Untold lives blog

130 posts categorized "Arts and crafts"

08 July 2021

JMW Turner’s Daughters - Part 2 Georgiana

Georgiana, the younger daughter of JMW Turner and Sarah Danby, was born in 1811.  She later said that she had been born in Surrey but that may not be correct.  On 18 June 1840, Georgiana married Thomas James Thompson, seven years her junior and described as a chemist, at St Mary Magdalene Church in Bermondsey.  Georgiana’s age is given as 21, the same as her husband’s, but 21 was often routinely recorded to show that they were of full age and could marry without the permission of parents/guardians.  Turner did not attend. Georgiana refused to acknowledge Turner and gave her father’s name as ‘George Danby, deceased’.  No George Danby is recorded amongst John Danby’s relatives.

In the 1841 census the couple were living at 10 Webber Row, Lambeth, near to where Waterloo Station is now, with Thomas’s profession now recorded as a clerk.  In June 1841, Georgiana gave birth to a son, Thomas William Thompson, who was baptised in October the same year.  The Thompsons were living at 24 Goswell Terrace and Thomas senior is, once again, described as a chemist.  Sadly, Thomas William died in November 1842 and was buried in Bermondsey.  Georgiana was already pregnant with another child.

Photo taken 2021 of exterior of Lying-In Hospital Lambeth

Photo taken 2021 of an inscription over the door of Lying-In Hospital Lambeth - licensed for the reception of pregnant women in the reign of George IIIExterior of Lying-In Hospital Lambeth 2021 - photographs © David Meaden

In February 1843, she was admitted to the Lying-In Hospital, Lambeth, where she died, aged 31, of puerperal fever and was buried at St Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey.  Her child survived and was baptised as Thomas Markham Thompson at St John’s, Waterloo.  His father was now described as a schoolmaster.  Sadly, Thomas Markham died at the age of five months and was buried in Bermondsey.  Like her sister, Evelina, Georgiana was due to receive a bequest from her father’s will but died eight years before him.  This meant that the only direct line of descent from Turner was through Evelina’s children.

Churchyard of St Mary Magdalene  Bermondsey showing gravestones stacked against the wall

Churchyard of St Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey 2021 photograph © David Meaden

There have been various speculative stories about the parentage of Evelina and Georgiana.  One is that Evelina’s real father was JMW’s father, William (‘Old Dad’).  This is usually based on the evidence of the baptismal register, which refers to her father as William Turner.  However, Turner was always known as William, never Joseph, and his father referred to him as ‘Billy’.  Another is that the girls’ real mother was, in fact, Hannah Danby, Sarah’s niece and Turner’s housekeeper.  There is no real evidence for this, and in his will, Turner refers to the girls as the ‘natural daughters of Sarah Danby’.

Over the years there have been others who have claimed to be Turner’s children but Evelina and Georgiana are the only ones that he acknowledged himself.

David Meaden
Independent Researcher

Further reading:
Selby Whittingham, ‘JMW Turner, marriage and morals’, The British Art Journal, Vol. 15, No. 3 (Spring 2015), pp. 119-125
Franny Moyle, The Extraordinary Life and Momentous Times of J.M.W.Turner (London, 2016)
Anthony Bailey, Standing In The Sun – a life of J.M.W.Turner (1997)

JMW Turner's Daughters - Part 1 Evelina

Turner’s topographical watercolours

Turner's House

Turner’s restored house in Twickenham has reopened. Check the website for details.

 

06 July 2021

JMW Turner’s Daughters – Part 1 Evelina

Shortly after the musician and glee composer John Danby died, aged 41, on 16 May 1798, his widow Sarah began a relationship with the artist JMW Turner, who was a near neighbour in Covent Garden.  Their daughter, Evelina, probably named after the title character of Fanny Burney’s novel, was baptised at Guestling in Sussex on 19 September 1801.  The register records her as ‘Evelina, daughter of William and Sarah Turner’.  According to the 1861 census, she was born in Hastings.  In 1811, a second daughter, Georgiana, was born.

