Glossop Heritage Trust

Theo Walter Ellison's Glossop Dale Reminiscences.

William Shepley (published 8 February 1935).

There were two families of Shepley engaged in the cotton industry and who were members of the Glossop Town Council – James Shepley, of Old Glossop, and William Shepley, of Brookfield, who were cousins. The former was one of the first Councillors for All Saints’ Ward and held office for six years. He owned a cotton mill known as Wharf or Shepley Mill, and resided with his sister, Miss Jane Shepley, at the house known as Mossy Lea House, where I remember calling upon them in reference to Burial Board and Glossop Reservoir affairs in which they were interested. He left Glossop, transferring his business to a mill at Hawk Green, Marple, the terms asked by Lord Howard for a renewal of the lease of the mill not being agreed upon.

William Shepley, of Brookfield, born in 1814, was one of the first Aldermen for Hadfield Ward and Mayor of the Borough for two years, 1868-70 (following F.J. Sumner), and one of the first Justices for the Borough (1867) and a Justice for Derbyshire. He was also a member of the Board of Guardians as his father, Samuel Shepley, had been also, and was presented by his friends with a gold watch in appreciation of his services.

His father built the Brookfield Mill in 1818, which he was compelled to defend in 1842, when attacked by rioters owing to a dispute as to ‘plug drawers’, a disturbance which led to the presence of military forces to quell.

William assisted his father in the business until his father’s death in 1858, and afterwards, with his brother John, formed the Company of J. and W. Shepley Ltd, in 1888.

Religious and educational institutions at Brookfield received financial support and active encouragement from members of the family. As a Justice for the County, William Shepley frequently attended the Quarter Sessions at Derby, and interested himself in investigating and supporting the claim of the Glossop Council for an adequate payment towards the cost of maintenance of the main roads when disturnpiked, a question which was the source of acute and unpleasant contention between the Council and County Justices, and later with the County Council.

A man of notable physical appearance, bluff, hale and hearty, something approaching the Shakespearian description of the Justice in ‘As you Like it’, he attracted considerable attention, created distinctive impressions, and was the subject of amusing anecdotes. The unwise defendant who once dubbed him ‘five bob and costs’ as he was riding his Shetland pony to the Town Hall, met with a merited rebuke when to his surprise he was fined ten shillings and costs, his imprudent remark having been heard and the culprit detected.

Political questions interested him, and the Liberal Party received his substantial support. In 1884 he was a conspicuous County Magistrate at the important and representative Liberal demonstration in Chatsworth Park, and wearing his presentation watch, of which he was justly proud, a light fingered gentry, who found the occasion profitable, relieved him of his treasure to his great dismay and regret of his supporters.

The late T.A. Pettit, the proprietor and editor of the Glossop Advertiser, passing to me the tickets he had received, one for a luncheon in Chatsworth House, and the other for a seat in the enclosure in front of the platform reserved for the Press, I travelled by the M.S. and the special train, which arrived late, necessitating missing the lunch, with regret, as though hunger almost compelled, duty and interest in the demonstration prevailed, and I much enjoyed the inclusion in the Representatives of the London and Provincial Dailies, and hearing the speeches of the great men of the day, including Mr. Mundella and the Marquis of Hartington.

In 1866 William Shepley was the recipient of a silver salver from the Liberal Electors as appreciation of his Chairmanship of the Liberal Association. He died in May 1889, leaving both a son and a daughter.

Charles Woffenden Shepley, his son, was a Justice for the Borough from 1894, but was not a member of the Town Council.

The Brookfield Mill carried on by the Company, of which he was a director, until the expiration of the lease, which was not renewed, and the mills then reverted to Lord Howard, and after being let for various purposes, have been recently sold and demolished.

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