Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Livesey, Joseph

LIVESEY, JOSEPH (1794–1884), temperance advocate and philanthropist, born on 5 March 1794 at Walton, near Preston, Lancashire, lost both his parents at the age of seven, and was brought up as a weaver by his grandfather, Joseph Livesey. The hardships of his early life continued till after his marriage in 1815 with Jane Williams, when he removed to Preston, and abandoned his trade of weaving for the business of a cheese-factor. This calling he pursued successfully in Preston until his death. He engaged energetically in municipal politics, filled many public posts, and was a leader in every kind of philanthropic effort, specially identifying himself with the teetotal movement. He died on 2 Sept. 1884, leaving a large family.

From January 1831 to December 1833 Livesey brought out ‘The Moral Reformer,’ a monthly magazine, price 6d., in which he attempted to provide cheap and elevating reading. It ceased because Livesey was anxious to advocate teetotal principles, and for that purpose issued in January 1834 the ‘Preston Temperance Advocate,’ monthly, price 1d. This was the first teetotal publication produced in England. Livesey conducted it for four years, when it passed into other hands, and finally became the organ of the National Temperance League. In January 1838 the ‘Moral Reformer’ was revived, and continued till February 1839. In 1841 Livesey engaged in the agitation against the corn laws. From December 1841 till the repeal of the laws he issued ‘The Struggle’ weekly, price halfpenny. The influence of the 235 numbers issued was most valuable to the repealers (Morley, Cobden, People's edit. p. 29). From August 1851 till May 1852 he issued the ‘Teetotal Progressionist,’ and in January 1867 commenced a penny monthly, the ‘Staunch Teetotaler,’ which was continued for two years. From 1844 to 1859, under the management of Livesey and his sons, the ‘Preston Guardian,’ issued weekly, became the leading North Lancashire paper. In 1881 Livesey published his reminiscences, under the title of ‘The Autobiography of Joseph Livesey,’ Preston, 1881; 2nd edit. London, 1885, a striking record of untiring diligence and sturdy self-help. Livesey was also author of numerous tracts and lectures.

[James Weston's Joseph Livesey, the Story of his Life, 1884; J. Pearce's Life and Teachings of Joseph Livesey, 1885 (pp. clviii–lxiii for a list of his writings).]

R. B.