Tag Archives: Philanthropy

“And so, by God’s blessing, my first effort has been for the advancement of human happiness”: Lord Shaftesbury, Social Reform, and Philanthropy

On 28 April this year, we celebrate what would have been Anthony Ashley-Cooper, seventh Earl of Shaftesbury’s 218th birthday. We mark this occasion by focusing this blog post on Lord Shaftesbury as a social reformer and a philanthropist, and his papers at Southampton.

Lord Shaftesbury [MS 62 SHA/MIS/55]

Lord Shaftesbury [MS 62 SHA/MIS/55]

Born on 28 April in 1801 in Grosvenor Square, London as Anthony Ashley-Cooper, Lord Shaftesbury was the fourth and eldest child of Cropley Ashley-Cooper, who became sixth Earl of Shaftesbury in 1811, and Lady Anne Spencer-Churchill, daughter of the fourth Duke of Marlborough.

Poem written by Lord Shaftesbury’s sister for Lord Shaftesbury for his eight birthday [MS 62 SHA/MIS/62]

Poem written by Anthony Ashley-Cooper’s sister for Anthony’s eighth birthday [MS 62 SHA/MIS/62]

Shaftesbury begun his education at Harrow School from 1813-1816, and afterwards attended Christ Church College at the University of Oxford, graduating with a first-class degree in Classics in 1822, a Master’s Degree in 1832, and becoming a Doctor of Civil Law in 1841.

Lord Shaftesbury, October 1858 [MS 62 SHA/MIS/49]

Lord Shaftesbury, October 1858 [MS 62 SHA/MIS/49]

On 10 June 1830, Shaftesbury married Lady Emily Cowper, daughter of Emily, Countess Cowper, at St George’s Hanover Square in London. The marriage was a steady and ardent one, leading to the birth of sixth boys, which include (Anthony) Evelyn Melbourne Ashley, politician and biographer, for whom we hold papers, and four girls, born between 1831 and 1849.

Lady Emily Cowper, wife of Lord Shaftesbury [MS 62 SHA/MIS/61]

Lady Emily Cowper, wife of Lord Shaftesbury [MS 62 SHA/MIS/61]

Following his father’s footsteps, who was MP for Dorchester 1791-1811, and Chairman of Committees in the House of Lords from 1814-1851, Shaftesbury was first elected to Parliament in 1826 as MP for Woodstock, Oxfordshire.

A serious-minded and ambitious young man, Shaftesbury made his first notable speech supporting a Bill to amend the Lunacy Laws in 1828. This was a result of there being little legislation in place to regulate asylums and their treatment of the mentally ill. At this time, the safety of communities came first, and the role of asylums was to protect the public from the mentally ill and to keep the mentally ill secure, leading to abuse and neglect of the patients becoming normality.

In June 1827, Robert Gordon brought to the attention of the House of Commons the state of pauper lunatics, which led to a report issued by an appointed Committee of Inquiry, that revealed failings and cruelties. On 19 February 1928, Gordon brought in a Bill to amend the law for the regulation of lunatic asylums. He brought attention to cases of illegal confinement and intimidation of sane persons, as well as neglect and abuse to the mentally ill. He also pointed out how legislation prevented the College of Physicians of acting on discoveries they had made from the inspections on asylums that they were permitted to conduct. Shaftesbury supported Gordon’s motion, and made his first important speech in Parliament, emphasising the necessity that something should be done in relation to the treatment of the mentally ill, citing several instances that had come within his own awareness. Shaftesbury briefly refers to his first speech in his diary:

“Feb 20th-Last night I ventured to speak, and, God be praised, I did not utterly disgrace myself, though the exhibition was far from glorious; but the subject was upon Lunatic Asylums…Gordon had requested me to second his motion… I did not decline, more especially as I had heard that from certain circumstances my support in this affair would render some small service to the cause. And so, by God’s blessing, my first effort has been for the advancement of human happiness. May I improve hourly!” [MS 62 SHA/PD/1, p36]

Lord Shaftesbury's diary entry for February 20th 1828 [MS 62 SHA/PD/1, p.36]

Lord Shaftesbury’s diary entry for February 20th 1828 [MS 62 SHA/PD/1, p.36]

Following this speech, a Bill transferring powers of lunatic asylums from the College of Physicians to fifteen Metropolitan Commissioners appointed by the Home Secretary, and the condition of private patients having two medical certificates, was passed on 15 July 1828. Shaftesbury became one of these commissioners, and went on to become Chairman in 1833.

