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In this second of two articles on women and their lives in Tudor Southampton, Cheryl Butler focuses on their economic activity. She begins by describing the Southampton Tudor People Project, a database which now has over 18,000 names, of whom almost 4500 are women. The article explores whether this resource can challenge the general view that women had a limited role in a patriarchal society.
The first section investigates women and crafts, and their membership of town and trade guilds. Certain trades in which women played a prominent part include food (such as baking), the silk trade, wool packing, and prostitution. This leads on to the role of women in civic life, since a significant number appear to have been burgesses by virtue of their trading role, and some had apprentices. Others were involved in civic life when their husbands died in office, and a few are known to have held employment as town officials. Women were also entrepreneurs, managing and directing important businesses including some involved with international trade.
Much hover depended on their marital status and the character of the husband, and the next section discusses ‘for better or worse’ the significance of marital relationships. Cases of the breakdown of a marriage, and oppression of the wife, are noted. The final section returns to the economic dimension but explores the role of women as employees in, for example, brewing and alehouse-keeping, nursing and medical care, and domestic service. The article concludes with the suggestion that most women are still shadowy figures, because they are less likely to appear in legal documents and are often identified solely by their relationship with a man (as wife, mother, daughter, or sister of ...). This paper includes a comprehensive set of references and could serve as a model for similar research in other towns.
This unusual and stimulating article focuses on two eighteenth- and nineteenth century autobiographies (Mary Saxby 1738-1801 and William Cameron 1787-1851). Both purport to be the work of their authors, although Peter Leese places special emphasis on the vital role of the editor and publisher in each case. The two subjects both encountered tremendous personal hardship and misfortune, and both were for long periods impoverished vagrants. The analysis begins with a discussion of the concept of conversion, either in the religious sense or in the sense of a changed way of life. Leese argues that writing their life stories helped the subjects to express these changes and gave a framework to their existence.
Each of the published works is dissected in terms of its internal structure, showing how specific themes emerge and shape the narrative, and how this reveals the way in which the authors perceived the path of their own existence. Leese gives a detailed and very accessible overview of the nature of autobiography and its relationship with an oral culture, explaining how sources such as melodrama, religious texts and popular literature shape the form of the story-telling. Peter Leese emphasises that works such as these do not emerge fully-formed from nowhere, but must be seen in the context of a strong and influential vernacular culture which includes oral narrative, street preachers and chapbooks. He addresses issues such as truth and reliability, the rationale for the exercise, and the emergence of self-identity. For anybody using autobiographical writings in local history, this is an important background essay which raises and discusses many key issues.
This article explores a particularly problematic area of economic history – the question of how nineteenth-century industrial and manufacturing enterprises were financed. It is argued that in some parts of the country – East Lancashire being the case-study in this instance – significant proportions of the funding, and in many cases the bulk of it, came from working class investors. This is shown to be far more extensive than had hitherto been believed, and a wide range of evidence is provided to support the contention.
Peter Hampson begins by outlining the general economic and political context in the period from the 1830s onwards, including changes in the laws on shareholding and company structures, the importance of Chartism in the development of worker awareness, and the role of the Christian Socialists, a group dedicated to helping the lower classes and with links to co-operativism. He then discusses the formation and growth of worker-owned companies, looking in particular at the Irwell Valley. Sources include share lists, newspaper reports, and company records, these being cross-referenced with evidence from census enumerators’ books. He then turns to the experience of Oldham, where the ‘Oldham Limiteds’ of the 1870s and 1880s were large cotton enterprises funded largely by working-class finance.
Of special relevance is his investigation of loan stock arrangements, whereby companies served as de facto banking operations. Working people could make loans to companies, paying cash in and also withdrawing it, so that the company had a current balance for running costs which was quite distinct from the issuing of shares as a longer-term investment, largely for capital costs. Hampson argues that this was a very widespread practice, which can be identified throughout East Lancashire in a wide range of types of industrial activity. He also suggests that the logical danger – that at times of hardship the loans could be withdrawn and the company would therefore have been in financial difficulties – does not seem to have happened. His conclusion is that the money to finance Lancashire’s Victorian industrialisation came almost entirely from the lower and middle classes, a source which has never hitherto been seriously considered.
