Tag Archives: first Duke of Wellington

The stories they tell: a letter before Waterloo

To mark the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, for this “The stories they tell” blog we focus on one of the soldiers who fought on that day. The Archives and Manuscripts holds the letter that Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Ferrior wrote to his brother in Pembrokeshire a few days before the battle: it was to be his last letter as he died at Waterloo.

MS88_4_back (3)

Detail of letter from Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Ferrior to his brother Benjamin, June 1815 [MS88/4]

Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Ferrior (1772-18 June 1815) was born in Pennar, Pembrokeshire. A career soldier, he first appears as a cornet in the First Life Guards in 1797 and remained with this regiment, becoming a captain in 1802, a major in 1810 and subsequently a lieutenant colonel.

At Waterloo, the First Life Guards were part of the First (or Household) Brigade of Heavy Cavalry under the command of Major General Lord Edward Somerset.

Ferrior was in the thick of the action and led eleven charges during the battle. He is said to have died late in the day of the 18th June after leading a final charge, believed to be at dusk when the cavalry was ordered forward to harry the retreating columns of the Imperial Guard. The record shows that he was killed, although it is likely that he died of wounds.  In the Waterloo Roll Call, Charles Dalton, notes that it “is said to have led his regiment to the charge no less than eleven times and most of the charges were not made till after his head had been laid open by the cut of a sabre and his body pierced with a lance”.

On 7 June, when he was encamped in Flanders with his regiment, Ferrior wrote a letter to his brother Benjamin at the family farm of Pearson, St Brides in Pembrokeshire. This was, as the note on the back states, to be his final letter.  In it he describes the British army assembled for the Waterloo campaign, reviews of the troops by various dignitaries, and the countryside of Flanders and their farming methods. It also contains a heartfelt tribute to his brother for his kindness and friendship.

MS88_4_back (5)

Concluding part of letter from Lieutenant Colonel Ferrior to his brother when he thanks him for his “kindness and real brotherly friendship”. [MS88/4]

Ferrior’s letter is also written in a style reminiscent of official correspondence and despatches, very formal in tone and concise in details. There was a common tradition of soldiers’ correspondence being shared much more widely, not merely among friends and family but also in published form. This is a letter which Ferrior wrote on the eve of a momentous battle, perhaps conscious that it could be his last missive. The tone and the style represent both the image of the brave and sanguine officer ready to do his duty: “I have the satisfaction”, Ferrior wrote at the conclusion, “of finding myself compleately equipped according to my rank in the service.”

MS88_4_f1r (2)

First page of the letter from Lieutenant Colonel Ferrior to his brother, 7 June 1815 [MS88/4]

“We marched as I expected a few days after I wrote my last letter, we embarked at Ramsgate and landed at Ostend on the 3rd May without any casualty of consequence, we continued our march to a village three miles this side of Ghent, were we halted for the first day since we left Hyde Park Barracks. We remained there 7 or 8 days and then came here which is the headquarters of the cavalry. L[ieutenan]t General the Earl of Uxbridge who commands the cavalry is quartered at a convent adjoining the town which before the French revolution was a most magnificent place, but now in a state of decay, Bonaparte having thrown away all the fine pictures, destroyed the furniture and sold the large territories attached to this convent, but the church is still very fine. The rest of the cavalry are in cantonments in the surrounding villages, the King’s German Legion cavalry more in advance and nearer the French frontier. The First Life Guards is brigaded with the 2nd Life Guards, the Blues, and First Dragoon Guards, in all 10 squadrons all in most excellent condition and fine order and allowed to be as fine a body of cavalry as was ever seen and I think that my Reg[imen]t is not the worst amongst them. Lord Edward Somerset commands the brigade as Lord Wellington is at Brussels about 15 miles from hence, which is the headquarters of the army and about there our infantry are quartered. We are at present all quiet, we have no news, and we look at the London papers to see how the world is going on. We believe, and I am of that opinion, that as soon as the Prussians come up and join us, no time will be lost in commencing hostilities. A part of them, we hear, are now on the Rhine. It cannot therefore be long before we begin…”

Ferrior goes on to describe being presented to the King of France, whose court he described as “not very splendid” and the King as fat, unwieldy and suffering with gout.

