Untold lives blog

Sharing stories from the past, worldwide

10 posts from January 2023

30 January 2023

Across the Heart of Arabia (2): H St John Philby, Intelligence Gathering and a Lasting Legacy

In his 1918 mission to Nejd, Philby’s task, as seen by British officialdom, was to gather intelligence on the area and establish a relationship with Ibn Sa’ud on whom the British had little information.  This information could then be used to further British political, economic and strategic interests in the area in the context of the expected demise of the Ottoman Empire.  In 1917-18 the Empire’s writ still held sway precariously in parts of the Arabian peninsula and the Middle East (in 1818 the Ottomans had destroyed Diriyah, the capital of an earlier iteration of the Saudi state).

Memo by Philby about the mission to Najd 1918IOR/R/15/5/66 f 66 ‘22/16 Mr Philby’s Mission to Najd – 1918.’

In 1918 a distilled report of the route taken and information gathered by the Najd Mission 1917-1918 including relations between Ibn Sa’ud and Kuwait and other Arabian potentates was compiled and published.

Philby and the repurposing of ‘colonial knowledge’

However, it seems reasonable to say that Philby did not adhere to the career path of a Colonial Office Intelligence Officer that would be most desired by the officials in London: in 1924 he resigned from the Colonial Office.  Through his deep interest in the Arabian Peninsula Philby was to convert to Islam in 1930 becoming Abdullah Philby and settling on an ongoing basis in Ibn Sa’ud’s domains.

Photograph of Philby used in his book The Heart of ArabiaPhotograph of Philby used in his book The Heart of Arabia (London Constable and Company Ltd, 1922) Public Domain

He advised Ibn Sa’ud as how to best manage relations with the British and other western powers as well as the international oil companies in Ibn Saud’s negotiations over petroleum rights and concessions.  The outcome of this took a decisive turn in London in 1932 on the eve of the proclamation of the consolidated Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (since 1927 Ibn Saud domains had been known as the Kingdom of Hijaz and Nejd and Dependencies).  In a meeting with Ibn Sa’ud’s son, Prince Faisal and adviser, Fuad Hamza, Sir Oliphant Lanceleot sent them away empty-handed after a plea for financial help to develop the oil reserves of the nascent state.

The legacy of Ibn Sa’ud and Philby

In helping Ibn Sa’ud with insider knowledge and advice to resist, negotiate with and deflect the power of the British Empire, Philby - whilst his role should not be overstated - contributed to the establishment and survival of Saudi Arabia which became a key state in the contemporary Middle East state system and global oil economy.  These developments were to come later but the relationship between Ibn Sa’ud and Philby started and was cemented in ‘Mr Philby’s Mission to Najd’ in 1917-18.

Crossing the Heart of Arabia

In a commemoration of this historical significance, 2023 sees another expedition crossing the heart of the Arabian peninsula retracing the original expedition Harry St John Philby made in 1917-18, both expeditions being made, in a coincidence of timing, around the time of global pandemics.  This contemporary team includes Reem Philby, the granddaughter of Harry St John (Abdullah) Philby.  This expedition will end when the team arrive in Jeddah at the end of the month. Like St John Philby’s original expedition, they have sought to undertake research in order to better understand the vast expanse of territory that makes up this still little known and even less-understood part of the world.  The involvement and influence of the Philby family in desert exploration and wilderness education lives on indeed, in the Heart of Arabia.

Francis Owtram
Gulf History Specialist, British Library/Qatar Foundation Partnership


26 January 2023

Across the Heart of Arabia (1): St John Philby’s Mission to Najd

In 1917 St John Philby, Colonial Office Intelligence Officer, was sent by the British Colonial Office Arab Bureau in Cairo on a mission to cross the desert from Uqair on the Persian Gulf to Riyadh and make contact with Ibn Sa’ud, the ruler of Najd in central Arabia.

In May 1917, he was briefed en route in Baghdad by Major Gertrude Bell, the first female Military Intelligence Officer in the British Army, who was advising the British government on Middle East policy following her earlier archaeological and intelligence gathering expeditions in Iraq, Syria and the Arabian peninsula.

File cover -  Mr Philby’s Mission to NajdIOR/R/15/5//66, f 1 ‘22/16/ Mr Philby’s Mission to Najd – 1918.’

