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Joseph Sly 1881-1952

Joseph Sly was born 28 May 1881 and baptized at Lancaster 20 July 1881 son of William John, a ‘Manufacturer’ and Hannah Sly nee Bradshaw, 5 Westbourne Terrace, Lancaster

Lancaster Gazette 22 August 1874:
THE ALBION MILLS. – We understand that Mr. W. J. Sly, of Westbourne Terrace, has purchased the above mills from Messrs. James Williamson and Son. We believe Mr. Sly intends to manufacture carpets and floor matting.

In the 1901 census Joseph is living at 39 West Road, Lancaster with father Wm John Sly & Hannah, both WJ and Joseph show their occupation as Cocoanut Mat & Matting factory.

In 1911 Joseph is at 12 Northumberland Street, Morecambe along with his wife Florence Estella and lists his occupation as Manager Cocoanut Mat & Matting factory

The Borough of Morecambe & Heysham was formed in 1928 and this perhaps prompted five Scout Troops to set up the Morecambe & Heysham Local Association in 1930 as a separate section of South Lonsdale District under E Barrow as ADC. The Troops were the 1st, 2nd (Sea Scouts), 4th and 6th Morecambe and 1st Sandylands. The Secretary was George S Evenden, born 04 Mar 1902, an optician, who went on to serve Morecambe for a further forty years. Chairman Mr. Joseph Sly, (1881-1952), a Wholesale Linoleum & Carpet Co Director, claimed to have been on B-P’s first Wood Badge course in 1919 and received one of the original beads from B-P’s African necklace. (However, his name does not feature on any of the published lists of attendees at the first course).

Morecambe Guardian 05 January 1929:
Twenty-Five Years Ago.
(From the “Lancaster Guardian”, January 16, 1904).
 – Referring to a report from the Borough Police Court.
Col. William John Sly was head of a matting mill in Bulk and son of Joseph Sly, of the ‘King’s Arms’, and a friend of Charles Dickens. He was a leading Freemason and died at 5, Carlton Terrace, Morecambe, on 21st March, 1915, aged 67, and was buried in Lancaster Cemetery. His son, Joseph Sly, is still in Lancaster, and was recently President of the Rotary Club.

In the 1939 Register Joseph and his wife are at 21 Twemlow Parade where his occupation is noted as Wholesale Linoleum & Carpet Co Director. 

Joseph Sly Snr. 1814-1895

Lancaster Guardian 29 January 1937:-

A Reminiscence by J Sly.

Interesting reminiscences about the life of Mr. Joseph Sly are given by his grandson, Mr. Joseph Sly, of Newall’s Ltd who stated that his grandfather was born in London (Stepney) about the year 1814.

I well recollect him relating to me a journey to Lancaster in the middle of winter on the outside of the only ??? coach which came through to Lancaster and how they suffered from cold and snow. At times the coach got stuck in the mud and the passengers had to give ready assistance in helping the horses to pull the heavy load. Having connections in Lancaster he decided to settle and purchased the Royal Oak Hotel which stood in Market Square on a site now occupied by the Public Library. A few years later he purchased the commercial hotel next door, and after that acquired the old King’s Arms which although having been allowed to get into a dilapidated state had many fine features in the way of a magnificent staircase and oak panelling which would be very valuable today.

Mr. Sly was a man of great literary and artistic ability. He started a collection of furniture made by leading craftsmen of that and former days. Some idea of the value of those pieces even in those days may be gathered from the fact that at the sale on his retirement I believe one bed fetched 400 guineas and another over 300 guineas. His collection of china and silver was also unique. He instituted many customs such as providing a bridescake on the table at the principal meals of the day. He became acquainted and a lifelong friendship developed with Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins. There is a picture in the King’s Arms showing these two worthies on the staircase. His arrangements for the rejoicing and festivities during the wedding ceremony of the late King Edward VII formed quite a chapter in local history and the townspeople being so grateful for his efforts presented him with a magnificent piece of silver.

Together with his wife they made it a labour of love to serve the poor people of the town. Mrs. Sly herself had a special kitchen where she used to make with her own hands soups and various dishes which she daily served out to poor and needy families who were suffering from ill health. Her generosity at that time in gifts of clothing and money was a household word. Mr. Joseph Sly lived a long and useful life, dying at a ripe old age.

He had also in his retirement an estate on the shores of Lake Windermere where he spent a good part of his old age and came in touch with John Ruskin and the two became close personal friends. There are existing today a number of personal letters which Charles Dickens and John Ruskin sent to Mr. Sly.

