Category Archives: Social Change

A Diary of Two Parliaments – Sunday Closing – 1874

Over the coming weeks and months we are publishing excerpts from the book ‘A Diary of Two Parliaments’ by Henry W Lucy, published in 1885. A popular book in our library, it covers the parliament of the Disraeli government during the years 1874-1880.

Catch-up with other posts in this series here, or search our library here.

Catch-up with posts in Lord Charles Beresford series here or search our library here.

The Disraeli Parliament 1874-1880

 Friday 8 May 1874

GERMS OF OBSTRUCTION

Major O’Gorman on Sunday Closing

Mr. Richard Smyth, endeavouring to obtain the prohibition of the sale of intoxicating liquors in Ireland on the Sunday, led to the disclosure of a wide difference of opinion on the subject amongst the Irish members.

Lord Charles Beresford was specially emphatic in his opposition to the proposal. Hicks Beach declined to adopt the motion on the part of the Government, and an attempt further to carry the discussion was met by cries of “Divide.” On Major O’Gorman presenting himself, however, he was received with loud cheers, and was listened to with profound attention, as beginning by addressing the Speaker as “Mr. Chairman,” and occasionally lapsing into use of the word “gentlemen!” he warmly opposed the motion.

“For ever let the Heavens fall,” said the Major, with hand solemnly uplifted, but “never let it be said that you introduced into Ireland an Act which prevented a poor man going out for a walk on a Sunday  – perhaps a hot Sunday, may be a wet Sunday – with his family, and that he could not get a drop of beer, or porter, or whisky. It is creating one law for the rich and another for the poor, and that” he added, sinking back into his seat, “is a thing I never will stand.”

When the cheers and laughter which this oration evoked had subsided, the House divided, and the motion was rejected by 201 votes against 110.

Excerpt from A Diary of Two Parliaments by Henry W Lucy published in 1885

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Further Reading and External Links

The Author – Henry W Lucy on Wikipedia

Benjamin Disraeli on Wikipedia

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – Brookes Intentions

 

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James Brooke became the first White Rajah of Sarawak in 1841 after inheriting £30,000 and investing it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailing for Borneo. 

We are publishing a blog series that covers his adventures – taken from one of the books in our library called Rajah Brooke by Sir Spenser St John published in 1899.

Catch-up with earlier posts in the James Rajah Brooke series here or search our library here.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – Brookes Intentions

James Rajah Brooke

Hearing that some members of Sir Robert Peel’s Government had stated that they did not understand Brooke’s intentions, the Rajah wrote rather indignantly – “December 31, [1844]…. I am surprised, however, that they say they do not  understand my intentions. Independently of my published letter, I thought they had had my intentions and wishes dinned into them. My intention, my wish, is to develop the island of Borneo. How to develop Borneo is not for me to say, but for them to judge. I have, both by precept and example, shown what can be done; but it is for the Government to judge what means, if any, they will place at my disposal. My intention, my wish, is to extirpate piracy by attacking and breaking up the pirate towns; not only pirates direct, but pirates indirect. Here again the Government must judge. I wish to correct the native character, to gain and hold an influence in Borneo proper, to introduce gradually a better system of government, to open the interior, to encourage the poorer natives, to remove the clogs on trade, to develop new sources of commerce. I wish to make Borneo a second Java. I intend to influence and amend the entire Archipelago, if the Government will afford me means and power. I wish to prevent any foreign nation coming on this field; but I might as well war against France individually, as to attempt all I wish without any means.

Was this policy not clear enough? Had it been followed, the independent portion of the Eastern Archipelago would have been completely under our influence, and would have ended by becoming practically ours. We should have had New Guinea and the islands adjacent, and thus given the Australians a free hand to develop what certainly should be considered as within their sphere of influence. How the English Rajah’s policy was wrecked, I must explain later on; at this time [1845] all seemed advancing to its fulfilment.

