Mr HJ Wilson to Mrs Tanner

Scope and Content

Copy of letter. Two letters. Written from [Sheffield]. He is much obliged for her full reply to his enquiry about Burgess. He still does not feel satisfied with what Burgess is doing or what his exact connection is with the LNA Disagrees with his circular about the 'Working Men's Institutions'. After a lot more disapprovals he suggests that no very important step should be taken till after the 23 Jun when there will be an opportunity to talk things over.


Henry J Wilson

North Counties League

24 May 1875

Dear Mrs Tanner

I am much obliged by your full reply to my enquiry about Burgess' position and authority. If he were half as careful to give reasonable explanations we should get on better I am sure.

You know he was with this League first and though he had his good points he practically refused to render a satisfactory account of how his time was spent or to submit to instructions and directions. hence after an interview with several members of our Executive he was cashiered.

It seems to me there is a danger in his full and uncontrolled style of proceeding, and I asked the questions in my last because I should like to know if we are really dealing with you and the Ladies' national, or simply with Wm Burgess. In the one case I am ready to give a much more earnest consideration to any matter than I think is deserved in the other case.

I want to know what is supposed to be the precise work of the 'Ladies National' that I may avoid clashing with it. It seems to do but little [---------] but I have repeatedly urged on Burgess [---------] it could most usefully work in Wales. Scotland has its own Association and its 60 members and the League has 6 well defined counties with 104 members; the 'Midland' Region has its own district, and the National looks especially after the South. Ireland and Wales with 103 and 32 members have no active organisation that I know of while they are both of easy access from Liverpool. Mrs Butler always seemed to approve of this but Burgess does not do it. Then I thought the notepaper from which I enclosed a specimen, very unsatisfactory indeed. He used it for a long time but just now has taken again to LNA paper again. You see it is just 'Association Bold Place' indicating freedom from everybody, and, what I object to exceedingly, a desire to exalt himself by keeping his employers' far more prominent names out of sight altogether.

I do not know whether you are aware that there is at 7 Bold Place no outward and visible sign of its being an 'Office' at all, or of any connection with Repeal Associations, while the room downstairs which was an 'Office' when we paid the rent, is now private, and all office work is done at 53 North John St. His house is now a temperance Hotel, and if you pay for Bligh's living there, I don't see why you should pay the rent or any part of it.

Once or twice before Burgess had made a little start to get an independent footing in the 'Six Northern Counties'; but immediately I saw the circular about 'Working Men's Institutions, I represented to Mrs Butler, and to him, that nothing but confusion and clashing and needless expense could come. [---------] I found from Mrs Butler that she had not seen [---------] till it was issued and approved of the introduction of the 'Ladies National' into it. I found from Burgess that it was a very hasty [---------] he could hardly defend it on any ground. Of course you will see that such a circular gives the stamp of authority to act from the Ladies' national. It was then arranged that as little disturbance as possible should be caused in the Northern Counties. But he has since written that Mr Stansfeld wishes it to go on, and he asks me to meet him in London to confer with Mr Stansfeld upon it. Now I hold that if the Ladies National desires to launch and foster a [---------] Association of this kind it ought to, and I think the ladies would communicate in a friendly manner beforehand with the organisations on whose toes it would tread so as to obviate inconvenience as far as possible. If it is plainly put before us I would of course at once confer with my Executive, and with their approval enter into the revised arrangements. But I think the League is bound to object to have this mine sprung by Burgess on his own responsibility. Some of the 'Midland' people don't like it either, I know. His rundown style and love of being a great man, and irresponsible, will cause waste of money and energy, if nothing more. I have never taken such responsibility upon myself as this 'permanent official' does, and I should not think of it. neither does any other person in the movement.

This is another specimen of his [---------] while not too diligent in legitimate employments

If I were to venture a suggestion it would be that no very important step should be taken now till after the 23rd of Jun when we shall have opportunity to talk over these things, and the future

Yours truly

Henry J Wilson

I do not wish Burgess to know of my writing at present. At the proper time I may have more to say and to let him know


24 May 1875

Dear Mrs Tanner

I write in haste to catch mail; and added a hasty line that I did not wish Burgess to know at present that I had communicated with you.

Let me explain that in saying that in one sense I do not care a pin whether he knows or not. But [---------] written in order to make complaints of him both to know how the matter really stands between you and him and us [Unable to decipher more]

Administrative / Biographical History

This League = Northern Counties League, Hon Sec HJ Wilson

The circular about 'Working Men's Institutions' - See note letter of 20 May. JB favoured the movement and wished it to remain a working class movement unaffiliated to any regional league or society of the movement.

'If I were to venture a suggestion it would be that no very important step should be taken now till after the 23rd of Jun'

23 Jun was the date fixed for the introduction of Sir Harcourt Johnstone's Bill for Repeal of CD Acts. It was thrown out Ayes 126; Noes 308. See Rough Record 304, 23 Jun 1875

Biog: Mr W Burgess