Saturday, 18 February 2017

Hutton Rudby Spinning Mill, 1860

Such a find.  This little piece in a Newcastle newspaper, tells us at last what George Wilson was up to with the old mill premises on the Hutton side of the River Leven – a combination of the old (handlooms) and the new (gas laid on, and steam-powered looms installed).  I hope someone with the appropriate knowledge can let me know how they did the gas?

Newcastle Guardian & Tyne Mercury, 18 February 1860
This neat establishment, once the property of Messrs Blackett and Mease, and which stood so long idle, seems, in the hands of Mr George Wilson, likely to enjoy a good share of prosperity.  Gas has been attached to the premises, and eight sail cloth steam power-looms have been put into operation, besides a number of hand-looms that are dependant [sic] upon the establishment for employment.  The mill has been regularly at work during the past year, and there is every prospect of its future being still more successful.  It has been a great blessing to many poor families in Hutton and has found employment for a large number of hands in the locality.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

The Brontës

I hope nobody interested in the Brontë family missed Sally Wainwright's brilliant drama To Walk Invisible, which was shown over Christmas?

If you did, it's available on DVD and Blu-Ray.  Unmissable.

And don't forget to read about Branwell Brontë’s ‘honest and kindly friend’: Dr John Crosby of Great Ouseburn on this blog.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Extracts from the York Herald, 26 January 1850

Middle class emigration and climbing boys:-
Emigration of the Middle Classes – We are glad to learn, from an announcement which appears in our advertising columns, that the reputable firm of Sir John Pirie and Co., have chartered several vessels for the purpose of carrying out emigrants of the middle class to Australia.  The numerous complaints of want of punctuality, as to the time of sailing, of the badness and deficiency of provisions, of the absence of proper accommodation, and of gross disorder during the voyage, have had a considerable effect in deterring intending emigrants of decent character and habits from proceeding.  In all these respects, Sir John Pirie and Co. promise better things, and the high character of the worthy Baronet at the head of the firm, is a guarantee for the punctual and complete fulfilment of their engagements.
Darlington Police, Jan. 21 – Before R H Allen, G J Scurfield, and Robert Colling, Esqrs., Hannah Leybourne was charged with stealing from the person of Thomas Horner, butcher, two £5 notes and about £3 10s in gold and silver.  After a partial hearing, the case was dismissed, in consequence of the prosecutor having previously offered to compromise the robbery, if part of the money should be returned. – Peter Barney alias Corney, a sweep, was charged with allowing a young boy to ascend a chimney for the purpose of removing the soot.  The defendant was liberated upon payment of the costs, and judgment was deferred.

(In 1850, we were half way through the battle to protect the "climbing boys" from exploitation – for the relevant Acts of Parliament, see here)

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Extracts from the York Herald, 12 January 1850

Local news and local names - I thought this sort of thing might be useful or interesting to readers:-

Seasonable Benevolence
During the past week, Marshall Fowler, Esq., of Preston Hall, one of the executors under the will of the late Benjamin Flounders, Esq., deceased, has caused to be distributed the sum of £20 in blankets and coals, among the poor people in this town; 75 families received half a ton of coals each, and 25 families one blanket each.  This sum is an annuity of £20 bequeathed by the late Mr Flounders, to be distributed annually at Christmas, among the poor of Yarm.
Inquest. - Verdict of Manslaughter. - An inquest was held on Friday, the 4th inst., before J P Sowerby, Esq., coroner, on the body of John Mudd.  It appears that the deceased and a youth of the name of George Crabtree, had, on the previous Monday, a few angry words together, when the latter kicked the former in the lower part of his body, and thereby injured him so seriously that he died on the following Thursday.  After a lengthened inquiry, the jury returned a verdict of "manslaughter."  The prisoner was committed to York Castle, to take his trial at the spring assizes.  He is 17 years of age, and the deceased was 19 years of age.

