Untold lives blog

134 posts categorized "Leisure"

16 September 2021

Breakfast in British India

In 1810 Captain Thomas Williamson, a retired Bengal Army officer, published The East India Vade-Mecum; or complete guide to gentlemen intended for the civil, military or, naval service of the East India Company.  It is a fascinating book to dip into and this caught my eye:
’A breakfast in India bears a strong resemblance to the same meal in Scotland, with the exception of whiskey; the introduction of which, (if to be had,) or of any other spirits would be considered both nauseous and vulgar’.

After this surprising revelation about Scottish breakfasts, Williamson moves on to detail the bill of fare.  Breakfast for Europeans in Williamson’s India was generally a substantial meal: tea, coffee, toast, bread, butter, eggs, rice, salt-fish, kitcheree (kedgeree), sweetmeats, orange marmalade, and honey.  Sometimes, following hunting and shooting expeditions, cold meat and accompaniments were served.

Breakfast In India - A young married couple (an East India Company civil servant and his wife) breakfasting on fried fish, rice and Sylhet oranges, with servants in attendance..'The Breakfast' from William Tayler, Sketches illustrating the manner and customs of the Indians and the Anglo-Indians (London, 1842) British Library shelfmark X42 Images Online

European gentlemen rose at daybreak and, before breakfast, either went on parade or to their ‘field diversions’, or rode on horses or elephants, enjoying the cool morning air.  Williamson recommended wearing the clothes worn on the previous evening for exercise and then changing into a clean suit on return, sitting down to breakfast in comfort.

Williamson cautioned against eating eggs at breakfast, believing that they aggravated bilious conditions.  Eggs were ‘innocent’ in the climate of England for people with a robust constitution, but in Asia, ‘where relaxation weakens the powers of digestion, they are a pernicious article of diet’.  He also believed that salt-fish should be banned from the breakfast table, as eating it caused ’thirst, heat, and uneasiness’.

Newspaper announcement of a public breakfast, Calcutta 1785Calcutta Gazette 3 February 1785 British Newspaper Archive - also available via Findmypast

In the late 18th century it had been customary for the Governor General and members of Council to have weekly public breakfasts: ‘persons of all characters mixed promiscuously, and good and bad were to be seen around the same tea-pot’.  The breakfast was considered as ‘merely the preface to a levee’.  When Lord Cornwallis arrived, these public breakfasts were replaced by open levees.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
Thomas Williamson, The East India Vade-Mecum; or complete guide to gentlemen intended for the civil, military or, naval service of the East India Company (London, 1810) 
Owain Edwards,’ Captain Thomas Williamson of India’, Modern Asian Studies Vol. 14, No. 4 (1980), pp. 673-682

 

In the mid-19th century, there was a selection of marmalades available in India. As well as orange marmalade, there was mango. citron, lemon, and ginger.

Marmalade types from Bombay Gazette 1863Bombay Gazette 3 February 1863 British Newspaper Archive - also available via Findmypast

What would Paddington Bear think of that?

Paddington – The Story of a Bear


Paddington Bear - advert for exhibition at British Library


14 September 2021

Memorabilia of Captain James Cecil Thornton

One of the most pleasing aspects of private paper collections is the small items of ephemera they often contain.  One example of this in the India Office Private Papers is a folder of memorabilia of Captain James Cecil Thornton (1888-1932), Royal Field Artillery, and Supply and Transport Corps, India and Mesopotamia.

Examples of memorabilia belonging to Captain James Cecil Thornton - tickets from Makinah Gymkhana Club and Baghdad Officers' ClubExamples of memorabilia belonging to Captain James Cecil Thornton - British Library Mss Eur D791 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

The India Office Records also holds his Indian Army service file which gives some information on Captain Thornton.  Born in London on 22 August 1888, his nationality is listed as Scottish.  His father was George Thornton, residing in Eltham, Kent.  James Thornton joined the Royal Field Artillery in 1912 as a Second Lieutenant.  He clearly excelled in the role as he rose to be appointed a Captain in 1916.  In June 1917 he travelled to India, and in April 1918 was attached to the Supply & Transport Corps in Mesopotamia.  In January 1919, Thornton married Muriel Augusta Florence Hardwick, and they had a daughter, Rosemary Muriel Augusta, born at St George’s Ditchling, East Sussex on 2 November 1919.  The service record also notes Thornton’s language skills.  In February 1918, he passed the examination taken in Baghdad in colloquial Arabic.  He also had conversational Urdu and good colloquial French.

