Illuminated Address presented to Revd. Frederick Thomas Swinburn, D.D., 1889



We have reproduced the illuminated pages as scans, because they are so beautiful, but Revd Swinburn's handwritten reply has been converted into text. The story of his life reveals many fascinating details about life in Hay Mills, Yardley and Acocks Green in the second half of the nineteenth century. The names at the end of the presentation have been transcribed by Brenda Clarke of Acocks Green library, and possible addresses added from the Directories and 1881 census. Unfortunately, the illuminated address has a few spelling errors in the names!



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Vicar - Fredrick Thomas Swinburn D.D.
Vicars Waren - John Collingwood Onions, The Grange, Warwick Road,
People Warden - William Robinson, Corinthian Villas, Warwick Road

William Barwell esq. J.P., Stockfield Hall, Stockfield Road
Cordley Bradford esq. M.D., Flint Green Lodge, Warwick Road
Charles Grosvenor Bloore, Foxhill Villas, Broad Road
Rev. Thomas Charles Evans, 1 Spring Road
Phillip Hastings Shopkeeper, Spring Road
William Holmes, Rosslyn, Flint Green Road
James King, The Chestnuts, Fox Hollies Road
William Lupton, 15 Summer Road
Jason P. Marrian, The Limes, Warwick Road
John Hartland Richards, Fair View, Dudley Park Road
William Robinson, Corinthian Villas, Warwick Road
Joseph Taylor, Corinthian Villas, Warwick Road
(J.C. Onions, Chairman)

Edward James Adams, Hazelwood, Hazelwood Road
Edward James Adams Jnr., Hazelwood, Hazelwood Road
Henry James Allwood (Surgeon Dentist), The Gothics, Warwick Road
John Arnold, Stockfield Hall, Stockfield Road
John Bakewell, The Ferne, Greenwood Road
John William Barratt, Firholme, Shirley Road
Mrs. Baxter
Mrs. E. Baxter, Westbourne House, Sherbourne Road
Thomas Bentley, Richmond House, Sherbourne Road
Thomas Francis Best, Sunnyside, Broad Lane
George Birch
Mr. William & Mrs. Emma Blackwell, Warwick Road
Blackwell, Alice, Warwick Road
Blackwell, Emma, Warwick Road
J.C. Bland
William Blastock, Hazelwood Road
S. Brookes
Rev. H. Butler
Walter Busby Child (Nurseryman), Shamrock Cottage, Greenwood Road
Harry Clewes
Thomas Cliff, Warwick Road
Geoge Walton Clifford (Butcher and Farmer), Warwick Road
Mrs. Collins, Cambridge House, Sherbourne Road
Mrs. Cook, Warwick Road
Joseph Bradshaw Crotty (Headmaster), Wellesbourne Gentlemans School, Warwick Road
Miss Daniel, Broad Road
Mr.and Mrs. Daws, Britannia Inn, Warwick Road
Rev. F.S. Dodd
Arthur Edward Field, Jesmond Dene, Dudley Park Road
H. Fieldhouse
William Clark Floyd, Oakthorpe, Flint Green Road
John Frost (Chemist and Post Office), Warwick Road
George Galbraith
Elija Goddard, Morna Villa, Clifton Road
Richard Groves (Station Master (retired)), Oak Cottage, Yardley Road
John Squires Hambly, The Avenue
James Augustus Hanbury, Avondale, Dudley Park Road
C. Harris
Henry Harris (Blacksmith and Shopkeeper), Rose Cottage, Broad Lane
T. Harris
William Harris (Boot and Shoe Manufacturer, Warwick Road, Tyseley), Rushey Terrace, Stockfield Road
William Hayes, Spring Lane
Lauritz Theodore Hauge Hiorth (Merchant), Broad Lane
Miss Sarah Hodgkins, Warwick Road
Mrs. Sarah Ann Hooker, Well Lane
William Jackson, Waswater, Yardley Road
Dr. F. H. Janeck
John Arthur Jessop (Chemist), Warwick Road
Rev. R. Jones
E. Kent
H. Kent
Mrs. J. King, The Firs, Warwick Road
William Kiss, Laurel Villa, Broad Road
James Knight (farmer, Warwick Road, Tyseley), Mayfield, Tyseley
Richard Lakin, Hurworth Villa, Victoria Road
Mrs. Lewis, Warwick Road
Nellie Lupton
William Madeley, Stratford Road
John Martin (Pork Butcher), Broad Lane
Jason Martin, The Limes, Warwick Road
George Fredrick Mayell, Sherbourne Road
W. Mayell
James Thomas Millership, Afenlee, Flint Green Road
Mr. & Mrs. Faulconer Morgan, Cumberland House, Station Road
George Mullis (Beer Retailer), Warwick Road, Tyseley
Thomas Mumford, Highfield, Warwick Road, Tyseley
Edwin Cottrel Newey, The Knoll, Warwick Road
Thomas Oakley
Mrs. Onions Snr. (Acocks Green), The Cottage, Sherbourne Road
Mrs. J. C. Onions, The Grange, Warwick Road
J.C. Onions Jnr.
Miss Onions
Charles Joseph Parsons, Sunny Mount, Yardley Road
Henry Phillips, Oaklands, Shirley Road
Thomas Pinson, Rose Villa, Botteville Road
Charles Playfair, Bon-accord, Sherbourne Road
Mr. & Mrs. George Preston, Lindenhurst, Flint Green Road
R. Prideaux, Botteville Road
Mrs. Thomas Tertius Prime, Holmeshurst, Flint Green Road
E. Preston
Mrs. Jane Rabone, Stockfield House, Stockfield Road
Mrs. Reeves, 13 Summer Road
James Richardson, Broad Lane
Mr. & Mrs. James Riley, Warwick Road
Mrs. William Robinson, Corinthian Villas, Warwick Road
Miss Robinson
J. Rogers
William Rogers, Gothics, Warwick Road
George Henry Rooker, Fairfield, Flint Green Road
Gideon Ryall, Flint Green House, Sherbourne Road
George Henry Ryall, Buckingham Place, Broad Lane
Miss Shearman
Edwin Sheldon (Coal Merchant), Yardley Road
Edward Smith, Rushey Terrace, Stockfield Road, Tyseley
Mr. & Mrs. Robert Smith, Brookfield, Flint Green Road
T.H. Smith
Mr. & Mrs. W. H. Smith
George Frank Stewart, West Lyn, Westley Road
Mr. & Mrs. S. Stewart
John Strickley
William Sutherns
Mrs. John Field Swinburn, Stone Hall, Warwick Road
Henry Reuben Taylor, Balmoral Villas, Oxford Road
George Thornton (Fruiter & Poultrier), Warwick Raod
William Tolley, Green Bank, Sherbourne Road
C. D. Walker
Mrs. S.J. Walker, Fox Hollies Road
Miss F.W. Ward
John Watson, Alton Cottage, Botteville Road
Mrs. Joseph Watson, Berne Cottage, Botteville Road
Henry Watts, Clarendon House, Warwick Road
John Whitehouse, Claremount Villa, Botteville Road
J. Parker Whittle
Solomon Wilkes (Monumental Mason), The Firs, Westley Road
Thomas Willoughby, South View, Westley Road
Mrs. Wootton
Miss Wright, Warwick Road, Tyseley
Misses Yardley, Ashfield, Sherbourne Road
Fredrick Aubrey Young, Aspley House, Sherbourne Road



