The Annual Dinner Benevolent Society for the Relief of the Aged and Infirm Poor 1901

The Benevolent Society for the Relief of the Aged and Infirm Poor. was the oldest Catholic charity in London  founded in 1761 It’s a nice worthy Catholic, and City cause, and it’s good to see members of the family there. This year there weren’t that many, but at least Great Grandpa was there, even if he was the only O’Bryen that year. Also present were Uncle Wilfrid (Parker) his brother-in-law, his cousin Frank Harwood Lescher, and Frank’s cousin Joseph S. Lescher [by then a papal Count]. The only surprise is that John Roper Parkington wasn’t there, but maybe he had a cold.

 

The annual dinner of the Benevolent Society for the Relief of the Aged and Infirm Poor was held at the Albion, Aldersgate-street, on Monday evening. The Hon. Mr. Justice Walton presided, and there were also present the Bishop of Emmaus, the Bishop of Southwark, Sir Westby Perceval, K.C.M.G., Colonel Maguire, Major J. H. White, V.D. ; the Very Revv. Provost Moore, Canon Johnston, D.D., V.G., Canon Keatinge, Canon McGrath, Canon Murnane, Canon Pycke, Canon White ; Commendatore Hicks, K.C.S.G. ; Captain Shean ; the Revv. W. V. Allanson, D.3., Thomas Carey, Alexander Charnley, S.J., George Cologan, W. J. Condon, C. A. Cox, G. B. Cox, J. Crowley, George Curtis, E. du Plerny, J. Egan, Edmund English, E. Escarguel, M. Fanning, Dean Fleming, Roderick Grant, James Hayes, W. J. Hogan, D. Holland, S. E. Jarvis, 1.C., William L. Keatinge, Hugh Kelly, Michael Kelly, O.S.A., D.D., P. McKenna, E. B. Mostyn, E. F. Murnane, Edward Murphy, J. M. Musgrave, Francis J. Sheehan, Edward Smith, Francis Stanfield, J. S. Tasker, G. B. Tatum, Lea Thomas, S.M., Louis Toursel, Felix J. Watters, S.M., D.D., A. E. Whereat, D.D. ; and Messrs. Frank Beer, J. Nugent Burke, John Carnegie, John Christie, A. K. Connolly, James Connolly, John J. Connolly, J. A. Connolly, S, Frederick Connolly, John Conway, James Donovan, P. F. Dorte, LL.B., Cecil Dwyer, Reginald B. Fellows, M.A., H. M. Fisher, R. M. Flood, P. J. Foley, Francis T. Giles, Anthony Hasslacher, Charles Hasslacher, J. E. Hill, James D. Hodgson, S. Taprell Holland (hon. treasurer), Thomas Holland, Henry J. Hudson, John Hussey, William Hussey, J. Virtue Kelly, Joseph F. Lescher, J.P., D.L., F. Harwood Lescher, Austin Lickorish, Bernard McAdam, James P. McAdam (hon. secretary), J. M. McGrath, Ernest A. O’Bryen, Wilfrid W. Parker, R. J. Phillips, Herbert Plater, B. Rooney, L.L. Schiller, E. Simone, Joseph Sperati, Paul Strickland, Francis P. Towsey, Joseph S. R. Towsey, William Towsey, John M. Tucker, George Walton, J. Arthur Walton, George Wesley, A. E. White, Basil J. White, C. B. Wildsmith, M. J. Wildsmith, &c.

The Chairman, in proposing the first toast of the evening, ” His Holiness the Pope and his Majesty the King,” said : Through the world his Holiness is looked upon as the principal authority in spiritual matters, as his Majesty the King personifies the principal authority in temporal matters. Not many days since I had the honour of dining with the Goldsmiths’ Company, and the first toast, according to the ancient custom of the Company, was the Church and King. We translate that toast in the same spirit of loyalty. (Hear, hear.) I ask you to drink to the health of our Holy Father Leo XIII., to his health and his well-being. May that venerable life, which has been so fruitful of blessing to the Church and mankind, be still further prolonged to be a guidance to his children throughout the world. (Loud cheers.) One cannot forget that this is the first time for more than sixty years that the toast of the King has been proposed at the annual dinner of the Benevolent Society. The occasion carries our minds back to the number of years which that great Sovereign—the late Queen Victoria—ruled over this great realm with such magnificent results, and at the same time carries our minds forward with great expectations and great hopes. (Cheers.)

