On three occasions Godfrey tried for a seat on the District Council unsuccessfully. Despite this he was one of the founders of the Ratepayers Association and was also an active member of the Traders Association, formed to deal with all matters affecting the interests of tradesmen and later to become part of the Chamber of Trade. Below is an election address from 1903. He was finally successful in achieving public office when he was elected mayor of Altrincham by the Court Leet in 1909. He served for a year as was customary and in 1911 he was finally elected to the District Council.
Election address of 1903;
"ALTRINCHAM Urban District Council, TO THE ELECTORS OF THE WEST WARD.LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,You are again invited to select a Candidate to represent you in the above Council, and in offering myself for that honour I simply ask you to remember that as I am a heavy ratepayer OUR INTERESTS are mutual. I would encourage strict economy consistent with efficiency, and believe a vigorous attention to all Sanitary matters to be most important, and would gladly support any well considered scheme for the improvement of many parts of our Town.It is not my intention to canvas the Ward but I shall be pleased to answer any questions.It has often been mentioned that the Electorate take no interest on these occasions. I hope every elector will record their vote early on the 4th of April, and return the Candidate of their choice with a thumping majority.I am, faithfully yours, G. W. BONSON.
Godfrey William Bonson As Mayor of Altrincham
The Altrincham Guardian Wed October 20th 1909
The Altrincham Mayoralty
At a meeting of the Burgesses of the Court Leet on Thursday night it was unanimously decided to invite Mr G.W. Bonson to accept the office of mayor for the ensuing year. Mr Bonson who quietly consented to allow his name to be submitted toy the jury on Wednesday next, expressed his sense of the high honour the burgesses had conferred on him.
The Altrincham Guardian Sat October 23rd 1909
Mr G.W. Bonson, whose nomination for the mayoral chair will be considered by the jury of the Court Leet on Wednesday next, is a typical representative of the commercial life of Altrincham and his election will give general satisfaction to an interest from which most of the Mayors of Altrincham have been drawn. Although the office has been deprived of its executive power, it is still one of importance and no little dignity, and it says a good deal for the public spirit of Altrincham that so many men of wide business capacity and high repute should have come forward to occupy it with credit and even distinction. Mr Bonson will, one feels sure, follow worthily in the steps of his predecessors and aim as they have done in the preservation of a venerable institution in which is mirrored the foundation of English law and liberty.
A Londoner by birth, Mr Bonson came to Altrincham nearly forty years ago to serve an apprenticeship in the cabinet making trade. Ten years later he commenced in business on his own account and by hard and persistent labour he has succeeded in establishing one of the biggest undertakings of the kind in the district. He was made a burgess of the Court Leet ten or twelve years ago and has therefore an intimate knowledge of the duties. As the head of an organised body of public men who are deeply interested in progressive movements, Mr Bonson will have many opportunities of serving the district and we have no doubt of his earnestness and ability to make his year of office no less valuable than that which Mr Syers is just about to bring to a close.
The Guardian Sat October 30th 1909
Photos of Altrincham Town Hall 1910
The Mayors Chain of office 1910
The Mayors Chair, now in Altrincham Library
Altrincham Court Leet Election of Mayor
The autumn meeting of the Court Leet and View of Frankpledge of the Earl of Stamford, Lord of the Manor, was held at the Estate offices of the Earl on Wednesday. The members of the jury were sworn by Mr Lindseil, steward, and by a unanimous vote mr Godfrey W. Bonson was elected to the office of mayor for the ensuing year. The burgesses elected were Messers Geral Whitwham and Alfred Eugene Mathewson. The other appointments were Constables, Messers G.A. Keogh and J.P. Bonson; assistant constables, Messers F. Stokes and Mark Bowen; bylaw men, Messers Joseph Howarth and T. Brook, common lookers, Messers E. Griffith and H. Davies; dog muzzlers, Messers J.H. Stone and A. Monroe; market lookers, Messers W. Moody and G.E. Turton; swine lookers, Messers Arthur Trevor and W.J.V.Fowden; chimney lookers, Messers E. Stone and D.C. Moody; ale tasters, Messers G.E. Allwood and William Armstrong.
In the evening the retiring mayor, Mr H.G. Syers entertained the burgesses and a number of invited guests to dinner at the Town Hall, where Mr Redford the proprietor of the Unicorn Hotel had carried out a tasteful scheme of decoration. Mr Syers was in the chair and Mr S. Birtles, the immediate past mayor filled the vice chair.
