“A friend of science”: the first Duke of Wellington

In honour of Southampton Science and Engineering Week at the University (10-19 March), in conjunction with British Science Week, and the anniversary of the arrival of the Wellington Papers at the University on 17 March 1983, this blog will look at science and technology material within the Wellington Archive (MS 61).

The victory at Waterloo raised the first Duke of Wellington to a level of fame and prominence that ensured a tidal wave of correspondence, elements of which came from those discussing new discoveries or inventions, or seeking Wellington’s patronage and support. The material relating to scientific developments within the Wellington Archive ranges from a copy of the minutes of the council of the Royal Society relating to Charles Babbage’s calculating machine [MS 61 WP1/996/3]; correspondence regarding the discovery of the cause of magnetic variation in the compass and a law to predict the variation [MS 61 WP1/814/16]; to material on new medical apparatus to treat complaints such as headaches, gout or rheumatism [MS 61 WP2/110/52].

Lorenzo Giordano medical apparatus to treat rheumatism

Lorenzo Giordano medical apparatus to treat rheumatism [MS 61 WP2/110/52]

As a career soldier who rose to be the Commander in Chief of the army, Wellington had a interest in developments in military technology. He served as Master General of the Ordnance in the 1820s, a department that he described as being specially charged with “all military equipments, machines, inventions thereof and their improvement”. The archive includes correspondence with Colonel Shrapnel, the inventor of the shrapnel shell, and with Sir William Congreve, together with material relating to improvements in artillery. In a letter of August 1822, Congreve describes the results of experiments of his rockets and concludes that “under Your Grace’s patronage and protection, I feel confident of giving complete perfection to the rocket system in a very short time and making it not only the most powerful but also the most economical weapon that can be used”. [MS 61 WP1/718/6]

Not all inventions, however, were considered to have such potential. An artificial hill, suggested by a Captain of Marines in 1812, “which was nothing more than a high pole” on which Wellington might be hoisted to overlook the movement of the enemy forces, elicited the objection from Wellington: “Damn me, sir, I may tumble down to break my neck”. [MS 61 WP1/361 f. 1]  A steam war chariot designed by John George and Sons, although fascinating and frightening, does not seem to have progressed beyond the design stage.

John George steam war chariot

John George’s steam war chariot [MS 61 WP2/40/119]

Developments in steam and steam transportation in the early part of the nineteenth century are represented in the archive. There is material relating to the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in September 1830 which Wellington, as Prime Minister, attended. The event was sadly overshadowed by the tragic death of William Huskisson, the popular Member of Parliament for Liverpool, an occurrence that shocked the other dignitaries present and potentially coloured Wellington’s opinion of trains henceforth. His archive also contains correspondence relating to the development of steam coaching as an alternative to steam trains, and includes correspondence from Sir James Caleb Anderson, first Baronet, an inventor much interested in the development of steam coaching [MS 61 WP1/1003/21], as well as material on the journey made by one of Sir Goldsworthy Gurney’s steam carriages.

Sir Goldsworthy Gurney (1793-1875) was a surgeon and chemist as well as an inventor. During the period 1825 to 1829, Gurney built a number of steam-powered carriages intended to commercialise steam road transport. Whilst the earlier versions were not a success, a version designed to provide a separate carriage hauled by an engine made the journey from London to Bath in July 1829. Reaching an average speed of 15 mph, the journey is reputed to be the first undertaken by a mechanised vehicle at a sustained speed and pre-dated the journey of the Stephenson’s Rocket.

Steam carriage journey from London to Bath

Journey of Gurney’s steam carriage from London to Bath [MS 61 WP1/1034/29]

Wellington had connections with the engineer and inventor Marc Isambard Brunel (1769-1849), the father of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, from the period of the Peninsular War, when Brunel undertook contracts for the government, including the supply of soldiers’ boots. Brunel was subsequently to suffer imprisonment for debt due to several unsuccessful projects and Wellington was one of those who pressed the government to secure his release. Brunel’s designs included the Île de Bourbon Suspension Bridge and the operation to build a tunnel under the River Thames. Work on the Thames Tunnel began in 1825 and was eventually completed in 1842.

Drawing of the elevation of a chain bridge over the River Tweed, and of a chain bridge designed by Brunel for the Île de Bourbon

Chain bridge over the River Tweed and a chain bridge designed by Brunel for the Île de Bourbon [MS 61 WP1/679/8]

For anyone wishing to explore a more modern take on science and technology the University of Southampton Science and Engineering Day, is on Saturday 18 March and will be a fitting finale to the week’s events. We hope you enjoy the day.

Celebrating the contribution of women: Lady Swaythling

Today marks International Women’s Day which celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women throughout history and across nations. The Special Collections at the University of Southampton holds material for a range of women whose contribution in many spheres is worthy of mention. For this blog post we will focus on Gladys Helen Rachel Montagu, Baroness Swaythling (MS 383).

Photograph of Gladys, Dowager Lady Swaythling, taken by Dorothy Wilding [MS 383 A4000/6/1/5 f2]

Photograph of Gladys, Dowager Lady Swaythling, taken by Dorothy Wilding [MS 383 A4000/6/1/5 f2]

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1879, she was the eldest daughter of Colonel Albert Edward Williamson Goldsmid, MVO, and Ida Stewart Beauclerk Hendricks. In 1898 she married Louis Montagu, the eldest son of Samuel Montagu, first Baron Swaythling (MS 117), founder of the banking firm Samuel Montagu and Company. Louis succeeded as second Baron Swaythling in 1911 and inherited the office of president of the Federation of Synagogues (MS 248), an organisation created by his father to promote the acculturation of Jewish immigrants.

