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Vicar saves employee of Sir Robert Peel

Year 1824

Read by Sharmaine Malik – Trustee, Royal Humane Society

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To The Royal Humane Society,


The following circumstance occurred on Tuesday last, the 6th instant, an I am requested to let the statement be made to “the Humane Society”, under the idea that such circumstances are considered worthy of some notice from them.

Joseph Salt, a respectable man, residing at Drayton, near Tamworth, and who has been for many years in the employment of Sir Robert Peel, sprang from his bed, in a fit of temporary derangement, and ran from his cottage to a canal at the distance of half a mile, where is immediately plunged into the water. But a few minutes had elapsed, when the Rev. Henry Woolley, Vicar of Middleton, near Tamworth, was providentially passing at the time, and, being attracted to the spot by the cries of some women who had followed Salt, he most promptly and resolutely sprang into the water, and succeeded in rescuing the unfortunate man from an untimely death; and subsequently, by application of the usual means recommended by your Society, Salt was restored to life, and to his numerous family. The truth of this circumstance may be farther known by application to Sir Robert Peel, or to Mr Bird, Surgeon, Tamworth.

I am, gentlemen, with much respect, your obedient servant, John Lees


Upon the receipt of this letter, the Secretary, at the desire of the Committee, addressed a letter to Sir Robert Peel, to which the following answer was received:

May 3rd, 1824
Drayton Manor, Tamworth.


In answer to your letter of 27th April, I beg leave to inform you, that the insane man saved from drowning by the Rev Henry Woolley loved in my neighbourhood, though he was not in my employ. I believe the man’s life was saved by the prompt exertions if this gentleman, and that his success in the hazardous undertaking constituted his reward. Some kind of acknowledgement from the Society to Mr Woolley cannot be unacceptable.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant, Robert Peel

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