Taking over Michael Sadler’s seat in the parliamentary leadership for the campaign for factory reforms and shorter hours of work in January 1833, was where Shaftesbury made his greatest achievements.

During the 1820s and 1830s, factory work was prioritised over education for children. In some areas with populations of over 100,000, there was not a single public day school for poor children, leading to parents sending their children to work for more than 12 hours a day in factories and mills. These “apprentices” were worked cruelly in extremely hot conditions, and in the fumes of oil.

Shaftesbury placed great importance on education for moral and spiritual reasons, and so his first motive was to limit the time worked by children and young people in factories to ten hours a day. He was met with strong opposition, but following a Royal Commission completing investigations, the Factory Act of 1833 was passed on 17th July. In many ways, this new government measure represented a great improvement on previous legislation. The new Act applied to not just cotton mills, but to woollen worsted, hemp, flax, tow, linen, and silk mills unlike previous legislation. No person under the age of eighteen was to be employed for more than twelve hours a day, or sixty-nine a week. The regular factory day for all over twelve and under eighteen was fixed at thirteen and a half hours, and these hours were to be taken between 5.30am and 8.30pm. Children of the protected age were to attend school no less than two hours daily.

However, the legislation did not provide the higher limits and measures of regulation that Shaftesbury and the Ten Hours Movement had advocated, much to his disappointment. The shift system could not be adopted by several employers, and registration of births did not begin until 1837. In addition, the schooling element was not practical in many cases, due to there being no schools in many places. Shaftesbury achieved success in 1842 with the passing of the Mines Act. He continued to work tirelessly towards supporting legislation to protect children into the 1870s.

“24 January 1842-Have written twice to Peel to obtain his final decision respecting the Factory Bill. It is manifest how the tide is setting. I must persist, and we shall break asunder. But it is a formidable step. God alone can strengthen me.” [MS 62 SHA/PD/2, p.88]

Speech of the Earl of Shaftesbury on the second reading of the Factories Bill in the House of Lords, July 9th 1874 [MS 62 SHA/MIS/38]

Speech of the Earl of Shaftesbury on the second reading of the Factories Bill (health of women, etc.) in the House of Lords, July 9th 1874 [MS 62 SHA/MIS/38]

In August 1840, Shaftesbury advocated for a Commission to enquire into the employment of the children of the poorer classes in mines and collieries. The first report was issued in May 1842. Most workers underground were aged less than thirteen, with some as young as four or five. Children would work up to twelve or fourteen hours a day in damp, dark and hot conditions, often accompanied by rats, and other vermin. Numerous workers would develop heart and lung disease early on in life, and education was completely neglected. The discoveries voiced in the May 1842 report, which included illustrations, awakened the outrage of the whole country.

On June 7th 1842, Shaftesbury introduced a Bill to exclude all females, boys under thirteen, and all parish apprentices, and to forbid the employment of anyone as an engineman under the age of twenty-one or over fifty. The Mines and Collieries Act was passed on 14 July 1842, prohibiting all underground work for women and girls, and for boys under 10. Shaftesbury went on to secure legislation in 1845 to control the employment of children in cotton printworks.

Lord Shaftesbury’s diary, 1845-47 [MS 62 SHA/PD/4]

Lord Shaftesbury’s diary, 1845-47 [MS 62 SHA/PD/4]

Shaftesbury had also turned his attention to chimney-sweep children, known as “the climbing boys”. Children would be bought and sold to a life of grime and hardship, ending for many either from a form of cancer, or from suffocation in a flue. In 1840 Shaftesbury supported a Bill that prohibited the climbing of chimneys by any person under the age of twenty-one, and the apprenticeship to a sweep of any boy under sixteen. Penalties and fines were also proposed for those who broke these rules. Shaftesbury advocated the Bill in the House of Commons by reporting that the current chimney sweep system had resulted in more deprivation and impoverishment than existed in any other Christian country. He also emphasised that conditions for factory children were currently ten times better than that of chimney sweeps. The Bill was passed and the system was ordered to come into force in July 1842.

