Author Archives: krspecialcollections

Donkeys, Chintzes and a Mysterious Fragment: eighteenth-century trade and politics in Special Collections

In this week’s blog Dr Jonathan Conlin discusses a group visit by undergraduate History students to the Special Collections.

From the slightly soapy feel of vellum to the sweet smell of laid paper, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century archives are a feast for all the senses, not just sight. This week eight third-year history undergraduates joined me at Special Collections for a hands-on session looking at the economic life of eighteenth-century Britain and Ireland. The visit formed part of a year-long Special Subject addressing the great economic thinker Adam Smith (1723-90). In first semester we engage in a lot of close reading of Smith, in search of tools to help us answer the big questions: what is wealth? what is happiness? how can a process of development Smith called “the progress of opulence” make us better as well as richer human beings? Smith’s world can be an alien place, however. Special Collections allows us to touch, smell and even read vestiges of the trading activities which we discuss in the seminar room, week-in, week-out.

MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR4/1/1

MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR4/1/1

Starting with grand adventures in pursuit of profit, a 1695 contract [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR4/1/1] records Henry Temple’s £100 stake in a £6,000 entreprise: a round-trip voyage to India. Worth around £14,000 today, this was a significant investment in the cargo of two ships, the Scarborough and Rebecca, who would probably have returned with spices and printed cottons. Over the following century the Industrial Revolution would see such chintzes being woven at home in Britain, on machines, rather than handlooms – a process which in turn helped bring about the “Great Divergence” in the economic fortunes of Europe and Asia. These are all big questions we return to again and again in the course. Holding the paper in your hand, however, more urgent questions spring to mind: did the ships complete their perilous journey?

MS 155 AJ144/5A/1

MS 155 AJ144/5A/1

Fifteen years on and the War of Austrian Succession has broken out, with Britain and her allies fighting France in Spain and elsewhere. For government contractors like Joseph Cortissos there was no business like war business: large fortunes were to be made supplying armies in the field with donkeys, wine, horses, bread and other goods. Given the healthy margins, competition was tough, and Cortissos (a former diplomat) would have had to pull every string in his reach to get this prize. Written in Portuguese and English, his accounts of goods provided to allied English and Portuguese armies [MS 155  AJ144/5A] are clearly working documents, as the columns of scribbled sums on the back attest. Contracting was a risky business, however, and just as controversial as it is today in warzones like Iraq (heard of Halliburton, anyone?). Cortissos’ bills were never fully paid.

Detaiil from MS 64/3/1

Detail from MS 64/3/1

A collection of papers [MS 64/3] from Portlaoise (Ireland) dating from the late 1770s shows the grubbier side of Georgian “democracy” in all its glory. The Irish parliamentary seat had been controlled by the Earls of Drogheda, but in 1776 control partly passed to the Parnell family, whose papers are at Southampton. “Management” of elections required keeping close tabs on voters. Voters had first to be created: any Freeman of the Corporation could vote, so borough patrons simply created hundreds of (hopefully!) loyal voters, men (women did not get a look in) who could be trusted to place their vote (in public – no secret ballot then) for the right candidate. Once created, voters had to be watched, as long lists of votes with worried crosses next to the names of voters considered “doubtful” demonstrate. This machine ran on patronage, outright bribery and lots and lots of beer, consumed by the barrel over the week-long poll. Political life was lively and everyone had their part to play: but was it democracy?

And so to the vellum. Tucked at the back of the file is a long thin strip of vellum with what appears to be a list of names partly discernable on it. This clearly is (or rather was) a roll; you can see the join where the sheets of vellum were stitched together. But where is the rest? Is this the electoral roll of the borough? If so, why is it here in Southampton? Someone seems to have snatched it and then attempted to shred it. Why? And, having lost most of it, why did they keep one long, narrow, twisted piece? As a relic? A prize? The most exciting finds are those which defy description.

Dr Jonathan Conlin teaches modern history at the University of Southampton. His books include a biography of Adam Smith, for Reaktion’s Critical Lives series.

 

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They came from near and far to do their patriotic duty – staffing the University War Hospital

Staff at the University War Hospital [MS 1/Phot/39 ph3104]

Staff at the University War Hospital, 1918 [MS1/Phot/39 ph3104]

11 November 2018 marks the centenary of the end of the First World War. To commemorate this, we take a look at the contribution of the staff of the University War Hospital at the Highfield campus site.

Under the command of Dr Lauder, who had been the Medical Officer for Health for Southampton, the Hospital was staffed by professional nurses and members of the Volunteer Aid Detachments (known as VADs). As well as nursing, VADs also worked in a range of auxiliary capacities from driving ambulances bringing the wounded to the Hospital, to laboratory assistants, clerks, cooks, housemaids and laundresses.

