April 23 The feast of St. George

April 23 The feast of St. George

Bernice and I are both starting diaries.

I think that as we learn history to find other mens’ experience it is useful to record one’s own personal experience and emotions for future reference, for later on when we contemplate our lives we will remember only outstanding events, smaller ones will be forgotten and then partially wasted as if they never had been experienced.

Moreover it will be interesting and amusing to look back on my own thoughts when I am older ( and I hope wiser) to consider how immature I was and to wonder how I could have done such things, thought such thoughts…

I got up at 6.30, Mass and Holy Communion. Breakfast 7.50 Eggs and Oranges.

Afterwards we discovered we came back unnecessarily yesterday as lectures do not begin until tomorrow.

Nevertheless we enjoyed the International Society yesterday. A brains Trust with interesting questions. We had a long discussion on the equality of the sexes. Sa’ad Haffar was in very good form; Peter (Meisl) his urbane self. Later we went to Austria House where we heard the beginning of a talk on the Salzberg festivals.

Sedgley is astonishingly green. When we went home at half term the trees were bare. There is a magnificent one outside our window. I used to lie in bed watching the moon wandering among its branches. The tree is majestically bare and has two lovely notches. Now all the trees are green and the lupins have grown from 1 to 12 inches high.

Our room is darker…Summer is wonderful but the tree looked more dignified in its nakedness. I wonder if sculptors feel like that about the human figure, and about austerely beautiful Gothic churches which have been spoilt by over decorative carving.

Last summer two Robins whom we christened Alaric and Benny were making their nest in the low stone wall just behind a lupin. I don’t see them fluttering about now and feel as if I had lost a friend: Mais revenir a nos moutons, after breakfast I went home to retrieve my ration book. I read a little of my new book “Art and Scholasticism” by Jaques Maritain.

Had dinner with Bernice, Betty, Margaret, Justin and Hilary, a girl who has apparently just lost her husband after 5 weeks of marriage and who is thinking of taking up teaching and doing the Sedgley course. She has not even School Certificate, we warned her she would have a hard time.

In the afternoon B.B. and I went to see “Between two worlds” at the Regal. Paul Henreid was in it. It was about people who are dead in a ship waiting for judgment. There was one quite Dickensian line in it “with which terse remarks I shut my mouth”. It made us roar. Afterwards we ate tea cakes and talked.

I did my holiday prose at night. Bernice and I talked until midnight. This is probably why we did not get up for Mass on the next day.

Tuesday 24th

Rise 7.25. First day of term.

I have resolved to live my life as well as possible this term. How long will this last?
But I must do some reading, pass my exams in June, get exercise, sing well etc. The last resolution is rather unnecessary as I put my heart and soul into choral practice on Thursdays.

I am in Prof. Cheney’s essay class this term. I am awfully disappointed as he does medieval history and I had hoped to remain in Prof Atkinson’s and do ancient history at which I was quite successful last term. I believe we are to have lectures from Prof. instead of Mrs. Atkinson. If he is as good as she I will not need to grumble.

We still have Miss Wrong – mixed feelings personally I like her very much but I do not think I get very much benefit from her lectures. I expect this is because of the vastness of the subject and my inattentiveness rather than her fault. I went to her room for my exam paper. She was marvellous about it not mentioning the lack of reading which was surely evident, but the writing which as she aptly remarked “seemed to have deteriorated under the stress of the occasion.” Also the English grammar and some of my wild statements.

They are now ringing class bells which is rather a good idea as it stops Mr. A. within two minutes. Also had first Lecture from Mr Beloff in American history. [Max Beloff, later Baron, founder of Univ. Coll. Bucks] True to legend he walked up and down, speaking out of the corner of his mouth.

At French Practical we had Madame Mainfroy. She is rather a tartar actually making us work-disgusting!! She gave me the task of preparing a speech on modern French art for next Tuesday.

At dinner Teddy Usher suggested speaking on Picasso.

B.B. and I went to the park to study. We read little and talked much. Afterwards I played on the Chaplaincy harmonium, then tea with Margaret (Boyle). Later we saw Bernard McCabe in Cafeteria, the first time since the going down dance. He went before we could talk to him. I followed to Burlington Street but he was gone so I went to Main building and found my latin result 57/97 far better than last time but still a III . I also have French a IIi.

April 25th Wed.

We got our ancient history back. I have IIi. Prof Atkinson appears to be as good and rather like Mrs. Atkinson.

We saw Prof Cheney. He is rather insignificant looking but seems to be quite nice.
Bernard was at out table in Caf. for a few minutes. We talked to Frank Coombs when he left. I spent the afternoon in Christies (the Arts Faculty Library) At 4 tea with B.B. and Frank.

Saw Bernard again. He said he is going to London to read for the Bar (Is this right? I don’t know the technical terms in law. My dictionary definition of lawyer is ‘a long climbing thorny plant.)

Bernard also told us that John is coming back on Monday.Hurrah! (late Fr Herbert OP editor of Blackfriars and author of many theological books but at this timer a student of chemistry.)

Frank Coombs (an architecture student) and I are usually very melancholy when together. I wonder whether we react on each other or is it some external influence? I like Frank and feel sorry for him for some obscure reason.

We walked back with Joan Lancaster (a Domestic Science student and a great sport.)
Back at Sedgley MMP Mother Mary Placida the Principal, announced we have an extension only to 5.20. I wonder what is up?

We played some records instead of dancing. We played Joan Graham’s Jean Sablon and my Air on a G string, Ave Verum, Adoramus and sides I and 2 of Mozarts 40th Symphony when we had to stop. (The recreation break at Sedgley college was only half an hour after supper, followed by prayers in the cold drafty Hall and then to our rooms for the night.)

April 26th Thursday

Latin set book paper returned 64%. Congratulations Sybil!!

Max Beloff made a rather good crack. Every time when he has taken his register he finds a fresh batch of people so he said if there are any further extensions of this class we will have to take over the Gaumont Cinema. He gave a very interesting lecture.

Dr. Redford returned out Economics papers. Mine was marked B which he said equalled 60%. He made some nice remarks about it being sensibly written and clear so I feel rather elated. Redford is awfully nice. He gave everyone a second and said our papers were better than the average first year papers of recent years.

Dinner in the Union snack bar. I saw Da’ad Haffar who is nice enough to be Sa’ads sister.

Mrs. Marks returned French Prose in the afternoon. I got nearly 50% (28/50). Afterwards I drank tea and ate ice cream in Caf.

Then Choral. We did some hymns for the broadcast, a service on May 13th. Proctor-Gregg said we sang “Falmouth” extremely well at the anniversary concert on 19 March and “Draw on sweet night” and “Haste thee nymph” quite well. Bernice came for the first time and enjoyed it as much as we forecast. Coming back to Sedgley Park we had coffee at “Alf’s” milk bar.

After dinner we went to the Sedgley International Society meeting because it was 19th and 20th century poetry with a special talk on T.S.Eliot by Maureen Ward. We enjoyed it a lot. Mother Cecily and I monopolized the discussion. Afterwards Mother Cecily thanked the visitors i.e the university students who had been stimulating in contributing so much to the discussion. Afterwards she asked me if I did English or History. On hearing History asked if I did Medieval? I indignantly refuted the suggestion. (It was expected that Catholic girls would be more interested in Medieval.)

I said I was more interested in Ancient and in economic history which seemed incredible to her judging by her expression however she was nice to me and invited me to come again as doing history I would find much to interest me.

Bernice and I discussed poetry in bed. Dr. Knights from the University is apparently coming to Sedgley to lecture on T.S. Eliot. He sounds super I will go whatever happens D.V.

Friday 27th.

Mass and H.C. breakfast egg!

I went to Dr. Niklaus lecture to get my unseen I had 32/40 —80%. He told me it was good as he gave it to me and I was pleased especially as I was the only one he commented on whose paper he had marked.

The lecture was the most uproarious fun. Nicky was in one of his brilliant moods. He told us some people had translated “La Mairie et la Femme” as the husband and wife.
Others had made the whole affair into a funeral. It was actually a wedding..by the end of the lecture we were weak with laughing.

At 11.30 we got our latin comp. back. I had 48% for prose and 37% for unseens. Rather a pity after a good set book paper.

Dinner with Justin, his brother Vincent, Margaret Bernice and Betty.

The afternoon was miserable. I tried to get books for my essay on trade routes and for modern french art, but achieved very little.

Had tea then went to hear Sir Richard Acland address the Socialist Society -one of the founders of the Commonwealth party and of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. He made a few noteworthy remarks – property has no rights but its owners have. Then applied his statement in the sense that only small owners who work for their property have rights.

He was very elated as the Commonwealth party has just won the bye-election in Cheltenham, a Tory stronghold. He prophesied that the June election would return 400 Labour and hopelessly defeat the Tories. Also that when the British say they live in a socialist, not a capitalist country they will get it. God preserve us from it.

Sat. April 28th

Read history for my essay in the history room. It started snowing in the laburnam tree. Very cold. Mother Placida lit the Gas fire D.G. I found a copy of “1066 and all that“ in the library and determined to read it as Prof. Namier always quotes the title and also as I very much enjoyed Garden Rubbish. I went home, got some money then went to the Catholic youth Conference and Diocesan youth Parliament. Father Fitzsimmons gave a good talk.

A great tea with many cakes.

A debate on “Does highter education create class distinction?’. Julie Lynch proved it did not. S.D.Y.P. report not so good.

Their chairman was hopeless. He never counted votes, had never heard of abstentions and even imagined he as chairman could vote!

Afterwards Margaret Boyle persuaded me to go to the informal dance. I was reluctant to spend 1s.6d at the time and very glad later. As soon as I entered M.D.H. I bumped into Harry Schofield and John Grusker. JG spent most of the evening talking about the Club, John McCabe and summer hikes. Albert Tawil was also there unfortunately. He is most distasteful to me and has a way of edging near one which makes me squirm. This is the first time I have felt such real distaste for anyone. The most glorious moment of the day came when Harry came up and said “See who I have got here” It was John McCabe with a dazzling smile, both arms outstretched saying how good to see you. He had left the University to go coal mining but had changed his mind as he thought it would be too much for him. He was very pale and thin. Justin, Vin and Saad Haffar were also at the informal. Unfortunately I had to leave at 9 (strict rules to get back to the hostel of Sedgley)

Sunday April 29

Mass H.C. I read about the Impressionists in the morning. In the afternoon down to the village we waited for Alfs to open and froze in the perishing cold, but he did not open.

In the evening went to the International Club General Meeting. JG elected chairman because both Peter and Saad refused to stand as they were leaving soon. Mervyn Silgardo elected treasurer, Olga Beck secretary, Joan Lancaster social sec. ordinary members Kurt, Saad, George Bessos and Harry, the latter being also head of the cultural and social committee. I am on the committee with Shirley Grigson. I had been proposed as Treasurer but refused…Kurt elected honerary President.

