Addiction to Stationery

Who doesn’t like a brand-new note book?  As a life-long stationery addict, archives have always appealed to me on two levels, namely the content of the documents and the materiality of the paper.  Therefore, this short post is dedicated to the joy of discovering a new sort of papery artefact among Staffordshire’s poor-law collection, namely the early-nineteenth-century exercise book.

Children, householders, tradesmen and servants may all have found a use for ephemeral paper products enabling them to record lessons, temporary accounts or memoranda, but the key to their general absence from the archive lies in their disposability: why keep one’s earliest spelling book, or rough accounts from past years?  We (or perhaps just I?) have been fortunate in the unaccustomed durability of parish accounts which were kept at first in case of queries by magistrates and then later as a consequence of administrative inertia, which for some places resisted drives to clear the parish chest (or respond to paper drives) decades or centuries later.

The parish of Gnosall in Staffordshire was periodically keen to separate different types of overseers’ account in the 1810s, retaining cheap exercise books for different purposes.  Sometimes these related to discrete parish ‘quarters’ such as Moreton or Cowley, and sometimes the books were kept for types of benefit supplied to the poor (such as clothing).  These slim volumes feature a variety of cover illustrations, some of which seem merely decorative and others which are more edgy or unexpected.

       

The two books above show uncontroversial images of swans on water, or a cameo of two infants titled ‘Autumn’.  The cameo is credited in tiny writing to J. Evans of 42 Long Lane (a printer of ballads and engravings in West Smithfield, London) in 1798.  The booklets were both clearly workaday tools for the overseers, being covered with calculations and jottings.

   

These second two jotting books are similarly graffitied, yet illustrated with images of jeopardy.  One shows a night watchman armed with lamp and cudgel confronted by a warring couple: the woman has just knocked off the hat of the man in front of her and the hat is in flight, making this a split-second image.  The other booklet also captures a single moment in time, and carries the caption “His foot slipped and down he tumbled, in the very path of the enraged, pursing animal” (which is not obviously a quotation from a well-known text).  A small boy is lying at the mercy of a bull, which is being attacked by two other boys carrying respectively a pitchfork and club.  A barking dog watches from the side, and other children are seen running from the bull which has evidently broken the restraining rope around it’s neck.

What these pictures have in common is their probable location and chronology, since they all seem redolent of contemporary England in the period 1790 to 1820, chiefly in terms of the countryside but with one apparently urban setting.  Purchasers seemingly had a taste for the sweet and tranquil, but also for the amusing or highly-charged scene.

Sources: Staffordshire Record Office D951/5/24, Gnosall parish overseers’ notebook of 1814-15; D951/5/26, Gnosall parish overseers’ notebook of 1817-18; D951/5/27, Gnosall parish overseers’ notebook of 1814-15; D951/5/30, Gnosall parish overseers’ notebook of 1812 onwards.

A Recipe for Millett Pudding

Although most of the documents within the bundles from East Hoathly are small bills and vouchers, occasionally an item comes to light which is a bit different. One such item was a recipe for ‘Millett’ pudding’. It appears to have been written rather hurriedly on the back of a small bill and is probably in Thomas Turner’s handwriting. Just as we might do today, it was jotted down on the nearest piece of paper that came to hand. Maybe it was recommended to Turner by a customer in his shop. It is easy to imagine that moment, a snapshot of everyday life in the Sussex village.

East Sussex Record Office: PAR378/31/3/22/33, East Hoathly, recipe for millet pudding.

The recipe or ‘receipt’ as it would have been called reads:

Boil the Milk & Millett till it Comes to a proper thickness

2 lb Millett

3 Eges

Sugar

Nutmeg

Equal in the Same as Rice Pudding – but always Backed

 

The document is rather stained and unrelated notes are written on this scrap of paper. The more official looking list of items on the reverse of the recipe relates to the schoolroom. Sums of money are included and if this had not been a bill for spelling books and testaments, the recipe would probably have been discarded. The list is not headed with a name or signed but a date is written 1782. Other documents in the bundle were from the 1780s.

Why millet? It appears to be offered as an alternative ingredient to rice which was very likely the preferred choice. Both were imported and maybe rice was more expensive.

Thomas Turner refers to food and his own diet frequently within his diary. [1] Often this is an account of his dinners. Typically he writes: ‘We dined on the remains of yesterday’s dinner……’

Turner appears to be very interested in new ideas for recipes, particularly those including cheaper ingredients, so relevant at a time when staple foods were scarce or expensive, especially to the poor of villages such as East Hoathly.

Detail from Doctor Botherum, The Montebank, March 6, 1800. Artist Thomas Rowlandson.

On Fri 27 Jan 1758, he quotes in his diary from The Universal Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure, [2] to which Turner probably subscribed.

