Sir Matthew William Thompson, Bart.

Matthew William Thompson – Baronet (February 1,1820- December 1, 1891)

It is to Matthew Thompson, Chairman of  Midland Railway Company, we can thank for his influence in the planning and building of the Bradford Midland Hotel and New Station.


Bradford,  Daily Telegraph, December 2, 1891

Yesterday afternoon, Sir Matthew William Thompson, Bart., of Park Gate, Guiseley who has been in bad health for a year, died suddenly at his residence.

Since his seizure on the 6th December last year, when, as consequence of overwork, he had a stroke, the deceased gentleman has never fully regained either the mental or bodily vigour with which during an unusually active life he had shown himself to be so richly endowed, although during the last few weeks subsequent to his return from an extended residence at Torquay he was sufficiently well to dispense with the attendance of his doctor, Mr Rix. Last Saturday he was in Bradford, and on Sunday he attended divine service at Guiseley Church.

Yesterday afternoon he went out for a walk, and was discovered by Mr and Mrs Padgett in an exhausted state resting against a wall about half a mile away from home. Mr Padgett assisted him back to Park Gate, and on his entry into the house shortly before four o’ clock he sat down in a chair with the exclamation “I’m nearly done for this time.” Lady Thompson rendered what assistance she could, and the family medical attendant. Dr Cheetham of Guiseley, was promptly summoned, but before he could arrive Sir William had died from cardiac syncope. Before the doctor’s arrival he had been removed to the library, and placed on the sofa. He was conscious, and spoke several times, complaining of a pain in his chest.

The deceased baronet was the eldest son of the late Sir Matthew Thompson, one of the earliest promoters of steam factories in the district. He was born at the family residence, Manningham Lodge, on the first of February 1820, his mother being a daughter of the Rev W Atkinson, at one time afternoon lecturer at the Bradford Parish Church.

Mr Thompson finished his education at Trinity College, Cambridge, taking his degree of B.A in 1843 and M.A. in 1846, in which latter year he was called to the bar of the Inner Temple. He practised as a conveyancing counsel in London until 1857, but having inherited, in the meanwhile, considerable wealth from his father, and acquired the old brewery, carried on under the title of Wm Whitaker & Co, through his wife, who was the daughter of the late Benjamin Thompson, of Park Gate, Guiseley, he decided upon removing to this district, and taking an active part in the management of the extensive brewery business in the interest of his wife and family. Consequently he took up his residence at Park Gate, Guiseley, which had also descended to his wife, and for a considerable number of years subsequently was closely identified in the town of Bradford.

In 1850 he was elected to the Corporation as a representative of Little Horton Ward, and in 1860 he was made an alderman and in 1862 mayor. The nature of his remarks to the Council after his election to the chief magistracy were characteristic of the man as showing his independence. He declined to thank the Council for placing him in a position which had been refused by other gentlemen, and compelling him either to accept it or pay the fine, and he entered a protest against the system of holding private meetings of the Council to make a selection.

When he retired from the mayoralty at the end of the year, he was elected an alderman but he informed the Council that at least they could not compel him to occupy that position, and refused to sit, taking no further part in the Council’s proceedings for some years.

In politics, as in every other matter, Mr Thompson held independent opinions which were peculiarly his own. In many respects and particularly in social questions he held Liberal views, but as a member of the Established Church, he was absolutely opposed to any interference with the ancient rights of the Establishment. It was his views in regard to Church and State which led to his contesting Bradford against Mr Edward Miall in 1867. The result of the contest was that Mr Thompson was returned to Parliament by 2,210 votes, against 1,807. In the following year the Reform Act came into operation, and there was a dissolution of Parliament.

Mr Thompson did not again desire to contest the seat, and his place was taken by the late Sir Henry (then Mr) Ripley. In 1889 Mr Ripley was unseated on petition, and becoming therefore disqualified from sitting in Parliament, Mr Thompson again placed his services at the disposal of his political friends at their pressing request. The result of the enlargement of the constituency was that Mr Miall on this occasion proved the successful candidate by 9,243 votes against Mr Thompson’s 7,806. At this time the bitterness with which the Parliamentary Contests were fought had infused itself into municipal matters and Mr Thompson, whom the events of the past few years had practically thrown into the hands of the Conservative Party, again appeared before the public as a candidate for the representation of the Little Horton Ward in the Town Council, and was returned at the head of the poll. From that time up to about 1879 he sat continuously in the Council.

On the death of Ald. Tetley. in 1872, Mr Thompson was promoted to the Aldermanic bench for the unexpired term of two years, and in 1874, he was re-elected Alderman. During the years 1872 and 1873 – most eventful years in the history of Bradford, the Council again elected Mr Thompson to the Mayoral Chair, and on this occasion he accepted the office willingly.

It was during the latter year that he formally opened the Town Hall. The civic entertainments given during the two years were upon a scale of the greatest magnificence. Mr Thompson presented to the Council the beautiful gold and jewelled mace borne before the Mayor on state occasions, and in return he was presented with a costly service of plate, which with characteristic generosity he left at the Town Hall for the use of his successors.

He was a member and chairman of the first school board for Bradford. In 1879 he was placed on the commission of the peace for the borough after having been repeatedly recommended to the Lord Chancellor for the honour. He had acted as Chairman of the Guiseley Local Board and was for many years chairman of the Wharfedale Union. For some years Mr Thompson had been director of the Glasgow and South Western Railway, but he was more largely interested in the Midland Railway, of which having held the position of vice chairman for some time, he was in the latter part of 1879 appointed to the honourable position of Chairman, which he held until lately.

The announcement of the intention of Her Majesty the Queen to confer a baronetcy upon Mr Thompson in March 1890, gave great satisfaction and pleasure to the inhabitants of Guiseley and district, as well as to Bradfordians.

He has been very munificent towards the township and in his subscriptions for church work. He was the originator of the Guiseley Volunteers, and also founded and fitted up a brass band which bears his name.


Bradford,  Daily Telegraph, December 7, 1891

The remains of the late Sir Matthew William Thompson, Baronet, were laid in their last resting place this afternoon in a specially selected vault beneath a few yew trees in Guiseley Parish Churchyard. Plain and unostentatious as was the deceased Baronet, so was his funeral, which, in obedience to his wish, was of private character.

The coffin was borne from the house attended by a large number of friends and villagers. It was of the plainest polished oak, and a plain brass plate surmounted the lid, bearing the inscription. “Sir Matthew William Thompson, Baronet. Born 1st February, 1820, died 1st December, 1891.” Upon this was laid a beautiful cross of white chrysanthemums.

The chief mourners were as follows:- 1st carriage – The Rev. Sir Peile Thompson, the Rev H.P.Thompson, Mr Reginald Thompson, Mrs Vowler Tanner; 2nd carriage – Miss Thompson, Mrs Whittaker Thompson, Mrs Reginald Thompson, the Rev Vowler Tanner; 3rd carriage – Mr M.W.Thompson, Mr P. Vernon Smith, Mr W.F Atkinson, Mr R.A.Allison; 4th carriage – Mr Charles Atkinson, Mr Ferrand, Mr McGowen (Town Clerk, Bradford), the clerk to the Guiseley Local Board; 5th carriage – Female servants of the deceased.

On leaving Park Gate the funeral party proceeded to Esholt Church, where the first part of the burial service was performed, the coffin being taken into the Church by the members of the Guiseley Brass Band, which the late baronet founded. The Rev David Bradley read the service. As the procession wended its way towards the Guiseley Parish Churchyard the bells rang out a muffled peel.