Extending the Community
CONGREGATIONAL MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY HAVING CONNECTIONS WITH BUILDING
The aim of this paper is to extend the concept of ‘Building – a community’ opened up in Stories & People Paper 2 and extended in Stories & People Paper 3 and Paper 4 by looking in depth at Congregationalists who were members of Parliament during the nineteenth century and who had connections with building.
The source of material is:
Bebbington, David W (2007)
Congregational Members of Parliament in the Nineteenth Century
Occasional Publication No 1
The United Reformed Church History Society
and The Congregational History Society
I am grateful for the permission given me by Professor Bebbington to quote extensively from this source.
David Bebbington has scrutinised ‘this whole set of local heroes, the Congregationalists elected to the House of Commons during the nineteenth century, in their specific settings’. (Bebbington p1)
Out of 139 names listed I have extracted 38 Congregational MP’s whose ‘specific settings’ are shown to include involvement with building and public and infrastructure works, grouping them as follows:
I have kept groups 2 and 3 separate from each other in order to bring out the fact that group 2 was entirely secular in nature. Having church affiliations does not necessarily involve being engaged with church-related activities.
Bebbington’s background commentary is extensive. Specific points of significance here are as follow:
Politically, ‘the MP’s, as might be expected, were overwhelmingly Liberal. They supported the party at once associated, at least in part, with the advance of urban/industrial values and with the defence of civil and religious liberties’.
Socially, ‘the Congregational MP’s were drawn from ... the “mercantile class” and none belonged naturally to the “the landlord class” .... [However] many of them acquired homes outside the towns where they made their money.’
Industrially, they were not ‘thoughtless capitalists who exploited their workers’. Rather, ‘the normal attitude of these businessmen to their employees was a solicitude for their well-being verging on paternalism’.
Communally, ’it was in their home towns, not in parliament, that these individuals shone’. (Bebbington p10) and ‘Many of them were honoured for their public services’ (Bebbington p12)
In the details below (L) indicates a Liberal MP and (C) a Conservative, of whom there are only two.
I have merged Bebbington’s main list of MP’s who were certainly Congregational and his supplementary list of Supposed Congregational MP’s.
In this grouping of 13 MP’s:
· Two - Balfour and Crosfield - are concerned with building societies and mortgages
· Two – Leeman and Whitworth – are involved in railway companies
· One – Morley – is involved with a land company
· One – Stuart – is a Professor of Engineering
Spencer (1843-1916) MP (L) for
Promoter of the Liberator Building Society, by the late 1870’s the world’s biggest.
Liberator crashed destroying the savings of many Nonconformists and leading to Balfour’s imprisonment. Thereafter he became a mining engineer.
(1838-1909) MP (L) for
Deputy Chairman of Liverpool Mortgage Insurance Co
Member of building
Langley, Batty (1834-1914) MP (L) for Sheffield Attercliffe 1894-1909
Storey, Samuel (1841-1925) [Sl] MP (L) for Sunderland 1881-95 and MP (Independent) for Sunderland 1910
Partner in timber merchants Newspaper proprietor
Stewart, Sir Halley (1838-1937) MP (L) for Lincolnshire, Spalding 1887-95 and Greenock 1906-10
(1841-1908) MP (C) for Lancashire
Glass manufacturer Four times mayor of St Helen’s
Walker, Joshua (1786-1862) MP for Aldeburgh 1818-1929
Iron, steel and lead manufacturer
Walker, Samuel (1779-1851)] MP for Aldeburgh 1818-20
Iron, steel and lead manufacturer
Ruston, Joseph (1835-97) MP (L) for Lincoln 1884-86
Manufacturer of engineering products including excavators
‘My customer is my best friend, employed over 2500 people, supplied seventy excavators for the Manchester Ship Canal and opened a branch in Budapest.
