Untold lives blog

247 posts categorized "Domestic life"

25 March 2020

Lady Day

25 March is Lady Day, Feast of the Annunciation and the first quarter day of the year.  Traditionally on quarter days tenants paid their rents to landlords and servants were hired.  Lady Day was also the first day of the calendar year in England and Wales until 1752.

 

Tulips T00048-12Early-flowering tulips from Edward George Henderson, The Illustrated Bouquet, consisting of figures, with descriptions of new flowers, illustrated by Miss Sowerby (London, 1857-64) © The British Library Board Images Online

William Hone tells the story of a country gentleman in the early 19th century who wrote a letter to a woman of rank in London. He sent it through the general post addressed to
The 25th of March
Foley Place, London

The postman delivered the letter to Lady Day for whom it was intended.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
William Hone, The Every-day Book (1826) vol.1, p.195

 

29 February 2020

A Leap Year tragedy

Early on the morning of Tuesday 1 March 1892, a Thames waterman named Holeyman was in his boat at St George’s Stairs Horselydown when he saw the body of a young man floating in the river.  He attached a rope to the body and brought it on shore. 

Southwark Bridge c.1825Southwark Bridge on the Thames from David Hughson, London; being an accurate history and description of the British metropolis (London, c.1825)

The dead man’s clothes were searched at the mortuary by Mr Upton, the coroner’s officer, and Police Constable Longman.  They found a copy of a newspaper from Monday evening in a pocket, indicating that the body had not been long in the water.  There were also several bunches of keys and a Leap Year proposal of marriage from a girl.

From the letter, it appeared that the young man’s last name was Baths.  He was described in newspaper reports as being ‘of gentlemanly appearance, aged about twenty-five, with dark hair and eyes’.  As he was carrying 43 keys, the press speculated that he had held a responsible position in a City office.

The young man was later identified as Edward Walter Batho.  He was a collector for the Automatic Cigarette Company.  Presumably the keys opened vending machines?  An inquest was held by Mr Langham and the jury returned an open verdict.  I have been unable to discover any more about the circumstances of this sad death. 

Edward Walter Batho was born in Deptford 1868, the son of Robert, a butcher, and his wife Elizabeth.  Edward had a large number of siblings.  His father died in 1879 and Elizabeth supported her youngest children by working as a sextoness in a church in the City of London.  She died in 1890. 

In the 1891 census, 23-year-old Edward was living in Abchurch Lane in the City as head of a household with his sister Amy aged 19 and brother Henry, 17.  Edward was described as a ‘Railway Collector’.  Less than a year later, Edward was dead. 

So we are left to wonder - who was the girl who wrote the marriage proposal?  Can a reader shed any light on this mystery?

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
British Newspaper Archive e.g. Coventry Evening Telegraph 2 March 1892; Aberdeen Press and Journal 9 March 1892; Illustrated Police News 12 March 1892

 

27 February 2020

A Ship-Board Romance: Lucia Green and Captain Luke Dodds

In December 1807, Miss Lucia Green boarded the East India Company ship Walmer Castle, bound for St Helena and a new life with her fiancé, the naturalist William John Burchell.  By the time the ship arrived in April 1808, Lucia had decided to break off her engagement.  And the reason for her change of heart?  During the voyage on the cramped East Indiaman, Lucia had fallen in love with the ship's Captain, Luke Dodds.  Burchell was devastated and never married. But what happened to Lucia and her Captain?

View of the Island of St Helena 1806 View of the Island of St Helena 1806 - Maps K.Top.117.131.e  Images Online

According to the journal of the Walmer Castle, Lucia disembarked at the Cape of Good Hope in June 1808.  In July 1809, she boarded the Warley at the Cape, and reached St Helena in August.  Captain Luke also returned to St Helena that summer, which must have been distressing for William Burchell.  The Walmer Castle arrived back in England in September 1809.  It must have still been love for the reunited Lucia and Luke, because they married in Lingfield, Surrey on 29 May 1810.

