A Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was established in London in 1824 and this received the Royal Charter in 1840. It was recorded in this Society's first minute book by Rev. Arthur Broome on 11 April 1825 that "... a correspondent society seemed to be in progress at Liverpool...".
It would appear that there had been concern for animal welfare in Liverpool since 1809. Billinge's Liverpool Advertiser, 6 Nov. 1809, includes a notice of a meeting at the Crown and Anchor, Bold Street, to consider the foundation of a "Society for the Suppression and Prevention of Wanton Cruelty to Animals". A report in the Billinge's Advertiser of 27 Nov. 1809 records at least one other meeting but nothing is known of the subsequent history (or fate) of this group. From the Rev. Arthur Broome's comments it is clear that some sort of animal welfare organisation existed in Liverpool in 1825. A member of the London Society's Committee came to Liverpool in 1833 and reported back to London "... there is a sort of incipient society, for the same objects [in Liverpool], at present confined to a few ladies of whom Mrs. Jane Roscoe [sic] is Leader..." [(?) Miss Jane Roscoe (1797-1853), daughter of William Roscoe (1756-1831), married Francis Hornblower in 1838. Mrs. Jane Roscoe, William's wife had died in 1824]. There then appeared in the Liverpool Mercury for 10 Jan. 1834, p.14, col. 2, the following announcement:
"Liverpool Society for the Suppression of Wanton Cruelty to Animals.
We have much pleasure in being able to announce that a Society has been formed in Liverpool, chiefly under the auspices of ladies from which ... we anticipate much good ... The printed prospectus issued by the benevolent association ... explains the ... objects of the establishment:-
1 To expose the cruelties practised on the animal creation
2 To diffuse practical, moral and religious information and humane views in society
3 To engage the clergy and ministers of various denomination's in advocating the cause of the society, in their pulpits and their private instructions
4 To circulate suitable tracks, either gratuitously or by cheep to the lower classes
5 To endeavour to interest the public officers and overlookers on the subject and to gain information from the..."
Again, nothing is known of the progress of this society.
In 1840 the London Socety initiated the establishment of an auxiliary society Liverpool i.e. auxiliary in the sense that the London Society would make it loans of money, literature and even Inspectors. Editions of Gore's Directory of Liverpool in the period 1843-1849 include in the Associations and Institutions section entries for the Liverpool Auxiliary Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, listing officials, agents and sometimes Inspectors.
How and when this Auxiliary Society lapsed is again, not clear but a Liverpool Society was in operation when a meeting was held at No.1 Cooke Street, Liverpool on 21 Dec. 1871. At this meeting the Secretary to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in London stated that he had been "... sent down to Liverpool to ascertain the feeling of the leading inhabitants as to the desirability of opening a Branch for that Town on a proper basis and "under the" management of an influential managing committee...". He had obtained support because there had been "... generally a dissatisfaction in regard to the management of affairs under the auspices of the [Liverpool] Society during the past few years". These feelings had been "... communicated to the Parent Society many times.." and this had caused the London Board "much anxiety". He reported that he had made previous vists and had indicated through the Liverpool Secretary Mr. Lathbury that "... a change must take place in the mode of taking actions, in prosecutions ... in the publication of an annual report..." also in accounting, publicity etc. No changes had been made in the running of the Liverpool Society and the London Society had "...unwillingly taken a hostile course towards the local Committee, the Liverpool branch having been "... in all but name removed from the control of the London Board...". As a result of the meeting of 21 Dec. 1871 it was resolved that ["a proper and efficient"] Branch of the R.S.P.C.A. should be formed in Liverpool and a Committee was appointed to bring this into effect.
There appears to have been continued opposition from the officials the the "old" Liverpool Society, its Treasurer, John Lonsdale, having issued a printed statement on 31 March 1872 to the effect that the Liverpool Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals "... is not now a branch of the Royal Society in London nor in any way connected with it; but it is a perfectly separate and independent body...". At a committee meeting of the [new] Liverpool Branch on 5 September 1873, however, it was put on record that agreement had been reached between "... the Liverpool Branch of the London Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Liverpool Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of which Mr. Lathbury has hitherto acted as Secretary, that an amalgamation of the two Societies should take place...".