The stories they tell: Archive of Youth Aliyah

In this week’s blog post, we focus on Youth Aliyah (Aliyat Hano’ar), an organisation founded in 1933 to provide young people with vocational training in Palestine. 

The formation of Youth Aliyah

The first Youth Aliyah group consisted of 12 children from Germany, who arrived in Palestine in the autumn of 1932. The idea of providing young people with vocational training in Palestine came from Recha Freier of Berlin, who was aware that there would be no future for Jews in Germany, even before the Nazis rose to power. She appealed to the Histadrut in Palestine, the Zionist movement in Germany and Henrietta Szold, director of the Social Welfare Department of the Va’ad Le’umi, to bring the motives of Youth Aliyah into reality “bringing Jewish youth to Palestine and training them for a pioneering life on farming settlements.”  

Whilst Freier was responsible for organising activities in Germany, Henrietta Szold, from the United States, oversaw activities in Palestine. The work in Palestine was arranged in cooperation with the Jewish Agency, the Va’ad Le’umi and the kibbutz movement. Founder of the Hadassah women’s organisation, Szold regarded all of the children of Youth Aliyah as her sons and daughters. After visiting Berlin in the summer of 1933, she became director of the Youth Aliyah Bureau in Jerusalem.  

“Our movement is founded on three elements – work, study and communal life. Each of these statements is equally important, and this is not just for the sake of Youth Aliyah but for the building of the country which is served by Youth Aliyah.” Statement made by Henrietta Szold on 6 February, 1940 

Constitution of the Society of Children and Youth Aliyah Committee for Great Britain and Eire [MS313 A1071/2/1 Folder 2] 


Youth Aliyah offers a broad-based education which stresses individual advancement, social awareness, and commitment, team work, and educational pluralism. An effort is made to establish an ongoing dialogue between teacher and student. 

Education training [MS313 A1071/4/10] 

World War Two

By the mid-1930s the organisation’s activities had expanded and as the decade progressed it rescued more than 5000 children from Nazi Germany and Austria. By the end of World War Two, Youth Aliyah had rescued 15,000 children, survivors of the Holocaust. Emissaries were sent from Palestine to seek out children roaming the streets or sheltered by Christian families and institutions. This rescue operation was joined by Jewish soldiers serving in the British Army. The children were placed in homes and temporary shelters in or near camps in western and central Europe. The organisation gave these children the feeling of home and family, as well as seeing to their psychological needs and economic requirements.  

Between 1945 and 1948, a special arm of Youth Aliyah handled the schooling of young survivors in temporary shelters in Europe, and arranged for their passage to Palestine. Youth Aliyah educators were left to restore youngsters scarred by the scenes of war, a faith in humanity. 

In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, Youth Aliyah took many thousand orphans to Palestine as illegal immigrants. 

Foundation of the state of Israel 

After the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948, Moshe Kol, the head of Youth Aliyah in 1949, visited Morocco and arranged for the aliyah of 6000 youngsters. Among the 70,000 Youth Aliyah wards absorbed between 1948 and 1960, close to 70% were from Islamic countries. The associations Hadassah (U.S.A. and Canada), Wizo, Wizo-Canada, Mizrachi Women (today Amit), Pioneer Women (today Na’amat), and Youth Aliyah committees in Great Britain, Switzerland, France, Holland, Italy, Scandinavia, and many more, were invaluable in helping Youth Aliyah meet its financial requirements. This generosity led to many new youth villages being established. To meet the increasing needs, Youth Aliyah organised special education programmes, such as Hebrew language courses, and training centres for agriculture and industry, as well as transforming Neurim Youth Village into a major institution for technological training.  

Antwerp and Jewish Orphanage packing for Israel [MS313/A1071/4/14] 

Youth Aliyah gave these children new lifestyles that helped ease the passage and adjustment to a new culture, for them and their families that followed.  

Many of the projects undertaken by Youth Aliyah were funded by the Jewish Agency and it became a department of this organisation. 

Programme for the opening of Youth Aliyah Wingate Village, 1950 [MS313 A1071 4/10] 

In 1972, the Youth Aliyah was asked to make a central effort in absorbing youth from distressed levels of Israeili society, while at the same time, continuing its work in absorbing new immigrants and children of new immigrants. 

One out of every ten adults in Israel has been connected in his youth with Youth Aliyah. Its graduates have achieved the highest levels in politics, science, technology, the armed forces, agriculture, and other spheres. 

A special framework for Ethiopian youth arriving without their parents was set up in 1984. To date, some 3000 youngsters, 1000 of them parentless, have been absorbed in special programs, “Operation Moses”, as the rescue of Ethiopian Jewry has been called, has posed a great challenge for the Jewish people as a whole, and for the Jewish Aliyah in particular. 

Notes on Operation Moses [MS313 A1071/5/5 Folder 2] 

Youth Aliyah today 

The organisation has slowly shifted its focus away from facilitating aliyah and focussed fully on caring for children at risk in Israel. Youth Aliyah added the words ‘Child Rescue’ to its name in order to reflect their primary work of rescuing children and young people from a life trauma, and in many cases, severe danger. They do not help people ‘make aliyah’ to Israel as the organisation’s name somewhat implies, but Freier’s original mission remains at the heart of everything the organisation does. 

Today, Youth Aliyah Child Rescue works tirelessly to bring as many vulnerable, traumatised children as possible, to safety in their youth villages. Youth Aliyah Child Rescue provides opportunity, empowering young people to climb from poverty and to become fulfilled and invaluable members of Israeli society. This concept is so fundamental to the organisation’s work, that in 2019, they updated their branding so it was reflected visually.  

Youth Aliyah Child Rescue Website Homepage 

About the collection 

The archive contains a wealth of resources for those wishing to study the workings of an organisation whose prime aim was to rescue children from persecution and to provide a better life for them. As well as committee minute books, and Youth Aliyah, the archive contains a wealth of photographs that reflect the educational training provided, and of the villages constructed. 

Youth Aliyah Jubilee The Jewish Agency for Israel [MS313 A1071/5/5] 

Selig Brodetsky

Calling card of Selig Brodetsky, 1912 [MS119 AJ3/22C]

It was on 10 February in 1888 that the mathematician Selig Brodetsky was born in Olviopol, Ukraine, the second son in a family of thirteen children. The family moved to London in 1893 and Selig Brodetsky entered Jews’ Free School the following year. From there, having won a scholarship, he went to the Central Foundation School in 1900. In 1902 he came top of the list of those winning intermediate scholarships in London.

Notification from the London County Council Technical Education informing Selig Brodetsky that he has been placed first in the boys’ list of the Intermediate County Scholarship, 1902 [MS119 AJ3/6]

He matriculated to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1905 after being awarded a scholarship to study mathematics. After continuing his studies in mathematical astronomy at the University of Leipzig, Brodetsky received his doctorate in 1913. In 1914 he returned to the UK, where he was appointed lecturer in practical mathematics at Bristol. He was first a Reader and then Professor at the University of Leeds, 1920 to 1949.

Brodetsky was a lifelong supporter of the Zionist movement. He was appointed secretary when the Zionist Association was formed at Cambridge University in 1907 and was president of the Zionist Student Association at Leipzig. He also served as a member of the executive of the World Zionist Organisation and Jewish Agency for Palestine, as Honorary President of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland and Honorary President of the World Maccabi Union.

In 1939 Selig Brodetsky became President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, a post that he held until 1953. His appointment marked something of departure, indeed it has been termed a revolution, for Brodetsky was the first East European to hold the post.  Moreover he was one of Britain’s leading Zionists: the organisation was seen to move closer to the cause of Zionism under his leadership. For a short period from 1949 onwards, Brodetsky became the second President of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, succeeding Judah Magnes.