Front page of Indian Army Army service record for James Cecil Thornton Indian Army Army service record for James Cecil Thornton - British Library IOR/L/MIL/14/30321 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

The folder of memorabilia shows the social life of an army officer.  It contains books of tickets for various clubs: Baghdad Officers’ Club, Makinah Gymkhana Club, and the Busreh Club.  There is also a programme of sports held by the 4th Brigade of the R.F.A. on 30 September 1917, and a programme for the R.F.A. Brigade Horse Show on 16 February 1918 at Samarrah.

Programme of sports held by the 4th Brigade of the R.F.A. on 30 September 1917Programme of sports held by the 4th Brigade of the R.F.A. on 30 September 1917 - British Library Mss Eur D791 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

The folder also gives a glimpse into the tasks he performed as part of his duties.  There are two permits ‘to send goods up country’, dated Baghdad 26 October 1917.  The goods listed on the permits were a packet of Baghdad-made clothing articles, a bag of indigo, and 1 bale containing 61 packets of silk and other Baghdad-made articles.  There is also a statement showing the average rates paid for various articles including rice, wheat, barley, ghee, dates, millet, maize, lentils, firewood, sesame and onions.

Permit to send goods up countryPermit to send goods up country  - British Library Mss Eur D791 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

James Thornton left military service in 1922.  He returned to England to pursue a career as a solicitor in Brighton, where he was also responsible for organising the Horse Show for the ‘Greater Brighton’ celebrations in 1928.  In 1929, he suffered severe injuries in a tragic accident when he fell from his bedroom window.  The local newspaper reported that he was known to walk in his sleep.  He died in 1932.


John O’Brien
India Office Records

Further Reading:
Memorabilia of Captain James Cecil Thornton (1888-1932), Royal Field Artillery, and Supply and Transport Corps, India and Mesopotamia 1917-1922, British Library shelfmark Mss Eur D791.
Army service record for James Cecil Thornton, 1912-1922, British Library shelfmark IOR/L/MIL/14/30321.
Mid Sussex Times, 22 October 1929 and 29 November 1932, online in the British Newspaper Archive (also available via Findmypast).

 

31 August 2021

East India Company appointments by the Prince Regent – (1) Henry Meredith Parker

In December 1812 the Chairman of the East India Company received a letter from Colonel McMahon, Private Secretary to the Prince Regent.  The Prince had asked McMahon to express how much he would be obliged if the Court of Directors granted him a writership for Bengal for a young gentleman aged seventeen whom the Prince was desirous of serving.  The Company directors resolved unanimously that His Royal Highness should be presented with the nomination of a student for East India College with a view to appointment as a writer on the Bengal establishment.

Prince Regent's request for a Bengal writership December 1812Request of the Prince Regent for a Bengal writership December 1812 IOR/B/156 p. 996 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Nominations for East India College were normally shared amongst the Company directors, but sometimes others were granted the privilege of putting a name forward, for example politician Lord Sidmouth.

The young man being favoured by the Prince Regent was Henry Meredith Parker.  In July 1813 Henry was appointed Deputy-Assistant Commissary to the Forces but he then reverted to seeking a career in the East India Company.  In December 1813 the Court of Directors resolved that he should be appointed as a writer in Bengal without having to attend East India College if found suitable.  Henry was examined by Samuel Henley, Principal of East India College, and rated ‘preeminently qualified’.  The sureties who put up money to guarantee Henry’s good behaviour were his father and Colonel McMahon.

Writer's petition for Henry Meredith ParkerWriter’s petition for Henry Meredith Parker January 1814 IOR/J/1/29 f.19v Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Henry’s application papers state that he was born on 4 June 1795 in St George’s Surrey.  He had to provide details of his parents’ situation, profession and residence: ‘My Parents Mr and Mrs William Parker, reside in Bridge Street in the Parish of Lambeth on their Private Income’.  Henry did not reveal that his parents were both well-known entertainers.  His father William Parker was an equestrian specialist and for some years proprietor of a circus in Edinburgh.  His mother was Sophia Granier, a singer, dancer and actress from a large family of stage players. Henry played the violin in the orchestra at the theatre in Covent Garden.