At home all day. We dined on the remains of Wednesday and yesterday’s dinners with the addition of a cheap kind of soup, the receipt for making of which I took out of The Universal Magazine for December as recommended (by James Stonhouse MD at Northampton) to all poor families as a very cheap and nourishing food. The following is the receipt, viz.,

 

Take half a pound of beef, mutton, or pork, cut into small pieces; half a pint of peas, three sliced turnips, and three potatoes, cut very small, an onion or two, or a few leeks; put to them three quarts and a pint of water; let it boil gently on a very slow fire about two hours and a half, then thicken it with a quarter of a pound of ground rice, and half a quarter of a pound of oatmeal (or a quarter of a pound of oatmeal and no rice); boil it for a quarter of an hour after the thickening is put in stirring it all the time; then season it with salt, ground pepper or powdered ginger to your taste.

 

This in my opinion is a very good, palatable, cheap, nourishing diet…

 

The introduction to this article noted the local ‘distress’ :

 

 

 

 

Six ‘receipts’ follow including some without meat: a ‘Burgout much used by the Scotch’ (porridge); ‘Leek-pottage’; ‘Potato-bread’, which is recommended as an alternative to corn; and beer made with treacle.

On Thurs. 23 March 1758, Turner describes this ‘melancholy time occasioned by the dearness of corn, though not proceeding from a real scarcity, but from the iniquitous practice of engrossers, forestalling etc.’ In other words, those who buy commodities cheaply but do not release them on to the market until the price has risen to a high level.

Turner follows this by claiming in a somewhat remorseful way, remembering his over indulgences and ‘revelling … being discomposed with too much drink’, that he will ‘be content to put up with two meals a day, and both of them I am also willing should be of pudding; that is, I am not desirous of eating meat above once or at the most twice a week. My common drink is only water …’

 

 

Sources:

[1] Thomas Turner, The Diary of Thomas Turner 1754-1765, ed. David Vaisey, 1984.

[2] The Universal Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure, Vol. XXI (Dec. 1757), pp. 268-71

Hall and Roper, The Rose and Crown Inn, Kirkby Lonsdale

James Roper  WPR19/7/1/5/6/20 July 13 1814

 

Hannah Hall married James Roper on 26 June 1797 in Kirkby Lonsdale. She was the eldest daughter of John Hall and his wife Isabella Taylor. At the time they were running the Rose and Crown Inn in the market town of Kirkby Lonsdale. Presumably this was where Hannah lived before her marriage. James had been baptised in Colton, Lancashire, and was the son of John Roper and Mary Walton.[1]

Hannah’s mother died in December 1801 and her father in 1807.[2]  John Hall had been the proprietor of the Rose and Crown for 37 years. His son-in-law, James Roper, announced in the Lancaster Gazette that he would be taking over the running of the inn, while also intending to continue his tallow chandlery business.[3]

Together James and Hannah had three children, all born in Kirkby Lonsdale; Mary Ann (b.1798), John (b.1800) and Isabella (b.1801). Another son, James, was baptised 1 April 1803 but died the same year.

Two vouchers addressed to the overseers of Kirkby Lonsdale signed by J. Roper can be attributed to James. One was for the supply of ale in July 1811 costing 2s 7½d, the other for the supply of a chaise and horses to Lancaster on 13 July 1814, costing £1 5s 0d. [4]

The inn had many functions but was principally a posting and travelling inn. The coaching side of the business possibly expanded following developments in the mail coach service in the late-eighteenth century.[5] Its role as a posting inn led to James Roper and his fellow Innkeeper and postmaster Alexander Tiplady of the Green Dragon Inn being convicted and fined £5 for letting out horses to draw carriages without the appropriate stamp office ticket (to show that they had paid the relevant tax on horses) to those hiring them on the 14 October 1816.[6]

James Roper died on the 4 June 1817. Hannah, probably already having been involved in the running of the inn while James continued the tallow chandlery, continued to run the inn.[7]

The next three years saw various serious events at the inn. Shortly after her husband’s death, there was a serious fire at the inn. Fortunately, she was insured with the Imperial Fire Office . There was considerable damage to the stabling for the horses and 700 yards of hay . In reporting the event, the Westmorland Advertiser expressed surprise at the lack of a fire engine in Kirkby Lonsdale.[8]

On 4 August 1819 the post coach Lord Exmouth on its way from Newcastle to Lancaster. After stopping at the Rose and Crown, it set off again with eleven people on board only to over turn near the Lune Bridge. William Batty (a surgeon in Kirkby Lonsdale for whom vouchers exist) [ 9] attended the accident but he was unable to save the life of William Howson. The other survivors were cared for by Hannah at the inn. Despite evidence from the guard as to his sobriety, the coach driver William Elmire [Elmer] was deemed to have been driving while intoxicated in a dangerous manner. Convicted of manslaughter he was sent to jail for 12 months.[10]