In the early years of their relationship, Turner lived with Sarah for short periods of time at various addresses, but this was never a permanent arrangement and they never married.  Turner did not spend a great deal of time with his daughters, although some of his friends reported seeing young girls with a family resemblance, from time to time, at his Queen Anne Street house and gallery.  They are also thought to appear in some of his paintings, notably Evelina in 'Frosty Morning' (1813) and both in 'Crossing the Brook' (1815).

TuJMW Turner, Frosty Morning - Winter landscape with a man and young girl, and a horse pulling a cart

JMW Turner, Frosty Morning, 1813, Tate 00492 , digital image © Tate released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

On 31 October 1817, sixteen-year-old Evelina married 28-year-old Joseph Dupuis, a civil servant, at St James’s, Piccadilly, under the name of Evelina Turner.  Her mother, Sarah Danby, was a witness but Turner did not attend.  Joseph Dupuis had a long career in the diplomatic service.  In 1818 he was appointed British Envoy and Consul to Kumasi, part of the kingdom of the Ashanti (now Ghana).  He became regarded as an expert on African affairs, although some of his superiors felt that he had made too many concessions to the Ashanti.  Between 1819 and 1832, Evelina gave birth to seven children, four of whom survived infancy.  In the 1840s the Dupuis family moved to Greece and then back to London in the 1850s.  According to the census records, they were living at 44 Queen Square, Bloomsbury, in 1861 and at 135 Upper Kennington Lane, Lambeth, in 1871.  Their unmarried daughter, Rosalie, lived with them at both addresses.

JMW Turner, Crossing the Brook - view of the Tamar Valley with three girls at the brook. One has waded across, and is looking back to her dog in midstream which is carrying her basket.  The other girls are preparing to cross.JMW Turner, Crossing the Brook, 1815, Tate N00497, digital image © Tate released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported) 

Dupuis had incurred heavy debts and, following the death of Turner’s housekeeper Hannah Danby in 1853, he applied, unsuccessfully, to manage Turner’s gallery in Queen Anne Street.  Evelina had been left £50 in Hannah Danby’s will, with the stipulation that it was not to be used to pay her husband’s debts.  She was amongst those who challenged Turner’s will and when it was finally proved in 1856, she received, in addition to £100 a year from the original will, annuities based on £3,333 worth of Turner’s 3% consols.  This was clearly not enough because, in November 1865, Evelina wrote to Jabez Tepper, the solicitor who had represented various Turner cousins, asking for help to ‘alleviate the sorrows which oppress the last lineal descendant of the race of Turner, the surviving daughter of an artist of such repute’.

Dupuis’ debts must have been substantial because when Evelina died of a heart attack in Lambeth in 1874, a few months after her husband, she left an estate of less than £800 to her daughter Rosalie.

David Meaden
Independent Researcher

Further reading:
Selby Whittingham, ‘JMW Turner, marriage and morals’, The British Art Journal, Vol. 15, No. 3 (Spring 2015), pp. 119-125
Franny Moyle, The Extraordinary Life and Momentous Times of J.M.W.Turner (London, 2016)
Anthony Bailey, Standing In The Sun – a life of J.M.W.Turner (1997)

JMW Turner's Daughters - Part 2 Georgiana

Turner’s topographical watercolours

Turner's House

Turner’s restored house in Twickenham has reopened. Check the website for details.