Telegram of congratulations from David Ben-Gurion to Selig Brodetsky on his appointment as President of the Board of Deputies, 1939 [MS119 AJ3/66]

The Special Collections holds a small collection of material for Selig Brodetsky, 1900-53. Together with personal material and items relating to his early scholastic achievements is correspondence from his period at the Board of Deputies. There are also copies of newspaper reports and sets of newspaper cuttings from 1911 onwards, including relating to his time at the Hebrew University of Jersualem. A report from the Jewish Chronicle from 1911, for instance, reports on a meeting of the University Zionist Societies at which Selig Brodetsky opened proceedings with an address on “The cultural aspects of Zionism”.

Typescript report of the address given by Selig Brodetsky to a meeting of the Union Zionist Societies in 1911 [MS119 AJ3/22b]

Amongst the papers for the period 1939-53, when Brodetsky was President of the Board of Deputies, are many letters of congratulations on his appointment as well as personal correspondence with leading figures within Anglo-Jewish community, including members of the Rothschild and Sieff families. Correspondence with individuals such as Ivan Greenberg of the Jewish Chronicle, Chief Rabbi Hertz and Lavy Bakstansky, secretary general of the British Zionist Federation, feature more heavily in the collection. The correspondence between Greenberg and Brodetsky includes the discussion of a proposed “peace aims” interview in March 1941, which Selig Brodetsky agreed would not be appropriate for him to give but stated “I agree with you about the advisability of the President of the Board making statements (other than what Winston Churchill referred to as “platitudes” the other day)”. The collection also includes material from April-May 1941 when there were divisions between Chief Rabbi Hertz and Brodetsky.

Part of a letter from Ivan Greenberg to Selig Brodetsky, 25 March 1941, about an interview relating to “Peace aims” [MS119 AJ3/102]

The collection provides a snapshot of Selig Brodetsky’s life measuring the trajectory from Ghetto to Israel – as he titled his posthumously published memoir – and as a witness to changes to the leadership of the Jewish community in the UK and the tumultuous events of the Second World War and the creation of the state of Israel.

The Board of Agriculture Surveys

If you want to know the day rates paid to an agricultural labourer in Kent in 1795 (1 shilling and 6 pence to 2 shillings), the types of plough used by eighteenth-century farmers of Lincolnshire or which crops were commonly grown in Worcestershire, then the surveys published on a county by county basis by the Board of Agriculture from 1794 to 1814 will usually be able to supply the answer. The accuracy will depend on the surveyor involved, but taken together, the reports, covering England, Wales and Scotland – a similar exercise was carried out in Ireland by the Dublin Society – provide a wealth of information on rural matters at this time and the Perkins Agricultural Library is fortunate to have one of the most complete sets of surveys in the country.

Reports on shelves in Library
Board of Agriculture Reports in the Perkins Agricultural Library

Despite its name, the Board of Agriculture and Internal Improvement was not a Government body and did not advise on agricultural policy. Both Board and survey were first suggested by the agricultural writer, William Marshall, but the Board owed its establishment in 1793 to the politician Sir John Sinclair who had convinced the prime minister, William Pitt, of its value. Charged with increasing agricultural production through promoting best practices and a “spirit of industry and experiment”, the Board, with Sinclair as President and Arthur Young as Secretary, consisted mainly of members of the aristocracy and landed gentry, rather than practising farmers.

With his experience of the Statistical Account of Scotland, Sinclair was keen to get a survey underway to help identify and publicise the most successful farming methods. He appointed surveyors even before the Board met and though he favoured a survey at parish level, in the event it was undertaken at county level, in part to avoid any difficulties with the Church on the question of tithes. The surveyors were to conduct a five-to-six-week tour of a county with which they were unfamiliar, their reports then being printed and circulated for comment and correction by local farmers and landowners. Unfortunately for Sinclair, the combination of haste and the unsuitability of several surveyors, some of whom, according to Arthur Young “scarcely knew the right end of a plough” meant that the initial reports published in 1793/4 were subject to much criticism. This necessitated a second series of more detailed reports, new surveyors being appointed in some cases.

A page from James Donaldson’s General View of the Agriculture of the County of Northampton (1794) with wide margin to allow for comment Rare Books Perkins S 453

The later reports published towards the end of the 1790s and in the early years of the 1800s were each arranged in seventeen sections [1], a form “pitched upon as one that would include in it all the particulars which it was necessary to notice in an agricultural survey”. As well as the detailed sections on farming methods, information about matters such as poor relief, local commerce and transport was also recorded.

List of expenses of a labourer from Arthur Young’s General View of the Agriculture of Norfolk (1813) Rare Books Perkins S 453

Although the reports again varied in quality, reflecting the knowledge and interests of individual surveyors, the second series was generally better received than the first, which had lacked the common plan. One notable critic was William Marshall, who feeling his ideas had been stolen by Sinclair and Young, undertook his own review, making abstracts of the reports which he arranged on his preferred regional basis. The result was a five volume work published between 1808 and 1817, a copy of which is also in the Perkins Agricultural Library.

William Marshall A Review and Complete Abstract of the Reports of the Board of Agriculture from the Midland Department of England (1815) Rare Books Perkins S 455

Most of the surveyors were land agents or land surveyors, some already being established writers on agricultural affairs but there were also clergymen and in the case of Sir Henry Holland, a gap year student of twenty, employed for six months prior to starting his medical studies at Edinburgh. William Pitt, who wrote reports on the counties of Leicester, Northampton, Stafford and Worcester, was considered one of the most able of the surveyors and Charles Vancouver, a specialist in land drainage, who wrote the reports on Cambridge, Devon, Essex and Hampshire had experience of agriculture in Britain, America and the Netherlands. Unlike some of the surveyors, he made extensive tours in the areas upon which he reported.

Dartmoor Sheep from Charles Vancouver’s General View of the Agriculture of the County of Devon (1808) Rare Books Perkins S 453

About John Farey, author of the report on the county of Derby, William Marshall was less than complementary, writing that he was wanting in four essentials, “matured experience, widely extended observation, competent reading on the subject and acquaintance with related sciences”. As a mineral surveyor, Farey, had in fact devoted volume one of his three volume report to the geology of the county, including a pioneering analysis of the geometry of faulting and a discussion of English stratigraphy. His hope had been to persuade the Board of the importance of the subject, but in this he was unsuccessful.

Diagram explaining “the nature of faults or dislocations and tilts of the strata” from John Farey’s General View of the Agriculture and Minerals of the County of Derbyshire (1811) Rare Books Perkins S 453

Although the reports were perhaps of less use to contemporaries than had been envisaged – in some cases an overwhelming amount of detail obscured the bigger picture – in the absence of other sources they have proved an invaluable resource for historians of the period. Recording aspects of rural life in every county, they provide a snapshot of farming life at the time and, with most of the reports having been digitised (there are links in the Perkins records), they are now more accessible than ever.

[1] Geographical State, State of Property, Buildings, Mode of Occupation, Implements, Inclosing, Arable Land, Grass, Gardens and Orchards, Woods and Plantations, Wastes, Improvements, Live Stock, Rural Economy (labour and servants), Political Economy (roads, canals, commerce), Obstacles to Improvement, Miscellaneous Observations

The Hartley Institution and Hartley College, 1862-1902

The University of Southampton wasn’t always the Russell Group Higher Education Institution we know today. It was founded back in 1862 as the Hartley Institution. Due to money shortages and somewhat of an identity crisis, it didn’t start operating until September 1863, nearly a whole year later. And what exactly was it offering? The library and reading room were open to members from 10am to 9pm on weekdays, and the museum from 11am-4pm. The latter was also open free to the general public on three week days and at a charge of 6d on the other days.

