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A History of Kingston on Hull
from Bulmer's Gazetteer (1892)


Part 13

WORTHIES - People of note.

Roberte de Scardeburg, The De la Poles, John Alcock.

Roberte de Scardeburg. - As the founder of the Whitefriars' Monastery, at Hull, Roberte de Scardeburg is entitled to be included amongst Hull's worthies. He was an eminent ecclesiastic, and was summoned as a parliamentary baron in 1274 and in subsequent years. He was at that time Archdeacon of the East Riding, and was styled in the writ of summons "Superior Magister Robert de Skardeburg." In 1275 he was appointed chief assessor of the "fifteenths" for Yorkshire; and in 1276 he was present in council when judgment was given for King Edward I. against Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester and Hereford, who claimed the castle and borough of Bristol,. &c. In 1277 he was again summoned, and was present in the following year, when Alexander, King of Scotland, performed homage to King Edward I., in the parliament of Westminster. In 1289 he was made Dean of York, and in the same year he assigned to the Carmelite Brethren, or White Friars, a messuage belonging to him, at Wyk-upon-Hull, for their perpetual habitation. This was the beginning of the monastery which flourished here until the Reformation, and whose memory is still preserved in the name of the principal thoroughfare of the old town, Whitefriargate, the whole of the south side of which was occupied by the monastic possessions. Robert de Scardeburg died in 1290.

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.

Thomas Ferries, Luke Foxe, Sir John Lawson.

Thomas Ferries was born about the year 1568, it is supposed at Egton, in the North Riding, and was originally very poor. There is a tradition, that in crossing, by stepping stones, the river Esk, when swollen by rains, he fell in and was nearly drowned, and that, in gratitude for his own preservation, and with that charitable regard for others for which he was afterwards so eminently distinguished, he made a vow that if ever he was able he would build a bridge there. The bridge is of one arch, and is known as the "Beggar's Bridge," and bears the initials of Ferries, with the date 1621. Coming to Hull, he was apprenticed to Thomas Humphrey, master mariner and shipowner, and in 1596 was admitted and sworn a burgess of Hull in right of this apprenticeship. At the time of taking up his "freedom," he was master of a coasting vessel called the "Francis," and he continued at sea for about 18 years afterwards. In 1602 he was admitted a Younger Brother of Trinity House, and in 1612 erected a wall round the western portion of the yard of Holy Trinity Church, which up to that time had been unenclosed. In the following year he was made an assistant of the Trinity House. In 1614 he was Sheriff of Hull, and three years later became an Elder Brother and was elected Warden of the Trinity House. He was mayor of Hull in 1620, and during his mayoralty he gave to the Trinity House the valuable estate of the Whitefriars Monastery, which he had purchased some years previously. The annual value of this estate was then £50, it is now upwards of £4,700. Ferries was again Warden of the Trinity House in 1622 and 1627. He died in 1631, and is buried in the north aisle of the choir of Holy Trinity Church, in which there is a handsome marble monument, by Earle, erected to his memory in 1850, by the Corporation of the Trinity House. By his will he bequeathed to the Corporation of Hull a farm at Ferriby, the income of which was to be applied to the apprenticing of poor, fatherless children. He also bequeathed legacies for the maintenance of a poor scholar of Hull at the Universities of Cambridge or Oxford, for ever; and for setting up the poor of the Charity Hall of Hull "on worke," and for paying a man to teach the poor children. He also gave certain plate to the Trinity House and Holy Trinity Church, and left annuities to the minister and churchwardens of Glaisdale Chapel, Danby, and for the repair of that chapel. (see Sheahan's "History of Hull," pp. 593-4.)

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.)

Andrew Marvell, Dr Robert Wittie, Thomas Watson.

