Philip Baker, former Research Fellow of the History of Parliament and Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University, explains the background to and completion of a History of Parliament project for which he was Editor. This new online resource provides access to primary source material relating to the House of Commons during the Parliament of 1624.
394 years ago today, what was to be the final Parliament of King James I opened at Westminster. Unfortunately, bad weather meant that around half of the members hadn’t yet arrived and so the assembly was adjourned the same day. The 1624 Parliament eventually sat for some 80 days, however, and the History of Parliament is proud to announce today, on the anniversary of its opening, the completion of its project to provide free online access to the Commons’ debates of the entire Parliament. Hosted by British History Online, Proceedings in Parliament 1624: The House of Commons consists of around 800,000 words of political debate, religious argument, legal wrangling and legislative action from the so-called ‘Happy Parliament’.
Palace of Westminster in the 16th century. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Set against the European backdrop of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), and situated between the earlier, often rumbustious assemblies of James and the even more turbulent ones of Charles I that followed it, the Parliament is perhaps most notable for two things. The first is the unsuccessful attempt by Charles (as Prince of Wales) and the Duke of Buckingham to promote a war against Spain following Charles’ humiliation by the Spanish in his attempts to woo the Spanish Infanta. The second is that the Parliament saw an incredible seventy-three acts reach the statute book, the most in a single session since the reign of Henry VIII and almost the first notable legislation passed since 1610.
The proceedings themselves bring together for the first time some twenty manuscript sources that are scattered throughout England and America, the vast majority of which have never before been published. While some are fair hand copies of notes, others are certainly more difficult to read in their original form. Both Edward Nicholas and Sir Nathaniel Rich employed ‘speed writing’ techniques – a combination of shorthand symbols, abbreviations and longhand – the Star Chamber lawyer John Hawarde wrote in the Law French of the court system, while the appalling handwriting of John Lowther is a challenge for even experts of the period. Although the diary of the Staffordshire barrister Richard Dyott is in an extremely clear hand, large parts of it are now illegible even under UV light. It was placed in a safe in London during World War II, which did an excellent job of protecting it from the bombs of the Luftwaffe, but was rather less successful in preventing it from becoming seriously water-damaged.
Work on an edition of the proceedings of the 1624 Parliament actually began in America almost a century ago, under the guidance of the great parliamentary historian Wallace Notestein. Further research was undertaken in the US by Robert Ruigh and Mark Kennedy, and the project was subsequently taken over by the Yale Center for Parliamentary History. The 1624 materials were eventually transferred to the History of Parliament, which began working on them in 2012, generously funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the Friends of the Yale Center for Parliamentary History and the Mercers’ Company of the City of London. On this day in 2015, the first in a progressive release of the proceedings appeared online, which culminates today in the release of the proceedings for the final month of the Parliament.
The publication of Proceedings in Parliament 1624: The House of Commons fills a considerable hole in early modern parliamentary history, as it means that a composite edition of materials on all of the Tudor and early Stuart Parliaments is available for the first time. But used in tandem with the articles already published online from the History’s volumes on The House of Commons, 1604-29 and those forthcoming on The House of Lords, 1604-29, it also offers the prospect of a connected set of electronic resources which will enable scholars to dig more deeply and more easily than ever before into the vexed political world of the early modern Stuarts.
This week is Being Human, the annual festival of the humanities and the arts – this year on the theme of ‘Lost and Found’. For its contribution, the IHR takes you back to the 1660s, and the loss of Charles II’s warship, The London, which sank in the Thames estuary in March 1665, and was found and excavated from 2005.
On 22 November the IHR hosted an evening of underwater archaeology, sea shanties and Restoration coffee houses. Commemoration of The London now continues into December with an exhibition at the IHR of artefacts recovered from the wreck, including pipes, pots, shoes and musket balls.
IHR Digital’s modest contribution to all things Restoration is the British History Online quiz: 10 questions on the (often wonderful, sometimes bizarre) eating and drinking habits of Samuel Pepys (1633-1703), who worked at the Navy Board in 1665. You’ll find all the answers in British History Online (www.british-history.ac.uk), the IHR’s free digital library of medieval and early modern primary sources. Send us your answers by Friday 2 December.