 

27 April 2021

Roshani Begum, dancer turned rebel from Tipu Sultan’s court

In 1799 the East India Company’s army killed Tipu Sultan of Mysore.  To ensure the end of his dynasty, the women of his court were exiled from Mysore Kingdom to the fort at Vellore, in the Company controlled presidency of Madras.  Roshani Begum was a dancer in Tipu’s court, and one of the hundreds of women that the Company placed under house arrest.  Originally named Pum Kusur, she was a dancer from Adoni who, along with her sister, joined Tipu’s entourage when he was still a prince.  Roshani Begum was the mother of Tipu’s eldest son, Fateh Haidar, making her a high-status woman at court.  Her son’s portrait, painted in 1801, shows a young man in his 20s, suggesting that Roshani Begum joined Tipu’s entourage in the 1770s.

Portrait of Fateh Haidar, the son of Tipu Sultan and Roshani Begum, by Thomas HickeyPortrait of Fateh Haidar, the son of Tipu Sultan and Roshani Begum, by Thomas Hickey, 1801. Courtesy of Victoria Memorial Hall Kolkata, R2986

In 1802, along with about 550 other women, Roshani Begum was transported from Mysore Kingdom to Vellore Fort, and remained under East India Company custody for the rest of her life.  In spite of suddenly becoming the charge of a foreign trading company, she continued in her vocation.  In 1804 she adopted a girl named Goozeib, whom she trained in her dance traditions.  There were other newcomers inside Vellore Fort, with the population of Tipu’s exiled harem rising from 550 women in 1802 to 790 individuals by 1806.  These increases were reported to William Bentinck, the Governor of Madras, who issued instructions in February 1806 to cut their maintenance budgets.  To him, it was a pragmatic move to reduce their numbers, but to women like Roshani Begum, it spelled the end of the courtly traditions they were trying to uphold.

Company painting of 'Kanchani' dancing girls. In an album depicting trades and occupations at Vellore.Company painting of 'Kanchani' dancing girls. In an album depicting trades and occupations at Vellore, c.1828. British Library, Add.Or.62 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Between February and June 1806, immediately after Bentinck issued the cutbacks, four of Tipu Sultan’s daughters were married at Vellore.  Each wedding featured several days’ worth of music and dance performances inside the fort.   The content of these performances was planned by the musicians and dancers of Tipu’s court such as Roshani Begum.  These festivities coincided with the rapid spread of “destructive tales” about the East India Company’s Indian soldiers at Vellore Fort.  Their uniforms, particularly their headgear, was pinpointed as an affront to their families, and they were told that by wearing them, they’d be denied food, water, and the right to get married.

These threats of domestic expulsion had such a profound effect on the soldiers that, on the evening of 9 July 1806, after a dance performance in the fort, the sepoys of the Madras Native Infantry mutinied.  They killed 129 men, raised the flag of Mysore Kingdom, and declared Fateh Haidar, the son of Roshani Begum, as their king.  The East India Company’s response was to send a relief force to Vellore that killed almost 350 mutineers.  Accounts of the Vellore Mutiny typically view this moment of violence as a purely military event, but closer examination reveals that women like Roshani Begum, motivated by the East India Company’s spurning of their traditions, used their influence as court performers and story tellers to foment a dangerous uprising.

Jennifer Howes
Independent researcher and a former Curator of Visual Arts at the British Library 

Further reading:
Howes, Jennifer. 'Tipu Sultan’s Female Entourage under East India Company Rule.' Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Series 3, 2021.
Report on the Character of Tipu Sultan’s four oldest sons by Thomas Marriott, April 1804. British Library, IOR/H/508. p.347.
William Bentinck’s decree to cut allowances to Vellore Fort’s inhabitants, 28 February 1806. British Library, IOR/E/4/897, pp.125-126.
Testimonials of the Court of Enquiry at Vellore, July-August 1806. British Library, IOR/H/507 and 508.

 

09 April 2021

Non-essential retail in nineteenth-century London

As we look forward to the re-opening of non-essential retail outlets in England, we’d like to share a book about nineteenth-century London shops.  Nathaniel Whittock’s On the construction and decoration of the shop fronts of London published in 1840 has illustrated descriptions of a variety of businesses and is available as a digital item.

