Untold lives blog

222 posts categorized "Health"

12 January 2023

From India to destitution in Glasgow Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

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

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

 

05 January 2023

Walker’s Manly Exercises

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

RidingRiding from Walker’s Manly Exercises

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

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

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

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

 

13 December 2022

The oldest cyclist in the UK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

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

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

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

 

01 December 2022

Requests to the India Office for help

A common activity for the India Office was fielding enquiries from members of the public asking for help.  These usually involved help in either travelling to India, in tracing friends or relatives, disputes over money, applications for jobs in government, requests for financial assistance.  Many such enquiries survive in the Home Correspondence files of the Public Department in the India Office Records.  To the majority of such enquiries the India Office declined help, and it is unknown how the situation was resolved.  However these small cries for help still survive in the archives, and here are a small selection.

Enquiry from Mrs E F Saunders regarding her son John CowlishawEnquiry from Mrs E F Saunders regarding her son John Cowlishaw, shelfmark IOR/L/PJ/2/53, File 7/423  Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

In April 1873, the India Office received a letter from Mrs E F Saunders of Railway Street, Chatham.  Her son, John Cowlishaw had travelled to India in 1868 to work as an engineer in the Bombay Dockyards.  Mrs Saunders reported that he was very ill in the workhouse at Lahore, and asked for any help or advice on getting him home.  An enquiry with the Military (Marine) Department revealed that he had resigned his position as a third Class Marine Engineer on 20 December 1871.  Mrs Saunders was advised to address an enquiry to the Secretary to the Government of the Punjab at Lahore.

Request from Cossim Mooljee for assistance in returning to IndiaRequest from Cossim Mooljee for assistance in returning to India, shelfmark IOR/L/PJ/2/53, File 7/435  Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

In July 1873, Cossim Mooljee wrote to the India Office for help in returning to India.  Mooljee had travelled to Mecca from Bombay in 1870, then to Constantinople via Egypt.  While there, he had entered into an agreement with a Greek merchant to serve as a shopkeeper, and travelled with him to Naples and Rome.  While in Italy, the merchant destroyed the agreement and abandoned Mooljee.  With the help of the British Consul, Mooljee had managed to travel to London and secure lodgings at the Strangers' Home at Limehouse where he had been for the past two months.

Application from Ellis H Myers for a free passage back to India.Application from Ellis H Myers for a free passage back to India, shelfmark IOR/L/PJ/2/53, File 7/442  Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

In September 1873, Ellis Meyers wrote to the India Office requesting a free passage back to India.  He had arrived in London four months previously with a small fortune that he had lost in speculation.  He wrote that he was ‘quite destitute of means of support at present, and if I was to remain longer here I am positive that I shall starve’.  The India Office was not impressed, with one official writing in the file: 'This request displays an unusual amount of effrontery', and declined his request.

Application from May Mitchell for a passage back to India.

Application from May Mitchell for a passage back to India, shelfmark IOR/L/PJ/2/56, File 7/508  Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

In October 1876, a letter was received from May Mitchell in which she described herself as a ‘helpless stranger in England without money or friends’.  She had been a stewardess on a steamship, but had to leave the ship to go into the London Hospital due to ill health.  Having recovered she was now unable to find a vacancy on a ship back to India.  Although European, she had spent all her life in India and this was her first visit to England.  She wrote, ‘The people of this country treat me strangely & I do not care to stay among them’.  She had been around all the shipping agents in the city without success and had no money to advertise in the newspapers.  She insisted that ‘I am not making matters out worse with me than they actually are I have literally nothing to live on’.  Although sympathetic, India Office officials struggled to know how to help, as one noted, ‘Distressing as her case may prove to be, there is no precedent of a European being sent to India at the public expense’.  However, a marginal note in the file stated that Mrs Mitchell had received a ‘private commission’, suggesting that she had managed to secure a passage back home.

John O’Brien
India Office Records

Further Reading:
Public Home Correspondence for 1873: enquiry from Mrs E F Saunders regarding her son John Cowlishaw, shelfmark IOR/L/PJ/2/53, File 7/423.

Public Home Correspondence for 1873: request from Cossim Mooljee for assistance in returning to India, shelfmark IOR/L/PJ/2/53, File 7/435.

Public Home Correspondence for 1873: application from Ellis H Myers for a free passage back to India, shelfmark IOR/L/PJ/2/53, File 7/442.

Public Home Correspondence for 1877: application from May Mitchell for a passage back to India, shelfmark IOR/L/PJ/2/56, File 7/508.

 

29 November 2022

East India Company discharged soldiers

In the India Office Records are two fascinating registers of discharged soldiers for the period 1820-1882.  They record soldiers other than commissioned officers who served in the East India Company armies in Bengal, Madras, Bombay and St Helena, and in the British Army in India after 1859.

