RALPH EDGE, (1621-1684), was a lawyer, and an eminent lawyer too, and he was for twenty-six years Town Clerk of Nottingham, for twenty years an Alderman of the town, thrice its Mayor, and at the same time a Justice of the Peace for the county. This was not in ordinary times, for the year when he came of age was that in which the Civil War broke out, and his death was only a year before that of Charles II. When he was elected Town Clerk, he was not properly qualified, not being a burgess, so the Council (being determined to have him as their clerk) broke their own rule, directed him to pay the usual £10 qualification fee down, and at the same time handed it back to him to give to the poor of the several parishes; and it is very singular that he was allowed to retain his Aldermanship during the time of his Town Clerkship.

When the movement for obtaining a surrender of the Town's charters was assuming a form, Mr. Edge explained to the Council the bearing of the new proposals, but apparently having regard to his official position, he did not vote, on the surrender, but when a new charter came in a suspicious manner, he refused to read it in the Council. When Mr. Sacheverell (which see) and some of the leading men in the town were indicted for tumultuous assembly, Mr. Edge was one of the witnesses for the defence, and denied that there was a tumult, and his evidence was described as clear, impartial and honourable, but the judge had no impartiality about him, and extorted a verdict from the jury resulting in the defendants being fined. (See the account of the trial from the report given in Captain Barker's "Walks round Nottingham," pp. 263-274).

Mr. Edge purchased the Strelley estate, it is supposed about 1678, or six years before his death, which was very sudden and unexpected. The old family of the Stre'lleys, who had the property for centuries, seems to have decayed, for Dr. Thoroton, writing of Strelley just before the date named, says, "This Manor hath been the inheritance of Lawyers, most of my time," which I suppose means that the estate was in Chancery, as we call it. Strelley is now a charming village.

ABSALOM BARNETT, (1773-1850), of Nottingham, was a man who in his time played many parts, for to his ability was added character and energy, securing the confidence of all about him, while in conversation he always had the saving grace of humour. In early life he was connected with the hosiery trade, at New Basford and Carlton Street. He was actively engaged in religious work connected with Castle Gate Chapel, (1802), and afterwards with George Street Baptist Chapel, and in the latter, when the minister was ill or away, he frequently conducted the services with acceptance and satisfaction.

In 1825 he appears as Assistant Overseer of the parish of St. Mary, and he gave important evidence upon the working of the Poor Laws prior to the passing of the new Act which came into force in 1836, when the three parishes of the town were joined into one Union, with one workhouse instead of three, and Mr. William Vickers, Alderman, was elected first Chairman of the Board of Guardians, and Absalom Barnett first Clerk of the Guardians, Governor of the Workhouse, and later made Superintendent' Registrar. The old Workhouse was crowded before amalgamation, but the Workhouses of St. Peter's in Broad Marsh, and of St. Nicholas' on Gillyflower Hill, Castle Road, being closed, St. Mary's Workhouse became full to overflowing. The reports of the time state that there was hardly standing room; the result being the development of vice and disease; and the virtuous poor were huddled with the idle and dissolute. (Orange, p. 909). There was no room for enlargement of the premises, which were like a prison within doors and high walls. The Chairman and other Guardians, urged by the Workhouse Master, determined to have a new building in open land; the Town Council refused consent. No land could be bought, and there came, therefore, a battle royal between the two bodies, in which Barnett was the persistent spokesman. In desperation, the Guardians went and bought two fields on Sherwood Rise, at that time in the parish of Lenton, and in the county. Then came indignation at the cruelty of taking the poor across the wild forest to such a lonely spot as Sherwood Rise. So the Council gave way, and consented to lease to the Guardians all the land between York Street and Windsor Street, called St. Michael's Church-yard, being the site of the ancient church, destroyed possibly about 1327, and also including the site of the old Leper Hospital, of two hundred years earlier date. Schools and rooms for children were built first, and afterwards the Workhouse. The Chairman and Barnett bought the materials, and the latter acted as Architect and Clerk of the works, having a foreman, Thomas East. The cost for the accommodation of 1,150 people, Wylie gives as £17,500, other figures, (probably including later additions), state the cost as £25,312.

