The De la Poles. - The history of the illustrious house of De la Pole is intimately connected with that of Hull. This great family, "for more than two stormy centuries of English history, played great parts upon the stage, rising from an office in High Street to the very steps of the throne, gaining the loftiest honours an English subject can possess, uniting theirs with the blood royal, and well-nigh founding a dynasty of kings." (see The story of the De la Poles, by J. Travis-Cook, 1888.) They flourished from the time of Edward I. to that of Henry VIII. We first find them at Ravenser, once an important port on the Humber, situate a short distance west of Spurn Point. After the foundation of Kingston-upon-Hull by Edward I., William De la Pole removed hither and became a princely merchant. He had by his wife, Elena, three sons, two of whom, Richard and William, rose rapidly in wealth, and whom the late Canon Kemp designated as "the Rothschilds and Barings of their age." William De la Pole died at Hull, and his widow afterwards married a Hull merchant, named Rotenheryng, who, dying in 1828, founded a chantry in Holy Trinity Church. Richard de la Pole was appointed by Edward III. Capitalis Pincerna, or chief butler to the Crown, and collector of customs at Hull, Ravenser, and Boston. It was, however, from his brother, William, that the illustrious line of the De la Poles derived their descent. He was appointed the first mayor of Hull, and in that capacity entertained King Edward III. in 1332. He and his brother Richard acted as bankers and purveyors to the king. Their loans to Edward were frequent and truly enormous. In 1339, during the war with France, the king was reduced to great straits through the want of money. At this critical period he appealed to William De la Pole, who advanced him the immense sum of £76,180, equivalent to a million sterling of modern currency. On another occasion he advanced to the king's use cash to the amount of £46,389, almost equal to another three-quarters of a million sterling. These acts of devotion were rewarded by Edward in various ways. He created William De la Pole a knight-banneret, and from time to time advanced him to places of honour and emolument, and at length appointed him chief Baron of the Exchequer. Constant to the last in his friendship and regard for his sovereign, Sir William, when "impotent and of great age," gave Edward a full release of all debts the monarch owed him. In his exalted position Sir William was a constant benefactor to Hull, and obtained for it many privileges and immunities. In order to testify his gratitude to God, who had raised him to such a height of prosperity, be resolved to found a monastery and hospital to His Glory and the benefit of the poor. He was, however, summoned from this world before these houses were completed, and his son and successor, Sir Michael De la Pole, completed the pious work.* Sir Michael was no less a favourite with Richard II. than his father had been with Edward III. In 1376 he is mentioned as mayor of Hull, and in the same year was summoned to parliament as Admiral of the King's fleet in the Northern Ports. He was subsequently commissioned by Richard II. to act as ambassador to the courts of Rome and Milan, and in 1383 was created Lord High Chancellor of England, an office which Lord Campbell says he filled "with unspotted dignity." Two years later he was created Earl of Suffolk. About this time he began to erect "a goodly house of brick, like a palace, opposite the west end of St. Mary's Church, in Kingston-upon-Hull." This "superb palace" occupied all the ground in Lowgate from Bowlalley Lane to Hanover Square, as far as Quay Street and the Land of Green Ginger. He also built himself two other houses in the town and one at a short distance from it, besides "a stately" mansion in London. He was now at the zenith of his power and had many enemies, who eventually caused him to be accused of high treason and condemned to exile. He retired to Paris in 1389, where he died in the same year. So ended the career of "Michael De la Pole, son of the Hull merchant, who, rising from High Street to the Woolsack, from simple knight to belted earl, became the counsellor and trusted adviser of his king, but, seeking only his own advantage, instead of the public good, fell a victim to the national indignation, and died in exile and poverty, at the age of 55" (I. Travis Cook.)
