Posted in September 2015

A Parish in Essex

Parish registers were ordered to be kept from the 16th century, largely it seems to keep track of marriages for the overseers of the poor. They are fascinating documents as they often provide fascinating snippets of history – abandoned children, paupers, itinerants, and the way in which they are named tells us how they were … Continue reading

Cobbett’s Questions for Christians

I am currently reading yet another classic of English literature, William Cobbett’s Rural Rides, in which this passionate writer on country matters rides round the farmland near London, he calls it the Wen, in the early 19th century. The book has a lot of ranting about incompetent government, corrupt officials, and in particular, mismanagement of … Continue reading

An Uncontrollable Woman

This is from the Derry Journal of March 1878 but refers to events across the pond. Probably printed to show the superiority of the Old Country: “A man hanged while Drunk An ugly scandal comes from Kansas City, Misouri, where a man named John Ables was hanged while drunk. the usual departure of the murderer … Continue reading

Jeremy Bentham: Gone but Still With Us

This is from the selection of Notes and Queries in Ringing Churchbells to ward off Thunderstorms. It relates to one of the most important and radical thinkers of 19th century England, Jeremy Bentham, a philosopher, reformer of prisons and campaigner for the Anatomy Act to allow surgeons to obtain bodies for study without having to … Continue reading

Sequel to Mrs Van Butchell

I put part of this story on a blog some time ago from a Chester newspaper, but this gives a fuller account of the story . It explains why the husband preserved his wife, but makes him seem even stranger but also either mercenery or sensible. This is from the selection of Notes and queries … Continue reading

Spirit of Place

The English landscape has long had a powerful impact on its people, but I have just stumbled upon a small area in Lancashire which seems to have something extraordinary about it. The Pendle witches are famous, seen variously as victims of male religious and legal oppression or local ignorance. They were put on trial in … Continue reading

A No Horse Town

This is from the Yorkshire Evening Post of 15 April 1897: A Parish with Only One Ratepayer In a rural parish in Northumberland a road is in need of repair and the cost of maintenance is borne by the rates. There is, however, only 1 ratepayer in the parish, and he refuses to “part up” … Continue reading

Life at the Bottom

This is one of many stories in Richard Gough’s History of Myddle where people have good starts in life but lose it all, often though drink or misfortune. But mostly from drink. Thomas Hall lived at Balderton with his father in law, and during his life hee was a reasonable good husband, but after his … Continue reading

An Unmarried Mother

This is another note from the parish register of Eydon in Northants, in Syd Tyrell’s A Countryman’s Tale: John Hinton sonne of Henry Hinton of the Graynge and Jane Warce whom he got with chylde being his mayde, was baptised 13th January 1623 This is interesting as this suggests the infamous practice of a master … Continue reading

A Magistrate Embarassed

Towards the end of the 19th century it seems the Irish MPs took glee in mocking the English for wife selling, but I am guessing this went on for a long time. This is from the Belfast Commercial ¬†Chronicle May 1837. Somehow it is really evocative: R.B Cooper, one of he magistrates for the county … Continue reading