Barnett retained his offices to the end of his life. He was one of the promoters of the building of Derby Road Baptist Chapel, and, pending the appointment of a minister, he was chosen as Presiding Elder. He died seven days after the chapel was opened. (See Ward, Wylie and Orange).

GEORGE NICHOLLS, (1781-1865), (afterwards Sir George) K.C.B., Southwell. After serving as mate, he was made commander of a ship in the East India Company's service, but his vessel was burnt, and sustaining a loss of £30,000, he subsequently settled at Farndon, and later removed to Southwell. He married Miss Harriett Maltby, the aunt of Archdeacon Maltby, and being desirous of becoming locally useful, acted as Overseer of the Poor for the parish of Southwell in 1821-2-3-4. Eight letters which he wrote to the "Nottingham Journal," signed "An Overseer," were in 1822 published as a pamphlet "On the management of our Poor, and the general administration of the Poor Laws, in which is shown the System that has been adopted, and the saving in the Poor Rates which has recently been effected in the two parishes of Southwell and Bingham." A statement appended, apparently later, shows the expenditure of the parish in the years ending Lady-day 1821, as £2,290; 1822, £1,644; 1823, £760. It is not possible here to describe the scheme which effected the economy, "chiefly by the firmness and judicious interference of the Magistrates in stimulating the Overseers to a strict performance of their duties, and guiding them in their endeavours to lessen parish expenditure." After leaving Southwell, Mr. Nicholls became in 1826 Superintendent of the Bank of England Branch at Birmingham, and a very active social worker. The Rev. J. T. Becher, in one of his papers (p.41) says that "his perseverance, discernment and humanity in the management of our poor are entitled to high commendation." He published a "History of the Poor Law," and became one of the three first Poor Law Commissioners under the Act of 1834, remaining until 1847. He took part in Poor Law reform in Holland, Belgium, and Ireland. He wrote a number of books and papers on the Poor Laws, and on Agriculture.

EDWIN PATCHITT, (1808 (?) -1888) was a solicitor of note in Nottingham. His father was a barge coal-dealer in Middle Marsh, who had removed from Redmile. The son went as office boy to Messrs. W. R. Sculthorpe Solicitors, the first named being Clerk to the County Magistrates, and the County Treasurer. As a clerk, young Patchitt was so attentive to his duties, and courteous to clients, that his masters articled him, and gradually the magisterial business was committed to his care, so that when he had passed his articles he remained with the firm, and became one of four guarantors of £500 each which the County Treasurer had to give the magistrates. Mr. William Sculthorpe got into financial difficulties, and the guarantors were called upon to pay. He lost his office, and Edwin Patchitt was appointed in his place, and Sculthorpe became clerk in his former clerk's office. Their positions were transposed.

Edwin Patchitt had not only a good knowledge of law, but was a hard worker, and largely extended the business, being Registrar of the County Court; Clerk to the Inclosure Commissioners, and to the High School, and to the Church Cemetery, etc., upon each of which departments he left the impress of his personality, being painstaking, just, definite. As a young man he was a skilled cricketer, and occasionally played in the County team. He was for two years Mayor (1858-9). He bought the Forest House, then a small one, and grounds, and became possessed of the land between there and the Mansfield Road. He built a new and enlarged and decorated house, and the decorations were remarkable! It is now the Children's Hospital. He was twenty years building or altering, for he was fond of building, and fancied himself an architect by nature, but his work in the Church Cemetery and in the new High School was rudely upset by his successors, and there is a tinge of melancholy in the choice of the motto he had inscribed in old English characters round the front of the gallery in the entrance hall of Forest House, which was one of the latest parts to be constructed. It reads:—

"Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on all the labour that I had laboured to do, and behold all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun."

He was active until he was nearly fourscore years of age. He had a carriage and pair, but only Mrs. Patchitt used it. He preferred walking. Upright and fearless, he loved to do a benevolent action secretly.

