This entry is worth noting:
9 October ThursdayAt the office. At 3 o'clock I went to Gillans Office & from there we went to The Ship Yard to see the procession of boats conveying Gladstone from Eston. An address was presented to him at the Town Hall & at 6 o'clock I went to the Odd Fellows Hall to a banquet given to him. There were 192 there. Spent a very pleasant evening. Gladstone made a very good speech. After dinner lots of ladies came to the room & heard the speeches. We left about 10 & Hopkins & I went to Lloyds till 12 – I sat near Lloyd & Hopkins at the Banquet.
This was the occasion of the grand visit by William Gladstone, then Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The "very good speech" was fully reported by the Newcastle Chronicle (John's name appearing in the list of guests) on 11 October. It was in this speech that Gladstone described Middlesbrough as "an infant Hercules":
"Locomotion was the first agent in giving birth to Middlesbrough – (cheers) – to Middlesbrough which, although, as has been well said by the Lord Lieutenant, it has become a great community, yet is, I confess, in my belief, but an infant compared with what it is destined to be. It is an infant, gentlemen, but it is an infant Hercules. (Loud cheers.)"