It is to redress the great wrong done, to remedy to
the now irremediable that Lord Ripon took it into his head to bring forward the new Bill. It was not thought expedient by
his Councillors (not those you know of) to crush the Zemindary system without securing at the same time popularity among the
majority in another direction: hence "Ilbert's Bill" and some other trifles. We say then that to all appearance it is to redress
the wrongs of the Past, that is the object of the present Bengal Rent Bill. My friend you are a remarkably clever Editor and
an astute and observant politician; and no one, perhaps, in all India goes as deep as you do into the inner constitution of
the Anglo-Indian coups d'etat.
Still you do not go far enough and the original primitive
layers of the political soil as the genesis of some acts of my Lord Ripon were and are terra incognita to yourself as to so
many others perhaps still older hands in politics than you are. Neither Lord Ripon nor his Councillors (those behind the veil)
anticipate any great results during his power in India.
They are more Occultists than you may imagine. Their
liberal reforms are not meant for India, to the weal or woes of which they are quite indifferent: they look far off to future
results and - Press acts, Ilbert's Bills, Bengal Rent Bills and the rest are aimed at Protestant England which, very soon,
too soon if Somebody or Something does not interfere, will find itself suffocating in the invisible coils of the Romish Apophis.
Lord Ripon is not a free agent; the real Viceroy and
ruler of India is not at Simla but at Rome; and the effective weapon used by the latter is - the Viceroy's confessor.
KH Letter 82.
Lord Ripon (1828-1909) - I - How to base political
life on Christian principles:
Today the credibility of politicians seems to be at
an all time low, with religious and moral principles increasingly excluded from public decision-making and personal conduct.
It is refreshing therefore to be reminded of one very prominent 19th century politician who consistently based his political
actions on his Christian faith.
This is the first of a two-part pen-portrait of George
Frederick Samuel Robinson, better known as Lord Ripon, by Fr John Parsons, a priest of the Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese.
There are admirable Catholics from unlikely backgrounds,
but not many were born at No 10 Downing Street. There are converts to the Church from improbable circles, but not many Grand
Masters of the Freemasons of their country. Many Catholics have supported worker ownership of industries, but few did so decades
before Rerum Novarum. There have been hundreds of Catholics in parliament, but few of them have gone straight from shadow
cabinet meetings to meetings of the Society of St Vincent de Paul.
Campaigns against racial discrimination and in favour
of local self-government in the Third World are now commonplace, but not many were launched over a century ago by wealthy
noblemen; and to bring a potentially interminable list of paradoxes to an end, the fame of many men is perpetuated in place-names,
but only one name is attached to waterfalls in Africa, to streets in Australia and to Saint Clare's convent in Assisi. Yet
all of these statements apply to one man: George Frederick Samuel Robinson 1st Marquis of Ripon.
Like Cardinal Newman, Father Faber and Mgr Ronald Knox,
Lord Ripon acquired his fundamental Christian upbringing in a Calvinist Anglican Evangelical household.
The Calvinist revival in the Anglican Church in the
late 18th and early 19th centuries was the source of many, probably most, of the intellectual converts to Catholicism in Victorian
and Edwardian England. Belief in a revealed and dogmatic religion and in humanity's need of a divine Saviour, was the Catholic
element that Calvinism reinstilled into the Stoic moralising and social conformity of Hanoverian Anglicanism.
When this dogmatic and traditional core of Christianity
was confronted with the facts of Church history, whether patristic or medieval, and with the need to take a more balanced
view of human culture and human nature than Calvinism could integrate, many Evangelicals turned to a more Catholic vision
of a continuous, visible and sacramental Church. The progression from a devout but historically narrow Evangelical family
background, to some kind of High Church Anglicanism and then to Catholicism, was repeated in thousands of lives.
In Lord Ripon's case, it was the finding of a Breviary
while browsing in a bookshop at seventeen that provided his first contact with the Church, and he began to say the Office
daily until his parents objected.
Ripon never went to school or university, but read
widely and eagerly in the library at Nocton, the country house in Lincolnshire where he grew up, largely under the influence
of his Evangelical mother. His father had been, very briefly, Prime Minister in 1827, but later changed sides from Tory to
Whig, and back again. This, plus the fact that Oliver Cromwell was among the branches of the family tree, meant that it was
part of his political inheritance to be a wild card, though within a thoroughly conventional pack.
Perhaps that is why he had become
a Christian Socialist by the age of twenty. His thinking was greatly influenced by the workers' co-operatives set up in Paris
in 1848, which he got to know during a visit the following year. He never believed in state socialism or the abolition of
private property, and indeed after 1859 was one of the greatest landowners in the country; but producers' co-operatives in
particular, and worker ownership in general, inspired his social vision throughout his life.
In the short term, workers needed to improve their
conditions, and Ripon felt the wealthy classes had a duty to provide it. He helped trades unions in various ways, most memorably
by sending the Amalgamated Society of Engineers a total of about one thousand pounds for their strike fund during a lock out
In the longer term, he believed a wider distribution
of productive property would make for a more stable and happy society. For sixty years he supported worker ownership: by parliamentary
legislation in 1862 when he was a junior minister, by taking a leading role in schemes for co-partnership, profit sharing
or ownership, by his presidency of the Guild of Co-operators from 1884 to 1886 and again from 1889 to 1894, by his vice presidency
of the International Cooperative Alliance from 1895, of the Labour Co-Partnership Association from 1905 to 1908, and by personal
involvement in a number of co-operative factories in his home county of Yorkshire. In 1853 he even considered rebuilding the
ruins of Fountains Abbey, which stand in the grounds of his now vanished house at Studley Royal near Ripon, as a working men's
In 1851 he married Henrietta Vyner, and their son Lord
de Grey, born the following year, grew up to be the best shot in England.
In 1852 Ripon was elected to the House of Commons.
As in economics, so in politics, Ripon's activity was inspired by the desire to "bind men together" and to make society more
stable and healthy by involving as many people as possible in responsible social activity: "self government is the highest
and noblest principle of politics, the safest foundation on which the State can rest," but it was something for which people
must gain a practical feel.
Ripon believed in a gradualist, pragmatic approach,
not in insistence upon impracticable ideals: "We are laughed at by our versatile neighbours for our matter of fact character,
but I think ... we manage our affairs rather better than our more spiritual neighbours the French" - who at that time combined
manhood suffrage with dictatorship, while England had neither.
His combination of reforming radicalism with a conviction
of the positive role of the state in fostering a more participatory and cohesive society, inspired by a Christian ethic, made
him unsound from a party point of view. As he wrote to a friend in 1852, "I feel every day how widely I differ from all existing
parliamentary parties, and on what utterly different grounds my faith rests."
Nevertheless, he wanted to join in the politics of
his day. In 1859 the deaths of his father and uncle removed him to the House of Lords through the inheritance of two earldoms.
He entered the government as Under Secretary for War 1859-1861, Under Secretary for India 1861, and for War again 1861-1863.
Then he entered the Cabinet: Secretary for War 1863-1865 and for India 1865-1866. In Gladstone's first government he was Lord
President of the Council 1868-1873, and as such, much of his effort went to the passage of the Education Act of 1870, which
established universal elementary education in Britain and Ireland while supporting the existing voluntary church schools.
During the same period Ripon also played a crucial
role in establishing the international law governing neutrality, and in averting what looked like an imminent war with the
United States. From March to May 1871 he was in Washington as head of a delegation handling a series of contentious issues
between the two countries, most crucially the American claims to compensation regarding the outfitting of the Alabama and
other Confederate warships in British ports during the War between the States.
Ripon was a good choice for the task, as he had never
had any time for the kind of American democrats who talked about freedom, equality and brotherhood "with the whip of the slave
driver in their hands, and the blood of the negro crying out for vengeance against them," and had spoken in the House of Commons
in 1858 in favour of British efforts to restrict slavery in America.
In Washington Ripon befriended Hamilton Fish, the American
Secretary of State, and they agreed to abandon the usual diplomatic protocols and discuss their problems in private. Ripon
told the Foreign Secretary, "we derive great advantage from this arrangement as there is no bunkum talking, and many unpleasant
things are left unsaid or not pressed, which, if our proceedings were ever likely to come out, would be inevitable."
The principles of neutrality they thrashed out have
been of great long term significance, and were, for example, what prevented Germany from using American ports to build, repair
or equip ships during the two world wars. In recognition of his services, Ripon, already a Knight of the Garter, was made
Then came the great surprise. In August 1873
he resigned from the government on a rather secondary matter, joined with personal motives he did not explain. He retired
to Studley Royal and devoted himself to reading. He had always been a practising Anglican, but in April 1870 he had been shocked
by the murder of his brother-in-law by brigands in Greece. The following Sunday he attended Mass for the first time in England,
at St George's Cathedral, Southwark, and the attraction he had felt to the Catholic Church as a boy of seventeen returned.
Over the next four years he read Newman, to whom, as
he put it later, "under God, I owe that greatest of all blessings, the blessing of belonging to the Catholic Church." Ripon
and the Duke of Norfolk, as the leading Catholic Liberal and Tory laymen respectively, were later to play a part in getting
Newman a cardinal's hat. Ripon's cousin, Lady Amabel Kerr, herself a highly intelligent convert and writer, was his main source
of strength and advice on religious matters.
