About JuliaH

I teach history courses for the Workers' Educational Association as well as giving talks on various history topics across Yorkshire and the Midlands as well as talks about the history and creation of cross stitch samplers and blackwork embroidery.

Thankful villages and the men who came home but never really left the trenches

IMG_0876Thankful villages are the ones that sent men off to fight in the World Wars and all the men who enlisted survived. To be Doubly Thankful means that the village in question saw the return of all its men in both World War One and World War Two.  Survival is, of course, not the same as returning unscathed.    The first time the phrase was coined was by Arthur Mee in his King’s England series of guidebooks – something which I still use on a regular basis What I’m less sure about is how many there are in total.  Mee was only able to identify 24 for certain and a quick trawl of the net reveals that the Telegraph thinks there are 56 such villages. Even the number of doubly thankful villages is open to question with thirteen being the most common response but occasionally fourteen being mentioned.

For the men who did return life had changed.  Pugh makes the point that the Church had preached war and many vicars had encouraged their congregations to enlist.  Evidence suggests that church attendance began a steep decline from the end of the war onwards because for many people the clergy had become symbolic of the State and had told the lie that it was a great and able thing to die for your country. Faith was shaken and certainties tottered.  From 1917 onwards there was a wave of strikes.  In the years following the Great War concern was not so much for declining church attendance as for an upsurge in Communism and revolution.

For other men there were physical injuries, the effects of gas and the disillusionment of a country that promised much for its returning soldiers but delivered little.  Many of the men remained silent about their experiences but one historian estimates that approximately 20% of returning soldiers suffered from shell shock.  The British Army dealt with 80000 cases during the war but for the majority of men the truth was that they just had to get on with it – the archetypal stiff upper lip was required.  There are interesting interviews from children who recalled their father’s return and the resulting lack of stability or financial security on file in the Imperial War Museum.

There were some socially unacceptable diseases that made their way to Blighty and the far flung reaches of the Commonwealth as well – a good proportion of the soldiery had contracted syphilis.

Roberts makes the point that it is unfair to blame the war for everything – a proportion of the men who returned home, self medicated with alcohol, fought and abused their womenfolk must have been rogues to start off with. Emsley’s article notes that newspapers were keen to promote the idea of violence resulting from character change during the war.  Indeed, Christie – as in the serial killer- claimed to have been one such having suffered from shell shock during the war but exploration of his past reveals that there were issues which pre-dated the war.  Even the Metropolitan Police were wary of men grown callas as a result of the war.

For others who returned there was restlessness that led to being unable to settle not to mention estrangement from family life and their pre-war lives.  Some of these men and their families finally recorded their experiences and these can be accessed in the Imperial War Museum or in private correspondence.  It would be interesting to know what proportion of men were so unable to settle that they eventually led a life of homelessness.

Other men were not able to hide their trauma.  In 1914 500 men were consigned to county lunatic asylums. By 1918 there were nearly 5,000 beds in War Mental Hospitals as it had been agreed that it was unfair to stigmatise citizen soldiers with lunacy as a result of their wartime experiences. These hospitals had been established by the Asylum War Hospital Scheme which ran from 1915 until 1919.  Under the scheme service men were required to be sent home to their families for care or sent to a war hospital rather than a county asylum.   The mental hospitals were known as war hospitals to avoid stigma.

In reality many of these hospitals were county asylums, renamed with their pre-war patients relocated to other asylums – resulting in the civilian population of mental health patients suffering lack of stability and familiar surroundings, overcrowding and an increase in patient mortality.

After the war ex-servicemen who could not return to civilian life due to mental health problems had to be dealt with differently. In some cases they were registered as private patients so spared the title lunatic. However by the 1920s the government was less keen to extend its pension provision to men who had been unable to emerge for the asylum or who had succumbed to the trauma of their experiences after the end of the conflict. It was decided by the State that genuine cases recovered – or bounced back to mental health- whilst malingers and those men who obviously had underlaying mental difficulties which had nothing to do with war continued to need care and thus came under the auspices of the county and the poor law – and could be labelled lunatic.

Not cheery – but I’ve got the information that I need!  Now all that’s required is to write the novel….

 

Barham, Peter. 2004 Forgotten Lunatics of the Great War. New Haven: Yale University Press

Emsley, Clive (2008). Violent crime in England in 1919: post-war anxieties and press narratives. Continuity and Change, 23(1) pp. 173–195.

https://theconversation.com/from-shell-shock-to-ptsd-a-century-of-invisible-war-trauma-74911

Pugh, Martin. We Danced All Night

https://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=3398&context=lhapapers

The Other War Dead: Asylum Patients during the First World War

 

 

 

Intelligence officers on the front line

IMG_0865At the beginning of World War One approximately fifty men received a telegram inviting them to join the newly formed Intelligence Corps. Amongst their number were officers from the Metropolitan Police.  Many of them worked behind enemy lines, others identified enemy agents and sabateurs. Some of the intelligence officers had motor bikes so that they could get to out of the way sites in order to find out what the enemy was doing.  They were particularly interested in maps and papers that might have been lost by the enemy.  As the war evolved they also questioned prisoners of war.  Initially this task might have fallen to the battalion intelligence officer but as the war progressed it became a more centralised role.