The toast was acknowledged with musical honours.

The next toast was that of ” Queen Alexandra, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and the other members of the Royal Family,” a toast which the Chairman remarked would arouse the same feelings of personal devotion as the previous toast.

The toast was received with enthusiasm.

THE SOCIETY.,
The Chairman rose and said : Gentlemen, I have now to ask you to drink to the success of the Benevolent Society. The Society has appealed to me very warmly and sincerely ever since I first knew it. In the first place it is a benevolent society in a very special sense. 1 think it is a most useful thing, a most excellent thing, that it should bring us together in pursuit of a charitable object, and I think it is also a good thing that it should bring us together in a friendly and social gathering. (Hear, hear.)

I am sure it is very true, as I have often heard it said by one whom we have lost, and for whom I shall always have the greatest possible reverence and affection—the late Lord Russell of Killowen—(cheers)—that if we are to succeed as we ought to do in this city one thing is wanted amongst Catholics, and that is greater unity. (Cheers.) The more we can see of each other, the more the laity can see of the clergy at gatherings like this the better it is for us and the stronger will be our position in this city, and the greater will be the success which we shall attain in every undertaking we have in hand. (Hear, hear.) The history of the Benevolent Society, although, as far as I can see, its records are not very voluminous, is very interesting. It was founded in 1761, and this takes our minds back to the time when to be a Catholic was to be a criminal, for a priest to say Mass was a capital offence, and for a Catholic to send a child to a Catholic school was an offence which might entail forfeiture of all he possessed. The Society couples us up and links us with the Catholics of old days, those who before the time of the establishment of the hierarchy and before Catholic Emancipation struggled and fought priests and laity for the faith. We are proud to know that we are now carrying on a work which was begun in the old days by the ” heroes “ who kept alive the faith. From the year 1761 we go to 1788 and ten years later, during which the Penal Laws had been repealed, at least to a very large extent. At the first annual gathering the amount subscribed was £ 53 Later on the Society met at ” The Five Bells,” Moorfields, and the annual gathering took place in “The Three Mariners,” Fore-street. Later on the meeting took place in Moorfields Chapel. In 1849 the amount subscribed at the annual dinner was £ 349. In 1857 the name of Canon Gilbert—(cheers)—who was so much revered not only by the Society, but by Catholics in all parts of the country, joined the Committee, and the name of the Rev. James Laid Patterson, now the Right Rev. Bishop of Emmaus, was included in the list. (Cheers.) Passing to 1861 we find the amount subscribed was £ 574.

ITS WORK.

And now I turn to more recent days, and I find that the amount spent and distributed during the last year was £1,484 13s. 61, besides some money for coals distributed at Christmas. I think we have reason to congratulate ourselves upon the success of this venerable and most useful Society. (Hear, hear.) It seems to me that there are two forms of benevolence to which objection cannot possibly be taken. One is the good work of assisting children in their education, and especially the poor children of the Catholic poor. (Hear, hear.) It is necessary that all Catholic children should have an efficient education in order to prepare them for the battle of life. (Hear, hear.) That is one form of good work which has been done in the past and in the way of building our poor schools. I am glad to see a spirit arising—it is a resurrection, it is a revival—of realising the importance of doing something for the education of our boys in our higher schools in the way of establishing exhibitions and scholarships which may assist a boy whose parents may not be in position to afford it, so that these Catholic boys may take their proper place in life. The other kind of work to which I allude is rendering assistance to those who have fought the battle and have failed. (Hear, hear.) That is a work which the Society undertakes. One of the saddest features of modern life is the necessity for something in the nature of old age pensions. Amongst Catholics in London this Society endeavours to give that assistance, and to do that most excellent work, of coming to the rescue of those who in their old age, by sickness, by misfortune, need the assistance of some charity. I know I shall not appeal to you in vain for subscriptions. We have 190 pensioners, we want to increase that number to 200. (Cheers.) I ask you to-night to support, as indeed you always do, but even more so this most deserving charity, and speaking personally it is a great pleasure to me to preside at the gathering. (Cheers.)