The struggle was long and hard. At times the force
of the Catholic position would strike him, and then fade as new objections arose. In a state of uncertainty he went to Brittany
so that in quiet communion with God he could obtain help in his difficulty, but his prayers seemed of no use and he felt dry
Lady Amabel urged him not to depend on his feelings
or look for a miracle in the way of some special manifestation of the Real Presence in the Eucharist, but to ask for light
and guidance, and be ready to receive that light in the way God sees best. He was not attracted to the Church by Catholic
ceremonial, which struck him as new and strange. He was afraid that conversion must necessarily mean the end of his public
career. He wondered whether the Syllabus of Errors was compatible with his political convictions, until Father Dalgairns of
the London Oratory explained it to him satisfactorily. He was con fused by the Ultramontane claims to the effect that almost
every official papal utterance was infallible, until Lady Amabel told him the Ultramontanes were merely a party within the
Church and one did not have to agree with them. By 19 August 1874 his mind was made up.
He wrote to Father Dalgairns: "Since your letter arrived
I have prayed to God to guide me and have very earnestly considered my position, and I can come to no other conclusion than
that the Catholic Church is the only true Church of Christ on earth, that it is to her that God has been leading me these
last four or five years, and that I have nothing now to do but humbly to ask to be received into her fold. In order that you
may be better able to judge how far I am fit, I ought perhaps to tell you that though I think my intellectual conviction of
the claims of the Catholic Church is complete, I feel as if my faith were very cold; though I have deliberately made up my
mind to take a step fraught with serious worldly consequences to myself, I have not at this moment any feeling of enthusiasm,
and the question often rises in my mind whether I really believe anything at all. My answer is that I cannot help believing
that God has been leading me very wonderfully during the last few years, and that it is the same Hand which has been guiding
me up to this time which is now beckoning me to enter the Catholic Church."
This is the second part of a two-part study of
the life of one of Britain's outstanding 19th century political figures, George Frederick Samuel Robinson, otherwise known
as Lord Ripon. His political career provides a refreshing contrast to the standards set by many of our present-day politicians.
Fr John Parsons is a priest of the Canberra-Goulburn
Archdiocese and a regular contributor to "AD2000'.
Father Dalgairns received Lord Ripon into the Catholic
Church at the Oratory on 8 September 1874, the Feast of the Birth of Our Lady, in whose honour he proceeded to erect, in thanksgiving,
an altar in the Catholic Church at Ripon. When attending Benediction on Sunday afternoons in Ripon in later years he would
always light a candle at that altar and pray there for ten minutes.
Shortly before his reception he discovered to his surprise
that conversion would entail his resignation of the Grand Mastership of the English Freemasons, which he had held since 1870.
From 1890 until his death he was President of the Society of St Vincent de Paul - surely a unique combination!
It really was all too much for the establishment. The
Times printed an editorial denouncing him, saying his career was at an end, that "no man can become Rome's convert without
renouncing his mental and moral freedom" and that henceforth Lord Ripon had "forfeited the right to the confidence of his
Ripon busied himself in the Society of St Vincent de
Paul, reconciled to the disappearance of his political future.
It was a moral issue that brought him back to the shadow
cabinet in 1878. He was convinced of the wrongness of the attempts of Lord Lytton, the Viceroy of India, and his patron Disraeli,
then Prime Minister, to annex Afghanistan by provoking a war.
As former Secretary for India he had some standing
in the matter. When Lytton's high-handed bungling had brought financial and military disaster, and when Gladstone had won
the election of 1880, Ripon was sent to India as Viceroy to sort out the mess, (taking Fr Kerr SJ with him as his confessor).
He withdrew the army from Afghanistan, neutralised the country, made some minor annexations, and recommended an arrangement
with Russia to avoid mutual suspicions in future.
During his time in Calcutta from 1880 to 1884, he abolished
the censorship of the vernacular press that Lytton had introduced, and took the initiative in creating local government councils
all over British India, thus laying the practical foundations for parliamentary government at provincial and national levels
Ripon's attempt to abolish all racial discrimination
in the legal system turned out to be even more controversial. Because it would have put Europeans on trial before native Indian
magistrates, there was an enormous backlash from the white residents of the subcontinent.
Ripon wrote to one cabinet minister: "The truth is
that I am evidently in a great fight. The question at issue is not the passing of this particular bill, but the principles
upon which India is to be governed. Is she to be ruled for the benefits of Indian people of all races, classes and creeds,
or in the sole interest of a small body of Europeans? Is it England's duty in India to try to elevate the Indian people, to
raise them socially, to train them politically, to promote their progress in material prosperity, in education and morality;
or is it to be the be all and end all of her rule, to maintain a precarious power over what Mr Branson calls a subject race
with a profound hatred of their subjection?"
A compromise was eventually reached in
1883 whereby the European could claim a jury at his trial, when tried by a native magistrate. Nonetheless, the honourable
character of Ripon's policy was universally recognised by Indians. When he left Bombay late in 1884, he did so as the most
popular Viceroy India was ever to see, and loaded with loyal addresses from Indian bodies.
At the end of 1885, Gladstone adopted the policy of
creating an autonomous parliament in Dublin to deal with internal Irish affairs, while keeping Ireland within the United Kingdom,
as the Irish politicians themselves then desired. This was known as the policy of Home Rule, and Ripon supported it firmly,
taking office as First Lord of the Admiralty in the brief Liberal government of 1886.
Back in the 1850s he had supported Charles Gavan Duffy's
attempts in the House of Commons to create an Irish parliamentary party. In the 1880s Duffy, having been Premier of Victoria,
was living in retirement at Nice, and re-established contact with Ripon, suggesting schemes for Irish self government. He
and Ripon frequently corresponded on the issue.
Though the Home Rule bill of 1886 was defeated, and
the Liberal Party split on the question, Ripon remained permanently a strong and vocal advocate of the policy. In 1888 he
and John Morley, a shadow cabinet colleague, were triumphantly received in Dublin and made freemen of the city. In June of
that year he wrote: "My Irish work has been of peculiar interest to me, for, apart from the questions with which I have had
to deal in India, I have never felt so strongly about any public question as I do about the Irish question. The policy of
the government appears to me so blind, so cruel and so hopeless that I am ready to spend myself heartily in the effort to
put an end to it."
From 1892 to 1895 Ripon was Secretary of State for
the Colonies. Believing equally strongly in the merits of the Empire as a force for good, and the demerits of a jingoistic
policy of expanding it by force, he did his best to control the powerful influence wielded by Cecil Rhodes and other business
magnates in South African affairs. He foresaw the dangers inherent in allowing British policy to be determined by the commercial
interests of Rhodes and others.
The deterioration of relations with the Boers was the
responsibility of his successor at the Colonial Office, Joseph Chamberlain. Had Ripon remained Colonial Secretary, the Boer
War would certainly not have happened. In 1899, when the war was imminent, Ripon wrote a long and forceful letter to Campbell-Bannerman,
the leader of the Opposition, with whom he was on close terms, analysing and denouncing the Government's policies. Since Campbell-Bannerman
generally took his cue from Ripon on foreign and colonial questions, Ripon's influence on Liberal policy at this time was
Meanwhile, in 1894, Ripon had bought Saint Clare's
ancient convent of San Damiano, below the walls of Assisi, from the freemasonical Italian state which had confiscated it from
the Franciscans. By dint of holding it in his own name, and giving the use of it back to the friars, the anti-clerical spoliation
of Italy was, in this instance at least, frustrated.
A Latin inscription, still visible on the garden wall
as one descends to the convent from Assisi, records the fact that the Marquis of Ripon restored the convent at his own expense
in that year; and the road leading down from Assisi to San Damiano is called the "Via G.F.S. Robinson, Marchese di Ripon."
At 77 he entered the Cabinet for the last time, as
Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords, in December 1905. The election the following February gave the Liberals
a landslide majority in the Commons, but they were outnumbered ten to one in the Lords, where Ripon led the government. His
energy remained extraordinary, and he spoke on twenty bills and filled 120 columns of Hansard in the session of 1906. His
wife died in February 1907 and he wished to retire, but at the request of his old friend Campbell-Bannerman, now Prime Minister,
he stayed on as Leader in the upper house until Campbell-Bannerman himself retired in April 1908.
It was the Home Secretary Herbert Gladstone's mishandling
of the International Eucharistic Congress in London in 1908 that precipitated Ripon's resignation as Lord Privy Seal and thus
his final retirement in October of that year.
Permission had been given,
weeks in advance, for a Eucharistic procession through the streets of London, with the Pope's Cardinal Legate participating.
A storm of Protestant protest descended on the Prime
Minister and the King. As the only Catholic in the Cabinet, Ripon was asked by Asquith, the new Prime Minister, to convey
the government's decision, only four days before the event, that a Catholic procession would be allowed, but that the Host
and vestments must be eliminated.
Ripon did so, but submitted his resignation forthwith,
telling Asquith, I can't totally desert my own people and be responsible for such treatment as they have received." He nonetheless
allowed the announcement of his departure to be delayed a few weeks, and attributed it to his age and health.
At a dinner in his honour at the Eighty One Club in
November he said: I started (in public life) at a high level of radicalism, and in 1852 I was considered to be a very dangerous
young man. I am a radical still, just as much as I was then, but I am afraid that I am much more respectable ... What is the
course that I have pursued? I took what I could get and waited to get more, believing that that was a wise and sound principle
in public life."
He last spoke in the House of Lords in March 1909,
having sat in Cabinet with Lord Palmerston at the beginning of his political career, and with Winston Churchill at its end.
