Howdenshire History

A Goole Draper & Church Worker: Henry Silvester White

Goole History > Goole People & Families> Henry Silvester White (I)




Henry Silvester White is the name which appears on one of the commemorative stones at the entrance to St Mary's church hall in Old Goole, laid on the occasion of the granting of a Charter of Incorporation to the Town of Goole in 1933. The Goole Times conducted a long interview with H S White in 1915, some years after he had retired from business.

This interview revealed that "Mr White was a native of Mansfield, Nottinghamshire [born about 1854] and on leaving school he was apprenticed to the drapery business with Messrs E. and R. Charlton, who then traded in the Market Place of his native town. Afterwards he went to work for a firm of drapers at Doncaster, and after serving well and conscientiously there he heard from a traveller that there was a drapery shop to let in Goole."

Mr White is quoted as saying, "This was the first time I had heard of Goole, and my employer had not previously heard of the town[!], and he decided to come with me and look at the place. The shop to let had been occupied by Mr Shearburn, and was that of 28 Ouse Street. I rented the shop [about 1881] and worked might and main for it to be a success, and success attended my efforts. At that time Ouse Street and Aire Street were the chief shopping centres of the town - they were the principal thoroughfares. The railway station was close by, and that part of the town was very busy. As time went on, I opened another shop in Carlisle Street and had a stall in the old Market Hall, where I sold on Wednesdays and Saturdays. After 12 1⁄2 years of very successful business, I retired."

The interview continues; "This is the plain story, simply told by Mr White, of his business career. There is a touch of romance about it in the fact that he came a stranger to the town, rented a shop which was in the open market "to let," and in the comparatively short time of 12 1⁄2 years earned sufficient money to enable him to retire. Here is evidence of his capacity for method and carefulness, and as he says, it would have been impossible to accomplish what he did unless he had concentrated the whole of his energies and exercised the most minute care."

Then it was, after his retirement, as a sort of thank-offering, that Mr White made a vow "which he has adhered to ever since." It was this: "Goole has done very well for me, and I in turn will endeavour to do my best for Goole in anything that comes along."

His long association with church life in Goole was recognised in 1933, as indicated above at the Charter ceremonies, when he was 79 years of age, and at his death ten years later The Goole Times of Friday 21st May 1943 had as its headline:


followed by "For many years a respected and popular figure in Goole, Mr Henry Silvester White has died at the age of 89 at the home of his daughter, Mrs Cottingham [formerly Eleanor Edge White, who had married James Cottingham, headmaster of Wistow National School, in 1915] of Leeds Road, Selby, with whom he had lived for the past few years. At one time, few men held more offices in connection with local organisations than Mr White ... his long retirement was frequently as busy as his business career."

"Soon after retiring he took up the secretaryship, along with Mr John Luddington, of the Goole Flower Show, which had then been in existence for about two years. With hard work the show was made to prosper and become one of the best for many miles around. He was secretary for 14 years, retiring in 1908. In 1900, during the Boer War, Mr White was made secretary of a committee formed to make arrangements for the homecoming of the Goole Volunteers, who had assisted the Regular Army in South Africa. Then, again jointly with Mr Luddington, Mr White became secretary of the Goole Fat Stock Show, which was very successful during their term of office. For a considerable period Mr White rendered valuable service as the Probation Officer. The old Goole and District Money Club, at one time a very flourishing organisation, had the benefit of his services as treasurer for about twenty years.

For a very lengthy period Mr White was prominently associated with Goole Parish Church. He was a sidesman for 17 years before being made vicar's warden, which post he held for several years under various vicars of the parish. The church work he loved most in his more active days was the organising of the Christmas treat for a thousand poor children of the town. The Parish Church has lost probably its oldest and most faithful worker for, as long as his health was good, he was always ready to assist it.

During the last war he performed much useful relief work and it would, indeed, be difficult to mention any worthy organisation or cause with which Mr White was not at one time or another connected. He also did a great deal of good privately. He naturally saw much of the town's growth and development and was able, from a retentive memory, to speak of conditions during his early days here."

Henry Silvester White outlived his wife Jane, who died in 1929, and his four sons, and died at his daughter's home. The sons were Frank Silvester White (d. 1923), Charles Edward White (d. 1927), George William White (d. 1940), and Henry Knowles White (d. 1941).


Read more about Henry Silvester White's wife and four sons.

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