He then describes how they had been reviewed three times since they had arrived:

“The first time the 1st and 2nd Regiments of Life Guards and Blues and being the senior officer, I had command of the three regiments in the field. Lord Uxbridge inspected us minutely and was pleased to express his entire approbation of the appearance and movements of the 3 regiments. Our second review was of the whole heavy cavalry, Lord Uxbridge wishing to pay a compliment to the Princes of Orange. The Prince accompanied by many foreigners of distinction reviewed and was much gratified by our appearance. Our third review as however superlatively grand by Field Marshal His Grace the Duke of Wellington accompanied by the Princes of Orange, by old Blucher, the Duke of Brunswick, by Marmont and by foreigners of different nations of high distinction. We were drawn up in three lines, the Hussars in the first line, the heavy cavalry in the second and the Light Dragoons in the third line, the artillery at different points of the line, in all 40 squadrons beside 9 troops of Horse Artillery, about 6000 men. The First Reg[imen]t had the [honour] of giving the guard of honour of one troop with its officers to Lord Wellington on the ground and a squadron received him at the convent, Lord Uxbridge’s quarters, where a grand dinner was prepared for the Princes, general officers and heads of departments and officers commanding regiments. It was very brilliant and Lord Wellington did me the high honour to come up to me and address me by saying that my regiment was in very fine order…”

After a long description of the countryside and the farming methods, Ferrior concludes his letter with the following message to his brother: “I can never sufficiently thank you for your kindness and real brotherly friendship for me”.

A reading of an extract of Ferrior’s letter can be accessed and downloaded at MS88.  You also can find a discussion of and reading of WP1/471/4 the condolence letter that the Duke Wellington sent to Lord Aberdeen on the death of Aberdeen’s brother Lieutenant Colonel Sir Robert Gordon at Waterloo. Both provide a glimpse of the individuals who took part in this military campaign and of the human cost of war.

“Beware! Beware! Beware!”: Wellington and “Captain Swing”

Part of a threatening letter sent by “Captain Swing”, 1830 [MS61 WP1/1159/114]

In the winter of 1830, driven by grinding poverty, the agricultural workers of the southern and eastern counties of England, including Hampshire, were involved in uprisings. The combination of poor harvests, low wages and high food prices with high unemployment and inadequate poor law allowances, led to hunger among the workers and their families. The introduction of new technology, in particular the threshing machine, which took away one of the few remaining opportunities for work during the winter months, made their situation worse.

The protests started in Kent  and Sussex in August and spread fairly rapidly to surrounding counties. They reached Hampshire, where the first Duke of Wellington was the Lord Lieutenant, by November 1830. Hampshire was one of the most severely affected counties and also was the county in which the protest was repressed most severely.

The journalist and champion of traditional rural life, William Cobbett, recorded in his Rural Rides his horror at the poverty amongst the rural poor, making particular reference to the situation in Hampshire. And a letter of 22 December 1830 to the Duke in the Wellington Archive attributed much of the crime recently committed in Hampshire “to the influence of the published opinions of Cobbett” and of the radical politician Henry Hunt, both of whom had resided in the county. [MS 61 WP1/1157/3]

William Cobbett Rural Rides (1830) Rare Books Cope BOT 96 COB

The Swing riots took their name from “Captain Swing” – a made-up name that represented the anger of the poor labourers, but also was designed to spread fear and to protect the identity of the protest leaders. The organisation of the movement was on a local level with leaders or “captains” chosen from the community. The usual practice was for groups of men to travel from farm to farm demanding higher wages and soliciting donations from landowners, with the threat of destroying threshing machines if this was not forthcoming. But in some cases the protesters set fire to hay ricks or destroyed machinery: a threshing machine was destroyed in Rookley House in Hampshire by a large band of men and the “donation” money carried away.

Although the riots in Hampshire only lasted from around 10 to 26 November, they were more widespread and severe than in other counties: the extent of the incidents on 22 November is shown on a map sent to Wellington in December 1830.

Hand drawn map sent by Mr Hollis to Wellington of the riots that took place in Hampshire on 22 November 1830 [MS61 WP1/1157/2]

Wellington, alongside other landowners and farmers throughout Hampshire, was to be the recipient of threatening letters signed by “Captain Swing”. Similar letters had been sent out in both Kent and West Sussex in the earlier riots in these counties. A number of examples of those sent to the Duke can be found in the Wellington Archive at Southampton.

Letter from “Captain Swing” to Wellington, 4 November 1830 [MS 61 WP1/1159/93]:                                                                                         “Your base vile conduct and treatment of your fellow subjects; your determination to turn a deaf ear to their remonstrances, has made you an object of popular vengeance and of popular hatred. Take my advice, act openly and nobly, as becomes a Briton, reform that vile nest of corruption which is bred in Downing Street, destroy those vultures that prey on the public liver or beware, I say beware, beware, beware.”

As the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Wellington was responsible for the maintenance of law and order within the county. He established a Special Commission, which was held at Winchester in December, to deal with the rioters. The Commission handed out what was later considered overly harsh sentences to the accused. 95 of the 300 prisoners tried were formally sentenced to death – although in the end only 6 had their sentences confirmed – many others were imprisoned or transported overseas.