 

Other forms of intelligence gathering involved the battalion intelligence officer going into no man’s land and raiding enemy trenches in order to gather information – again this might involve finding maps but more usually it meant collecting a prisoner. This meant going into the darkness lightly armed with a small group of men who would be prepared for hand-to-hand combat.  Orders from further along the chain of command required a prisoner.  It was also regarded as important to know which regiments and battalions faced you on the other side of the battlefield.  Most ordinary soldiers, from first hand testimony kept in the Imperial War Museum, dreaded this kind of intelligence gathering not least because it was often seen as a waste of time and life.  Other testimony suggested that even if it didn’t gain the required information it was seen as a way of preventing ordinary soldiers from becoming trench bound and hardening them to the realities of No Man’s land – an eyebrow raising comment in these times.

On other occasions the aim was not to raid the trench and take a captive, the sole aim of this was often to find out which troops were in the field but simply to cut the wire, in advance of an attack or to listen to what was being said by the enemy – so a German speaking intelligence officer was presumably a helpful addition to a battalion.

Fans of the of black and white Sherlock Holmes films may know that Basil Rathbone, who played Holmes, was a battalion intelligence officer during the First World War.  This meant that twice a week he led patrols into no man’s land and then had to report on what he had found.  The report which Rathbone talked about in his autobiography was often vague but the idea was that not only should he observe what was happening in enemy lines but talk to different patrols and snipers and record what they had seen.   It was his responsibility to know the lay of the land and it is recorded in some instances that the intelligence officer placed markers in No Man’s land before his battalion attacked the enemy. It was also his responsibility to know what was happening and feed it back up the line.

In some cases it appears to have been the Intelligence Officer who kept the war diary which was not his role at all.  Different intelligence officers seem also to have had different skills which were not necessarily limited to intelligence gathering but which would have been useful additional skills.  Some had links with scouting and patrols which makes sense.  There is also evidence to suggest that some officers were trained to deal with signals but these were different branches of the service and would not have been performed by one officer.

For those who are interested A. A. Milne, the creator of Winnie the Pooh was a signals officer during World War One as was JRR Tolkien.  Milne was eventually withdrawn from the front line due to illness and spent the rest of the war as a different kind of intelligence officer in Whitehall dealing with propaganda.

Ultimately Rathbone suggested that night time patrols were of limited value.  He suggested something more radical. He found himself sent out during the daylight hours dressed in camouflage.  This involved going into No Man’s land before dawn and then staying very still indeed.  Rathbone was eventually rewarded with a Military Cross.

Other forms of intelligence gathering involved listening posts and, of course, the air force. Beach’s study of General Haig’s intelligence considers the way in which the British perceived the German Army and why they thought that they were winning in 1916.  He reflects on the way that the growth of intelligence gathering influenced strategy.

Beach, Jim. (2015)  Haig’s intelligence : GHQ and the German Army, 1918  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Rathbone, Basil. In and Out of Character.

 

 

Insanity, the law and asylums

bedlam hogarthThe word Bedlam comes from the Priory of St Mary at Bethlehem which was founded in London during the thirteenth century.  By 1377 it had become home to people suffering from mental illness or as the inhabitants were described at the time – “distracted persons.”  The law meanwhile was concerned that landowners were of sound mind and indeed the law continued to be concerned about property throughout the centuries.  By 1735 Hogarth was using Bedlam to end his social moral fable of the Rake’s Progress and the conditions in which patients found themselves were horrendous.

Fans of Poldark will no doubt have noted that the care of George Warleggan in the eighteenth century has to date not been kind following the death of his wife Elizabeth – he’s been half drowned, starved, restrained and leeched within an inch of his life.  However, this is not a post about the eighteenth century or earlier.  I want to look in this post  at the development of the law during the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth century with a view to understanding the process by which women could become confined to a county mental hospital during the Great War.  This post is not a definitive guide – its research for my own nefarious reasons.  It would have to be said that the terminology by which mental health was described throughout history gives very little thought to the patients or their families.

By the end of the nineteenth century more than 70,000 patients had passed through the doors of an insane asylum of some kind or other.  Nationally there were 120 asylums.   The 1800 Criminal Lunatic Act was particularly interested in securing those people who wanted to assassinate the monarch and the criminally insane.  The 1808 County Asylum Act dealt with fund raising methods that combined taxation with public subscription.  The idea was that the poor insane should be removed from workhouses and prisons. The wealthy insane were being paid for by their families and resided in private sanitariums or were locked up in various secluded attic rooms (see Jane Eyre and The Woman in White for literary examples.)  Almost inevitably lunacy became a condition in many counties as a method of differentiating between the deserving and undeserving poor.  There was also the fact that men and women who behaved in a socially unacceptable way could be deemed to be mad and shut away, often for the rest of their lives.  Records reveal that many people spent their lives locked in asylums having been sent there for reasons other than madness, including in one instance for excessive shopping in her husband’s opinion.

