Tag Archives: Second Viscount Palmerston

Love stories from the Broadlands Archives

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

ms62_br46_133_r

Nineteenth century valentine card from the collection [BR46]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matrimonial ladder

Matrimonial ladder [BR34/6]

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

br20-1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Voltaire, he “continues to act his own pieces upon his own stage”

Today would have been the 238th birthday of Francois-Marie Arouet.  Better known by his nom de plume Voltaire, he was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher.  He advocated freedom of religion, freedom of speech and separation of church and state.

Voltaire

Portrait of Voltaire by French painter Nicolas de Largillierre, 1724 or 1725, displayed at the Palace of Versailles

During his European tour, the young Henry Temple, second Viscount Palmerston, stayed with Voltaire at Ferney in September 1763. He had already travelled through much of Switzerland and was on his way to Italy.

I dined yesterday with Voltaire who lives about 4 miles from hence [Geneva] upon the French territory: he is just now 70 complete. He seems feeble and complains of continual pains in his head; but notwithstanding seems to have lost nothing of his spirits or intellects and still continues to act his own pieces upon his own stage. […] He received us with much politeness and attention. [Broadlands Archives BR11/2/7]

I am now settled at Voltaire’s house and am regretting the time I wasted in the neighborhood before I came hither. My recommendations to him were such and from such quarters as could not fail to procure me great civilities. [Broadlands Archives BR11/2/8]

Palmerston served as an MP for many years but his first love was travel and culture and he collected antiques, paintings and sculptures, many of which now adorn what was his country estate, Broadlands, in Hampshire. The Special Collections hold travel diaries and correspondence which provide a detailed account of Palmerston’s life.

BR101/34 List of pictures and marbles purchased by Henry Temple, second Viscount Palmerston, in Italy, 1764

BR101/34 List of pictures and marbles purchased by Henry Temple, second Viscount Palmerston, in Italy, 1764

Some commentators have criticized Voltaire for his attitude towards Jewish people while others state he was hostile to all religions, and not specifically anti-Semitic. The Parkes Library on Jewish/non-Jewish relations contains a selection of texts concerning Voltaire and his views including Antoine Guénée’s Lettres de quelques Juifs Portugais, Allemands et Polonais à M. de Voltaire, avec up petit commentaire, extrait d’un plus grand, à l’usage de ceux qui lisent ses oeuvres, suivies des mémoires sur la ferilité de la Judée (Pairs 1828): letters from Jewish correspondents to Voltaire, with commentary.

The Library holds 18th- and 19th-century editions of Voltaire’s works including The Dictionnaire philosophique (Philosophical Dictionary), an encyclopaedic dictionary first published by Voltaire in 1764; it was a lifelong project for Voltaire and continually edited and reprinted throughout his life.

Travel tales

As the Bank Holiday weekend approaches, thoughts might well be turning to travel and holidays. Travel has been a part of the human experience for centuries and as a journey recommends itself to record keeping, the travel journal was one of the earliest types to become a recognised genre. In his 1625 essay Of travel Francis Bacon gave directions for diary keeping by young men on their Grand Tour— that educational rite of passage for males of British nobility and wealthy gentry.

While Bacon’s thoughts were mainly on profit to be gained from travel experiences, the wish to create a permanent record of journeys is a very real one. The archive and rare book collections at Southampton attest to this wish. Within the archive collections are a large number of diaries and journals, together with photographs, sketches, charts and plans, menus and other souvenirs relating to travel in its various guises. This is complemented by a fine range of rare book material, including the Henry Robinson Hartley Collection, about exploration and journeys across the globe.

‘Plan of the city of Lima, capital of Peru’: taken from A compendium of authentic and entertaining voyages (second edition, London 1766) vol. 2 [Rare Books G 160]

‘Plan of the city of Lima, capital of Peru’: taken from A compendium of authentic and entertaining voyages (second edition, London 1766) vol. 2 [Rare Books G 160]

Although not relating to a Grand Tour, the travel journals of the second Viscount Palmerston nevertheless provide a fascinating account of his journeys across Europe in search of art and culture. In this entry for 25 April 1793 he describes a visit to Italy:

“Walked to see the cathedral of Terracina which is built on the ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo. There are some of the old walls some parts of fluted columns and some of cornices and mouldings on the side and back part of the temple. The front towards the place has a portico made up of old columns and fragments of antique buildings. There is an inscription relating to Theodorick and a face of granite sarcophagus under the porch. In the church are some granite columns and a rich antique mosaick….”

[MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR15/16]

In contrast, the travel journal kept by Major General Sir John St George in 1868 of his land journey to Russia focuses on the more practical concerns of his comfort and his fellow travellers:

“We reached Minden at 12′ 9 am [9 minutes past 12] and I got out as we were to stay a few minutes. I had not taken due note of my carriage and could not contrive to find it when I returned and … as the train was on the move I was bundled into the open door of a second class carriage where were 4 … noisy Germans smoking furiously. I had left my comfortable temporary couch and had neither cravat nor overcoat, nor pocket handkerchief, not any requisites for comfort, and I feared I should take cold. One of the men, after their laughter at my forlorn condition had ceased, lent me a rug and I did not suffer. When we reached Hanover I succeeded in finding my carriage…”

[MS 59 A528/6/3]

For those seeking accounts of a more stylish and comfortable mode of transport, the Special Collections hold a range of material recording journeys by luxury liners. Menus are from the cabin (first class) dining room of the Queen Mary during her first year on the transatlantic crossing show just over 800 cabin class passengers enjoying seven course meals, with food supplies for a typical voyage including 50,000lbs of fresh meat, 50,000 eggs and 14,500 bottles of wine.

This watercolour of Malta is from the sketch book of Julia (Sissy) Matilda Cohen during a cruise around the Mediterranean in 1895 [MS 363 A3006/3/5/6]

This watercolour of Malta is from the sketch book of Julia (Sissy) Matilda Cohen during a cruise around the Mediterranean in 1895 [MS 363 A3006/3/5/6]

Want to know about encounters with polar bears or hostile locals, or navigating unexplored regions of Latin America or Africa? Then look no further. The journals of the Southampton born sailor William Mogg recount exploration in the Arctic (polar bears included) and on board HMS Beagle in South American waters, while the papers of Louis Arthur Lucas (1851-1876) provide a glimpse into his explorations in Africa, 1875-6.   From his base in Khatoum, Lucas set out to explore areas of the Congo as well as Lake Albert, then known as Albert Nyanza, one of the great lakes of Africa.

Volume 1 of Louis Arthur Lucas’ African sketch book: huts of the Kytch tribe, [Southern Sudan], 1876 [MS 371 A3042/2/6/14]

Volume 1 of Louis Arthur Lucas’ African sketch book: huts of the Kytch tribe, [Southern Sudan], 1876 [MS 371 A3042/2/6/14]

Proving that adventure does not have to take you to far shores, the trial journey from London to Bath of Goldworthy Gurney’s steam carriage in July 1829 provided quite a tale. This marked the first journey at a maintained speed made by a locomotive on land or rail, pre-dating George Stephenson’s Rocket by over a year.  Beset by various challenges, the intrepid travellers were finally met by a hostile mob outside Bath who stoned the carriage.

Page of a note from Sir J.Willoughby Gordon to Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, sending a detailed report of the journey of Gurney's steam carriage from London to Bath, 31 July 1829 [MS 61 Wellington Papers 1/1034/29]

Page of a note from Sir J.Willoughby Gordon to Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, sending a detailed report of the journey of Gurney’s steam carriage from London to Bath, 31 July 1829 [MS 61 Wellington Papers 1/1034/29]

So, however you choose to travel this Bank Holiday, we wish you happy travelling!

Ardour in the Archives: Valentine’s Day Special

In the western world it’s hard to miss that 14th February is Valentine’s Day. You might choose to mark the occasion – or perhaps you feel exasperated with the increasing commercialisation suggesting we must spend money on gifts to express our love. Whatever your perspective we hope you enjoy this delve into the Broadlands Archives to find some accounts of love and marriage from centuries past. The Special Collections hold extensive family papers for the Temple family, Viscounts Palmerston, who once lived at the Broadlands estate near Romsey.

Matrimonial ladder

MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR34/6 Matrimonial ladder

Writing to her future husband, the second Viscount Palmerston, nearly 250 years ago Frances Poole has concerns but not, she professes, of the monetary kind:

[Saturday night, 12 o’clock (1767)]…not being able to persuade myself that I am young enough, or amiable enough, to insure you lasting happiness: I say nothing of not being rich enough, for scruples of that kind may be carried to a degree that is not generous; besides I could not have a serious thought of any body that could be influenced by things of that sort.” [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR16/9/3]

The second Viscount replies with reassurance: [Thursday night, eleven o’clock] “How lasting happiness is likely to be anybody’s lot I do not know but this I know that I must find it with you or nowhere.” [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR16/9/4]

They were married later that year but sadly Frances died in childbirth less than two years later.

