Tuesday 19 May 2020

Magna Britannia - Vol 6 - Devonshire

Author: Daniel Lysons & Samuel Lysons
Published: 1822
Provider: Google Books (Alternative Transcribed: British History Online)

Magna Britannia - Vol 6 - Devonshire

East India Company Charter Renewal Petition of 1813

East India Company flag (1801)
East India Company flag (1801)
On the 8 February 1813, Tiverton presented a petition to Parliament in respect of the renewal of the East India Company's charter. The town made "long ells" - an unusually long cloth with combed wool warps and carded wool wefts in a twill weave - for the East India Company. With the woollen trade struggling, and two-thirds of all production for the East India Company, the town was keen to see the commercial monopoly the East India Company held with China continue. The Charter Act of 1813 passed in July that year, preserving the monopoly. The petition reads as follows (line breaks added for clarity):
A Petition of the inhabitants of Tiverton, Devon, was also presented; setting forth,

"That the renewal of the charter to the E. I. Co. for an exclusive trade to China, and the means of preserving it unmolested, is of vital importance to the interests of the town of Tiverton, which, during some years past, has had very little of other employ for its numerous labourers but the manufacturing an article called long ells for the E. I. Co.;

and that, previous to the war, there was a considerable commerce from that town to different parts of Europe, which consumed the wool grown within many miles of it, and gave full employ to the labourers, but since that time there has been no demand for the usual sorts of woollen goods, and, but for the orders given by the Company for long ells, the labourers, with their families, must have been reduced to depend on parochial relief, and the establishments in the town have remained idle;

and that the E. I. Co. have been long and assiduously endeavouring to establish and increase a permanent system of export in woollens to China; that they have made great sacrifices, and incurred heavy losses, for the attainment of these objects; that they have at length succeeded, and established a system for purchasing, finishing, and exporting their goods, so regular and economical, that it insures to them a constant supply of the best quality on the lowest terms, and to the manufacturers those steady sales which are so essentially necessary for the employment of their labourers;

and that the petitioners are alarmed at the attempts now making to deprive the E. I. Co. of the exclusive trade to China, being convinced that no extension of our exports is to be expected from such a measure, but that, on the contrary, the very existence of the China trade would be endangered thereby, the jealous and peculiar character of the Chinese government requiring all that systematic regularity and caution which the Company and their resident agents are ​ from long habit enabled to practise;

and that, should the trade to China be thrown open, even should this much-to-befeared event not take place, as it is a well-ascertained fact that the company without a competition cannot get a price for the long ells at Canton that will leave a profit, the petitioners cannot expect, when there are rivals in the market, the Chinese will give as much as they do at present, or, even if they did, that individuals would export goods for public benefit only;

the result must therefore be, in either case, the destruction of the almost only remaining woollen trade in the western counties; and that, should it even be proposed to continue with the E. I. Co. the exclusive privilege of trading to and from China, but to permit to the outports a free import trade from India, the petitioners conceive that measure would ultimately, but surely, lead to the destruction of the regular China trade, by opening such extensive channels to smuggling teas, and other articles, as no financial regulations could possibly counteract, the duty of about 95 per cent. on teas, and from 36 to 70 per cent. on manufactured goods, being stimulants to a contraband trade too powerful to be successfully resisted;

and that the petitioners entertain the most serious apprehensions that this measure, if sanctioned by the legislature, will assuredly tend to the destruction of the E. I. Company's China trade, of a most extensive and beneficial branch of the staple manufacture of this kingdom, and to the deterioration of the expensive buildings and machinery erected purposely for its use, thereby occasioning the ruin of very many industrious families, and depriving thousands of labouring poor of their means of subsistence;