Sneinton in Nottingham was the first asylum founded by a mixture of subscription and taxation. The county had not offered care of any kind for poor people suffering from mental health difficulties before that date.  The West Riding’s asylum opened in Wakefield in 1818 though its minutes date from 1814.  Further parliamentary acts defined lunacy, attempted to regulate private asylums and sought to monitor the health care provided – good practice and well meaning concern was mixed with what modern eyes would define as barbaric practice.

In 1828 an act required all pauper lunatics to be documented and certificated.  This in turn would mean that commissioners would be able to inspect institutions and people incorrectly placed in asylums would be released (in theory) and care could be monitored – gradually more humane treatment became more the norm although restraint remained common practice for a very long time as did incarcerating people not for mental health problems but for their socially unacceptable behaviour or for having the misfortune to be born with learning difficulties.

In 1845 county asylums became a legal obligation and the Lunacy Commissioners were appointed to oversee the running of asylums. It was only in 1890 with the passage of another act that county asylums began to move away from their pauper associations to begin their evolution to hospitals caring for all walks of life.

Interestingly Wakefield was one of the first asylums to employ therapeutic employment, though this was thanks to the enlightened attitude of Dr William Ellis who moved from Wakefield to Hanwell in 1832. Ellis was a believer in the benefits of outdoor work rather than the brutality espoused by earlier “mad doctors.”  It is perhaps for this reason that many of the Victorian asylums were set in beautiful grounds.  Hanwell is also an example of changing attitudes in terms of names.  It opened as an asylum in 1832 but became a hospital  in 1926 and was then completely renamed in a bid to dissociate itself from past stigma. Not that this has ever been successful as group memory lasts longer than a name change – The Garlands in Carlisle was guaranteed to make my mother-in-law concerned for the mental well being of anyone sent there irrelevant of the fact that it had long since been renamed and re-purposed.  Many hospitals were not only renamed but shut and then demolished during the later half of the twentieth century and early twenty-first century.  For example,  Derby’s mental hospital remains a building site although the twin brick entrances remain – architecturally it is helpfully described by Kelly’s Directory.

The Lunacy Act of 1890 covered admission to private asylums but did not change the 1845 Lunacy Act and 1853 Act for pauper lunatics – by which it meant anyone unable to earn the money to pay for their care – on the grounds they were confined or without sufficient wealth to fund their care as averse to the destitute. The Lunacy Act of 1845, required  two medical certificates signed by qualified medical doctors for admission to lunatic asylums. The qualified medical doctor could incidentally be a pharmacist.  In theory a JP or official should have organised the doctor to examine the person to be admitted but it seems as though this happened prior to the jp being involved. In practice it would appear that one doctor and a vicar would be enough to certify a poor person in some locations.   The 1890 Act required an additional “summary reception order” particularly in the case of private admissions. This was also known as  “legal certification.” The 1890 law stated, as an additional safeguard against wrongful committal, that a justice of the peace specially appointed, a county court judge, or a magistrate could issue legal certification for privately admitted patients.  There was a £50 fine for any institution that was found not to have followed the correct procedure. The 1890 act also applied a time limit to the the duration of a stay in a private asylum.  The 1890 act also ensured that a policy of licensing developed that would help to bring about the demise of private asylums.

The act of 1890 reflects the increasing opposition to private asylums following examples of wrongful confinement relating to inheritance and unhappy marriage etc but as is the way of these things people still wanted to get rid of difficult, embarrassing or inconvenient relations so there was a flurry of illegal nursing homes prosecutions during the period that followed. The problem still existed after the passage of the 1927 act pertaining to the care of people with mental health disorders.

In 1910 there were slightly more than a thousand criminal lunatics, approximately 10,500 private patients and a staggering 118,901 pauper lunatics.  The numbers would steadily rise until the 1950s.  The State was concerned about the growth of insanity in the poorer classes.  Amongst this number were people suffering from senility and dementia, epilepsy, melancholia, learning difficulties, moral insanity and congenital insanity.  The causes were variously listed as heredity, excessive drinking, syphilis, influenza apparently caused madness in 2.8% of cases, starvation and mental stress.  It was also recognised that the onset of puberty could trigger some mental illness. 53% of female private cases were because of childbirth.  Essentially the first six weeks of motherhood left rich women at risk of insanity but only 7.5 % of pauper women.

The Mental Deficiency Act of 1913 identified four categories of young person who might need to be managed and cared for – these included the feeble-minded and the moral imbecile. This rather effectively ruled out the requirement for medical certification as a parent or guardian just needed to petition for the person to be placed in an institution.

Feeble minded:  that is to say, persons in whose case there exists from birth or from an early age’ mental defectiveness not amounting to imbecility, yet  so pronounced that they require care, supervision, and control for their own protection or for the protection, of others, or, in the case of children,’ that they by reason of such defectiveness appear to be permanently incapable of receiving proper benefit from the instruction in ordinary schools.