British History Online ‘Being Human’ 2017 Quiz – The Food and Drinke of Samuel Pepys
British History Online (BHO) is a free digital library of 1200 medieval and early modern primary sources volumes, created by IHR Digital. It includes nearly 500 references to Samuel Pepys, including many to his habits during the 1660s. Use BHO to answer the following 10 questions on Samuel’s tastes in food and drinke.
What did Samuel Pepys acquire ‘by the BARREL’ from Billingsgate market?
What was Pepys’s laxative of choice in 1664?
In the same year, Pepys was recommended what as treatment for the stone?
What did Pepys consider as a ‘very easy, speedy, and cleanly’ alternative to shaving?
What were the ingredients of ‘Plague water’, given to Pepys in 1665?
What fruit did Pepys consider ‘now a great rarity since the war, none to be had’ in 1666?
For what culinary dish did Pepys use a ‘hanging jack’?
What ingredients went to make, in Pepys’ opinion, ‘the best universal sauce in the world’?
In 1668 Pepys purchased ‘a hundred of sparrowgrass’ at 1s. 8d. which he and Mrs Pepys ate with ‘a little bit of salmon’. We still do the same: what is ‘sparrowgrass’?
To what did Pepys refer when he spoke, in 1669, of a ‘very fine drink; but, it being new, I was doubtful whether it might not do me hurt’?
From the titles of some of the IHR’s digital resources, you might think that they have limited geographical reach: British History Online…the Bibliography of British and Irish History. But the real world overspills geographical boundaries and the digital world even more so.
1655 engravure of the islands Amboyna (top) and Nera (bottom). National Maritime Museum, London
British History Online has much more to offer than British history, even though that is naturally the focus. Series like the Journals of the Board of Trade and Plantations and the Calendar of State Papers, Colonial(which, despite the title, includes relations with China and Japan!) have an explicitly global reach. There is also the Calendar of State Papers, Colonial, America and West Indies. For example, after the 1624 Amboyna Massacre, the bloody outcome of a power struggle over the spice trade between Great Britain and the Netherlands, we can read that the East Indian company agreed to distribute 1,000 copies of its account of the massacre in Dutch “to be sent over”, i.e. to what is now Indonesia, and that “there shall be set upon the front of each book the arms of this Company, in token that they avow them to be true”. Faith in the word of international corporations was clearly greater then than now.
Stamp commemorating Irish monks arriving in Iceland
The Bibliography of British and Irish History (BBIH) also offers more internationally than its title suggests. It covers the history of British and Irish relations with the rest of the world, including the British Empire and the Commonwealth and the American Colonies. As an example, searching on Iceland brings up early medieval Irish missions there; a range of cultural relations – for instance the influence of the sagas on British and Irish literary tradition; British visitors such as the naturalist Sir Joseph Banks to Iceland; trade relations including the voyage of the “Marigold” in 1654; foreign relations during World War II and the American and British occupation of the island; and the so-called cod wars over fishing rights of the 1970s. The image below shows hotspots for BBIH’s world coverage:
Of course IHR resources are not just global in scope, they are global in audience. This opens up scholarship to the world. Those who cannot attend IHR lectures can enjoy them as videos and podcasts from anywhere in the world. Since 2009 the IHR has produced over 800 podcasts, encompassing not only its acclaimed and unique seminar series, but also one-off talks and conferences. Those who cannot attend training courses can access training online training.
British History Online has received thanks from researchers across the world for providing free access to volumes that are hard to obtain where they live and work. BBIH has subscribers all over the world including the USA, most European countries, Australia, Japan and Taiwan. The reach of IHR is truly global.
The Directory appears as a searchable and browsable text within British History Online (BHO), the IHR’s digital library of key printed and primary and secondary sources in medieval and early modern British and Irish history. It recreates the lives and military careers of many hundreds of previously little-known Parliamentarian officers, with a particular focus on the years 1642–45 before the creation of the New Model Army. Entries range from a sentence for the most obscure individuals to close to 1,000 words for major figures.
Where known, information is provided on family background and social networks, as well as details of the armies in which each officer served and the sources used to assemble a life. These biographies are freely available via British History Online and are published using a Creative Commons licence which also permits the downloading of the full text in its XML-mark up version. With this, historians will be able to undertake new research by searching and grouping the officers by age during military service, the armies in which they served and other attributes.
