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Alderman William Briggs 1858-1928

94 Leonardgate, Lancaster

Alderman W. N. Briggs, JP, DL. Robert Edward Morrison Lancaster Maritime Museum

William Briggs, 1858-1928, was the second son of Robert and Mary Ann Briggs nee Balderston of Morecambe.

Robert Briggs, the father, was a Master Mariner and Captain of the Midland Railway Company’s steamer “Talbot”. In 1864 he was presented with a testimonial, on board his ship at Morecambe, in the form of a telescope with silver mounts as an acknowledgement of “the bravery and humanity displayed by him in rescuing the officers of the ship “Lillies,”” which was wrecked at the mouth of the Lune during a gale in November 1863.

The following inscription was engraved on the telescope:-

“Presented by the Board of Trade to Mr. Robert Briggs, master of the steamship “Talbot”, in acknowledgement of his meritorious exertions in saving life from shipwreck.”

Later, in 1881, Robert is in the trade directories as a Lloyds agent living at 11 St. Leonardgate.

William Briggs trained as a chemist in London and had premises as a chemist & druggist at 21 Cheapside in Lancaster in 1886. At that time he was living at 94 St. Leonardgate. In 1901, then retired from business, he was living at 25 South Road and in 1911 at The Vale, Skerton *. He was Mayor of Lancaster for six consecutive years, from 1913 to 1919. There is a portrait of  Ald. Briggs and one of his wife Mary Alice, neé Stanton, in the Mayor’s Parlour at Lancaster Town Hall.

* The Vale was a large 16 room house to the North side of Torrisholme Road and just to the East of the railway line – the area where Edenvale Road is today.

THe Vale, Skerton
Photo: Alan Hague


OS County Series 1912/13
In 1913
In 1913

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer 27 June 1914:-


The names of the following gentlemen were yesterday added to the Commission of the Peace for the County Palatine of Lancaster by the County Seal Keeper at Preston:- William Briggs, The Vale, Lancaster; Edward Cardwell, Laurel Bank, Lancaster; John Grey, Escowbeck, Caton, Lancaster; Thomas Wilson Helme, Springfield Hall, Lancaster; Thomas Glas Sanderson, Ellel Grange, Ellel, Lancaster; Joseph Snowden, Hill-thorpe, St John’s Grove, Morecambe; John William Watterson, M.B., Craven Terrace, Morecambe.

Return of the Cadre of the 1st/5th Battalion, King’s Own, who had spent time in Ireland after they had left Belgium in the summer of 1919. Officers of the regiment are joined by the Mayor of Lancaster (Ald. Briggs) and others on the steps of Lancaster Town Hall 16th October 1919. Photo © King’s Own Royal Regiment Museum, Lancaster

Ald. Briggs, Lord Derby and FM Earl Haig at the opening of the Westfield Memorial Village 1924

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer 20 September 1928



The death occurred at Lancaster, yesterday, of Alderman William Briggs, who was Mayor of Lancaster, his native town, during the whole of the war period. He had been a member of the Town Council since 1905, and was made an Alderman in 1923. He took an active part in public philanthropic work and had served as president of the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and other local institutions. In his younger days he was a popular amateur actor.

He received the O.B.E. for his services as war-time Mayor.

Grave at Lancaster Cemetery. Photo: Alan Hague

The Mayoress’s Chain

In 1914, a gift of a chain for the Mayoress and any future Mayoress to wear was made by the Mayor of that year, Mr. William Briggs. In fact William Briggs and Mrs. Briggs were Mayor and Mayoress for six consecutive years, from 1913 to 1919.

It was thought that as the Mayor had a chain of office, the Mayoress should also have a chain of office. The chain is made of 18 ct. gold and consists of two pendants. The front pendant bears the Arms of the former Borough of Lancaster and is surrounded by opals, a sapphire and rubies. The pendant at the back bears the Arms of Mr. Briggs.

The pendants are linked by a double gold chain, interspaced by links of the Rose of Lancaster, sets of rubies or sets of opals. There is an inscription on the rear of the back pendant, which reads ‘ The gift of Wm. Briggs, Mayor, for the use of the Mayoress of Lancaster, 13th August, 1914.

(Extract from Civic Insignia, Lancaster City Council website).