and that the petitioners are fully aware of the specious reasoning which has been and will be made use of to induce the legislature to concur in the measure of opening the India trade, but they are convinced that no lasting increase of that trade would be obtained thereby, the Company and the private merchants at present engaged therein being already in the habit of furnishing the Asiatic markets with European goods, and the European market with Asiatic productions, to the full extent of their consumption, a fast which appears sufficiently proved by the very small proportion of the tonnage appropriated to the private trade, which has been taken up by our private merchants;

and that, on the most attentive review of this important subject, the petitioners are fully impressed with the belief that opening the trade to India and China to individual speculation, would not only endanger its prosperity but its existence; and praying the House not to sanction so hazardous an experiment as that of risking a trade the source of such extensive benefits to the agricultural and manufacturing interests of this kingdom, and of a net annual revenue to the state of nearly four millions sterling, and that the trade to China may, on the renewal of their charter, be continued exclusively to the E. I. Company, and that the imports from India may be confined to the port of London."

Friday 15 May 2020

Mendelssohn's Wedding March

The first documented example of the famous "Wedding March" being used at a wedding, was when Dorothy Carew wed Tom Daniel at St Peter's Church on 2 June 1847. It was performed by organist Samuel Reay. The piece was composed by Felix Mendelssohn in 1842 as part of a suite of incidental music to the Shakespeare play A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Mendelssohn's "Wedding March"
Mendelssohn's "Wedding March"

On 29 April 2011, The One Show broadcast a segment from St Peter's Church on the subject of the Wedding March to coincide with the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton that day. Although it is not available online to watch, local reporter Lewis Clarke made a "behind the scenes" film about it, which you can watch below.

Thursday 14 May 2020

Significant Fires

1598: 409 houses  total loss £150,000 (£39,000,000 today)  Snell
1612: 600 houses  total loss £200,000 (£52,600,000 today)  Snell
1661: 45 houses  total loss £2,770 (£523,000 today)  Snell
1676: 3 houses  Snell
1726: 5 houses  Boyce
1730: 15 houses  Snell
1731: 298 houses  total loss £60,000 (£14,000,000 today)  Snell
1738: 10 houses  Boyce
1739: 10 houses  Boyce
1751: 10 to 12 houses  Boyce
1762: 20 houses  Snell
1773: 5 houses  Boyce
1785: 47 houses  total loss £2,000 (£316,000 today)  Snell
1788: 20 houses  Boyce

Current cost equivalents calculated with the Bank of England's Inflation Calculator.

"Woeful News" - The 1612 Fire Account
"Woeful News" - The 1612 Fire Account

Tuesday 12 May 2020

Thomas Henry Sage VC (1882–1945)

Thomas Henry Sage VC

The Devonian Year Book for 1918 has a good write up of the Tiverton WW1 Victoria Cross awardee Thomas Sage:

During the year 1917 a Devonian has again been awarded the much-coveted honour of the Victoria Cross. The recipient is Private Thomas Henry Sage, of Tiverton, who was formerly in the Devon Regiment, but is now in the Somerset Light Infantry. The award is officially stated to be:

"For most conspicuous bravery during an attack on an enemy strong post. He was in a shell hole with eight other men, one of whom was shot while in the act of throwing a bomb. The live bomb fell into the shell hole, and Private Sage, with great courage and presence of mind, immediately threw himself on it, thereby undoubtedly saving the lives of several comrades, though he himself sustained very severe wounds."

Private Sage, who is thirty-six years of age, is a married man, with a family of four little children, the eldest of whom, a girl of ten, takes a gratified and intelligent interest in her father's honourable record. He is a native of Tiverton, his father being a mason, formerly in the employ of the Tiverton Town Council. His sister is working at munitions in Tiverton. As a boy he attended Chilcott's School, of which Mr. Cowell was master.

For several years Private Sage worked as a blacksmith for Mr. Pethick at his forge in Newport Street. Subsequently he was employed at Messrs. Starkey, Knight & Ford's brewery at Tiverton. He bore an excellent character, as a steady, hard-working, unassuming man. Moreover, he was of good physique, vigorous, and robust. Early in the war he joined up, being one of 37 men who went voluntarily from the brewery, and he has since seen much service, first with the Devons, and more recently with the Somerset Light Infantry.