ARTHUR J. RAVEN was for many years clerk to Mr. E. Patchitt, and had charge of the Nottinghamshire County Magistrates business, and conducted it so prudently and well that on the death of his employer, although he was not a solicitor, he was unanimously appointed by the Magistrates as their clerk, and for twenty-seven years he held the office, and discharged the duties to their satisfaction.

He was very fond of children, and his habit was to talk to them in Sunday services and Band of Hope addresses, which he continued to give during thirty years. He died in 1915 in his eighty-ninth year.

SIR SAMUEL GEORGE JOHNSON, (d. 1908) was for thirty-eight years Town Clerk of Nottingham. In ability and service he was above the ordinary official, which was recognised justly by the Town Council in that after twenty years service his portrait, painted by Mr. J. H. Lorimer, R.S.A., was presented to him by the Council, and now hangs in the Grand Jury room of the Guildhall, and a further compliment was paid to him for his services in connection with the Municipal Corporations Association, in which his capacities as a statesman in municipal matters was recognised by Queen Victoria, who in 1893 conferred upon him the honour of knighthood.

He was a Kentish boy, born at the village of Roseacre in 1831, and was educated at Maidstone Grammar School. Having been admitted as a solicitor (1854) he began his professional career at Faversham, ten miles W.N.W. of Canterbury, of which town he, in 1859-61 became Mayor, and afterwards—although a young man— he was made an Alderman, and later Town Clerk, and Clerk of the Peace.

It was a small town of considerably less than ten thousand population, but it has an ancient history of considerable interest, and its little river admits boats of two hundred tons. Here was a seat of the Saxon Kings, and Athelstan, in 930, held a Witenagemote, or assembly of Wise men, the forerunner of the British Parliament, the year named being the same as that in which he held a similar assembly at Nottingham. But Faversham had an advantage over Nottingham, in that whereas the reign of King Stephen was such a curse to the latter that the town and all its churches were burnt to the ground, and its county ravaged, Faversham buried the King, and his tomb is in the parish church to this day; and centuries afterwards whereas the revolution against King James II. may almost be said to have openly started at Nottingham, in 1688, Faversham seized the King in his attempted flight to France.

A vacancy occurred in the Town Clerkship of Nottingham through the resignation of Mr. William Enfield, who had filled the office for twenty-six years, he having succeeded his father who held the like office for twenty-nine years, and for generations the legal business of the Corporation had been transacted in the same office, for the Enfields were always reliable public officials, and Mr. Enfield was ever a quiet worker, and benefactor in philanthropic efforts. On retiring, he was made an Alderman. It was then, in 1870, decided that a successor should give his entire time to the work of the Corporation, and out of twenty-two applicants for the post Mr. Johnson was elected, the salary being £1,000 a year.

The importance of the choice of a right man as Town Clerk is seen when there is an enumeration of the public works in the borough that followed in the succeeding generation, in addition to all the ordinary routine work, and to all the social functions that in modem times have enormously increased.

One of the first events of importance after Mr. Johnson's appointment was the decision of the Council to have a School Board, (1871) which involved every three years contested elections, and caused in the following thirty years the purchase of many sites, and the erection of blocks of buildings thereon. The inauguration of the Natural History Museum in Wheeler Gate as a free institution (1872) was followed by the opening in the Exchange Hall of a Fine Art Exhibition in connection with South Kensington, and that led to the leasing of the Castle and its grounds, and to the opening of a Fine Art Gallery and Museum by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales (1878).

By an Act of Parliament passed in 1874, the Nottingham Gas Company, with all its works, was taken over by the Corporation, and paid for by annuities, and this was followed by great development in the Gas Works at various places, and large extensions in the supply in the villages of the county round the town.