Following their marriage they lived at Townhill Park House, Southampton, purchased by the first Baron Swaythling in 1897. Originally dating from the 1790s, they had the house extended and re-designed by architect Leonard Rome Guthrie in the Italianate style. Guthrie also designed the terraced gardens to complement the style of the house, with the plants laid out by the renowned garden designer Gertrude Jekyll. As Lord and Lady Swaythling they were leading members of the Anglo-Jewish community and leading figures in English society, hosting dinner parties and other social events at Townhill Park where visitors included Princess Alice and Queen Mary (with whom Lady Swaythling had a lifelong friendship).

Belgian soldiers and staff at Allington Manor

Belgian soldiers and staff at Allington Manor [MS 383 A4000/6/1/13 ]

They were also active communal workers, with Lady Swaythling applying much of her energy to the local Southampton area. During the First World War she became President of the Women’s Southampton branches of the Auxiliary of the YMCA and Women’s Emergency Corps, as well as the War Hospital Supply Depot, Southampton. In addition, she served on eighteen different committees, including as chair of the Wounded Allies Relief Committee, established for the provision of convalescent homes for wounded Belgian soldiers.

Country houses were required for medical use as the large numbers of wounded meant there were not enough hospitals able to cope with the seriously disabled or even those simply convalescing. These houses were pressed into service or were donated for the purpose, as their clean country air and fine grounds were considered most helpful to rest and recuperation. Allington Manor, a country house in Eastleigh owned by the Swaythlings, was one of the houses donated as a military sanitorium. Lady Swaythling took a deep interest in the welfare of the sanatorium and would sing to the patients during her visits. Later, she was involved in organising hospitality for American soldiers and sailors, with her efforts leading to her becoming known as the “British godmother” among American naval enlisted men. Other activities included working on the executive committee of Queen Mary’s Governess’ Home in Surrey, and assisting the British Women’s Patriotic League.

Certificate granted to Lady Swaythling [MS 383 A4000/2/1]

Certificate granted to Lady Swaythling in recognition of her
charitable services during the First World War [MS 383 A4000/2/1]

After the war she continued her communal actives, with her roles including President of the Southampton Hostel for Unmarried Women and the Southampton branches of the National Society for Combating Venereal Diseases and the University Extension Lectures movement. She was also chair of the conjoint committee of the British Red Cross and the Order of St John of Jerusalem. In 1919 she joined the Council of the Anglo-Belgian Union and continued to support Belgian exiles during the Second World War. She was an active supporter of refugees throughout her life and, in 1925, addressed a letter to President Coolidge pleading for the admission to the United States of Jewish refugees stranded in Southampton.

Other public offices she held included President of the Electrical Association for Women, established in 1924 to interest women in the electrical development of the country; Honorary President of the Jewish Lads’ Brigade (MS 244), a Jewish youth organisation founded by her father in 1895; President of the Southampton branch of the Girl Guides Association; and Vice-President of the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children). She travelled widely, touring countries such as India, Australia, China, Japan, the United States, and Canada, and was the recipient of many overseas honours. She was made OBE in 1953.

Lord and Lady Swaythling had had three sons and a daughter. Their eldest son Stuart became the third Lord Swaythling in 1927 on Louis’ death. The family continued to live at Townhill Park until 1939 when the house was handed over to the Red Cross and used as a convalescent home for British and American soldiers during the Second World war. Lady Swaythling died in 1965 at the age of 85.

This year, Southampton is joining in the International Women’s Day (IWD) celebration theme by ‘Being Bold’ and inviting everyone to West Quay and fringe events in town on Saturday March 11 to promote and celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, both locally and worldwide. For further details visit:
https://www.southampton.ac.uk/blog/sussed-news/2017/02/28/celebrate-international-womens-day-on-11-march/

“Perfecting … that most important communication”: the London-Holyhead highway

1 March is St David’s Day, the patron saint of Wales. To mark this day we will look at a great technological feat of the early nineteenth century – the building of the London to Holyhead highway. A testament to Thomas Telford’s engineering and road building skills, the highway was considered the most sophisticated and advanced roadway of the period.

Nant Ffrancon

Highway at Nant Ffrancon

The Congleton family archive (MS 64) contains correspondence of Sir Henry Parnell, later first Baron Congleton, and Thomas Telford relating to construction of the highway. Parnell, Member of Parliament for Queen’s County in Ireland, as chair of London and Holyhead Road Committee set up under the Holyhead Road Act of 1815, oversaw the project.

The sea passage from Holyhead to Dublin had developed as the primary route to Ireland since the journey from Liverpool to Ireland was long and dangerous in rough weather. This route gained significance after the Act of Union when large numbers of politicians and civil servants had to make the journey regularly. Having landed in Holyhead, the journey by road Holyhead to London took 41 hours on poor quality roads, described as “miserable tracks” in places. Road-weary Irish politicians continually raised the problem in Parliament. Finally, under the Holyhead Roads Act of 1815, together with subsequent acts, loans were provided to improve the route. Thomas Telford was invited to survey the route and to supervise construction.

Thomas Telford

Thomas Telford

Thomas Telford (1757-1834) was born in Scotland and began his working career as an apprentice stonemason at the age of 14 years. By 1787 he was surveyor of public works for Shropshire and established a reputation as an engineer. In 1790 he was given the task of building a bridge over the River Severn at Montford, the first of around 40 bridges he built in the county. This led to his appointment in 1793 to manage the design and construction of the Ellesmere Canal, which included the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. After the completion of the Ellesmere Canal, Telford moved back to Scotland where he was involved in a massive project to improve the communications across Highland Scotland, including the building of Caledonian Canal, as well work on the construction of roads, bridges and harbours. It was this expertise that Telford brought to the London-Holyhead project. The project which began in 1815 was to take 11 years and involved the construction of various bridges, most notably the Menai Suspension Bridge and the suspension bridge at Conway, as well as the highway itself.

