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P. T. Winskill - A Key to the Mystery.

Peter Turner Winskill (1834-1912)

In any history of the Temperance Movement, Peter Turner Winskill stands proud as a historian, advocate, poet and songwriter. It is through his historical writings that we have a cannon of Temperance biography. His work assists to illustrate the lives of wide cross section of renowned Temperance workers dating from the dawn of the movement to the end of the 19th Century.


Winskill's committment to Temperance was informed by his own experience and his sad and painful upbringing in the North of England. Born in Newcastle Upon Tyne on 27th April 1834, he saw at first hand how alcohol could destroy a happy domestic life. It speaks volumes that his mother drove and encouraged his involvement in the Movement in which he spent 60 years committed to the cause.

His first involvement in the Temperance Movement was to become a juvenile member of the Independent Order of Rechabites (IOR) in the 1840s. He progressed to the Young Men’s Temperance Auxiliary in Middlesbrough – quickly he became a well-known speaker, singer and essayist. After his marriage he spent some time in Derbyshire returning to Middlesbrough and by 1867 surfaced as a committee member of the Sunderland Total Abstinence Society.

In 1871 he accepted the position as agent and missionary of the Warrington Total Abstinence Society and it was during this period he became involved with the International Order of Good Templars (IOGT) although he had a well-documented falling out with Joseph Malins leader of the IOGT.


P.T. Winskill is best remembered as a historian of the movement and following his move to Warrington he published a number of important works including, his first in 1881 -

“A Comprehensive History of the Rise and Progress of the Temperance Reformation”.

In 1882 he accepted a position in Liverpool and followed this up by producing the

A History of the Temperance Movement in Liverpool and District" (1887)

This was followed by the amazing work - the 4 volume – "The Temperance Movement and its Workers" (1892) with a series of wonderful illustrations of hundreds of Temperance Advocates.

Then came the 2 volume “Temperance Standard Bearers of the 19th Century” in 1897/8.

Winskill was also a noted composer and publisher of Temperance Songs many of which were performed at gatherings such as the Crystal Palace Temperance Fetes in the late 19th Century.


P.T. Winskill died in 1912, a life well lived, leaving behind a valuable work of reference for those interested in the history of the Temperance Movement.

His funeral took place in May 1912 in Warrington conducted by. Rev. John Pastor of Wycliffe Congregational Church.

All of the above works are available to consult in the historical archive of the Alliance House Foundation at Alliance House by appointment.

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