A report of the Proceedings at the Special Commission, holden at Winchester, December 20, 1830, and Eight Following Days (London, 1831) Rare Books Cope 35

Items on the Swing Riots form part of the We Protest! exhibition currently at the Special Collections Gallery. We hope you are able to come along.

Crossing the South Downs by Frog and other Ripping Yarns from our Archives – a tribute to the late great Terry Jones

And now for something completely different… In tribute to the late Terry Jones we delve into the archive collections for some ripping yarns and other delights.

No. 1, not the larch, or a character from Cats, but Captain Mogg, who was a real life hero of exploration and whose diaries we hold, describing his pioneering voyages to the Arctic and South America. [MS45] Other intrepid voyages described included to the unexplored shores of Wales and the West of England. He served on many different ships, notably HMS Partridge (not a very aggressive bird for a warship) and HMS Haughty, presumably in the same squadron as HMS Petulant and HMS Indignant.

Captain William Mogg [MS45 AO183/6]

No. 2: Amazing Victorian inventions worthy of Terry Gilliam’s imagination:

The Steam War Chariot, invented by a Cornish engineer as a sort of proto-tank of the steam age. The details were sent to the first Duke of Wellington by John George and Son of Fowey in June 1836, asking the Duke to exhibit it at the Waterloo Banquet. As far as we know, it was never built.

The John George Steam War Chariot, 1836 [MS61 WP2/40/119]

A prospectus for lighting up the British Channel and Goodwin Sands with gas to guard against shipwrecks, 1850.

Gas lighting for the British Channel, 1850 [MS61 WP2/243/110]

No. 3: Moccasins for British soldiers during the Peninsular War. This DIY piece of footwear was designed to deal with the shortage of boots, and may be the proto type for the Monty Python Big Foot.

Illustration of the finished moccasin [MS61 WP1/261/34]

No. 4: And now for something else completely different: the Duke of Wellington’s reply to Lady Honoria Hervey’s request for a post in the army : “her Ladyship is a female!” [MS61 WP2/160/84] No pulling the wool over the Iron Duke’s eyes, an upper class twit he was not.

No. 5: She’s not the Messiah, she’s a very naughty girl! Otherwise known as the Archivist…

No. 6: Not quite the original Monty Python, but a wonderful illustration from one of our rare books on natural history.

Rees’s Cyclopaedia Plates vol. 5 [Rare Books AE5]

No 7: Prince Alexander of Battenberg, Lord Mountbatten’s uncle, who was briefly the King of Bulgaria. He had a rough time, being kidnapped by rebels and held on a river boat which was sailed to Russia, however the Russians didn’t want him and sent him back. Not surprisingly he abdicated soon afterwards.

Prince Alexander of Battenberg [MS62 MB3/52]

No.8: Richard Cockle Lucas: he was a talented artist and local eccentric of the Edwardian era. He was particularly noted for driving a Roman style chariot through Southampton while dressed in a toga.

Photograph of Richard Cockle Lucas taken by himself [rare books Cope 73 LUC O/S13789]

Photograph of Richard Cockle Lucas taken by himself [Rare Books Cope 73 LUC O/S13789]

He called his house at Chilworth “the Tower of the Winds” with his “Sky Parlour ” on top. Sadly, this does not survive, but we hold two remarkable albums of his own photos including many pictures of Lucas dressed as Shakespearian characters, also some correspondence with the great and the good including Palmerston, who was a personal friend. Lucas had a strong belief in fairies, and claimed to have met one called Hettie Lottie when he was a child.

Tower of the Winds photographed by Lucas in 1864 [rare books Cope 73 LUC O/S13788]

Tower of the Winds photographed by Lucas in 1864 [Rare Books Cope 73 LUC O/S13788]

No-one expects the Spanish Inquisition, but we have to take security very seriously here in the Archives, due to the great historical value of our collections. But you will only see the prof in his cardinal’s robes during graduation. You will be relieved to hear that we don’t have a comfy chair. Please do not compare our facilities to Fort Knox, we have heard this too many times and you will now be fined 50p for saying this – but a prize of 50p for any more original comments. The library café may sell wafer thin mints, but spam is confined to our computers.

Anyone wishing to search for their own Holy Grail in our archives is very welcome. Please see our website for details of access arrangements and archive lists www.southampton.ac.uk/archives

2019 – a year in review

And so we move to a new decade and an array of new activities for the Special Collections in the coming year. But before we look forward to what is to come, let us take a moment to look back at some of our activities during 2019.

