1833 -1908 The oldest practicing solicitor in Malton Mr. Frank Langborne, died on Wednesday morning in his 76th year. It was no mere platitude to say “Deceased was well-known and much respected,” for during his 50 to 55 years’ residence in Malton he hardly made a single enemy. Mr. Langborne served his articles with the late Mr. Buchanan, of Whitby, and was placed on the rolls in 1853. Soon after that he came to Malton and went into partnership with Mr. Thomas Walker, solicitor, the firm having their offices for many years at the top of Old Maltongate. Mr. Langborne long held the position of Conservative agent in Malton, and in that capacity he acted for the late Mr. R.H. Bower, when he contested Malton in 1874, and for the late Sir Wm. Worsley, who fought Malton’s last battle in 1880. On both occasions his principals were defeated.
Deceased also acted as Malton’s agent for the North Riding Conservative candidates from 1868 down to Sir John Grant Lawson’s time, and when he retired two or three years ago he was succeeded in the political position by Mr. A.E.B. Soulby. After dissolving partnership from Mr. Walker, deceased continued in the profession alone, and was actively employed up to his death, which occurred somewhat suddenly from heart weakness.
He was not a fluent advocate, and did not often appear in our courts, but he was a sound family lawyer and had a good practice. He took much interest in education, and was for years one of the National School managers. In this and similar directions he rendered valuable service to the town of his adoption. Deceased married a daughter of the late Mr. Ed. Rose, sen., (who predeceased him) and he leaves one daughter.
Yorkshire Gazette, 9 May 1908
One of the most remarkable figures in Malton Nonconformist life was Tommy Langton, as we always used to call him, a friend of Charles Garrett’s. A biography of this Yorkshire evangelist appeared in the “Methodist Times,” when the late Mr. Hugh Price Hughes was devoting a column each week to typical local preachers, and has since been written in more detail by Mr. Isaac C. Watson.
For about forty years Thomas Langton travelled through Yorkshire, encouraging, reviving, and “convincing” the good folk whom he met in our dales and on the Wolds. He was born at Great Ouseburn, four miles from Boroughbridge, in 1836, and began life when he was twelve years of age as a tailor’s apprentice. What I may call his second life – that of preaching – commenced at Wetwang, and was continued at Sleights, Ingleby Cross, Hawnby, Bilsdale, Eastmoor (by which time he had earned the name of the “jolly preacher”), and indeed in most places in Yorkshire where Methodism was flourishing. In every community he entered wonderful things in the spiritual world happened through his instrumentality. Presently he went further afield in Yorkshire, and across the border into Lancashire and Cumberland.
When Thomas Langton came to Malton from Whitehaven, Mr. Isaac Hicks went to the station to meet him, but the train had already arrived and gone. Mr. Watson proceeds to tell Mr. Hicks’s experiences:
“Have you seen a preacher come by this train?” he asked of the porter.
“No, Mr. Hicks, I haven’t,” he replied; “only one man came by this train, and he looked like a beast-jobber.”
However, it turned out that this was the man expected, and they made merry over the porter’s description of Mr. Langton. Some years afterwards Mr. Hicks was presiding at a meeting, and upon introducing Mr. Langton to the people, he related this incident, and concluded by saying “I bless God that ever I saw the beast-jobber!”
When Thomas Langton was at work at Ebberston, his health completely broke down. For sixteen years he had not missed a day a year without holding services of one kind or another – often three, four, and five appointments during the twelve hours, so that it is no wonder that even his strong constitution failed to bear the strain. The illness lasted for nearly two years, and during this time he had the assistance of Dinsdale T. Young, whose apprenticeship to Methodism may therefore be said to have begun with Thomas Langton.
From the Malton district, Mr. Langton went to Morley, near Leeds, for a couple of years, but returned to our town in 1879 as a hired local preacher. He took part in the freeing of Malton Chapel from debt, and the erection of a new organ. He was closely associated with Mr. William and Thomas Wilson, who helped him in his work in many ways. For some time he lived with Mr. Thomas Botterill, the auctioneer, but in 1880 he married Miss Allman, a Yorkshirewoman, and settled down in a home of his own.
Full details of Thomas Langton’s work are to be found in the biography I have already quoted from. My own remembrances of him are chiefly of his great size, his cheery look, his healthy optimism – especially of his belief that the goodness of God was such that you might always acknowledge it with the feeling that here was still “more to follow.”