The reply


When I first began to recover the power of continuous thought, after my illness, my mind naturally reverted to the kindness which I had all my life long, received from our Heavenly Father. Truly, He has been a Father to me, and I will praise Him still! Not only has He been a Father Himself, but He has raised up around me, from time to time, a host of friends, who have cheered me on along the thorny paths of life, and have helped me to carry out designs which, unaided, it would have been folly to have attempted to accomplish. To those kind and good hearted friends I now, once more, give my most grateful thanks.

The beautiful Address which you offer me, and the kind words of that Address fill me with pleasure, and impel me (without any affectation of modesty) to comply with the request which has been made to recount some of those events of my Parish life which have led up to our present happy meeting.


It is 32 years since my first Sermon was preached (March 15th, 1857) in Yardley Church; and in the following year (March 3rd, 1858), after my Ordination as a Priest the Members of the Congregation attending the Church presented me with a Salver, a Tea and Coffee Service and a Cake Basket, "In grateful recollection" (as they were pleased to say) "of my services in the Church and my general pastoral visits." Whilst in the year 1860 (March 19th) the Ladies of the Congregation presented me with a full set of Robes, "As a small Testimonial of their respect, and a record of my acceptable and highly valued services as Curate." On that occasion the Vicar (who, on account of his ill health, had left me for some time in full charge of the Parish) added: "It is very gratifying to me that your preaching and intercourse with our people are so much approved of, and I have much pleasure in adding my expression of gratitude to you for your long continued and gratuitous labours."