But more than cabinets to him was the alarm clock at
six each morning: mental prayer, the New Testament, the Imitation of Christ, and the Rosary, before his manservant appeared
at seven. He heard Mass daily, though in London he was fifteen minutes distant from the church. He confessed every Saturday,
and communicated often. His special devotion was to the Blessed Sacrament, and he loved to carry the canopy in Eucharistic
Because of bad health, Ripon eventually got permission
to have a private chapel and took pains to have it handsomely furnished, as was the splendid Gothic church he built at Studley
as a memorial to his murdered brother-in- law, dedicating it to Our Lady of Fountains, as he wanted "Our Lady of Fountains
to have something of her own again."
He always attended High Mass, at the London Oratory
or at St Wilfred's in Ripon, and would return for Benediction and, in London, Vespers in the afternoon; although owing to
his increasing deafness he could hear little of music and sermons. But, as his mentor Newman put it, Cor ad cor loquitur,
heart speaks to heart.
He died at Studley Royal on 9 July 1909, having repeated
during the anointing "Jesus, have mercy on me; Mary my protector, pray for me," and clasping in his hand the silver crucifix
given to him by Pius IX.
Fr John Parsons.
Marquess of Ripon
George Frederick Samuel Robinson,
K.G., P.C., G.C.S.I., F.R.S., Earl de Grey, Earl of Ripon, Viscount Goderich, Baron Grantham, and baronet
Born at the prime minister's residence, 10 Downing
Street, London, 24 Oct., 1827; died 9 July, 1909. He was the second son of Frederick John Robinson, Viscount Goderich, afterwards
first Earl of Ripon, and Lady Sarah Albinia Louisa, daughter of Robert, fourth Earl of Buckinghamshire; and he was born during
his father's brief tenure of the office of prime minister. Before entering public life he married (8 April, 1851) his cousin
Henrietta Ann Theodosia, elder daughter of Captain Henry Vyner, and by her had two children, Frederick Oliver, who succeeded
to his honours, and Mary Sarah, who died in infancy. Inheriting the principles which were common to the great Whig families,
Lord Ripon remained through his long public life one of the most generally respected supporters of Liberalism, and even those
who most severely criticised his administrative ability -- and in his time he held very many of the great offices of state
-- recognized the integrity and disinterestedness of his aims. He entered the House of Commons as member for Hull in 1852,
and after representing Huddersfield (1853-57), and the West Riding of Yorkshire (1857-59), he succeeded his father as Earl
of Ripon and Viscount Goderich on 28 Jan., 1859, taking his seat in the House of Lords. In the following November he succeeded
his uncle as Earl de Grey and Baron Grantham. In the same year he first took office, and was a member of every Liberal administration
for the next half-century. The offices he held were: under secretary of State for war (1859-61); under secretary of State
for India (1861-1863); secretary of State for war; (1863-66), all under Lord Palmerston; secretary of State for India (1866)
under Earl Russell. In Mr. Gladstone's first administration he was lord president of the council (1868-73) and during this
period acted as chairman of the joint commission for drawing up the Treaty of Washington which settled the Alabama claims
(1876). For this great public service he was created Marquess of Ripon. He also was grand master of the freemasons from 1871
to 1874, when he resigned this office to enter the Catholic Church. He was received at the London Oratory, 4 Sept., 1874.
When Gladstone returned to power in 1880 he appointed Lord Ripon Governor-General and Viceroy of India, the office with which
his name will ever be connected, he having made himself beloved by the Indian subjects of the Crown as no one of his predecessors
had been. He held this office until 1884. In the short administration of 1886 he was first lord of the admiralty, and in that
of 1892-1895 he was secretary of State for the Colonies. When the Liberals again returned to power he took office as lord
privy seal. This office he resigned in 1908. Ever a fervent Catholic, Lord Ripon took a great share in educational and charitable
works. He was president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul from 1899 until his death; vice-president of the Catholic Union,
and a great supporter of St. Joseph's Catholic Missionary Society. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13062d.htm
Lord Ripon's Masonic Life
When Viscount Goderich was admitted into the Lodge
of Truth in 1853 he joined a Lodge which was markedly different from the one today. For a start the Lodge of Truth then met
in a room which had been specially built at the Rose and Crown, an important posting and commercial house at the lower end
The Rose and Crown was opposite what is now the Huddersfield
Hotel. The Rose and Crown was demolished some time ago and gave way to the Palace Theatre and now serves as a bingo hall..
The Lodge of Truth was only eight years old when Ripon
joined in 1853, however it had a membership of sixty-three. The membership had seen a massive boost from a humble eighteen
in 1851 to fifty-two "in the remarkable year of 1852" (Simpson pp. 27-33). In 1852 Brother John Sykes, a joining member from
the Lodge of Harmony, was in the chair. During his year there were thirty-three initiations, twenty-nine passings and twenty-three
Even the lodge number was different in those days.
Ripon joined The Lodge of Truth No. 763 of the United Grand Lodge of England: the lodge numbers were reallocated in 1863.
From the minutes of one-hundred and fifty years ago
it becomes obvious, at least in the first few years, that attendance was not as regular as it is nowadays. Unfortunately this
situation is exacerbated by the fact that the names of Brethren attending the Lodge are not recorded in the minutes.
The Initiation of Lord Ripon
The story of Ripon’s Masonic career starts on
27th April 1853 when, he wrote a letter to Brother John Sykes, the same John Sykes who had initiated thirty-three candidates
the previous year.
I doubt Ripon’s letter to Brother Sykes still
exists, which is a shame because it may have contained some valuable information. However, on the following day of 28th April
1853 Brother Sykes wrote a letter to the then Worshipful Master, Brother Thomas Robinson nominating Ripon as a candidate for
Freemasonry. In this letter, a copy of which is given in Appendix A of this paper Brother Sykes states:-
... and having long contemplated joining our honourable
fraternity, his Lordship has evinced such a strong desire to become a Member of the Lodge of Truth, as expressed in a letter
from his Lordship to Br. Sykes, P.M. dated London April 27th 1853. (Letter duplicated in the minutes previous to the minutes
taken at the regular lodge meeting of Friday 6th May, 1853)
This letter has nine other names of members of the
Lodge of Truth on the bottom, in addition to that of Brother Sykes.
... and we affectionately request that you will cause
his Lordship’s name to be inserted in the next summons for the regular Lodge Meeting of Friday the sixth of May... (Letter
duplicated in the minutes previous to the minutes taken at the regular lodge meeting of Friday 6th May, 1853)
Ripon was indeed balloted for on 6th May 1853 at the
next regular Lodge. At the tender age of twenty-five he was initiated as the 91st member of the Lodge of Truth on Tuesday
17th May 1853 at an Emergency Lodge. The reason an Emergency Lodge was called, something far more common in those days than
today, was that Ripon was unable to attend the regular Lodge meeting owing to parliamentary duties.
According to Simpson (1945, pp. 35-36) the honour of
initiating Ripon went to Brother Hardy, a Past Master of Fortitude and Old Cumberland Lodge No. 12. Brother Hardy had become
a joining member of Harmony in 1852, thence a joining member of the Lodge of Truth only three months before Ripon was initiated,
in February 1853. Hardy was the Head of Huddersfield College and, according to Simpson was a "man of literary attainment and
apparently well-skilled in the noble order".
I think Simpson may have jumped to an incorrect conclusion.
In the very short minutes of Ripon’s initiation it merely states that "Brother Past Master Hardy very pleasingly illustrated
the First Tracing Board". These minutes are duplicated in Appendix B. There is no mention of who was in office that night
and, from what I can see, no evidence to suggest anything but that the officers of the year took part in the ceremony.
Ripon's Affinity for Freemasonry
Changing tack slightly, there are two questions surrounding
Ripon’s application to join Freemasonry which I have often speculated about. The first of these is what attracted Ripon
to Freemasonry in general, and secondly what attracted Ripon to join the Lodge of Truth in particular.
Before venturing an opinion as to what attracted Ripon
to Freemasonry it is important to establish the context in which Freemasonry existed in the early nineteenth century. The
public perception of Freemasonry in today’s society appears to be one of institutionalised nepotism; the "Mafia of the
mediocre" with bizarre rituals and secrets, an organisation to be simultaneously ridiculed and feared. Freemasonry has neglected
relations with the community in which we live. The perception of Freemasonry in Ripon’s time, however, seems wholly
different from today’s. The Times, for example, described it as "... a harmless and kindly association" (Saturday 5th
September, 1874). To be a Freemason was to be the quintessential Englishman, a part of the establishment at the height of
the British Empire (which was why his conversion to Catholicism was such a shock for Victorian England).
It is interesting to note that Ripon held high public
office, was an active Freemason and indeed went on to become Grand Master apparently without challenge. I doubt Freemasonry
could get such a favourable opinion printed in The Times today and is in contrast with the recent publication of the Home
Office Select Committee’s report on so-called "secret societies" (The Times Wednesday 26th March, 1997, p.2). This demonstrates
that whilst the Craft has not changed the mostly favourable opinion of our Order prevalent at that time unfortunately has.
Freemasonry in Ripon’s time was seen as a somewhat
radical organisation which held progressive ideas on how society should be organised: an essentially democratic view which
today one takes for granted. In particular Freemasonry’s egalitarian principles were at odds with the ruling class at
To make a comparison of a famous predecessor, Robert
Burns died thirty-one years before Ripon was born. According to a posting on the internet, the National Museums of Scotland
states that "Burns was a man of strong and passionately held views on the issues of his day. His commitment to Freemasonry
at that time marked him as a man of liberal and egalitarian views".