Michael De la Pole, the second Earl of Suffolk, was restored to the title and estates of his father, in 1402. He accompanied Henry V. in his expedition to France, and greatly distinguished himself at the siege of Harfleur. Four days before the town surrendered he died of dysentery, on the 18th September, 1415. Barely five weeks after his death, his own son, the third earl, was slain, fighting valiantly at the memorable battle of Agincourt, on the 25th October, 1415. His brother William, the fourth earl, distinguished in the field and the Cabinet, was advanced to the dignities, first, of Marquis, and afterwards Duke of Suffolk. He made 20 campaigns in France, and served 17 years in that country. After his return to England, he was employed in many important embassies, and it was he who proposed the marriage of Henry VI. with Margaret of Anjou. He was empowered by the king to espouse the princess in his name, and to conduct her to England. The nuptials were solemnized at Tours, by proxy, with much splendour. In May, 1445, the queen arrived in England, and on the 30th was solemnly crowned. The Marquis afterwards sank in public estimation, but rose in favour at Court, and in 1448 was created Duke of Suffolk. Popular clamour was however loud against him, and the honours and wealth which he had obtained, were the objects of envy. The king was compelled to banish him. He embarked for France, but his enemies fearing his return to power, met him on his passage, brought him to Dover Roads, and there struck off his head on the side of a boat. His remains were laid on the sands at Dover, until the king commanded them to be delivered to his widow, who was the grand-daughter of Chaucer, the "Father of English poetry." Thus fell the most powerful man in the kingdom, who, in many campaigns distinguished himself at the head of the English armies in France, who had ruled the Cabinet of London, had been a Privy Councillor 15 years, and for 30 years a Knight of the Garter. By his will, he desired his "wretched body to be buried in the Charter House, at Hull." From this nobleman was descended John De la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, who married Elizabeth Plantagenet, sister of Kings Edward IV. and Richard III., and by her had issue, John De la Pole, Earl of Lincoln. This earl was declared by his uncle, Richard III., to be heir presumptive to the throne of England. The battle of Bosworth, however, destroyed his hopes, and, heading the rebellion, which broke out in Ireland, in favour of the impostor, Lambert Simnel, he was slain at Stoke, in 1489, when the rebels were completely routed. His brother, Edmund De la Pole - the last of the family who bore the title of Earl of Suffolk - was, through the jealousy of Henry VII., detained a prisoner in the Tower for seven years, and was afterwards beheaded by order of Henry VIII., without the formality of a trial, in 1513. A younger brother, Richard, fled to Italy, and, engaging in the wars of the French king, was killed at the battle of Pavia, in 1525. Thus died the last male heir of this illustrious family, "upon a foreign battlefield an exile from his country." On the attainder of the family, all their vast estates were confiscated to the king's use. Whatever might have been their errors as Ministers of State, the De la Poles were distinguished benefactors to Hull.
John Alcock, D.D., the founder of the Hull Grammar School, was the son of a Hull merchant, though, it is more than probable, that he was born at Beverley. He was, however, a distinguished benefactor to Hull, and, as such, may be counted a Hull "worthy." He was educated at Cambridge, and admitted to the priesthood in 1449. In 1462 he was made Master of the Rolls, and, after some minor preferments, was raised to the dignity of a Privy Councillor, and appointed Ambassador to the Court of Castile in 1470. In the following year he was consecrated Bishop of Rochester, and in 1472 he was advanced to the dignity of Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, and to that of Lord Chancellor of England in April, 1476. In the same year he was translated to the See of Worcester, and constituted Lord President of Wales. So highly was Dr. Alcock esteemed by Henry VII. that, immediately after the Battle of Bosworth, he appointed him his first Lord Chancellor, in which office he gave such satisfaction to his wary master, by his learning and experience in settling the many delicate points brought before him, that he was translated in 1486 to the See of Ely, in the enjoyment of which he lived until the 1st October, 1500, when "he was translated from this life to another." He was buried in the chapel, which he built for himself, in Ely Cathedral, now called "Alcock's chapel." It is a splendid edifice, and still stands to shew the architectural taste of the bishop. Dr. Alcock was noted for his singular piety and erudition, no man in England having a greater reputation for sanctity of manners. He was not only a considerable writer, but an excellent architect, and was appointed Comptroller of the Royal Works under Henry VII., who, as a further mark of esteem, appointed him one of the executors of his will (along with his learned and saintly townsman and successor in the See of Rochester, Dr. John Fisher), and bequeathed him a legacy of £100. Alcock's knowledge of architecture and his zeal for the cause of religion, were jointly displayed in the many noble foundations which he built and instituted. He erected an episcopal palace at Downham, and the spacious hall in the palace at Ely was also his work. He founded Jesus College, Cambridge, a work alone sufficient to endear his memory to posterity. He founded a chantry, and built a chapel for the souls of his parents, in Holy Trinity Church, Hull, which he endowed with £14 6s. 4d. a year. As a benefactor to Hull, he will be remembered chiefly as the founder of the Grammar School, which he endowed with £20 per annum, out of which the master was to pay 40s. to the clerk of Trinity Church for teaching boys to sing, and, to give yearly, to the 10 best scholars 6s. 8d. each, should the revenues admit of it, and all children coming to the school were to be educated free. He also gave 20 marks a year to the assistant priest of Holy Trinity Church, which, with his other churches, were seized at the Reformation. The revenues of the Grammar School were, however, afterwards restored upon the petition of the inhabitants.