Exhibitions and events

The first exhibition of 2019, The Leonardo Link: Image-Making from Anatomy to Code, which opened in February, worked as a companion to the exhibition of drawings by Leonardo da Vinci on show at the Southampton City Art Gallery. Southampton was one of 12 galleries to feature drawings by da Vinci from the Royal Collection, part of the UK events marking the five hundreth anniversary of the artist’s death.

For the summer we had an exhibition drawing on images of University life over the decades, particularly resonant as 2019 marked the hundredth anniversary of the move to the Highfield campus.

A philanthropic spirit exhibition: a celebration of philanthropic acts

The autumn exhibition, A philanthropic spirit, drew on the Special Collections material to look both at ideas of philanthropic activity and at the work of individual philanthropists. It also featured material on the impact of philanthropy on the development of the University and there was a parallel exhibition in the Level 4 Gallery of portraits from the University Fine Art Collection of notable philanthropists in the development of the University.

In April we hosted the latest Wellington Congress. Featuring keynote lectures from Professor Charles Esdaile, Professor Nicholas Lambert, Dr Alicia Laspra and Dr Richard Gaunt, the 2-day Congress presented a wide range of papers on aspects of military, political, literary and social themes for the nineteenth century. And we were delighted to round off proceedings with the 2019 Wellington Lecture given by Professor Chris Woolgar on Wellington, “the scum of the earth” and the army in the Iberian Peninsula.

Professor Chris Woolgar

Special Collections took part in both the Science and Engineering Day on the Highfield Campus in March and at the Hands-on Humanities at a new venue at the NST City in November. The Science and Engineering Day provided an opportunity to offer a range of activities relating to the printed and archive collections and to the science behind conservation work undertaken by Special Collections.

Poster for Science and Engineering Day, March 2019

Alongside research sessions and introductory sessions for students from a range of disciplines – including History, English, Global Media Management – Special Collections has continued hosting drop-in sessions and visits for a range of groups. And as it was the centenary of the move to the Highfield campus, we held a drop-in session during Freshers’ Week for the first time that focused on student life over the decades since 1919.

Visits hosted in 2019 ranged from members of the Nautical Archaeology Society and from SCONUL to that of the Indian High Commissioner, as well as sessions  for scholars from China visiting the UK as part of the China Scholarship Council scheme. Two items on show that these latter visitors found particularly interesting were nineteenth-century publications on the Chinese language by Robert Morrison.

Visit by teachers from China as part of the China Scholarship Council scheme, June 2019

In November the Special Collections hosted, in conjunction with the Honor Frost Foundation, a workshop discussing issues around curating the heritage of maritime archaeology.

Social media and publicity

Throughout the year we have run a series of blogs and tweets relating to Highfield 100, marking the centenary of the move to the Highfield campus site. Starting in January, we posted monthly blogs looking at the developments of the University from 1919 onwards. An article on the Highfield 100 also was the Archives Hub feature for September 2019.

Since October we have embarked on a Highfield in a 100 objects Twitter series which will culminate in the Spring 2020 when the new Centenary Building on Highfield Campus is due to be officially opened. Images and material from the blogs has appeared on banners and on buildings around campus and have contributed to University publications such as a special edition of Hartley News sent out to thousands of alumni and to editions of Staff Matters. Complementary to these were a shorter series of blogs that looked at aspects of university development through time, such as sports facilities, Rag or the University grounds.

University College of Southampton from the south wing, 1919 [MS1/Phot 39 ph3100]

A number of blogs were linked to anniversaries such as World Poetry Day in March; the passing of the Catholic emancipation act over which the Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington, fought a duel in April 1829; British beer day in June, in honour of which we brewed a beer based on a recipe from Faulkner’s The Complete Family Piece (1739); the 75th anniversary of D-Day on 6 June; World Watercolour Month in July; the Great Exhibition of 1851 in October; and Human Rights week in December.

Blogs that highlighted different facets of the Special Collections have ranged widely, encompassing newer collections that complement that material within the archive of the first Duke of Wellington In the company of Wellington; Lord Shaftesbury the nineteenth-century philanthropist; geological collections in the Rare Books material; refugees in the twentieth century with a companion blog telling the stories of child refugees from Russia in the 1900s; and sanitation and health in Southampton. For the summer we posted a number of blogs on the theme of travel and voyages, starting with a look at western traditions of maps and map-making. Other blogs looked at travel to Far East and to South and Central America, accounts of three women travelling in Europe between the late eighteenth and early twentieth century and of those travelling nearer to home in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

The collections and staff also have featured in local TV and radio broadcasts, including one relating to Victorian valentines in February, and the Anglo-Jewish archives.