Outside view of the Hartley Institution [MS1/7/291/22/1/3]

A course of public lectures was arranged plus some evening classes in chemistry and French. The principal, Francis Bond, taught the chemistry himself, and M. Louis de Briffont was engaged as a part-time teacher for French. The Institution initially had 531 members; this quickly rose to 694. The evening classes, however, were not successful and the public lectures failed to pay their way. Hartley was competing against both the Athenaeum and the Polytechnic Institute which offered lighter lectures and more popular music at a cheaper price. In addition, by 1865 the library still only had 5,000 volumes.

It was clear it was essential to improve the financial situation, but what was to be done? Fortuitously, a significant opportunity came the way of the Institution respecting daytime teaching classes. In India, at this time, the Government was developing the communications network and training was required for young Englishmen as engineers and telegraphists in the Indian Public Works Department. Four years earlier, the Hartley had secured recognition as an approved establishment for instruction in this area and so was perfectly positioned to seize the opportunity. In 1867, the School of Art was taken under the Institution’s wing to save it from extinction; this action had huge significance, as we shall soon discover.

Hartley Institution, Scheme for the management of the Hartley Institution, 1863 [ref: Univ. Coll LF 781.2]

At last we have some progress! Albeit not in the direction originally resolved, as it was the college side which was developing relatively rapidly rather than the cultural centre. The day classes throve: in 1868 there were six students, all telegraphists; this had risen to 17 before the end of the year. And by 1870, there were 70 students, most, but not all, engineers or telegraphists. The Institution received excellent examination results and the staff was expanded to several full time appointments. The day time courses were split into two departments: Science (mainly engineering) and General Literature, in addition to the Department (formerly School) of Art.

Building work was undertaken including a new premises for the School of Art, 3 classrooms, a new museum and art gallery. The old museum was converted to expand the library. The interior decorating, uncompleted in 1862 due to lack of funds, was finally completed in 1871. The expansion could be viewed as piecemeal and shortsighted, and it was criticised as such at the time. But what went unrecognised by the critics was the degree to which Hartley Council was obliged to live in this hand to mouth: the finances permitted nothing else.

Entrance hall of the Hartley Institution [MS1/7/291/22/1/10]

By 1871, the Institution looked to be in a promising position. If you scratched the surface, however, it became apparent it was neither secure financially nor in receipt of public support. Sadly the early successes were short-lived and, as we move into a new decade, problems developed. The number of subscribing members declined; the public lectures got smaller and were stopped in 1871. That same year, a college was built near Winchester to provide technical training for the Indian Public Works service. Engineers and telegraphists formed the core of Hartley’s students and now the Institution had a significant competitor for their recruitment.

A further issue was public support, or more accurately, lack of. The old argument – “college” versus “institution” – resurfaced. Members of the Town Council and other leading citizens felt the main focus of the Institution should be on the library and reading room and most wanted this provision freely available to the townspeople in general. They thought this could be achieved by ceasing spending on new buildings and suspending the classes. In 1869 more than 500 people signed a memorial asking for a free reading and newsroom. One of the key bugbears of the Institution party was that many of the day students came from outside Southampton. Not only this, but they had a reputation for rowdy and inconsiderate behaviour. Having no common room, they congregated in the library and reading room before and after lectures. Commentators describe how they:

Burst unceremoniously into the room like an incursion the barbarians of old-some whistling, others humming, singing, or strumming on the tables, all talking, and knocking their sticks, hats and umbrellas about, so as to make a miniature Babel.

Whiled away the time in indolently lounging about the reading room, lolling on the table with their feet resting on the chairs, and by loud talking and laughter.

Temple Patterson, University of Southampton, p. 43

Relations with the School of Art had been simmering for some time. They came to a head in 1872. The Art master Baker still regarded himself as the head of an independent institution, which happened to be housed under the same roof. Baker and the Principal, Francis Bond, fell out: there was a bitter quarrel between the two men, to the discredit of all involved. The Charity Commissioners were called in to hold an enquiry into the past management and to discover an efficient and harmonious way forward. Hartley’s governing body was replaced with a new Council with full control over the Institution, which, after failing to resolve matters with Baker, dismissed him. The issue was finally settled but at what cost? The Institution’s reputation was in tatters, the influx of “outside” students dried up and the day classes were a shadow of their former selves. Bond resigned in April 1873.

Hartley Institution, The Hartley Institution and its proposed extension as a local university college [Rare Books Univ. Coll LF 782.2]

As we move into the mid-1870s, the number of day students dwindled. As did the number of subscribing members: since the library, reading room and museum had been made free to the general public, the advantages and attractions of subscription were much reduced. Several other members of staff left and the new principal, Blackader, was not happy in his post.

By 1875, however, affairs if not successful, were at least settled. The balance of emphasis had shifted slightly from teaching to the institutional side; expenditure on library increased and the book stock was extended. Efforts were made to improve the museum. With a rise in evening students from 1875 onwards and public lectures again attempted in 1878, the Institution found itself in a much improved financial situation. Feelings of suspicion and hostility still existed in the town but the tide of public opinion was changing.

Prospectus for the Hartley Institution, 1878 [Ref MS1/1/31/9]

Those few students whose homes were at a distance from Southampton were usually taken as boarders by members of staff. One of these, in fact perhaps our most distinguished Old Hartleian, was F.W.Lanchester the mathematician and engineer who worked in automotive engineering and aerodynamics.

In the country generally at this time, there was a growing desire for enlarged scientific and technical education and the development of medical schools. The Hartley Institution, on strength of examination results, could claim to be one of the country’s foremost schools of science. It was refused a government grant due to its lack of adequate teaching staff and representative governing body. As we move into the 1890s, there began a drive to develop the institution primarily as a college for higher technical education with the ultimate aim to secure recognition as a university college. Some problems from the late 1860s/early 1870s repeated themselves: namely inadequate capital and badly situated buildings which made it difficult to expand both the facilities and the staff.

The Hall at Hartley College [MS1/7/291/22/1/10]

In May 1893 Sir Philip Magnus carried out a thorough inspection of the Institution. The time had come to choose between the cultural centre and teaching college, he said, and put forward that it was the path of development as a college “meeting the increasing demands for popular and industrial education” which must be chosen. More purely cultural objects need not be entirely lost sight of and the museum and library should be preserved as valuable aids to higher teaching. Magnus suggested the Institution should aim to supplement and advance the education given in secondary schools; advanced day instruction and evening teaching, chiefly technical and commercial. It should aim to make its daytime instructions serve the whole country while its evening classes should be more local in scope.

It was suggested that the institution only employ full time people with adequate salaries; this would secure qualified people who could devote whole working time to teaching. All candidates for the day courses were required to pass an entrance examination. Despite the founder’s intentions the “college idea” had finally triumphed and the Hartley Institution was presently to become Hartley College. In July 1896 six new appointments were made: this core staff claimed to be adequate for the teaching of university subjects plus a complete scheme of technical education.

Hartley College students at a picnic in the New Forest, 1900 [MS1/7/291/22/1/11]

From the beginning of the session of 1896-7 a new era in the history of “the Hartley” began and it changed its name from “Institution” to “College”. The library and museum, although still open to the public, altered their orientation and became adjuncts to academic work. The first BSc was gained in 1896 followed by two more in 1897 and the first BA in 1898.

Up until now, students from outside Southampton had boarded with members of staff. But in the 1899-1900 session the first hall of residence, Bevois Mount House in Lodge Road, was created for the female day training students. A full time Lady Superintendent, Mrs Bland, was appointed.

Lady Superintendent Mrs Bland photographed outside Bevois Mount House [MS1/7/291/22/1]

In November 1901 the University Colleges’ Grants Commission inspected the institution and in the autumn term 1902, the Hartley was officially made a University College. After a somewhat troubled start, the Hartley had found its place and purpose in the world and these new beginnings saw many years of achievement and success. While still worlds apart, the Hartley has started to resemble something like our present day University. As we move into a new millennia, our next post in this series will look at student life at Southampton in the early twentieth century.