With the start of the war, Southampton hospitals recruited every nurse, VAD and others who could be spared from auxiliary hospitals in the surrounding counties. But as the war progressed, the need for further staff increased.  Gwynnedd Lloyd, a friend of the daughters of Dr Lauder, was considered too young as a 17 year-old to volunteer in 1914. However, in the aftermath of the battle of the Somme, she was invited to join the VADs and to work at the University War Hospital.

The VADs lacked the training and skill of the professional nurses and tended to perform duties that were less technical. As a new VAD, Gwynnedd Lloyd noted that her duties consisted of “making beds and waiting on sister” as well as taking trolleys around and twice a day collecting rubbish. But as time went on, with the flow of the wounded into the hospitals and the demands it placed on the staff, the line between the professional and the volunteer became far less distinct, leading to recognition that the VAD and nurse differed little beyond the level of training. Gwynnedd Lloyd was assigned to assist with one of the hutted wards at the Hospital and even as a relatively untrained VAD was expected to cover shifts of around 10 hours.

Hutted ward decorated for Christmas, c.1915 [MS1/Phot/39 ph 3108]

Hutted ward decorated for Christmas, c.1915 [MS1/Phot/39 ph 3108]

The women who volunteered as VADs saw their work as a patriotic duty and a useful contribution to the war effort. Whilst some were local to Southampton, others who served as nursing staff at the University War Hospital came from all across the UK, the Channel Islands, Ireland and Canada. It is estimated that somewhere in the region of 4,500 Irish women served as VADs during the war effort, and amongst the staff of the University War Hospital were women from a number of Irish counties including Counties Kilkenny, Limerick, Longford and Tyrone. Canadian VADs were initially only employed in their homeland working in convalescent hospitals. However, as the war dragged on, it became apparent that they were needed overseas and the staff at the Hospital in 1918 included a number of nurses from New Brunswick in Canada.

Amongst the ranks of the VADs were not only nurses, but a myriad of auxiliary roles such as orderlies, stretcher bearers, clerks, cooks, housemaids and laundresses. Most of the women who served in these roles tended to be from the local area. Fanny Street and her two friends, Jennie Ford and Ethel Taylor, who feature in current Special Collections exhibition My War, My Story, were from Southampton. All three worked in the laundry of the University War Hospital for the whole duration, with Fanny Street becoming the Head Laundress by 1917.

Fanny Street (centre) with her fellow VADs Jennie Ford and Ethel Taylor

Fanny Street (centre) with her fellow VADs Jennie Ford and Ethel Taylor [MS416/13]

And we find that members of the same family all worked together at the hospital. Three members of the Trodd family from Southampton and members of the Bailey family from Eastleigh worked as maids and cooks. Annie and Hettie Needham from St. Denys were both employed as clerks. And Barbara and Gertrude Long, who lived in Freemantle, worked as a clerk and a laboratory assistant respectively. The Archives holds a notebook and three scientific reports kept by Gertrude Long during her time at the Hospital (MS101/8).

Notebook of lab assistant Gertrude Long [MS101/8]

Notebook of lab assistant Gertrude Long [MS101/8]

And so, as we come to the centenary of the end of the First World War, we remember all those who made a contribution, not least the young women who, in some cases, crossed an ocean to help staff the War Hospital here at the University.

Sir Denis Pack: a Wellington ally

As we enjoy this year’s annual Wellington Lecture today, it is fitting that we announce the acquisition of a new collection of material relating to the career of Sir Denis Pack, one of Wellington’s generals. The collection, which includes maps relating to military actions in which Pack fought, complements both the current collection of his papers held by the Division (MS296) and material within the Wellington Archive (MS61).

Sir Denis Pack [MS296 A4298]

Sir Denis Pack [MS296 A4298]

Major General Sir Denis Pack, K.C.B (d.1823) entered the army in 1791. He served in Flanders, 1794-5, Cape of Good Hope, 1806, and subsequently in South America. He fought at Roliça and Vimeiro, 1808 and Corunna, 1809. Having served on the Walcheren expedition and at the siege of Flushing in 1809, he returned to the Iberian Peninsula to serve with the Duke of Wellington. He commanded a Portuguese brigade, part of Marshal Beresford’s Portuguese forces, at Busaco in 1810 and Almeida in 1811.

Detail from map of Battle of Busaco [MS296 A4298]

Detail from map of the battle of Busaco [MS296 A4298]

Pack took part at the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo and the battles of Salamanca, Vitoria and Orthes. In 1815, he commanded a brigade of Sir Thomas Picton’s Fifth Division at the battles of Quatre Bras and of Waterloo. Pack was Lieutenant Governor of Plymouth, serving alongside Wellington as Governor, from 1819 until his death in 1823.

Pack served with distinction at the Battle of Salamanca, 22 July 1812, and was mentioned in the official despatch of the battle written by Wellington to Lord Bathurst of 24 July. He also honourably mentioned for his part in the operations against Burgos later in 1812.