Passenger list of the Walmer Castle Passenger list of the Walmer Castle IOR/L/MAR/B/181F

Luke Dodds was 20 years older than Lucia when they met.  He was born in Heworth, near Newcastle in 1768.  He went to sea aged 11 or 12, working the Northumberland coast as a seaman before finding work on the EIC ship Sulivan in 1785.  He worked variously as quartermaster, gunner’s mate, and boatswain on EIC ships on the China run, interspersed with voyages to the West Indies, becoming 1st mate on the Walmer Castle in 1798.  By 1805 he was Captain, and was to stay with the Walmer Castle on its runs to China via India until 1813.  It was a rapid rise, and Dodds would have made a comfortable amount of money on the way during his East India Company voyages.

Description of commanders and mates examined by the Committee of Shipping - entry for Luke Dodds

Description of commanders and mates examined by the Committee of Shipping - entry for Luke DoddsIOR/L/MAR/C/659 Description of commanders and mates examined by the Committee of Shipping. Entry for Luke Dodds, pp.120-121.

The Dodds had two children - Henry Luke, born 5 February 1811, in Woodford, Essex, and Lucia, baptised Hastings, Sussex, 5 July 1815.  By the 1841 census Luke and Lucia were living comfortably in Hythe, Hampshire.  A magistrate, an 'Esquire' and a man of independent means, Luke Dodds died on 28 February 1849, aged 80.  He lived to see his daughter Lucia marry Graham Eden William Hamond on 7 December 1843.  She married well, Hamond being the son of Admiral Sir Graham Eden Hammond.  Unfortunately, the marriage was short-lived as tragedy struck when Hamond died at Woolwich on 23 January 1847 while in command of the steam-sloop Medea.  They had a daughter, Elizabeth Anne, and a son Graham Eden, an officer in the 7th Hussars, who died in 1872.  Elizabeth Ann married the Reverend John Henry Good, vicar of Hythe, in 1879.  Their son Cecil Henry Brent Good was born in April 1880.  In 1948, his daughter (and novelist) Cecily Good, great grand-daughter of Luke and Lucia, married Sir Basil Gould, becoming Lady Gould in the process.

Luke and Lucia's son Henry Luke Dodds never married.  He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, and gained an MA from Cambridge in 1843.  He was vicar of Great Glen (or Glenn), Leicestershire from 1855 until his death in May 1886.  By the 1871 census his mother Lucia was living with him in the vicarage.  She died there on 6 November 1878 age 90 and was buried in the graveyard of St Cuthbert's Church.  Her headstone records her date of birth as 7 July 1788, meaning she was just 19 when she met Captain Dodds on that fateful journey to St Helena.  Lucia's headstone reads 'Dearly Beloved and Longed For' and the burial register is annotated (presumably by Henry Dodds) 'eheu! desideratissima' (Alas! Most longed for).  William Burchell may well have agreed.

Lesley Shapland
Cataloguer, India Office Records

Further reading
IOR/L/MAR/B/181F: Log of the Walmer Castle, October 1807-November 1809
IOR/L/MAR/B/182H: Log of the Warley, April 1807-October 1809

Heartbroken on St Helena: the naturalist William John Burchell - Part One and Part Two

 

25 February 2020

17th Century Recipes for Those Feeling Under the Weather

It is that time of year again when almost everyone is getting ill.  Luckily, the British Library manuscript collections are full of historic and innovative gastronomic concoctions to help alleviate your various ailments.

A fine place to start is with the Sloane manuscripts, which contain a formidable number of medical recipes, or receipts, as they were known before the 1700s.  On his death, collector and physician Sir Hans Sloane bequeathed his vast collections to the nation.  Chief among Sloane’s academic interests was medicine and he collected many manuscripts that illuminated approaches to medicine through the ages.  These manuscripts date back as early as the 10th century.  They form a fascinating record of the varying treatments used for illnesses over time, as well as highlighting the persistent impulse to treat ailments with food.

From the 1600’s onwards, we can read some of these recipes in modern English and see just what sort of potions we may have had to drink for an illness had we lived during the 17th century.  Here are a few informative examples:

Recipe for the treatment of consumptionRecipe for the treatment of consumption, Sloane MS 3949

For the treatment of consumption, it was recommended to take 3 pints of cow milk, 12 yolks of fresh eggs, 6 ounces of fine breadcrumbs, 3 ounces of fine cinnamon, 2 or 3 pieces of fine gold (surely a staple of every good chef’s kitchen cupboard), 5 ounces of fine sugar, mix together and bring to the boil.  Then one would drink as much of it at a time as possible, or as the recipe states, as much ‘as you shall think convenient’.