In the meantime the British Government were acting in their usual cautious, half-hearted way. They did not really care a rush about Borneo or the Eastern Archipelago, and I have no doubt that the subordinate members of the Government offices looked with disgust on those who were urging them to intervene in Borneo. They hated any new thing, as it forced them to study and find out what it was all about. But as they could not stand still, they sent out Captain Bethune to inquire. He arrived in February, in H.M.S. Driver and brought with him the temporary appointment of Brooke as Her Majesty’s confidential agent. This was a distinct advance, as he had now to proceed to the capital to deliver officially a letter from the Queen to the Sultan and the Government of Brunei. With Captain Bethune came Mr Wise, the Rajah’s agent in England.

In Brunei they did not find Muda Hassim’s Government very firmly established, as they were threatened not only by Pangeran Usop, a connection of the Sultan’s and a pretender to the throne, but by the pirates of the north, with whom Usop was in league. During their stay in Brunei, both Brooke and Captain Bethune examined the coal seams near the capital, but they do not appear to have been considered workable, as no one has ever attempted to open a mine there. The quality of the coal has been pronounced good, and as the seams crop out of rather lofty hills it cannot be considered as surface coal.

 

Excerpt from Rajah Brooke, published in 1899 by Sir Spenser St John

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Further Reading and External Links

James Rajah Brooke on Wikipedia

The Royalist Schooner

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – The Attack on the Sakarangs

 

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James Brooke became the first White Rajah of Sarawak in 1841 after inheriting £30,000 and investing it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailing for Borneo. 

We are publishing a blog series that covers his adventures – taken from one of the books in our library called Rajah Brooke by Sir Spenser St John published in 1899.

Catch-up with earlier posts in the James Rajah Brooke series here or search our library here.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke –  The Attack on the Sakarangs

James Rajah BrookThe attack on the Sakarangs was similar in its incidents to that on the Seribas. The river was staked, but nothing could stop the onset of the invaders. The town was taken without much opposition; but the greatest loss on the British side was incurred from the imprudence of a scouting party. Brave old Patingi Ali had been sent ahead to reconnoitre, when, probably urged on by a Mr Stewart, who had been concealed in his boat, he proceeded too far; and when a large force rowed down the river to attack him, he found his retreat cut off by long rafts which had been pushed off from the banks and completely closed the river. He and his party were overwhelmed, and out of seventeen men only one escaped; Mr Stewart was among the killed.

Having completed their work, Captain Keppel and Brooke pulled back to Patusin, where they were joined by Sir Edward Belcher and the boats of the Samarang. They now all returned to Sarawak, but within a few days after their arrival the news came that the Arab chiefs and their followers were collecting at Banting on the Linga, the chief village of the Balow Dyaks, under the protection of Sherif Jaffer. The expedition immediately returned, and drove off the intruders; and Pangeran Budrudin, in the name of the Bornean Government, deposed Sherif Jaffer, and so settled the country, under the advice of Brooke, that comparative peace reigned there for nearly five years.

At this time it was calculated that Sarawak had received an increase of five thousand families, or, more probably, individuals; it was a genuine proof of the confidence of the people of the coast in the only spot where peace and security could be obtained, but it was also a sign of the terror inspired by the piratical fleets, and the general bad government of the districts under the rule of the native chiefs.

The greatest service Sir Edward Belcher ever did for Sarawak was the removal of Muda Hassim to Brunei. He had been long anxious to leave, but he would not do so, except in state. So Sir Edward arranged that not only the rajah and his immense family should be received on board the Company’s steamer the Phlegethon, but as many of his rascally followers as possible; and then, with Brooke on board, the Samarang set sail for Brunei. The expedition was received with some suspicion, but ultimately Muda Hassim and the Sultan were to all appearance reconciled, and the former was restored to his position as prime minister. An offer was made by the Sultan to cede Labuan to England as a British settlement, and that offer was transmitted to the English Government. Labuan is an island off the mouth of the Brunei and neighbouring rivers, which appeared admirably adapted for a commercial and naval post, and the discovery of coal there settled the point.

As soon as Muda Hassim had departed from Sarawak, and Brooke was left, de facto as well as de jure the only governor, confidence in his remaining in the country grew rapidly, and trade improved. But the negotiations which his friends were carrying on with the British Government moved slowly and drew forth some impatient remarks from him. Henceforth I may occasionally call him the Rajah, par excellence as he now was in truth the only rajah in Sarawak.