Being the voracious reader he was, Ripon may well have
read one of the many exposés of Freemasonry, the first of which was by Samuel Prichard and appeared as far back as 1730 in
the Daily Journal. If indeed if he did read the exposés, he may well have come across such sentiments as are conveyed in the
presentation of the Second Degree Working Tools:-
...The Level points out or denotes that we have all
sprung from the same stock, are partakers of the same nature, and sharers in the same hope, and that whatever distinctions
amongst men in society may be necessary to preserve subordination or reward merit and ability, yet there is no eminence or
station should make us forget that we are Brethren, and that he who by fortune is placed in the lowest sphere of existence
may be equally entitled to our regard with the most exalted. (Lodge of Truth Ritual).
As a radical and essentially egalitarian person who
was interested in introducing democracy to the masses he would have found Freemasonry in tune with his own philosophy. It
is probable then that Ripon would have agreed with such sentiments:-
... [Ripon] was then still a Christian Socialist and
a Republican, and he found much to attract him in the broad [range of interests] and simple ethics of Masonic teaching. (The
Freemason, 27th May, 1922, pp.633-634).
Ripon’s deep religious and political convictions
were the cornerstones of his purpose in life, he found Freemasonry to be entirely empathetic with his persuasion:-
A constant theme in his speeches and writings is the
desire to pursue policies which would "bind" men together in unity and common progressive purpose, guided by the fraternal
Christian ethic. (Denholme, 1982, p.ii)
Having proposed some reasons why Ripon might wish to
associate with Freemasonry, one has to ask why Ripon chose to join to Lodge of Truth. Ripon wrote his letter of application
to Brother Sykes on 27th April from his London residence of 5 Whitehall Yard; this was merely four days after being elected
to parliament as the M.P. for Huddersfield.
It may have been an "extension of his lively interest
in borough affairs" (as Denhome put it) that Ripon chose to join a Lodge in his constituency, joining a fraternity the philosophies
of which he so readily identified. Here was an opportunity for him to meet and associate with the influential townsfolk, however,
one thing is for sure it was not one a decision he took lightly.
If one reads between the lines of the letter from Brother
Sykes reproduced in Appendix A it does not appear that his proposer, Brother Sykes, actually knew Ripon. For example, Sykes
does not propose and second Ripon in the normal manner, instead he nominates him. Additionally Sykes adds seven other members
names to his motion, as if he were submitting a petition. These extraordinary lengths would not have been required had the
normal rules of the Book of Constitutions applied and the request to join the Lodge of Truth may well have been have a ‘bolt
out of the blue’.
There may be a number of possible connections and this
is, I would emphasise speculation. In the previous year on 14th April 1852 the Provincial Grand Master the Right Honourable
the Earl of Mexborough attended a Provincial Banquet which was hosted by the Lodge of Truth. 1852, you may remember, is the
year that our old friend Brother Sykes was in the chair and apparently initiating, passing and raising the whole of the borough
In the circles that Ripon moved in he probably knew
the Earl of Mexborough and that was the Provincial Grand Master. It may have been on Mexborough’s recommendation that
Ripon joined the ‘up and coming’ Lodge of Truth.
We also have to look at the application for membership
from the Lodge’s point of view. Whilst he may well have been the son of a nobleman he was also a young man, as we have
seen of "persistently held advanced opinions" whose uncle would not sponsor for a seat in the Houses of Parliament. At this
time Brother Sykes could not have known whether Ripon would turn out to be a loose canon or a future Grand Master and we have
to acknowledge Brother Sykes’s sound judgment in this matter.
Membership of the Lodge of Truth
Ripon was passed on the 12th October 1853 and raised
one month later on 25th November, both at Lodges of Emergency (probably owing to his parliamentary duties). Hardy gave the
second degree tracing board but unfortunately the minutes do not reveal who took part in his Lordship’s raising.
Two years later, in 1855 Ripon was installed into the
chair of King Solomon as the tenth Worshipful Master. This means it took him just over two years to get to the chair, having
spent the obligatory year as a Warden.
Although his officers were invested in December, Ripon
was not installed until June of the following year. Simpson states:-
"there is nothing to show why this Installation Ceremony
was deferred from December 1854 to June 1855: perhaps [Ripon] was away on Parliamentary duty..." (Simpson, 1945, p. 36).
From Denholme we know Ripon had actually been holidaying
in Pau in November 1854 and was also in the Pyrenees in March 1855 (Denholme, p.50 and p.87). It appears Ripon may have been
on an extended holiday!
The year that Ripon was in the chair was a very significant
one for the Lodge of Truth for it was during his term of office as Worshipful Master that the Lodge moved to Fitzwilliam Street
in Huddersfield. The removal of the Lodge had first been suggested in open Lodge on the 25th November, 1853 (the same night
as Ripon’s raising), although no doubt many informal discussions will have preceded.
The foundation stone to Fitzwilliam Street was laid
on Wednesday 27th December 1854 on the Festival of St. John. by Brother George Wright. He was Ripon’s predecessor in
the chair and would have probably been deputising for him in Ripon’s absence. Friday 5th October 1855 was the first
regular Lodge meeting held at Fitzwilliam Street and the Deputy Provincial Grand Master "allowed a dispensation of [Ripon’s]
presence when the motion of removal is made" (Simpson p.38). Coincidentally, this makes Fitzwilliam Street one of the oldest
purpose-built Masonic temples which is still in active use in the Province of Yorkshire West Riding.
Ripon was away in Scotland at the time of the first
meeting, however the Worshipful Master sent a cheque towards the building of the new hall for £20. In today’s money
this donation would be worth about £1,000.
In the following year of 1856 and having completed
his year in the chair Ripon was given Grand Lodge honours and became the Senior Grand Warden. The following year Ripon became
a joining member of the Wakefield Lodge No 495. This decision coincided with two events, first he was returned as Member of
Parliament forYorkshire West Riding and a local land owner and colliery owner called Col J C D Charlesworth had joined Wakefield
Lodge two months earlier.
Ripon's Rise to the Provincial Grand Master
In 1861 the Earl of Mexborough died and was succeeded
to the high office of Provincial Grand Master by Ripon who was now thirty-four years old. Ripon’s appointment to Provincial
Grand Master proved to be most popular in the Province:-
... and was fully justified by the active interest
he took in the affairs of his Province. To this day many of the Yorkshire Lodges have extracts from his Masonic speeches inscribed
on their walls, and the skill and impressiveness with which he gave ritual are still recalled by the older Brethren as an
example to new Masters. (The Freemason, 27th May, 1922. pp.633-634)
Strenuous efforts were made to host the installation
in Huddersfield and the three Huddersfield Lodges at that time, Harmony Huddersfield and Truth combined to lobby Province.
But it was not to be. The Leeds Committee sent representatives to The Lodge of Truth to say that Leeds possessed superior
accommodation in the form of Victoria Hall, and that if the Huddersfield Lodges would withdraw its claim they would allow
His Lordship to be installed in Leeds under the Banner of The Lodge of Truth; the Officers of the Lodge to open and close
This was indeed done on the 22nd May, 1861. However,
owing to a regrettable oversight the brethren of the Lodge of Truth were not allocated Banquet Tickets.
Ripon was most apologetic about the incident and that:-
... he had learnt with the deepest regret that there
had been a misunderstanding with reference to the Banquet Tickets; he said that it was a source of great disappointment to
him, not to meet with the Brethren of his Mother Lodge at the Banquet, and he asked the Brethren not to permit it to produce
any want of harmony and union, so that the matter could be speedily forgotten. (Simpson, 1945, p.50).
His appointment as Provincial Grand Master seems to
have enlivened Ripon, and in addition to the Lodge he had joined at Lincoln two years previous (Witham Lodge No. 297 in Lincoln)
he joined two other London Lodges. On 11th June 1861 he joined the Lodge of Friendship No. 6 (a Red Apron or Grand Stewards’
Lodge) and on 2nd July he joined Royal Alpha Lodge No. 16. Royal Alpha is the Grand Master’s personal lodge and Ripon
made it a point to be at each installation. He was its Worshipful Master three times, namely the year after he joined in 1862,
then again in 1870 and 1874.
As we have seen from the extract from The Freemason
the Provincial Grand Master Ripon was highly involved in the affairs of the Province. On 19th April, 1865 at a Provincial
Grand Lodge held in Huddersfield he laid the foundation stone for The Mechanics Institute at Lockwood. As we have seen Ripon
had an abiding interest in education and Mechanics Institutes were the only place adults could receive education outside London
and was twice chairman of the Yorkshire Union of Mechanics Institutes.
Appropriately enough to this paper the Mechanics Institute
in Lockwood, with its fine façade, was restored in early 1997 and has been converted into flats. A far more appropriate use
than the empty shell it was when I first visited it in 1996. I think Ripon would have thoroughly approved of the University
of Huddersfield a mile down the road which dwarfs this small building which was, nevertheless, a testament of the first step
towards providing local adult education.
Ripon's Rise to Grand Master
In the same year that he become Provincial Grand Master
Ripon was also appointed Deputy Grand Master by The Right Honourable the second Earl of Zetland. On 2nd March, 1870, on the
retirement of Zetland, he succeeded to the Grand Mastership, and was in due course installed to the throne of King Solomon
on the 14th May 1870 (Masonic Year Book 1991-92, p.814 Outstanding Masonic Events)
As the magazine the Freemason stated:-
His tenure of office, though lasting only four and
a half years, was unprecedently brilliant and fruitful. He had never been a fainéant Mason. Indeed, so earnest and punctilious
was he in all the offices he held in the Craft that his private secretary, Seton, found it necessary to become a Freemason
in order to keep up with his chief’s engagements. (The Freemason, 27th May, 1922, pp.633-634)
As an example of this "brilliant and fruitful" period
he introduced the then Prince of Wales (afterwards King Edward VII) to Royal Alpha Lodge.