The loyal toasts were proposed by the mayor who also read letters of apology from the Earl of Stamford, who said he was occupied with an engagement connected with the birthday of Lord Grey of Groby, from Viscount Bury, from Mr Crossley, M.P., and Mr Harry Nuttall M.P. and Mr A.A. Haworth M.P. who were engaged in Parliamentary work, from mr Coningsby Disraeli, whose name was received with cheers, from Mr J.W. Sidebotham, the Rev. Hewlett Johnson and Mr John Arnold.
(there were speeches toasting the Clergy and Ministers, The Lord of the Manor, The Navy, Army and Reserve Forces, British Justice, and the District Council)
In proposing the health of Mr Bonson, the newly elected Mayor, Mr Syers congratulated him on his election to the chair. He said he had known him for thirty years and had pleasure in bearing testimony to his many estimable qualities. By his own industry he had raised a business from comparatively small dimensions to a position of importance and his capacity and energy united to high principle, commanded their greatest respect, (Applause). He was sure Mr Bonson would fill the position with credit to himself and to the satisfaction of the burgesses (Applause).
Mr Bonson was then invested by the mayor with the robes and chain of office and on taking the chair, supported by the new constables, to whom the retiring officers handed the official staves, he was received with hearty cheering. Mr Bonson acknowledged in warm terms his election to the mayoralty and assured the burgesses how greatly he appreciated the honour. It would be his aim, he said, to carry out the duties of the position in the manner that his predecessors in the office had done and in a way to try and win their confidence (Applause). The mayor announced his intention of making an official attendance at St. George’s church next Sunday morning and said he hoped to be attended by all who could make it convenient.
Afterwards the mayor was escorted to his home in traditional style by a procession of the bugesses and officers.
Some capital singing by Mr Arnold Bennett and a glee party consisting of Messers J. Howarth, J Robinson, J Axon and A Bennett interspersed the speeches.
The Altrincham Guardian Wednesday November 3rd 1909
Mayors Sunday - Court Leet and District Council at Church
The mayor of Altrincham, Mr G. W. Bonson began his year of office by making an official attendance at the parish church of St George on Sunday morning. He was accompanied by the Chairman and some of the members of the District Council, by the ex-mayors and burgesses of the Court Leet and by the representatives of various public bodies. A procession which was admirably marshalled by Mr D.C. Moody, left the old Town Hall soon after ten o’clock its progress on the way to the church attracted the attention of a large number of interested spectators. At the head was a strong force of police under the command of Superintendant Okell and the members of the fire brigade in charge of Superintendant Youlton. Following were two detachments of the St John Ambulance Corps and the Altrincham and District Ambulance Brigade and a smart looking company of scouts who made their appearance in the procession for the first time. The mayor, who wore the robes and chain of office, was accompanied by My Syers the immediate Ex-mayor, and Mr Mark Pearson, the chairman of the District Council. They were escorted by the constables, Messers J.P. Bonson and George Keogh….(long list of attendees including W. Bonson).
The Rev. E.R. Tarbuck preached from the text; “Study to show themselves approved unto God the workman that need not be ashamed, dividing rightly `the word of truth”.
At the close of the service a processional hymn was sung and the choir and clergy walked at the head of the mayoral procession as it left the church.
The procession returned to the Town hall, where the Mayor, in a brief address expressed his warm thanks to all who had accompanied him to church. He said he was especially pleased to have been attended by the chairman and members of the District Council. It was quite evident that the old jealousies of the past had been buried and he hoped they would never be revived. Such an exchange of courtesies was the best evidence they could have of peace and progress in their public life.
Inside St Georges Church 1910
Altrincham & Bowden Yearbook 1910
MR G. W. BONSON, MAYOR OF ALTRINCHAM.
MR. GODFREY WILLIAM BONSON, who was elected Mayor of Altrincham, on October 27th, has for nearly forty years been an active figure in the business life of Altrincham.
The son of Mr. Abraham Bonson, a foreman upholsterer, he was born in the east of London on the 9th June, 1858 and received a commercial education in the Trinity Public Elementary School. In 1870 he came to Altrincham on a visit to his brother-in-law, Mr. John Halloran who was then in business in Stamford Street. He remained with him 12 months and then returned to school in London. He left school at an early age, however, and in the year 1873 began a term of apprenticeship with his brother-in-law Mr. John Halloran, who then carried on business as a cabinet maker and upholsterer in George Street, Altrincham. At twenty-one, he had completed his training and for some years was engaged with the firms of Gillows of London and Kendal, Milne and Co., as a journeyman in Manchester.
