Huddersfield Chronicle (23/Jan/1885) - Death of Mr. Joseph Batley, Town Clerk of Huddersfield

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.

Death of Mr. Joseph Batley, Town Clerk of Huddersfield.

The announcement which appeared in our obituary column, on Thursday morning, would be read with surprise, coupled with the remarks which the Mayor made to the Town Council on the afternoon of the previous day, and the knowledge that all those who had interested themselves about the matter possessed, that Mr. Batley had lately improved so much that hopes of his recovery were entertained. But the end was very sudden. On Tuesday and Wednesday he passed easy days, and on Tuesday night he had three hours' continuous sleep. Bat about half-past eight on Wednesday evening he had a bad attack, and Dr. Scott was hurriedly sent for. The doctor saw him at a quarter to nine, end at once asked that his son, Mr. G. L. Batley, should be sent for, as he apprehended a fatal termination of the attack. Mr. Batley was enfeebled with previous illness, end although all that was possible to do for him was done, he passed away about half-past three o’clock on Thursday morning.

Mr. Batley was as well known in the town as probably any of its most prominent citizens. The office of Town Clerk, which he held, of course, necessarily brought him into contact with all sorts and conditions of men, and his courtesy and unwearied assiduity made him troops of friends. In social life he was equally well-known, for though fond of his home and unwilling to leave it without great inducement, he was kind and hospitable to a fault. He was very genial in society, fond of his joke, being described indeed as fun itself, full of wit and humour, and the life of any party which he joined.

Mr. Batley was born on Jane 15th, 1824, at Burnlee, Holmfirth, and was the second and younger son of the late Mr. Joseph Bailey, of The Armitage, Huddersfield. At that time his father was in business at Burnlee as a dyer, in partnership with Mr. Harpin, as Harpin and Batley. Shortly afterwards the partnership was dissolved, and Mr. Batley removed to Armitage Bridge, where he continued to carry on his business as a dyer. The first school Mr. Joseph Batley attended was that of Mr. Tattersfield, which was held in the old Buxton Road Chapel. On leaving Tattersfield's he went to Mr. Jackson’s school, at Holmfirth, and after being there two years the school was removed to Rashcliffe, and Mr. Batley followed it there. In 1835 he went to the High School at Hamburg, in Germany, and boarded with Mr. Williams, the English master there. At Easter, 1838, he was sent to the Rev. B. B. Haigh’s school, Grimstone, near Tadcaster, and he stayed there until the midsummer of 1840. He went on trial as a clerk to the office of Messrs. Brook and Freeman, solicitors, on September 7th of that year, and about the end of the same year he was articled to the late Mr. John Freeman, who was then in partnership with the late Mr. Thomas Brook, the business being carried on under the style of Brook and Freeman. At the Hilary term in 1849 Mr. Batley was admitted a solicitor. On July 1st, 1850, he was taken in as partner in the firm, the name being then changed from Brook and Freeman to Brook, Freeman, and Batley.

Mr. Batley was elected clerk to the Improvement Commissioners on August 2nd, 1865. The candidates then proposed were himself, Mr. Jonas Craven, and Mr. Joseph Bottomley. When the votes for each candidate were taken it was found that Mr. Batley had eight, Mr. Craven five, end Mr. Bottomley two. Mr. Bottomley was thrown out, and on a second round the voting was Batley 10, Craven five. Mr. Batley was therefore elected. When the borough was incorporated Mr. Batley was, on September 7th, 1868, elected Town Clerk. He took a prominent part in obtaining the charter of incorporation for the borough, and when this was obtained a great deal of work fell upon him. The Council could not at once get into working order, but under his able and skilful management things were so well regulated that all departments were formed and carried on up to their present position. He was certainly an able advisor of the Corporation. The various local Acts that have been passed under his preparation and advice are monuments of his great and professional ability. These Acts are the Huddersfield Water Act 1869, Huddersfield Waterworks Act 1871, Huddersfield Improvement Act 1871, Huddersfield Waterworks and Improvement Act 1876, Huddersfield Improvement Act 1880, and Huddersfield Corporation Act 1882. These are very voluminous, and show great foresight and appreciation of the wants and necessities of a large and growing town. As town clerk Mr. Batley was thoroughly devoted to his duties. He was a most efficient officer, and the Corporation will find it difficult to fill the position he held so well with a man who can at once take the place he so ably filled. His whole heart and soul was in his work, and when advised by those who felt that his close attention to his duties was doing him serious injury to retire from the office, he would not listen to such suggestions. He continued to work hard for the town, and though he broke down under his labours, he still going to the duties he loved so well.