Collections

The Special Collections has continued to add to its holdings, most notably adding a number of collections that relate to nautical studies and maritime archaeology. The year started with the transfer of the papers of the eminent nautical archaeologist and maritime historian Lucian Basch (1930-2018) to the Special Collections. His extensive collection has been joined by working papers of Sean McGrail, who was a key player in the establishment of the Centre for Maritime Archaeology at the University, and of the maritime geoarchaeologist, Nicholas Flemming.

Some of the papers of Lucien Basch stored in his apartment prior to the move to Southampton

Amongst some of the smaller collections that arrived in 2019, were a couple of delightful volumes that complemented the existing holdings of the Basque child refugee archives. One is a photograph album recording a visit to the Basque country by Betty Lascelles Arne in May 1997 to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the departure of the Basque children on Habana on 21 May 1937 [MS440/6]. The other is a scrapbook by Helvecia Hidalgo (née Garcia Aldosoro), who was one of the child refugees who travelled in 1937: the album contains a range of photographs, booklets, cuttings and even the id and medical inspection tags pasted into the volume [MS440/4]. This scrapbook was added to a photograph album of Helvecia Hidalgo previously donated to the Archives.

The year also brought a further donation of material that relates to the holdings of the poet F.T.Prince. This was a small collection of correspondence between Professor Michael Kirkham of the University of Toronto with Prince, together with articles by Professor Kirkham relating to Prince which includes reflections by Prince on his poetry [MS328 A4222].

And as we began our reflection on 100 years of the University of Southampton at its Highfield campus, we were delighted to receive as part of a donation of papers of A.Evans – who had been the clerk of works of Hartley University College, Southampton, 1911-14, when the buildings at Highfield were being planned and built – a copy of the proposal for a rather more grand building at Highfield before these plans were scaled back. It provided a real glimpse into what might have been.

Perspective view of the proposed Hartley University College buildings from the South west by Messrs. Clyde F.Young and Hubert S.East, architects, 26 May 1911 [MS416/14]

The year saw the completion of a number of cataloguing projects in the Special Collections. Work on the papers of Michael Sherbourne was the subject of one blog. Perhaps the most substantial archive cataloguing project undertaken by the archivist team in 2019 was the Yerusha Project relating to the Jewish archive collections at Southampton. A major project within the Printed Special Collections was the completion of the cataloguing of the Honor Frost Library.

Looking ahead to 2020

With new cataloguing projects and a new Archives management system, new collections and a range of events already planned, 2020 looks set to be another full year.

Part of leaflet We Protest! produced by the Jewish People’s Council against Fascism and Anti-Semitism, 1936 [MS 60/17/16/18]

The first exhibition of the year will be We Protestdue to open on 17 February. Taking the Cato Street conspiracy of 1820 as its starting point, the exhibition also will look at two subsequent nineteenth-century protests, before exploring the work of a number of 20th-century protest and pressure groups – such as the Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry – and of student protests.

As 2020 is also the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower from Southampton, the Special Collections will be looking at the theme of Voyages of Discovery in blogs and activities during the year. And this will be the focus of the autumn Special Collections exhibition opening in October.

Do look out for details of our activities through social media and the Special Collections website.

Mapping the way

As we move into August and thoughts turn to summer holidays, over the next few weeks the Special Collections will be featuring a series of blogs celebrating the theme of travel and voyages. And to help you on your way to your destination, we start with a look at the development of western traditions of maps and map-making from the sixteenth century onwards.

Detail from chart in John Sellar’s Atlas maritimus (London, 1675) [Rare Books ff. G1059]

The production of maps and of maritime charts often went hand in hand with exploration and trade. The full extent of the continent of Africa, for instance, was not known to Europeans until Bartholomew Diaz reached the southern cape in 1487. The first maps based on a knowledge of the African coastline only began to appear in the sixteenth century. Western maps of Asia, the earliest and best of which were produced in the Low Countries, drew on accounts of Portuguese traders as well as missionaries and Spanish and Dutch voyages of discovery.

Translated into English as The mariners mirror in 1588, Lucas Jansson Waghenaer’s Spieghel der Zeevaerdt (Leiden, 1584), a guide for navigators which contained a combination of earlier maritime ‘route books’ or rutters, and coastal charts, was to exert an enormous influence. John Sellar was to publish the first English pilots a century later. His Atlas maritimus (London, 1675) was a collection of maritime charts describing sea-coasts “in most of the known parts of the world collected from the latest and best discoveries that have been made by divers able and experienced navigators of our English nation”. Copies varied considerably in content and were probably made up to suit each purchaser. The volume at Southampton has 40 maps and one set of coloured plates.

John Sellar Atlas maritimus (London, 1675) [Rare Books ff. G1059]

For travellers wishing to journey nearer to home, local topographical maps were not common until the sixteenth century. Prior to that most descriptions of the countryside were verbal rather than visual. The growth in the sixteenth century was linked to technological developments enabling means of surveying and producing accurate representations and also to a new curiosity for knowledge about the world.

