Untold lives blog

79 posts categorized "Religion"

21 December 2022

Books suitable for Christmas and New Year

Are you still looking for ideas for Christmas gifts?  Maybe we can help?  In 1858, Irish bookseller and stationer Thomas Smith Harvey published a catalogue of books suitable for Christmas, New Year, and birthday presents.

 Title page of Catalogue of books suitable for Christmas  New Year  or birthday presentsTitle page of Catalogue of books suitable for Christmas New Year or birthday presents Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

The catalogue is divided into ten sections.

Poetry covers four pages, ranging in price from 1s to 31s 6d.  As well as works from famous poets such as Longfellow, Shakespeare, Byron, Scott and Milton, there are books entitled Language and Poetry of Flowers; Moore’s Irish Melodies; Elegant Arts for Ladies; and Book of German Songs.

Religious books – as well as bibles, Harvey was offering Buchanan’s Christian Researches in India; Quarles’ Judgment and Mercy; Bogatsky’s Golden Treasury; and Morals from the Churchyard.  This last one intrigued me and I discovered its full title is Morals from the Churchyard; in a series of cheerful fables.  Here is the contents page and I am surprised that it was possible to create ‘cheerful fables’ from some of the graves listed here.

Contents page of Morals from the Churchyard; in a series of cheerful fables - graves of little child, mother, lovers, suicide etc

Contents page of Morals from the Churchyard; in a series of cheerful fables Public Domain Creative Commons Licence 


The next category is books for the country – natural history etc.  It includes British Rural Sports; Cassell’s Natural History of the Feathered Tribes; Anecdotes of Animal Life; A World of Wonders Revealed by the Microscope; Mechi’s How to Farm Profitably; Rarey on Horse Training; and Walker’s Manly Exercises.

Title page of Walker’s Manly Exercises with a picture of rowing and sailingWalker’s Manly Exercises Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

There is a section devoted to biography, history, travels, and science.  Titles here include Kansas, or Squatter Life and Border Warfare; The Bridle Roads of Spain; Gavazzi’s Last Four Popes; Things Not Generally Known; How A Penny Became A Thousand Pounds; Overland Route to India; and Mornings at the British Museum. The book Unprotected Females in Norway perplexed me until I found the title continues: or, the pleasantest way of travelling there, passing through Denmark and Sweden, with Scandinavian sketches from nature.

Title page of Unprotected Females in NorwayEmily Lowe, Unprotected Females in Norway; or, the pleasantest way of travelling there, passing through Denmark and Sweden, with Scandinavian sketches from nature (London, 1857) Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Here is one of the sketches drawn by the author Emily Lowe showing a Norwegian wedding taking place near Bergen.

Norwegian wedding near Bergen showing a couple and a priest, with a woman holding a baby in the backgroundNorwegian wedding near Bergen from Unprotected Females in Norway  Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Perhaps surprisingly there is only one page for fiction although Harvey does state that he can provide a large assortment of cheap works.  His selection included Slick’s Nature and Human Nature; Marie Louise, or the Opposite Neighbours; and Never Too Late to Mend.

Eight pages are devoted to books for young people – three and a half for boys, four for children, and just half a page for girls.  The boys’ section is full of sport, exploration, travel, adventure, and inspirational works: Sporting in Both Hemispheres; Wild Sports in the Far West; Boyhood of Great Men; The Story of the Peasant Boy Philosopher.  For children, Harvey promises a great variety of cheap books for the very young and lists a selection of moral tales and story books such as Stories for Village Lads; Memoirs of a Doll; Norah and her Kerry Cow, as well as Learning to Converse.  The girls’ books include Fanny the Little Milliner; Extraordinary Women; and Amy Carlton, or First Days at School.

A number of almanacs and diaries are offered as well as miscellaneous articles – gutta percha skates; ‘boys’ telescopes’; pocket compasses; microscopes; mathematical instruments; and small magic lanterns with slides.