About this time the Parish Church required repairing and repewing, and I was requested as Hon. Sec. to the Committee to issue an Address (Feb. 14th, 1860), asking for help. Help also was required in the outlying parts of the Parish. Houses were being built on Spark Hill, by means of a Freehold Land Co., and Mrs. Thomas Lloyd (then of the White Chains) with her usual liberality, opened a School for the Children of the Poor dwelling on the Hill, and offered its use to us for the Services of the Church. Mr. Humphrey Davis of Showell's Green gave us a little Prayer Desk, in remembrance of his boyhood days at Hall Green, and on February I2th, 1860, I took my first Afternoon Service there; and continued the Services occasionally, in conjunction with those of the Parish Church, till the middle of the following year. The Easter Services of the year (1861) were taken with great heartiness by the People of Sparkhill, and I continued there until May 26th, when I was called off to look after the Services at Hay Mills, where Mr. Horsfall had generously built a Room for our purposes.

In the midst of all this activity we were wanted at the Parish Church, which, after repewing, repairing and restoring "at a cost of £867, was reopened July 12th with full Cathedral Service and a sermon by the Rev. Richard Postance of Liverpool.


But I was mostly wanted at Hay Mills where my chief work then lay.


The works had been under my pastoral care for some time. At first Mr. Horsfall placed one of the rooms in a cottage at our service, for the use of our Scripture Readers; then, as the work grew, he made the Cottage into a Room, and when that proved not large enough he made two Cottages into one; and then turned the two into a Lecture Room in which I took the Services on Sunday Evenings. Lectures were also given to the workpeople on week-day Evenings during the Winter Months. The Room soon proved too small, even for his own workpeople; whereupon he pulled it down and built a little Chapel, in which I continued the Evening Services for a time, and then changed them (November 2nd, 1862) for a Morning Service, which was continued until I was called away in the Christmas of 1865 to look after the work at Acock's Green.


We had a very happy time of it at Hay Mills. Mr. Horsfall placed at our service any money we might require, gave us an Organ instead of the Harmonium, and enabled the workpeople to have full Choral Services at Easter (1863).


I was at Hay Mills on what may be called active duty as well as assisting in the Afternoon Services, etc., at the Parish Church, for somewhat more than three years, and upon my departure they presented me with a Silver Inkstand and Paper Knife, a Gold Pencil Case, and a cheque for £15; whilst Mr. Horsfall gave me (as his private gift) a handsome Diamond Ring. The presents were accompanied by an Address, in which, amongst other words of kindness, were the following:- "If encouragement be wanting to sustain your efforts and nerve your energies in your new work, you my with all truth find it in your late congregation at Hay Mills. There the well-filled seats and attentive occupants betokened the general acceptance of your ministrations, and the altered character of the Sabbath with many of your resident flock argues a cheering change in habit and feeling. It is evident to all that your faithful and earnest labours amongst us have done much to produce and preserve those steps towards a new life, which, from the first erection of the Chapel have been slowly but surely promoted. In your new duties you may see in some an absence of gratitude, but this one of your brightest jewels in your crown of rejoicing will at once rise up before your remembrance - that wherever you may be, no matter how many years may have elapsed, our love and esteem, our best wishes and prayers, will be ever round and about you."


When I took my farewell at Yardley (December 14th, 1866) the same kind and generous tone was manifested as at Hay Mills. They gave me a handsome Silver Salver and a Purse of Gold, a very costly set of Robes, and a beautiful Morocco Sermon Case, "In recognition (as the Vicar and Churchwardens were pleased to say) of my gratuitous and valued services as Senior Curate for the last ten years and in testimony of their personal esteem and regard." In their address they added: "Your unwearied zeal, your untired diligence, and your willingness at all times, notwithstanding the distance of your residence, and frequent inclemency of the weather, to sacrifice your own leisure to the faithful discharge of the various duties of your office - these and many other considerations demand from us the deepest feelings of thankfulness and respect."


On October 13th, 1864, the Foundation Stone of our Church here at Acock's Green was laid, and the first Sermon preached November 4th, 1866. In my Christmas Address, 1867, I was able to report that the Church, in the first year of its official life, was unfettered by debt of any kind. The Building Committee, the Church Wardens and the Choir were all out of debt; and the Services fully carried out in accordance with the Regulations of the Education Commissioners for the Chapel Services of our great Public Schools. This last was done in order to avoid being mixed up with any of the parties, which exist in the Church. We claimed to be sound Churchmen and nothing more.


But the work of assisting at Hay Mills, Spark Hill, and occasionally at Yardley, as well as looking after Acock's Green, has undermined my strength, and during the prayers in the Evening Service on November 10th I broke down and was unable to resume my duties until the 9th of February following.