Recipe2Recipe to ward off fever, Sloane MS 3949

This was a nice simple recipe to ward off fever:  Take a piece of white bread and dip it in red rose water, then strew it with sugar and eat it an hour before the fit (obviously it helped to know when you were due to be ill for this one).

Recipe 3Recipe against the plague, Add MS 4376

If you were feeling particularly unwell, had buboes in your armpits and a progressively aggressive fever that hinted at your impending doom, then you more than likely had the plague.  In this case, you would have needed to consult the following advice by order of the Corporation of London.  It involves taking rue, sage, mint, rosemary, wormwood and lavender and infusing them together in a gallon of white wine vinegar (so far, so very Waitrose), cooking them in a pot for eight days, draining the liquid and then applying this to the body every day.  You would also have to pour a bit of the mixture onto a sponge to smell when you happened to pass by a particularly plague-ridden avenue.  This receipt even includes its own product review.  It states that criminals would put some of the recipe on their bodies before robbing the houses of those deceased from plague, and that despite them entering these sites of contagion, they had remained healthy.

Although very different from a modern cough medicine, one can recognise in these recipes a few familiar tendencies, such as: equating infused herbs with health; using warm dairy products to comfort; and the use of sugar to make the mixtures more palatable.

Jessica Gregory
Curatorial Support Officer, Modern Archives and Manuscripts

Further Reading:
Ayscough, S., A Catalogue of the Manuscripts Preserved in the British Museum (London: John Rivington, 1782), 2 vols
Hunter, Michael, and others, eds, From books to bezoars: Sir Hans Sloane and his Collections (London: British Library, 2012)
Scott, E. J. L., Index to the Sloane manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1904)

 

18 February 2020

Following in your late brother’s footsteps

Nicholas White was born 7 May 1875, the thirteenth child and youngest son of Nicholas White, a Cornish farmer of 50 acres and his wife Mary Jane Gartrell.  Nicholas was perhaps not the name his parents had intended for him, as his arrival was overshadowed by a family tragedy a few short days later.

Nicholas and Mary Jane White already had a son named Nicholas. He was their eldest son, born in 1855 and a student at the Royal Indian Engineering College at Cooper’s Hill, Englefield Green, Surrey.

On the afternoon of 12 May 1875 Nicholas and another student George Morley had gone swimming in the Thames near Runnymede. Nicholas got into difficulty in the water and had drowned, almost taking his friend George with him according to testimony at the inquest the following week.

RunnymedeRunnymede from The Half Hour Library of Travel, Nature and Science for young readers (London, 1896) Shelfmark 10027.ee BL flickr Noc

Whatever name the Whites had intended for their newborn son, by the time his birth was registered and he was baptised on 6 June he too was given the name Nicholas, presumably in memory of his late brother.

The links to his late brother did not end there.  On 30 April 1894 Nicholas applied to and was also accepted for entry at the Royal Indian Engineering College at Cooper’s Hill, going on to work as a Civil Engineer for the Public Works Department in the Punjab.  He spent his career in the Punjab rising to Chief Engineer and Secretary to Government in the Public Works Department by March 1925.  He was awarded a CBE in 1929 and retired in May 1930 returning to England.

Nicholas was married in India in October 1902 to Maud Nina Magniac (b.1873).  Following their return to England they lived in Clevedon, Somerset where they remained until their deaths, Maud in 1952 and Nicholas in 1959.

Nicholas senior and junior were not the only White brothers to attend the Royal Indian Engineering College.  John Henry White (born in 1868) also studied there.  He took up his service in India in 1891 with a career in railway engineering.  John was engineer-in-chief for the construction of the North-Western Railway in September 1914 and Deputy Director of Railways in Mesopotamia 1916-1917.  He also married in India in November 1903 to Louisa Winifred Gartrell, a cousin on his mother’s side.  He retired from the service in August 1923, leaving India and settling with his wife and children in St Helier, Jersey.