[Letter from the Prince of Wales]
Sandringham, King’s Lynn
22nd April, ‘70
My dear [Ripon], - Many thanks for your letter and
for giving me all the information I asked you concerning the approaching Masonic festival........
I have the greatest pleasure in accepting your kind
offer to make me a member of the Alpha Lodge. I had long wished to belong to a London Lodge. I am sure I could not belong
to a better one than the Alpha Lodge.
I remain, yours very sincerely,
(Source: The Freemason, 27th May, 1922, pp.633-634)
HRH Albert Edward, Prince of Wales was not initiated
in England but in Sweden. On a visit to Stockholm in December 1868 he was put through all eleven degrees of the Swedish system
by the King of Sweden. On the news reaching England, he was, in 1869, elected an honorary Past Grand Master of our Grand Lodge.
The other Royal Princes, the Duke of Connaught and his younger brother, the Duke of Albany, also joined the Craft during Ripon’s
All three princes were loyal supporters of the Craft
and indeed the Duke of Connaught succeeded his brother as Grand Master in 1901 on Albert Edward’s accession to the Throne.
This period of time thus lead to an unprecedented level of support for Freemasonry by the Royal Family.
Perhaps the most conspicuous event in his reign as
Grand Master was during his mission to the United States to negotiate the Washington Treaty. He was the first Grand Master
to visit America, and both he and the American Lodges took care that the interesting event should be suitably celebrated.
On 10th May, 1871, he was received with great splendour and enthusiasm by the Grand Lodge of Columbia in the presence of delegations
from all the American Grand Lodges. Ripon made skilful use of the occasion to dilate on the civil allegiance of Freemasons
and the application to their guiding principle to the cause of Anglo-American friendship.
Speaking on a familiar theme in reply to an address
of welcome, he said:-
We all know that fraternity is the first principle
of Masonry, and therefore it is that all must rejoice at everything that tends to bind more closely together the Masons of
different nations and countries. A union between American and English Masons, a union which, for my part, I have always believed,
and now I believe more strongly than ever, cannot be too close and fraternal. (The Freemason, 27th May, 1922, pp.633-634:
The italics are the author’s emphasis)
He went on to say:-
The leading principle of our ancient Craft is all of
fraternity... whatever may be their race or nation. Masonry does not, however, cause men to forget their patriotism in a vague
cosmopolitan feeling. Men are better citizens of the United States and better subjects of the Crown of England because they
are Brethren of our ancient Fraternity.... I believe that it is for the highest interest of the highest civilisation of the
world, I believe that it is for the highest interest of America and England, that there should be the closest and most intimate
union between the two countries. (The Freemason, 27th May, 1922, pp.633-634)
In 1871 after his negotiation of the Washington Treaty
he became the first Marquess of Ripon and on the 22nd January 1873 at a Provincial Grand Lodge held at Huddersfield a congratulatory
address was made to Ripon on attaining his majority; he had been in masonry for twenty-one years.
On 4th March 1874 Ripon was re-elected for the fifth
time as Grand Master. On this occasion he gave a speech expressing his deep gratitude:-
I am very happy to be able once more to congratulate
you on the prosperous conditions of the Craft at the present time... I trust that we shall always bear in mind that the strength
of the Order does not lie in the number of its Lodges or in the increasing roll of its members, but in the spirit by which
its members are animated and which lives and breathes in our Lodges. It is because I hope and believe that these principles
are deeply written in the hearts of all that I do esteem it a very great honour once more to be able to be called upon to
preside over you. (The Freemason, 27th May, 1922, pp.633-634)
During Ripon’s reign as Grand Master the body
of the Order flourished mightily. The number of new Lodges for which Ripon was privileged to grant Warrants reached a higher
proportion than it had during any previous period. In fact, the number of the Lodges warranted by Ripon was two-hundred and
Indeed during Ripon’s reign as Deputy Grand Master
and Grand Master he warranted many local lodges to the Province of Yorkshire West Riding, for example Trafalgar and Scarborough
in Batley; Mirfield Lodge; Saville at West Vale; Ryburn at Sowerby Bridge; Brighouse; De Warren at Halifax and last but by
now means least, Thornhill at Huddersfield. A full list of Lodges he warranted is given in Appendix C.
Additionally there are six Lodges that I know of that
were named after Lord Ripon. The first of these were de Grey and Ripon (No. 837) which meets at Ripon in the Province of Yorkshire
West Riding. The second de Grey and Ripon Lodge (No. 905) was formed in 1862 and met at the Cafe Royal, London, this Lodge
handed in its warrant in the early months of 2000. A third de Grey and Ripon Lodge (No. 1161) meets in Bridge Street, Manchester
in the Province of East Lancashire and was formed from its mother Lodge Caledonian No. 204 in 1867, when Ripon was Deputy
Grand Master. Finally, there is the Marquess of Ripon Lodge (No. 1379) which meets in Darlington in the Province of Durham.
The following year of 1868 Goderich Lodge (No. 1211)
which now meets at Headingley in Leeds was consecrated. The name Goderich was probably chosen because there was already a
Lodge named after de Grey and Ripon in the Province of Yorkshire West Riding. However, Ripon graciously consented the Lodge
the privilege of using his coat of arms and crest and became the only Lodge in the country to be allowed to do this. Finally,
during his reign as Grand Master the Marquess of Ripon Lodge (No. 1379) of Darlington, Province of Durham, was consecrated
and is the only one to bear his marquessate title.
Lord Ripon's Political Career
As we move on to Ripon’s political career it
is important to establish the historical context. The period that Ripon entered politics, the 1850s, has a reputation for
stability which was by no means apparent at the time.
1848 was the year of revolutions in Europe. Louis Philippe,
the King of France was overthrown; there was revolution in Vienna and four days later in Milan. A month later a Chartist procession
in London was called off as troops were mobilised. The British government of the time feared revolution may also break out.
As Kitson-Clark says:-
... the England of 1850 resembles the cruder pre-industrial,
pre-democratic, resolutely unreformed England of the eighteenth century more closely than we have been pleased to imagine.
The aristocracy still held the controlling strings
in both national and local politics and public life at its best was characterised by privilege and influence acting according
to the principle of noblesse oblige and at its worst by jobbery and open corruption.
With such a father and uncle, however, it is not surprising
that the young Ripon aspired to a political career himself. His uncle de Grey had the patronage of a number of parliamentary
seats, notably Ripon, and it was perhaps, in preparation for such a career that his father arranged for him to go on a diplomatic
mission to Brussels in 1849. Perhaps also his father hoped that contact with Europe in turmoil would dissuade his son from
extreme radical views he had come to hold.
In the company of his cousin he visited Switzerland,
Italy and France. It was Paris that really inspired Ripon. On his return from Europe, Ripon associated himself with the Christian
Socialists. However for over a year, Ripon does not seem to have taken a very active part in the affairs of the Christian-Socialists,
largely out of deference to his father who was scandalised by his sons views and revolutionary associates.
Until 1851-52 Ripon’s radical sympathies though
real enough, were still largely academic and philanthropic. However, within a few months of his wedding he was drawn out of
his ivory tower into the thick of an industrial dispute; the ‘lock-out’ of the engineers in the winter of 1851-52.
At this point the Christian-Socialists were thrown into national prominence by their appearances on worker’s platforms,
their letters to newspapers, and by their public lectures.
After the final collapse of the engineers in April
1852 Ripon turned his attention to politics. The events and dangers of 1848 were still fresh in the minds of politicians and
people alike, and Ripon with his working class contacts was more alive to the fact than most. According to Ripon’s political
creed English life should become more democratic in the light of aristocratic failure: it is important to appreciate that
in the 1850s only land owners and the middle class were allowed to vote.
As Ripon saw it only administrative and parliamentary
reform and ultimately the secret ballot could weaken the aristocratic stranglehold. Ripon’s parliamentary career in
the 1850s assisted in the loosening of this aristocratic grip.
He took with him into politics another of his radical
interests: education. The 1840s saw a growing demand for an extension of elementary education. It is also interesting that
W.E. Forster, the Bradford Quaker industrialist, was a friend of the Christian-Socialists. Forster and Ripon were to form
a friendship at this time which bore fruit in the Education Act. This piece of legislation is considered so important that
Bradford erected a statue in Forster’s name and named a square in the city centre after him.
In view of his persistently held advanced opinions,
his uncle de Grey would neither sponsor Ripon, nor provide him with a family pocket borough, the usual method by which young
aristocrats were launched into politics. Left to his own resources Ripon’s choice of a constituency descended upon Hull,
a tough sea-faring borough with a bad electoral reputation for dishonest practices.
Ripon took great pride on his clean electioneering
behaviour, ironically however, shortly after being elected a member of parliament for Hull he was unseated after accusations
of bribery. To such a man of honour and integrity this smirch must have been extremely hurtful.
However, it did not put him off and he was determined
to get back into the Houses of Parliament in order to do which he stood for election at Huddersfield. As Denholme says:-
Huddersfield was a constituency much more to his liking,
and he was soon to become a popular figure among the mill workers of the town. Huddersfield always had a special place in
[Ripon’s] affections for he became a freemason there,... [and] this aspect of his inner life was to be of great importance
to him. He also took a lively interest in borough affairs: he helped to establish a mechanic’s institute and followed
closely the progress of a co-operative woollen mill in the town until late in his life. (Denholme, p.19)
On Saturday 17 April, Ripon addressed a crowd, estimated
at 10,000, as part of his electioneering campaign, four days later he was elected for Huddersfield, receiving 675 votes to
Joseph Starkey’s 593. It was not as apathetic a turn out as the figures suggest but it does accentuate the differences
between our two times, indeed Ripon witnessed at first hand the basis of the changing democracy in nineteenth century Britain.