The Directory has been prepared for publication by the British History Online editorial team, who are members of the IHR’s Digital research department. The new collection is one example of a growing number of titles added to BHO as ‘born-digital’ resources – works created specifically for online publication or which, having existed online in other formats, now find a permanent home as part of this widely-used resource for the study of British and Irish history.
Similar titles recently added to BHO include The Court of Chivalry database which records trials brought for defamation and insult during the 1630s. Born-digital publications of this kind highlight the increasing importance attached to preserving and promoting web-based research, together with BHO’s contribution to digital sustainability for completed and current projects.
The Cromwell Association Directory of Parliamentarian Army Officers was launched on 17 May at an event organised jointly by the IHR and the Cromwell Association and held at the Institute. Research and publication was funded by the Cromwell Association with generous assistance from the Marc Fitch Fund and the Aurelius Trust. You can read more about the research for and aims of the project in Lives of the Civil War by the Directory’s general editor Dr Stephen K. Roberts.
Cheating at cards is nothing new. On February 9th 1640, William, Viscount Monson, caught Robert Welch, esquire, trying to shortchange him during a game of piquet at Welch’s house in St Martin’s Lane, London. Welch had palmed two of the cards and then tried to discard them when Monson was not looking. When Monson challenged him, Welch lost his temper saying, ‘I will baffle you just as you have been baffled by every boy in the town.’ He was using the term ‘baffle in both of its contemporary meanings – to publicly disgrace a noblemen who had been dishonoured, and to trick, or cheat or confound someone. The aim was clearly to humiliate Monson by implying that he was simpleton who was too naïve to recognise the tricks that had been played on him since he had come to London.
Monson, unarmed, decided to beat a hasty retreat, but the furious Welch followed him into the street challenging him to duel and offering to lend him his sword. Monson, on his account, however, remained a model of coolness, declaring ‘I beseech you Mr Welch let me alone until tomorrow…I will talk with you tomorrow.’ But the next day he went straight to the Court of Chivalry around the corner in Whitehall and secured the right to bring a prosecution against Welch. Unfortunately we do not know the outcome of this case – and, indeed, it is probable that it never reached a verdict because the court’s proceedings were suspended by the Long Parliament in December 1640. However, it is typical of a cluster of cases about duelling from the period of the court’s greatest activity between 1634 and 1640.
Between 2003 and 2006 Professor Richard Cust of University of Birmingham and Dr Andrew Hopper of Leicester worked on a project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to make available online the proceedings of the Court of Chivalry in its heyday. Originally hosted by the University of Birmingham, an expanded and updated version of this website is now available on British History Online.
Arundel House on the Strand, where the Court of Chivalry often convened.
The court was established in a regular basis in March 1634 and rapidly expanded its business because of the demand at the time for litigation over defamation and slanderous words. Between then and its temporary abolition in December 1640, it processed well over a thousand cases of which it has been possible to recover details of 738. These cover a huge variety of topics from ship money and the Bishops Wars to pew disputes and duelling, from heralds’ visitations and grants of arms to brawls in the street and quarrels at race meeting. Most relate to defamation and slanderous words against gentlemen or noblemen which were considered damaging enough to provoke a duel. They therefore provide rich insights into the contemporary vocabulary of insult and the etiquette of the duel. But they also offer insights into gender relations, litigation and dispute settlement, and understandings of what it meant to be a gentleman, as well as a wealth of biographical detail on plaintiffs, defendants and witnesses.
The coat of arms of Ralph Fetherstonhaugh of Stanhope Hall, Durham, which was produced as an exhibit in King of Arms v Fetherstone (case 346) (Reproduced by permission of the Chapter of the College of Arms)
Working in collaboration with College of Arms in London and the archive at Arundel Castle, Sussex, where the bulk of these sources are deposited, the court’s records have been reconstructed case-by-case. Each case begins with an abstract, followed by a calendar of all the surviving documents, with many transcribed in full. The aim has been to provide a resource which is sufficiently detailed to satisfy the needs of most researchers. The British History Online site can be searched by using name, place and subject indexes, or simply by inserting keywords into the ‘search within this publication’ facility found in the table of contents.