There are frequent references to the Rose and Crown in the local newspapers concerning sales and meetings but it was on the 6 December 1820 that events at the inn were reported around the country and are still remembered after 200 years later by the local community.[11] Hannah Roper living with her two daughters and servants at the inn awoke to find the inn on fire once again. Hannah and her daughters managed to get out by jumping from a window. Of the men asleep in a different part of the inn, all managed to escape by removing grills from a window. Hannah had tried to wake the other five women asleep to make their escape, but they never made it out. The inn was destroyed and the five women died: Alice Clark aged 31, Bella Cornthwaite 28, Agnes Waling 25, Hannah Armstrong 18, and Agnes Nicholson 17. This time the insurance did not cover the full extent of the destruction, but perhaps partly as a result of a respected social and business relationship in the community and help from public subscription Hannah was able to run the inn again in the adjacent Jackson Hall.[12]

With her eldest daughter Mary Ann Roper now married to Richard Atkinson on the 12 April 1825, Hannah decided to retire. The inn was advertised for sale.[13] Hannah was still listed as the proprietor in the directory of 1828, however.[ 14 ] Two years later she died aged 56 on the 22 May 1830 . The inn was once again put up for sale. Details could be had from John Hall, solicitor.[15] Son John was a chemist and druggist in Ulverston from at least 1824.[16] The inn was taken on by Isabella, the youngest daughter, who was often commended for the sumptuous dinners she provided.

The 23 July 1840 saw the Dowager Queen Adelaide staying at the Rose and Crown as part of her tour of the Lakes. Satisfied with her excellent accommodation, the Westmorland Gazette reported that the Queen Dowager was pleased to allow the Rose and Crown to became known as The Royal Hotel.[17]

When the Roper’s son John died as a result of some unspecified accident on the 27 May 1844, the sale of his property was handled by his cousin Richard Roper (1814-1871). John’s sister Isabella, now 42, married the same Richard Roper on the 7 June 1845 and another branch of the Hall-Roper family were linked together. Richard was a solicitor in Kirkby Lonsdale and was the son of her father’s brother Richard Roper and her mother’s sister Isabella Hall, ( 1778-1840 ) who had married in 1803.

Richard and Isabella had only one son, also called Richard, who died when only 14 weeks old in January 1847. [18] Isabella died on 11 June 1866. [19] Richard Roper, now well established in his profession, married again. His second wife Mary Eleanor Brade (1838-1921) was 24 years his junior and they had three children: John, Roland and Hilda Mary.

Although no member of the Roper family seems to have been directly involved with the running of the Rose and Crown [Royal Hotel] after Isabella Roper; when her sister Mary Ann’s (Atkinson) youngest daughter married John Swainson of Liverpool 4 April 1866 a large reception took place at The Royal Hotel, Kirkby Lonsdale.[20] Mr Dawson was the proprietor.

Access to further documents is needed to identify the nature of the terms to which the inn was passed on to successive family members.

[1] www.ancestry.co.uk [accessed 13 march 2021].
[2] Lancaster Gazette, 12 December 1801, page 3 col. b
[3] Lancaster Gazette, 25 July 1807, page 3 col. b
[4] Cumbria Archives, Kirkby Lonsdale Overseers’ Vouchers WPR19/7/1/3/20 20 July 1811; WPR19/7/1/5/6/20 13 April 1814.
[5] www.postalmuseum.org  [accessed 13 March 2021].
[6] ‘Supplementary Records: Kirkby Lonsdale’, in John F Curwen (ed.) Records Relating To the Barony of Kendal: Vol 3, (Kendal, 1926), pp. 278-291. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/kendale-barony/vol3/pp278-291 [accessed 11 March 2021].
[7] Kirkby Lonsdale, Westmorland Church Notes, Westmorland Papers. The Westmorland Historical Facts Project http://dustydocs.com/link/39/39198/131714/monumental-inscriptions-westmorland-papers.html
[8] Westmorland Advertiser and Kendal Chronicle, 18 October 1817, page 3, col. c
[9] Cumbria Archives, Kirkby Lonsdale Overseers’ Vouchers, WPR19/7/1/5/6/22 , 11 April 1815
[10] Westmorland Gazette and Kendal Advertiser, 4 September 1819, page 7, col. c
[11] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cumbria-55207382
[12] Westmorland Gazette, 9 December 1820, page 4, col. c
[13] Carlisle Patriot, 2 July 1825, page 2, col. b
[14] Pigot and Co.’s, National Commercial Directory, Cumberland, Lancashire and Westmorland (J. Pigot and Co, London and Manchester,1828), page 851.
[15] Westmorland Gazette, 5 June 1830, page 3, col. e; Lancaster Gazette, 20 November 1830, page 1, col. c
[16]Baines’ History, Rectory and Gazetteer of the palatine of Lancashire 1824 (Edward Baines), page 576 Ulverston [accessed at www.ancestry.co.uk]
[17] Westmorland Gazette, 15 August 1840, page 2, col. d
[18] Westmorland Gazette, 26 September 1846, page 3, col. f; 16 January 1847, page 3, col. f
[19] Westmorland Gazette, 16 June 1866 page 5, col. f
[20] Kendal Mercury, 7 April 1866, page 5, col. e