When Ripon was born, only those who owned land were
allowed to vote. The middle class were enfranchised when Ripon was five years old and when Ripon was forty years old this
was extended to the securely domiciled workers in town. Eventually the agricultural labourers were allowed to vote nineteen
years later; thus by the time Ripon was fifty-nine he had witnessed the entire male population enfranchised. Needless to say,
the ladies had to wait a little longer!
The politics of the nineteenth century were not organised
as it is today (among strictly party lines) and whilst in the House of Commons Ripon formed his own small pressure group which
was referred to as the Goderichites. Though he was the junior of them from five to twelve years Ripon was the acknowledged
leader of the group.
The Goderichites group consisted of Henry Bruce, M.P.
for Merthyr Tydfil from 1852-1869 and Austen Henry Layard, who was M.P. for Aylesbury from 1852-1857. The group was later
to expand to include other members of parliament like Edward Horsman and Danby Seymour as well as several extra-parliamentary
figures such as Tom Hughes (who wrote Tom Brown’s Schooldays!), and later W.E. Forster (who became an M.P. in the 1860s).
The Goderichites took a particular interest in army
and civil service reform, limited liability, Indian and industrial affairs, and the abolition of privilege. Their contribution
helped avoid the chasm that the events of 1848 had threatened. They looked for social progress through the moral regeneration
of the people and the destruction of privilege, their main inspiration was ethical and Biblical rather than feudal.
In debates Ripon made his mark as a good House of Commons
speaker. His speeches were not oratorical masterpieces but they had the habit of going straight to the point. However his
style of open and forthright attacks upon the establishment were not getting him very far, and his sense of frustration led
to a period of self-doubt and depression in the autumn and winter of 1853-54.
His career as a private Member of Parliament was brought
to an end by his father’s death in January 1859 and his elevation to the Lords as the Earl of Ripon. Even more momentous
was his acceptance of office under Palmeston of whom he been so critical. These two events brought to an end the political
campaigns he had led in the Commons with his friends, though his connections with them remained.
Career at the War Office
Between 1853 and 1859 Ripon had established himself
as an expert on military matters, with definite views on the necessity for the abolition of purchase and for improving the
efficiency of the service. It was this reputation that led to him joining Palmeston’s administration in 1859 as Under
Secretary of State for War under Herbert.
Ripon like many other radicals welcomed the Crimean
War (1853-6) as a war against the tyranny Czardom, but he also relished the opportunities presented by the mismanagement to
press home the argument he had been making in public for over two years.
In office he effected some useful reforms especially
in the administration of the War Office and in the conditions of life in the army. Commissions in the army were still largely
obtained by purchase. Regulations laid down by the Duke of Wellington in the year before he died ensured that young gentlemen
should have some ability before commissioning, and consequently an examination had to be passed before a commission could
be bought, but the exclusiveness of the army was for Ripon a social injustice of the first order.
Having previously failed in 1855 Ripon urged the abolition
of purchase on the grounds of efficiency of a professional army. This change of tactic is interesting as previously he had
appealed to the Parliament’s sense of justice and fair play. He was fast learning the crafts of a politician and the
new methods paid off. Palmeston, true to his word, granted a Royal Commission and the subsequent report which roundly condemned
the system of purchase.
Ripon also wanted to remove from the occupation of
the soldier the stigma of the criminal in the hope of improving both standards and morale. The Crimean War had aroused the
public interest in the lot of the private soldier: William Russell’s revelations in The Times and the work of Florence
Nightingale had dramatically highlighted his abominable conditions of service, and one of the consequences of this publicity
was a new respect for the British fighting man.
1859 marks a turning point in the history of the army
in the nineteenth century. Whilst it is true that the evil days of the Crimea had passed, and the army had acquitted itself
well during the Indian Mutiny, torpor and ineptitude would almost certainly have returned without this reforming urge from
Herbert, his superior and Ripon himself. The War Office and the Horse Guards seemed to have a built-in resistance to change.
In breaking down the resistance to change, Herbert and Ripon conditioned the army bureaucracy to the notion of reform which
bore fruit in the early 1870s.
His success as Secretary of State established his administrative
reputation and made it certain that he would be given further office. On the death of Sir George Lewis, who had succeeded
Herbert, Ripon got his long-looked for promotion and entered the cabinet as Secretary for War in 1861. His promotion and term
of office coincided with the start of American Civil War of 1861-5.
On matters of sanitary reform, Ripon worked closely
with Florence Nightingale and the fruits of their labour were a changed attitude on the part of the army towards hygiene and
the status and role of medical officers.
Lord President of Council
By the time Gladstone returned to power in 1868 Ripon
had established a reputation as an enlightened and efficient administrator. Though Ripon would have preferred to return to
the War Office Gladstone offered him the Lord Presidency of the Council.
Ripon was not unhappy with the position for it gave
him ministerial responsibility for educational questions which were at that moment were "of particular urgency and importance".
Ripon’s achievement was sweetened further by the success of most of the other Goderichites. Bruce, though he had lost
his seat at Merthyr, became Home Secretary and a new seat at Renfrew was soon found for him. Forster, after some hesitation
accepted the vice-presidency of the Council under Ripon. The unique social and romantic radicalism of the Goderichites had
at last found a home under the broad umbrella and moral imperatives of the Liberal Party.
Much of what Ripon had campaigned for in the 1850s
came to fruition in the late 1860s and early 1870s. In particular two pieces of legislation were introduced which he had supported
since his early parliamentary days became law; the secret ballot and the education act.
Ripon had been an advocate of the secret ballot from
his Christian-Socialist days, and it must have given him great pleasure to introduce this measure to the House of Lords as
the Electoral (Parliamentary and Municipal) Bill on its second reading on 10 August, 1871.
In addition Ripon had departmental responsibility for
introducing the most far reaching reform of elementary education in the nineteenth century of which he was later to say "one
of the matters of which in a long public career I am most proud". In doing so he realised another of his earliest dreams,
that of bringing elementary education to the masses. At his side was his long time friend, confidant and sympathiser in the
education cause, W.E. Forster.
Throughout his life Ripon held high hopes of the spread
of education to the working classes, not only because he believed it absolutely necessary for emerging democratic society,
the commonly held view of "educating our masters", but more because it was an instrument for elevating the masses.
During Ripon’s tenure as Lord President and W.E.
Forster tenure as Vice-President the two men were able to effect a number of substantial educational reforms that virtually
revolutionised the attitude of British governments to education, and which established models and patterns for future state
intervention. By bringing about the active participation and complete involvement of the state in the educational system the
two men gave it a social responsibility that it could not discard.
Another one of Ripon’s abiding interests in promoting
education was the Mechanics Institutes, especially as they were the only means of working class education for adults outside
London. Ripon’s roots and his political interests lay in the North of England and not surprisingly therefore most of
his work for the Institutes were confined to Yorkshire, and to Huddersfield in particular.
The highlight of Ripon’s tenure in office in
Gladstone’s administration was his work on the joint Anglo-American High Commission of 1871 which settled serious outstanding
points of difference between Britain and the U.S.A., indeed so serious was the state of Anglo-America relations at the time
that war seemed inevitable.
The failure of the British to understand the deep sense
of grievance felt by the Americans over the fitting out of the Alabama and other Confederate ships in British ports at the
time of the Civil War largely accounts for the deterioration of relations in the late 1860s. But the crisis reached its flashpoint
over the Alabama claims.
These differences concerned the building of ships for
the Confederate Navy in British shipyards and subsequent hospitality to such ships in British Empire ports. These activities
were made possible, as Americans saw it, by the inadequacy of the British neutrality laws and their lax enforcement.
The British statute on neutral conduct, the foreign
enlistment act of 1819, forbade the equipping, furnishing, fitting out, or arming within British jurisdiction of vessels for
the purpose of attacking the commerce of friendly powers, or the augmentation of "the warlike force" of such vessels, but
did not prohibit the building of such vessels.
Taking advantage of this loophole in the law, Captain
James D. Bulloch, the Confederate agent charged with such business, arranged with English shipbuilding firms for the construction
of the ships, which became famous as the Confederate cruisers Florida and Alabama. In each case the ship was built but not
"equipped, fitted out, or armed" in a British shipyard. Each put to sea without equipment and in a remote unpoliced sanctuary
- the Florida in the Bahamas, the Alabama in the Azores - met another steamer bringing her armament, officers, and crew.
Each was then duly commissioned as a ship of the Confederate
Navy and began her career as a commerce destroyer. The Florida made over forty prizes before she was herself captured by the
U.S.S. Wachusett, by a violation of neutrality, in the port of Bahia, Brazil. The Alabama destroyed fifty-seven prizes and
released many more on bond before she was sunk in a duel with the U.S.S. Kearsarge off the port of Cherbourg, France. Next
after these two in destructiveness and notoriety was the Shenandoah, purchased for the Confederacy from her English owners
and armed and manned at sea. Beginning her career late and cruising in the Pacific, she destroyed a large part of the New
England whaling fleet at a time when, unknown to her officers or their victims, the Confederacy had ceased to exist.