BISHOPS AND CLERGY.

Sir Westby Perceval proposed the health of “The Cardinal Archbishop, the Bishops, and the Clergy of the two Metropolitan Dioceses.” The speaker said : A note has been struck by our chairman as to the value of these gatherings from a social point of view, which appeals to us very forcibly. It is a sad want in Catholic London that so few opportunities are afforded Catholics to meet each other and to meet their clergy, and it is their health I submit to you this evening in the toast which I propose. (Cheers.) It is a very comprehensive toast, and when I was asked to propose it the first thought that entered my mind was the excellent opportunity for retaliation. (Laughter.) Most of us have sat at the feet of the clergy and had our little weaknesses exposed, but I have not been very successful in discovering the weaknesses of the clergy. (Laughter). There was a certain prophet of old who was told to curse and ended by blessing, and that is the position in which I find myself this evening. (Laughter.) We as ” Britons “ take a deep and practical pleasure in our bishops and our clergy, and we cannot show our love in a better way than by fostering and maintaining that spirit of loyalty. (Loud cheers.)

SPEECH BY THE BISHOP OF EMMAUS.

The Bishop of Emmaus in a humorous speech responded. He had long, he said, been a member of the Benevolent Society. In addition to carrying on the very praiseworthy work of assisting the poor, the Society had promoted a cordial feeling between clergy and laity which was, he thought, a distinguishing mark of English Catholicity. (Cheers.)

REPLY BY THE BISHOP OF SOUTHWARK, The Bishop of Southwark also responded. He said : The thought I am sure that must be uppermost in the minds of all present must surely be an expression of love for his Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop and of a desire that he may be long spared. (Hear, hear.) I certainly know of no life more precious to the Catholic Church in England at the present day than that of his Eminence Cardinal Vaughan. (Hear, hear.) He has given to us, as I often tell him, a marvellous example of courage in works he has undertaken, and particularly in the undertaking of the building of his magnificent cathedral. (Hear, hear.) He had not much encouragement at the beginning, but he has faced that burden and he has carried it on nobly, and the wish of everyone to-night is that he may be spared to see the cathedral opened. (Cheers.) Speaking for the diocese of Southwark, I think it is not badly represented this evening. (Hear, hear.) As I look round the room I think I can say that we of Southwark are trying to do our duty to the Society. (Hear, hear.) I hope the opportunity we get year by year to meet together—the clergy and the laity—may always be maintained to the very full, and may always promote those cordial relations which do exist between the clergy and the laity of this country. (Cheers.) As we look around upon this city—as I look myself upon the rapidly developing suburbs of South London, in which there has been an increase during the past year of 230,000 souls—we are able to realise what a great mission we Catholics, clergy and laity, have before us, if the work is to be well done and if we are to produce upon this city, and to carry it into action, the influence which we ought to have. (Loud cheers.) One great element in our work will be the clergy and laity more closely united together. (Hear, hear.) I do not know what the future is to bring forth, whether the laity are to be called upon to take a more active part in the temporal administration of our missions—(laughter)—but I am sure whatever call is made upon them they will respond generously. (Hear, hear.) Of this I am certain, that as we live we must inevitably see an enormous increase in the influence of the Catholic Church throughout the cities of London and Westminster, and throughout the Borough of Southwark. (Cheers.)

THE CHAIRMAN.

Mr. Joseph Francis Lescher proposed the health of the Chairman. He said : When the elevation of Mr. Walton was announced the Catholic world was exceedingly gratified. (Cheers.) The men of Stonyhurst rejoiced exceedingly, and the commercial community of this great city were immensely pleased—(hear, hear.)—because they knew it was a recognition of a most honourable and straightforward career. I speak as only one of the commercial community of this city, and I say it was a distinct gain to us that Mr. Justice Walton should have this dignity and honour conferred upon him. (Hear, hear.) I say that the high esteem of the Bench will lose nothing of that grand record which has been handed down for generations. Looking abroad and at home, we may be sure that that high standard of excellence, which has been the one great feature of the courts of England, will continue to remain so long as such appointments are made. (Cheers.)

