Tag Archives: Early & Rare

Oxford by the Sea?

A recent visitor to the Library with an interest in Lord Nelson and maritime history gave me an excuse to bring out some naval treasures. The Bodleian may not seem the most obvious place to look for Britain’s sea heritage, but there are a number of key collections nonetheless. The foundation as always is the extraordinary manuscript collection of Richard Rawlinson, which contains amongst much else more than thirty volumes of the papers of Samuel Pepys. Though famous for his diary, his role in life was naval administration. He rose to be Chief Secretary to the Admiralty under both Charles II and James II.

Evelyn sketch

John Evelyn’s sketch of the Dutch Raid on the Medway of June 1667, in MS. Rawlinson A. 195A

The above sketch of the infamous Dutch Raid on the Medway of June 1667, drawn by another famous 17th-century diarist John Evelyn, was sent to Pepys in January 1668. It is enclosed with a letter in which Evelyn apologises for taking so long over sending the sketch, his excuse being that he had been afflicted with a ‘griping of the gutts.’ He says that the sketch was a representation of the raid as he saw it from the ‘hill above Gillingham.’ He had taken the layout of the river from ‘an old paper lying by me, and not from any printed mapp.’

A key to the sketch explains the positions of the English ships and notes the burning of four ships in the Medway near Chatham Dockyard. The Royal Charles (10) was the flagship of the fleet, and the Dutch towed it away as a prize. It had been the Naseby, but was renamed when it brought the king back to England at the Restoration in 1660. Pepys himself was on board that day. Her stern remains in the Netherlands to this day, kept in the Rijksmuseum.

Evelyn's key

Key to Evelyn’s sketch of the Raid on the Medway, June 1667

More about the Library’s 17th-century collections, or at least those acquired before 1922, can be found in an old but still useful guidebook, A student’s guide to the manuscripts relating to English history in the seventeenth century in the Bodleian Library (1922) by Godfrey Davis, now available online at the Internet Archive.

The Bodleian continued to acquire naval and maritime papers, mainly through its modern political collections where the navy and shipping have often featured in policy, but also through accessions of family papers where there are sometimes naval connections even when the main subject is a literary or political figure. A search for the words ‘navy’ or ‘naval’ using the online search page for manuscripts returns hits on 92 collections. Among these are the papers of Pepys’s patron the Earl of Sandwich in the Carte collection (see the Carte Calendar); secret service papers of Sir Evan Nepean who was Secretary to the Admiralty from 1795 to 1804, catalogued among single items of historical papers; papers of the naval surgeon John Harness (?1755-1818) who became embroiled in a bitter dispute about lemons; papers of the Mary Somerville, which include correspondence of her father Admiral William George Fairfax (1739-1813); and papers of William Waldegrave Palmer, 2nd Earl of Selborne, First Lord of the Admiralty 1900-1905.

Of course, Bodley was a son of an Exeter merchant, and his marriage to Ann Ball, widow of a Totnes merchant, is supposed to have given him access to her money derived from the pilchard trade. So the Library could be said to be built on England’s seafaring endeavours.

-Mike Webb

Flooding in 17th-century Oxfordshire

In this time of rain and flood it is interesting to see how an Oxfordshire clergyman recorded unusual weather in the 1630s. MS. Top. Oxon. c. 378 is a diary of Thomas Wyatt, rector of Ducklington and vicar of Nuneham Courtenay. His manuscript volume began life as a chronicle of the kings of England, but the extraordinary events of the reign of Charles I caught up with him, and in the 1630s the volume becomes a diary recording contemporary happenings.

Wyatt also records exceptional weather and its effects on farming and prices. These are taken from entries in 1635-7. It would be interesting to know if anyone can explain the rain of wheat, or if this phenomenon is recorded elsewhere.

[p. 275]

‘In Decemb[er] 21 [1635] a pretty snow covered the grow[n]d wthout any drift lay wth hard frost about 7 dayes.  A very ope[n] misty rainy January very warme wth 3 or 4 dayes small frost rest all ope[n] & a great flood.

