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.
In the Subject tree, “War and militarism, attitudes to” is the broad term which includes, as lower terms, Militarism, Pacifism, and Anti-conscription, while Pacifism itself is a broader term for Conscientious objection and Peace Society. Thus searching for “War and militarism, attitudes to” will bring up all of these terms.
Taking a chronological approach and beginning with Anglo-Saxon England we kick off with Looking back in Anger: Wrath in Anglo-Saxon England. This article not only examines the emotion of anger using the Old English language anger vocabulary, but also looks at how religious conversion brought new attitudes to the emotional response to war, especially to an Anglo-Saxon warrior culture, where anger played a role in constructing a man’s honour and helped him excel in battle. The article uses quotes from the poem the Battle of Maldon.
Covering the later medieval period we start with The Hundred Years War in literature, 1337-1600 which charts the narration of the war in English literature, from contemporary chroniclers and poets, such as Chaucer and Lydgate, to later polemicists and playwrights looking back on their medieval past. The book also includes the dramas of Shakespeare as well as anonymous chroniclers, balladeers and agonising eyewitness accounts of warfare.
The collective volume, Emotions and War : Medieval to Romantic Literature, includes the following medieval chapters, Emotional Responses to Medieval Warfare in the History of William Marshal, and Moving to War: Rhetoric and Emotion in William Worcester’s Boke of Noblesse. Another chapter moves on to the later period: ‘I was enforced to become an eyed witnes’ : Documenting War in Medieval and Early Modern Literature, while others cover the British civil wars, the American Revolution in North Carolina, and Henry Crabb Robinson’s Letters to The Times, 1808–9 covering the Peninsular Wars.
The conflict between war and religious thought continues during the later medieval period and the Lollard view of the just war is discussed in John Wyclif on War and Peace which includes a chapter entitled, The Medieval Pacifist.
For the early modern period we have Trauma Narratives of the English Civil War which explores the psychological impact and after effects of the war. Its main points of focus are the expressions of personal as well as collective trauma caused by this conflict. In this context, the discussion places the ways in which war experiences were narrated in relation to wider conceptualizations of traumatic damage to the mind.
The chapter Early Modern War Writing and the British Civil Wars discusses the growth of martial writing in the 16th and 17th centuries and, of course covers the Civil War. It charts the classical influences and the use of eyewitness accounts and the use of powerful language reflecting strong military command. This aspect of language is also explored in the chapter, ‘Broken Verses across a Bloodied Land’ : Violence and the Limits of Language in the English Civil War (in Aspects of Violence in Renaissance Europe).
Of course Quakerism, and other non-conformists, are associated with the conscientious objectors of World War I. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, for the 18th and 19th century and more especially the Napoleonic Wars are also covered in the article Christian heroes, providence, and patriotism in wartime Britain, 1793–1815. Evangelicals sought to resolve tensions between heroism, virtue, masculinity, religiosity and war by advancing a different set of ideals, a difficult task in a highly charged patriotic society. A less salubrious view of the military is explored in Scarlet Fever: Female Enthusiasm for Men in Uniform, 1780-1815 in Britain’s Soldiers : Rethinking War and Society, 1715-1815 which outlines a ‘dangerous disorder prevalent in wartime’, principally afflicting women.
Desertion from active military service has always been a contentious action, especially in times of war. Deserters in the eighteenth century were routinely castigated as poor patriots or traitorous subjects. Recently, scholars have begun to analyse in greater depth how and why desertions occurred, and have demonstrated that political considerations were less important than issues of identity and interest. However, in the context of the American Revolutionary War, historians have focused on the relationship between deserters and the military, arguing that soldiers who left their posts were less integrated into the camp community. This article suggests that the act of desertion was often more than a protest against conditions or discipline, but instead was shaped by a deserter’s connections with civil society rather than the military community.
