Untold lives blog

10 posts from August 2023

31 August 2023

What about the East India Company women?

My recent blog post  ‘100 Years in the Service of the East India Company’, which told the story of seven Barker men in the employ of the Company, prompted one reader to ask, ‘…but what about the women?’

By comparison with men, there are relatively few records that describe the lives of Company women in any detail.  When they are mentioned, women are often referred to as Miss or Mrs XYZ without a first name or initials.

Here is what I have managed to discover about three of the Barker women.

Maria de Perpetua Pereira was the wife of sea captain Robert Barker.  Between 1807 and 1816, Maria gave birth to four children in Rio de Janeiro.  Her name was only fully revealed on the death certificate of her daughter Maria in Glasgow in 1907.  Her first child, John Thomas Barker, was conceived in 1807 during Captain Barker’s last Company voyage in the Northampton.  Maria appears in the passenger list of that ship as Mrs Barker, travelling with a servant.  I do not know the date and place of her birth, marriage or death, nor where she met Barker.

Passengers aboard the Northampton for the return voyage from Bengal  September 1806Passengers aboard the Northampton for the return voyage from Bengal, September 1806
Source: The British Library, India Office Records and Papers, Northampton Journal: IOR/L/MAR/B/198D 19 Apr 1805 - 15 May 1807, Passenger List (Cropped)

Frances Brown Barker married Reverend Joseph Laurie on 6 October 1822 at the Troqueer Church in Dumfries.  She was 32 and five years his senior.  Two weeks later they were aboard the Theodosia sailing from Liverpool to Bombay where Joseph was to be Junior Minister of the Church of Scotland.  The Company allowed Frances to journey with him ‘at no expense to the Company’.

Joseph Laurie’s appointment and permission to take Frances to India at no expense to the Company  25 Sep 1822

Joseph Laurie’s appointment and permission to take Frances to India at no expense to the Company, 25 September 1822 (Cropped). See also p.541 Sureties for the couple, 9 October 1822.
Source: The British Library, India Office Records and Papers, IOR/B/175 p.514.

Their first child Robert was born on 21 September 1823.  Frances gave birth to three more children at Colaba, Bombay, the younger two dying as infants.  The two surviving boys travelled to Scotland to be educated at Annan College, Dumfries and Edinburgh Academy, but I have been unable to resolve whether Frances accompanied them back to the UK.

Frances and Joseph returned to the UK for good in 1841.  She pre-deceased her husband in 1865 when they were living in Bristol.

Ann Goldie married Thomas Brown Barker, East India Company Surgeon, in 1826.  Ann was 27, he was 30.  In 1828 Ann accompanied Thomas back to India, again at no cost to the Company, sailing in the Robarts under Captain Joseph Corbyn.

It was an eventful voyage.  The ship became de-masted in the Bay of Biscay and had to return to Plymouth for repairs.  Then the Captain announced that he intended to make an unscheduled stop at Tristan da Cunha for water and that passengers would need to forego soup, tea and rolls to conserve supplies.  The male passengers signed a letter, drawing the captain’s attention to the large number of dogs on board consuming water.  Corbyn’s response was to have the 38 dogs thrown overboard.

At the conclusion of the voyage, passenger Daniel Cullimore brought a lawsuit against Captain Corbyn for trespass, assault and false imprisonment after being confined below decks.  Thomas gave a character witness for Cullimore at the trial, and Corbyn was found to be at fault.

On 31 January 1848, Ann and Thomas set sail for England from Calcutta aboard the Gloriana.  However, Thomas died on 16 March as the ship was sailing towards the Cape of Good Hope.  Ann received an annual widow’s pension from the Company of £250 6s 4d effective from 17 March 1848 until she died in 1866.



Bengal Military Fund - Register of pensioners and pension paymentsBengal Military Fund: Register of pensioners and pension payments, IOR/L/AG/23/6/3 : Jul 1866-Dec 1871 Establishment no. 126. (Cropped)

CC-BY
Mark Williams
Independent Researcher

Creative Commons Attribution licence


Further reading:
East India Company Court of Director Minutes e.g. IOR/B/181 p. 363 and p. 370.
British Newspaper Archive e.g. Morning Herald, 1 June 1848, p.4.
Asiatic Intelligence, The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register […], Vol. 1-New Series (January to April 1830), (London: Parbury and Allen, 1830), pp. 38-44.

