Huddersfield Chronicle (03/Feb/1866) - Huddersfield Archaeological and Topographical Association

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.



The annual meeting of the Huddersfield Archaeological and Topographical Association was held in the Assembly Room of the Literary and Philosophical Society, Queen Street, on Wednesday evening. Although there was a thin attendance, the few who were present took a lively interest in the proceedings, a pleasing feature of which consisted of a presentation to the Rev. G. Lloyd, of Thurstonland, who will long be remembered and esteemed, both in Yorkshire and elsewhere, not only as the energetic secretary of the association, but for the inexhaustible assiduity, unceasing watchfulness, and uniform and congenial courtesy with which he has superintended the excavations at Slack, where, as is now well known, undisputable traces of Roman social institutions, and other interesting and — to the antiquary in particular — valuable relics have been discovered. Dr. Turnbull, president, occupied the chair, and called upon

The Rev. G. Lloyd, honorary secretary, who read the report, of which the following is a copy :—

"The council of the Huddersfield Archaeological and Topographical Association on presenting their first report, feel happy to state that the society has gradually and steadily advanced in prosperity. Our antiquarian researches have been rewarded with more than ordinary success ; and the accession of members who take an interest in our work is considerable. But before entering into the details of our operations during the past year, it may be desirable that we should make a short statement concerning the origin of the Association, and the original design of the promoters.

"In 1863, a few gentlemen interested in archaeological pursuits, met from time to time, in their respective houses, to discuss matters of archaeological interest in this neighbourhood. As the friendly gathering extended its circle, it was proposed to form a society which should embrace all the antiquarians of the district. A special meeting was called to discuss the feasibility of organizing an Archaeological Society for the parishes of Kirkburton and Almondbury. The society was formed ; officers pro tem elected ; members invited to join, and assistance solicited. But it was found necessary to enlarge the area of operations ; and, at a subsequent meeting, it was resolved that the researches should extend over the deanery of Huddersfield. A prospectus was printed and circulated widely through the deanery. That prospectus stated the objects of the proposed association to be, 'the examination and preservation of the ancient records which were known to exist in Huddersfield and its neighbourhood to search for 'ancient charters and documents,' in every parish, not only among the landed proprietors, but also among the working classes. A little search made them soon aware that many documents of public and local interest were lying neglected, and going rapidly to decay in the lumber-rooms of private families ; and that a periodical clearance of them was made ; some to the waste paper baskets, others sold by a thrifty housekeeper to the family grocer or the neighbouring chandler.† A good list of persons holding these musty papers is in the hands of your honorary secretary. The following duties were then down for the association :—

  1. To preserve and illustrate the ancient monuments, history and customs of our ancestors.
  2. To collate and transcribe ancient charters, deeds, and documents, with the ulterior view of employing them as material for a compilation of the history and topography of this locality.
  3. That the immediate sphere of their researches and operations shall be primarily connected with the four extensive and important parishes of Almondbury, Huddersfield, Kirkburton, and Kirkheaton, comprising the deanery of Huddersfield; but not to exclude any matters of a kindred character, which the executive of the association shall deem necessary or interesting.

"A public meeting was held in the Gymnasium Hall on the evening of Friday, the 8th July, 1864, which was presided over by our president, Dr. Turnbull, whose eloquent address on that occasion and the able paper read by Mr. Morehouse will be appended to this report. The meeting was a preliminary one.

"On the 11th November, 1864, a public meeting was held in the rooms of the Huddersfield Literary and Scientific Institute, when the Rev. Charles Augustus Hulbert, M.A., presided, and the rules of the society as proposed on the 8th July were adopted, the members of the council nominated, and the officers elected. These rules were afterwards altered at a council meeting, on the 22nd March, 1865, and the new rules were submitted by them to the general meeting of the 3rd June, 1865, and adopted. The chief emendation lay in the 'object' and operations of the association, as will be seen by comparing them. The first form is subjoined to this report, the final one prefixed to it. The area of the work is extended to the south-western part of the county of York ; and was found necessary, in order to embrace some important towns in the vicinity of Huddersfield, and also to induce some archaeologists to join the association, who were holding back on the plea that we were merely a local society.

"The papers and addresses of the general meeting held on the 3rd June, 1865, will also be added to this report, and speak for themselves. It was our introduction to Slack ; the excavations at which place now holds a prominent part in the transactions of our association, and has become a work of interest for all England.

"If the Huddersfield Archaeological and Topographical Association were now to wind up its affairs and dissolve, it has left a name, through that one work, which will never cease to reflect a high honour upon our exertions. Our once local society has got a world's wide fame, and is found enrolled in the historic records of our day.

"The excavations at Slack have been carried on under the auspices of the association, but independent of its pecuniary aid. The whole cost up to this has been defrayed by subscriptions apart from our society, amounting to upwards of £1,000, a great portion of which has been given by some members of our society, but the entire expense has been borne by that special fund, even to the cost of postage.

"The elected members in November, 1864, numbered 40 ; many of whom have not yet paid their subscriptions. In November, 1865, they numbered 70, of whom some have not yet paid, and others do not commence membership until this year. Notwithstanding these defaulters, and the heavy expenses incidental to the working up of a new society, we are clear of all debts, and have in our treasurer's hands the sum of £14 9s. 3d.