Notwithstanding this drawback it gave me great pleasure to say in the Address for the following Christmas (1868): "There are more applicants for Sittings than there are Sittings to let; and success has also attended the pecuniary matters connected with the Church."


"When the building was commenced it was doubted by some whether we should be able to raise more than £2,000 to supply our wants. Instead of that we have received up to the present time £6,350, besides the presents of Communion Chairs, Plate, Linen, etc., and the two acres of land which were given for the Church and Vicarage. We have had also £400 promised towards the Vicarage and £165 towards the Schools, so that we have good grounds for rejoicing during the second Christmas of our Ecclesiastical life, and great cause for thankfulness to Almighty God for the blessings which He has conferred upon us."


The Vicarage was soon built, at a cost of £2,191, and I took possession of it after my marriage in February, 1871. Then we busied ourselves in preparing for the building of our Schools. In the next year (December 13th, 1872) we set about the work and asked the parishioners for help. They speedily responded to the call, and the Schools were formally opened March 10th, 1874, at the cost of £1,595.


In my Address (Christmas, 1873) I said: " The religious opinions of the parents will be fully respected by a 'Conscience Clause,' and the teaching of Dogmata will be confined to our Sunday Schools. For these we shall require some voluntary help in the shape of Teachers, and I wish those only who are willing to teach honestly the large-hearted, noble gospel principles of the Church of England; and who, in teaching them, will feel fully persuaded that they are teaching the truth. I want no narrow-minded ignorant bigotry taught in our Schools; and, as far as I can prevent it, there shall be no party crochets taught either."


But the heavy work began again to tell upon my health, and our medical advisers ordered me to take absolute rest or I should lose my voice altogether. The greater part of the last sixteen years of my life had been fully employed. During the first ten years I had taken only two months' leisure, and had no time for reading. Indeed, during the whole of the sixteen years I was not able to get through one book a year. Then I retired for rest, and returned, after a time, with the cheering assurance that the "Institutions of our Parish were in good working order," and would not hereafter require much constant labour.

This happy conclusion, arrived at doubtless under the influence of the invigorating sea air of Hastings, was speedily dispelled. For in my next Address (Christmas, 1874) I find the following: "The School Buildings are not yet free from debt, and the School Managers will have to ask you for further assistance. It has been suggested that a new Subscription List should be opened for paying off the balance, and that 1 should head the list with a 'good round sum.' This I would do with the greatest pleasure, if I had the money with which to do it; but I have it not. Last year the expenses connected with the Schools and Church compelled me to overdraw my Church Account, and this year the Account (of which the Schools have had the lion's share) is, I am sadly afraid, in the same unfortunate position. I have not had one shilling for myself.


Indeed, during the eighteen years in which I have been a Minister of the Church I have not had the privilege of using any of its income for my own private advantage. Whatever I have received, whether directly or indirectly, from the Church, or from matters connected with the Church, has been given back again; and at the present moment (as far as the Church is concerned) I am a poorer man than when we began. This being the case, you will, I am sure, with your usual kindness and candour, allow that it would be wrong in me to set an example of out-running my income, merely to have my name appear as a large contributor to your Subscription Lists."



But, besides the progress of the Church and Schools, the hard work and close attention which had been given to the wants of the Parish were not without their beneficial results.


In my Sermon on the Anniversary of the Consecration of our Church (October 17th, 1875) I was able to say: "This is the first of our 'Scarlet Days' - a day when the Church of England took in hand to dispel the darkness in which the neighbourhood had been left, and to bring it into the light and benefits of our Parochial System. That the district has been materially, as well as spiritually benefitted by the event which we now celebrate cannot for one moment be doubted. Both land and house property have risen 20 per cent. since we met nine years ago to dedicate this Church to the Service of our God; and this 20 per cent. has been over and above the value in which property has risen in the neighbourhood from other circumstances. Every owner of house or land here, then, has cause to be thankful to those who, for no private gains of their own, laboured hard and long to bring the benefits of the pure and reasonable Services of our Church to the doors of the people; and many have learnt that when the Services of the Church of England are carried on in their integrity - when they are honestly interpreted, without any truckling to the narrow-minded or interested disputants of the hour - they are the noblest and the most sublime Services which are to be found on the earth ; and they have associated themselves with them accordingly."