Why did the Prince Regent wish to help Henry with his career?  It seems that the Prince had seen the Parker family perform.  William Parker had an older daughter Nannette by his first wife, and she was a celebrated actress who married the popular Scottish actor Henry Erskine Johnston.  Apparently the Prince took a fancy to Nannette and forced his way into her dressing room.  Her furious husband sought out the Prince and gave him a thrashing.  Johnston was arrested but managed to escape, hiding in London before fleeing north.

Henry Meredith ParkerSketch of Henry Meredith Parker from Colesworthey Grant, Lithographic sketches of the public characters of Calcutta (Calcutta, 1850) 

Whatever the reasons behind his appointment, Henry flourished in India.  Away from his duties at the Board of Customs, Salt and Opium, he had a busy social life - acting, making music, and writing poetry, plays and prose. His friend, the journalist J. H .Stocqueler, described him as ‘a man of rare talents and brilliant attainments’.  Henry’s younger sisters Sophia Zenana and Josephine joined him in India and married Bengal civil servants.

Obituary for Henry Meredith Parker
British Newspaper Archive – obituary for Henry Meredith Parker in Homeward Mail from India, China and the East 19 September 1863

Henry Meredith Parker died in Richmond, Surrey, on 17 September 1863.  His obituary in the Homeward Mail said that Henry was accomplished, kind and genial, the life and soul of British society in Calcutta.

I have found another writer’s nomination by the Prince Regent in 1815 and I’ll tell you about that in our next post.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
IOR/B/156 pp. 996, 1000 - Minutes of the East India Company Court of Directors 9 and 11 December 1812.
IOR/B/158 pp.960, 1210 - Minutes of the East India Company Court of Directors 23 December 1813 and 4 March 1814.
J. H .Stocqueler, Memoirs of a journalist (Bombay, 1873).
Philip H. Highfill, A biographical dictionary of actors, actresses, musicians, dancers, managers & other stage personnel in London, 1660-1800 (Southern Illinois University Press, 1973-93).
Donald Campbell, Playing for Scotland – A history of the Scottish stage 1715-1965 (Edinburgh, 1996).
Máire ní Fhlathúin (ed.), The poetry of British India, 1780-1905, Volume 1 1780-1833 (London, 2011), pp.237-269 Henry Meredith Parker.
British Newspaper Archive – obituary for Henry Meredith Parker in Homeward Mail from India, China and the East 19 September 1863 (also available via Findmypast).

 

11 August 2021

Household accounts for Charles and Charlotte Canning

Records which give us rich details about the minutiae of day-to-day life in the past can be hard to come by.  Household accounts are a seemingly mundane source but can give us an insight into what goods and services were available, who was supplying them, and how much items cost.  The papers of Charles and Charlotte Canning contain a file of bills or invoices with receipts for payments 1850-1851.  It provides a glimpse into the lives of these elite members of the Victorian aristocracy and how they ran their household.

Illustrated paper describing the goods offered by J. C. Cording, nautical and sporting waterproofer and tailor, 231 Strand

Goods offered by J. C. Cording, nautical and sporting waterproofer and tailor, 231 Strand - Mss Eur F699/1/4/11/9

The Cannings lived at 10 Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, from 1836 until 1855, when Charles was appointed Governor General of India.  The Cannings spent money on the fabric of the building.  William Allen, plumber, painter and glazier, billed them for £121 7s 0d for work carried out from January-October 1850, including repairs to burst pipes ‘injured by frost’.  His invoice was submitted in December 1850 and paid in August 1851.

The couple’s expenditure on clothing is shown.  In June 1851, Ashmead & Tyler, hatters by Royal Appointment, supplied a ‘Dress drab napless Hat with Velvet band & Ostrich Feather for HM Fancy Ball’, at a cost of £1 13s 0d, ‘drab’ being fine quality fur.  Clothes weren’t always bought new, but were made over, mended, and adjusted.  H.C. Curlewis of 58 Conduit Street provided alteration services such as adding new collars, in addition to supplying new waistcoats and silk-lined frock coats.  Their bill of £22 10s 0d for January-July 1850 was paid on 5 February 1851.

