1923 Tribute to Livesey

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This newspaper report of the erecting of a plaque commemorating Joseph Livesey shows the great interest in his life and work, in 1923. It refers to a tribute by the 75 year-old Mrs Lewis, herself a legendary figure of the temperance movement in Blackburn.

The John the Baptist of Teetotalism

Mrs. Lewis’s Tribute to Joseph Livesey.

Birthplace of Joseph Livesey.
The shop on the left with tablet fixed over the door. A portion of the large crowd who witnessed the unveiling ceremony.

Walton-le-Dale, near Preston, was the Mecca of temperance workers from all parts of Lancashire on Saturday. The occasion being the unveiling of a memorial tablet affixed to 146, Victoria-road, the birthplace of Joseph Livesey. The tablet, of bronze, bears the following inscription: “Joseph Livesey, the Father of Teetotalism, was born here, March 5th, 1794.” Mr. W. E. Moss, temperance missioner to Mrs Lewis, Lees Hall, Blackburn, has purchased Joseph Livesey’s birthplace and the cottage next door, and at his decease the property is to pass to the British Temperance League, “as an acknowledgement of what I owe to the Father of Teetotalism.” The tablet has been affixed by Mr. Moss, assisted by a few friends who desired to participate in the perpetuation of the memory of Joseph Livesey. The large gathering included over a hundred people from Blackburn, and a contingent of Good Templars from Preston, who walked in procession to Walton-le-Dale, headed by the 1st Preston Company of the Boy’s Brigade connected with North-road Wesleyan Chapel.

The Rev. W. Askwith, Vicar of Walton-le-Dale, presided, and the unveiling ceremony was performed by Mrs. Lewis, Blackburn’s “Temperance Queen,” who, by the way, celebrated her 75th birthday on Saturday. Supporting them were Mrs. Reveley, of Preston, a granddaughter of Joseph Livesey; Mr. T. Lewis, Mr. W. E. Moss, Mr. Chas. Smith, secretary of the British Temperance League, and Mrs. Gowans, of Blackburn. Two hymns were sung, one being “Lift up your hearts, and voices, too,” written by Henry Anderton, the first teetotal poet, who was born and buried in Walton-le-Dale.

The Chairman said they were honouring Walton-le-Dale by erecting there a tablet tot one who was born in the village and who became one of the greatest reformers of modern days. Joseph Livesey was a philanthropist in the highest sense of the word, and the work he did had abounded increasingly. He believed it would increase even more. He very well remembered the name of Joseph Livesey, but little thought at one time that he would ever come to reside in the village where he was born. During his first curacy he did a good deal of temperance work and used some of Joseph Livesey’s pamphlets to further the cause. He had been in the ministry 40 years, and it was a coincidence that he took up church work about the same time that Mrs. Lewis commenced her mission in Blackburn. He was glad to see Mrs. Lewis with them that afternoon, for such an occasion as that would have been incomplete without her. (Hear, here.) It was said that the mantle of Joseph Livesey had fallen upon her, and he was only sorry she was in failing health. When Joseph Livesey commenced his temperance work nobody had any sympathy with it. The size of that gathering showed the contrast between then and now. In the old days men thought they were going to die if they became abstainers, but to their astonishment they found they became very much better. (Hear, hear.) Joseph Livesey saw that one of the greatest evils of modern life was drink, and he became determined to fight it. He (the vicar) was quite sure that teetotalism was the right thing, and he advised all who were not teetotallers to become so. (Applause.)

Mr. Moss said he was pleased to see such a large gathering, but there were many others who were unable for various reasons to be present. Just before leaving Blackburn he received a telegram from Lady Whittaker, wife of Sir T. P. Whittaker, whose father, in the year 1836, walked past that house, saw Joseph Livesey, and became the first temperance missionary sent out to proclaim the new gospel of teetotalism. Lady Whittaker wished that meeting every success. He had also received a letter from Sir Meredith Whittaker, brother of Sir T. P. Whittaker who wished them not only happiness that day, but joy and happiness in their work in days to come. Mr Chandos Wilson, one of the leading workers among young people in Lancashire, was unable to be present because he was not in the best of health. He had also received a letter from Mrs Whatmoor, daughter of Dr. Fredk. Richard Lees, one of the greatest men that movement ever had, and who signed the pledge after listening to Joseph Livesey’s “Malt Liquor” lecture. A long letter had been sent my Mr. H. J. Boyd, formerly secretary of the British Temperance League, and who was now 91 years of age. Mr. Boyd pointed out the labours of Joseph Livesey, A member of the well-known and distinguised

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