Thomas Blackburn Baines

1832-1891 (Dates from Cambridge University Library Catalogue)

Edward Baines the second edited the _Mercury_ down to 1859, when, on the death of his brother, he was chosen by his fellow-townsmen to succeed him as their representative in Parliament. He had there a most honourable career.

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I am not, however, telling the story of the Baineses. I have not even referred to it at such length merely because I feel it to be an honourable and instructive chapter in English local history, but because it throws light upon the peculiar position and authority enjoyed by the _Leeds Mercury_ when I first became connected with it in 1866. At that time, the son of the second Edward Baines, Thomas Blackburn Baines, was editor of the paper, but his father took as active a part in its political direction as was consistent with the performance of his duties in Parliament. While Tom Baines edited the paper, the management was in the hands of his uncle, Frederick Baines, a man for whom I retain to this day something of the affection and respect of a son for a father. The paper, it will be seen, was thus the exclusive possession of the Baines family. It represented the views to which they had clung so tenaciously from the first. It was the great organ of Nonconformity in the English Press, and it was at the same time the advocate of a pronounced, though not an extreme, Liberalism. Its influence in the politics of Yorkshire was great, but no small part of that influence was due to the fact that the character of its conductors was known to the world, and that they were everywhere recognised as high-minded men, to whom journalism was something more than a trade.

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No one not a member of the Baines family had edited the journal since it became the property of the first Edward Baines, so that it was a new departure in more respects than one that the proprietors were making in placing the editorship in my hands. The cause of the vacancy which I undertook to fill was a rather curious one. Mr. Tom Baines, who had been editor since his father, Edward Baines, entered Parliament, had become an adherent of the religious body known as Plymouth Brethren. A man of culture, of fine ability, and of high character, he had deliberately associated himself with a sect which regarded the affairs of the world as being outside the scope of a Christian's duties. He found it impossible to combine attention to the many questions of politics and public business that must engage the thoughts of a newspaper editor, with the Bible readings and sermons upon spiritual truth to which he specially desired to devote himself. It was a sore trouble to his excellent father when Mr. Tom Baines decided that the life of a journalist and that of a Plymouth Brother were not consistent; but, with that noble respect for all conscientious convictions which distinguished Edward Baines both in public and in private, he bowed to his son's decision, and regretfully acquiesced in his retirement from a post that he had filled with eminent distinction.

So it came about that on May 15th, 1870, I found myself in the train on my road to Leeds to take charge of the duties of the important post to which I had been called.

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At the dinner-table at Mr. Baines's house, Lord Houghton was as vivacious and as full of good talk as usual. The conversation happened to turn upon slips of the tongue. Houghton said that the most amusing he remembered was that of the lady who, meeting a friend in the street, exclaimed, "Have you heard of the dreadful thing that has happened to my poor brother John? He has become a Yarmouth Bloater." The good lady meant, of course, to say "Plymouth Brother." To Houghton's surprise, his story was received in embarrassed silence, and someone, as he told me afterwards, trod heavily upon his foot. Monckton Milnes was not a man to be easily disconcerted, and he speedily restored the party to a proper mood of geniality; but after dinner he took someone aside, and asked the meaning of the cold reception of his joke. He received the explanation which the reader will anticipate. It was because Mr. Tom Baines had become a Plymouth Brother that he had been compelled to retire from the editorship of the _Mercury_, to the great distress of his father. My name as his successor in that position was unknown until then to Lord Houghton, but he had no sooner heard it than he invited me to visit him at Fryston.

Memoirs of Sir Wemyss Reid 1842-1885

Mercury, Monday, December OBITUARY. Dec 3rd - 1900 It is with deep regret to announce the death of Mr. Henry Brambles, one of the oldest of Yorkshire journalists, which occurred at his residence in Windsor, on Saturday evening, in his 75th year, after an illness of some weeks' duration. he was born at Bridlington Quay in 1826. For about thirty-five years Mr. Brambles was a value member of the literary staff of this journal, having passed through the stages of reporter and sub-editor to that of leader-writer. His was a long and varied experience of Yorkshire journalism. His connection with the Press began in the old weekly days, at Stokesley, and was continued on the "Huddersfield Chronicle," from which he passed to the "Leeds Intelligencer," and subsequently to the "Leeds Mercury," where he remained for the long period named. He served under four editors of this journal - Sir Edward Baines, Mr. T. Blackburn Baines, Sir (then Mr.) Wemyes Reid, and Mr. Talbot Baines, and enjoyed their fullest confidence and esteem. In his long career as a journalist he saw many changes - the passage of the weekly to the daily newspaper and the wonderful expansion in the collection and supply of intelligence which is now witness every twenty-four hours. No man was more jealous for the reputation of the journalist or more faithfull to the best and highest traditions of the profession. The uprightness and integrity which marked his ordinary life had also its influence on his journalistic work. His yearly holidays he devoted to travel, and in gratifying his passion he visited Switzerland, the Rhine, and France, and the playing grounds of the United Kingdom. He usually gave a description of his impressions of travel, which he had reason to know readers of the "Leeds Mercury" found of much interest. Towards the close of 1892 Mr. Brambles retired from active service, to enjoy a well-earned pension. On the occasion he was the recipient of a testimonial of respect from his colleagues. The Pressmen of the West Riding honoured him at the time by electing him an Associate of the Institute of Journalists, and in the spring of the present year he was elected an honorary member of that body. Soon after his retirement he left Leeds for the Scarborough, where he remained for a few years, and then removed to Windsor, where he died on Saturday, as already stated. The remains of Mr. Henry Brambles, for thirty-five years, a member of the literary staff of this year, whose death we announced on Monday, were laid to rest yesterday in the beautiful little burying-ground attached to the fine old Norman church of St. Andrew's, at Clewer, Windsor. The service, which was conducted by the curate of St. Andrew's, the Rev. E. A. Thorne, in the unavoidable absence of the Vicar, was attended only by relatives and intimate friends of the family, the mourners including Mr. and Mrs. Greenall, Leeds (son-in-law and daughter), and Mr. and Mrs. Nicklin, of Clifton, Bristol (son-in-law and daughter), Mr. Ward Whitehead, Leeds (brother-in-law), Councillor Clarke (ex-Mayor of Windsor), Mr. James Darville, jun., Windsor (representing his father, who is Mr. Brambles's executor), Mr. Marshall (representing the "Leeds Mercury"), and others. The wreaths sent bore the names of the family, the servant, Mr. and Mrs. Greenall, Master Frank Greenall, Mr. and Mrs. Nicklin, Mr. and Mrs. Whitehead, Mr. and Mrs. Darville and family, and another bore the inscription. "From his old colleagues of the 'Leed's Mercury.'" The coffin, which was of oak, with brass furniture, was inscribed. "Henry Brambles, died December 1st 1900, aged 74 years."

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