Henry Robinson Hartley, the “Hartley bequest” and the opening of the Hartley Institution

Have you ever heard of Henry Robinson Hartley? We think it’s likely that many of you will never have come across this individual. He was, however, rather significant for Southampton: the bequest in his will provided the funds to found the Hartley Institution, an establishment which many years later evolved into the University we know and love today.

Portrait of Henry Robinson Hartley as a child, c. 1780 [MS1/Phot/39/ph3000]

One of Highfield’s most well-used buildings (the Library) was named in his honour. See our 2019 blog post Happy Birthday Henry Robinson Hartley for the full details of his eccentric life.

Three slips of paper with pencil manuscript notes by Henry Robinson Hartley, relating to Noris’s book, 1813, 1817 [MS1/2/6/3]

We pick up our story after Hartley’s death in 1850. His will left upwards of £103,000 – nearly the whole of his estate – to the Corporation of Southampton on condition that it employed:

The interest, dividends and annual proceeds [thereof] in such manner as [might] best promote the study and advancement of the sciences of Natural History, Astronomy, Antiquities, Classical and Oriental Literature in the town, such as by forming a Public Library, Botanic Gardens, Observatory, and collections of objects in connection with the above sciences. [Professor A.Temple Patterson, The University of Southampton (Southampton, 1962)].

The Hartley Institution: bequest to the Corporation of Southampton by H.R.Hartley, deceased

At this time, Southampton had a mid-century population of 35,000 to 40,000. The Borough Council set up the Hartley Bequest Committee. The project was beset by problems from the outset. A significant proportion of the funds had already been swallowed up in a contest over the will but, unfortunately, people over-estimated the revenue that would be available. There was disagreement over Hartley’s real intentions. The suitability of the High Street was disputed with some suggesting that, due to the town’s expansion, a more central and accessible location should be chosen. In this case, Hartley’s wishes were partly carried out: while it was not possible to adapt the existing house, the new institution was to be built on the same site. Just over 50 years later, at the time of the First World War, the University College (as it had become) was required to relocate to the current Highfield site due to space constraints.

The second major debate was over the nature of the institution. There developed two main parties: those who advocated a teaching college and others who favoured an institution or cultural centre. A few characters were particularly vocal in this debate, with the leading voices being Reverend Kell of the “college” party and Joseph Stebbing, for the “institution”. Revd Edmund Kell, the principal figure of the first, was a scholar, champion of liberal and progressive causes, Unitarian minister and archaeologist. Kell argued that Hartley had given precedence to the study of science and literature over the creation of a library or museum and that, since no “scientific public” as Hartley had referred to existed in the town, it must be created: for this a college must be established.

Mr Hartley’s intentions respecting the application of his munificent bequest: a letter by Rev Edmund Kell [MS1/1/31/2]

Joseph Stebbing, a leading businessman and Conservative, was President of the Chamber of Commerce almost continuously from 1851 to 1867. As leader of the “institution” faction his proposal was to create a library, reading room, museum and public lectures which were to be made as widely available as possible.

At a public meeting in July 1858, the motion that the Hartley Bequest Committee of the Town Council should take Stebbing’s proposals as a basis for their scheme, with amendments, was carried without dissent. And so Stebbing and the “institution” party won the day. The Hartley Council was formed to administer the project. One of its first actions was to hold an open competition for the design of the building. You may not be surprised to hear that they were required to choose the cheapest option, which had to be modified further to be achievable.

Design for the Hartley Institution competition: printed report of the Council of the Hartley Institution to the town council [MS1/1/31/5]

Another victim of constrained finances was the staffing budget. A grand total of two people were appointed by the Council in July 1862! A Librarian-cum-Curator who was later given the title of principal. With a salary of £300 a year, without residence, Dr. Francis Bond was a 28 year old Professor of Chemistry and Dean of Faculty in Queen’s College Birmingham as well as Professor of Clinical Medical at Queen’s Hospital. The only other appointment was a porter, Robins, a married man without children: salary of £60 per year with uniform, coal and candles supplied. Later a library assistant-cum-secretary was appointed.

Despite early – and by no means insignificant – challenges, the Hartley Institution had been built, it’s purpose decided and staff appointed. And so we move onto a celebration: the grand opening which was attended by the Prime Minister, no less! And the opening was indeed very grand: no expense was spared on the event and anyone attending would find it hard to believe the financial and other challenges the institution had faced thus far. See our blog post Opening of the Hartley Institution, Wednesday 15 October 1862 for all the details.

The Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston at the opening of the Hartley Institution

Although Lord Palmerston had declared the Institution open, it did not in fact begin to function for nearly a year afterwards. While the shell of the building was ready, it wasn’t equipped for work and the expense of the ceremony caused yet further delays. The bill for the opening came to over £600 which was not paid for for some time and several tradesmen were obliged to sue the corporation before they could get any money.

Report on the organisation and management of the Hartley Institution by Francis T.Bond, November 1862 [Rare books Univ. Collection LF781.4]

The newly appointed Principal, Francis Bond, visited literary and scientific institutions in other UK towns and drew up the report “Organisation and Management of the Hartley Institution”. A small laboratory was fitted up with a grant from the Borough Council. In addition, donations of books for the library and specimens for the museum were received. A whole eleven months passed after the ceremony before the real opening of the Institution on 4 September 1863. Our next University-themed post will explore the early years of the Institution in detail; do join us then.

Norman J.Crisp

Today’s blog focuses on the career of a local writer – Norman J. Crisp, born in Southampton in 1923. Crisp held a number of jobs, including a period in the RAF, before he became a full-time writer. He wrote principally short stories before selling his first script to the BBC in the late 1950s. He wrote extensively for the screen and the stage, contributing to series including Dixon of Dock Green, Dr Finlay’s Casebook, Secret army and Compact, as well as creating, with his collaborator the producer Gerard Glaister, two other series, The brothers and The expert. He won a Writers’ Guild of Great Britain screenwriters award in 1968.

His papers can be found under MS199 at the University of Southampton’s Special Collections.

This collection includes a range of material dating from the mid-1950s up to the early 1990s such as drafts, research notes and scripts for various films including Murder elite as well as television productions for many of the series in which he was involved, The brothers and Dixon of Dock Green amongst them. Crisp was also a published novelist and the collection includes reviews, correspondence and research notes relating to some of his books including Gotland deal, The odd job man and In the long run. Last but not least, the collection also includes papers and correspondence relating to the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (of which Crisp was a committee member), dating from 1959-71.

Title page for an episode of The Brothers written by N. J. Crisp, noting a change in the script [MS199 A807/1/3]

The collection would be of interest not only to those curious about Crisp’s unique career in television and film specifically, but also to those keen to learn about the development of the industry more generally. For example, a letter dated 8 January 1962 [MS199 A807/140/1] and addressed to Crisp from the Joint Editor of Guild News (the Television and Screenwriters Guild’s publication) expresses intrigue (and some scepticism) at the emergence of the new academic study of film-making, whilst questioning the objectives and experience of lecturers in the subject:

[…] Knowing how you feel about the idea that people can be taught to write, I wonder if you think there might be a Guild News article here?[…] Now a number of questions leap to mind. Just what does this course [at London University] cover? Is writing a part of it? And if not, then are students given to understand that writing is an unimportant part of film-making? Who are the people who do the teaching? What experience do they have? […] Do they seriously intend to produce “graduate film-makers” like lawyers and chemists?

Simultaneous with this scepticism on the academicizing of film production and writing, there is nevertheless a strong drive to formalise and protect the economic interests of writers working in the television and film industry, through professional organisation and the promotion of solidarity amongst writers. Crisp’s papers include issues of the Screen Writers Guild Newsletter from the early 1960s, documenting the Guild’s attempts to affiliate with the Trade Unions Congress as well as its negotiations, on behalf of screenwriters, with the BBC and other companies seeking a greater percentage of revenues for writers based on the success of their productions. Circulars from the Writers Guild of Great Britain reveal attempts to co-operate with the Writers Guild of America (WGA) in urging British writers only to accept work from American production companies that had signed appropriate agreements with the WGA, thus preventing them from undercutting American writers by using cheaper British talent and vice versa with American writers.

