Samuel Holme (1800-1872)
Mr. Holme was born, we believe, about the year 1800, within gun-shot of the Town Hall as we remember him to have once stated in public. He is the son (the eldest son, we understand) of the late Mr. James Holme, of Everton, who was a well-known and extensive builder in the last generation, and a man yet remembered by many for his great industry, energy and integrity - qualities which were crowned with success, and inherited by his son. It is said that the son was bred to his father's business in opposition to his own desire to enter the church but whether this be the case or not, it was within the memory of many that he served an apprenticeship to the paternal calling, and was himself manually concerned in the erection of some of our public edifices. In early youth. he was conspicuous for those peculiar qualities which have since characterised the man, and in due time he emerged conjointly with his brother, Mr. James Holme as one of the most extensive builders and contractors for railway and other public works in this part of England. Having carried on business with this well-merited success for many years, and given employment to perhaps larger numbers of workman than any other individual in Liverpool, he was enabled to retire at a comparatively early age, with the reputation of having amassed considerable property, which we trust he will long to enjoy. His first introduction into public life was as principal promoter and subsequent chairman of the Liverpool Conservative Tradesmen's Association, a combination which for many years exercised a powerful influence on the parliamentary and municipal elections of the town. It was during his connection with this body, now extinct, that the extraordinary powers of speech were developed for which he has since become famous and it is not too much to say that to the eloquent and earnest appeals of the chairman is to be attributed the influence for some years wielded by that Association.
Fifteen years ago he made his entrée to the Council as one of the members for St. Peter's Ward, but resigned his seat after a few months in consequence of its interfering with his undertaking an extensive public contract connected with the erection of St. George's hail. In a year or two he was, however, elected for Rodney Street Ward by all but the unanimous voice of the constituency. That apple of discord - the Water question - having been thrown among the public, and Mr. Holme being one of the most strenuous advocates for the Rivington scheme, he was rejected at the next election by a large majority in favour of Mr. Algernon Jones, an old gentleman who had been in the service of the crown in Nova Scotia, but was almost unknown in Liverpool. The excitement upon this topic was so great, that Mr. Holme was accompanied into retirement by many of the leading members of the Council who opposed the popular gale and now that the storm has passed away, the burgesses have learned that the composition of the Council was not improved by the substitutions then made. Whether the supply of water from Rivington be the best or not, it is principally to Mr. Samuel Holme that we owe, the purchase of the waterworks and the prosecution of the scheme. Many remember tine fortitude with which, he stood the brunt of a stormy gathering in the Sessions House, and the able elucidation of the measure which he gave at a meeting of the electors of Rodney Street Ward, held at the Music hail, Bold Street; and it was to his writings and speeches, and to the unflinching determination which he evinced, in conjunction with Mr. W. Earle and Mr. Ambrose Lace, that the carrying out of the measure must be attributed. After being excluded from the Council for a year, he was again sent back by the electors of South Toxteth, for which Ward he retained his seat until he was elected an Alderman. In 1852 he was elevated to the mayoralty by the unanimous voice of tine Council, as the successor of Mr. Littledale. Thus he obtained the highest reward which it is in the power of the town to bestow; and justice to a political opponent-one with whom we have often broke a lance-compels us to admit that on no former or subsequent occasion has the civic chair been filled with more credit to the occupier or satisfaction to the public, whether we regard the propriety which characterised him as president of the Council, the eloquence with which the more general duties of the mayoralty were adorned, or the liberality with which the hospitalities of the Town Hall were dispensed, and its often too exclusive barriers overstepped.
On the termination of his mayoralty, Mr. Samuel Holme was placed by Lord Palmerston on the list of borough magistrates, since which time he has regularly fulfilled the duties of the bench in a very able and efficient manner. In politics Mr. Holme is an inflexible, and, as times go, a consistent Conservative ; and he has been, since his entrance to public life, of great service to his party, both by his influence and his personal exertions, it has been a matter of surprise to many that a gentleman possessing so much perception, and who has always been a man of progress, should have continued so steadily attached to a political party which has almost become fossilised; and that one who has been foremost in the race of mechanical science should yet attach himself to the megatheriums of extinct Toryism. But our sketches are not political and we can respect the consistency of Mr. Holme, whose able support of and sacrifices for his party are admitted by all. His mind is essentially Conservative.
