Saturday, 6 February 2010

Sugar Prize

Following my blog of 12th January the granddaughter of Lillian Graham added a comment to what I had written about Lillian's mother, Agnes McIlhagga. Lillian's granddaughter has, I'm pleased to say, been in touch again. She has mentioned an interesting event about which I have had no previous knowledge. Her great great grandfather (and my great grandfather), Crawford, as I have documented previously, worked in the Sugar Industry as a Sugar Baker. An uncle told her the story, which he had heard from his mother, of Crawford going to Paris and winning first prize for crystalised sugar. Although I have looked for documentary evidence of this, I have yet to find it. I wonder if the event was reported in the newspapers of the day?

Apparently the prize was presented at the famous Paris Exhibition of 1889, at the time of the construction and indeed completion of the Eiffel Tower. Family tradition is that it was 'father and son' who went, representing the firm of Tate & Lyle, in which they had been involved from the start of the Liverpool Refinery. Sadly Crawford succumbed to the Sugar Industry's sickness of alcoholism (see my blog of 26th November last) and ended up in the Union Infirmary (former Walton Workhouse) where he died on 8th July 1907, aged 70. His wife had died there (aged 63) exactly a year before. Although most of the records of that Institution have disappeared, family memory is that (probably in his last year) his daughter Agnes would bring him to her home on a Sunday for his roast dinner. It was she who undertook the responsibility of burying him.

It is said that Crawford was a member of the Royal Black Institution, an organisation related to the Orange Order but owing its origins to the Scottish Masonic Order. The 'Blacksonites' were considered to be more religious than political and more 'respectable in its proceedings' than the Orange Order (see Wikipedia Article).

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