Karen Stapley
Curator, India Office Records

Further reading:
IOR/L/AG/9/8/4, No. 73 – Accountant General’s department miscellaneous matters: Question of deferred fees in case of student who drowned (Mr N White), 1875.

 

05 February 2020

Garrod Family Papers

A recent addition to the collections of India Office Private Papers has been fully catalogued and is now available to researchers.  The Garrod Papers consist of the family archives of William Francis Garrod, a Chaplain in the Indian Ecclesiastical Establishment from 1930 until 1947, his wife Isobel and their four children.  The collection gives a fascinating glimpse into the life of a British family living and working in India at the end of the British Raj.

The Garrod family in 1933 - parents with two small children  The Garrod Family in 1933-  India Office Private Papers Mss Eur F730 Noc

William was born in Bristol in 1893.  He served in France with the Worcestershire Regiment from 1915 until 1918, and in India and the Middle East with a Punjab Regiment until 1922.  On returning to England, he studied history and theology at Queens College, Oxford, where he met Isobel who worked in the Bursary at the College.  They got engaged in August 1926, and were married two years later in July 1928.  The collection contains a lovely group of correspondence between them from this period, which was featured in an earlier Untold Lives blog .  In 1930, they travelled to India on William’s appointment as a Chaplain in the Indian Ecclesiastical Establishment.  They spent the next ten years raising a family, while William worked in various parishes across northern India.

Army identity card for William Garrod Army identity card for William Garrod -  India Office Private Papers Mss Eur F730 Noc

Photograph of William Garrod in Army uniformWilliam Garrod -  India Office Private Papers Mss Eur F730 Noc

In 1941, William returned to military service as a chaplain in the Indian Army, being posted to Iraq and Syria with the 10th Indian Division.  In 1943, he was promoted to Assistant Chaplain General, first with Eastern Command, then with the Southern Army.  He returned to civil duty in January 1946, and the family returned to England later that year on William’s retirement from the Indian Ecclesiastical Establishment.

Letter from Isobel Garrod  April 1941 Letter from Isobel Garrod April 1941 - India Office Private Papers Mss Eur F730 Noc

The collection contains a large amount of family correspondence.  William and Isobel wrote regularly to each other whenever they were apart, particularly when he was on active service during the Second World War.  The importance of keeping in touch with family through writing letters was made clear by William in a file in the collection (shelfmark Mss Eur F730/2/12).  In a short article sent to all Chaplains in the Southern Army, William highlighted the importance of letter writing for the morale of the men in the Army overseas.

Article on the importance of letter writing by William GarrodArticle on the importance of letter writing by William Garrod  - India Office Private Papers Mss Eur F730 Noc


Also included in the collection are files of demi-official correspondence relating to William’s war work as Assistant Chaplain General, maps of the Middle East, printed papers (including instruction guides for officers during the First World War, and papers on Christian teaching and prayer), and albums of family photographs illustrating their life in India.

The Garrod Family Papers are available to view in the Asian & African Studies Reading Room, and the catalogue is searchable on Explore Archives and Manuscripts.

John O’Brien
India Office Records

Further Reading:
Garrod Family Papers - Collection reference: Mss Eur F730

 

30 January 2020

Heartbroken on St Helena: the naturalist William John Burchell - Part Two

We left William Burchell, probably the best naturalist you've never heard of, in early 1808 on the island of St Helena, teaching school, tending a nascent botanic garden, and carrying out botanical and geological surveys of the island.

St Helena - Terrace KnollTerrace Knoll : A view in St. Helena. 'In looking inland you have this view and turning towards the sea you have the view of the Friar. This was drawn and coloured on the spot and is very correct. In the winter the hills are much greener. The bamboo is not finished but correctly shows its growth. The yams grow along a stream of water.' William Burchell's Saint Helena Journal 1806-1810 – Dated 16 February 1807 © Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

All was looking well.  A minute of the East India Company Court of Directors dated 4 November 1807 recorded the decision 'That Miss Lucia Green be permitted to proceed to her Uncle at St Helena'.  In December Lucia set sail to join Burchell in the East India Company ship Walmer Castle.

Bond for Lucia Green providing surety for her travel to St Helena.Bond for Lucia Green providing surety for her travel to St Helena. IOR/O/1/234 no.2088, signed by Matthew Burchell and Robert Holt Butcher, vicar of Wandsworth.