The formation of a Leen Valley Sewage Scheme (1872) with an intercepting sewer, running from Bulwell through other parishes down to Stoke Farm, was followed by a greater scheme for the annexation to the borough (1877) of six parishes, and parts of three others, and embracing thirteen districts, and involving all kinds of improvement works, one being the formation of three miles of boulevards, from Mansfield Road through Hyson Green, Radford and Lenton, to the Castle, thereby promoting a great public convenience. The building of the University College, Free Public Library and Natural History Museum, and its opening by H.R.H. the Duke of Albany, was a marked step in advance of the work of education (1877-81). The School of Art and Design was also taken over by the Corporation (1879).

The acquisition of the Works and powers of the Nottingham Water Works Company, 1879, and the subsequent development of the pumping stations, reservoirs, and additional supplies in both county and town, was followed by the Derwent Water Board for the supply of six towns. The establishment of the Tramway system by horse haulage (1878-9); the obtaining of powers for Electric Lighting; the removal of the Cattle Market from Sherwood Street, and its establishment on London Road (1886); the separation of the Town's interest in the Lunatic Asylum at Sneinton from that of the County, and the erection of a vast building on the Corporation Estate at Mapperley (1874-80) many times enlarged; the building of the Guildhall, Magistrates Courts, Police Offices, Fire Station, etc., 1886-8; the coming of the Great Central Railway right through the heart of the town, involving the destruction of houses and buildings, the removal of the Workhouse, the selling of Corporation lands, and the purchase of other lands in lieu thereof; the erection of Victoria Station, with all the changes and adaptations required, accomplished by the bringing up thereto of the Great Northern from London Road; the construction of the Victoria Embankment, one and a quarter miles long, one of the finest works of any provincial Corporation, involved the taking of 700,000 tons of gravel and dirt out of the bed of the Trent, (1898-1901); the transfer of the powers of the Tramway Company to the Corporation, and the construction of a system of electric cars (1901); the abolition of the School Board, and the transfer to the City Council of educational powers with regard to all Voluntary Schools (1902-3); the widening of main streets arising from the fact that in the olden time there was no way into the great Market Place of a greater width than about fifteen feet; to this add the many new Recreation Grounds, the Cemeteries, the Baths, all the sanitary developments:—all these; and more, would involve much anxious care and thought.

It would be a great mistake to imagine that all these works were either suggested or carried out by the Town Clerk. That is the work of the members of the Council and its staff; but it is true that for many years the soul of the Council was its Clerk, that he had the capacity to see ahead; that he was a born leader of men; that he had a sound judgment, upon which the members of the Council came to lean. In doing this he tried to carry all sections of the Council in their decisions, and adapted himself to their views. "Mr. Johnson, you are two-faced!" exclaimed an annoyed member. "Nay, I am sixty-faced," was the rejoinder, alluding to the number of members constituting the Council (64). He was not a perfect man, but taking him all in all it will be a long time before the Corporation get a better Town Clerk, and the people, one better fitted to successfully carry out social functions, and general administration.

In his professional capacity he made himself a master of Municipal law, for he was the editor of the third edition of "Arnold's Law of Municipal Corporations," and joint editor of the fourth edition. He was also author of "The Duties and Liabilities of Friendly Societies," "Notes on the Riot Acts," etc. He was a well-read man and of a literary turn of mind. He was one of the founders of the Municipal Corporations Association of England, and is said to have aided the Government in the preparation of the Municipal Corporations Act, 1882.

He was always active in religious and social work. When at Faversham, for years he held the Archbishop's license as a Lay Reader in the diocese of Canterbury, and was zealous in the improvement of Church music. In Nottingham he was associated with the Federation of Church Schools; with the establishment, of Convalescent Homes and the Social Guild. He was at one time President of the Sacred Harmonic Society, and Vice-President of the Mechanics' Institute, and connected with the Men's Sunday Morning Institute. He was a member of the Masonic body, Past Master of the Newstead Lodge, and sustained other offices connected therewith.

He was married three times, and in addition to the loss of the first two wives, he felt much the loss of one of his sons, a very promising solicitor, who fell in the Influenza epidemic of 1891. Another son, who became Town Clerk of Hampstead, survived him.

He resigned his office as Town Clerk in 1908, but the Council asked him to continue as Clerk of the Peace and consulting Solicitor at a salary of £1,000 a year.