Moral imbeciles: that is to say, persons who from an early age display some permanent mental defect coupled with strong viciously criminal propensities on which punishment has had little or no deterrent effect.
One of the identifiers for moral imbecility was to be in receipt of poor relief, unmarried and pregnant. In addition to two medical certificates testifying to lunacy the master of the asylum was also required to determine the sanity of the person being admitted.The chances of you being committed were much higher if you were a woman – hysteria covered a multitude of criteria as did “female disease.”
Have I got what I wanted? Yes – a woman without private means during the early years of the twentieth century could be detained as a pauper lunatic.  All that would be required would be a medical certificate signed by a doctor or a pharmacist stating that she had been examined at some point during the previous week and was deemed by them to be insane.  An order from a JP, vicar or poor law relief officer was also needed.  Once admitted there was no appeal.  Following the passage of the 1913 act even this became much easier to implement if a young woman was deemed to be a moral imbecile. She did not have to be under twenty-one.  If her behaviour was deemed morally imbecilic in that she demonstrated an inability to exercise self control she could be given a guardian who could arrange for her to be admitted to an institution based not on the word of a doctor but on the person appointed her guardian (I think I’ve understood it right but am more than happy to be corrected.)  Of course this was not to punish the woman but to provide a safeguard for society!  As mental hospitals closed down during the 1970s there were newspaper articles about women who had spent most of their adult lives in mental hospitals based on the fact that they had a child out of wedlock. 

Not immediately related but of a similar vein it is interesting to note that following World War One there is evidence of the State regulating women’s behaviour in terms of widows’ pensions which was a natural follow on from the separation allowances granted to military wives during the war. In theory the wife of an agricultural labourer could be financially more secure with the separation allowance than she had been before her husband became a soldier.  However, if she misbehaved herself this was removed.  Taken together with the concept of moral imbecility it is apparent that women were required to tow the line or that the State would step in to regulate their behaviour.  This would, of course, have depended on the people managing the system in a given area.
As I said at the start of this post – I’m looking for evidence to use elsewhere so it is one sided rather than balanced – and having found it I shall now go away and plot!

 

 

http://studymore.org.uk/mhhtim.htm#1920

Victorian Era Lunatic Asylums

“Lunacy In England And Wales.” The British Medical Journal, vol. 2, no. 2605, 1910, pp. 429–431. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25284642.
“Moral Imbecility And The Mental Deficiency Act.” The British Medical Journal, vol. 1, no. 2789, 1914, pp. 1316–1317. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25310285.

Showalter,  Elaine. (1987) The Female Malady: Women, Madness and English Culture, 1830-1980 London: Virago.

Takabyashi, Akinobu.  “Surviving the Lunacy Act of 1890: English Psychiatrists and Professional Development during the Early Twentieth Century” . 2017 Apr; 61(2): 246–269 accessed from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5426304/

 

The development of policing

Sir_Robert_Peel,_2nd_Bt_by_Henry_William_Pickersgill-detailPolicing has always had rules attached to it.  In theory if a crime was identified in the medieval period hue and cry had to be raised thus ensuring decent law abiding citizens turned into a pitchfork wielding mob looking for the stranger in their midst in order to avoid being fined by the local lord or the monarch.  Gradually officialdom became involved – initially on an enterprising basis with thief takers which generally speaking is a polite historical term for bounty hunter.  In urban areas there were also parish constables and night watchmen.

Things started to be more regularised by foundation of the Bow Street Runners.  The Metropolitan Police was founded in 1829 by Sir Robert Peel pictured at the start of this post.  They were responsible for keeping law and order in London as well as policing Windsor Castle.  The square mile of the City of London was, and still is (I think), policed by its own force.

Elsewhere the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 allowed local councils to set up their own police forces.  The detective branch of the Metropolitan Police followed in 1842.  Inspector Whicher – as in the “Suspicions of Mr Whicher” was one of its orginal members.  New Scotland Yard was founded in 1890 in the aftermath of the Jack the Ripper case that began in 1888.

As the Metropolitan police developed other areas developed their own constabularies.  Mostly the newly founded police forces were urban. Halifax was one of the first areas to have a police force founded in 1848 along with an accompanying Watch Committee. Gradually a network of police forces spread across the countryside. For example in Derbyshire there were eight divisions of police sited at: Ashbourne, Bakewell, Belper, Chesterfield, Derby, Glossop, Melbourne and Matlock.

At the same time that various police forces were being established around the country moving the transport police were also evolving to meet the needs of the Railway Age.

In 1913 the Government increased the capacity of the police force by setting up a police reserve of retired officers who were retained on an annual fee so long as they were still able to do the job of a constable.  A second reserve was to be made up from volunteers. The Special Constable Act of 1914 allowed these volunteers to be appointed as Special Constables.  This was probably just as well because there were numbers of territorials as well as reservists in the regular ranks.  Such was the pressure on the London force that women were admitted to the ranks for the first time.

