Joshua Walmsley (1794–1871) was an English businessman and Liberal Party politician.The son of John Walmsley, an architect, builder and marble mason, he was born in Liverpool on 29 September 1794, and educated at Knowsley, Lancashire, and Eden Hall, Westmorland. After his father’s death in 1807, he became a teacher, and book-keeper at Eden Hall school; and following an argument in Westmorland he returned to Liverpool in 1811, and started teaching at Mr. Knowles’s school. He apprenticed himself to a corn merchant in 1814, and at the end of his apprenticeship went into the grain business himself.
He was an early advocate of the repeal of the duty on corn, and worked with Richard Cobden, John Bright, and others in the Anti-Corn Law League. In 1826 he took the presidency of the Liverpool Mechanics’ Institution. At about the same time Josh got to know George Stephenson, in whose railway schemes he was interested, and with whom he joined in purchasing the Snibstone estate, near Ashby-de-la-Zouch, where rich seams of coal were found. Along with Stephenson, he was amongst others one of the founding directors of the Clay Cross Company in 1837. He was elected a member of the Liverpool city council in 1835, and worked to improve the police, sanitation and education of the city. He was appointed Mayor in November 1838, and knighted on the occasion of Queen Victoria’s marriage.
He, and Lord Palmerston, unsuccessfully contested Liverpool standing as Liberals in June 1841. He retired to Ranton Abbey, Staffordshire, in 1843, and at the general election of 1847 was elected M.P. for Leicester, but was unseated on petition. He started the National Reform Association about this time, and was its president and chief organiser for many years. In 1849 he was returned as M.P. for Bolton in Lancashire, but in 1852 exchanged that seat for Leicester, where his efforts on behalf of the framework knitters made him popular with the workers but not their employers. He lost his seat in 1857, largely due to organised opposition from the employers, and he practically retired from public life, although he retained the presidency of the National Sunday League from 1856 to 1869.
In 1861, Sir Joshua and Adeline, whose occupation was given as “Lady” were living in some style at Wolverton Park, outside Kingsclere in Hampshire with their youngest son James, and his sisters Emily, and Adah. The whole household comprised of the family, plus Maria Butts (60) who was the cook, three housemaids, one of whom was thirty five, the other two were twenty-four. There were also three male servants, and what was so surprising is how young they were. Richard Pratt, the butler was only twenty-four, there was a sixteen year-old house boy, and Charlie Jacob, the groom was twenty.
He died on 17 November 1871 at Hume Towers, his house at Bournemouth, leaving issue, of whom H. M. Walmsley wrote The Life of Sir Joshua Walmsley (London 1879). He was interred at All Saints Church, Edge Hill, Liverpool. His wife, whom he married in 1815, née Adeline Mulleneux, survived him by two years.
The eldest daughter Elizabeth (b 1817) married Charles Binns (b 1815), a member of a prominent Quaker family, in 1839. Charles was the son of Jonathan Binns, a Liverpool-born land agent and surveyor living in Lancaster. Charles became manager of a coal and iron mine in Clay Cross, Derbyshire, which had been established by George Stephenson (and of which Sir Joshua Walmsley was a director), producing coal for transportation by his own railway. Elizabeth had four children (all girls) but then seems to have died in the early 1850s. Charles died in 1887. Emily Rachel Binns, Elizabeth and Charles’s youngest daughter married Samuel Rickman, and is the mother of Reginald Binns Rickman. Emily Rickman and Adah Russell are first cousins.
Little is known about Sir Joshua’s eldest son Joshua (1819-1872). He joined the Army and attained the rank of captain. He lived in southern Africa for many years and served as a border agent in Natal on the Zulu frontier. His account of his travels formed the basis of a book (novel) by his younger brother Hugh Mulleneux, The Ruined Cities of Zulu Land. He was buried at St Mary’s, Edge Hill in Liverpool on 14th December 1872, having died at “Chantilly, Zulu Frontier, in South Africa” on 20th April the same year.
The next son Hugh Mulleneux ( 1822-1882) also had an exotic career. He too joined the Army, including time with the 25th Bengal Native Infantry, and then volunteered to join the Bashi Bazouks, an unsavoury formation of irregulars in the service of the Ottoman Empire. In due course he rose to the Ottoman rank of colonel. On his eventual return to England in about the mid 1850s he penned a succession of volumes, including several describing his own extensive travels on military service, a biography of his late father and also some adventure novels. He married Angelina Skey (b 1826) in 1870 and took up residence near his father in Hampshire.He was buried at St Mary’s, Edge Hill in Liverpool on 12th December 1882
James Mulleneux (b 1826), by contrast, became a civil engineer. In the 1850s he was lodging and working in Derbyshire. His Egstow address suggests he was involved with coal mining. He died on December 6th,1867 aged 41 and was buried on December 12th with his sisters at St Mary’s, Edge Hill. He died in Torquay. James was unmarried, and his addresses for probate were given as 101 Westbourne Terrace, and also Wolverton Park, Hampshire, both his father’s houses, and “latterly of Torquay, Devon”. Probate was granted to his father’s executors because Sir Josh was the “Universal Legatee”. It wasn’t granted until 1874, about three years after Sir J’s death in 1871. James left £2,000.
Emily (b 1830) became the second wife of William Ballantyne Hodgson (b 1815), a noted teacher, newspaper proprietor and academic. Hodgson was employed at the new Mechanics’ Institution (later Liverpool Institute) when Sir Joshua was mayor (and Emily but a child) and went on to become its Principal. He married Emily in 1863 and they mostly lived in London till Hodgson was appointed the first Professor of Political Economy in Edinburgh University in 1871. After he died in 1880, Emily stayed on in Edinburgh with their two children (one son and one daughter).
The youngest daughter Adah (b 1839) married a Welsh banker, William Williams, in 1866. They went to live in Merionethshire and had at least two daughters. Adah possibly died as early as 1876. Their daughter Adah Adeline Walmsley Williams (1867–1959) married Charles Russell in 1889
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