Parts of the road that were considered most dangerous were tackled first, with Telford applying methods that he had already put into practice in Scotland. In 1817 he noted in a letter to Sir Henry Parnell that although “much still remains to be done in order to ensure the perfecting and maintaining that most important communication” he was confident that Parnell would find “satisfactory progress on your return”. [MS 64/22/1/1 Telford to Sir Henry Parnell, 8 November 1817]

To resolve the danger for travellers crossing the Menai Straits using ferries, often battling the dangerous currents and high winds, Telford designed the Menai Suspension Bridge. Completed in January 1826, the Menai Bridge, was the biggest suspension bridge in the world at the time, with sixteen huge chains suspending nearly 600 feet of deck.

In a letter from April 1825, Telford describes the operation putting the first chain across the Straits:

“The first chain has been put across as quietly and as easily as I can wind my watch. From the time the first pin was put in on the Caernarvon shore to when the last pin was put in the top of the pyramid on the Anglesea shore, took just one hour and fifty minutes. The whole operation from moving the platform with the chain from the Caernarvon shore to final fixing in its situation 2h 10 m….”

[MS 64/22/1/4 Letter from Telford to Parnell, 26 April 1825]

Menai Suspension Bridge

Menai Suspension Bridge

A report of the official opening of the bridge in 1826, noted: “The horses trotted over it in their regular pace; and although a heavy gale of wind was blowing at the time, there was no perceptible difference in the motion of the coach, whether on the suspended road-way or on the masonry arches. About nine o’clock Sir Henry Parnell and Mr Telford crossed over the bridge in the travelling coach of the latter; and during the whole day visitors from all parts of Carnarvonshire and Anglesey passed over in their carriages, besides numerous foot passengers. In the evening the workmen who had been employed at the bridge were regaled with a substantial dinner and abundance of cwrw da [good beer]…”

The Menai Bridge is one, and certainly a notable example, of nearly 80 percent of ancillary structures constructed by Telford as part of the highway project that still survive today. Telford’s original embankment terraces still enable the modern A5 road to cling to the hillsides. And modern road surface is built on top rather than replacing Telford’s original foundation and surface.

So on this St David’s Day we celebrate the contribution of a great civil engineer and the enduring legacy he has made to the transport infrastructure of North Wales.

Signature of Thomas Telford

MS 64/22/1/1 Signature of Thomas Telford

 

Maps and Cartography Exhibitions and Events

Beyond Cartography poster

Beyond Cartography: safeguarding our historic maps and plans
Special Collections Gallery

This exhibition showcases maps from the University of Southampton Library’s Special Collections, illustrating the challenges that these objects bring to conservators before conservation or long-term preservation takes place.

Conservation of maps and plans is affected by various factors. They come in differing formats and sizes, ranging from large rolled maps, with or without rollers, to small sketches, or folded into books. They may be printed or hand drawn, with inks, pencils and watercolours as main media or as annotations, on supports of paper, parchment, tracing papers and tracing linens. All these factors present individual challenges to the conservator, whether this be the physical size of a large-scale map, fugitive pigments and inks, or the loss of dimensional stability of the support, which is of particular significance to maps made up of many sections joined together and can affect the accuracy of measurement in those drawn to scale.

The maps and plans displayed in this exhibition were chosen not for their content but for their materiality and the challenges they pose to conservators.

The exhibition runs from 20 February – 28 April during which time the gallery is open weekdays, 10am to 4pm.


Cartographic Operations poster

Cartographic Operations
Level 4 Gallery

In Bernhard Siegert’s ‘The map is the territory’, he refers to the idea of ‘cartographic operations’. The suggestion is that our way of seeing the world is not simply represented in maps, but that map-making is itself a play of competing signs and discourses producing our subjecthood. These are the coordinates we come to live by, which in turn influence the marks and signs at our disposal when we seek to make and share representations of the world.

This exhibition brings together three alternative cartographic operations:

Jane Birkin’s 1:1 is a direct mapping of infrastructure behind the white space of display. Electric current and metal are plotted using a DIY store metal/voltage detector and the information transferred simply to print. Although 1:1 is an impassive engagement with the rule-based activity of cartography, it simultaneously performs an affective act of display.

Sunil Manghani and Ian Dawson’s Not on the Map is an image-text installation built into the gallery space. It draws upon maps held in the University’s Special Collections, picking out details from a volume of Spanish maps from the Ward Collection and military maps of Portugal taken from the Bremner Collection. These details are placed in dialogue with tracings from early and recent figurative works by Jenny Saville.

Abelardo Gil-Fournier’s Marching Ants draws upon historical photographic sources of landscape transformations driven by the building of large water irrigation infrastructures as part of 20th century Spanish land reforms. The work is a reminder of the use of forced labor to transform the lines of maps and diagrams into tunnels and channels in the earth.

https://level4gallery.wordpress.com/2017/02/13/cartographic-operations-on-level-4/


Private view – all are welcome to attend!

A private view for the exhibitions will take place in the Level 4 Gallery on Tuesday, 28 February, 5 – 8pm.

Please note that during the private view the Special Collections Gallery will open from 5.30 – 7pm. Visitors may be asked for proof of identity at the Library reception.


Exploring maps event poster

Exploring Maps in the University of Southampton Special Collections
Archives and Manuscripts reading room

On Tuesday, 28 February 2017, Special Collections will be hosting an open afternoon highlighting a range of map material from the collections.