Page from register of discharged soldiersRegister of discharged soldiers IOR/L/MIL/10/301 - William Evitt from a recent post appears on this page  Public Domain Creative Commons Licence


The information given is –
• Names
• Rank
• Service in years and months
• Which establishment i.e. Bengal, Madras, Bombay, St Helena
• Age
• Height
• Complexion e.g. fair, sallow, freckled, dark, swarthy, fresh, ruddy
• Visage e.g. round, long, very long, oval, square, sharp, thin
• Eye and hair colour
• Previous trade
• County and parish of birth
• Character
• Ship sailing to England
• Where enlisted
• Amount of marching money (grant to meet the costs of  the soldier's journey from the place where he was landed  to the place where he enlisted)
• Reason for discharge e.g. time expired, unfit, infamous character, own request, over age
• Notes e.g. admission to pension, scars, details of injuries and infirmities

Explanations are given for why the soldiers were deemed unfit for further service.  Some examples of infirmity are broken hips; fractured knees; wounds; liver, kidney, lung, and heart disease; rheumatism; injuries to hands; loss of limbs; constant headaches; poor eyesight; epilepsy; rupture; venereal disease; alcohol problems.  Several men died before embarkation or during the passage home.  Gunners in the Artillery seem to have been especially prone to injury – ‘contracted’ fingers, deafness, being hit by horses falling on them.  In 1858, discharges because of serious injuries sustained in actions during the Indian Uprising or ‘Mutiny’ dominate the register.

Some men with mental health problems were sent for admission to Pembroke House in Hackney, for example, in 1857, Patrick Glendon and Theophilus Boyd.  Their case histories can be read in the Pembroke House register in the India Office Records (IOR/K/2/36).

There are cases of men being discharged when they needed to return to Europe to settle personal affairs .  Others were removed from the army after being involved in criminal activity such as highway robbery.  James Deer, a private in the St Helena garrison, was discharged and sent to England as an infamous character.  He had been being found guilty of burglary and sacrilege after stealing articles from the London Missionary Society at Jamestown Church on 8 December 1821.  He was spared by giving evidence for the Crown against his fellow soldier Samuel Crump who was sentenced to death.  The East India Company Court of Directors and the London Missionary Society submitted petitions to the Home Secretary Robert Peel, asking for clemency for Crump on the grounds of Christian mercy and his contrition. A royal pardon was granted on condition that Crump serve seven years’ hard labour on St Helena.

Charles Gustasson, a native of Sweden, was discharged in 1823 and granted a pension.  He had originally enlisted in 1806 for service on St Helena but ‘being a foreigner’ was moved to the Cape of Good Hope after the arrival of Napoleon on the island in 1815.

In July 1859 William Ruxton, a gunner in the Bombay Artillery returned to Dublin with a pension and a very good character after 23 years’ service.  He was discharged because of old age, loss of vital energy, and bad teeth. He was aged 45.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading;
IOR/L/MIL/10/301-302 Registers of discharged soldiers 1820-1882, with indexes.
IOR/G/32/142, 153 St Helena records 1822-1823 about Samuel Crump.
The National Archives HO 17/92/50 Petition on behalf of Samuel Crump 1822.

06 October 2022

A 'pest of skolds' and other 'unruly women' (part II)

This is part two of 'A pest of skolds' - part one can be found here.  

In our previous blog on the nurses caring for sick and wounded sailors, we saw one of the more extreme courses of action available to nurses to force the navy into paying them what they were owed.

Lodging and caring for the sick and wounded could be exceedingly costly, and nurses and care workers could be pushed into poverty due to a lack of payment for their services. In a letter to Evelyn dated 9 June 1673, for example, a Mr Hannon wrote of the ‘miserable condicon’ of the people. He informed Evelyn that the quarterers had engaged their credit as far as it would go, and shopkeepers were now refusing to trust them. Consequently, they had been forced to sell and pawn their own goods to provide for the sick, with many ‘now reduced to that poverty that they have not where withal to maintiane their owne family’.

Some nurses made their superiors aware of their condition through formal petitions, as in the example below:

Handwritten petition with signatures
Petition to John Evelyn, Add MS 78322, f 71

The nurses of Deal petitioned Evelyn on the basis that the crown had allowed seven shillings per week for the maintenance of every sick and wounded person, but the ‘prickmaster’ would pay them no more than five shillings. They also wrote that they had not been paid for twelve months, and were now ‘in danger to be utterly undone and ruined, not being able to subsist, unlesse speedily assisted’.

Fifteen individuals, mostly women, set their names to the petition asking Evelyn to ensure that the prickmaster paid their money in full, and allowed them to discharge their debts to their creditors.

Where petitioning failed, however, there was one further approach attempted by the nurses to recover the losses incurred whilst nursing sick and wounded seamen. This final letter records what Evelyn refers to as a ‘universal conspiracy’ amongst the nurses. He writes that his deputies had already been forced to break open doors in order to procure quarters for the sick and wounded, as the nurses had asserted that they would not receive any more until their arrears had been discharged.