The second Viscount Palmerston was lucky enough to find love for a second time. He married Mary Mee on 5 January 1783 and they had four children. There is extensive correspondence between Henry and Mary which clearly shows they were happily devoted to each other. In a letter from 1782 Palmerston talks of “how much I think of her and long for her society”. [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR20/1/9]

Henry and Mary’s eldest son was Henry John Temple, the future third Viscount Palmerston, Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister. Palmerston earned himself the nickname “cupid” because of his many romantic liaisons.

Palmerston did eventually settle down marrying his long-standing mistress, the recently widowed Emily, Lady Cowper. The Archives contains the poem he wrote for her on their tenth wedding anniversary:

“To Emily, Sunday morning, 16 December 1849

Ten quick revolving years have past

Since hand in hand securely claspt

Before that altar bending low

We pledged the heartfelt marriage vow…”

[MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR23AA/2/1]

Family correspondence of Sir William Temple

This week archivist John Rooney discusses his recent cataloguing of the family papers of Sir William Temple as part of ongoing work on the Broadlands archives.

Sir William Temple was the third child of Henry Temple, second Viscount Palmerston, and his second wife Mary Mee. Born on 19 January 1788, he was the younger brother of Henry John Temple, later third Viscount Palmerston. Alongside the two boys were three Temple sisters: Frances (the eldest), Elizabeth, and Mary. However, Mary, the youngest of the siblings, died when she was still a young child as a result of smallpox inoculation.

Letter from William Temple, Munich, to his mother Mary (Mee), Viscountess Palmerston, 11 July [1794]

Letter from William Temple, Munich, to his mother Mary (Mee), Viscountess Palmerston, 11 July [1794]

Section BR32 of the Broadlands archives contains letters from William Temple to his mother, his brother Henry, and his sisters Frances and Elizabeth between 1794 and 1811, covering his early life and education. It begins when William is six years old and initially consists of letters to his mother, primarily relating to family life at Broadlands. In 1798 William followed his brother Henry to Harrow School where he studied until 1803. The correspondence from this period provides insights into his life at Harrow, as he discusses his studies and social engagements, together with details of Henry’s life at the University of Edinburgh, from 1800 to 1803, and subsequent tour of the Highlands. William and Henry were to maintain a close relationship throughout their lives with many of the letters in the collection containing references to (and reflections on) the future Prime Minister’s education and early political career.

It was with the death of their father on 17 April 1802 that Henry inherited the titled of third Viscount Palmerston. The following year he attended St John’s College, Cambridge, while William proceeded to the University of Edinburgh where he studied from 1803 to 1806. Correspondence from this period contains details of William’s life at Edinburgh, including his views on the controversial “Leslie affair” in which John Leslie, a suspected atheist, was appointed to the chair of mathematics at the University over the clergyman Thomas McKnight. Letters from 1805 also contain William’s views on the British victory at Trafalgar and the death of Lord Nelson, of which he writes: “If the report I have heard is true […] the late victory gained over the combined fleets, considering the number of the enemy’s ships taken, and the inferiority of our force; seems to me to be one of the most glorious and decisive that has ever taken place. It is impossible however to contemplate it with any feelings, but what are mixed with the deepest regret, when we consider how dearly it has been purchased; purchased with the loss of undoubtedly the greatest admiral Britain, or perhaps even the whole world, has ever produced.” [BR32/10/6]

As William made the move to Cambridge in 1806, Henry (now Lord Palmerston) was busy establishing his political career. He twice ran as a Tory candidate for the University of Cambridge constituency (first in 1806 and then again in 1807) but was defeated both times. He finally entered Parliament as Tory MP for the pocket borough of Newport in June 1807 and made his maiden speech on 3 February 1808, in which he defended the recent expedition against Copenhagen. Of the speech William writes: “I was surprised to hear him speak with such fluency and with so little hesitation, as speaking at all for the first night, but particularly before so large an audience and on so important a subject must be a most formidable undertaking. He performed however with very great success, and I am very happy to find that Sir Vicary Gibbs has written to Wood mentioning Harry’s debut in high terms of commendation…” [BR32/13/1]