Luke Foxe, commonly called "North-West Fox," from the fact that he was one of the early explorers who sought to unravel the mystery of the North-West passage. He was born in the parish of St. Mary, and was baptised in October, 1586. His father, Richard Foxe, was an Assistant of the Trinity House, and Luke afterwards became a Younger Brother of the same Corporation. The revival of an attempt to discover the North-West passage is attributed to Luke Foxe by no less an authority than John Barrow, F.R.S. Having obtained the loan of a ship from the king, he set sail on the 7th May, 1681. He returned from his expedition on the 31st October following, and had an audience with the king, at whose request he published a history not only of his own voyage, but of his predecessors in similar voyages of discovery. His work appeared in 1635, and bore the affected title of "North-West Foxe, or Foxe from the NorthWest Passage." It consisted of a quarto volume, of 272 pages, and, according to Frost, is extremely rare.
Sir John Lawson. - Of the early life of this distinguished officer scarcely anything is known. It is generally admitted that he was born at Hull,* of poor parents, and was sent to sea at a very early age. After acquiring a perfect knowledge of his profession, he quitted the merchant service and entered the Royal Navy as a "common sailor" about the time Hull was seized by the Parliament. In this situation his conduct was so excellent that he was advanced step by step, until at length he was given the command of a ship of war. He was associated with Blake, Cromwell, Monk, and Montague in all the political struggles of the Commonwealth and the Restoration. In the famous sea-fight off Cape La Rogue in 1653, Captain Lawson had the command of the "Fairfax," and though his ship was wretchedly shattered, on the third day of the fight he succeeded in taking a Dutch man-of-war, for which he was raised to the ranks of a rear-admiral. He also figured conspicuously in the engagements fought on the 2nd of June and 31st July in the same year (1653), between the English and Dutch, for which Parliament ordered a gold chain to be presented to him as a mark of approval of his conduct. Later on, in this - to him - fortunate year, he was appointed to command a fleet of 44 sail, which was sent over to Holland, and took a number of prizes - a service which had considerable influence in bringing about a peace. On Cromwell's assumption of the supreme power, Lawson was continued in his command and treated with considerable respect, but becoming disgusted with the Protector's conduct, he became one of a committee to confer with the formidable "fifth monarchy men," but their proceedings being discovered, several of the committee, including Lawson, were committed to prison. On recovering his liberty he went into retirement, but on the return of Admiral Montague with the fleet from the Baltic, Parliament sent for Lawson, declared him vice-admiral, and ordered him to take charge of the whole fleet. This he did, and when Monk had matured his plans for the restoration of Charles II., Admiral Lawson's concurrence was obtained, and the navy followed the example of the commander. After the Restoration, he was knighted by Charles II., and to the end of his life conducted himself with great judgment and spirit in several engagements, and was never for long out of active service. He was appointed one of the commissioners of the Navy Board, at the recommendation of the Duke of York, and was sent as vice-admiral to the Earl of Sandwich, to bring Queen Catherine from Portugal. He was subsequently employed in the Mediterranean against the Algerines, to whom he did considerable damage. At the breaking out of the Dutch war he returned home, and served under the Duke of York as rear-admiral of the red. In all matters relative to the fleet, H.R.H. the Duke consulted Lawson daily, "though in his manners he retained much of the bluntness and roughness of the tarpaulin." He fought his last battle on the 3rd of June, 1665, off Lowstoft, in which he received a musket shot in the knee which in the end proved fatal.
* Greenwood's Picture of Hull, p. 169.)
* "Sketches of Hull Authors."
Dr. Robert Wittie, a friend of Marvell, followed his profession here for a period of 18 years, during which time some of his numerous hooks were written and published. He translated, from the Latin of Dr. James Primrose, "Popular Errours, or the Errours of the People in matters of Physic," the preface to which is dated "From my house at Hull, Decemb. 2, 1650." On the subject of this translation Andrew Marvell addressed two complimentary poems to him, one in English, in which he styles the author "his worthy friend," and the other in Latin, inscribed "Dignissimo suo Amico Doctori Witty." Dr Wittie was the author of several works connected with his profession, which are enumerated by Dr. Watt, in his "Bibliotheca Britannica." He was also the author of a lively poem "Astpomaxia, or a Historical Fiction of a War among the Stars, in English, Latine, and Greek Lyric verse," in which he proves himself to have been witty by nature as well as by name. In the preface he informs the reader that he "projected" the ode "in a fit of the gout."