Handwritten letter by John EvelynLetter from John Evelyn regarding financial pressures on the nurses, Add MS 78322, f 2.

Evelyn writes that the financial pressure placed on the quarterers ‘makes them not onely in a kind of despaire, but so inrag’d, that I neither dare to go down amongst them, nor for almost these five weekes, stay in my owne house’. At last, he requests that the sum of £1000 is paid immediately, to ‘pacifie the poore-people’, who might otherwise ‘grow to a very greate disorder’.

Together, these letters reveal the struggle that these individuals faced to be paid for their services as well as the means at their disposal to fight back. Where some opted for the more formal approach of petitioning the authorities, others channelled their frustration into action, refusing to take in the hundreds of sick and wounded arriving on their shores without payment in full of their outstanding wages. Others, as we saw in Reymes’ letter in part one, took the fight directly to the commissioner’s door, where they loudly proclaimed their struggles until the authorities were forced to respond.

These were ordinary people, many of whom lived their lives close to the poverty line. Nevertheless they remained indispensable to the success of the navy, and by uniting as one, they were able to make their voices heard.

Rachel Clamp

PhD Placement Student Modern Archives and Manuscripts

Further Reading

Matthew Neufeld and Blaine Wickham, ‘The State, the People and the Care of the Sick and Injured Sailors in Late Stuart England’, Social History of Medicine Vol. 28, No. 1, pp. 45-63.

University of Leicester Library Special Collections blog, John Evelyn and the war with the Dutch

03 October 2022

A 'pest of skolds' and other 'unruly women': caring for sick and wounded sailors in the Anglo-Dutch wars (part I)

The Anglo-Dutch wars were a series of conflicts fought between England and the Dutch Republic beginning in the mid-seventeenth century and lasting until the late eighteenth century. Contemporary writer and diarist John Evelyn was appointed Commissioner for Sick and Wounded Seamen in the autumn of 1664. Alongside his colleagues in the Commission, Evelyn was responsible for sourcing quarters where sick and wounded sailors could receive medical and therapeutic attention.

Oil painting of a sea battleR Nooms, A Battle of the First Dutch War, 1652-54. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

Before the great purpose-built naval hospitals at Chelsea and Greenwich were commissioned, sick and wounded sailors were cared for in a combination of private homes and alehouses throughout coastal towns such as Deal, Portsmouth and Plymouth. Landlords, landladies and alehouse keepers, also known as ‘quarterers’, would provide care and lodging on credit to the navy.

Having been for the most part neglected by historians, fresh attention was paid to the partnership between the navy and private care workers by Matthew Neufeld and Blaine Wickham in their 2014 article for Social History of Medicine. The Evelyn Papers at The British Library contain a wealth of information about the work of these individuals and their fight to be properly compensated for their efforts.

Relationships between the nurses and naval commissioners were frequently strained, as the following letter written to Evelyn in April 1665 from his colleague and fellow commissioner Bullen Reymes reveals.

‘The truth is’, Reymes wrote,

‘I have till of late boyed up our Nurses Spirits, by fayre words, and now and then a littell mony upon my account…but [especially] by promising that I would not goe hence, till I had made all even’. ‘These honest artes’, he informed Evelyn, ‘hath hitherto kept my skin whole, for Billingsgat hath not such another Pest of Skolds, as I have to doe with all’.

Reymes then provided an account of his latest encounter with the nurses of Deal:

‘It seems the other day, they had got a whisper amongst them, as if the Commissioner (meaning me) [was] going to London the next day’.

News of Reymes’ imminent departure seemed to spread quickly amongst the nurses who were concerned that the Commissioner would once again leave the town without paying them for their services. Consequently, they congregated at Reymes’ door and challenged him as he attempted to leave his home the next morning:

‘[A]s I came down the stairs to goe abrod’, he wrote, ‘my entry was barricaded with 20 or thirty of the sharpest tunged women, charging me with an outcry, or rather a jangling (for in an outcry, there may be harmony) of there several wants and nessessetys, and all at once, and that they must have their mony…before I went, and that I should not shrinke to steale away to London as I did last, and not paye them, that they were sure the Good King (god blis him) allowed us money to paye them, & we keepe it, and fed them now & then with a littell, so that their money did them no good, and a thousand other…Complaynts’.

It was not only the twenty or thirty women barricading the door who voiced their concerns, but also:

‘another Squadron of them that stood with out dorres, in the Streete took up as an echo, & redubbled  it back againe, I all this while in the midest of them Crying and Praying them to have patience a littell longer’

These ‘unruly women’, as they are later referred to, would not be satisfied, however, without a solemn promise that Reymes would see to it that they were paid in full. But this was only one of the ways in which the quarterers sought to make their voices heard. In Part II of this blog, we'll explore some more documents that reveal more of their fascinating stories.

