the present period. “ published by Harvey and  Darton, Gracechurch Street, London : 1831. If you have Quaker relatives, it is an absolute joy because it just lists all 5511 pupils who attended Ackworth School between 1779 and 1831, and the year they left.

” This small work may possibly fall into the hands of some persons little acquainted with the Institution to which it relates For the information of these is inserted the following slight sketch of its history &c extracted with slight alteration from a descriptive sheet accompanying a line Engraving of the School which was published a few years since.

Ackworth School is situate between the villages of High and Low Ackworth, three miles south of Pontefract, in the West Riding of Yorkshire. The building is of freestone, obtained from the neighbourhood; and it was erected in 1757, 1758, and 1759, as an appendage to the Foundling Hospital in London. It cost £ 13,000; which sum was defrayed partly by voluntary subscriptions, and partly by aid of parliament.The house was applied to its original purpose, for twelve years, and afterwards remained unoccupied till 1777. In this year, it was purchased with eighty four acres of land, by Dr John Fothergill and three others, for £ 7,000; and in 1779, was opened as a public school for children of the Society of Friends, to which purpose it has been ever since applied. Various additions have been made to the buildings, and the landed estate has been increased to about 242 acres; the whole property being now estimated at about £ 30,000.

 The affairs of the institution are under the immediate management of the superintendent, resident at the school; but all matters of importance are referred to a committee of twenty eight friends, in the vicinity of Ackworth, and to another committee of the same number, who, with the treasurer, meet in London. The instruction of the children devolves on eighteen teachers. The boys are under the care of four school masters, with five apprentices; and five school mistresses, with four apprentices, have the charge of the girls.  The regular branches of instruction are reading, spelling, writing, arithmetic, English grammar, and geography; but there are a few to whom the last two branches are not taught. Sewing, knitting, &c. of course form part of the employment of the girls. Many of the elder boys are introduced to an acquaintance with the more useful parts of the mathematics; and a class consisting of twenty of the most advanced, receive instruction in the Latin language.

Besides attending to their school duties, the boys are frequently employed in farming, or gardening and the girls in various domestic occupations. There are three examinations of the children in the course of the year, the principal of which takes place at the time of the Annual General Meeting of the friends of the institution.

Children are admitted between the ages of nine and fourteen. £ 10 per annum is to be paid for each child; but the average cost is about £ 18, [ a modern day equivalent of £ 21,390.00 ] including clothing, stationery, &c. The number of scholars is limited to 300, viz. 180 boys and 120 girls, rather more than 100 being admitted and dismissed annually.  The number admitted, since the opening of the school in 1779, to the present time is 5511; and an average calculation will show, that, from among the children of Friends in this country, about one seventh receive some part of their education in this establishment.  Ackworth School 7th mo. 1831. “

 

Ackworth  School Catalogue

List Of All The Boys And Girls

Educated In That Establishment

From Its Commencement In 1779 To The Present Period

London

Harvey And Dart

On Gracechurch Street

1831