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The former editor of the Chester Courant Joseph Hemingway had transferred his political allegiance on taking on the editorship of the pro-Grosvenor Chester Chronicle in 1824 and some 11 per cent of voters changed sides between 1820 and 1826, including the silversmith John Walker.

Hemingway's will (he died 20 Dec 1837) reads:

  • I Joseph Hemingway of the City of Chester, Gentleman, Do make this my last Will and Testament in manner following: I direct my just debts Funeral and Testamentary expenses in the first place to be paid and discharged by Executor hereinafter named whom I direct to sell and dispose of all my Household Goods, Furniture, Plate Linen China Pictures, Books and all other [of] my effects as soon a conveniently may be after my decease and I authorize my said executor to receive all money due to me including my Annuity due from Mr Arnold Jones of Dublin and I direct my said Executor to pay Dr William Makepeace Thackeray the sum of Ten Pounds which I borrowed from him some years since and also to pay to my Servant the sum of Two Pounds to purchase Mourning if she thinks proper to do so. And as to all the rest residue and remainder of my Personal Estate I give and bequeath the same to my Nephew and Nieces Joseph Hemingway, Harrriett Selby and Sarah Tute all of Leeds in the County of York share and share alike. And I do hereby appoint Thomas Griffith of the said City Printer Sole Executor of this my Will. In Witness whereof have hereunto set my hand and Seal the Fifteenth day of December One thousand and eight hundred and thirty seven.


Hemingway's commentary on Chester is fascinating. In many ways he is a complete snob - toadying up to the aristocracy and denegrating the "lower orders". Writing in the 1830's, he claimed that:

..or worse, Handbridge as a whole was dismissed as "almost exclusively inhabited by the lower orders". Hemingway thought that there were few places in the country where the gentry formed such a high proportion of the population as in Chester and he was pleased that the lack of factories meant the absence of "the crowds of the lowest rabble they engender".

When writing about the health of Cestrians Hemingway comments as follows, at first praising the climate, skipping over the efforts of Haygarth at the Infirmary and then having one of his usual, rather snobbish digs at the "lower class of poor":

  • The inhabitants of Chester enjoy advantages which scarcely any other place of equal magnitude possesses; peculiarly favoured by Providence, the situation is as pleasing as the air is salubrious. The late Dr Haygarth, a gentleman of high professional talents, with whose residence here, the city was long favoured, in his observations on the population and diseases of Chester, published in 1774 has shewn, that it was in a very extraordinary degree, more healthy than most other towns and cities, and that during a period of ten years preceding, the proportion of deaths annually had been only one in forty, and within the walls, exclusively of the suburbs, only one in fifty eight. He attributes the healthiness of Chester to its elevated situation; its being built on a loose rock which quickly absorbs moisture; and its being surrounded by the Dee. The Doctor observes also that the air is uncommonly clear. there having been but six foggy. and thirty two hazy mornings during the four years then preceding; and he considers the opportunities for taking air and exercise afforded, even to invalids, by the rows and walls well adapted to preserve and restore health. Dr Aikin, in his history of the country round Manchester truly remarks, "that the small proportion of deaths when compared with the number of inhabitants at Chester is in part owing to the much less proportion of the lowest class of poor than in manufacturing towns".

All available copies of Hemingways "Panorama" have a date of 1836 and his "History" was written in 1831. However the "Panorama" appears to have been written earlier than the "History"; as some descriptions in the "Panorama", such as that of the Infirmary, are correct in the "History" but wildly out-dated in the "Panorama".

Sources and links