He then returned to Altrincham and took over the business of Mr. Halloran, which by that time had been removed to the premises now occupied by Mr. Charles Hildage in George Street. As his trade grew, Mr. Bonson took a larger shop in George Street and in 1887 became the tenant of a still bigger place of business in Stamford New Road, which was then in the first stages of its development as a trading centre. Seven years later he built an establishment for himself in the same road and was soon able to add carpet-beating machinery and to erect extensive store rooms, so that at the present time the premises are the largest of their kind in the district. Here for fifteen years he has given his undivided attention to almost every branch of the furnishing trade and its success has been entirely due to his personal care and energy.
Mr. Bonson has taken some interest in public affairs and on three occasions was a candidate for a seat on the District Council. Both times, however, the verdict of the ballot box was unfavourable. He was one of the founders of the Ratepayers' Association and is also an active member of the new Traders' Association, recently formed to deal with all matters affecting the interests of tradesmen. He has been for several years a member of the Committee of the Altrincham Agricultural Society and has given a good deal of time to the promotion of its interests. As an exhibitor at the Society's shows he has impressed the judges and the first year that the Mayor's cup was offered for tradesmen's turnouts he carried off the trophy, a success which he repeated in the two following years. The Mayor finds his chief recreation in bowling and he is a prominent member of the Stamford Bowling Club.
He married some twenty-eight years ago, Miss Partington, the eldest daughter of Mr. John Partington, a member of an old Ashley family who held the. Birkin farm on the Tatton estate for a long period. The family were for many years known as members of the Tatton troop of the Earl of Chester's Yeomanry Cavalry.
The election of Mr. Bonson to the office of Mayor may be regarded as a compliment to the sturdy business life of Altrincham and its popularity has been shown by the warm congratulations the Mayor has received from all sides.
Godfrey taking part in the parade of the Court Leet for the Coronation in 1911
He had a prominent position as ex-Mayor
Altrincham Guardian 9th September 1932
DEATH OF MR G. W. BONSON
AN EX-CHAIRMAN OF ALTRINCHAM COUNCIL AND A FORMER MAYOR
NOTABLE PUBLIC CAREER
After more than half-a-century's connection with the business life of Altrincham, and, having served the public faithfully and well for a number of years as a member of the local authority, and in other spheres of usefulness, the death occurred on Monday night of Mr. Godfrey William Bonson, at Aston, Ollerbarrow Road, Hale, where he had recently resided. Mr. Bonson, who was 74 years age, was born in the South-East of London on June 9th, 1858, and received a commercial education in the Trinity Public Elementary School. He left school at an early age, and in 1873 began a term of apprenticeship with his brother-in-law, Mr. John Halloran, who then carried on business as a cabinet maker and upholsterer in George Street, Altrincham. At 21, he had completed his training, and for some years was engaged with the firms of Gillows, of London, and Kendal, Milne and Company as a journeyman in Manchester.
He then returned to Altrincham, and took over the business of Mr. Halloran, which, by that time, had been removed to other premises. As his trade grew, Mr. Bonson took a larger shop in George Street, and in 1887, became the tenant of a still bigger place of business in Stamford New Road, which was then in the first stages of its development as a trading centre. Seven years later he built an establishment for himself in the same road, and was soon able to add carpet-beating machinery and to erect extensive store-rooms, so that the premises became the largest of their kind in the district. For many years he gave his undivided attention to almost every branch of the furnishing trade, and the success of the business was entirely due to his personal care and energy.
It is more than 20 years ago since Mr. Bonson was induced to take an active part in the public affairs of the town, and he had previously been for some time as Burgess of the Court Leet. In 1911 he was elected a member of the Urban District Council, and continued to represent the Central Ward until 1926, when he retired, having then become the "Father" of the Council. He was appointed Chairman of the Council in April, 1917, and discharged the onerous duties devolving upon him in that responsible office with honour to himself, and credit to the town. He was chosen as one of the Overseers in 1915, and four years later, he became their chairman, a position which he continued to hold until 1927 when the Overseers ceased to function under a new Local Government Act.
