Old photos and their history

Freemason Picnic and the Founder of Liverpool Football Club, 1877

Two oval photos likely depicting William Wilson and John Houlding of the Everton Lodge no. 823. On the back of Houlding’s card, there is a declaration that features a monogram formed from his initials. On the back of the other card is a list of the year’s officers.

Everton Lodge 823

The lodge had originally started in 1860 as no. 1125. It was based at Clarence Hotel, Everton (a district of Liverpool). By 1886 it had changed to no. 823 and moved to the Masonic Hall on Hope Street in Liverpool City Centre.

John Houlding

John Houlding (wikipedia)

The man in the photo on the right looks very much like John Houlding. He share’s Houlding’s distinctive eyes, facial hair, and combed back hair.

John Houlding, nicknamed ‘King John’, was, among other things, a self-made businessman, brewer, Conservative councillor on Liverpool City Council, and Lord Mayor of Liverpool (1897-98). Born in Liverpool in 1833, he died at the age of 92 in 1902. He would’ve been nearing 44 years old at the time of the picnic.

He had a strong commitment to Freemasonry in Liverpool. As well as Everton Lodge he also attended Hammer Lodge no. 1395. In 1887 he founded Anfield Lodge no. 2215. He became Provincial Senior Grand Warden in West Lancashire and then Senior Grand Deacon in 1897.


The picnic, as the back of the card proclaims, is in honour of John Houlding’s installation. An installation ceremony occurs every year in a Masonic lodge. It is an important event where the new Worshipful Master appoints officers. It was reported by The Liverpool Mercury on the 19th July 1877. The article says the installation happened on the afternoon of the day before, dating it to the 18th.

West Derby Board of Guardians

Also reported by The Liverpool Mercury in their local news section was a meeting of the West Derby Board of Guardians.

Boards of Guardians were established by the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834. They were given the task of administering the local implementation of the law, which included management of the workhouses. The amendment aimed to reform government support to the poor. This particular board governed the Liverpool suburb of West Derby.

The meeting on the 18th was attended, among others, by John Houlding. He dedicated a large portion of his life to the board and became vice-chairman. He must’ve had a busy day, attending both a board meeting discussing workhouse statistics and celebrating his Masonic installation on the same day.

Everton FC and Liverpool FC

We cannot go further without mentioning John Houlding’s main claim to fame – founding Liverpool FC.

The origins of Liverpool Football Club lie in Everton FC. Houlding had been President of Everton. He had brought Everton to Anfield in 1884 and then bought the grounds in 1885. Due to a disagreement over rent, the Everton board left Houlding and Anfield in 1892 (there were other grievances, such as Houlding’s insistence that the only ales sold at the stadium should be his own, but the main issue was rent).

Left with a stadium but no team, Houlding decided to create his own. On the 26th January 1892, a new team were born. They were named Everton Football Club and Athletic Grounds Company plc. This was quickly changed to Liverpool FC after the Football League put its foot down on the absurdity of having two teams with the same name.

Officers installed

Here is a list of the names and ranks that appear on both the back of the card and in The Liverpool Mercury:

  • J. Houlding, WM (Worshipful Master)
  • W. Wilson, IMP (Immediate Past Master)
  • H. Ashmore, SW (Senior Warden)
  • J.S. Cuthbert, JW (Junior Warden)
  • W.J. Lunt, PM Treasurer (Past Master Treasurer)
  • P.W. Oglesby, Secretary
  • R. Webster, SD (Senior Deacon)
  • J. Boyle, JD (Junior Deacon)
  • T.H. Carefull, IG (Inner Guard)
  • J. Beesley, SS (Senior Steward)
  • J. Hunter, JS (Junior Steward)
  • W. Boulton, PMDC (Past Master Director of Ceremonies)
  • R Brough, Organist

The picnic

The picnic celebrated Houlding’s installation the day before. Hawarden in Wales is quite close to Liverpool and it would’ve been a short hop across the border. The photo cards were perhaps souvenirs of the day. One landmark that may have overlooked their festivities would have been the large 18th Century gothic-style Hawarden Castle.

The Prime Minister connection

William Gladstone, British Prime Minister and fellow Liverpudlian, would later live in Hawarden Castle. Though not a Mason himself, he did have family within the fraternity. Gladstone’s brother, Robertson Gladstone, was, like Houlding, a Freemason and also served as Mayor of Liverpool (1842-43).

William Wilson

So what of the Past Master William Wilson? I have had no luck finding him. All I know is that during the installation on the 18th he received gifts for his time as Worshipful Master. These, according to The Liverpool Mercury, were a PM’s jewel (an elaborate and symbol-rich medal), a clock, and some bronze figures.

Thomas H Careful

As well as the Past Master, I’ve had difficulty discovering who the other men listed on the card were. Their forenames are not given and often several others in Liverpool had the same name. I, however, found who T.H. Carefull had likely been.

In the 1881 Census, Thomas H Carefull is recorded at 56 Windsor Street, West Derby, Liverpool. Born 1843, he lived with his wife Catherine, their two sons and two daughters, and three lodgers. He worked as a steam tug agent.

Both Carefull’s and Houlding’s fortunes were tied to Liverpool’s importance as a trading port for the Empire. The city had boomed under Queen Victoria. And with wealth and industrialisation came poverty and squalor. With both having such personal investment in the continuing success of Liverpool it can be seen why such men would band together in societies that promoted assistance to those unfortunately at the very bottom.

Newspaper coverage of the installation:

(1877) ‘Local News’, The Liverpool Mercury, 19 July, p.6.

Photo of John Houlding:

http://By Unknown – http://www.lfchistory.net/redcorner_articles_view.asp?article_id=2022, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9752361








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