When you have finished buying and wrapping your presents, have fun searching in our catalogue Explore the British Library for books listed in Harvey’s catalogue.  Many have been digitised and can be enjoyed online.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
Thomas Smith Harvey, Catalogue of books suitable for Christmas, New Year, or birthday presents (Waterford, 1858)

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

 

31 October 2022

Mr Trick and Mrs Treat

At Hallowe’en, we’d like to introduce you to Mr Trick and Mrs Treat.  Both feature in several articles in the British Newspaper Archive.

The Weston-super-Mare Gazette of 21 April 1849 reported that Mr Trick and his family were amongst 90 or so people from north Somerset villages emigrating to the USA.

Newspaper article about families emigrating from Banwell, Somerset, in 1849Weston-super-Mare Gazette 21 April 1849 British Newspaper Archive

William Trick was a baker living in the village of Banwell with his wife Ann and two children.  Trick was a member of the Banwell Total Abstinence Society and regularly addressed meetings during the 1840s.  He belonged to the Banwell Wesleyan Missionary Society and spoke on the subject of ‘missions to the heathen’ at a meeting held in the local chapel in November 1846.

The Emigrant's Last Sight of Home - painting of a man and his family about to set off on a journey by cart, looking back at their village from the top of a hill‘The Emigrant’s Last Sight of Home’ by Richard Redgrave (1858).  Image Photo © Tate Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported) 

The Tricks sailed from Liverpool in steerage on the steamer Sarah Sands on 29 March 1849.  A broken piston rod in the engine meant that the ship had to make a great part of the voyage under sail.  The delay caused anxiety in New York but over 200 passengers and a valuable cargo eventually arrived safely on 1 May.

William, with his wife, daughter and son, travelled onwards to Dubuque County, Iowa, with others from Somerset, such as the Dyers.  The area had been settled by Europeans in the late 1830s, and in the 1850s became known as Dyersville.  William acquired 40 acres of land and also worked as a Methodist preacher, playing a large part in the building of the local church.  In 1855 he was granted naturalization.

According to the 1906 Atlas of Dubuque County, the marriage of William’s daughter Annie to Malcolm Baxter in 1852 was the first in the community.  Annie died in April 1856 aged just 27.

William Trick junior became a hardware merchant who served as mayor of Dyersville.

William Trick senior died on 27 October 1873 aged 78 after a busy life of public service.  He was buried in Mount Hope Cemetery Dyersville where his daughter Annie and wife Ann already lay.

Let’s move on to Mrs Treat.

The Edinburgh Evening News of 19 February 1875 published an article entitled ‘Another Animal-Eating Plant’ about Mrs Treat and her carnivorous vegetables.  Very appropriate for Hallowe’en!

Newspaper article about Mrs Treat's carnivorous vegetables‘Another Animal-Eating Plant’ - Edinburgh Evening News 19 February 1875 British Newspaper Archive

Mary Lua Adelia Treat was born in 1830 in New York, the daughter of Methodist minister Isaac Davis and his wife Eliza.  In 1839 the family moved to Ohio.  Mary was married in 1863 to Joseph Burrell Treat, a doctor who also wrote and gave lectures on a variety of subjects including women’s rights and abolition.  The Treats moved in 1869 to Vineland, a model town and community in New Jersey founded by Charles K Landis.

Newspaper article entitled 'A lady and her spiders'‘A Lady and her Spiders’ – Shields Daily Gazette 28 August 1879  British Newspaper Archive

Mary Treat was a self-trained naturalist with a particular interest in insects and carnivorous plants.  Having made scientific investigations with her husband, she continued to research and publish on her own after the couple separated and Joseph went to live in New York.  He died in 1878 at the age of 55 and was buried at Siloam Cemetery in Vineland.

After the separation, Mary supported herself by writing scientific magazine articles as well as books including Chapters on Ants (1879) Injurious insects of the farm and garden (1882); and Home Studies in Nature (1885).  She corresponded with Charles Darwin and had plant and insect species named after her.