Preston Chronicle 11 September 1841
North Western Hotel, Morecambe – Red Rose Collections

The Lancaster Gazette June 29, 1850

Lancaster Gazette 16 May 1857:
Today (Tuesday), his Royal Highness, who looks exceedingly well, is out on the mountains, enjoying the breezes of Lairfield (sic) and Helvellyn. The weather is beautiful, and spring in all its glories at the feet of the stranger. We should add that whilst in Lancaster his Royal Highness lunched at the King’s Arms Hotel, the comfortable hostelrie of our neighbour, Mr. Sly, who at a very short notice had a handsome set out ready for his illustrious visitor. The following were the Royal party – H.R.H. the Prince; Hon. Colonel Cavendish, (the equerry); H. W. Gibbs Esq., (the tutor); Dr. Armstrong, (the physician); the Hon. Master Cadogan, and Master Wood, son of Sir C. Wood.

Advert, Lancaster Gazette Nov 11, 1865
King’s Arms Hotel, Lancaster, looking East – Red Rose Collections
King’s Arms prior to renovation in 1879, looking SW
From ‘Illustrated London News’ 1857

At the time of the visit of Dickens and Collins to this rare old inn, the proprietor was one Joseph Sly, and Dickens occupied what he termed the state bedroom, “with two enormous red four-posters in it, each as big as Charley’s room at Gads Hill.” He described the inn as “a very remarkable old house ….. with genuine rooms and an uncommonly quaint staircase.” A certain portion of the “lazy notes” for the book were, we are told, written at the King’s Arms Hotel.

Lancaster Gazette 30 January 1858:
[The marriage of the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria to Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia took place in the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace when the princess was seventeen.]

Often have we had the pleasure of complimenting our neighbour Mr. Sly, of the King’s Arms Hotel, on his public spirit and great enterprise, and now, in recording the events of this most auspicious wedding day, it is a satisfaction to say how much the celebration is indebted to our townsman for the spectacle his capacious hotel afforded on the night of the commemoration. We were aware that for some time previous Mr. Sly had been in communication with the officials at the Gas Company’s premises for the purpose of constructing a gas lighting apparatus, suitable to illumination purposes, and after much long continued labour the arrangements had been so far completed as to justify the trial of the experiments made.

Such a trial took place on Saturday night, and was highly successful. The object chiefly had in view by the contrivance, was to prevent the gas jets from being affected by strong winds, it being a general defect in the London illuminations that if the wind happened to be high whole words and devices would disappear at a rush. Altogether, Mr. Sly went to a great expense in getting all things ready, for besides the cost at the Gas Works and for devices, he had the pavement removed near his own house and the gas-pipes readjusted. So soon as day closed the jets were lighted, and the effect was most brilliant. The great body of the illumination was perfect, and threw out quite a blaze of light which made the whole street as bright as day, and cast a reflective glow on the atmosphere above.

At Mr. Sly’s other inn, the Royal Oak, a beautiful star, enclosing the royal cipher was exhibited. These brilliant illuminations were kindly kept up for several nights to the gratification of numerous spectators. The inscription and device were – “F.W. with the Masonic Star between them on the left; in the centre was a large crown; and to the right the letters V.A., with the garter star intervening -these were all formed of tubes; underneath this were the words ‘Long may they live to make each other blest’, all in written capitals about 15 inches high.

We have reason to believe that this beautiful and truly patriotic illumination -the only one in the town – will cost Mr. Sly something like fifty pounds, and we, therefore, say, that a man who so handsomely contributes to the general celebration of a public event deserves well of his townsmen, and should be by them always remembered. For our part, we feel it a public duty to express our sentiments on the subject.

Morecambe Guardian 31 January 1948:
GUARDIAN and OBSERVER readers will remember that a few weeks ago we reported upon the presentation to the Corporation of a valuable epergne, or centre-piece.

This epergne was originally given to Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Sly, of the King’s Arms Hotel, Lancaster, in appreciation of their work in the preparation of the pageant held in Lancaster on the occasion of the marriage of the Prince of Wales and the Princess Alexandra (afterwards King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra) on March 10, 1863.

It eventually came into the possession of Mr. Joseph Sly, of Morecambe and Heysham, the grandson of the original recipients, and to commemorate the recent wedding of Her Royal Highness the Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh, Mr. Sly presented the epergne to the Corporation.