Catch-up with earlier posts in the James Rajah Brooke series here or search our library here.

Catch-up with our series on Henry Keppel here.

Excerpt from Rajah Brooke, published in 1899 by Sir Spenser St John

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Further Reading and External Links

James Rajah Brooke on Wikipedia

The Royalist Schooner

A Diary of Two Parliaments – Preface

 

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Over the coming weeks and months we are publishing excerpts from the book ‘A Diary of Two Parliaments’ by Henry W Lucy, published in 1885. A popular book in our library, it covers the parliament of the Disraeli government during the years 1874-1880.  We begin with the Preface from the book, below.

A Diary of Two Parliaments – Preface

Houses of ParliamentThese Volumes are literally, as they profess to be, a Diary of events passing under the eye of an observer. The record was penned often within an hour of the event. Some portions of it were actually printed in the “Daily News” of the following morning, and others within the current week in the “World” or the “Observer.” Thus vividness of impression is fully retained, though sometimes it is to be feared at the cost of accuracy of judgment. It would be more agreeable to modify some of the personal characterisations of public men; but wherein they are faulty they stand corrected by further development of the personages sketched. They were jotted down honestly, without favour or prejudice, and, balancing considerations, it has been thought better to let them stand precisely as they were written.

In his “Memoirs of the Reign of George the Second,” Lord Hervey (whom Thackeray says he “hates,” and from whom he draws so much to illustrate his lecture on the times of George the Second) says of his own writing: “No one who did not live in these times will, I dare say, believe but some of those I describe in these papers must have had some hard features and deformities exaggerated and heightened by the malice and ill-nature of the painter who drew them. Others, perhaps, will say that at least no painter is obliged to draw every wart or wen or hump-back in its full proportions, and that I might have softened these blemishes where I found them. But I am determined to report everything just as it is, or at least, just as it appears to me.”

It is in this spirit, and animated by no other, that this Diary has been written.

H. W. L.

London, Feb., 1885.

Excerpt from A Diary of Two Parliaments by Henry W Lucy published in 1885

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Further Reading and External Links

The Author – Henry W Lucy on Wikipedia 

iTunes PodCast – East By West Vol One by Henry W Lucy – Free  – written during the Parliamentary recess in 1883.

Farnworth – Richard Bancroft – 1604

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Farnworth is a township in the Bolton Union, and forms part of the ancient parish of Deane. It lies on the highroad from Bolton to Manchester, and overlooks the winding and picturesque valley of the river Irwell.

Richard Bancroft was born in Farnworth during the reign of Henry VIII and became the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1604 during the reign of James I.

 

Richard Bancroft (1544-1610) – Archbishop of Canterbury 1604

Farnworth was the birthplace of Richard Bancroft.  He was the second son of John Bancroft, by Mary, daughter of Mr. John Curwyn, and niece of Hugh Curwyn, Archbishop of Dublin.  He was born in September, 1544, receiving his early education in the free school of his native village; was afterwards entered as a student of Christ’s College, Cambridge, took his degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1567, and that of Master of Arts in [1570].  He was successively chaplain to the Bishop of Ely; rector of Feversham; one of the preachers of the University; Bachelor of Divinity; rector of St. Andrew’s, Holborn, London; Doctor of Divinity; treasurer of St. Paul’s Cathedral; chaplain to Lord Chancellor Hatton; rector of Cottingham; prebendary of St. Paul’s; prebendary of Westminster; canon of Canterbury; chaplain to Dr. Whitgift, the Archbishop of Canterbury; Bishop of London in 1597; Archbishop of Canterbury in 1604; a Lord of the Privy Council in 1605; Chancellor of the University of Oxford in [1608]. He was the chief overseer of the last translation of the Bible.  He died on the 2nd of November, [1610], in the 67th year of his age, and was buried in the chancel of Lambeth Church.

Whatever may be thought of his opinions there can be no doubt that he was a man of extraordinary abilities; that he gave himself with rare devotion to the service of the church; and his career is only one among many proofs of the fact that diligence, integrity, and persevering activity can command the highest honours without the aid of noble birth or family influence.