Drawing of the geometric web of a garden spider from Mary Treat's Home Studies in Nature
Geometric web of a garden spider from Home Studies in Nature (1885)

Mary Treat died in 1923 aged 92 at Pembroke, New York State, after a fall.  She too is buried in Siloam Cemetery in Vineland.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
British Newspaper Archive  - also available via Findmypast
Findmypast and Ancestry for the passenger list of steamer Sarah Sands; land transactions; naturalization records; UK and US census records; birth, marriage and burial records.
Atlas of Dubuque County 1906 
Injurious insects of the farm and garden
Chapters on Ants
Home Studies in Nature
Tina Gianquitto, ‘Of Spiders, Ants, and Carnivorous Plants – Domesticity and Darwin in Mary Treat’s Home Studies in Nature’, in Annie Merrill Ingram, Ian Marshall, Daniel J. Philippon, and Adam W. Sweeting (eds) Coming into Contact – Explorations in Ecocritical Theory and Practice (University of Georgia Press, 2007)

 

13 October 2022

‘True nobility of soul’ - William Blake, the housekeeper of the Ladies Charity School House, Highgate

Woollen draper, writer and philanthropist William Blake was devoted to the welfare and education of orphans.  In the 1650s he opened the Ladies Charity School House in Highgate, hoping that aristocratic and influential women would help fund it.  Blake donated his entire fortune of £5000 to the charity and became the housekeeper of the establishment.

What led Blake to such commitment?  He described his background thus: ‘I was brought up by my parents to learne Hail Mary, paternoster, the Beliefe, and learne to reade; and where I served my apprenticeship little more was to be found’.  His wife Mary died in 1650 leaving him to bring up four children who also died young.  Maybe these circumstances strengthened Blake’s resolve to support destitute orphans.  Blake himself said he drew inspiration from the Puritan devotional text, Lewis Bayly’s Practice of Piety.  This work may also have encouraged Blake’s own writing.

Page 2 of Lewis Bayly’s Practice of PietyPage 2 of Lewis Bayly’s Practice of Piety London : For Edward Brewster, 1689. BL 4401.f.11.  Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

The Ladies Charity School on Highgate Hill comprised comprise newly built houses in addition to existing rather grand buildings including Dorchester Hall.  The latter were owned by the Blake family and local landowners, and taken over by Blake via mortgages.  About 40 fatherless boys and girls were to be enrolled into the boarding school: ‘The boys to be taught the art of painting, gardening, casting accounts, and navigation, or put forth to some good handicraft trade, and to wear an uniform of blue lined with yellow.  The girls to be taught to read, write, sew, starch, raise paste, and dress, that they might be fit for any good service’.

Architectural drawing of the Ladies Charity School in the Survey of London Volume 17Architectural drawing of the Ladies Charity School in the Survey of London: Volume 17 plate 40 - From an old print in the collection of Mr. Arthur Boney of Highgate

Money was a constant issue. Blake’s occupation as a woollen draper at the sign of the Golden Boy in Covent Garden yielded little, and the ‘Ladies’ did not prove to be a reliable resource.  He resorted to relentless fundraising including a publication titled The Ladies Charity School-house Roll of Highgate, etc. (Silver Drops, or Serious things.).  The text has been considered impenetrable but it was ornamented with engravings and, sometimes, special bindings dedicated to particular recipients whose names appeared on the upper covers.  On the evidence of the unevenly applied tooled decoration, some artisans demonstrated more energy than skill although no one could accuse them of stinting with the gold!

Presentation binding for Elizabeth  Lady Delamere from British Library Image Database of BookbindingsPresentation binding for Elizabeth, Lady Delamere from British Library Image Database of Bookbindings

 

Engraved plate of Father TimeEngraved plate of Father Time from W.B . The Ladies Charity School-house roll of Highgate [London, 1670?] Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership, 2011

Blake had to rethink the undertaking when his finances failed.  His land-owning brother refused to help him out, thinking the whole project ill conceived.  Apparently, the residents of Highgate Hill felt that the school for destitute children lowered the tone of the neighbourhood.  In 1685, the school buildings passed into other hands and were demolished.  Blake spent about two years in the Fleet debtors’ prison and suffered much ill health but characteristically used his confinement to write texts on charity.  He was not without support.  In Silver Drops, he thanked a Dr Cox who helped him through his illness (and he bound a copy of his book for the doctor, now in Bryn Mawr College, P.A.).  The Parish of St Giles in the Fields paid £10 for him to be freed in 1687.  His burial date is likely to have been 23 March 1696 in the parish of Highgate.