A 1968 letterhead of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, featuring their motto ‘Ante omnia verbum’, which translates roughly as ‘The word before all else’ [MS199 A807/145/1]

Agendas produced by the Screenwriter’s Guild (based on Harley Street in London) reveal alarm in 1964 with “the serious decrease in the production of TV drama by the BBC, and instructs the Council to hold immediate joint discussion with Equity and ACTT with a view to making a joint approach to the BBC…”. Attempts were being made to influence broadcasters in terms of the kinds of material they were producing. The notion that the content of television productions should be based, at least in part, on the demands or financial interests of writers rather than the preferences of audiences or ‘the marketplace’ reveal interesting aspects at work in the industry.

As well as exposing the economics and power-relations within the film and television industry, the collection includes correspondence between Crisp and his agents as well as publishers from the early 1950s onwards. This correspondences provides a flavour of what was, or was not, selling well at any given time, thus documenting the evolving preferences of audiences, or at least of the writers, publishers and production companies who vied for their attention. A letter from Crisp’s agent dated 26th August 1955 informs him: “I am very sorry indeed to return The camel and the eye but unfortunately there is not a very good chance of placing scientific stories and as you will see I have offered it as widely as I could. I am disappointed that I had no good editorial reaction.” This letter does mention, however, that Crisp’s story titled Girls by the gallon had sold for nine guineas. Another letter from the same agent dated 9 September 1955 notes: “I have only tried A twitch in time with three Editors, but alas, Time/Space stories are out of fashion at the moment. With regret…” Perhaps audiences would have been more receptive to scientific stories a few years later, following Sputnik and the beginnings of the Space Race. In fact, Crisp did later write for the BBC science fiction series Doomwatch in the early 1970s.

Crisp’s agents consistently offered their advice on both the preferences of publishers and audiences as well as the style or quality of his writing. As his agents informed him in a letter dated 9 February 1955:

…I expect you know that American editors buying English stories like an English story from an Englishman. There is really little chance of selling a pseudo-American story over there. Many American editors I have met in England have warned me about this… there is more chance of good proportion selling if sufficient time and consideration is given both to the plot and to the style of writing. The best way of finding out what editors are buying is to read the current magazines.

Criticism came not only from editors but directly from his agents too. One story being described as ‘terribly complicated’ [26 March 1955] and another being re-written under a new title altogether after poor feedback. One editor requested that a story involving marital infidelity and bank fraud, which he liked in many ways, should nonetheless be re-written because “it poses a difficult moral problem and is also rather depressing”. [10 January 1955]

Despite some of the negative feedback that Crisp received (he would have been an aspiring writer in his early thirties at this point) he was nevertheless rather gracious in his acceptance of the criticism and often succeeded, eventually, in giving publishers what they wanted. An agent tells him in a letter dated 8 March 1955 “I found The Saturday match particularly attractive and it had also a nice touch of humour. Your real difficulty, as far as selling to the popular magazines goes, is the type of plot. As you perhaps know, stories with a strong romantic interest are the most easily sold and a young love story is often popular.”

The collection would be of interest to any aspiring writer, not merely because of what Crisp had to say about his own creative journey and experiences, but because of his ruminations on the life of the writer. In a speech given by Crisp at an Independent Television luncheon he notes the following: “The writer knows that his script is the foundation on which all else is built, and that knowledge constitutes his essential pride in his craft.” Crisp informs his audience that the occupation of a writer is rather precarious – there is vigorous competition amongst writers and the television industry moves quickly. Within eight years of having his first television play transmitted in 1959 one critic called him ‘the Grand Old Man of television’, even though he was only forty-three years of age at the time. Crisp laments that: “A writer can become a dinosaur before he knows it, and is no longer fitted for survival.”

Crisp also notes that if writers get sick they don’t earn money (at least not back then) and that their talent typically dries up before they die, so they have no earnings on which to depend in their later years. These observations were made to an audience of writers and television executives in the aim of inducing them to support proposals for the introduction of pension contributions from the television companies and other employers, as well as from the writers themselves: “So, gentlemen, what we want to put to you today, is the necessity for, and the justice of, an Industry Pension and Sickness Scheme for writers. For the sake of brevity, a Social Security Scheme.”

Despite his warnings on the precariousness of the writer’s situation and his musings on the life of what others have called the ‘poor impecunious poet’, Crisp was nevertheless very successful for many years after this speech and until his passing in 2005. His papers also include the scripts, drafts, reviews and correspondence for his 1996 play That good night [A1060/18 and A1080/19], which was adapted for the 2017 film of the same name, starring John Hurt in his final film role.

2020 – a year in review

And what a year it has been! It was certainly not as any of us could have envisaged. Yet despite all the disruption during lockdown and a shift in working patterns, Special Collections remained busy with an array of different activities throughout the year.

Exhibitions and events

  • Threatening letter from Captain Swing to the Duke of Wellington
  • Westgate Hotel, Newport, 1839
  • Fascist Hooliganism! leaflet of the Jewish People's Council, 1936
  • Crowds at the "Battle of Cable Street", October 1936
  • Headlines from the Nottingham Gazette about the Battle of Cable Street, 5 October 1936
  • Campaign badges of the Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry
  • Red protest t-shirt worn by the Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry

The first Special Collections exhibition of the year We Protestopened as normal on 17 February, before sadly having to close early the following month as we faced lockdown due to the covid-19 pandemic. Taking the Cato Street conspiracy of 1820 as its starting point, the exhibition also looked at two subsequent nineteenth-century protests, before exploring the work of a number of 20th-century protest and pressure groups – such as the Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry – and of student protests. Highlights of this exhibition appeared as blogs in April: covering 19th-century protestsopposition to fascism in the 1930s; and campaigns for change in the latter part of the 20th century.

With staff working away from site from March onwards and with restrictions in place, the planned autumn exhibition Voyages of Discovery could not be held as a physical event. We used the opportunity instead to create an online exhibition. To mark the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower in 2020, this exhibition explores voyages of discovery both in terms of travel and exploration of ideas and knowledge.

In early February, the Special Collections, which is the home to the Basque child refugee archive played host to an event where the inaugural Natalia Benjamin essay prize was awarded to Southampton student Josh Burns for his dissertation. Josh’s dissertation used journals produced by the children to evaluate Basque child refugee agency and identity, a topic he discussed further in his guest blog.

February also saw us play host to a year 10 student from Redbridge School in Southampton with an interest in history who wished to do some work experience with us. With a self-confessed fascination in the Second World War, Louie was able to work on documents relating to the Southampton Fifth, the RAF short course run at the University during the war, as well as material from one of our Jewish collections. In his reflections on his time with us, Louie talked about how informative and interesting he found his visit.

Sadly we were unable to host further events and visits for most of the remainder of the year, although we were able to run some research sessions for history students in November and December. We have contributed to the Science and Engineering Fair’s #SOTSEF goes digital with activities in its art meets science strand.

And our handwriting and printing activities also were part of online activities provided by Southampton City during the summer and as part of the Hands-on Humanities event in November.

George Bickham’s The Universal Penman (1741): part of the writing activity provided by Special Collections

Online resources

Staff worked on a range of projects in the lockdown period since March including on a number of online resources.

Special Collections launched a YouTube channel People, Papers and Pasts which hosts a series of films on items within the Archives and Manuscripts and Printed Special Collections and the stories they tell.  

 The first three films of the series are:

(1) an introduction to the Special Collections

(2) a look at the Duke of Wellington and the “scum of the earth” letter of 1813

(3) Gandhi’s note of 2 June 1947

We produced a Flickr online exhibition showcasing images of University sports teams and invited alumni to both identify team members and contribute to the exhibition.