Excerpt from Proceedings at the Opening of Farnworth Park – 1864

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Further Reading and External Links

Farnworth Park Archive Pictures 

Richard Bancroft – Archbishop of Canterbury

The Progress of Farnworth

 

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Earlier in our blog we posted three articles on Farnworth Park and how it was donated by a local family – The Barnes – in the 1860s,  the opening ceremony,  and  Mr Gladstone’s speech.  Below is a little background information about the town and the Barnes family.

The Progress of Farnworth

The progress of Farnworth is indicated by the following facts: The population in the year [1801] was 1,439; in [1811] it was 1,798; in [1821] it was 2,044; in [1831] it was 3,006; in [1841] it was 4,829; in [1851] it was 6,389; in [1861] it was 8,720; and it is now about 10,000. (Today in 2012 the population is about 25,000).

The assessment to the poors’ rate which was in [1821] only £2,709 was in [1840] £14,509; in [1850] £16,301; and is now about £25,000.  Before the introduction of cotton spinning and manufactures the people of the district were very poor, and depended for subsistence mainly upon mining and farming.

Mr. J.R. Barnes, the father of Mr. Thomas Barnes, [M.P.], was the first to inaugurate a new order of things.  He began business about 55 years ago, and employed then about 50 hand-loom weavers.  The warehouse in which he commenced was comparatively a small building; but, in his case, the work of the diligent prospered.  In [1828] he erected a loom shop, in which he placed 192 looms, and a 14-horse power steam engine.  In [1831] a five-storey mill was built; and in [1834] a second large mill at Dixon Green.  In these buildings about 1,000 operatives found employment.  Mr. Barnes was followed in these enterprises by the late firm of Joseph and Robert Lord, of Kearsley, and by these individuals the cotton trade, which has been so great an advantage to the district, was fostered and encouraged.  There are now in the locality between 20 and 30 cotton mills, besides foundries, spindle shops, and other works, which give employment to upwards of 4,000 hands.

Excerpt from Proceedings at the Opening of Farnworth Park – 1864

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Further Reading and External Links

Farnworth Park Archive Pictures 

Richard Bancroft – Archbishop of Canterbury

London Club-houses – 1800s

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This is the first in a series of postings about 19th century London Club-houses, popularly known today as a Gentleman’s Club.  John Weale (this posting is an excerpt from his book) describes how the ‘clubs’ have changed over the last 30 years (between about 1820 and 1850).

London Club-houses of the 1800s

“The feast of reason and the flow of soul”

A Popular London Club-HouseAs at present constituted, the London clubs and club life have produced a new phase in English society, at least in the metropolis one that will claim the notice of some future Macaulay, as showing the very “form and pressure of the time;” while to the more patient chronicler of anecdotes, club-house traditions and reminiscences will afford materials all the more interesting, perhaps, for not being encumbered with the dignity of formal history.  Our task is merely to touch upon and attempt a slight characteristic outline of them; not to trace the history of clubs to their origin in the heroic ages of Greece.  We shall not go back even to the clubs of the last century, except just to indicate cursorily some of the special differences between them and those of the present day.

Until about thirty years ago a club was seldom more than a mere knot of acquaintances who met together of an evening, at stated times, in a room engaged for that purpose at some tavern, and some of them held their meetings at considerable intervals apart.  Most of them were anything but fashionable some of them upon a footing not at all higher than that of a club of mechanics.  Among the regulations of the Essex Street Club, for instance (instituted by Dr. Johnson shortly before his death, and which was limited to twenty-four members), one was, that each person should spend not less than sixpence; another, that each absentee should forfeit threepence, and each of the company was to contribute a penny as a douceur to the waiter!

At that period the chief object of such associations was relaxation after the business of the day, and the enjoyment of a social evening in a homely way in what would now be called a snug party.  The celebrated “Literary Club,” which was founded by Reynolds in [1763], and whose meetings were held once a week at the Turk’s Head, in Gerrard Street, Soho, now a very unfashionable locality, consisted at first of only nine members, which number was, however, gradually increased to the large number of thirty-five; yet, limited as it was, it would not be easy even now to bring together as large a number of equally distinguished characters.  That club dined together once a fortnight, on which occasions “the feast of reason and the flow of soul” were, no doubt, enjoyed in perfection.