 

29 August 2023

The Use of the Term 'Qafila' in the India Office Records

Within the India Office Records (IOR) and other materials catalogued for the British Library-Qatar Foundation Partnership, there are many references to the term qafila, which appears in a variety of spellings across the records.  These include caphila, caffalla, cafila, kafila, and kafilah.  This post explores the meaning of the term qafila, and examines the way it is used within the records.

Definition of QafilaMeaning of qafila, IOR/R/15/5/384, f 91v, Crown Copyright


The term qafila (pl. qawafil) has its origin in the Arabic root qa fa la (قفل), which primarily means ‘to return’.  The word itself is used to refer to a caravan; a train of travellers; or any large party of travellers such as pilgrims or merchants moving between distant destinations.  However, beyond this common meaning of qafila, there is a literal meaning of the term, which is ‘the returning one’.  Arabs named their parties of travellers, pilgrims or merchants, who were getting ready for travel, qafila as a sign of sanguinity that the travellers would reach their destination and make a safe and successful return.

Arabic meaning of qafila by al-ZabidiArabic meaning of qafila by al-Zabidi, public domain

People working for the East India Company often used the term qafila when corresponding about trading activities in India and the wider Gulf region.  It is difficult though to know whether they were aware of its literal meaning or not.  In their correspondence, the term was often associated with trade caravans carrying commodities such as coffee, spices, cotton, silk, wool, wine, and iron.  The most numerous of these caravans was the wool qafila, which departed from Kerman (also known as Carmenia) and made its way to the port of Bander ‘Abbas (also known as Gombroon), from where the wool was shipped to the British market.

Note on supply of Carmenia wool Carmenia wool qafila, IOR/L/PS/20/C227, f 79v, Crown Copyright

The ‘Gombroon Diaries (IOR/G/29/2-14)’, and ‘the letters and enclosures received from Bandar ‘Abbas (Gombroon) and Basra (IOR/G/29/15-24)’, are rich source materials reporting on the movement of the Kerman wool qafilas, as well as the qafilas carrying English woollen goods sent to the Persian market.  These contain reports on the amount of woollen goods carried, including information about their prices, types and colours.

Woollen samplesWoollen samples IOR/G/29/17, f 4, Crown Copyright


The records also indicate that the safety of the qafilas was a major concern, with cargoes from time to time being seized while en route to their destinations.  There are also references to qafilas being delayed due to various circumstances including bad weather and internal military operations.

Circumstances affecting Caphila’s movementCircumstances affecting Caphila’s movement, IOR/G/29/16, f 192v, Crown Copyright

Caphila seized on way to YazdCaphila seized on way to Yazd, IOR/G/29/11, f 38r Crown Copyright

Other qafilas that appear in the records are the Hajj (pilgrimage) qafilas arriving from various parts of the Muslim world into the cities of Medina and Mecca during the Hajj season.  The most popular of these are Qafilat al-Haj al-Shami (the pilgrimage qafila travelling from Bilad al-Sham or Greater Syria), and Qafilat al-Hajj al-Misri (a qafila which travelled from Egypt).  These were usually received with great excitement and celebration.  One fascinating example has been mentioned by Captain Richard F. Burton in his  Personal Narrative of a pilgrimmage to al-Madinah and Meccah Vol. I  describing the arrival of the qafilas on Sunday 23 Dhu al-Qi‘da 1269 AH/ 28 August 1853 CE:

Richard F Burton's description of the arrrival of Hajj CafilaArrival of Hajj Cafila, W48/9840 vol. 1, [416], public domain


Many more examples of the various types of qafilas, and the records documenting them, can be found among the materials digitised and made available online on the Qatar Digital Library (QDL).

