This week’s Exhibit of the Week is a marble relief sculpture of Samuel Bottomley identical to the one on his memorial plaque currently in St Andrew’s United Reform Church on Ramshill Road.
Samuel Bottomley was born on January 5, 1751. Five days later he was baptised at All Hallows’ Church, Almondbury near Huddersfield and was named after his father who was a carpenter at nearby Lockwood. A life as a preacher was his destiny from an early age. In the spring of 1769 at the age of 19, he decided one Sunday evening to preach in the open air to a group of villagers at Honley near Holmfirth. At the time such outdoor preaching was pretty much unknown, and didn’t receive a warm reception.
After a few years in Swanland, Bottomley settled in Scarborough where he was to spend the remainder of his life. In 1773 he took over as Minister at the Independent Chapel which at the time only had a congregation of 30. Due to his efforts, and no doubt his skills as a preacher, the following year the congregation had grown to such an extent that new premises were required.
In 1776 he married Hannah Tindall, daughter of John Tindall the Scarborough ship builder. The Tindall family were devout non-conformists, and Hannah’s sister Ann was a disciple of John Wesley, one of the founders of Methodism.
Samuel and Hannah had five children one of whom, John Tindall Bottomley, along with William Tindall put forward to the Society of Arts in London designs for a steam locomotive in 1814. The design was rather impractical involving long continuous chains looping round fixed cogs on the axels, but this was 15 years before Stephenson’s famous Rocket.
The Rev Samuel Bottomley was, as suggested by the quotation at the beginning of this piece, an early riser, and could often be seen in deep thought on one of his favourite walks, Falsgrave Road. Rather than the busy road it is now, during the late Georgian period this was a quiet country road, and the aged Reverend enjoyed the closeness to nature, listening to the bird song and seeing the industry of the insects.
His love of nature, and his close friendship with the Scarborough historian Thomas Hinderwell were clearly important to him. When the Scarborough Philosophical Society formed in 1827, he was a financial contributor to the sum of £5 and his son and widowed daughter-in-law were also financial contributors as were, in time, his grand-daughters.
Samuel Bottomley died after a period of ill health on February 13, 1831 aged 80. He was much loved by the followers of his church, and an ornate memorial was erected in his beloved Independent Chapel on the site of the now empty Congregational Church on Eastborough. He was buried beneath the pulpit with his wife Hannah.
The memorial was unveiled in 1835, and the likeness was designed and executed by the sculptor William Behnes who came to Scarborough to supervise its installation. Behnes was to become ‘Sculptor in Ordinary’ to Queen Victoria and one of his pupils was Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins who is most famous for his life-size dinosaur models still to be seen at Crystal Palace Park.
Since the closure of the Eastborough Congregational Church, the memorial has been moved to St Andrew’s United Reform Church on Ramshill where it can still be seen to this day.
As an example of the kind of man he was I leave you with this quote. When he was told that people were making false and defamatory remarks about him he casually replied “I will live in such a manner, that no one shall believe them.”
The relief sculpture of Samuel Bottomley is part of the Scarborough Collections, the name given to all the museum objects and artwork acquired by the borough over the years, and now in the care of Scarborough Museums Trust. For further information, please contact Collections Manager (maternity cover) Simon Hedges on [email protected] or 01723 384505.