Weaste Cemetery

Biographies of people buried between 1870 & 79

Richard Harnott (1807 - 1872)

 Richard Harnott was a Stone Mason by trade and for 25 years until his death in 1872, was the General Secretary of the Operative Society of Stone Masons, which was a Friendly Society and a Trade Union.

He was born in 1807 in Cheshire. Not a lot is known about his early life, but on 24th January 1833 he married Ann Wynne at Eccleston, Cheshire. Their children were: Mary (born 1836 in Ashton-under-Lyne), Ann (born 1836 in Eccleston, Cheshire), Elizabeth (born 1840 in Liverpool), Charlotte (born 1846 in Liverpool), Jane (born 1848 in Liverpool) and Richard Morris (born 1850 in Birmingham). In 1841 the family lived at Finch Street in Liverpool, in 1851 at Great Russell Street, Birmingham, and in 1871 at Booth Street West, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester.

Richard became active in the Operative Society of Stone Masons. The union was founded in 1833 as the Friendly Society of Operative Stonemasons of England, Ireland and Wales. Initially it was a loose federation of local unions, but it expanded rapidly reaching a membership of 4,000 and 100 branches by 1835. However membership and finances took a dip in 1842 after disputes during the construction of the Houses of Parliament. But membership grew again during the 1940s.

In 1847 Richard was elected General Secretary. He focussed on centralising the operations of the union. As was customary in unions of the period, its headquarters moved from town to town and Richard was willing to move with the job. He had little involvement with the national trade union movement and opposed its move towards compulsory conciliation. Instead he developed a policy of seasonal strikes during the summer months when the masons were in demand. He also supported the establishment of branches in various part of England, Scotland and Wales.

Richard led the union through successive victories, and in 1858, defeated an attempt by the employers' Federation of Master Builders to introduce hourly payments. In 1860 the union had achieved a nine hour working day across most of Lancashire. In 1867 it was decided to appoint an assistant secretary and a Mr Atkins was a favourite of most branches. However, as Richard was not in favour of Mr Atkins, he sent out a note with members' ballot papers, not to vote for Mr Atkins and James Dyer won. His action was against union rules, but he managed to survive a vote of no confidence. In 1869, the employers tried again to introduce hourly pay and although this was largely defeated, the masons of Liverpool and Manchester were compelled to concede.

On 7th February 1872, Richard Harnott died of a paralytic stroke in his bed at home in Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester. He was 65 years old. He was buried in plot B19/CE/747 at Weaste Cemetery. A newspaper report said "The funeral of this gentleman, who for 25 years faithfully filled the office of central corresponding secretary of the Operative Stonemasons Society, took place at the Salford Cemetery. His remains were followed to the cemetery by upward of 350 persons, which circumstances afforded ample evidence of the esteem and respect with which he was regarded by those with whom he was brought in contact."