In the cases of the Florida and Alabama, Charles Frances
Adams, the United States minister, had laid before the British government evidence that the ships were being prepared for
the service of the Confederacy. The evidence against the Alabama was so strong that at the last moment the Prime Minister,
Earl Russel, ordered her held. The order came too late.
The Alabama had steamed out of the Mersey River on
a "trial trip" from which she never returned. The United States held Great Britain guilty of breaches of neutrality in permitting
her escape and in construction of the Florida.
The United States held also that Great Britain had
violated the principles of neutrality in permitting confederate cruisers to augment their strength in ports of the British
Empire. The Shenandoah, for example, had put in at Melbourne, Australia, where in spite of protests from the United States
consul, she was allowed to make repairs, take on a supply of coal, and recruit additions to her crew. In addition to the actual
destruction wrought by the Alabama, Florida, Shenandoah, and less celebrated raiders, their depredations had caused a skyrocketing
of insurance rates, kept ships idle in port, and driven many northern ship-owners to sell their vessels or transfer them to
foreign registry. For all these losses British negligence or partiality was held responsible.
With Canada defenceless, it was possible that the whole
of North America would be brought into the vigorously expansive post-war United States. Britain, with its army still largely
unreformed, was militarily paralysed and yet faced the possibility of war on two fronts. Into the midst of this potentially
war-like threat Ripon was dispatched as Chairman of the Joint Commission. Ripon’s approach of conciliation and compromise
won widespread praise and he succeeded in diffusing the tension between the United States. Tanterden, who was the secretary
to the British commissioners commented on:-
... the very able way in which Lord [Ripon] conducts
the discussion. He never loses temper, never presses an advantage too far and hits hard when required -- and is wonderfully
quick in catching at and making his points. (Baker, 1979, p.484)
For Britain’s failure to exercise "due diligence"
over the Alabama, the Florida and the Shenandoah she was asked to pay £3 million. In the long run the Washington Treaty which
settled the Alabama claims as they were commonly referred to was a landmark in the history of international law and lead to
much improved relations after the dark years of the 1860s. Furthermore, it completed the withdrawal of the British from North
America without bloodshed, yet still left Canada intact.
This altered Britain’s perspective in the region
which according to Stacey, Britain had:-
... suddenly withdrew from her traditional responsibilities
in the interior of the continent, thereby saving roughly a million pounds a year, facilitating the reform of her army and
materially strengthening her military position with respect to Europe. By 1872 it could almost be said that Great Britain
had ceased to be a North American power. (Stacey, 1955)
For his role in the successful negotiations Ripon was
given a marquessate and thus in 1871 he became the Marquess of Ripon.
Conversion to Catholicism
In August 1873 Ripon resigned from Gladstone’s
government, chiefly he was gloomy about the future direction of the Party. By 1873 the great reform ministry was a spent force.
The heady achievements of the early years had given way to a disillusionment among the rank and file, and a growing desire
by a number of cabinet ministers to be free. However Ripon’s resignation was probably due to "spiritual unrest".
His mother, to whom he was devoted and who had been
his only intellectual and religious guide until late adolescence, died in 1867. F.D. Maurice, his political mentor of the
1850s, died in 1872, close relatives had been massacred by Greek brigands in 1870, and his son had been close to death in
In September 1874 some rather surprising news was revealed
which, one hopes, by today’s more enlightened times would hardly raise an eyebrow. Apparently Lord Ripon had converted
to Catholicism. Unfortunately Ripon’s conversion coincided with one of two outbreaks of anti-Catholic sentiment in England
during Victoria’s reign. The first was in 1850 after the Catholic Church had been permitted to re-establish its hierarchy
in Britain, and the other followed the Vatican Council of 1870, and in particular the assertion of Papal Infallibility.
His reception into the Catholic Church took London
society and even his closest friends by surprise:-
... no Freemason or old colleague or intimate friend
had any inkling of his intention. Only Lady Ripon suspected, but even she was uncertain, although she was aware that for many
months he had retired with volumes of Newman and the early Fathers to that austere bookroom at Studley which, sunless and
fireless he persistently occupied from early manhood to old age. (Lord Esher in The Quarterly Review, No 471, April 1922.)
Ripon had been an active Freemason for over twenty
years and had become Grand Master in 1870, but he attended his first mass at St. George’s Cathedral, Southwark in April
1870, the Sunday following the assassination of his father-in-law Frederick Vyner. As he grappled with the full implications
of a possible conversion to Catholicism it is not difficult to imagine the confusion in his mind as long cherished ideas came
It was not easy for a man in Ripon’s position,
holding high office in a Protestant country, to accept the Roman faith. When Ripon was received into the Catholic Church on
the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin on 8 September 1874 the outcry from press and pulpit alike confidently predicted
the end his public career. This outcry left Ripon publicly silent and apparently unmoved.
His conversion momentarily stunned the political world
and prompted the Prime Minister, Gladstone, to write a famous pamphlet which claimed that converts to Catholicism renounced
their "mental and moral freedom". The Times (always a critic of Ripon) made a viscious attack upon him which attempted to
discredit Ripon’s career to date, and to ensure that he never held political office again. Coming from The Times this
view was unpleasant enough but when it appeared that it was shared by none other than Gladstone himself, Ripon’s political
future looked bleak indeed.
In the autumn of 1874 it was assumed by Ripon himself
and his erstwhile cabinet colleagues that his public career had ended. In a diary he kept from 1878-80 he wrote "when I first
became a Catholic I fully thought my conversion would be a bar to office". In September 1874 the political world expected
that after twenty years in public office and service to the Liberal cause, Ripon would retire to enjoy the fruits of his considerable
Ripon contented himself with travel abroad, the domestic
pleasures of Nocton and Studley Royal, and the study of religion and politics. However by 1878 Ripon was once again taking
part in Liberal Party consultations. Since Gladstone’s resignation as leader of the party in January 1875, this obstacle
in the way of his political advancement had been removed. Ripon was much more at peace with himself as he found that both
his social and political philosophies were strengthened by his spiritual calm and certainty.
However, it is generally agreed that the foreign and
imperial policies of Disraeli’s government were the major reason for Ripon’s active return to political life.
Both Rossi and Wolf stress the outbreak of war with Afghanistan in the summer of 1878 as a crucial date. Ripon was vexed that
the deliberate policy of forty years should be reversed and that the country had become involved in a war without Parliament
ever having had the slightest opportunity of expressing its opinion on the subject.
He soon became one of the leading spokesmen on Indian
affairs for the opposition, and along with Lord Northbrook (an ex-viceroy) and Lord Halifax he became one "of a triumvirate
which substantially shaped opposition policy regarding India and Afghanistan".
The Viceroy of India
In the spring of 1880 when the general election returned
the Liberals with Gladstone again at their head, Ripon was offered and accepted the viceroyalty of India. A position from
his experience he was well qualified to undertake. Like all "advanced" Liberals before Chamberlain, Ripon disliked imperial
rule and looked to its eventual demise. He accepted that despotic rule was necessary in the short-term but with real power
lying at home and subject to close scrutiny by parliament.
Mathur claims Ripon deserves recognition for pursuing
consistent policy in Central Asia. Along with his measures to free the press, and his enthusiastic promotion of education,
Ripon’s scheme for greater native participation in local government has to be seen in the light of furthering, as the
"Resolution" itself indicates, "that desire and capacity for self-government which all intelligent and fairly educated men
may safely be assumed to possess". Self-government was one of Ripon’s first and last political principles.
One of Ripon’s first acts was the re-establishment
of the freedom of the press in India. A free press, subject only to registration, had been the rule in India since 1853, and
was only temporarily suspended during the mutiny. Lord Lytton had decided to curb the activities of the vernacular press,
and following legislation in 1878, printers and publishers were obliged to give bonds and submit proofs to local government
inspection. These bonds were subject to forfeit if the newspaper excited disaffection against the government, or encouraged
racial or religious hatred.
However in introducing limited forms of self-government
he was to run amok of the Anglo-Indian community. For nothing in Ripon’s viceroyalty created more anger, anguish, and
controversy than the Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill, better known as the Ilbert Bill.
The legislation was introduced by Sir Courtenay Ilbert,
on 2 February 1883. This laid down that district magistrates and session judges should exercise jurisdiction over European-British
subjects, thus making the racial origin of the judge irrelevant. The reaction of the Anglo-Indians was immediate and hostile.
Ripon was aghast at this explosion of hatred and denunciation, and in particular at his own failure, and that of his advisors,
to anticipate the danger of the Anglo-Indian backlash. However the viceroy remained firm.
The legislation was implemented through a compromise,
namely that a European subject could claim a jury, however the principle of native judges sitting in cases involving Europeans
was firmly established.
In spite of this Ripon endeared himself to Indians
by his sincerity and as Mathur says, the educated Indian never blamed him for his limited successes in particular measures.
Even so, according to George Thomas, Ripon’s local self-government statute "laid the foundation for the political independence
of India. He lit the torch that led ultimately to the political autonomy of the country".
According to the Quarterly Review Ripon had industriously
scattered the germs of independence in India with the doctrine that "the natives were entitled to rule, the English nothing
more than interlopers; the time had arrived when India was entitled to ‘Home Rule’".
When Ripon returned to England in January 1885, he
had been out of the hurly-burly of English political life for nearly five years. Indeed he had not held office in England
since his resignation in 1873. He was appointed 1st Lord of Admiralty 1886 during the short term of office of Russel and in
1892 he was appointed as Colonial Secretary, an office which he held until 1895 under both Gladstone and Rosebery. From 1895
to 1902 the Liberals were in opposition whilst the Conservatives assumed power under the Marquess of Salisbury.