Jan: 30. 1635 [1636 New Style]. betwixt 7 & 8 of the clock it thundred & lightened fearfully & tempestuously wth high wind wch blew downe the top of Witney Steeple did much hurt to the church ther pulled downe the whole spire. …

[p. 280]

ms-top-oxon-c-378-p280

A most fearefull high south wind began at begin[n]ing of the night 9vemb[er] 4 1636 & did very much hurt in many places, spoiled & threw downe most rick[es] of hay.  A very great flud 9ve[m]b[er] 5, 6 etc [con]tinued till 9vemb[er] 18.

The plague at Londo[n] began to decrease & 2 week[es] their died about fower hundred & od & in thend of 8tob[er] & begi[n]ing of 9vemb[er] it increased againe to eight hundred & above.

Twas a very unkindly unseanable [presumably unseasonable] warme rainy weath[er] fro[m] about 8tob[er] 20 till 9vemb[er] 18 scarce any dry day but not one day & night both dry.

Novemb[er] 11 the night & morning of 12 day a passing great west wind & abondance of wet caused much high water – spoiled grasse wherof their was great stoare in low grownd[es] & spoiled much hay by beating downe the rick[es] in high grownd[es].

A moneth togeth[er] fro[m] 18 of 8tob[er] to 9vemb[er] 17 fro[m] one chang of the moone to anoth[er] [con]tinuall raine & wind & warme unhealthy weath[er] the like not in remembrance & an extraordinary flood but 9vemb[er] 26 it began to be fayre & frost very hard at end of 9vemb[er] & till Decemb[er] 7 & the[n] a snow half foot deep the 8 to the 9, 10, 11 the[n] raine & it thawed & was a very deep fearefull water. …

[p. 281]

The 14 of Decemb[er] after some snow & frost ut supra.  Whe[n] it thawed there was a most fearefull sodaine deepe water.  It did very much hurt in Witney, drowned & carried away hay & corne, did much hurt to a diars howse upo[n] the water.  People cold not go fro[m] church to their howses about the bridg wthout daung[er].  Went up to the middle in many howses, drove[?] downe great trees etc. …

[p.283]

A rumour was spread in April 1637 that in a place in Gloucestershire it rained wheate & afterward[es] some said that their fell an haile & the hailestones lay upo[n] the grownd of the forme of wheate cornes.  Much speech that it rained wheate in very many places. …’

***

While on the subject of flooding, a few people have asked what the document is that forms the background to the Historical Archives and Manuscripts blog. It is from a sketch of the battle of Sedgemoor 1685, MS. Ballard 48, fol 74. Sedgemoor is on the Somerset Levels, much in the news at present. The plan was photographed for the Rediscovering Rycote website.019-ms.ballard.48,fol.74

-Mike Webb

The earliest reference to a boiler?

A ledger in the Townesend family archive contains a reference to a Robert Johnson being paid for six days work ‘laying sume stepts & hang the Boiler in the Kicthing’ at Christ Church.

MS. Don. c. 210, fol. 92 - The installation of a boiler in the kitchens at Christ Church, Oxford, February 1718

MS. Don. c. 210, fol. 92 – The installation of a boiler in the kitchens at Christ Church, Oxford, February 1718

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a boiler as ‘a vessel in which water or any liquid is boiled’ and cites Daniel Defoe’s 1725 publication A New voyage round the world, by a course never sailed before as the first use of the word. The reference in the Townesend archive dates from February 1718 [new style]. Could this be the earliest reference to a boiler?

The masons who rebuilt Oxford

In 2012 the Bodleian Library acquired a major new source for the study of the architectural history of Oxford. The Townesend archive documents the work of three generations of Oxford’s leading family of master-masons: John Townesend I (c.1648-1728), his son William Townesend (1676-1739), and his grandson John Townesend II (1709-1746). The archive was in private hands until its acquisition by the Bodleian and has only been seen twice by architectural historians, who did not make extensive use of it, since the 1920s. It is the only known archive of a major family of Georgian builders to have survived intact.