Expedition logistics: tea, tobacco and thermometers

Like any expedition, great attention was paid to logistics including supplies and kit such as tea, tobacco, thermometers and photographic film.

Telegram about Kodak film and tobacco for Philby’s Mission to NajdIOR/R/15/5/66, f 53 ‘22/16/ Mr Philby’s Mission to Najd – 1918.’

Logistics were also facilitated by Abdullah al-Nafisi, Ibn Sa’ud’s agent who smoothed Philby’s path in various ways.

Document about logistics facilitated by Abdullah al-NafisiIOR/R/15/5/66, f 113, ‘22/16/ Mr Philby’s Mission to Najd – 1918.’

Map of Central Arabia with Philby’s route marked in redMap of Central Arabia with Philby’s route marked in red

On the route to Riyadh, Philby undertook pioneering cartographical work and meteorological research, recorded information on the people inhabiting the area, and collected geological and natural history specimens.  In contemporary understandings of imperialism and empire, these expeditions constitute the gathering of ‘colonial knowledge’ on an area: the accumulation and collating of a corpus of information on the inhabitants, terrain, and natural resources of an area which will enable the colonial power to influence, coerce, and if circumstances require it, facilitate the deployment of colonial violence to attempt to achieve outcomes advantageous to the imperial power.

As was his habit, Philby compiled detailed and meticulous notes during his preparations and on the journey.  On arrival in Riyadh, he paced the city walls in order to draw up a map of the settlement and its outer limits.  Also important were gifts: Philby brought tents for Ibn Sa’ud and on his departure back to the Persian Gulf was given two Arabian oryx as gifts for King George V which were led on string back over the dusty terrain en route to England via Bombay.

Before his departure back to the Persian Gulf, Philby also took undertook an expedition along the Wadi Dawasir which had been used for centuries as a route to bring the coffee from Mocha into central Arabia.  All this was to be the start of a lifetime of exploration of the Arabian Peninsula.

Title page of Southern Nejd - Journey to Kharj  Aflaj  Sulaiyyil  and Wadi Dawasir in 1918‘Southern Nejd: Journey to Kharj, Aflaj, Sulaiyyil, and Wadi Dawasir in 1918’

Francis Owtram
Gulf History Specialist, British Library/Qatar Foundation Partnership

Further reading:
Madawi Al-Rasheed, A History of Saudi Arabia, 2nd edition, (Cambridge University Press, 2010)


24 January 2023

The hidden life of Winifred Arthur, fore-edge painter

The working lives of Victorian women in England were apt to be hidden, rarely referenced in contemporary publications.  This term could be doubly applied to gifted artist Winifred Arthur (b. 1864 in Lancashire) whose work was literally hidden.  Winifred created ingenious paintings on the fore-edges of books.  The edges were then coated with gilt, thus concealing the image until the pages were fanned out.

Fore-edge painting of Windsor Castle by Winifred ArthurRimmer’s Rambles around Eton and Harrow (shelf mark C.188.a.525.) bound by Fazakerley of Liverpool with a fore-edge picture of Windsor Castle by Winifred Arthur. Image copyright Cooper Hay with thanks.

The Library has recently acquired a copy of Rimmer’s Rambles around Eton and Harrow (shelf mark C.188.a.525.) bound by Fazakerley of Liverpool with a fore-edge picture of Windsor Castle by Winifred Arthur.  Fore-edges are difficult to photograph and Winifred’s signature can be challenging to distinguish.  She signed using her initials W A, visible above on the lower left corner, somewhat resembling a five legged spider.  Specialist Jeff Weber believes it is likely Winifred signed all her fore-edges, other practitioners did not always do this.

Winifred Arthur's initials on the fore-edgeWinifred Arthur's initials on the fore-edge

Hiding such decoration was not a new procedure.  'Royal’ examples were made in the 18th century by bookbinder John Brindley for Queen Caroline, Consort of George II.  They were unique and were often included to personalise a book or to enhance presentation copies. Winifred’s edge paintings also had regal recipients, in her case the Princess of Wales, the Duchess of Teck and even Queen Victoria herself.

