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Saturday 19 January 1889 – Thomas Byrd campaigns for County Council

Category Badsey and Aldington
The Evesham Journal
Transcription of article


A meeting in support of the candidature of Mr Byrd was held in the British Schoolroom on Wednesday evening when the room was crammed.  Amongst those present were Lord Lifford, Mrs Bagnall, Miss Byrd, Messrs R Johnston, W Pearman, B Burrows, R Tooley, G Stephens, T S Beford, T Wilson, W Tustin, Kyte, R Hill, Cripps, Boughton, H Haines, A Roberts, T Savage, W Hensley, B Spoiers, W Roberts, Warren, C Vizard, C Hall, Walker, T Wilkins, J Box, H Geden, W Folkes, W Haines, A Hamblin, J Jones, W Stanley, J Smith, F Stokes, H Ingles, C Clarke, J Ingles, J Bunn, C Wilkes, G Figgett, H Pulley, N Carter, Parker, E Smith, J Morris, C Ashwin, H Ellis, Harwood, etc.

Mr J Figgett took the chair, and said they had it in their power to send to the County Council the man they thought would fairly represent them, that man in his opinion being Mr Byrd, who would advocate and do all in his power for the labourers to have allotments in Broadway, and thus prevent starvation staring them in the face.

Mr Byrd said no doubt they were all aware that the election would take place next Thursday, and this would be the last time he would address them before that time.  The duties of the county councillor would be very onerous and take considerable time to master.  Amongst their duties were the care of the roads, power to stop encroachments, appoint medical officers, coroners, part power of the police, of the asylums and reformatories.  He considered he was likely to represent them.  He had not one man to say a good word for him or praise him except the working men, and he would do all in his power to help them.  He had known poverty as much as any man in the room.  (MR B BURROWS:  No, no.)  He had had cider and bread for his breakfast.  (A VOICE:  You may be a good man, but not able to take that situation.)

This was followed by great uproar, when LORD LIFFORD appealed to them to give Mr Byrd a fair hearing.

Mr Byrd, continuing, said he had shirked his work some years back when guardian, but he promised to attend to his duties in future, and he could attend to those as county councillor as well as anybody.  He should like to see unpaid magistrates done away with, and replaced by stipendiaries.  It seemed a strange thing to him that Mr Smyth did not say anything about allotments before this contest came about, and let the land himself, and not try to saddle the Sanitary Authority with it.  (Hear, hear.)  It was 18 years since he (Mr Byrd) had let his allotments.  Then he gave them a half-year’s credit on the rent, the Lady Day rents not falling due till Michaelmas, and he would tell the Broadway labourers to have theirs on the same condition.  He should like to see very labourer living in his own cottage.  (Hear, hear.)  In conclusion, Mr Byrd expressed his desire to spend the last few years of his life working for his fellow men.

MR HALL then addressed the meeting, and said there had been a lot said about the County Council, but he knew very little about it.  He met Mr Averill on Monday and told him that he thought the labourers would improve the land, but he (Mr Averill) did not think so.  (A VOICE:  That’s nothing to do with the County Council.)  He had no doubt that Mr Byrd would be returned by 148 majority.

MR FIELD hoped that both sides would have fair play, and after the election was over have no differences.  Their opponents had said they had made false statements to catch votes, but they were sorry if they had.  At the same time he did not consider their opponents perfect.  It would be the duty of the councillors to elect aldermen, and he had heard that Mr Averill would be appointed to that office if he were turned out at the election.  He hoped they would go in for allotments, which would lift them out of dungeons into freedom.  He understood that Mr Smyth was willing to let his land at £3 – (interruption, and a VOICE:  £2 10s) – and if they could have it to do them some good he recommended them to take it.  If they returned Mr Byrd he would get them better dwellings and allotments.  (A VOICE:  We shall want a better man than Mr Byrd.)  They knew Mr Byrd was a good surveyor.  (A VOICE:  A bade one.)  Uproar ensued, in which several non-voters and youths tried to put Mr Foden out.

MR C HALL, in a long speech, said that if it were not for the working man, the British Government would be a bankrupt and now they had the franchise, which had only been made poor use of, they had been insulted by having this sham Allotment Bill.  (Great uproar.)  If they did not help themselves no one would help them.

MR GEORGE FIGGETT said he was glad to see so many present, but sorry to see so much antipathy shown by their opponents.  They said the council would have nothing to do with the allotments, but he (Mr Figgett) said they had all to do with it, or else the 17th clause of the Allotment Act was not worth a straw.  Mr Averill had been 28 years connected with the Worcestershire Quarter Session, but if he had to be returned by the popular vote he would not have been there.  (Loud cries of “Yes, yes.”)  If they had allotments they would have no need of charity and soup kitchens, but if the noble Lord who was present had come forward instead of Mr Averill, they would have returned him by a large majority.  (Loud cheers.)  Hen then proposed a resolution in favour of Mr Byrd, and pledging the meeting to do all in its power to return him.

This was seconded by MR GEORGE HARWOOD.

LORD LIFFORD then ascended the platform, amid loud cheers.  His lordship said that he liked freedom of speech, whether political or otherwise, but that freedom of speech must be accompanied by decency and courtesy of language.  At other places the speakers on Mr Byrd’s behalf had descended to low personalities and abuse against his friends – the labourers of Broadway – in whom he had taken great interest.  The reason he did not come forward was that he considered Mr Averill, who was a gentleman of the highest character, understood the affairs of Worcestershire, and was a good economist.  He was, therefore, in favour of Mr Averill, and hoped they would return him by a large majority.  He then proposed the following amendment, “That Mr Averill, from his experience, is a fit and proper person to represent this division on the County Council.”  (Applause.)

This was seconded by MR JOHNSTON, and although MR FIGGETT said the resolution was carried, the uproar evokes by this statement shewed that the majority of the meeting were of a different opinion.

MR FIELD said he was sorry that anything had been said against the Broadway labourers, but the man who said it had not been allowed to attend their meetings since.  If they wanted things better, they must have better men at the head of affairs.  He then proposed a vote of thanks to the Chairman, which was seconded by LORD LIFFORD.  Cheers were given for Lord Lifford and Mr and Miss Byrd.

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The following week, a letter to the Editor of The Evesham Journal was published:



I notice in your report of Mr Byrd’s speech at Broadway on Wednesday in last week that behind my back, with no opportunity to reply, he complains that Id did “not say anything about allotments before this contest came about, and let the land himself and not to try to saddle the Sanitary Authority with it.”

I fear Mr Byrd speaks without making himself acquainted with the facts.  If Mr Byrd had asked anyone of his supporters he would have been told that Mr Smyth only came into possession of the land at Christmas, and therefore could not possibly have offered it to the labourers of Broadway earlier than when he did.  As to setting it in allotments himself and relieving the Sanitary Authority of their duty, it is not hi place to provide land.  It is the duty of the Sanitary Authority to do so where it is required.  Mr Byrd is a member of that body, but as he confesses he has neglected his duty hitherto and promises amendment, I hope he will see his way to provide land otherwise than by purchase.  Will Mr Byrd buy?

I am pleased to see he does not consider I have asked an extravagant price.  If there is any difficulty about raising the purchase money, I shall be happy to lend it to the Sanitary Authority at 3½% for ten years.  The labourers of Broadway had better notice that my offer will shortly expire.  I presume they are alive to the fact that no landlord will think of allowing a tenant to break up old turf.  They have, therefore, better terms offered them than any farmer in Broadway.

Yours truly