Weaste Cemetery

Biographies of people buried between 1857 & 1869

Joseph Brotherton (1783 - 1857)

 Joseph Brotherton is considered to be Salford's founding father; its first MP; and Minister of the Bible Christian Church for 40 years.


Joseph was born on 22nd May 1783 at Whittington, near Chesterfield. His father, John, was a Tax Collector and Schoolmaster and in 1789 moved to Manchester. In 1799, John formed a partnership with Joseph Harvey and set up a cotton mill on Oldfield Road, Salford. Young Joseph Brotherton worked in the mill, becoming a partner in 1804 when he was 21. His father died in 1810 and he became head of the enterprise. Joseph went into partnership with his brother William and cousin William Harvey to form the company Brothertons, Harvey and Co. In 1819, when only 36, he retired, his brother died and the company passed to William Harvey.


Joseph belonged to the Bible Christian Church in King Street. This new non-conformist movement was strictly vegetarian and abstained from alcohol and tobacco. Both Joseph and his wife Martha (sister of his cousin William Harvey) were extremely active members and in 1812 Martha wrote the first Vegetarian Cookbook. In 1821 Joseph wrote the definitive "On Abstinence from Intoxicating Liquors" and in 1847 he chaired the meeting which established the Vegetarian Society. When the church's Minister died in 1817, Joseph was appointed the new Minister, a position he held until his death in 1857. Martha survived him by 3 years.


In politics, Joseph was a Liberal and along with other members of the Bible Christian Church and other non conformist Liberals, played an active role in the formation of Salford Council in 1844. He entered politics in 1811 as Township Overseer of the Poor and in 1821 he was appointed to the Select Vestry. As a supporter of Parliamentary reform he became a member of a group of Liberal Non-conformists that used to meet at John Potter's home at Buile Hill. He strongly campaigned for a Parliamentary Inquiry into the 1819 Peterloo massacre and played an active role in the campaign against child labour in the textile industry. In 1830 his group of reformers pushed for 2 MPs for Manchester and 1 for Salford. The Reform Act of 1832 granted this and the voters of Salford elected him.


As an MP, Joseph Brotherton supported factory legislation, the 10 hour day, repealing the Corn Laws, formation of local Councils, working class education, museums and libraries, public parks and cemeteries. He was an MP for 24 years and was so popular that on two occasions he was elected unopposed. He died on 7th January 1857 aged 73.