John Roper Parkington’s obituary – The Times, January,1924


The funeral of Sir John Roper Parkington took place yesterday at Mortlake Cemetery. Before the interment Solemn Requiem Mass was sung at the Church of the Sacred Heart, Edge-hill, Wimbledon, to which the body had been removed from Broadwater Lodge over- night. The celebrant was the Rev. Father Ignatius O’Gorman, assisted by the Rev. Father R. Dalrymple, as deacon, and Mr. Rogers, as sub-deacon. Lady Parkington was unable to be present owing to ill-health, and the chief mourners were Lady Sherston Baker | (daughter), Miss Sherston Baker (grand- daughter), Mrs. Bidwell (daughter), the Misses Bidwell (granddaughters), Mr. Thomas and Mr. Edward Bidwell (grandsons), Mr. and Mrs. Cary-Elwes (son-in-law and daughter), the Misses Cary-Elwes (granddaughters), and Mr. Evelyn, Mr. Eustace, and Mr. Oswald Cary- Elwes (grandsons). Others present included Bishop Bidwell. Miss Faudel-Phillips. Mr. G. H. Barton,, Mr. W. N. Osborne Miss Hardy, Mr. C ffennell. Mr. L. Constable. Father Bampton. S..J.. representatives of City Companies and organizations with which Sir Roper Parkington was connected. and of the 3rd Battalion East Surrey Regiment and the 7th (V.B.) Essex Regiment, of which he had been a maJor and honorary colonel respectively.

The Times, January 18, 1924. p 15

Denis Kane and Gwendoline Walmsley Williams October 1897

The marriage of MR. DENIS C. KANE, 1st Devonshire Regiment, son of John F. Kane, J.P., of Wimbledon, formerly of Saunderscourt, Co. Wexford, with MISS GWENDOLINE WALMSLEY WILLIAMS, daughter of William Williams, of Glanmawddach Dolgelley, and grand daughter of the late Sir Joshua Walmsley, took place at the Catholic church, Wimbledon, on Tuesday. Only the immediate families of the bride and bridegroom were present, the date of the wedding having been hastened owing to Mr. Kane’s being ordered to join his regiment at once in the Tirah Field Force on the Indian frontier.

The above text was found on p.28, 16th October 1897 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .

The Tirah Campaign was an Indian frontier war in 1897–1898. Tirah is a mountainous region in what is now the federally administered tribal area of Pakistan, just south of the Khyber Pass  The Afridi tribe had received a subsidy from the British government in  India for safeguarding  the Khyber Pass from 1881; the government also maintained a local regiment entirely composed of Afridis tribesmen, who were stationed in the pass.

The North-West Frontier was notoriously unstable. The British both admired and feared what they characterised as the ‘martial races’ who lived in the unforgiving mountains there. Unfortunately for the British, these hill tribes were highly independent and difficult to subdue. Although their independent spirit often prevented them from combining to form a more sustained threat to British India. However in 1897, a succession of tribal uprisings occurred to create a more sustained threat to the North West Frontier. The uprising started in the Swat valley under the nominal guidance of a holy man who would be referred to by the British as the Mad Mullah.

The British responded to the spreading revolts by sending Field Forces to Malakand, the Swat Valley, the Tochi Valley and another to fight against the Mohmands. Despite this activity, the British lost control of an alarming amount of territory. Worse was to follow with the loss of the Khyber Pass itself on August 25th 1897. Swarms of tribesmen could now move at ease from Afghanistan down into the fertile valleys of the Kurram, Samana, Swat and Tirah. The security of India itself appeared to be threatened. Queen Victoria telegraphed the Secretary for India stating ‘These news from the Indian frontier are most distressing… am most anxious to know the names of those who have fallen. What a fearful number of officers!’

The Tirah Expedition was organised as a response to this threat to British Imperial prestige and the approaches to British India. Their nominal target was the Afridi and Orakzai tribesmen who had moved South of the Khyber Pass. However, the real objective was to reassert British control definitively in the area and to deter tribesmen from probing yet further into Northern India. The government had to be seen to take this issue seriously and so raised an impressively sized Field Force consisting of upto 40,000 soldiers and over 60,000 transport animals. The commanding officer was to be Lt-General Sir William Lockhart.

Denis Kane survived the Tirah campaign, but seems to have died about a year later playing polo.

Countess Cecile de Sommery 1804 -1899

This seemed so simple to start with, and turns out to be full of twists and turns.

There are rather faded entries, in difficult to decipher hand-writing, in John Roche O’Bryen’s family bible which list all his 16 children, the dates and times of the births, and where they were. It also lists the god-parents. The entry for Cecilia Agnes, the ninth child, and seventh daughter is as follows:

Page from John Roche OBryens Family Bible.

9. Cecilia Agnes [O’Bryen] at Bellvue  Novr 17th 1846          10 A.M  Gdfather, Wm Jones Esq, Pike Inn, Glamn Wales.  GdMother, Miss Cecile De Lonmery, Bath.  Died at The [French] Convent Belgium Janr 5th 1856 at 9 yrs & was buried in the Parish Church attended at her grave 320 persons who thanked God that she was taken to her  [chosen end] whilst innocent to God

I’m almost completely sure that Miss Cecile De Lonmery, is in fact Countess Cecile de Sommery. Almost all of that generation’s godparents appear to be wealthy, landed, titled, or Catholic, or in a number of cases at least three out of four.  

Willie Leigh 1829-1906 [Basil O’Bryen’s godfather – child 10] inherited the Woodchester estate in 1873, which his father had bought for £ 170,000 in 1845. He built the Church of the Annunciation, and Woodchester Priory for the Dominicans  shortly after their arrival in October 1850. It housed the noviciate of the Dominican order in England for more than 100 years; they only left in the 1960s when the buildings became too expensive to maintain. The monastery was demolished in 1970 leaving a small contingent of Dominicans to look after the parish.

Philip O’Bryen’s [ child 13] godfather Simon Scope came from a recusant family had had acquired their estates in Wensleydale in the 12th century, and still owned Danby Hall into the 1960’s.

But back to the Countess, this is her obituary in The Tablet.


Eyre Chantry, Perrymead, Bath

The Requiem Mass for the Countess Cecile de Sommery took place on Monday at the Franciscan Friary, Clevedon, and the body was then , conveyed to Bath for interment in the family vault [the Eyre Chantry] in the Catholic cemetery at Perrymead, where the remaining portion of the service was conducted. The grand-nephew of the deceased, the Marquis de Sommery, and Mr. Thomas Eyre, and his wife, Lady Milford, were the only relatives present. His Royal Highness the Duke of Madrid, head of the House of Bourbon, telegraphed an expression of sympathy with the late Countess’s relatives. The Countess Cecile de Sommery, Chanoinesse of the Royal Order of St. Anne of Bavaria, whose death occurred at Clevedon, Somerset, on April 26, was born in London in the year 1804. Her parents. Armand de Mesniel, Marquis de Sommery, and Cecile Riquet de Caraman, came over to England with the Bourbons during the French Revolution. Her mother was among the ladies last presented at the Palace of Versailles to Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette. One of her sisters married Count Eyre, father of the Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow. R. I. P.

The above text was found on p.26, 13th May 1899 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .

So far, all very factual, but fairly astonishing all the same. An elderly single lady being buried in Bath, whose mother met Marie Antoinette, and one of whose nephews was the first Catholic archbishop of Glasgow since the Scottish Reformation, and one of the first patrons of Celtic FC. Another nephew, William Eyre was the rector of Stonyhurst between 1879 -1885, and would have been so for almost the entire school careers of both Ernest and Rex O’Bryen there. So Cecile de Sommery’s nephew was the headmaster to her god-daughter’s youngest two half-brothers, although she [Cecilia O’Bryen] had been dead for eleven years when the elder of them was born.

The sister who married Count Eyre, father of the Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow was Augustine Cécile Pulcherie de Sommery (1797 – 1876). They married in 1828, three years after the death of his first wife Sarah Parker (1790 -1825). John and Sarah had five sons, four of whom became priests, and four daughters, three of whom died young, in the eight years of their marriage. So Augustine would have been very much a mother to all the children, who were all under nine when she became their step-mother.

John Lewis Eyre (1789-1880), Count Eyre, was an entrepreneur and one of the founding directors of the London and South Western Railway Company, taking for many years a leading part in the development of that railway. His title was a papal one, granted by Pope Gregory XVI, who created him a Count of the Lateran Hall and Apostolic Palace in 1843. According the Burke’s  A Genealogical And Heraldic Dictionary Of The Peerage And Baronetage Of The British Empire” 1845.  ” The dignity of a Count of the Lateran Hall and Apostolic Palace was conferred by the sovereign pontiff Gregory XVI on Count Eyre the brevet or patent is dated at St Peter’s Rome under the seal of the Fisherman the 3rd day March 1843 and in the thirteenth year of his pontificate signed A Cardinal Lambruschini.”  Pius IX made the title hereditary in 1847, it was inherited by the Archbishop in 1880.

The best known of his four priest sons is Charles Eyre, the first post- Reformation Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow. the others being John, a priest in Newcastle, William Eyre S.J., Rector of Stonyhurst and Vincent Eyre, parish priest in London, first of St Mary’s Cadogan Street and then St Mary’s,Hampstead.

Another nice touch, St Mary’s Cadogan Street was the church that Bishop Bidwell was parish priest of, for thirteen years [from 1913 – 1930], and St Mary’s,Hampstead was, in part, founded by Joseph Francis Lescher (1768 – 1827).

