Untold lives blog

Sharing stories from the past, worldwide

10 posts from December 2022

30 December 2022

Reynolds’s Christmas Fund for Sandwichmen

In the winter of 1897, Reynolds's Newspaper launched a Christmas Fund for the sandwichmen who carried advertising boards through the streets of London.  This was the brainchild of its editor W. M. Thompson.  The paper appealed to its readers to contribute towards a treat for ‘one of the most hopeless classes in the community- the sandwichmen, or living advertisers’.  These men struggled to earn a few pennies every day to keep themselves out of the workhouse.  A good sum to provide a Christmas dinner for them could be accumulated if readers gave just a penny each.

A drawing of a sandwichman carrying a board saying ‘Friendless, Hopeless, Penniless’A sandwichman carrying a board saying ‘Friendless, Hopeless, Penniless’ - Reynolds's Newspaper 26 December 1897 British Newspaper Archive

Donations arrived from all parts of the world.  The newspaper published lists of the donors’ names and the amount given, as well as letters sent from well-wishers.  Lord Rosebery gave £5 and Messrs Rothschild and Sons £21.  The Prince of Wales donated £10.  Queen Victoria sent her warm sympathy and was criticised by a widow from Clifton, Bristol, for not contributing: ‘I see the old girl of Windsor has not got it in her to give a mite, although she is a widow and praised up to the skies as such.  I think myself as good as her, although I have not had as many farthings as she has had pounds.  If she had to scrub and wash for twenty-five years, sixteen or eighteen hours a day, she would tell another tale.  Poor old men – it shows they have one good friend.  I wish I could give more, but it all tells up’.

A travelling showman sent 5 shillings for the noble effort ‘to let in a gleam of sunshine upon the clouded lives of this helpless class of the community’.  Children contributed small amounts from their money boxes. Eight-year-old Leonard Lumer sent four penny stamps ‘hoping they will have a good feed’.  H. S .Persse & Co donated a case of ten-year-old Galway whiskey, the same as supplied to the House of Commons.  Liptons gave tea, Cadbury sent cocoa.  New and second-hand clothes and boots were received.

Report on the Christmas treat - Reynolds's Newspaper 26 December 1897Report on the Christmas treat - Reynolds's Newspaper 26 December 1897 British Newspaper Archive

The Boxing Day edition of Reynolds's Newspaper carried a report on the Christmas treat.  More than 600 sandwichmen, both young and old, had gathered at the Montpelier Music Hall where ‘ladies and gentlemen’ were eager to act as amateur waiters and general helpers.

The men were cheery and chatty, drowning out the sound of the grand piano.  ‘What life-histories and tragedies were there represented’ – some had been reduced from a comfortable life-style to tramping the streets advertising the playhouses they could not afford to enter.

After the meal, the men were given pipes of tobacco to smoke whilst enjoying the entertainment provided by music-hall artistes for free.  W. M. Thompson addressed them: ‘Friends, this is not a charitable gathering, it is a family party’.  Thompson hoped that even more could be done for the men the following year.

On leaving, each man was given a Christmas box of one shilling and a pair of socks.  Some also received a package of tea, and 200 bottles of whiskey were distributed.

Reynolds's Christmas Fund for sandwichmen continued into the 20th century.  The last reference which I can find to it in the British Newspaper Archive is in December 1915.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
British Newspaper Archive - Reynolds's Newspaper (Strapline - 'Government of the People, by the People, for the People')


28 December 2022

Christmas Day petition to the East India Company

On 25 December 1804 Edward Heard of Cork wrote a petition to the East India Company directors in London asking for financial assistance.  Heard had served in the Bengal Army as a young man and said he had no provision for the winter of his days.  He was unable to supply the wants of a large family of a wife and twelve children.

Opening of the petition of Edward Heard 25 December 1804

Opening of the petition of Edward Heard 25 December 1804 IOR/D/159 f.216 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

In the petition Heard gave an outline of his army service, and it is possible to flesh out this information from other records in the East India Company archive.

Heard had entered the Bengal Army infantry as a cadet in 1769 and rose to the rank of captain.  He was part of the Bengal Army detachment which marched to Bombay in 1778 as reinforcement in the First Anglo-Maratha War, and he was Adjutant General on the staff of General Goddard in Gujarat.  The detachment also included Dean Mahomed, who later gained fame as the first Indian author in English, and Dean Mahomed's patron Godfrey Evan Baker.  Baker was Heard’s army contemporary and close friend, both men coming from Cork.  Heard was later a subscriber to The Travels of Dean Mahomet, a Native of Patna in Bengal.