Amongst the maps in the new acquisition is a hand drawn one of the battle of Salamanca, with handwritten notes, providing us with a valuable new resource to supplement and illustrate the written descriptions of this battle.

Manuscript map of the battle of Salamanca, 1812 [MS296 A4298]

Manuscript map of the battle of Salamanca, 1812 [MS296 A4298]

Cooking for court and countryside

Held in the autumn, at the same time as harvest festival, British Food Fortnight (22 September to 7 October this year) is the biggest annual, national celebration of British food and drink.

A selection of confections from The Court and Country Cook (1702)

A display of confections from The Court and Country Cook (1702)

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, France set the style of upper-class dining and employing a French cook was the height of fashion amongst aristocratic families (including by Lord and Lady Palmerston at Broadlands). François Massialot was one of the most influential French chefs of the time. His combined works were translated into English as The Court and Country Cook (Westminster Hall, 1702), a copy of which is part of the Rare Books held in Special Collections, and was an influence on subsequent cookery books published in Britain.

Recipe for "burnt cream" in The Court and Country Cook (1702)

Recipe for “burnt cream” in The Court and Country Cook (1702) Rare Books TX 707

Massialot, born in Limoges in 1660, served as chef de cuisine to the French court and aristocracy, including to Philippe I, Duc d’Orléans, the brother of Louis XIV. He described himself as “a cook who dares to qualify himself royal”, since the meals he included in his book “have all been served at court or in the houses of princes, and of people of the first rank.” Massialot’s book contained the first alphabetical listing of recipes. He also is credited for crême brulée, or “burnt cream” as it is referred in the English translation of his book.

William Ellis A Country Housewife's Family Companion (London 1750)

William Ellis A Country Housewife’s Family Companion (London 1750) Rare Books Perkins TX 151

As the eighteenth century progressed,  the growth of the middle classes led to a proliferation of manuals written in plain and accessible English on the art of plain cooking aimed at newly literature social groups, in particular servants and women. William Ellis’s A Country Housewife’s Family Companion (London, 1750) is one such example of this move from courtly to country cooking.  While it might be described as more a manual of country living than a cookery book, it provides much information on the product of English country kitchens. The British love of pudding is well provided for in the book with recipes for both sweet and savoury varieties, including such things as apple or rice as well as black and white “hogs” puddings.

We wish you an enjoyable British Food Fortnight, whatever you might be inspired to make or bake.

In the kitchen: illustration from The Girl's Own Indoor Book

Illustration from The Girl’s Own Indoor Book

The dangerous act of reading

6 September is Read a Book day.

The image of women as readers became common in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as literacy rates improved and women began to take part in the literary market. With this, however, came the idea of the danger of reading both in terms of appropriate reading matter and reading as an activity.

Illustration from The Lady's Monthly Museum vol. 8 (1802)

Women reading together from The Lady’s Monthly Museum vol. 8 (1802)

What was permissible for women to read was a matter of intense debate. Indeed, anything might be considered inappropriate since all books could be read subversively. Why books might be inappropriate was based on a range of arguments: that they might corrupt women’s minds and diminish them as women or that women might be unable to cope with emotionally provocative material. The case was also made that reading distracted women from their domestic duties as they learned about the world outside the home: a good and ideal woman should resist the pleasures of reading and take care of her husband and home.

Philosophy and metaphysics were subjects that women were most actively told to avoid, although it was the novel, which was written and read by women in increasing numbers in the late eighteenth and nineteenth century, that caused the most cultural anxiety. As soon as novels came to represent a significant share of the literary market, they became the subject of opposition. One accusation was that they created expectations which could not be fulfilled in life.

How women read books also became a matter of concern. Silent reading was considered dangerous and solitary reading self-indulgent and potentially rebellious. Reading aloud to others was encouraged as a defence against the “seductive” dangers of sentimental novels.

Solitary reading [MS 242 A800]

Solitary reading [MS 242 A800]

Mary Mee was the second wife of the second Viscount Palmerston and mother of the future British Prime Minister, Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston. Described as a lively and charming women and elegant society hostess, she shared with her husband an interest in literary enquiry. The catalogue of books in the Book-room at Broadlands during Lady Palmerston’s time shows the range of material available for her to read, included were not just the works from the Classics, but relating to history and travel, poetry, literature and a range of novels, together with many works in French arrayed along the South End.

Catalogue of the Book-room at Broadlands, 1791 [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR101/26]

Catalogue of the books in the Book-room at Broadlands [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR101/26]

What Lady Palmerston read, which included of history, travel writing and poetry — types of works considered acceptable reading for women — can be seen from her own poetry (“To a lady with Plutach’s works” being one example) and by references in her correspondence.

