Monthly Archives: February 2016

The leap year: keeping time in AD 2016 & AM 5776

This month we have the bonus of an extra day – February 29th – the ‘intercalary’ day which is added to the calendar in a leap year. It’s a reminder that, in a digital age, we still map out our days according to the solar and lunar year, following ancient patterns of marking time.

Solar eclipse [Rare Books quarto QB 585 ]

Solar eclipse [Rare Books quarto QB 585 ]

It was Julius Ceasar who gave us the ‘leap year’ when he reformed the calendar in 46 B.C. His advisers knew that it took roughly 365 ¼ days for the earth to travel once around the sun – but the calendar only allowed for 365. By adding an extra day every four years, the Julian calendar would keep in step with the solar year. In fact, this was an over-estimate, and the calendar began to drift again – until 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII decreed another reform – giving us the Gregorian calendar that we use today. *

Why was the extra day added in February rather than December? – The old Roman year began in March, so it made sense to Ceasar to insert a day towards the end of the year, in February. Although we gain a day on the 29th, for the Romans it was six days before the 1st or Calends of March – 24th February – which was counted twice. They called this day the ‘bis-sextile’ day – literally, the ‘double sixth day’ before the Calends of March; while the leap year was the annus bissextilis.

Frontispiece of Merlinus Liberatus [Rare Books Rosicrucian AY 751]

Frontispiece of Merlinus Liberatus [Rare Books Rosicrucian AY 751]

This is the frontispiece for an Almanack of 1699 from our Special Collections. It is a year book containing information on the “motion of the planets, remarkable conjunctions, lunations, eclipses, meteorological and astrological observations”. The author tells us that 1699 was “the third year after the bissextile” or leap year. Using the Christian era, it was the year “of our blessed saviour’s incarnation 1699” – Anno Domini 1699 – but it was also “from the creation of the World according to the best of History, 5648”.

The latter is the Jewish era, Anno Mundi (“in the year of the world”) or in Hebrew “from the creation of the world”. It is still in use today – AM 5776 began at sunset on 13 September 2015 and will end at sunset on 2 October 2016. Many of the Jewish archive collections at Southampton follow the Jewish era for the numbering of years. The Jewish calendar is a lunar one, adjusted to bring it in line with the solar year by the addition of intercalary months in a complex 19-year cycle of leap years; and note that the Jewish year does not begin on January 1st.

*So although the Gregorian calendar is the dominant civil calendar across much of the world today, it is not universal, and it was not adopted by all countries at the same time: many Catholic states obeyed the papal decree in the sixteenth century, but Great Britain, Ireland (and the dominions) waited until 1752; in Russia it was 1918. For the historian, reading the archives of different states and faiths across the centuries, this is an important consideration: the Julian calendar is currently 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar!

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The Book The Object exhibition and private view

The Book The Object

This new exhibition in the Special Collections Gallery celebrates the culture, the manufacture and the artistry of the book, from the 15th to the 21st century.

It runs from 22 February – 18 March and 4 April – 27 May 2016 during which time the gallery is open weekdays 10am to 4pm.

A private view of the exhibition will take place on Thursday 25 February, 5pm – 7pm. All are welcome!

The private view will be held jointly with the exhibition Re: Making which runs from 15 February – 8 March 2016 in the Level 4 Gallery.

Re: Making is a documentary exhibition of three PhD seminars at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton.

For a campus map and information on parking see, please visit the University website.

Please note that visitors may be asked for proof of identity at the Library reception.

Ardour in the Archives: Valentine’s Day Special

In the western world it’s hard to miss that 14th February is Valentine’s Day. You might choose to mark the occasion – or perhaps you feel exasperated with the increasing commercialisation suggesting we must spend money on gifts to express our love. Whatever your perspective we hope you enjoy this delve into the Broadlands Archives to find some accounts of love and marriage from centuries past. The Special Collections hold extensive family papers for the Temple family, Viscounts Palmerston, who once lived at the Broadlands estate near Romsey.

Matrimonial ladder

MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR34/6 Matrimonial ladder

Writing to her future husband, the second Viscount Palmerston, nearly 250 years ago Frances Poole has concerns but not, she professes, of the monetary kind:

[Saturday night, 12 o’clock (1767)]…not being able to persuade myself that I am young enough, or amiable enough, to insure you lasting happiness: I say nothing of not being rich enough, for scruples of that kind may be carried to a degree that is not generous; besides I could not have a serious thought of any body that could be influenced by things of that sort.” [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR16/9/3]

The second Viscount replies with reassurance: [Thursday night, eleven o’clock] “How lasting happiness is likely to be anybody’s lot I do not know but this I know that I must find it with you or nowhere.” [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR16/9/4]

They were married later that year but sadly Frances died in childbirth less than two years later.

The second Viscount Palmerston was lucky enough to find love for a second time. He married Mary Mee on 5 January 1783 and they had four children. There is extensive correspondence between Henry and Mary which clearly shows they were happily devoted to each other. In a letter from 1782 Palmerston talks of “how much I think of her and long for her society”. [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR20/1/9]

Henry and Mary’s eldest son was Henry John Temple, the future third Viscount Palmerston, Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister. Palmerston earned himself the nickname “cupid” because of his many romantic liaisons.

Palmerston did eventually settle down marrying his long-standing mistress, the recently widowed Emily, Lady Cowper. The Archives contains the poem he wrote for her on their tenth wedding anniversary:

“To Emily, Sunday morning, 16 December 1849

Ten quick revolving years have past

Since hand in hand securely claspt

Before that altar bending low

We pledged the heartfelt marriage vow…”

[MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR23AA/2/1]

Chinese New Year

8 February 2016 marks the start of Chinese New Year. This year it is the year of the Monkey, the ninth animal of the twelve animals that appear in the Chinese zodiac.