Broadlands, the family home of the Temple children was later inherited by Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston

Broadlands, the family home of the Temple children was later inherited by Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston

A small selection of correspondence covers the period 1833 to 1837 during which time William is serving as British ambassador in Naples (1832-56). The letters from this period are from his sisters Frances (now married to William Bowles) and Elizabeth (now married to Laurence Sullivan), and Emily Ashley Cooper, Countess of Shaftesbury, primarily concerning family life, recent events at Broadlands, and William’s life in Naples. The final two letters date from 1856, the year of William’s death, with one being from Dr. William Ferguson to Lord Palmerston concerning his attending William during his final illness. Sir William Temple died on 24 July 1856, leaving no issue.

The accompanying section BR31 consists of two letters concerning the settlement of William’s estate, including a letter relating to a major collection of antiques bequeathed to the British Museum. By the time of his death both Frances and Elizabeth had passed away, leaving Henry, the eldest, the last surviving of the Temple children.

User perspectives: Examining arts patronage at Broadlands

This week Ruby Shaw discusses her exploration of the Broadlands archives as part of research undertaken for her MA in Historic Interiors and Decorative Arts at the University of Buckingham.

“When contemplating the daunting question of deciding upon a topic for my dissertation, it was almost by chance that I came across the Broadlands archives at the University of Southampton!  Although I knew that I wanted to base my research around a historic house within my local area (I am studying for an MA in Historic Interiors and Decorative Arts with the University of Buckingham but live in Southampton) I was surprised by how few local archives there are with collections relevant to art history students.  Then I stumbled across the Broadlands archives and what a wealth of material it has to offer!

‘Broadlands in Hampshire, the seat of Lord Palmerston' drawn by Lord Duncannon

‘Broadlands in Hampshire, the seat of Lord Palmerston’ drawn by Lord Duncannon

The archives are probably better known for material relating to the career of Lord Palmerston, the 3rd Viscount, who became prime minister to Queen Victoria.  Yet Lord Palmerston’s father, Henry Temple the 2nd Viscount, was an influential eighteenth-century figure, particularly as a patron of the arts.  This interest in art and antiquities was ultimately reflected in the collections and interior decoration of his country house at Broadlands.

Although I have often stolen a glimpse of Broadlands house through the gates, I was unaware until now of how much of its eighteenth-century interiors and furnishings survive.  This includes paintings by Sir Joshua Reynolds with whom Lord Palmerston enjoyed a close friendship.  Many famous names have also been associated with the construction of Broadlands.   The first phase of Lord Palmerston’s building campaign in the 1760s, for example, was carried out by the famous landscape gardener Lancelot “Capability” Brown.  A further phase in the 1780s was meanwhile executed by the architect Henry Holland, most famous for his construction of the splendid Carlton House in London for the future George IV.

From an initial consultation of the archives, I could see that there was an extensive range of material to conduct a stimulating research project.  This material has been drawn upon to explore the role of Henry Temple, the 2nd Viscount (1739-1802) as a collector and architectural patron at Broadlands.   Numerous visits to the archives have given me the pleasure of delving into Lord Palmerston’s Grand Tour travel journals, as well as art sale catalogues, architectural drawings and correspondence with various dealers.  Viewing an original letter by “Capability” Brown was a particular treat!  Some of the correspondence between Lord and Lady Palmerston also makes for amusing reading.  The unfavourable temperament of the plasterer at Broadlands, Joseph Rose, for example is highlighted by the repeated reference to him as “Mr Melancholy.”  Humorous appeal aside, these personal insights have been extremely valuable in helping to gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between architects, craftsmen and clients during this period.

BR101/34 List of pictures and marbles purchased by Henry Temple, second Viscount Palmerston, in Italy, 1764

BR101/34 List of pictures and marbles purchased by Henry Temple, second Viscount Palmerston, in Italy, 1764

In general, the wide range of material in the Broadlands archives has allowed for an enjoyable exploration of a much overlooked patron of the arts in the eighteenth-century, from Lord Palmerston’s acquisition of antique sculpture on the Grand Tour to his purchases of contemporary Wedgwood pottery.   This exploration has only of course have been made possible with the help and patience the archives team, for which I am very grateful.”

Reflections on war and warfare: week 19 (7 – 13 July 2014)

As of March 2014, we are posting weekly extracts of writings on war and warfare drawn from our manuscript and printed collections. Ranging from items on the Maratha wars to the Second World War, the extracts will reflect opinions both from the battle front and from those at home.