Shop front of Storr and Mortimer, goldsmiths, 156 Bond StreetStorr and Mortimer, goldsmiths, 156 Bond Street - Plate 1 from On the construction and decoration of the shop fronts of London Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Storr and Mortimer, goldsmiths and jewellers, was situated at 156 Bond Street.  It was one of the original shops when the houses in Bond Street were first built.  Whittock praised the Ionic style of the shop front for being neat and elegant.  The plants appearing through the trellis work gave a light and pleasing effect.

Shop front of Turner and Clark, mercers and drapers, Coventry Street
Turner and Clark, mercers and drapers, Coventry Street - Plate 3 from On the construction and decoration of the shop fronts of London Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Turner and Clark, mercers and drapers, had premises in Coventry Street, Haymarket.  The shop front was decorated with a light, elegant pediment and ornaments of gilt on white-veined marble.

Shop front of W.H. Ablett & Co, outfitting warehouse, Cornhill

W.H. Ablett & Co, outfitting warehouse, Cornhill - Plate 5 from On the construction and decoration of the shop fronts of London Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

W.H. Ablett & Co was an outfitting warehouse in Cornhill.  Both storeys of the shop were used for displaying articles sold there, including swords!

Wine & spirit warehouse

Astell’s wine and spirit warehouse at 119 Tottenham Court Road - Plate 10 from On the construction and decoration of the shop fronts of London Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Astell’s wine and spirit warehouse stood at 119 Tottenham Court Road, on the corner of Grafton Street.  Two storeys had been converted into one so that huge vats of alcohol could be accommodated inside.  Whittock judged the shop front to be grand but not gaudy.

UpholstererSaunders and Woodley, upholsterers, Regent Street - Plate 13 from On the construction and decoration of the shop fronts of London Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

The costly front of Saunders and Woodley, upholsterers, in Regent Street was in the style of Louis XIV.  Willock was pleased by the 'very splendid effect', which he deemed quite appropriate for so showy a business.  Piers were formed by the trunks of palm trees terminating in foliage, with capitals of burnished gold.  The elegant iron railing was coloured bronze to match the carvings.

BooksellerGrey, bookseller and stationer - Plate 15 from On the construction and decoration of the shop fronts of London Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Bookseller and stationer Grey was given as an example of a shop converted from a dwelling house in a manner that would not breach restrictions in the lease about commercial use.   The parlour windows were used to display books, and the shutters were lined with shallow glass cases sufficiently deep to contain prints and other wares.

India warehouseEvrington’s India shawl warehouse, 10 Ludgate - Plate 18 from On the construction and decoration of the shop fronts of London Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Evrington’s India shawl warehouse at 10 Ludgate occupied an old building with low ceilings.  Whittock thought the frontage simple and elegant, but not in accordance with the magnificence of the interior.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
Nathaniel Whittock, On the construction and decoration of the Shop Fronts of London, illustrated with eighteen coloured representations, exhibiting the varied styles of the current period, for the use of builders, carpenters, shopkeepers etc (London, 1840)

10 March 2021

Hannah Danby – JMW Turner’s housekeeper

John Danby, a successful organist and glee composer, lived in Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, and was a near neighbour of the Turner family, who lived in Maiden Lane.  He suffered with poor health, probably rheumatoid arthritis, and died, aged 41, in 1798.  After Danby’s death, his wife, Sarah, began a relationship with Turner and lived with him for short periods of time at various addresses. This was never a permanent arrangement and they never married.

In 1809, JMW Turner began to employ Danby’s 23-year-old niece, Hannah, to look after his London house and gallery in Queen Anne Street, off Harley Street.  Born in about 1786, Hannah was the daughter of one of John Danby’s brothers but it is not clear which one and Turner does not name him.  There are records of William, Christopher, Richard, Thomas and Charles.  Charles, who was a bass singer and actor was living at 24 Tottenham Street in 1794 and in 1801 he lodged with Turner in a house he was renting at 75 Norton Street but there is no record of Hannah living with him.