Newspaper report of Winifred Arthur’s fore-edge painting on John Lovell’s ‘Literary Papers’ Newspaper report of Winifred Arthur’s fore-edge painting on John Lovell’s ‘Literary Papers’  - Liverpool Mercury 11 June 1894 British Newspaper Archive

At the age of 16, Winifred was described as ‘Art scholar’ in the 1881 census.  She may have received instruction at the Liverpool school of art and design, which was not far from the family home in West Derby and admitted women students from 1832.  By the 1891 census, Winifred was listed as ‘Artist in watercolours’, implying that she worked on her own behalf.  There is no record of her adult sisters’ employment but her brothers were clerks or assistants.

Winifred was fortunate in that she could conduct business via commissions through the bookshop (and publisher) Howell's of Liverpool (which was founded by her grandfather Edward Howell).  Winifred’s father John Sanderson Arthur managed the shop, as did her brother Edward subsequently.  Without such connections, she would have found it difficult (as a woman) to sell her work.

Winifred’s art appeared in newspapers from time to time.  The Western Mail reported upon the 1898 exhibition of the ‘ladies’ (defined as amateurs) of the South Wales Art Society; 'There are, while perhaps nothing very remarkable, few really bad specimens this year'.  The first contributor named was Winifred Arthur.  The review was mostly positive, though the tone appears tooth-grindingly patronising to the modern ear.  One study was ‘charming’ and ‘admirable’ and another titled ‘Sweet Hawthorn’ was a 'sweet little bit of colour'.  A final sentence concluded that two of her landscapes 'were not so good'.

According to the 1911 census, Winifred lived with her widowed father in Toxteth Park.  He died in 1917.  The 1921 census shows Winifred living in Edge Lane, Liverpool ,with Sara Evelyn Seckerson, her widowed younger sister, and her teenage nephew Richard Arthur Seckerson.  Winifred died on 6 July 1934 at Braddon on the Isle of Man.

P J M Marks
Curator, bookbindings. Printed Historical Collections

Further reading;
Jeff Weber, Annotated Dictionary of Fore-Edge Painting Artists & Binders, 2010.
Marianne Tidcombe, Women bookbinders, 1880-1920, 1996
Dataset of selected fore edge paintings on British Library books.


19 January 2023

Celebrating the Lunar New Year on the front lines in World War One

On 11 February 1918 workers from the Chinese Labour Corps based on the front lines in France took a day off from their work and celebrated the Lunar New Year.

The Chinese Labour Corps had been created in 1916 and comprised of over 100,000 men recruited from China to provide support to the British Army during World War One.  They were brought to the front lines of the War in France and Belgium to help with work including building tanks, digging trenches and burying the dead.  Labour Corps workers signed employment contracts for three years and most returned to China after the war.

The Illustrated War News ran several features looking at life on the front lines for members of the Chinese Labour Corps in January and March 1918, and on 6 March 1918 it featured their New Year celebrations in a double page spread.

 Chinese Labour Corps workers in France celebrating the Lunar New Year on 11 February 1918Chinese Labour Corps workers in France celebrating the Lunar New Year on 11 February 1918 - The Illustrated War News. London, 1918. Wq7/4519 Vol.8 pp.18-19

The feature showed Chinese Labour Corps workers based in camps and cantonments across various neighbourhoods in France celebrating the Lunar New Year on 11 February 1918.  The celebrations included entertainments and amusements similar to those they would have taken part in back in China and ranged from jugglers and stilt-walkers to shows and processions.

The celebrations were organised by each neighbourhood with every camp within it staging a different entertainment or show to provide an opportunity for the workers to be able to visit the other camps, enjoy all the festivities and see everyone.

Members of the Chinese Communities in Britain were also able to get involved in supporting the Labour Corp workers celebrations by making financial donations to the Chinese Legation in London for the purchase of gifts to be sent to those on the front lines.

Chinese Legation in London packing crates of New Year’s gifts to be sent to the workers in France and BelgiumChinese Legation in London packing crates of New Year’s gifts to be sent to the workers in France and Belgium - The Illustrated War News. London, 1918. Wq7/4518 Vol.7 p.39

Another image featured in The Illustrated War News on 2 January 1918 showed several gentlemen from the Chinese Legation in London packing crates full of the New Year’s gifts that had been purchased to be sent to the workers in France and Belgium.

The Lunar New Year celebration images from The Illustrated War News March 1918 are included In the British Library’s Chinese and British exhibition, which is now open until 23 April 2023.  The exhibition features the invaluable contributions which Chinese Labour Corps workers made to the British war effort, with images and objects including trench art items made by individual members of the Chinese Labour Corps.

