Thursday, 12 May 2016

Week 19: Nantwich's Oldest Tradesman

About two months ago I did an almost 2 hour long video chat with a lovely lady from findmypast in England.  Her objective was to find out what the users think of the site and it resources and what could make it better.  I said that there were so many sites that already offered civil and census records but none of them offered those records and a huge selection of scanned newspapers.  So please, please, expand on the newspapers and especially small town newspapers.

I was absolutely thrilled to find the Nantwich Guardian has just been added.  I am sure to find all kinds of mentions of Palins there, everything from the typical births and deaths to who knows what!

So, I quickly stopped what I was doing and went to do a broad search – no first name just any Palin listed in that newspaper.  The very first one that came up was complete with picture, which is very rare to find.  I have transcribed it here for you.

Nantwich Oldest Tradesman

We regret to record the death of Mr. John Palin, watchmaker and jeweler, High Street, Nantwich, which occurred on Saturday morning at the age of 83 years.  He was the oldest tradesman in Nantwich, having carried on the business in High Street since he was a young man.

There was no more respected personality in the town and district that this venerable gentleman, who, in spite of his burden of years, retained almost to the last his activities, and his interest in business and the town with which he had a life-long association.  He was only confined to his bed for a fortnight, and hitherto, until several months ago, he had enjoyed robust health.

John Palin
 A native of Nantwich, he only left town for a few years to serve his apprenticeship with a firm of Wolverhampton watchmakers and jewelers.  His father was Mr. John Palin of the Cedars, Nantwich.  A man of many interesting reminiscences.  Mr. Palin would recall the early days of railway travel when he was going to his place of apprenticeship – the old open trucks, the precessors of the present luxurious fitted carriages.  On the way to Wolverhampton, the leisurely local would pull up at Madeley station to allow the Irish mail to go thundering past at five and twenty miles an hour, and during the wait the passengers would help themselves to the refreshments set out on the tables.  The business in High street was formerly carried on by his wife’s uncle Mr. Massey, who used to say, when he started business he had three watches, one which belonged to himself, one which he borrowed and one he had bought and the old oak box in which he kept his stock-in-trade is still in the possession of the family today.

Mr. Palin was in business in that shop for over 60 years.  In his business capacity Mr. Palin was known throughout South Cheshire and many treasured pieces of silver plate, given by public subscription, to members of county families and town worthies have been supplied by him.  Three public clocks of Nantwich were under his control – the Church, Savings Bank and Town Hall.  The existing clock at the Nantwich Parish Church at a cost of £200, was installed by him.  The old clock was without a dial, and the difficulty of erecting one in connection with the new mechanism without interfering with the architectural features of the tower was a matter of long and careful consideration.  It was solved eventually by fixing the present dial of a particularly graceful design.  The Savings Bank clock too, he installed.

For many years he held the position of trustee of the Nantwich Savings Bank, a position in fact he only retired from a few months ago on account of ill health.  Mr. Palin had a log and honoured association with the Parish Church of Nantwich.  Beside the office of sidesman, he was twice elected a peoples warden, once in the incumbency of Canon Chater and the other time in Rev. F.G. Blackburne’s time.  Although he interested himself deeply in the town’s affairs, and subscribed liberally to local social and religious movements, he never sought public offices.  Frequently he had been invited to allow himself to be nominated for such positions but had always steadfastly refused.  At the formation of the Volunteer Corps in 1839, Mr. Palin was one of the first members.  Few now of his comrades survive him.  When in a narrative mood, Mr. Palin would recall many of the old customs of the town.  At Rag Fair, the hiring day for farm servants, the town was so thronged with visitors that so to speak, one could walk on people’s heads and it was no uncommon sight, he used to say , to see the farm men change out of their old clothes and into new in the public streets.  His wife predeceased him on February 13, thirty years ago.  He is survived by two sons and three daughters.

The Funeral

The interment took place on Wednesday afternoon in the family grave at All Saints, Nantwich, where the deceased’s wife and an infant son are buried.  The Rev. G.E.F. Day (curate) officiated.  The mourners were Mr. William Palin and Mr. John Palin (sons), Mr. Robert Hawkesworth (grandsons).  Among the friends and neighbours who attended were Messrs. J Matthews, T Parsonage, James Gilbert, E. Ferry, T. Chesters, T. Daniels, J.C. Gilbert and J.D. Harding.  Flowers were sent by the following; His loving sons and daughters, Robert and Emmie (Crewe), Messrs. G.F. and A. Brown, His Hawkesworth Grandchildren, Mr. H.S. Young.

The funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr. C. Hampson.


As seen in Nantwich Guardian March 3, 1916 – also seen in the same issue but on another page

Mr. Palin, the oldest Nantwich tradesman, who just died at the age of 85 years, was a remarkable man.  He could read and write almost to the last without the aid of glasses and the day he died he signed a document.  Like many educated men of this period, when more importance was attached to handwriting, than at present, Mr. Palin had a style of calligraphy which resembled copper plate.  He was educated in the old Nantwich Grammar School which stood in the churchyard.  Discipline was lax in those days.  The amiable old pedagogue did not rule them with a road of iron.  Any boyish dispute which arose during the course of lessons was forthwith settles by fisticuffs in the Churchyard adjoining.

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