The afternoon will include a talk by Chris Woolgar, Professor of History and Archival Studies at the University of Southampton.

The event will take place alongside the private view for the new exhibitions. All visitors to the open afternoon are invited to attend.

Programme:

1615-1700: Opportunity to view resources from the Special Collections: Archives and Manuscripts reading room, Level 4, Hartley Library

1715-1800: Talk by Professor Christ Woolgar: Library Conference Room, Level 4, Hartley Library

Tickets for this event are now sold out.

Love stories from the Broadlands Archives

Saint Valentine’s Day, or The Feast of Saint Valentine, has been associated with romantic love since the fourteenth century and the time of Geoffrey Chaucer when the tradition of courtly love flourished. By eighteenth-century England, it had evolved into an occasion which resembled our modern-day celebration where people express their love by sending flowers, chocolate and greetings cards.  To mark Valentine’s Day 2017, we’re going to delve again into the wonderful resource that is the Broadlands Archives.

ms62_br46_133_r

Nineteenth century valentine card from the collection [BR46]

Henry Temple, second Viscount Palmerston, resident of Broadlands house near Romsey wrote on 24 June [1767] to “my dearest Miss Poole”:

I will not attempt to describe how melancholy and uncomfortable I have felt ever since you have been gone. I never in any solitude felt so much alone as I have done in this town these last five days, and most of all as when I have been in company. [BR16/9/1]

The object of his affections, Frances, was the daughter of Sir Francis Poole and his wife, also called Frances. Palmerston felt she had “all the qualities he could wish for in a wife” but did not want to press her for a decision “at this time”: one of Frances’s brothers, Henry, was very ill – and in fact died the following month – which was partly the cause of the delay in their marriage negotiations.  Frances appears more cautious than Henry: “you deserve a woman beautiful & young, & with every quality of the mind that can make her amiable.” [BR16/9/3].

Frances was 34 and six years senior to her suitor, hardly old, but possibly more unusual by eighteenth century standards. Henry attempted to reassure her:

The disproportion of age is nothing: the consideration with me is not about years but qualities and I am fully convinced that no woman in the world but yourself possesses all those that are requisite to my happiness [BR16/9/16]

Frances did marry Henry, the second Viscount, on 6 October 1767 but sadly died, only two years later, in childbirth at his Lordship’s house in the Admiralty on 1 June 1769.

Matrimonial ladder

Matrimonial ladder [BR34/6]

Palmerston was lucky enough to find love a second time, this time with Mary Mee, the daughter of Benjamin Mee, a London merchant living in Dublin.  Towards the end of 1782 he writes to her:

br20-1

Letter from Henry to Mary dating from when they were courting in 1782 [BR20/1/9]

My dearest M:M’s [Miss Mee’s] kind note found me just beginning to write a few lines to her (tho with such a headache I can hardly see) as I could not refrain from telling her how much I think of her and long for her society. [BR20/1/9]

They married on 4 January 1783.  The Broadlands Archives contains extensive correspondence between the couple who were clearly in love and wrote frequently whenever apart. Towards the end of his life, in November 1801, he reflects on his relationship with his first wife to his second:

I cannot conceive why one is never to speak of what one has felt the most; and why the subjects that lie the deepest in one’s heart and are the dearest to one’s remembrance are to be eternally banished from one’s lips [BR20/18/8]

A few days later, 12 November 1801, he comments that he has been going through his deceased wife’s papers. [BR20/18/9]. He passed away less than six months later on 16 April 1802 of “ossification of the throat”.

Mary was clearly distraught at the loss of her soul mate.  She writes from Lavender House, home of her sister and brother-in-law near Henley-on-Thames, in early May 1802 to an unknown recipient:

My heart is so loaded with sorrow that I hardly know how to support myself […] alas if I do not unburthen my sorrow to some friendly bosom my heart with surely break. [BR19/15/3]

Henry and Mary had four surviving children, the eldest being Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, future Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister. A week after his father’s death, 23 April 1802, Mary sent her son a long letter full of advice.  Among many things, she advises that he marry “at no very early age”, how he should treat his wife and the qualities he should look for in one, including “to be sure neither madness or evil affects her family”. [BR21/8/19]

Lord Palmerston as an elder statesman, West Front, Broadlands: an albumen print probably from the 1850s [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR22(i)/17]

Lord Palmerston as an elder statesman, West Front, Broadlands: an albumen print probably from the 1850s [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR22(i)/17

Palmerston married the widow Emily Cowper, née Lamb in 1839, aged 55, although they had likely been having an affair from around 1808: not sure if this was exactly what his mother had in mind!  If you would like to read an excerpt from a poem Palmerston sent to Emily on their tenth wedding anniversary – as well as other love stories from the Broadlands Archives – take a look at last year’s Valentine’s Day blog post.

If you are interested to know more about the development of Valentines – in the second week of February 1841, for example, an extra half million letters were delivered, one eighth of all the mail, because of the traffic in Valentines – you could take a look at this post from Chris Woolgar from 2015.

Victoria, first Marchioness of Milford Haven (1863-1950)

One of the key collections in the Archives at the University of Southampton is that of Earl Mountbatten of Burma. His official papers are well known, covering his long naval career, his role as last Viceroy of India, and later, at the Admiralty and Ministry of Defence – but the archive also includes personal papers relating to his early life; a remarkable and extensive collection of family photographs; and archives of the German branch of the Battenberg family.