The principal influences behind the creation of this new iconography were threefold. Firstly, practical: many of the earliest maps had a military purpose as well as being extensively used in legal disputes or for setting out boundaries. Secondly, visual: they were a potent form of display. From the sixteenth century, maps were hung on the walls of houses and palaces, showing ancestral estates, kingdoms or the strength of a regional identity. Thirdly, the development of printing, with the use of engraved copper plates, provided a ready way of making these images available.

The first widespread cartographic depictions of Europe date from the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The work of Christopher Saxton, who surveyed the UK in the 1570s, was considered a high point in topographical description.

Christopher Saxton’s map of Caernarvonshire [Rare Books quarto G5750]

Saxton maps were small-scale, in that they covered large areas with little detail. Maps of counties at a large scale, which covered small geographical areas in great detail, were the product of the eighteenth century, arising from Enlightenment interest in scientific representation.

J.Cary Cary’s new universal atlas (London, 1808) [Rare Books ff. G1019]

 The Ordnance Survey of Britain was under way in the 1790s marking an approach to topography on a national basis. Although the Ordnance Survey was not finally undertaken in Ireland until 1824, work on mapping counties had begun, under the auspices of grand juries, in the 1770s. Neville Bath, for instance, had been engaged to produce maps for Counties Cork, Kilkenny, Tipperary and Limerick which were bought up by the Irish government in 1808 during the time when the Duke of Wellington was Chief Secretary for Ireland.

So when you are next embarking on a journey instead of turning to your satnav why not try out using a map instead?

“Such a desperate action” – two stories from the battlefield

Print of the Battle of Waterloo (1816) [MS 351/6 A4170/5]

There was widespread rejoicing at news of the Battle of Waterloo – the anniversary of which is today – and the conclusion of the war: this was an occasion equivalent to VE or VJ Day at the end of the Second World War. Wellington was lauded as a victor and hero and esteemed as both one of Europe’s leading generals and as its saviour. Heroic depictions of the military exploits appeared, such as the example below representing the death of Lieutenant Colonel Miller of the Guards at the Battle of Waterloo in  J.A. Atkinson’s Incidents of British bravery during the late campaigns on the continent… (Ackermann, London, 1817).

Death of Lieutenant Colonel Miller of the Guards at Waterloo [MS351/6 A4170/2 no 6]

Yet Wellington understood, as he recorded in his official despatch to Lord Bathurst of 19 June 1815, how victory on the battlefield often came at the cost of the loss of many lives: “Your Lordship will observe that such a desperate action could not be fought, and such advantages could not be gained, without great loss; and I am sorry to add that ours has been immense.”

Extracts from the correspondence of two soldiers held in the Special Collections provides an eloquent picture of the realities of life on the front line during the struggle for supremacy in Portugal in 1811 and on the Western Front in the First World War.

Engraving by Bartolomeo Pinelli of the campaign in Portugal, 1810-11

Lieutenant Colonel John Gurwood (1790-1845), who was the editor of  Wellington’s Dispatches, served under the Duke in the Peninsula from 1810. He was wounded at Sabugal, 3 April 1811, and distinguished himself leading the forlorn hopes at the storming of Badajoz and Ciudad Rodrigo. As a lieutenant of the 52nd Regiment of Foot in 1811, he describes in a letter to his mother of 16 March 1811 the intensity of the action by the British and allied army in expelling the French forces from Portugal during the course of March:

“We have been fighting for the last 4 days. The French retired … on the 6th at one in the morning… On the 11th we drove them through Pombal… On the plain of Redeinha [Redinha] we had 3 off[icer]s and 22 killed and wounded… On the 14th as soon as the fog cleared off… we got into one of the hottest affairs imaginable. We lost 1 officer killed, 3 cap[ains] wounded and a number killed and wounded… On the 15th were at it again…” [MS 321/5]

A career soldier, Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Dudley Samuel, DSO, had served with the Midlands Mounted Rifles in the Boer war. He was appointed a Second Lieutenant in the Third Volunteer Battalion, City of London (Royal Fusiliers) Regiment in December 1902 and served with the London Regiment throughout the First World War, eventually being appointed as commander of the 40th (Jewish) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers in 1918. Dudley Samuel was wounded four times during his service and received mention in despatches. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1917.

Major Frederick Dudley Samuel [MS336 A2097/1]

Major Frederick Dudley Samuel [MS336 A2097/1]

Dudley Samuel was involved in the Battle of Loos (25 September – 8 October 1915). The Artois-Loos Offensive aimed to break through the German Front in Artois. Whilst the British had some initial success north of Loos on the first day, a pause in the attack allowed the German army time to call in reinforcements for the Second position and the British suffered heavy casualties here on 26 September.