Heard said that his health became ‘much impaird’ after the ‘long and arduous Campaign’, and on 12 November 1783 he applied for permission to return to Europe after serving ‘faithfully’ for nearly fifteen years.  There were family matters needing his attention, but it was his ‘positive intention’ to return to his army post in India.  It was agreed that Captain Heard should be permitted to resign and proceed to Europe.  A certificate was issued to confirm that Heard had adjusted all his accounts with the military paymaster – this was necessary if he was to be allowed to return to service.

Having returned to Ireland, Edward Heard married Margaret Drew in 1786.  In November 1788 he requested permission to return to his rank in Bengal.  This was granted, but Heard explained in his 1804 petition that when he and his wife reached London on their way back to India,  Margaret’s ‘sudden severe and alarming indisposition defeated such design’.  Heard asked to remain until the coming season but the Company refused to agree to an extension of his leave of absence as he had been at home for over four years.  The Heards returned to Ireland ‘there to deplore his misfortune’.  They settled at Ballintubber in County Cork.  Heard named his estate ‘Patna’.

How did the East India Company respond to the Christmas ‘solicitations of an old Soldier unable to supply the necessitys of a numerous and helpless Family’?  The directors did not consider his case until April 1805.  After officials had informed them that there had been no communication with Heard since 1789, they resolved not to comply with his request for some mark of the Court’s bounty.

Heard's death notice in The Statesman 4 June 1810 Heard's death notice in The Statesman (London) 4 June 1810 British Newspaper Archive Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Edward Heard died at Patna, County Cork, in 1810.  The Statesman reported that Heard was ‘universally esteemed and respected’: ‘Preferring heroic fame to the accumulation of wealth, he derived nothing but his laurels from the service, and returned to his hereditary estates in the evening of life’.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
IOR/P/2/65 pp.503-505 Bengal Public Consultations 18 December 1783 – application of Edward Heard for permission to return to Europe.
Request of Edward Heard to return to his rank in Bengal - IOR/B/108 p.699 East India Company Court of Directors 19 November 1788; p.759 Court 5 December 1788; p.1028 Court 26 February 1789; IOR/D/33 p.55 Committee of Correspondence 27 November 1788; IOR/E/1/227 p.238 Letter to Heard from the Company Secretary 26 February 1789.
IOR/D/159 ff.216-217v Petition of Edward Heard 25 December 1804; IOR/D/46 p.37 Committee of Correspondence 10 April 1805; IOR/B/141 p.15 Court 10 April 1805; IOR/E/1/240 p.369 Letter to Edward Heard 13 April 1805.
Michael H. Fisher, The first Indian author in English (Oxford, 1996).


23 December 2022

The Physiognomy of Christmas

On Christmas Eve 1870, a newspaper called The Days’ Doings published pictures of Father Christmas as he was thought to appear to different groups of people.

The Physiognomy of Christmas - drawings of nine different faces for Father Christmas‘The Physiognomy of Christmas - Father Christmas as he appears from several different points of view’ from The Days’ Doings 24 December 1870 British Newspaper Archive

Nine faces are drawn depicting how Father Christmas appears - 

To the Young
To men who can’t pay their bills
To the Lover
To the Grumpy
To the Puritanic
To the Jovial
To the Jaundiced
To the Gourmand
To Readers of Xmas Tales.

Seasonal Greetings from Untold Lives!

Robin on a holly branch


21 December 2022

Books suitable for Christmas and New Year

Are you still looking for ideas for Christmas gifts?  Maybe we can help?  In 1858, Irish bookseller and stationer Thomas Smith Harvey published a catalogue of books suitable for Christmas, New Year, and birthday presents.

 Title page of Catalogue of books suitable for Christmas  New Year  or birthday presentsTitle page of Catalogue of books suitable for Christmas New Year or birthday presents Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

The catalogue is divided into ten sections.

Poetry covers four pages, ranging in price from 1s to 31s 6d.  As well as works from famous poets such as Longfellow, Shakespeare, Byron, Scott and Milton, there are books entitled Language and Poetry of Flowers; Moore’s Irish Melodies; Elegant Arts for Ladies; and Book of German Songs.