This article explores the influence of the Hundred Years’ War on Fowey between c.1337 and 1399. In so doing, it employs naval pay rolls to study the contribution the town made to royal fleets and considers the mechanisms which the Crown employed to defend the port from enemy raids. It also examines the degree to which the war was extended though the agency of ‘pirates’. The article argues that the conflict had an all-pervasive effect upon Fowey, but that the costs incurred by the port and its people as a result of this were by no means crippling.
In Anglo-Saxon courts, from the eighth century down to the Norman conquest, ‘officers of the mouth’, bore household titles and served the king and his guests during meals, at least on major occasions. Those butlers (pincernae) and dish-bearers (dapiferi, disciferi) were not mere ‘waiters’ but members of great aristocratic families; serving the king’s table was an honour for them, with all the implications of that word in an early medieval context. Using a variety of sources, particularly the subscription lists of charters, this article examines their rank at court, social origin, degree of proximity to kings and queens, and the nature of their occupation.
As one of Britain’s landmark constitutional reforms, the 1832 Reform Act has attracted considerable historical attention. However, only cursory notice has been paid to the extensive work completed by the 1831–2 boundary commission to reform the nation’s parliamentary boundaries. Drawing on previously unused archival material, this article provides the first sustained analysis of the boundary reforms that took place in England’s ancient boroughs in 1832, revealing the significance of Thomas Drummond, a previously obscure royal engineer and chair of the English and Welsh boundary commission, to the ‘Great Reform Act’. As well as revealing the wider importance of parliamentary boundaries to the passage of reform by 1832, Drummond and the boundary commission established significant precedents for the expansion of the reformed British state and future parliamentary reform.
While researching a collection guide on art history in the IHR library, we have been interested to see the range of material available in a library which doesn’t in itself specialize in the subject. The importance of art and culture within society means that our collection contains lots about the social, economic, political and ecclesiastical background of artists, patrons and consumers of art. Our collections complement the more specialist resources at the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, Senate House Library, the National Art Library and elsewhere, and are especially strong in primary sources giving context to the history of western art since the fall of Rome.
Material can be found in a variety of sources, including letters and diaries, travel narratives, and the administrative records of households, local and national government and businesses. Among our online resources, newspapers carry contemporary reviews of exhibitions such as the Nazi ‘Exhibition of Degenerate Art’ held in Berlin in 1938. This can be found alongside a piece about the unveiling of three decorative panels designed and executed by students of the Hornsey School of Art for Muswell Hill Branch Library (The Times, 25 Feb 1938, p.18). Material in the North American collections includes exhibition records for the American Academy of Fine Arts and American Art-Union and The National Academy of Design, and an annual review of art in the Dominion Annual Register.
Mortimer, The Universal Director 1763
Parliamentary records also have a lot to offer, as varied as the petition associated with William Hogarth that led to ‘Hogarth’s Act’ introducing copyright protection, patents on art materials, and official reports on the provision of national galleries of art. From a parliamentary paper we learn of campaigns to provide artificial light in the newly opened South Kensington galleries, enabling them to open later “so that the members of the industrial classes may have opportunity of visiting them in the evening, which is their only time for such recreation and instruction.” (Letters and Memorials on Admission of Public in Evening to Turner and Vernon Galleries of Pictures, House of Commons Papers, 1859, accessed via Proquest UK Parliamentary Papers)
Our rich biographical collections help with identifying patrons and better understanding their backgrounds and motivations. There are a number of specialist dictionaries of artists, useful for seeing the backgrounds of people practicing in different fields.
The guide draws out several themes. There are collections on war and political art, with compilations of posters, accounts of war artists and records for political patronage of art. There is material on iconoclasm across the collections, especially in the sections for Byzantine, Ecclesiastical, Latin American and Northern European history, including the writings of reformers, legislation and town and church records. The history of collecting and display is also a strong theme, as discussed in more detail in the Guide to Museum and Heritage studies. Alongside some subject specific works such as catalogues of collections, guides to using art as a source and secondary texts, a wealth of material can be found in sources that aren’t in themselves about art, and the guide highlights some examples.
We start this week with Everyday Renaissances: The Quest for Cultural Legitimacy in Venice by Sarah Gywneth Ross. Thomas Goodwin and the author discuss an important, innovative and thought-provoking contribution to the history of Renaissance Italy (no. 2087, with response here).
