Walmsley, Joshua (DNB00)

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WALMSLEY, Sir JOSHUA (1794–1871), politician, son of John Walmsley, builder, was born at Liverpool on 29 Sept. 1794, and educated at Knowsley, Lancashire, and Eden Hall, Westmoreland. On the death of his father in 1807 he became a teacher in Eden Hall school, and on returning to Liverpool in 1811 took a similar situation in Mr. Knowles's school. He entered the service of a corn merchant in 1814, and at the end of his engagement went into the same business himself, and ultimately acquired a competency. He was an early advocate of the repeal of the duty on corn, and was afterwards an active worker with Cobden, Bright, and others in the Anti-Cornlaw League. In 1826 he took the presidency of the Liverpool Mechanics' Institution, and about the same time there began his intimacy with George Stephenson, in whose railway schemes he was much interested, and with whom he joined in purchasing the Snibstone estate, near Ashby-de-la-Zouch, where rich seams of coal were found. He was elected a member of the Liverpool town council in 1835, and did excellent work in improving the police, sanitary, and educational affairs of the borough; was appointed mayor in November 1838, and knighted on the occasion of the queen's marriage. With Lord Palmerston he unsuccessfully contested Liverpool in the liberal interest in June 1841. He retired to Ranton Abbey, Staffordshire, in 1843, and at the general election of 1847 was elected M.P. for Leicester, but was unseated on petition. He started the National Reform Association about this time, and was its president and chief organiser for many years. In 1849 he was returned as M.P. for Bolton, Lancashire, but in 1852 exchanged that seat for Leicester, where his efforts on behalf of the framework knitters had made him popular. He lost this seat in 1857, when he practically retired from public life, although he retained the presidency of the National Sunday League from 1856 to 1869.

He died on 17 Nov. 1871 at his residence at Bournemouth, leaving issue. His wife, whom he married in 1815, and whose maiden name was Madeline Mulleneux, survived him two years.

[Life, by his son, Hugh Mulleneux Walmsley, 1879, with portrait; Dod's Parliamentary Companion, 1850; Free Sunday Advocate, December 1871.]

C. W. S.