This paper begins with a theoretical discussion of social mobility, its importance and its possible causes and consequences, and then analyses in great but very accessible detail the differing views and arguments of historians. These can be summarised as either that social mobility was greatly increased by industrialisation, because of rapid changes in opportunity and the emergence of new skills, and that mobility was generally upward, or that social mobility during periods of industrialisation was limited in scale, very gradual, and could well be downward.
The article then introduces a case study of the parish of Wombourne in the West Midlands, looking not so much at the inter-generational approach (that is, changing mobility from fathers to sons) but at an intra-generational one, tracking the changing social mobility of individuals within a lifetime. This involves very detailed analysis of census evidence, which in this case was undertaken using a HISCAM approach, an objective internationally applicable framework for the analysing of occupational data (Historical International Standard Classification of Occupations). The technique and methodology are explained in full detail, allowing other local history researchers potentially to make use of this approach.
The results are very clear. In Wombourne, there is almost no evidence to support the contention that industrialisation produced rapid or dramatic social mobility. There was a very small, and statistically insignificant, degree of change, which was slow and also involved almost as much downward movement as upward. Taylor argues that industrialisation per se was not a generator of mobility, but that certain types of industrial development might be more significant. Whatever the circumstances, though, the great majority of the working population experienced no change in status.
As George Sheeran observes, many local and other historians have made studies of seaside resorts during the past seventy years, but most have focused on the growing popularity of seaside holidays and the rise of popular entertainment. Much less attention has been given to the resorts which were designed to be exclusive and remained so throughout the nineteenth century and into the twentieth. His paper looks at the development of Filey, on the Yorkshire coast. He begins with a brief account of the old fishing village and notes that by the beginning of the nineteenth century Filey was beginning to be noticed by visitors to neighbouring Scarborough and Bridlington. Its facilities and accommodation were minimal but the landowners—the Osbaldeston family, lords of the manor—cooperated with a series of developers in the 1830s and 1840s to plan a new clifftop resort, close to the area where several wealthy people had already built second or holiday homes.
The article considers the developers and their background, and the plans which were drawn up for the new town. It then analyses the architecture and character of the buildings erected under these schemes, with their ambitious designs and hallmarks of elegance and sophistication. The paper investigates the visitors, and the role of the railway, and makes use of reports in the local papers and also in The Times, which reported the presence of minor royalty in the town on several occasions. The late nineteenth-century resort is discussed in terms of its careful social zoning, and the article concludes with an account of new schemes for major residential and commercial development which emerged at the end of the century, but failed to materialise. Sheeran notes that in the early twentieth century Filey was still an exclusive resort, but that in the late 1930s Billy Butlin began to buy up land in the vicinity.
(List and Index Society Special Series 54 2016 425pp in total ISBN 978-0-906875-43-5) £38.50 [members] £57.75 [non-members]
This is a monumental work whose prolific author, Professor John Cannon, did not live to see in print. The 106-page introduction provides a very detailed account of educational provision in the period before state involvement became significant, its 448 footnotes demonstrating the scholarship of the author and his awareness of the large regional variations. It fell to Professor Richard Hoyle to do some of the tidying up needed to prepare the text for publication, although he would be the first to acknowledge that this is not the final word on the subject. Part 2 is just as impressive. Professor Cannon provides summaries of early educational provision in forty pre-1974 counties, including Monmouthshire, giving details of grammar and other schools and their earliest known reference. It is not and cannot be a complete list, since many schools, particularly the small private ones, left little or no documentation. Much of the work relies on printed material including a range of higher education theses from the 1970s and 1980s. There is extensive reliance on late eighteenth and early nineteenth century records, including the many parliamentary reports: particular use has been made of 1786-1788 returns, the 1818-1819 digest of parochial returns associated with the select committee looking at the education of the poor, the reports to the Charity Commission and the Kerry Report of 1835.