In the late 1840s, Shaftesbury soon became a leading figure in Irish church missions to Roman Catholics, and the British and Foreign Bible Society, as well as the Society for Improving the Condition of the Labouring Classes. He wished to continue to made a difference in improving education opportunities for children. Disappointed at his attempt to legislate for the provision of education in factories in 1843, he became the President of the Ragged School Union in 1844, a post that he was to hold for 39 years. This organisation enabled 300,000 destitute children to be educated for free at what were called ragged schools, or industrial feeding schools. In the late 1840s, Shaftesbury actively promoted schemes for supporting the emigration of young people whose prospects in Britain were poor.

The Ragged School Union Quarterly Record, January 1880 [MS 62 SHA/MIS/43]

The Ragged School Union Quarterly Record, January 1880 [MS 62 SHA/MIS/43]

In 1848 Shaftesbury was appointed as commissioner of the newly formed Board of Health. He used this position to campaign profusely to improve social conditions in Britain, advocating for the closure of overcrowded city burial grounds, and for the improvement of water supplies for the metropolis. In the late 1860s Lord Shaftesbury (of which he became in 1851), also took up the cause of mission to the costermongers (street traders) of London, and promoted the use of ships for housing and training homeless boys.

Lord Shaftesbury cartoon MS 62 BR69

Lord Shaftesbury cartoon [MS 62 BR69]

The Shaftesbury papers form part of the Broadlands Archives. They consist of correspondence, papers, diaries, journals, estate and legal papers, family history papers and various papers on religious reflections of Lord Shaftesbury (of which he became in 1851). Other papers of the 7th Earl remain with Ashley-Cooper family papers at St Giles House, Dorset.

Correspondence from Lord Shaftesbury to his wife Lady Emily Cowper

Correspondence from Lord Shaftesbury to his wife Lady Shaftesbury

 

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The Home and Hospital for Jewish Incurables, Tottenham

130 years ago this month, the Home and Hospital for Jewish Incurables, Tottenham was founded. To mark this occasion we take a look at the material we hold relating to the institution  (MS 284).

Minute Book, 1889-1891 [MS 284 A978 1/1]

Male patients’ room, c.1900s [MS 284 A978/7/1]

The establishment and running of the Institution

In 1888, there were few places Jewish immigrants could go to spend their remaining years if suffering from incurable diseases. The main option was local authority infirmaries, which lacked “a Jewish atmosphere and the facilities for religious observances.” [MS 284 A978/6/2]

This struck a chord with Morris Barnett, who wrote to the Jewish Chronicle in October 1888, asking for those interested in “founding a home for incurables” to contact him. This led to a meeting held at his house in February 1889, where a public meeting was arranged to inform the community of the creation of the Society for the formation of a Jewish Home for Incurables. At the public meeting, a committee was elected and over 400 people promised to be subscribers.

The first Home opened in 1891 at 49-51 Victoria Park Road, E9, with nine patients. Its object was the care, maintenance and medical treatment of United Kingdom residents of the Jewish faith with a permanent disability. Under the rules of the Home, patients had to be of the Jewish Faith, who had resided in England for 5 years, and it was open between 11am to 6pm for the inspection of the public. In the early 1890s the average weekly cost was 21/ per patient. Concerts, annual poultry dinners, were provided for patients, as well as lectures and film showings.

The Institution was managed by a Committee of Management consisting of the President, Vice-Presidents, Treasurers, Honorary Secretary, Honorary Solicitor, Honorary Medical Staff, and other Honorary Officers deemed necessary. The Committee met once every quarter, and were responsible for receiving correspondence from medical staff, approving accounts and purchase orders, appointing a matron, nurses and servants; and regulating the household management of the institution and the patients. The latter was done through the appointment of a House Committee that consisted of ladies annually elected, who met once a month and visited the Home periodically to inspect the interior management and domestic arrangements. They were also responsible for checking that patients were receiving adequate treatment, and reported their observations and suggestions in a book laid before the Committee of Management.

Responsible for the entire charge of the home, the Matron kept accounts, appointed or suspended nurses of domestic servants, and arranged leave of all staff. Menus of the day were arranged with the Housekeeper and medicines ordered by the doctor were dispensed with the Assistant Matron. The Matron was in charge of receiving all visitors, and in general, carried out the instructions of the Board of Management and Medical Officers. The Institution’s first matron was Esther Goldberg.