10 July 1808 Waiting to set sail for the Iberian Peninsula
In June of 1808 two Spanish delegates arrived in London. They were there to appeal for support following uprisings against the French which had taken place across Spain. Their arrival was met with great excitement throughout Britain, with the government coming under pressure to seize the opportunity. On 14 June, Arthur Wellesley was formally appointed to command an expedition to support the Spanish in fighting against French forces in the Iberian Peninsula. In the passage below, as Wellesley waits to set sail from Cork, a sense of urgency can be felt. The expedition at last got out with a fair wind on 12 July, arriving in Coruña on 20 July.

“The wind is still contrary, but we hope it will change so as to sail this evening. We are unmoored, and will not wait one moment after the wind will be fair.

I see that people in England complain of the delay which has taken place in the sailing of the expedition; but in fact none has taken place; and even if all had been on board we could not have sailed before this day.”

WP1/208 Copy of a letter from Lieutenant General Arthur Wellesley, Cove, to Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, 10 July 1808


10-11 July 1940 Start of the Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain, the struggle between the German Luftwaffe and the British Royal Air force, raged over Britain between July and October 1940. It was the first major military campaign to be fought entirely in the air. It was part of a German plan to win air superiority over Southern Britain and the English Channel by destroying the British air force and aircraft industry as a prelude to the invasion of Britain.

10 July: “Today was the day prophesied as that of the invasion – the beginning of the battle of Britain.”

11 July: “The news today as other days of superiority of the RAF – parts of England bombed – ‘a few’ deaths – no numbers given anymore – today an English railway siding – a number killed. But our bombers go to their places and bomb with precision.”

MS 168 AJ217/36 Journal of Samuel Rich, 10-11 July 1940


12 July 1793
The surrender of Condé
The siege of Condé lasted from three months and was part of an Allied campaign on the borders of France in the spring and summer of 1793. By April French republican controlled Condé was under blockade from the Prussians under General Knobelsdorf, by a force of 12,000 men commanded by Clairfayt to the south, and to the north by the Prince of Würtemberg. A small British contingent, under the Duke of York, was also in the area.

Condé held out until 10 July, before surrendering after a severe bombardment. remained in Austrian hands until 30 August 1794.

“On the 10th Condè surrendered. The garrison is to march out this day with honors of war, to pile their arms and to be conducted prisoners of war, the officers to retain their swords. The number surrender’d is 4008. They are to be conducted to Antwerp I believe. A great quantity of fine artillery is found. The garrison was distress’d for provisions having subsisted some time on a small quantity of bread & 2oz of horse flesh daily.”

MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR11/20/10 Letter from Benjamin Mee to his brother-in-law Henry Temple, second Viscount Palmerston, 12 July 1793


12 July 1917 Improvements in aircraft and anti-artillery to conquer air warfare
As a result of heavy casualties for the Royal Flying Corps at the Battle of Arras, drastic change was needed in the British anti-artillery and aircraft. This was done through the use of barrage balloons and the development of aeroplanes.

Barrage balloons were large balloons fastened with metal cables used to obstruct aircraft attack by damaging the aircraft on collision with the cables. Some carried explosive charges that would be used against the aircraft to ensure its demolition.

The development of strong aircraft included the creation of the South Experimental 5, the Sopwith Camel and the Sopwith Pup. The South Experimental 5 could be dived at high speeds, and its squarer wings improved lateral control at low airspeeds. The Sopwith Camel was a single-seat biplane fighter which had a short-coupled fuselage, a heavy powerful rotary engine, and concentrated fire from twin synchronised machine guns. The Sopwith Pup was also a single-seat biplane fighter, which had excellent flying characteristics and good manoeuvrability. This was due to its low wing loading. Its light weight and substantial wing area gave it a good speed of climb, and its nimbleness was enhanced by installing ailerons on both wings.

“We hear cheering news of having more aeroplanes over here now to protect us. Everyone is fearfully jumpy, especially in the East End, as rumours are continually afloat, any people who are caught spreading rumours will get it pretty hot I fancy.”

MS 132 AJ 322 2/1 Letter from Sybil Henriques to Basil Henriques, 12 July 1917

Reflections on war and warfare: week 8 (21 – 27 April 2014)

As of March 2014, we are posting weekly extracts of writings on war and warfare drawn from our manuscript and printed collections. Ranging from items on the Maratha wars to the Second World War, the extracts will reflect opinions both from the battle front and from those at home.

