THE GILL FAMILY ARCHIVES
A Review of our A.G.M. talk - by Mike Chitty
The gap between the 'business' and the 'social' part of our Annual General Meeting on 14th October was admirably filled by our Committee member Beryl Plent, who gave an illustrated account of the artefacts which the Gateacre Society had been given by Mr Berkeley Chapple Gill in the 1970s. The documents and photographs themselves were also on display - probably for the last time in Gateacre. Beryl began her talk by explaining that we are proposing to hand them back to the Liverpool solicitor Mr Sandy Chapple-Gill, who is Berkeley's nephew.
Robert Gill, who died in 1863, was a cotton broker who lived at Knotty Cross, Halewood Road. Beryl showed us a late-1870s photograph of his young grandson, Robert Chapple Gill, sitting on a pony outside the house. Robert Gill's son, Chapple Gill, had married Catherine Smith Carey at All Saints Church, Childwall, in 1868. It was Catherine's father Thomas Carey who had built the house Lower Lee in Beaconsfield Road, Little Woolton.
Beryl showed us other pictures linking the Gills to Childwall Church: a brass plaque inscribed 'R Gill Knotty Cross J Bibby Hart Hill churchwardens', a pew inscribed with the name Knotty Cross, two 'Chapple Gill' candelabra dated 1892, and the family vaults in the churchyard.
Chapple Gill and Catherine were living at Lower Lee by the time of the 1891 Census. We saw pictures of the interior, including a fine photograph of the drawing room by Brown Barnes & Bell of Bold Street, Liverpool. Beryl reminded us that the famous Tissot portrait of Catherine and two of her children, painted in that house, is now in Liverpool's Walker Art Gallery.
Some of the documents pre-dated the family's time in Gateacre. Among them was a certificate dated 1732 conferring the Freedom of Liverpool on Robert Gill 'of Hale', who was proprietor of the Dungeon salt works near Speke at that time. It was signed by the Mayor, Richard Gildart, and, among other things, stated that "if you shall know, or hear of any unlawful Congregations, Conventicles, Riots, Routs, or unlawful Assemblies, or other disorderly Tumults ... by Day or by Night, within this Town ... you shall give Warning And Notice thereof to the Mayor, his Deputy, or the Bayliffs, with all speed"! Another old document confirmed that Robert Gill had successfully exempted himself from military service by appointing 15-year-old Robert Blandford as his substitute. We also saw the curacy certificate issued to John Rigby Gill in 1786.
Beryl's talk contained a number of intriguing asides. She mentioned that Chapple Gill had been born (1833) in Bootle - apparently in the family's 'country cottage' at Linacre Marsh. His youngest daughter, Viva, had run off with the chauffeur and lived happily ever after in mid Wales. A descendant of the family was Mrs Edith Pretty, who lived at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk where an Anglo Saxon ship-burial site was discovered in the 1930s.
This was, indeed, a fascinating talk about a fascinating collection of artefacts.