But there was not much time for rejoicing. The sounds of work were soon heard again; and in the Notice for the Harvest Festival of September, 1877, we read: "The Offertory will be given for the enlargement of our Schools, which require an additional Class Room in consequence of the great augmentation in the number of Scholars"; and on March 8th, 1878, we find one of our helpers employed in sending out Rules of a Needlework Society - "For the building of the Chancel of the Church." The new Class Room at the School was finished in 1879 at a cost (including Fittings) of £345 and in the following year a Penny Savings Bank was opened in the Schools, and proved a great success.


But much of the time of the years 1878-9 and 80 were occupied in carrying out the suggestions for the Needlework Society; and by it the Ladies raised £878 towards the enlargement of the Church.


In the November of the year 1879 the scene of operations was somewhat changed. From bricks and mortar, and things spiritual and mental, we had to turn our attentions to things bodily. The Diptheria had appeared; and in my Address to the parishioners upon the subject I said: " Whilst following the duties of my daily calling I found that Diptheria was spreading rapidly amongst us, and that it was necessary to take prompt measures to put a stop to its ravages. I sent my wife and child from home, in order that the Vicarage might be open to all comers, without their having (in the goodness of their hearts) any dread of bringing the disease with them, and that I myself might go wherever it seemed necessary without dread also. I then applied myself to the business, and found that the rapid spread of the disease must, in some way, be attributed to the main drains of the place." I inspected the Ventilators and then called in Dr. Wilson to my help. We found their caps choked with leaves and dirt. They had never been opened since they had been built; and as soon as they were opened the disease vanished.


On November 8th, 1880, the Churchwardens and myself appealed for help to enlarge the Church, so as "to provide accommodation for the people, who, notwithstanding the building of the new Church at Olton, are more than can be seated at present, and are increasing monthly throughout the district."

In December the pressure for Church accommodation became so great that, although the School Managers had held Services in the Schools for the Sunday School Children, the Rev. W. K. Cox, who had been for nearly two years holding Services in a room in Spring Lane, issued a circular asking for help "to erect immediately an Iron Mission Room large enough to accommodate about 100 persons." It cost £110, and was opened by the Rev. gentleman January 30th, 1881.


In the same year the Church was enlarged at a supposed cost of £2,500, but which ended in being £3,136 ; and to help us out of debt a Bazaar was held in the Town Hall, Birmingham, which, with after Sales, produced £1,400. After the Re-opening of the Church 47 Sittings were let. On the Easter Day following 600 persons attended the Morning Service, and 75 of them remained for the Second Celebration.


But although the Church was enlarged and paid for, our work was not yet finished. In 1885 the Mission Room had to be enlarged so as to accommodate 100 more persons. This was done, and the Room re-opened July 23rd at a cost of £162; and in the following October there were opened, in Spring Lane, a working men's Reading Room and Club at an expense of £57.



Thus have we been engaged almost up to the present time in building our works, and strengthening our borders. The cost of our labours has reached the respectable sum of £13,964; and if you add to this £500 a year for other matters connected with the Church and Parish, you will see that we have raised and spent some £24,964; whilst at the same time the Spiritual wants of the people have not been neglected. Upon this subject it will be sufficient to say that in 1867 there were 205 inhabited houses in the District, and only 88 of them occupied by Churchmen, whilst in January, 1888 there were 307 Churchmen out of 470 inhabited houses.


But, Ladies and Gentlemen, all this heavy, expensive and satisfactory work has not been done by myself alone. I have been assisted all along by a band of most devoted adherents, inside and outside thc Parish, who have laboured in the cause as heartily as myself, and have spared neither time nor trouble to bring to a successful issue all that we have undertaken.


To them let us give the praise. May our Heavenly Father bless them in all things temporal and spiritual; and you also, who have come forward to lighten and console my labours in this hour of need.


God has most graciously raised me, as it were, from the bed of death, and has given me some little strength to take a part, once more, in thc Services of our Church; but that little strength I must husband, because my physical powers are not - and perhaps never will be - what they were. I am not allowed even to walk about the Parish, nor go upstairs to a bedside, and must delegate these duties to others; but I feel quite sure, from the kindness which I have received from you all, that you will accept and excuse my shortcomings and give me credit for doing all that may lay in my power to do, whilst being amongst you.


Accept, then, my most grateful thanks; and as coming from myself, the words of St. Paul recorded in the Epistle for the 22nd Sunday after Trinity.


January 2nd, 1890.



Introduction to St. Mary's

The Earl of Egmont and Acocks Green

Creation of the District, 1867

Illuminated address to Revd F.T. Swinburn, 1889

Church history, 1932

St. Mary's Acocks Green: "Out of the ashes...", 1948

Extract from C.J.G. Hudson's booklet on Acocks Green, 1966

Images of St. Mary's church

Images from the 1930s

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