‘Gave JD Jones a sense of the difficulties of a Christian business man wanting to do his duty by his employees and fellow employers’
Largely responsible for new building for Newland Congregational Church
Leeman, George (1809-82} MP (L) for York 1865-68 and 1871-80
Chairman of North Eastern Railway
Whitworth, Benjamin (1816-93) MP (L) for Drogheda 1865-69, Mar 1880-85 and Kilkenny 1875080
Director of Metropolitan Railway Gave money for school at Wesham
Morley, Charles (1847-1917) MP (L) for Breconshire 1895-1906
Director of Holborn Viaduct Land Co
Stuart, James (1843-1913) MP (L) for Hackney 1884-85, Shoreditch Hoston 1885-1900 and Sunderland 1910
Professor of Mechanism and Applied Mechanics Associate of
INVOLVEMENT WITH BUILDING-RELATED Community and philanthropic activities excluding church projects
In this grouping of 10 MP’s:
· Two – Colman and Reed – are concerned with conservation or preservation
· Five – Evershed, Crossley, Leigh, Whitwell and Goddard - are concerned with housing
· Three – Weston, Newnes and Benn – are concerned with docks or transport
Colman, Jeremiah James (1830-98) MP (L) for Norwich 1871-95
Mustard manufacturer Member of Norwich town council
Believed in putting historic buildings to public use
Reed, Sir Charles (1819-91) MP (L) for Hackney 1868-74 and St Ives, Cornwall (1880-81)
Printer Chairman of Bunhill Fields Preservation Society
Evershed, Sydney (1825-1903) MP (L) for Staffordshire Burton 1905-10
Brewer Supported land reform and cottage and allotment improvements
Crossley, Edward (1841-1905) MP (L) for Sowerby 1885-92
Carpet manufacturer Completed Arden Road almshouses, Halifax started by his father
Fellow of Royal Astronomical Society and erected observatory
Leigh, Sir Joseph (1841-1908) MP (L) for Stockport 1892-95 and 1900-06
Cotton manufacturer Director of Manchester Ship Canal
Favoured old age pensions, better housing for the poor, rating of land values
Whitwell, John (1812-80) MP (L) for Kendal 1868-80
Favoured revival of Small Tenements Rating Bill
Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford (1850-1922) MP (L) for Ipswich 1895-1918
Civil engineer and chairman of Ipswich Gas Company
Founded Ipswich Social Settlement and contributed substantially to building costs
Weston, Sir Joseph Dodge (1822-95) MP (L) for Bristol S 1885-86 and Bristol E 1890-05
Proprietor of Bristol Wagon and Carriage Works Purchased the site of Avonmouth docks for the town
Newnes, Sir George (1851-1910) MP (L) for Cambridgeshire E 1885-95 and Swansea Town 1900-10
Newspaper owner Gave library to Putney and cable railway to Matlock and Lynton
Benn, Sir John Williams (1850-1922) MP (L) for Tower Hamlets 1892-95 and Devonport 1904-10
Proprietor of the Cabinet Maker.
Member of London County Council specially concerned with development of tramways.
INVOLVEMENT WITH BUILDING-RELATED Community, philanthropic projects including church projects
In this grouping of 14 MP’s:
· Seven – F and J Crossley, Mason, Ripley, Salt, Morley and Woodall – were involved with both community and church building projects
· One – Hindley – was involved with health in towns, and church building projects
· One – Peddie – was involved in civil engineering and design education, and church building projects
· Five – Wills, Cheetham, Hadfield, Milligan and Mills – were involved in church building projects only
One – Ball – may have his name implied
in the balls on the parapet of the church.
Crossley, Sir Francis
(1817-72) MP (L) for
Carpet manufacturer Built almshouses, and orphanage and school. Presented park to town
Square Chapel Halifax (paid
for spire) and maintained Somerleyton Union Church in
Crossley, John (1812-1879) MP (L) for Halifax 1874-77
With brothers, built orphanage Chairman of Congregational Chapel Building Society
Mason, Hugh (1817-86) MP (L) for Ashton-under-Lyne 1880-85
Cotton manufacturer Established New Oxford colony as estate for his workpeople, providing library, lecture hall, reading room and smoking room
Supported movement for public park.
Albion Chapel Ashton-under-Line, presided over construction of Sunday School
Bought cottages for site of Charlston Congregational Chapel whose foundation stone he laid.
