Monday, 22 February 2021

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

French Prisoners of War

From Snell (1892), the French prisoners captured before and during the Napoleonic Wars get a mention on page 230:

During the long war preceding the banishment of Napoleon to Elba so many prisoners had been captured through the English naval victories, that the prisons devoted to their custody were found totally inadequate, and the officers of the captured French vessels, as well as those of the Army, were located in different towns, and allowed their liberty on parole, subject to certain restrictions.

Tiverton consequently came in for a share of these gentlemen who were billeted on the inhabitants in a manner suited to their position and rank. With scarcely an exception these officers conducted themselves in such a way as to win the esteem and regard of their hosts, and in many instances, lasting friendships were formed with them. After the establishment of peace in 1815 some of the prisoners, rather than return to their country, preferred to settle in England. Among these was Monsieur Alexandra Lamotte, who chose Tiverton as his place of abode, acquired property there, and gained much respect as French master at Blundell's School.

Not a few of the Frenchmen were very clever and ingenious, and were wont to relieve the tedium of enforced leisure by arranging various games peculiar to their country, whilst others occupied themselves with carving wooden toys, making miniature models of their respective vessels, and in similar ways. Mr. Sharland is the possessor of a memento of one of these prisoners in the shape of a tiny beam and scales, and a box to fit them in. They were made of hard wood with no other tool than a pen-knife.

An incident occurred at this time which wounded the feelings of the officers, as it seemed likely to shake the faith of Tiverton people in their honour. This was the escape of two of the prisoners, who left the town by night, walked to Torquay, or some place in that neighbourhood, stole a small boat, and made off, but whether or not they reached France was never known.

Among the more distinguished prisoners of war stationed at Tiverton was Admiral Dumanoir, who in 1806 received a visit from Sir Sidney Smith. Another was General Boyer, concerning whom the following anecdote has been preserved. At the window of a coffee-room in Tiverton had been posted a notice to the effect that two thousand Turks had been murdered in cold blood at Jaffa by order of General Bonaparte. Boyer, who happened to have had a command in Egypt, read this bulletin, and with true French sang froid took out his pencil and altered the words "two thousand" into "three thousand five hundred."

As some proof of the interest taken by the inhabitants in the prisoners, I may quote the following entry in the Churchwardens' Accounts for the year 1796: "Richard Hawks, 4 quarts and 1 pint of brandy for the French prisoners! Os. 3d." Evidently this alludes to the rank-and-file. On the 5th of December, 1797, a hundred and eighty of the latter, under an escort of the Wiltshire Militia, were marched to Stapledon Prison, near Bristol. Their departure was much regretted.

At eight o'clock every evening during the time that the French prisoners were here on their parole, the bell was rung at St. George's, to warn them that they must be within the turnpike gates by that hour.

The French prisoners setup their own Freemason Lodge in Tiverton which you can read about in the book French Prisoners' Lodges: A Brief Account of Twenty-Six Lodges and Chapters of Freemasons, Established and Conducted by French Prisoners of War in England and Elsewhere, Between 1756 and 1814.

Friday, 29 January 2021

Lord Palmerston's Borough

George Julian Harney
George Julian Harney

In edition 416 from 1895 of the American publication The Open Court, George Julian Harney gives his detailed personal recollection of the Tiverton election of 1847. You can read the article in this PDF file. It describes who the Chartists were and what they stood for. In 1863 Harney emigrated to the United States which explains why he wrote for this publication.

Monday, 4 January 2021

Nummits and Crummits: Devonshire Customs, Characteristics, and Folk-lore

Author: Sarah Hewett
Published: 1900
Provider: Internet Archive

Nummits and Crummits : Devonshire Customs, Characteristics, and Folk-lore

The Singular Case of the Tiverton Barber

Dr Alun Withey has summarised an unusual Tiverton legal case from 1887 on his blog. The case is between a Tiverton barber called Thomas Mitchell and his customer, Mr Stuckey. You can read the full article on Dr Withey's blog. The 1895 Tiverton directory lists Mr Mitchell's premises as being at Backway and Chapel Street.
In 1887 an unusual case came before the county court at Tiverton in Devon. The case of Stuckey versus Mitchell centred upon whether a barber had used a different brand of shaving soap to his usual one on a regular customer, in the process causing him a serious skin damage and illness. “The question before His Honour was whether Thomas Mitchell (the barber and hairdresser) was liable in damages” from any potential negligence or want of skill. More particularly, if he had not taken particular care to ensure that the materials he used were fit for purpose, could he be held responsible?

The Life and Adventures of Bampfylde Moore Carew

Author: Multiple Contributors
Published: 1835
Provider: Google Books

The Life and Adventures of Bampfylde Moore Carew

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Fisherman's Cot in the 1950s

Some old home movie footage of the Fisherman's Cot and Bickleigh in the 1950s.

Comparing Times

This YouTube video from 2009 compares old photographs of Tiverton to modern equivalent views.