Turner's house 47 Queen Anne StreetTurner’s house and gallery at 47 Queen Anne Street West, photographed in the 1880s courtesy of The Tate 

Hannah remained as Turner’s housekeeper until his death in 1851 and then stayed on as custodian of his gallery until her own death in 1853.  She took her job very seriously and was very protective of Turner’s privacy.  As well as her domestic duties, she sometimes helped Turner in his studio, telling the son of Turner’s great friend, Henry Trimmer, that she would often set Turner’s palette.

The sexual relationship between Hannah and Turner, as portrayed in the film Mr Turner, is speculative but quite possible from what we do know of Turner’s private life.  He was certainly very fond of her, referring to her as 'My Damsel' in a letter to a friend.  He also gave her the self-portrait that he had painted in his teens. 


JMW Turner - self portrait as a youth

JMW. Turner by JMW. Turner - watercolour, circa 1790 NPG 1314 © National Portrait Gallery, London National Portrait Gallery Creative Commons Licence

Some people have even suggested that it was Hannah and not Sarah Danby who was the mother of Turner’s two daughters but there is no real evidence for this, and, in his will, Turner refers to them as the 'natural daughters of Sarah Danby'.

Hannah suffered from a skin complaint that worsened with age.  One unsympathetic visitor described her as 'a most frightful-looking creature - a short woman, with a very large head, wearing a dirty white gown, and with a ragged dirty thing tied round her head and throat, making her already large head twice its natural size.  She looked like those ogres one sees in the pantomimes'.  When she died, the cause of death was given as 'eczema exedens'.

Newspaper article about Turner's house at 47 Queen Anne Street

Article entitled ‘Turner’s Den’ from Cassell's Old and New London  – reprinted in Sheffield Daily Telegraph 8 August 1876 British Newspaper Archive

Towards the end of his life, Turner spent most of his time in Chelsea, with Sophia Booth, and rarely visited Queen Anne Street.  Hannah became increasingly worried about him and eventually found a piece of paper with the Chelsea address in one of Turner’s coats.  On 16 December 1851, Hannah and her friend, Maria Tanner, walked down to Chelsea to search for Turner.  When they arrived at the address, they were told by the neighbours that, indeed, a man fitting Turner’s description lived there and that he was close to death.  Hannah did not feel up to going inside and, instead, went for help to Turner’s cousin, Henry Harpur, who was also his solicitor.  Turner died two days later, on 19 December.

Hannah was seen to be in great distress at Turner’s funeral and many of his friends showed her kindness in the following months, Ruskin’s father, John James, taking her gifts of food, including new-laid eggs.  In his will, Turner left her £100 per annum, with an additional £50 per annum for looking after the gallery.

Hannah only survived Turner by two years, dying at Queen Anne Street, aged 67, in December 1853.  She was buried in Old St Pancras Churchyard but her grave was probably one of those destroyed by the coming of the railway.  In her own will, she left Turner’s self-portrait as a youth to John Ruskin.

David Meaden
Independent Researcher

 

Turner's House logo

Turner’s restored house in Twickenham will reopen as soon as the current lockdown rules permit.  Check the website for details.

Further reading:
Selby Whittingham, ‘JMW Turner, marriage and morals’, The British Art Journal, Vol. 15, No. 3 (Spring 2015), pp. 119-125
Franny Moyle, The Extraordinary Life and Momentous Time s of J.M.W. Turner  (London, 2016) 

Sarah Danby – JMW Turner’s lover

02 March 2021

Astley’s Amphitheatre presents ‘Storming and Capture of Delhi’