Invoice of William Bennett, goldsmith and jeweller, Southampton Street Bloomsbury, including a charge for repairing a cheese toaster Invoice of William Bennett, goldsmith and jeweller, Southampton Street Bloomsbury, including a charge for repairing a cheese toaster  - Mss Eur F699/1/4/11/9

Recycling was common.  A bill from George & William Atkins, brush manufacturers, turners and wax chandlers of Mount Street, Berkeley Square, shows that the Cannings paid £2 13s 0d in 1850 to have several ivory and silver brushes refilled with hair.  There are additional bills for repairs to various household items, including a ‘cheese toaster’.

Bill for personal hygiene products from J & E Atkinson perfumers, 24 Old Bond Street

Bill for personal hygiene products from J & E Atkinson perfumers, 24 Old Bond Street- Mss Eur F699/1/4/11/9

There are bills for personal hygiene products.  Throughout 1850 the household made regular purchases from J & E Atkinson, perfumers of New Bond Street, for items such as quinine tooth powder, violet powder, Eau de Botot, rose mouthwash, Eau de Cologne, soap (both Pears and Castile) and sponges.   The total cost was £8 18s 8d.  Professional services were also paid for. ‘Medical attendance’ by Thomas Chilver of 14 New Burlington Street and Robert Cundy of Belgrave Square, cost £7 10s 6d.  The doctors visited the housekeeper Mrs Cunningham, the coachman, and the footman.

Bankruptcy papers for William Goodchild Shipley

Bankruptcy papers for  William Goodchild Shipley - Mss Eur F699/1/4/11/9

Suppliers submitted invoices for goods and services supplied three, six or even twelve months earlier, a system which did not always end happily.  Bankruptcy proceedings against William Goodchild Shipley of 17 Market Row, Oxford Street, dated 21 December 1850 show the Cannings owed £51 11s 6d for forage for horses.

Items purchased include: candles (wax, India, margarine, sperm); horse stabling, tack, and feed; books; paper and envelopes; shaving powder; duelling pistols; carpets, curtains and household furnishings; cigars, tobacco and pipes; umbrellas; fishing boots; clothing (including for servants); wallpapering; picture framing; candelabras; coffee cups and saucers; silver inkstand; crystal glasses and tumblers; subscription to Hansard’s Parliamentary debates; gloves; newspapers; patent wine cooler; silvered globe; porcelain service; champagne, French truffles, dried cherries and dates; reading lamp; portfolio of nautical charts; railway guides; Turkish towels; hairdressing services; clock cleaning; and silk fringing.

Lesley Shapland
Cataloguer, India Office Records

Further Reading:
Mss Eur F699 Papers of Charles Canning and Charlotte Canning, Earl and Countess Canning (including file Mss Eur F699/1/4/11/9 Household Bills and Receipts, 1850-51)

 

04 August 2021

Cricket matches between England and India 1889-1946

The first cricket match in the England versus India 2021 test series starts today.  In the records of the India Office Information Department there is a file with papers from 1946 about matches between the two teams since 1889.

Portrait of Lord Hawke in his cricket whites and pads, with a striped blazer and capMartin Bladen Hawke, 7th Baron Hawke ('Statesmen. No. 601.') by Sir Leslie Ward, published in Vanity Fair 24 September 1892 NPG D44613 © National Portrait Gallery, London

By 1946, six English cricket teams had visited India.
Vernon’s team 1889-1890 – amateurs sponsored and captained by G. F. Vernon.
Lord Hawke’s Team 1893 – amateurs and a few professionals led by Lord Hawke.
Oxford University Authentics 1902-1903 - led by K. J. Key.
Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) Tour 1925-1926 –the first official England team to visit India led by Arthur Gilligan.
MCC Tour 1933-1934 – an official team led by D. R. Jardine.
Lord Tennyson’s Team 1937-1938 – an unofficial team led by Lord Tennyson.