"We cannot close this report without expressing our obligations to John Nowell, Esq., of Farnley Wood, for the copies of old documents he has made in our MSS. Book of Collections ; to J. Morehouse, Esq., also, for additions to the same. And we shall be glad to receive any old MSS. from friends, and to copy them in our 'collections.'" Mr. F. Barber, solicitor, Brighouse, moved the adoption of the report, and regretted that there was such a paucity of members to receive it. Surely the people of Huddersfield ought to take a warmer interest in matters pertaining to the archaeology of their native place than was evinced by the paucity of members attending the meeting. There was nothing to add to the report further than that they ought to acknowledge, by resolution or otherwise, as might be deemed suitable, the debt they owed to their worthy secretary for having so ably performed his work. He (Mr. Barber) had visited Slack several times, and had personally observed the kindness with which the rev. gentleman received all parties, — the labouring classes especially, and the humour with which he described the site of Cambodunum. He (the speaker) had taken a deep interest in the work, and had been rejoiced to see other persons, labouring men, making enquiries from the secretary, who kindly listened to their observation and gave all the information he possessed on the subjects brought under his notice. Working men had visited Slack and had provided themselves with archeological works as guides in their researches ; and this showed that the working classes were interested in the undertaking. The secretary had kept himself in the back ground in the report, but the truth was he stood in the front rank, and to his unremitting labours was to be attributed the full amount of success to which they had attained. He, therefore, moved "That the report and accounts as read be received and adopted, and that the following resolution be appended to the report: — 'That the Huddersfield Archeological and Topographical Association cannot allow the report of their council to go forth to their members and the public without expressing their deep obligations to the Rev. G. Lloyd, the hon. secretary, for his untiring energy and unwearied efforts in furthering the objects of the association, and the sincere regret with which they view his departure to a distant sphere of labour ; they congratulate him on his advancement in the Church, and trust that he may be prospered in the charge he is called upon to undertake.'" — Mr. J.W. Moorhouse, Stoney Bank, seconded the motion, which was carried most enthusiastically.

The officers were then elected, and Dr. Turnbull was re-appointed president. In the course of a desultory conversation, a proposal that united efforts should be made to provide accommodation, in one building, for the use of the Literary and Philosophical Society, the Archeological Association, and the Athletic Club was favourably entertained, but no action was decided upon at the meeting.

The President stated that the Halifax people would gladly relieve the Huddersfield Archeological Association of the undertaking at Slack, on the condition that it was transferred to them free from all claims ; but it would be discreditable to Huddersfield to accept such an offer — it would show that they could not raise money to continue the excavations. Dr. Turnbull, in presenting the Rev. G. Lloyd with a purse containing a handsome sum of money, remarked :— I have now a duty to perform, which is both pleasing and sad. We all know that our honorary secretary will at no distant day leave us ; and a few of his friends, wishful to show their gratitude for his services, have enabled me to present him with a small token of our affection. In doing so, I shall make no long address — I shall offer no fulsome adulation — I shall not endeavour to paint our friend in colours fairer than the world ere saw. What I say shall be brief — what I say shall be sincere — what I say shall be truthful. I think then we shall all agree that in our honorary secretary we have had the right man in the right place. He has worked early and late, and often all day long, and I believe that if the truth were known, his dreams nightly are about Cambodunum and its Roman inhabitants. His urbanity and readiness to oblige have won the affection of all with whom he has come in contact. In losing him, we lose our society's right hand, and our only consolation is that he will improve his professional position. The gift, Mr. Secretary, which I hold in my hand is a wonderful talisman — it is the most learned linguist the world ever saw — it speaks all languages, and will enable you to travel in all nations. I trust it will smooth your passage to your new home, where, I am sure, a willing welcome awaits you. Accept it then as a love token from your Yorkshire friends, and may health and happiness ever attend you. The President then handed over a purse of gold.

Mr. Lloyd briefly returned thanks for the manner in which Dr. Turnbull had spoken of him, and to the friends who had contributed to the testimonial. He felt deeply grateful, and, wherever he should go, that kind act would be uppermost in his heart. He commenced duties as secretary of the association con amore, for he had always loved archaeological pursuits, and, as the old proverb said, "where there is a love there is a liking." (Laughter.) He had only attempted to do his duty, and the success which had attended his labours was fully commensurate with his zeal and ability. Again, he sincerely thanked them, and trusted that though he should presently be separated from this district, he should always be a member of this association. He had undertaken, with the sanction of Mr. Beaumont, M.P., to write the history of the Beaumont family, of Whitley ; and therefore he should still be a working member of the association.

We may mention that not a few of the donors of the gift are residents of distant towns, but as subscriptions yet flow in, we cannot state the amount that has been, or will be, realised.

Thanks to the chairman closed the meeting.

† The extent to which the destruction of Ancient Charters and documents have been carried on is almost incredible. The following are selected from many :— A Solicitor who possessed many deeds, valuable for their topographical interest, not only destroyed them, but made it a rule of his life to destroy all documents over sixty years old.

A clergyman, by sad accident, became proprietor of the estates and archives of an old family ; he packed the papers and letters of ages in sacks, and supplied his housemaid with them for firing as she needed it,

Amongst the rubbish (?) on the floor of a noted mansion trodden under foot by the persons who attended the auction, a gentleman picked up a strip of parchment. It was only a warrant signed by Henry VII., to the Sheriff once the proprietor of the noble mansion.

In a neighbouring village the under-drawing of a house is lined with old parchment deeds to keep out the rain.

But the worst of all is the case of the old deeds and documents of Roche Abbey, and which partly accounts for the paucity of records of that wealthy house. They had a large number of documents at a depot, or keeper’s house at Friar Mere near Delph. These papers were sold about ninety years ago, at a penny a sheet to make paper kites for the juveniles of that locality.