I was delighted to be asked to give a ‘vote of thanks’ to my dear friend Archie Galloway, a former Common Councilman for Broad Street Ward:
“David Hartley – Arsonist By Appointment”
Vote Of Thanks To Historian Archie Galloway
Guildhall Historical Association, Guildhall, Monday, 9 January 2017
Chairman, fellow historians,
To paraphrase Historian Galloway, the first time I heard of David Hartley (1732 – 1813), aka David Hartley the Younger to distinguish him from his famous father, was when I got an email last week asking me to give this vote of thanks. We’ll come to Archie’s record on introducing me to the unexpected later. Archie read out Hartley’s obituary that concludes, “Hartley was, if not one of those who made history, at least was in singularly close touch with the stirring events of a most eventful period.” I think that obituary is slightly unfair, for while he may not have played on the very highest levels of the political or scientific fields, Hartley certainly followed his friend Franklin’s advice, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing”, by doing both well at his own level.
Sir John Stuttard at our last meeting pointed out the contributions of Alderman William Beckford supporting John Wilkes and, in turn, the American colonies. Archie points to the even deeper support, nay friendship, that David Hartley had with Benjamin Franklin. As part American, while aware of Franklin’s imperfections, I ‘revere’ (no, not Paul Revere) that immense polymath and politician, and envy Hartley his warm relationship. Over the weekend I had some time to browse some of the copious correspondence between the two men, and it was clearly a deep friendship that sustained itself through a bitter conflict.
To discuss Hartley seems prescient scheduling as today’s news is dominated by the nature of the special relationship between our two nations and foreign influence on American politics [Trump and Russian influence]. Even more unexpectedly, my morning was spent trying to help a new fire company producing a novel fire suppressant additive, of which Hartley would approve. Given the state of politics today it is tempting to emulate Hartley and offer all politicians a breakfast upstairs while perhaps turning off the safety equipment.
Archie mentions John Jay in passing. John Jay (1745 – 1829) was an American statesman, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, also a signatory of the Treaty of Paris, and appointed by George Washington as first Chief Justice of the United States. Jay was yet another in the anti-slavery movement which seems, as much as representation and taxation, to define the interactions of the transatlantic relationships at the turn of the end of the 18th century. Alongside Hamilton and Madison, Jay was one of The Federalist Papers triumvirate. While Jay wrote only four of the 85 papers, they were those “Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence”, issues that seem to have become more pressing of late. In a letter to Franklin, Jay looked back to the Treaty of Paris negotiations, recalling, “We worked in strange but successful concert. We had in common, I think, good will and good sense.”1 I wonder how much of this common concert was engendered by sharing common values on important issues such as slavery, free trade, and the rights of men.
I promised a word about Archie and the unexpected. Without Archie I wouldn’t be standing here today. He converted me to the social side of Broad Street and the Ward Club. Then he encouraged me to become a Gresham Professor. I might note that Franklin was a Royal Society member and thus also involved with Gresham College in those days, as was probably Hartley and certainly Hartley’s father. Without Archie’s encouragement I certainly wouldn’t have stood for Alderman, and thus not have become a member of this esteemed Association.
Just as Archie bumped into the Conservators’ Chairman on Putney Heath, he bumped into me one day in 2007. As many of you know, my wife Elisabeth and I own a 1923 Thames Sailing Barge, Lady Daphne. The managers of London Bridge City Pier removed the water supply one day ten years ago leaving us parched along the river. Their reason? In an echo of Hartley, the hosepipe connection was a fire hazard. As he did on Putney Heath, Archie took up our cause. He fought the health & safety lunacy and restored the supply. Finally, I might note my surprise returning home one night across Tower Bridge to see that my friend also has his monument. His name is engraved on the 1994 Centenary Plaque on the south east tower of the bridge.
Now, as historians, many of you will note the closing of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, which sadly made both the crack-inclined Liberty Bell and the Economist’s 2016 Christmas obituary. I have brought along one of their hand chimes to toll the end of this vote of thanks, not least because I certainly don’t want to obtain a Hartley-esque reputation that my “rising always operates as a dinner bell”.
I think you’ll agree that both David Hartley and Archie Galloway have obeyed Franklin twice over. Both write things worth reading and do things worth writing.
May I ask you to join me in thanking Historian Archie Galloway and may I please propose: “That the paper be printed and circulated, and be made available for publication at a later date”. Thank you.