Staff at Home and Hospital for Jewish Incurables, c.1900s [MS 284 A978/7/1]

Staff, c.1900s [MS 284 A978/7/1]

How the institution was funded

Funding for the institution was achieved by subscriptions, donations, and payments made by patients and members of the public. In the beginnings of the institution, “the first funds were raised in London’s East End Streets by carrying a mock patient in a bed around in a cart and appealing for subscriptions of one penny per week.” [MS 284 A978/6/2] Events were also organised to raise funds for the institution, such as annual balls, garden fetes, and dances.

Funding Advertisement, c.1940s [MS 284 A978 6/1]

Funding advertisement, c.1900s [MS 284 A978/6/1]

Development of the Institution

The institution moved to a larger house sufficient for 20 patients in Wood Street, Walthamstow in 1894 and again in 1896 to High Road in Tottenham. The Tottenham and Edmonton Weekly Herald described the building as being “built in the Elizabethan style of architecture” and being “placed on the site so as to afford the maximum amount of sunshine to the patients.” [Tottenham and Edmonton Weekly Herald, April 1901]

After building work at this site, the Home was formally opened on 3 July 1903 by Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll (sister of King Edward VII). Up to 80 patients were admitted, with male patients on the ground floor, where there was also a concert hall and access to a garden, and the female patients were on the first floor. Staff and kitchen quarters were located on the third floor.

A new wing was completed at the Tottenham Home in 1913 and a new synagogue was opened in 1914. In 1918, the Home was approached by the Ministry of Pensions seeking to use the new wing to accommodate Jewish soldiers. A scheme was agreed whereby twenty-eight soldiers were admitted for twelve months.

In 1939 fear of air raids led to the evacuation of the Home to Chesterfield House near Saffron Waldon. The accommodation at Tottenham was taken over by Middlesex County Council in May 1940 to accommodate refugees.

Common Room, c.1970s MS284 A978/7/5

Common room, c.1940s [MS284 A978/7/5]

The Institution as the Jewish Home and Hospital

In 1963, the institution’s name changed to Jewish Home and Hospital. With 114 patients in 1974, the Jewish Home and Hospital provided a much-needed service in north London. Patients who came in chair-bound were helped to walk again, and other patients who would otherwise be home alone suffering the expense of nurses coming to wash and feed them, could be somewhere where they could make friends and be cared for at the same time.

Physiotherapy and occupational therapy was provided, as well as facilities such as dentist and a hairdressing salon. Rooms were provided for crafts, and prayer and meditation. Being in a home where you could mix with Jewish patients and practise religious activities was of pivotal importance for the patients. “When you’re not well, you like to be near God, like a child. They haven’t got a cure yet, so you want to die in a Jewish place.” (Judith, Jewish Chronicle Supplement, 20 September 1974 [MS 284 A978/7/6]).

In 1992, the Home merged with Jewish Care. By the late 20th century, Tottenham’s Jewish population had largely moved away and the building became obsolete. The Home closed in 1995.

Consisting of 24 boxes and 5 volumes, the MS 284 collection contains minute books; annual reports; legal and financial papers; correspondence; and photographs. The material provides a valuable resource for research into nineteenth and twentieth century Jewish community services for the disabled.

Minute Book, 1889-1891 [MS 284 A978 1/1]

Minute book, 1889-1891 [MS 284 A978/1/1]

“An institution of social service”: The Oxford and St George’s Club

To mark St George’s Day we take a look at our sources relating to the Oxford and St George’s Club which form part of the MS 132 Henriques papers.

Jewish Settlement Annual Summer Camp, 1927 [MS132 AJ 220/2/3 f.1]

Jewish Settlement Annual Summer Camp, 1927 [MS132 AJ 220/2/3 f.1]

The Oxford and St George’s Club, was a Jewish youth and community centre formed by Sir Basil Henriques in the East End of London, with the aim of providing a service for local Jews of all ages.

Son of David Quizano and Agnes C. Henriques, Sir Basil Lucas Henriques, CBE, was born on 17 October 1890 in London. After completing secondary school education at Harrow, he went on to study at Oxford University, where he built his interest in philanthropy from learning about the activities of Christian groups in addressing poverty in the East End.

