The Conservative Association
1885 had seen a large meeting at Great Linford in support of the liberal candidate Captain Edmund Verney and a few months later that same year there was a gathering in support of the Conservative candidate, Sir Samuel Wilson. The Bucks Herald of August 15th reported on the well-attended meeting held in a barn belonging to Mr Clode. This was likely John Clode (1810-1894), a well-to-do farmer who was born in New Windsor, Berkshire, but had lived and worked most of his life in Great Linford.
Conservative gatherings henceforth became a fixture in the Great Linford social calendar, with the foundation of a Conservative & Unionist Club taking place around 1889. We find the club celebrating its 2nd anniversary in 1891 with a fine dinner and speeches in the village school room. The article published in the Buckingham Express is fastidious in it’s detail, providing that the organisation boasted upwards of 100 members, naming amongst them The Reverend Williams, William and Gerard Uthwatt, Arthur and Henry Clode and Mr Bird, Tayler, Kemp and Chetwynd, the latter the school master.
The meetings, held at the School on the High Street, were busy affairs, with speeches on the issues of the day such as tariffs, land reform and the management of the Empire. Toasts were proposed, visiting candidates presented and questioned, and on at least one occasion, a small orchestra was on hand to play during dinner. All in all, they seemed very convivial events, bar for one report in the Northampton Mercury of Saturday November 23rd, 1889, which carries an account of a letter received to the paper concerning what might well have been the inaugural meeting of the Association. The allegations do not paint the local conservatives in a good light, but of course given the charged atmosphere in the county between the Conservatives and Liberals, the letter’s content might equally be seen as a bit of political sabotage by an aggrieved Liberal.
I have received a letter from Great Linford, detailing some extraordinary proceedings by the law and order party. It seems the success of the Liberal Association has aroused envy in the Conservative breast.
Some of the local Tories seemed to carry things with a high hand in the village during the progress of the Tory dinner on Saturday, thought themselves lords of creation, did a lot of boisterous bragging in the streets, and did not stop until had seriously hurt several very respectable and very peaceable inhabitants.
My correspondent says that a more disgraceful affair has never before taken place in the village.
The Uthwatts were not unsurprisingly at the forefront of politics in the village, with William Uthwatt occupying the Chair of the association for a number of years. We find him thus engaged in 1905, when a perspective Conservative Party candidate visited the village. By 1912, he was being styled the President of the association.
Noticeable in the accounts of these dinners and meetings is the lack of female representation. The speakers and guests are dominated by men, and when on occasion the women of the village are mentioned, it is always in their capacity as caterers. The Conservative women of the village did hold what was described as their, “annual women’s tea” on December 29th, 1893, but there were no speeches, or at least none that were deemed newsworthy, and the event was it appears purely an affair consisting of a tea, dance and concert. We do get the names of some of the women present, and of course find “Mrs Uthwatt” first and foremost. This we would presume from the date to be Anna Maria Uthwatt, nee Glascott, wife (by then widow) of Edolph Andrewes Uthwatt. Also mentioned amongst the 30 ladies present were Mrs and Miss Williams, Mrs Shepherd, Mrs Souster, Mrs Hall, Mrs Wain, Mrs Colton and Miss A. Fennimore. Various attendees (of which there were also some men) provided songs and recitations, and dancing was kept up until 2am.
Mentions of the Conservative Association begin to dry up around 1910, with the last mention presently found coming in 1912. Whether it continued in some form or another is presently uncertain.