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The Thoresby Society

The Historical Society for Leeds and District
Founded 1889



The Notebooks of Robert Pounder

Robert Pounder cover

Robert Pounder (1811-1857) was a self-educated Leeds artisan whose two notebooks record not only family information, but also the effect on his life of many of the great events of his time. In the 1830s he took part in the great marches to York and Bradford in support of Richard Oastler’s Ten Hour campaign, as we know from a letter in Oastler’s Fleet Papers. The notebooks record that about the same time he acted as secretary of the handle setters’ trade union, and he was subsequently a sympathetic observer of the Plug Riots. He demonstrated his Chartist loyalties by collecting the Northern Star’s engraved portraits of some of the leaders of the movement. In the early 1840s he renewed his support of Oastler, when ‘the Factory King’ was imprisoned for debt, helping to collect money for his hero’s release and riding to Brighouse station in the cold and dark to greet him on his return to Yorkshire. Like Oastler, Pounder abhorred the New Poor Law of 1834, loathing and fearing the workhouses (or ‘bastilles’) which were to be erected for the indigent; he himself was dependent on poor relief in the winter of 1842-43, when both he and his wife were ill; his wife died the following summer. At this period of sorrow and hardship he had support from his Methodist faith and from the church members. In his widowhood he wrote a great deal of verse, mainly relating closely to his circumstances, expressing his despair at human wickedness and his consciousness of sin and of the fragility of life, but also his joy in the beauties of nature and his love of his family.

All this is captured in two somewhat haphazardly written notebooks, which were recently donated to the Society by one of Pounder’s descendants, and which are here transcribed by Ann Alexander for the benefit of researchers and the general reader. What gives these writings such historical relevance is that they are the authentic voice of a working-class radical.

Ann Alexander has long had an interest in local history, and for many years has been an active member of the Thoresby Society; she has been one of the joint editors since 2001. When the Thoresby Library received the Pounder notebooks she found the temptation to transcribe them irresistible.

ISBN   978 0 900741 75 3

Cost £18

P&P £3.50 UK, £7.50 International 




In 1715 Ralph Thoresby published the first history of Leeds. To celebrate the three hundredth anniversary of its publication the Thoresby Society decided to produce two volumes, A Celebration of Ralph Thoresby and Ralph Thoresby’s Review of his Life.

Volume One

A Celebration of Ralph Thoresby

tercentenary vol 2

This volume contains a series of articles about Ralph Thoresby himself. Some have previously been published but are ones which we felt many of our members may not have seen. Other articles have been newly commissioned.

‘The First Medievalist in Leeds: Ralph Thoresby, FRS, 1658-1725’ by G. C. F. Forster, first appeared in I. Wood and G. A. Loud’s, Church and Chronicle in the Middle Ages; Essays Presented to John Taylor. Elspeth’s Jajdelska’s article ‘Ralph Thoresby the Diarist: The Late Seventeenth-Century Pious Diary and its Demise’ was first published in The Seventeenth Century. Peter Brears has contributed two articles, ‘An Historical Reconstruction of Ralph Thoresby’s Home’ from The Historian and ‘Ralph Thoresby a Museum Visitor in Stuart England’ from the Journal of the History of Collections whilst Peter Morrish’s ‘Ralph Thoresby (1658-1725) of Leeds, Books and Libraries’ was originally in Library History.

New material has been written by Steven Burt who contributed ‘Ralph Thoresby and the Compilation of the Ducatus Leodiensis. Reflecting on the existing objects from Thoresby’s museum which are now on view at Burton Constable, David Connell has provided, Important pieces from Ralph Thoresby’s collection discovered at Burton Constable in East Yorkshire. Peter Meredith has written two articles, ‘From Grand Design to Scribbled Note: Ralph Thoresby’s presence in the Society’s Library’ and ‘Ralph Thoresby and “Cosen” Susy’. An Appendix complied by Peter Meredith and David Thornton contains lists of articles on Ralph Thoresby which have appeared in the Publications of the Thoresby Society over the years, a list of repositories where Thoresby material is lodged, and a list of references to Ralph Thoresby in the press.

ISBN   978 0 900741 76 0

Cost £18

P&P £3.50 UK, £7.50 International 



Volume Two

Ralph Thoresby’s Review of his Life, 1658-1714

[Yorkshire Archaeological Society MS 26]

tercentenary vol 2

In his lifetime the most famous of the works Ralph Thoresby publishedwere his Ducatus Leodiensis in 1715 and his Vicaria Leodiensis in 1724. It was not until 1830 that the Revd Joseph Hunter published what he entitled the Diary of Ralph Thoresby F.R.S. This publication however, though in two volumes, contained only extracts from the diaries (of which there are several volumes) together with extracts from a separate but related volume, what Hunter called the Review. Thoresby’s Review, now in the archives of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society, is a series of extracts adapted from his diaries, with later comments, written, according to Thoresby’s own account, for the instruction of his children, in particular his sons. Hunter printed extracts from this volume to fill in gaps where diaries were missing, but it has never been published in its entirety. Consequently the Thoresby Society decided to undertake its publication as part of its tercentenary tribute, experimenting with using a team of transcribers to make the initial transcriptions from scans of the manuscript. The book offers a fascinating insight into the life of a deeply religious man of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century who was also a very well-respected antiquarian and historian, in personal contact with almost all of the eminent scholars and antiquaries of his time. In the Review Thoresby describes his travels, his visits to the museums and ‘cabinets of curiosities’ of his contemporaries, his own troubles and those of his family, and reflects clearly the divided religious state of the country in his time. There is a brief introduction and extensive indexes, and a bibliography of Thoresby’s reading is also included.


ISBN   978 0 900741 77 7

Cost £18

P&P £3.50 UK, £7.50 International 


Obtainable from the Thoresby Society, The Leeds Library, 18 Commercial Street, Leeds, LS1 6AL, or from booksellers.

To order please print out the form at the end of this link and fill it in. Order form. then send with a cheque or postal order made payable to the Thoresby Society at :-
Thoresby Society,
The Leeds Library,
18 Commercial Street,