John Plummer:

Photo:Plate of William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army

Plate of William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army

and William Booth

By Lucy Porter

I am in possession of a very interesting bound collection of cuttings many of which seem to have been taken from 'The British Workman' or other pamphlets on social reform.

From research I have done I believe the work may have been completed by John Plummer (1831-1914) a campaigning journalist who amongst other things rallied against the Northamptonshire Shoemaker's Union during his time living at Thorpe Malsor, near Kettering, or alternatively perhaps a member of his family. A number of clippings are attributed to a 'JP' of Kettering which is where the album was bought at auction some years ago.

Plummer seems to have either met or been influenced by William Booth founder of the Salvation Army (1829-1912) as the frontispiece of the impressive collection of cuttings is a what I presume to be a signed engraving of William Booth which I show below. The album itself must have been a fairly serious piece of work in its day and although its outer cover is in a very poor condition, I am currently investigating having it restored as the pictures inside are very well preserved and a number are in colour. Sadly the meticulous compiler of this extensive work has clipped the dates from the majority of the cuttings although a better historian than myself would be able to date the pieces through the events featured including the first Boer War which I do know would fit in with the dates!

Why am I sharing this?! Well I really do not know which way to go with this book. My instinct tells me that it is a work worth preserving as it is quite fascinating to look through but it is dire need of preservation. I have taken it to a specialist antique book seller and restorer who has been very enthusiastic and tells me it is the largest volume of its type he has ever seen. To recover it in its original half-leather binding will cost £900 although a lesser job in cardboard would perhaps be in the region of £500.

From your knowledge of 'the British Workman' and other records of our social history do you think that any of our museums or other collectors would value such a work as this compilation! I would be very interested in your opinion should you feel able to comment.

I look forward to hearing from you and thank you in consideration of your attention.

Lucy Porter
Stamford Lincolnshire

This page was added by Lucy Porter on 01/05/2013.
Comments about this page

This may be a bit late but the National Library of Australia could be interested as they hold a substantial amount of Plummer's manuscripts and cuttings.  See:

This is a long shot but did you also purchase any manuscripts?  In 1878 Plummer wrote that he had collected songs from lacemakers but he had since lost his notebook.  He gave some information about some of these songs, including a few titles.  They included:

1) 'Blackberry Nan'. The first lines were "Blackberry Nan, Blackberry Nan/ Killed a cat in her milking can."
2) 'The Squire's Ghost'. The title is all the information Plummer provides.
3) 'Christian and the Money-lender'.
4) 'Betsy's Dream'.

I have not been able to find full texts anywhere for these songs and I'd be delighted to discover them, either in Plummer's manuscript or any other source.




By David Hopkin
On 07/03/2017

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MLA Department for Education and Skills DCMS Learn with museums Kettering Borough Council