A hike was planned. Saad rather sweetly offered to ring up M. Placida to get us permission to go. Of course it is no use.

I had a long talk with Peter Meisl about teaching and how it restricts a woman’s life etc. Peter said he is going to North Wales but only a 10s6d train ticket away. How killing , Sa ad and Peter the nicest people there are leaving.

Fernando gave a talk on education in Portugal. Then Sa’ad explained the 4th Dimension to us. Also Newton’s 3rd law-every action has its equal and opposite reaction with special reference to a donkey and cart. Later had an argument with Peter about it as applied to tables.

How is it when weight W is placed on table resistance equals R.
When w is there resistance r. If table is dead matter how can it vary resistance?
Finally Peter said it is used the curvature W makes large curve w a small one (Obviously I did not and still do not understand this and probably reported it wrongly.)

Then Sa’ad produced the problem of 3 crocodiles of equal length starting to eat the tail of the next at the same rate and moment. What would happen? Peter said they would be circulating but keeping the same distance.

We only arrived back at Sedgley at 10 oclock. Warning from Mother M. Placida!

Monday April 30

Saw George Bessos in the central library.

First lecture on Hannibal. At dinner I started by being with Justin, but saw Peter Meisl all alone so sat with him. I think we could be friends if he were not going away. We continued talking about crocodiles tables etc. Peter went on to say he was angry with himself for being weak and sorry for Kurt and not preventing him from being honorary President. He went on to say Kurt did no work for the Club and does not deserve the position. It should have been a man like Alderman Wright-Robinson. Peter also told me that he does not like Albert altogether but thinks he is keen on the Club….

Peter thinks the present committee is a good one and JG is an excellent man but he has not quite enough initiative. Apparently some people have been saying that Peter wanted all the power in the Club and have not appreciated all his work. Too bad! Peter really has been splendid giving every thing for nothing. He is a marvellous organiser. He has been reading Shakespeare and appears particularly struck by Hamlet in which he sees himself and by Othello which he says has a marvellous plot. Sed satis de hoc: reliquos ordiamur in the immortal words of Cornelius Nepos.

Mr. Ahrnt now gives the Monday lecture. I was late waiting for Prof. Hicks to go in first. They do not always remember to ring bells and kept talking until 3 when Ahrnt was made by the stamping to stop.

John Houghton had left a note for me to go to the Madrigal Society. We went and sang four. There were not many people there so it was hard work except when I shared a copy with Betty Handcock who is a great lead.

Then I went to the Chaplaincy which has been miraculously transformed painted, new lino, new cupboards, stove cleaned. A telephone has been installed which works. There is a new floor in the lecture room. Everything works more smoothly since Mr. Wright became chairman of the house committee. T. Coady was playing the harmonium. He played part of “in dulce Jubilo”and asked about my “Ave Verum” We ate toast with Joan and Shirley…it snowed back to Sedgley again and so to bed.


Like many people here today I have known Eric all my life, and it is difficult to imagine the world without him. He was a man who had a real gift for friendship, and gave generously of himself to his friends. That makes it difficult for anyone person to say what he was to all of us. All the same I have been encouraged in that task by having talked during his illness, and since his death, to a number of his friends and discovered how much of our view of him we shared and how we all held him in the same affection.

My sister Caroline and I first knew him as children and he was a wonderful uncle. He stood out for us as someone who was quite different from other grown-ups. His arrival always brought a certain magic with it – almost literally given his fondness for and proficiency with conjuring tricks. I know that many others here share that experience of him and some of us have been lucky enough to have it repeated with our own children. 1 remember a lively exchange of correspondence between a murky figure in the intelligence service called Clune Rice – a cleverly encrypted form of Uncle Eric – and one of his agents called Leinad (another ingenious cypher). More recently Eric’s hospital bedside was cheered up by the tulips and assorted creatures drawn by Stephanie, which he much enjoyed showing to visitors.

I think that Eric renewed himself through successive generations of children, and his affinity for them showed that he never lost touch with the child in himself. Perhaps that is what we loved him for most.

But of course it is not the whole story. I can’t speak with first hand knowledge of his professional life, and will have to leave that to be commemorated properly elsewhere and by others. I will just say briefly that after graduating from Christ Church he qualified in medicine at Bart’s Hospital. He did a spell of postgraduate work in the United States where he was based in Philadelphia, but he travelled widely visiting among other places Niagara Falls and Yellowstone National Park, taking some splendid photos which he was showing us only recently.

During the war he joined the RAF Medical Section specialising in neuropsychiatry and reached the rank of Wing Commander. He did important work on flying stress among operational RAF aircrews, serving in India, the Far East and North Africa. After the war he joined the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases as a registrar, and then moved to the Royal Northern Hospital where he was a consultant neurologist for many years. I would like to quote from a letter I have received from a former colleague who writes…

And Eric maintained his professional activity long after normal retirement age with a weekly clinic at the Princess Margaret Migraine Clinic; indeed I cannot say for certain that he ever gave this up.

Eric always enjoyed the social side of professional life. A number of people have written to say what a popular member he was of the Fountain Club of Bart’s, and have particularly recalled a dinner he hosted for them at the Savile Club about five years ago. I myself remember many good dinners and concerts at the Royal College of Physicians in Regent’s Park. He also showed a fierce loyalty to the institutions he had been part of – notably Bart’s and the Royal Northern Hospital whose official history he wrote, but also going back to his earlier roots Christ Church and Charterhouse. His loyalty to Bart’s was expressed with particular passion and force when its existence came under threat from Government policies.

That doesn’t mean he was stuck in the past. I am told that at dinners of the Oxford Graduate Medical Association you would often find him talking not to his contemporaries but to the youngest person there. He showed a very wide interest in many different aspects of present-day life to which he applied the same persistent curiosity. This extended to the various forms of regular and irregular alliances. Among his papers I came across a note listing the following words:

  • Consort
  • Co-vivant
  • Sleeping partner
  • Co-mortgagee
  • Current attachment
  • Stablemate
  • Co-habitant
  • Partner

I think he was still trying to find the most suitable term.

Eric was always good company and a good host. His laughter has been described to me as “a very whole-hearted matter. He would snort and gasp and choke and have to wipe his eyes copiously. It could be quite alarming.”

The open air theatre in Regent’s Park was a favourite of his. He used to tell how, as a child, he had won a prize from Queen Mary for his display of flowers in the Park and he seems to have gravitated hack to it. I think of trips with him to the Savile and Wisley Gardens and, last September, an expedition up the river to Hampton Court (where he commented after three hours of incessant rain on how lucky we’d been with the weather). I never went with him on a fishing trip but often had a tasty reason to appreciate them.

But it was surely music which, next to his friends, was the great love of his life. As in other fields he was never content with being a spectator but was always a participant as well. This extended not only to playing the piano but also to singing with the Bart’s choir. He also took up composition quite late in life. There were no narrow limits to his range. His output includes a recording of his own version of “Susannah’s squeaky shoes” (with suitably edited words) which was much appreciated by the young person to whom it was dedicated. I also remember going with him not long ago to “Five Guys Named Moe”, a musical with a lot of audience participation in which he joined enthusiastically.

His musical activity shows one of his strongest qualities which was never to stand still or stop learning. It somehow seems fitting that the fall which eventually proved fatal to him should have happened when he was leaving his weekly music class. Eric’s music teacher, Mike Hughes (who was sorry he could not be here today) has told me that he was always looking forward, always looking for something new. Eric was especially touched by the good wishes he received after his accident from his fellow members of the Monday music class.

We loved him for all those things, as well as all the things I have not managed to express. We shall miss him terribly. I just want to say thank you, Uncle Eric. for everything. And I will end with some words which Eric himself selected for an earlier occasion. They are by William Penn and are inscribed over his own father’s tomb in Bristol:

“Death is but a crossing the world as friends do the seas, they live in one another still. This is the comfort of friends that though they may be said to die, yet their friendship and society are, in the best sense, ever present because immortal.”

Now Sue Laurence who is Eric’s youngest goddaughter (and therefore my godsister) is going to read a passage from ‘The Wind in the Willows”.

Banking Ombudsman FORMAL RECOMMENDATION on passbook

bank ombudsman recommendation PDF version

I recommend that the complaint by MRS. S. E. COADY (“Complainant”) against MIDLAND BANK PLC (“the Bank”) be withdrawn without the payment of any money or the provision of any valuable consideration by the Bank to the Complainant.

Following the issue of an Assessment on 11th October 1993, I have received further detailed submissions from the Complainant and a response to them from the Bank. All of that further evidence has been carefully considered and the evidence previously submitted has been reconsidered in detail. Nonetheless, that has not caused me to depart from the findings in the Assessment which I now confirm and repeat below with relatively minor change.

  1. The Complainant maintained a series of current accounts at the Forest Hill, Fleet Street and Mark Lane branches (“the Forest Hill Branch”, “the Fleet street Branch”, and the Mark Lane Branch”) for many years.
  2. She has produced to me, bank statements from the 9th September 1968 until the 5th February 1969 and from the 28th March 1974 until closure of the last account at the Mark Lane Branch on 30th October 1984.
  3. She has also produced the relevant cheque stubs and the paid cheques from the earlier period.
  4. The Complainant had a deposit account with the Mark Lane Branch from about 1980 until 30th October 1984 and has produced to me all but the first page of the statements relating to it.
  5. The Complainant also had a deposit account with the Forest Hill Branch. (The Forest Hill Branch was closed on 19 July 1991 and all accounts were transferred to Sydenham Branch). However, that deposit account (“the disputed account”) had been opened as long ago as 1971 at the Forest Hill Branch. The last entry in the passbook (“the passbook”) for the disputed account, which is still held by the Complainant, is 13th August 1973.
  6. From 1971 to 1973 the Complainant was living in Kuwait with her late husband. However, she was at their London address from July to September 1973 with their children.
  7. Activity is apparent on the disputed account from 9th July 1973 to 13th August 1973.
  8. Despite the passbook being in the Bank’s possession on several occasions, as evidenced by the entries mentioned in the above paragraph, no opportunity was taken by it to note in it the interest which must have accrued between 19th July 1971 and 13th August 1973. __
  9. In 1975 the Complainant commenced employment with H.M. customs & Excise (“C. & E.”).
  10. The Complainant’s husband, a doctor, was tragically drowned in October 1975. Thereafter, the Complainant concentrated primarily on bringing up and completing the education of their five children.
  11. Whilst the Complainant was employed by C. & E. she joined the “Custom Fund” which gave a good rate of interest and she used it as a deposit account.
  12. With her education pay, trust the for estate left by her husband the youngest son, she was and able an to manage.
  13. Her brother and sister-in-law died within five years of her husband and she inherited some further money.
  14. The passbook, the Complainant says, had been put “in a safe place with other papers”, before the death of her husband.
  15. For the reasons stated in the above paragraphs, she says (and I well understand) that her attention was “fully elsewhere”. It was not until she retired from the Civil Service and had the leisure to go through her papers that the disputed account again came to her attention. Her current accounts with the Bank had been transferred from the Forest Hill Branch to the Fleet Street Branch in 1976, and later, when she moved office, to the Mark Lane Branch.
  16. In 1984, when the Complainant closed her account at Mark Lane, she transferred the amount standing to her credit to two different accounts, one at the Bank of Scotland, the other being an Alliance Building Society Bank Share Account.
  17. On the 9th July 1991, having found the passbook, the Complainant went to the Forest Hill Branch and asked for the interest to be calculated to that date. She said that she would then withdraw the whole amount and move it to an account bearing a better rate of interest. She appreciated that the calculation of interest would probably take some time, as 22 years interest had to be worked out. She, therefore, left the passbook at the Branch.
  18. On the 29th July she wrote to the Manager of the Forest Hill Branch saying that, “as the deposit is redeemable on demand,” she was surprised not to have heard from him.
  19. 1 On the 31st July 1991 the Senior Branch clerk of the Sydenham Branch, to which Forest Hill Branch account had by then been transferred as explained in paragraph 5 above, wrote to the Complainant saying that no trace of a deposit account in her name could be found, and that “all records were computerised during the mid-nineteen seventies”. He said that he had researched the Branch records as far back as 1978 and could find no evidence that an account was open at that date.
  20. 2 Further correspondence followed. On 19 September 1991, the Manager of the Sydenham Branch wrote to the Complainant:

    “Firstly, the Deposit Account passbook in your possession has no value as Deposit Account passbooks were withdrawn between the years 1973 and 74 and the passbook was superceded by an account number your deposit account was 53013340 ….. ”

  21. 3 On the 11th December 1991 Mr. PW of the Southbank Area Office of the Bank wrote saying that he had made “further enquiries” and that ” all Deposit Account Passbooks were abolished in 1972 and the Branch records produce nothing supporting the continued existence of your Account. As a result, I must advise you that I am unable to agree with your claim.”
  22. On the 13th January 1992 Mr. E., Manager of the Bank’s Customer Relations Department at Head Office, wrote to the Complainant as follows:

    “Unfortunately I I regret at this stage that I can only re-emphasise the content of Mr. PW’ s letter to you of 1lth December 1991, in which he stated that following consultation with our legal department, Passbooks are no longer a valid claim to a deposit and in the absence of any further proof of your claim the Bank is unable to assist you further.

I do realise the disappointment that this must bring you and that this is not the response that you would have wished for. I do, however, thank you for taking the time and trouble to bring this matter to my attention affording me the opportunity of reviewing the situation.”

  1. The Complainant then brought her complaint to this Office and produced the passbook. It shows a balance of £4,102.66 as at the 13th August 1973. The Complainant claims that the Bank is in breach of its obligations in refusing to pay her that balance together wit~accrued interest.
  2. In my view, the legal principles which apply in such circumstances are as follows:

(a) Notwithstanding the period of time which has elapsed there is no question of the Limitation Acts applying, because monies on a deposit account are repayable only on demand and time does not start to run against an account-holder in a bank I s favour until a demand has first been made. Furthermore, the Bank itself has not in this case sought to invoke the Limitation Acts.

(b) Where there is, as here, an account which has been long dormant and an issue arises as to whether or not it is still subsisting, that issue falls to be resolved by striking a balance of probabilities in the light of all the relevant circumstances of the case, as was decided in the case of Douglass v. Lloyds Bank Ltd [1929] 34 Com. Cas. 263.

(c) It is a general principle of long standing that where there is a normal and regular course of events or procedures, it is to be assumed that these have taken place or been followed, in the absence of evidence to the contrary.

  1. 1 The Bank is unable to state exactly when the disputed account was computerised.
  2. 2 Mr. PW of the Area Office said, in his letter of 11 December 1991, that passbooks were abolished in 1972, (see paragraph 19.3 above). Yet earlier on the 31st July 1991, the Senior Branch clerk at the Sydenham Branch had said, “All records were computerised in the mid [my underlining] nineteen-seventies.” and on 19th September 1991 the Branch Manager of the Sydenham Branch had said “between 1973 and 1974.” (see paragraph 19.2 above), therefore, clearly there are discrepancies between the dates for computerisation given by different officials.
  3. 3 Mr. NPE of the Customer Relations Department on the 13th January 1992, after he had “completed a full enquiry” could “only re-emphasise the content of Mr. [PW] IS letter of 11th December 1991”. Mr. NPE also seems to have overlooked what had been said by the Senior Branch clerk and the Manager of the Sydenham Branch.
  4. 4 Finally, in writing to this Office, the Bank has plumped for “the latter months of 1973” as the date of computerisation. Presumably this was because the entries in the passbook in July and August of that year show that the disputed account had not yet been computerised.
  5. 5 In any event, the computerisation was clearly not 1972 as suggested by Mr. P.W. and Mr. N.P.E.
  6. 6 Nevertheless, because an account number was allocated, I am satisfied that the disputed account was computerised, at some time after 13th August 1973. The Complainant suggests 5 April 1974 as on that date her current account statement reverted to “Sheet I” with a new computer format of the Sheet itself. However, though regrettable that there is uncertainty about the exact date of computerisation, nothing in my view turns on that once satisfied as I am that it took place and that it did so after 13th August 1973.
  7. It was noticed, by this Office, that the Complainant had various shares held in safe-keeping by the Forest Hill Branch which were transfered to the Fleet Street Branch. It appeared a possibility that the money in the disputed account had been used to purchase these or other investments. The Complainant has satisfied me that this was not the case.
  8. 1 The Bank has resisted the claim and maintains that the account was closed, because:
  9. 2 It I S internal procedures, full details of which have been provided to me in confidence as is permitted under the Terms of Reference governing this Scheme, state that an account may be regarded as dormant two years after the last entry and where contact has been lost with the customer. In this case, the Bank did not lose contact with the Complainant until after she closed her accounts at the Mark Lane Branch on 30th October 1984.
  10. 3 Copies of the Forest Hill Branch’s Unclaimed Balances Register for surnames with the letter C. for the period 1914 – 1991 have been produced to this Office. They have been produced in confidence under the Terms of Reference governing this Scheme because they reveal the names of other accountho1ders which the Bank is not entitled to disclose to third parties. I have, however, inspected them and the names shown do not include an account in the Complainant’s name.
  11. 4 I accept on the evidence available to me that the disputed account was computerised when the number, 53013340, was allocated to it. Moreover, the Bank says and I accept that no account under that number can be traced at any of the branches mentioned in paragraph 1 above.
  12. 5 Under the Bank’s internal procedures, disclosed to me in conf idence, Ledger Records, Account Open and Closed Books may be destroyed after ten years and, therefore, generally at the time this complaint was brought they only went back to 1980/82. The Bank has, however, been able to produce Securities Record Sheets of the Forest Hill Branch showing the transfer of the Comp1ainant’s securities for safekeeping to the Fleet Street Branch.
  13. 1 When sending this Office the bank statements referred to in paragraph 2 above, the Complainant drew my attention to the fact that sheet number 18 of the Forest Hill Branch statements showed interest on the disputed account credited to the current account. This showed that the disputed account was still in existence at the date of that statement, which was for the period the 30th April to 24th May 1976.
  14. 2 However, no other entries showing from the deposit account occurx. a transfer of in any other interest of the about the
  15. 3 The interest was credited on 3rd May 1976 and was £30.03. It was expressed to be interest to 23rd March 1976. This seemed an unusual date for interest to be paid and I queried it with the Bank.
  16. 4 The Bank informed me and I accept that the standard date of application of interest on deposit accounts in 1976 was the third Monday in June and the third Monday in December. Tuesday, 23rd March was not, therefore, a date upon which standard interest would have been calculated.
  17. 5 It, therefore, seems to me likely, upon the balance of probabi1i ties, that the disputed account was closed on or about the 23rd March 1976. It was then found that a further small amount of interest was due to the Complainant. It could not, of course, be credited to the disputed account because it had by then been closed. It was, therefore, instead credited to the Complainant’s current account.
  18. 6 This point was put to the Complainant who replied at length.

Amongst other things she said:

“To summarise no interest is shown for the 5 years 1971 – 1975. No large capital repayment is shown in these years or in 1976 prior to the entry of May 3rd.

£30.02 is too small a sum to be the interest on £4,000 or thereabouts for 5 years as the closing payments would have had to account for all those years when no interest was calculated and entered. Had the account been closed at this point there should have been an entry of a final large transfer on 23.03.76 or in the quarter preceding.”

  1. Deposit account interest is normally credited to the deposit account in question. It is only if specific instructions to credit another account are given or when such an account has been closed that it would be credited to a current account. This, in my view, is why no other entries in respect of interest from the disputed account are shown in the current account statements which the Complainant has produced. Furthermore, it does not follow that a withdrawal from the disputed account would automatically be credited to the current account. It could well have been used for other purposes. The Complainant says that this would have been contrary to her normal practice and that it was not. She has also given full details of her normal expenditure, covering outgoings on her home, chi1drens education, car, holidays, food, furnishings and entertainment.
  2. The records provided by the Complainant are indeed meticulous. However, they do not include any statements supporting the existence of the disputed account after the allocation of the number 53013340 and following computerisation.
  3. 1 Despite the confusion on the part of the Bank as to exactly when the records were computerised, I am satisfied that they had been after 13th August 1973 and prior to March 1976. In my view, on the evidence available, I think it probable that from the date of computerisation of the disputed account until the date of closure in 1976, computer generated statements for the disputed account would have been produced and sent to the Complainant. The Complainant says that she has demonstrated, by the production of the current account statements, plus school accounts and so forth, that she is a “dedicated record keeper” and it would be a “psychological impossibility” for her to have destroyed the computer generated statements in respect of the disputed account if any had been sent.
  4. 2 I fully accept that the Complainant is indeed an excellent record keeper, but even the most meticulous of people occasionally both mislay records and misrecall events of many years ago.
  5. I find, on the balance of probabilities that:

(i) Prior to computerisation it was not a requirement that the passbook should be written up when presented for a transaction. Indeed the instruction to leave it at the Bank for that purpose indicates the opposite if anything. I do not, therefore, draw any inference from the fact that up to 13th August 1973 accrued interest could have been noted in the passbook but was not;

(ii) From the date of computerisation on a date after 13th August 1973 and prior to March 1976 the passbook became obsolete;

(iii) The Bank did follow its normal and regular procedures in this case;

(iv) The disputed account was closed on or about the 23rd March 1976, after the balance had been withdrawn or transferred elsewhere; and

(v) Following closure of the disputed account an adjustment of interest due to 23rd March 1976 was made and credited to the Complainant’s current account on the 3rd May 1976.