His health, however, failed, and he died at Bournemouth, on December 11th, 1908. The body was brought to Nottingham, where a service was held in St. Mary's Church, and the interment was in the Church Cemetery.

CHARLES JOHN BRISTOWE, (1862-1911), M.A., was eldest son of Judge Bristowe. He was educated at Repton, and was a Scholar at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He twice rowed in the Cambridge boat against Oxford, being Captain on the second occasion. His oars hang on the wall of the Committee Room in the County Hall. He having been ordained, worked as a Curate in London, but his health giving way he became a private coach at Cambridge. Under the Notts, Education Committee he became its first Director, and threw his energies ardently into the organisation of the work. Absolutely unselfish, he never thought of himself, but always of how he could be useful to others; especially he was a great lover of children, and with energy and kindness worked for their benefit. In Caunton Church is a memorial window, with the motto "He being dead yet speaketh."

JESSE HIND, (1842-1919), was a solicitor in Nottingham. As a youth he was a scholar in the High Pavement Sunday School, and became a teacher, secretary, and superintendent. When in the legal profession, he had passed his articles, he was called "The Law Walking Dictionary," for he knew law cases off by heart, so that he could quote "Smith versus Jones," and tell the place and date and effect of the decision without referring to the book. While engaged as managing clerk to Messrs. Enfield he attracted the attention of Mr. Arthur Wells, a wealthy solicitor, who offered him a partnership, and accepting it, he very greatly extended the business. When the County Council was formed in 1889, Lord Belper and some of the principal Magistrates had decided that Mr. Hind was the most capable and suitable member of the legal profession in Nottingham, to be Clerk of the Council, and so invited him, without application, to accept the office, and being appointed, he had to organize the work. On the death of Mr. Burnaby of Newark, in 1893, he succeeded him as Clerk of the Peace for the County, and these offices he held until 1904, when, owing to increasing deafness, he resigned. He was President of the Nottingham Incorporated Law Society in 1887; a Justice of the Peace for both City and County, and a Director of various companies. He is entitled to some credit for the part he took in connection with the establishment of the Wilkinson Smith Charity, and the work of his son Mr. Oliver W. Hind, B.A., LL.M., in the formation of the Dakeyne Street Lads Club must not be forgotten.

H. HAMPTON COPNALL, (d. 1921), Clerk of the Peace for the County of Nottingham, and Clerk to the County Council, compiled a volume of Notes and Extracts from the County Records of the Seventeenth Century, which the Council published with illustrations. He also rendered distinguished service in the County Councils Association, and wrote various articles which were published in the Transactions of the Thoroton Society.

SIR WILLIAM HUGH TOMASSON, (1857 (?) -1922) Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire, had a good record for service in his native county. He was educated at Clifton College, and during the Zulu War he joined the Cape Mounted Rifles in the fight against the famous chief Cetewayo. After the war he returned to his birthplace, Barnby Moor. In 1880 he joined the Nottinghamshire Police Force, was stationed as Superintendent at Mansfield, and on the death of Captain Holden he succeeded as Chief of the force, an office he held for thirty years. His promptitude in action was illustrated soon after his appointment, when a Coal Strike was in progress, and at a certain pit violence and wrecking were threatened to begin on the morrow, but when the morning light broke, a band of soldiers were walking about the pit head, having been brought by train during the night, and everybody laughed, for the crisis was thus prevented. There were during his terms of office, great developments in the Colliery districts, and law and order in the two hundred and sixty-one parishes of the County were under his supervision. During the visits of royalty to Nottinghamshire he had special charge. His care was recognized, he being made Police Inspector for the Northern district of England, and he received the King's Police medal. During the great War he had special duties, one of which was the charge of guarding the high explosive works at Chilwell. He was made a commander of the Order of the British Empire, and later was knighted. Outside his duties, he for twenty-two years was Honorary Secretary of the Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club, and on retiring received a testimonial, £564 being presented.

The Deputy Chief Constable Harrop, for a number of years, ably supported his Chief.