“I am now going to read Memoires du Comte Joseph Puisaye and when finished attack Barrow’s second volume [relating to his travels in Africa]. Fine time to improve one’s mind.  You will have at last one of the deepest read mother’s that son ever could boast of,” she noted in a letter to her son Henry, 28 May 1804 [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR21/10/28]

And in another letter to Henry, 9 July 1804, she discussed  the multi-volume set of the correspondence of Samuel Richardson published that year: “They are sad .. But interesting to me having … heard so much of most of the characters who are friends and correspondents … and much [is] said of my poor aunt and uncle Godeshall. I wish they had been published in their live, it would have amazed and gratified them.” [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR21/10/42]

Aside from Richardson, the success of whose novel Pamela might be said to mark the start in the growth of novels within the literary market, Broadlands held novels by a number of women authors, including Charlotte Lennox’s The Female Quixote (1752), Frances Sheridan’s Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph (1761), Frances Burney’s Evelina (1778) and Cecilia (1782), Charlotte Turner Smith’s Emmeline (1788), Ethelinde (1789) and Montalbert (1795) and Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho (1796). In Frances Burney was a writer who could produce the comic and satirical energies of Smollett or Henry Fielding. Charlotte Turner Smith has been credited with influencing Jane Austen and particularly Charles Dickens. Sheridan’s novel was one of the most popular of the period and focused on the story of a female rake. Yet while it challenged female characterisation and explored the possibility of free choice, the heroine was ultimately to have her freedom quashed.

If Lady Palmerston was to see the idea of free choice for women thwarted in novels, she maintained her own choices in her own life. Writing to her husband on 13 May 1792, after reading a copy of Mary Wollstonecroft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) she noted “I have been reading the Rights of Women so you must in future expect me to be very tenacious of my rights and priviledges.” [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR11/18/5]

Listing of novels, including Joseph Andrews at north end of Book-room [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR101/26]

Listing of novels, including Joseph Andrews at north end of Book-room [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR101/26]

Amongst the array of the works of male novelists available at Broadlands were those of Tobias Smollett, Daniel Defoe, Laurence Sterne and Henry Fielding. Writing to her friend Emma Godfrey, 14 February 1803, Lady Palmerston extolled the merits of Fielding’s Joseph Andrews:

“I believe you have read a new work called Joseph Andrews. It certainly has not many equals. Surely no writer possessed a clearer knowledge at the human heart, of characters or their various casts, and so uncommon a share of wit and humour so ingeniously brought forward as Fielding, that the reader thinks [he] has some penetration in discerning it, for the author appears to assume no merit for the possession of his talents. His introductory chapters, his reflections are perfect of their kind and I hope if any time has passed since you made Mr Joseph Andrews’s acquaintance that you will immediately renew it.”

[MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR18/5/5/115-18]

And on this Read a Book day we hope that you will be similarly inspired to renew the acquaintance with a book that you have enjoyed reading.

The abolition of the slave trade remembered

Thursday 23rd August is the UN’s International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.

The University of Southampton’s Special Collections is home to many printed sources on slavery and the battle for its abolition. The Oates Collection contains over 220 books and pamphlets on the West Indies and the abolition of slavery, dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. While the Wellington Pamphlets cover a broader range of topics, the pamphlets on the abolition of slavery in the British West Indies complement those held in the Oates Collection.

The slave trade was formally outlawed within the British Empire by the Slave Trade Act 1807; meaning the buying or selling of slaves was no longer legally permissible, but the continued ownership of slaves, sometimes called ‘the institution of slavery’ remained legal in the British Empire for some years afterwards. The prospect of its total abolition energized debate across the country in the early nineteenth century including here in Southampton, as shown below by this handbill dated 1824 taken from our Cope Collection. The author complains that a meeting held in Southampton to discuss prospects for improving the conditions of slaves in the West Indies was disrupted by a group hostile to any notion of abolition:

…a gentleman present declared to the meeting… that the wretched “Slaves in the West Indies are in a far better condition than many of the lower orders of people in this country!” … such a declaration – so degrading to humanity – so humiliating to Englishmen – was hailed by a number of persons with loud acclamation… I will not condescend to argue the question as I might on the ground of comparative feeding, and clothing, and lodging, and medical attendance. Are these the only claims – are these the chief privileges of a rational and immortal being? Is the consciousness of personal independence nothing?

Handbill to the inhabitants of Southampton, 1824 [ff Cope handbills vol. 2 item 77]

Handbill to the inhabitants of Southampton, 1824 [ff Cope handbills vol. 2 item 77]

The argument that slaves in the West Indies enjoyed better standards of living than some of the poorer peasantry of Britain was attacked by the author of this locally produced handbill as well as the influential abolitionist Thomas Clarkson in his pamphlet on The argument that the colonial slaves are better off than the British peasantry: answered from the Royal Jamaica Gazette of June 21, 1823 (R. Kirby, Whitby, 1824) a copy of which is held in the Oates Collection and has been made available digitally on the Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/oates71082042. Clarkson’s pamphlet examines the contents of an edition of the Royal Jamaica Gazette with details of escaped West Indian slaves.