The Chairman thanked the last speaker for the kind—the too flattering—words which he used in proposing the toast. I am glad, indeed, to see here to-night not only my old friend, Mr. Lescher, but also my old master, Father Charnley. (Cheers.) It carries me back to my old days at Stonyhurst, and I shall always, and indeed we all should, remember the debt we owe to Stonyhurst, and certainly if I can ever do anything to assist and promote the high standard of education not only in my own school but in all our higher grade schools, I shall be most happy to do so. (Cheers.) Mr. Lescher has said a number of kind things about me, but I would remind him of the old proverb, ” It only takes six months to turn a good barrister into a bad judge “—(laughter)—and I am often inclined to say ” wait.” I cannot feel ashamed of the work I did at the Bar —(loud cheers)—and I sincerely and honestly felt a great deal of regret in saying good-bye to my old life, and I still hope I may be of some use to my old friends and to Catholics. (Cheers.) have now the pleasure of announcing the result of the collection which amounts to £1,031. (Cheers.)

Mr. Paul Strickland proposed the toast of “The Stewards.:” He said : Some years ago I had the privilege of being a pupil of Mr. Justice Walton, and I am glad to be able to give expression to the profound joy and rejoicing of Catholics that be should have been promoted to the Bench. If I may be allowed I should like to make an addition to the proverb quoted by the hon. chairman, and it is that after a few years a judge has been in the past promoted to be Lord Chief Justice. (Cheers.)

Mr. W. Towsey briefly responded for the stewards. He remarked that the stewards would always endeavour in the future as they had in the past to make these gatherings attractive to the general body of Catholics and the more there were of them the better. (Hear, hear.)

The above text was found on p.20, 30th November 1901 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .

Purssell marriages in the 1890’s

It has always been a slight curiosity that whilst Uncle Frank’s (Purssell) wedding was well written up, none of the Purssell sisters seemed to have had as grand a wedding. Of the seven children, Laura had married Max Winstanley in 1884, Lucy had married Henry Grant Edwardes in 1892, and Frank had married Lily Kuypers in 1896, and Alfred J. never married. But at least almost all of them got a brief mention in the Tablet.

Parker-Purssell marriage notice July 1898

PARKER—PURSSELL.–On June 30, at St. Dominic’s Priory, Haverstock Hill, by the Very Rev. F. A. Gasquet, D.D., Wilfrid Watson, second surviving son of the late Sir Henry Watson Parker, of Hampstead, and Lady Watson Parker, of 22, Upper Park-road, N.W., to Frances Charlotte, third daughter of the late Alfred Purssell, C.C., of Hampstead.9th July 1898, Page 13

Wilfrid Parker was the groomsman at  Frank and Lily’s wedding, and he, Frank, and their Kuypers brothers-in-law all went to Downside, which is where they met Father (later Cardinal) Gasquet.


O’BRYEN—PURSSELL.—On the11th inst., at St. Dominic’s Priory, Haver-stock Hill, by the Rev. P. A. O’Bryen, B.A., brother of the bridegroom, assisted by the Rev. George Cox, Ernest A. O’Bryen, of the Indian Forest Service, son of the late John Roche O’Bryen, M.D., to Gertrude Mary, youngest daughter of the late Alfred Purssell, C.C., of 9, Belsize Grove, Hampstead. (Burma papers please copy.) 15th October 1898, Page 13

 

BELLORD—PURSSELL.—On the 11th inst., at St. Dominic’s Priory, Haver-stock Hill, N.W., by the Rev. James Bellord, Chaplain to the Forces, Edmund Joseph Bellord to Agnes Mary, fourth daughter of the late Alfred Purssell, of Belsize Grove, N.W. 14th January 1899, Page 11

It was Edmund Bellord’s second marriage.James Bellord was appointed the Vicar Apostolic of Gibraltar and Titular Bishop of Milevum on 16 February 1899, and his consecration took place on 1 May 1899.

Downside Annual Dinner – June 1898

This one makes me smile for lots of different reasons. It’s ever so slightly pompous, and smug, how could any event being attended by “the Rouge Dragon, Mr. Everard Green” not be?  It’s also got quite a lot of the family in it, though strictly speaking only really two, Great Grandpa (OB), and Uncle Frank at this point in the year. Uncle Wilfrid (Parker) and Charlotte Purssell are married nine days later by Father (later Cardinal) Gasquet, Great Granny and Grandpa OB are married in the October, and then finally Agnes marries Edmund Bellord in January 1899.

