Thomas Tindall Wildridge (1858-1928) was a librarian, antiquarian, artist and author. He was born in the St Pauls area of Sculcoates in 1858, the son of Elizabeth and Thomas Wildridge, a local timber merchant. After attending Hull Grammar School, Thomas Tindall Wildridge was employed in the Hull Dock Offices before being appointed as Records Clerk to the Hull Municipal Corporation in 1884.
Two years earlier, in 1882, Wildridge had presented a report to the Corporation’s Property Committee suggesting there was a need for a full time records clerk and the establishment of a specific records service. He went on to offer his own services in that role, which, after some thought, the Corporation decided to accept, with most of his time to be spent on indexing. In December 1892, Wildridge submitted a translation of the Charter granted to Hull by Edward I in 1299, and indicated it would take a minimum of three months to transcribe the town's other charters. Despite delivering some 144 cwt of records for destruction, he managed to catalogue many more, although a report in July of the following year indicated progress had been slow. Wildridge suggested this was due to the sheer volume of work and an initial miscalculation as to the time it would take. However, the Committee recommenced dispensing with Wildridge’s services at the end of three months and requested him to have finished then, and by 1894 Wildridge had been dismissed.
Wildridge was also a member of the Surtees Society and would become instrumental in the formation of the East Riding Antiquarian Society in 1892, which was later admitted into union with the Society of Antiquities (of London). Although he would later become the honorary librarian of the Municipal Library, Wildridge failed to get the post of chief librarian of Hull. In 1889 Wildridge was living in Beverley, but by 1901 he had moved to Islip, a village just outside of Oxford. By 1921 he was living in Waddesdon, near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, where he eventually died in 1928.
The collection of records relating to Hull and the East Riding acquired by Wildridge over the years, as well many of his own papers that would later be given the archival reference C DMT, were first acquired by Thomas Shepherd, Director of Hull Museums in the 1920s, before being transferred to the City Archives in 1973.
The records within C DMT are perhaps a good example of the type collected by a late nineteenth/early twentieth century antiquarian. They contain both examples of the collector’s own work plus records, both archival and ephemeral, acquired by them over the years.
At C DMT/13 are some of Wildridge’s personal papers and correspondence, primarily from two periods, 1876-1895 and 1920-1927. C DMT/41 are drafts of publications by Wildridge while at C DMT/42 are various transcriptions undertaken by him.
The original records acquired by Wildridge, include, for instance: a collection of deeds for St Sepulchres Hospital, Hedon, 1256-1474 (C DMT/25); the Hull Merchants Company, 1693-1700 (C DMT/28); Committee for the Defence of the Town, 1803 (C DMT/7); and two court rolls for the Manor of Sutton, 1514-1515, (C DMT/36). At C DMT/35/63 there is a further example. This is a list of émigrés from 1798, fleeing the revolution in France and arriving in Hull, which includes nine churchmen. These records, a variety of letters, receipts, notices, posters, programmes and illustrations for a whole range of individuals and organisations, can help give a clearer image of life within the town, city and county of Hull across the years.
Furthermore, these records will have provided Wildridge with some of the information required for some of his own writings, as he was a prolific author. These include such works as:
The Misereres of Beverley Minster (1879)
Hand-book to the Hull and Withernsea Railway (1884)
The Hull Letters, printed from a collection of original documents found among the borough archives in the town hall, Hull (1884)
Old and New Hull: a series of drawings of the town of Kingston upon Hull (1884)
The Wilberforce Souvenir (1884)
Holderness and Hullshire Historic Gleanings (1886)
The Dance of Death in painting and in print (1887)
The Arms of the Town of Kingston upon Hull (1887)
Northumbria: a repository of antiquities of Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmorland, Durham, Yorkshire, Lancashire, and the Borders of Scotland (1888)
The Misereres of Ripon Cathedral (1889)
An Account of the honorary freedom of the town and county of the town of Kingston upon Hull. With portraits (1891)
The Hull Local Studies Library has copies of many of these publications, please see the online catalogue for more details. In addition, he wrote for many other publications including the Hull Christmas Annuals (1880s) and Bygone Northamptonshire (1891). He delivered lectures as well. For example, in 1912 there was a report in the Oxford Journal about his presentation on the Kirtlington Lamb Ale.
In addition, Wildridge was a field collector for the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, while some of his artwork would be acquired by the Hull Corporation. These include his portrait of the first mayor of Hull, Sir William de la Pole, which is held by Hull’s Ferens Art Gallery. Two other portraits by Wildridge are housed in Hull’s Guildhall, that of Zachariah Charles Pearson, another mayor of Hull, and Alderman William Cogan. You can find details of the items acquired by the Corporation of Hull relating to Thomas Tindall Wildridge on the Hull Museums Collections website.