Sir Edward Temperley Gourley was Initiated into Palatine lodge on the 10th of October 1861. Little is known about his masonic career other than he sustained his membership over a number of decades; he never became Worshipful Master, so it is likely he enjoyed his time on the sidelines.
He was a notable ship owner and prominent Sunderland figure in the latter part of the 19th Century and was Knighted in 1895 for his political work.
Edward was born on 8th June 1826, the son of John Young Gourley and Mary Temperley, at Sunderland, County Durham. Born and bred on the banks of the River Wear, he was emphatically a Sunderland man, and had been throughout his life closely identified commercially, municipally, and parliamentarily with the borough. When only 13 years of age young Gourley was apprenticed as "boy" in the office of one of the largest commercial houses then existing in Sunderland, that of Messrs Halcro. Young Gourley, however, had no intention of remaining in a subordinate capacity and, when he was 22 years of age, he started in business as a ship chandler. His ambition soared higher than this and soon he left the ship chandlers business and became a ship owner.
His Career as a Ship Owner
His office was in Villiers Street and from there he carried on an increasing trade in coal exporting and in the importation of timber and general goods. He made an extended Continental tour that led him to believe that the ultimate destiny of steamers was to sweep sailing ships off the ocean. On his return he invested largely in steam shipping and became one of the leading shipowners of Sunderland. He was unfortunate in losing several steamers and the following is a report on the loss of two of his cargo ships, the Florence and the Volunteer.
Liverpool Mercury, Tuesday, 29th September 1868
As owner of steam ships he went into business with Sir James Laing and Mr William Stobart, both also ship owners, and afterwards opened an office in London. He ran a line of steamers between London and the Adriatic for a few years and carried an extensive trade with that and other parts of the world. When, however, he entered Parliament he soon retired from the active management of the business, but he remained the owner of few ships and was a large shareholder in steamers. In this way he remained until the end of his life closely identified with the shipping interest both from the point of view of the sailor and of the ship owner.
His Municipal Career
Sir Edward Gourley was 30 years of age when, in 1857 he first became associated with the Town Council. He made his first speech in the local Parliament moving a resolution, to erect the Havelock statue, which was erected in 1861 the top of Building Hill, which is now part of Mowbray Park. As a Town Councillor Sir Edward was diligent, energetic and popular, and in 1864, when he was 36 years of age, he was unanimously elected Mayor and re-elected a year later. Gourley's other political work at this time included being appointed as chief magistrate for Sunderland, serving three terms, and working as an Alderman for the town. He was also a shipowners' representative on the River Wear Commission, a borough magistrate, a justice of the peace for the county, and a Deputy-Lieutenant. He also joined forces with Samuel Storey, a Liberal councillor, to become one of the founder members of the Sunderland Echo in 1873. It was in 1868 that Gourley took his biggest step forward in politics, when he was elected as a Liberal MP for the town.
His Parliamentary Career
It was in the 1868 general election after the passing of Mr Disraeli's Reform Act in 1867, which enfranchised many male householders, thus greatly increasing the number of men who could vote in elections in the United Kingdom, that Sir Edward first became a candidate for Parliamentary honours. He was one of the three candidates, the other two being Mr J Candlish and Mr. T. C. Thompson.
He went on to be re-elected six further times, in 1874, 1880, 1885, 1886, 1892 and 1895.
Sir Edward retired from Parliamentary life in 1900, possible owing to his state of his health. He never lost sight of the fact that he was a representative of a shipping centre, and whenever the opportunity offered his abilities were devoted to the good of that industry. He sought to benefit not only the shipowners, but the sailors, and much of his energy was devoted to the interests of the seafaring class. In his attendance at the House, he was most assiduous and paid the greatest possible attention to his Parliamentary duties, and to the interests of those whom he there represented for so long a series of years.
His life ended on the 15th of April 1902, at his London residence.
Sunderland Daily Echo, Tuesday, 15 April 1902
It is with extreme regret that we have to record the death of Sir Edward Temperley Gourley, the sad event occurring at 1:55 this morning at his residence, Queen Anne's Mansions, London.
The Times, Wednesday, April 16, 1902
Sir Edward Temperley Gourley, who represented Sunderland in the Liberal interest from 1868 till 1900, died in London yesterday.