SPECTATOR Maltonians of Bygone Days, XVII, Yorkshire Gazette, 25th February 1911
Most of the men I have written about in these articles have occupied important offices in our town; others have loomed largely in the public eye because of some remarkable gift or striking eccentricity. But there are still other citizens who have contributed to the welfare of Malton, whose spirit and social disposition, rather than anything they have actually performed, have been of service. Of this class "old Mr. Leefe" was one of the best examples.
When Mr. Leefe passed away Malton was the poorer for his absence. The reason why he declined invitations to offer himself for election to a member of the (then) Local Board of Health was that he felt that his early lack of educational facilities would disable him from doing the thorough work which every member of a public body should be qualified to perform. He certainly had few of the advantages which the young man of to-day enjoys, and consequently was not among our leaders of thought. But he was a true-hearted man who loved his native town, consistently supported the religious body to which he belonged, and traded with absolute honesty.
I myself owe something to his memory. When a lad, wanting a present, or my father or mother, my brother or sister, I always went to "Mr. Leefe's." He was more to me than the Prime Minister or the Archbishop of York. For neither of these great men could adjudicate between a photo frame and a pocket pencil, whilst Mr. Leefe could; moreover he was an authority on marbles, and I never heard that Mr. Gladstone, with all his versatility, was that! Sometimes I went to the shop with my brain greatly puzzled, not knowing what to give, and then the tall old gentleman's advice was invaluable - and, I verily believe, quite disinterested.
SPECTATOR Bygone Maltonians, No 5, Yorkshire Gazette 28th October 1911
Mr. George Leefe’s stalwart presence, his executive power, the dogged perseverance of his character, are linked up in my own mind with the fact that he was of Quaker stock, his family having worshipped in the old Friends’ Meeting House, Thornton-le-Clay, near Sheriff Hutton. Those were the days in which there was not much activity among the Quakers except in philanthropy, and the young George Leefe found a better avenue for his progressive Christianity in the Wesleyan community. At his death he was the senior local preacher in the Malton circuit, his name having appeared on the plan in the year after Queen Victoria ascended the throne, but during the latter portion of his life ill-health prevented him from taking an active part in this important service. He held practically all the offices open to the layman in the Wesleyan Society, and was a favourite chairman at Sunday school anniversaries, Foreign Missionary meetings and so forth.
Mr. Leefe’s first business position was as a draper’s apprentice in York, but he quickly found that farming was a more congenial occupation, and entered upon that work on the Carlisle (Castle Howard) estate, his connection with which lasted for over fifty years.
Mr. Leefe’s public life was of a very responsible nature, and is looked back upon with gratitude by all those who appreciate honesty of purpose and business ability as most desirable elements in the service of the community. Up to 1899 he occupied the office of chairman of the Malton Board of Guardians and of the Rural District Council. He was the oldest member of the Board, which he joined in 1867 as one of the representatives for Hovingham. He was first elected chairman in 1887 but retired for a time in favour of the late Sir William Worsley. He was chairman of the old Highways Board for ten years, and a member of the Assessment Committee of the Malton Union for twenty years, filling the chair for a quarter of that time.
In politics, Mr. Leefe was a Liberal, with perhaps a touch of the old Whig in his composition. He was a Justice of the Peace by virtue of his chairmanship of the Rural District Council.
At Mr. Leefe’s death, in April of 1900, aged 81 years, the opinion was universally expressed by his colleagues in public work that they had lost in him a kind, courteous, and able worker. Mr. Leefe’s oldest son is the present chairman of the Rural District Council, and another son is a clergyman of the Church of England. He left three daughters, the eldest of whom married Mr. Hawkins, of Easingwold, an Alderman of the North Riding County Council and chairman of the Easingwold Board of Guardians. The other daughters married respectively, an Edinburgh and a Bingley gentleman.
SPECTATOR Bygone Maltonians, No 21, Yorkshire Gazette, 10th February 1912
1799-1864 The musician Robert Leng was an unusual personality in mid 19th century Yorkshire. He was not of the middle class; quite to the contrary, he was working class and entirely self-taught as musician.