In 1894, Archbishop Eyre  invited the Sisters of Notre Dame to come from the Mother House in Liverpool to establish a community in Glasgow. The Notre Dame Training College was opened in 1895 at Dowanhill. Joseph Francis Lescher’s great granddaughter Mary Adela Lescher ( 1847 – 1926)  [Sister Mary of St Wilfrid] was its first Mother Superior.

She  was Harriet Grehan’s niece, and Harriet Grehan was John Roche O’Bryen’s step-mother-in -law. She was also Fanny Lescher’s niece, she [Fanny} was another nun – [Sister Mary of St Philip] who was the Mother Superior at Notre Dame in Mount Pleasant,Liverpool.

It is still a mystery why Thomas Eyre’s wife still called herself Lady Milford after her first husband’s death  in January 1857. She and Thomas married in 1861, she was Lady Anne Jane Howard, daughter of William Howard, 4th Earl of Wicklow, so was a Lady in her own right. But it does seem odd that she still called herself Lady Milford  years after her first husband’s death, and only three years of marriage [ his second after a twenty eight year first marriage].

The Eyres were an old English recusant family, at Newbold, Derbyshire and Lindley Hall, Leicestershire, very wealthy, and owned a substantial amount of land in Ireland, as well as in England. Thomas Eyre had a large Georgian house at Uppercourt, Freshfort, county Kilkenny, . In the 1870s he owned 762 acres in county Tipperary, 1,909 acres in county Kilkenny and 164 acres in county Waterford.

In 1891, he and Lady Anne were living at 16 Hill Street, in Mayfair, just off Berkley Square. It was a very grand household, with  a butler, two footmen, two ladies maids, two housemaids, a kitchen maid, and two scullery maids, and curiously on the night of the census, no cook living in.He was succeeded by his cousin Stanislas Thomas Eyre in 1902, and left the modern day equivalent of £ 120m.

It’s all a very small world

Cleeve Lodge, Hyde Park Gate

Mrs Charles Russell (neé Adah Walmsley Williams)

Cleeve Lodge, Hyde Park Gate,[almost opposite the Albert Memorial] is one of the houses, diminishing each year in number, within easy reach of Piccadilly, yet standing in a large garden, with trees far older than any building near, at hand. The Lord Chief Justice and Lady Russell, [Lord Russell of Killowen, Adah Russell’s parents-in-law]  Lord and Lady Davey [Horace Davey was a Law Lord (Lord of Appeal in Ordinary) ], and half the ” silk ” of the English Bar, with much other silk, gathered on the lawn on Saturday afternoon at the first garden party given by Mrs. Charles Russell [Adah Russell is one of Sir Joshua Walmsley’s granddaughters. Charles Russell was a solicitor, and acted for the Marquess of Queeensberry in the Oscar Wilde libel case.].—The Daily Chronicle. [Reprinted in the Tablet.]

The above text was found on p.29, 20th June 1896 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .

Cleeve Lodge, Hyde Park Gate

Parliamentary and Financial Reform, Free Trade Hall, Manchester, 1851

This is from The Times, Friday, September 26, 1851. It largely comes about because of Sir Josh’s involvement. For anyone who’s interested, he’s a great grandfather x5. It’s also quite a radical meeting, and for that alone, thank you Manchester. 

Parliamentary and Financial Reform


(from our own reporter)

Last night a public meeting was held at the Free Trade Hall in this city, to receive a deputation from the National Parliamentary and Financial Reform Association. The hall in which the meeting took place was originally calculated to afford accommodation, it is said, to nearly 10,000 persons, but since the objects of the Anti Corn Law League were accomplished, the building has been, in some measure, curtailed of its fair proportions to adapt it to the purpose of dioramic and other exhibitions. The spacious hall was yesterday filled to repletion, and, probably, at the lowest computation, there could not be less than from 6,000 to 7,000 persons present, many of whom were evidently, from their dress and appearance, mechanics and operatives. Considering the crowded state of the building, the behaviour of the audience was most exemplary, and, although the pressure in some parts of the room must have been most severe, no interruption of any consequence took place in the course of the proceedings, The chair was taken at half-past 7 o’clock by Mr. George Wilson, formerly president of the Anti-Corn Law League and the deputation included Sir Joshua Walmsley, M.P., President of the National Reform Association, [Sir Josh was at that point, M.P. for Bolton, though he swapped it for Leicester the following year, and remained the M.P. for Leicester until 1857] ; Mr. W. J. Fox, M.P.; Mr. G. Thompson, M.P., and Mr. J. ,Williams, M.P.

Free Trade Hall, Manchester

The Chairman said, the meeting had been convened to receive a deputation from the National Parliamentary Reform Association, and, judging from the state of the room, he must say the invitation had not been neglected. The Prime Minister had announced that it was his intention, at an early period of the next session of Parliament, to introduce into the House of Commons a measure for improving the representation of the people. What that measure might be no one could be expected fully to know at present (a laugh), but he did not think it was likely to exceed the expectations of the people. (Laughter and cheers.) The only indication given by the Prime Minister as to the measure he intended to introduce might be found in a short speech, in which he intimated that he was not unwilling to abolish the qualification for members of Parliament. He (the chairman) hoped the measure to be proposed by the Prime Minister would be a full and complete one ; but it was necessary that meetings should be held, that organizations should be formed, and that public opinion should be excited on the subject; and they might depend upon it, if this course were taken, the measure would not be the less likely to be a valuable one, or the less sure to be carried. (Cheers.)

Lord John Russell

Whatever the nature of the bill might be, he did not believe it could pass without a rigid inquiry as to its merits being instituted by the people. It would not certainly possess all the attractions of the Reform Bill. It could not enfranchise again another Manchester, another Birmingham, another Leeds, or other large constituencies. It might not be so long in schedule A, though be hoped it would be equally long in schedule B. Lord J. Russell would, however, have to deal with two important subjects – the question of the suffrage and that of the re-distribution of electoral power, and in those questions alone be believed the people of this country felt as great a degree of interest as was ever connected with the Reform Bill of 1832. There were some easy well-to-do people, who expressed their astonishment when they heard reform mentioned; who might perhaps swallow a large dose of the suffrage, who might manage to get down the ballot, and who might not hesitate to consent to some redistribution of electoral power, but who, when they heard that it was proposed at the same time to shorten the duration of Parliaments, threw up their heads, in despair. (” Hear,” and a laugh.) Now perhaps, it might relieve the anxiety of these gentlemen if he told them that the oldest form of Parliament in this country was annual. (Cheers.) Eight Parliaments were held during the reign of Edward I. for eight years. In the reign of his successor Edward II., 15 Parliaments were held in 20 years; and, though in the reign of Edward III. this annual election was to a certain extent discontinued, there were still 37 Parliaments in 50 years. In the reign of Charles II. an act was passed, called the Triennial Act, which provided that elections should take place every three years. In the reign of William and Mary, another act was passed, which recited that the frequent election of members of Parliament tended to increase the welfare and improve the condition of the people, and that Parliaments should be triennial. It was, therefore, nothing very extraordinary, and certainly not unconstitutional, to contend that the duration of Parliaments should be shortened. In the reign of George I. the Septennial Act was passed, and during his reign there were two Parliaments in 13 years. In the reign -of George II. there were six Parliaments in 33 years; and in that of George III. 11 in 60 years.

Now, nine years after George II. ascended the throne, the public debt of this country was under £50,000,000. The great bulk of the present debt was incurred from 1793 to 1815, when the amount had increased to £ 865,000,000. Nearly the whole of that debt, therefore, was incurred during four, or five, or six Parliaments. He (the chairman) believed that even under the rotten-borough system which then existed, if more frequent appeals had been made to the people, they would have made a stand against the extravagant expenditure of the Government. (Hear, hear.) He wished to say one word with regard to the redistribution of electoral power, which was a subject on which he felt very strongly. In that county (Lancashire) they had 14 boroughs returning 22 members to Parliament, and the total constituencies of these boroughs amounted to 46,600 voters. Now, in Wiltshire there were nine boroughs, large and small, returning 14 members, and in which the aggregate number of voters was 4,294. In Buckinghamshire there were four boroughs, returning eight members, and whose united constituencies were 2,628. These two counties, therefore, returned to Parliament as many borough members as Lancashire, although ,the united constituencies of their boroughs did not amount in round numbers to more than 7,000. He found that in 12 agricultural counties, including Cornwall, Dorsetshire, Devonshire, Essex, Hereford, Herts, Surrey, Sussex, and Norfolk, there were 65 boroughs, returning 110 members, with an aggregate constituency less in number than the entire borough constituencies of Lancashire. It might be asked how it was that, at the time of the passing of the Reform Bill, such a state of things could be allowed to continue ? ‘

