Thomas Costley was a Landlord and Estate Agent and also a member of the Salford Board of Guardians.
He was born in 1838, at Megaberry Hill, a little country village near Lisburn, Northern Ireland. As a boy he was put to handloom weaving at which unremunerative occupation he worked for many years. In 1865, at the age of 27, he set sail for Liverpool with 6 shillings and 8 pence (33 new pence), then made his way to Miles Platting in Manchester, getting a job as Handloom Weaver. The people he lodged with moved to Radcliffe, so Thomas moved with them and obtained work at Farrar's Mill at Chapelfield.
Thomas worshipped at the Chapelfield Primative Methodist Chapel, where he met and in 1861, married Sarah Wild, the daughter of the former chapel keeper. They lived nearby and out of Thomas's 15 shillings a week they paid 2/6 rent. In 1862 Margaret was born and the following year the great cotton famine closed down Lancashire mills. Thomas and Sarah moved to Pendleton and Thomas walked from Radcliffe with Margaret on his shoulders. They rented a house at 122, Whit Lane. During the day Thomas worked at Tinker's Silk Mill in Lissadel Street, on a Jacquard loom. Four evenings a week he taught 16 boys and 16 girls, each of whom paid him a penny-ha'penny per week, which paid for the rent. It wasn't long before a better opportunity arose, selling coal. He also collected accounts for a doctor and had a insurance club round. Thomas began to save in a Building Society and in a few years he had amassed £150. With this and a mortgage he bought 10 houses and by the time of his death he possessed 155 houses. He carried on business as an Estate Agent with his son John Thomas.
Thomas and Sarah had 5 children: Margaret, born 1862 (married John Knott in 1884), John Thomas born 1864, Mary Ellen, born 1867 (married Thomas W. Robinson in 1891), Jane born 1870, (married Alfred G. Waterhouse in 1893) and Oliver, born 1872.
In 1894, Thomas was successful in being elected to the Salford Board of Guardians and again in 1897. He was also asked by the Liberal Party to contest Albert Park Ward in Broughton, but was unsuccessful. Thomas was at one time secretary of Pendleton Liberal Association. He was a member of a number of learned societies including the Royal Irish Antiquarian Society and Manchester Geographical Society. He was a frequent lecturer in various parts of the country on numerous subjects. Thomas was also the author of books and pamphlets, "My Favourite Authors" being his principal work, published in 1894.
Toward the end of his life, Thomas had been suffering poor health and bought a house in Southport. However, the better climate there was not able to deal with a deep-seated disease and he returned to Pendleton. After a lingering and painful illness, he succumbed to a chest infection and died on Wednesday 7th November 1900. He was 62 years old.
The funeral took place on Saturday 10th November. A service was held at the home of his daughter, 113 Church Street, Pendleton, conducted by Rev. R.E. Stuttard, Minister of Charlestown Congregationalist Church. The coffin, which was of polished oak with brass mouldings, was placed in a hearse drawn by two horses. Several carriages containing members of the Salford Board of Guardians preceded the hearse. The cortege of nine carriages proceeded to Weaste Cemetery, where a large number of friends and Board of Guardians members assembled by the graveside in plot A5.
Thomas's will included bequests of £200 to Salford Royal Hospital, £100 to Charlestown Congregational Church and about 1,000 books to Pendleton branch of Salford Free Library.