For academic researchers, and project and dissertation students
The material in this resource offers scope for a series of well-defined research projects using primary source materials. There are opportunities to explore a rich variety of topics relating to the social and cultural history of the early seventeenth century, from the language of insult and defamation to the conduct of disputes and duelling, from contemporary understandings of what it meant to be a gentleman to the social life of inns or parish churches. Alternatively one can carry out local studies on a county basis, or explore cases relating to a particular profession, or class of litigant.
For genealogists and local historians
This resource provides a wealth of genealogical and biographical detail on litigants and witnesses. Each witness statement includes information on the individual’s age, place of birth and how long he/she had lived at a particular location. Depositions offer local historians a wealth of circumstantial detail on social relationships and disputes within local communities.
This post has kindly been written by Dr. Philip Carter, Head of IHR Digital at the Institute of Historical Research.
The Guardroom, Scotland Yard. From an Etching by J. T. Smith, 1805.
As you may have seen, last week the Metropolitan Police moved into their very smart new residence, between London’s Whitehall and the Embankment. It’s still called New Scotland Yard, and after 50 years at Broadway, near Victoria, the Met has also returned to its former location (also ‘New Scotland Yard’) in a building dating from 1937-40. In doing so, the Service returns close to the site of its original residence, at 4 Whitehall Place, backing on to Great Scotland Yard, where it started out in 1829.
Last week, and by happy coincidence, British History Online also unveiled its latest Scotland Yard venture: a digitized copy of William John Loftie’s Whitehall: Historical and Architectural Notes (1895). An assistant chaplain at the Chapel Royal, Savoy, Loftie pursued an active second career as an antiquary and author. His many publications include Inigo Jones and Wren, or, Rise and Decline of Modern Architecture in England (1893) which, like his Notes, is characterized by forceful opinion on what he considered good, and less good, design. No fan of Gothic revivalism, Loftie (somewhat grumpily, perhaps) gave his recreation in Who’s Who as ‘searching for unrestored churches’.
Loftie’s guide is a relatively short work but it’s richly illustrated with 25 images and plates depicting seventeenth and eighteenth-century Whitehall. Not surprisingly, Inigo Jones’s design for the Banqueting Hall, part of the Palace of Whitehall, features prominently in the collection. But there are also engravings of major events, including the execution of Charles I (1649) and the funeral procession of Mary II (1694), as well as a streetscape from 1724. Two further images depict Scotland Yard at the northern end of the street, close to the Palace of Westminster. One of these images dates from the mid-eighteenth century while the second is from 1805, twenty-four years before the arrival of the Metropolitan Police Service.
Whitehall in 1724.
Whitehall: Historical and Architectural Notes is the first of several illustrated historical works to be added to British History Online in the coming months. Forthcoming titles include the PicturesqueBeauties series which depicts the pastoral charms of the early nineteenth century Kent and Essex. Digitization of these volumes is part of a programme to extend further the historical digital images available via BHO—as plates, line drawings, photographs and maps of which there are currently more than 48,000 in the collection.
Loftie’s Notes also adds to BHO’s already extensive coverage of the history and architecture of Whitehall. This includes chapters on Scotland Yard from the Survey of London (vol. 16, 1935) and on the Yard and the early Met from Walter Thornbury’s Old and New London. (Across BHO you’ll find a further 196 historical references to the premises and history of the Metropolitan Police.) Writing in 1878, Thornbury, described the Yard ‘as a poor and mean space, irregularly built, and which certainly is no credit to the city of which it forms so important a part’ (Old and New London: Volume 3, pp329-337). Following its latest £58mn refit, the Met’s newest home is certainly not this.
Modern students study their early modern predecessors
This post has been kindly written for us by Dr Adam Crymble. Adam is a Lecturer of Digital History at the University of Hertfordshire and an Editor of the Programming Historian. He was also the Project Manager of British History Online in 2014.
Where did Oxford University’s 60,149 students from 1500-1714 come from in the first place? Thanks to British History Online and a talented group of students, we’re beginning to understand for the first time.