In most clubs of that period, on the contrary, the flow of wine, or other liquor, was far more abundant than that of mind, and the conversation was generally more easy and hilarious than intellectual or refined.  The bottle, or else the punch-bowl, played too prominent a part; and sociality too frequently partook of bacchanalian festivity, if not revelry, at least, of what would now be considered such according to our more temperate habits; and it deserves to be remarked that, though in general the elder clubs encouraged compotation and habits of free indulgence as indispensable to goodfellowship and sociality, the modern clubs, on the contrary, have done much to discourage them as low and ungentlemanly.  “Reeling home from a club” used to be formerly a common expression; whereas now inebriety, or the symptom of it, in a club-house, would bring down disgrace upon him who should be guilty of such an indiscretion.

The old clubs have passed away, for though some of them, or similar societies, may still exist, it is behind the scenes, instead of figuring conspicuously upon the stage.  Quite a new order of things has come up, the clubs of the present time being upon quite a different footing, and also, comparatively, gigantic in scale.  From small social meetings held periodically, they have become permanent establishments, luxurious in all their appointments; and of some of them the locales are quite palatial.  No longer limited to a few acquaintances familiarly known to each other, they count their members by hundreds, and, sleeping accommodation excepted, provide for them abundantly all the agrimens of an aristocratic home and admirably-regulated menage, without any of the trouble inseparable from a private household, unless it be one whose management is, as in a club-house, confided to responsible superintendents.

 Excerpt from London Exhibited in 1852 – by John Weale – published in 1852

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Further Reading and External Links

19th Century Gentlemans Clubs

London Regency Clubs

 

Farnworth Park – Mr Gladstone’s Oration – 1864

 

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Farnworth is a township in the Bolton Union, and forms part of the ancient parish of Deane. It lies on the highroad from Bolton to Manchester, and overlooks the winding and picturesque valley of the river Irwell.

In 1860 the Barnes family donated part of their Birch Hall estate, as a park for the local population to enjoy in perpetuaity.  The park was officially opened in 1864 by the Right Honorable W E Gladstone – Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time – this is his opening speech; complimented with a very warm reception from the 100,000 strong crowd:

Farnworth Park – Mr Gladstone’s Oration – 12th Oct 1864

W E GladstoneThe Right Hon. W.E. GLADSTONE then came forward to formally inaugurate the Park, and was received with most enthusiastic demonstrations of applause.  He spoke as follows:

Mr. Alfred Barnes, ladies and gentlemen, I believe that my first and formal duty imposed upon me by the appointed order of proceeding is to declare in your presence that this Park is now once and for ever opened and dedicated to the public good (cheers).  As respects the gift of the Park, it has been made in the hearing of witnesses sufficiently numerous by our friend Mr. Barnes (cheers); and as regards the acceptance of the Park, I ask any of those who have witnessed the spectacle of to-day, who have seen the whole population, young and old, rich and poor, and not only the whole population of this place, but a goodly auxiliary force from all the country round (hear, hear), and I can only say that if that does not constitute an acceptance of the Park, I don’t know what does (cheers and laughter).  Now, Mr. Barnes, in compliance with the religious and wise custom which prevails, it has been usual that solemn prayer should be offered to Almighty God on occasions like this.  We have learned why, through the absence mainly of the Bishop, it has been impossible that we should externally comply with that honoured practice; but as respects the sentiment within the breast of every one of us, I am sure that none who have listened to the heart-stirring accounts of the Psalm just sung, can doubt that it is the belief and conviction of this vast assemblage that all our works, in order to bring a blessing with them, must be begun, continued, and ended in the fear and in the love of God (hear, hear).