21 April 1918 The attack on Bethune, Battle of Lys
Known as Operation Georgette, General Ludendorff ‘s aim was to capture Ypres and to force the British troops to retreat back to the channel ports and out of the war. On 18th April the German forces (the Sixth Army) attacked south through Bethune but were repulsed. On 29th April the German high command cancelled the offensive as a result of suffering a substantial amount of casualties.

“The situation is of course critical. The attack in Bethune was a really bloody defeat, for all say we inflicted tremendous casualties. They fought all day and made no progress at all.”

MS 132 AJ 322 1/4 Letter from Basil Henriques to his mother, 21 April 1918


21 April 1942 Changing attitudes
Perceptions and attitudes, particularly amongst the young, changed during the Second World War due to social factors, such as the new roles given to women, who served in the armed forces or worked in factories or the land army as part of the war effort, and the influx of refugees. Samuel Rich touches upon this in his journal, noting a change which would really take hold in the 1950s when the concept of ‘teenagers’ was introduced and the lives of these teenagers began to change.

“Queenie’s Hebrew lesson followed by 5 with Job and Joan amongst them – I enjoy the visits of these young person’s very much – They talk of real things – work, vocation – is marriage a cancer? – All quite openly and with complete frankness. The post-war world should be a brave new world!”

MS 168 AJ217/38 Journal of Samuel Rich, 21 April 1942


22 April 1809 Arthur Wellesley arrives in Lisbon
The Battle of Vimeiro, on 21 August 1808, put an end to the first French invasion of Portugal. However, the terms of the subsequent Convention of Cintra, signed by General Dalrymple on 31 August, allowed the defeated French army to return to France together with its guns, equipment, and loot taken from Portugal. While Wellesley opposed the Convention he was subsequently recalled from Portugal, together with Burrard and Dalrymple, to face an official inquiry.

By November 1808, the French armies had been greatly reinforced. Spanish forces were defeated in a series of battles and the city of Madrid soon fell back into enemy hands. Following the battle of Coruna, on 16 January 1809, French forces, under Marshal Soult, began another invasion of the northern provinces of Portugal.

In response to the French taking possession of the city of Porto, on 29 March 1809, British reinforcements were directed to embark for Lisbon with Lieutenant General Sir Arthur Wellesley once again sent to command. After his arrival on 22 April 1809, Wellesley wrote to Marshal Beresford calling him to Lisbon to consider arrangements for the defence of Portugal.

“I arrived here yesterday, having had a passage of one week from Portsmouth. The fleet having on board my horses, the two regiments of heavy dragoons, and some horses for the artillery, sailed, I believe, on the day after I did, and may be expected in a day or two. The 24th foot may likewise be expected from Jersey, and likewise a brigade of light infantry from England, and a regiment of Hussars.

The expectation of the immediate arrival of some of these troops, and the consideration of the various different arrangements to be made, and which can be made only here, in respect to transport, commissariat, staff, the defence of Lisbon and the Tagus, and eventually the defence of the eastern frontier, during the absence of the army to the northward, supposing it should be decided to undertake the expedition against Soult, will, I fear, detain me here for a few days; and it occurs to me that time will be saved, and much advantage will result from your being here. Accordingly I wish that you could make it convenient to yourself to come here as soon as possible.”

MS 61 WP1/257/7 Copy of a letter from Lieutenant General Arthur Wellesley, Lisbon, to Marshal Beresford, requesting he come to Lisbon as soon as possible, 23 April 1809


27 April 1791 Siege warfare
Lord Cornwallis and the British East India Company forces made considerable advances against Tipu Sultan that year. As this letter recounts, despite tough resistance, the fort of Bangalore finally had been breached on 21 March. The siege of Darwar, then on the frontier between the Kingdom of Mysore and the Mahratta empire, lasted 29 weeks and came to an end in April.