The Townesends were responsible for much of Oxford’s architectural transformation between the late seventeenth century and the mid-eighteenth century. Work for the University and Oxford colleges formed the mainstay of the family’s business. Work at nineteen Oxford colleges, ranging from major contracts such as the construction of Queen’s College Library to minor jobs such as repairs to chimneys, is documented in the archive. Other major University and college commissions recorded in the archive include the construction of Peckwater Quad at Christ Church, the Codrington Library at All Souls College; and the Radcliffe Library (Camera). The family’s work also extended beyond Oxford. The ledgers of John Townesend I record him supplying stone to St Paul’s Cathedral, 1687-1694, and Hampton Court Palace, 1689-1691, and his work at Blenheim Palace in 1706. His son William was commissioned by Allen Bathurst, 1st Earl Bathurst, to remodel Cirencester House, Gloucestershire, 1725-1726.

Abstract for the digging and walling of the foundations of the Radcliffe Library, 1737

Abstract for the digging and walling of the foundations of the Radcliffe Library, 1737

Although the archive contains no architectural drawings, it offers a wealth of information concerning the costs and transportation of building materials, wage rates for labourers and stakes in quarries.

The catalogue of the Townesend family archive is now available online.

How to bury a king

I was interested to read in the news recently about the research being undertaken in preparation for the reburial of Richard III and the discovery of a medieval description of how the service should be conducted. It reminded me of a Bodleian manuscript of ordinances concerning the ceremonial to be observed in the household of the earls of Northumberland. Dating from the early sixteenth century, it describes the procedures to be followed should a king happen to die in your house:

The ordour of A Beriall of A king or kinges

Or Princes Ande great estates Ande of what wise it shalbe ordourid

their buriall And how ande in what manar And ordour it is to be

Doon Hereaftir followith in this booke in Articles moir plainly doith

Appeir by the same in this booke following every mannes astate in what

wise his buriall shalbe

The beriall of kingis

First after the Departament of A king oute of this present liffe

too the mercy of god his corse to be balmed and sencid and Serid

And cloocid in A thyn webb of lead And than to be laide in A chiste of

Timber And than conveyd into the chapell in the hous where he departid

and their laid under a herce And the said corse to be coverid with A

herse cloith of blacke cloith of gold or blak velvet And a crosse of white

uppon the said herse cloith And to stand uppon the said herse iiii Candel

stickes of Siluer and gilte with Tapers in theme with a crosse of

Siluer and gilte to stand uppon the Middest of the said herse And there

the chappell to sing Dirige at night And messe of requiem on the

morrow And so to be usid Daily Aslong as the said corse Remaneth in

the said chapell to the tyme be the said corse shalbe remevid from thens

And in the mean tyme all outhir thinges to be preparrid and made

redy whiche shalbe long for conveyaunce of the said corse to the cathedral

Chirche Abbay or chappell wheir the said corse shalbe buried

Providid alway that the said corse be watchid nightly as longe

as it Remaneth in the said chappell or plaice wherr it commeth to it be

buried by suche parsonnes as the gentillmen ushars shall appointe to

charge with it from tyme to tyme to watche it

(MS. Eng. misc. b. 208, fol. 80).

114-ms.eng.hist.b.208,fol.80r

 -Matthew Neely

William Stukeley and the ’45

November seems to be the month for major episodes in the religious troubles of the early modern British Isles. The Accession of Elizabeth I in 1558, the attempt to blow up the King and his Parliament in 1605, the landing of William of Orange at Torbay in 1688 and Bonnie Prince Charlie’s invasion of England in 1745, all happened in November.

Records of these events are to be found among the collections held in the Western Manuscripts section of the Bodleian Libraries, particularly among the great State Paper collections to be found in the Clarendon, Rawlinson and Carte collections. However, ripples spread out much further than this. If you were wondering what impact Bonnie Prince Charlie’s march to Derby had in 1745, you might not turn first to the papers of an antiquary such as William Stukeley. His papers after all are mainly a record of his study of the ancient and medieval remains of Britain, and he would not seem to be the person to turn to for contemporary comment. I have developed a habit of looking at key historical dates in any manuscript just in case there is an interesting comment to be found. So, finding myself one day with Stukeley’s diary for  1743-1746 (MS. Eng. misc. e. 196) in my hand I thought I would see if he had anything to say about Jacobites, even though the Summary Catalogue entry is brief: ‘Notebook containing Stukeley’s diary, 21 May 1743-10 Sept. 1746.’

stukeley-diary-aug-1745

Looking at the entry for 30 August 1745 I found that Stukeley was visited on that day by his patrons the Duke and Duchess of Montagu, returning from Scarborough. He noted that the ‘Duke says the pretenders son is in the highlands of Scotland, in a highland habit’, before recounting his discussion with the Duke on the elegance of the structure of the honeycomb.