An interesting event happened during the year that Dr. Harry Cooper was Mayor of Altrincham and Mr. C. F. Redford was Chairman of the Council, when these two gentlemen, along with the Overseers " walked " the boundaries, this being the last occasion on which this ancient custom was observed. Photographs were taken by the late Mr. Stanley Derbyshire at various points during the survey and these were afterwards arranged in album form, and presented to each member of the party, who had spent two arduous, but very pleasant days. The arrangements for the "walking" of the boundaries were made under the direction of Mr. Bonson and his three colleagues. For a few years before his retirement from the Council, Mr. Bonson was Chairman of the Highways Committee.
In 1928, Mr. Bonson was placed on the Commission of Peace for the county of Chester and his appointment as a magistrate was a fitting recognition of his long public services. He was also a member of the Board of Management of Altrincham General Hospital.
OLD MEMBER OF THE COURT LEET
Mr. Bonson had had a long connection with the Court Leet, and he was elected Mayor of Altrincham in October, 1909. It was a popular choice, and he thoroughly justified the confidence reposed in him by worthily upholding the traditions of this old institution. He had continued his interest in the Court Leet as an ex-Mayor, and was a familiar figure at the different functions. For upwards of 30 years, Mr. Bonson had been a staunch supporter of Altrincham Agricultural Society, and, as a member of the General Committee, he gave a good deal of time to the promotion of its interests. He was for some years a member of the Finance Committee, and became its Chairman shortly before his illness, when he had to relinquish the office. His connection with the Society began as an exhibitor at the shows, and the first year that the Mayor's cup was offered for tradesmen's turnouts, he carried off the trophy, a success which he repeated in the two following years, Mr. Bonson was one of the founders of the local Ratepayers' Association, and he also played a prominent part in the formation of the Traders' Association, now the Chamber of Trade. Mr. Bonson found his chief recreation in bowling, and he was one of the oldest members of Stamford Bowling Club and an ex-president. In the summer months he spent much of his leisure time on the green and was not only an enthusiastic, but a capable exponent of the game. It was a matter of regret to him when he was stricken down with a seizure, and was no longer able to indulge in his favourite pastime.
MARRIED 51 YEARS AGO
It is about 51 years ago since Mr. Bonson married Miss Partington, eldest daughter of Mr. John Partington, a member of an old Ashley family, who held the Birkin Farm on the Tatton Estate for a long period. The Partington family were for many years known as members of the Tatton Troop of the Earl of Chester's Yeomanry. Mrs Bonson died in 1916.
Altrincham Guardian 16th September 1932
The Late Mr G.W. Bonson - Funeral at Altrincham Cemetery - A large Assembly - Public Bodies and various organisations represented.
Tributes of respect to the memory of the late Mr G.W. Bonson, who for many years was a prominent figure in the public life of Altrincham, were paid by his former colleagues on the Urban District Council, burgesses of the Court Leet, and representatives of various organisations, at the funeral, which took place at Altrincham Cemetery, Hale Road, on Thursday afternoon.
The cortege proceeded from the late residence of deceased, "Alston", Ollerbarrow Road, Hale, and at the entrance to the Cemetery was met by a large assembly. The funeral service in the Cemetery chapel and at the graveside was conducted by the Rev. W.H. F. Palin, vicar of St. George's, Altrincham.
The principal mourners were; - Mr & Mrs J.P. Bonson, Mr & Mrs Walter Bonson, Mr & Mrs Wm. Bonson, Mr & Mrs Stephens, Mr & Mrs Partington, Mr & Mrs Jim Bonson, Mr Alf. Ryder, Miss Halloran and Mrs Wilkinson.
Other relatives present included;- Mr & Mrs Lea, Wimboldesley Hall (cousins); Mr & Mrs George Percival, Norcroft Hall Farm (cousins); Mr & Mrs C. Hollinshead, Drakelow Hall Farm, Middlewich (cousins); Mr & Mrs E. Percival, Green Farm, Byley (cousin); Mr J. Percival, Manor Farm, Sproston (cousin); Mr & Mrs B.D. Phillips, Mrs H Cragg, Mr & Mrs B Cragg, Miss Cragg, Mrs Purplett, Hull; Mr & Mrs Harris (Bury).