Odd Fellowship. - On the 28th ult., the members of the Zetland Lodge held their anniversary at the house of Mr Wm Bulmer, Marske, Mr Thos Shaw in the chair, when the company partook of an excellent supper.  After the usual loyal and other toasts had been given, the chairman said at a previous meeting it was unanimously agreed that a token of respect should be presented to Brother John Green, D.G.M., of the Zetland Lodge, in the Stokesley district, for his valuable services to the lodge.  He (the chairman) thereofre, in behalf of the members of the lodge, presented Brother John Green, D.G.M., with the emblems of the order, and also that of the widows and orphans.  Brother Green then rose and returned thanks in an able speech.  (Loud cheering).  The toasts and speeches were enlivened by a few friends with popular songs, after which the company separated, highly gratified with the evening's entertainment.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Revd R J Barlow & funerals in the 1840s and 1850s ...

Oh dear, Mr Barlow ...

Mr Barlow's carelessness in keeping records is evident from the parish registers and his eccentricities are known, as can be seen in my book, Remarkable, but still True.

But a search of the newspaper archives – more and more of them are available online – reveals that matters were rather worse and that some people were not happy at all:-

York Herald, 28 September 1850
Negligence of a Clergyman
To the Editor of the York Herald 
Sir,– On account of the negligence of Mr Barlow, rector of Hutton Rudby, where the corpse of my wife was interred, the funeral was detained two hours and a half, when a messenger was despatched, and he made his appearance, and the body was interred.  This is neither the first nor second time that he has kept funerals waiting until the evening.
Cannot the parishioners of Hutton Rudby have this amended?
I am, Sir, yours respectfully,
John Reed, 
Pickton*, Sept. 24

York Herald, 5 October 1850
To the Editor of the York Herald 
Sir,– Had Mr Reed confined himself to truth, I should have passed over the paragraph in your valuable journal as the result of the boiling indignation of a man too self-important and passionate to listen to reason.  That the funeral was kept waiting is true, and originated solely in a defect of memory, which is the more excusable as the person did not belong to my parish; but that I am in the habit of keeping funerals waiting, or that I ever did in the course of eighteen years keep one waiting, is perfectly false. 
Mr Reed at the conclusion of his letter puts a very silly question - "Cannot the people of Hutton Rudby have this amended?" 
The very interrogatory must prove to any sensible man that the parish do not suffer as Mr Reed would have the public to believe, or they would be unjust to the community to have such an habitual evil remedied.
But I would beg to inform Mr Reed that my parishioners are too sensible not to listen to reason, and have too much forbearance and good temper to fly into a passion without just cause.
I have the honor to remain,
Your obedient Servant,
R J Burton [sic]
Vicar of Hutton Rudby
Rudby Vicarage, October 2nd

York Herald, 12 October 1850
Negligence of a Clergyman
To the Editor of the York Herald 
Sir,– It probably would have been as wise had the Rev R J Barlow passed over my letter, which was inserted in your valuable columns of the 28th ult. The Rev Gentleman asserts, "that he has not, during the course of eighteen years been in the habit of keeping funerals waiting." The following proofs, will, I have no doubt, satisfy the public whose statement is the most correct.
"On the 10th of January, 1843, my son was interred at Hutton Rudby church. We were detained two hours at the church gates, by the non-attendance of the Rev R J Barlow, until it was dark. The coffin was then placed within the church to remain until the following morning, and the company were leaving when the Rev Gentleman arrived. Witness my hand, the 8th day of October, 1850.
Thomas Seamer,
Hutton Rudby"
"On the 30th of May, 1847, my mother's funeral took place at Hutton Rudby church, at which place we arrived at ten o'clock, A.M., and had to wait until twelve for the Rev R J Barlow to read the funeral service.
Witness my hand, this 7th day of October, 1850.
David Smith,
East Rounton"
I could mention more instances of similar inattention, my own grievance excepted, but trust the preceding proofs of Mr Barlow's negligence of the burial of the dead at the time appointed, will satisfy his insatiable thirst for truth, and be the means of a speedy amendment.
I am, Sir, yours respectfully,
John Reed, Pickton, Oct 9th, 1850
(Thomas Seymour or Seamer was a handloom linen weaver who lived in North End.)