Marquess of Londonderry, Sir Roger Gresley and Daniel O’Connell attempt to sell newspapers to John Bull, Sauney and Paddy, passengers on a coach. Coloured lithograph by H.B. (John Doyle), 1836.
Doyle, John, 1797-1868. https://wellcomecollection.org/images?query=union+coach. Courtesy of the Wellcome Collection.

Silvanus Earp and a Chip Hat

On 8 June 1782, the parish of Wednesbury became indebted to the tradesman Silvanus Earp for a ‘chip’ hat, priced eight pence.  This refers to a hat made of ‘chip’ straw with a fairly wide brim.  Such headgear could be fashionable, and straw hats were certainly customised by both retailers and consumers with a bow or other additions to maximise their flamboyancy.  An entry in the Derby Mercury for 12 June 1800, for example, recommended that the fashion in women’s ‘walking dress’ required a coloured chip hat with flowers at the front.  News from London specifically in 1782 reveals that high-quality chip hats could be worth stealing, but could also be used by elite women in fancy dress who were ‘slumming it’, such as when Lady Beauchamp adopted the character of a French peasant girl for a masquerade ball at London’s Pantheon.  In the case of the Wednesbury purchase, we assume the hat was plain and intended to be worn by a parish pauper.

This image, cropped from The Gallery of Fashion (June 1794), shows the brim of a chip hat: the crown is largely concealed with a profusion of ribbons.

Silvanus Earp (1747-1822) was a general dealer in the 1780s, supplying the parish with both foodstuffs and textiles.  He was not used often by the parish authorities, being present in only a handful of the hundreds of vouchers transcribed for Wednesbury, but enjoyed a personal connection to the parochial officers which proved useful.  The witnesses to his marriage in 1774 included John Guest, presumably the man of the same name who was an overseer of the poor for Wednesbury in 1782.  There at least three generations of Silvanus Earps in the locality, since his father Silvanus senior was a baker in Wednesbury, while one of his sons  Silvanus junior was a factor or merchant who by 1851 had retired to Wolverhampton.  By the time of his death in 1822 he was described as a gentleman and left a lengthy will, albeit his estate was valued at under £100.

Sources: SRO D4383/6/1/9/1/9/3 and D4383/6/1/9/1/14/11 Wednesbury overseers’ vouchers 1782; Wednesbury St Bartholomew, baptism of 7 March 1747,  marriage of 7 April 1774, burial of 27 June 1822; Diocese of Lichfield and Coventry, will proved 24 September 1822; National Archives HO 107 census of 1851, for Penn Road Wolverhampton; Morning Chronicle 14 January 1782; Morning Herald 22 April 1782; Derby Mercury 12 June 1800.

Abel Rooker, surgeon in Darlaston (1787-1867) Part 3 Abel’s sons

The executors appointed by Abel in his will were two of his sons, one from each marriage. Interestingly these sons were Rev James Yates Rooker of Lower Gornal and Rev John Rooker of Islington, both of them Anglican clergymen. Another son, William Yates Rooker, had also been a clergyman and his wife, Mary Jemima Rooker, took out a complaint against James Yates Rooker over her husband’s estate.

James Yates Rooker led a remarkable life. As a curate at Bamford near Hathersage in Derbyshire he caught the attention of Ellen Nussey who was a lifelong correspondent of Charlotte Bronte’s. Ellen and Charlotte met at Roe Head school in Mirfield in 1831 and Charlotte visited Ellen when she lived with her brother Henry Nussey, who was vicar of Hathersage. He is believed to have proposed to Charlotte in 1839 but was rejected. Ellen and Charlotte’s letters show them indulging in some amusing girl talk about the local curate James Yates Rooker and Charlotte is moved in a letter dated 31 July 1845 to issue a gentle warning to her friend to be on her guard against James’ attractions (perhaps somewhat tongue-in-cheek). Charlotte’s visits to Hathersage are understood to have provided background material for her novel Jane Eyre.

James went on to become the vicar of Lower Gornal in Staffordshire and was joined there by his father after Abel’s second wife Frances died and Abel retired as a surgeon. Abel died in 1867 but some years later in 1879 James became the victim of a murderous attack by one of his parishioners. The incident is ably set out on the Sedgley manor website (http://www.sedgleymanor.com/stories/stories.html).

James survived the murder attempt and went on to serve the parish until his death in 1887.