I pass on, therefore, ladies and gentlemen, to speak to you as the time and circumstances will permit, upon the character of the occasion that is now before us.  The presentation of this Park by Mr. Barnes is happily not an isolated act (hear, hear); it is part of a great system, part of a great movement.  He is, indeed, the representative, and the honoured representative of a principle, and a tendency which is among the very best characteristics of the age (hear, hear).  In this busy, stirring, critical, industrious, enterprising, money-making, money accumulating age, it is well that while these pursuits have full scope given them, it should not be forgotten that there are other wants and other interests –  and, in particular, I call Mr. Barnes on this occasion the representative of the deep and growing conviction with respect to the relations that ought to prevail, and that happily now do to a very great extent prevail, between the employers of labour and the labouring population of the land (cheers).  I think, ladies and gentlemen, it was about 30 years ago that a gentleman of high character and of great ability, employed in the public service in Ireland, created very considerable alarm and apprehension by putting forth in a concise and telling form what was thought the somewhat revolutionary doctrine that property had its duties as well as its rights (hear, hear).  That doctrine was received by many, perhaps more from want of use and reflection, than from any ill intention, as if it had been some monstrous conception aiming at the breaking up of the very foundation of society (laughter).  But that dreaded monster, for such it was, has now become a domesticated idea – it has entered, we may say, into our very house; and it lies by our firesides as if it were a favourite dog or cat of the family (hear, and laughter)

Property has its duties as well as its rights (hear); and the relation of the man who employs labour to the man who gives labour never can be permanently satisfactory or secure if the exercise and practical form of that relation is confined to the mere settling of the cash account of the wages of the man (applause).  It is doing violence to the principles of human nature; it is running up a score against ourselves; it is offending against the will and the designs of Divine Providence, if we refuse to recognise the fact that moral associations and social and endearing ties of affection belong to, and ought never to be severed from, the relation between the master and the workman (hear).  Now, ladies and gentlemen, circumstances brought about a result which at first did not appear to be satisfactory to the manufacturing districts of this country, but which I believe was a matter calling for your deepest thankfulness; I mean tills; the relation of employer and labourer never had been in this country thoroughly and carefully examined until it came to be examined in the case of the factory system.

Excerpt from Proceedings at the Opening of Farnworth Park – 1864

Document containing the full speech – on page 24

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Further Reading and External Links

Farnworth Park Archive Pictures 

Richard Bancroft – Archbishop of Canterbury

Farnworth Park – Opening – 1864

 

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Farnworth Park – Official Opening – Route Procession – 1864

Commemorative Memorial in Farnworth ParkAll along the route of the procession the cheering of the spectators was of the most enthusiastic character, and it must have been deeply gratifying to one accustomed to far other scenes to receive such an ovation from the industrial classes of Lancashire.  To a foreigner or a stranger to the district the good temper and order of the masses congregating together must have been very surprising. There were no soldiers to keep the people in due subjection.

The bands of volunteers and the yeomanry took their places in the procession, as did other citizens. Some fifty policemen were all that were necessary to prevent any overcrowding upon the line of march. One hundred thousand people were out for a holiday; but there was no drunkenness, and there were no breaches of the peace. The people preserved the peace for themselves, and demonstrated how free institutions and industrial occupations; the absence of the baton and the bayonet foster individual self government, and repress the tendency to lawlessness and disorder.

The scene in the Park during Mr. Gladstone’s address was one never to be forgotten by those who witnessed it. The autumn sun was shining in a cloudless sky; the trees around were clothed in leaves of russet and gold and crimson; “flushing into decay;” the lake lay still and calm, and bright; dazzling as molten silver. The terrace platform, capable of accommodating upwards of 600 persons, was crowded with “Lancashire witches” in their gayest attire; a perfect galaxy of beauty. In front stood the donor of the Park, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Chairman of the Local Board; on either side the representative men of the county; the High Sheriff, the Mayors of the neighbouring towns, eminent political leaders, members of Parliament, magistrates, ministers of religion, and below the platform, and as far as the eye could reach, a dense mass of human beings, numbering from 85 to 40,000; silent every one, as if spell-bound, with upturned face gazing upon the speaker, straining to catch every syllable he uttered, and only now and then giving expression to their feelings in loud and ringing cheers. The grandeur of the spectacle; its moral sublimity; cannot be expressed, and its memory will never be effaced. It is not necessary to dwell upon other aspects of the day’s proceedings…

Excerpt from Proceedings at the Opening of Farnworth Park – 1864

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Further Reading and External Links

Farnworth Park Archive Pictures 

Richard Bancroft – Archbishop of Canterbury

Farnworth – 1860

 

 

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Farnworth is a township in the Bolton Union, and forms part of the ancient parish of Deane. It lies on the highroad from Bolton to Manchester, and overlooks the winding and picturesque valley of the river Irwell.