  1. In the circumstances and for the reasons given, I cannot recommend the payment of any compensation to the Complainant. Wi th hindsight this dispute might have been avoided had the Bank (and other banks) called in all old passbooks on computerisation. They were not obliged to do so and did not. It would also have been preferable if the Complainant had not, initially, been given contradictory dates for the date of computerisation when she first brought this complaint. However, these are not matters which entitle her to compensation under this Scheme.
  2. Despite finding against the Complainant, I should like to add that I am satisfied that she has brought this complaint in the genuine and honest belief that the balance was not in fact withdrawn or transferred from the disputed account. She has presented her cas~ coherently and fairly and has in all respects been as helpful and as straightforward as she could be to this Office in the course of carrying out its investigation. It is, therefore, with considerable regret that I find I have no alternative but to reject this complaint on the evidence available to me.

The Banking Ombudsman

19th April 1994

statement statement2



In the 21st Century childbirth is safe and uncomplicated in the majority of cases, medical care is good so that early problems are mostly overcome .If the mother cannot breast-feed good substitute dried milk is available.

In the 18th Century parents could have no confidence that their children could be born safely and thrive.

About a quarter of all marriages were childless, half of these through infertility, the others due to the early death of the children. Many lower class women were several months pregnant when they were married. This was partly due to the need to be sure of fertility before the marriage was undertaken.

The risk of death in childbirth increases with the number of pregnancies especially after the fifth. This combines with the extra dangers faced by older mothers. In this time before the use of birth control many pregnancies were the norm. One woman Mrs. Hodgson of York died aged thirty eight in her twenty fourth labour. Even the highest in the land were not exempt. The Duchess of Chandos though marrying as late as the age of thirty had nine children in fourteen years and four miscarriages, seven of her children died in infancy. Many tried to space their confinements by delaying weaning the previous infant, by coitus interruptus, or by refusing their husband access to their bed. Condoms were on sale in London but were used as protection against venereal disease by men using whores as described by Boswell in his “London Life”. Childbirth itself was a dangerous process. Any complications could have a fatal outcome. Sepsis and puerperal fever took many lives.

Even very poor women had some sort of birth attendant. This was partly due to a statute of 1647 which forbade the concealment of a birth. English midwives evidently had a good reputation as Mrs. Stanley a midwife in Savannah, Georgia who had delivered 128 babies decided to be delivered herself in England in 1737 rather than trust herself to the other midwives of Georgia. Labours were difficult and there were few painkillers. An obstructed delivery could led to the death of both mother and child since Caesarean sections were not successfully performed until the nineteenth century.

The greatest man-midwife of the century was the Scot William Smellie (1697-1763), who came to London in 1739. His “Treatise on Midwifery” appeared in 1752 and gave a clear account of the mechanism of labour. He had attended 1150 cases himself. He laid down good rules for practice. He taught about 900 students. His most famous pupil was another Scot, William Hunter (1718-1783).who did much to improve midwifery.

Women of substance would go from the country to the town for the birth to benefit from these more skilled doctors. Theresa Parker of Saltram in Devon wrote;

“Mr. Parker begins to grow uneasy at my staying so long in the Country, but I am convinced I am safe if I am in Town by the 1st of October I am not desirous of going sooner than necessary, tho’ in reality I have no objection than that of leaving the little boy a week earlier.”

In fact the child was born before she could leave the country. Fever followed and a few weeks later she was dead. After the birth the mother unless in poor circumstances spent several weeks in bed. During this time she received visits from friends and neighbours. This period ended with Churching a service of thanks for the safe delivery of the infant.

Baptism took place within hours if the child was likely to die, otherwise usually days later.

If the Mother did not have milk, or was of high social status, a wet nurse was employed, that is another mother who had recently given birth and was feeding her own child. The wet nurse usually came from a lower social class and did not usually live in the child’s house, only the richest parents could afford to keep the wet nurse in their home; so most often the infant was sent from his parents’ home to live in the wet nurse’s home for weeks or months until weaning was possible. The musician Stevens mentions arrowroot, a pure nutritious starch, as a very early food for his son, this foreshadows the fine starchy foods which are still the first solid items to be offered to infants on weaning.

Wet nursing resulted in the child living in unhygienic conditions, and the possibility of being exposed to even more dangers to his health. Yet parents living in cities believed they were giving them a good start by sending them to live with a wet nurse in the country.

Dr. Peter Oliver’s entry that his wife suffered from sore nipples reminds us that some breast feeding problems have existed from time immemorial and the mothers of our century will empathise with women of earlier times as this problem still troubles them and little has been suggested to alleviate it. The use of a wet nurse was not confined to cases of necessity. In the higher social classes it was an accepted procedure. The quality of the wet nurse varied from excellent in a few cases to tolerable in most and a hazard to the child’s life in others. William Hickey became very fond of his, but both doctors Claver Morris and Peter Oliver had very bad experiences.

The period after the birth was referred to as the confinement until recently and it was literally so in earlier times. We see Mrs. Morris was kept in her bedroom and probably in bed for two weeks after her son’s birth. Another two weeks passed before she left the house to be churched. After this rite a woman would slowly resume normal life. Another 18th Century woman Mrs. Custance referred to in Nancy Woodford’s diary was in bed for months after one child birth due to complications.

Thomas Marchant’s diary illustrates the vast number of children who died soon after birth even the one who survived to become a student died then of smallpox.


Dr. Morris lived from 1659-1726/7.

In an age of very little medical training, of barbers as surgeons and quacks galore his qualifications were outstanding. He was an Oxford BA, MA, and MD. He was effectively a consultant to wealthy people who lived over a wide area within reach of Wells.

He made up the medicines he prescribed in his own laboratory.

His three marriages brought him wealth and land. He became a prominent citizen in Wells. In 1706 he was appointed a Commissioner for Land Tax, in 1709 he became a Commissioner for Sewers. He was also a District Commissioner for collecting the tax imposed on Catholics and a Burgess of Wells.

His hobby was music and he belonged to a musical society which met weekly to perform contemporary music. Every year they performed Purcell’s Cecilia music on that saint’s day. By his second marriage he had a daughter. In 1709 his third wife gave birth to a son to his great joy. This son, though he survived his father, was never strong and died in his 30th year. Morris records that in 1712 he had to dismiss a nurse, Hester Harding, to whom he gave £1-5s,;

“because put off for having the King’s Evil (i.e. scrofula) and infecting my little son with it whom she attended,”

This entry shows that though their nature was quite unknown, the Infectivity of the so-called scrofulous lesions was recognised.

The great lexicographer Samuel Johnson suffered the same bad start. This affected his health and appearance all his life. Morris’ diary records the event.

17 October 1709

“About 6 a clock my wife began to fall in labour.” 20 October 1709 “At 20 or 22 minutes after 6 in the morning exactly, my wife was very happily delivered of a son. I had many congratulations on that occasion: and in the evening Mr. Mills, Mr. Henry Gapper, & Mr. Henry Purchase were with me & we were merry but temperately so, & play’d >”Drink if you please.”

The baby was well enough to avoid immediate baptism in the house. Ten days later Morris wrote: 27 October 1709

“My son was at Evening Service Baptiz’d by the name William in the Cathedral at Wells.

Colonel Berkeley & Colonel Prowse, for Major Brag, with Bishop Hooper’s lady and my sister Farewell for my sister Leigh were suretys [Obsolete word for sponsor] I had a great company both of men and women at mine house (especially men) & some of them staid with me till 4 a clock next morning & seem’d very well pleas’d with their entertainment. Colonel Berkeley (my house being full ) lodg’d with me in my Bed.”

In the 18th Century it was not unusual for people of the same sex to share a bed. Difficulties of transport made overnight stays necessary and people of necessity tolerated sharing rooms and beds. William had a baptism appropriate to his father’s social status, one of the sponsor’s being the Bishop’s wife. Mrs. Morris followed the custom of spending two weeks after the birth in bed. This practice survived until the 20th Century among reasonably affluent people.

2 November 1709

“My Wife went out of ye Parlour Chamber & walked a little in the Hall-Chamber, being the 17th day after her Delivery.”

17 November 1709

“My Wife was Churched by Mr. Mills. She was carried in a Sedan & was clad in a Vail. No woman went with her but Mrs Rogers, the Midwife. Mr. Mills dined with us. My son Will went to Mrs. Poor to Nurse.” [one month old]

29 November 1709

“I visited Mrs. Poor & my Son.” Churching is the ceremony of going to church to give thanks, most notably after a safe childbirth.

5 December 1709

“My Son was very ill of the gripes. [Intermittent spasmodic pain of the bowel ] I went to him & order’d a Clyster [A medicine injected into the rectum] & some medicines for the Wind & he was much better.” Years later Dr. Morris refers to the weaning of his grandson.

26 July 1725 >

“I lent my Calesh & Servant to carry Mr Burland, my Daughter, & Molley to Mr Newman’s at Cadbury, to stay some time while Jacky is weaning.” .

Thomas Marchant’s bald recording of the facts of his childrens’ illnesses and deaths seems to indicate a lack of feeling. This was not the case. Religious teaching affected people very strongly and taught them to submit to the will of God, however hard. Diaries often expressed the need to accept the will of God which was seen to control these events. So it was customary not to express openly the grief and torment which most parents felt internally. By such fortitude one was working towards one’s own salvation. A similar acceptance of fate was expressed by Dr. Oliver when writing of the birth of his first child.

Thomas Marchant

A Sussex yeoman farmer 5 September 1715

“Paid William Nicholas 1s.6d. for raising the graves of my four deceased children Ann b.1706, d.1706 Mary b.1707, d.1707 Thomas b. 1703 ,d.1707 James b.1710, d.1711

10 September 1715

“My wedding day. We have been married 15 years today”

24 September1715

“My wife brought to bed of a girl. May went to Cuckfield Mill with Mrs. Howard. I gave her 5s. and my wife gave her a guinea.”

May would have been out to fetch the midwife.

4 October1715

“My daughter Ann christened. Mr Hart was godfather, Mrs. White and my sister Nanny godmothers. Mr. Sixsmith christened her here, at home, on account of the bad weather.”

26 February 1728

“Marrian set out for Oxford to bring J.Marchant home, on account of the smallpox , which is much there.”

29 February 1728

“Marrion returned from Oxford without John, who had caught, and was laid up with smallpox.”

1 April 1728

“A letter from Mr. Ratcliff, of Oxford, to inform us that John has come out with and is very full of the smallpox and that it is a very bad sort.”

8 April 1728

“Thos. Elvey and Marrian returned from Oxford, and brought us the sad news that John Marchant died on friday night last, about 11 o’clock.”

John had been intending to take Holy Orders. Thomas Marchant presented the living of Rusper to Mr Marten

“which he is to resign, should either of my sons take Orders, and I took a bond of him to this effect.”

This was on 7 December 1721.