Next up is Sex, Time and Place: Queer Histories of London c.1850 to the Present, edited by Simon Avery and Katherine Graham. Harry Cocks has reservations about a volume which shows the kaleidoscopic effect of queer as a method (no. 2086).
Then we turn to An Age of Risk: Politics and Economy in Early Modern Britain by Emily C. Nacol. Aidan Beatty thinks this book provides a well-versed and coherent intellectual genealogy of risk and of the social experience of living with risk (no. 2085).
Finally, we have Lauren Benton and Lisa Ford’s Rage for Order: the British Empire and the Origins of International Law, 1800-1850. Alex Middleton enjoys a book that deserves to have major implications for international legal history (no. 2084).
This post has kindly been written for us by Joseph Harley, EHS Postan Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research.
Since I was an undergraduate student I have been interested in researching poverty. The poor made up well over half of the British population during the early modern period, yet archives contain very little information on these people as the majority of records were made by the middling sort and the elite of society. This means that I have had to make long and frequent trips to archives throughout my PhD and Post-Doc to find sources.
I have calculated that over the past four and a half years, I have spent around six months of those, from opening to closing time, working at nearly 20 different archives. This number does not even include the months I spent searching online catalogues for records or the time I spent sorting through the thousands of photographs I had taken. This has been very rewarding but also very frustrating. Starting with the negatives: there is the considerable cost of visiting archives. On average, I have spent around £250 for every week that I have been away, even when I have found cheap hotels and economical forms of transport. I have been very fortunate to receive stipends and funding during my PhD and Post-Doc work, but even with this more often than not I am out of pocket. There is also the huge toll that these trips have on your body. For example, I am currently writing this blog on the 4.45am train from Leicester to London, to get to an archive in Maidstone for 9am. Once I am away, I will be eating a greasy cooked breakfast at the hotel every morning and will probably be eating something quick, cheap and thus unhealthy in the evenings.
Most of the archives I have visited are not nearby to where I live. This means that trips can be lonely and isolating as the only face-to-face conversations I have is brief chats with archive and hotel staff. I also do not actually conduct much research while I am away. I am simply someone who finds something, photographs it, and worries about using it later. Every archive has their own quirks, which are funny but also make you want to bang your head on the table. At one archive the staff thought that I was odd when I asked for a pillow to place a source with a broken spine on to. Another brought me out a trolley of sources to see, but would not let me lift things from the trolley to the table for health and safety reasons, even though they were very light and the distance was centimetres. Meanwhile, other archives are carefree and have even offered to bring me coffee and allow me to eat my lunch while looking at fragile documents (I didn’t). It is no wonder that some early-career historians struggle and can suffer from anxiety and depression.
There is a moral to this story. By working so extensively at archives I have had lots of practice of writing funding applications, which looks great on my CV and later helped when it came to writing my for the Economic History Society fellowship. People I have spoken to at archives have offered me opportunities to present my research at talks and write for journals. It has meant that I have the materials to write a dozen articles and ideas for three books. Many of these proposals are also easier to sell to prospective publishers and editors as they revolve around underutilised sources which would never have been found unless I undertook this work.
Moreover, it has allowed me to see the people that I am studying in a new light. One of my favourite things to find is doodles. It helps to remind me that the people we study were once alive and like us, sometimes got bored and would jot random pictures of anything and everything. One of the main sources I use is overseers’ accounts and these list hundreds and thousands of people that received payments from poor law authorities. It is easy to lose sight of who these individuals were when they are listed in such an emotionless way, but these doodles help me to see past that.