For many people, the extremely carefully digitized volumes in British History Online are a fantastic way to read about the past. The project calls itself a ‘digital library’, and I think that’s apt. For my undergraduate digital history students at the University of Hertfordshire, it’s also much more. It proved to be a source of digital data that we could map and experiment with.
This past year, a group of 18 students studying history were challenged with mapping the point of origin of all 60,000 students who studied at Oxford in the Tudor and Stuart eras. The task would be impossible if the records weren’t already available. We have two groups to thank for that. Firstly, mini-biographies of each of these students were compiled in the nineteenth century by Joseph Foster, and published in hardcopy, known as the Alumni Oxonienses. Secondly, and much more recently, and with the great care that we’ve come to expect from British History Online, those mini-biographies have been digitized and are fully-text searchable on the site.
For anyone related to one of these individuals, this proves to be a great resource to get some specifics on a life lived. But because British History Online’s texts are easy to download with a bit of cutting and pasting, I was able to convert the volume into a spreadsheet for my students to work with. They then extracted the place of origin from each entry using a step-by-step tutorial at The Programming Historian before mapping them using a free tool called Google Fusion Tables.
Figure 1: The Alumni Oxonienses Dataset
All steps used free tools and free texts, so if you’re curious about the resultant map, I’d challenge you to have a go and find out for yourself using the steps above. You can see a teaser in Figure 2, which shows the origins of a subset of individuals who were knighted later in life.
Figure 2: Heatmap of place of origin of knighted Oxford Students, 1500-1714. Dataset compiled by Corey Albone, Jack Dunne, Namiluko Indie, Bethany Reid, ‘Oxford Knights’, The Oxford Knights Archive (2014-15).
These students were not like our university students today. Many were men of the gentry and upper classes, and probably include a large number of second sons, who would not have inherited the family fortune as would their older brother. University in the early modern era was largely a place for would-be clerics, but also lawyers, scientists, and a growing number of merchants. It’s where you got your religious or legal training before heading off for a life in the monasteries, or preaching the word of God, or as a lawyer in the Inns of Court.
In order to understand what the maps showed us, the class learned about the origins of the English gentry, clergy, and legal professions (among others of a similar sort), and were able to see first-hand what the digital nature of the records makes possible. Digital mapping, like graphing, provides us with a heads-up way to understand patterns in our historical records. It’s a way to see the forest for the trees, in a way that’s just not possible with Foster’s original printed volumes. Thanks to British History Online for making this resource available in a format that we could easily reuse. It’s been a great learning experience for us all.
Work has continued on making the published inquisitions post mortem freely accessible in the sixteen months since funding ceased, and we are pleased to announce that another major target of the Mapping the Medieval Countryside has now been achieved. Volumes 1-20 of theCalendars of Inquisitions post mortem and 2nd series volumes 1-3 for Henry VII are now freely available on British History Online at www.british-history.ac.uk/search/series/inquis-post-mortem
(Volumes 21-26 are of course already available on the [Mapping the Medieval Countryside] website).
This means that the whole of this massive series of records, covering the periods 1236-1447 and 1485-1509, are now accessible free of charge to anyone in the world with access to the internet. Not only academic historians, archaeologists and geographers, but local and family historians will find them a key source for their own researches.
This is the product of the collaborations between the University of Winchester and the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London, of British History Online based at the Institute of Historical Research, and of course the funder the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Especial credit for the final preparation of the digitised text is due to Dr Matthew Holford of the project and Sarah Milligan and Jonathan Blaney at BHO.
Hello, my name is Laura Jäger and I am an undergraduate student from Germany, studying library science at the Technical University of Cologne. As a part of my course I was given the opportunity to do my 16 week combined internship at the IHR (Institute of Historical Research) and the BHO (British History Online). This internship has given me the incredible opportunity to work with amazing people in two quite different departments.
My special thanks has to go to Kate Wilcox (IHR) and Sarah Milligan (BHO) which gave me a very warm welcome in both the IHR and the BHO, as well as to everyone else working in both departments. Each and every one of them taught and challenged me to learn many new things in the past weeks and were always open to try new ideas, but also never got tired of providing me with their new and interesting views of things.