Head and shoulders portrait of cricketer Douglas Robert JardineDouglas Robert Jardine - cigarette card, 1935 NPG D49066 © National Portrait Gallery, London

India cricket teams had visited England on three occasions before 1946.
Patiala Team 1911 – led by the Maharaja of Patiala, a great patron of cricket and a first-class player.

Photographic portrait of the Maharaja of Patiala wearing a turban and clothing bedecked with jewels and medalsSir Bhupinder Singh, Maharaja of Patiala by Vandyk, 5 July 1911 NPG x98678 © National Portrait Gallery, London

First Official Tour 1932 – led by the Maharaja of Porbundar.
Second Official Tour 1936 – led by Lieutenant Colonel Sir Vijayananda Gajapathi Raju, the Maharajkumar of Vizianagram, aka Vizzy.

The file has notes on the sixteen players invited to join the 1946 tour to England- ‘the best team that India has ever sent out and everyone expects them to do well’.

NPG Iftikhar-Ali-Khan-Bahadur-Nawab-of-Pataudi

Iftikhar Ali Khan Bahadur, Nawab of Pataudi by Bassano Ltd, 19 July 1929 NPG x96773 © National Portrait Gallery, London

The Nawab of Pataudi captained the team.  Pataudi was the first Indian to win a ‘triple blue’ at Oxford – cricket, hockey, and billiards. He also played football, tennis and golf.  At the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics he was a member of the India hockey team.

Pataudi joined Worcestershire Cricket Club in 1932.  He was selected to play for England against Australia and the West Indies.  Unfortunately his career was interrupted by bad health.

V. M. Merchant, vice-captain – India’s top batsman. ‘His play is a mixture of caution and daring…His strokes are scientifically perfect but equally elegant.’

Lala Amarnath was a fine all-rounder, ‘a sturdy batsman who combines cautious judgement with aggression’.

Syed Mushtaq Ali - ‘the idol of millions who are thrilled by his abandoned, often reckless, batmanship’. ‘His uncanny reach and unorthodox stroke play … keep the spectator in continual suspense.’

D. D. Hindlekar - a ‘quiet and efficient’ wicket-keeper and good opening bat.

Shute Banerjee – India’s leading fast bowler able to deliver a perfect length for hours; almost unplayable some days.

C. S. Nayudu – excellent spin bowler, and a good bat ‘who can effectively hit out at an awkward moment’.

Rusi Modi – ‘ a disciplined and versatile batsman’, ‘one of the greatest cricket-finds of recent years’.

S. W. Sohoni – a medium-paced bowler who could have earned a place for his batting alone.

Vijay Hazare – one of the best all-rounders with many spectacular batting performances to his credit.

Abdul Hafeez – a joyous and audacious batting style, sometimes taking incredible risks.

R. B. Nimbalkar – a good batsman and ‘understudy’ wicket-keeper.

Vinoo Mankad – an exceptionally good all-rounder.

Chandu Sarwate – one of best spin bowlers in India and a reliable bat.

Gul Mohammad – a courageous batsman and one of the finest fielders in India.

S. G. Shinde – a fast bowler and newcomer to first-class cricket.

 

India played 29 first-class fixtures in England in 1946, with eleven wins, four defeats and fourteen draws.

 

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
British Library, IOR/L/I/1/251 Cricket and Sport (General) 1932-1948

 

02 August 2021

Lady Tricyclists

As the world watches the athletes speeding round the Olympic velodrome, we’ve been looking back at the late 19th century when the sport of cycling was still in its infancy.

Advertisement for the new Marlboro' Club tricycle 1886The new Marlboro' Club tricycle 1886 - “The 'Marlboro' is extremely light, elegant, and fast, and a good hill climber. It can be used by a lady". British Library Evan.4145 Images Online

Tricycles were widely considered to be more suitable for women than bicycles.  Athletic News stated on 3 August 1881 that almost any ‘conceivable condition of female costume’ made riding a bicycle out of the question, more of an acrobatic feat than a useful accomplishment.  Tricycles were becoming increasingly popular with women, with Queen Victoria said to have bought machines for her granddaughters.  According to the Cornishman, there were over 100 distinct makes on the market by the end of 1881.