Dr. Thomas Watson, Bishop of St. Davids, was born within the limits of the County of Hull, at North Ferriby, in 1637, and was educated first at the Hull Grammar School, and afterwards at Cambridge. He was consecrated Bishop of St. Davids in 1687, but was deprived of his bishopric, no doubt on account of his Jacobite opinions, in 1699. He was a great benefactor to St. John's College, Cambridge, besides which he gave liberally to the Hull Grammar School, and rebuilt an almshouse on South Church side, the inmates of which were transferred to the new Municipal Almshouses in 1887. His brother William afterwards gave an endowment to this hospital, in accordance with the intentions of the Bishop, who died at Wilbraham, near Cambridge, in 1714.
Rev. William Mason, the poet, and the friend and biographer of Gray - of "Clergy" fame - was a native of Hull. His grandfather, Hugh Mason, was appointed collector of customs at this port in 1696, and his father, the Rev. William Mason, was vicar of Holy Trinity Church from 1722 to his death in 1753. The poet was baptised in Holy Trinity Church, 11th March, 1724-5. He was admitted to St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1742; he took his B.A. degree in 1845; and two years later published his first poem, "Museus," a monody on the death of Pope. In 1749, he was elected a Fellow of Pembroke Hall, and in the same year took his M.A. degree. He took holy orders in 1754, and became chaplain to the Earl of Holderness, through whom he obtained a chaplaincy to the king. After a foreign tour with the Earl, he was appointed to the living of Aston, in Yorkshire, which he held until his death. In 1765, he was married at St. Mary's Church, Hull, to Mary Sherman, the daughter of the storekeeper of the garrison here. This lady did not long survive her marriage, having died of consumption in March, 1767. In 1762, Mason was made a canon of York, the prebend of Driffield, and the precentor of York Cathedral, but continued to reside at Aston. He died at the age of 72, on the 7th of April, 1797, and his memory is honored by the following inscription, placed on an elegant marble tablet in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey: -
Optimo Viro Guilielmo Mason, M.A. Poetæ, si quis alius, culto, casto, pio, sacrum.Mason's second work was "Isis," a monologue directed against the Jacobitism of Oxford - a poem which drew forth a counter attack from Warton, entitled "The Triumph of Isis." In 1751, Mason published his tragedy of "Elfrida," and eight years afterwards his tragic play "Caractacus." The latter is certainly his most ambitious and important work. It was produced at Covent Garden, in 1776. He was most successful in dramatic writing, though his plays were scarcely suitable for representation on the stage. His other dramatic productions were "Argentile and Curan," a Yorkshire tragedy, and "Sappho," a lyric drama. "Pygmalion," a dramatic scene, was translated by him from Rosseau. He produced a large number of odes and other poems, one of the most important being the "English Garden," which passed through four editions. On the death of Cibber. the ministry apologised for not offering the laureatship to Mason, on the ground that he was in Holy Orders - the true objection, however, was his politics, which were whig. Mason subsequently appeared in the character of editor and biographer of his friends and fellow poets, Gray and W. Whithead. In 1795, he published a critical and historical dissertation on Church music. He also took a prominent part in politics, and published several "patriotic manifestos" during the agitation in 1779 for parliamentary reform. Hartley Coleridge speaks of Mason as "the most considerable poet that Yorkshire has produced since Marvell." The aim of all his writings," he continues, "was to dignify the poetic art. . . . With the great poets in any department of poetry Mason cannot be numbered, yet for many years of his life he was England's greatest living poet."
