William Molesworth

I needed a break from paperwork as well as a visit to the local studies library and so took myself out on a walk in the cold air.
I was delighted to see the scaffolding had been removed from Borough Road Library and the building open. it’s not been used as a library for many years. LSBU either owns it or leases it from Southwark Council. It’s a building I talk about on my Elephant and Castle walk, so I took the opportunity to look inside. Most of the building is for the sole use of the LSBU, for their apprenticeships, but there’s a light, bright café and friendly staff.
They weren’t terribly busy and kindly took the time to talk to me.
Inside the entrance I had seen this:

William Molesworth

Who was he? I wanted to know, and why had John Passmore Edwards presented his likeness to the library over forty years after his death?
One member of staff consulted her, the other her computer. They established he was an MP, had been indeed MP for the neighbourhood, so we guessed he was someone Passmore Edwards admired.
I thanked them and left.
At the library I couldn’t resist trying to find out more.
The cuttings file yielded an article written by Mask in 1838 in The News. I gathered fairly quickly that Mask did not like or esteem Molesworth. He sneered at Molesworth’s Philosphical radicalism, his support for universal suffrage, the secret ballot and annual parliaments. He sneered at Moleworth appearance, saying he had “an air of littleness about him”, and “his dress is evidently arranged with the greatest of care and he generally wears a gold watchguard rather more exposed to view than good taste would sanction…he is a man who has that inordinate opinion of his own vast importance that he will do, or suffer to be done, no one thing that relates in any manner to his sacred self without the most profound deliberation and the most elaborate preparation.”
Ouch.
It seems Mask’s politics and Molesworth’s were not in accord. Whereas I would hazard that Passmore Edwards’ and Molesworth’s were. It also transpired that Molesworth’s family had long been settled in Cornwall and his estates there were ‘extensive’. As Passmore Edwards also came from Cornwall I’d guess that’s where he learned of Molesworth.

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