The spread of cycling amongst women was welcomed by Athletic News: ‘there cannot be the slightest doubt that ladies will be better and more healthfully employed in riding their tricycles along the highways and byways, where they can listen to the music of the birds and breathe the fresh air of Heaven, than in dawdling away their time in drawing-rooms and boudoirs, or in flirting at picnics and garden parties’.  The Liverpool Weekly Courier commented on the advantage of a vehicle which could be used at a moment’s notice 'without servants or horses’.  Propelling and steering the tricycle could be mastered in an hour.  Although the exercise was tiring at first because it used a fresh set of muscles, it quickly became easy and ‘delightful to women who are organically sound’.

A Tricycle Club for men and women was started in Kensington in London.  Meetings took place every Saturday.  A 50-mile race was organised for September 1879 with a special prize for the first woman to complete the distance, and silver and bronze medals for the runners-up to her.  The ladies of the Kensington club wore a navy blue serge dress and a felt deerstalker hat.

Victorian women’s clothing could be a problem when riding a tricycle.  In 1882 a woman out on a ride near Tring was thrown into the road when her dress became tangled in one of the wheels.  She was severely shaken and couldn’t carry on. A man passing in a trap helped her into town.

Newspapers passed on advice about suitable clothing for lady tricyclists so that they could avoid accidents or ‘loss of dignity’.  Samuel Brothers of Ludgate Hill London patented a special costume, ‘The Velocipedienne’.  This had strings to gather superfluous fullness in the skirt and a let-down fold which gave an extra six or seven inches to cover the feet and ankles.  It gave ample room for the knees to work.  In 1882 the Rational Dress Society recommended that lady tricyclists wore their new divided skirt which gave freer use of the legs and less resistance to the wind.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
British Newspaper Archive  (also available via Findmypast) e.g. Liverpool Weekly Courier 23 August 1879; Bucks Herald 23 July 1881 and 17 June 1882; Western Daily Press 23 July 1881; Athletic News 3 August 1881; Lynn Advertiser 1 October 1881; Cornishman 15 December 1881; Nottingham Journal 8 June 1882.

 

29 July 2021

Birdwatching in Assam

One of the fascinating elements of private paper collections is what they contain about people’s hobbies and interests.  The India Office Private Papers are full of such collections.  One example is the papers of Dorothea Craigie Milburne which record her passion for birdwatching.

Overview of papers of Dorothea Craigie Milburne spread out on a tablePapers of Dorothea Craigie Milburne - British Library Mss Eur D913 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Born in Bristol in 1896, she was the first of two children of Edward Tuckett Daniell, a Bristol lawyer, and his second wife Alice Craigie.  She married William Milburne, the manager of Dhendai tea plantation, Darrang, Assam.  Both Dorothea and William were keen photographers of big game, and some of their work was published in the Statesman and the Manchester Guardian in the 1930s.  They left India in 1945, and Dorothea died in Bristol in 1982.

Most of her birdwatching was done in Darrang, Assam, as recorded in her detailed notes and notebooks.  In these papers she carefully recorded the birds she saw, giving observations on their appearance and behaviour, and even giving a numbered reference to the authoritative published guide on the birds of India by Oates and Blanford.  Here are some examples of her observations.

Of the Small Minivet she noted that they were not nearly as common or gay as other Minivets, and comments: ‘I once saw large black velvet & buttercup butterfly chasing an obviously terrified hen Small Minivet round & round peach trees in compound’.

Painting of a Minivet - orange, black and grey feathersMinivet by J Briois, c.1824 – British Library Images Online Shelfmark NHD 47/22 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

 

Painting of a Shama - black and white feathers with a light brown breastShama by J Briois c.1824 – British Library Images Online Shelfmark NHD 47/22 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

In recording her sightings of the Shama, she described an experiment she carried out: ‘I made interesting experiments with Shama visiting compound which responded to Ludwig Koch’s Nightingale record (gramophone), hopping across lawn to within few yards of verandah though usually hiding in shrubs, cocking head and responding with snatches of song.  Unfortunately chased right away by compound Dayal & Brown Shrikes & possibly frightened by cutting down of neighbouring shade trees’.