On 27 September he wrote to his wife Dorothy that they have come out from the Battle “as usual much depleted” with heavy losses and many killed.

“The Garhwal Brigade was heroic, it is the only word, it has been practically wiped out… Everyone stood to arms at 3.30am Saturday… At about 4.45 the guns started. At 5.50 we exploded an enormous mine the earth shook, a very muffled roar and it looked as if a whole trench went 300 feet in the air, then dense volumes of smoke were released everywhere and the German guns started on us and the Brigade advanced to the attack… Very few of the attackees came back, and I’m afraid all are killed or wounded. Three battalions are practically wiped out…

For us personally it is a great tragedy, so many friends in the Leicesters and Native Regiments gone… Our losses are over fifty, but we can’t tell yet. We of course are fortunate….” [MS336 A2097/5/2]

Part of an envelope, with the mark of the field censor, for a letter from Dudley Samuel to his wife [Ms 336 A2097/8/2/331]

The Battle of Waterloo and the Duke of Wellington were well remembered and received many marks of recognition during the 19th century: a previous blog looks at the battle and the Duke remembered. The Special Collections contains much other material reflecting different aspects of warfare from literary reflections to the service of VADs at the University War Hospital in the First World War.

Look out for further blogs, or why not visit the Archives and Manuscripts to find out more.

“Ill-advised man!”: the Duke of Wellington and his duel

On 13 April 1829 the Roman Catholic Relief Act was passed by Parliament. It was guided through the parliamentary process by the Prime Minster the Duke of Wellington and the Home Secretary Robert Peel, overcoming vehement opposition, including from the King George IV.

Draft of points agreed with George IV relating to Catholic emancipation, 27 January 1829

Part of a memorandum by Wellington listing the points settled on a visit to George IV about the Roman Catholic emancipation question, 27 January 1829 [MS 61 WP1/993/73]

The act represented the legislative move towards Catholic emancipation and for Catholics to be able to take a seat in the Parliament at Westminster. Daniel O’Connell, who had won the by-election in Clare in 1828, and who was leader of the Catholic Association and in the campaign for Catholic emancipation, was now able to take his seat as MP.

Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington

The Duke of Wellington

Wellington had not originally supported the move for Catholic emancipation and was harshly criticised by those most vehemently opposed. None more so than George Finch-Hatton, tenth Earl of Winchilsea. Winchilsea accused Wellington of “an insidious design for the infringement of our liberties and the introduction of Popery into every department of the State”.

Stung, Wellington challenged him to a duel:

“… Since the insult, unprovoked on my part, and not denied by your lordship, I have done everything in my power to induce your lordship to make me reparation, but in vain. Instead of apologizing for your own conduct your lordship has called upon me to explain mine….

… I now call upon your lordship to give me that satisfaction for your conduct which a gentleman has a right to require and which a gentleman never refuses to give.”

First page of Wellington's challenge to Lord Winchilsea, 20 March 1829 [MS61 WP1/1007/29]

First page of Wellington’s challenge to Lord Winchilsea, 20 March 1829 [MS61 WP1/1007/29]

The duel took place at 8am on Saturday 21 March at Battersea Fields, South London. Wellington was accompanied by his second Sir Henry Hardinge, whilst Winchilsea’s second was Edward Boscawen, first Earl of Falmouth. The physician, John Hume, attended in case of injury and subsequently sent a detailed report to the Duchess of Wellington.

“Lord Falmouth … gave his pistol to Lord Winchilsea and he and the Duke remained with them in their right hands, the arm being extended down by their sides. Lord Falmouth and Sir Henry then stepped back a few paces when Lord Falmouth said ‘Sir Henry I leave it entirely to you to arrange the manner of firing’, upon which Sir Henry said, ‘Then, gentlemen, I shall ask you if you are ready and give the word fire, without any farther signal or preparation’, which in a few seconds after he did, saying, ‘Gentlemen, are you ready, fire !’ The Duke raised his pistol and presented it instantly on the word fire being given, but as I suppose observing that Lord Winchilsea did not immediately present at him he seemed to hesitate for a moment and then fired without effect.

I think Lord Winchilsea did not present his pistol at the Duke at all, but I cannot be quite positive as I was wholly intent on observing the Duke lest anything should happen to him, but when I turned my eyes towards Lord Winchilsea after the Duke had fired his arm was still down by his side from whence he raised it deliberately and holding his pistol perpendicularly over his head he fired it off into the air….”