#Dr. Thomas Wilson

A typical Whig clergyman of his time, he was the son of the saintly bishop of Sodor and Man. His early life was taken up with seeking preferment and he eventually became rector of St. Stephens, Walbrook. He married his widowed cousin, a marriage which appears to have been happy except for the death at one year of their only child. During the 18th century midwives were slowly beginning to be superseded by men. The Reverend Dr. Thomas Wilson gives an early and rare example of both being present at a birth and the competition between them.

Tuesday 18 March 1734-5

“This morning about 6 my dear wife began to be in labour. I went immediately for Dr. Bamber to be present at the labour and he came at 8. At 14 minutes after eleven she was delivered by Mrs. Gates of Gower Street of a fine boy, with very little pain. God be praised for his mercies. The Dr. was afraid some of the skirts of the after burthen was left behind by the midwife’s being so very quick, and pulling it with the child away at the same time, which is very wrong practice.

“In the afternoon I wrote to Mr.Thoresby to give me leave to baptise my child privately, afraid of any mischance, intending, God willing, to present him publickly in the Church. Baptised him by the name of Thomas.

Wednesday 19th

“My wife much better and the child in a fair way to do well.”

Thursday 20th

“Dr. Bamber came here and found all very well.”

Friday 21st

“I measured my boy and he was 27 inches long. My dear wife tried to suckle her little one but her nipples were so sore and so small that the child could not get hold of them and so I hope it will be pardoned for I know that it is every woman’s duty to nurse her own child.”

Monday 24th

“My dear wife taken with a disorder like the Stranguary” (a disease of the urinary organs, slow and painful emissions of urine.) “I am afraid she got cold by having her room washed this morning.”

Tuesday 25th

“My Molly made water freer but had a great forcing afterwards. I am afraid her midwife did her some injury. She drunk Emulsion.”

Wednesday 26th

“Still the same disorder, weak, restless, no stomack, drinks Emulsion. I cut my finger to the bone.”

Thursday 27th

“The same disorder, tho’ a little better.”

Friday 28th

“I would have sent for Dr. Bamber, but she did not care for it.”

After a great forcing of water on Saturday he sent on Sunday for Dr. Bamber. He ordered her

“A stoupe of warm spices and white wine twice a day and spermatic tea draught every six hours.”

On the following Tuesday she was still feverish and he ordered 25 Gr. Of Gascoin’s powder and 25 Gr. of Crabbs Eyes every 6 hours. By 7th April she was improving. Dr Bamber came and ordered the Spermacetea draught and the Gascoin’s powder every 8 hours. But Dr. Wilson’s cut finger was very much inflamed. By Friday 20th April all was much better.

“My dear boy was received in Newington church by Mr. Thoresby. Father Patten (his Wife’s father) stood himself. Mr. Hayward for my father and Aunt Jackson for Cousin Thomas Patten’s wife.”

The priest Mr. Thoresby was the son of the diarist Ralph Thoresby.

Mrs. Pendarves

(later Mrs. Delany) Lived from 1700-1788 She was the niece of Lord Lansdowne. In 1718 her family forced her to marry an old man Alexander Pendarves. She was seventeen. Her husband died in 1724 leaving her with nothing but her jointure. She repelled suitors including Lord Baltimore.

From 1731-1733 she visited Ireland with her friend Mrs. Donnellan. She met Dr. Delany and Dean Swift with whom she occasionally corresponded after returning to England. In 1743 Delany came to England expressly to ask her to be his wife. Her noble friends and her brother were indignant at this misalliance, but she resolved this time to have her way and was married on June 9. 1743. They lived happily until Delany’s death in 1768.

She was introduced to the royal family, and George III called her his “dearest Mrs. Delany.” She became well known for her flower work,and for paper mosaic cut out of bits of coloured paper. It was praised by Darwin in his >”Love of the Plants”. Between 1774 when she began it and 1784, when her eyesight had failed she had finished nearly one thousand specimens some can be seen in the British Museum today..

We get some idea of the preparations for a new baby from the letters of Mrs. Pendarves. No easy visit to Mothercare for ready made garments. Long nightdresses reaching well below the infants feet were cut out and sewn at home and the same long dresses were used in the day by both boys and girls. Such long nightdresses were still in use in the 1950s for the first 6 months. The change came when new materials with greater elasticity led to the all in one baby garment the “babygrow”. This was followed by babies being dressed in cut down versions of current adult clothes and fashionable materials like denim which would have been considered too rough for a baby’s tender skin by our ancestors.

To her sister Mrs. Dewes April 23. 1741

“I will get myself perfectly informed of the new dress for the bantling, that I may instruct you when I come to Gloucester. I have sent you four yards of course long lawn, and two yards of finer for the little nightcaps, etc.; I suppose you will line the cradle with dimity or white calico, quilted…as for pins, I think you must pay the compliment to Gloucester of buying pins there.”

November 12. 1742 to her sister

“I am as much perplexed for you as you can be for yourself in regard to my godson, but I think you can be reconciled to the nurse’s house, that the story you have heard can be no great objection, but will for the future make her more careful, as she seems a good sort of woman. A deaf nurse is not to be endured; the poor little dear may make his little moans, and have a thousand uneasinesses that she will hear nothing of.”

February 28. 1745-6 Delville to her sister

“Mrs. Viney tells me you are better than you have ever been yet, and that my niece eats paps purely. It will save some trouble if you can bring her up by hand, and since she is naturally so stout I believe it may perhaps be done.”

March 8. 1745-6 Delville

“I am very glad my niece Mary takes so well to her food; I don’t see why it should not rear her up as it did me.”

The system of wet nursing could produce excellent results both in the health of the child and in providing happy early years as seen in William Hickey: Memoirs of a Georgian Rake.

#William Hickey


William Hickey, a man who loved good company and pleasure, sowed his wild oats in London. He spent 27 years in India, as an attorney at the Supreme Court in Calcutta. He claimed that the object of the Court was to counteract the prevalent notion that Europeans could with impunity harass the natives. He worked hard and like others there at that time was very well rewarded. He kept 60 servants including an Italian hairdresser. He was fortunate in escaping the many fevers which overcame most Europeans and returning to retire in Beaconsfield in 1807 where he wrote the story of his many adventures.

“I made my appearance …on the 30th of June 1749. I was soon pronounced a most lovely child. My mother had suckled the first three infants herself, but, this being deemed prejudicial to her health, she was forbid continuing it, and I was therefore sent to be nursed at Hampstead, at a clean and neat cottage, the property of a respectable old woman named Page, from the breast of whose daughter, Ann Page (for she had married a person of her own name), I drew my nourishment. Ann Page was an uncommonly beautiful creature, who also adored me….At Hampstead I remained until nearly four years old, when my first breeches were put on, and I was then taken away from my dearly loved, ‘sweet Ann Page’, the separation from whom wrung my little heart with the first sorrow it ever felt, nor did I ever forget her extreme affection for me”.

A different aspect of childbirth is dealt with by James Lackington. In the 18th Century paternity was assumed on the allegation of the pregnant woman. Some innocent men must have suffered but in this case events saved Lackington.

#James Lackington

James Lackington was a man from the humblest of backgrounds who taught himself to read after his conversion to Methodism. He rose so far as to become one of the most well known and biggest London bookseller. Instead of destroying books which did not sell well he sold them cheaply thus starting the modern way of selling remainders. Lackington, then a journeyman shoemaker, left his mistress at Taunton after a quarrel and made his way by stages to Bristol. Later:

“The Taunton carrier gave me a letter from my good (former) mistress Bowden. The contents of this letter very much surprised me. It informed me that a day or two before I fell out with my last mistress…Betty Tucker, a common lass, had sworn a child to me; that the parish officers had been at my Mother’s shop within an hour after I had left to go to Wellington, and they had been at Wellington just as I had left that place, and afterwards hearing that I was in Bridgewater, they had pursued me thither. But the morning they arrived I had set off for Exbridge; and believing that I had intentionally fled before them, they had given over this chase for the present…I was weak enough to imagine that a kind of miracle had been wrought to save me from a prison, or to save me from living with a woman I could not bear the idea of living with a single week..I had not any knowledge of her being with child (not having seen her for three months before). This girl was delivered about two months afterwards of a still-born child, so that I was never troubled for expenses.”

Elizabeth Drake’s advice that Mrs. Wrightson should feed her baby herself indicates that towards the end of the 18th Century ideas about the use of wet nurses were changing in good Society.

Towards the end of the century people in higher social circles were evidently accepting the idea that breast feeding by the mother was much better for the child than wet nursing. Mrs. Drake to Miss Heber Mary Heber of Weston 1758-1809 Not a diarist nor a letter writer but a recipient of many letters which throw light on her time. They were published as >”Dear Miss Heber” edited by Francis Bamford in 1936. The letters were found in a trunk in Weston, Northamptonshire by Sir Sacheverell Sitwell. Mary Heber’s portrait, a miniature by Richard Cosway shows her as delicate and beautiful. Among her correspondents was Lady Banks, wife of Sir Joseph, the naturalist and botanist.

Elizabeth Drake

Elizabeth Drake was wife of Francis William Drake, Vice Admiral of the Red, 2nd son of Sir Francis Henry Drake, 4th Bt. A descendant of the Elizabethan Sir Francis Drake.

Tuesday 20 May 1788

“I much wish to see your little Niece, but hope that you will not admit anyone for a fortnight at least to visit your Sister, [Harriot Wrightson] as her future health depends greatly on her being kept quiet. I hope she means to nurse the dear little Girl herself, for I am sure it will be a great pleasure to her, and of advantage both to her health and the child.”

Mrs. Wrightson to Mary Heber Swalcliffe. 8 March 1789

“The child has now pretty quiet nights, but that nasty humour still continues & has lately disguised her amazing by breaking out in scabs on her face. She yesterday became possess’d of a 7th Tooth, which like the former she cut with ease. She is remarkably quick in understanding everything that is said to her.”

Mrs. Drake to Miss Heber Decr. 1789 “…I feel inconceivable pleasure at your sister being so well and able to perform what I think the duty of every Mother to her little Boy, who will, I dare say, thrive much better than if he had a wet nurse.”

Mrs. Drake to Miss Heber Hillingdon Heath. 17 Febry. 1793

“…Mr. Fane and Lady Elizabeth [her sister] came; their four daughters with them. Augusta is the name of the youngest: she has had three Wet Nurses and none gave satisfaction, so the old Lying in nurse came here with her, and she is fed with pap made of Asses’ milk and it seems to agree with her for she looks extremely healthy and well.”

#Dr.Peter Oliver

Dr. Oliver was born in 1741 and raised in Boston, New England. He was a Loyalist and left his home for England in 1776 when the danger from rioters became unbearable for supporters of George 111 He attended lectures at the Royal College of Surgeons by John Hunter. Though very well qualified he does not mention practising in England . He settled in Birmingham and devoted himself to bringing up his three children after the death of his wife. His wife and two of his children died of tuberculosis.