Dorothea Craigie Milburne's notes on the BitternDorothea Craigie Milburne's notes on the Bittern - British Library Mss Eur D913 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Fans of the BBC nature programme Springwatch will know of the presenters’ fondness for the Bittern which is known for its distinctive ‘boom’ like call.  This shy bird appears fleetingly on Dorothea’s list: the Chestnut Bittern (‘Never saw settle to take in details’), Malay Bittern (‘seen once only flying through evergreen forest’), and Black Bittern (‘seen flying across a hoolah in garden several times one August’), although she records disappointingly ‘I did not hear one “boom”!’

Dorothea Craigie Milburne's notes on the Spur-winged PloverDorothea Craigie Milburne's notes on the Spur-winged Plover - British Library Mss Eur D913 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Knowing the call of a bird is essential in identifying it, and Dorothea kept careful notes on the sounds each bird made.  She even wrote the sounds down in music notation.  Of the Spur-winged Plover she wrote of its cry: ‘Gutteral, conversational “Whee whee wew” like beginning of “Did he do it” cry.  Rapid, irregular “Jip! Jip!” on C in flight’.

Dorothea Craigie Milburne's notes on the PittasDorothea Craigie Milburne's notes on the Pittas- British Library Mss Eur D913 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Dorothea often shared her passion with other birdwatchers, such as the planter and naturalist Charles McFarlane Inglis, who spent much of his free time in the study of India’s birds, and later became curator of the Darjeeling Natural History Museum.  In her notes she says that Inglis seemed surprised that she had not seen a Blue-necked Pittas, and says ‘Made special point of looking for it cold weather 1944 & early ’45 but in vain’.

John O’Brien
India Office Records

Further Reading:
Dorothea Craigie Milburne papers, 1933-1945, shelfmark: Mss Eur D913.
Forests and ecological history of Assam by Arupjyoti Saikia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), shelfmark: YC.2012.a.8245
The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma: Birds by Eugene William Oates and W T Blanford (London,Taylor and Francis; [etc., etc.]1889-98), available online. 
Ludwig Koch on the recording a White-rumped Shama in 1889.
BBC Springwatch,Minsmere round-up - my highlights’ by Chris Packham, 18 June 2014.
Charles McFarlane Inglis (1870-1954).

 

10 July 2021

Italy v England

As we wait for the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy, I thought I’d look for stories about the earliest matches between the two countries in the British Library’s newspaper collection.

The first match between the two sides took place in May 1933 in Rome.  The result was a 1-1 draw.  The Sunday Pictorial published this picture ‘received by photo-telephony’ of the England goalkeeper Hibbs punching out the ball.

England v Italy 1933 - England goalkeeper Hibbs punching out the ball.British Newspaper Archive - With thanks to Reach PLC. Digitised by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited. All rights reserved.

In November 1934, the Weekly Dispatch reported that touts were charging £2 2s for tickets for the forthcoming England-Italy match at Highbury when the cheapest official entry fee was 2s.  Touts were expected to ask prices as high as £5 for the best seats just before kick-off.  England won 3-2.

The next match was held in Milan in May 1939, resulting in a 2-2 draw.  The President of the Italian Federation of Football, Lt Gen Giorgio Vaccaro, expressed the belief that the tie would help to cement the friendly relationship between the two countries.

Italy and England played their first fixture after World War II in Turin in May 1948.  The score was 4-0 to England.

The teams played again in November 1949 at White Hart Lane: England won 2-0.  Two boys from City School Lincoln were suspended by their headmaster for taking a day off to attend the match.  Jeffrey Poole, 14, and Peter Wheatley, 13, had gone with a small group of choirboys led by the Rev R F Walters, curate of St Swithin’s Church.  Their parents and the curate believed that the punishment was too harsh.  Jeffrey and Peter had no regrets, showing reporters a treasured souvenir programme and sharing memories of an exciting trip to London.  The boys were allowed to return to school after their parents wrote to the head regretting their action and promising it would not happen again.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
British Newspaper Archive (also available via Findmypast) e.g. Sunday Pictorial (listed under Sunday Mirror) 14 May 1933; Weekly Dispatch 11 November 1934; Sheffield Daily Telegraph 9 May 1939; Torbay Express and South Devon Echo 3 December 1949; Boston Guardian 14 December 1949.

 

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