Tag Archives: Science

Salomons family volumes

This week’s blog post looks at two volumes from the manuscript collections relating to Sir David Salomons, baronet, and his nephew and heir, Sir David Lionel Salomons, second baronet.

The Salomons’ family volumes, bound in red morocco and decorated with gilt on the leaves, contain a range of material compiled by Sir David Lionel Salomons, second baronet. An inscription at the front of each volume identifies them as “scrap books” and their content as “letters of interest from well-known men and others, together with interesting matters and scraps.”

Copy of a resolution (in Hebrew) from the West London Synagogue of British Jews congratulating David Salomons on his elevation to the high and important dignity of Lord Mayor of the City of London, November 1855 [MS 378 A4162/1/16]

Copy of a resolution (in Hebrew) from the West London Synagogue of British Jews congratulating David Salomons on his elevation to the high and important dignity of Lord Mayor of the City of London, November 1855 [MS 378 A4162/1/16]

The first volume (covering the period 1819-1911) initially consists of items relating to Philip Salomons and other members of the Salomons family. Philip Salomons was Sir David Lionel’s father, with the material pertaining to his application for citizenship to the United States (he became a naturalized citizen in 1826) and his appointment as Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Sussex in 1952. This is followed by a more substantial range of material relating to Philip’s brother Sir David Salomons, first baronet, primarily concerning his appointment as Lord Mayor of the City of London.

Sir David Salomons, first Baronet (1797-1873)

David Salomons was born in London on 22 November 1797. He was the second son of Levy Salomons, a stockbroker, and Matilda de Metz. Following in his father’s footsteps, he pursued a career in banking and in 1832 became one of the founders of the London and Westminster Bank.

Sir David Salomons, first Baronet, MP and Lord Mayor of London, from an engraving by Charles Turner of the painting by Mary Martha Pearson [MS 187 AJ 352/1/2]

Sir David Salomons, first Baronet, MP and Lord Mayor of London, from an engraving by Charles Turner of the painting by Mary Martha Pearson [MS 187 AJ 352/1/2]

Alongside a successful banking career he had a distinguished public career. In 1835 he was elected as Sheriff of the City of London. However, as a Jew, he was unable to enter office due to the mandatory oath of office including Christian statements of faith. Parliament was obliged to legislate and following the passing Sheriffs’ Declaration Act later in the year, he was able to take up the post. 1835 also saw him elected as an Alderman of the City of London. Again, he was unable to take up the post due to the oath of office. On this occasion the law was not changed. It wasn’t until 1847 and the passing of the Religious Opinions Relief Act that he was finally admitted as a City alderman, and in 1885 became the first Jewish Lord Mayor of London.

Salomons was elected a Member of Parliament for Greenwich in 1851. While the law had now changed to enable professing Jews to hold municipal office, they were still denied admission to parliament. This time, rather than refusing to take the oath (as he had done in 1835) Salomons merely omitted the Christian statements of faith and took his seat on the government benches. He eventually agreed to withdraw, but only after voting in three divisions of the House. He lost his seat the following year at the general election of 1852. It wasn’t until the passage of the Jews Relief Act in 1858 that he was permitted to take his seat without further demur in 1859, serving as the constituency’s M.P. until his death in 1873.

Salomons was created a baronet in 1869. While he was married twice, there were no children of either marriage and his estate and titles passed to his nephew, Sir David Lionel Salomons.

Sir David Lionel Goldsmid-Stern-Salomons, second Baronet (1851-1925)

The majority of material in the volumes relates to Sir David Lionel Salomons. Sir David Lionel was the son of Philip Salomons (noted above) and Emma Montefiore. Following the death of his mother in 1859, and father in 1867, he was brought up by his uncle.

Bookplate of Sir David Lionel Goldsmid-Stern-Salomons, second Baronet, of Broomhill, Tunbridge Wells [MS 378 A4162/1]

Bookplate of Sir David Lionel Goldsmid-Stern-Salomons, second Baronet, of Broomhill, Tunbridge Wells [MS 378 A4162/1]

On the death of his uncle in 1873, he succeeded as second baronet (by special remainder) and inherited the estate of Broomhill, north of Tunbridge Wells. He studied at University College London and at Caius College, Cambridge, before being called to the bar at the Middle Temple. His inheritance from both his father and uncle meant that he was financially secure and was able to pursue scientific and other interests, becoming an inventor who pioneered developments in motoring and electricity. In addition to publishing a range of works on scientific subjects, he had workshops and laboratories added to the house at Broomhill (one of the first houses in the country to have electric lighting).

A significant amount of material in the volumes (the second volume covering the period 1889-1924) touches on his scientific research. These include notices of his public lectures on electricity which were “addressed to the working classes and others”. The lecture series for 1874 consisting of:

Lecture 1. Theories of Electricity and its general laws. Statical Electricity
Lecture 2. Statical Electricity continued.–Galvanic Electricity, and modes of producing the latter. –Comparisons between Statical and Galvanic Electricity. Induction.
Lecture 3. Resistance explained. Some applications of Electricity.
Lecture 4. Applications of Electricity continued, and the Telegraph.
Lecture 5. The Electric Telegraph.
Lecture 6. The Bridge and Differential. Modes of Testing. The application of these in practice. [MS 378 A4162/1/39]