What are the main conclusions and how does this work take forward scholarship in the field of education history? The major contribution is the emphasis on the unreliability of much of what has been published in the past, with incorrect or distorted accounts of schooling (including in the early Victoria County History volumes). In particular, Cannon questions the poor reputation of education in the period before the state started to intervene after 1833. He cites the traditional view which highlights flogging, untrained teachers, squalid conditions, a lack of respect by the poorer classes, poor attendance, a very limited syllabus and provision aimed largely at boys. The view expressed in this publication is that while some of this was indeed true it is an exaggerated picture, partly because much of the best provision came from the private sector that was the least documented. A heavy concentration on grammar schools and the limitations of Oxford and Cambridge Universities meant that scholars picked up on a narrow classical curriculum. Yet many of the private schools provided vocational and utilitarian education, and often for the masses. There may have been bad teachers—the need for money and the absence of a pension system kept many teachers well beyond their sell-by date—but literacy levels rose and the availability of education increased considerably.
Professor Cannon also reminds us to be wary of statistics. The use of measures such as the number of parishes without a school disguises the fact that there was a range of types of provision, such as dame schools, which rarely bothered the statistician—we are reminded that while some of these might indeed have been the educational equivalent of taking in washing, others provided a vital service. Furthermore, many parishes without a school had a tiny population—just a handful of residents. The conclusion is that long before the famous Education Act of 1870 hardly anyone was far from a day school of some kind. The challenge was to encourage the poorer classes, in particular, to seize the opportunity presented. Attendance was sporadic and the earning potential of the young reduced the attractiveness of full-time or part-time education. Suspicions also about the dangers of educating the masses remained until well into the nineteenth century. The introduction points out, though, that the education of girls was certainly not ignored at this time.
One other theme addressed is the link between education and the ‘Industrial Revolution’, and Professor Cannon concludes that there was not much connection. The early industries, he argues, did not need an educated workforce. With so much variety of types of school and differences in provision between different areas, it is difficult not to agree with one of Cannon’s concluding remarks, that the English educational system must have been quite chaotic and sometimes incomprehensible—but he reminds us that this was partly bound up with a distrust of government and hence an aversion to a straightforward state education system. Today’s system has a long pedigree.
TIM LOMAS is the current chair of the British Association for Local History.
(Egham-by-Runnymede Historical Society 2014 170pp ISBN 978-0-9560605-3-2) £20+£3 p&p from the Society, Egham Museum, The Literary Institute, High Street, Egham TW20 9EW; FAIR MILE HOSPITAL: A Victorian institution by Ian Wheeler (History Press 2015 190pp ISBN 978-0-75095603-1) £14.99
Many facets of the care of the mentally ill in the past have been investigated by historians, but perhaps none has received more attention than the history of asylums. Despite the quantity of studies devoted to these institutions, there is no sign of a slowing pace, and new and interesting aspects of asylum life are continually being explored. The Holloway Sanatorium and Fair Mile Hospital, through painstakingly detailed micro-institutional studies, demonstrate why this field continues to capture the interest and imaginations of scholars and the public alike. In these books, the reader is guided through the lives of two very different English asylums, from their creation in the nineteenth century, to their demise and regeneration in the twentieth. Guy Blythman looks at Holloway Sanatorium, an institution owing its existence to the philanthropic endeavours of Thomas Holloway, pharmaceutical entrepreneur. Ian Wheeler discusses Fair Mile, a county asylum which catered for pauper patients, and was built following the 1845 County Asylums Act.
The development of Holloway Sanatorium and Fair Mile began in the second half of the nineteenth century. Holloway purchased the site for his sanatorium in 1871 and began consultations with architects shortly after. Fair Mile was the twentieth-century name of the hospital (1948-2010) previously been known as the Moulsford Asylum (1870-1897), the Berkshire Lunatic Asylum (1897-1915) and the Berkshire Mental Hospital (1915-1948). Planning for a county asylum began in 1867. In this period the care of the mentally ill was influenced by what was known as ‘moral treatment’. This new, humanitarian approach to managing insanity emphasised that it required professional treatment in a specialist institution, non-restraint, good food and health care, respect, regular exercise and active occupation. The development of both institutions was profoundly shaped by this prevailing medical ideology.