MS 62 MB2/A20 Hong Kong: ‘Street decorations for Chinese New Year’, 1881

MS 62 MB2/A20 Hong Kong: ‘Street decorations for Chinese New Year’, 1881

Within the Broadlands Archives at the University of Southampton is a photograph album documenting the journey of Prince Louis of Battenberg on board HMS Inconstant that includes a visit to the Far East over Chinese New Year. Prince Louis of Battenberg (1854-1921), later Louis Mountbatten, first Marquis of Milford Haven, enrolled in the Royal Navy at the age of 14 years of age. He served in the navy for over forty years, rising to the rank of admiral and being appointed as First Sea Lord of the Admiralty in 1912.

In August 1880, the then Lieutenant Prince Louis, was posted to HMS Inconstant which was the flagship of the Flying Squadron. The ship undertook a circumnavigation of the world, sailing to South America, South Africa, Australia, South Africa, Australia, Fiji, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and what was then known as Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), before returning to South Africa in April 1882. Prince Louis’ photograph album contains a fascinating visual record of all of the places visited. The images from China provide a glimpse not only of the streets, gardens and architecture of Shanghai and Amoy (now Xiamen), but of the population, customs and modes of transport.

MS 62 Broadlands Archive MB2/A20 ‘Chinese cab’, 1881

MS 62 Broadlands Archive MB2/A20 ‘Chinese cab’, 1881

We wish you health and prosperity for 2016 and 恭禧發財

Family correspondence of Sir William Temple

This week archivist John Rooney discusses his recent cataloguing of the family papers of Sir William Temple as part of ongoing work on the Broadlands archives.

Sir William Temple was the third child of Henry Temple, second Viscount Palmerston, and his second wife Mary Mee. Born on 19 January 1788, he was the younger brother of Henry John Temple, later third Viscount Palmerston. Alongside the two boys were three Temple sisters: Frances (the eldest), Elizabeth, and Mary. However, Mary, the youngest of the siblings, died when she was still a young child as a result of smallpox inoculation.

Letter from William Temple, Munich, to his mother Mary (Mee), Viscountess Palmerston, 11 July [1794]

Letter from William Temple, Munich, to his mother Mary (Mee), Viscountess Palmerston, 11 July [1794]

Section BR32 of the Broadlands archives contains letters from William Temple to his mother, his brother Henry, and his sisters Frances and Elizabeth between 1794 and 1811, covering his early life and education. It begins when William is six years old and initially consists of letters to his mother, primarily relating to family life at Broadlands. In 1798 William followed his brother Henry to Harrow School where he studied until 1803. The correspondence from this period provides insights into his life at Harrow, as he discusses his studies and social engagements, together with details of Henry’s life at the University of Edinburgh, from 1800 to 1803, and subsequent tour of the Highlands. William and Henry were to maintain a close relationship throughout their lives with many of the letters in the collection containing references to (and reflections on) the future Prime Minister’s education and early political career.

It was with the death of their father on 17 April 1802 that Henry inherited the titled of third Viscount Palmerston. The following year he attended St John’s College, Cambridge, while William proceeded to the University of Edinburgh where he studied from 1803 to 1806. Correspondence from this period contains details of William’s life at Edinburgh, including his views on the controversial “Leslie affair” in which John Leslie, a suspected atheist, was appointed to the chair of mathematics at the University over the clergyman Thomas McKnight. Letters from 1805 also contain William’s views on the British victory at Trafalgar and the death of Lord Nelson, of which he writes: “If the report I have heard is true […] the late victory gained over the combined fleets, considering the number of the enemy’s ships taken, and the inferiority of our force; seems to me to be one of the most glorious and decisive that has ever taken place. It is impossible however to contemplate it with any feelings, but what are mixed with the deepest regret, when we consider how dearly it has been purchased; purchased with the loss of undoubtedly the greatest admiral Britain, or perhaps even the whole world, has ever produced.” [BR32/10/6]

As William made the move to Cambridge in 1806, Henry (now Lord Palmerston) was busy establishing his political career. He twice ran as a Tory candidate for the University of Cambridge constituency (first in 1806 and then again in 1807) but was defeated both times. He finally entered Parliament as Tory MP for the pocket borough of Newport in June 1807 and made his maiden speech on 3 February 1808, in which he defended the recent expedition against Copenhagen. Of the speech William writes: “I was surprised to hear him speak with such fluency and with so little hesitation, as speaking at all for the first night, but particularly before so large an audience and on so important a subject must be a most formidable undertaking. He performed however with very great success, and I am very happy to find that Sir Vicary Gibbs has written to Wood mentioning Harry’s debut in high terms of commendation…” [BR32/13/1]

Broadlands, the family home of the Temple children was later inherited by Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston

Broadlands, the family home of the Temple children was later inherited by Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston

A small selection of correspondence covers the period 1833 to 1837 during which time William is serving as British ambassador in Naples (1832-56). The letters from this period are from his sisters Frances (now married to William Bowles) and Elizabeth (now married to Laurence Sullivan), and Emily Ashley Cooper, Countess of Shaftesbury, primarily concerning family life, recent events at Broadlands, and William’s life in Naples. The final two letters date from 1856, the year of William’s death, with one being from Dr. William Ferguson to Lord Palmerston concerning his attending William during his final illness. Sir William Temple died on 24 July 1856, leaving no issue.

The accompanying section BR31 consists of two letters concerning the settlement of William’s estate, including a letter relating to a major collection of antiques bequeathed to the British Museum. By the time of his death both Frances and Elizabeth had passed away, leaving Henry, the eldest, the last surviving of the Temple children.