Religious books – as well as bibles, Harvey was offering Buchanan’s Christian Researches in India; Quarles’ Judgment and Mercy; Bogatsky’s Golden Treasury; and Morals from the Churchyard.  This last one intrigued me and I discovered its full title is Morals from the Churchyard; in a series of cheerful fables.  Here is the contents page and I am surprised that it was possible to create ‘cheerful fables’ from some of the graves listed here.

Contents page of Morals from the Churchyard; in a series of cheerful fables - graves of little child, mother, lovers, suicide etc

Contents page of Morals from the Churchyard; in a series of cheerful fables Public Domain Creative Commons Licence 

The next category is books for the country – natural history etc.  It includes British Rural Sports; Cassell’s Natural History of the Feathered Tribes; Anecdotes of Animal Life; A World of Wonders Revealed by the Microscope; Mechi’s How to Farm Profitably; Rarey on Horse Training; and Walker’s Manly Exercises.

Title page of Walker’s Manly Exercises with a picture of rowing and sailingWalker’s Manly Exercises Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

There is a section devoted to biography, history, travels, and science.  Titles here include Kansas, or Squatter Life and Border Warfare; The Bridle Roads of Spain; Gavazzi’s Last Four Popes; Things Not Generally Known; How A Penny Became A Thousand Pounds; Overland Route to India; and Mornings at the British Museum. The book Unprotected Females in Norway perplexed me until I found the title continues: or, the pleasantest way of travelling there, passing through Denmark and Sweden, with Scandinavian sketches from nature.

Title page of Unprotected Females in NorwayEmily Lowe, Unprotected Females in Norway; or, the pleasantest way of travelling there, passing through Denmark and Sweden, with Scandinavian sketches from nature (London, 1857) Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Here is one of the sketches drawn by the author Emily Lowe showing a Norwegian wedding taking place near Bergen.

Norwegian wedding near Bergen showing a couple and a priest, with a woman holding a baby in the backgroundNorwegian wedding near Bergen from Unprotected Females in Norway  Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Perhaps surprisingly there is only one page for fiction although Harvey does state that he can provide a large assortment of cheap works.  His selection included Slick’s Nature and Human Nature; Marie Louise, or the Opposite Neighbours; and Never Too Late to Mend.

Eight pages are devoted to books for young people – three and a half for boys, four for children, and just half a page for girls.  The boys’ section is full of sport, exploration, travel, adventure, and inspirational works: Sporting in Both Hemispheres; Wild Sports in the Far West; Boyhood of Great Men; The Story of the Peasant Boy Philosopher.  For children, Harvey promises a great variety of cheap books for the very young and lists a selection of moral tales and story books such as Stories for Village Lads; Memoirs of a Doll; Norah and her Kerry Cow, as well as Learning to Converse.  The girls’ books include Fanny the Little Milliner; Extraordinary Women; and Amy Carlton, or First Days at School.

A number of almanacs and diaries are offered as well as miscellaneous articles – gutta percha skates; ‘boys’ telescopes’; pocket compasses; microscopes; mathematical instruments; and small magic lanterns with slides.

When you have finished buying and wrapping your presents, have fun searching in our catalogue Explore the British Library for books listed in Harvey’s catalogue.  Many have been digitised and can be enjoyed online.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
Thomas Smith Harvey, Catalogue of books suitable for Christmas, New Year, or birthday presents (Waterford, 1858)

19 December 2022

Exploring the Chinese & British Film Reel

An artist uses finger painting techniques to create stunning floral imagery; M P Lee and C P Lee sit down to a home cooked meal; people dance at a Limehouse VE Day celebration. These are some of the documentary film scenes currently being projected in our free Chinese and British exhibition space.

In this post we would like to provide some information about the film clips used in our exhibition film montage, with links to watch the material freely online via the British Pathé historical collection.


London's Nightworld


1947 documentary showing various restaurants around the capital, including scenes in Leyon's Chinese Restaurant.


Finger Painting


Artist Lau Ta Po demonstrating traditional Chinese finger painting techniques.


VE Day Celebrations at Limehouse


People sing and dance at a VE Day celebration in Limehouse, 1945.


East Meets West


Footage of author M P Lee and his wife C P Lee preparing and enjoying a meal.


Chinese Girls to be BOAC stewardesses


Interview segment with women training to be airline cabin crew, 1956.