Nineteenth-century psychiatric treatment saw asylum building as an instrument of this moral treatment. Reflecting this, both books begin with a discussion of how each asylum was designed, constructed and decorated. Blythman emphasises the level of care devoted to ensuring that the Sanatorium would be appropriate to the needs of the middle-classes, the social stratum to which Holloway sought to cater. The building was constructed in the Gothic style, taking inspiration from the Cloth Hall at Ypres. The grounds were carefully landscaped, based on the landscape park at Sydenham Hill for the Crystal Palace. Great attention was paid to the decoration and furnishing of the building, as demonstrated by an inventory which Blythman reproduces. Wheeler notes that at Fair Mile, ‘the architecture was rather more prosaic, although still on a grand scale’. Description of grand buildings and landscaped grounds demonstrates that even in pauper institutions, designers put some thought into aesthetics. Wheeler’s discussion of the ‘extensive pleasure grounds with wooded margins’ of Fair Mile may challenge the popular image of the gloomy Victorian county asylum.
At both institutions, a regular timetable of work and leisure activities was to structure the lives of patients. In Royal Holloway, gardening and painting were offered as leisure activities, and competitive sports also featured prominently in the social life of the institution. Patients could attend concerts, plays, dances, choir, band practices and organ recitals. Though catering for the lower-classes, the programme of entertainment at Fair Mile had striking similarities to that of Holloway. Again, patients were encouraged to take part in sports, attend plays, go to dances, read, or in the twentieth-century to attend the cinema and watch television. Visits from friends and families were encouraged in both settings, and days out were facilitated. Blythman notes that some patients in Holloway Sanatorium took day trips using private cars and drivers, while others were allowed out each day and only lived in the hospital during the night. Patients in Fair Mile were more likely to be allowed out of the asylum to take supervised walks in the grounds, and perhaps the occasional day-trip from the 1930s.
Leisure activities appear to have been far more prominent than productive employment in the Sanatorium. Although work was encouraged at ‘The Sanny’, active employment figures much more prominently in Wheeler’s account of Fair Mile, where male patients worked on the farm, in the asylum’s workshops or in the gardens, and females were encouraged to work in the laundry or to sew. Work was not only seen as giving the patients’ lives structure and purpose, but was central to keeping down costs. Economic necessity ensured that productive occupation held a more prominent position at Fair Mile. This was the case until the mid-twentieth century, when occupational therapy was adopted in both institutions, stressing the utility of occupation for distracting patients’ minds, rather than concentrating on its economic value.
Humane treatment of patients was emphasised in both institutions, although because of the different social classes of patients, ‘humane treatment’ held different meanings. Blythman discusses how the social status of Holloway’s middle-class patients necessitated deferential treatment. A former Holloway nurse recalled, ‘how they were told to call the grander ones “Sir” and “Madam” and flatten themselves against the wall of the corridor when they passed’. Potential staff had to be accompanied to interviews by a relative so that the Sanatorium could be assured they came from a ‘good family’. In addition to nurses and doctors, the Sanatorium also employed individuals to act as ‘companions’ to patients, and often the wealthiest inhabitants of the asylum brought their own servants with them. At Fair Mile, staff were not expected to behave deferentially to their charges, but humane treatment was enshrined in the staff rules. Fair Mile expected staff to show ‘consideration, sympathy and forbearance’ towards patients at all times. Wheeler highlights the challenges that this could present, pointing out that to perform this difficult job staff had to ‘draw on deep reserves of tolerance ... mixed with amateur psychology’.