The reason was plain. They had invariably had in this country an agricultural and aristocratical Government making laws for a commercial people; and therefore in the arrangements which had been heretofore made the first consideration had been to give the aristocratical and agricultural interests a predominance in the House of Commons. There was a fiction that peers could not interfere directly or indirectly in the return of members to Parliament. He did not say they ever did so (a laugh), though he had certainly been at elections where he had seen peeresses riding about in carriages, and speaking to drapers, grocers, and other voters, but he did not believe their visits had anything to do with the election. (Laughter) Yet on examining a little book called Dod’s Parliamentary Companion  which he did not believe was published by his friend Sir J. Walmsley (a laugh), but was an orthodox and standard work -he found information given with respect to certain boroughs which he thought must be libellous. He considered it was actionable, if the noble peers referred to would but take the question in band, and dispose of the vile insinuation indirectly conveyed that their influence predominated in certain boroughs. (Cheers and laughter.) He did not mean for a moment to say that the names he was about to mention did not comprise those of men who would be an honour and credit to any constituency in the kingdom, He knew some of them to be as upright men, and if left to their own judgments as liberal men, and as much disposed to support the interests of the people, as any in the country; but, if the inference which might be drawn from Mr. Dod’s work, that they were returned to Parliament by the interest of noblemen having seats in the House of Lords, was correct, then he protested against such a system as cc contrary to the laws and institutions of the country. He would first take the borough of Ludlow, of which the Parliamentary Companion said, ” The influence of the Earl of Powis is considerable here ;” and he found that Mr. H. B. Clive – of course no relation to the Earl of Powis (a laugh)  -sat as member for that borough. He found it said of the borough of Peterborough, ” This is usually considered a borough of Lord Fitzwilliam’s “ a Whig peer. (Laughter and cries of ” Hear, hear.”) Surely nobody thought that these proceedings were confined to peers on one side of the house, and were eschewed by those on the other? (“Hear, hear,” and cheers.) Lord Fitzwilliam, a very liberal man under most circumstances, had a large interest in the borough of Peterborough, and his son, the Hon. G. W. Fitzwilliam, was returned as its representative; but he (the chairman) did not believe that Lord Fitzwilliam’s influence had ever been exerted to return the Hon. G.W. Fitzwilliam. (Laughter.) Of Woodstock it was said, “The Duke of Marlborough has influence here,” and the Marquis of Blandford, son of the Duke, sat for the borough; but they were bound to believe that the Marquis of Blandford had never derived the smallest advantage from the influence or support of the Duke of Marlborough. (A laugh.) The Companion said of the borough of Malmesbery, “Lords Suffolk, Radnor, and Holland divide the influence here.” and it was a curious fact that the Hon. James Kenneth Howard, youngest son of the Earl of Suffolk, was the member for Malmeebury. Then it was stated that ” the Duke of Bedford has considerable influence in Tavistock;”  and it was somewhat curious that the Hon. Edward S. Russell (no relative, of course, of the Duke of Bedford) was one of the members for that borough. (Cheers and laughter.) Of Thetford it was said,-” The Duke of Grafton and Lord Ashburton have considerable influence in this borough ;” and he found that one of the members was the Hon. F. Baring, the brother of Lord Ashburton, and the other was the Earl of Euston, eldest son of the Duke of Grafton. (Cheers, much laughter, and a cry of “Alter it” ) These were very curious facts; but they must observe that he would not commit himself to saying that there could be the most remote connexion between the return of these gentlemen and the influence possessed by the peers he had mentioned with the constituencies. (A laugh.)

Well, it was said that the Marquis of Lansdowne had influence in the borough of Calne, and it was not a little singular that the Earl of Shelburne, son of the Marquis, sat for that borough. But he found there was a commoner who did a little in this way, (Laughter) It was said of the borough of Eye, ” Sir E. Kerrison’s influence in this borough in considerable,” and it so happened that Lieutenant-General Sir E. Kerrison sat for the borough. (Great laughter,) In the borough of Arundel the Duke of Norfolk, it was stated, had considerable influence, and it seemed that some votes had been given by the Earl of Arundel and Surrey, the late member for Arundel, at variance, with the opinions of the Duke, and, curiously enough, the Earl of Arundel had resigned the representation of Arundel, and had obtained another seat. (Cheers and laughter.) He (the chairman) did not mean to say that the resignation took place under instructions from the Duke of Norfolk though some people had said so. (Renewed laughter) In Chippenham another commoner did a little on his own account. (A laugh.) ” Mr. Neald “ it was said, “ has considerable influence in Chippenham “  and Mr. Joseph Neald and his brother-in-law sat as members for that borough. (Hear hear.) Of Chichester it was stated ” The interest of the Duke of Richmond preponderates in this borough,” and, although they had heard a great deal of the Duke, very few of them might be aware that Lord Henry G.C.  Gordon Lenox, son of the Duke, was the sitting member for Chichester –(laughter) At Horsham the Norfolk interest prevailed, and the member for that borough was Lord Edward Howard, second son of the Duke of Norfolk. Of the borough of Dudley it was said “The prevailing influence is that of Lord Ward,” and Mr. J. Renbow, steward to Lord Ward, sat for that borough (” Hear” and laughter.) He did not mean to say that this state of things had been brought about by the intentional culpability of those who framed the last Reform Bill, but he considered that the people themselves had sanctioned it as much as they had sanctioned any other part of the measure. For the future, however, they must take care, if any nice family arrangements of this kind were attempted, to say to the aristocratic families who might seek to retain an unholy influence over the constituencies, “Keep your hands off, gentlemen, the Commons of England belong to the people of England (cheers), and by God’s blessing they shall represent the people of England.” (Loud cheers)

Mr. Alcock read letters from Mr. Hume, Mr. Cobden, Mr. T. M. Gibson, Mr. Bright,  Lord D. Stuart, and Mr. Wakley, who had been invited to attend the meeting, expressing their regret that various engagements prevented them from being present.

Sir Joshua Walmsley 1794 – 1871

Sir J. Walmsley then delivered an address of some length, in the course of which he observed, that their object was to restore the just political rights of their disenfranchised fellow subjects. The monopoly of the elective franchise in a community like this by one-seventh portion of the adult male population was a monstrous injustice and a glaring usurpation. The theory of the constitution was, that the House of Commons should be the embodiment and expression of the mind and will of the people, and their desire was to carry out that theory. Their watchword should henceforth be, “The Constitution, the whole Constitution, and nothing but the Constitution.” (Cheers.)

Some 18 months ago he had stood upon that platform as the humble but earnest advocate of Parliamentary reform, and he was happy now to congratulate them upon the progress which had since been made. If he could not assert that there was an active and intense feeling on the subject, he could at least say that there was an all but universal conviction of the necessity of further reform. (Cheers.)

The plan of reform put forth by the National Parliamentary Reform Association, and with the details of which they were acquainted, had the sanction and support of most, if not all, the Radical members of the House of Commons, and would increase the number of electors from 1,000,000 to 4,000,000, or thereabouts. It was safe, practical, and constitutional, and he trusted it was the least measure of reform with which the people would be satisfied. (hear, hear.)

Lord J. Russell had declared his intention to introduce a measure for reforming the Reform Act, but he (Sir J. Walmsley) would advise the people to save the Prime Minister the trouble of deciding what the new measure of reform should be by deciding the question for themselves. (Cheers and laughter.) They must practise in 1851 the lessons which their Whig advisers taught them in 1831, and do for themselves now that which they did for others then. They must crowd the table of the House of Commons with their petitions, that there might be no mistake either as to whether the people required reform, or as to their determination to have it. (Cheers.)

Mr. J. C. Dyer then moved the following resolution, which was seconded by Mr. Heywood, of Bolton:-

“ That the First Minister of the Crown having intimated his intention to introduce a measure of Parliamentary reform during the next session, the people should lose no time in giving effective expression to their wishes. This meeting doth, therefore. declare that any measure which does not re-arrange the electoral districts, extend the franchise to every occupier of a tenement, protect the voter by the ballot, shorten the duration of Parliament, and abolish the property qualification required of members, – will fail to satisfy the just expectations of the people -will be ineffectual in preventing the corruption, intimidation and oppression now prevailing at elections,, and in securing the full and fair representation of the people in the Commons’ House of Parliament. “

Mr. W. J. Fox, who, on presenting himself, was received with enthusiastic cheers, said that meeting was worthy of the great cause which they had congregated to support. The gentleman who had preceded him had complained of the feebleness of his voice in addressing so vast a multitude, but it had been well said that one voice had many echoes. It was always so when that one voice, however feeble, told some great truth or asserted some noble right which belonged to human nature, and the possession of which was claimed or reclaimed for human nature; and, if one voice so raised had many echoes, how must it be with the voice of congregated thousands, such as were assembled in that hall? (Hear, hear.)

What was the echo of their assertion of public right and justice but the acclamation of millions declaring that they had waited long enough for the possession of their legitimate inheritance? They had heard from the letters which had been read, and also in other modes, that the labours of the last session had rendered relaxation necessary for restoring the health and strength of the members of the House of Commons. It had been a very laborious session. (“Hear, hear,” and laughter.) The House of Commons heaved with the throes of the mountain in labour, and brought forth the little black mouse of a theological enactment. (Laughter) But if individual members of the House of Commons felt the need of a change of air for the renovation of their physical, and moral, and intellectual condition, how must it be with those on whom devolved the heavy responsibility of guiding the destinies of a nation, and of conducting the policy of the British empire? If Mr. Hume, Mr. Gibson, Mr. Bright, and other members needed a change of air, how much must Lord J. Russell need it? (Cheers and laughter.) He wished Lord J. Russell was there to enjoy it. (A laugh.)

He would find the atmosphere of that meeting very different from that of the House of Commons, and one which would do him much good. If the noble lord could be put under a course of Manchester meetings, he thought his weak sickliness might give way to the strength and energy of a real reformer, and he might become strong enough for his place. (Laughter and cheering.) The fact could not be denied that the atmosphere of that meeting, and of any large meeting of the people of England, was a different one from that of the House of Commons. A different class of feeling prevailed; their principles were asserted, other objects were contemplated, other sympathies were glowing in the bosom. For proof of this they had only to look at many of the leading questions which now interested the public mind of this country and of Europe.