Tucked into an Indian diary of Charlotte, Lady Canning was an unexpected find - a playbill advertising the entertainments offered at Astley’s Royal Amphitheatre during Christmas week 1857.  If you had sixpence to spare, you could find yourself in the Upper Gallery, while for a guinea you could be in the comfort of one of the boxes.  On offer was a ‘National Military Spectacle’ called ‘Storming and Capture of Delhi’.  A series of scenes in three acts, it was described as being ‘…founded upon the present events in India’.  The play covered the outbreak of the Indian Uprising or ‘Indian Mutiny’, the relief of the siege of Cawnpore (Kanpur) and its violent aftermath, and finally the assault on Delhi and its capture by British troops.  These events played out from May to September 1857, Delhi being retaken by the British on 20 September.  The play opened in London on 25 November 1857, scarcely two months later.  Portraying current events, it served as both popular entertainment and dramatized news production.

Playbill for Storming and Capture of Delhi
Playbill for Astley’s Amphitheatre, December 1857 Mss Eur F699/2/2/2/6 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Situated on Westminster Bridge Road, Lambeth, Astley’s opened in the 1770s.  It burned down and was rebuilt three times – in 1794, 1803 and again in 1841.  The space was enormous with a pit, gallery and viewing boxes, and a large circular arena in addition to a stage.  It was rather like a cross between a circus and a theatre. The  Illustrated London News in 1843 described the newly rebuilt Astley’s as an octagonal structure, richly decorated with columns, hangings, chandeliers, and a stage measuring 75 x 101 feet.  No expense had been spared on its rebuilding.  Circus proprietor William Cooke leased Astley’s from 1853 to 1860 and revived its popularity; the venue became famous for equestrian displays, including adaptations of Macbeth and Richard III performed on horseback.

Astley's Amphitheatre

Astley’s Amphitheatre from R. Ackermann, The Microcosm of London (London, 1808-1811) Images Online

‘Storming and Capture of Delhi’ was written by the dramatist Charles A. Somerset, about whom very little is known.  In the 1861 census he is 66, unmarried, and an ‘Author Dramatic’, originally from Bath.  He is one of several lodgers at 2 Pitt Street, Southwark.  This is almost certainly the same Charles Somerset living in Devonshire Street, Lambeth in 1841, who is described as a ‘Writer’.  He had been writing for the stage since the 1820s; a check of the British Library catalogue reveals a wide repertoire from historical drama (Bonaparte in Egypt), comic operetta (Good Night Monsieur Pantalon), farce (The electric telegraph, or, the fast man in a fix) to pantomime (King Blusterbubble, and the demon ogre).

The spectacle on show during the winter of 1857-58 had all the hallmarks of an Astley’s production.  There were live animals, including troupes of trained horses as well as real Indian buffalo, zebra and elephants.  According to the reviews, ‘The compiler of the drama…has not encumbered the action with a complex plot or sentimental story but given a rapid succession of stirring scenes…’.   These included daring chases on horseback, stage combat including firing musket rounds, and comic interludes such as British troopers donning women’s bonnets to confuse the enemy.  There was even a romantic sub-plot involving Miss Mathilda, a General’s daughter, and Frank Phos Fix, an artist and volunteer Hussar. 

In addition to individual items like the ‘Storming of Delhi’ playbill, the British Library holds a significant collection of approximately 234,000 playbills dating from the 1730s to the 1950s. Some have been digitised, and many are being made available via the Into the Spotlight project.

Lesley Shapland
Cataloguer, India Office Records

Further Reading:
Mss Eur F699/2/2/2: Indian Journals of Charlotte Canning.  The Astley’s playbill has been housed in a fascicule at Mss Eur F699/2/2/2/6.
Add MS 52969 K 'The storming and capture of Dehli', grand military spectacle in three acts. Licence sent 24 November 1857 for performance at Astley's Royal Amphitheatre 23 November 1857.  Cover signed William Cook, lessee and manager, and W. West, stage manager.  Songs included in MS. LCO Day Book Add. 53073 records the stipulation that all oaths be omitted as well as the names of General Wheeler and his daughter ff. 29. (Part of THE LORD CHAMBERLAIN'S PLAYS AND DAY-BOOKS; 1851-1899, 1824-1903. Add MS 52929-53708: [1851-1899]).
The play was reviewed in The Morning Advertiser on 26 November 1857.  It was also advertised as still being on at Astley’s in The Globe, 26 January 1858.
Charles A. Somerset’s plays can be found amongst the Pettingell manuscripts at the University of Kent, while Somerset’s letters to TP Cooke are held by the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance.