Poon Lim Honoured


Footage of seaman Poon Lim arriving at a port before travelling to Buckingham Palace to receive the British Empire Medal, 1943.

Poon Lim's experience of being torpedoed in the Atlantic and surviving on a raft for 133 days was a media sensation, and is one of several stories which appear in Kenneth Lo's Forgotten Wave. Stories and Sketches from the Chinese Seamen During the Second World War (Padiham Advertiser, 1947).


Hong Kong, England


Visitors wander around a reconstruction of Hong Kong streets, hosted outside St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, in 1959.


Food Fair, 1954


Footage of the preparation of Chinese dishes, from the 1954 Olympia Food Fair.


There are plenty more films featuring Chinese individuals and communities in Britain to be found on the British Pathé and British Film Institute sites, and you can also find relevant materials in Denis Gifford, The British Film Catalogue. Volume 2, Non-fiction film, 1888-1994 (London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2019).

Chinese and British, a free exhibition exploring British Chinese communities and cultures, is open at the British Library until 23 April 2023. It is generously supported by Blick Rothenberg.


15 December 2022

Character, costumes and comedy: Pantomime posters in the Evanion collection

Henry Evanion (1832-1905) was a nineteenth-century conjuror, entertainer and collector.  His vast collection of ephemera includes local politics, advertisements for household products and theatrical posters including advertisements for pantomimes at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

A visit to see a pantomime marks the start of the festive season for families across the country.  This Christmas tradition has roots in 16th-century ‘Commedia dell’Arte’.  Innovations to the pantomime tradition in the 19th century included the introduction of outrageous costumes, slapstick comedy and audience participation.

Evanion’s collection of theatrical posters includes three pantomimes staged by Augustus Harris (1852-1896), who managed Drury Lane theatre from 1879-1896.  Harris was a young, ambitious actor and theatre manager.  The pantomimes were the centre of his ambition and the ‘money-making centrepiece’ of the theatre’s season.

 Poster of Puss in BootsEvan.1903. - Augustus Harris's pantomime Puss in Boots, Drury Lane (1887).

Puss in Boots, the pantomime for the Christmas season in 1887 was an elaborate show with Charles Lauri Junior in the title role.  A review of the show in The Penny Illustrated Paper praised Charles Lauri, writing that ‘it would be impossible to excel Mr. Charles Lauri’.  The review went on to praise the ‘richly embellished’ show and ‘attractive charm of the scenery’.

Beauty in a white dress surrounded by roses, with the Beast at her feetEvan.196. Image of Belle Bilton as Beauty in Augustus Harris' pantomime Beauty and the Beast (1890).

For the 1890 pantomime, Augustus Harris staged an elaborate tale of Beauty and the Beast.  The pantomime drew audiences in by casting Belle Bilton as Beauty.  Outside of the stage door, Belle was embroiled in a public drama after secretly marrying Lord Dunlo.  His father (the Earl of Clancy) forced Dunlo to petition for a divorce and attempt to discredit Bilton’s name.  The pantomime built upon public sympathy for Belle by casting her in the title role of the 1890 show.  Just like in the pantomime, Belle got her ‘happily ever after’ when Lord Dunlo defended her in court and the couple were happily married until Belle’s death in 1906.

Augustus Harris’s pantomimes were a staple of the festive season by 1894 and performances of Dick Whittington continued to attract audiences.  Continuing with the tradition of casting popular stars, Dick Whittington featured a core casting of Ada Blanche as Principal Boy and Dan Leno as Idle Jack.  Both actors appeared in numerous pantomimes at Drury Lane with Ada appearing from 1892-1898 and Dan from 1888-1903.  By the 1890s, gender switching was commonplace in pantomimes and the female principal boy and pantomime dame were accepted conventions.  The repeated core cast across the pantomimes meant that audiences knew what to expect from a Drury Lane pantomime.

Ada Blanche as Dick Whittington in a green costume sitting on a swing with his catEvan.4029. Figure of Ada Blanche as Dick Whittington with cat on a swing. The image reads ‘Dick Whittington now in full swing at Drury Lane theatre’.

The pantomime season for 2022 has started and theatres across the country will be full of families enjoying the long-established festive tradition.  The inspiration for the costumes, laughter, elaborate sets and celebrity appearances comes from Victorian pantomimes at theatres like the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.  The Evanion collection is currently being prepared for ingest and display in IIIF on the British Library’s Universal Viewer.