In the House of Commons, the sympathy was with large military and naval armaments, and their enthusiasm was unbounded when a lucky officer won a victory, and got a pension and a title, while the sympathies of the people were with peace and the works of peace. The people looked for that which the majority of the Souse of Commons regarded as chimerical and utopian – they were desirous of that one brotherhood of nations when swords should be beaten into plough- shares. In the House of Commons they always found a readiness to vote away millions of the people’s money almost as a mere formal matter, while, in such meetings as that, the sympathy was with those from whose bones and sinews were extracted these millions which they wished to see, and which they had a right to see, rigidly economized. In the House of Commons there was too much sympathy with the despots of the continent, while the sympathies of such meetings as that were with the patriots of the continent. (Loud cheering.)

In the House of Commons he had heard a member ask, with a sneer upon his lip, whether the Secretary of State was aware that such a person as Mazzini was in this country. In such a meeting as that the question was when would not only Mazzini but Kossuth be among them. (Loud and continued cheers.) In the House of Commons members spoke respectfully of “His Catholic Majesty the King of the Two Sicilies,” and of  “the Emperor of all the Russias,” while there were some in that meeting who agreed with him that it would be no unpleasant sight to see a gibbet of two arms, with the Czar dangling at one end and the Catholic King at the other. (Great cheering and laughter.)

If Lord J. Russell intended to introduce a new reform bill that would satisfy the people, and would not need botching and tinkering within a dozen years, he should consult the feelings and principles which were expressed at meetings such as that, the precursor, as he trusted, of many more, which would insure the result towards which they were certainly advancing. The noble Lord was too little in the habit of doing this; his tendencies had always been to look to the narrow rather than to the broad and expansive, to the out- worn creed of an effete party instead of the living voice of the living millions, When Lord J. Russell should be reading his Bible of religious truth and liberty he went and consulted a bishop (laughter); he took counsel with a clique, when he ought to be listening to the voice of public opinion. Lord J. Russell was attentive to the tendencies of the House of Commons, when his senses should all be open to the language and the will of those who in theory and by right were the makers and the masters of the House of Commons (” Hear, hear,” and cheers.) The House of Commons was called representative. Representative, he would like to know, of what ? Supposing an intelligent foreigner were brought into the House of Commons, and looking round him, marking one man and another, were to ask, “What worthy and trusted commoner is that?” The reply might be, “Oh, Sir, he is a marquis; we have six marquises in the House.” (A laugh.) The foreigner would think this rather odd; but if he asked about another man he would be told “ Why, that is a viscount; we have eight viscounts in this house.” If he inquired about another member he might be told, ” Oh, he is an earl; we have several earls here.” If be asked about another he might be answered, “ He is a lord; there are 36 lords in the house, and at the back of these we have 61 baronets, besides 12 honourables (” hear, hear,” and laughter); altogether 274 persons connected with the peerage and the aristocracy.” (Cheers.) “And this,” the querist would say in amazement, “you call your House of Commons! What, then, is your House of Lords ? Why this is only a sort of junior or journeyman House of Lords ! (A laugh.) One finds them here in such multitudes that there seems not the least propriety in the designation you conventionally bestow upon them.” Nor, indeed was there. (Hear, hear.) He (Mr. Fox) was reminded of the young angel in Franklin’s fable, who asked an older angel to show him the earth and its curiosities. The old angel brought him down at a time when a tremendous sea fight was purpling the water with human blood. “Why,” exclaimed the young angel, “you have made a mistake! I asked you to show me earth, and you have shown me hell !” So the foreigner might say, “I asked you to show me your House of Commons and the chief thing you show me are your lords” (Hear, hear.) The House of Commons ought to be the reflex of the real commons of England of which those present at that meeting were part and parcel. Let any of them take up a position in any street of that great city, or upon London-bridge or in any place of multitudinous resort, and what spot could they find where one in every fourteen of the passers-by was a place-man? Yet it was so in the House of Commons. In what place could an individual post himself where he would find that every seventh or eighth man who passed by was an officer in the army or navy? Yet it was so in the House of Commons.  In what place could they find that every ninth man was a barrister? Yet that was the case in the House of Commons; and a fine place for the lawyers it was! (A laugh.) The promotions to good things there fell thick and fast. There had been three or four every year since he had had a seat in that assembly, and the House for the Commons was what Mr. Barry planned it to be -one end of a vista where in perspective they saw the House of Lords (Cheers and laughter) “ lt was, indeed, a lord-making factory;. (Renewed laughter) -,’ In what place, in this country could they find that every fourth person was either the son, or the brother or the uncle, or the nephew, or the grandson, or related by marriage to the peerage and the aristocracy? Yet so it was in the House of Commons.” It was evident he thought that,they required a new House of Commons, on a better principle  (” Hear “ and cheers ) The vice of its constitution was like the deformity of the poet Pope who was constantly exclaiming, “God mend, me,” and who was one occasion heard by a boy, who said, ” God mend you, you little deformity; it would be much easier to make a new one altogether.” (Cheers and laughter.) But how could they wonder that the House of Commons should be a deformity and incongruity when they looked at the mode and principle –or rather the want of principle- on which it was constructed? Their electoral system-if system it might be called which had nothing to answer to that word – went to the utmost verge of absurdity.

They had in the boroughs, 30,000 electors returning four representatives, and they had 30,000 electors returning 105 representatives. They had 330 members representing £ 6,000,000. of property, and they had 328 representing £ 78,000,000. There were nine counties that had 50 per cent. of the property of the country, and 34 per cent of the representation, There were 34 counties that had also 50 per cent, of the property of the country and 66 members. These incongruities were in a continual state of aggravation. The census returns just published showed the great importance of that which was placed first in the resolution. They showed the necessity of a redistribution of representatives in proportion to population, which happily was the same thing as in proportion to property. There were places where the population had diminished in the last 10 years, but which still returned the same number of representatives. There were places where the population was stationary, and where the representation remained the same as before. There were also places where the population had rapidly increased, and was likely to continue to increase, but which only returned the same number of representatives previously. In that city alone[Manchester], within the last 10 years the increase was 36,000 souls – a number which constituted the five-hundreth part of the entice population of the kingdom -a number equal to the population at the last census of 9 or 10 boroughs which returmed 16 members. The increase of population in Liverpool, Manchester, and Salford, was 85,876. Now 81,000 persons, in 18 boroughs, returned no fewer than 30 members to Parliament. In London the population had increased by 405,000, but yet there was no increase of representation. In Lancaster the increase had been only 55, and that place retained its two members. These incongruities were inherent in the Reform Bill itself, which drew an arbitrary line of distinction without any foundation whatever in reason or justice. Who and what was a  £10. householder? Why did the amount of his rent constitute his title to have a share, by representation, in the legislation of the country? The line was most unhappily drawn.

It included the most dependent of all classes, the small tradesmen, and it excluded the most independent of all classes, the intelligent operatives. What was the share of working men in the representation? What art and part had they in the present electoral arrangements ? He supposed it was seldom that a working man paid more than £ 15 a year rent, and he might take for granted that  all the working men who obtained the franchise under the Reform Bill were to be found in the number whose rental was between £10. and £15. a year. That number was between 90,000 and 100,000. Suppose the half of these were working men ; they got not quite 59,000 as the total number of the working classes enfranchised by the much boasted Reform Bill so that the working men who constituted the Commons of England had one vote to the 17 votes possessed by the other classes of society. This was an anomaly not to be endured. The middle classes owed it as a debt of justice to the working men to strive with heart and soul for their enfranchisement. He thought the time had now fully arrived for the fulfilment of that obligation. His fear was lest Lord John Russell should stick too closely to the little and accommodating way in which he achieved Parliamentary reform in 1832 – that he should be peeping about in society to see whether there was a class here or a class there that might be, as it was called, safely admitted within the boundaries of the constitution.

The course pursued ought to be directly the reverse of this. He (Mr. Fox) contended that there was a prima facie right to the franchise in all; and, instead of inquiring on whom Parliament should bestow a boon which it was not the property of Parliament to give, they should show good cause in every instance where the franchise was withheld or denied. (” Hear,” and cheers.) It was a privation, a punishment, a degradation, that should not be inflicted unless incapacity for its use were fully demonstrated against the excluded individual.

Lord J. Russell had his fears and apprehensions, which he had expressed at different times, and he seemed to be in great alarm as to the safety of some of the institutions of the country. Why, there was much greater alarm felt in other quarters when Lord J. Russell introduced his Reform Bill. He heard Lord John say, a short time ago, ” I cannot conceive that a House of Commons, merely representing numbers, would act in harmony with a monarchy, an hereditary House of Lords, and an established church.” His (Mr. Fox’s) thoughts then went back to the time when a townsman of his, a Norwich operative, made a collection of the prophecies uttered when the Reform Bill was introduced, and very alarming they were. Mr. Bankes said the Reform Bill would introduce a state of things approaching to the despotism of the mob; Sir J Shelley believed that if the bill passed no Administration would be able to carry on the government for six weeks; Mr. Price prophesied confusion and civil war, and believed some powerful chief would arise who would establish a military despotism; and Sir R. Vyvian considered that freeholders and landholders might satisfy themselves that their property would not be safe under a reformed Parliament, which might take the crown off the King’s head. (” Hear,” and a laugh.) Even Sir R. Peel then expressed his opinion that a reformed Parliament would give the government of the country into the hands of demagogues, and would reduce this happy land to a state of despotism and destruction, and that, though the monarchy would not be nominally abolished, still it would be virtually, by the democracy who would reign in the House of Commons.