Perhaps the last word should be left with William Howitt who wrote: ‘Blake’s style is frequently unintelligible, almost insane, but there is true nobility of soul struggling through’.

P. J. M. Marks
Curator, Bookbindings. Printed Heritage Collections

Further reading:
William Howitt, The Northern Heights of London: Or Historical Associations of Hampstead ... London, 1869.

M. M. Foot, "A Binding by the Charity School Binder," The Book Collector, Spring 1983, pp. 78-79.

20 September 2022

Henry Trimmer – JMW Turner’s Lifelong Friend

Henry Scott Trimmer was born in Old Brentford on 1 August 1778.  His mother, Sarah (1741-1810), was a prominent educationalist, whose writing had a marked effect on the style and content of children’s literature of the time.  It was in Brentford that Henry and his older brother, John, first met the ten-year-old William Turner, who had been sent to live with his uncle, Joseph Marshall, a local butcher.  William and Henry soon became firm friends.

Oil painting of Sarah Trimmer, evangelist and children's writer, sitting with pen and paper, with several books at hand  Oil painting of Sarah Trimmer, evangelist and children's writer by by Henry Howard - © National Portrait Gallery  NPG 796

Henry fell ill with consumption in 1792-3 but made a full recovery.  He gained a B.A from Merton College, Oxford in 1802 and in August that year was ordained deacon and appointed curate at St Leonard’s, Shoreditch.  In December 1802 he was ordained priest and in 1803 became curate in Kedington, Suffolk, where he met his future wife.  In 1804 he was appointed Vicar of Heston, near to where he had grown up, and remained there until his death in 1859. 

Photograph of St Leonard’s Church  HestonSt Leonard’s Church, Heston (photograph by author) Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

In 1805 Henry married Mary Driver Syer in Kedington.  They had three sons: Henry Syer, Barrington and Frederick.

Newspaper announcement of the marriage of Henry Scott Trimmer to Mary Driver Syer in 1805Bury and Norwich Post 10 July 1805 British Newspaper Archive

After Turner completed the building of Sandycombe Lodge, his Twickenham house, in 1813, he and Henry Trimmer spent more time together and it is thanks to the information that Henry Trimmer’s sons passed on to Turner’s first biographer Walter Thornbury, that we know so much about Turner’s life at Sandycombe Lodge.  Henry was also an occasional visitor at Turner’s studio and gallery in Queen Anne Street.  Thornbury suggests that the interior of a church depicted in Turner’s Liber Studiorum is St Leonard’s, Heston, but the original drawing dates from 1797, before Trimmer moved to Heston.

Turner felt that he needed to be better educated in the classics and Henry wished to improve his artistic skills, so they came to an arrangement whereby Henry schooled Turner in Latin in exchange for painting lessons.  They went out on sketching trips together, often with the Trimmer sons, and also visited art galleries, such as the one at nearby Osterley House.  Sadly, none of Henry’s paintings seem to have survived but there is an engraved print of one of them in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Seascape with rainbow - two sailing ships riding the waves.Seascape with Rainbow, 1837. Henry Scott Trimmer (artist), David Lucas (engraver).  © Victoria and Albert Museum 

In 1815, Henry was appointed Justice of the Peace and, in 1821, Deputy Lieutenant for Middlesex.  He was active in social reform and, in particular, campaigned for an investigation into the death of Private Frederick John White of the 7th Queen’s Own Hussars, based in Hounslow.  In 1846, White had been court-martialled and flogged for insubordination and had died shortly after the lashes had been administered.

Grave of Private Frederick John WhiteGrave of Private Frederick John White  at St Leonard’s Churchyard, Heston (photograph by author) Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

After Turner sold Sandycombe Lodge, in 1826, Henry saw less of him but, as Turner had appointed him as one of his executors, he was involved in the long-drawn-out dispute about Turner’s will, from 1852 to 1856.

Henry died on 20 November 1859 and his wife, Mary, only survived him by 48 hours. His son, Barrington, who had been his curate for 27 years, died the following year.

