G. G. Bonser 1851 - 1947.

" 'Be the day weary or be the day long
At length it ringeth to evensong',
and I'm sad in realising that the pleasure of life, so far as I am concerned, is coming to an end, and the writing of these notes which has given me not only occupation but pleasure for many years, cannot go on".

So began the farewell message of Sutton's "Grand Old Man" to his many friends and admirers, when in his 96th year, he found it necessary to give up the writing of his notes in the local Press, by means of which, week by week, he had inculcated in the hearts of many Suttonians a profound interest and pride in the history and traditions of their native town.

George Gershom Bonser, a son of William Bonser, was born at Sutton-in-Ashfield on March 30th, 1851, and died there on February 18th, 1947.

With the exception of a very few years spent, as a young man, in London and Sheffield, and, later in life, in Brighton, where he served on the Corporation, he lived the whole of his life in his native town which he served well and faithfully in very many ways. For, into this long span of life—far exceeding the allotted three score years and ten—he fitted an astonishing number of trusteeships, presidencies, and committees.

He took a keen interest in politics, his activities in that sphere being mainly on the Conservative side, though, at the same time remaining strongly individualist.

He was a distinguished member of the old Local Board, of which he was elected Chairman in 1894, and he became the first Chairman of the new Urban District Council when it was established in 1895.1

Always interested in Education, he was, for many years, Chairman of the School Managers and a member of the National School Board of Governors. At all schools he was a regular, frequent, and welcome visitor.

He was educated at Mansfield Grammar School, and was fond of recalling the days when, with his brothers, he walked daily from Sutton to Mansfield, leaving home at 7.30 in the morning and not arriving home again until 6 o'clock and later.

He was a convinced Churchman and contributed many interesting and erudite articles to the Parish Magazine over the signature ' Old Churchman '.

He was, for some years, Vicar's Warden at S. Mary's Church, and once said that he had served Sutton-in-Ashfield in every capacity open to a layman with the single exception of that of overseer.

His chief interest in later years was Archaeology, on which he was an authority, making regular contributions to the proceedings of the Thoroton Society of which he was a life member.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century when Sutton-in-Ashfield began to take an interest in itself and to endeavour to acquire some intellectual equipment befitting its increasing size and importance, Mr. Bonser's interest and enthusiams were of untold value. He was both a leader and a diligent worker, his labours for the Public Library being of pioneer quality.

His unusually long and full life pursued an even tenor and was almost entirely without dramatic incident, but this was due rather to his attitude to life than to the happenings of that life itself. Typical of his equanimity was his remark, " How interesting ", when he was informed that his house had been entered during the night. He lived in Sutton and he lived for Sutton, passing his time in the exercise of his unique charm, sociability, and sweetness of temper among a vast circle of friends and acquaintances.2 But if his temperament was equable his personality was not without force. He had ideas and expressed them in no uncertain terms, writing with conviction and knowledge, with a wealth of scholarly reference, and with a delightful sense of humour. He had a juvenile zest for a good story and an amazingly good memory of which he was justly proud. One of the inevitable consequences of advancing years with which he found it most difficult to reconcile himself was the occasional failure of this faculty which, however, remained extraordinarily clear and accurate almost to the end.

For many years Gershom Bonser cherished the hope that a "History of Sutton-in-Ashfield" should be published, and about five years before his death he began to compile such a work from data collected during many years from a great variety of sources. He died with the work unpublished but completed—written in his own neat and careful handwriting in a large well bound book or " Tome " as he would have called it.

A small circle of friends, knowing of the existence of the book and of its author's hopes, and feeling that the work should be made available to the public, formed a Committee for this purpose. The Committee wishes to express its appreciation and thanks to Mr. Bonser's daughter, Mrs. Livingston, who willingly made available her father's MSS.

The aim of this publication is not only to preserve the information it contains for the enlightenment of future generations, but also to form a lasting memorial to its author, that, "Suttonian of Suttonians", G. G. B. The book is, therefore, presented exactly as he had prepared it in his own inimitable style.

1 He was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1910.
2 It may be written of "G. G." that he loved his fellow men. It is equally true to say that he was beloved by them.