Altrincham Magisterial Bench - Mr. G. Faulkner Armitage (chairman); with Mr J Grahame Harris (clerk). Altrincham Urban District Council - Mr W. Bradley Jones (chairman), Mr T. Bell Houlden (deputy chairman), Messers W.G. Biddle, W. Waterhouse, J. Robinson, J.S. Penison and P. Hewitt; with Mr A Glossop (clerk), Mr H.E. Brown (surveyor) Mr H.C. Jeffs (Finance Dept), Mr T. Jones (superintendent of the Parks and Cemetery), Mr J. Burn (farm manager) and Mr W. Hewitt (baths' manager). Hale Urban District Council - Mr J.W. Rogers (chairman) Superintendant J Lees represented the Altrincham Division of the Cheshire Constabulary.
Court Leet and Other Organisations
Altrincham Court Leet - the Mayor (Mr W. Waterhouse), ex-Mayors, Mr G. Faulkner Armitage, Mr W. Shield, Mr A Gray Pickard and Mr A.P. Hill; Burgesses, Messers W.F. Downs, Squire Lord, Sam Gleave, J.H. Davies, Humphrey Davies, E.W. Stone, J.S. Hildage, A. Keogh, George A. Keogh and Harry Jackson; together with the following past and present officials, Mr W.T. Pailthorpe, Mr T. Withington, Mr A. Waterhouse, Mr F. Whitehead and Mr S. E Butler. Mr W. T. Pailthorpe also represented his father, Mr A. Pailthorpe, the Deputy Mayor. Mayor's Land Charity and Altrincham Workhouse Charity (of which Mr Bonson was a trustee) - Mr J. Grahame Harris (clerk). Altrincham Chamber of Trade - Mr A.E. Willett (president), Mr V. Shield (ex president). Altrincham General Hospital - Mr W. Moody (former secretary), Mr E.W. Renshaw (secretary). Altrincham Agricultural Society - Mr C.H. Syers and Mr W. Gillibrand, Mr C. Blackburn, represented the secretary (Mr Herbert Turner). Altrincham Senior Conservative Club - Mr A.E. Potts and Mr George Wright (secretary). Stamford Bowling Club - Mr J. Leytham (senior vice president), Mr Herbert Kenyon, Mr C.F. Redford, Mr R. Thornton, Mr H.W. Knott and Mr E. R. Hill. Altrincham Gas Company - Mr C.H. Syers, deputy chairman. L.M.S. Goods Department, Broadheath - Mr F.G. Kite. M.S.J. and A. Goods Department, Altrincham - Mr F. Shaw. Martin's Bank, Altrincham - Mr H. Lewis. Midland Bank, Altrincham - Mr W. Knott. Altrincham & District Institutes' Bowling league - Mr S. Brereton (secretary). Altrincham, Sale and District Bowling League - Mr F. Burgess.
The following employees of G.W. Bonson Limited were present, Miss Snape, Miss Furness, Miss Hulme, Miss Gosling, Mr H Okell, Mr R. Chadderton, Mr G. Barton, Mr F. Lakin, Mr T. Jones and Mr A. Champion.
Others present included, Mr H. Tadman, Mr S. Slack, Mr Norman Higham, Mr T. Crosby, Mr S.T. Cliffe, Mr P. F Nicholson, Mr T.H. Hill, Mr James Smith and Mr Frank Thomas.
After the last rites at the graveside, Mrs Harris, a niece of the deceased, led the singing of two verses of the hymn, "Jesu Lover of my soul".
Wreaths and other beautiful floral tributes were sent by the following;
Mayor and Mayoress, Ex-Mayors, Burgesses and officials of the Court Leet; Chairman and members of the Altrincham Urban District council, the Board of management, Altrincham General Hospital; members of the Altrincham Police Division; St. George's lady bowlers; President and members of the Stamford Bowling Club; Altrincham and District Bowling Club; the family; his grandchildren; employees of G.W. Bonson; Mick, Doreen and betty (his "Rummy" pals), niece Marion, niece Mary; Mr & Mrs Phillips, Wilmslow; Captain and Mrs Woolcock, Barry; Mr & Mrs Puplett, Hull; Councillor and Mrs Pettingell, Hull; all at Wimboldsley Hall; Mr & Mrs G Percival; all at Drakelow Hall; all at Yate House; all at Hawthorn Villa; Mrs Wilkinson and Eva; Jean, Freda, Joyce, Gwen and Jean; Mr and Mrs Shield and family; Mr and Mrs A P. Hill; Mr & Mrs C. H. Syers; all at Rose Hill Cottage; Stan and Mr and Mrs Pillar; and Mr & Mrs W. T. Baskerville.
Byrome of Kingsway, Altrincham directed the funeral arrangements.