In order to make space for new entries it has become necessary to put some of the shorter entries together on one page.  Scroll down to find entries for:
  1. BELL COX, James
  2. BEN-TOVIM, Atarah
  3. BLAIN, Herbert Edward
  4. BOOTH, Lydia Allen

BELL COX, James [1837 - 1923]

The city of Liverpool is no stranger to matters of religious controversy but it is astonishing to think that in May 1887 the Reverend James Bell Cox, vicar of St Margaret’s Church in Toxteth, was committed to Walton Gaol consequent to having performed such rituals as using lighted candles, singing the Agnus Dei and celebrating the Eucharist facing east.

James Bell Cox was born in Norfolk in 1837 an after attending Cambridge University he was ordained as deacon at Salford in 1862. In 1869 he came to Liverpool, appointed as assistant curate at St Margaret’s Church in Princes Road, Toxteth. His first home was as a lodger at 101 Upper Stanhope Street L8 (now demolished). He had not been in post for long when the church was embroiled in controversy. The vicar, Rev. Charles Parnell had accepted an invitation to the consecration of the new Greek Orthodox church opposite St Margaret’s on Princes Road, a ceremony to be performed by the Archbishop of Syria. Parnell subsequently invited the Archbishop to attend a service at St Margaret’s and agreed to his request to deliver a blessing to the congregation. Nowadays this would be viewed as a praiseworthy piece of ecumenical brotherhood but in the heated atmosphere of Victorian ecclesiastical affairs it brought down upon the vicar the wrath of the ultra-protestant Church Association in the person of its chairman, Liverpool surgeon Dr James Hake. Hake, described by the Liverpool Review as a “bigoted busybody” was a leading light in a number of protestant organisations. Hake accused Parnell of violating church regulations by allowing a Greek Orthodox archbishop to ‘preach’ in a C. of. E. church and pressured the bishop to take action. Proceedings rumbled on for some two years before Parnell decided to end the controversy by resigning. This left Bell Cox as the vicar and he was soon to feel the full force of Hake’s wrath.

In 1874 Prime Minister Disraeli, seeking to curry favour with the ‘low church’ Queen Victoria passed the Public Worship Regulation Act (PWRA) with the explicit aim of 'putting down ritualism and the mass in masquerade'. In keeping with the wishes of his congregation James Bell Cox followed many of the rituals which the aforementioned act had outlawed. Matters were note helped when, in 1880, Liverpool was established as a separate see from Chester and the evangelical J.C.Ryle was appointed as the city’s first bishop. Ryle wrote to Bell Cox requesting that he desist from the various banned rituals but the incumbent of St. Margaret’s refused to change his ways. Frustrated by Ryle’s failure to take action James Hake took a private prosecution against the ‘errant’ vicar for his contravention of the PWRA.

He indicted the vicar on twelve counts; use of lighted candles, vestments, elevation of the sacrament, mixing of water and wine in the chalice, celebrating the Eucharist facing east, singing the Agnus Dei, making the sign of the cross, washing the chalice during the service, kissing the gospel book, bowing towards the altar cross, obscuring the manual acts and genuflecting during the prayer of consecration. In September 1885 the Court found against Bell Cox but he took no notice of the verdict. Hake was not to be thwarted and he petitioned for the vicar’s arrest. In May 1887 he was duly taken into custody and incarcerated in Walton Gaol. He spent 17 days in prison before his release was ordered by the House of Lords.


Much of the information on James Bell Cox was gleaned from press reports in Liverpool papers. There is some useful information on him on a website entitled the

St Margaret's Vicarage, 3 Princes Road L8

BEN-TOVIM, Atarah [1940-2022]

Atarah Ben-Tovim was born on 1st October 1940, the daughter of Harry Ben-Tovim and his wife Gladys Rachel (née Carengold). Her mother had been born in Bridgend, Wales in 1906, the daughter of a Jewish immigrant draper from Russia. Unusually for a woman at that time she attended the University of Wales, gaining a B.A. in 1927. Harry Ben-Tovim was a general practicioner. He was living in Doncaster during the war but afterwards the family lived in Wallasey. When she was eight they moved to Ealing in London.

Having been principle flautist with the National Youth Orchestra in 1963 she came to Liverpool to take up the same position with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, taking over from Fritz Spiegl. (One of the unsuccessful candidates for the position was James Galway.) She stayed with the RLPO until 1975 and during this time she developed an interest in taking music to children. The Phil gave school concerts and she was appalled by them, finding scant interest amongst the audience and having to play amidst flights of paper planes. Her criticism drew a response that she was welcome to try to improve matters and she did just this. Initially she got together a group of half a dozen friends from the orchestra and played at a school for disabled children at which a friend worked. The success of her venture led to the transformation of the ad hoc ensemble into Atarah’s Band and she left the RLPO to concentrate on its development.

Her success led to many appearances on TV and radio including her own series, Atarah’s Music, aimed at primary school children. She also presented the long-running ITV series for schools Seeing and Doing and was the subject of an edition of BBC’s Omnibus. She founded the Children’s Music Centre at Haslingden, Lancashire, a music school-cum-youth hostel of which she was artistic director for over 20 years. She wrote many books, some with her second husband, BBC producer Douglas Boyd.

