You reported the interesting rediscovery of a mourning ring for Joseph Brooksbank, who was originally from Elland; the ring was found near Copmanthorpe (“A lost ring found 40 miles away sheds light on Brooksbank School’s founder.”)
I disagree that the ring would have necessarily been worn by Joseph’s widow; it is probable there was a series of such rings, as it was then customary for several members of close family - and friends - to receive such as mementoes of the deceased.
Some of the details in your article, were, to say the least, ambiguous, and might do with clarification. The original Brooksbank School, Elland, founded by Joseph’s bequest, should not really be confused with that of the same name today. The former continued as a school to offer higher (latterly secondary) education in Elland area until it could no longer compete with the new County School, founded in 1911. In 1912, the old school was closed. Strictly speaking, the present Brooksbank School is the successor of the County School, the latter being renamed in 1969. Not quite continuity, but almost!
As to the origins of the first school, in 1640, John Brooksbank of Elland, clothier, married Judith Thornhill of Fixby. They had four sons and a daughter. The youngest son, Joseph, was baptised at St Mary’s Church, Elland on 2nd July 1654. In 1670, Joseph went to London and was there apprenticed “for seven years from Michaelmas next to Michael Watts, Citizen and Haberdasher.” Thus, he became associated with the great City Livery Company. In 1679 he married Mary, daughter of Richard Stamp, and niece of Thomas Stamp, Lord Mayor of London in 1691.
Joseph prospered greatly, and grew in influence as time went by. In 1681, he became a citizen of the City of London, and, in 1718, Master of the Haberdashers’ Company. As he grew wealthier, he invested in real estate, buying Great Bradley Manor in Suffolk. He also made available substantial sums for mortgages. In 1711, when Lord Wharton of Bible-bequest fame needed money to pay for his daughters’ marriage settlements, he borrowed it from Joseph Brooksbank, the security being the Healaugh Estate, near Tadcaster. The loan was never repaid, and in 1714, Healaugh became the absolute property of Joseph for £9,500. There, he built a new residence, known today as Old Hall, which property, with neighbouring lands added over the years, continued in the Brooksbank family until 1961.
In 1703, Joseph was granted a coat of arms by the College of Heralds. When he died in June 1726, as he was a nonconformist, he was buried in Bunhill Fields, the London Dissenters’ Burial Ground, the last resting-place of such notable figures as Daniel Defoe, and William Blake. The Northowram Nonconformist Register recorded: “Mr Joseph Brooksbank of London died 11 Jun. very rich, Religious & Usefull, a very great loss.”
Desiring to benefit his birthplace, in 1712 Joseph Brooksbank initiated various charities for Elland; and among other instructions he gifted his Trustees certain property in Westgate, and at Little Harper Royd, Norland. Part of the Elland property was be used as a schoolroom for the education of 40 poor children of Elland. The master was to receive four quarterly payments of £2 10s. (£2.50); and 30 shillings (£1.50) was to be provided for 10 Bibles and 20 Catechisms to be distributed annually amongst the children.
Joseph’s son, Stamp Brooksbank, became important nationally as Governor of the Bank of England 1741-3. The orginal school was further endowed in 1756 by Stamp’s son, another Joseph Brooksbank.
On the wall of historic St John’s Church, Healaugh, which I visited recently, are several memorials to the Brooksbanks, including one to Joseph, mentioning his Elland origins, and showing his coat of arms.
David C Glover