29 July 2013

Joseph Brotherton in Weaste Cemetery, Salford

Today, the phrase 'decent politician' has for many years seemed almost automatically an oxymoron  – on the other hand Joseph Brotherton (1783–1857), the first MP for Salford, was a very good man indeed. He was a staunch opponent of slavery, a pacifist, and one of the founders of the Vegetarian Society.* He became an MP in 1832, one of his principle concerns being the employment of young children in factories, and was instrumental in pushing through an act in 1848 that made it illegal for women and children to work for more than ten hours a day in mills or factories. He was also teetotal and a strong advocate of education: Salford was the first municipal authority with a free library, a museum and an art gallery.

Brotherton was the first person to be buried in Weaste Cemetery. The people of Salford raised the money for this thirty foot monument, which is the tallest in the cemetery. His funeral procession had 120 carriages and crowds took to the streets.

I've not yet exactly located the itinerant statue of Brotherton, which has a vexed history, but when I do so I shall add it to this post.

* Joseph's wife Martha published Vegetable Cookery (1812), the first vegetarian cookery book. Today the Vegetarian Society still has its head office in Greater Manchester, in Altrincham.

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