The  Metropolitan Police Roll of Honour is in Westminster Abbey. More than four thousand of the twenty two thousand officers serving in 1914 joined the armed forces.  Of that number 864 were killed or wounded.

The pay that a policeman received had been kept deliberately low since the founding of the service as a means of keeping the police on a level with the communities they served. But by the end of the Great War many men were working long hours for very little pay.  Wages for long serving officers were less than the average rate for agricultural labour. This resulted in the police strike of 1918.  Matters were compounded by the fact that each local area had a watch Committee that set the terms of pay and conditions for their local force.

The problem was  that by the end of 1918 the Government was rather alarmed about the police being unionised as they made the connection to revolutionary Russia – they had been less concerned by the fact that a poorly paid police force might have been susceptible to the odd back hander.  As a result of  establishment fears the Police Act of 1919 was passed which made it illegal to join a union, though the Police Federation was created as an alternative. Men who went on strike after the passage of the act faced immediate dismissal.

 

https://www.oldpolicecellsmuseum.org.uk/content/history/police_history/police_strike_1918-1919

Basher Dowsing and iconoclasm in Suffolk

The medieval splendour of Suffolk’s wool churches took a bit of a battering during the Tudor period. By the time Cromwell and Protestant reformers had removed saints from their niches and destroyed assorted altars and rood screens.  Saints were toppled from their niches and altars removed to be replaced by communion tables.  Then came the orders to white wash wall paintings. Everything started to look decidedly monochrome.

Matters deteriorated even further when William Dowsing (who was born about 1596 and pictured at the start of this post)  was appointed by the Earl of Manchester to inspect the parish churches of East Anglia during 1643 and 1644.  He visited something in the region of one hundred and fifty churches in Suffolk. Dowsing was not sympathetic to Armenianism of Archbishop Laud.  He destroyed stained glass, removed brasses from tombs and defaced anything that could have been defined as Papist idolatry.  Altar rails were removed, steps to altars lowered, fonts took a bit of a battering as well and holy water stoups were deemed to be fit only for Papists.  He defaced tombs that requested prayers for the Dead as this was a bit too close to the Catholic idea of purgatory for comfort.  He wasn’t wildly keen on any depiction of the Trinity either.  He also had a thing about angels – in that he didn’t like them one little bit.

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Dowsing was born in Laxfield, Suffolk from farming stock – with a large landholding.  During the 1620s he married Thamar Lea who was a member of a minor gentry family.  Her name is redolent of Puritanism.  She bore him ten children. Her death in 1640 seems to have made William a stricter puritan than ever. As a consequence of his deepening beliefs he let his land and moved to Dedham, a parish noted for its strict Puritanism. He demanded that the region’s churches should become more godly – and ensured that a letter to that effect reached the Earl of Manchester (a religious moderate who let Dowsing get on with it.)  Part of this belief stemmed from the theological argument against graven images – which is where “pictures” whether of glass or paint or stone met with Dowsing’s disapproval.  There was also the fact that Archbishop Laud had been rather busy reintroducing altars and altar rails to prevent the masses from getting up close and personal with the Almighty.

 

Having wrought destruction in Cambridgeshire Dowsing moved into Suffolk in April 1644 and spent the summer smashing up churches.  He charged parishes for the privledge.  We know this from his journal.  This is supported by the evidence of various church accounts – and from the fact that there are lots of defaced churches with missing brasses, plain or Victorian glass, damaged fonts and various chunks of masonry missing their faces.  The journal often also accounts for what was destroyed.

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Dowsing spent a lot of time trying to remove hammer beam angels from their perches.  In Blythburgh church there’s plenty of evidence of Dowsing’s defacement but the angels survived.  It was believed that he had attempted to shoot them down but when the roof was restored it became apparent that the lead shot dated from eighteenth century bird scarers.  By 1663 Blythburgh was in danger of falling into disrepair – no doubt shattered windows didn’t help matters very much.

 

In nearby Southwold he and his men broke down more than one hundred and thirty pictures and four crosses. Today it is possible to see the thirty-five vandalised Rood Screen panels with their faces scratched out ( just be grateful that the screen survives.)  Dowsing also managed to remove twenty angels from the roof – demonstrating that he was nothing if not determined.

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In 1646 in the aftermath of the First English Civil War William Dowsing married for a second time to Mary Cooper and then lived long enough to see the monarchy restored.  He died in 1668 and is know to history as Basher Dowsing.  His journal is available to read online http://www.williamdowsing.org/journal_online.html

 

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Cooper, T. (ed.), The Journal of William Dowsing: Iconoclasm in East Anglia during the English Civil War. Woodbridge, 2001.

http://www.williamdowsing.org/journal_online.html,

J. ‘Dowsing, William (bap. 1596, d. 1668)’, in: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford: University Press, 2004

 

Anne Plantagenet and the duke of Norfolk

princess anne plantagenet framlinghamAnne was the fifth daughter of Elizabeth Woodville and Edward IV, born in 1475 had her father not died in April 1483 she would have found herself married to Philip of Burgundy.  However, Edward IV died unexpectedly and the treaty with Burgundy was never ratified.  Had she married Philip she would have gone to live in the court of her aunt Margaret of Burgundy.