 

Grace Sandwick’s Possessions

Figure 1: PR5/43, Greystoke Poor Account Book, 1740-1812

When Grace Sandwick was granted poor relief by the parish of Greystoke and boarded out with Deborah Bushby in 1774, she brought with her a range of clothing and belongings. Apart from what is recorded in Greystoke’s Poor Account, nothing further has yet come to light to provide further information on Sandwick. Deborah Bushby was baptised in Greystoke on 13 April 1738 and buried in the parish church on 29 January 1814.

The parish recorded in its Poor Account Sandwick’s possessions. Sometimes parishes sold such goods to help defray the cost of relief. On other occasions, if the pauper was admitted to a workhouse, the items could be stored and returned should the pauper leave. In this instance, as Sandwick was boarding with Bushby, it looks as though the list was draw up so that there could be no dispute over what Sandwick owned.

April ye 7th 1774 Agreed with Deborah Bushby for Grace Sandwicks Boarding for one year at the rate of four pounds four shillings pr year to be paid quarterly.

A schedule of the Goods brought with her the said Grace when she came to lodge with the said Deborah Bushby the date afored: viz one feather bed, 2 Blanketts, 2 Feather Bolsters, one quilt, a kuggone[?] lining sheet a Bedstead a line whool [____alor?] one shag hat one stew pot a meal box and brown gown one blew gown & jacket one good quilted black petty coat Callamanca, a blew petty coat and one white one brown petty coat a blew cardinall one blue apron a corner cupboard and Box each with a lock a Check and White Apron 2 or 3 caps.

Though poor, Sandwick had a change of clothes. Some of the terms used to describe them are unfamiliar to us today but they tell us about something the quality and durability of what she wore. From the seventeenth century ‘shagg’ was used to describe the nap of cloth. It was often coarse and long. Sometimes it was used to describe worsted cloth having a velvet nap. Such material was often used for linings. Calamanco was an unprinted, plain cotton, often white. The ‘blew cardinal’ was a short cloak with a hood.

The lockable cupboard and box were important as a means of securing possessions, particularly when spaces were shared. For many people in the eighteenth century, a lockable box was the only private storage facility they had. Lockable boxes became associated with servants. They could be used to transport belongings between one job and the next. The lack of a box, as Amanda Vickery points out was ‘a sign of the meanest status’.

Sources

CAS, PR5/43, Greystoke Poor Account Book, 1740-1812.

National Burial Index for England and Wales, St Andrew, Greystoke, 29 January 1814.

Amanda Vickery, Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009), pp. 38-40.

 

 

Pattens

Pattens are a type of footwear which must have been worn by many of the women of East Hoathly during the 18th century and well into the 19th. They consisted of a wooden sole with a leather or cloth strap which was tied or fastened over the wearer’s shoes. This wooden sole was mounted on an oval cast-iron ring. They were designed to raise the wearer an inch or so above the ground, providing a platform. So they were very useful during the long winter months, not only protecting shoes but also the long skirts which would otherwise have draped in the mud and dirt (including animal dung).

Pattens. Image courtesy of Henfield Museum, West Sussex

Pattens were very much in demand by the villagers. They are mentioned regularly within The Diary of Thomas Turner 1754-1765. [1] As both shopkeeper of East Hoathly and Overseer of the Poor, Turner was involved in the whole process, ordering and buying the pattens, then distributing them to the poor as needed. They were included in many of the overseers’ vouchers of 1760s – 1830s, which recorded the various requirements of the poor of East Hoathly. These were meticulous lists and many were headed ‘The Overseers of East Hothly to Thos. Turner’ – thus claiming his expenses and written in his very distinctive handwriting.

According to the entries in the diary, the pattens were usually bought by the half dozen or dozen and cost nine pence per pair. For example, in 1755, a total of 80 pairs were bought by Thomas Turner, and nine transactions are recorded from February to November. They are all from the same supplier, Thomas Freeman, who is noted in Appendix C of the diary [2] as clog and patten-maker of Mayfield. Most were described as ‘women’s cloth pattens’ (indicating the cloth straps), but some were for girls, and orders usually included an equal number of clogs which were cheaper. It would appear that there were enough to supply all the women and girls of East Hoathly, who were then well shod and able to cope with the muddy roads of the village.

An entry in Turner’s diary records such a purchase along with a typically detailed account of a busy day in 1755:

Thursday, Feb. 20: At home all day. Remarkable cold. Mr Jordan dined with me. Paid the post boy for Thomas Freeman 6s. (to wit) for 6 pairs girl’s pattens and 6 pairs clogs. Charles Diggens brought my coat. I paid him 9s. 5d. (to wit) for altering a pair of breeches and mending a greatcoat 9d.; for making 2 pairs spatterdashes 1s. 2d.; for making a coat 7s. 6d. John Watford Jr. a-fetching dung from the stable for me today; agreed to give him 18d. Paid for bread 1d. [3]

And then in September a larger order anticipating the autumn weather and worse to come:

Friday, Sept. 19: At home all day. Bleeded in the morning. Paid for 12 prs pattens and 13 prs clogs (rec’d this day from Thomas Freeman of Mayfield by his servant) 14s. 5d. [4]

East Hoathly, Overseers’ voucher, 1790. ESRO: PAR378/31/3/22.