As these predictions had not been fulfilled, he (Mr. Fox) thought that Lord J. Russell might have spared himself the folly of prophesying on this occasion. Let the noble lord do right and justice, and have the consequences to follow. (Loud cheers.) He (Mr. Fox) believed the monarchy would be perfectly secure under any reformation Lord J. Russell might dream of as contemplated by the most thoroughgoing democrats of this country, He believed the House of Lords would be quite as safe as it deserved to be. (Cheers and laughter.) As to the established church, he was not sure that every voter should be pledged, as his Lordship seemed to wish, to the support of that institution, (A laugh.) It arose on grounds of policy; it had been reformed and modified on grounds of policy; and the time might come when, on grounds of policy, it might be further reformed or entirely abolished. (Loud cheers.) Church, peerage, Royalty, only existed by the people and for the people. Their claim to existence and to respect was when they properly discharged their functions, and showed themselves in their several spheres truly subservient to the general good. While that was the case they were entitled to the respectful notice and support of the people.

When that ceased to be the case they were only entitled to the sentence, – “ Cut them down; why cumber they the ground? ” ( Loud cheering.) He would not go further into particulars on this reform question, for he would be followed by gentlemen who would amply supply any deficiencies of his. He would only express his heartfelt delight at this great combination. He anticipated a not remote and triumphant success from this union of the middle and operative classes for the common rights and interests of both. He thought he might safely prophecy in this case; for, by whom and in what way had the most brilliant achievements of public right in the history of this country been realized but by such a combination?  It was by an union of the trading and the productive classes, in the days of Norman despotism, that the vestiges of Saxon institutions and their free spirit were preserved in the country through those stormy times, until they should again become recognized, and again be regarded as institutions which were dear to the English heart, and which should be prolonged through all generations. It was by the union of the trading and the productive classes that feudalism was shorn of its terrors, and that eventually it was abolished. Every town and every guild was then a place of refuge for the victims of feudal tyrants lording it over the land. They fled to the abodes of industry, and there they were safe, and cities rose in the land, while castles crumbled in the dust. (Cheers.) It was this union of the intelligence of the middle and productive classes that realized that great event, the Reformation – great, not from the doctrines or the forms which it established, for these were the least part, the non-essentials of the work, but great from the assertion of the rights of mind and conscience (hear, hear) – rights belonging to the Catholic as well as to the Protestant – rights inherent in human nature, but which needed the protection of the broad shield of public opinion to keep bigotry and hypocrisy in high places from trampling them under foot. (Loud and prolonged cheers.)

It was this union of the trading and productive classes which, when the institutions of the country bad been grossly perverted and abjured, when the Throne had become the symbol of tyranny, and the altar had become the symbol of superstition, overthrew throne and altar both; and taught the people of this country that their rights comprehended even the solemn function of sitting in judgment on archbishops and on kings. (Great cheering.) It was to the union of these two great bodies that they owed all the best improvements since the settlement made at the Revolution of 1688. From that time to this every great, and good, and generous measure – every emancipation of serf-classes – the striking off the chains of the negro slave – the restriction of barbarous, and brutal, and sanguinary punishments – all great reforms had arisen, not from an aristocratical Legislature, nominally representative – they had arisen from the might of public opinion, commanding that body to know its duty, and to perform its duty, (Cheers.) By the union of these two classes had the burdens of the State, in all their weight, been borne and manfully sustained through the heat of long and toilsome days. By the union of these classes had the wealth, the intellect, the greatness of our country been realized. They had achieved its brightest victories; they had won by that union its noblest trophies; and as, by the union of the tradespeople and the operatives, the first Reform Bill was carried, so by that union would they at length enjoy another and a better reform bill, more just, more comprehensive, more glorious, and more enduring. (Loud and prolonged cheering.)

The resolution was then agreed to.

Mr. R. Kettle, barrister, of London, proceeded to read a long address from the Council of the National Parliamentary Reform Association to the people of Great Britain, calling upon them to declare their will on the subject of Parliamentary reform, The following are the principles recommended by the asociation as the basis of a representative system:-

“1. The extension of the suffrage to every occupier of a tenement or portion of a tenement.

“2. Vote by ballot

“3. Triennial Parlaments.

“4. A more equal apportionment of members to population

“5. The abolition of the property qualifieation.

“ Such a reform, carried in its integrity would make the House of Commons the embodiment and expression of the mind and will of the people, and with this,  and with nothing less should the people be content.”

With a view to the accomplishment of these objects the address offers the following suggestions:-

“1. Organization.- Let every city borough, town, and hamlet form its Parliamentary Reform committee. Apart from local organisation, let every Reformer enrol himself a member of the National Reform Association.

“2. Public Meetings.-The healthy political sympathies of the people should be aroused by frequent public meetings. 

“3 Petitions. – Let petitions be presented not only from every city and town, but from every workshop, hamlet, and homestead.

“4. The Press. – The press will do its duty if it sees the people are in earnest. The tracts and publications of the National Reform Association must be distributed – they must be read. Educate and sustain each other in this great work.

“5. Constituencies. – Let constituencies be faithful to themselves.  Personal considerations and personal attachments must be disregarded. There is no intermediate course. Every man who Is not for the people is against them. Let constituencies be prepared to replace with better men those who prove unable or unworthy to lead the people in this great struggle.”

Mr. J. Williams M.P., who was called upon to support the address said he was satisfied that after that meeting public opinion would become so mighty that to disregard it would be the blindest folly. The extension of the franchise could not be obtained for the people, but must be obtained by the people. Some allusions had been made that night to the Tories. Now, looking at that meeting of the people of Manchester, who cared for the Whigs, or who cared for the Tories ?  (Great laughter and cheers ) If those present at that and similar meetings united and formed a party, both Whig and Tories would be as feeble as the dying – as cold and inanimate as the grave into which they were both tottering. (Laughter and cheers.) As the treasurer of the London Parliamentary Reform Association he had to report to them that the association had held upwards of 500 meetings on behalf of the working classes of England, that they had money in the bank and that they did not owe anything. (A laugh)  They knew it was usual for men of business to take stock, and, as they knew the public money was freely disposed of by the House of Commons, he wished, when he first went into the House, to know the motives which induced members to support such grossly extravagant expenditure. He said to himself one day, ” Now, I will just take stock of these fellows.” (Laughter.) The first notice of motion he gave was for a return of the number of members who held appointments in the army, navy, and ordnance. Well the meeting might be sure he got into very bad bread with the House. (A laugh.) One gallant officer came up to him immediately after, in a bouncing manner, and said, ” Oh. oh! I find you have placed a very invidious notice on the paper,” and walked by him, thinking, no doubt he would make him very little. (Laughter.) He.(Mr Williams) said “Well, Sir, what’s the matter ?” and the gallant member replied, ” I shall put a notice upon the paper for a return of the number of retail shopkeepers in the house.” (Great laughter.) He told the gallant member that he could not do anything that would please the people of England, and especially the working-classes of England, better; he dared him to carry out his threat, but the gallant member had never done so. (Cheers and laughter.) He would venture to pledge himself that, if 3,000,000 of the unrepresented men of England would contribute the smallest sum to the Parliamentary Reform Association, in a very few months every man 21 years of age who had been 12 months in a lodging, should have a vote for a member of Parliament. (Cheers.)

After some observations from Mr. George Thomson, in advocacy of the principles of the Parliamentary Reform Association,

Mr. Heywood moved the second resolution, which was seconded by the Rev. J. Schofield, and carried unanimously:-

” That the cordial union and energetic action of all Reformers are now imperatively requisite. That the principles, advocated by the National Parliamentary and Financial Reform Association merit the support of the great body of the people of this kingdom ; and this meeting consisting of Reformers of every shade, pledge themselves, to sustain the well-directed efforts of that association. That the conveners of this meeting are hereby constituted a committee (with power to add to their numbers) for the purpose of organizing a branch of the National Parliamentary Reform Association, to co-operate with the Council in London; and that the committee be requested to take immediate steps  for that purpose.”

A vote of thanks having been given to the chairman, the meeting broke up soon after 11 o’clock.

The Times, Friday, September 26, 1851

Breaking and entering at Purssell’s Cheapside 1864


William Claxton and William Gambier, 19 and 16 years of age, and described as photographic printers, were brought before the Lord Mayor charged with breaking and entering a dwelling-house. The prisoner Claxton was also accused of robbery.

Mansion House, London

George Whitney, a city police-constable in plain clothes, deposed that on Sunday morning about half-past 10 o’clock he was secreted under a counter in the shop of Mr. Purssell, confectioner in Cheapside. He saw the two prisoners enter by the street door and go upstairs. About a quarter of an hour afterwards they both came downstairs and placed a pair of steps against a glass door of Mr. Purssell’s shop, which is partitioned off from the passage of the house. The prisoner Claxton ascended the steps and forced the fanlight, so that it swung open. Witness had examined it when he went into the shop, and found it fastened with a small wooden wedge. Claxton struck a match and lighted a candle, which he gave to the prisoner Gambier to hold, and then going over the fanlight took the candle from Gambier, and entered the shop. He had neither boots, coat, nor hat on. He passed round behind the counter, and catching sight of witness he started back.