Lord Privvy Seal
Politically the last years of Ripon’s life must
have been among his happiest. He witnessed the revival of the Liberal fortunes after 1903 and became Lord Privy Seal and Leader
of the Liberals in the House of Lords in the 1906 government under his old friend Campbell-Bannerman, and soon rejoiced in
the approval of friend and foe alike for his conduct of affairs. His radical temper was well attuned to the reforming spirit
of 1906 and he acquired a new enthusiastic lease of political life.
Thus at the age of 79 he was called upon to undertake
the daunting task of leading the small band of Liberals in the Lords against the entrenched Conservative majority. This was
in spite of his wife’s death in 1907, his own frequent protestations of tiredness, and requests for a period of time
between retirement and the grave. After so many frustrating years in opposition it was refreshing for him to be back in the
harness and able to address himself to the duties of high office.
Ripon resigned from office in 1908 and this was ostensibly
attributed to his age and health but stemmed from a disagreement with Herbert Gladstone, the Home Secretary. There was no
bitterness in his final departure from the government and Ripon was undoubtedly content to allow the retirement to be seen
as personal rather than political as Asquith had requested.
Lord Ripon's Family History
The Robinson family can be traced back to the early
sixteenth century when the fortunes of the Robinson family were established by William Robinson of York who was born in 1522.
He made his money by trading with the German ports as the Hanseatic League declined, and was rewarded for his efforts by becoming
Lord Mayor of York in 1581 and subsequently its member of parliament. Like most successful merchants in Tudor times he bought
land and when he died Staxby and Baldersby in Yorkshire and Wotton in Lincolnshire were part of his legacy. The family survived
the Civil War though Royalist in sympathy, and William Robinson’s grandson accepted a baronetcy at the Restoration and
in the 1660s served as a member of the restoration Parliament.
When he died in 1689 the estates passed to his nephew
William who also received a baronetcy for supporting the new King. He continued the family’s connection with York and
was its M.P. from 1697 to 1722. William’s grandson Thomas, elevated the Robinson’s further when he was rewarded
with the Barony of Grantham in 1761 for political and diplomatic services to the Hanoverians. He married a great-great-grand-daughter
of Oliver Cromwell, Frances Worsley. His son Thomas, the Second Baron Grantham, further added to the increasing wealth of
the family by pursuing an undistinguished diplomatic career as Ambassador to Spain.
In 1780 at the age of forty-two Lord Grantham married
Mary Gemima Grey Yorke, daughter of the second Earl of Hardwicke. They proved to be a devoted couple during their short marriage,
and provided a loving home environment for the two sons who survived infancy. The elder, Thomas Phillip was born in 1781 and
he inherited the title and the estates when Grantham died in 1786. Additional legacies, among them the de Grey earldom in
1833, and the Ripon estates of Elizabeth Lawrence of Studley Royal made him one of the wealthiest landowners in England in
the mid 1840s.
As Earl de Grey he served Peel as First Lord of the
Admiralty in 1834-35 and as Viceroy of Ireland in 1841-44. But it was the Earl de Grey’s younger brother Frederick John
who brought the greatest distinction to the Robinson family by becoming Prime Minister, albeit for a short time, in the autumn
and winter of 1827-28.
Frederick Robinson, Ripon’s father, like most
younger sons of the day had made politics a career and entered the House of Commons in 1806 as member for the Irish rotten
borough of Carlow. Before attaining cabinet rank he had had wide diplomatic and political experience as Under Secretary for
the Colonies in 1809, and at the Admiralty the following year.
It was perhaps to alleviate his impecunious position
that in August 1814 he married the plain but rich heiress, Lady Sarah Albina Louisa Hobart, daughter of the 4th Earl of Buckingham
who had no legitimate heir. When Lady Sarah came into her inheritance in 1816, Robinson for the first time in his life, had
a measure of financial independence.
During the making of Canning’s government he
had been created the first Viscount Goderich and had taken the leadership of the Lords. In the summer of 1827, on Canning’s
death, George IV called him to the premiership.
The premiership of Ripon’s father is conspicuous
for its failure. His good nature became a weakness in dealing with subordinates and this gave rise to serious disputes in
the cabinet over matters concerning the rights of the King and foreign policy. Burdened by his own domestic cares, Ripon’s
father was increasingly unable to control the ill-assorted mixture of Whigs and Tories in the Cabinet.
It was at number 10 Downing Street, during his father’s
short tenure as Prime Minister, that George Frederick Samuel Robinson, the subject of this lecture, was born on the 24th October,
1827 at No.10 Downing Street.
His schooling was haphazardly given at his mother’s
home, Nocton Hall in Lincolnshire, and he attended neither school nor university. The reason for this seems to have been his
mother’s fear for the health of her son. Her first son died soon after birth in 1816, and a daughter Elinor Henrietta
died at the age of eleven in 1826. No chances were taken with George Frederick Samuel.
Ripon married at the age of twenty-four to Henrietta
Vyner who was the grand-daughter of Ripon’s uncle Earl de Grey. The ceremony was held at the house of Earl de Grey in
St. James Square in London on 8th April, 1851. They were a devoted couple and raised one son, Oliver. When Ripon came into
his inheritance in 1859 he inherited not only his father’s lands but his uncle’s as well. This included not only
Nocton Hall in Lincolnshire but primarily Studley Royal just outside Ripon. The house of Studley Royal burned down in 1946
but the stables (which are now privately owned) still survive.
Studley Royal must have been truly impressive as it
stood in the grounds of a four-hundred acre deer park. In addition to one of the most beautiful water gardens in England the
land encompasses the ruin of Fountains Abbey. The property is now owned by the National Trust and is well worth a visit!
The Marquess of Ripon’s Entry in Who Was Who
Ripon, 1st Marquess of (created 1871), George Frederick
Samuel Robinson, K.G., P.C., G.C.S.I., C.I.E., D.L., J.P., D.C.L. (Hon Oxford), Litt.D. (Hon. Victoria), F.R.S. ; Baronet.
1690 ; Baron Grantham, 1761; Earl de Grey, 1816 ; Viscount Goderich, 1827; Earl of Ripon, 1833 ; Lord Privvy Seal, 1905-8
; Lord-Lieut. N.R. Yorkshire, 1873-1906 ; High Steward of Hull ; Hon. Col. 1st Batt. W. York Rifles since 1860 ; became a
Roman Catholic, 1874 ; (2nd Lord Grantham concluded the preliminaries of peace with France, 1783) ; b. London, 24 Oct. 1827
; son of 1st Earl and Sarah, only daughter of 4th Earl of Buckinghamshire ; succeeded father and uncle, 1859 ; married 1851,
Henrietta Anne Thedosia, C.I. (d. 1907) daughter of Captain Henry Vyner, Gautby Hall, Lincolnshire, grand-daughter of 1st
Earl de Grey ; one son. M.P. for Hull, 1852-53; for Huddersfield 1853-57 ; for Yorkshire West Riding, 1857-59 ; Under-Secretary
for War, 1859-61 ; to India Office as Under-Secretary, 1861-63 ; Secretary of State for War, 1863-66 ; Secretary of State
for India, 1866 ; Lord President of Council, 1868-73; Chairman of Joint Commission for drawing up Treaty of Washington, 1871
; Grand Master of Freemasons, 1871-74 ; Gov.-Gen of India, 1880-84 ; 1st Lord of Admiralty, 1886 ; Sec for Colonies, 1892-95
; Mayor of Ripon, 1895-96. Owns about 21,800 acres.
Heir : Son, Earl de Grey, q.v. Address 9 Chelsea Embankment,
S.W. ; Studley Royal, Ripon. Clubs : Brooks’s Reform, Traveller’s Athenaeum, United Service. (Died 1909).
Source: Who Was Who 1897-1915 p. xxxix.
n.b. This entry fails to mention the fact that Lord
Ripon was the first Chancellor of the University of Leeds.
Letter Proposing Viscount Goderich as a Candidate for
New Street Huddersfield
April 28th 1853
To Thos. Robinson Esqr.
Worshipfull Sir and Brother,
We the undersigned being Members of the Lodge of Truth
No. 763, held at the Freemasons Hall, Kirkgate, Huddersfield, hereby nominate George Frederick Samuel Robinson commonly called
VISCOUNT GODERICH, Member of Parliament, residing at No. 5 Whitehall Yard, London, aged 25 years, as a Candidate for Freemasonry,
and we affectionately request that you will cause his Lordship’s name to be inserted in the next summons for the regular
Lodge Meeting of Friday the sixth of May, and issued seven days previous to such meeting as in accordance with Constitutions
Page 85 Section 2.
The reason why this Emergency is urged is that his
Lordship cannot leave his Parliamentary duties for a longer Period than during his next visit to Huddersfield, about this
time, and having long contemplated joining our honourable fraternity, his Lordship has evinced such a strong desire to become
a Member of the Lodge of Truth, as expressed in a letter from his Lordship to Br. Sykes, P.M. dated London April 27th 1853.
We are Worshipl. Sir and Brother,
Yours very faithfully and fraternally,
John Sykes, P.M. G.T. Wright, S.W.
Thos. R. Tatham, P.M. Wm. Cross Marsh, J.W.
Itus Tewlis, P.P.G.S.B. and P.M. Walter Bradley, S.D.
Michael Kemp, P.J.W. William Hewitt Shepherd, Secy.
Thomas Abbey Bottomley, M.C.
[The page is entitled The following letter was rec’d
from the WM and entered accordingly and appears opposite the minutes taken on Friday May 6th, 1853]