Thomas Clarkson

Thomas Clarkson The argument that the colonial slaves are better off than the British peasantry: answered from the Royal Jamaica Gazette of June 21, 1823 (R. Kirby, Whitby, printed for the Whitby Anti-Slavery Society, 1824) [Rare Books HR 1091]

Clarkson demolishes the argument on the comparative condition of slaves and the British labouring poor, noting that the British peasantry are not treated like cattle and branded multiple times with the initials of their masters; they are not made to wear chains or routinely flogged and separated from their loved ones with ‘the tenderest ties of nature forcefully broken asunder’; nor are they routinely locked up in jail for fleeing from their masters. Clarkson asks his readers to contemplate why, if the living-conditions of West Indian slaves were so comfortable, would so many attempt escape in the first instance? Clarkson argues that, even if we accept the spurious arguments of comparative material well-being, liberty ‘constitutes the best part of a man’s happiness’ and he asks us to consider the following scenario:

Tell a man, that he shall be richly clothed, delightfully lodged, and luxuriously fed; but that, in exchange for all this, he must be the absolute property of another; that he must no longer have a will of his own; that to identify him as property, he may have to undergo the painful and degrading operation of being branded on the flesh with a hot iron… and do you think that he would hesitate one moment as to the choice to make? [p. 16]

When the argument defending slavery on the basis of comparative material well-being began to falter, subsequent to scrutiny from Clarkson and others, those who stood to lose out financially were it to be abolished often fell back upon outright racism to justify the practice, as evidenced by the following letter discussing the preservation of slavery in Jamaica, written on 5 March 1830 to the first Duke of Wellington: details of which also can be found on-line through the Wellington Papers database: http://www.archives.soton.ac.uk/wellington/

WP1/1100/2

Letter from J.Neilson to Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, discussing the preservation of slavery in Jamaica, 5 March 1830 [MS 61 Wellington Papers 1/1100/2]

Dire economic consequences were also threatened should slavery be abolished, but the moral outrage of the practice could not be endured by the British public indefinitely and in 1833 the Slavery Abolition Act was passed, which came into force the following year. This law prohibited slavery in the British Empire but exemptions were made for certain territories, including those administered by the East India Company where slavery continued for a further ten years until 1843. Furthermore, slaves who were ‘freed’ from 1834 were not immediately emancipated but were made to continue working as unpaid ‘apprentices’ until 1838. The British government took out a loan in order to compensate slave owners; the terms of which were finalised in 1835 and were equivalent to 5% of the nation’s GDP. The last instalment of this loan was paid in 2015.

The notable art of watercolours

Redhill, August 1876 by Sissy Waley [MS 363 A3006/3/5/4 page 37 1]

Redhill, August 1876, by Julia Matilda Cohen [MS 363 A3006/3/5/4 page 37 number 1]

For any young woman to consider herself accomplished, according to the snobbish Caroline Bingley in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, she required the following skills:

“…a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages….; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions…”

Such accomplishments marked out women as belonging to a certain class and were part of what made them marriageable. Drawing and embroidery were part of a conventional education for young women in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and manuals such as Bowles’s Drawing Book for Ladies were produced to provide images for copying.  It has been suggested by some critics that encouraging women to copy from already-existing works of art was a way of constraining originality, thus ensuring that women artists remained amateurs rather than professionals.

Watercolour of view in the garden at Northcourt, 18-- [MS 80 A276/5]

View in the garden at Northcourt, 18–, by Lady Gordon [MS 80 A276/17/5]

As July is World Watercolour Month, we look at some examples of watercolours produced by women held within Special Collections.

Watercolour of garden just made at Northcourt, 1843 [MS 80 A276/17/3]

Garden at Northcourt, 1843 [MS 80 A276/17/3]

The Gordon family collection (MS 80) contains some fine examples of watercolours of the family home and garden, Northcote on the Isle of Wight. These are the work of Julia Isabella Louisa Bennett, Lady Gordon (1775-1867) and possibly also by her daughter Julia Gordon. Lady Gordon was an accomplished artist, remembered as one of J.M.W.Turner’s few known pupils, who also studied with David Cox and took lessons from Thomas Girtin. Other examples of her work are held at the Tate in London and in National Trust collections.

Pride of India, Cape Province, 1932, by Charlotte Chamberlain [MS 100/1/3]

Pride of India, Cape Province, 1932, by Charlotte Chamberlain [MS 100/1/3]

Charlotte Chamberlain was a member of the Chamberlain family of Birmingham, one of seven daughters of the industrialist Arthur Chamberlain. She was a graduate of Newham College, Cambridge, and of the University of Birmingham, the foundation of which her uncle, the politician Joseph Chamberlain, had played a leading role. On the death of their father in 1913, Charlotte and her sister Mary moved to the New Forest and they both became closely involved with the development of and notable benefactors of what was later to become the University of Southampton.