On 30 September Stukeley set out for Lincoln to meet the Duke of Ancaster, and on the next day, in Lincoln Castle ‘a very great assembly of Lords, Baronets, clergy & gentlemen’ met and subscribed to an address to the King and to an association, before making a ‘voluntary subscription of several thousand pounds, for raising troops, to oppose the pretenders son’. He also observed that they had ‘now pulled down the huge stones of the peers of the Roman gate on the south side of the old city’, the arch having been ‘destroy’d by Houghton the jaylor a good many years ago.’

On 9 October Stukeley was at home in Stamford and involved in ‘mending the road in Scogate [Scotgate] toward brig Casterton in a magnificent manner.’ On the 12th he noted ‘the Swiss, dutch & English troops daily passing by to the north’ and had heard news of  ‘68 waggons laden with ammunition’ which had passed Nottingham. On the 13th ‘a coach & 6 with 8 dragoons laden with money passed my door.’ On the 23rd Stukeley ‘went about the parish to take subscriptions for raising a troop for the kings service agt the rebels.’

All this conveys something of the sense of increasing alarm, but the reality of the situation really seems to have struck Stukeley on 1 December, a few days after the Jacobites had crossed the border into England:

‘Lady Malton fled from her seat by Sheffield, came to Stamford, & alarm’d us, with the rebels being near Newark. Spalding, Wisbech, Peterborough, Oundle & all the country round in the utmost fright: hiding & carrying off their goods.

This alarm was renew’d on 5th the rebels being at Derby & setting  a guard on Swarston bridg, for Leicester. Many familys mov’d off their goods, & remov’d towards the fen country, & an universal dejection.

Mr Gale & his family came hither from Scruton, to avoid the Rebels.’

This would have been Samuel Gale (1682–1754) the antiquary, and Stukeley’s friend, whose family seat was Scruton Hall in Yorkshire.

Then on 7 December:

‘Colonel Jo. Creed of Oundle marchd his Squadron of horse (the D. of Montagu’s) to Stamford. He lay at my house. He had been orderd to march to Derby but the rebels were in possession of the Town just as he came there.’

The alarm passed, however, and on 11 December ‘Mr Griffis’ visited Stukeley to discuss holding ‘a course of experimental philosophy at Stamford’, and on the 23rd Stukeley was able to record that he ‘projected a revival of the Brazen nose Society of Stamford.’

On 4 January 1746 Stukeley sealed the lease of his Grantham house to Mr Fish, and then noted the arrival of the commander of Government forces, the soon-to-be notorious Duke of Cumberland, the ‘Butcher’:

‘½ an hour after 11 in the morning, pleasant and sun-shining frost: the Duke of Cumberland came hither [back from Carlisle] … He rode in Mr Midlemores coach from Grantham, thro’ the badness of the Scogate road … & took coach at the Bull. Mr Gale lent him his coach & 4. They put 2 more horses to it. His R. Highness was drest in blew. He has not been in bed, since he set out from Carlisle. Our town complimented his R.H. with a vast throng & loud huzza’s & bells ringing etc.

I got a very fine & large fossil cornu ammonis from the stone quarrys by Queens cross.’

The first doleful effects of the rebellion also touched Stamford when on 1 February 1746 ‘the rebel prisoners of the garrison of Carlisle passd thro’ Stamford in 4 open wagons, guarded by 400 soldiers, & the same day the Dukes mules with his baggage came hither, going to Scotland.’ The Battle of Culloden was fought on 16 April 1746; some of the Jacobite officers captured after the fall of Carlisle in December 1745 were sent to London to be hung, drawn and quartered for High Treason.