Ula Zeir
Content Specialist/ Arabic Language and Gulf History

Further reading:
IOR/G/29/11 ‘Diary and Consultations of Mr Alexander Douglas, Agent of the East India Company at Gombroon [Bandar-e ʻAbbās] in the Persian Gulf, commencing 1 August 1757 and ending 31 July 1758’
IOR/G/29/16 ‘Letters and Enclosures etc., Received from Gombroon’
IOR/G/29/17 ‘Letters and Enclosures etc., Received from Gombroon (Bandar-e ‘Abbas)’
IOR/L/PS/20/C227 ‘Selections from State Papers, Bombay, regarding the East India Company’s Connection with the Persian Gulf, with a Summary of Events, 1600-1800’
IOR/R/15/5/384 ‘Field Notes on Sa‘udi Arabia, 1935’
W48/9840 vol. I Personal Narrative of a pilgrimmage to al-Madinah and Meccah. Vol. I
Al-Zabidi, Taj al-‘Arus min Jawahir al-Qamus, vol 30 (Kuwait: Kuwait Government Press, 1997), 264. Accessed online 
Ula Zeir, ‘Finding Aid: IOR/G/29/2-14 Gombroon (Bandar ‘Abbas) Diaries and Consultations (1708-1763)’, Qatar Digital Library 

 

24 August 2023

Seditious Publications

In the early decades of the 20th century the Government of India became increasingly concerned by the publication and circulation of what they perceived as anti-British or seditious publications.  This was a particular concern following the Amritsar massacre which sparked protests across India.  One small collection in the India Office Private Papers gives an interesting glimpse of the efforts of government to suppress these publications.

These are a collection of notifications issued by the Government of the United Provinces.  The notifications give the legislation used and details of the publication suppressed.  A government reviewer had also listed the paragraphs or lines of particular concern.  The legislation used was section 99 of the 1898 Code of Criminal Procedure, and section 12 of the Indian Press Act of 1910.  These pieces of legislation allowed the authorities to declare such books, newspapers or other documents forfeited to His Majesty.  Police officers could then seize them.

Notification about book in Hindi - How America Acquired IndependenceNotification about book in Hindi - How America Acquired Independence

One of the defining events, which galvanised the campaign for Indian independence, was the Amritsar massacre.  Many Indian writers and publishers took this as a subject in calling for resistance to British rule in India.  One collection of poems, ‘Jallianwala Bagh ka Mahatma’, has the line ‘Jallianwala Bagh will be immortal in the world’, and in another of the poems is written: ‘It is Jallianwala Bagh, where the martyrs of the motherland and the gems of the country were robbed’.  It goes on to advise the public to consider the Jallianwala Bagh a place of pilgrimage [folio 21]. 

Notification about Gandhi-ki-gazlenNotification about 'Gandhi-ki-gazlen'

Another pamphlet in Hindi ,‘Gandhi-ki-gazlen’, predicted ‘Scenes of Jallianwala Bagh will be repeated in every city if this Government is not driven out of this country’ [folio 48].  The reviewer noted that the writer urged Indians to follow non-cooperation and emphasised the adoption of swadeshi goods.

Notification about Asahyog KajliNotification about 'Asahyog Kajli'

The campaign to boycott British goods and use Indian products, known as swadeshi, features in many of the publications.  For instance, a pamphlet in Hindi entitled ‘Asahyog Kajli’ encouraged people to use the spinning wheel (charkha) and weave cloth for their use [folio 17]. 

Notification about Sawan SwarajNotification about 'Sawan Swaraj'

Another pamphlet in Hindi, ‘Sawan Swaraj’, written by Sallar Maharaj contain songs with the lines: ‘By working at charkhas the enemy will disappear from our sight and from India’ [folio 19].  The non-cooperation campaigns led by Gandhi are a common theme. 

Notification about Swaraj PratiqyaNotification about 'Swaraj Pratiqya'

One pamphlet in Hindi, ‘Swaraj Pratiqya’, collected poems on the subject.  One line urged: ‘Let us take the vow of non-violent non-co-operation with all resoluteness and let us try soon to liberate India from the unlawful possession of the unjust’.  A similar tone was taken in another line: ‘Let there be new sacrifices made on the altar of liberty and let us all be proud of our mother tongue and of swadeshi clothes’ [folio 118].