The name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon Fearn or fern, on account of the quantity and variety of those beautiful plants with which the neighbourhood formerly abounded – and worth – a plot of ground elevated above water; a protected enclosed homestead; a nook of land, generally, a nook between two rivers.

Presentation of the Park to the Town

Commemorative Monument within Farnworth ParkOn the 8th December, [1860], the only son of Mr. Thomas Barnes attained his majority. The event was celebrated by a large gathering of the workpeople employed by the firm and of friends of the family, to the number of 1,300, at a banquet in one of the large rooms of the Dixon Green Mill. On that occasion Mr. Barnes made known his intention to present a park for recreative purposes to the people of his native township, in the following terms:

“I have looked with considerable interest on the extension of trade; but, while I have seen two or three mills erected yearly, cottages springing up on every hand, and the price of land rising from three farthings to twopence or threepence per yard, I have felt some uneasiness as to the future state of the place and of the health of the people; and I have asked myself whether it was right that we should have every inch of ground built over and not a single place left, where the tired and weary artisan could resort, to breath the fresh air. With children growing up, with the increase of population which is taking place, I have asked myself the question, shall there not be some place for the little ones to play in safely – someplace for recreative purposes? And I have made up mind – and I now make the declaration – in commemoration of my son’s coming of age and in memory of his grandfather, to lay out a portion of the Birch Hall estate as a park, and to dedicate it for these purposes, and present it to the people of Farnworth for their benefit for ever.

Of course, I must have some security that the land will be held in perpetuity for the enjoyment and recreation of the people, and for no other purposes. And here arises a difficulty. We have no public body that can give such an undertaking. If we had a mayor and corporation it might at once be given over to them for the benefit of the people. I can only promise, therefore, that a deed shall be executed, as soon as there is power in the township to appoint proper management, to secure the land for the free use of the people for ever. And, I can truly say, that it will give me pleasure, and I hope I may say of those of my family who may come after me, that it will give them pleasure, to see the people of Farnworth heartily enjoying themselves in the park, when all the adjacent ground is covered with bricks and mortar.”

Shortly after the above announcement was made, Mr. Barnes placed the Birch Hall estate in the hands of Mr. Henderson, landscape gardener, of Birkenhead, who laid out the grounds in a most tasteful and effective manner, and the public were allowed to use them as far as possible, before they were formally presented.

In [1863], Farnworth adopted the Local Government Act, and on the election of a Local Board it was found, that under the 74th section of the Public Health Act, it could legally receive the Park and enter into the necessary agreements for its custody and proper use. The Park was accepted by the Local Board on behalf of the township, July 1st, [1864].

At once preparations began to be made for its formal opening. Mr. Barnes desired that this should be done in the quietest and most unostentatious manner; but the Local Board, influential gentlemen in the neighbourhood, and the general public were unanimous in the opinion that the event should be marked by some fitting public ceremonial.

The Right Hon. W.E. Gladstone, Chancellor of the Exchequer, was invited to be present and to deliver an address on the occasion. The High Sheriff of the county palatine of Lancaster, Sir James Kay Shuttleworth, Bart.; the Lord Bishop of the Diocese, several members of Parliament, and influential residents of the neighbouring city and towns were also invited, with the local magistracy, and the Mayor and Town Council of Bolton, to honour the Local Board with their presence. The event excited an interest and enthusiasm rarely evoked. The day was kept as a general holiday in Farnworth and the neighbouring towns. Visitors from all parts of the country were present. Not less than 100,000 were congregated together on the occasion. Never before was such a day witnessed, and never before were such events recorded in the annals of the locality. The rich and the poor met together, animated by one feeling, and participating in a common joy.

Excerpt from Proceedings at the Opening of Farnworth Park – 1864

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Further Reading and External Links

Farnworth Park Archive Pictures 

Richard Bancroft – Archbishop of Canterbury