Filed under autobiography

Cholera in Silson

Cholera arrived on the south coast of England in 1831, one of the prices paid for empire. It took decades for the discovery of how it was spread – by drinking water – and so means found to control it. This is again from ‘Old Oak’. There used to be a long line of graves … Continue reading

A Cow at Night

A parson was not just tending his country flock; he also had land and animals to manage, a William Holland writes: “Monday 26 May 1800 The cow being furious for a bull got out of the Churchyard and ran toward Mr Rich’s. Robert [his servant] went after her ad I too marched down stirs in … Continue reading

Sunday Service

William Holland was writing at a very bad time in England – French were revolting, as were the poor, and the Established church was struggling against the rise of Methodism: Sunday May 11 1800 My Little Boy is up, loud and noisy but I have forbidden his dum being a Sunday. My wife takes Physick … Continue reading

Liberty’s Dawn?

Anyone who has read my blogs knows that I generally praise stuff, but for a change, I have discovered a book which is genuinely bad. Liberty’s Dawn – a People’s History of the Industrial Revolution¬†is by Emma Griffin, and claims to disprove the long held belief that people were worse off by moving from agriculture … Continue reading

H is for Hawk

This book has won all sorts of awards for Helen Macdonald, including the Samuel Johnson Prize for non fiction and is well deserved. It is the story of Helen training a goshawk, but also about her grieving for her father, both of which are interweaved with the history of hawking, and of the reference books, … Continue reading

An Innocent Woman

This is again from The Life of Silas Told, from his time spent with the condemned on their way to their executions. This is about Mary Edmondson, who was innocent of the murder she was convicted of: “At length we came to the gallows, where many officers were stationed on horseback besides numbers more on … Continue reading

Amon Goeth’s Legacy

Amon Goeth came to public prominence as the concentration camp commander in Thomas Kineally’s award winning book Schindler’s Ark, later filmed by Spielberg as Schindler’s List. Jennifer Teege, a biracial woman who was given up for adoption as a child in Germany has recently discovered he was her grandfather, after finding a book in a … Continue reading

Not All Equal Before the Law

Not All Equal Before the Law

This is another piece from The Life of Silas Told, about the condemned men Morgan, Whalley, Brett and Dupree: “They all agreed upon a party of pleasure, at the election of a Member for Chelmsford, in Essex; and after they had glutted themselves with immoderate eating and drinking, they consented to divert themselves by going … Continue reading

Tyburn Mobs

Tyburn Mobs

The most famous site in London for executions was Tyburn, now Marble Arch, and Silas Told spent some 20 years ministering to the condemned and accompanying them to the site where they would be ‘turned off”. The crowds attending were often large and rowdy, but their behaviour depended on the nature of the crime, and … Continue reading

Learning to Swim

Although there are images of men swimming back in Mediaeval times, it is unclear how widespread this skill was. On one hand, it makes sense that anyone who went to see should have this skill should they fall overboard, but on the other hand, some claim that if you fall into very cold water, it … Continue reading