Karen Stapley
Curator, India Office Records

Further Reading:
The Illustrated War News. London, 1918. Wq7/4518 Vol.7 p.39
The Illustrated War News. London, 1918. Wq7/4519 Vol.8 pp.18-19


17 January 2023

Joseph ‘Sunshine’ Todd: the man who bought Turner’s house

In 1826, the celebrated painter, JMW Turner, decided to sell Sandycombe Lodge, his country retreat in Twickenham, and move his father William (‘Old Dad’), who had lived there since 1813, back to the house and gallery in Queen Anne Street, Marylebone.  The man who bought Sandycombe Lodge was Joseph Todd.

Portrait of Joseph 'Sunshine' ToddJoseph Todd (‘Old Sunshine') by H.W. Pickersgill reproduced in Richard Gatty, Portrait of a Merchant Prince – James Morrison 1789-1857. British Library X.520/11769

Joseph Todd was born in 1767 near Hawkshead in the Lake District and he attended the local grammar school, where one of his fellow pupils was the poet William Wordsworth.  After he left school, Joseph worked for a short time in Penrith.  Richard Gatty, who researched Todd’s family, believed he was a clerk, but Caroline Dakers has suggested that he was perhaps an apprentice in the textiles trade.  About 1784 he left to go to London, where he thought his prospects would be better.  Little is known about the next few years but in January 1792 he married Lucy Plowes, whose family came from Wakefield.  She had some money in her own right, and it is possible that this is what enabled Joseph to take his next big step.

Porcelain plate decorated with the arms of Todd  quartered with those of Plowes. Victoria and Albert MuseumPorcelain plate decorated with the arms of Todd, quartered with those of Plowes. Image courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum

On 30 March 1793, Joseph opened a haberdashery in a former tavern at 105 Fore Street, in Cripplegate.  He and Lucy lived in rooms above the shop.  However, Fore Street was not a good location for a retail business and Joseph was forced to cut his profit margins to the bone.  One effect of this was that his low prices attracted hawkers and other small retailers, who began to buy in wholesale quantities.  By 1801 his turnover had doubled and he took on two young women to help with the business.  In 1805 he opened a shop in a better location in Cheapside and turned over the Fore Street premises entirely to the wholesale trade.

Joseph was described as stout, rosy, smiling and easy-going and was nicknamed ‘Old Sunshine’ by the warehouse staff, apparently without irony.  He was also popular with his neighbours and known as ‘Sunshine Todd’ around Cripplegate.  His life, however, was not without tragedy; his wife, Lucy, died in childbirth in March 1798, leaving two children, John Edward born 1792, and Mary Ann born 1795.  In January 1801, Joseph took on Letitia Dann to work in the shop.  A relationship developed and they married in February 1803.  They had four children: Thomas born 1804; Eliza born 1806, who died aged fifteen months in 1807; Joseph born 1809; and Lucy born 1812.  Sadly, Letitia died on 3 September 1819 after a lingering illness of nearly two years.

Sale of Twickenham Park in 1817 - details of the extensive estateSale of Twickenham Park – Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser 12 June 1817 British Newspaper Archive

Joseph’s business flourished and he was able to buy a great deal of property.  In 1817 he purchased the extensive Twickenham Park estate, which was situated just across the road from Turner’s house.  He demolished the seventeenth-century mansion that was on the site and built a new house, using local architect LW Lloyd.

Twickenham Park Mansion

Twickenham Park Mansion - image courtesy of Twickenham Park Residents Association website

By the time he retired in 1822, Todd was a millionaire, and when Turner’s house came on the market in 1826, he snapped it up for £500.  Shortly after buying it, he made significant alterations to the house, again using LW Lloyd.  These included an additional storey on each of the two distinctive curved wings and an extension to the dining room.  The house remained in this configuration until its restoration in 2016.

Sandycombe Lodge pre 2016
Sandycombe Lodge pre 2016 (photo by the author)

Obituary of Joseph Todd - London Courier and Evening Gazette 19 June 1835London Courier and Evening Gazette 19 June 1835 British Newspaper Archive

Joseph Todd died in 1835, the cause of death given as dropsy, and he is buried in the family vault beneath St Giles without Cripplegate.  No memorial remains, following the extensive damage to the church during WWII.  Todd’s Twickenham Park mansion was demolished in 1923 and only Victoria Lodge survives from his estate.