Andrew Marvell. - " High up on the list of names which men delight to honour," says Mr. Corlass, "stands that of Andrew Marvell - a name which, though also national property, Hull is proud in regarding more especially as her own." * Historians differ as to whether this celebrated poet was born at Hull or Winestead, but it must be owned that the weight of evidence is in favour of the latter place. It is, however, unnecessary for us to discuss the question here, for he was educated, first at our Grammar School, and was a resident of this town, as well as its representative in Parliament, from 1658 to 1678. He was baptised at Winestead on the 31st of March, 1621, and, after completing his education at Cambridge, made a tour of Europe. Whilst at Rome he made the acquaintance of Milton, and from that time these two illustrious men became fast friends, and were subsequently joint secretaries to Cromwell in 1657. In the same year he was appointed tutor to Cromwell's nephew, Mr. Dutton. In 1658 he was elected M.P. for Hull, and for a period of 20 years continued to represent the town in Parliament. He appears to have corresponded regularly with his constituents, giving them an account of public proceedings. These letters occupy about 400 pages of an edition of his works. He was both constant and careful in his parliamentary attendance, and "maintained the character of an honest man, a true patriot, and an incorruptible senator." In 1663 he accompanied Lord Carlisle on an embassy to Russia, Sweden, and Denmark. He obtained, with the approbation of his constituents, the leave of the House for his absence for about a twelvemonth. He returned at the appointed time, and continued his parliamentary attendance with little variation, though evidently becoming more and more dissatisfied with the proceedings of the court party. As a member of Parliament, he received from his constituents an allowance of money towards defraying his expenses, and it is believed that he was amongst the last, if not himself the very last, thus receiving payment for his services in Parliament. That service, indeed, in his case, consisted not merely in a regular attendance at the House during its sessions, but in communicating to his townsmen constant accounts of parliamentary and public transactions. Private letters from town were then often the only means by which the people in the country could know the course of public affairs. As the character of the court became more fully known, the opposition of Marvell became more confirmed, and as his character as a man not only of great ability, but of keen wit, was fully established, the court party made repeated attempts to secure his co-operation, but without success. Charles II. himself took great delight in unbending his mind with the society of Marvell, and often invited him to his parties, probably with a view of gaining his support. But all the insinuating arts of the king, and all the violence of his ministers, could not shake the resolution or corrupt the integrity of Marvell; he was absolutely proof against every temptation, as his refusal of 1,000 guineas, sent him by the king, sufficiently proves. Marvell was a wit and a poet, as well as a senator, and wrote satires against the age, in which he did not spare majesty itself. His death took place in London, on the 16th August, 1678, and the corporation of Hull, in gratitude for his services, voted the sum of £50 to defray the expenses of his funeral, and, in addition, contributed a sum of money to erect a monument over his remains, in the church of St. Giles-in-the-Fields, London, but the minister of that church refused to allow the monument to be erected. As a poet Marvell takes high rank, and had he been less known as a patriot, he would have been better known as a poet. According to Burnett, his books "were the delight of all classes, from the king to the tradesman," the characteristic attribute of his genius being wit, in all the variation of which he seems to have been by nature equally fitted to excel. His forte was grave ironical banter, which he often pursued as if there were no limit to his fertility of invention. He was, however, devoid of malevolence. His learning was extensive, his education superior, and he was as amiable in private as he was estimable in his public character. There is a statue of him, by Keyworth, in the Town Hall, but his best memorials are his own life and writings.

* "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.

Commodore Edward Thompson, Rev. William Mason, Benjamin Thompson.

