The Amateur Historian - Volume 1 Number 1 - August - September 1952


1. The Victoria History of the Counties of England by Pugh, Ralph P. Show more → Show less ↓

pp 2-4

Account of the development of the Victoria County History series. Each county set is divided into general volumes which deal with subjects such as political, ecclesiastical, social and population history, and then topographical histories arranged by hundred and parish. The VCH was originally launched as a subscription volume, and production began in 1899. By 1908, 50 volumes had been completed but due to financial problems and stoppages during the wars progress was far slower than had been anticipated. After the Second World War, London University took over the VCH and placed it in the hands of the Institute for Historical Research. Writing the histories is generally a cooperative process, with local committees and editors taking responsibility for their respective counties. According to Pugh, the highlights of the VCH include the translations of Domesday entries, the descriptions of religious houses, and the immense amount of fine topographical detail in the parish histories.

2. Hints on interpreting the public records: (1) the feet of fines by Latham, R.E. Show more → Show less ↓

pp 5-8

The first of a series of articles by Latham concentrating on the use of medieval public records and explaining their often complex and difficult format and terminology. Feet of fines were records of agreements in common law actions relating to land. They were produced for almost seven centuries, and survive for the period 1182 to 1834, although for most researchers their special importance is in the medieval period and 16th century. They are now held in the Public Record Office. Although often open to different interpretations and meanings over the years, they all acted as confirmation of land ownership, but it was increasingly common for the legal cases themselves to be fictitious, and the device became a means of registering title to land. The article explains how and why these documents were used, and the structure of each document, and highlights areas where the researcher may encounter difficulties of interpretation and analysis (see also 01 02 47-50; 01 03 77-81; 01 04 112-116; 01 05 155-158).

3. History in inn signs by Roper, Anne Show more → Show less ↓

pp 9-12

A discussion of the origins of inn-signs, in which the author attributes the various names and designs to a number of influences, including the Roman occupation (claiming that the Romans were the original builders of 'resting-places'), Danish influence, pilgrim hostels, wars at home and abroad, sovereigns, military heroes and statesmen.

4. Cavaliers, Roundheads or Neither? by Hill, Christopher Show more → Show less ↓

pp 13-17

Article by one of the great historians of the 20th century, and an acknowledged authority on the 17th century and its political history, which considers how the divisions in society during the Civil War came about, their extent and depth, and their impact upon on local activities, events and people. Hill recommends local historians to use the Victoria County History as an initial source, since it gives detail on social and economic factors. He also warns against trusting, at local level, the traditionally accepted existence of a geographical split between the Royalist north and west and the parliamentarian south and east. He argues that locally the divisions were far more complex. They could be occupational or 'class' led and therefore suggests a number of lines of investigation into potential sources of stress and tension which could affect local allegiances. These include enclosure; emigration; friction between towns and rural gentry; local monopolies; friction between individual towns; local struggles over the rights of freemen; the presence of Levellers or Diggers; the effect of religious adherence; local clergy allegiances; and the transfer of land ownership.

5. How many ancestors have we? by Ridge, C. Harold Show more → Show less ↓

pp 18-22

Genealogical study comparing one's potential number of ancestors with the ancestry of royal families, who were often inter-bred. The author refers to (1952) advances in genetics and the ability to identify family mutations, such as the celebrated 'Hapsburg lip'.

6. Arranging a local history exhibition by FitzHugh, Terrick Show more → Show less ↓

pp 30-33

Brief article by the first editor and founder of The Amateur Historian on the best ways of setting up and running a successful local history exhibition, including detail on choosing and displaying exhibits.