Coat of Arms

From Hoole History and Heritage Society

Hoole's Coat of Arms[1]

Coat of Arms featured on the badge of office of the Chairman of Hoole U.D.C 'Without the Lord Everything is in Vain'

The Hoole Local Board of Health, the first democratically elected body to be responsible for the Civil Parish of Hoole, came into being in May 1864. It was created under reforms following the Public Health Act of 1848. One of its first tasks was to commission a seal to authenticate its deeds. It asked one of its members, Frank Palin, a surveyor who lived in Hoole Park, to come up with some designs and at its second meeting several drawings were submitted. It was reported that they finally selected “one more handsome than the rest”.

Article from Chester Chronicle 4th June 1864

In the year 2000, the Coat of Arms appeared on the front of Hoole’s Millennium Book which shows the Chairman of Hoole Urban District Council’s badge of office. It was in a setting which included both the ‘English Rose’ and the ‘Prince of Wales’ Feathers’. The Urban District Council succeeded the Local Board in 1894.

The Earl of Shrewsbury and his dog

The arms of Chester, which were (and are still) three lions and one and half wheat sheaves are well known but the use of the white lion (not an heraldic one) on a red background and the indistinguishable arms on the quarter have not been traced in heraldic sources, or through the family names of Hamilton and Titherington, as may be expected from the Chester Chronicle article.

However, it is possible that the "white lion" is in fact a white "talbot" a form of hunting dog which was the badge of the Talbot family, i.e. the Earls of Shrewsbury, once major landowners in Hoole. A crest is a component of a heraldic display, consisting of the device borne on top of the helm. The "crest" of the Titherington coat of arms is a set of plumes of feathers (usually five), and a crest of feathers also appear as a crest on the Hoole arms, in the form of the heraldic badge of the heir apparent (usually the Prince of Wales), comprising three ostrich feathers enfiled by a crown. The rather odd shape of the upper right quarter indicates that it is the arms of a woman and it includes the "red hand" canton of a baronet.

Some Hamilton family arms contain the cinque-foil (five petalled flower), but there is no evidence that Martha Hamilton used it. Her personal history, coming from Beaumaris, Anglesey as Martha Panton and marrying c.1815 the Rev. Peploe William Ward (who had to change his name to Hamilton to enable him to succeed the inheritance of his Uncle, William Hamilton) make the arms she may have owned a mystery. She out-lived her husband by 29 years and became the owner of the lands and wealth of the Hamilton family from 1854 to her death in 1883.

William Titherington was a cotton merchant from Prescot in Lancashire carrying out his business in Liverpool. He married Eliza Grace Fluitt, the daughter of a wealthy Chester family who owned Dee Hills Park in Boughton. The 1861 Census shows William and Eliza Titherington living there with 3 children and a large number of staff.

Cover of the Festival of Britain Programme 1951

Besides being a cotton merchant, William Titherington was on the Board of the Royal Insurance Company in Liverpool; Chairman of the Birkenhead, Lancashire & Cheshire Junction Railway; held shares in the Minera Mine Company and the Queen Hotel; and set up the Rhyl Hotel Company. He was a churchman and a warden at St. John’s Church. When subscriptions opened in 1864 for the building of All Saints Church in Hoole, he undertook to furnish all of the stone required for its building, delivered to the site.

He received the most votes in the Hoole Local Board elections in 1864 and was elected Chairman. Soon after he started selling Dee Hills Park in lots and as a result Sandown Terrace, Deva Terrace and Beaconsfield Street were built. In May 1868, he was arrested at the behest of the North Western Bank for a debt of £9,150 and was immediately put into Lancaster Castle Prison. The subsequent bankruptcy case took 4 years to resolve when he had to pay 2d. for every 9d. owed. He resigned from the Hoole Local Board in 1868.

The motto on the Hoole Coat of Arms, “Nisi Dominus Frustra” means in three words “Without God Frustration” and has been translated as “Without the Lord Everything is in Vain”. It is the first three words in Latin of Psalm 127 and is also the motto of the City of Edinburgh.

The late Gordon Smith, a Hoole Councillor recounted that when he was the Mayor of Chester and had to travel abroad, the Urban District Council’s Chairman’s regalia had to be worn instead of the more expensive Mayoral chain because of insurance costs.

The Coat of Arms appears on the Chairman’s badge and on a pin for his Lady, photographs of which have been taken by the kind invitation of Cllr. Alex Black serving Cheshire West & Chester Council for Hoole Ward during his year as Lord Mayor. Both are kept with the Civic Plate at the Town Hall. The Arms were also used on the covers of the Hoole Handbook produced in 1947 and the Festival of Britain Programme which took place in 1951.

The Society would be interested to learn of the existence of any other examples of its use e.g. as a letterhead, in publications or even on a celebration mug or local medals?

Titherington's Crime

see note [2]

Dee Hills at Boughton was developed in 1850s when William Titherington, the owner of a 10 acre estate there, broke up his land to build Sandown Terrace, three Italianate houses and Deva Terrace. In 1873 Dee Hill had extensive grounds with pleasure gardens above the river and a tree-lined drive from The Bars, flanked by paddocks to the north and allotment gardens to the south-east. More estate land was being sold for development and in the 1880s Beaconsfield Terrace had been built on the northern part of this land. The drive was now named Dee Hills Park and was lined with larger houses, including the largest: Uffington House, built for Thomas Hughes (the author of "Tom Brown's Schooldays"). By 1892 Dee Hills House and the remaining gardens had been sold to the government and was being used as the residence of the Army’s district commander.

In 1866 Titherington's name appeared at the head of a list of firms that had been run by past Presidents of the Liverpool Cotton Brokers Association. On the 1867 and subsequent lists his name vanishes.