 

Newspaper announcement of the deaths of Henry Scott Trimmer and his wife MaryNorfolk Chronicle 3 December 1859 British Newspaper Archive

Henry Scott Trimmer’s tomb in St Leonard’s Churchyard  HestonHenry Scott Trimmer’s tomb in St Leonard’s Churchyard, Heston (photograph by author) Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Newspaper article about Henry Scott Trimmer's will 1860Illustrated London News 14 January 1860 British Newspaper Archive

During his lifetime, Henry had amassed a fine collection of paintings by celebrated artists, many of whom were known to him personally. When the collection was sold, in 1860, it included works by Hogarth, Reynolds and Gainsborough. No mention is made of any Turners, although Henry certainly owned some.

Newspaper article about the sale of Henry Scott Trimmer's art collection in 1860Morning Post 19 March 1860 British Newspaper Archive


David Meaden
Independent Researcher

Further reading:
British Newspaper Archive
Brentford High Street Project 
Franny Moyle, The Extraordinary Life and Momentous Times of J.M.W.Turner (London, 2016).
Anthony Bailey, Standing In The Sun – a life of J.M.W.Turner (1997).
Walter Thornbury, The Life of J.M.W. Turner R.A. founded on letters and papers furnished by his friends and fellow Academicians, (London, 1862).

 

Turner's House logo

Turner’s restored house in Twickenham is open to visitors.


23 August 2022

Robert Hubert and the Great Fire of London

Shortly after midnight on Sunday 2nd September 1666, a fire broke out at a bakery in Pudding Lane. In the days that followed, the fire proceeded to destroy around 80 percent of the old City of London. 

Etching and aquatint with hand-colouring showing the destruction of buildings by the Fire of London in 1666THE GREAT FIRE OF LONDON IN THE YEAR 1666, W Birch, 1792, Maps K.Top.21.65.b, via BL Flickr CommonsPublic Domain Creative Commons Licence

Robert Hubert (c. 1640-1666), the son of a Rouen watchmaker, later confessed to starting the fire. He was indicted at the Middlesex sessions on 16 September 1666 and imprisoned at the White Lion prison in Southwark. Just over a month later, he would be executed for a crime that he did not commit.

Alongside his alleged accomplice, Stephen Peidloe, Hubert claimed to have created a crude fire grenade by placing gunpowder, brimstone and other flammable material onto the end of a pole and pushing it through the open window of the bakery on Pudding Lane. The only supporting evidence for Hubert's confession lay in his ability to go to the site of the bakery and to describe its appearance. His claim that he pushed a fireball through a window was entirely falsified, as even the owner of the bakery maintained that it had no windows. Later, the testimony of the captain of the ship on which Hubert sailed from Sweden would further prove his innocence, by confirming that Hubert had not arrived in England until two days after the fire started.

Evelyn's annotation on Hubert's letter: 'I thinke this was the Father of the villain [that] was hanged for setting fire on London 1666'. Evelyn's annotation on Hubert's letter, Add MS 78316, f 8v Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Yet in the Evelyn papers held at the British Library, we see that contemporary writer, diarist and horticulturalist John Evelyn possibly still held Hubert responsible for the conflagration. Evelyn made copious annotations of his letters in later life, and on the reverse of a letter written to him by one Estienne Hubert, written in 1650, Evelyn noted

'I thinke this was the Father of the villain [that] was hanged for setting fire on London 1666'. 

Evelyn was not  alone in his belief that Hubert had deliberately and maliciously started the fire. As a foreigner, Hubert became an easy target for those seeking to explain away the many misfortunes that befell the city in the mid-17th century. Despite the fact that both he and his family were known to be Protestant, Hubert can be seen depicted on the frontispiece to Pyrotechnica Loyalana, Ignatian Fire-Works (1667), an anonymous work suggested that the Fire had been deliberately started by Catholic arsonists, acting on the instructions of the Pope.