I should, of course, have expected to find such echoes of the ’45 in Stukeley’s diary. Stamford lay on the Great North Road from London to Edinburgh (now the A1).

-Mike Webb

Rediscovering Rycote

On the 1st June 1807 an extraordinary auction began at Rycote Park, near Thame in Oxfordshire. Over the course of the next three days, Rycote’s grand Tudor mansion was sold off brick by brick and demolished to help pay family debts. All that survives today is a fragment of the south-west tower. It was an inglorious end for a house which had once been the dominant force in Oxfordshire politics and entertained kings and queens. Henry VIII visited with his new bride Katherine Howard in 1540. The young Elizabeth I was entertained at Rycote en route to her incarceration at Woodstock in 1554, and she returned on four occasions during her reign. Charles I and his court were accommodated in 1625 when the first parliament of his reign was reconvened in Oxford due to an outbreak of the plague in London. Rycote’s regional and national importance, however, has long been neglected. Not only was the mansion demolished in 1807, but perhaps more importantly, the main bulk of its archive was thrown on to a bonfire.

042-ms.gough.maps.26,fol.70

A Bodleian Libraries project has helped to reveal and shed new light on Rycote’s past. The Rediscovering Rycote website brings the voices and stories of Rycote back to life through manuscripts, letters, maps, accounts and drawings brought together in digital form from more than fifty different Bodleian collections. The website also explores the lives of Rycote’s owning families, generations of whom played active roles in political, military and cultural circles. A range of digitised resources explore their involvement in areas such as Henry VIII’s suppression of the monasteries; Elizabethan warfare; the politics of the Restored Stuart monarchy; and the London music scene in the eighteenth century.

Visit the Rediscovering Rycote website to find out more.

Regius Professors of Physick

Physick
MS. Eng. d. 4073

Henry VIII founded the post of the Regius Professor of Physick (Medicine) at Oxford towards the end of his reign. A new item purchased by the library in 2010, the ‘Memoranda regarding the Regius Professors of Physick & the Readers in Anatomy in the University of Oxford’, lists and describes each post-holder from the first one in 1535 to 1792, when the memoranda was updated.

This small manuscript notebook makes fascinating reading. Its original author is unknown but internal evidence suggests that it was written in the 1770s and then annotated by the antiquarian and Registrar of Oxford University, John Gutch, in 1794.

The Regius Professor of Physick and the Reader in Anatomy were often the same person, and sometimes posts were passed down from father to son. The 7th Regius Professor, Thomas Clayton, is described as, ‘the Son of the first Reader, & the Office devolv’d upon him as Regius Professor: but being averse to the sight of a dead Body / Wood says of a timorous & effeminate Humour / he employ’d William Petty as his Deputy in whose Favor he resign’d the Readership in January 1650’.

http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/wmss/online/single-items/historical/historical.html

Since the foundation of the post there have been 30 Regius Professors of Medicine at Oxford, the current one being John Irving Bell, the immunologist and geneticist. Saving Oxford Medicine has been tracing the archives of all the 20th Century Regius Professors and the results have been published on our website.

http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/weston/our-work/projects/saving-oxford-medicine/regius-professors

Media Recognition – Floppy Disks part 1

When archivists receive a collection one of the first things they’ll need to do is identify any digital material. However it won’t be enough to single out for instance all the floppy disks or the CDs – there are subtler distinctions that need to be made. Archivists might not be aware of all these distinctions (or might need reminding) so I’ve been writing a media recognition guide to help archivists determine the specific types of data storage device they may come across. I thought I’d share some of this work with you and first up we have: Floppy Disks.

Sizes

Floppy disks come in four sizes. 8” and 5.25” disks are encased in bendable plastic, 3.5” disks (which are actually 90 x 94mm) are encased in rigid plastic and have sliding metal shutters and 3” disks also come in rigid plastic which is harder than the 3.5” covering and are thicker than the other disk.

Low Level Format

Floppy disks are either single sided (SS) or double sided (DS) and this is often stated on the manufacturer’s label, if the disk has one. Being SS or DS affects a disk’s capacity, but the bigger factor is the low level format, or density of a disk. There are 5 possibilities:

Single Density (SD) – First type of floppy disk available.