Victoria Lodge Twickenham
Victoria Lodge (photo by the author)

Sandycombe Lodge was inherited by Todd’s sons, Joseph and Thomas, and his son-in-law, James Morrison, who was a great collector of Turner’s paintings and the second owner of Pope's Villa at Twickenham, which he purchased at Christie’s for 205 guineas in July 1827.  In 2016, Sandycombe Lodge was restored to Turner’s original design and is open to the public.

Sandycombe Lodge restored to Turner’s original designSandycombe Lodge restored to Turner’s original design (photo by the author)

David Meaden
Independent Researcher

Creative Commons Attribution licence

Further reading:
Richard Gatty, Portrait of a Merchant Prince – James Morrison 1789-1857 British Library X.520/11769.
Caroline Dakers, A Genius for Money – Business, Art and the Morrisons British Library YC.2011.a.15683.
Twickenham Park Residents Association website
Registers of the parish of St Giles Cripplegate – London Metropolitan Archives, available via Ancestry.
British Newspaper Archive e.g. sale of Twickenham Park – Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser 12 June 1817; death of Letitia Todd – British Press 6 September 1819.


Turner's House

Turner’s restored house in Twickenham is open to visitors. 


12 January 2023

From India to destitution in Glasgow Part 2

Our last post told the story of  Helen/Ellen Maria Phillips, a pauper in Glasgow.  We searched for more information about her in the India Office Records and this is what we found.

The first thing we discovered was that her name in all other records was Ellen Maria.  She was born on 6 January 1847, the daughter of George and Mary Phillips.  She was baptised at Belgaum aged 16 on 15 April 1863.  George and Mary had a number of other children – we have found Caroline Henrietta (born 1835); Mary Eliza (born 1838); Annie (born 1841); Jane (born 1842); Henry (born 1849); and William (born 1851).  All were baptised in their teens or early twenties.  George is described as an agent for Messrs Treacher & Co in one record and as a merchant and a pensioner in others.

Baptismal record for Ellen Maria and Annie Phillips at Belgaum April 1863Baptismal record for Ellen Maria and Annie Phillips at Belgaum April 1863 IOR/N/3/37 f.88 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Ellen Maria’s mother Mary died of consumption in January 1862 aged 41.  Her father George died in December of the same year, also of consumption, at the age of 47. Both were buried at Belgaum.

The baptismal entry for Ellen Maria is misleading because she was already married by that time.  Her marriage to John Peden Cochrane had taken place on 18 August 1862 at Belgaum Mission Chapel.  John was born in Barony near Glasgow and had enlisted in the East India Company army in August 1856.  He served in the Corps of Sappers and Miners and then in the Department of Public Works.  In 1865 John re-engaged as a corporal in HM 45th Regiment.  He was reduced to private in 1867 for disobedience and insubordination.

Mission Chapel at BelgaumMission Chapel at Belgaum from The Juvenile Missionary Magazine and Annual for 1877Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

We have found the birth of three sons: Arnold John born at Belgaum on 15 September 1863; Malcolm Kenneth born on 18 February 1866 and baptised at Camp Deesa in April 1866; and John Alexander born at Madras on 5 April 1870.  Malcolm died of hydrocephalus on 2 February 1868 at Poona. Only John is mentioned in the Glasgow poor law papers so it seems that Arnold had also died.

In January 1872 John Cochrane was discharged from the British Army as unfit for further service, suffering from the effects of chronic dysentery.  He gave his intended place of residence as 14 Gloucester Street Glasgow, a multi-occupancy tenement.  From the Scottish death register index, it appears that John died in Glasgow in 1873.  So this explains Ellen Maria’s presence in the city.

Ellen Maria did return to India.  On 23 January 1875 at Bombay she married Charles Pauly, a sergeant in the Quarter Master General’s Department.  Charles was the son of a German-born clerk George Emil Pauly and he had enlisted in the British Army in 1864.

Marriage of Ellen Maria Cochrane to Charles Pauly January 1875 at BombayMarriage of Ellen Maria Cochrane to Charles Pauly January 1875 at Bombay IOR/N/11/4 f.563  Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

For the moment, Ellen Maria’s story ends here.  Charles Pauly was discharged from the 83rd Regiment in March 1879 with a disease of the heart valves.  At the time of the 1881 census Charles was living with his parents in Islington, London, and working as a commercial clerk.  He is described as a widower.  We think that he was remarried in 1883 to Ellen Berry and then died in 1885.

