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Historic Scrolls Addressed To Rev. Arthur Connell, Founder of Manchester City F.C.

Lot Closed

February 9, 07:53 PM GMT


30,000 - 50,000 USD

Lot Details




Circa 1860s

18 x 22.5 inches

Manchester City F.C.—Rev. Arthur Connell.

Two calligraphic addresses to the Rev. Arthur Connell:

i) Petition by the parishioners of the Church of Ireland church of Tullyish, Co. Down, to the Rev. Connell, expressing their “deepest concern and regret” at his planned departure from the parish, “where his labours have been so highly appreciated and effective”, requesting that he meet a deputation who will attempt to persuade him to remain at Tullyish on a higher salary, in a calligraphic hand and with two copy signatures of churchwardens, engrossed capitals heightened in red, blue and gold ink, red ruled margins and decorations, 1 page, 9 January 1859, spotting and some soiling, marginal tear

ii) Testimonial address by the Harrogate Herald to the Rev. Connell, on his departure “to a wider sphere of labour at West Gorton Manchester” following six years as curate of Christ Church, High Harrogate, recording the presentation to Connell of a timepiece, inkstand, and a purse containing 65 gold Sovereigns, with the text of accompanying speeches by Connell and others, in a calligraphic hand with text in three columns, engrossed capitals heightened in red, blue, yellow, green and black ink, blue ruled margins and embellished with foliate decorations, 1 page, 2 August 1865, spotting, light staining, wear at corners



The Rev. Arthur Connell was born in 1821 in Co. Cork, Ireland. He served in a number of parishes until in 1859 he left Ireland for a curacy in the Yorkshire town of Harrogate, much to the dismay of his parishioners in County Down, who were willing to match his new salary to keep him in the post. He remained in Harrogate for six years, building up such affection that a collection for a farewell gift raised £80 rather than the expected £20-30. 

Connell, evidently a charismatic minister with a strong belief in good works in support of the local community, left Harrogate to take on a challenging position as the first rector of the newly built church of St Mark’s in the rapidly growing industrial suburb of West Gorton in Manchester. His new parish was riven by gang violence and Connell quickly saw that underemployed young men’s involvement in gangs could be reduced if their energies were directed to other activities. 

The Rev. Connell worked closely with his daughter Anna and his churchwardens in founding a cricket club in 1867, from which emerged St Mark’s (West Gorton) Football Club, who played their first match on 13 November 1880. Connell remained in post until 1897 so he lived to see the club, renamed Manchester City in 1894, far outgrow its humble church roots and develop into a striving member of the Football League, regularly attracting crowds in excess of 20,000 to its matches. 

Arthur and Anna Connell must have been particularly proud when, in 1889, his club played a floodlit friendly match against Newton Heath (later Manchester United) in aid of a fund to support the relatives of 23 miners killed in an explosion at the nearby Hyde Road colliery. The Connell legacy is still remembered in Manchester; the further education college neighboring the Etihad Stadium was in 2014 named the Connell Co-Op College.