Benjamin Thompson, the translator of "The Stranger," was born in Hull, in 1774. His father was an alderman, and twice mayor of Hull. When about 15 years of age he was sent to Germany to finish his education, and soon after his return to England he translated Kotzebue's well-known play, which was produced at Drury Lane in 1798. Forsaking trade, he became a professional writer, and soon attained considerable eminence in the literary world, especially for his translations from Kotzebue, Schiller, Goethe, Lessing, and Iffland. Many of these appeared under the title of the German Theatre, and extended over six volumes. His original productions were not numerous, and included a novel entitled "The Florentines," "The Recall of Momus, a Bagatelle," "Godolphin," a drama, and "Oberon's Oath," a melo-dramatic romance. Both the latter were performed at Drury Lane, but were unfavourably received. The failure of "Oberon's Oath" greatly depressed him, and is supposed to have occasioned his death. The disappointment so affected him as to bring on a fit of apoplexy, of which he died, on the 25th May, 1816 - four days after the production of his play.
William Wilberforce, the philanthropist, is a name of which Hull is justly proud, and of all the famous men of Hull, he is the most famous, surpassing all the local worthies who have either preceded or succeeded him to the present time, "by the charm of his eloquence, the achievements of his statesmanship, the virtues of his life, and the manifold benefits which he conferred upon mankind."* He was born at Hull, on the 24th August, 1759, in the old house in High Street, which still bears his name, and was the third child and only son, of Robert Wilberforce, whose ancestors had been connected with the county of York from the days of Henry II. Wilberforce, as a child, was feeble and delicate, and of weak sight. At the age of seven he was sent to the Hull Grammar School, where, for two years, he was under the tuition of the Rev. Joseph Milner. The death of his father caused him to be removed to Wimbledon, and, at the of 14, he was sent to Pocklington Grammar School. Three years later he entered St. John's College, Cambridge, where he appears to have lived, at first, among a fast set, though they were not actually vicious. Whilst at college he formed an intimacy with Pitt, which remained unbroken until his death. Possessed of ample means, it was not necessary that he should enter into business, he therefore decided upon a public life. Shortly after his 21st birthday he offered himself as a candidate to represent his native town in Parliament, and, after a sharp contest, was triumphantly returned. The venality of the voters was such that this election cost him between £8,000 and £9,000 - or about £8 for every vote polled. On the 17th of May, 1781, he made his maiden speech in Parliament during a debate on the Revenue Laws. In the autumn of 1783 he visited France in company with Pitt and Elliott. In the following November Pitt became Prime Minister, and Wilberforce exerted himself on behalf of the new administration. In March, 1784, he spoke at York, and such was the effect of his eloquence, that he was invited to become a county member. Boswell, in describing this scene, said "I saw a shrimp, mount upon a table, but as I listened it grew, and grew, until the shrimp had grown into a whale." Before contesting the county he made sure of his seat for Hull, and having been chaired, according to the then custom, he drove to York, where his opponents, the Fitzwilliam and Cavendish families, retired and left him master of the field.
* "William Wilberforce," by John Stoughton, D.D. (" Men Worth Remembering," series of popular biographies, 1880.
In 1785 he re-visited the Continent in company with Dr. Milner, from whose conversation his first serious impressions of religion were derived, and, as a result of this companionship, his indifference to spiritual things gave place to a deep-rooted religious feeling, which found practical expression, in 1787, in the foundation of a society for the discouragement of vice and the reformation of manners. In the same year Wilberforce first publically espoused the cause of the abolition of slavery, and drew the attention of the legislature to the subject. On the 12th May, 1789, he again brought the question before the House, in one of those powerful and impressive speeches which have caused him to be ranked amongst the most eloquent men of his age. His speech on this occasion lasted between three and four hours. In 179i he put forward a motion in favour of the Abolition of the Slave Trade, which was lost by a majority of 75. Not to be discouraged he renewed his motion in April, 1792, when it was again rejected. Each year he renewed the attempt to get a bill through for the total abolition, which was opposed by all the virulence and sophistry of colonial interest; but, conscious of holding the right, he and his friends persevered till, in December, 1806, when a bill was brought forward in the Lords, carried by a majority of 66, and on February 23rd, 1807, passed in the House of Commons by 283 against 16, and received the Royal assent on the 25th March. Having done away with the slave trade, Wilberforce next sought to abolish slavery itself. In 1825, owing to failing health, he retired from public life, appointing Thomas Fowel Buxton his successor in the Anti-Slavery Crusade. It would be impossible to speak too highly of the charity and benevolence of Wilberforce. Regarding money but as a means of doing good, he gave away thousands of pounds annually in charity. He was full of vivacious humour, and in an age of orators, was one of the most eloquent, his clear melodious voice gaining for him the title of "the Nightingale of the House of Commons." He died in London, on the 29th July, 1833, in his 74th year. Just before his death the Bill for the Abolition of Slavery had been read in the Commons a second time, and, on being informed of it, Wilberforce exclaimed, "thank God that I should have lived to witness a day in which England is willing to give twenty millions sterling for the abolition of slavery." His remains were honoured with a public funeral, amongst the pall bearers being a Prince of the Blood-Royal, the Lord Chancellor, and the Speaker of the House of Commons. He is buried in the north transept of Westminster Abbey, near the graves of Pitt, Fox, and Canning, and a characteristic statue, by Josephs, is there erected to his memory. On the 12th of August, 1833, a public meeting was called in Hull at which it was decided to erect, by public subscription, the imposing monument which stands near Whitefriargate Bridge; the first stone of which was laid on the 1st of August, 1834, the date of the abolition of slavery in the Colonies of the British Empire. The Wilberforce school, for the indigent blind, at York, is another and a practical memorial to this great man, and was decided upon at a public meeting held in that city, in October, 1833. In 1884 Mr. Henry Briggs presented to the town - as a memorial of his shrievalty in 1881-2 - a life-sized statue of Wilberforce, by the younger Keyworth. This statue is in the Town Hall, and represents the philanthropist as he appeared in his latter days.
