Weaste Cemetery

Biographies of people buried between 1910 & 19

George Mathers Sunley (1846 - 1912)

George M Sunley was a painter by trade and became General Secretary of the National Amalgamated Society of Operative House and Shop Painters and Decorators.

He was born in 1847 in Malton in Yorkshire. On 27th September 1879 he married Annie Jones (born 1851 in Onibury, Shropshire) at St James Church, Didsbury. The 1881 census shows the couple living at 10, Cedar Street, Broughton, Salford. George is a Painter aged 33 and Annie is aged 30. Another member in the house is Mary Jane Sunley (born 1867 in Malton Yorkshire) daughter, aged 14 and Domestic Servant. (It's likely that George had a previous marriage, but the records could not be found).

The next available census record in for 1911, which shows the family living at 9, Oak Road, Broughton. George is aged 64 and a retired Trade Union Secretary, and Annie is aged 60. The couple's daughters are Beatrice (born 1886 in Salford) Dressmaker aged 25 and Annie (born 1894 in Salford) Mantle Maker aged 17. Also in the house is the eldest daughter Ada (born1884 in Salford) who is married to G T Cornes and her daughter Doris Cornes (born 1903 in Salford). However the family gravestone reveals three other children who died young. George Frederick (born 1880 and died 9th December 1880), James H (born 1881 and died 14th May 1882) and Nellie born 1888 and died 20th March 1889).

George M Sunley died in Salford on 17th February 1912 aged 64. Annie died on 27th September 1919 aged 68. They are buried together in the dissenter portion of Weaste Cemetery.

There is a reference to George M Sunley in the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser on 14th May 1907, giving evidence in a court case, where an employee of the Painters Union is claiming unpaid wages from the union. There was some confusion whether the plaintiff, Mr Frank Lowe of Hulme, was employed by the Central Board of the Union or by the District Branches. It says "George M Sunley the General Secretary, denied that there was reluctance on the part of the Central Board to pay Mr Lowe, but apart from the 5 shillings contributed weekly from the central fund, the remainder of his salary had to be raised by a general levy on the ten union branches in the Manchester area. The judge ruled that the branches were not responsible and that the Society was the employer and must pay the plaintiff.

The union had its origins in the Manchester Alliance of Operative Painters, founded in 1856 which loosely grouped together some local unions based around Manchester. It underwent numerous name changes before emerging in 1886 as the National Amalgamated Society of Operative House Painter and Decorators. After further mergers in 1904 it became the National Amalgamated Society of Operative House and Shop Painters and Decorators. Then in 1935 it shortened its name to the National Society of Painters. In 1970 it merged with the Woodworkers, becoming the Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers and Decorators. George Mathers Sunley was General Secretary for 20 years, from 1890 to 1910.