Photographs of Mountbatten’s parents on their wedding day, 30 April 1884, from the album of Prince Louis of Battenberg [MS 62 MB2/A4/4-5]

Photographs of Mountbatten’s parents on their wedding day, 30 April 1884, from the album of Prince Louis of Battenberg [MS 62 MB2/A4/4-5]

Mountbatten’s mother was Princess Victoria Alberta Elisabeth Mathilde Marie of Hesse, the eldest daughter of Ludwig IV, grand duke of Hesse and by Rhine, and his first wife Princess Alice – second daughter of Queen Victoria. His father was Prince Louis Alexander of Battenberg, the son of Prince Alexander of Hesse.  Victoria and Louis were first cousins in a large and close family – Victoria tells many anecdotes of her childhood in her recollections, and she describes a happy and affectionate home-life in the ‘New Palace’ at Darmstadt.  There were frequent trips to relatives in Germany, Prussia, and England: often there was sea-bathing at Osborne in the summer. During a long stay in England in 1871/2:

“We were all at Balmoral first, while Uncle Bertie* and his family were at Abergeldie and we children saw a great deal of each other. Unfortunately all the children of both families contracted whooping cough there and I remember a dismal November at the top of Buckingham Palace shut away, coughing my head off.” [*Edward, Prince of Wales, later Edward VII]

When they were over the worst of the illness there was plenty of fun to be had:

“We found in the former nurseries strange sorts of bicycles with saddles, and adorned with horses’ heads and tails, which had belonged to our uncles and on which we careered down the corridor…”

All the young cousins then moved to Windsor: “and we were a very merry party of children. Our wild romps in the great corridor… were often interrupted by one of the pages bringing a message from the Queen that she would not have so much noise…”

“There were lovely corners and curtains behind which one could hide and leap out in the dark. Outside the Queen’s room there was always a table with lemonade and water and a side dish of biscuits which we used to pilfer secretly.”

These were happy years for Victoria. Tragedy struck the family at the end of 1878, when both her mother and youngest sister Marie died from diphtheria – Victoria was just 15. She wrote:

“My mother’s death was an irreparable loss to us all and left a great gap in our lives… My childhood ended with her death, for I became the eldest and most responsible of her orphaned children.”

The early loss of their mother caused Queen Victoria to take a special interest in the children – and the Queen was to become very fond of Prince Louis too – although:

“Grandmama was at first not very pleased at our engagement as she wished me, as the eldest, to continue looking after the younger ones and keeping my father company… However she consented to the engagement on condition we did not marry until the following year.”

They married at the palace in Darmstadt on 30 April 1884.

Photo of the Princesses of Hesse in 1885, from the album of Prince Louis of Battenberg [MS 62 MB2/A4/6]

Photo of the Princesses of Hesse in 1885, from the album of Prince Louis of Battenberg [MS 62 MB2/A4/6]

This photograph shows Victoria with her sisters in 1885: from left to right: ‘Ella’ (Elisabeth), the wife of Grand Duke Serge of Russia; Victoria; Irene, who married Prince Henry of Prussia in 1888; and Alix, who became the Tsarina, wife of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, in 1889.

Victoria made many summer visits to her sisters in Russia. When Serge was assassinated in Moscow in 1905 by an anarchist’s bomb – thrown at close quarters into his carriage – Victoria went to Ella immediately to offer support. In the summer of 1914, as the political situation deteriorated, she set off on her usual trip to Moscow, travelling first to Perm and from there on a tour of the Ural Mountains, stopping off twice at Ekaterinburg; but this trip was destined to be cut short.  Alix called them back to St Petersburg as the outbreak of war threatened. They arrived on the evening of 4th August, the day that England declared war.  Alix helped them to make hurried preparations and they took a special train to the Russian frontier at Tornio, making their escape via Finland, Sweden and Norway.  From Bergen they sailed on “the last ship” back to England.  Victoria writes:

“I little dreamt that it was the last time I should ever see my sisters again.”

Her written reminiscences end in 1914. She explains to the reader:

“I intend to finish these recollections with the outbreak of the Great War as I find it unnecessarily depressing to go through the experiences of that time during the second Great War. Anyhow my children were sufficiently grown up by then to have recollections of their own to take the place of mine.”

So she seems to have written these recollections during WWII, for the benefit of her four children:

Photograph of the Battenberg family c. 1902 from the album of Victoria, Princess Louis of Battenberg, 1901-10 [MS 62 MB2/B2/6]

Photograph of the Battenberg family c.1902 from the album of Victoria, Princess Louis of Battenberg [MS 62 MB2/B2/6]

This photo of the Battenberg family was taken c. 1902. Princess Victoria is seated in the middle, with Prince Louis Francis on her lap.  On her left sits her husband Prince Louis Alexander, and on her right, her eldest daughter, Princess Alice. Prince George (dressed in a white sailor suit) sits in front of his father while Princess Louise sits on the floor. Louis was born on 25th June 1901 at Frogmore House, Windsor – and was christened Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas of Battenberg on 17th July that year.  He was Queen Victoria’s last godson – she held him at the christening – and baby Louis knocked her spectacles off her nose.

Victoria died in 1950 after a long life. By that time she was a grandmother and great grandmother.  Her biographer states: “she remained throughout her life a determined, stalwart figure, given to progressive ideas and with an interest in socialism and philosophy.”  Mountbatten remembers her remarkable intelligence and quickness; that she was talkative and forthright, very well read, and with a phenomenal memory – her family felt her death acutely.

The reminiscences of Victoria, first Marchioness of Milford Haven, form part of the Archive of Earl Mountbatten of Burma, MS 62 MB21.

Unlocking an archival treasure trove

Catalogues are the key to unlocking the treasure trove of archival material. We are therefore delighted to announce that descriptions for archive collections MS 301-400 now are available on the Special Collections website:
http://www.southampton.ac.uk/archives/cataloguedatabases/webguide1.page

Totalling several thousand boxes of material, the collections MS 301-400 provide an incredibly rich and diverse research resource. A significant proportion of the collections have some Anglo-Jewish focus, complementing the extensive Anglo-Jewish Archives already held at Southampton, but overall they have a broad thematic sweep.