Men's football team 1956-7 [MS1/7/291/22/4]
Men‘s football team 1956-7 [MS1/7/291/22/4]

Telling their stories is an online resource relating to the Basque child refugees which forms part of the Special Collections website. Drawing on oral history testimonies and writings of the children, including from the magazines they produced themselves, the resource reflects on their experience in the UK.

And we were involved in Havens East, launched on 12 June, an online exhibition that tells the stories of the Basque child refugees who came to East Anglia to escape the horrors of the Spanish Civil War and using a range of material from Southampton.

Amistad Journal [MS404 A4171/6/1/1 Folder 1]
Amistad Journal produced by Basque child refugees [MS404 A4171/6/1/1 Folder 1]

For anyone missing visiting exhibitions in the Special Collections Gallery and Level 4 Gallery, there is now the opportunity to revisit past exhibitions at the new Special Collections Gallery site.

Social media and publicity

Special Collections maintained a full social media programme throughout the year, with its weekly blog and a liberal use of twitter.

Chamberlayne Gas Column in Houndwell Park

The subject matter covered in the Special Collections blog has been as wide ranging as usual, reflecting something of breadth and scope of the collections that we hold. We marked Veganuary in January, as well as Chanukah and Christmas fare, based on recipes from the 18th and 19th century, in December. The Duke of Wellington and his archive featured in a number of blogs, from Captain Swing and the riots in Hampshire in the early 19th century, to Wellington at Walmer Castle and the Duke of Wellington as Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire. Other subjects included Gillow furniture, the Bournemouth Poetry Society, Pageant plays, the Titchbourne claimant and the Chamberlayne Gas Column in Southampton.

Photograph of Edwina Ashley showing examples of 1920s jewellery and makeup [MS62 MB3/63]
Photograph of Edwina Ashley showing examples of 1920s jewellery and makeup [MS62 MB3/63] featured in the 1920s women’s fashion blog

We also focused on a number of themes in the social media during the year. At the start of the year were a couple of blogs relating to the 1920s, covering women’s fashion and Southampton in that decade. Then in March, to mark Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we featured a series of blogs celebrating women in the Archives: these looked at four quite different subjects: the maritime archaeologist Honor Frost; the philanthropic work of Mary Mee, Lady Palmerston; the Union of Jewish Women collection; and finally Cissi Rosenfelder, who was Honorary Secretary of the Golders Green Beth Hamedrash in 1938-9 and did much work to assist child refugees fleeing from Nazi Europe.

May was local and community history month and the themed blogs for this month started with a look at two of Hampshire’s local champions Thomas Shore and Sir William Cope. The remaining blogs for the month ranged from tourism of country houses to the London Jewish community as reflected from the letter books of the Jewish Board of Guardians and finally art and theatre in Southampton.

The most enduring theme used throughout the year was that of “The stories they tell”, in which we looked at a range of items from the Special Collections and considered the narrative behind the objects as well as what the objects themselves tell us. The blogs in this strand ranged from an article on the model resolution of the Council and Christians and Jews, to pieces about the relic of the Royal George ship, refugees at Atlantic Park, Eastleigh, a letter written before the Battle of Waterloo, mobile ambulance synagogues, Rosicrucian plays, student songs and student life in the 1980s, travel journals for Palestine in the 1920s, the development of football, Raiza Palatnik, the ORT Technical Engineering School in Leeds and Southampton Fifth course.

Mobile synagogue ambulance, Athens, December 1945
Mobile synagogue ambulance at the Central Jewish Board Office, Athens, December 1945 [MS 183/374]

Finally, we were delighted to post blogs that reflected both work on the collections as well as in response to features that we had produced. As well as the pieces by Josh Burns and Louie Kesby that have already been mentioned, we hosted an article by Dr Martin Walsh on his work based in part on the archive of the Jewish Association for the Protection of Girls, Women and Children (MS173). In June, we had a blog highlighting the stories you had shared with us in response to our own articles. While in October we had the first in what we hope will be a new feature of student societies as guest stars, with a piece by the Athletics and Cross Country Club. The Special Collections holds archive material relating to this society.

There were a number of themes covered in the Twitter account during 2020. We ran the second part of our Highfield in 100 objects tweets until April looking at the development of the University over 100 years. The themes of Monday Memories, Tuesday Trivia, Wednesday Wonder, Thursday Thoughts and Friday Feature or Flora and Fauna provided us with lots of fun as we delved into the collections to find relevant material, as did the Archives A-Z. For August our theme was holidays and journeys, whilst in September onwards we looked at student life. To mark the presidential elections in the US, our November theme was #Electionsincollections and we ended the year with #Winterwarmers A popular theme that will continue into 2021 is that of WellingtonWednesday. If you want to find out more about some of the tweets for 2020, do look at our final blog of the year in which we looked back at the most popular tweets.


The lockdown was not the most fortuitous time to collect material, due to restrictions on movement and issues about handling and quarantining of material. However, ensuring that archival heritage was not lost remained a pressing concern, pandemic or not, and one such case was that of the archives of the Nuffield Theatre which came to us in September after the theatre closed. Southampton City was sad to see the closure of this, a victim of the pressures on theatres during the current pandemic. The Nuffield Theatre on Highfield campus, which was designed by the architect Basil Spence, was officially opened by Dame Sybil Thorndike in March 1964 and there is material relating to its development amongst the University archives held in the Special Collections.  Due to this University link, we have been delighted to be able to provide a home for the archives of the NST.

Interior of Nuffield Theatre at Highfield campus

We also took custody of additional papers relating to Norwood charity in the summer to ensure that they too had a home for the long term.  Other material that we have acquired in the year, which is much smaller in quantity, has included a fascinating additional selection of papers of Christopher Collins who was private servant to the first Duke of Wellington as well as a separate small collection of items relating to the funeral of the Duke; small collections of university related papers, and papers of an individual involved with the Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry.

And cataloguing work and work creating finding aids progressed throughout the year. Alongside work on new collections that is ongoing, we were also able to achieve significant work on parts of the Wellington Archive and on aspects of the Broadlands Archives during lockdown.

Looking ahead to 2021

With a range of projects and the implementation of a new Archives management system in progress, Special Collections is already looking at a busy year of activity.

2020: Our Year on Twitter

This blog post showcases our tweets that have gained the most popularity this year!


Item 62 of #Highfieldina100items is a 1964 @unisouthampton Freshers’ conference programme. Wine and cheese party in the Refectory anyone? #HighfieldCampus100 #ExploreYourArchives @UniSotonAlumni @Union_Soton @HumanitiesUoS @HistoryAtSoton @HistoricalSoton @soton

Fresher’ Conference Programme, 1964 [MS310/73 A4087]


Item 87 of #Highfieldina100items is a photograph of tree being planted in honour of the first nursing graduates @unisouthampton in October 1986 @HSciences

Tree planting in honour of First Nursing Graduates, Oct 1986 [MS1 Phot/1/26/1]


March’s #documentofthemonth is a letter from Reverend Patrick Brontë, the father of the Bronte sisters that were writers, to the first Duke of Wellington discussing his ideas on firearms. He judges the musket he has drawn “to be the best, for all the purposes of a soldier.”