Double Density (DD) – On average twice as many bits per time unit can be encoded compared to data on a single density disk, thereby doubling the capacity.

Quad Density (QD) – Holds four times as much data as a single density disk.

High Density (HD) – Further expands disk capacity allowing 5.25” disks to store up to 1,200 KB and 3.5” disks to store up to 1,440 KB of data

Extended Density (ED) – Enlarges disk capacity to 2,880 KB

Not all sizes of disk are compatible with the different densities, which is important to know when identifying the disk type.

 

Size and number of sides used

Possible Densities

Capacity

8 inch single sided

Single

250 KB

8 inch double sided

Single

500 KB

Double

1.2 MB

3 inch single sided

Single

180 KB

Double

360 KB

3 inch double sided

Single

360 KB

Double

720 KB

5.25 inch single sided

Single

80 KB

Single

90 KB

5.25 inch double sided

 

Single

180 KB

Double

320 KB

Double

360 KB

Quad

720 KB

High

1,200 KB

3.5 inch single sided

Double

360 KB

High

720 KB

3.5 inch double sided

Double

720 KB

High

1,440 KB

Extended

2880 KB

Writing to Disk Methods

There are two ways in which data is written to a floppy disk. The tracks on floppy disks are smaller on the inside of the disk than on the outside, therefore when writing data the disk can either maintain a constant speed in terms of the time taken for the disk to rotate 360 degrees or in terms of the time taken to cross each track. Constant Angular Velocity (CAV) maintains a constant rotation speed whereas Constant Linear Velocity (CLV) ensures that each track is crossed at the same speed.

CAV is used by most microcomputer platforms, such as IBM PC, Amstrad CPC and Microsoft Windows, but Apple adopted CLV. This method is more efficient, thus explaining why Apple disks have larger capacities. However, CLV requires a special mechanism, which renders Apple floppy disks incompatible with other computers. Apple eventually abandoned this method and adopted the CAV standard.

8 Inch Disks

Type:

Magnetic storage media

Introduced:

1971

Active:

No

Cessation:

Quickly declined in popularity after the 5.25” disk was introduced and by 1978 most manufacturers had adopted 5.25” disk drives.

Capacity:

500 KB – 1.2 MB

Compatibility:

Contemporary machines had inbuilt floppy drives. Drives can be externally attached to modern computers.

Users:

Almost universal during the height of their popularity in the 1970s: was one of only a few affordable mass storage devices available. Used by individuals and small organisations for data storage and backup and by manufacturers for booting software.

File Systems:

CP/M most common. Also ODS-1

Common Manufacturers:

Disks: IMB, Maxell, Shugart Associates, 3M

Drives: IMB, Shugart Associates, Burroughs Corporation

Recognition

The 8 inch floppy was the first disk to be introduced in 1971. Like the other disk sizes, 8 inch floppy disks consist of a disk with a central hole encased in a plastic envelope.

The easiest way to identify the low level format of an 8” floppy disk is by any labelling on the disk. The majority of manufacturers brand the disk as double density if that is what it is. The format ‘Single Sided’ was not coined until Double Sided was invented in 1976, therefore early SS disks will not be labelled as such. However, this does not mean all unspecified disks are single sided. Likewise it is difficult to determine the density of a disk if this is not labelled, although the capacity of the disk is a good indicator.

High Level Formatting

All files written to a floppy disk are contained within a file system. The specific file system used depends on the disk manufacturer, but 8” disks will generally contain either ODS-1 or CP/M

8 inch Disk Drives

The first read-write 8” floppy drives were introduced in 1972 with a capacity of 175 KB. In 1973 IBM released its own floppy disk drive which used a different recording format thereby increasing the capacity to 250 KB. This became known as Single Sided Single Density (SSSD) and drives supporting SSSD were soon being made by several manufacturers. 8” floppy disk drives were the storage device of choice used by the first ‘microcomputer’ operating system in the 1970s. Double sided drives were first introduced by Burroughs Corporation in 1975 with a 1 MB capacity.

-Victoria Sloyan