I also really like the weird quirk that has this dinner happening about a mile and a half away from the Roper Parkington’s Silver Wedding celebration in Bond Street. So both family events happening the same day, but neither yet connected.

And even better, also attending was the current Olympic Gold Medalist for both the Men’s Singles, and Doubles at Tennis, John Pius Boland who was Irish.

Holborn Restaurant c.1900

The Downside Annual Dinner took place this year on Tuesday last, the 21st inst., in the Gordon Room at the Holborn Restaurant. The Very Rev. F. A. Gasquet, D.D., 0.S.B.., occupied the chair. Among those present were the Bishop of Newport, the Right Rev. Mgr. John Vaughan, the Very Rev. H. E. Ford, Prior of Downside, the Right Rev. Abbot Snow, O.S.B., and the Revv. T. L. Almond, H. N. Birt, V. Corney, Wilfrid Corney, Gilbert Dolan, F. M. Fulton, 0. Langdale, and E. Mostyn, Sir Walter Smythe, Bart., Sir Roland Blennerhassett, Bart., Sir John Talbot Power, Bart., the Rouge Dragon, Mr. Everard Green, and Messrs. I. A. Baillon, E. J. Bellord,  H. Behan, C. Berington, P. T. Blackwell, George Blount, P. J. Boland, H. Campbell, T. B. Corney, W. FitzGibbon, A. Ford, T. B. Fulton, E. Gape, J. S. Gradwell, L. Green, E. G. Hansom, E. J. Harting, W. S. Jackson, A. A. Kelly, F. B. Kindersley, A. J. Mitford, E. O’Bryen, W. S. Page, Watson Parker, F. W. Purssell, C. G. Rose, A. W. Sells, E. E. Ware, E. Willett, and E. G. Stillwell, the Hon. Secretary.

After the toasts of the Pope and the Queen had been proposed by the Chairman and duly honoured, Sir Walter Smythe, Bart., gave the toast of Alma Mater, coupled with the name of the Prior of Downside.

In reply the Prior spoke of the very satisfactory condition of the school and of the great progress it was making in its work, and of its many recent successes. Of “Old Gregorians” they had also reason to be proud ; they were not a very large body numerically, but still they got through a good deal of work. There was every reason to be proud of the work accomplished at the house in Ormond-street, though that was only in its inception. Then again at Cambridge University Father Butler had greatly distinguished himself, and his work there was so appreciated by the authorities that it alone was considered sufficient reason to confer a degree of distinction upon him without further examinations. Father Kuypers had also distinguished himself there, and had been awarded the prize for Hebrew. Then at Westminster, where was now being raised the new Cathedral, they were to build up a new house and there carry on the great work of the Order. His earnest wish was that they might all live to see these great works accomplished.

Downside

Mr. George Blount then gave the toast of ” The Visitors “ coupled with the name of the Bishop of Newport who, in reply, said that although he was not an “Old Gregorian” yet he was a very old friend of Downside, and some of his dearest memories were connected with that place, and it was his greatest pride and satisfaction to hear of successful work achieved by “Old Gregorians” whether as Churchmen or as laymen. They were all proud of the work being carried out at Great Ormond-street, at Cambridge University and elsewhere, but their thoughts were mostly turned to Downside itself, the parent stem. There was a great fight before Catholics in these days in the matter of education, and the clergy looked to the laity for assistance. The laity of St. Gregory’s were the crutches which upheld the ancient walls of Downside, and every member present would remember his association with and his duty towards that place.

Cardinal Gasquet

The Right Rev. Mgr. Vaughan then proposed the toast of “The Chairman” He said it was a special privilege to propose this toast. His memory went back with pleasure to the old days in the study and in the playground when both the Chairman and himself were at Downside together. Father Gasquet had distinguished himself greatly. His name was known not to old Downside boys only but to all Catholics in England. He had heard him praised on all sides. His books were of the utmost importance to their non-Catholic brethren. He was an example for them all to follow. He therefore now asked those present to drink the health of the chairman and to wish him health and many years of life in which he might continue his labours.

Father Gasquet in reply said it was a pleasure to know his work was appreciated. Anything he had done had been done for the sake of Alma Mater.