Private Sage's wife is living at Bartow's Causeway, Tiverton, and she recently heard through a letter from her husband that the Colonel had notified him that he had been recommended for the highest award for bravery in the field, but, with the modesty characteristic of heroes, he asked her to keep it quiet and not let everybody know, lest the papers should get hold of it. In conversation, Mrs. Sage let fall a few sentences which threw a gleam of radiance not only upon the man's heroism, but also upon his wife's modest acceptance of it. She said: "I remarked in one of my letters to him — 'You don't seem to have thought about yourself.'" His reply was: "Well, they were all married men in my company, and I thought one life was better than the lives of them all. I don't know what gave me the presence of mind to do it." The wife, with happy tears in her eyes, added, after repeating the words of her husband: "It must have been God".

At a meeting of the Tiverton Town Council, convened for another purpose, the Mayor announced to the Council the fact that for the first time in the history of the borough a Tivertonian had won the V.C, and moved that a letter of congratulation be sent to Private Sage. The announcement was received with acclamation. Councillor Salter seconded the proposition ; and it was carried unanimously. The flag was hoisted at the Town Hall in honour of the event.

Private Sage was then in hospital at Epsom, recovering from his wounds. He has lost his right eye; but the eyelid, which was shot away, has been restored by skilful surgery. A jagged piece of shrapnel has been removed from his thigh.

Some other web pages about Thomas Sage:

Thursday 7 May 2020

Tiverton MPs Changed Suicide Burial Law in 1882

In Snell (1892), an update on "recent events" caught my eye. It used to be that if someone committed suicide, a verdict of "felo de se" was returned at the inquest. This meant the deceased had to be buried within 24 hours of the warrant, only between 9pm and midnight, and without rites.

Sir John Heathcoat-Amory, MP for Tiverton 1868-1885
Sir John Heathcoat-Amory,
MP for Tiverton 1868-1885

Responding to strong feelings in the town following a specific incident, a motion was tabled by the members for Tiverton, Viscount Ebrington and Sir John Heathcoat-Amory, which successfully resulted in the Interments (felo de se) Act 1882:
A melancholy incident, which led to an alteration in the statute-law of England, occurred in Tiverton in the closing days of 1881. James Holmes, a factory operative, 28 years of age, committed suicide one Thursday afternoon by cutting his throat. He was a man of irreproachable character, and for some months previously had suffered much from weakness, complaining of pressure on the head, and being at times light-headed.

On the day after his death an inquest was held, at which the jury returned a verdict of "Felo de se", adding a rider to the effect that in their opinion "the act was committed whilst the deceased was under great mental depression". It being necessary, in order to comply with the requirements of the law, that the interment should take place between the hours of nine p.m. and midnight, and also within twenty-four hours of the issuing of the Coroner's warrant (which in this case was issued about eight o'clock on Friday evening), the Superintendent of Police was obliged to arrange for the funeral the same night. Some delay was caused through the absence of the Cemetery-keeper from home; but about ten p.m. two excavators commenced digging the grave, in a remote corner of the cemetery; and the interment took place a few minutes before midnight. There were no religious rites, but after the interment the Rev. J. P. Carey, pastor of the Baptist Church (with which Holmes was associated) offered an extempore prayer. The proceedings were watched with deep interest by hundreds of spectators; and the incident caused an intense feeling of indignation throughout the town.

Early in the following year (1882) a Bill "to amend the law relating to the interment of any person found felo de se" was introduced into the House of Commons by Viscount Ebrington and Sir John Amory (the members for Tiverton). The effect of this measure was to repeal the enactments requiring a hurried burial without religious rites, and to sanction the interment "in any of the ways prescribed or authorised by the Burial Laws Amendment Act, 1880".