Mr. Batley took a great interest in all matters affecting his profession, and was always read; to lend a helping hand in assisting to maintain its prestige and dignity. On the formation of the Huddersfield Incorporated Law Society, in 1881, Mr. Batley was elected one of the first governors, and at that time and since he has taken a great interest in the work of the society. In October of last year he was unanimously elected president of the society, and notwithstanding his impaired health he has given unremitting attention to its work. Death has unfortunately overtaken him daring his presidential term.

Mr. Batley was formerly secretary to the Huddersfield Chamber of Commerce. He was elected on December 9tb, 1861, in succession to the late Mr. Joseph Rayner, then a solicitor in the town, and member of the firm of Fenton, Jones, and Rayner, who resigned his office on his being appointed Town Clerk of Bradford, end subsequently of Liverpool. On August 3rd, 1866, a special meeting of the Chamber was held, when a letter was read from Mr. Batley, resigning his office for reasons of health end pressure of other engagements. After some discussion it was resolved that the President (Mr. Wright Mellor), Messrs. W. B. Haigh, William Mallinson, and Edward Huth be appointed a depuration to wait upon with Mr. Batley with a view of inducing him to withdraw his resignation, and in the event of his declining to adopt that course to request him to retain the appointment to the end of the year. The next monthly meeting was held on August 8th, and with reference to the secretary’s resignation the deputation appointed to see Mr. Batley on the subject reported that they had done so, and he had submitted that it would be much better that the appointment should be made at once, on the understanding that he would, until the end of the year, assist the new secretary as might be required, as he had offered to do. Under these circumstances, therefore, the Chamber considered that the now appointment had much better be proceeded with. On the motion of Mr. Huth, seconded by Major Brooke, a resolution accepting Mr. Batley’s resignation, and thanking him for his efficient services was passed. Mr. Charles Mills was appointed his successor in the office. On August 29th of the same year a special meeting of the Chamber was held, when, on the proposition of Colonel Crosland, seconded by Mr. W. B. Hugh, a hearty vote of thanks was passed to Mr. Batley for his efficient services to the Chamber during the period of his secretaryship.

In West Yorkshire Freemasonry Mr. Batley will he much missed. About 35 years ago he joined the Lodge of Harmony, 275, and then became a most active member of the Order. He held various offices, being indeed so zealous for the cause that few Freemasons in Yorkshire were better known than he was. All the honours which his lodge and the province could confer upon him were given him. He was a P.M. of the Lodge of Harmony 275, a P.Z. of the Chapter Perseverance 275, and a P.P.G.W. He devoted himself with the same energy to Freemasonry as he did to his work. He was a member of the Charity Committee connected with the Freemasons, a subscriber and great supporter of the fund for aged Freemasons and their widows, and he took particular interested in the Masonic boys’ and girls’ schools.

He was one of the first volunteers and was present at the preliminary meeting, which was called in Huddersfield, to form a volunteer corps. He enrolled himself as one of the very first in the town and he subsequently took a commission as lieutenant in No. 1 Company, of which he ultimately became captain, and on his retirement he was presented with a silver claret jug and six silver cups. Mr. Batley has served on the Infirmary Board and also held a number of minor offices. He was a notary public and a member of the Incorporated Law Society.