New collections in strongroom

New collections in strongroom

Alongside those of Jewish organisations, such as notable collections for the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain (MS 302) or the Leo Baeck College, London (MS 316), are a range of material for individuals and families, such as Chief Rabbi Hermann Adler, Sir Robert Waley-Cohen, the Henriques family, Dr Schenier Levenberg and William Frankel, who was editor of the Jewish Chronicle, to name but a few.

It is particularly pleasing to note that there has been a slight increase in the number of collections reflecting the lives and work of Jewish women. These range from the archive of Marianne Ellenbogen (MS 324), a German Jew who escaped incarceration by the Nazis after her family were arrested in Germany in August 1943 and went on the run spending two years travelling across Germany, to Trude Dub, Leicester correspondence of Jewish Chronicle (MS 325), Dr Asenath Petrie, psychologist and poet (MS 349) and papers of Gladys, Lady Swaythling (MS 383).

Photocard of Marianne Ellenbogen

MS 324 A2007/1/9 Photocard of Marianne Ellenbogen

Amongst papers of Lady Swaythling relating to her voluntary and philanthropic work, is material for the Wounded Allied Committee and Belgian refugees at Allington Manor, a home of the Swaythlings that was donated as a military sanitorium during the First World War. The collection also includes much relating to social events, and contains dinner books kept by Lady Swaythling that provide a wonderful insight into the etiquette, diet and arrangement of dinner parties in the interwar years.

Belgian soldiers and staff at Allington Manor

MS 383 A4000/6/1/13 Belgian soldiers and staff at Allington Manor

There are a number of small, but significant, collections that complement the papers of the first Duke of Wellington held by the University. The correspondence of Wellington to Sir John Malcolm (MS 308) was used in the compilation of Wellington’s Dispatches and fits perfectly with a second collection, that of the papers of Lieutenant Colonel John Gurwood (MS 321), who was the editor of the Dispatches.  Gurwood served under Wellington during the Peninsular War and distinguished himself leading the forlorn hopes at the storming at Badajoz and Ciudad Rodrigo.  His archive includes material on his military service, including letters to his mother, 1810-12, alongside the papers relating to his work for Wellington compiling the Dispatches.  Another interesting Wellington related collection (MS 351/6) contains the scrimshaw nautilus shell, engraved by C.H.Wood, depicting Wellington on one side and St George slaying the dragon on the other, produced in the 1850s, together with a number of Peninsular War and Waterloo related illustrations.

Wellington at Waterloo

MS 351/6 A4170/2 Lithograph of Wellington at Waterloo

The papers of Alan Campbell-Johnson, a public relations specialist, who in February 1947 became the first and only press attaché to a Viceroy of India, represent a significant addition to the material held within the Broadands Archives (MS 62). Campbell-Johnson accompanied Lord Mountbatten for the transfer of power to the newly independent India and Pakistan and remained with Lord Mountbatten, while Mountbatten was the first Governor General of India. Campbell-Johnson sustained a connection with Mountbatten for the remainder of his life and his archive provides an insight into the management of the presentation of partition to the media and, in the long term, in the managing of historical reputation.

Frank Prince

MS 328 A834/1/11//10 Frank Prince

Frank Templeton Prince was at one time a professor of English at the University of Southampton and his archive (MS 328) is just one of a number of collections with connections to the University. Prince was a poet of some renown, probably best remembered for his collection Soldiers Bathing (1954), the title poem of which is one of the most anthologised poems of the Second World War. He was admired by and influenced the New York school, a group of writers that flourished in the 1960s. His work has been somewhat overlooked more recently, however, and the archive has been a major resource in a reassessment of Prince’s poetry and legacy.

Finally, we turn to the Montse Stanley Knitting Collection. Montserrat Bayés Sopena was committed to bringing to a wider audience both creative knitting and the history of knitting. The Montse Stanley Knitting Collection at the Hartley Library comprises her working papers, photographs, postcards and illustrations (MS 331) together with a wide range of over 800 knitted objects and garments and small tools and sample yarns (MS 332): an invaluable resource for all aspects of knitting as well as for social history.

Silk purse shaped as a pineapple

MS 332/50/10/3 Silk purse shaped as a pineapple

Printed material from the Montse Stanley collection now forms part of the Knitting Reference Library at the Winchester School of Art Library.

We hope that you enjoy looking through the catalogue descriptions and perhaps find that serendipity moment when you make a delightful discovery of something unexpected.

A Short Introduction to Palaeography

As today is National Handwriting Day in the United States, we have decided to provide a short introduction to palaeography – an essential skill for any budding historian or archivist!

What do we mean by palaeography?
Palaeography literally means ‘old writing’ from the Greek words ‘paleos’ = old, and ‘grapho’ = write. The term is now generally used to describe reading old handwriting.

Handwriting of Anthony Ashley Cooper, seventh Earl of Shaftesbury

Handwriting of Anthony Ashley Cooper, seventh Earl of Shaftesbury

How we read

The human mind deos not raed ervery lteter by itself, but the word as a wlohe. The order of the ltteers in the word can be in a toatl mses but you can still raed it wouthit any porbelm.

We expect to recognise words and letter shapes but this doesn’t happen with unfamiliar handwriting. Instead we need to look at the individual letters separately and break the words into their most basic form.

