Aireborough Historical Society

The Family Heirloom



Title
The Family Heirloom



An historical memory shared with us by John Slater

THE FAMILY HEIRLOOM

Recently I have been researching the life of my Great Grandfather, Philemon Slater, and it might be of interest if I relate an odd story about a family heirloom.

Some years ago my late brother-in-law, Anthony Ray, who was researching his own forebears, had cause to meet up with Ruth Strong who was at that time General Editor of the quarterly Journal of the Pudsey Civic Society. During this meeting, and to her astonishment, he happened to mention the name of Israel Roberts. It so happened that only a year previously she had edited for the Society the republication of Israel Roberts’ autobiography, so not only was Ruth surprised that he knew the name at all, she was even more surprised to discover that Anthony had married into a family with a very direct connection to Israel Roberts.

The following extracts from Israel Roberts’ autobiography set out the background to this connection:
"In this year (1856) there began a circle of close personal and family friendships which resulted in frequent set visits to each others homes between the writer and his wife and Mr and Mrs Waite and Mr and Mrs Slater…..This triple alliance was the foundation of what became afterwards to be called the Cabinet…..I think it would be difficult to find a parallel to the Cabinet party of Seven Men and their wives who for the space of seventeen or eighteen years met together in unbroken numbers and unabated friendship. The Cabinet consisted of the following:

Mr and Mrs Waite
Mr and Mrs J Slater
Mr and Mrs Israel Roberts
Mr and Mrs John Wild
Mr and Mrs Philemon Slater
Mr and Mrs Isaac Gaunt
Mr and Mrs E Slater

…Let me now mention that on one occasion many years ago long before any of the Cabinet party had any children married we were all of us sat together on Ilkley Moors and reference was made to the fact that as yet not one of the party had a child married. Conversation went on in our usual jolly style until someone suggested that the First Grandfather should have a handsome present made to him. The thing met with unanimous agreement, and I may now say it fell to the lot of our friends Mr and Mrs Philemon Slater of South View Yeadon to have this honour which was duly celebrated in their own House at Yeadon in the presence of all the party in the month of October 1873. The present consisted of a Handsome Silver Tea Service etc., and cash over Thirty Pounds.”

I have not yet been able to establish which of Philemon’s grandchildren caused this happy event, but I do know where the tea service is: I am sitting looking at it now! One side of the teapot is engraved "To Mr and Mrs P Slater in Commemoration OF THE BIRTH OF THEIR FIRST GRANDCHILD 1873” and on the other side "From Their Friends. B WAITE – J WILD – E SLATER – J SLATER – I GAUNT – ISRAEL ROBERTS”.

What a small world it is!

John Slater
2014

 

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