The LCBA removed Titherington from its list of past presidents[3].

In Thomas Ellisons noted book "The Cotton Trade of Great Britain: Including a History of the Liverpool Cotton Market and of the Liverpool Cotton Brokers' Association" (a standard work dating from 1886) a list of LCBA Presidents also avoids mentioning Titherington. It appears those involved in the compiling of the list substituted the name of the Vice-President (Thomas Blackburn) instead for the year of Titherington's presidency (1856) and Ellison was complicit in this damnatio memoriae. Titherington's crime came to light at a time, just after the American Civil War (1861-65) when many Liverpool Cotton Brokers went bankrupt, but Titherington appears to have gone further, and engaged on his private account, but using the funds of others and under the names of co-consprators, in what were described in court as "extraordinary cotton speculations". He was asked about his actual liabilities he stated that he didn't really know, but "thought they were not more than £100,000". The North-Western Bank, who brought about his downfall, was therefore only one of his creditors, and this particular debt was:

  • " respect of the joint speculations of of Mr Titherington, Messrs Mozley, Mr Price Edwards, and Mr Atwool"[4]

Mozley was another bankrupt, chairman of a failed bank (Barneds) and a son of the mayor of Liverpool. Price Edwards was the Collector of Customs at Liverpool Docks and believed to have been involved in the escape of the Laird-built Confederate commerce-raider CSS Alabama. Atwool had been the tennant of a warehouse at Liverpool Dock, and the investment was made under his name because:

  • "..Messrs Mozley, as bankers .. and Mr Titherington as a broker .. did not wish it divulged .. that they were engaged on their private account in extraordinary cotton speculations"[5]

Titherington's story (and the Coat of Arms) is worth further exploration. There are some clear suggestions that he was acting as a broker for cotton speculation during the American Civil War: in 1867 Titherington, Gill & Co. had sued Samuel Price Edwards who said in court that:

  • "I should think Titherington has been speculating in cotton from the earliest period of his existence as a cotton broker"

This may have involved buying cotton from the then recently defeated Confederacy - a trade which during the Civil War was frowned upon on some circles, and much hampered by blockade. At the time of the Civil War, cotton had become the most valuable crop of the South and comprised 59% of the exports from the United States, most of which went to Britain. During the war, the quantity of raw cotton coming into Liverpool plummeted, which meant that prices soared. At its lowest, the annual volume of cotton dropped by seventy percent. In Manchester, the massive reduction of available American cotton caused an economic disaster referred to as the "Lancashire Cotton Famine". Prices, at their highest, became five times higher than their pre-war norm. Throughout these fluctuations, Liverpool’s brokers not only continued to receive their one percent combined commission on this inflated value, they often received it several times over. Due to the escalation and the volatility of prices, much of the wartime cotton was bought and sold by speculators who gambled when the prices would rise or fall. Speculators then sold to other speculators. The same consignment of cotton could be bought and sold up to ten times before it reached the hands of a spinner. The brokers took multiple commissions and often made considerable profits through these speculator transactions. In addition private British blockade runners sent munitions and luxuries to Confederate ports in return for cotton and tobacco, which were returned to Britain and sold - it could make a healthy profit. A broker could ensure that an investor could speculate and remain anonymous - and Titherington had good connections in Chester with the local wealthy. The war years themselves also saw a substantial development of futures trading and price hedging, beginning with the cotton trade. People with no connection to cotton were caught up in the speculative process, prompting one visitor to the Liverpool Exchange to observe that the brokers are

  • "busy selling what they have not got to people who don't want it."

The Society would welcome further exploration into this potential "dark side" of the history of Hoole and Boughton.

Pickering and the Cable

There is another peculiar connection between Liverpool cotton and Hoole. When the first successful Transatlantic Cable was established (1866 - with the assistance of Thomas Brassey), Liverpool cotton broker John Rew saw the possibilities inherent in the idea of the simultaneous deal. By using the cable, he could get quotations from the Cotton Belt in the USA and buy the cotton at almost a moment's notice. He could then "hedge his bet" by a complex set of contracts - effectively inventing the "hedge fund" - although the practice had been common (on a local level) during the war years.

The cable which enabled John Rew to do this was in part funded and greatly supported by Charles W. H. Pickering (1815-1881). He was the husband of Elizabeth Walker (1818-1895), who was the daughter of Thomas Walker (1782-1857) of Flookersbrook and his wife Katherine Lightfoot (1784-1840). Pickering was present when the first official Transatlantic Telegraph message was transmitted - on the first (unsuccessful) cable. It was to be the message from Queen Victoria to the US president but Charles Pickering made a change and just before the Queen's message on August 5, 1858. The story of Pickering's message is reported by his son (in his memoirs) who wrote:

  • "The message from Queen Victoria to the president was handed to the telegraph operator, a Mr. St. John .. The telegraph operator told me later that my father put his hand on Mr. St. John’s shoulder and told him to stop. My father told him there was a message to be sent before the queen’s telegram."

Pickering sent: "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will towards men" - which is still recorded as the first official cable across the Altantic. That cable lasted for three weeks before it failed. The second cable was laid by the converted Great Eastern in 1865. The names of Walker Street, Lightfoot Street, Pickering Street (and even Thomas Brassey Close) reflect these people: but while there is a Hamilton Street, nothing in Hoole is named after Titherington.


  1. Article researched and written by Ralph Earlam, October 2018, Hoole History & Heritage Society
  2. note added by Peter Elliott
  3. Cotton and the Civil War, Jim Powell
  4. Liverpool Mercury 27 May 1868
  5. Liverpool Mercury, 4th June 1868