Of Solomon’s inventions, the collection includes a pamphlet on ‘Improvements in the Construction of Fire-Proof Buildings’ in which he proposes placing pipes within the structure of the building which are in direct communication with hydrants or other water supply, “and so arranged that instant communication can be effected between the same an any one section of, or the whole of the internal perforated pipes in the building.” [MS 378 A4162/1/223]

Diagram from Improvements in the Construction of Fire-Proof Buildings by Sir David Lionel Salomons (Patented) [MS 378 A4162/1/223]

Diagram from Improvements in the Construction of Fire-Proof Buildings by Sir David Lionel Salomons (Patented) [MS 378 A4162/1/223]

Other items include letters from renowned scientists of the age, including John Tyndall, Joseph Swan, David Edward Hughes, William Crookes and David Gill. One of Salomons more imaginative ideas can be found in a letter from John Joseph Fahie, dated 19 January 1885, in which Fahie requests an exposition of his suggestion that you could “dissolve a man in London and build him up again in New York through the Atlantic Cable.” [MS 378 A4162/1/78]

Along with letters from famous individual such as Sir Moses Montefiore, Wilkie Collins, and William Gladstone, among others, the collection includes a number of letters that have been marked as “curious”. One such letter, dated 12 July 1878, is from a gentleman of twenty-three years living in Massachusetts. He begs Salomons the favour of providing him with an idea or invention that he can take credit for, and which will, in turn, enabling him to win the hand of a young lady with whom he is in love. Salomons advice to the young man is that “he ought to use his energies and work properly if his affection is sincere” and notes that “no fortune made at a “coup” is valued by its owner, and rarely indeed can such good fortune arrive.” [MS 378 A4162/1/50]

Salomons also had a keen interest in motor vehicles and was an early pioneer for the car on British roads. He was a member of the Automobile Club of France, the Royal Automobile Club of Great Britain, as well as a range of other automobile clubs, and organised the first British Motor Show (named the Horseless Carriage Exhibition) at Tunbridge Wells in 1895.

Salomons married Laura de Stern in 1882 and the couple had one son and four daughters. Their only son, David Reginald Salomons, died at Gallipoli when HMS Hythe carrying his company was sunk in a collision.  Following Sir David Lionel’s death on 19 April 1925 the baronetcy became extinct.

Further details on the Salomons family volumes can be found on the Special Collections website at: https://www.southampton.ac.uk/archives/cataloguedatabases/webguidemss378.page

The Salomons estate is currently home to the Salomons Museum which preserves and displays material relating to the family. Further details can be found at: https://www.salomons-estate.com/about-us/museum

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“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.

Whatever the weather…

As November begins, winter arrives, and we wonder what the weather will bring this season: storm, gale and flood – frost and snow and fun?! This month as part of the Explore Your Archive campaign we will be exploring the earth and the natural world through our Special Collections.

Rough Sea at Clarence Pier, Southsea (pc954)

Rough Sea at Clarence Pier, Southsea (pc954)

We cannot control the weather, but it rules our environment, affects our moods, safety, travel, communication, crops and health. No wonder man has tried to understand and predict it for centuries!

Here in Special Collections we can trace this fascination – both scientific and popular – for natural phenomena, through monographs and private correspondence, scientific periodicals and encyclopaedias. The latter brought observations and explanations of the natural world to a wider audience. Descriptions of events such as meteors and great storms were popular, such as Daniel Defoe’s account of the ‘Late Dreadful Tempest’ of 26th November 1703 [published in 1713, Rare Books PR 3404]. Incidental references to the weather appear in diaries and letters – there are many throughout the Wellington Papers [MS 61] and the Palmerston Papers [MS 62] – which contribute to a study of the weather over time.

Photo of William Mogg wearing the medal presented to him ‘for Arctic discoveries, 1818-1855’ [MS 45 A0188]

Photo of William Mogg wearing the medal presented to him ‘for Arctic discoveries, 1818-1855’ [MS 45 A0188]

Archives have also been left behind by explorers and interested amateurs whose approach was more scientific. William Mogg of Woolston, Southampton, took part in survey expeditions to the Artic in HMS Hecla, in 1821-2, and HMS Fury, in 1824-5; abstracts from the ships’ meteorological journals and notes on environmental conditions during these journeys survive in our collections [MS 45 A0187].

R.C. Hankinson’s weather diary, with charts, open to the page for September 1869 [MS 6/9 (A56)]

R.C. Hankinson’s weather diary, with charts, open to the page for September 1869 [MS 6/9 (A56)]

R.C.Hankinson’s meteorological observations, with charts, were made at Shirley Warren, Southampton from 1863-77. A Southampton banker and JP, he was born in Norfolk in 1824, and had lived in Derbyshire before coming to Hampshire by 1865. The volume includes meteorological observations for all three places. Each right-hand page records the weather for a calendar month, with daily entries for pressure, temperature, wind direction, and rainfall. From 1866, Hankinson drew temperature charts in red and black ink on the left-hand page. He often added notes on subjects that interested him: the growth of fruit and vegetables, flowers and crops, birds, the prevalence of disease locally such as scarlet fever and cholera, as well as meteorological matters: sirocco winds, gales, storms (and shipwrecks), comets, the aurora borealis, sun spots and eclipse. In September 1869 he notes:

“Equinoctial gales for 10th [September] to 19th”;

“18th [September] Storm gales. Much loss in every place. ‘Volante’ yacht wrecked off Ryde. ‘Gensa’ yacht Cherbourg.”

“20th [September] frost in grass.”

This is a fascinating record of our local environment 150 years ago.