Notification about leaflet addressed to Gurkha troopsNotification about leaflet addressed to Gurkha troops

One notification concerns a leaflet in Nepalese addressed to Gurkha troops.  Printed and published anonymously it warned: ‘Just as an insect eats the wall from the inside and makes it hollow in the same way the foreign nation (British) which is deceitful and dishonest is going to make us hollow’.  It urges Gurkha soldiers to ‘Leave the services and protect your brothers’ [folio 75].

John O’Brien
India Office Records

Further Reading:
India Office unregistered files containing copies of notifications issued by the Government of the United Provinces proscribing seditious publications, together with translations and summaries of the literature, 1910-1930, reference Mss Eur F242.

Records relating to seditious or proscribed publications can be found in the Public & Judicial Department records series (IOR/L/PJ).

Indian Press Act, 1910

Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898.  

Publications proscribed by the Government of India: a catalogue of the collections in the India Office Library and Records and the Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books, British Library Reference Division, edited by Graham Shaw and Mary Lloyd (London: British Library, 1985).

 

22 August 2023

The Hakluyt Society: Publishing in Wartime

In 1946, the Hakluyt Society published the last two volumes in its Second Series, The Suma Oriental of Tomé Pires, translated and edited by Armando Cortesão from Portuguese manuscripts in the Bibliothèque de la Chambre des Deputés, Paris.  Correspondence in the Hakluyt Society archive at the British Library reveals just how difficult it was to undertake ‘business as usual’ publishing for the Society during the Second World War, and how difficult it could be for individuals to undertake such work during wartime conditions.

Armando Frederico Zuzarte Cortesão (1891-1977) had been an Olympic sprinter for Portugal, who had then qualified as an agronomist and had worked as a colonial administrator on Sao Tome and Principe before overseeing the Agência Geral das Colónias.  Increasingly interested in history and cartography, Cortesão left Portugal in 1932 for political reasons and did not return until 1952, spending his ‘exile’ in England and France.

First page of typed letter from Cortesão to Edward Lynham, 1 October 1940

Second page of typed letter from Cortesão to Edward Lynham, 1 October 1940Letter from Cortesão to Edward Lynham, 1 October 1940 - Mss Eur F594/6/3/5 f.11r & f.11v

In 1938, Cortesão was working on his transcription of the Tomé Pires codex, alongside translator Margery Withers, and by May 1939 he hoped to have everything ready for publication in early 1940.  The war obviously changed all that.  In September 1939 he informed the Hakluyt Society that he would have to put his work for the Society on hold as he was working both for the BBC and for the Ministry of Information, splitting his time between London and Evesham.  The Society was understanding: 'I fully understand your position and when you began your book nobody foresaw this war' wrote Edward Lynam, although the Council was worried about its ability to produce the books that its members were expecting in return for their subscription.  Letters from both Cortesão and Lynam in October and November 1940, the height of the Blitz, refer to falling bombs and blown out windows.

Despite the practicalities and the call on Cortesão’s time, by the end of 1943 the manuscript was complete, with only Appendices, Foreword, and some notes on maps outstanding.  The Society was writing to publisher Cambridge University Press and casting about for a printer.  CUP couldn’t give any promises due to contract work for Naval Handbooks and with work for HMSO.  Printers Robert Maclehouse and Co. had available paper (the Hakluyt Society had no regular paper ration), but they also had no way of knowing whether they would have available manpower.  Emery Walker agreed to print the plates 'subject to our being able to obtain the paper'. 

First page of typed letter from printers Robert Maclehose & Co, 28 March 1945
Second  page of typed letter from printers Robert Maclehose & Co, 28 March 1945

Letter from printers Robert Maclehose & Co, 28 March 1945 - Mss Eur F594/6/3/5 f.36r & f.36v

The Hakluyt Society was surprised at the length of Cortesão’s notes and asked him to reduce them substantially.  He replied: 'I am tired… I think that the notes cannot bear further cuttings, and I hope that the Council will now find that they are within the limits of reason and that I have done my best to please every body'.  A compromise was reached, and the rest of 1944 was taken up with typesetting and preparation.   In March 1945, the question again arose of the availability of paper for the print run; the book was longer than expected and Cortesão had requested an additional 50 copies which he would pay for.  Maclehose managed to find a few reams of paper from another publication, which caused further issues as it was a different thickness.  At the same time, the Ministry of Supply were insisting that Maclehose reduce their electricity consumption to 75% of their weekly total, while also under pressure to print University Examination Papers 'at the same scale as in peace time'.