Witness ran round the counter after him, after which the prisoner threw away a bottle in which the candle was, and struck him. He then went over the door again and escaped with Gambier up stairs. Witness got assistance and followed them. He found on going upstairs that they had locked themselves into a room at the top of the house. He went for something to force the door, and on his return they were standing at the entrance to the room. He told them he should charge them with breaking into Mr. Purssell’s shop for an unlawful purpose. Claxton explained that they had heard a noise and, fancying thieves were in the shop, he got over the door to see. Witness took them to Bow-lane.Police station, and there found on Claxton a watch and chain and 10s. 8.1/2d. in money. The prisoners could go from the shop into the basement.

On Saturday last some money had been marked in the presence of witness and placed in a bag. On Sunday night he was present when Gambier and Claxton were together at the police-station, and when Gambier said to the inspector he wished to tell the truth. He said Claxton asked him to come and have his likeness taken about six weeks ago on a Sunday morning; that he went, and after his likeness had been taken Claxton told him he knew where to get some money; that they took the steps and a candle and went downstairs; that Claxton got over the fan- light, and returned with some money, of which he gave him between 20s. and 30s. ; that on Saturday last he told him to meet him on Sunday to get some more money; that he met him accordingly, when they went upstairs together and returning with the steps Claxton got into the shop, but that he (Gambier) had not heard any noise, nor had Claxton said anything to him about any noise before he went in.

Witness afterwards went with another constable and searched the prisoner’s lodgings in Orchard-street, St. Luke’s. There he found 235 stereoscopic slides, a book containing sketches, upwards of 300 copies of stereoscopic scenes and eight gauges. The prisoner Claxton, on being asked how he accounted for their possession, replied that they were all his own, and that he had printed them himself. Mr. Alfred Purssell, of 121, Cheapside, confectioner, said within the last six weeks he had been missing money from his cellar where the till was taken, and it had generally been between Saturday and Monday. His shop was on the ground floor, and the door in the lobby. He had lost about £50. in all. The upper part of the house was occupied by Mr. Fox, a photographer, who had a key of the outer door and Mr. Willis. On Saturday last witness communicated with the police, and placing marked money in the cellar gave them the keys of the premises. He had missed from £8. to £10. every week for the last six weeks. The fanlight was only fastened by a wedge and swings.

Mr. Edmund Fox, photographer, deposed that he occupied the first and fourth floors over Mr. Purssell’s shop, and had the street door-key. The prisoner Claxton, who had been in his service for six years, had the charge of that key and others. Gambier was also in his employment. Neither of them had any occasion to be there on a Sunday. Witness identified as his property the 235 stereoscopic slides, the 300 stereoscopic scenes, and the eight gauges referred to. The slides, he said, must have been taken from his premises in Little Britain about 12 months ago, where both prisoners were at work, as must also the gauges. The sketches, he believed, were not his. The value of the whole was about £13. The prisoners had no right to make the copies nor to take them off the premises.

On being cautioned as to anything they might say in respect to the charge the prisoner Gambier declared he had told the truth to the police-inspector, and Claxton declined saying anything. The Lord Mayor committed the prisoners to Newgate for trial.

Newgate prison

from The Times, Wednesday, December 21, 1864

And the result

WILLIAM CLAXTON, WILLIAM GAMBIER, Theft – theft from a specified place, 11th January 1865.

169. WILLIAM CLAXTON (18), and WILLIAM GAMBIER (15), PLEADED GUILTY to breaking into the shop of Alfred Pursell, with intent to steal.

GAMBIER was recommended to mercy by the Prosecutor, believing that he had been led away by the other prisoner; he promised to take him again into his employ.— Confined Two Days.

CLAXTON.— Confined Twelve Months. There was another indictment against the prisoners. Reference Number: t18650111-169

Admission of Sheriffs of the City of London, 1896

I like the fact that this one has two great,great grandfathers at it even though neither of them would have known it, and by the time they were interlinked, one [Alfred Purssell] had been dead twenty seven years, and the other [John Roper Parkington] dead four months. This is from The Times, on Tuesday, September 29, 1896.

Admission of Sheriffs

Yesterday Mr. Alderman James Thompson Ritchie and Mr. Deputy Robert Hargreaves Rogers, who were elected by the Livery at midsummer as Sheriffs of the City of London for the year ensuing, were formally admitted to office at Guildhall. The proceedings were conducted with all the ancient and quaint ceremonial customary on the occasion. The Lord Mayor, accompanied by Mr. Alderman and Sheriff Pound and Mr. Sheriff Cooper, the retiring Sheriffs, and attended by the Sword and Mace Bearers and the City Marshal, went in state from the Mansion-house, and on arriving at Guildhall were escorted to the Aldermen’s Chamber, where the Aldermen, the Recorder, the Chamberlain, and the other high officers had assembled.

The Great Hall, Guildhall, London

There they were joined by the new Sheriffs, with whom were the masters, wardens, and courts of the Bakers’, Ship-wrights’, and Loriners’ Companies, to which they belong. The Sheriffs-Elect were formally introduced to the Aldermen by Alderman Sir Stuart Knill and Alderman and Colonel Davies, M.P. A procession was then formed and the civic dignitaries passed to the hustings in the great hall, where a considerable number of persons, including many ladies, had gathered to witness the ceremony.

The Common Cryer (Colonel Eustace Burnaby) having called upon Mr. Alderman Ritchie and Mr. Deputy Rogers to come forward and take upon themselves the office of Sheriff, these gentlemen presented themselves amid cheers. The Town Clerk (Sir John Monckton) then administered to each the declarations prescribed by the Promissory Oaths Act and couched in the quaint language of former times. In these they promised loyalty to the Sovereign and protection to the franchise of the City of London.

They would well and lawfully keep the Shire of the City “ and right they would do, as well to poor as rich, and good custom they would none break, nor evil custom arrere.”  They would not tarry the judgments and executions of the Sheriffs’ Court without reasonable cause ” nor right would they none disturb.” They would promote the Queen’s profit in all things that belonged to their office as far as they legally could or might, and they would not respite or delay to levy the Queen’s debts for any gift, promise, reward, or favour where they might raise the same without great grievance to the debtor. They would do no wrong to any man for any gift, reward, or promise, nor for favour nor hatred. Finally, they would truly and diligently execute the good laws and statutes of the realm, and in all things well and truly behave themselves in their office for the honour of the Queen and the good of her subjects and discharge the same according to the best of their skill and power.

Tho Sheriffs-Elect having signed the declarations, the late Sheriffs took off their official robes and chains and placed the chains of office upon each of the new Sheriffs- Mr. Alderman Pound investing Mr. Alderman and Sheriff Bitchie and Mr. Cooper discharging a similar function for Mr. Sheriff Rogers. The ceremony then ended and the civic authorities left the hall.

Mr. Alderman and Sheriff Ritchie, who is an elder brother of the President of the Board of Trade, is the head of the firm of Messrs. W. Ritchie and Sons, jute spinners and merchants, of Lime-street and Silver- town, and has been Alderman of the Ward of Tower since 1892, when he succeeded the late Mr. Alderman Gray. His colleague Mr. Sheriff Rogers is a member of the firm of Messrs. R. H. and S. Rogers, linen manufacturers, of Addle-street, City, and Coleraine, in Ireland, and has been a Common Councilman for Cripplegate Ward since 1886 and Deputy-Alderman since 1890. Their Under-Sheriffs are Mr. Webster Glynes, solicitor, of 29, Mark-lane, and Mr. Clarence Richard Halse, solicitor, of 61, Cheapside, and their chaplains are the Rev. C. J. Ridgeway, vicar of Christ Church, Paddington, and the Rev. J. S. Barrass, rector of St. Michael Bassishaw.

Clothworkers Hall, Mincing Lane, London

After the ceremony of their inauguration, Mr. Alderman and Sheriff Ritchie and Mr. Sheriff and Deputy Rogers proceeded to Clothworkers’-hall, in Mincing- lane, where they entertained a large company at breakfast. Mr. Alderman and Sheriff Ritchie presided, and his colleague in the shrievalty occupied the seat on his left. The guests included Mr. C. T. Ritchie, M.P., Alderman Sir Stuart Knill, Alderman Lieutenant- Colonel Davies, M.P.. Mr. Alderman Newton, Alderman Sir J. C. Dimsdale, Mr. Alderman Truscott, Alderman Sir J. V. Moore, Mr. Alderman Green, Mr. Alderman Samuel, Mr. Alderman Bell, Mr. Aldelman Alliston, Mr. Alderman Halse, Sir W. J. R. Cotton (the Chamberlain), Sir Forrest Fulton, Q.C. (the Common Serjeant), Mr. Alfred Lyon, Mr. Matthew Wallace (the Chief Commoner), Mr. Walter H. Harris, Mr. T. K. Freeman, Mr. J. S. Phené (warden of the Clothworkers’ Company).Mr.W. M. Bickerstaff, the Rev. R. H. Hadden (Lord Mayor’s chaplain), the Rev. C. J. Ridgway, the Rev. J. S. Barrass, Mr. Under-Sheriff Glynes, Mr. Under-Sheriff Halse, Dr. R. T. Pigott, Mr. Deputy Pepler, Mr. Deputy Cox, Mr. Deputy Pimm, Mr. Deputy Atkins, Mr. Deputy Baddelley, Mr. Deputy Edmeston, Mr. Deputy Dowling, Lieutenant-Colonel Milman, Major Roper Parkington, Mr. W. H. Collingridge. Colonel Browne, V.C., Mr. A. Purssell, Mr. W. J. Johnston, Colonel Davies Sewell, Mr. A. B. Hudson, Mr. J. A. Britton, Mr. J. H. Lile, and Mr. Graham King .

