James Moulding 1838-1910

Born 9 July 1838 Westfield, Horbury, Yorkshire
Married 7 September 1861 Healing Parish Church, Lincolnshire (near Grimsby)
Died 8 December 1910 Liverpool
Transcription of a newspaper obituary




The death of Mr. James Moulding, formerly clerk to the Toxteth Board of Guardians, which took place yesterday at his residence, South Albert road, Liverpool, has caused keen regret, especially amongst those associated with poor law administration in the city. The deceased gentleman, who was in his 72nd year, had not been in very good health for some time, but his illness assumed a more serious character about three weeks ago. A few days ago he became much worse, and despite every care and attention he passed away early yesterday morning.

Recognised as one of the best authorities in the country on poor law matters, Mr. Moulding was educated at Horbury Grammar School. When a young man it was his intention to become a barrister and with this object he studied general law, but subsequently he devoted himself solely to the local government law. From the position of assistant clerk to the Caistor Union in Lincolnshire which had jurisdiction over an enormous area, including the borough of Great Grimsby, Mr. Moulding, in 1860, came to Liverpool as chief clerk to Mr. William Cleaver. Until three years previously the township of Toxteth Park had been in the West Derby Union, but at that time the Poor Law Board issued an order making it a separate authority and empowering the ratepayers of Toxteth to appoint a board of guardians for their own district. Mr. Cleaver, then clerk to the West Derby Guardians, was appointed the first clerk to the Toxteth Board. For six years Mr. Moulding assisted Mr. Cleaver as chief clerk, but the latter gentleman finding, in 1866, that he could not hold the dual clerkship with advantage, Mr. Moulding was elected clerk of Toxteth, which was then partly with the old city and partly a rural district under a local board. This was the position until the whole district was brought within the boundaries of the city in 1901.

For 39 years, or until October of 1905, Mr. Moulding discharged with rare ability the duties of clerk to the Toxteth Guardians, while he was also superintendent registrar and vaccination officer, outliving all the members who were acting in 1866, and when, in August 1905, he handed in his resignation it was accepted with sincere regret. The tributes then paid him amply testified to the esteem in which Mr. Moulding was held by the guardians, while a remark of Mr. W. R. Gasking, that it was frequently said that guardians were ruled by their clerk, but that could never be said of the Toxteth Board and Mr. Moulding, was further proof of the excellent relationship which existed between the retiring clerk and the guardians.

A few days previously Mr. Jenner Fust, who will still be well remembered as a Local Government Board inspector in the northwestern district, also voiced his appreciation of Mr. Moulding's ripe experience and excellent judgment, which he said could not help but be missed by the township. As an indication of the growth of the district during Mr. Moulding's clerkship, it may be mentioned that the ratable value of Toxteth when he was appointed was £32,833 and there was a uniform rate of 2s. 6d. in the £; whereas on his retirement the ratable value was £659,940 and the rate 1s. 8d. in the £ for poor-law purposes.

James Moulding 1838-1910
Mr. James Moulding.

Then in regard to the population, this on the 1861 census showed a total of 69,234, while on the last census prior to 1895 the inhabitants, like the ratable value, had increased twofold. Again, the inmates in the Toxteth Workhouse in 1866 numbered 350, as compared with the 1,200 provided for in 1895. In the old days, there were some lively meetings, and Mr. Moulding, in an interview which appeared in the "Courier" at the time of his retirement, remarked that he well remembered a debate which took place on a proposal to appoint a second nurse to the workhouse hospital. "The suggestion," he said, "was looked upon as a piece of extravagance on the part of certain Guardians, and elicited a really exciting and protracted discussion, which nowadays would afford much amusement, especially when it is recollected that our nursing staff in the workhouse today (1895) numbers 42." From 1881 until his retirement Mr. Moulding as superintendent registrar married about 3,000 couples, all of whom by his kindly geniality he happily embarked on the matrimonial voyage. Mr. Moulding was truly a model clerk, exceptionally well informed in all matters appertaining to the poor law while at the same time he was one of the most genial and kind hearted of men, ever full of sympathy for those who through misfortune came to the Guardians for relief.

An interesting memento of his lengthy work, in the shape of an enlarged photograph of himself, hangs in a place of honour in the boardroom of the Toxteth Guardians, High Park street and in 1885 testimony was borne to the prominent part he took in assisting to bring about many of the more important changes in the poor law and improvement in the method of treating our pauper population which he witnessed during his notable career. From the year 1872 Mr. Moulding had been honorary secretary of the Northern Union Clerks' and Superintendent Registrars' Society, and in 1886 that society presented him with a valuable service of plate and an illuminated address for "indefatigable labour in inducing the Legislature to adopt proposals emanating from the society for the improvement of the poor laws, registration laws, and general local government laws of the country."

Mr. Moulding married Elizabeth, only daughter of the late Charles Perceval Loft M.P., and granddaughter of General Loft, who, for many years M.P. for Great Grimsby, was conversing with Mr. Perceval, the Prime Minister, in the Lobby of the House of Commons when the latter was shot by Bellingham, the fanatic, in 1812.

The funeral of Mr. Moulding has been fixed for Saturday.


At the weekly meeting of the Toxteth Board of Guardians yesterday, the Chairman, Mr. R. Richards, in proposing a vote of condolence with the relatives and friends of the late Mr. Moulding, said he had been the clerk to the board for many years. He was a very able gentleman indeed, and one of the best clerks in the country. He (Mr. Richards) regretted very much that he had passed away.

Mr. Wm. Jones seconded the resolution, and said he had the pleasure of being a member of that board for four years while Mr. Moulding was clerk; in fact, it was during his chairmanship that Mr. Moulding resigned the position, much to his regret. He was sure nobody regretted to hear of Mr. Moulding's death more than he did, having had the pleasure of working with him for so long. He believed that when Mr. Moulding first came to the parish it was very small, and he had to combine several offices to enable him to secure sufficient remuneration. He (Mr. Moulding) did a great deal of work for Toxteth, where he saw great changes.

Miss Crosfield supported the pro-position, and also paid a tribute to Mr. Moulding's memory.

Mr. James, speaking on behalf of the officials, referred to Mr. Moulding's long and valuable association with Toxteth, and said that during the ten years he was associated with him as his assistant, Mr. Moulding was always most kind, courteous, and considerate to all, and they never had a harsh word. His memory would never be effaced from the official annals of Toxteth.

The motion was then carried in silence.

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