Hakluyt Society minutes state that the binders promised delivery of the book by April 1946.  Despite their wartime delay, the volumes were deemed to be the Society’s 1944 publication and distributed to subscribers who received them by June 1946.

Lesley Shapland
Cataloguer, India Office Records

Further Reading
Hakluyt Society 2/89: The Suma Oriental of Tomé Pires / An Account of the East, from the Red Sea to Japan, written in Malacca and India in 1512-1515 / and The Book of Francisco Rodrigues / Rutter of a Voyage in the Red Sea, Nautical Rules, Almanack and Maps, Written and Drawn in the East before 1515 / Translated from the Portuguese MS in the Bibliothèque de la Chambre des Deputés, Paris, and Edited by Armando Cortesão. Containing the translated Books I-IV of the Suma Oriental (Hakluyt Society, 1944).
Hakluyt Society 2/90. The Suma Oriental of Tomé Pires … Vol. II. 1944. Pages 229-578 + 10 maps, 5 illustrations. Book VI of the Suma Oriental, together with a translation of Rodrigues’ ‘Book’, the entire Portuguese texts, and a letter from Pires to King Manuel, 1516. (Hakluyt Society, 1944).
Mss Eur F594/6/3/5: 'Pires Voyages in the China Sea', Apr 1938-Nov 1945.
Mss Eur F594/1/2 Hakluyt Society Council Minutes, 18 Jul 1923-7 Jan 1965.

 

16 August 2023

T.E. Lawrence and the Hashemite dynasty: from the Hejaz in Arabia to Clouds Hill, Dorset

Born on 16 August 1888, Thomas Edward Lawrence (‘Lawrence of Arabia’) was instrumental in formulating a strategy of guerilla warfare against the Ottoman military forces in the Hejaz during the First World War.

Cover of report Summary of the Hejaz RevoltIOR/L/PS/18/B287, f 75 'Summary of the Hejaz Revolt'

Better known aspects of his life might therefore include orchestrating the attacks against the Hejaz railway.

Plan of the 'Damascus-Mekka Railway'IOR/W/L/PS/10/12 (ii) 'Damascus-Mekka Railway'

T.E. Lawrence and the Hashemites
Lawrence had been sent from the Arab Bureau, Cairo, to the Hejaz region of western Arabia.  Here he linked up with Faisal, the second son of Hussein bin Ali, the Sharif of Mecca.  Hussein was the head of the Hashemite dynasty who was encouraged by Britain to launch a revolt against the Ottoman Empire.  In return the Hashemite dynasty expected the creation of an independent Arab Kingdom as discussed in the Hussein-McMahon letters, 1915-16.  The map below indicates the areas to be ruled by the Hashemite dynasty: Hussein and his sons Abdullah and Faisal.

Map indicating the areas to be ruled by the Hashemite dynastyMss Eur F112/276, f 104

Lawrence helped to foment this revolt which started in June 1916 undertaking intelligence work including producing maps of the Hejaz.

Plan of Womat  ArabiaWomat. Arabia. 29(b), 1917. Photograph: Francis Owtram

In regards to the maps of north-west Arabia the Arab Bulletin reported that he had produced new information about Wadi Sirhan including the preponderance of poisonous snakes and that ‘all existing maps leave much to be desired’ although ‘Miss Bell’s was good … but too slight.’

Paragraph on maps of north-west Arabia in the Arab BulletinIOR/L/PS/10/568, f 9v

Faisal and Lawrence: onwards from Aqaba to Damascus

Photograph of Aqaba from the seaIOR/L/PS/12/2160B, f 50 1 'AKABA (Transjordan)' (this photograph created in 1937)

Faisal and Lawrence successfully took Aqaba with a surprise attack from land and sought to establish Faisal in Damascus.  However, France evicted him following the Sykes-Picot agreement secretly signed by Britain and France which undercut the Hussein-McMahon correspondence.  In compensation Faisal was installed by Britain as King of Iraq; that monarchy was overthrown in 1958.  For strategic reasons Britain chose not to intervene when Ibn Saud conquered the Kingdom of Hejaz in 1925 but the dynasty lives on in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

From Arabia to Dorset
It is possibly lesser known that disillusioned with the post-war peace settlement, Lawrence sought anonymity and signed up under an alias to the Tank Regiment in Dorset.

