Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Pioneers of Esperanto in Liverpool

The names and addresses of early speakers of Esperanto in the Liverpool area, with their registration numbers are as follows in the Adresaro de Esperantistoj (collection of addresses of Esperantists), starting with the issue for January 1904 to January 1905 (Series XXIV). All of the following are listed in Liverpool, Anglujo, i.e. England. The number given is a unique one for each individual. Indeed, early users of the language frequently signed articles with that number alone, knowing that anyone wanting to contact them could easily find their address in the Adresaro.

Here are the names of those pioneers of over a century ago:

8201 George Quail, 77 Sandy Road, Seaforth.

8387 Aubrey Norman, , H.M.S. Conway, Rock Ferry

9893 James Johnson, 318 Hawthorne Road, Bootle.

10375 Miss Margaret L. Jones, 44 Church Road, Stanley

10557 James Krogman, 10 Elstow Street

11323 William Village, 84 Boaler Streert, Newshamn (sic) Park

11870 Sydney Whitaker, Cosby Road, North Liverpool

12532 A. L. Rawlings, 24 Oxford Street

12955 George F. Karek, 4 Old Hall Street

12965 John Hamilton, 19 Irving Street, Litherland

14811 W. Klemm, 25 Marmion Road

14830 F-ino (=Miss) Joanna Crosby, ĉe S-ro D-ro Whitaker., Waterloo

14856 Henry F. Mc Guinness, 5 Ether Road

14977 S-ino (=Mrs) Kenyon Rogers, 16 The Grove, Great Crosby

15010 J.H.J. Stringer (lernejestro (=Headteacher), “Avondale”, Cambridge Avenue, Gt. Crosby

16398 George H. Lyon, 28 Tunstall Street

16423 Edward Whutley MA, Cloirelly, Sefton Park

16460 F-ino (=Miss) E. Roberts, 103 Garmoyle Road, Sefton Park

17850 W. Murray, 119 Limekiln Lane

17896 F-ino (=Miss) H.M. Barret, The Beeches, Broad Green

18214 Muriel Willoughby, 22 Rock Park,

18215 V. Banister, “Elmhurst” Blundellsands

20925 H.E.W Gohrt, M.Ph.S. 94 Newcombe Street, Breck Road

Little is known about most of those listed. However, we do know that Margaret Lily Jones (1878–1935) went on to teach the language and even write a textbook. In 1910 she married a Belgian called Paul Blaise with whom she used Esperanto as a home language. Dr Whitaker became an activist for Esperanto.

There are other sources of information on these early pioneers of the language in Liverpool. According to the inside cover (p.ii) of The British Esperantist magazine for January 1905, an Esperanto Society in Liverpool had been founded in June 1904 – the 19th in the British Isles. Its Secretary is given as Mr R.E. Issott, 5 Gresham Street, Liverpool, Edge Lane, and the President is listed as Dr Lloyd. “Doktoro Lloyd” is mentioned in vol. 1, no. 3 of “The Esperantist” (January 1904) as delivering an Esperanto course at Liverpool University. Sadly Dr Lloyd died by drowning during the 2nd Universala Kongreso (World Congress) in Geneva in 1906.

In the list of affiliated groups in 1907 (see The British Esperantist, vol. III, title page) Liverpool is listed as affiliated to the British Esperanto Association. The secretary in that year was Miss Hughes, Rosenau, Knotty Ash, and the President Dr Sidney Whitaker. We know from this publication that an Esperanto group was established in Southport thanks to the efforts of Dr Whitaker. By 1909 the Secretary of the Liverpool Esperanto Group is given as R.R. Gray Chisholm of 69 Kingsley Road. In 1910 there was yet another new secretary, Robert Graham of 15 Harvey Street, and the local group was meeting every Tuesday. In the same year there was an Esperanto Office at 11 Renshaw Street. We learn in 1912 that a Miss Holden was teaching An Esperanto class under the auspices of the local education authority, while the local group was meeting at 18 Colquitt Street. From 1912 on the Local Esperanto speakers had their own little magazine called “Nia Propra” entirely in the language. Its first editor was Mr James.G. Baxter. A Miss Swan was teaching the language in 1912-13.

In the years before the First World War there was a strong connection between the Liverpool Welsh community and Esperanto. These included Griffith Griffiths (1860–1944) and his three sons Richard Prys Griffiths (1885-1961) Gruffydd Rhys Griffiths (1889-1956) and Emrys Griffiths. They were involved in setting up the Esperanto eisteddfod which took place in 1913 and 1914.

Other names found in the British Esperanto magazine are “Messrs Applebaum”,Philip Sellick, Rhodes Marriott, Gabriel D. Lewis and a Miss Jenkins who left Liverpool for America in 1914 to get married. Miss Jenkins had been a member of a Walton branch which met at 2 Stuart Road, together with Miss Swan and a Miss Warbrick.

There are minute books of the Liverpool Esperanto Group in the city’s Records Office. One wonders if any dairies or letters from these early years survived. Did any of these enthusiasts have an opportunity to speak Esperanto with people of other nations?

The images here show: 1. Margaret Blaise
2. Liverpool's own Esperanto magazine
3. Programme for an Esperanto eisteddfod