York Herald, 19 October 1850
To the Editor of the York Herald 
Sir,– In reply to Mr Reed, who charged me with habitual neglect of funerals, I stated that so far from its being my habit to do so, I had not kept one waiting during eighteen years.
Mr Reed has attempted to falsify my statement by the production of two instances, bearing respectively the signatures of Smith and Seymour.  I beg, therefore, to analyse the statements of those people.  And first as to Smith.  On Sunday morning, May 30th, 1847, at his own desire, I agreed to bury his mother before church, but instead of the funeral being at the church at or before ten o'clock, it actually did not arrive till I had entered the reading desk, at half-past ten o'clock, to commence the morning service; therefore it was my duty to defer the funeral till after church, and not keep my congregation waiting.  Thus it appears that William Smith first commits a fault himself, and then very good-naturedly wishes to charge me with his own neglect in not being punctual. 
Now as the second case of Thos Seymour bearing date January 10th, 1843.  When I first came to this parish, now nearly nineteen years ago, no honest man in Hutton Rudby will attempt to deny that the people of Hutton Rudby were not only in the habit, but in the perpetual habit of keeping every funeral waiting from one to two hours or more, even when the death occurred in the village.  As this was a most unnecessary as well as disagreeable waste of my time, I found it absolutely requisite to set the matter right.  At first I calmly remonstrated, then gave them the choice of any hour from morning till night; in fact I tried all means, gentle and simple, and for years, but in vain.  At last I was most reluctantly compelled to adopt the following plan, namely, whenever they wilfully and without good cause kept me waiting, I kept them waiting exactly the same length of time; and this plan very speedily rectified the inexcusable evil. 
Now it happens that I very well remember, in those bygone days, that this very Thomas Seymour always growled most whenever I insisted upon punctuality; and therefore it is very probable that in the case of January 10th, 1843, I was constrained to keep this man waiting, as I had others in order that I might teach him punctuality, which he was so unwilling to learn. 
Thus again, in this second instance of Mr Reed's testified neglect of duty, the chastisement designed for me recoils upon the evidence.  It would be well, therefore, if Mr Reed would select better evidence in future, for verily he has this time leaned his whole weight upon a broken staff and truly it has wounded himself, and only proved his overweening desire to make a mountain out of nothing. 
I now thank you, Sir, for your good feeling in inserting my former letter in your valuable columns.  In my opinion it is a pity that your paper should be taken up by a base wrangle about nothing; for my part I have neither time nor inclination for such idle cavilling and disputation and therefore in future I shall leave Mr Reed and his coadjutors to themselves.
I have the honor to remain, Sir,
Yours much obliged,
R J Barlow
Rudby Vicarage, Occtober 12th, 1850

*now spelt Picton

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The Live Bait Squadron - film by Klaudie Bartelink

I didn't put this on earlier, I was hiding from it because a younger version of me features in it ...

It's Klaudie Bartelink's beautiful and moving documentary film on the Live Bait Squadron, the British cruisers that were sunk by one German U-Boat on 22 September 1914 with the loss of 1,459 men and boys.  It was premiered at Chatham for the centenary of the disaster.

But now, having effectively retired from research and nearly recovered from the process of downsizing to a smaller house, here it is:

The beauty of the wrecks is breathtaking.

Unfortunately, they are under constant threaten from salvage operations.

Monday, 28 November 2016

A Cleveland link to a Dublin matricide in 1936?

A new story.

I've recently been contacted by researchers working on the fascinating business I outline below.  It seems almost certain that the main protagonists were related to the Weatherills of Hollin Top Farm, near Danby, and the Browns of Staithes and they wondered if I knew anything of the people involved.
I didn't!  Perhaps one of my readers does?  Do let me know!

On 23 May 1936, a 20 year old man called Edward Francis Allen Preston Ball was convicted in Dublin of the brutal murder of his mother.  He was found guilty but insane, and sentenced to an indefinite stay in the Dundrum Lunatic Asylum.

The national press had been entranced by the story and it was covered by every provincial newspaper.

It began with the finding of Mrs Ball's bloodstained car "at the top of a precipice overlooking the sea near Shankhill, Co Dublin" [Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail, 18 May 1936].  Mrs Ball lived in a fashionable area, was of independent means, and was the wife of Dr Charles Preston Ball, a Dublin nerve specialist, from whom she had been separated for some years.