Letter from Reverend Patrick Brontë to the first Duke of Wellington [MS62 WP2/89]


#HappyBirthdayYourMajesty! We mark the Queen’s 94th birthday with this photograph of her visit to @unisouthampton in 1966. Here she is met by Chancellor of the time, Lord Keith Murray. During her visit she saw an exhibition of Kinetic art, and the campus @NSTheatres. #Archives

Queen Elizabeth II meeting Chancellor of the time, Lord Keith Murray, 1966 [MS1 Phot/39 ph3372]


To mark #NationalWalkingMonth, why not discover Southampton through Jane Austen’s eyes with this blog post? Jane Austen’s Southampton | University of Southampton Special Collections ( #AllSaintsChurch #NewBridge #NetleyAbbey #JaneAusten #Archives @SotonEnglish @SouthamptonHid1 @SotonianHistory @HistoricalSoton @sadtht

Tobias Young ‘A near view of Southampton in 1819; taken from the banks of the canal near the tunnel’ (1819) in Cope, Sir W.H. Views in Hampshire, v.4: illus. 116 [Rare Books Cope ff 91.5]. Castle Square is thought to be the large house with tall chimneys in front of the castle.


A lost view of Southampton’s High Street is today’s #ThursdayThought. On the left is the Audit House (with balcony), its upper floor housing the municipal offices and the open ground floor, a market. @HistoricalSoton @SouthamptonHid1 @SotonianHistory @SotonStories

Southampton High Street [pc3393]


No room on the charabanc in this week’s #MondayMemory which features a photograph of an outing from Southampton’s Crown & Sceptre pub in August 1921. @HistoricalSoton @SotonianHistory @SouthamptonHid1 @SotonStories

Crown and Sceptre Outing, 3 Aug 1921 [Rare Books Cope Photographs ph2701]


Throughout August we will be posting tweets on #holidaysandjourneys. The Royal Pier, Southampton, was opened by the Duchess of Kent and Princess Victoria in July 1833: the original pier had a central carriage-way and footways on either side. @SotonStories

The Royal Pier, Southampton [pc2155]


In the days before social distancing, these photographs show students enjoying the green spaces on Highfield campus in the summer of 1995. #UOSstudentlife@explorearchives@ArchiveHashtag@UniSotonAlumni

Students on Highfield campus, 1995 [MS1 Phot/2/10/3]


Today’s #UOSstudentlife tweet features a photograph of the Montefiore House Halls of Residence under construction in 1977. The halls are now part of the Wessex Lane Halls Complex. Did you stay in these halls as a student? Are you staying in these halls this year? @UniSotonAlumni

Montefiore House, 1977 [MS1/Phot/22/4/1/2]


Today’s #ExploreYourArchive theme is labels, and so we show a label from our Basque child refugee collections. You can find out more about these collections here:… @explorearchives @ARAScot @basquechildren @Civil_War_Spain @paxcyclist

Travel label of Rafael Flores


Today’s #WinterWarmers tweet is an image of The Avenue in Southampton, following the great snow storm of 25 April 1908 @HistoricalSoton @SotonStories

The Avenue, Southampton, 25 Apr 1908 [pc4265]

We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year. Join us for our first blog in 2021, which will look back at what Special Collections got up to in the year 2020.

Wellington as Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire

In this week’s blog post, we take you through the first Duke of Wellington’s role as Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, using the recently catalogued Hampshire Lieutenancy Papers (MS 61 WP4).

The Duke of Wellington

The role of Lord Lieutenant

The Duke was Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire from 19 December 1820 until his death on 14 September 1852.  The Lord Lieutenant represents the British Monarch in each lieutenancy area of the United Kingdom, effectively the counties. Historically, the role involves the organisation of the lieutenancy area’s militia. This was removed in 1871. The role was first appointed to English counties in the 1540s by King Henry VIII, when they were delegated the military functions of the sheriffs. Each lieutenant was responsible for the local militia of their county, commanding these forces and appointing the officers.

Under the Commonwealth, the lieutenant position was abolished, but re-established following the Restoration under the City of London Militia Act 1662. From this date, lieutenants were assigned to “counties at large”. His or Her Majesty’s “Lieutenant for the county of x” was the official title for the office at the time, but almost all office-holders were referred to as “Lord Lieutenant”.

The Militia Act 1802 provided for the appointments of lieutenants “for the Counties, Ridings, and Places” in England and Wales, and gave them command of the county militia. Where towns or cities were counties of themselves, the “chief magistrate” was authorised to appoint deputy lieutenants in the absence of a lieutenant being appointed by the crown.

Since the 18th century the Lord Lieutenant has worn a military-style uniform.

The lieutenancy papers

The lieutenancy papers from 1828 were among the subject bundles of the Duke’s correspondence, as arranged by Algernon Frederick Greville, the Duke’s private secretary.

Documents relating to the Duke’s lieutenancy dating from before December 1828 are to be found among the first sequence of the Duke’s general correspondence (Wellington Papers 1). Those bundles now numbered as WP4/1-WP4/20 were deposited in the Hampshire Record Office from 1961 to 1983. Bundles WP4/21-WP4/32 were not deposited.

The papers consist of correspondence and papers relating to the Hampshire lieutenancy, and the militia and yeomanry cavalry. 

There are requests from individuals and letters of recommendation to Wellington for named persons to be appointed in the Commission of the Peace. The Lord Lieutenants of counties had the power to nominate men to be involved in the Commission of the Peace, which were approved by the Lord Chancellor. If the man swore an oath before the Clerk of the Peace for the county and made the appropriate payment, he served as a Justice of the Peace. This role involved a series of policing tasks.

Letter from Alexander Hamilton, 10th Duke of Hamilton, to Wellington, recommending Lawrence Hill to be placed on the list of South Hants Justices of the Peace, 28 Apr 1852 [WP4/32/36]

Wellington received so much correspondence on appointments for commissions of the peace, that there is even a section of the papers labelled “The Havant dispute” (WP4/24/1-19), which concerns disputes between magistrates on the Havant Bench. Letters of recommendation for individuals to be appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire were also sent to Wellington: this had to be referred to the Lord Chancellor and the MP for South Hampshire who, at the time, was Wellington’s son Charles Wellesley.

Requests for approval for regiments to go out for training and exercise were received regularly by Wellington as Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire. An example includes Captain Fleming asking to assemble B troop of North Hampshire Regiment for drill at Stoneham Park. These applications were forwarded to the Secretary of the State for Home Affairs, who then placed the request before the monarch for approval. The Queen also approved changes of the names of regiments, such as the North Hampshire Regiment of Yeoman Cavalry becoming “The Hampshire Yeomanry”. Wellington was also informed of inspections of staff of regiments, of which you can see an example below.

Letter from George Grey to Wellington, regarding inspection of staff of the North Hants Regiment of Militia, 10 Feb 1852 [WP4/32/33]

New acts of parliament passed that related to the militia in England and Wales were sent to Wellington. The form of legislation below covered the number of men, which was set at 50,000 for 1852 and 30,000 for 1853, with 1083 for Southampton. The mode of raising men was also referenced, where Wellington was ordered to direct Deputy Lieutenants at the Colonels and Commanding Offices of the Militia Regiments now in the country to raise these men. The general meeting of Lieutenancy, lists of volunteers, and formation of regiments was also covered in this piece of legislation.

Correspondence and the official document of ‘An Act to consolidate and amend the Laws relating to the Militia in England’, 1852 [WP4/32/39 parts two and three]

Correspondence from Wellington

Wellington often disseminated circulars about the militia sent by the Secretary of State, as well as sending his condolences to those unable to visit him due to ill-health, like the examples below.

Letter from Wellington to W. Stable, sending the Secretary of State’s circular about the militia, 13 Mar 1852 [WP4/32/34]
Letter from Wellington to Lord William Paulet, Field Marshall, expressing his condolences that Paulet cannot visit due to suffering from boils, 7 Sep 1852 [WP4/32/40]

Letters of particular interest

The first letter of particular interest is that written by M. Howard, the Town Clerk of Portsmouth, wishing to send an address to the Queen regarding the convict barrack to be erected within the walls of the Garrrison in Portsmouth, and the detrimental effects this will have on the security of Portsmouth.