Amy Solomons
PhD Placement Student, Heritage Made Digital

Further Reading:
James Hagy, Early English Conjuring Collectors, James Savren and Henry Evanion (Shaker Heights: Ohio, 1985).
J.P.Wearing, ‘Harris, Sir Augustus Henry Glossop’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004.
The Penny Illustrated Paper, London, Saturday, 31 December 1887, p.423a.
The Story of Pantomime 
Victorian Vaudeville – Tripping the Light Fantastic

13 December 2022

The oldest cyclist in the UK

At the age of 80, Mordaunt Martin Monro was advised by his doctor to take up tricycle riding.  He was assured that this would add ten years to his life.  Mr Monro was to be seen pedaling around near his home in Enfield, Middlesex, until shortly before his death at the age of 92 on 21 March 1899.  The cycling press named him ‘the oldest wheelman in the United Kingdom’.

Tricycle of the 1880s1880s tricycle from Nauticus in Scotland - A tricycle tour of 2,462 miles. Including Skye & the West coast (London, 1888) Digital Store 10370.d.28 BL flickr

Monro’s dedication to tricycling was shared by his friend Daniel Gilsenan.  In his 80s, Mr Gilsenan was a familiar sight in Enfield riding a tricycle which pulled a trailer carrying his widowed sister Justina Clark as a passenger.  Most appropriately, Daniel lived in Raleigh Road.

Mordaunt Martin Monro was the child of Captain James Monro of the East India Company’s maritime service by his second wife Caroline née Martin.  He was born at Hadley in Middlesex on 3 November 1806, just a fortnight before his father died.  His mother had him educated at home by tutors, and he then received practical instruction in agriculture at nearby Rectory Farm.  At the age of 22, Monro took over Bury Farm in Southbury Road and his mother lived there with him until her death in 1848.  Daniel Gilsenan worked as his farm bailiff for 26 years, and his sister Jane was servant and housekeeper for Monro for over 30 years.  When Monro retired from the farm, he lived with Daniel and his wife Lucy.

Monro was associated with Richard Cobden and John Bright in anti-corn laws agitation, and in 1849 was a founder member of the National Freehold Land Society, also known as the National Permanent Mutual Benefit Society.  The Society aimed to enable working men to acquire 40 shilling freeholds and thereby the right to vote.  Monro served as director, trustee and chairman, and remained connected to the Society until his death.

Both Caroline and Mordaunt Monro joined the Society of Friends and attended the meeting house at Winchmore Hill.  Mordaunt supported the anti-slavery movement and the 1850s Peace Movement.  He was a regular and generous donor to the Enfield and Tottenham Hospitals, and paid £5 a year to fund the winding of the clock at Enfield Church.  Although said to be of a retiring disposition, Monro held public office, as Poor Law overseer and then as one of the first members of the local board of health.

Mordaunt Monro was also involved in the temperance movement.  He began to abstain from drinking alcohol in 1840 and founded the first Temperance Society in Enfield, using a converted barn as a meeting place.  This barn was also used as premises for an evening school.  In August 1843 he hosted at his farm a meeting of the Total Abstinence Society which was addressed by the Irish celebrity temperance campaigner Father Mathew.  Hundreds of people attended on a very hot day and were supplied with temperance refreshments from tents erected in a large field.  The temperance pledge was taken by about 400 people on that day.

Newspaper article about Father Mathew at EnfieldFather Mathew at Enfield - Hertford Mercury and Reformer 19 August 1843 British Newspaper Archive 

Daniel Gilsenan survived his friend for five years.  He died on 1 August 1904 at his house in Raleigh Road.  Enfield had now lost both of its most elderly cyclists.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
British Newspaper ArchiveHertford Mercury and Reformer 19 August 1843, Westminster Gazette 24 March 1899, The Middlesex Gazette 25 March 1899, Soulby’s Ulverston Advertiser and General Intelligencer 17 September 1903.

