Archive for the ‘Leicester/Lincolnshire’ Category

boot-shoe-union-1 I love getting enquiries for help with our Inskip ancestors,  as it always opens up a treasure trove of interesting history.  This month I have been approached by Mr Ken Bowden who is researching the Bacup Inskip League of Friendship [for disabled persons].  Did I know anything of Leonard Inskip the inspiration for this charity?

All I knew of Leonard was that he was Editor of The Cripples Journal in the 1920’s. This later became the National Cripples Journal, which changed its name in 1969 to ‘The Voice of the Disabled’.   The aim of the journal was given as “Only when public interest is awakened and the ordinary man sees that there is a large preventive as well as a curative side of orthopaedics will the need for proper aftercare facilities be realized. Then the laity will demand these facilities-and they will be provide.”

Leonard was possibly a cripple from birth.  He was born in Leicester in 1885, married Alice Lovely in the summer of 1911 and in 1925, he had a daughter, Betty Alison Inskip, who obtained a Geography Degree from Liverpool University and jointly translated “This Restless Earth: geology for everyman”.

Leonard it seems was a private man, and details about his life are hard to come by.  However,  I was fascinated to establish that another notable Leicester Inskip,  William Inskip, General Secretary of the  Boot and Shoe Workers Union, was Leonard’s father.

William was born in Leicester in 1852, the 8th child of Thomas Inskip, a poor bricklayer,  and his wife Martha Taylor.  William became a shoemaker, at a time “when hand sown boots were changing to pegged or sprigged work” and at the age of 17 married Jane Smith – Leonard was their 7th child.  William’s obituary states* that he “played a very remarkable part in the development of trade unionism in the shoe trade”.

His first role was to assist in the formation of the first Cordwainers Union;  he then went on to become General Secretary of the Boot and Shoe Workers Union in 1886, increasing membership from 10,000 to 45,000 during his time with them. He was very popular with the members and was nominated for Parliament – at that time it was the aim of the ‘young’ Labour Party to support the nomination of candidates popular with working men.  However, William opposed the Boot and Shoe Union’s aim to nationalise ‘the means of production’, and withdrew his candidacy, becoming a member of the Liberal rather than the Labour Party.

He was, however, elected to the parliamentary committee of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) as Treasurer, and also became a member of Leicester Town Council and later an Alderman.  He died in May 1899 at the age of 46.

When I told Mr Bowman of the link from Leonard to William he said it all made perfect sense,  specialist shoes where, or course, very important to cripples!!

* Obituary in the Leeds Mercury, 12 May 1899 – British Library Newspapers Catalogue


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