Mr. Alderman and Sheriff Ritchie, who was warmly received, in proposing ” The Health of the Queen,” after reminding them that if her Majesty were spared until next June she would have reigned over them for 60 years, remarked that the historian of the future, when describing the events of the Victorian era. would write it down as the most glorious in the annals of history. (Cheers.)

Mr. Sheriff and Deputy Rogers, who also received a cordial greeting, afterwards proposed ” The Prince and Princess of Wales and the other Members of the Royal Family.”

Mr. Alderman and Sheriff Ritchie, in proposing    The Houses of Parliament, “ remarked that Englishmen were proud of their ancient institutions – institutions which had come down to them through the ages, and which had been moulded and fashioned by successive generations to meet the requirements of the people and of the times. They had at the present time a House of Lords and a House of Commons – and he might add, by way of parenthesis, a Corporation of the City of London (Cheers) – which at once excited the envy and the admiration of the world. (Cheers.) The House of Lords, as they were all aware, was composed of a body of men of high culture, marked ability, and great patriotism, and he believed that the verdict of the public was generally in its favour. With regard to the House of Commons, it was elected by the people themselves, and it was good or bad as the people themselves made it. Opinions differed, no doubt, with respect to the quality of the present House, but they all had an instance not long since that it considered the country superior to party. (Cheers.)

Mr. Ritchie, M.P., in responding to the toast, observed that the House of Lords differed in one essential respect from the House of Commons. The House of Commons came and went, while the House of Lords went on for ever; and he confessed that that was one of the characteristics of the House of Lords which members of the House of Commons envied most. (Laughter.) Reference had been made to the peculiar position of the House of Lords with respect to its constitution, and he had no doubt that the constitution of the House of Lords was what was usually called an anomaly. As far, however, as he was concerned, he was not frightened at the word ” anomaly.” Our constitution was full of anomalies, which, as the proposer of the toast had said, had grown up from year to year in order to meet the times; and it was a remarkable fact that, anomalous as was the position of the House of Lords, there was not a country in the world which did not regard it as the very embodiment of excellence for a second Chamber. (Cheers.)

There was this other anomaly in connexion with the House of Lords-that although the House of Commons was an elected body and the House of Lords was not – it so happened that the latter sometimes more adequately represented the opinion of the people than the elected Chamber. (Hear, hear.)

That, however, was an anomaly which had been of great service sometimes to the people of this country. Again and again the House of Lords had saved the country from unreflecting legislation by the House of Commons which might have had disastrous consequences; and he ventured to think that if they were to look back to the last occasion on which this had taken place it would be found that members of the party to which he belonged were not the only men in the kingdom who said “Thank God, we have a House of Lords.” (Cheers.)

The people of this country were satisfied with the patriotism of the House of Lords, believing that no unselfish aims, no pledges to constituents, warped the judgement of its members when matters of importance came before them,but that their decision was given in an unbiased way, and in a manner which they thought would best serve the interests of the country. (Cheers.) There had been times when the House of Lords had been attacked,but he had not of late heard very much said against it, nor did he think they were likely to for some time to come. So far as the House of Commons was concerned, he believed that some of them were quite satisfied with its present composition, while, no doubt, there were others who were not so satisfied ; but he assumed that the toast had been drunk so heartily because they believed that the House of Commons, however it might be constituted, deserved well of the country as a rule. (Hear, hear.)

The present House of Commons had already done some good work, and it would do more in time ; and he believed the probabilities were that when it came to its end it would have reaped as many laurels as any House of Commons that had preceded it. (Cheers.) There was one thing which the House of Commons and the country were fully aware of – that the House had not been elected for the purpose of carrying out revolutionary or sensational legislation or to pass into law all the fads of the various sections of the community. (Cheers.)

They had had a clear mandate from the country that the days of legislation of that kind – at least for the present – were over, and that the people expected the present House of Commons to devote itself to legislation which would be for the benefit and the interest of all classes of the community. (Hear, hear.)

He believed that that was the legislation which the House of Commons would devote itself to, and that this would meet with the approval of the people of this country. He was returning thanks for the toast in circumstances somewhat peculiar. It had been proposed by one of the Sheriffs, who was a very near relative of his (Cheers), and he need hardly say, therefore, that he responded to it with special pleasure. Some of them who desired to take part in public life took one path and some of them took another. Some chose the path of municipal life, others the path of Imperial work. Both paths were equally honourable, and both led to the same end, but he believed that if there was a choice between the one and the other, it would be found that municipal work, well and honestly done, did more for the welfare and happiness of the community than Parliamentary work did. (Hear, hear, and cheers.)

Mr. Sheriff and Deputy Rogers, afterwards proposed  “ The Lord Mayor and the Corporation of the London.”  Having referred to the dignified manner in which the present Lord Mayor (Sir Walter Wilkin) had discharged the duties of his high office, the speaker observed that the Corporation of London was the oldest and most Democratic body in the world. It had always been to the front in protecting the interests and the freedom of the citizens of London, while in quite recent times the Corporation had proved its usefulness in such works as the Holborn Viaduct and the Tower Bridge.

Alderman Sir Stuart Knill, in responding to the toast, said they all felt that the atmosphere had of late cleared, and the great benefit which had been rendered by Lord Mayors and the Corporation in ancient times as well as in the present day was now acknowledged. He felt it a special privilege to respond to the toast, because the present Lord Mayor honoured him during his term of office by being one of his sheriffs. (Cheers.)

Mr. Alderman and Sheriff Ritchie, next proposed ” The Livery Companies.” They were assembled, he said, in the hall of one of the greatest of the City guilds –  a company which stood high in the ranks of the livery companies, and which was also one of the greatest in its charities. (Hear, hear.) The Cloth-workers’ Company spent large sums yearly on technical education, but he believed that all the City companies were doing what they could in their different ways to promote the education of the people. He was convinced that if another commission investigated their affairs the conclusion it would arrive at would be that the funds which were at the disposal of the City companies could not be better dealt with than they were at the present time. (Hear, hear.)

Captain James Watson (Master of the Bakers’ Company) responded to the toast.

Alderman Lieutenant-Colonel Davies, M.P., in proposing ” The Sheriffs, “ referred to the antiquity of their office, and wished them a pleasant and agreeable year.

Mr. Alderman and Sheriff Ritchie, in acknowledging the toast, said that, as those present were aware, his colleague and himself did not play the principal parts in “ this Corporation annual.” The chief role was to be taken by another, who had not yet been chosen; but as he was somewhat behind the scenes, he might tell them a secret -the gentleman who was to be chosen was Mr. Alderman Faudel Philips (Cheers), to assist whom his colleague and himself would do their very best.

Mr. Sheriff and Deputy Rogers, also responded, and subsequently proposed ” The Retiring Sheriffs,”  warmly testifying to the able way in which Mr. Alderman Pound and Mr. Cooper had discharged their duties.

Mr. Alderman and Ex-Sheriff Pound responded. The company shortly afterwards separated.

Mother St. George’s obituary, The Times, 1914

The death took place last Tuesday, at the convent of the Faithful Virgin, Upper Norwood, of Mother St. George, at the age of 87. Mother St. George (Frances Jane Purssell), who was born In 1827, she was a sister of the late Alfred Purssell, a founder of Westminster Cathedral. She professed at La Délivrande. Normandy, in 1850, and went to the Norwood convent of the Order. She left Norwood in 1854 with other volunteers, in response to the appeal of Bishop Grant, to tend the wounded and cholera-stricken in the Crimean War, and rendered valuable assistance to Mrs Florence Nightingale in nursing the sick. She was the last survivor of the band of volunteers, and corresponded with Miss Nightingale for many years, afterwards being elected a member of the committee which was entrusted with the work of erecting a memorial to her. As an acknowledgment of her services she was decorated by Queen Victoria with the Red Cross. From 1857 to 1860 Mother St. George took part in the foundation of the convent at Roseau, Dominica, in the West Indies. For over 30 years she was Superior of the Convent of the Faithful Virgin at Folkestone, where she earned the respect and affection of all who knew her. The last six years of her life were spent in retirement at the Convent of the Faithful Virgin at Upper Norwood.

from The Times, April 16, 1914. p.10

Burial of Mr Robert Stephenson October 21, 1859

Yesterday the mortal remains of this eminent engineer, distinguished not more for his professional skill than for his unassuming disposition and benevolence as a man, and for the part he played for upwards of a quarter of a century in connection with gigantic public works, were interred in Westminster Abbey, in the presence of some thousands of people. The ceremony, indeed, partook more of the character of a public than a private funeral. The honour of sepulture in one of our great national edifices, reserved chiefly for distinguished warriors and statesmen, was gracefully conceded In this instance by the Dean and Chapter, on application being made to them, to the body of one who was neither warrior nor statesman, but who was not the less, if, indeed, not the more, a public benefactor in his generation.