William Etty, R.A., the "poetic painter of the human form," was born at York in 1787, and was apprenticed to the printing business at the Hull Packet office - then in Scale Lane - in 1798. Having served his apprenticeship, he adopted art as a profession, studied under Sir Thomas Lawrence and afterwards travelled on the Continent. In 1827 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy. He died at York, in 1849, and his funeral was attended by the Corporation and a large number of his fellow citizens.
J. Harland, F.S.A. - This celebrated antiquary was born in Scale Lane, Hull, on the 27th May, 1806. At the age of 14 he was apprenticed to the proprietors of the Hull Packet newspaper to learn printing - the celebrated painter Etty being his predecessor as an apprentice in the same office. Harland continued as a reporter and contributor to the Hull press for several years after the expiration of his apprenticeship. In 1830, he left Hull, and became a reporter on the Manchester Guardian; here he showed such ability and industry, that he was admitted to a partnership in this popular journal in 1839, which he held until he finally retired from business, in 1860. He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1854, and in the following year was chosen on the Council of the Chetham Society, an office which he held until his decease on the 23rd of April, 1868. He was a voluminous writer on antiquarian subjects, contributing to most of the publications devoted to archæology. His principal works were "An Historical Account of Salley Abbey," in Yorkshire; "Mamecestre," containing a history of Manchester. issued by the Chetham Society, and four volumes of information respecting labour, prices, customs, genealogies, &c., selected from MSS. in the muniment chest at Gawthorpe Hall; and published by the Chetham Society, through the owner, Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth. In 1862 he assisted Mr. W. Dobson in compiling a "History of Preston Guilds," to which he added a new translation of the "Custumal" of the ancient borough. In 1867, he published, in conjunction with Mr. J. J. Wilkinson, a work on the "Folk-lore of Lancashire." The last and greatest work he undertook, was a new edition of Baine's Lancashire, but he did not live to complete it, and it had to be finished by the Rev. Brooke Herford. Another book he left unfinished was "Lancashire Legends." This work had been compiled jointly by Mr. Harland and Mr. Wilkinson, and was completed and published by the latter.