Atarah Ben-Tovim had one daughter by her first marriage. During her time in Liverpool she lived at 12 Princes Park Mansions L8. In later years she lived in south-west France. She died on 20th October 2022.

Princes Park Mansions L8


The obituary in the Daily Telegraph is quite informative. (subscription required). Wikipedia entry is fairly basic. There is an interesting interview with Atarah Ben-Tovim on YouTube in which she talks in some detail about what led her to form Atarah's Band. A search on YouTube will reveal other interviews and clips from her TV appearances. She wrote an autobiography in 1976 entitled Atarah's Book  [Benbo 1976].

BLAIN, Herbert Edward [1870-1942]

A pioneering figure in the development of trade unionism amongst municipal workers, Herbert Blain was eventually knighted for his services as principal agent of the Conservative Party.

Herbert Edward Blain was born at 341 Upper Parliament Street L7 on 14th May 1870 the son of Arbuthnot Harrison Blain, a chemist and druggist, and his wife Elizabeth (née Stalker). After attending the Liverpool Technical School, in 1886 he started work as a clerk with Liverpool corporation. On 26th October 1892 he married Clara Louisa (1869-1940), the daughter of a barraitser, John Betterville Brake. The couple made their home at 24 Lesseps Road L8.

In 1896 Blain was one of the main founders of the Liverpool Municipal Officers’ Guild. It was the first organisation of its kind outside London, providing social and educational benefits for its members and their families. Herbert Blain was the Guild’s first secretary. His particular skill was shorthand and in his time in Liverpool he became a prominent figure in the National Federation of Shorthand Writers Associations, serving as secretary, treasurer and president in the 1890’s.

He left Liverpool in 1903 to take up a position in London as tramways manager for West Ham corporation. He continued his work in organising clerical and local government workers and was a key figure in the 1905 conference which led to the founding of the National Association of Local Government Officers (NALGO). Blain served as NALGO’s first chairman. In 1913 he moved to the London Underground Railways and London General Omnibus Company, becoming operating manager in 1914.

It was in this role that Blain became increasingly involved in road safety matters, organising the London Safety First Council and becoming its honorary secretary. Awarded a CBE in 1921, he was instrumental in the founding of the National Safety First Association (NSFA). In 1941, when the NSFA was granted a royal charter, it was Blain who proposed that the association change its name to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

Notwithstanding his trade union background, in 1924 he too up post as principal agent of the Conservative Party, charged with the task of modernising the party’s organisation. The Conservatives had lost office to Labour in the 1923 election and their success in the October 1925 general election was in some part due to Blain’s innovations. He was knighted in 1925 for public and political service. He left the Conservative party job at the end of 1926, subsequently holding positions on the boards of a number of companies and continuing his work in the safety movement.

His first wife died in April 1940 and he was remarried a month later to Carol Louise McDowell. He died, aged 72,  at his home in Burgess Hill on 16th December 1942.

24 Lesseps Road L8

Blain's home until his move to London in 1905.


There is an extensive biography of Herbert Blaine at the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and an outline at Wikipedia.

BOOTH, Lydia Allen [1838 - 1923]

When the Liverpool Women’s Suffrage Society (LWSS) held its first annual general meeting on Friday 11th January 1895, the woman presiding was the wife of Liverpool shipowner Alfred Booth. She was an American, born Lydia Allen Butler in Norfolk, Virginia in 1839. Her father, Benjamin Franklin Butler, was a prominent lawyer and served as U.S. Attorney General from 1833 to 1838 under President Andrew Jackson.

Liverpool businessman Alfred Booth and his brother Charles had founded a shipping line to trade with the USA and to manage its interests established an office in New York. His American connections enabled him to meet Lydia Butler and on 24th October 1867 they were married in Manhattan, New York City. She came to Liverpool with her husband where they lived for many years at 46 Ullett Road L17.

The Booth family, whose roots went back to acquiring the manor of Dunham Massey in Cheshire in 1409, were of a liberal political disposition, Charles Booth gaining fame as a pioneer of methodical social research. It was therefore not surprising that Lydia Booth should be at the forefront of the suffrage movement in Liverpool and efforts to support women. Along with Edith Bright and Nessie Stewart-Brown she was instrumental in founding the LWSS in 1894, Eleanor Rathbone becoming its secretary in 1897. It was in her house, in May 1897, that the plan for the establishment of the Victoria Settlement at 322 Netherfield Road L5. The settlement provided girls’ clubs, a dispensary for women and children and the first classes for ‘crippled children’ in Liverpool. In 1897 she was elected president of the National Council of Women Workers, a press report of the time describing her as “one of the most cheeriest and sympathetic of women”.

Alfred Booth died in 1914 and Lydia later moved to London to be nearer her daughters, dying on 30th October 1923 aged 85.

46 Ullet Road L17

The home of Alfred and Lydia Booth from the time of her arrival in Liverpool c.1867 to c.1920 when she moved to London.


There is a mention of Lydia Booth in the Wikipedia entry for the Liverpool Women's Suffrage Society. I also found some references to her work in the book Eleanor Rathbone and the Politics of Conscience  [Susan Pedersen 2004 Yale University Press].