Gilbert Young Tickle, Hymnist and Temperance Campaigner

Several Tickles in the past have had strong beliefs and convictions. One such man was Gilbert Young Tickle. Born on 30 June 1819 in Maryport, Cumberland, he was the thirteenth of sixteen children in a Calvinist Baptist family.

At the age of 14 he was apprenticed to a draper in Carlisle, where he became a Sunday School teacher in the Independent Chapel. After his apprenticeship, in 1839, he moved to Liverpool to join his father. Here he entered the timber business, working first as a clerk. He married Sarah Holme Heslop in 1844 and they had two sons, one of whom (also named Gilbert Young Tickle) became an international businessman who travelled regularly to the USA. He was also a well-known Rotarian on both sides of the Atlantic. There will be a post about him at a later date.

Gilbert Young Tickle Senior was one of the founders of the first Church of Christ in Liverpool. He held a number of leadership positions in church circles, including chair of the Lancashire Evangelist Committee for six years, member of the General Evangelist Committee, and chair of seven Annual Meetings. He edited the Christian Advocate from 1879-1888. He was most noted for writing hymns, of which he wrote many, of which . He was considered the greatest hymn writer among the British Churches of Christ and is known especially for the lyrics of the hymn “Lord of Our Highest Love”, which is still sung today.

Gilbert had strong beliefs. He opposed slavery, from which Liverpool had profited greatly in the past. A Bill to abolish slavery throughout the British Empire was passed in 1833 but it was another 30 years before it ended in America, a country with which Gilbert had business dealings.

He was most vehement in his attitude to alcohol. He was a passionate campaigner and a pioneer of the temperance movement. (His attitude to alcohol was unlike those in our branch of the Tickle family, I have to say … ) At the time he lived, Liverpool had terrible problems with drunkenness and its associated social problems. Alcohol was seen to be a root cause of extreme poverty, child neglect, prostitution, and sectarian violence, and was considered responsible for excess mortality in the slums. In the second half of the 19th century, the mortality rates were substantially higher than the national average. The reputation of the city was badly affected. On 28 August 1866, The Times newspaper (citing a local Liverpool paper) reported that:

“Liverpool has been pronounced the most drunken, the most criminal, the most pauper-oppressed, and the most death-stricken town in England.”

Temperance became a popular movement in Liverpool and Gilbert was one of the movement’s most active and passionate supporters. He was considered a ‘Standard Bearer’ of the Temperance Movement.

In addition to his writing, Gilbert was a successful businessman and the proprietor of G.Y.Tickle & Sons, Balliol Sawmills, who were involved in international trade.

He died in Liverpool on 21 April 1888 at the age of 70.

Here are the lyrics of his most well-known hymn, “Lord of Our Highest Love”:

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