These books are most successful in bringing the stories of the residents of the Sanatorium and Fair Mile to life. Previous members of staff contributed to the research of both authors, adding a personal dimension that can all too often be lacking in institutional histories. Blythman and Wheeler include directly transcribed accounts of the experiences of nursing staff, providing the reader with an insight in to the everyday routine of these two institutions. Nurses and attendants working in hospitals for the mentally ill lived on site, and thus shared the conditions of patients. At Holloway these conditions were luxurious, whereas at Fair Mile provision was far more basic. Staff there were also responsible for many more patients: a former attendant recollected the long working hours, the unrelenting pressures of patient numbers and the discomfort of his accommodation. Blythman and Wheeler demonstrate the care and diligence with which staff approached their duties, and the struggles they faced in these roles. By giving a human dimension to the history of psychiatric nursing, they remind the reader that Foucauldian narratives of the social control of deviance, which dominate so many asylum histories, often leave out the hard work of staff and the everyday gestures of kindness that many patients received.
The discussion of patient experiences is also skilful, considered and at times moving, giving invaluable insights into the people who lived in these institutions. Blythman provides several anecdotes of patients which allow the reader to empathise with them. Wheeler also discusses patient stories, giving an account of one patient named Percy Walwyn who had been an engineer prior to his admission. At Fair Mile he produced sketches which illustrated the thrust-vectoring principle. His drawings were of great interest to the Air Ministry in London, who sent a delegation to meet him, only to hurry away much embarrassed when they discovered he was a patient.
Blythman and Wheeler trace the history of the development of two institutions which performed the same function, but for very different sections of society. They highlight how wider changes in English society and in mental health care more generally were felt within these institutions. The real achievement of both books, however, lies in their ability to draw out the human dimension of life—through their careful and considerate treatment of staff and patient perspectives, Blythman and Wheeler encourage the reader to reconsider the often-gloomy history of the psychiatric institution, and to reflect on how they may have been understood by their inhabitants. For many, it seems, Holloway Sanatorium and Fair Mile represented a lifeline in a time of crisis.
NATALIE MULLEN is a PhD research candidate at Lancaster University. Her thesis is entitled ‘Negotiating the asylum: patient agency and asylum authority in Lancaster County Asylum 1840-1915’.
(Thoresby Society vol.26 2016 iii+138pp ISBN 978-0-900741-78-4) £15; A LONDONER IN LANCASHIRE 1941-1943: the diary of Annie Beatrice Holness edited by Patricia and Robert Malcolmson (Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire 2016 x+221pp ISBN 978 0 9935731 0 1)
The publishing of Mass Observation diaries, as extracts or in their entirety, has become a commonplace of historical writing for the war years, but it is always a great pleasure to make the acquaintance of one that is as well done as this study of Leeds. It was a pleasure to read—I got through it in one very enjoyable session. The first two diaries included, by Joan and Tony Ridge, are fascinatingly atmospheric because they capture so well the tensions, fears, and anxieties of the so-called Phoney War. Joan’s almost daily struggle with these feelings makes it very clear that this period was not simply a carefree absence of war. The diaries cover much about wartime life, from rationing to conscientious objection, from attitudes towards Jews to the great occurring events in Europe. It was therefore most disappointing that the diaries ended in February 1940: how I would have liked to read this intelligent and articulate couple’s views of the monumental events of that summer. These diaries will be of great interest to anyone interested in wartime Leeds or the social history of the city in general.
The third diary is by Henry Novy, a young Mass Observation worker from London who was called up into the RAMC and posted for training at Harewood Barracks, near Leeds. Although the diary focuses on his experience of army life rather than life in Leeds, his MO experience made him an astute observer of his fellows, the training and army life in general. Having never read a MO diary of this sort before, I was pleasantly surprised at how interesting it was, and how it portrayed a training regime that was shambolic, demanding and unpleasant, even if it eventually showed signs of turning raw recruits into soldiers. Again, this articulate writer has produced a diary that will be instructive to anyone interested in the state of the British Army on the eve of the disasters in France in the summer of 1940.