I have also found numerous examples which I will probably not otherwise use, but which have helped to remind me that I am studying people who were once alive and had worries, problems and dislikes of their own. In some parishes, for example, people would not be given poor relief unless they gave up their beloved pet dog. The elderly or single pregnant women were sometimes only helped by authorities if they entered the workhouse. Workhouse residents who tried to commit suicide were subject to criminal prosecutions if they managed to survive. I can’t imagine the sort of emotional turmoil and dilemmas that these people would have felt. Life could also be very unpredictable and peculiar. In Farningham, Kent, for instance, the parish constables were accused of neglecting their duties in 1827 after children were seen playing with gunpowder in the village. In Rothley, Leicestershire, in 1795, two people were given poor relief after one was bitten by a ‘Mad Dog’ and after the other was shot!
Overall then, as much as I dislike the costs, bad food and long days away from home, these trips have proved to be useful in other ways than providing sources for publications. They have helped me to become a more conscious historian who is appreciative of the challenges and complexities of contemporary society.
– New research guide to the Library’s Museum Studies and Heritage collections –
With research in the fields of museum studies and heritage continuing to expand and develop as a key trend in history, the IHR library has recently compiled a guide to the library’s museum studies and heritage collections. The guide provides an overview of the library’s holdings, gives details of the range of sources available for consultation, and highlights two case studies – the British Museum and the Imperial War Museum respectively. Relevant sources for the study of both institutions are outlined within the collection guide alongside relevant holdings within the library’s electronic resources, journals and periodicals. Throughout, the collection guide documents relevant examples on the architectural history, patronage, social history and visitor statistics for a range of institutions. These examples are designed to highlight the range of sources available in the library for researchers studying museums and heritage practices.
While researching the collection guide, one example from The Times, 25 January 1884 entitled ‘The Museum in New York’ proved particularly striking for its account of a law suit involving the then Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The article notes of the museum that, ‘the Museum of Art is not a public institution. It is a strictly private corporation. It is the child of a number of enthusiastic gentlemen, who in November, 1869, held a meeting in this city for the purpose of creating some institution that would emulate the British Museum.’ In addition to providing commentary on the museum’s establishment, the article also details an alarming disregard for conservation practices. The correspondent states that during the trial it was offered ‘to let the plaintiff hack several statues to pieces in open court to test their genuineness; and a sculptor actually did hew off fragments from one of the images, in presence of Judge and jury, to show that the ancient relic was actually made of solid stone and not of cement.’ Commentaries on a range of museums can also be found in the library’s collections of personal testimonies, diaries and correspondence. For example, Krystyn Lach-Szyrma, a Polish philosopher who travelled across Britain between 1820 and 1824, described the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow as, ‘a rich collection of animals, plants, minerals, medals and manuscripts left by the famous doctor Hunter who studied at this University. The Anatomical Hall is the most interesting of all. I have seen there all the parts of the human body preserved in alcohol…The seats of feeling and of thought are thus the places where life begins!’
The library’s collections in museum and heritage studies are continuing to grow. One of the latest titles to arrive in the library, Interpreting Native American History and Culture at Museums and Historic Sites, features best practice case studies for museum professionals involved in caring for collections of Native American material culture. Of particular relevance for museum studies researchers is the chapter entitled ‘Taking Responsibility for Museum History and Legacy: promoting change in collections management’. This chapter provides insightful discussion into ethical considerations for collection management as well as providing a historical background to collecting practices in museums across the United States.
We start this week with Bad Queen Bess? Libels, Secret Histories, and the Politics of Publicity in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth I . Andrew Hadfield and Peter Lake discuss a book which continues the author’s lifelong labour of making sense of the complex legacy of post-Reformation thought in England (no. 2083, with response here).
Next up is Queens Consort, Cultural Transfer and European Politics, c.1500-1800, edited by Helen Watanabe-O’Kelly and Adam Morton. Estelle Paranque believes this is a collection scholars and students with an interest in queenship will not want to miss out on (no. 2082).
Then we turn to Caroline Winterer’s American Enlightenments: Pursuing Happiness in the Age of Reason. Tom Cutterham reviews a new take on the enlightenment, but one which risks glossing over the violence that made it possible (no. 2081).
Finally, in the latest of our occasional Reviews in History podcast series, Daniel Snowman talks to Margaret MacMillan about her background, career, key publications and future plans (no. 2080).