By the time the ship arrived in St Helena in April 1808, Lucia had struck up a relationship with Captain Luke Dodds.  She announced to Burchell that she no longer wanted to marry him.  His St Helena journal and correspondence from that time record his devastation at the betrayal.  Burchell had to watch as Lucia sailed away to a life with Captain Dodds.

Burchell's business partnership also failed and was dissolved.  Moreover the East India Company was pressing Burchell for research of economic rather than scientific benefit ‘in the hope that something valuable for the purposes of commerce or manufacture might be brought to light’, and so reduce the expenses of the Island.  Burchell felt frustrated.  He wrote: “not having been employed in a manner useful to the Honourable Company, I feel that I could not conscientiously receive the salary”.  By April 1810 he had resigned as Company naturalist, having previously given up his position as schoolmaster.  His last few months on St Helena were mired in arguments with the churchwardens over payment of rent.  One cannot help but view Burchell's later experiences on St Helena as having been tainted by his personal anguish. 

He left the island on 16 October 1810, and travelled to Cape Town, where he undertook a remarkable four-year expedition into the interior of Southern Africa, through Cape Colony and Bechuanaland. His Travels in the Interior of Southern Africa was published in two volumes in 1822 and 1824; an expected third volume was never completed. 

The Rock Fountain in the country of the BushmanTravels in the Interior of Southern Africa Vol 1 p. 294: 'The Rock Fountain in the country of the Bushman'

 

10. IMG_20191219_093018 Travels in the Interior of Southern Africa Vol 1 p.325: 'A Hottentot Krall on the banks of the Gariep'

 

11. IMG_20191219_093737Travels in the Interior of Southern Africa Vol 2 p.360: 'View on entering the town of Litakun'

Burchell was travelling again by 1825, this time to Brazil.  He collected widely over a period of five years, including in the states of Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, São Paulo, Goiás, Tocantins, and Pará, ending up in the town of Belém.  He returned to England in March 1830 laden with the fruits of his collecting labours.

William John Burchell by Thomas Herbert MaguireWilliam John Burchell by Thomas Herbert Maguire-  lithograph, 1854 NPG D32394 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Burchell did not produce a narrative of his expedition to Brazil.  Indeed, the rest of his life was spent cataloguing his enormous collection of specimens, which he guarded rather jealously.  The task was not finished until 1860.  Burchell slowly withdrew from his friends and fellow scientists, including William Hooker, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. He published few of his findings and drew little public acclaim.  William Burchell committed suicide at the family home in Fulham on 23 March 1863.

Today William Burchell is seen as a pioneer for his meticulous field work in recording the date and precise location where he collected his specimens, and for his myriad talents in botany, geology, art and illustration, geography, and what we would now call environmentalism.  His name deserves to be more widely known.

And how did life turn out for Burchell's fiancée Lucia Green and her Captain Luke Dodds? That’s another story

Lesley Shapland
Cataloguer, India Office Records

Heartbroken on St Helena: the naturalist William John Burchell - Part One

A Ship-Board Romance: Lucia Green and Captain Luke Dodds

 

23 January 2020

Heartbroken on St Helena: the naturalist William John Burchell - Part One

Imagine you’d left your home in London to establish a new life on the island of St Helena.  You begin a trading partnership with your fiancée’s uncle, and the Governor writes to the East India Company’s Directors singing your praises.   As a result, you become the island’s schoolmaster, and later the Company’s naturalist. You send out to England for your fiancée to join you and eagerly await her arrival…. only to find that she has transferred her affections to the ship's Captain and no longer intends to marry you.

This unfortunate turn of events happened to the naturalist and explorer William John Burchell (1781-1863).  During his time on St Helena (1805-10), his travels across South Africa (1810-15), and his expedition to Brazil via Portugal, Madeira and Tenerife (1825-30), he collected tens of thousands of animal, plant, and insect specimens and a variety of ethnographic material.  A talented artist, he made many drawings and paintings, including landscapes, specimens, and the people he encountered.  Burchell has a zebra, several birds, a lizard, fish, butterflies, a plant genus, and even the army ant Eciton burchellii named after him, yet he is not generally well known.