Red gum, Cape Province, 1932 [MS100/1/3]

Red gum, Cape Province, 1932, by Mary Chamberlain [MS100/1/3]

A member of one of the prominent Anglo-Jewish families, Julia Matilda Cohen née Waley (1853-1917) married Nathaniel Louis Cohen in 1873 when she was 20 years of age. The Waley Cohen collection (MS 363) includes Julia’s sketchbooks for the period 1874-81 and 1895.

From Beddgelert [MS363 A3006/3/5/4 page 37 number 2]

View from Beddgelert, June 1875, by Julia Matilda Cohen [MS363 A3006/3/5/4 page 37 number 2]

The earlier sketchbook was an album given to her as a repository for her sketches by her Aunt (Elizabeth) and Uncle (Jacob Quixano Henriques) in September 1874 to mark her reaching her majority. It contains sketches of places she visited around Britain and Europe including: Perthshire, Scotland; Windsor Castle, Chichester and Bournemouth, England; North Wales; and Simplon, The Tyrol, Domodossola, Venice, Verona and Lake Como, Italy.

View from Cricceth Castle, 1878, by Julia Cohen [MS 363 A3006/3/5/4 page 45 number 2]

View from Cricceth Castle, 1878, by Julia Matilda Cohen [MS 363 A3006/3/5/4 page 45 number 2]

Waterloo in the public imagination

It was on this date in 1815 that the first Duke of Wellington and Napoleon Bonaparte faced each other on the battlefield for the first and only time.

Hougoumont, Waterloo [MS 351/6 A4170/7/4]

Hougoumont, Waterloo [MS 351/6 A4170/7/4]

The battle was to exert a powerful influence on the public imagination and commemorations and celebrations ranged from the worthy, such as providing support for those wounded or the families of those killed at the battle, to the frivolous, such as souvenir engravings and maps.

Waterloo subscription, 1815 [MS 61 WP1/487/10]

Waterloo subscription: a printed list of subscribers for the
families of soldiers killed and for soldiers wounded at the battle of Waterloo, 21 September 1815 [MS 61 WP1/487/10]

However, what proved particularly popular with the general public were exhibitions of paintings and artefacts connected with the battle. Fascination in Napoleon Bonaparte became even more intense and he was to feature in a number of exhibitions around London: an estimated 10,000 people daily visited a display of his battlefield carriage.

The Waterloo Museum, which was opened in November 1815, was based at 97 Pall Mall, London, in the former Star and Garter Tavern. It was one of a number of establishments set up to meet the insatiable public demand for Waterloo related memorabilia. Staffed by retired soldiers or those ‘gallant young men who were actually deprived of their limbs in that ever-memorable conflict’, this created a sense of authenticity for the Museum and its collection.

The Museum housed an assortment of armour and weaponry and other military items collected from the battlefield, together with paintings, objects and mementoes of the Bonaparte family.

Catalogue of the Waterloo Museum

Catalogue of the Waterloo Museum
(London, 1816) [Rare Books DC241 CAT]

The first room entered was the armoury, which had walls covered with cuirasses, helmets and caps, swords, guns and bayonets all collected from the battlefield. This included the armour in which Napoleon encased his heavy horse to protect it against sword cuts or musket fire. There were two trumpets, one described as so battered that it bore little resemblance to its original shape.

The Grand Saloon housed items belonging to the Bonaparte family together with paintings and other objects. These included a hat and coat worn by Napoleon in Elba, detailed in the catalogue below.

Items in the Grand Saloon of the Wellington Museum

Items in the Grand Saloon of the Wellington Museum

Amongst the paintings was the huge 15 feet by 6 feet Portrait of Napoleon in his coronation robes by Robert Lefévre (1755–1830) produced in 1811 and the 33 inch by 26 inch The Battle of Waterloo by the Flemish artist Constantine Coene(1780–1841). Depicting the battle at dusk, Coene shows Wellington pointing to a distant spot where the smoke of the Prussian cannon is rising in the horizon. He is dressed in a plain manner, unlike the pomp and imperial glory of Napoleon’s coronation robes. At the rear of the army are wounded soldiers and the widow of an artillery man is shown lamenting over her husband.

The Waterloo Museum was one of a number of such institutions that satisfied a general fascination with the battle. When Messrs. Boydell of St James’ Street in London arranged an exhibition of art that included a portrait of Napoleon they were able to charge one shilling admittance, a considerable sum for many workers at that period.

In 1819, Wellington received an account of the enthusiastic reception received by a panorama of the battle created by E.Maaskamp on display in Brussels. [MS 61 WP1/618/19]

Other more formal annual events arose out of a wish to mark the battle, the Waterloo banquet hosted by the Duke of Wellington at Apsley House being one of these. And Apsley House continues to host a Waterloo weekend of events every year.