Throughout my time here, I have worked on different smaller and bigger projects. My main project at BHO was to construct a new annotation feature for the website, which I was allowed to manage mostly myself. It was amazing to be able to build a part for a website from scratch and to figure out in a lot of meetings how it should work and what features might be more useful for what we want to achieve or what the user will need. Another big project I have worked on included auditing work on the London and the British Local collections of the IHR. It gave me a good overview of the wide spectrum of the library. I also discovered some old books which included autographs of the author, bookplates, added pictures or newspaper articles, letters and annotations of previous owners of the book. Sadly a lot of the older books are in need of repair, which is why we set up a conservation fund where you can donate money to help preserve the extraordinary collections of the IHR.
Book plates, letters and rubbings of previous owners, found in History of Brasted
Smaller projects included learning how to catalogue maps, books and special collection items, how to use a microfilm reader, reclassify a part of the north American collection, write a guide about the 20th century American collection for the website and to sort out and label the map drawer.
Being under the same roof with not just the IHR and BHO, but also the Victoria County History (VCH), the Bibliography of British and Irish History (BBIH) and Reviews in History made it possible, to talk with the people behind those great websites and learn more about their work and the changes they went through especially in the last few years. I was also able to visit the Senate house book repair workshop and look into how this branch of the job is evolving as it goes along and that not every book can be treated the same way.
Working at the IHR opened a lot of doors for me. I was lucky enough to visit not just the British library, but also the Wellcome library, Senate House, the Warburg Institute, the British Film Institute, one of the Idea Stores, The Guardian and the German Historical Institute. Even though all of them are considered libraries, they all have their own unique character and are fascinating to study. Some of us also went to Oxford for a day to represent the library at the Oxford Graduate Research Fair for Historians, which was a lot of fun and an amazing event to represent the library. At the end of November we had our own History day in Senate House, which gave me the opportunity to meet and talk with a lot of different librarians from all over London.
Over the last weeks I learned so much more then I had ever hoped for. A lot more than would ever fit in this blog post. A big thank you to everyone who made this amazing experience possible.
On 21 November, we held two simultaneous Wikipedia edit-a-thons in London and Leicester as part of the Being Human Festival. We did a lot of promotion of these events beforehand so we thought we should tell you how they went. An edit-a-thon is an event where editors get together to write or improve articles centred on a specific topic. These particular edit-a-thons were centred on local history and you can read about how we connected our theme with the overall Being Human Festival theme of “Hidden and Revealed” here. You can also read the story of the day via social media.
My colleagues Jessica Davies and Rebecca Read from Victoria County History (VCH), Jordan Landes from Senate House Library and I were all at the London event. Our Wikimedia UK accredited trainer was Edward Hands, and fellow trainer Jonathan Cardy was also there to lend a hand. The wonderful thing about Wikimedia trainers is that they are volunteers, so we are very grateful to Edward and Jonathan for coming along and teaching our attendees to edit Wikipedia. Overall, we were twenty-one people at the London event. We had a great mix of experienced Wikipedia editors and complete novices. The experienced editors were able to help the novices throughout the day.
The first half of the day was devoted to learning how to edit Wikipedia, especially how to make edits that will last—the secret is to provide references for all the additions you make to Wikipedia. Once they’d been trained, our attendees tried their hands at making some edits.
After lunch, VCH editor and training co-ordinator Adam Chapman gave attendees a quick introduction to the VCH, explaining the historical context of the project and how the volumes are organised. I followed by showing attendees how they could use British History Online (BHO) to search and read VCH, along with many other sources of local history. Since providing references is such a vital part to creating strong Wikipedia edits, we wanted our attendees to know about the rich resources that they can rely on when writing and improving Wikipedia articles, especially those resources that are freely accessible on BHO.
Here’s a list of the articles worked on just by the London attendees:
As for the Leicester event, they had ten people in total, including Pam Fisher from the Leicestershire VCH Trust, who helped us organise the Leicester branch. From the feedback we’ve received, it sounds like the Leicester event was just as much fun and just as productive as the London event. Their trainers were Doug Taylor and Roger Bamkin, who both did an excellent job. The only negative feedback we received is that the day should have been longer!
Overall, we all had a productive day, learned lots of new things and met some wonderful people. Thanks to everyone who helped with organisation, promotion and training. And thanks to all our attendees for making it such a great day.