Westminster Abbey – west front
George, 2nd Duke of Cambridge

After all, however, the Abbey may be said to have been, as it were, his parish church, for during that part of his career which was more immediately identified with the public weal he actually lived and laboured under its very shadow. It would be almost impossible to overrate the extent of the homage paid yesterday to the funeral obsequies of Mr. Stephenson, The feeling was not confined to the profession of which he was so great an ornament, but gathered around his tomb men holding high office in the public service, and members of the Senate and the bar. An application was made to the Duke of Cambridge, in his capacity of Ranger of Hyde Park, to permit the funeral procession to pass through the park on Its way to Westminster Abbey. Before acceding to the request, his Royal Highness deemed it expedient to ascertain Her Majesty’s pleasure on an application for which no precedent existed. The answer of the Queen was to the effect that, considering Mr. Stephenson was to be buried in Westminster Abbey in acknowledgment of the high position he occupied and the world-wide reputation he had won for himself as an engineer, his funeral, though strictly speaking private, as being conducted by his friends, partook of the character of a public ceremony; and being anxious, more- over, to show that she fully shared with the public in lamenting the loss which the country had sustained by his death, she could not hesitate for a moment in giving her sanction to the course which his Royal Highness the Ranger had recommended. Side by side with this graceful expression of feeling on the part of the highest personage in the realm, and as exemplifying the regret which the demise of this eminent man has occasioned among all classes of the community, may be cited the application made yesterday to the authorities by a working man on the South-Eastern Railway, for permission to attend the funeral, who based his request on the fact that many years ago he drove the first locomotive engine called ” The Harvey Coombe, “ that ran from London to Birmingham, Robert Stephenson standing at his elbow all the way.

The funeral cortège took its departure from the residence of the deceased in Gloucester-square about half-past 10 o’clock. It consisted of a hearse, containing the body, drawn by six horses, and 14 mourning coaches, each drawn by four horses, occupied for the most part by the immediate relatives and friends of the deceased gentleman. The first of two carriages which immediately preceded tho hearse, was occupied by the Mayor of Newcastle-upon-Tyne the Sheriff, Town-clerk, and Mr. Alderman Dodds. The Mayor wore his crimson robe and gold badge of office, and was accompanied, moreover, with the municipal Insignia. In the second carriage preceding the hearse were the Mayor of Sunderland and Mr. J. Ellis, Mr. John Dixon, and Mr. J. Pease. Mr. George Robert Stephenson, Mr. C. Parker, Mr. G. P. Bidder, and Mr. Robert Stephenson, as chief mourners, occupied the first carriage. Immediately following the hearse. In the two next were the Marquis of Chandos, Mr. G. C. Glyn, M.P., Sir Roderick Murchison, Mr. Joseph Looke, M.P., Mr. S. Beall, and Mir. J. Chapman. Following in others were Mr. Nicholas Wood, Mr. P. H. Stanton, Mr. William Kell, Mr. T. E. Harrison, Sir Joshua Walmsley, Dr. Bird, Mr. John Perry, Alderman Alison, of Sunderland, Mr. Joseph Sandars, Mr. George Vaughan, Mr. William Weallens, Mr. W. H. Budden, Mr. G. Berkley, Mr. J. Berkley, Mr. T. L. Gooch, Mr. W. H. Phipps, Mr. E. Clark, Rev. A. S. Gordon, Mr. R. S. Illingworth, Mr. R. Hayes, Mr. B. P. Stockman, Mr. J. Green, Mr. G. W. Schmidt, Mr. T. Carton, and Mr. Spiers.

Victoria Gate Hyde park

Leaving Gloucester-square the procession entered Hyde Park by the Victoria-gate in the Bayswater-road, passed along by the side of the Serpentine, into Piccadilly by the Apsley House  gate, and proceeded thence by Grovesnor Place and Victoria Street to the Abbey, the whole route being lined by spectators, a large concourse of whom were collected in the open space fronting the west door of the Abbey and the entrance to Dean’s-yard. Meanwhile, some 3,000 or 4,000 persons had assembled within the precincts of the Abbey, all of whom were admitted by ticket. On arriving at Dean’s-yard the cortège was joined by the Council and principal officers of tho Institution of Civil Engineers, of which the deceased had been President – including, among the past presidents, Mr. James Walker, Mr. Joshua Field, Sir John Ronnie, and Mr. James Simpson; among the vice-presidents, Mr. John Hawkshaw and Mr. John R. M’Clean; among the members, Sir William G. Armstrong, Mr. John E. Errington, Mr. John Fowler, Mr. Charles H. Gregory, Mr. Thomas Hawksley, and Mr. J. Scott Russell; Mr. J. Allen Ransome, an associate; Mr W. Pole and Mr. Henry Maudslay, auditors; Mr. Charles Manby, secretary; and Mr. James Forrest, asslstant-secretary. The coffin was taken from the hearse, and the procession reformed on reaching the Cloisters. There the very Rev. the Dean, Dr. Trench, the Rev. John Jennings, the Rev. Edward Repton, and the Rev. Dr. Cureton, three of the Canons of Westminster; the Rev. J. C. Haden, Precentor, the Rev. C. M. Arnold and the Rev. Mr. Jones, two of the minor canons, attended by the choir, met the body.

Westminster Abbey – entrance to the cloisters c.1860

Entering the Abbey by a side door from the cloisters the procession turned to the left along the aisle, and then traversed the whole length of the nave. The beadsmen and vergers headed the pageant, then came the choir; after them the dignitaries of the cathedral followed; then the coffin, borne by eight men, and then the great mass of the mourners and followers. The pall was borne by the Marquis of Chandos, Mr. G. C. Glyn, M.P., Mr. Joseph Locke, M.P., Sir Roderick Murchison, Mr. Samuel Beale, and Mr. John Chapman. As the procession advanced slowly up the nave the choir, accompanied by the organ, chanted the sentences from the office for the burial of the dead, “I am the resurrection and the life,” ” I know that my Redeemer liveth,” and ” We brought nothing into this world ;” from the music of Dr. Croft. Entering the choir, a few minutes were occupied by the mourners and friends in taking the seats assigned to them, and then the service proceeded. The Psalm beginning, ” I said I will take heed to my ways “ was sung by the choir to the burial chant of Dr. Purcell. Then followed the lesson, taken from the 15th chapter of the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, commencing “Now is Christ risen from the dead,” which was read in an impressive manner by the Rev. Canon Jennings. After the Lesson the choir sang an anthem, commencing, ” When the ear heard me,” taken from the 29th chapter of Job. Leaving the choir, the procession passed towards the grave situated in the middle of the nave.

Around or in the immediate vicinity of this centre of attraction, stood many public men who had taken no part in the funeral procession. Among these were Sir John Lawrence, Sir George Bonham, Sir John Burgoyne, Sir Harry Jones, Colonel J. W. Gordon, Colonel Lysons, Sir Proby Cautley, Sir F. Smith, M.P., Sir Peter Fairbairn, the Hon. R. Grimston, Mr. Selwyn, M.P., Mr. Tito, M.P., Mr. Ayrton, M.P., Mr. Bovill, M.P., Mr. Cobbold, M.P., Mr. Ingram, M.P.,Mr. Arthur Mills, M.P.; Professors Baden Powell, Stokes, Sharpey, Eaton Hodgkinson, Donaldson. Owen, and Wheatstone: Mr. C. W. Dilke, Mr. Mark Lemon, Mr. Serjeant Shee, Mr. David Waddington, Sir Cusack Roney, Mr. J. Bramley Moore, the Master of Dulwich College, and many others.

Arrived at the grave, the choir sang the portion of the service beginning, ” Man that is born of a woman,” continuing, “In the midst of life we are in death,” from the music of Croft; -and concluding, “Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts,” from that of Purcell. The Very Rev. the Dean then read – at times under the influence of strong emotion  – the passage, ” Forasmuch as it hath pleased Almighty God ;” and at its conclusion, and while the body was being consigned to the grave, the choir chanted, in a manner marvellously touching and Impressive, “I heard a voice from heaven,” to the funeral anthem of Dr. Croft. The ceremony concluded with the benediction, which was pronounced by the Dean. Mr. Turle, the organist of the Abbey, was at his post on the occasion. Much of the music was the same as he played at the funeral of Lord Nelson.

The remains of Mr. Stephenson are placed in immediate contiguity to those of Telford, the celebrated engineer of his day, and that more by chance than design. Men of kindred genius, and engaged in kindred enterprises, they lie at last side by side. Stephenson was wont to say that, had Telford been buried in some quiet country churchyard, he should have wished hIs remains to be interred along with him there; but since he lay In Westminster Abbey that was an idle wish.

It is gratifying to be able to state that Mr. Stephenson has bequeathed by his will a sum amounting to £25,000 to various public institutions, located chiefly in Newcastle- upon-Tyne, in the vicinity of which he was born, and with which so great a portion of his life was so closely identified. To the Newcastle Infirmary he has given  £ 10,000; to the Literary and Philosophical InstitutIon of that town, £ 7,000; to the Institution of Mining Engineers there, £ 2,000; to the Institution of Civil Engineers, London, £ 2,000; to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, £ 2,000, and to the Society for Providing Additional Curates In Populous Places, £ 2,000.


At Sunderland, Shields, and Whitby all the places of business were closed in the afternoon. The ships carried their flags half -mast high, while muffled peals rang from the churches. At Newcastle and Gateshead the same marks of respect were paid; and in the former town a special service was held at half-past 11, and was attended by 1,000 workmen, who, dressed in black, walked in procession four abreast from the different factories. The church was crowded, and a funeral sermon was preached by the vicar.

from The Times, Saturday, October 22, 1859