Portrait of William John BurchellWilliam John Burchell by Mary Dawson Turner (née Palgrave), after John Sell Cotman etching (1816) NPG D7805 ©National Portrait Gallery, London

William was born in Fulham in 1781 to the nurseryman Matthew Burchell and his wife Jane.  His early life was surrounded by plants from all over the world, and he came into contact with many of the day's leading botanists.  He worked for a while at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and by 1803 had been elected a fellow of the Linnean Society.  However in August 1805 we find Burchell signed up as 4th mate on the East India Company ship Northumberland.  What made Burchell leave his blossoming botanical career in London?  The answer seems to be a young woman named Lucia Green.  Burchell’s family objected to the match, presumably making him determined to succeed on his own terms.  He arranged a trading partnership with Lucia’s uncle William Balcombe, who had permission ‘to proceed to St Helena for the purpose of exercising the business of an Auctioneer and Appraiser, to the said Island’.

List of the ship's company on the NorthumberlandIOR/L/MAR/B/141 O List of the ship's company on the Northumberland Noc

How Burchell was able to join the Northumberland is not clear.  He did not have the required maritime experience, so perhaps there was a friendship with Captain George Raincock, or a connection with one of the ship’s principal managing owners, Henry Hounsom, William Masson or William Sims.  The ship arrived at St Helena on 13 December 1805.  The ship’s journal notes that Burchell “Left sick at St Helena 28 Jan 1806”, but the presumption is that he never intended to travel further.

 View of Diana's Ridge, from the summit of Sugar Loaf. from Burchell's Saint Helena Journal  View of Diana's Ridge, from the summit of Sugar Loaf. Saint Helena Journal 1806-1810. Dated 8 December 1807 © Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Burchell was appointed schoolmaster in June 1806 and asked to focus on educating the young men of the island in the light of Company regulations for cadets.  In November 1806 it was proposed that Burchell develop and look after a botanic garden in James’s Valley.  In 1808 Burchell was appointed as the Company’s naturalist, to “ascertain and investigate the natural productions of the Island… in the hope that something valuable for the purposes of commerce or manufacture might be brought to light”.  He was asked to send back samples of “coloured earths” and “sea fowl guano”, to look after plants destined for England, and investigate the cultivation of cotton. 

Sketch of Mr. Burchell directing Charles - St Helena JournalSketch of Mr. Burchell directing Charles: Burchell - 'There's a famous big one down there Charles; Charles - Yes Sir, I'll soon have that down'. Saint Helena Journal 1806-1810 – Dated 8 December 1807 © Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

And all the while, he awaited the arrival of his fiancée Lucia Green.

To be continued…

Lesley Shapland
Cataloguer, India Office Records

Further reading:
IOR/L/MAR/B/141 O: Journal of the Northumberland
IOR/L/MAR/B/181 F: Journal of the Walmer Castle
IOR/G/32/70-75: St Helena Consultations
IOR/G/32/136-138: St Helena: Original Letters &c from St Helena to the Court
IOR/B/141, 146 Minutes of the East India Company Court of Directors
Susan Buchanan, Burchell’s Travels. The Life, Art and Journeys of William John Burchell, 1781-1863 (Cape Town, 2015)
William J. Burchell, Travels in the Interior of southern Africa  (London, 1822-1824)
Buchell’s St Helena drawings, and his manuscript notes on the flora and fauna of St Helena (together with other archival material) are held by the Library, Art & Archives, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Burchell’s original St Helena diary, together with other papers and correspondence, is held at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.  It has been published by Robin Castell in William John Burchell (1781-1863) [on] St. Helena (1805-1810) (St Helena: Castell Collection, 2011). The diary is quoted in Buchanan, op. cit.
Other Burchell papers, and papers relating to Burchell can be found at the Linnean Society (Correspondence with William Swainston), and the William Cullen Library, University of Witwatersrand (including copies of material at Oxford University Museum of Natural History, and the papers of Helen Millar McKay in connection with her research on Burchell). Further drawings and paintings by Burchell can be found in the collections of Museum Africa in Johannesburg.

Heartbroken on St Helena: the naturalist William John Burchell - Part Two

 

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