Commodore Edward Thompson, the son of a Hull merchant, was horn here in 1788, and was a brother of the Trinity House at this port. At an early age he was sent to sea, and made a voyage to the East Indies. He was afterwards pressed on board a man of war, and when only 19 was on board the Jason in an engagement off Ushant, between Admiral Hawke and Conflans. In 1757 he rose to the rank of lieutenant, and at the end of the war he retired on half pay. He was known throughout the navy as "Rhyming Thompson," and it is recorded "that his popularity in the service was almost unparalleled, from the sweetness of his temper, and benevolence of his nature." On the breaking out of the American war, Thompson, through the interest of Garrick, who was his intimate friend, obtained a captain's commission, and was appointed to the command of the Hyœena frigate. He was afterwards in Rodney's memorable action off Cape Vincent, and brought to England the news of the victory. He was appointed commodore of an expedition against Demerara, and afterwards acted as convoy to a fleet of merchantmen from St. Eustatius. He was at one time anxious for parliamentary honours as the representative of Hull, as appears from his correspondence, but he never came out as a candidate. In 1785, he had command of the Grampus, on board of which he died of fever, off the coast of Africa, on 17th January, 1786. Chalmers says : - " He was considered as a brave and skilful commander, and had that infallible test of merit - the affection of his crew." He is best known for having edited an edition of the works of Andrew Marvell; he also edited those of Oldham and Paul Whitehead. His first publication, a poem, was the Meretriciad - a licentious poem. This was followed in 1764 by the Soldier; in 1765 by the Courtezan, a poem by the "Demirep;" and in 1767 by the Sailor's Letters (2 vols.) He next produced, in 1769, a laughable account of the Jubilee at Stratford-on-Avon, under the title of Trinculo's Trip to the Jubilee, and about the same time two volumes called the Courts of Cupid. In 1773, he brought forward, at Drury Lane Theatre, the Fair Quaker, a comedy, altered from Shadwell. He was also the author of various other dramatic works, including The Hobby Horse, a farce; The Syrens, a masque; St. Helena: or, the Isle of Love, a musical entertainment; and a comic opera The Seraglio. He also wrote many sea songs, which are superior to his other productions, and which Campbell says "are entitled to remembrance."

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.

John Alderson, William Wilberforce, William Etty R.A.

John Alderson, M.D., was the fourth son of the Rev. John Alderson, of Lowestoft, where he was born, in 1757. He came to Hull to practise as a physician, in 1780, and acquired a large practice. Here he identified himself with various movements for the education and advancement of his fellow townsmen, and filled many prominent public positions. He was the author of numerous medical and scientific works. He died at his residence, Savile Street, Hull, September 8th, 1829, and was buried at St. Mary's, Sculcoates. A marble monument to his memory, by Behnes, is in the north transept of Holy Trinity Church. Another monument is his statue, by Westmacott, in front of the Hull Royal Infirmary, and a third is a marble statue by Earle, in the vestibule of the Hull Mechanics' Institute.

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.

Charles Frost, J. Harland, Christopher Thompson.

Charles Frost, F.S.A., was born in Hull, in 1782. He was the son of Mr. Thomas Frost, solicitor to the Hull Docks Company, and to whose profession he succeeded. He was himself solicitor to the Hull Docks Company for 33 years. Early in the course of his professional life, Mr. Frost devoted all his leisure to literary and scientific pursuits, and his "Notices of the Early History of the Town and Port of Hull," a quarto volume, which he published in 1827, displayed such a spirit of careful research, and so abounded in valuable antiquarian information, as to secure for him at once, a distinguished place in the list of topographical and civic historians. To him belongs the merit of correcting the opinion of centuries, and the errors of earlier topographers and historians. He was for some years a member of the Town Council, and was President of the Literary and Philosophical Society ten times, between the years 1830 and 1855, and he served the same office in connection with the Subscription Library for 12 years, between 1827 and 1854. It was to his labours mainly, that we owe the erection of the stately Royal Institution, in Albion Street, as a joint home for these two kindred institutions, of which he was president. When the British Association for the Advancement of Science visited Hull, in 1853, Mr. Frost was one of the vice-presidents, and contributed much to the success which attended the efforts of the town to give a suitable reception to so learned and distinguished a body. He was the author of three or four pamphlets, the principal one being on "The Literati of the town of Kingston-upon-Hull, from 1586 to 1831." This was published in 1831. He died on the 5th September, 1862, at the patriarchal age of 80, having attended to business up to within 10 days of his death. Throughout his life he was most diligent and active in the promotion of the cultivation of art and literature in his native town. In the reading-room of the Subscription Library is a full length portrait of him, by Schmidt.

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.'"

Thomas Earle, Charles Bromby, Marie Hall.

