Filed under military history

Early Berwick (upon-Tweed)

This is from Highways & Byways in The Border, i.e. the much disputed region between England and Scotland. This is about the border town Berwick upon Tweed: The town first became part of the kingdom of Scotland when Malcolm II, at Carham fight, won Lothian from Northumbria. That was in 1018.. Thenceforward Berwick was one … Continue reading

King Miser

This is from News from the English Countryside, from December 1812: A person by the name of Baldock who died lately at Canterbury, exhibited an instance of the accumulation of wealth from very small beginnings, in fact from nothing. He died at the age of little more than 60, possessed of one million one hundred … Continue reading

Got a Few Billion to Spare?

This is an additional from the I newspaper, 28 October last. It is an as from the Ministry of Defence for the sale of a Mirage jet fighter, now at Sao Paulo, Brazil. I can’t imagine a less likely readership to provide a buyer for this. Wonder if they had any enquiries.

Invading Wensleydale

Reading about England in the early 19th century it’s incredible to see the level of preparedness for what they believed to be an imminent invasion by the French. Some accounts feel like they were lifted out of ‘Dad’s Army’ but it was all deadly serious. This is from the Lancaster Gazette of April 1805: @On … Continue reading

Dangerous Words

At the height of the French wars, punishments for treason and sedition were enforced far more than in peace time. William Roberts, of North Bovey, Exeter, for speaking treasonable and seditious words, is sentenced to be imprisoned in the common gaol for the term of one year, during which time he is to stand in … Continue reading

Remembering Pacifists

Pacifists were not popular during the First World War. I have read of them being shouted at in the street and given white feathers of cowards, but they really did suffer for their beliefs. This is from an article by Cahal Milmo from the I newspaper on Conscientious objectors: In the aftermath of the Battle … Continue reading

Blind Jack of Knaresborough

This is a book by Arnold Kellett about one of the most extraordinary men, not just of the 18th century, but ever. He was born with sight, but at the age of 6 contracted smallpox, which blinded him. But John Metcalf grew up to lead an extraordinary life even for one with full sight. He … Continue reading

Russia and History

Russia and History

Amidst all the sabre rattling coming from Russia, claiming it is following its own history, it is worth remembering a few rather important moments from the past. Russia was one of the most backward countries in the Northern Hemisphere when Peter the Great became ruler. They had lots of natural resources, but they had no … Continue reading


This is the entrance to the Manchester art gallery advertising a big exhibition commemorating by he centenary of the start of WW1. The flowers are not usually associated with remembrance, but they are symbols of spring, of rebirth, renewal.

Peter the Great Collector

This is from ‘Finders Keepers, Eight Collectors by Rosamond Wolff Purcell & Stephen Jay Gould:, in which they cite Peter as one of the few who deserved to be called Great. With his “gargantuan carouses, his terrifying cruelties, his incessant wars, his obsessive need to learn and experience, his overwhelming drive to modernize and make … Continue reading