Instead, Anne’s uncle Richard arranged a betrothal to Thomas Howard who would one day become the 3rd Duke of Norfolk.  Once Richard III was overthrown in 1485 Howard petitioned for the betrothal to stand – meanwhile Anne served her sister Elizabeth of York as a lady-in-waiting. She featured during the baptism of both Arthur and Margaret.  The problem was that the Howards were not supporters of the house of Lancaster.

John Howard, Thomas’s grandfather, served Edward IV and was knighted by him. Richard ennobled John making him the Duke of Norfolk on 28th June 1483 with Thomas’s father another Thomas, becoming the Earl of Surrey at the same time thus ensuring their continued loyalty.  In fact John, the 1st Howard Duke of Norfolk was killed at the Battle of Bosworth as he commanded the vanguard of Richard’s army by an arrow which struck him in the face.  The Earl of Surrey spent the next three years in the Tower until he convinced Henry VII of his loyalty.

3rd duke of norfolk framlinghamMeanwhile Anne married Thomas junior on 3rd February 1495. She was never the Duchess of Norfolk  Anne died in 1510 or 11 depending on the source.  It was only in 1514 that the Earl of Surrey was allowed to inherit his father’s title which had been made forfeit by his attainder following Bosworth.

Hans_Holbein_the_Younger_-_Thomas_Howard,_3rd_Duke_of_Norfolk_(Royal_Collection)As for Anne’s widower depicted above -Thomas junior- he would remarry Lady Elizabeth Stafford but would go down in history as the rather brutal third Duke of Norfolk, uncle of Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard and arch-Tudor politician.  Anne had a son who died young but the Howard heirs came from the third duke’s marriage to Elizabeth Stafford (the eldest daughter of the Duke of Buckingham who revolted against Richard III and Eleanor Percy the eldest daughter of the Duke of Northumberland – and thus having more sound Lancastrian credentials.)

Anne was buried originally in Thetford Priory but upon the Dissolution of the Monasteries she was reinterred in Framingham Church.  Thomas Howard 3rd Duke of Norfolk managed to survive both his nieces’ downfalls, topple Thomas Cromwell from power  and generally demonstrated more political wiliness than a cat with nine lives but he was ultimately charged with treason and was sent to the Tower to await his execution.  Henry VIII died the night before he was due to be executed.  He eventually died in 1554 having been freed by Mary Tudor.

His tomb is in Framingham next to Anne who lays on his righthand-side because she, as a princess, is more important than a mere duke.

 

The Church of St Michael Framingham guidebook

 

The man who made priest holes

DSC_0094.jpgYesterday I found myself in the garderobe, sliding into a small space, ducking my head to avoid a low beam and then straightening to find myself in a priest hole.  Fortunately for me no one was going to slam the lid back into place and leave me in total darkness until it was safe for me to emerge or I was discovered and dragged off to the Tower.  I was enjoying a sunny afternoon at Oxborough Hall.

 

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During the reign of Elizabeth I Jesuits priests were feared as enemies of the state and hunted down by pursuivants.  Catholic priests moved from Catholic household to catholic household, often purporting to be cousins or other distant relations.  Wealthy families built hiding places in their homes so that when the priest hunters came calling there was somewhere to hide their illicit guest.

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The most successful priest holes were built by Nicholas Owen – not that he built the hole at Oxborough. Owen, an Oxfordshire man, was born in 1562.  He had three siblings one was a Catholic priest and another printed illegal Catholic books.  The brothers’ father was a carpenter and Nicholas in his turn was apprenticed to a joiner.  By the time he was in his mid twenties he was working for Father Henry Garnet and had become a lay brother in the Jesuit order.  He suffered from ill health including a limp from a poorly set bone and a hernia. Despite his physical frailty he travelled from house to house constructing priest holes.   Most of the people he worked for didn’t know his real name – to them he was Little John.  He worked by night in total secrecy to create his hiding places.  Many of the priest holes were so well concealed that they were only discovered in later centuries when houses underwent renovation.  Unfortunately the occasional hole is still found with its occupant still in situ.

 

Owen’s favoured locations seem to have been behind fireplaces and under stairs.  The pursuivants were men who could judge if an interior wall looked shorter than an exterior wall so Owen had to be very careful as to where he located his priest holes.

 

Nicholas was a man strong in faith.  He was eventually captured in 1606 at Hindlip Hall in Worcestershire in the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot.  It is thought he allowed himself to be captured in order to distract attention from Father Henry Garnet who was hiding nearby.

There were rules about torturing people with disabilities but this didn’t stop Robert Cecil from demanding that Owen be taken to the Tower and taxed about his knowledge by Topcliffe.  He was racked.  This caused his intestines to bulge out through his hernia.  Topcliffe ordered that they be secure by a metal plate. This cut into the hernia and he bled to death in his cell. He died rather than give away his secrets and the lives of the men who depended upon him keeping them.  The State announced that he had committed suicide.