“On the 7th Day of Jany. 1771 early in the morning Mrs. Oliver was delivered of a fine Girl. She was put to bed as well as any Woman whatever & had a fine getting up, but little milk & the Child throve but poorly, however at 5 months old it was weaned, it then grew very fast was a great favourite with everybody whereupon I thought myself exceeding happy but immediately gave it up to the Care of Heaven as it was only lent me.” [Margaret Hutchinson Oliver, first child and only daughter known as Peggy. The last sentence seems to suggest she died in infancy, but must have been a pious sentiment as Peggy lived to be a young woman, but only just.] “In July the 15th 1772 Mrs. Oliver was brought to bed of a son [Thomas H. Oliver] a good Travail, but the child weak and feable. She made out to suckle it & did well only she was severely troubled with sore nipples.”

23 Sept. 1774

“Mrs. Oliver was brought to bed of another son a fine hearty boy.” This was Peter. These children were born in Middleborough, Mass. Their parents had been born in Boston. The family fled to England in 1776.The chapter on parents and children tells more of their childhood.”

April 19th 1775

“The fatal Battle of Lexington which blocked us up in Boston.”

June 17th

“Following: the fatal battle of Bunker’s Hill We remained blocked up in Boston till the beginning of March 1776 when we were ordered to embark. Governor Hutchinson’s Family [Oliver’s wife was Sally Hutchinson] went aboard the Hyde pacquet for England.

March 25 1776

“We set sail for England after a tedious passage of 35 days we arrived at Falmouth the last day of April following. The day before we set sail from Nantucket Tommy’s Wife was delivered of a boy which had not a drop of milk during the whole passage was much emaciated & no one thought it would have lived- the Lady well. As to myself I was sick 21 days without any support reduced almost to a skeleton- 7 children on board ship & the oldest not 6 years old.”

They landed in Falmouth and on 6 May 15 of them set out in Post Chaises and came to London.”

12 May

“to St. James St at the Govrns.”

23 Dec. 1778

“Mrs. Oliver was delivered of a fine boy christened Daniel & the same complaint of the breast [sore nipples] from suckling.”

April 1 1779

“I inoculated the child at 4 months old but what with the Death & the anxiety of its Mother he was so loaded with it that it killed him-26 days from inoculation.”

Dr. Oliver’s agony and grief at the loss of his wife and subsequently his children is intimated by his manner of writing the date, the month and days of the life. They are noted as if he is meditating on each day the life lasted as precious and pointing the gulf between those days and a barren future. He seems not to have remarried .At that time it would have been highly unusual for a widower with 4 children, one an infant, not to have remarried rather quickly. He lived as what today is called a single parent, mainly in lodgings which he changed frequently. This sounds uncomfortable, but house ownership was rare at that time when most people would rent houses,

18 May 1780

“Mrs. Oliver delivered of a son- put to bed well but in 3 days she faltered. Mrs. Oliver grew worse faster every day ’till she died which was the 28th of June past 3 o’clock in the morning. That day I compleated my 39th Year. She was 36 Years & 7 months old. She died perfectly resigned to the Will of Heaven, but in great agony of body.”

July 3

“She was buried in Croydon Church next to her Father.”

July 21

“I set off with a wet Nurse and my 4 children for Oxford.”

July 22

“From Oxford to Birmingham.” [where his father now lived.]


“I put my two oldest boys to School at Winson Green under the care of Mr. Pickering.”

July 27

“I put my daughter to school at Moseley in Worcester.[now South Birmingham] under the care of Mrs. Henrison. & the Nurse & Baby in New Hall Street. Thus I had disposed of my Children in the best manner I possibly could. It appeared at first hard to part with them but I have got reconciled at last to it-but the pleasing reflection I had of seeing them often was soon turned to sorrow for my dear little Infant who was very near my heart particularly was drooping in a few weeks after I had got lodgings for it and finally was seized with convulsions the 20th August, lay in that state till the morning of 27th, 3 o’clock and then died in the greatest agony. I had it opened by Tomlinson Its Lungs, Heart, Diaphragm, Stomach & Intestines & all its Viscera were in the soundest state–whatever produced the fits was something on the Brain which could not have been perceived if we had opened its head. I moved the 29th August to High Street opposite New Street at Mrs. Ballard’s one bedroom only at 3/6d. per week for the Hotel.” [bed without board]

August 30th

“I buried my little baby the Northside of St.Philip’s Church [now Cathedral] near the Vaults 6 feet deep. Mr. James read Prayers.”

August 31. “I paid off and dismissed Nurse Dove hoping never to see her again.”

[The deep burial of the infant is an indication of the care of his father. The note on the dismissal of the nurse suggests that at the least Dr. Oliver thought her care of the child inadequate.]

R.J.S. Stevens

Organist and song writer Stevens was trained as a choir boy, became a glee club singer, and a private teacher. His fortune improved after Lord Thurlow, the Lord Chancellor, engaged him to teach his daughter Caroline. His love story deserves a place among the more extraordinary stories of devotion. More details are in the chapter on music.

Just over thirty years after Peter Oliver’s last baby was born an only son and first born child was born to a 43 year old mother. On August 7th 1811 Anna-Maria Stevens gave birth to a son after a labour of only 4 hours. Considering her age and that it was her first pregnancy all went well and quickly. Stevens got the apothecary, Mr. Spry to his wife in time to assist her, then spent the rest of the night walking about in search of a doctor, arriving back with Dr. Sims half an hour too late.

“When I saw my dearest Woman, I was happy to find her much better than I expected. My son looked very small, but cried stoutly, which I thought a sign of strength. My Footman, John Farndell, was exceedingly active in going to our nurse Mrs. Howard: by his exertion she was at the Charterhouse time enough to dress the child. Mrs. Gunn who slept at Charterhouse was likewise very attentive to Anna while I was absent before Mrs. Howard’s arrival.”

Thursday August the 8th

“It was discovered that the child had not strength sufficient to draw his Mother’s Milk. We then applied to Mrs. Greenwood, who was suckling her infant, and she came occasionally to my Son; all of us thinking that her milk would flow much easier than my dearest Anna’s milk.”

Monday August the 12th

“My dearest Anna -Maria, and my Son were gaining strength every day: this continued to the 15th of August. On Friday the 16th of August, we did not think the Child quite so well, and I applied to the Reverend Arthur Trollope of Christ’s Hospital, and Curate of St. Botolph, Aldersgate, to half baptize my son. This he did in the morning by the names Richard George.” Saturday August the 17th “We were advised by Mr. Croft (I believe very foolishly) to have a wet nurse for my Son. We engaged one, Sarah Cole her name. Notwithstanding this engagement, Mrs. Greenwood came to the Child occasionally, and her son John Greenwood used to draw Anna’s breast, having more strength than my Son Richard.. ”

Sunday August the 18th, “I thought my dearest Anna-Maria and my Son Richard were in better health. They both gained strength daily! and on Tuesday August the 20th, Mr. Croft said, “my little boy was now perfectly safe”. We parted with Sarah Cole our wet nurse, this day, as it was thought her milk did not agree with Richard.”

Friday the 23rd of August

“Mr. Croft recommended Anna to have another Wet Nurse to my little boy, as Anna’s milk was still so backward. He mentioned an Irish woman to her, and she agreed to come to us immediately; at the same time this woman came to the Charterhouse, and Anna saw her she gave her a Dollar. the woman was so base, as never to come to us afterward!”

Sunday the 25th August

“We had a third wet nurse to my Son. Anna’s milk was notwithstanding every effort, so backward. Her name I have forgotten. She would not let my Son have more than the produce of one of her breasts; she brought her child with her. not withstanding this, the child got forward with a little of her milk, and a good supply of arrowroot.”

Thursday the 29th of August

“Anna and myself, were determined that our son Richard,should endeavour to suck his mother. The child was a little griped at the first operation, but according to Mr. Spry’s strong advice, by perseverance, and the greatest attention on the part of my dearest woman, the child did succeed in getting his nourishment from his Mother’s breasts.”

The 31st of August, Saturday

“My dearest Anna came down into the dining room for the first time since her confinement. My son was improving every day in health, in consequence of having his Mother’s milk. This day we discharged the 3rd Wet Nurse as she was of no use to us. She was a very fine lady.”

This account illustrates very clearly the difficulties of feeding babies when there was no alternative to breast milk either from the mother or some other lactating mother who was willing to feed both her own and some other child. A slightly unusual aspect of this case is that the two women Anna & Mrs Greenwood at times exchanged babies to enable the weaker child to suckle from the woman whose milk flowed more easily. Today with the epidemic of AIDS hospitals do not allow stronger mothers to help in this way. The Stevens were clearly desperate in trying every possibility both breast-feeding and wet nursing and in engaging one wet nurse after another. Two weeks later Anna Maria became ill with violent night perspiration. The child also began to droop. Stevens consulted Dr. Babington who recommended leaving London immediately. They went to Mr. Jeffery’s house in Peckham, at that time a village in the country. During the next fortnight Stevens feared he would lose both of them, but on

Sunday the 22nd of September

“Our dear little treasure was thought to be better! a very great comfort to his anxious father and mother, and all Mr. Jeffery’s family.” Happily this much loved child survived to manhood. The birth saga ended with the Churching of Anna in the parlour of their house at Charterhouse on October the 8th. This private ceremony seems odd as the purpose of Churching was to give public thanks and marked the woman’s return to the community after childbirth. Richard was weaned on August 11th, four days after his first birthday.

The last extract is an amusing account of a consequence of breast feeding which was a little embarrassing to the gentleman, a clergyman in the early 19th century. The writer Eliza was wife of the speaker of the House of Commons, later Viscount Hampden.

Eliza Brand to her husband Henry Brand

August 25th 1844. Glynde

“Dearest Henry I went yesterday to see the small St. Croix, a very nice baby but there is some difficulty about the nursing. Mrs St. Croix told me in a plaintive voice that she had sat up in bed four hours in the early morning trying to make the baby eat as it should in vain. At last she was obliged to send for William to pump out some milk for it. I looked naturally a little surprised. Oh! she said I have a little air pump to do it with, but cannot manage it myself. I laughed internally, fancy the dear William pumping. I must say it strikes me as rather a queer occupation for a gentleman.” [Mr. St, Croix had recently become vicar at Glynde.]

Note Breast pumps were used to relieve breast engorgement. Some mid-Victorian examples consisted of decorative brass pumps, with a shaped milk reservoir stored in a polished velvet lined mahogany case. Women who fed babies well after the eruption of teeth needed the protection of nipple shields which were made in sterling silver, glass, pewter and rarely boxwood.