Public health and sanitation in the 19th century

7 April 2018 marks World Health Day promoting the concept of “Health for all”. The World Health Organisation has found that countries that invest in healthcare make a “sound investment in their human capital”.

Public health act

Outbreaks of cholera in the UK from 1831 into the 1860s were to test the ability of the country to deal with a major health threat and led to the development of public health initiatives and the creation of Boards of Health in 1848 to tackle the disease.

Asiatic cholera had spread to Europe from India, eventually making its way to Britain. Despite attempts to quarantine incoming ships into British ports, the first reported case was that of keelman William Sproat in Sunderland in October 1831. From there the disease spread northward into Scotland and southward toward London: over 14,000 people were to die in London alone.

One of the reasons for the progression of the disease was that the nature of cholera was not fully understood at the time.  A common theory was that it was a air-borne disease carried in poisonous vapours, rather than a water-borne disease transmitted by contaminated water sources. The rapid developments in population in urban environments had not been matched by developments in sanitation and, where sewage came into contact with drinking water, the disease spread with ease.

microbiological examination of well water

microbiological examination of contaminated water

By the 1830s, with the first outbreak of cholera, links were made between the spread of disease and conditions in the towns and cities and Special Collections holds a number of reports sent to the first Duke of Wellington on the subject. These publications form part of the Wellington Pamphlet collection.

Wellington Pamphlet 732

Wellington Pamphlet 732

While the Cholera Morbus Prevention Act of February 1832 gave certain powers to local boards of health, and the 1848 Public Health Act empowered a central authority to set up local boards, whose duty was to see that new homes had proper drainage and that local water supplies were dependable, neither were to have the impact that had been intended.

It was the poor who suffered the most. In his Report to the General Board of Health, undertaken following an outbreak of cholera in 1849, which killed 240 people in Southampton, William Ranger described the insanitary conditions in which people lived in the poorer parts of the town. Of his many recommendations, the most important was that a supply of pure water should be laid on to every house.

Daily deaths from cholera in Southampton, June-September 1849

Daily deaths from cholera in Southampton, June-September 1849

Commenting on deaths in Romsey, it was noted that “the chief mortality has been with children and … it has been confined to the children of the poor”.[MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR131/11 Letter from Josiah George to Lord Palmerston]

The Broadlands Archives MS 62 contains a small series of papers relating to the outbreak of cholera in Romsey and the improvement of sanitation in the town. Lord Palmerston took a keen interest in the situation and in the work of the Board of Guardians to implement recommendations of the Board of Health. The report of Dr John Sutherland, conducted on behalf of the Board, concluded that provision of sanitation in Romsey was “deficient in amount and defective in construction”.[MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR131/12]

Report by Dr John Sutherland on sanitation in Romsey, 1849 [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR131/12]

Report by Dr John Sutherland on sanitation in Romsey, 1849 [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR131/12]

In his letter of 3 September 1849 to J.Lordan of the Board of Guardians,  forwarding Sutherland’s report, Palmerston commented “that there exist in Romsey much more active, efficacious and certain causes of fatal disease than field beans, pea pods and cold water….”  And, dissatisfied with the speed of a response by the Board of Guardians, he noted “I conclude that the anxiety of the Board of Guardians to prove by their acts that they are not careless of the health of the town and of the lives of the poorer inhabitants, will have led them to take active measures for rescuing the poorer portion of the people of the town from those sources of disease and from those causes of death to which by want of proper arrangements have been so long, and of late so fatally exposed.”[MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR131/14]

MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR131/16

MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR131/16

Improvements in provision of sanitation in the urban centres was to take some time. By 1853 over 160 towns and cities had Boards of Health, some of which had introduced important improvements, while in other towns there was resistance to such costly undertakings. However, it was only after the 1865-6 cholera outbreak, which resulted in 20,000 deaths, that the government set up another enquiry into public health, leading to further reforms. A new government department was set up in 1871 to oversee public health and in 1872 sanitary authorities were established.

Nearly 170 years on from the 1849 cholera epidemic that saw loss of life in both Southampton and Romsey public health and healthcare provision remain an issue of importance. Further information on World Health Day and its themes can be found at the WHO site.

The Wellington archive and Ireland

It was 35 years ago, on St Patrick’s Day 1983, that the archive of Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, arrived at the University of Southampton.

Wellington Papers, 1828 [MS 61 WP1/950]

Group of Wellington Papers, 1828 [MS 61 WP1/950]

This collection of around 100,000 political, military, official and diplomatic papers for the first Duke was accepted for the nation in lieu of duty on the estate of the seventh Duke of Wellington and allocated to the University of Southampton by the Secretary of State for Education and Science. The official opening of the Wellington Suite, the archive accommodation created to house the archive took place in May 1983, and was attended by the Duke and Duchess of Wellington.