To someone who can never read too much on the British Home Front in the Second World War, the Lancashire diary is an absolute gem. During the time in which she wrote, Annie Holness manage to pack in intelligent and perceptive comments on just about every topic that a historian would want to find for these critical war years. For me the strengths of the diary were threefold. Firstly, her reactions to world events, including ones that were disastrous from a British viewpoint, were perceptive and thoughtful rather than kneejerk. Secondly, she comments frequently about religion in its broadest context and her thoughts are individualistic. Thirdly, her references to popular culture provide a nuanced tapestry of one person’s response to what was available. Consequently, what is wonderful about this diary is that its wealth of thoughtful personal comments, as much as those which tie it firmly into a Lancashire context, can be mined by historians of a whole variety of genres. How I wish I could have found a diarist of such eloquence and who wrote in such depth when I was working on wartime Essex.
The editors of these two books have done a tremendous job with the diaries. Their commentary is instructive without being intrusive, and it answered the many questions which constantly came to mind as I read the texts. Each book contains an appendix which explains the origins and working of Mass Observation, and this will be particularly instructive to researchers who are not familiar with this invaluable archive. The explanation of their methodology as editors, in the introduction to the Annie Holness diary, will also be of value to anyone considering tackling MO diaries. Finally, the authors added a nice touch in letting us know what happened to these diarists once the books ended. Patricia and Robert Malcolmson and both the Thoresby Society and the Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire are to be congratulated for producing books that are an excellent contribution to the study of the Home Front in World War Two. I would recommend both of them to anyone who is seeking a model as a potential editor of Mass Observation or other wartime diaries.
PAUL RUSIECKI is a historian specialising in the history of Essex in the twentieth century. His work covers the whole spectrum of people's experiences—social, political, military, economic and religious. Among his publications are The impact of catastrophe: the people of Essex and the First World War (2008) and Under Fire: Essex and the Second World War (University of Hertfordshire Press, 2015).
(Helion 2016 xxxvi+243pp ISBN 978-1-910777-98-5) £25
Based on a recent doctoral thesis, this monograph overturns the view that Shropshire was an unremarkable, ‘unmilitaristic’ backwater during the First Civil War of 1642-1646. Instead Worton portrays a county that was among the most heavily garrisoned and war-torn in England. Despite rarely being visited by the main field armies, Shropshire was deeply affected by its protracted wartime experience because, Worton contends, activists on both sides were well organised and effective in mobilising resources to support their respective war efforts. Much of the adult male population took up arms, however reluctantly. The book’s focus is firmly on describing and analysing the prolonged garrison warfare (Worton identifies no fewer than 37 garrisons in the county), sieges, assaults, raiding and collection of contributions. These features were far more characteristic of the conflict in the localities than the large set-piece battles, which he reminds us, all occurred outside the county.
He argues that religious divisions were paramount in shaping local side-taking, pitching Laudians and traditionalists against a puritan minority. The internecine rivalry within the war efforts of both sides is an increasingly recognised feature in many local civil war histories, and it is highlighted here in detail. The book is particularly timely in stressing the financial successes of the local royalist administration, albeit in a county with little record of pre-war opposition to the Crown. The depiction of Shrewsbury as a critically important royalist recruiting and fundraising centre invites closer comparison with Ian Atherton’s recent findings on the royalist garrison of Lichfield in neighbouring Staffordshire. The parliamentarians were confined to a slimmer base of local support and Worton demonstrates their reliance on London and the south-east for finance and supplies.
Drawing on the borough records of Shrewsbury, Bridgnorth and Ludlow, the Commonwealth Exchequer Papers, newsbooks and the correspondence of military commanders, this book provides a useful example of how to reconstruct the rival war efforts at a local level. While it has some comparative value, this tends to be regional, restricted to comments on the experience of neighbouring counties. More might have been made of how ethnic differences and the presence of so many Welsh and Irish in a marcher county shaped the royalists’ local and wider war efforts. The sketching of the historiography of civil war Shropshire might have augmented the introduction to guide readers from the outset, rather than being peculiarly placed after the conclusion as a ‘Notes on sources’ section. The book encompasses a wide range of themes, demonstrating how military history has broadened its remit in recent years. It is richly illustrated with the author’s own photographs of civil war related sites, which demonstrates a laudable concern to consider the landscape and built environment in which the wars were conducted. Further sections provide brief overviews of intelligence gathering, medical care and military welfare, topics of increasing interest in recent years. Although this book might have made a stronger historiographical intervention, it remains a scholarly, worthwhile and valuable study for local historians.