The use of wet nurses virtually ceased in the19th Century after the invention of formulas to replace breast milk. The first was invented in 1869 by Justus von Liebig and was mixed with cows milk. Henri Nestle later created a formula which was mixed with cows milk. Formulas have continued to improve but today the mother28s breast milk is considered to be the best option for a baby. Medicine too has made great progress so that in the West today it is unusual for a baby not to survive infancy.


The first printed evidence we have of Chocolate being used in London is in the notice in the Public Advertiser in 1657:

In Bishopsgate St is an excellent West India drink called chocolate to be sold, where you may have it ready at any time, and also unmade at reasonable rates.

By the end of the Commonwealth in 1659, Thomas Rugge, a London diarist, was writing in his Journal about coffee, chocolate and tea as new drinks in London, and referring to chocolate as ‘a harty drink in every street’.

Charles II’s physician Henry Stubbe wrote ‘The Indian Nectar’ in praise of chocolate. He said there were two qualities of chocolate- ordinary and royal. The royal variety which the King enjoyed was rich in cocoa, and not too sugary. Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary on 24 April 1661 that in order to allay his appalling hangover, following the festivities surrounding the coronation of Charles II, he drank chocolate as a morning-after cure:

“Waked in the morning with my head in a sad taking through the last night’s drink, which I am very sorry for; so rose, and went with Mr Creed to drink our morning draught which he did give me in Chocolate to settle my stomach.”

During the 18th Century there was a great increase in the consumption of chocolate throughout Europe. It was not long before cocoa suffered the same fate as tea and coffee and had duties imposed upon it. All chocolate, at this time to be made into drinking chocolate, had to be wrapped in stamped papers supplied by excise men and then sealed proving tax had been paid.

By 1800 the tax was two shillings in the pound on cocoa imported from British Colonies. So its use was restricted to the well off and chocolate became a feature of the daily life of the smart set. Addison wrote in the Spectator that its use was considered a token of elegant and fashionable taste. Beautiful sets of china were made for the service of chocolate. Some can be seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Much chocolate was supplied not by specialists but by grocers. the Russells of Bloomsbury used a grocer who supplied them with many other products.

Likewise the Purefoys, a landed Buckinghamshire family used an agent to buy things not produced on their estate and he bought chocolate from a grocer called Moulson.

Mrs. Purefoy, a determined lady, kept a close eye on the transactions of her agent. On one occasion she wrote that the chocolate was so bitter and highly dried that she could not drink it. perhaps the grocer had heated it too long or too quickly. Her complaint illustrates the variations in quality which one might expect from small workshops.

One superior grocer who supplied chocolate was a woman, Teresa Mocenni of Sienna. She was the friend and supplier of the Countess of Albany, the widow of Bonnie Prince Charlie, when she lived in Florence.

Letters written by the Countess echo this awareness of variation in the recipe and quality of the chocolate.

21 November 1797 she wrote saying the chocolate was good but she preferred more vanilla.

25 July 1798

“the chocolate would be as good as Livornese if it were worked a little more and smoother.”

Again on 25 April 1801 she asked for chololate pastilles saying,

“Put in as much Vanilla as you can. I would prefer to have the best Chocolate even if it is dear,”

We have seen that chocolate was drunk and valued by the upper classes and beyond the reach of the lower classes, but the middle classes?

For them it was a rare luxury.

A lawyer called Burrell living on the then large income of £300 a year kept a diary between 1692 and 1711, in which he mentions the new hot chocolate drink twice only, once as a gift and once when he drank chocolate in London.

The account book of Sarah Fell of Swarthmoor hall, includes this entry:

“I penny was spent on chocolata” in November 1675.

She was married to George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends. This may well be the first known reference to a Quaker in connection with Chocolate.

Middle class people living in the country relied on travelling tradesmen for goods not produced locally.

One was the Reverend William Cole who was visited from time to time by the Cartwright Brothers, who were lace buyers visiting their workers. On one occasion Cole records in the Bletchley Diaries that they brought him 2 pounds of chocolate. It was not clear whether this was a gift or in exchange for some other service.

Clearly some middle class families did obtain chocolate, but the supply was infrequent and not to be relied upon.

One young lady, Miss Elizabeth Cartwright, who lived on the edge of Nottingham, wrote teasing letters to her good friend Mr. Dodsley. He had failed to arrive on two occasions when she was expecting him.

“…the Chocolate ready, the Balm Tea prepared, my cap put on much tighter than usual; all this done on two mornings together, yet no Mr. Dodsley appeared.

The accounts of Abraham Dent, who kept a grocers, mercers and stationers shop in Kirkby Stephen, indicate that chocolate usage in the 18th Century in the North of England was minimal. Between 1762 and 1765 tea appears often, coffee rarely and chocolate only once.

The middle and lower classes would have to wait until the twentieth century when reductions in taxation, large scale manufacturing, improvements in processing and transport would finally enable them to enjoy chocolate.

One exception was the navy. As early as 1780 it was served to British sailors by Captain James Ferguson, who had enjoyed drinking cocoa while the fleet was anchored in Antigua, in the British West Indies. He and the ship’s surgeon understood the nutritional value of cocoa, and as a dried provision it was ideally suited to long sea voyages. Limes provided essential vitamin C, therely preventing scurvy while coca provided a whole gamut of other vitamins and minerals as well as valuable and nourishing proteins and fats. the comfort and stimulation afforded by the drink to men taking the night watch must have been considerable.

By 1824 the cocoa issue or CI was instituted in the Navy , and each man received his daily ration, a one ounce block of chocolate along with his rum and limes.

Dr. Hans Sloane who we have already encountered as the friend of diarist and antiquarian Ralph Thoresby, both at the Royal Society and afterwards at the Grecian Coffee house, valued chocolate highly for its restorative qualities. He was the first person to try mixing it with milk. This was a closely guarded secret remedy, which was sold to an apothecary after some years. The secret was eventually bought by the Cadbury Brothers in 1824. They subsequently successfully mass-marketed it. Hans Sloane had already made himself a considerable fortune, and invested some of it in cocoa plantations in Jamaica, where he had first observed its dramatic effects in reviving sickly babies.

His ideas were evidently shared by Dr. Claver Morris, who we shall see in the following extracts dosing himself with chocolate in times of indisposition. Dr. Morris, however, rarely referred to meals in his diaries.

Dr. C Morris

21 Feb 1721

“Mr. Hill, Mr. Lucas, & I went to Mr. Burland’s [his son in law] to see his and his wife’s Pictures, & Breakfasted on Chocolate.”

8 August 1726

He was very ill with Rheumatick fever, cough, mucous ,loosing weight.

“I could not eat anything all this day, but a Dish of Herb-Porridg for Dinner & a Dish of Chocalate & Bread weaken’d & thinn’d with Milk for Supper.”

9 August 1726

“I continued Ill with my Cold. Wrote a Prescription. I eat only all this day a Dish of Herb-Porridg, & in the Evening a dish of Chocalate & Milk with Bread.”

This was the last entry but one in his diary. The last entry was on August 12th. His diary editor Hobhouse says:

“Tea, coffee and chocolate were infrequent luxuries, though they were all known in England in Morris’ time and could be obtained at the coffee houses which first began to be established about 1650. Morris records as unusual: “I breakfasted on tea (at home)”. I breakfasted on chocolate (at Mr Burlands).” “I drank coffee at Mr Hillses (after morning church).”He also records purchases of tea in small amounts. In 1712 Bohea cost him 7s.6d for a quarter pound and green tea 5s. Chocolate was relatively much cheaper; he buys it at 3s 6d. and 4s. a pound, probably unground as he also purchases a chocolate mill for 6d.”

Dudley Rider regarded chocolate as a food so necessary that he delayed his journey with his cousins rather than start without it.

Dudley Rider

Wednesday , September 14, 1715.

“Rose between 6 and 7. Got myself ready for my journey to the Hay (Westbrook Hay, Herts. where his brother Richard had an estate) with Cousin Billio and his wife. At 7 o’clock cousin and his wife came. They would not stay to drink chocolate and so left me to follow them after having drank some chocolate.

Monday, September 26.

“We went then to visit Mr. Partridge and his wife: we were treated at his lodgings with tea and fruit and chocolate. Tuesday, September 18. Rose at between 5 and 6. Went to Mr. Marshall’s…drank some chocolate there.”

Mary Delany

Though an aristocrat , Mary Delany complained about the high price of chocolate.

October 5. 1727 to her sister

“Mrs. Badge nor I could not rightly understand you about the Bohea tea, for she does not remember she was ordered to bespeak any, and you say in your letter that I must send the Bohea tea that was bespoke and a pound more.

She imagines the tea Mama meant was “tea dust,” but she can’t get any for love nor money, but has bought two pound of Bohea, at thirteen shilling a pound, which the man says is extraordinarily good; but everything of that kind grows very dear, chocolate especially. I have sent you a pound at three and sixpence, the best in town at that price, but am afraid it is not such as my mother will like, but I desire her approbation of it as soon as she has tasted it. [Mrs. Granville having been brought up in Spain was particularly fond of chocolate.]

February 29. 1727-8 to her sister

“By monday’s coach I will send the chocolate and tea, and the new plays…”

March 12. 1728

“..I sent by a gentleman who came from Mr. Skin [a carrier] last Friday, three pounds of chocolate at four shillings per pound, one pound of Bohea thirteen shillings…when the lampreys come in , I shall be glad to have as many potts sent as will come to the money I have laid out in the chocolate and tea, which is twenty-five shillings.”

May 11. 1728 to her sister

“.. The man at the Poultry has tea of all prices,-Bohea from thirteen to twenty shillings, and green from twelve to thirty.”

April 19. 1729 to her sister

“I sent a little box last night to the carrier with a set of china as my mama ordered me: I hope they will come safely, I gave great charge about packing them carefully. China is risen mightily within this month. My Aunt Stanley liked them so well for the oddness of them, that she bought a set of cups, saucers, bason, sugar-dish and plate costing fourteen shillings.”

March 30. 1732 to her sister

“Yesterday we had an entertainment of another sort, and very agreeable in its way,-an assembly at Mrs. Butler’s. I played two pools at commerce: when that was over, at 10 o’clock was placed on little tables before the company as they sat, a large Japan board with plates of all sorts of cold meat neatly cut, and sweetmeats wet and dry, with chocolate, sago, jelly, and salvers of all sorts of wine. While we were eating fiddles were sent for.”

Mary Delaney gives us a vivid picture of life among the upper class. Difficult to imagine the pandemonium of all the activities she describes as going on simultaneously. But which of us would have imagined games, breakfast and harpsichord playing all taking place at the same time in the same hall without her witness? From that grandeur she shows us how simple her evening meals could be when she was alone. On a Thursday evening in 1740 it was chocolate and an egg.

April 5. 1733

To her sister from Dangan, the estate of Mr. Wesley. “We meet at breakfast about ten; chocolate, tea, coffee, toast and butter, and caudle, are devoured without mercy. The hall is so large that very often breakfast, battledore and shuttlecock, and the harpsichord go on at the same time without molesting one another.”