 

31 December 2020

New Year’s Gift

The New Year’s Gift we are offering you is not wrapped in paper and ribbon.  It is an East India Company ship which sailed from England in March 1613/14 for Surat and Bantam in company with the Hector, Hope and Solomon.  However the fleet was carrying many gifts chosen for rulers in Asia to encourage the granting of trading privileges.

n engraving by Renold Elstrack of the Emperor Jahangir, holding a hawk An engraving by Renold Elstrack of the Emperor Jahangir, holding a hawk c.1616-21. Image courtesy of the Royal Collections Trust 

The presents selected for the Mughal Emperor included a scarlet cloak embroidered with silver, a velvet-covered chest of bottles with ‘hot waters’ (spirits), and several pictures.  The paintings were of King James; his wife Queen Anne; Tamerlane; the Emperor himself; East India Company Governor Sir Thomas Smythe; and three English ladies.

The East India Company was worried about the effect the long voyage would have on the paintings.  Would the colours fade or other damage occur?  They provided detailed instructions for the preservation and repair of the artworks.  Painter-Stainer Edward Gall, trumpeter on New Year’s Gift, was entrusted with carrying out remedial work and directing the making of frames.

Extract from 1613 document giving instructions for remedial work on paintings aboard New Year's Gift Instructions for remedial work on paintings IOR/G/40/25  Public Domain Creative Commons Licence


The ships were also taking looking glasses to Asia.  The Company feared that these might decay and had sent Robert Young to be trained in foiling.  Young was to teach this skill to four or five of his fellow factors so that they could make repairs if he died.

Robert Young died in November 1614 in India.  Edward Gall also perished and his will leaving everything to his wife Eleanor was proved in the City of London.  The National Archives has a number of wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury for other men who died during the voyage.

Many who died in the New Year’s Gift bequeathed items they had acquired in Asia: ‘China girdles’, Chinese porcelain, silk textiles, spices – pepper, mace, nutmeg.  Quarter gunner William Crandall was bringing home 159 lb of pepper when he died.  Sailor Anthony Owen had a barrel contaning 100 lb of mace.

Personal belongings such as clothing and bedding were often left to named crew members.  Otherwise they were sold before the mast and the proceeds added to the estate.  Caulker Christopher Turpin left his tools to his mate Richard Dickson, together with a gown and a remnant of striped taffeta.  This cloth was perhaps left over from the suit of striped taffeta which Turpin left to Richard Brabson – sounds very natty!  Turpin also owned three dimity waistcoats and a laced suit.

Sometimes bequests were made to sailors as thanks for care during sickness.  Close friendships between shipmates are revealed, some pre-dating this voyage.  William Crandall asked his ‘good friend’ Captain Martin Pring to invest a sum of £20 to provide a nest egg for Crandall’s daughter Elizabeth when she came of age.  Master’s mate Lawrence Spooner asked for 30 pieces of satin to be sold and the proceeds invested for the benefit of Pring’s five children.  Spooner left Pring his sword, Euclid’s Elements, clothing and linen.  Pring’s wife Joan received porcelain and a waistcoat, and her mother 20 shillings for a ring.

Poignantly, Lawrence Spooner allocated money to restore the graves of his wife and daughter in Tamworth.  He wanted a likeness of his wife over her monument, with a bowl or spoon in her hand, and the Latin inscription ‘Quisquis eris qui transieris, perlege, plora’ – ‘Whoever you are who pass by, read, weep’.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
British Library IOR/G/40/25 East India Company instructions to the fleet from Thomas Elkington’s notebook.
Will of Edward Gall MS 9172/29 London Metropolitan Archives and Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section.
The National Archives PROB 11 - wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.

