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.

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