Photograph of Clouds Hill DorsetClouds Hill, Dorset Photograph: Francis Owtram

He renovated a dilapidated cottage at Clouds Hill.  It was here that he wrote his autobiographical account of his involvement in the 1916-18 ‘Arab Revolt’, Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

Painting of Faisal in the Music Room at Clouds HillPainting of Faisal in the Music Room at Clouds Hill. Photograph: Francis Owtram

He was later to spend time in Afghanistan but thereafter returned to rural Dorset indulging his love for speed on his Brough Superior motorbike.  On 19 May 1935 he came round a bend and to avoid two boys on bicycles skidded off the road.  He died a few days later and was buried in the cemetery of St Nicholas Church, Moreton.

Grave of T.E. Lawrence  cemetery of St Nicholas Church  MoretonGrave of T.E. Lawrence, cemetery of St Nicholas Church, Moreton. Photograph: Francis Owtram

Lawrence, who in his quest for adventure had travelled the world from Aqaba to Afghanistan, found his final resting place under the Dorset clouds.

Francis Owtram
British Library/Qatar Foundation Partnership

Further reading
James Barr, Setting the Desert on Fire: T.E. Lawrence and Britain’s Secret War in Arabia, 1916-18 (Bloomsbury, 2006)
Rodney Legg, Lawrence of Dorset: From Arabia to Clouds Hill (Dorset Publishing Company, 2005)

 

14 August 2023

Lady Georgiana Grey – the oldest resident at Hampton Court Palace

When Lady Georgiana Grey died in 1900 at the age of 99, she had been living at Hampton Court Palace for almost 25 years.  How had she come to be living at the Palace at the ‘grace and favour’ of Queen Victoria?

Carte de Visite of Lady Georgiana Grey taken in Rome by Fratelli D’Alessandri circa 1865Carte de Visite of Lady Georgiana Grey taken in Rome by Fratelli D’Alessandri circa 1865 - from the author's collection.

Lady Georgiana was born at Ham, Surrey, on 17 February 1801, the daughter of politician Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, and his wife Mary Elizabeth.  Georgiana was educated at home, learning literature, languages, music, embroidery and art.

By 1829, Georgiana’s three older sisters had married and her younger sister Mary was betrothed.  In April of that year, Countess Grey wrote to Georgiana expressing her love for her daughter: ‘What have I to make life desirable to me but you?  Your three dear sisters that are married can no longer belong to me, and though I do love my poor Mary very truly, yet I cannot conceal from myself (and I fear it is but too apparent to her) that my feeling for you is of a perfectly different nature - almost from your birth you have been the object and delight of my life’.

Georgiana was considered as a great beauty, talented in art, music, and politics.  After Queen Victoria succeeded to the throne in 1838, Georgiana enjoyed regular invitations to attend state balls, concerts, and dinners at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Osborne House.  The Queen wrote in her journal that Georgiana was ‘clever and agreeable’, and the two women became friends.

General Charles Grey, Georgiana’s younger brother, was private secretary to Prince Albert between 1849 and 1860.  He went on to serve Queen Victoria as private secretary from 1861 until his death in 1870.  Georgiana’s elder sister, Lady Caroline Barrington, was appointed Woman of the Bedchamber in 1837 and Superintendent to the Queen’s daughters.  When Georgiana fell on hard times following the death of her mother in 1861, the Queen gave her an apartment at Kensington Palace, and then, in 1875, Apartment VI at Hampton Court Palace, where she lived with about four or five servants.

Charming, affable and generous, Georgiana travelled widely and had many friends.  In his History of Hampton Court Palace published in 1891, Ernest Law wrote: ‘It is no secret that Lady Georgiana is now within a few months of her ninety-first year; but, with every sense and faculty unimpaired, she is as strong, well, and healthy as most people at half her age.  We may add that her apartments are still one of the chief social centres of Hampton Court, her dinners and parties being the pleasantest in the Palace, while to her the young men and ladies in the Palace and its neighbourhood, have owed many delightful dances and theatrical entertainments in the Oak Room’.