Official event to mark the arrival of the Wellington archive, 1983

Official opening for the Wellington archive: 1983: Bernard Naylor, University Librarian, Professor Smith (hidden), Chris Woolgar, Archivist, and the Duke of Wellington looking at display of papers

Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) was born in Ireland, the son of Garret Wesley, first Earl of Mornington, and Anne Hill, who was the daughter of the first Viscount Dungannon. The archive forms the principal collection of papers of Wellington and covers all aspects of his career from 1790 until his death in 1852. Papers relating to Ireland feature heavily within the collection, ranging from maps and plans to extensive series of papers on parliamentary and government business.

Coloured sketch plan of Dublin Castle and adjoining barracks, March 1844 [MS 61 WP15/26]

Coloured sketch plan of Dublin Castle and adjoining barracks, March 1844 [MS 61 WP15/26]

Wellington started his career as aide-de-camp to two successive Lords Lieutenant of Ireland, the Earl of Westmorland and Earl Fitzwilliam, 1787-93. Between 1790 and 1797 he sat in the Irish Parliament as Member for the family seat of Trim. Wellington was Chief Secretary for Ireland, 1807-9, managing the government interest in Parliament at Westminster and government business in Ireland. Within this material is much on security and maintaining the peace during a period of turbulence and threat of invasion by Napoleonic France.

In a letter from Wellington to Lord Hawkesbury, Secretary of State for Home Affairs, 23 April 1807, he sends details of the preparations made in Cork to deal with the threat of invasion:

“There are two regiments of cavalry and ten battalions of infantry at Cork and in the neighbourhood, which could be assembled at any point in the course of a few hours.

There is a depot of artillery at Cork, a heavy brigade at Fermoy, and a depot at Clonmell, about forty miles from Cork, so that there are means of defending that part of the kingdom if the fleet should turn out to be an enemy.”

[MS 61 WP1/167/18]

Between 1818 and his death in 1852, Wellington held a number of political offices and official posts, including serving twice as Prime Minister. Several thousand letters for the period 1819-32 relate to Ireland, including political, economic and social discussions and material on the introduction of the Catholic Relief  Bill. The descriptions of this material can be accessed through the Wellington Papers Database.

First page of draft Catholic emancipation act drafted by Wellington and Robert Peel [MS 61 WP1/993/80]

First page of draft by Wellington and Robert Peel of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill, January 1829  [MS 61 WP1/993/80]

The main series of Wellington’s correspondence for the period 1833 onwards includes material relating to the Irish representative peerage, politics and elections in Ireland, parliamentary bills, church reform, education, the Irish church, tithes, law and order and military defence, the Young Ireland movement and the prospect of a rising in 1848, as well as the Wellington monument in Dublin.

Report of the Benevolent Society of St. Patrick (London, 1820) [Wellington Pamphlet 1104/5]

Report of the Benevolent Society of St. Patrick (London, 1820) [Wellington Pamphlet 1104/5]

The connection between Wellington and Ireland also can be found amongst papers for the numerous societies and organisations with which he was associated. One such was the Benevolent Society of St. Patrick set up to provide “relief for the poor and distressed Irish residing in and around London, and that of their children”. Wellington was a Vice President of the Society in 1820 and was voted as chairman for the following year. The list of subscribers for 1820 listed his donation as 121 guineas: a donation of 20 guineas made the donor a governor for life.

Anniversary festival of the Benevolent Society of St. Patrick [Wellington Pamphlet 1104/5]

Anniversary festival of the Benevolent Society of St. Patrick [Wellington Pamphlet 1104/5]

The Society held an annual festival, usually on St Patrick’s Day. The festival in 1820, held at the City of London Tavern with George Canning in the chair, was delayed until the 6 May due to the death of the King.  The Investigator or Quarterly magazine for 1820 reported that:

“The children were, after dinner, paraded through the room. Their appearance was exceedingly interesting; all of them being clean, healthy and robust.  Several fine young women, who were educated by the society, who are now earning a comfortable and reputable livelihood closed the procession… The Duke of Wellington was nominated chairman for the ensuing year, which office was handsomely accepted by His Grace.  The treasurer then read the list of subscriptions, the total of which, including a bequest of £500 by Captain Morritt, was £1,800.”

The Wellington archive is complemented by a number of other significant manuscript collections that relate to Ireland. These include the Congleton archive (MS 64) which contains personal, family, estate and political papers for the Parnell family, Barons Congleton, from the sixteenth to the twentieth century; the Broadlands archives (MS 62); the Carver manuscripts (MS 63), a collection of papers of the family of Wellington’s older brother Richard Wellesley, first Marquis Wellesley; and papers of the Earls of Mornington (MS 226 and MS 299).

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.