Filed under economics

Masterpieces

For many centuries tradesmen learned their craft via apprenticeships. In Britain they were generally contracted outside the family to widen the skills taught and if a master died, the newly qualified journeyman might marry his master’s widow to continue the business and prevent the family becoming bankrupt. This meant it was rare for people in … Continue reading

Child Prodigies

Child Prodigies

James Ferguson grew up in rural Scotland in the early 18th century. Like most families, the Fergusons could not support their children so sent them to work at an early age. James became a shepherd but spent his days making models of mills, spinning wheels and any other mechanisms he saw. At night he lay … Continue reading

Ghosts of Wigan Pier

Ghosts of Wigan Pier

This is from the i paper by Dean Kirby. I was surprised to see the image of Orwell’s son. The 1930s seem so much further away than living history. Orwell is also important today with the rise in alternative readings of Britain’s colonial past.  When George Orwell was writing The Road to Wigan Pier – … Continue reading

Unearthing Medieval Trellech

Unearthing Medieval Trellech

This is from Wednesday’s i paper and is a fantastic example of the value of so-called amateurs, and how much can be achieved by local communities. It was a medieval mystery that baffled experts for decades. Now a history fan has finally unearthed the priceless remains of a lost city- thanks to a colony of … Continue reading

Harsh Justice

Our ancestors had to deal with a lot of problems but a major one was ensuring safe reliable supplies of food. This is why markets were established within walking distance of all citizens. In Britain, selling underweight food -especially the staple of grain or bread – was punished with a ducking or heavy fines. The … Continue reading

Celebrities Changing the World?

Here’s a piece by the brilliant Grace Dent in the i paper on the impact of celebrities opposing Trump. It’s also a lesson for politicians here, of course. When William Morris wrote “Nothing useless can be truly beautiful” he patently had never visualised an anti-Trump public service announcement starring the thinking woman’s crumpet Mark Rufallo … Continue reading

The Richest Man in All Christendom?

Most people assume slavery was the basis of most fortunes in Britain’s 18th century, but descendants of the original settlers also featured. Here’s a couple of pieces from May 1771’s Kentish Gazette: Wm Baker, Esq; one of the Sheriffs of this city, &c. was married at Spring Garden Chapel, to Miss Juliana Penn, daughter of … Continue reading

Jews and Slave Trading

Jews and Slave Trading

The British Labour party seems to be ripping itself apart on a number of levels, one of which involves the matter of anti-semitic comments. Jackie Walker, vice chair of Momentum, the group that supports its present leader, Jeremy Corbyn, Momentum, made some comments that were deemed offensive, and was suspended for claiming Jewish people financed … Continue reading

Fresh Fish in Elizabeth’s London

This is an oddity on food from Thomas Platter’s Travels in England 1599. This suggests ways of supplying fresh fish when the fleet were unable to sail, especially in bad weather.  At the fishmarket, in a long street, I saw a quantity of pike up for sale; they are very fond of this, and call … Continue reading

Law Abiding in Yorkshire, 1766

This is from the Newcastle Chronicle of July 1766. It is noteworthy as soon after this, the south and west of England erupted in food riots. This region remained calm as they ate mostly potatoes instead of suffering speculation in wheat which caused bread to skyrocket in price. York, July 22 Last Friday the assizes … Continue reading