Thomas Earle - This celebrated sculptor was born in Osborne Street, Hull, in May, 1810. Very early in life he manifested a talent for modelling, and at the age of 12 years he maybe said to have commenced his career as a sculptor. In 1830 he left his native town for London, and was shortly afterwards engaged by Sir Francis Chantrey as an assistant. He remained in this position for eight years, during which time he modelled and worked upon many of that eminent sculptor's best productions. About the same time, he studied at the Royal Academy, and in 1839 gained the gold medal and other honours. Fortunately for Hull, it possesses some of this eminent man's best works, notably, his statues of the Queen and Prince Consort, in Pearson's Park, and that of Edward I. in the Town Hall. The two former are described elsewhere. The latter is said to be the chief glory of Hull's Civic Hall, and it is questioned whether there can be found in England, the production of a modern sculptor, so perfect as is this figure of the English Justinian. The king is represented in giving to the authorities of Hull the Charter of its Incorporation. He wears the cope-like cloak of state. His left hand rests easily on the hilt of his sword, and the expression of his face is one of royal dignity. The figure is muscular and graceful. The pose is altogether natural and dignified. There are few statues to be compared to it in grandeur of conception and in finish of execution. Many other of Mr. Earle's works are to be seen in Hull. The statue of the late Prince Consort (eight feet high) in the grounds of the Licensed Victuallers' Asylum, Old Kent Road, London, and that of Harold, in the Mansion House, London, are the productions of his chisel. His sculptures, which are very numerous, are deservedly held in great esteem. He died in May, 1876, and was interred in the Hull General Cemetery, where there is a monument to his memory. There is also another beautifully sculptured marble monument to him in Holy Trinity Church here.

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.

Henry Dawson, Sir James Alderson, Dr Thomas Walton.

Henry Dawson - This celebrated landscape painter was born in Waterhouse Lane, Hull, on the 3rd April, 1811, of humble parents. Removing to Nottingham, he commenced work as a twist hand in a lace factory, and devoted his leisure to painting, the prices he received for his pictures varying from half-a-crown to a sovereign. In 1844 he went to reside at Liverpool, and five years later removed to Croydon. Here he painted his celebrated picture "The Wooden Walls of Old England." This large canvas was exhibited at the British Institution, in 1858, and was sold for £75, but in 1876 it realised, at Christie's, the large sum of £1,400. Another large picture, "British Bulwarks," was sold by the artist for £250, and is now valued at £2,000. Dawson's pictures were frequently exhibited at the Academy. In 1872 and 1878 his pictures were honoured with places "on the line." He sold his "Greenwich Hospital" for £750, and his "London from Greenwich Hill," for £1,000, which enabled him to purchase "The Cedars," at Chiswick, a house that will be ever associated with the names of Hogarth and Dawson. In 1878 a gallery was devoted to an exhibition of Dawson's pictures at the Midland Counties' Art Museum, at Nottingham Castle, and was opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales, on the 3rd of July. Their Royal Highnesses warmly congratulated the artist on his success. Dawson died on the 18th December, 1878, at the age of 67, and was interred at Brompton. He is described as England's greatest landscape painter since Turner.

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.

William Wallett.

William Frederick Wallett, the Queen's Jester - This "prince of jesters" was born in Hull in 1806, and for 60 years was before the public in the various characters of scene-painter, actor, author, lecturer, clown, and manager. He travelled through most parts of both hemispheres, everywhere delighting crowded audiences by the originality of his wit and humour. He was a man of striking ability and versatility, and his name was almost a household word in the northern and midland counties. His first appearance before the footlights was in 1830, at the Theatre Royal, Hull, in a very subordinate part. He next tried the legitimate drama, and sustained several important characters, and finally became a circus clown, one of his most effective and artistic performances being the representation of various classical statues, a performance he not inappropriately named "Raphæl's Dream." He earned his title through appearing before Her Majesty and the Prince Consort at Windsor Castle, on the 19th July, 1844, when he was a member of Van Amburgh's company. Lord Campbell, writing of Wallett, said, "By his erudition, wit, and delicacy, he has elevated the circus arena to the dignity of a lecture hall." Chambers' "Book of Days" speaks of Wallett as one of the "eminent men of his age." He was frequently a liberal benefactor to the poor of his native town, giving them for many years, st Christmas, large quantities of coals, bread, blankets, &c. He died at Beeston, near Nottingham, on the 18th March, 1892, at the age of 86.


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