“The siege of Durwar [Darwar] still continues. It has now lasted 8 months. Col[onel] Frederick died about 2 months ago of a fever much increased by the chagrin and vexation caus’d by the Mahratha’s delays. Lord Cornwallis with his army has been in a very critical situation. After the capture of the Pittah of Bagalore, several days elapsed in besieging the fort. Tippoo repairing with great alacrity and skill every breach we made. The country was laid waste and such was the distress of the army that had we not received information from some deserters that the fort in one particular was so constructed as to favor a storm by night (which Lord C[ornwallis] on 21 March resolved to attempt and carried out with trifling loss) we must have retreated precipitately the next day and left the greatest part of our artillery behind…”

MS 62 Broadlands Archive BR11/16/16 Letter from Benjamin Mee to his brother-in-law Henry Temple, second Viscount Palmerston, 27 April 1791 

Reflections on war and warfare: week 7 (14 – 20 April 2014)

As of March 2014, we are posting weekly extracts of writings on war and warfare drawn from our manuscript and printed collections. Ranging from items on the Maratha wars to the Second World War, the extracts will reflect opinions both from the battle front and from those at home.

14 April 1918 Letter about the military service bill responding to the manpower crisis
As a result of the German troops breaking through the Allied lines in numerous sectors of the Western Front in France, the British Army was left critically short of troops. This led to the drafting of a new military service bill, where conscription would be expanded to Ireland and the age limit would be raised to 50. Auckland Geddes, Director of National Service, argued that such measures would result in 150,000 more recruits for the army.

“Just now I’m following Lloyd George’s new bill which he introduced in the House of Commons on Thursday April 11th which embodies compulsion for Ireland raising the age limit to 50 years. Of compulsion for Ireland, I could write a great deal, but what will the old fogies who sat on the Tribunals say to this measure. They certainly made mockery of us when we appeased before them, and I think it is about high time they themselves should do their bit for king and country.”

MS 124 AJ 15/2 Letter from Private Paul Epstein to parents, Aby and Frieda, 14 April 1918


17 April 1939 President Roosevelt tries to avert war
On 15 April 1939, the American President Roosevelt read a message that he had sent the previous day to the German Chancellor Adolph Hitler imploring him to avoid any action that would result in the outbreak of war. Sadly the meeting of the Reichstag eleven days later suggested otherwise.

‘’It seems possible that Hitler may not entirely reject Roosevelt’s offer – he’s calling the Reichstag which meets in 11 days”

MS168 AJ 217/35 Journal of Samuel Rich, 17 April 1939


18 April 1814 Armistice agreed bringing an end to the Peninsular War
The Convention of Toulouse took place on 18 April 1814, suspending hostilities between the Anglo-Allied forces, under Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, first Marquis of Wellington, and French forces, under Marshal Nicolas Jean-de-Dieu Soult, Duc de Dalmatie, and Marshal Louis Gabriel Suchet, Duc d’Albufera. A general order outlining the articles of the convention expresses appreciation for the efforts of the officers and troops of the Allied forces.

“Upon congratulating the army upon this prospect of an honourable termination of their labours, the Commander of the Forces avails himself of the opportunity of returning the General Officers, Officers, and troops, his best thanks for their uniform discipline and gallantry in the field, and for their conciliating conduct towards the inhabitants of the country, which, almost in an equal degree with their discipline and gallantry in the field, have produced the fortunate circumstances that now hold forth to the world the prospect of genuine and permanent peace.”

WP9/1/2/7 General orders issued by the Adjutant General’s department of the army in the Peninsula and Southern France, Toulouse, 21 April 1814


20 April 1791 Fighting Tipu Sultan

Tipu Sultan, the rule of Mysore, and his father before him had previously fought the British East India Company army in the first and second Anglo-Mysore Wars. In 1789, he sent forces onto the Malabar Coast to put down a rebellion causing many people to flee to Travancore and Cochin. Lord Cornwallis, the Governor General of India, viewed an assault by Tipu Sultan on the Nedumkotta, a fortified line of defence built by the Rajah of Travancore, in December 1789 as a declaration of war. This marked the start of the third Anglo-Mysore war, which dragged on until 1792. The British and their allies had made considerable advances on Tipu Sultan’s forces by 1791 , although Lord Cornwallis was eventually forced to withdraw his troops, due to Tipu Sultan’s efforts to break the British supply system.

“I agree with you perfectly about Indian politicks and cannot discover either the necessity, policy or justice of this desperate war we are waging against Tippo. If the success of it should prove as problematical … we shall have made a fine job of it.”

MS 62 Broadlands Archive BR 11/16/4 Letter from Henry Temple, second Viscount Palmerston, to his brother-in-law, Benjamin Mee, a merchant in India, 20 April 1791