One of the more eye-catching items from the records of civic events is a photograph of the mayoral procession that took place as part of the celebrations for Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee. They are photographed standing on the Saturday Market Place with 2 St Margaret’s Place in the background.
There are 23 individuals lined up in procession. The staff bearer, sword bearer, and the four mace bearers precede the mayor, who can be seen wearing his ceremonial robes. Following them are the alderman and common councillors all wearing top hats and gloves. There was a threat of rain in the air as many of them are also carrying umbrellas. In the background you can see two policemen standing guard, two servants and a man looking out of the windows at the gathered officials along with a few members of the public. The dignitaries had just processed through the town and were waiting to enter St Margaret’s Church for the service of thanksgiving when the photo was taken. The local newspapers of the time have a description of the route and all the groups who took part in the procession. However, no names are written on the photo so as part of the Jubilee celebrations I attempted to but a name to as many faces as possible. Numbers in brackets () refer to associated numbers on the photo.
The first six members in the line are the staff bearer, sword bearer, and four mace bearers. Finding their names was relatively simple. They were paid a salary for performing their duties so a look in the Treasurer’s accounts for the appropriate year provided all their names in a specific Corporation Officers section. Knowing their names, I consulted the Hall Books to find when they were appointed. Leading the procession was John Carr (1) the staff bearer who was appointed in January 1873. He also acted as the Mayors Officer and Beadle which explains the higher salary. In the 1871 census he is listed as a police sergeant. He retired from the force a few months later in November after 25 years of service. The sword bearer was Edward Haines (4), who was appointed in May 1877. In the 1881 census he is listed as the Superintendent of Baths and was living in the public baths in Ferry Street. In the 1891 census he was the County Court bailiff and living in an apartment in the High Street.
The mace bearers needed a little more work to individually identify. The easiest was Robert Cotton (6) due to his age at around 77 in 1887. He was appointed as a mace bearer in December 1859 and had been in post the longest. In the 1881 and 1891 censuses he was living in a bedehouse (almshouse) in St James Road. The next is George Lake (5) who was appointed in April 1872 and is noted as a Billiard Maker in the Hall Book when he was chosen over other applicants. His son, also called George Lake, would take over from Robert Cotton as a mace bearer in 1896 and both would serve during the Diamond Jubilee. The other two (2 and 3) are Henry Everitt, appointed September 1886, and James Williamson, appointed May 1884. Henry can be found in the 1881 census as the foreman of a timberyard while James is the ostler, looking after the horses, in the Bird in Hand pub located at 19 Norfolk Street. Henry would resign as a mace bearer in December 1889 while James would still be in post for the Diamond Jubilee in 1897.
The names of the mayor, aldermen, and councillors were easy to find as at the start of each meeting in the Hall Books every member is named, and it’s noted if they are present or absent. However, positively attaching names to faces needed a little more work. The easiest was the mayor, identifiable by his robes and chain. The mayor at the time was William Burkitt (7) a maltster and corn merchant. At the end of his tenure, he was presented with an illuminated address thanking him for his service during his mayoral year. Normally the Hall Books notes that the thanks were given verbally so he must have impressed his peers with his work throughout the year. The almshouses in Queen Street are named after him. The next easiest is Frederick Savage (16) due to his statue near the South Gates in King’s Lynn and a copy of his mayoral portrait in the Stories of Lynn Museum.
In the same series as the jubilee procession photo is a small set of mayoral photographs. With these I could identify George Gold Sadler (19), William Samuel Valentine Miles (21), and Alfred Ream (22). There is another, currently uncatalogued, deposit which contains a few more mayoral photographs. These include photos of William Read Pridgeon (11), Sir Lewis Whincop Jarvis (14), and George Smith Woodwark (20). This uncatalogued run of photos also has an image of William Burkitt.
Another very helpful resource is the work done by The Friends of Hardwick Road Cemetery who have produced two booklets, called King’s Lynn Mayors Volume 1 and Volume 2, about the mayors interred there. The booklets include photos of some mayors which I was able to use to identify John Dyker Thew (9) and John Osborne Smeatham (23).
Sadly, this still leaves seven members of the procession unidentified (8, 10, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19). Not all members of the council were present on the day, and more were likely lined up out of frame unable to fit into the photo, so we have more names than faces. The photographs I have are all of mayors, so I don’t have images of those not elected to the office. Newspapers of the time rarely printed photographs so they don’t help on this occasion.
Of the two policemen on show, one is clearly in view (24), and you can see the sergeants’ strips on his arm. The other is mostly obscured behind the procession, see above the top hats of (21) and (22), and so cannot be positively identified. Luckily, prior to lockdown a volunteer had been working through the Watch Committee minute books who acted as the oversight committee. These are useful because they record the names and dates when the men were recruited into the force. They also note the promotions, disciplinary actions, and the date they left the force plus the reason why. With this list we know the five sergeants in 1887 were, George Gallaway, Robert Seaman, William Smith, and William Taylor, plus the Clerk Sergeant Sidney Dixon. There’s an image of the King’s Lynn police force in the 1890s, with the caption “The Bearded ‘Nineties”, which was printed in the Lynn Advertiser in July 1936 and names many but not all of the force. The sergeants sit on the front row, along with the inspector, with three of the five named. The one who looks closest to the jubilee photo, first on the left, is sadly one of the blanks however, this still means we can narrow him down to either William Smith or William Taylor.
The servants (25 & 26) in the windows of 2 St Margaret’s Place are harder to positively identify due to the general turnover of maids in service and time passed, although with the aid of the census we can make an educated guess. The 1891 census lists Martha Black, aged 19, and Annie Taylor, aged 15, as servants to George Chadwick. George, listed as a surgeon and had been appointed as the Admiralty Surgeon for the port according to the announcement in the local papers, had arrived in 1882. Annie would have been too young to be in service four years prior, but Martha could have been post and looking out of the window.
The man hanging out of the window sadly has a blurred face (27). He is in 1 St Margaret’s Place rather than number 2. In 1881 the house was owned by James Bowker, alderman, and mayor, but in the 1891 census only two female servants are listed so we can’t see who owned the property at that point. The 1892 Kelly’s Directory lists A. & J. Bowker maltsters and corn merchants in St Margaret’s Place but does not give the property number. James Bowker is listed by the newspaper as taking part in the procession, so it is unlikely to be him. It could be A. Bowker, another family member, or a guest.
Researched and Written by Luke Shackell