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The Romance of Liverpool


December 3, 1895
There was a crowded audience in the Picton Lecture Hall last evening, when Mr. Frank J. Leslie, F.R.G.S., delivered an interesting discourse in connection with the Corporation Free Lectures, on “The Romance of Liverpool: Incidents in the Life of the Town 200 Years Ago.”

Councillor P. Kearney presided. The Lecturer said that the most picturesque period of he town’s history was when the rough manners and life of the earlier ages were giving way before the steady advance of civilising institutions, and the dark shadows of feudal oppression were disappearing before the clearer light of learning, broader religious faith, and wider knowledge of other lands and peoples. This was equally true of the city in which we lived.

When the seventeenth century began Liverpool was a small place of no importance. And its inhabitants, men, women, and children, numbered not more than 1,000, while there were only seven streets, with 200 houses. Property was so low in value that shops in Castle Street were each let for 4s. a year. When that century closed Liverpool was a thriving, busy town, with its fleet of splendid merchantmen, fine streets and houses, and every sign of commercial enterprise and prosperity.

The lecturer then proceeded to review the history of the town in the seventeenth century, and particularly described the old castle, mentioning the fact that there still remains a subterranean passage from the site of that ancient edifice to the river beneath James Street.

He then sketched the connection of the Moore family with Liverpool. They first lived at Moore Hall, which gave its name to Oldhall Street, and then at Bankhall, but owing to their getting into difficulties, their property was sold in 1709 by the mortgages to the Earl of Derby, who thus became possessor of the valuable Bootle estates.

Mr. Leslie then spoke of the village of Everton, the siege of Liverpool, and the growth of the trade of the port, alluding to the great law suit between the town and the London Cheesemongers, which lasted eight years, concerning town dues, Liverpool having to negotiate a loan to meet the expense of the case. He alluded to the risks the inhabitants incurred in the 17th century in criticizing the action of the Mayor, and the penalties they were called upon to pay for questioning the chief magistrate’s actions.

In conclusion, the lecturer pointed out that as Liverpool had an ancient history with which very few were thoroughly acquainted, all residents in the city should endeavour to devote a small portion of their time in recalling the marvellous developments of the place and the extremely interesting history of their local ancestors.

The lecture was charmingly illustrated by means of the oxyhydrogen lantern, some 50 valuable views of ancient Liverpool being shown on a screen. At the close votes of thanks were passed to the lecturer and the chairman.
(Liverpool Mercury: December 4, 1895)

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