Portrait of Basil Henriques, May 1906 [MS 132 AJ220/2/f1]

Portrait of Basil Henriques, May 1906 [MS 132 AJ220/2/f1]

During the beginnings of the 20th century, there was a high population of Jews in the East End of London. Living conditions were of a low standard, with crowded families living in poor quality housing without a bath or inside toilet. After working at Toynbee Hall in 1913, which was an institution that provided legal advice and English lessons to the underprivileged, Basil decided to create a similar institution that would provide organised activities for young Jewish boys.

The Jewish Settlement boys’ football team, 1923-4 [MS132 AJ220/2/4 f.3]

The Jewish Settlement boys’ football team, 1923-4 [MS132 AJ220/2/4 f.3]

Based in a disused hostel on 125 Cannon Street Road, the Oxford and St George’s Club began in 1914 with a membership of 25 boys. The Club got its name from Basil’s alma mata, and the name of the area of East London that the Club was based in. A year later, a self-taught artist and Basil’s future wife, Rose Loewe, founded an equivalent club for girls at the same hostel. 

Girls in the library of the Bernhard Baron St George’s Jewish Settlement, 1930s [MS 132 AJ 220/2/4 f.3.

Girls in the library of the Bernhard Baron St George’s Jewish Settlement, 1930s [MS 132 AJ 220/2/4 f.3.]

 As well as being social, the Clubs provided educational activities such as religion classes, and taught sports, ballet, acting, physical education, and first aid. In doing this the Clubs prepared children for  pursuing careers. Activities also included the Annual Summer Camps, where several Jewish children were taken for a holiday, which were often held at Highdown near Goring by Sea. “For hundreds of Settlement children, the summer time is the happy time of Camp” (from a draft of a proposed Settlement letter written by Harold F. Reinhart, MS 132 AJ220/3/5 folder 4).

Through the generosity of Viscount Bearsted, adjoining houses were acquired in Betts Street after the war was over. Old Boys Clubs and Girls Clubs were started, along with Scouts, Cubs and a Synagogue founded between 1919 and 1926.

In 1929 the Clubs moved to new premises in Berners Street following the gift of £50,000 (which later rose to £65,000) provided by Mr Bernard Baron. The Bernhard Baron St George’s Settlement building opened in 1930, providing spaces for public worship, administrative offices, the infant welfare centre, the play centre, and accommodation. There was also a roller skating rink, gymnasium, library, and model laundry and kitchen.

Programme for the opening of the Bernhard Baron St George’s Jewish Settlement, 30 June 1930 [MS 132 AJ 195/8/1 f.2]

Programme for the opening of the Bernhard Baron St George’s Jewish Settlement, 1930 [MS 132 AJ 195/8/1 f.2]

To give an idea of what a typical day was like at the Club, here is a quote from a St George’s Settlement Children’s Fund leaflet (MS 132 AJ220/3/5 folder 4):

“Soon he was in a room crowded with boys, rapt in excitement over a game of ping pong. It was an inter-House match, and on its result depended the winning of the cup, which each month was awarded to the House which had won the most points by entering the greatest number of fellows in the various classes held in the Club. A class for which you had to change into kit counted two points – gym., P.T., running, boxing or football, whilst the others- debates, chess, general information, literature, dramatic or drawing – counted one point for the House.”

The Henriques papers provide a wealth of information on the Oxford and St George’s Club and its development through time. Documents include correspondence, pamphlets, reports and an extensive collection of photographs.

Boys boxing in the roof playground of the Bernhard Baron St George’s Jewish Settlement, 1930s [MS 132 AJ 220/2/4 f.3]

Boys boxing in the roof playground of the Bernhard Baron St George’s Jewish Settlement, 1930s [MS 132 AJ 220/2/4 f.3]

After Basil Henrique’s death in 1961, Berner Street was renamed Henriques Street to commemorate his tireless efforts in setting up the Club. The Settlement premises were sold in 1973 and the clubs moved to Totteridge in North London.

Due to decline in membership, the activities of the Settlement have ceased and it is now a grant making organisation.

More information about the organisation can be found here: http://www.oxfordandstgeorges.com/index.html

 

 

 

 

The Wellington archive and Ireland

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

Wellington Papers, 1828 [MS 61 WP1/950]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[MS 61 WP1/167/18]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

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/