”On the 28th ult., at Malton, Mr Robert LENG, woodturner, aged 66… [He] has been totally blind and being gifted with no ordinary musical ability, attained great proficiency on various instruments. As a vocalist he also excelled; and all our townspeople will have vivid remembrance of his nightly perambulations of the town, during the Christmas season each year. So far as he is concerned, the Christmas carols will no longer be heard in Malton.” [From the Malton Messenger, 3rd December 1864.]
He also published booklets of religious music, pieces of his own composition. He was born in Malton 1799 and lived his whole life in the town. He had been blind since early adulthood and for a man who had lost his sight he was a successful businessman. From a labouring background he rose to employ two woodturners. He was married with a family.
Information kindly supplied by Joe Mason whose blog can be followed at https://joemasonspage.wordpress.com/?ref=spelling
I have no personal remembrance of hearing or seeing Bobby Leng, Malton’s blind minstrel, but ever since I was a lad I have heard stories of his splendid voice and excellent skill as a musician. Maltonians assert that the bass fiddle he played was made by himself, and it is a fact that for some three weeks at Christmas time he walked round the town playing about midnight. Usually he was accompanied by a boy or a girl, and practically every street and passage was able to listen to his singing of some of the best known Christmas melodies.
One who knows Malton well told us in the “Gazette” four years ago that no mother in our town could promise her child a greater treat on Christmas Eve than that it should sit up and hear Bobby Leng when the blind musician came his rounds singing “Hark the glad sound, the Saviour comes,” or “While shepherds watched their flocks by night,” or “Christians, awake.” We are not without singing now, but this is of the congregational order, and for old Maltonians at any rate, hardly takes the place of the solos I am writing of. Bobby Leng’s reward was found in the willingness of the inhabitants upon whom he called, when Christmas Day was passed, to contribute to his necessities.
I have never heard of anyone being aggrieved because he was wakened up by Bobby Leng; the beauty of his voice and the excellence of his music charmed away the irritation of even the most lie-a-bed person! After he had sung the hymns, he always called out the time of the morning, and he usually rendered a few of his own compositions, which I should much like to see. Naughty boys would play tricks upon him by greasing his fiddle strings; but in spite of such accidents he never relinquished his efforts to provide midnight music.
Some indication of his popularity may be gleaned from the fact that he was almost more in request in the West Riding than he was in our town. During the summer months he would be found wandering from centre to centre in the far west, and was always welcomed.
The portrait we give is from a negative taken by Mr. Edwin Hall, and conveys a correct idea of the personality of this good old Maltonian. I believe I am right in saying that Bobby Leng’s famous fiddle is in the possession of Mrs. Hide, Wheelgate. But the best memorial of the blind minstrel is the fact that he has such a warm place in the hearts of the few who still remember his work
SPECTATOR Bygone Maltonians, XI, Yorkshire Gazette, 14th January 1911
Another of Malton's best known residents passed away on Saturday last in the person of Mr. Thomas Lister, of Castlegate. Deceased had the honour of being Malton's first town postman, having spent forty years in the postal service. He joined the Malton Post Office as clerk in January 1867, and the following June he was officially appointed postman - the only one at that time. He retired in 1906, and the following year received the Imperial Service Medal, the presentation being made by the present postmaster, Mr. J. Twyford. Prior to joining the Post Office, deceased was educated for the scholastic profession, and taught for some time in Mr. Constable's School. Owing to his health being affected, Mr. Lister abandoned teaching for the more healthy calling of a postman, and in the course of his rounds he won the respect of all. For many years, in fact since the time of the late Messrs. Boulton and Constable, auctioneers, deceased had been connected with the firm of Messrs. Boulton and Cooper, auxtioneers, and he had long been a familiar figure at the Malton cattle markets. In addition thereto he assisted the Malton Agricultural Society at their annual shows. Since 1906 he lived a quiet life in semi-retirement, and of late had not enjoyed the best of health, and death took place on Saturday, at the age of 67.- The funeral took place at the Malton Cemetery on Monday afternoon, being conducted by the Vicar of Norton, the Rev. W.J.M. Coombs. The remains were enclosed in a polished pitch pine coffin, and the following seven postmen from the Malton Post Office acted as bearers:- Messrs H. Hall, J. Harrison, W. Coulson, T. Donkin, E. Hawes, A. Stockdale, and F. Walton ... ... article continues to give names of chief mourners and other attendees.
Malton Messenger, 18 September, 1915
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