The proceedings closed with a vote of thanks to the Hon. Secretary. During the evening selections were given by handbell ringers and glee singers. [which sounds grim beyond belief]

The above text was found on p.27, 25th June 1898 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .

Easter Sunday at the Providence (Row) Night Refuge 1897

This is seventeen days before Alfred’s death on the 5th May 1897, and about six weeks before Frank’s wedding a month later on the 6th June.

ProvidenceRowPROVIDENCE (Row) NIGHT REFUGE AND HOME.—On Easter Sunday at the Providence (Row) Night Refuge and Home, Crispin Street, Spitalfields, E., in accordance with the custom of the late Mgr. Gilbert, a special dinner, consisting of hot soup, meat, potatoes, and bread, was provided for the inmates, who numbered over 300. In the absence of the Hon. Manager, Mr. Alfred Purssell, through illness, his son, Mr. F. W. Purssell, presided, and was supported by the Rev. M. Fitzpatrick, the Misses Purssell, Miss B. G. Munk, Mr. and Mrs. Secrett, Mr. J. W. Gilbert (Secretary) &c.

In the men’s refectory, Mr. F. W. Purssell gave a short address. He said that they came there on behalf of the Hon. Manager and the committee to bid the inmates welcome to the refuge. Whilst deeply regretting the misfortune which had forced them to accept its hospitality, he trusted that it might be the means of reinstating them in life. Although it was very hard to be poor, poverty was not necessarily a disgrace. The refuge had been established by the late Mgr. Gilbert to help the deserving poor, and his work was still being continued. There was every prospect this year of a revival in trade owing to the many public celebrations which were to take place, and he (Mr. Purssell) hoped that when Easter came round next year, all the inmates present would have homes of their own. In conclusion, he announced that the Rev. Mother would give each inmate sixpence as an Easter gift on leaving the refuge next morning. Three ringing cheers for the Rev. Mother and the Sisters of Mercy, and for Mr. Purssell were followed by dinner, which was served by the Sisters. The visitors then proceeded to the women’s room and to the servants’ homes, in each of which Mr. Purssell addressed a few kindly words to those present. During the course of the afternoon oranges were distributed, and additional fare was given at the tea in the evening. Altogether the poor people had a very enjoyable day, and the Sisters and visitors must have been gratified at the joy and happiness to which they by their help contributed.

The above text was found on p.36, 24th April 1897 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .

Princess Mary at Crispin Street 1931

The Providence (Row) Night Refuge was founded in 1860, and heavily supported by Alfred Purssell, and his children, and sons-in-law almost from its foundation. Wilfrid Parker, Alfred Purssell’s  son in law, was chairman of the committee in 1931, Wilfrid’s nephew George Bellord was also on the committee. George’s father, Edmund Bellord (Agnes Purssell’s husband) had also chaired the committee. Frank Purssell had also been on the committee, and deputised for his father at times.

Princess Mary c 1930
Princess Mary c 1930

In the course of its seventy years’ history the Providence (Row) Night Refuge has several times had the honour of welcoming members of the Royal House within its walls. The Prince of Wales visited the Refuge about four years ago; and on Friday last week Princess Mary presided at the annual Founder’s Day celebration, the third princess to accept the performance of that function; her Royal Highness’s predecessors were Princess Alice of Athlone, who presided in 1913; and Princess Marie Louise, in 1924. Founder’s Day at Crispin Street is always an occasion for enlisting the sympathy, by presence, of a distinguished chairman; no fewer than eleven Lord Mayors of London, it may be noted, and five Chairmen of the London County Council, have been among those presiding in past years. This year, the visit of Princess Mary gave added distinction to the occasion, and the present Lord Mayor, Alderman Sir William Phene Neal, attended among those who welcomed Her Royal Highness and expressed their welcome in words. With the Lord Mayor were the Bishop of Cambysopolis, representing His Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop; Viscount FitzAlan, the senior trustee of the charity; Alderman Sir Harold Downer, K.C.S.G.; Sheriff Collins ; the Mayor of Stepney (Mr. M. H. Davis, L.C.C.); Captain W. W. Parker, M.B.E., Chairman of the Committee; Sir John Gilbert, K.C.S.G., K.S.S., Secretary; Adele Countess Cadogan, and others.