Lady Georgiana Grey died at Hampton Court on 14 September 1900, having lived a long life filled with an endless round of functions, parties, dinners, fetes, and balls hosted by the Royal Family, foreign ambassadors and the cream of the British and European aristocracy.  She had been presented to three reigning monarchs, taken part in the coronation ceremony of King William IV and Queen Adelaide, and attended the coronation of Queen Victoria.  Georgiana was buried at Howick, the Grey family seat in Northumberland.

CC-BY Gary Hynard
Independent researcher

Creative Commons Attribution licence

Further reading:
British Newspaper Archive  e.g. obituary of Lady Georgiana Grey in Surrey Comet 15 September 1900.
Letters to Lady Georgiana Grey from her mother c. 1823-1839 – Borthwick Institute for Archives HALIFAX/A1/8/3.
Sarah E Parker, Grace & Favour - A handbook of who lived where in Hampton Court Palace 1750 to 1950 (Historic Royal Palaces, 2005).
Ernest Law, The History of Hampton Court Palace: Orange and Guelph times Vol. 3 (London, 1891).

 

10 August 2023

Henrietta Anne, Duchess of Orléans, and the Secret Treaty of Dover (1670)

Henrietta Anne (1644-1670), Duchess of Orléans and sister to King Charles II, was a key negotiator of an important diplomatic agreement between England and France. In 1670, Charles II and Louis XIV of France signed the Secret Treaty of Dover. Kept hidden from the public, it included Charles’s promise to publicly convert to Catholicism (which never happened) in exchange for vast sums of money, as well as a mutual alliance against the Dutch Republic.

Painted portrait of Henrietta Anne, Duchess of Orléans, by Peter LelyHenrietta Anne, Duchess of Orleans, by Sir Peter Lely, around 1662, NPG 6028. © National Portrait Gallery, London. Terms of Use: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.

The British Library holds a rich volume of papers relating to the Treaty which demonstrates Henrietta’s significant role and is largely written in French.

Henrietta had a brief but extraordinary life. Born in Exeter in 1644, she was quickly whisked away to France because of the English Civil War and raised at the French court. At sixteen, she married Phillippe, Duke of Orléans and brother of Louis XIV. She was highly educated and intelligent, but was embarrassed by her written English and wrote almost exclusively in French.

Title page of a flattering portrait of Henrietta, written in French by Jean Puget de la Serre (1661)Title page of a flattering portrait of Henrietta, by Jean Puget de la Serre (1661). Add MS 33752, f. 3.

In 1669, Charles II wrote a top-secret letter to Louis about the treaty, entrusting its delivery to Henrietta: ‘desireing that this matter might passe through your handes as the person in the world I have most confidence in.’ Charles even sent Henrietta a cipher, so that their correspondence would be totally confidential.

Henrietta was politically invaluable: both exceptionally close with Charles and trusted enough by Louis that he met her almost every day in early 1670 to discuss the negotiations. She provided the link between the two monarchs that allowed Louis to address Charles as ‘monsieur mon frère’ in his letters.

Henrietta’s long letter to Charles II, written in 1669Henrietta’s long letter to Charles II, 1669. Add MS 65138, f. 47.

Unfortunately, many of Henrietta’s letters were destroyed after her death. One of the most striking surviving documents is her letter to Charles about this ‘grande affaire.’ Henrietta, who was Catholic, refers to Charles’s conversion as ‘le desin de la R’ (‘the design about R’), with R standing for ‘religion.’ She advises Charles at length on finances, the prospect of war in Holland, and Louis’s motives. She even suggests that Charles conceal their scheme from the Pope, since he might die before the planned conversion!

After several pages of confident political discussion, Henrietta signs off with a show of modesty, writing that she only dares to meddle in questions above her station because of her great love for her brother.

A visit to Charles by Henrietta was the cover story for the final stage of the treaty’s formation, and she was personally charged with carrying the French copy back to Louis.

Final protocol of the Treaty of Dover, featuring the seals and signatures of Charles II's principal advisorsFinal protocol of the Treaty, featuring the seals and signatures of Charles II’s principal advisors. Add MS 65138, f. 91v.

