Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Insight into a Tiverton Victorian Midwife

Jane Chorley's Ledger - Tiverton Museum
Jane Chorley's Ledger - Tiverton Museum
In Your Area has published an article from Tiverton Museum giving an insight into a Tiverton Victorian midwife called Jane Chorley, which you can read here.
Tucked away in the stores of Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life we have a wonderful handwritten bound volume titled ‘Mrs Jane Chorley’s Book’. This is a ledger kept by Jane Chorley of 28 Leat Street, Tiverton, where she records her attendance at local births from 1875 through to 1907.

Monday, 8 March 2021

The Bells of Tiverton

The Tiverton Museum article on page 23 in this month's edition of the Mid Devon One Magazine is all about various bells in Tiverton.

The chapel at John Waldron's almshouse (Wellbrook Street) has what is believed to be the oldest bell in Devon to be inscribed with a date. The bell (1539) is older than the almshouse – completed after 1539 – and was made in Kleve (Cleves), located in Germany near the border with the Netherlands.

The bells of St Peter's Church have featured on BBC Radio 4's Bells on Sunday.

Friday, 5 March 2021

William Hogarth's Design for Blundell's School

In Snell (1892), it mentions that the famous painter and printmaker, William Hogarth, designed a Blundell's School celebratory dinner invitation (shown below). The British Museum has it catalogued as a "letterhead", so it might not have been designed specifically for this purpose.

Hogarth's design for Blundell's School - 1726
Hogarth's design for Blundell's School - 1726

From page 217 of Snell:

It has not been ascertained when the anniversary of Blundell's School was first celebrated. It has been inferred, however, from certain intimations to be found in divers old manuscripts, that the custom dates back almost to the foundation of the school, though, as far as I can learn, it was never observed with any degree of regularity until the close of the last century. On one occasion the ticket of admission was designed by Hogarth, but some doubt exists as to when it was first used. Mr. Rankilor, one of the masters of the school, in a paper read before the Devonshire Association, (1891), gives the following account of the matter:

"In 1725 was celebrated the first anniversary of the school, when the sermon was preached by the Rector of Tiverton, and by him dedicated to the 'Master of Tiverton School, and to his much-honoured (the epithet will bear a double construction) friends and school-fellows.' There is some doubt as to whether Hogarth's well-known 'Ticket of Admission to the School Feast' was produced for this occasion, or in 1740, the date which the engraving bears. The former date seems more probable, for the reason that Hogarth did most of his copper engraving between 1718 and 1726, on the commission of booksellers generally. After the latter date he took up portraiture, and speedily acquired reputation and wealth. Of the engraving in question, two copies may be seen in the present Register, one of which was presented in 1825 by the Rev. W. Toms, of Southmolton, to the Rev. Alldersey Dicken, then head-master; the second, vastly inferior, was inserted in the Register, together with an autograph letter of Lord Palmerston's, in 1859. The principal figure in the engraving is Minerva, sitting near a well-filled bookcase, and indicating to a child standing at her knee the school buildings in the distance. Near her Mercury is watering a shrub, to the apparent edification of another small boy; on the left are two children reading, and near them again is an old man, possibly a schoolmaster, to all appearance in the act of discoursing in a casual way to a somewhat inattentive audience, not an altogether unusual experience, perhaps. Motto: 'In patriam populumque fluxit utrique unus et ex uno stemmate surgit honos.' Below the engraving, in bold lettering, is a note of invitation, followed by the names of the Stewards. Underneath all, in smallest italics, and yet important as a lady's postscript, 'Pay ye Bearer 10s. 6d.' At the School Feast in 1728, the sermon was preached by the Rev. John Jones, O.B., who afterwards became head-master. It was published at the request of the stewards, to whom it was dedicated. A copy of this pamphlet was presented to the school library in 1887 by a well-known member of this Association, H. S. Gill, Esq., J.P."

The Latin motto of 'In patriam populumque fluxit utrique unus et ex uno stemmate surgit honos' roughly translates to 'It flows into country and people [referring to education] from both sides, one and the same honour [or dignity] rises / grows tall from the genealogical tree'.

In the book William Hogarth: A Life and a World by Jenny Uglow, the year of 1726 is given as its date.

Friday, 26 February 2021

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.