A Biography of George Scholey - Lord Mayor of London 1812

Once again I must offer my thanks to Mr Reg Waites a Scholey descendant who was born in the Old Hall at Ackworth and still lives in the village for the following information


The birthplace of George Scholey is in Sandal Magna close to Wakefield at the junction of Marygate Lane and Castle Road. When he was born there in 1758 the building was a lively and thriving Inn the " Cock and Bottle" and was a halt for coaches running between Leeds , Sheffield and London . George was the son of John Scholey the Innkeeper. The building has now been replaced by a group of attractive cottages.


George attended the school (10 boys) which had been endowed in 1686 by a local man Richard Taylor.


He was an intelligent boy and as a youth went to work in the old bank at Leeds and from there moved to London and obtained a post with a firm of hop merchants. He worked hard and prospered .


In 1785 (27 years old) he went into partnership with Alderman Sawbridge and in the same year married the daughter of a member of the Corporation of London. At the start of the Volunteer System he was one of the first to step forward not only in offering his own personal service but by clothing and engaging every young person of his mercantile concern who was capable of bearing arms .


He became interested in politics and later represented Dowgatein the Court of Aldermen for 34 years. He became Sheriff in 1804 and Lord Mayor of London in 1812 when he was described as a distiller. For those who do not know, the following is a description of a recent investiture of a Lord Mayor and will give some idea of the prestige that goes with the role


November is the month when with all the historic pomp and ceremony the City of London bestows upon an elected citizen the high honour of Lord Mayor. We can join the crowds who watch the procession the highlight of which is the Lord Mayor himself in hs gilded coach and through the television screen we have glimpses of the banquet , the Mansion House and the Guildhall amd can imagine what the forthcoming year will mwan to the new Lord Mayor of London.


On George's Investiture he invited friends from Wakefield to join in the banquet.


Alderman Scholey was greatly respected being honest and frugal ----except when called upon to help others --- and had a high sense of duty. To quote the European Magazine and the London Review of October 1813 " It was to his merit that, regardless of the resentment of the wealthy he superintended the average price of grain striking a correct balance between corn and bread to the advantage of the working classes"


According to a report in the Wakefield & Halifax Journal of July 1812 " The price of labour had not kept pace with the price of bread " As the average earnings in 1786 was 3 shillings ( 15pence ) per day this would have purchased quarter loaves. In 1812 at his highest level labour did not return more than 6 shillings per day ( 30 pence) but that only bought 4 quarter loaves . The rise in the cost of loaves was as follows :

1786 6d ( 2.5 pence) 1792 7.25 d ( 3 pence) 1798 8d ( 3.2pence)

1804 13.25d ( 5.1 pence) 1810 15.5d (7.6pence) 1812 19.75d ( 9pence)


One wonders if George had his home in mind for at the time Wakefield was undergoing difficulties. The city was known as the granary of the west Riding which came by canal even from abroad The huge Corn Market on a Wednesday was the largest in the north of England and second only to London, however in 1810 because of the Napoleonic wars prices were running high and there was a scarcity of food for the poor. This was one of the reasons for the Luddite risings . In August 1812 a riotous assembly mostly of exasperated women gathered outside the Wakefield corn market and prevented the farmers and merchants from dealing. The Constable was sent for to protect the Cornfactor. Incidents like these were becoming more and more common.


There is a caricature of 1813 Showing Alderman Scholey weighing corn and bread out


When he retired George lived in a house on Clapham Common for many years till his death in 1839. His friends were surprised at his will as they thought his estate would be much larger. It seems he had lost money in the bank failures of 1826 but he still left 120,000


10,000 had been left to Sandal, half for the benefit of the poor and half for the school.



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