Her Royal Highness, attended by Miss Dorothy Yorke as Lady-in-Waiting, took the chair. A bouquet was presented by Bona Leather, of St. Aloysius’ Secondary School, Clarendon Square, N.W. The speeches followed. First of all the Lord Mayor, expressing gratitude to the Princess for the honour of her presence, extolled the work of the Night Refuge and commended as an example the action of market workers in the City who had subscribed fifty pounds to its funds. Lord FitzAlan associated himself with the words of welcome ; and the Bishop, who followed, remarked, as representing the Cardinal, that His Eminence, in whose name he thanked Her Royal Highness for honouring the institution, took a deep interest in that as in all other good works in the Archdiocese. His lordship referred also to the beneficent labours of the Sisters of Mercy at Crispin Street, labours, he said, which included work that in its result often meant more than the value of food and shelter to the poor and needy who sought the Refuge. Monsignor Butt was followed by Sir John Gilbert, who briefly related some salient facts and figures in connection with the work, as, for instance, that since 1860 the Refuge has provided nearly 2,600,000 free nights’ lodgings, and 5,200,000 free meals, upon an organization plan aimed at securing the benefits of the deserving.

Princess Mary and the other guests afterwards paid a visit to the various parts of the Refuge. They found everything in its customary’ order ; the inmates for the night had been admitted as usual at five o’clock, and the only circumstance marking the rejoicing for the visit of Her Royal Highness was a special meal, provided by an anonymous benefactor and more satisfying in its character than any banquet of cakes and ale.

The valuable link between the Home and the Corporation of the City of London may be noted from an examination of the charity’s list of officers in the annual report. Sir John Knill, treasurer and a trustee, was Lord Mayor of London, 1909-10; Sir Henry T. McAuliffe, a trustee, has served for many years upon the Common Council and is Deputy-Alderman for Bishopsgate; Sir Harold Downer, a member of Committee, was Sheriff in 1924 before his election last year as Alderman for Coleman Street Ward. Similarly, an extensive “second generation” of workers for Monsignor Gilbert’s institution will be recognized. Sir John Knill’s offices were formerly held by his father, the late Sir Stuart Knill, London’s first post-Reformation Catholic Lord Mayor; as mentioned above, Captain W. W. Parker, son of the late Sir Henry Watson Parker, a well-known City lawyer, fills the chair of the Committee, as did his father-in-law, the late Mr. Alfred Purssell, a former member of the Corporation and the great personal friend of the Founder ; Mr. George Bellord has succeeded his father, the late Mr. Edmund Bellord, thirty four years a member of Committee and twenty-six years its chairman ; Mr. Joseph Towsey joined the Committee upon the death of his father, the late Mr. William Towsey, an original member with a record service extending from 1860 to 1926; Mr. J. Arthur Walton is the son of the late Hon. Mr. Justice Walton, a trustee for many years. Finally, Sir John Gilbert, a nephew of the Founder, will this year complete thirty-five years’ work as Secretary.

Princess Mary has had a letter sent to Sir John Gilbert expressing her deep interest in all she saw at the Refuge. Her Royal Highness wishes to show that interest by a grant from Queen Mary’s London Needlework Guild.

The above text was found on p.22, 2nd May 1931 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .

Alfred Purssell writes a begging letter in 1896

The Providence (Row) Night Refuge was founded in 1860, and heavily supported by Alfred Purssell, and his children, and sons-in-law almost from its foundation. Wilfrid Parker, Alfred Purssell’s  son in law, was chairman of the committee in 1931, Wilfrid’s nephew George Bellord was also on the committee. George’s father, Edmund Bellord (Agnes Purssell’s husband) had also chaired the committee. Frank Purssell had also been on the committee, and deputised for his father at times.

AP begging letter
Alfred Purssell’s letter, probably from 1896,

 

Jamaica Buildings,
St Michael’s Alley,
Cornhill, London
EC

 

 

The Honorary Manager of the Providence (Row) Night-Refuge & Home, Mr Alfred Purssell, C.C., presents his respectful compliments to Her Grace The Duchess of Newcastle, and begs once more to plead for this most deserving charity.