So where and when did Ellen Maria die?  And what happened to her son John Alexander?  Can any of our readers help us to complete the story?

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
Records of baptisms, marriages and burials from the India Office Records are available via Findmypast -
IOR/N/3/33 f.191 Baptisms of Caroline Henrietta Phillips and Mary Eliza Phillips 13 July 1859.
IOR/N/3/36 p.49 Burial of Mary Phillips 27 January 1862.
IOR/N/11/2 no.488 Marriage of Ellen Maria Phillips to John Peden Cochrane 18 August 1862.
IOR/N/3/36 p.307 Burial of George Phillips 13 December 1862.
IOR/N/3/37 f.88 Baptisms of Ellen Maria Phillips and Annie Phillips 15 April 1863.
IOR/N/3/37 f.259 Baptism of Arnold John Cochrane 22 October 1863.
IOR/N/3/29 f.5 Baptisms of Henry Phillips and William Phillips 10 February 1865.
IOR/N/3/40 f.37 Baptism of Malcolm Kenneth Cochrane 5 April 1866.
IOR/N/3/42 p.240 Burial of Malcolm Cockrane [sic] 3 February 1868.
IOR/N/2/51 f.143 Baptism of John Alexander Cochrane at Madras 6 July 1870.
IOR/N/11/4 no. 563 Marriage of Ellen Maria Phillips to Charles Pauly 23 January 1875.

British Army discharge papers for John Cochrane - The National Archives WO 97/1918/76, available via Findmypast. 
British Army discharge papers for Charles Pauly - The National Archives WO 97/2074/76, available via Findmypast.


10 January 2023

From India to destitution in Glasgow Part 1

In July 1873, the India Office received a letter from P. Beattie, Inspector of Poor at Glasgow, regarding a woman named Helen Maria Phillips who was destitute in the city.  The India Office frequently received letters on the subject of individuals who had fallen on hard times, but what was a little different in the case of Helen was that the Inspector quoted a specific piece of legislation in asking the India Office for help.

Letter from the Inspector of Poor at GlasgowLetter from the Inspector of Poor at Glasgow IOR/L/PJ/2/53 file 7/437 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

The legislation quoted was Act 18 & 19 Vict, Cap 91, Sec 22, which stated that: ‘It shall be the duty of the East India Company to take charge of and send home or otherwise provide for all persons, being lascars or other natives of the Territories under the Government of the said Company, who are found destitute in the United Kingdom’.  The Act also required the Company to repay any money spent in looking after the destitute person.  It instructed the overseer of the individual to send certain information to the Company, which the Glasgow Inspector of Poor included in his letter:

• Name of the Person: Helen Maria Phillips, widow of John P Cochrane, a private in H.M. 45th Regiment.  This was a British Army infantry regiment, the Sherwood Foresters.
• The place in India that she professed to be from: Belgaum, Bombay Presidency.
• Name of the ship in which she was brought to the UK: troopship Euphrates.  This was one of five ships built after 1866 by the Royal Navy on behalf of the Government of India for the purpose of carrying troops, including family members to and from India.
• Place abroad from which the ship sailed, the place in the UK at which the ship arrived, and date of arrival: sailed from Beypore on 8 April 1872, arrived at Portsmouth on 8 June 1872.

The Inspector also included the information that Helen had a child named John who was 3 years old, born at Fort St George, Madras.  Her father was George Phillips, a general merchant at Camp Belgaum, Bombay.  The Inspector asked that Helen be returned to India.

India Office Note on the case of Helen Maria PhillipsIndia Office note on the case of Helen Maria Phillips IOR/L/PJ/2/53 file 7/437  Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

The India Office forwarded the request to their solicitor, Henry S. Lawford, for advice.  They also requested more information from the Glasgow Inspector about Helen.  He duly sent various certificates and documents, which sadly are not in the file having been later returned to him.  An enquiry to the War Office also confirmed that Private Cochrane’s connection with the Army had ceased in 1872 on his discharge from the Service.  From an examination of all the documents, it was concluded that although Helen (or Ellen) had been resident at Belgaum in India when she married, she was European by birth.  This meant that she did not come within the scope of the Act.  On 13 September 1873, the India Office wrote to Mr Beattie declining to comply with his request.