ANDREW HOPPER is associate professor of English local history at the University of Leicester and principal investigator of the ‘Welfare, Conflict and Memory during and after the English Civil Wars’ project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
(Bodleian Library in association with The London Topographical Society 2017 vi+226pp ISBN978 1 85124 412 6) £30
‘More common than oil paintings, topographical prints and drawings are increasingly recognized as offering a window into the appearance of town and country in past times, before the invention of photography, recording a world that would otherwise have been lost’. So begins Bernard Nurse’s introduction to this fine volume and anyone with an interest in the history of London before 1800 will certainly find this collection of topographical prints and drawings of immense interest and value. The author, a former librarian of the Society of Antiquaries of London, has brought together reproductions of a wide variety of engravings, etchings, pen-and-ink drawings, and watercolours to illustrate the evolution of a number of London localities during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The quality of the reproductions is uniformly high and of a size which allows the viewer to examine each one in considerable detail. The original collector of the prints was Richard Gough (1735-1809), described by his friend and executor, John Nichols, as ‘the Father of British Topography’. Gough was a leading member of the Society of Antiquaries (founded 1718) and during his lifetime compiled a vast collection of British topographical material, including manuscripts, books, pamphlets, prints, drawings and maps. His original intention was to bequeath his collection to the British Museum, but when this plan failed Oxford University readily accepted the collection in 1809 together with the conditions which Richard Gough requested.
The core of the book consists of seven chapters covering either different localities such as the City, Westminster, the Thames and the environs of Georgian London, or themes such as maps of London and London life, the later including sections on murder and robbery in north London, prisons, and firework displays. The third chapter of five double-page reproductions of ‘The Buck brothers’ panorama of London, 1749’ is particularly evocative of London’s growing metropolitan importance as reflected in the detailed engravings (‘the longest of all panoramas of London’) of the north bank of the Thames from Millbank in the west to the Tower of London in the east. However, all the high-quality illustrations in the book are worth examination for the insights that they provide on many aspects of London’s physical, social, economic and cultural evolution. A short review cannot do justice to the wealth of visual source material provided which certainly supports the author’s claim that Richard Gough’s bequest to the Bodleian Library ‘is so varied and extensive that a remarkably broad view of London between 1650 and 1800 can be provided from the contents’.
A clearly-written introduction provides context to this selection of Richard Gough’s London collection, highlighting, for example, the changing techniques employed in the eighteenth century in the production of engravings, etchings, prints and drawings; the growing market for topographical prints; and a brief outline of Gough’s career with particular reference to how he compiled his collection and how it was eventually disposed of. Two appendices provide, firstly, extracts form Gough’s letters and journals recording his views on events such as the Gordon Riots of 1780 or the impact on the city of highwaymen, extreme weather or fire; and, secondly, a guide on ‘using the Gough collection’. Each section in the text is fully referenced and a comprehensive bibliography provides a guide to further reading. All in all this volume, with its aim of making its selection of Richard Gough’s London material ‘better known to scholars and the general public’, can be highly recommended.
CHRISTOPHER FRENCH is Emeritus Reader and Honorary Research Fellow attached to Kingston University’s Centre for the Historical Record. His current research is into housing and community in suburban London with particular reference to the towns of Surbiton and Teddington before 1939. His latest publication is: ‘A Life Well Led’. Richard Gardner (1842-1918) and the Metropolitan and City Police Orphanage, Twickenham (Borough of Twickenham Local History Society, 2017).