Extract from the memoirs of Harrop White (1856 – 1951), Town Clerk of Mansfield from 1904 to 1923. Published in 2009 by the Old Mansfield Society .
I was born at the Swan Hotel, Mansfield, on the 20th June 1856, the first born son of Robert White and Jane (née Read) his wife. He wrote to his old friend, John Harrop (Clerk to the Guardians of Manchester) to tell him of my birth, and he replied enclosing a £5 note to be put in the name of John Harrop White, hence my name. Baptised at Old Meeting House.
My father had been married before to Elizabeth Wood and had one daughter, Sarah Anne White born 20th July 1832. She was therefore much older than myself and was more like a mother to me although we always called her “Sister”.
My father’s first wife died in 1834, also her infant son.
I had four sisters Elizabeth, born October 19th 1847 and died 28th December 1852; Fanny born 7th December 1848 and died 26th June 1856 – a few days after my birth; Jane, born 21st June 1850 and Ann Read born 9th March 1852 – they were living at my birth.
My father was not only landlord of the Swan but had an extensive practice as an auctioneer and valuer. He was fine man 6 feet high and weighed 16 stone. He had been fond of hunting and I have his paintings of his two horses “Dick Turpin” and “Sir Peter”. He was a member of the Coursing Club and kept greyhounds, and of the Bowling Club, and at one time went each year to the St. Leger. He was a most upright man, of great independence of character, gave his services to public causes, a strong Liberal, and had thought himself into Unitarianism.
There was no more popular man in Mansfield.
In 1863 he was returned head of the poll at the Guardians election with 468 votes (80 above the next elected) and in 1875 headed the poll at the Commissioners election (440 above the next successful candidate) in spite of a handbill he had issued declining to speak at a meeting to be addressed by candidates.
As he said in his address of thanks “Free and independent you have sent me, free and independent I will act”.
One of my early recollections is of the dinner given to my father on the 28th January 1862 when a presentation was made to him of a testimonial, comprising a silver tea and coffee service – plated tea kettle – and silver claret jug.
It was subscribed to by noblemen to working men and servants.
I ought to say my father took a great interest in politics and was well read. I remember that towards the end of his life he used to retire to his bedroom at the top of his house – a spacious room – in the evening and read there. He had a good library and some excellent pictures; had been a good dancer and singer. Indeed he was an all-round man.
For some years he kept a diary but the main entries are of deaths of people he knew, with some records of outstanding events, political, national and local, but none relating to his family except births and deaths.
On my birth he wrote “I trust he may prove as good a man as he is after whom he is called”.
One of my great satisfactions would be that I had not disappointed his hope.
About my younger days I have to rely on my recollection. The first school I went to was that kept by the Misses Parsons in the yard of West Gate, where a good many Mansfield children went, and I cannot say I was a particularly good pupil.
“The Harrop White Memoirs” is available for sale, price £7.95 (£5 to members of the Old Mansfield Society) in WHSmith, Four Seasons Centre, Westgate, and in Mansfield Museum & Art Gallery, Leeming Street. Copies may also be obtained via the website of the Old Mansfield Society.