Part of the account by Dr Hume of the duel, 22 March 1829 [MS 61 WP1/1004/16]

Part of the account by Dr Hume of the duel, 22 March 1829 [MS 61 WP1/1004/16]

News of the duel was met with shock, with some newspapers carrying censorial reports.

Jeremy Bentham was moved to write to the Duke the following day:

“Ill advised man ! Think of the confusion into which the whole fabric of the government would have been thrown had you been killed, or had the trial of you for the murder of another man been substituted in the House of Lords to the passing of the emancipation bill !”

[MS 61 WP 1/1004/17]

Generally, however, Wellington found that this event enhanced his reputation and he was praised in various accounts for his “manly forbearance”.

Further details of the duel can be found in the Wellington Papers Database: John Hume’s full account of the duel is well worth a read.

Botanical treasures of the Stratfield Saye estate

In October 1836 the botanist John Claudius Loudon wrote to Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, requesting drawings of certain trees on the Stratfield Saye estate for a publication on the hardy trees and shrubs of Great Britain.  His returns showed that there was a Cedar of Lebanon at Stratfield Saye said to be the highest in Britain as well as the largest Hemlock Spruce Fir; he hoped that the Duke might have some drawing of them he could copy. [WP2/43/2]

"Cedrus Libani: the Cedar of Lebanon": J.C.Loudon, Arboretum et fruticetum Britannicum vol. VIII p.396

[“Cedrus Libani: the Cedar of Lebanon”: J.C.Loudon, Arboretum et fruticetum Britannicum vol. VIII p.396]

We have several copies of the resulting publication Arboretum et fruticetum Britannicum in the Salisbury Collection.

Arboretum et fruticetum Britannicum was Loudon’s most significant work but unfortunately also the most time-consuming and costly.  It contained an exhaustive account of all the trees and shrubs growing in Great Britain including their history and notes on remarkable examples.  It included drawings of leaves, twigs, fruits, and the shapes of leafless trees as well as entire portraits of trees in their young and mature state, all  drawn from life.

The first Duke of Wellington acquired the Stratfield Saye estate in 1818 from a grateful nation following the Battle of Waterloo.  It has pleasure grounds and a landscape park of approximately 523 hectares.  It had previously been owned by George Pitt, first Baron Rivers who had made extensive alterations to the park after he inherited it.  Lord Rivers had succeeded to the estate in 1745 and, through the second half of the 18th century until his death in 1803, he made major changes and improvements.  He is responsible for the walled gardens to the north-west of the house as well as the pleasure grounds planted with their arboretum of exotic trees.

In December 1836 James Johnson – possibly the estate manager – wrote to the Duke giving him details of various trees as requested by Loudon.  The highest cedar of Lebanon was 95ft but likely to grow much higher.   The hemlock spruce is the “largest and handsomest specimen of the kind” he has ever seen.  A spruce fir growing near the cedar is 104 ft high and he also measured a “very fine” silver fir in the peasantry copse.

["The fritillaria meleagris or common fritillary": Curtis's Flora Londinensis vol. III]

[“The fritillaria meleagris or common fritillary”: Curtis’s Flora Londinensis vol. III]

Johnson also encloses to the Duke a letter from the botanist Aylmer Bourke Lambert (1761-1842) concerning the Fritillaria meleagris; according to Lambert, it is “one of the most beautiful and rarest of all the English plants”.  One of the “greatest botanical curiosities in England” and Lambert discovered it in the park at Stratfield Saye “in …abundance”. [WP2/43/105].

The fritillary is now designated as “very rare” in Hampshire.  The following is an extract from the Flora of Hampshire:

The plant’s last site in Hants is in a field adjoining the famous colony on the Duke of Wellington’s estate at Stratfielde Saye, Berks, where is is now carefully conserved.  Sadly … the fritillaries on the Hants site have dwindled until in 1982 Paul Bowman [Hants botanist] could only find four plants.  However om 1986 the Duke began scattering fritillary seeds there … the most recent records are for 8 plants (1993)

Aylmer Lambert is best known for his work A description of the genus Pinus, issued in several parts 1803–1824, a sumptuously illustrated folio volume detailing all of the conifers then known.  The Special Collections has a copy of the 1832 edition.

["Pinus Pinea": A.B.Lambert, A description of the genus Pinus, vol. 1]

[“Pinus Pinea”: A.B.Lambert, A description of the genus Pinus, vol. 1]

Many of the printed volumes referenced here are from the Salisbury Collection, a collection of over 500 books, ranging in date from the 17th century to the 20th century which reflects the passion for ordering the natural world and in this case recording the plants of a particular area, which arose during the eighteenth century and continues today.  It includes examples of national floras such as those of Spain, Germany and Russia, but the emphasis of the collection is on British floras on both a national and a local level.

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.

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.