St Nicholas Owen was canonised in 1970 and is the patron saint of illusionists and escape artists.

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Hogge Alice.  God’s Secret Agents

Reynolds, Tony. (2014) St Nicholas Owen: Priest Hole Maker

https://soul-candy.info/2012/03/mar-22-st-nicholas-owen-sj-d-1606-martyr-artist-builder-of-hiding-places-for-priests/

Illegitimate but loyal – the FitzJames family

220px-Arabella_ChurchillArabella Churchill was the mistress of the Duke of York for about ten years as well as being one of Anne Hyde’s ladies-in-waiting.  Arabella had four children by James.

Henrietta was the eldest of the siblings.  She married Henry Waldegrave, the son of a cavalier in 1683.  He was the Comptroller of James’ household.  Unlike her legitimate half-siblings Henrietta was raised as a Catholic and accompanied her father into exile along with Henry Waldegrave who died the following year.  She eventually married for a second time to Piers Butler, Viscount Galmoye but not before she’d had a fling with one of Ireland’s  wild geese. Through her first marriage she is an ancestor of Princess Diana.

Henrietta’s brother James, the most famous of Arabella’s FitzJames children, was raised in France and entered the service of Louis XIV.  He returned to England where he became an officer in the Blues at his father’s instigation.  In fact he was due to replace the protestant Earl of Oxford – an example of James’ strategy of giving key roles to Catholics – a strategy which helped to trigger the Glorious Revolution of 1688.  When men like John Churchill deserted James at Salisbury and went over to William of Orange, James remained loyal to his father and went to Ireland where the fight for the Crown continued before going into exile in France where he rejoined Louis XIV’s army.  His was a complicated life given that he found himself on the opposite side to his uncle, John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough.  Henry became a marshal in the french army and counselled his father not to trust John Churchill.  At one point he was captured by another his Churchill uncles and only released when exchanged with a French prisoner.  He became the Duke of Berwick but its a Jacobite title rather than one recognised by the English peerage.  He was killed in 1733, aged 63, by a passing cannon ball having refused to take part in the Jacobite rising of 1715. The Dukedom of Alba continued as a Spanish title.

A second Fitzjames boy, Henry, died in 1702 in France whilst the youngest FitzJames sibling, called Arabella born in 1674 opted to become a nun in Pontoise.  She took the name Ignatia.

Arabella Churchill married Charles Godfrey circa 1674.  She went on to have forty years of happy married life and three more children.  Godfrey was a colonel and a Whig – so anti-Jacobite.  In an already complicated family it is perhaps not surprising to learn that the FitzJames’ stepfather was one of the first men to join with William of Orange.  He would serve in various positions within the royal household as well as becoming an MP. Arabella outlived him by some sixteen years dying at the age of eighty in 1730.

 

John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough – a smooth man

220px-John_Churchill_Marlborough_porträtterad_av_Adriaen_van_der_Werff_(1659-1722)Winston Churchill, from Devon, was a Cavalier – which wasn’t good news for John born in 1650 as Winston had spent the family money on the king.  However, John received an education at St Paul’s before acquiring a job as a page in the household of the Duke of York.  The methodology was very simply – his sister Arabella was one of James’ ladies.  This was despite the fact that she was deemed a rather plain girl who was a baton the thin side.   In fact there were four little FitzJames’ in the family.

John rose under the patronage of James, then Duke of York but was still short of cash.  This was remedied by a distant relation of his – Barbara Villiers – who also happened to be one of Charles II’s ladies.  Now, Barbara was not what be described as monogamous.  In 1667 when she became pregnant Charles denied paternity as he claimed that he hadn’t been anywhere near the lady at the required time.  Anyway, John was apparently rather a good looking young man and apparently Barbara wasn’t expecting a royal visit so retired for the evening with John only for the king to come a knocking on her door – yes, its the classic lover under the bed story.  Only in this instance to save the lady’s “honour” and possibly his own hide John made a rather daring leap from a first floor window.  Barbara very gratefully handed over £5000.  There is another version of the story that sent John scurrying for a handy cupboard where the king discovered him.. John threw himself to his knees.  Charles is said to have called John a “rascal” but pardoned him his actions because he knew the young man only did it for his “bread.”  Choose the version you prefer.  It is true that Barbara was generous with her young men.

For John though advancement came through his soldiering and his bride.  Young Sarah Jennings came from St Albans.  She came to court when she was about thirteen and living as she did in the household of the Duke of York came into contact with John who fell head over heels in love with the striking red head.  There was a secret marriage – his family required him to marry an heiress but Sarah’s family was not only large it had also been impoverished during the civil war.  The pair only confessed their marriage when Sarah became obviously pregnant.