In 1790 Turner compiled and submitted a voucher, headed ‘The Overseers of East Hothly To Tho Turner’ [5]. This covers the year from April to the following March (reflecting the tax year, then as now) and is three pages long with 136 items listed. It provides us with a good idea of the clothing needs of the village poor, and also of their dressmaking activities. For example, Fanny Stevens receives items on six occasions. 25th May, Turner records that she received various fabrics and sewing items and also a pair of pattens, which cost one shilling indicating Turner’s profit:

1 yd Do [Check], 1 Pair Stays, 21/2 yd. Grogram, 2 yd. Check, 1 Pr. Pattens, 1 Pr. Buckles, 1/8 yd Hessens, Tape Thread & Yarn, 1 yd. Camblet.

 

East Hoathly, Overseers’ voucher, 1790, detail showing the price of pattens. ESRO: PAR378/31/3/22

Pattens had certain disadvantages. They must have been quite precarious to walk in. Although from Turner’s records it appears that a smaller size was available for girls so they would have had years of practice. They were known to be noisy and were described as making a ‘clinking’ sound. Jane Austen wrote in ‘Persuasion’ of the ‘ceaseless clink of pattens’, referring to life in Bath. [6] Of course in a country village such as East Hoathly in the 1700s there were no pavements and maybe not even cobbles. However the ‘clinking’ in church would probably have been frowned upon.

Pattens were worn by all sections of society at this time. The wealthier classes had a fashionable version of the humble patten which matched their outfits, made of silks and satins. They were not designed for walking through muddy streets, but probably just from carriage to front door.

The Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers is a City of London Livery Company which was awarded its Royal Charter in 1670. It still exists today as a charitable foundation, funding the making of bespoke orthopaedic shoes for injured servicemen.

  1. Thomas Turner, The Diary of Thomas Turner, 1754-1765, ed. David Vaisey, 1984.
  2. Turner, 346
  3. Turner transcription
  4. Ibid
  5. East Hoathly Overseer’s Voucher: ESRO PAR378/31/3/22/12/31-39
  6. Jane Austen, Persuasion, 1817

written by Christine Morris

Medicated Vapour Baths – for paupers?

Medicated vapour baths became popular in England in the 1820s. Such things were available in earlier decades, but Sake Deen Mohamed advertised them via both his published works and his bathing establishment at Brighton. The treatment he offered for muscular and similar ailments involved massage and steamy bathing with the addition of Indian oils. He introduced the word ‘shampooing’ to popular usage, although with a slightly different meaning to its current one (ie rubbing the body, whereas we lather our hair). Mohamed was named ‘shampooing surgeon’ to George IV and William IV.

https://wellcomecollection.org/works/xg5ewh67

What did such fashionable treatments have to do with the Staffordshire poor? We might have guessed ‘none’: but we would have been wrong. Spa towns like Buxton had long made bathing facilities available to poor patients, albeit in a heavily regulated way.  In 1785 for example the poor were admitted to bathe at Buxton between the months of May and October, on Mondays only, and funded places were limited to sixteen beneficiaries at any one time.  Successful applicants to the Buxton charity had to support their appeal with ‘a letter of recommendation from some lady or gentleman from his own locality certifying whether he was a proper object of charity, and if the patient was a pauper, also a certificate signed by the Churchwardens or Overseers of the poor that the pauper’s settlement was in, and a certificate from a physician or apothecary that the case was proper for the Buxton waters’.  In the 1820s, though, copyists of Mohamed developed their own vapour bathing equipment which was not dependent on location. Charles Whitlaw patented his medicated baths which could be installed in any town, and published his Scriptural Code of Health in 1838 thanking Anglican and Dissenting clergy for funding treatments for miscellanous workhouse poor.

It was still a surprise, though, to discover that the parish of Alrewas actually sent its paupers to a medicated vapour bathing establishment in Wolverhampton. The vouchers show that in 1831 the parish sent William Riley to the baths run by surgeon Edward Hayling Coleman at Dudley Street in Wolverhampton, albeit the parish paid the resulting bill rather slowly. In early 1832 they also sent a woman called Eams, possible Ann Eams born at Fradley in 1805 or her mother Mary, who Coleman reported in March to be ‘somewhat better’ as a result.