Mr. Batley was a strong Churchman, and on Christmas Day he was present at the services at St. Thomas’ Church. Hs caught cold, and on December 31st Dr. Scott was called in and found that he was suffering from congestion of the lungs. He had this complaint for three days, and for 21 days suffered from broncho-pneumonia. During all this time he had unremitting attention, and on Wednesday he declared himself that he was much better. On January 8th, Dr. Wilson Fox, of London, Physician-in-Ordinary to the Queen, visited Huddersfield, and saw him. Dr. Fox stayed all night, but while he was in Huddersfield Mr. Batley did not suffer from any attack, and Dr. Fox told him that he would get well. For a considerable time past Mr Batley has been suffering from rheumatic gout, being more rheumatism that gout. Last year he went to Bournemouth for a time, and derived some advantage from the change. Dr. Scott advised a visit to Weisbaden or Homburg. Mr. Batley had a prejudice against the former place, but consented to think about a journey to the latter. Eventually, however, he gave up the idea. When in London be consulted Sir William Jenner, who coincided with Dr. Scott in his recommendation to visit Weisbaden or Homburg.

Mr. Batley's loss will be severely felt all over the town. He was a man of sterling worth, one whose friendship was worth cultivating, and a man who might be trusted not to deviate from the straight path of duty. His work for Huddersfield has been one of no slight importance. His services have not only been most efficient, but they were rendered with each willing cheerfulness to show how thoroughly he was interested in his duties. To a great extent the present good position of the town is owing to his tact and influence in connection with his conduct of corporate affairs. He was energetic and unwearying in his efforts to improve the position of Huddersfield in any way he could. His death will create a great void, not only in public matters in the town, bat also in private life.

From the first Hr. Batley was attended by his old friend and physician, Dr. Scott, of Waverly House, who gave his most unremitting attention to the case until the end.

Mr. Batley leaves a widow and eight children, six boob and two daughters. His sons are: Mr. George Lewis Batley, who is a partner in the firm of Messrs. Brook, Freeman, and Batley; Mr. Arthur G. Batley, who is a solicitor practising in London; Charles, Sydney, Albert, and Roger. The deceased gentleman was in his 61st year.

We understand that it was the express wish of Mr. Batley, a wish in which his family quite concur, that his funeral should be of the simplest possible character, and attended only by his own family and immediate relations. In consequence of this the members of the Huddersfield Incorporated Law Society do not propose to attend the funeral as they otherwise would do, but they have arranged for a meeting to be held on the same day, when votes of condolence will be passed, and addresses given, in which Mr. Batley’s life work will be warmly spoken about.

The offices of Messrs. Brook, Freeman, and Batley, in New Street, were closed on Thursday, and the blinds were drawn at the Borough Offices. The flag on the Town Hall was hoisted half-mast high.

In deference to the expressed wish of the bereaved family, the members of the Corporation will not join the funeral cortege, but they are requested by the Mayor (Alderman Varley) to meet in the Council Chamber at 10-30 a.m. on Monday morning to show a tribute of respect to the memory of the deceased gentleman, and to pass votes of condolence.

At 11 o’clock the same morning Mr. Joshua Marshall, the borough organist, will give a recital on the grand organ, in the Town Hall, in memory of the late Town Clerk.


At the Borough Police Court, yesterday morning Mr. Edward Armitage, who presided over the bench (addressing the deputy clerk), said:

Mr. Slocombe, before we commence the proceedings this morning I feel I should be very remiss in my duty if I did not make some allusion to the sudden death of Mr. Batley, the Town Clark. I am sore every one, not only connected with this court, but connected with the town, must feel very deeply the loss which we have sustained. I do not know any man in the town who has been more respected than Mr. Batley has. He has always in his professional career, I am sure, conducted any business that may have been entrusted to him, either; in connection with this court, connected with the town, or connected with his private business. In a manner which must have given entire satisfaction to those who have employed him. I feel that the town has sustained a very great loss by his death, and I am sure we all deeply sympathise with his family in their severe and irreparable loss. We feel that this court, certainly, has lost a very valuable friend, because many points arise in connection with the business of the town which have to come before the Borough Court, and I am sure whenever he has had to appeal before us we have always received the greatest kindness, the greatest respect, and the greatest consideration from him, I only hope and trust that his family may be supported in the great trial they have sustained.