Tragically, Henrietta died just months later at the age of 26. One first-hand account states that she drank a glass of chicory water, a medicinal drink, before collapsing in agony (Stowe MS 191, f. 22). Another account ungenerously insists on her depraved, sinful life, claiming she was poisoned and spent her final moments repenting (Kings MS 140, f. 107).

What we can be sure of is her affection for Charles. She addresses her letter to him uncharacteristically in English: ‘For the King.’

‘For the King’: a rare example of Henrietta writing in English in her letter to Charles II‘For the King’: a rare example of Henrietta writing in English in her letter to Charles. Add MS 65138, f. 51v.

Isabel Maloney
PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge and PhD placement student in Modern Archives and Manuscripts

Further reading:

Keith Feiling, ‘Henrietta Stuart, Duchess of Orleans, and the Origins of the Treaty of Dover’, The English Historical Review, Vol. 47, No. 188 (Oct., 1932), pp. 642-645.

Cyril Hughes Hartmann, Charles II and Madame (London, 1934).

08 August 2023

William Henry Quilliam – the Victorian solicitor who established Britain’s first mosque

What do the names Abdullah Quilliam, Henri Marcel Léon and Haroon Mustapha Leon have in common?  The answer is that they are all aliases of William Henry Quilliam, 19th century solicitor and convert to Islam.

William Henry Quilliam was born in Liverpool on 10 April 1856.  He was of Manx descent and raised by Wesleyan Methodists.  After training and working as a solicitor, he moved to the Middle East in 1887, where he converted to Islam and changed his name to Abdullah Quilliam.  He returned to England and opened Britain’s first Muslim institute and mosque at 8-10 Brougham Terrace, Liverpool, in 1889.  The site was a place of worship and education, with its own science laboratory and museum.

Quilliam was given the title of sheikh-ul-Islam (leader of the Muslims) of Britain by the Ottoman sultan Abdul Hamid II.  He also found time to edit a series of Islamic periodicals, publishing frequently under the alias H. [Haroon] Mustapha Leon.  A controversial figure in Victorian England, he received backlash for publicly renouncing Christianity, while Brougham Terrace became a target for vandals.  After leaving the UK for a short period he lived on the Isle of Man in the 1910s, changing his name for a third time to Henri Marcel Léon.

Photograph of William Henry Quilliam  alias Abdullah QuilliamWilliam Henry Quilliam, known as Sheikh Abdullah Quilliam. Public Domain

Quilliam is the subject of British Library manuscripts collection Add MS 89684, which has just been catalogued and is now available for research.  The papers in this collection were compiled by Patricia ‘Pat’ Gordon, granddaughter of Quilliam, while conducting research into her grandfather’s life history.  The collection comprises correspondence, newspaper and magazine cuttings, photographs and even a ceremonial silver trowel.  The trowel was presented by the United Methodist Free Churches to Quilliam’s mother, Harriet, on the laying of a memorial stone of the School Chapel, Durning Road, Liverpool, on 20 August 1877.

A ceremonial silver trowel presented to Mrs QuilliamA ceremonial silver trowel presented to Mrs Quilliam Add MS 89684/4/6

During the 1990s, Pat was in regular correspondence with the Abdullah Quilliam Society of Liverpool.  The Society was founded to restore the location of Quilliam’s mosque at Brougham Terrace.  Pat was invited by the Society to unveil a plaque outside the prayer hall on 10 October 1997, in a ceremony which was organised to commemorate Quilliam’s achievements.  Photographs of this event can be found at Add MS 89684/3/2.

Quilliam died in London on 23 April 1932.  He was buried in an unmarked grave in the Muslim section of Brookwood Cemetery, Woking, not far from the grave of the Islamic scholar and barrister Abdullah Yusuf Ali (1872-1953).  It is thanks to the work of Pat Gordon and the Abdullah Quilliam Society that William Henry Quilliam’s mosque and unique history have survived.

George Brierley
Manuscripts Cataloguer

Further reading:
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography – Quilliam, William Henry
Add MS 89684 – Papers relating to Abdullah Quilliam