Coleman had invested in Whitlaw’s patented bathing equipment, and set up two facilities for treatment.  There was a public bath in Dudley Street costing 3s6d a time, and he also saw the more prosperous of his patients at his own house in Salop Street for 5s per bathing session.  We do not know the diagnosis for either Riley or Eams, but Coleman promoted his baths for cases of scrofula, cutaneous diseases, liver complaints, gout, rheumatism, asthma and (very optimistically) ‘cancer in it’s incipient stage’.  When the first cholera epidemic swept Britain in 1831-2, Coleman even reserved one or more of his baths ‘for the gratuitous use of the poor’.

 

Sources:  Ernest Axon, ‘Historical Notes on Buxton, its Inhabitants and Visitors: Buxton Doctors since 1700’ (1939), among the ‘Axon Papers’ held at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery ; Charles Whitlaw, The Scriptural Code of Health (London, 1838); SRO D 783/2/3/12/8/2/2 Alrewas overseers’ voucher, bill of Edward Coleman to the parish 1831; D 783/2/3/13/7/1 Alrewas overseers’ correspondence, letter from Edward Coleman 1832; Wolverhampton Chronicle and Staffordshire Advertiser 22 June 1831 and 16 November 1831.

 

 

Joseph Collins (b.1795), Currier, Tea Dealer and Wine Merchant, Lichfield

Currier Joseph Collins was born in Claydon, Oxfordshire, in 1795.[1] He was the son of Quakers William and Elizabeth Collins. His father was a farmer.

He married twice. First in 1817 to Elizabeth Vaughton, at St Michael’s, Lichfield; and second, to Elizabeth Langley of Rugeley in 1823.[2] The second marriage took place at St Martin’s, Birmingham, on 22 September 1823.[3]

In 1851 Joseph and Elizabeth Collins, were living in Tamworth Street, with their children, Charles, 23, also a currier; and Emma, 19, an organist; and servant, Mary Beech, 20.[4]

Joseph was not listed in the 1818 trade directory, although gardener and seedsman John Collins was listed with an address in St John Street, and an Edward Collins, of the Fountain Inn, Beacon Street.[5] Two curriers and leather dealers were listed: John Langley in Tamworth Street, and Thomas Langley in Bore Street.[6]

By 1828 Joseph Collins of Tamworth Street had replaced John Langley. Thomas Langley continued to operate from Sandford Street.[7] By 1834 Collins was still in business in Tamworth Street, Thomas Langley had disappeared, and the only other currier listed was William Hughes of Dam Street.[8]

A currier’s job was to process tanned hides which involved a number of processes: cleaning, scraping, stretching and finishing with oils, wax or polish.[9]  Collins was also a tea dealer and wine merchant.

SRO, LD20/6/6, Lichfield, St Mary’s Overseers’ Voucher, Joseph Collins, 22 July 1829

Collins supplied the overseers of St Mary’s with leather. His bills are elaborately headed with three distinct images.[10] The first shows the armorial bearings of the Worshipful Company of Curriers with its motto ‘Spes Nostra Deus’ (God is our hope). At the top, arms hold up a currier’s shave, and on the shield are four more pairs of shaves.[11]

In the middle is a classic representation of the tea trade: ‘Chinamen’, tea chests, water and a distant ship.[12] Above this are the printed words ‘Agent to the London Genuine Tea Company, 23 Ludgate Hill’. In 1843 the London Genuine Tea Company placed a notice in the Staffordshire Advertiser.[13] Two circumstances had prompted the announcement: growing concern over the adulteration of tea, which they described as ‘disgraceful transactions’; and the ‘peace recently concluded with the Chinese’. The latter had enabled the Company to increase its stock of the finest teas. Eager to promote its ‘pure and unadulterated teas’, it listed its provincial agents, including Joseph Collins of Lichfield.

The third image shows a woman in a classically-inspired dress standing next to a barrel adorned with vines, and grapes. In her hand and she holds up a wine glass. On top of the barrel is a wine bottle and surrounding the barrel are casks, bottles and a bottle carrier. In the background is a three-masted ship. This image reflects the third strand of Collins’ business, that of ‘Agent to the Wine and Spirit Compy, 141 Fleet Street, London’.

In 1835 elections were held in Lichfield. The results created ‘dissatisfaction’ and the episode was reported widely in the press.[14]

The Staffordshire Advertiser reported that the ‘natural quietude’ of Lichfield ‘has not been proof against the excitement of electioneering ardour … Scarcely has the exercise of the parliamentary franchise ever produced so strong a sensation … Squibs, manifestoes, exhortations, and denunciations have succeeded each other with a rapidity unexampled in the annals of the borough-city’. It continued: ‘Two chief parties divided the town. The Elective Franchise Society … held their meetings at the George Inn. A second and mixed party then met at the Old Crown Inn … [who on polling day] made no public display, and indeed many of them declined voting altogether’.[15]

The Sun commented that the Elective Franchise Society, established soon after the last election, ‘has worked wonders … considering how the city had been confined by the Tories previously thereto. The Tories ‘using all the influence that they were possessed of, as well as using their threats of turning several people out of the official situations which they held, if they did not vote according as they were wished’, failed to get the result they hoped for. The Elective Franchise Society proposed 18 reformers; 17 were elected. One of those newly-elected was currier, Joseph Collins. Other suppliers to the overseers of St Mary’s were also elected: Stephen Brassington, John Meacham, and Nicholas Willday. The one remaining place went to a Tory ‘who had ‘the least number of votes’.

