Bro. William Touchstone

1822 - 1912

 William Touchstone, Manchester Orangeman

A leading Manchester Orangeman and member of Earl of Roden LOL 184, was William Touchstone, who was born at Bandon, Co Cork on 17 August 1822 of Yorkshire parents.  He came to Manchester at an early age and was brought up in the Church of England, before he joined the Methodist Church for a number of years, and then the Wesleyan Reform Movement, but he returned to the Church of England becoming a worker in the parish of Blackley where Rev W R Keeling was the rector.  Touchstone became a temperance worker and was one of the founders of the Church of England Temperance Society, an organisation that he remained connected to throughout his life, and for a number of years he was the chairman of the Conservative and Unionist Temperance Association.  He was one of the founders, and for seven years the chairman, of the Constitutional Association, and was also a leading member of the Warehousemen and Clerks’ Provident Association.  He was also the secretary and lecturer of the Northern Church Defence Association.  He became Grand Secretary of the Loyal Orange Institution of England.

In November 1907 it was said of him ‘Despite his great age, his services are in such demand that he has not a single Sunday at liberty for the next twelve months.  Recently at an Orange gathering he spoke for eighty-six minutes with considerable fluency and power’.

On 16 December 1912 William Touchstone died aged ninety. He had been living at 52 Johnson Street, Cheetham and was buried in Harpurhey Cemetery.  (Cemetery plan.) An obituary wrote:  ‘In Mr Touchstone Manchester has lost one of her best-known citizens and the Conservative party one of its most enthusiastic members … Full of zeal, primarily for the Tory and Orange cause … It is curious that Mr Touchstone joined the Church of England from the Wesleyan body and (himself a loyal Orangeman) received the Temperance pledge 73 years ago from the famous Irish temperance apostle Father Matthew … The movement led by Mr Gladstone against the Irish Church brought Mr Touchstone to the front as a spirited defender of the Church interest.  His connection with the Loyal Orange Institution strengthened his ardour in the cause, and his energy and earnestness were recognised by that institution in his appointment as Deputy Grand Master.  In this and other offices in connection with the order he retained the thorough support of the lodges. To the Church of England and particularly to the Evangelical or Low Church part of it, Mr Touchstone was ardently attached … He was also a leader of the Orange party in Manchester … and as such was a determined opponent of Home Rule for Ireland … One of his most cherished recollections was of the prominent place he occupied in connection with the visit of Mr Disraeli to the Pomona Gardens and the Free Trade Hall in April 1872’ .  A lodge was formed in his memory, Touchstone Temperance LOL 754, which in 1928 was meeting in Hulme Street Schools.


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