This article was prompted by Jim Nelson's article in the 1996 Journal, in which he mentioned that many workers moved to Accrington when a slump in trade caused some local mills to be silenced in the 1850s. Richard Lord was one of those workers. The author has relatives who live in Upper Settle, although she herself moved to Wales.
My maternal great, great-grandfather John Lord, a stonemason, was killed in an accident. He left a widow Ann and seven children. His son Richard was born on 25th October 1831 in Settle. His widow Ann was described in the 1851 Census as Baker/Pauper, which meant that she received money from the Union, which the Guardians administered. She, with her daughter Jane, also made and sold oatcakes and black puddings.
Richard, still living at home, worked as a steam loom weaver at the Snuff Mill (Kings Mill) at Settle. When it closed down, many of the workforce moved to Accrington, walking all the way and being given soup by householders as they passed. Richard and his brother Thomas, with Jim Parkinson - a lifelong friend from Giggleswick - were among the group. Jim was to become a founder member of the Cooperative movement in Accrington. This group of good people formed a Settle Colony and were known as The Settlers. Their involvement with the beginnings of Trade Unionism and the Cooperative movement is well documented.
They were hard men, made hard and firm and shrewd by circumstance. They lived in sanded kitchens, not upholstered sitting rooms. Hardworking, cautious and thrifty, Richard Lord was a typical Settler, always staunchly loyal to his friends. The advent of the Settlers into the quiet and peaceful town of Accrington was regarded with alarm. Coming from the wilds of Yorkshire, they had a most unworthy reputation. The general expectation was that they would be a gang of gamesters and pigeon flyers accustomed to all kinds of undesirable practices. So the police set a special watch on their movements and for some time they were looked upon with great suspicion. Experience proved, however, that they were men of an altogether different type. It was not long before the Settlers were everywhere recognised for their sturdy independence and sterling integrity.
From Accrington Observer and Times 2nd December 1916
Education was practically unknown among working men. They were poor men and could not well afford to spend money on books and writing materials. However, they were the originators of Trade Unionism in the town among the textile workers. They started a Union a few months before cooperation commenced, and engaged a solicitor, Mr Roberts, who was familiarly known as Yellow Breeches. These men from Settle were smarting under a keen sense of injustice. Hard and harsh circumstances had driven them from their native place, hence their desire to mend things and to protect themselves by Trade Unionism.
From History of Cooperation in Accrington -James Haslam
Richard was a collector for the Accrington Weavers' Association for 37 years, a responsible position. His brother Thomas acted in a similar capacity for many years. The Weavers' Association room was a tiny candlelit room in Briggs' Entry. There were one or two forms, a few chairs, a table, desk and book shelves. The early existence of the Weavers' Union was one of a continuous struggle on Id per week contribution. Weavers generally had charge of the looms and did not make more than 15 or 16 shillings per full week.
From The Lancashire Weavers' Story
Richard was always a staunch upholder of the rights of the class to which he belonged and was ready to defend their interests, even at personal sacrifice. In his younger days the Weavers' Association was not so strong or well organised as later. When any dispute occurred where he was employed, he was generally the spokesman.
From the Accrington Observer and Times
Having secured employment at Accrington, the Settlers then found they were among those being imposed on by local shopkeepers, who increased their prices unreasonably. "We had" said one of them, "to take their stuff at their price or leave it." They began to think of Cooperation. They had seen some of the small traders enter into the business of manufacturing and become masters out of the profits extorted from the poor weavers. So Cooperation had its beginning in the will of these lowly paid uneducated workmen at a time when it was dangerous to one's welfare to combine against the exploitation of monopoly. Jim Parkinson says, "We thought we'd make a start by havin' what we called a 'buy in'. We clubbed us money together an'purchased some tea an' soap. We bought them at Blackburn an'got George Whittaker to bring them in his cart. We did a rare good soap trade. I used to buy myself about six pound at once." The Cooperators used the Weavers' association room where one candle had to suffice, bought by each in turn, to mark that they were indebted to no-one.
From History of Cooperation in Accrington
In 1897 Richard retired and with his wife Mary, (née Whittam, another weaver who had walked from Settle to Accrington) went back to live at 9 East View, Settle. Nothing gave them more pleasure than the weekly arrival of the Accrington Observer and Times. The evening post reached Settle at half-past six. It was their habit after tea on Saturdays to sit by the fire, wait for the arrival of the post, then divide the Observer between them.
They celebrated their Golden Wedding at Wesleyan Schoolroom, Settle on December 1st 1906 with a grand knife and fork tea, followed by entertainment by the family. In 1916 they celebrated their Diamond Wedding. Richard Lord died the following year.
He is mentioned in Accrington Chronology and Men of Mark, by Richard Ainsworth:-
LORD, RICHARD, for 44 years a resident of Accrington, a native of Settle. d.Feb3,1917, aged 85.
Other Settlers in Accrington about that time were Jack Pratt, R Webster, Will Slater, John Duxbury, David Mark, William Press, John Clark and Thomas Horner.
Wesleyan Chapel, Settle Photo: Maureen Ellis