The epergne is a very handsome article, and readers who desire to view this gift will no doubt avail themselves of the opportunity to do so. It can be seen in Room No. 3 at the Museum during the usual hours of opening.

Lancaster Gazette 14 November 1863:
(3 column article)

(includes this description of the epergne)
The bas relief is an excellent representation of the scene in front of the Town Hall, at the moment of the passing of the Procession, and the architecture of the ancient building, as well as the grotesque figures in the Procession, are delineated with remarkable fidelity. At the foot of the column are three Beef-eaters, in the picturesque costume of that ancient Order of “Servitors.”
At the top of the column are three Shields each containing the Arms of the Prince of Wales quartered with those of Princess Alexandra, the whole being surmounted by the Prince of Wales Feathers. The testimonial is the production of Messrs. Elkington and Co., of Liverpool and Birmingham, and as a specimen of art manufacture, is quite worthy of the reputation of that firm. 

‘The Oxen Roasting’ in the Market Place, Lancaster 10 March 1863. Prince & Princess of Wales Wedding. Painted by Miss Sarah Jane Sanderson b. 1834 – Royal Oak Inn in the background.  Red Rose Collections.

Lancaster Guardian 31 March 1877

Soulby’s Ulverston Advertiser and General Intelligencer 10 December 1868:
On Tuesday week several valuable estates, situate in the lake district, were brought to the hammer at the Royal Hotel, Bowness. (Includes)
Lot 7. – Tower Wood estate, consisting of a dwelling house, outbuildings, and 120 acres of land, fell to the bid of Mr. Sly, of the King’s Arms, Lancaster. This valuable estate is situate on the east side of lake Windermere, distant 4 miles from Bowness and 3 ½ miles from Newby Bridge, and has a frontage of 200 yards of the lake. Mr. Barton was the auctioneer.

Tower Wood
Westmorland Gazette 23 November 1872

National Probate Registry 1895:
SLY Joseph of Lancaster and of Tower wood Lancashire gentleman died 22 August 1895 at Tower wood. Probate Lancaster 16 November
to William John Sly manufacturer Effects £2467 16s.

National Probate Registry 1952:
SLY Joseph of Marlbrae 21 Twemlow Parade Morecambe and Heysham Lancashire died 6 June 1952 at Morecambe and Heysham Probate Lancaster 29 August to Florence Estella Sly widow. Effects £14344 18s. 3d.

National Probate Registry 1953:
SLY Florence Estella of Marlbrae 21 Twemlow Parade Morecambe and Heysham Lancashire widow died 5 December 1952  Probate Lancaster 13 February to Midland Bank Executor and Trustee Company Limited. Effects £34304 11s.. 7d.

Morecambe Guardian 24 March 1953:
Widows £34,000 will: £1,000 church window
BEQUESTS of £2,000 and her five-stone diamond engagement ring were left by Mrs. Florence Estella Sly, of 21 Twemlow Parade, Heysham, to her maid, Clara Vity.

Mrs. Sly, widow of Mr. Joseph Sly, formerly managing director of Albion Mills, Lancaster, left £34,304 (net £33,969). Duty of £7,155 has been paid.

The legacy to the maid was £1,000 and the engagement ring, together with a further £1,000 if the maid was still in Mrs. Sly’s service at the time of her death.

She also left £1,000 to the vicar, churchwardens, and Parochial Church Council of St. John’s church, for the provision of a stained glass window.
(Other bequests follow)

A window in the North side of St. John the Divine Church, Sandylands, Morecambe known as the Carpenter’s Window, which as the name suggests depicts Jesus as a young boy working in his father’s carpenters shop is inscribed “Joseph Sly 1880-1952. Florence Estelle Sly 1893-1952.”

Lancaster Guardian 12 December 1952:
Widow of City managing director
Exactly six months to the day after the death of her husband, Mrs. Florence E. Sly, aged 69, of 21, Twemlow Parade, died in Morecambe Hospital on Saturday.

Her husband, Mr. Joseph Sly, whom she married in 1905, was managing director of the Albion Mills, Lancaster, until his retirement 13 years ago. He died on June 6 and his wife on December 6.

Mrs. Sly would have been 70 on the 18th of this month.
A native of of Morecambe, she was a sister of the late Major B. W. Hogarth and Dr. Fred Hogarth.
Arrangements for the funeral at Hale Carr Cemetery on Wednesday are being made by Mr. Jack Garthwaite.