Some tips for reading documents

While you’re reading:

  1. Try to identify individual letters:
  2. Compare them with similar-looking letters on words you have already deciphered.
  3. Look at the adjacent letters, considering which letters are likely to sit together. For example –act would be more likely than –acx.
  4. You don’t have to start at the beginning. When faced with a difficult or unfamiliar style, look through the document for a passage you can read (more) confidently.

Why not have a go at reading the Duke of Wellington’s handwriting:

Letter from Arthur Wellesley, later first Duke of Wellington, to Henry Bathurst, third Earl Bathurst, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies [MS61 Wellington Papers 1/373]

Letter from Arthur Wellesley, later first Duke of Wellington, to Henry Bathurst, third Earl Bathurst, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies [MS61 Wellington Papers 1/373]

Things to look out for

Abbreviations

The most common form of abbreviation is by contracting a word by missing out letters from the middle:

Words: "Should" and "Lord"

Sometimes a horizontal dash, or other mark, would be made over or under the missing letters to highlight the omission.

Words: "received" and "the"

Spelling

Spelling was not standardised until the eighteenth century. Spelling of names and places can vary greatly, sometimes in the same document. Often phonetic spellings were used. However, this becomes less of an issue over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Words: "To morrow" and "Catholick"

Numbers

Numbers changed shape for example 8, often when used in dates, could be an old-fashioned form where the top loop was to the right of the lower loop, making it tilt over.

Number: "18"

Letter forms

When a word will not fit onto a line, it will be split onto two lines – sometimes without hyphenating the two bits of the word, or using = on the second line.

Word: "communicating"

The long s, resembling an f, is usually the first used in a double s word, such as “expression” here. To avoid getting the long s and f mixed up, the f will have a cross stroke, even if it’s hardly noticeable.

Word: "expression"

With more formal language, there might also be an unusual use of capital letters, often emphasizing important words.

Words: "Detachments" and "Right"

Changed letter shapes: for instance the letter h was sometimes written with the stick above the line of text and the letter p (particularly on the end of words), could often look like an f.

Word: "help"

Handwriting
Styles of handwriting have been influenced by the challenges of writing with pen and ink. The way the shape of the letters flow results from the shape of the quill or nib. The downstrokes were usually heavy, with the upstrokes lighter as the pen pushed against the paper, rather than scratched into it.

The example below is a document drafted in the hand of Prime Minister, Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston:

Heads of proposed arrangements for the future government of India, drafted in the hand of Prime Minister, Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston [MS 62 Palmerston Papers CAB88B]

Heads of proposed arrangements for the future government of India, drafted in the hand of Prime Minister, Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston [MS 62 Palmerston Papers CAB88B]

So, palaeography is not a theory. It is a skill which will improve with practice. It is often just a case of “getting your eye in” and becoming familiar with the handwriting.

Interested in exercising your palaeography skills a little more? Then be sure to check out The National Archives’ online palaeography tutorial at:
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/palaeography/

Testing Times

MS310/9 A816 Photo showing University students sitting final examinations in St Mary’s Drill Hall, Southampton, 3 June 1959; from the scrapbook of Isabel Syed, 1958-60. Due to the large increase in student numbers in the ‘50s there were too many finalists to seat in the University Assembly Hall; exams were sat off-campus in 1958 and 1959.

MS310/9 A816 Photo showing University students sitting final examinations in St Mary’s Drill Hall, Southampton, 3 June 1959; from the scrapbook of Isabel Syed, 1958-60. Due to the large increase in student numbers in the ‘50s there were too many finalists to seat in the University Assembly Hall; exams were sat off-campus in 1958 and 1959.

This week we post an Archive photo for all those students commencing Semester 1 exams. It’s a familiar scene:  final examinations at St. Mary’s Drill Hall in Southampton, almost 60 years ago.  Note the dress code – shirts and ties for the gentlemen – quite formal by modern standards but positively relaxed compared to earlier times.  The University College of Southampton ‘Rules of Conduct and Discipline’ from 1924-5, required all students to wear full academic dress at lectures and written examinations [LF 783.2]  At that time the academic gown was the uniform of the student – not the badge of success reserved for graduation day.

With sartorial considerations out of the way, how to succeed at examinations?

WP1/984/9 f.3v. Printed ‘Standing Order of the Master-General and Board of Ordnance, dated 21st July 1824’, from the papers of Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, Master General of the Ordnance from 1818-27. The Ordnance Department was a very large government department employing many staff.

WP1/984/9 f.3v. Printed ‘Standing Order of the Master-General and Board of Ordnance, dated 21st July 1824’, from the papers of Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, Master General of the Ordnance from 1818-27. The Ordnance Department was a very large government department employing many staff.

We find some helpful tips in this 19th-century standing order of the Master General and Board of Ordnance.  It states that every person nominated to a post in the Ordnance Department must undergo examination, which should include the following points:

1st  – His* handwriting must be clear and legible in every respect, of which a specimen is to be produced.  [* no equal opportunity at the Ordnance in 1824!!]

2nd  – It is expected that he will be perfect in the common rules of Arithmetic, viz. – Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division; and when the Office to which he may be nominated shall particularly relate to Accounts, he will be required to pass a further examination of his abilities in the Rule of Three and Fractions.

3rd  – Every person nominated as above, will be required to write grammatically in the English language and to be correct in his orthography.

Handwriting, mental arithmetic and spelling apart, the final hurdle was age: candidates should produce a certificate “in order to verify that the age of 16 years has been attained, and that he is not beyond thirty, though in the latter case, a latitude of a few months will be allowed, and not considered a disqualification for the Office”.

We can see these rules as part of the rise of professionalization in the 19th century – it was now accepted that employees should be competent – and a reminder that the history of examination and education is long and interlinked.  Exams are a test and a rite of passage; a shared experience that ties together students past and present.