In alluding to those powers of speech which have obtained for Mr. Holme a more than provincial reputation, we should observe that though not an orator in the more extended sense of the word, he is possessed of a considerable number of the necessary elements - being skilful and fluent of speech, with great natural eloquence, perspicuous in idea and diction, and earnest and forcible in manner. There is, however, more energy than grace in his style, which is a little too florid, and inclines to redundancy of expression. Perhaps, too, he lacks the pumice-stone and accuracy of reasoning which a learned education supplies; but at the same time, he is never grossly illogical, being a perfect master of English, and a gainer in power of what he loses in polish. He is of an excitable temperament, with a physical nervousness which betrays the restless energy of his character. In speaking there is "the frown, the trick of the forehead," and a gesture which is more than animated. He bears about him the spark which electrifies an auditory, and when his feelings are strongly enlisted carries everything before him. He has himself however, more under control than his manner would imply, as he never exceeds the bounds of decorum, or exposes himself to the penalty of retraction. On one occasion, during an exciting debate, a member of the Council on whose corns Mr. Holme had trodden, somewhat hardly hinted something about "personal satisfaction." The Mayor immediately called for an assurance from each gentleman that matters should "proceed no further." The challenger hesitated; but we shall never forget the buzz of satisfaction which rang round the Council room, as Mr. Holme rose and emphatically said that he had no hesitation in giving the assurance required, for he never intended to imbrue his hands in the blood of a fellow creature. The laws of God and man forbade him.
As a debater Mr. Holme is much less open to criticism, and is certainly without a rival in the Council; rapid perception, ready wit, and excellent tact standing him in good stead whether to lead a charge or beat a retreat. Moreover, he possesses the cleverness to see and the readiness to appropriate and mould the unworked ore in the minds of others - a talent which is in addition to, and not in substitution of, much originality of his own. His mind is of the perceptive rather titan the reflective order, but in too constant exercise to he merely apprehensive, He is, however rather a broad than a deep thinker; there being few subjects of ordinary interest upon which he has not formed well digested opinions. His strong tendency is to decided action; if laborious the more grateful, and if undertaken in the cause of public or private friendship unwearied. Sometimes lie carries the habit of decision even to precipitation; and therefore it is in seasons of emergency that he is of the greatest service. At such times, this decision and presence of mind combine to render him invaluable in illustration of which, we have only to recall to the recollection of many his conduct at a critical moment in the history of a well-known joint stock bank, which it is not too much to say was materially indebted to the promptness, and courage then displayed by him for its successful re-establishment. Besides being an excellent speaker in the Council chamber, he is an efficient member of its committees - being the chairman of the Improvement, the deputy-chairman of the Finance, and a member of the Law Courts Committee; and the confidence of the Council is generally manifested by his being placed upon nearly all committees appointed for a special object. To these duties he brings the large and invaluable stock of local knowledge with which his avocations have supplied him, together with that freedom from illiberal or short-sighted policy which is essential to the judicious administration of the corporate estate. Mr. Holme took a leading part in procuring the Health of Towns Act, and his report to the Government Commissioners on the condition of Liverpool previous to the passing of the act is often referred to as being clear, comprehensive, and sound. He has aided in giving us many public improvements; and, indeed, there has scarcely been a question of public interest for the last quarter of a century with which he has not been more or less associated.
In 1852 Mr. Holme was invited to become a candidate for the representation of Chester in Parliament, all invitation which was, as thought by some, injudiciously accepted, and which terminated in his retirement before going to the poll, from the irresistible influence of the Westminster family. If life and health he spared, there is no doubt that he will yet adorn the House of Commons, for he has administrative and natural abilities far beyond the majority of aspirants to Parliamentary honour. In all private relations Mr. Holme's reputation is deservedly high. He is upright, sincere, and liberal, Ho is an energetic supporter of our charitable institutions, particularly those connected with the Church of England, with which, he is identified; and he was mainly instrumental in the foundation of the Collegiate Institution. His private charities and kindness of heart are generally known and recognised. Among the members of our Corporation, there is none who, by capacity, character, or career, is entitled to a larger share of municipal confidence or general regard than Mr. S. Holme; and whether considered in a municipal, business, or private point of view, his talents, extraordinary energy, and numerous virtues have shed a lustre about his name which will not be extinct when the most durable edifice lie has been instrumental in erecting in his native town has crumbled into dust.
Source: The above extract was taken from ‘Pen and Ink studies of Liverpool Town Councillors’ and was kindly supplied by David Holm, Samuel's Great Great Nephew.