Laid foundation stone of Lees Congregational school chapel
With Nathaniel Buckley, bought Dukinfield Old Chapel for new church
Ripley, Sir Henry William (1813-82) MP (L) for Bradford 1868-69 and 1874-80
Vice-President of Mechanics Institution heading list of subscribers to building fund with £1200 Built Ripleyville suburb of model houses for his workers; provided school
Laid foundation stone of new Horton Lane Chapel
Salt, Sir Titus (1803-76) MP (L) for Bradford 1859-61
Textile manufacturer Creator of Saltaire Model Village, equipped with schools, institute, almshouses, Congregational and Methodist chapels, bath and wash houses and park
On building committee of Salem Congregational Church and chairman of building committee of Lightcliffe
Gave £2500 for Airedale College, whose foundation he laid and £5000 for Memorial Hall
Morley, Samuel (1809-86) MP (L) for Nottingham 1865-66 and Bristol 1868-85
Hosiery manufacturer 7 Midland factories with 3000 direct employees. London warehouse equipped with reading rooms and parlours
Congregational churches in London and elsewhere. Spent £14400 on new chapels and £6000 for Memorial Hall. Supported 12 Congregational colleges.
Woodall, William (1832-1901) MP (L) for Stoke-upon-Trent 1880-85 and Hanley 1885-90
Potter Secretary to Wedgwood Memorial Institute, providing additional wing. Presented free library to Burslem
Bust on facade of Burslem Congregational Church!
Hindley, Charles (1796-1857) MP (L) for Ashton-under-Lyne 1835-57
Cotton spinner Supporter of Health of Towns Association
Laid foundation stone of Westminster Chapel and Park Chapel, Crouch End
Peddie, John Dick (1824-91) MP (L) for Kilmarnock District 1880-85
Glass manufacturer in Southwark
On Council of Institute of Civil Engineers from 1840 and of
Laid foundation stone of Folkstone Congregational Church
Wills, Sir William Henry (1830-1911) MP (L) for Coventry 1880-85 and Bristol E 1895-1900
Tobacco manufacturer Director of Great Western Railway and Bristol Waterworks Company
Gave £1000 to buy new site for Shaftsbury Mission sponsored by Redland Park Congregational Church
Cheetham, John Frederick (1835-1916) [SL] MP (L) for Derbyshire N 1880-85
Cotton manufacturer Built Stalybridge public library
Laid foundation stone of Congregational Sunday School and donated £1000
Hadfield, George (1787-1879) MP (L) for Sheffield 1852-74
Congregational churches in Salford. Laid foundation stone of Rusholme Chapel and gave £10000 for the erection of 100 independent chapels
Milligan, Robert (1786-1862) MP (L) for Bradford 1851-57
Worsted merchant Builder of Rawdon Congregational Church
Mills, John Remington (1798-1879) MP (L) for Wycombe 1862-68
Founder of Egham Hill Congregational Church and benefactor of Tonbridge Wells
Donated £120000 to building of Memorial Hall and most generous donor to Congregational Chapel Building Society
Ball, Edward 1793-1865 MP (C) for Cambridgeshire 1852-63
Member of Burwell Congregational Church, where the balls on the parapet are supposed to be a tribute to the family.
My first response to this analysis is one of re-assurance. Over the course of the 19th century there were 36 people
· who sat for varying lengths of time in the House of Commons
· who also sat, either currently or retrospectively in their memories, in Congregational or similar pews
· who were concerned with building firms, activities and projects of varying kinds.
Lest it be thought that unadulterated virtue pervaded these MP’s lives, I will expand the information given earlier on Jabez Balfour:
His firms collapsed in 1892, the crash of the Liberator destroying the savings of many Nonconformists. Balfour fled to Argentina, with which an extradition treaty was arranged in order to bring him back to England for trial in October 1895. Sentenced to fourteen years imprisonment, he was released in 1906, becoming a journalist and then a mining engineer.
My second response is of satisfaction that in their networks of Parliament, industry, community and church these MP’s were at least for some of their time concerned with the stuff of bricks and mortar and the things that bricks and mortar make, particularly things that meet the greatest human needs.
My third response is that I see these people, and the facets of their work of most concern to me, as a small brick in the house envisaged by JH Oldham:
The only way in which, in the organized life of society, desirable changes can be brought about, and undesirable changes prevented, is by political action. All talk about a better society is idle daydreaming till it is translated into public policy.
Quoted by Mark Gibbs in Christians with Secular Power - Laity Exchange Books, Philadelphia, 1981
MP’s are the critical people in the final determination of public policy, arguably one of the greatest concerns of us all.
My fourth and final response is that these people were there involved in the political world, and they left enough trails for us to find out that they were there. This immediately poses questions to us in our later century:
· Where are we – in Parliament, industry, community and church?
· Are we where we should, or could, be?
· Will our successors be able to know that we were there?