During the Winter Months, the Refuge provides every night nearly three hundred night’s lodgings, suppers & breakfasts to homeless wanderers free of cost. From the foundation of the Refuge thirty six years ago by the late Rev. Dr. Gilbert, nearly one million two hundred and fifty thousand night’s lodgings suppers and breakfasts have been provided.

The work of the charity does not end at “feeding the hungry” and “harbouring the harbourless”. It is also the means of enabling many of those, who find shelter within the walls of the Refuge, to begin life afresh, and to obtain again a position for themselves in the world. Those, for example, who through dire necessity, to save their families from starvation or worse, have parted with their tools, are enabled to recover them: sellers of fusees (large matches), flowers, newspapers, bootlaces, and the like, without hope or money, are supplied with a little stock: rent is paid and a small allowance granted to mothers and children, when the breadwinner through sickness is unable to work: the ragged are also clothed and situations obtained for them.

It is specially desired to call the attention of the charitable to some distinguishing marks of the Charity. In the first place it is absolutely non-sectarian. There are no questions as to nationality or creed. Whilst there is accommodation in the Refuge, no bona-fide applicant is refused, the sole passport necessary being genuine poverty and want. Secondly no effort is spared to secure the benefits of the Charity for the really deserving. The imposter, the professional beggar is soon detected. All the inmates are called upon to make a statement as to their last employment, and the cause of their misfortune, which is afterwards inquired into. By this means the benefits are secured for the bona-fide poor. It must be distinctly understood however that the poor applicant is not kept waiting for relief, but is lodged and fed, whilst the investigation is proceeding. Nor are the fallen debarred from participating in them, truth being considered a guarantee of desire to amend.

This winter special help is needed. There are no signs of any diminution in the poverty and distress around us. If the weather is severe, the sufferings of the poor will be materially increased. At times so great do their misery and wretchedness become, that those who are attempting to alleviate the distress are well nigh discouraged. The thought that hundreds of men, women and even children have in the depths of winter no home but the streets is simply appalling. There is a worse aspect to the question than this. How many of our poorer brothers and sisters in this vast metropolis are driven to crime. As degradation, by the want of food and shelter. Men and children become thieves; women and girls, alas! Barter their most valuable possession, their priceless innocence for food and shelter. These unfortunate ones find in the Refuge the means of reforming their lives, and of turning their backs for ever on the sinful past.

Will you kindly help the Committee of the Providence (Row) Night Refuge and Home in their great work amongst the poor? If you could pay a visit to it, one night during the winter months, and see for yourself the good that is being done by it, you would willingly do so.

Hear the opinions of some who have visited it:- Mr James Greenwood, the “Amateur Casual”, writing in the “Ludgate Monthly” has said “Outcasts of all kinds and from all parts find shelter there, and all are sure of something for supper and a bed, and a big roll, and a mug of cocoa ‘as a comforter’, “before they start on their way next morning…. The Managers of the Home have been thus unostentatiously engaged for many years, and the good they have effected is incalculable.”

The late Mr Montague Williams Q.C., in “Later Leaves” says of this Refuge: “There is no more Excellent institution…. The place is beautifully clean…. This institution, which is not nearly so well known as it deserves to be, is in the heart of Spitalfields.”

The “Daily Chronicle” has said: “Christianity is certainly not played out at the corner of Crispin St., and Raven Row, although it may be doubled, whether it ever found more depressing material to work upon.”

As an example of the distress, which exists in our midst may be mentioned that in the Refuge last year, amongst those assisted were an Architect, an Optician, clerks, waiters, valets, woodcarvers, ivory-turners, weavers, painters, a professor of music, a linguist, certificated teachers, dressmakers, domestic servants, etc., etc.

In addition to the Refuge, there are two homes, one for Servants, who partially support themselves by work, the other where women out of engagements can board and lodge at a small cost per week, whilst searching for situations.

An especial appeal for help is made this year, in order that funds may be raised to extend the work, which has now been carried on so effectively for thirty-six years. The Refuge was founded by the late Rev. Dr. Gilbert in 1860 with fourteen beds. It has now accommodation for nearly three hundred. Will you assist in extending the good work?

The smallest donation will be gratefully acknowledged, and the heartfelt prayers of the hungry you help to feed, of the houseless you help to lodge, the naked you help to clothe, the fallen you help to brighter and happier lives will be bound to

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