Frontispiece to 'Pyrotechnica Loyalana, Ignatian Fire-Works - Hubert exchanges a hand grenade with a Jesuit priestFrontispiece to 'Pyrotechnica Loyalana, Ignatian Fire-Works' (1667), British Museum 1868,0808.13197, © The Trustees of the British Museum. [Licensed under Creative Commons 4.0]

In the etching above, Hubert exchanges a hand grenade with a Jesuit priest labelled 'Pa.H'. It has been suggested that this may refer to Harcourt, a notable Jesuit priest who would later be arrested and committed to Newgate Prison on the charge of complicity in the fictitious Titus Oates plot to kill the king. A gallows is depicted behind the pair, indicative of Hubert's fate.

Although Hubert's confession was fraught with contradictions and the authorities largely accepted that the fire was an accident, Hubert had confessed to the crime and was therefore hanged at Tyburn on 27 October 1666. Hubert's motives for confessing remain as mysterious today as they were to the authorities present at his trial, although there is some evidence to suggest that the young man was suffering from mental illness. Several witnesses remarked on Hubert's state of mind during his trial, and it was Lord Chancellor Clarendon's opinion that he was a 'poor distracted wretch, weary of his life, and chose to part with it this way'.

Rachel Clamp
PhD Placement Student, Modern Archives and Manuscripts

Further reading
Stephen Porter, ‘Farriner, Thomas (1615/16?-1670), baker’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 
Tinniswood, Adrian, By Permission of Heaven (London, 2011)

 

15 August 2022

Sources for Indian Independence and the creation of Pakistan

This month sees the 75th anniversary of the partition of pre-1947 India and the creation of the modern states of India and Pakistan.  The British Library holds a wealth of resources relating to these events.

Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru & Mr M.A. Jinnah  walking together in the grounds of Viceregal Lodge Simla, 11 May 1946.Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru & Mr M.A. Jinnah, walking together in the grounds of Viceregal Lodge Simla. 11 May 1946. British Library Photo 134/2(28) Images Online

India Office Records:
These are the official records of the India Office, the British Government department responsible for the administration of pre-1947 British India.  Created in London or received from India as part of the normal business of government, for example correspondence or copied reports, they complement the huge collections of official records in archives in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Front cover of Top Secret Report on the Punjab Boundary Force Front cover of Top Secret report on the Punjab Boundary Force  1947-1948 IOR/L/WS/1/1134 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

The most significant series for the study of independence and partition are:

• Fortnightly reports: Governors, Chief Commissioners and Chief Secretaries 1937-1948, and British High Commissioners and Deputy High Commissioners 1947-1950 (IOR/L/PJ/5/128-336).
• Public & Judicial Collection 117: law and order, 1933-1947 (IOR/L/PJ/8).
• Transfer of Power Papers 1942-1945 (IOR/L/PJ/10).
• Indian Political Intelligence files, 1913 to 1947 (IOR/L/PJ/12).
• Files on political and constitutional development, 1916-1947 (IOR/L/PO/6).
• Private correspondence: printed series and file copies, 1914-1947 (IOR/L/PO/10).
• Political papers and correspondence with Provincial Governors and their Secretaries, 1936-1948 (IOR/R/3/1/1-178).
• Records relating to Gandhi and the Civil Disobedience Movement, 1922-1946 (IOR/R/3/1/289-370).
• Files of the Bengal Governor’s Secretariat, 1936-1947 (IOR/R/3/2/1-86).

Map of pre-partitiion India from Mountbatten's last report showing which parts became PakistanMap of pre-partitiion India from Mountbatten's last report showing which parts became Pakistan IOR/L/PJ/5/396/15 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

India Office Private Papers:
These collections of papers differ from the official records through being created or kept by individuals, families or organisations separate from government.  They provide alternative perspectives on official business and insights into individuals’ lives, and include significant collections relating to independence and partition. To take just a few examples:

• Secretaries of State for India, such as Sir Samuel Hoare (Mss Eur E240) and the Marquess of Zetland (Mss Eur D609).
• Viceroys, such as the 2nd Marquess of Linlithgow (Mss Eur F125), Lord Wavell (Mss Eur D977) and Earl Mountbatten of Burma (IOR Neg 15538-67).
• Provincial Governors, such as Sir Maurice Hallett (Mss Eur E251) and Sir Francis Mudie (Mss Eur F164).
• Permanent Under-Secretaries of State for India, 1920-1948 (Mss Eur D714).
• Military men, such as Major John McLoughlin Short, Civil Liaison Officer to the Sikh community 1940-42, and Personal Assistant to Sir Stafford Cripps during Cabinet Mission to India 1946 (Mss Eur F189).
• Indian political leaders and supporters of independence such as Gandhi (several small collections), Mahomed Ali Jinnah (IOR Neg 10760-826), and Sir Fazl-i-Husain (Mss Eur E352).
• The struggle for freedom during the last three decades of British rule in India was the backdrop to the lives of many British families in India.  Not surprisingly, it often features in memoirs, journals, diaries and letters home found in numerous small collections of private papers.  For example: a letter, dated 26 Sept 1947, from Freda Evelyn Oliver, wife of the Deputy Commissioner of Bahawalpur State, describing her family's journey from Simla to Bahawalpur during the disturbances following partition (Mss Eur A168).

Map showing the partition of Punjab Map showing the partition of Punjab IOR/L/WS/1/1134 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

The Library holds a mass of other source materials for the study of independence and partition, including photographs and newspapers.   There is a wonderful collection of Indian publications banned or ‘proscribed’ by the British Government as they were considered seditious or liable to incite unrest.  In addition, one of the most fascinating resources the British Library holds is the Oral History collections, allowing researchers the ability to hear the voices of the people who lived through those momentous times.

John O’Brien
India Office Records

Further Reading:
The Transfer of Power, 1942-7: Constitutional Relations between Britain and India, edited by Nicholas Mansergh, 12 vols. (London, 1970-1983).

Gandhi and Civil Disobedience: Documents in the India Office Records 1922-1946 by Amar Kaur Jasbir Singh (London, 1980).

Indian Independence Collection Guide

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

Oral History collections relating to independence and partition: Oral histories of migration, ethnicity and post-colonialism - scroll down to the section on ‘British rule in India’.

Titles of English language Indian newspapers are listed on the Explore the British Library catalogue, and British newspaper reports can be found online by searching the British Newspaper Archive.

Collections in the UK on Indian Independence and Partition

 

25 July 2022

Hadge Biram: A Restoration Renegade

In the early modern period, the Ottoman Empire was a Mediterranean powerhouse, and a source of both fear and envy throughout Europe.  Daring Maghrebi corsairs filled printed books, plays, and romanticised ballads.  Many Britons, attracted by promises of opportunity and freedom, made the Maghreb their permanent home, converted to Islam and adopted local customs.  Several achieved great notoriety in Britain, blackened by insinuations of backsliding treason as ‘renegades’, but valued for information, assistance, and entertainment.  There was Yusuf Rais/John Ward (c.1553-1622), English privateer turned Tunisian corsair, who starred in Robert Daborne’s A Christian turn’d Turk (1612) and a slew of swashbuckling ballads and pamphlets.  A poor British woman captive, renamed Lella Balqees, married Moroccan Sultan Mawlay Isma’il (r. 1672-1727), and held influence over their Anglo-Moroccan diplomacy for decades.  In 1704, double convert Joseph Pitts (c.1663-c.1735-39) wrote the first description in English of Mecca and Medina from the inside.

A Restoration English map of North Africa  showing Tunis  Tripoli  and CairoA Restoration English map of North Africa, showing Tunis, Tripoli, and Cairo. Richard Blome, A generall mapp of the coast of Barbarie (London: for Richard Blome, 1669). British Library C.39.d.2. Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

But these famous examples obscure many British converts who lived more marginal and stable lives, like merchant Hadge Biram (Hajj Bayramı).  We know about him from only a few letters exchanged with English merchants in Tunis and Tripoli, but these letters powerfully illustrate the everyday tensions converts experienced.  Named for the festival surrounding the hajj pilgrimage, Hajj Bayramı lived in Cairo as a Muslim from at least 1679.  Thomas Baker, British consul in Tripoli, called him ‘our Countryman at Cairo’, and trusted him to pass on letters to British merchants in Istanbul, mediate trade in velvet, wire, and scarlet cloth, and procure ‘two fine Damaskeen Barrells’ for Baker’s musket.