Advice from the Solicitor on the case of Helen Maria PhillipsAdvice from the Solicitor on the case of Helen Maria Phillips IOR/L/PJ/2/53 file 7/437  Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

What else might there be in the India Office Records about Helen/Ellen and her family?  Our next post will reveal all!

John O’Brien
India Office Records

Further Reading:
Application from an Inspector of Poor at Glasgow for the removal of a pauper, Helen Maria Phillips (Cochrane) to her native place in India, 1873, shelfmark IOR/L/PJ/2/53 file 7/437.

Act 18 & 19 Vict, Cap 91, Sec 22

Troopship Euphrates 


05 January 2023

Walker’s Manly Exercises

Walker’s Manly Exercises was one of the books recommended as a suitable Christmas present in a recent post on this blog.  This ‘practical book devoted to the science of manly recreations’ comprised sections on the importance of physical exercise; locomotive exercises; aquatic exercises;  and riding. The sixth edition published in 1839 added chapters on racing, hunting, and shooting. Active exercise could ‘confer beauty of form’ and contribute to ‘an elegant air and graceful manners’. 

Title page of Walker’s Manly Exercises showing men rowing with sailing boats in the backgroundTitle page of  Walker’s Manly Exercises

Elementary exercises are best performed in cool air, but never immediately after a meal.  Smooth grass or a sandy beach are the most suitable locations. The coat should be removed and sharp objects removed from remaining pockets.  A light covering should be worn on the head – a straw hat is ideal – and the shirt collar left open. The trouser waistband should not be tight and shoes or boots should have no iron.  Exercising must begin and end gently. Excessive exercise can lead to premature old age and death.

There is an interesting description of the training regimes of pugilists and pedestrians (professional walkers/runners). Their diet was strictly controlled and limited mainly to meat, with the addition of biscuit and stale bread.  Ale was drunk, or red wine.  Sweating was promoted by running four miles in flannel.

Man walking in smart outfit and tall hatWalking from Walker’s Manly Exercises

The section on locomotive exercises covers walking at different speeds, running, leaping, vaulting, balancing, carrying weights, throwing the discus, climbing, and skating.

Climbing with ladders, poles and ropesClimbing with ladders, poles and ropes from Walker’s Manly Exercises

Detailed instructions with illustrations are given for each type of exercise, many of which are the forerunners of modern athletic and gymnastic disciplines.

Running - two different positions for the legs are shownRunning from Walker’s Manly Exercises

Running is ‘precisely intermediate to walking and leaping’, being a series of leaps from each foot alternately, and it inflicts violent and constant shocks to the internal organs of the body.  The record for running a mile is said to be four and a half minutes.

Two images of a man in a top hat and a tail coat figure skating
Skating from Walker’s Manly Exercises

The dangers of skating are pointed out: not just falling through weak ice, but inflammation of the chest because of cold winds. After this come two pages of treatments recommended for drowned persons.

Swimmers in the foreground with rowing and sailing boats in the backgroundSwimming from Walker’s Manly Exercises

The best place to swim is the sea, then running water – ponds are the worst.  The best time is before breakfast during the months May to August.  When the sun is at its hottest, thick hair should be kept wet and bald heads covered with a handkerchief soaked in water.  Short drawers should be worn, together with canvas shoes in some places.  It is important to be able to swim in a jacket and trousers.

RidingRiding from Walker’s Manly Exercises

The chapter on riding has a section on driving horses which digresses into a discussion on roads, coaches and carriages.  Carriage drivers are warned not to go into the City of London through the Strand, Fleet Street, or Cheapside between noon and 5 pm because of crowding.   There are droves of oxen in the City around midday on Mondays and Fridays.  By an Act of Parliament, drivers of hackney coaches have to give way to gentlemen’s carriages under a penalty of 10 shillings.

Do browse this book online. The British Library has digitised editions published between 1838 and 1860.  Its scope is far wider than the title suggests and there are fascinating nuggets providing insights into life in Britain during the nineteenth century.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
Walter Thom’s 'Pedestrianism'
Victorian Pedestrianism (1) – Robert Makepeace aka ‘The American Stag’
Victorian Pedestrianism (2) – 1,000 Miles in 1,000 Hours