Political Biographies of the Mayors of Portsmouth (1836-1900)

MAYORALTY:- November 9th 1860-1861.
PROFESSION:- Solicitor
WARD:- St Thomas
FIRST ELECTED ALDERMAN:- 25th February 1867.
OTHER CIVIC POSITIONS HELD:- Portsmouth Commissioner. J.P.
RESIDENCE:- 132 High Street, Portsmouth
DECEASED:- 11th January 1888 aged 80.
BURIED:- Highland Road cemetery.
Man of integrity Charles B. Hellard was a life long resident of Portsmouth. He was admitted soicitor in 1828 and together with 'Lawyer' Callaway, another prominent resident of 'Old Portsmouth', became a partner in one of the longest established firms of solicitors in the town. He was another who had a history of civic service prior to mayoralty. He had been an Improvement Commissioner for about twelve years before his election to the mayoral chair, and was Clerk to the Burial Board. He was also a co-trustee of the ill fated Portsmouth & Portsea Savings Bank.
At the electoral meeting outgoing mayor W.H. Garrington hinted that, in order to avoid an undignified open squabble, there had been some prior agreement on the nomination for the next mayor. He then proposed Cllr Hellard as a suitable person for the post of Chief Magistrate. This was seconded by Alderman Sheppard, who as Chairman of the Portsmouth Commissioners, said he had worked cordially with Hellard on the board for a good number of years. Jewish Cllr Moses Solomon rose saying that he would not object to He!lard's nomination but it had been his intention to nominate Alderman David Levy (a fellow Jew) who from his qualities as a Guardian was well qualified. Solomon opined that he did not think they should go into the body of the council to find a candidate when they could get a man from the Aldermanic Bench (cries of tension and cheers). Alderman Levy then intimated that he had been solicited to stand but had declined let his name go forward. He also noted that in recent years there had been a tendency for the council to chose men from a certain profession - this he deeply regretted. He also thought mayors should be unanimously elected. The resolution that Hellard was a fit and proper person to be mayor was then put and carried without dissent.
Internationally the US Civil War broke out but at home the big news was the deaths of the Queen's mother (the Duchess of Kent) and secondly Albert, Prince Consort. Both events prompted Addresses from the council. Locally the 1861 Census returns showed the population of the Borough to be 74,799. On June 1st Clarence Pier was opened. Three of the directors being ex or future mayors - i.e. George Sheppard, Andrew Nance, Emanuel Emanuel. On the 9th June St Luke's Church was opened. The Council became 1,000 the richer following the sale to the Admiralty of Whale Island.
Given the Improvement Commissioners were active in 1861 the civic responsibilities of councils were still somewhat limited. Mayors were nevertheless kept busy. Mayor Hellard did his duty weekly on the Bench at the Petty Sessions where he often sat with Cllr Major J.O. Travers - a very hard working member of the Bench. There was always the Camber Docks programme and excavations for a graving dock had been started. But the work was not going too well and the mayor as ex-officio chairman of all committees, had to report slow progress.
The vexed item of the year was the proposal by the Portsea Gas & Light Company to submit a Bill to Parliament to increase its share capital by a further 58,000.00. Both the council and the Out-Wards Commissioners saw this as a nefarious move which would inevitably lead to an increase in re price of gas. The reason these public bodies were concerned was that they were responsible for street lighting. A memo was prepared for the council over Hellard's signature. At the February meeting the Town Clerk read this document to the council and in debate it was made known that the price of gas in Plymouth was 3/9d per 1,000 cubic feet, that Portsmouth Dockyard paid 3/3d while other Portsmouth consumers were charged 4/6d. Ex mayor Alderman Crassweller, now a director of the Gas Coy, defended these charges arguing that production costs were less in Plymouth. The council resolved that matters should be kept under review. On the 23rd March the Gas Bill went before a Select Committee of the House of Lords. Petitions were read against the Bill from Portsmouth Corporation. In the event before they got their Bill the Gas Coy was obliged to give a number of undertakings, which said inter alia, (3)
  1. The price of gas would be fixed at 4/6d per 1,000. cubic feet.
  2. Price of gas for public lighting would also be fixed at the same price.
  3. Compulsory supply to anyone living within 10 yards of a main and or 75 yards of a street light.
  4. Provision to be made for for the testing of gas re its purity for lighting.
With this the council and the mayor felt they had done a good job for the borough.
Politically a staunch Conservative Hellard was not noted for public speaking. Nevertheless, he was much respected and in 1874 members of the Council subscribed for a portrait to be painted and later hung in the Guildhall.
Though not legally obliged so to do he retired from public life in June 1879 when his second son, Aexander, became a candidate for Town Clerkship. He continued to practice law until enfeebled by old age. Hellard was married with two sons. One predeceased in 1880, the second continued as Town Clerk until his death in December 1921.
Norman Gordon
Obituaries Hants Post 13th January 1888. Hampshire Telegraph 14th January 1888, Portsmouth Times 14th January 1888.
1. Portsmouth Times 10th November 1860.
2. Portsmouth Times 28th February 1861.
3. Portsmouth Times 13th April 1861.