Rachel Clamp

PhD Placement Student, Modern Archives and Manuscripts

Further Reading

Matthew Neufeld and Blaine Wickham, ‘The State, the People and the Care of the Sick and Injured Sailors in Late Stuart England’, Social History of Medicine Vol. 28, No. 1, pp. 45-63.

LSE staff blog, John Evelyn and the war with the Dutch

30 August 2022

Coxwell’s concrete lemon

A recent donation to the India Office Private Papers is an ensign’s commission granted to Anthony Merry who joined the East India Company as an army cadet in 1798.

Commission as ensign granted to Anthony MerryCommission as ensign granted to Anthony Merry – India Office Private Papers Mss Eur F759 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Anthony Merry was baptised at Great Warley in Essex on 2 September 1783, the younger son of Anthony Merry and Margaret (née Hornby).  When Anthony senior died in 1785, his will confirmed the marriage settlement made with Margaret together with a further £200.  The settlement appears to have included the manor of Hayleys in Epping.  Anthony did not mention his children.  The bulk of the remaining estate went to his sister Elizabeth Pinnell and other relations.

Margaret Merry re-married twice.  In 1786 she wed widower William Dowson of Chamberlain’s Wharf Southwark, and their son William was born the following year.  Dowson died in 1791, leaving Margaret £100 and the use during her lifetime of Millfield House in Highgate.

In 1795 Margaret married another widower Henry Coxwell, a chemist and druggist in Fleet Street London.  They had a son Charles in 1795 and a daughter Elizabeth in 1797.  Coxwell was a member of the Committee of Chemistry at the Society for the Promotion of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, and the inventor of concrete lemon.

Invention of concrete lemon by Henry Coxwell- Bath Chronicle 1799Invention of concrete lemon by Henry Coxwell - Bath Chronicle 7 March 1799 British Newspaper Archive

Concrete lemon was crystallized lemon juice, ‘the pure acid part of the fruit in a solid and dry form, resembling in appearance white sugar candy’.  Coxwell signed each package sold as a guarantee of its authenticity.

Handbill advertising Coxwell's concrete lemonHandbill advertising Coxwell's concrete lemon - British Library General Reference Collection Cup.21.g.24/5 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

The crystals were said to be ‘convenient and elegant’, dissolving instantly in cold water, and cheaper than fresh lemons or lemon juice.  They could be used to make punch, lemonade, or sauces.  Ships of the Royal Navy and East India Company were supplied with Coxwell’s concrete lemon to help guard sailors against scurvy.

Thomas Trotter's comment about the use of Coxwell's concrete lemon by the Royal NavyThomas Trotter, Medicina Nautica; an Essay on the diseases of Seamen vol III (London, 1803), p.76 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Henry Coxwell died at Millfield House in 1832, ‘deeply and deservedly lamented by all who had the pleasure of his acquaintance’.  His library was sold three years later.  This included a collection of modern medical books together with others on a variety of subjects – travel, plant, insects, literature, philosophy, politics.

Newspaper advert for the sale of Henry Coxwell's libraryAdvert for the sale of Henry Coxwell's library - Sun (London) 19 October 1835 British Newspaper Archive

Anthony Merry died before his stepfather, in 1831.  His career in the Madras Army had been very brief.  In February 1801 Lieutenant Merry was stationed at Seringapatam with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Regiment Native Infantry.  He wrote to  his commanding officer, Major Thomas Riddell, expressing his wish to resign the Company’s service and to proceed to Europe at the first opportunity.  Major General Brathwaite recommended that this request be granted, given Merry’s general character and conduct.  Merry was permitted to resign and told to go immediately to Madras and be ready to embark for Europe.

After his return to England, Anthony Merry served as an officer in regiments of the Royal Militia.  He married Elizabeth Strivens in 1805 and settled in Kentish Town in north London.  It appears the couple had four children: Margaret, Robert, Eliza (died in infancy), and William Henry.  Anthony’s East India Company commission was carefully preserved and passed down the family before being gifted to the British Library.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
Commission as ensign granted to Anthony Merry – India Office Private Papers Mss Eur F759.
Baptism of Anthony Merry – India Office Records IOR/L/MIL/9/108 f. 466.
Papers in Madras Military Proceedings 1801 about Anthony Merry’s resignation - India Office Records IOR/P/254/70 pp.1788-1791, 1794-1795.
Will of Anthony Merry 1785 – The National Archives PROB 11/1127/339.
Will of Anthony Merry 1813 - The National Archives PROB 11/1785/332.
Will of Anthony Merry 1835 - The National Archives PROB 11/1849/369.
Will of Sukey Merry 1840 - The National Archives PROB 11/1921/375.

 

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