Her body could not be found, though they searched with aeroplanes, row-boats and grappling apparatus according to a report in the Irish News.  In the meantime, her house was watched by the police and, five days later, her younger son, Edward, was arrested.  The police were satisfied that he had killed his mother with a hatchet before disposing of the body.

He pleaded not guilty at his trial, his rather unlikely defence being that he had come home to find that his mother had committed suicide by cutting her throat with a safety razor blade and that he had decided to hide the suicide by disposing of her body in the sea.

Witnesses told of the poor relations between mother and son and to his failure to settle down to any proper occupation after finishing school.

His father told the court of his late wife's mental illness.  She had begun to show signs of mental instability after Edward's birth and had become terribly neurotic, "She would meet patients at the door and tell them not to come in and see him, and get friends to ring him up and send him on wild goose chases into the country." But at the same time, she had carried on writing him affectionate letters until the time of her death.  [Derby Daily Telegraph, 22 May 1936].  He thought perhaps his son's mental state was inherited from her.

There had been some disagreement the day before between two expert witnesses, pathologists engaged by the opposing sides, over whether or not hair had been chopped or cut off the dead woman's head.  Dr Ball was naturally very anxious that the court took the view that his son was insane - the alternative would, of course, have led to the death penalty.

Mr Justice Hanna spoke in his summing up (widely reported in the press on 23 May) of the "months, even years" that the boy had suffered "under the disposition of his mother towards him."  In the end, he had found it intolerable (it had been suggested that the crisis came when Mrs Ball would not give him £60 to go on tour with the theatrical company for which he was an unpaid extra) and "suddenly something snapped".
"It might be," said the Judge, "that Mrs Ball, outside her own home, was bright, cheery and charming, and that she was not the same inside her home ... The position of the boy was very pathetic.  He was drifting about like flotsam on the sea."  
Pointing out that adolescent insanity was a rare disorder, the judge said that he disliked very much using the word 'insanity'.  The terms 'sane' and 'insane' were relics of the time when people thought that the sane and the insane were like black and white, in two separate compartments.  Modern science had shown that that was not so.
"There is a twilight of the mind, just as there is a twilight between day and night."  
Unsurprisingly, the jury returned the verdict of guilty, but insane.

In normal circumstances, he would not have got anything due to him under his mother's Will, but the press was fascinated to discover that this would not be the case - his insanity prevented him from being debarred.  So when he was released from the asylum 14 years later, he had something to live on.

This was a major news story at the time, but now is really only remembered because it features in A Classical Education, a short and fascinating book by the historian, Richard Cobb. 

For years, Cobb had been making a party piece of his connection with his old schoolfriend, Edward Ball.  He knew the strange boy very well, and had known - and very thoroughly disliked - his mother. Over the years, his anecdotes had become much embellished.  The entrancing power of the prose distracts the reader from this most successfully and there is no easy way of finding out which parts are true.  (For example, Cobb says that Ball insisted at his trial that the murder had been premeditated.  And did the Irish police really suspect Cobb of inciting the murder?  And Mrs Ball try to sue him for libel?).  The title of the book comes from their shared time at Shrewsbury School and from something Cobb quotes Edward as saying when they finally met again after his release.  His classical education had meant that he had no idea that if one wanted to wash blood from an axe, it was important to use cold , not hot, water:
"What a pity that we went to a classical school!"

The question is: Who was Mrs Ball?

Newspapers say little of her family background - beyond the fact that she was of independent means - and don't even appear to be sure of her name.  She is called, variously, Lavena, Vena and Vera.

But it now seems very likely that she was in fact Lavinia Weatherill, and the granddaughter of Edward Theaker Weatherill.  He was born at Hollin Top Farm, near Danby in 1820, married a Staithes girl, Lavinia Brown, and was buried at Hinderwell in 1905.

Edward & Lavinia's son John married Margaret Mackenzie of Dublin.  Richard Weatherill (1844-1923) recorded that John & Margaret's children included Lavinia Brown Weatherill, who married Dr P Ball, and had John Charles Preston (Edward's older brother).

This exactly matches the unfortunate Mrs Ball - described by Richard Cobb as "slothful, unimaginative, uneducated, ignorant, feckless, sloppily dishonest ... changeable, untruthful, untidy ..."

As you can see, he really didn't like her.