Letter from M. Howard, Town Clerk of Portsmouth to Wellington regarding the inevitable detrimental effects of the convict barrack to be erected in Portsmouth, 19 Feb 1851 [WP4/32/31]

Another letter of particular interest, is from J. Fleming to Wellington, discussing government policy on currency and the causes of distress in the country in December 1829:

“It is its tendency to reduce the value of national products below the point required for the taxation necessary for the payment of the public creditor, and the service of the state, which in my opinion renders it unsuited to the present state of the country.  High taxation is quite incompatible with low prices, and any system which depresses the value of commodities in an undue proportion to the national payments must produce the consequences we now deplore.  I am sorry in naming free trade, you supposed that I meant anything more than the usual [f.2r] designation given to the present system, which certainly is only exceptionable from the inadequacy of the duties to protect our native productions, and place the British and foreign manufacturer upon a fair and equal footing.” [WP4/1/61]

In WP4/32/26 can be found insightful correspondence from Wellington revealing his views on the issue of firearms, the raising of yeomanry and volunteers and the need for government to have a disposable military force:

“You may rely upon it that you cannot be too cautious in issuing arms and equipments.  None ought to be issued excepting to persons regularly authorized by the King to carry them, officered and commanded by persons commissioned by the King or by His Authority. Arms may be lent from the King’s stores for a specifick defensive purpose such as the defence of a house, warehouse, or manufactory likely to be attacked [f.1v] for the protection of which the civil power may not be able at the moment to provide.  

  I don’t think that the expence of the yeomanry or volunteers who may now be raised will be thrown away. No man can state the cause of the outrages which have prevailed in seven counties, and still less the nature and objects of the conspiracies which have produced the conflagrations in different parts of the county.  We [f.2r] can get the better of open outrages; but we cannot prevent the mischief done secretly; and as long as this mischief continues and there is so much of conspiracy in the north of England I cannot but think that it will be desireable that Government should render their military force disposeable by having at command as much of the yeomanry and volunteer force as possible.” 

Wellington to Lord Melbourne, 27 Nov 1830 [WP4/26/1]

In addition, useful sources can be found on recruitment to the Hampshire Regiments of militia and yeomanry, as well as raising yeomanry corps in Hampshire.

“I have long thought it very desirable to have the county divided exactly for yeomanry as for militia, into north and south, with a regiment in each, which might save much inconvenience and put every man in place at once.  This I put very strictly for Your Grace’s consideration.  I have mentioned it to Mr. Fleming and Sir William Heathcote who approve this view; should this be done, the regiment would be perhaps 500 strong, with the prospect of revival of the old regiment, it may consist perhaps of 8 troops of 50 men each, in all about 400 men.  Should it be any convenience to Your Grace I will immediately go up to London to communicate with you.  The division into north and south regiments would at once remove an inconvenience which may arise but I submit it in all deference.”

Letter from Sir G.H. Rose to Wellington, on the subject of raising yeomanry corps in Hampshire, 30 November 1830 [WP4/26/16]

The role of Lord Lieutenant today

The position Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire is now an honorary titular position usually awarded to a retired notable person in the county. The position is still appointed by His or Her Majesty to be their personal representative in Hampshire. Responsibilities include orchestrating all official Royal visits to Hampshire and escorting the Royal Visitor around the various locations, as well as presenting decorations, the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise and Voluntary Service. The Lord Lieutenant also has close links with the military and is the President of the South East Reserve Forces and Cadet Association.

Celebrating Chanukah: sources from the Special Collections

This week’s blog post celebrates the Jewish festival of Chanukah. The word, meaning “rededication”, can be spelt in several ways:  Hanukkah is most widely used, while Chanukah more traditional; there are about 20 other variations recorded. 

The celebration begins on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar – usually in November or December – and lasts for eight days. It commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem following the Maccabean Revolt, around 160 BCE.

At the time of the Seleucid Empire, the Greeks had banned all Jewish rituals. A small group of Jews called the Maccabees fought against this and, after a three year war, they won. Their temple, however, had been destroyed. It was cleaned and repaired and Chanukah commemorates its rededication.

The menorah, a lampstand used in Temple, has been a symbol of Judaism since ancient times and is closely associated with Chanukah. According to the Talmud, one of Judaism’s most central texts, an oil lamp was lit to celebrate victory at the rededication. There was only enough oil to burn the candle for one day but miraculously, the flames continued flickering for eight nights, leaving them time to find a fresh supply.

Artwork for the New London Synagogue by Abram Games [MS 116/85]

The menorah used in Temple has seven lamps. In modern Hebrew, a menorah called a hanukkiah with eight main branches plus a raised ninth lamp is used outside the temple. And thus, Chanukah is also known as the Festival of Lights: it is celebrated by lighting one candle each night for eight nights, along with sharing traditional foods, playing games and giving gifts. As one might expect for a festival which has been celebrated for over two thousand years, traditions have evolved.

At the University of Southampton, the Special Collections’ strengths lie in records of Anglo-Jewry, mostly dating from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Our collections illustrate how British Jews have celebrated Chanukah including sermons preached at the Western Synagogue in 1947 and 1949 by Dr Samuel Daiches, a rabbinic and Oriental scholar and lecturer at Jews College.

We are the people of light. From the beginning of our history we, the people of Israel, have striven for the rule of light in the world. God created us with light in our hearts, the light of faith, of goodness, of love and brotherhood. As we read, in these days of cold and darkness, the beautiful pages of the first book of the Torah which make our Sabbaths days of delight, we see more and more how our ancestors brought light and warmth into the world. 

Extract from a sermon preached by Dr Samuel Daiches

The Society of Maccabeans was formed in 1891, devoted to philanthropic and cultural activities among the Jewish community. Their 1957 Chanukah dinner was served in the Trocadero Restaurant.

The Chanukah menu, which is in French, includes canapés, a creamy mushroom starter, sole filets with buttered peas and potatoes and rounded off with bananas with whipped cream. The evening featured several toast the most important being, of course, Her Majesty The Queen.

On a more family-friendly vibe, the 1934 Chanukah service at the West London Synagogue was followed by a children’s tea party for approximately 150; in addition they provided entertainment for 400 of the Jewish Lads’ Brigade: that’s a lot of children! The 1937 Chanukah party cost £16 8s 9d offset by £5 7s 6d collected for teas. Some years, they also often put on a Chanukah play. 

“Living Candles”: a programme for the West London Synagogue Chanukah play, 1932 [MS140/AJ175/39/4]

In remembrance of the miraculous light, some of the food traditionally served to celebrate Chanukah is cooked in oil. This includes doughnuts and potato latkes. The ever-reliable Florence Greenberg gives us a traditional recipe.

Copies of Florence Greenberg’s Jewish Cookery Book, 3rd edition (revised) 1951, 6th edition, 1958.]
Copies of Florence Greenberg’s Jewish Cookery Book, 3rd edition (revised) 1951, 6th edition, 1958.]


Grated raw potato, 1 pint

Flour 2 tablespoonfuls

2 eggs

Salt and pepper

Choose large potatoes, peel them, and soak in cold water for half an hour; then grate them and drain off the liquid. Add the flour and well-beaten eggs and season with salt and pepper.

Melt a little fat in a frying pan and drop in the mixture in spoonfuls. When brown on one side, turn and brown on the other.


1. Serve with grated cheese

2. Flavour with grated onion

Omit eggs and simply add sufficient flour to bind

Florence Greenberg, Jewish Cookery Book

Traditionally there is a special game that children and adults play together. A spinning top called a dreidel is a cube-shaped dice with a Hebrew letter on each of the four sides. Worksheets from the papers of the West London Synagogue illustrate the rules of the game.

Worksheet for a dreidel game from the papers of the West London Synagogue [MS140/A2049/208/1]

This year, Chanukah began on 10 December and ends in the evening of Friday 18 December. As for many events in 2020, things may be a little different but, however you choose to celebrate, from all of us at Special Collections: Chag Urim Sameach!