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Birth of William Lewery Blackley, Divine & Social Reformer

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William Lewery Blackley, divine and social reformer, is born at Dundalk, County Louth on December 30, 1830.

Blackley is the second son of Travers Robert Blackley of Ashtown Lodge, County Dublin and Eliza, daughter of Colonel Lewery, who is taken prisoner by the French at Verdun. His maternal grandfather is Travers Hartley, MP for Dublin (1776-1790) and governor of the Bank of Ireland.

In boyhood Blackley is sent with his brother John to a school at Brussels kept by Dr. Carl Martin Friedlander, a Polish political refugee, whose daughter, Amelia Jeanne Josephine, he subsequently marries on July 24, 1855. There he acquires proficiency in French, German, and other foreign languages. In 1847 he returns to Ireland, entered Trinity College, Dublin, graduating B.A. in 1850, M.A. in 1854, and takes holy orders. In 1854 he becomes curate of St. Peter’s, Southwark, but an attack of cholera compels his retirement from London. From 1855 to 1867 he has charge of two churches at Frensham, near Farnham, Surrey. He is rector of North Waltham, Hampshire (1867-1883), and King’s Somborne (1883-1889). In 1883 he is made honorary canon of Winchester.

Blackley, who is an energetic parish priest and is keenly interested in social questions, carefully elaborates a scheme for the cure of pauperism by a statutory enforcement of thrift which has far-reaching results at home and abroad. In November 1878 he contributes to the Nineteenth Century an essay entitled National Insurance a Cheap, Practical, and Popular Way of Preventing Pauperism, and thenceforth strenuously advocates a scheme of compulsory insurance, which the National Providence League, with the Earl of Shaftesbury as president, is formed in 1880 to carry into effect. At the same time he recommends temperance as a means of social regeneration. His views reach a wide public through his writings, which include How to teach Domestic Economy (1879), Collected Essays on the Prevention of Pauperism (1880), Social Economy Reading Book, adapted to the New Code (1881), Thrift and Independence; a Word for Working-men (1884).

Blackley’s scheme provides that all persons between eighteen and twenty should subscribe to a national fund, and should receive in return a week in time of sickness, and a week after the age of seventy. The plan is urged on the House of Lords by the Earl of Carnarvon in 1880, and is the subject of inquiry by a select committee of the House of Commons from 1885 to 1887. The majority of the boards of guardians in England and Wales support the proposals, but the commons’ committee, while acknowledging Blackley’s ingenuity and knowledge, reports adversely on administrative and actuarial grounds. At the same time the friendly societies, which Blackley has censured in his Thrift and Independence, regards the principle of compulsion as a menace to their own growth, and their historian and champion, the Rev. John Frome Wilkinson, sharply criticises Blackley’s plan in The Blackley National Providence Insurance Scheme; a Protest and Appeal (1887). Blackley’s plan, although rejected for the time, stimulates kindred movements in the colonies and in foreign countries, and leads directly to the adoption of old age pensions in England by legislation in 1908, while the national insurance scheme which receives parliamentary sanction in 1911 bears some trace of Blackley’s persistent agitation.

In 1887 Blackley, who is director of the Clergy Mutual Insurance Company, makes proposals to the church congress which lead to the formation of the “Clergy Pension Scheme” and of a society for ecclesiastical fire insurance. In the autumn of 1889 Blackley, whose active propagandism brings him constantly to London, becomes vicar of St. James the Less, Vauxhall Bridge Road. There he enlarges the schools and builds a parish hall and a vicarage.

William Lewery Blackley dies after a brief illness at 79 St. George’s Square, on July 25, 1902. Brasses are put up in Blackley’s memory in the churches of St. James the Less, North Waltham, and Frensham.

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Death of Poet Laureate Nahum Tate

nahum-tateNahum Tate, Irish poet, hymnist, and lyricist, who becomes Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom in 1692,  dies on July 30, 1715. Tate is best known for The History of King Lear, his 1681 adaptation of William Shakespeare‘s King Lear.

Tate is born in Dublin in 1652 and comes from a family of Puritan clergymen. He is the son of Faithful Teate, an Irish clergyman who was rector of Castleterra, Ballyhaise, until his house is burned and his family attacked after he passes on information to the government about plans for the Irish Rebellion of 1641. After living at the provost’s lodgings in Trinity College, Dublin, Faithful Teate moves to England. He becomes the incumbent at East Greenwich around 1650, and “preacher of the gospel” at Sudbury from 1654 to 1658 before returning to Dublin by 1660. He publishes a poem on the Trinity entitled Ter Tria, as well as some sermons, two of which he dedicates to Oliver and Henry Cromwell.

Nahum Teate follows his father to Trinity College, Dublin in 1668, and graduates BA in 1672. By 1676 he moves to London and is writing for a living. He publishes a volume of poems in London in 1677 and becomes a regular writer for the stage. He also adopts the spelling Tate, which remains until his death.

Tate then turns to make a series of adaptations from Elizabethan dramas. His version of William Shakespeare’s Richard II alters the names of the characters and changes the text so that every scene, to use his own words, is “full of respect to Majesty and the dignity of courts.” In spite of these precautions The Sicilian Usurper (1681), as his rewrite is called, is suppressed on the third performance on account of a possible political interpretation.

In 1682, Tate collaborates with John Dryden to complete the second half of his epic poem Absalom and Achitophel. Tate also writes the libretto for Henry Purcell‘s opera Dido and Aeneas, which is given its first known performance in 1689. Tate’s name is also connected with the famous New Version of the Psalms of David (1696), for which he collaborates with Nicholas Brady.

Nahum Tate dies in Southwark, London, England, on July 30, 1715 and is buried at St. George Southwark on August 1, 1715.