In 1692, Bayramı wrote to Thomas Goodwyn, British consul in Tunis, to recommend 21-year-old Edward Allen, ‘a god sevel Lad & bred a marchant &…Capable for al marchandes’ in Cairo on his uncle’s recommendation.  Disappointed to find ‘no English Christians to pas his time with hm’, Allen was ‘mad to meet wth English men’ and hoped to come to Tunis instead. Biram apologised for not replying to several letters Goodwyn sent him three years earlier, swearing it was ‘not ungratefulnes nor unnaturall forgetfulnes of my Cuntrymen’ but lack of reliable ships to carry them, and invited Goodwyn to do business with him.

A second letter centred on the ordinary merchant courtesy of passing on news.  Bayramı transmitted a French take on an Anglo-French naval battle, mentioning his friendly correspondence with Goodwyn’s close associates Horsey and Nelthorpe in Livorno, and asked whether the deposed James II had invaded England as planned, and whether the long-running Algerian-Moroccan war continued.  Finally, six years later, Goodwyn’s colleague James Chetwood recommended sending a cargo of lead to ‘old Honest Hagi Biram’, who would sell it for them ‘wthout any more adoe’.

For the English in Ottoman Tunis and Tripoli, Bayramı was a contradiction.  A countryman, apparently trustworthy, courteous, and interested in English news; yet Allen found his religion excluding, and Goodwyn apparently never accepted Bayramı’s commercial cooperation.  He was both an insider and an outsider: neither fully English, nor fully Ottoman, a renegade, yet not fully lost or disconnected.

Nat Cutter
University of Melbourne

Further Reading:
For letters about Hadge Biram, see The National Archives, Kew, FO 335/1/32, FO 335/2/3, FO 335/3/2, FO 335/9/8, FO 335/9/10, FO 335/13/1.

Barker, Andrew. A true and certaine report of the beginning, proceedings, ouerthrowes, and now present estate of Captaine Ward and Danseker, the two late famous pirates. London: William Hall, 1609. Available on Early English Books Online (EEBO) through the British Library.
Cutter, Nat. ‘Grateful fresh advices and random dark relations: Maghrebi news and experiences in English expatriate letters, 1660-1710’. Cultural and Social History (2022). Available online through the British Library.
Cutter, Nat. ‘“Grieved in my soul that I suffered you to depart from me”: Community and Isolation in the English Houses at Tunis and Tripoli, 1679-1686’. In Keeping Family in an Age of Long Distance Trade, Imperial Expansion and Exile 1550-1850, edited by Heather Dalton, 169-89. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2020.
Daborne, Robert. A Christian turn’d Turke: or, The tragicall liues and deaths of the two famous pirates, Ward and Dansiker. London: Nicholas Okes for William Barrenger, 1612. Available on Early English Books Online (EEBO) through the British Library.
Dervla Laaraichi, Saoirse. ‘The Adventures of Helen Gloag in Morocco’, Untold Lives blog 30 May 2022.
Matar, Nabil. Britain and Barbary, 1589-1689. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2005. British Library Document Supply m06/.10725.
Nixon, Anthony. Nevves from sea, of tvvo notorious pyrats War the Englishman, and Danseker the Dutchman. London: Edward Allde for N. Butter, 1609. British Library General Reference Collection G.7343
Pitts, Joseph. A true and faithful account of the religion and manners of the Mohammetans. Exeter: Phillip Bishop and Edward Score, 1704. British Library General Reference Collection 1048.b.19.
Pennell, C.R. ed. Piracy and diplomacy in seventeenth-century North Africa: the journal of Thomas Baker, English Consul in Tripoli, 1677-1685. Rutherford: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1989. British Library General Reference Collection YC.1992.b.5589.
The seamans song of Captain Ward the famous pyrate of the world. 1609. Available on Early English Books Online (EEBO) through the British Library.


This blog post is the last of a collaborative series with Medieval and Early Modern Orients (MEMOs).  On the last Monday of every month, both Untold Lives and MEMOs' own blog have featured a post written by a member of the MEMOs team, showcasing their research in the British Library collections.  Follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #BLMEMOS. 

 

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