The Wolverhampton Chronicle and Staffordshire Advertiser noted that ‘The result of the election has created dissatisfaction and the opponents of the liberals now blame themselves for not having made vigorous opposition’.[16]


[1] TNA, RG 6/34, England and Wales, Society of Friends, Birth 1578-1841, Berkshire and Oxfordshire: Monthly Meeting of Banbury.

[2] SRO, D27/1/18, Lichfield, St Michael, Marriages, 13 April 1817.

[3] Staffordshire Advertiser, 13 December 1823, p.4/3.

[4] TNA, HO 107/2014, Census 1851.

[5] Parson and Bradshaw, William Parson and Thomas Bradshaw, Staffordshire General and Commercial Directory (Manchester: J. Lynch, 1818), p. 170.

[6] Parson and Bradshaw, Directory, p.185.

[7] Pigot and Co., National Commercial Directory [Part 2:] for 1828–29 (London and Manchester: J. Pigot and Co., 1828), p.  716.

[8] William White, History, Gazetteer and Directory of the County of Staffordshire and of the City of Lichfield (Sheffield: 1834), p 158.

[9] The Worshipful Company of Curriers, https://www.curriers.co.uk/history [accessed 26 June 2020].

[10] SRO, LD20/6/6, St Mary’s, Lichfield, Overseers’ Vouchers, 22 July 1829; 31 December 1829

[11] https://www.curriers.co.uk/history [accessed 26 June 2020].

[12] Peter Collinge, ‘Chinese Tea, Turkish Coffee and Scottish Tobacco: Image and Meaning in Uttoxeter’s Poor Law Vouchers’, Transactions of the Staffordshire Archaeological and Historical Society, XLIX (June 2017), pp. 80–9.

[13] Staffordshire Advertiser, 25 March 1843, p. 1/3.

[14] Wolverhampton Chronicle and Staffordshire Advertiser, 30 December 1835, p.2/6.

[15] Staffordshire Advertiser, 2 January 1836, p.3/4.

[16] Wolverhampton Chronicle and Staffordshire Advertiser, 30 December 1835, p.2/6.

Coining it, in and around Darlaston

Darlaston’s history is intimately connected to the history of metal-working, particularly  the manufacture of gun-locks and other mechanical components.  We were startled, though, to find such expertise put to felonious ends, and the constable of Darlaston (Thomas Partridge) drawn in to give evidence against the accused.

In 1819 three men were tried at the Staffordshire Assizes ‘for having, at the parish of Darlaston, in the county of Stafford..traitorously made and counterfeited a certain piece of coin to the likeness of a shilling’.  Joseph Wilkes, Thomas Earp alias Reddall and John Duffield stood trial for their lives, since coining was a capital offence.  Witnesses were able to show that Earp had been apprehended with a parcel of metal blanks hidden inside his umbrella, and that Wilkes had taken possession of the dies or ‘stamps’ used to convert the blanks into counterfeit coin.  Duffield was the organiser of the scheme.

Image courtesy of the Wellcome Trust: an eighteenth-century illustration of a machine used in coining https://wellcomecollection.org/works/fuxnvhmx

The three men were working within a midlands network of counterfeiters, and were not apparently inhibited or deterred by the prosecution or execution of members of the circle.    John and Mary Bissaker of Warwick pursued a career in coining, and when John was executed in 1800 Mary carried on (narrowly avoiding execution herself in 1807).  It was Mary’s arrest and prosecution in 1819 that prompted the transfer of dies to the Darlaston men, and Mary’s execution that signaled the movement of the trade from Warwick to Darlaston.

But perhaps the most surprising part of the story is still to come.  When the three defendants were found guilty, Mr Justice Richardson initially sentenced them all to death; yet ‘the prisoners begged loudly for mercy; and the learned Judge was much affected.’  The astonishing result of this spontaneous appeal was that Richardson rescinded the death penalty for both Wilks and Earp, leaving Duffield as the only perpetrator paying for his crime with his life.  Surely this established a problematic precedent for this particular Judge, and for consistency of sentencing, even if it was expressive of candid humanitarianism?

Sources: The Times, 10 August 1819, p. 3; I.M. and M.K. Baker, ‘John Duffield of Darlaston and his descendants’,  http://www.historywebsite.co.uk/articles/Duffield/page2.htm, viewed 28 June 2018