Richard Thompson
(1831 – 1913)

Richard Thompson, JP, CC (1831-1913), Senior Warden

Richard Thompson born in Blackburn was a former overlooker at the family’s Stanley Street mill. Richard went into partnership with his sons William, John and Thomas, entering the cotton trade in Padiham (Britannia and Alma Mills), Blackburn and Great Harwood. ​John and Thomas were born in Padiham. He also had a partnership with William Birtwistle Junior with Woodfold Mill in Darwen and Nova Scotia Mill in Blackburn added to their business in 1881. The partnership was dissolved in 1895, with William Birtwistle retaining the Stanley Street and Woodfold mills. Richard was also a building contractor who took on large civil engineering works including both Manchester and Glasgow Waterworks and Blackburn Railway Tunnel.

That he was a building contractor is bourne out by a planning application to Lancashire County Council in the names of Richard Thompson, Solomon Longworth and James Thompson for a row of cottages in Billington. The name Solomon Longworth is significant because two of his sons, Arthur and Thomas were also founder members of Abbey Lodge.

In 1882 he built Bramley Meade in the style of Italian Renaissance which was one of a number of prestigious residences built north of Whalley in the late 19th century. He was a member of the Lodge of Perseverance No. 345 which meets in Blackburn and was consecrated in 1815. Around the time that Abbey Lodge was consecrated the Lodge of Perseverance had around 100 members. The opportunity to form a small Lodge in quiet surroundings in association with a number of other cotton magnates must have appealed him.

Newspaper articles from around the turn of the 20th century indicate that the Thompsons took a significant interest in the life of the community of Whalley and surrounding villages contributing both financially and in kind to numerous projects of the time. Here are three articles to provide a flavour of the Thompsons’ involvement:-

There is a portrait picture of W. Bro Richard Thompson in the Lodge Room. He was 54 when Abbey Lodge was founded and its first Senior Warden. He held the office of Past Provincial Grand Warden.

Upon his death on 3rd February 1913 the Burnley Express published this statement about him:-

“A man of iron will and strong determination, gifted with foresight and an extraordinary capacity for business, one of the first of Lancashire’s captains of industry.”

One useful online resource that mentions Richard Thompson is Billington and Whalley Web that lists Mills in Billington and Whalley

John Robinson Thompson (1863-1947), Junior Deacon

John was the second son of Richard Thompson above and took his middle name from his mother’s maiden surname. The Census Records through the 19th century are consistent in listing his place of birth and his first five brothers as Padiham which indicates that the family resided there for some time. His last two brothers, Percy and Charles where born at ‘Whalley’ for which we read Bramley Meade. He appears to have been a confirmed bachelor residing with his parents at Bramley Meade until it was sold in 1919 after the death of Richard in 1913 and his mother in 1919.

Newspaper articles from around the turn of the 20th century indicate that the Thompsons took a significant interest in the life of the community of Whalley and surrounding villages contributing both financially and in kind to numerous projects of the time (see links above).

Whalley’s Gang of 3

John was initiated on the 1 February 1893 along with his brother Thomas (below) and Alfred Maill Hanson into Red Rose of Lancaster Lodge, No. 1504. This would be the start of a long Masonic friendship between all three gentlemen as they followed each other through the offices of both their Mother Lodge and Abbey Lodge. All three were founders of Abbey Chapter and again followed each other in the same sequence through the Chapter Offices.

As an Abbey Lodge member John attained the Master’s Chair in May 1900 and went on to receive the same Provincial Honours as his father in the form of the office of Past Provincial Grand Warden. His Founders Jewel is on display within the Lodge Room. Like his brother below he was a Founding Members of Abbey Chapter, No. 2529 in 1914 in his case taking the office of Scribe N.

Thomas Herbert Thompson (1867-1932), Inner Guard

Thomas was the fourth son of Richard Thompson above and was born in Padiham as John before him. He married Isabella Green in July 1899 and resided on Whalley Road, Billington having two daughters, Cicely (1900) and Shiela (1904). An in-depth report of his wedding appeared in the Burnley Express on the 22 July 1899.

As mentioned above, newspaper articles from around the turn of the 20th century indicate that the Thompsons took a significant interest in the life of the community of Whalley and surrounding villages contributing both financially and in kind to numerous projects of the time (see above).

Whalley’s Gang of 3

Thomas was initiated on the 1 February 1893 along with his brother John (above) and Alfred Maill Hanson into Red Rose of Lancaster Lodge, No. 1504. This would be the start of a long Masonic friendship between all three gentlemen as they followed each other through the offices of both their Mother Lodge and Abbey Lodge. All three were founders of Abbey Chapter and again followed each other in the same sequence through the Chapter Offices.

As an Abbey Lodge member Thomas followed his brother John into the Master’s Chair in May 1901. He was Worshipful Master of his Mother Lodge, Red Rose of Lancaster, No. 1504 in 1903. He returned to the Abbey Lodge Master’s Chair in 1922 the same year he received the same Provincial Honours as both his father and brother in the form of the office of Past Provincial Grand Warden.

On 5 September 1923 he received on behalf of Abbey Lodge the Hall Stone Jewel from the Pro Grand Master at the first-ever Grand Lodge held outside of London held at St. George’s Hall, Liverpool. The significance of this Jewel is outlined elsewhere.

His Abbey Lodge Founders’ and Past Master’s Jewels are on display in the Lodge Room together with his Red Rose of Lancaster, No. 1504 Past Master’s Jewel in a display cabinet he presented to the Lodge in 1928 (to the left of the Junior Warden’s pedestal when looking at it). Like his brother above he was a Founding Members of Abbey Chapter, No. 2529 in 1914 in his case taking the office of Dept D C.

Thomas left his provided a dispaly cabinet in the Whalley Lodge Room to the Junior Warden’s right in 1928 in which his Abbey Lodge and Red Rose of Lancaster Past Masters’ Jewels are on display and shown here.

Note: There is an Abbey Lodge, No. 2529 Founders’ Jewel in the collection held by the Museum of Freemasonry attributed as belonging to W.Bro. T H Thompson. The Jewel in question is that belonging to the Founding Director of Ceremonies, W.Bro. William Bear Jnr.