 

29 December 2020

Suffrage scrapbooks: forgotten histories of political activism

When you picture a scrapbook, you likely conjure up an image of a homemade album dedicated to the family or a hobby.  It’s less likely you’ll think of scrapbooks as records of political campaigns, such as women’s suffrage.  Yet here at the British Library, 37 bulging hardback scrapbooks tell us a personal history of suffrage activism through the eyes of Alice Maud Mary Arncliffe Sennett (1862-1936).

Women's Social and Political Union membership card from the scrapbook of Maud Arncliffe SennettWomen's Social and Political Union membership card from the opening volume of Sennett’s first scrapbook. , British Library C.121.g.1.


Actress turned businesswoman; Sennett was a dynamic, strident suffrage campaigner.  She served time in prison on Black Friday in 1910 and again in 1911 after smashing the Daily Mail’s office windows.  She also set up the Northern Men’s Federation for Women’s Suffrage.

Article 'Why I want the vote' published in The Vote 26 February 1910An article 'Why I want the vote' written by Maud Arncliffe Sennett in 1910 for The Vote, journal of the Women’s Freedom League.

Through all this campaigning, she scrapbooked prolifically.  She kept the key from her husband’s stay at Bloomsbury Street hotel before he picked her up from prison.  More conventionally, she carefully lifted articles from a plethora of publications, encircling them with annotations.

In one instance, next to an article on Herbert Asquith published in 1910, she criticised his ‘cruel looking mouth and sinister eyes’ and wrote how she would like to ‘shoot Asquith right at the place where his heart ought to be’.  Sennett’s scrapbook facilitated her critical engagement with press coverage on women’s rights.

Sennett also used her scrapbooks to record the support networks underpinning her activism.  One way she did this was through preserving congratulatory letters praising her public speaking.  In her first scrapbook, she included a letter from suffrage activist Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, who described Sennett as the ‘one of the greatest platform successes she had ever known’.

Before this letter however, Sennett pasted in another one.  It was from her servant Bessie.  Working for her mistress since at least 1906, census records identify Bessie as Eliza Punchard, who lived with her husband and three sons in Beckenham.

After hearing Sennett’s speech, Bessie wrote, 'Do you know you made a simply splendid speech, I was so proud of you’.  She continued, writing how she would happily go to prison of her accord if it would help the cause; she would ‘make the sacrifice in my own right not to feel that you will be worrying over me if I should go’.

Lifting the cover of Sennett’s fourth scrapbook powerfully articulates Sennett’s appreciation of her servant’s support.  In a beautiful, flowing font, Sennett dedicates her scrapbook to Bessie, ‘the only one true and trusted friend I have found…the star to which I have hitched by wagon of loneliness’.  Bessie’s support meant a great deal to Sennett, so much so that she immortalised it in the front of her scrapbook.

Sennett’s scrapbooks offer an intensely personal history of the suffrage activism, blurring the lines between the personal and the political. She chronicles the exceptional and mundane, turning to an assortment of materials to offer her history of the suffrage campaign.

Over a century later we are given a tantalising glimpse into the material, emotional histories of suffrage activism, as well as forgotten women such as Bessie, who played a vital part in women’s political campaigning.


Cherish Watton
PhD student studying a history of scrapbooking in Britain from 1914-1980 at Churchill College, Cambridge.  She founded and runs the website Women’s Land Army 
@CherishWatton


Further Reading:
Read more about Arncliffe-Sennett’s scrapbooks.
Read more about suffrage scrapbooks in the American context in Ellen Gruber’s Writing with Scissors: American Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance. Oxford University Press, 2012, chapter 5.

 

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