Previous posts about Captain James Monro -
The sale of East India Company maritime commands

Private trade and pressed men – the voyage of the Houghton to China


08 December 2022

Private trade and pressed men – the voyage of the Houghton to China

In January 1784 Captain James Monro of the East India Company ship Houghton submitted to the Canton Factory a list of private trade goods procured in China.  It records the mark and numbers on cargo items, the owner of the commodities, the type of goods, and the quantity of packages and contents

Table of private trade carried from China in the Houghton January 1784Private trade carried from China in the Houghton 1784 IOR/G/12/78 p.110 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Captain James Monro -
Hyson tea 147 chests; rhubarb 20 chests; cassia & buds 52 chests; dragon’s blood 3 chests; Nankeen cloth 5 chests containing 1200 pieces; bamboo fans 2 chests containing 2000; turmeric (loose); sago (loose); rattans 800 bundles; cane mats (loose) 1000 pieces; China ware 1 half chest containing 45 pieces.

Samuel Whedon or Wheadon, first mate -
Hyson tea 20 chests; cassia & buds 16 chests; China ware 1 box.

Archibald Anderson, second mate -
Hyson tea 14 chests.

Robert Robertson, third mate -
Hyson tea 11 chests.

James Stewart, fourth mate -
Hyson tea 7 chests.

Benjamin Smith, fifth mate -
Hyson tea 4 chests.

John Baker, surgeon -
Hyson tea 11 chests; cassia 7 chests; dragon’s blood 1 chest.

John Farington Butterfield, purser -
Hyson tea 12 chests; cassia & buds 12 chests; cotton yarn 1 chest.

James Paterson, gunner -
Hyson tea 3 chests.

Cassia buds were used in medicine, especially as a laxative. Dragon’s blood, disappointingly, was a resin.  Loose goods such as sago were packed round delicate goods much as we use polystyrene chips.  A pecul was a weight equivalent to 133⅓ pounds avoirdupois.

There were set allowances for different private trade commodities according to rank.

Allowances for teaAllowances for tea taken from Charles Cartwright, An abstract of the orders and regulations of the Honourable Court of Directors of the East-India Company (1788) p.lxv Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Allowances for textile piece goods

Allowances for textile piece goods taken from Charles Cartwright, An abstract of the orders and regulations of the Honourable Court of Directors of the East-India Company (1788) p. lxvi  Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Allowances for China and Japan ware  cabinets  fans  pictures  lacquer ware and screensAllowances for China and Japan ware, cabinets, fans, pictures, lacquer ware and screens taken from Charles Cartwright, An abstract of the orders and regulations of the Honourable Court of Directors of the East-India Company (1788) p.lxviii  Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Allowances for rattans Allowances for rattans taken from Charles Cartwright, An abstract of the orders and regulations of the Honourable Court of Directors of the East-India Company (1788) p. lxix  Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

The commodities taken into the Houghton for the first mate must have been purchased on his behalf by a shipmate because Samuel Whedon/Wheadon had died as the ship was sailing towards Malacca on its way to China.  He was buried at sea on 12 September 1783 after suffering from ‘a tedious and painful illness ever since leaving Madras’.  Second officer Archibald Anderson took his place. Anderson was to disappear mysteriously in 1790 whilst in command of the Nottingham.

Whilst the Houghton was at Madras in July 1783, 36 of Monro’s best sailors were pressed and taken off the ship by officers from HMS Superb.  He commented in his journal: ‘The Admiral has taken so many Men & the Men of Warrs Boat &c so frequently on board, we can scarse find a Man in the Ship, they hide themselves for fear of being pressed’.  Monro issued each pressed man with a certificate to confirm the dates of his service with the East India Company and the amount of wages owed.  In August a few men deserted from the Houghton at Madras, including the sixth mate John White.

As a postscript, HMS Superb was wrecked off Tellicherry on 5 November 1783 but no lives were lost.

There were lighter moments during the voyage.  Monro recorded that as the Houghton approached Madras on 19 July 1783: ‘This Morning & at noon we have the most astonishing quantity of Butterflys about’.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
Records for the Houghton - IOR/L/MAR/B/ 438-O Journal 1783-1784; IOR/L/MAR/B/438- II(1) & II (2) Ledger and Pay Book.
Correspondence of James Monro – British Library Mss Eur Photo Eur 488B.
James Monro and the sale of East India Company maritime commands.
Charles Cartwright, of the India House, An abstract of the orders and regulations of the Honourable Court of Directors of the East-India Company, and of other documents relating to the pains and penalties the commanders and officers of ships in the Company's service are liable to ... Including also, the full particulars of the allowances of private trade, outward and homeward ... To which is added, as an appendix, copies of the papers usually given by the Company to the commanders and officers. And a list of the duties, etc. (London, 1788).