Meanwhile Sarah had shown Princess Anne kindness during the Earl of Mulgrave scandal and Anne known for her somewhat obsessive friendships drew closer to Sarah.  Sarah’s influence together with Churchill’s victories during the Spanish War of Succession made the couple the wealthiest ex-commoners in the land.  When Sarah Churchill was finally banished from court in 1710 they were drawing an enormous £64,000 from the public purse and their total income was somewhere in the region of £94,000.

Holmes, Richard. (2009)  Marlborough:  Britain’s Greatest General: England’s Fragile Genius

The scandalous earl, a leaky boat and a Stuart princess

buffsjohnsheffield.jpgJohn Sheffield, the 3rd Earl of Mulgrave was born on the 7th April 1648.  He inherited his title when he was a child.  When he was eighteen he joined the fleet to fight against the Dutch in the Second Anglo Dutch war.  He went on to command his own ship, the Royal Katherine, and was also made an infantry colonel having raised a regiment of foot.  In 1680 he was sent to relieve the garrison of Tangiers.

All of which sounds like the usual “blah” until you realise that history says that he was sent off in a leaky boat to Tangiers for having looked a bit too closely at Charles II’s mistresses or else for having the audacity to look to marry James of York’s youngest daughter (it depends on the source but it was more likely the mistress than the princess given the date of his commission to relieve Tangiers which was before the princess scandal.)  Samuel Johnson mentions “some resentful jealousy of the king,” he also comments that since Mulgrave resumed his duties at court as a courtier on his return that perhaps Charles II had never been angry at all – making the whole story a Stuart red herring.

On his return from Tangiers Mulgrave became noted for his support of James of York. He was one of the men who helped to bring about the disgrace of the Earl of Monmouth (Charles II’s illegitimate but protestant son.) Not unreasonably Mulgrave may have expected a little gratitude from Monmouth’s uncle James, Duke of York.

 

fe6f287740b51454df7a553b40e9e0ae.jpgHowever, his desired reward was not forthcoming!  In 1682 Mulgrave was sent away from court for putting himself forward as a prospective groom for seventeen-year-old Princess Anne – the gossip mongers claimed that he’d progressed rather further with his courting than either James of Charles II liked. Mulgrave was thirty five at the time and had a reputation as a rake (hence the leaky Tangiers bound boat.) He was quick to report that he was “only ogling” the princess (charming) but at the time it was understood that he had written letters to the princess that were rather too personal.  When he was banished from court in November 1682 speculation about Anne’s possible seduction was rife. There were plenty of risqué songs on the subject in London’s taverns.

 

A description of the attempted disposal of Mulgrave by his dispatch to Tangiers can be found in an anonymous source in Cibber-Shiels, Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753) 3:285-300. Which may be accessed from http://spenserians.cath.vt.edu/BiographyRecord.php?action=GET&bioid=35802

This account is more probably true, than the former when it is considered, that by sending the earl to Tangier, a scheme was laid for destroying him, and all the crew aboard the same vessel. For the ship which was appointed to carry the general of the forces, was in such a condition, that the captain of her declared, he was afraid to make the voyage. Upon this representation, lord Mulgrave applied both to the lord admiral, and the king himself: The first said, the ship was safe enough, and no other could be then procured. The king answered him coldly, that he hoped it would do, and that he should give himself no trouble about it. His lordship was reduced to the extremity either of going in a leaky ship, or absolutely refusing; which he knew his enemies would impute to cowardice, and as he abhorred the imputation, he resolved, in opposition to the advice of his friends, to hazard all; but at the same time advised several volunteers of quality, not to accompany him in the expedition, as their honour was not so much engaged as his; some of whom wisely took his advice, but the earl of Plymouth, natural son of the king, piqued himself in running the same danger with a man who went to serve his father, and yet was used so strangely by the ill-offices of his ministers.

Providence, however defeated the ministerial scheme of assassination, by giving them the finest weather during the voyage, which held three weeks, and by pumping all the time, they landed safe at last at Tangier, where they met with admiral Herbert, afterwards earl of Torrington, who could not but express his admiration, at their having performed such a voyage in a ship he had sent home as unfit for service; but such was the undisturbed tranquility and native firmness of the earl of Mulgrave’s mind, that in this hazardous voyage, he composed (a) poem.

The poem I should add is described by Johnson as licentious.

 

Mulgrave remained in England after  King James II fled in 1688.  He even protected the Spanish ambassador from the London mob. His political career nose dived during the reign of William and Mary.

He remained on very good terms with Anne. He became the Lord Privy Seal after she became queen  and in 1703 was created Duke of Buckingham and Normanby. When in London he lived in Buckingham House which overlooked the Mall. He was furiously Tory in his sympathies throughout his life which was a bit of a problem whilst Sarah Churchill held the queen’s ear as she was a Whig.  It’s somewhat ironic that Sarah Churchill met Anne when they were children but it was only after the Mulgrave scandal that the two became close.

 

Just a reminder –  the final short summer class in Derby entitled Queen Anne- fact and fiction- starts on Tuesday 25th June.  There are still spaces.  Follow the link to find out more. https://thehistoryjar.com/derby-classes/