Christopher Thompson was born in Sculcoates, in 1799. His father was a shipwright, and he received but a small share of school education, and became a bricklayer's assistant at a tender age. In 1813 he was apprenticed, by Cogan's Charity, to Messrs. Barnes, Dyke, & King, shipbuilders, in Sculcoates. In 1820 he went to Greenland, as a carpenter's mate in a whaler sailing from Hull. A few years later we find him working as a sawyer, and devoting his leisure hours to amateur theatricals. Having received a sword thrust in the leg at an amateur rehearsal, which incapacitated him from the business of a sawyer, he decided to become a strolling player, and for 10 years his life was one of poverty, hardships, change and adventure. In 1832 he "settled down" at Edwinstone, Notts., where he practised the trade of a house painter. In 1847 he published "The Autobiography of an Artisan" (Chapman, London), concerning which Dr. Spencer Hall says: "There is a graphicness and colouring in his descriptions of life and scenery, whether by sea or land, not often, if ever, surpassed by some of our popular writers." In 1849 he removed to Sheffield, and commenced business as a newsagent, and in 1851 was returned by the Democratic Party to the Town Council. In 1854 he took to landscape painting, and met with a considerable amount of success. His pictures have been greatly praised, as vigorous and true to nature. The strange career of this author-artist is noticed in " Knight's Biographical Magazine," in "Wieldon's Literary Register" (1862), and in a work edited by M. D. Hill, with a preface by Lord Brougham, entitled "Our Exemplars: Poor and Rich;" Thompson is given as a poor exemplar. William Howlett also wrote a paper in his Journal called the "Two Thompsons," one of whom is the subject of this sketch. He was Vice-President of the Sheffield Mechanic's Institute from 1863 to his death in 1871. His career may be summarised in his own words: " Christopher Thompson, Jack o' Sorts, was born in Wincolmlee, Hull, Christmas Day, 1799; was a baptised infant, parish schoolboy, draper's errand boy, brickmaker's boy, hatter's boy, shipwright, sailor, veneer sawyer, comedian, scene painter, house painter and decorator, magazine and newspaper writer, author, editor, lecturer on poets and poetry, Druid (NA.), Oddfellow (P.G.M.), Queerfellow (A.S.S.), and artist. 'Man in his time plays many parts.'"
The Right Rev. Charles Henry Bromby, D.D., Bishop of Tasmania, was born in Hull, in 1814, his father being the vicar of Holy Trinity Church, and was educated, first at the Hull Grammar School, and afterwards at Cambridge. After receiving orders, he held curacies at Chesterfield and Hull, and in 1843 became incumbent of St. Paul's, Cheltenham, and in 1847 principal of the Normal College there. He was consecrated bishop in 1864, and died in 1876. He was the author of several theological, educational, and philosophical treatises, and the editor of Wordsworth's Excursion and other works. He is said to be the only bishop ever born in Hull.
Marie Hall - Born in Hull, in 1839, Mrs. Hall was the third daughter of the late Rev. James Sibree, minister of Salem Chapel, Hull. She married the Rev. Walter G. Hall, Wesleyan minister, in 1869, and she died in 1887. She was the authoress of "Sermons from the Studio" (London, 1867), a series of remarkable stories connected with art; "The Swedish Singer"; "The Sculptor of Bruges"; and "Andrew Marvell and his Friends, a story of the Siege of Hull," published in 1875. In less than 10 years the latter story passed through four editions. It is a pleasing historical romance of the time of Marvell, and gives graphic pictures of the state of Hull during its memorable siege.
Sir James Alderson, M.D., F.R.S., was the son of Dr. John Alderson, and was born in Hull in 1795. He was educated first at Hull and afterwards at Cambridge, where he became M.D. in 1829. He was president of the Hull Subscription Library in 1837, and again in 1889 and 1840, and for some time chairman of the Local Board of Health. Removing to London, he became treasurer of the Royal College of Physicians from 1854 to 1867, and filled the office of president from 1867 to 1870, besides holding various other medical appointments in London. On 11th November, 1869, he received the honour of knighthood, and in the following year the University of Oxford conferred upon him the honorary degree of D.C.L. He was appointed Physician Extraordinary to the Queen in 1874, and died at his residence, 17, Berkeley Square, London, September 18th, 1882, at the age of 87. He was author of numerous medical works.
Dr. Thomas Walton, the author of "Loose Leaves from the History of the Humber," "A Day on the Holderness Railway," &c., was, though born at Roos, in Holderness, in 1880, really a Hull man, for he was only three years old when his parents removed to Hull, and his family's connection with Hull can be traced for over 200 years, his great-great-grandfather being a noted shipbuilder, and the sheriff of Hull in 1788. He was the second son of Edward Nicholas Walton, and received his education at the Hull Grammar School. He was apprenticed to be a chemist, and subsequently became a surgeon, filling various public medical offices. He took a deep interest in antiquarian pursuits, and was a distinguished geologist. He delivered many lectures on these subjects before the Literary and Philosophical Society, of which he was at one time vice-president. He was mainly instrumental in founding the Hull Literary Club. In 1857 he was initiated a Freemason, and between that time and 1866 - when he renounced Freemasonry on joining the Roman Catholic Church - he held various masonic offices. He died on 28th February, 1892, aged 62. Dr. Walton was a man of studious character, and was not one to court publicity, though he made some valuable contributions to local literature and history, and was esteemed alike for his genial temper and great attainments. The two works mentioned above exhibit considerable research, and are full of antiquarian lore of a pleasing character.