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David Horsfield – Sir Henry F Hibbert (1850 - 1927) First and Last Baronet of London and Chorley

Born into a family that owned a struggling textile owning company, Henry Hibbert attended both the Chorley and Balshaw's grammar schools up to the age of 14. It was, however, through the provision of education in the late 1800's, to which, he dedicated his life. Initially, in Chorley, this involved teaching a broad range of subjects to many children who would not have otherwise had the opportunity.

David Horsfield.

By his late thirties he had entered politics, enabling him to influence the provision of education, not just locally, but later throughout Lancashire and, ultimately, nationally. He was Lancahire Education Committee's chairman for 19 years from 1902 and also the member of parliament for Chorley from 1913 to 1918. His importance within the field of education led to him receiving numerous honours, such as a baronetcy, which entitled him to called a 'sir', and the Freeman of the City of London and Chorley.

Sir Henry F. Hibbert (1850-1927)
Hibbert lived in Chorley all his life and played a big part in the social fabric of the town. He had gained respect both locally and nationally throughout his life. His funeral took place at St George's church in 1927 and contemporaneous newspaper reports noted the crowds that lined Chorley's streets. David's presentation brought to everyone's attention the life and achievements of a, now little known, Chorley man.
Former home of the Hibbert family was 'Northolme' on Preston Road. It was demolished in July 2009. The terra-cotta datestone
from over the front door was 1868.
The sad r

Sir Henry with Chorley's first motorised fire engine.

The same fire engine takes Sir Henry on his last journey to Chorley Cemetery in 1927.
Few people familiar with the athletic figure of Sir Henry knew what physical disabilities he had to contend with in his early years. During a debate in the Lancashire County Council in 1926, when advocating the claims of crippled children, and speaking of the benefit that might result from sending them to the Ethel Hedley Orthopaedic Hospital, Sir Henry referred to his own experience. He related that from the age of eight to eleven years he walked on crutches, and went in splints from ankle to thigh from eight until twenty-one years old. It was owing to the patient care of a good mother that he was eventually cured.
Yet the crippled boy lived to be a strong man, won an honourable name in the world of commerce, and became a great educationalist. A life-long advocate of technical instruction, he secured for Chorley, his native town, the well equipped Technical Building where the Grammar School is now housed.

Fancashire School Founders and other Famous Friends of Lancashire Boys and Girls.
by T.C.Porteus.
As an expert in educational problems he was called upon to assist in framing the great Education Act of 1902. He was knighted in 1903; and made baronet in 1919, when the freedom of the City of London was conferred upon him. As Chairman of the Lancashire Education Committee from 1902 to 1921; then Chairman of the County Council for six years, and also as Member of Parliament for the Chorley Division, his advice and administrative ability were invaluable to his town, his county, and his country.
Many a poor scholar who made good at last owed much to him; and obtained, through his interest and effort, the scholarship or bursary which enabled him “to breast the blows of circumstance." What he did was often forgotten, and sometimes never known. Behind the impersonal veil of committees, regulations. and resolutions, there was ever beating, in sympathy for the aspiring student, the warm heart of Sir Henry Hibbert.

The following passage is reproduced from ‘A History of Chorley – by Jim Heyes’
Relatively little is said nowadays about the part played in education by Sir Henry F. Hibbert (1850-1927). He served on the town council from 1891 and was MP for Chorley from 1913 to 1918. Education was dear to his heart - and especially sport, for as a boy he had been severely ill and regained his health partly through rigorous sporting activity. He had a key role in the 1902 Education Act and was knighted for his education work in 1903.
The first official meeting of Chorley and District Historical Society was held on Saturday 27th April 1918.
The President was Sir Henry Hibbert and Chairman Rev T.C. Porteus.

Grave of Sir Henry Hibbert (1850-1927) in Chorley Cemetery.
P. Robinson.
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