Strenuis Ardua Cedunt   [The heights yield to endeavour – University motto.]

“Sans peur and sans reproache”: Emily, Lady Palmerston

Writing from Paris in 1826, Emily, Countess Cowper – later Lady Palmerston – described herself as “without fear and without reproach”: while the city is full of gossip “if you should hear anything of me you may not believe it” she assures her brother Frederick. [BR30/6/13]

At a time when government appeared ostensibly to be a male domain, Emily’s life illustrates the significant role played by women in the political arena of the nineteenth century. Beautiful, charming and intelligent and although not a political thinker, she was astutely aware of the realities of the political system and a great believer in the power of social influence. She was the première political hostess in London of her time – a leading lady in Almack’s, an upper-class social club – and anyone who was anyone attended her parties.

ms62_br28_11_3_0002

Lady Palmerston and her daughters Fanny (right) and Minny (left) BR28/11/3

Emily was born to Peniston Lamb and his wife Elizabeth in 1787. She had three brothers, William (twice Prime Minister), Frederick (a diplomat) and George (a playwright).  Her first marriage was to Peter Clavering-Cowper, fifth Earl Cowper. In 1839, two years after his death, she married her long-term lover Lord Palmerston.  Emily had three sons and two daughters, all born during her marriage to Lord Cowper, although unlikely to all have been fathered by him: George Cowper, sixth Earl Cowper (Fordwich); William Cowper-Temple, first Baron Mount Temple; Charles; Frances (Fanny) Jocelyn, Viscountess Jocelyn and Emily (Minny), wife of Anthony Ashley-Cooper, seventh Earl of Shatesbury.

The University’s archives holds a collection of Emily’s letters; the bulk of the correspondence is to Emily’s brother, Honourable Frederick Lamb; from 1844, there is also correspondence with her second husband, Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston. Emily covers a wide range of topics in her letters.  In terms of political affairs, the Reform Bill and Catholic Emancipation Act feature heavily and she usually includes society gossip.  As she is writing to her brother, it is natural that she should frequently discuss their parents, siblings and her children: “whatever else may be said of me nobody shall ever doubt my being a good mother and a good daughter” she comments in March 1820. [BR29/3/7]

The letters make reference to Emily’s brother William’s marriage to Caroline Lamb. Their son George Augustus was born with severe mental health problems.  Unusually for an aristocratic family of the time, William and Caroline cared for their son at home; his “fits” are often mentioned.

LadyPfuneral

Lady Palmerston’s funeral at Westminster Abbey, 1869

The letters shed a little light on Emily’s first marriage to Earl Cowper. Married in 1805 aged 18, Emily is remembered as beautiful and charming, In contrast, her husband is described – in the more favourable portraits – as quiet and shy, and less sympathetically as dull and slow.  When advising her brother Frederick about affairs of the heart in 1821 she comments how “at best [marriage] must always be a lottery.”  She still, however, recommends that he should marry:

From a man’s comfort it is almost better to have a bad wife than to have no wife. Besides it is always a man’s own fault if his wife is very bad.  [BR30/2/3]

The following year, 9 November 1822, she wrote to her friend, Fanny, Lady Burrell “I well know how unpleasant (and often hurtful to the tranquillity of a ménages) a third person is and I well know if you cannot get rid of her now you never will.” [BR2815/10]. A few years later, circa 1826, she wrote to Frederick:

Dear Ld C. in the most sheepish way asked me the other night if I had any objection to [?Lady] Sarah coming to P[anshanger] [BR30/6/18]

Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston

Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston pictured at his country residence, Broadlands

While Emily’s affair with Lord Palmerston was long standing, she was discrete about these matters in her correspondence. She reported to Frederick in 1825 that “Lord Palmerston went to call upon Fordwich in the course of his canvass and was quite delighted with him.” [BR30/5/14]. Being her eldest son and heir, she was anxious regarding Fordwich’s education and future prospects and expresses these concerns in February 1827:

Ld C. takes no trouble about him tho’ he is very fond of him[…] Ld Palmerston whom I have consulted for want of better advice says he might go back to Cambridge now…[BR29/13/2]

Emily lived during a time when women were not permitted to vote let alone serve in Parliament. Her social status would likely have afforded her considerable independence and influence.  Despite commenting in 1822, “women in general may be wise for keeping out of politics” [BR29/7/14] that same year she was happy to intercede with the King on Frederick’s behalf: “for so shy a person as I am it is astonishing how bold and determined I can be when it is worthwhile”. [BR29/8/4]

In later letters the support Emily provided for her husband Lord Palmerston is referenced. In November 1840 she tells Frederick she has come to Brighton for the sea breeze having spent the last “two months doggedly to help fight [Palmerston’s] battles”: at this point Palmerston was Foreign Secretary. [BR29/15/3]. A few months later (February 1841) she comments how her “brilliant Saturday parties […] do much good”  [BR30/13/3].

Wellington_portrait

Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington

Emily refers frequently to the victor of Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington; the highs and lows of his career are charted through her letters. Rather acerbically in 1821: “he is better seen at a distance when the glitter looks like gold”, with reference to his concern at his waning popularity. [BR30/2/4] She clearly has a soft spot for the Iron Duke, however, and ensures that Mrs Arbuthnot has been invited to a party in July 1825 because “there is nothing I would not do to please him, he is such a love’. [BR30/5/6]”

Emily’s correspondence, held by the University’s Special Collections, provides an insight into her life, influence and opinions. Recently listed at item level, these letter-by-letter descriptions will facilitate greater access to a resource detailing the life of this fascinating nineteenth-century aristocratic woman.