[See famous men file for party where Handel was served Chocolate.]

April 12. 1734} A thursday evening in 1740

Ann Granville, now Mrs. Dewes, to her sister Mrs. Pendarves, later Mrs. Delany, after her departure. “..To tell you what my heart feels of love and gratitude no day or night can suffice! I am going to drink your health in chocolate- your own dear chocolate, shall eat my egg and go to sleep because it is the only way I can see you now..”

February 13. 1745-6 Mrs. Delany to Mrs. Dewes

“Today a strange gibble gabble woman has plagued me all the morning; I never was more provoked to be rude in my life. I crammed her with chocolate and plum-cake, and then sent her packing, but she has robbed me of what is not in her power to restore- a good hour of my time.” [Time to write letters to her sister was the most valuable of commodities.]

One cannot imagine am aristocrat living in lodgings in this century, but in the 18th century buying property was rather rare. It is unusual to see a precise description of the decoration of a small apartment, so the next extract is particularly interesting. The Cocoa Tree was a famous chocolate house.

15 January. 1746-7 Pall Mall

“My lodging consists of one parlour (staircase is light and easy) and a drawing room, a size larger than what I had in Clarges Street: tapestry hangings, crimson stuff damask curtains and chairs, and tolerable glasses between the windows. The bedchamber backwards, new and clean; crimson and yellow flaring hangings of paper and a bed of the same materials as the curtains in the dining room; but it looks into a pretty garden, and over the Prince of Wales’s into the park, which is cheerful and pleasant. The two pair of stair rooms and the garret are all very tolerable. The rent four guineas a week; the situation is next door to the Cocoa Tree, which is the direction to me.” This is to show the address in letters as house next to Cocoa Tree.

February 1750 Delville Mrs. Delany to Mrs. Dewes

“Sunday morning just as I was going to church, I heard a tantararara at the door, and in walked my Mrs. Hamilton, her eldest daughter, and two sons. They went to church and drank chocolate afterwards; but she never dines abroad and left me a little after two.”

The excitement must have been extraordinary at the ball where such efforts had been made to create the ambiance. Instead of servants carrying round the cups of chocolate however did they arrange pipes to deliver hot chocolate to the leaves of trees and what was done to stop the flow when the cups were full?

February 7. 1752 Delville “The grand ball was given last Wednesday…the musicians and singers were dressed like Arcadian shepherds and shepherdesses and placed among the rocks. If tea, coffee, or chocolate were wanting; you held your cup to a leaf of a tree, and it was filled; and whatever you wanted to eat or drink, was immediately found on a rock, or on a branch, or in the hollow of a tree. The waiters were all in whimsical dress.”

James Woodforde

James Woodforde a country clergyman, like many others who travelled was commissioned to buy chocolate and also records it as part of a special celebration.

3 October 1763

“Went to Sherborne this Morning early on purpose upon ye Grey to get me a Beaurou of one Hodinett a Cabinet-Maker and to get a pound of Cocoa for Mrs Melliar of C.Cary, of one Mr. Sanson.”

9 August 1763

“I went to Mrs Melliar’s publick Breakfast in the Vicarage Garden, where was Coffee, Tea & Chocolate & all kinds of Cakes & proper for the above (a very large Company there, a very good Band of Musick, Bells ringing, 80 loaves given to the Poor of Cary, every thing very elegant and handsome) all done in honour of Lord Stavordale being this day of Age. His Lordship is on his Travels abroad. There was dancing after breakfast in the Garden till three in the afternoon. I danced one Minuet in the Garden with Miss Martin, but would not dance Country Dances.”.

Dr. Hans Sloane who we have already encountered as the friend of diarist and antiquarian Ralph Thoresby, both at the Royal Society and afterwards at the Grecian Coffee house, valued chocolate highly for its restorative qualities. He was the first person to try mixing it with milk. This was a closely guarded secret remedy, which was sold to an apothecary after some years. The secret was eventually bought by the Cadbury Brothers in 1824. They subsequently successfully mass-marketed it. Hans Sloane had already made himself a considerable fortune, and invested some of it in cocoa plantations in Jamaica, where he had first observed its dramatic effects in reviving sickly babies. His ideas were evidently shared by Dr. Claver Morris, who we shall see in the following extracts dosing himself with chocolate in times of indisposition. Dr. Morris, however, rarely referred to meals in his diaries.

Chocolate was not generally available to the poorer classes until the 20th Century.

One exception was the navy. As early as 1780 it was served to British sailors by Captain James Ferguson, who had enjoyed drinking cocoa while the fleet was anchored in Antigua, in the British West Indies. He and the ship’s surgeon understood the nutritional value of cocoa, and as a dried provision it was idelaly suited to long sea voyages. Limes provided essential vitamin C, therely preventing scurvy while coca provided a whole gamut of other vitamins and minerals as well as valuable and nourishing proteins and fats. the comfort and stimulation afforde by the drink to men taking the night watch must have been considerable.

By 1824 the cocoa issue or CI was instituted in the Navy , and each man received his daily ration (a one ounce block of chocolate along with his rum and limes.

A curious use of Chocolate.

Private Parsons arrived at the Balaclava front in the Crimea in November 1852.

“chocolate also used to be sent out to us, this reaching us made up in the shape something like a big flat cheese. This chocolate we found would burn, so breaking it into pieces and piling stone around, we then would set fire to it, place our canteen on top and then wait for something warm, this being the only way we succeeded in doing so in the first few months.

Today chocolate is available in many forms varying from cheap basic to the most highly refined luxury products such as those sold by Rococo based on a single organic estates beans from Grenada. TEA and COFFEE TEA AND COFFEE Thomas Turner Shopkeeper

3 December 1755

‘Made an entry of my shop and kitchen to retail coffee, tea etc. and dated it as tomorrow’

By statute every retailer dealing in coffee, tea, cocoa or chocolate was required “before he take any of the said goods into his possession to make an entry in writing of all the store houses, shops, rooms, and other places intended to be used by him at the excise office for the division” on pain of forfeiting the goods plus £200 fine.

Travels of Faujas St. Fond 1784 Faujas visited Greenwich Observatory with a Committee of the Royal Society, was introduced to William Herschel, at four o’clock they adjourned to a tavern where dinner was served. “We rose from the table at seven o’clock not to depart, but to pass into another room, where cut bread and butter, tea, coffee, brandy and rum awaited us… the tea is always excellent in England; but nowhere do people drink worse coffee. The English must be little sensible of the delicious flavour of this agreeable beverage, which nature seems to have created to solace at once the body and the mind …Voltaire, who was extremely fond of coffee, called it with good reason the quintessence of the mind. Why then does the English government, for political and commercial reasons, prevent the people from using coffee which they might prepare according to their own taste, and compel them to purchase from monopolist dealers a kind of inferior quality, and bad flavour, which has been roasted a long time before …. I was so disgusted with the bad coffee which I found even in the most opulent of houses.

Smuggling and Customs Officers

Smuggling is a crime with an unusual status.

Although most crimes are abhorred by the middle classes smuggling was the exception which for reasons of economy and presumably of enjoying the thrill of taking a risk was regarded by them as the exception to their usual stance of not supporting illegal activities.

The temptation was great the excise duties were large and were levied on the goods which were an important part of the lifestyle of the well off -wine and spirits. If caught the smugglers suffered the penalties of the law. The £12,000 which Morris says Mr Bragge is to be fined sounds an enormous amount if considered in terms of today’s inflated equivalent.

The Smuggler’s trade could not have continued unless their social superiors bought from them. This they undoubtedly did as numerous diary entries testify.Those who bought the smuggled goods feared detection but it was very unlikely that they would be prosecuted in the same way as the smugglers, as is shown in the extract from Claver Morris’ diary. A further extract showed that the law could detect the perpetrators from time to time.( 26 Jan. 1726.) Thomas Turner admitted that he gave charity to a smuggler out of self interest. He feared that the Smuggler might inform the Customs that he had bought their goods.

The high Excise Duty and the accessibility of this area of Sussex from the sea made smuggling a recognised way of life. The Custom-House was at Newhaven. But at Pevensey Bay or Cuckmere Haven, a dozen miles south of East Hoathly, were good quiet beaches where the smugglers of the Alfriston area could land their contraband french brandy. It was then sent to the Forest Ridge (Mayfield, Burwash, Robertsbridge etc.) and so towards London through a chain of receiving cottages.

Dark nights were used for this business, as Horace Walpole learned to his cost. Finding travel difficult he and his friend decided to put up at the Robertsbridge Inn, but found all the beds occupied by smugglers who were posing as ‘mountybanks’. So they pushed on to Battle, which was full of Excisemen who had just shot a smuggler. Feeling very insecure they took links and lanthorns and made their way through the mud to their destination at Hurstmonceux. Smuggling in Sussex reached high periods of activity during both the seven Years’ War and the Napoleonic Wars. The opportunities in each period were huge at the same time as the prevention resources were much depleted by the demands of the services.

Almost the whole population participated including the clergy, who were often won over by a keg of ‘Nantzy’, french brandy from Nantes . After 1830 the Preventive Service was much strengthened, and after a series of bloody battles on the beaches smuggling slowly declined. The strangest aspect of the Customs duel with the smugglers and their customers is the periodic sharing of the booty. Thomas Turner tells us of a party given by the Customs Officers. Holland when complaining that the smugglers overcharge says that he could get very good spirits for half the price at Customs House.

Smuggled goods included spirits, tea, silks, tobacco, coffee, cocoa and chocolate, as well as home products like candles, salt and soap.

Dr C Morris

15 May 1719
>”The Claret (10 dozen) John Baker driving 2 horses home, was seiz’d on, Forfeited Goods, yesterday, by the Lime [Lyme Regis] Custom House Officers.

2 1 Dec. 1721

>”Wm. Clark brought home a Hogshead of Claret, in the morning early, from Sadbury, coming from thence all night.”

4 Dec. 1721

>”Being my Daughter’s Birthday I went to her house about 5 & Carryed a Bottle of French Claret.”

“I5 Oct.1723

>”I got up to let in Amey Rodgers with 4 Gallons & 6 Pints & half of French White-Wine.”

[This late night transaction implies the wine was smuggled.]

21 Sep.1724


>”I upped to let Coggin of Somerton in about 4 a clock with one Anchor of (Brandy) which I bought of him which weight 87 lb, of which 14 lb was allowed for the caske. he brought in also 3 Anchors more & left them in my Inner Cellar.”

[No doubt this was smuggled, probably brought up from the Dorset coast.]

26 Jan.1726

>”I went to get Mr. George Mattocks to go with me to-morrow to Sadborrow from the news of Mr. Bragge being charged by the Government to pay 12000 for avoiding to pay Custom on Goods brought in his Shipps.”

[It is pretty clear that Bragge had been engaged in extensive smuggling operations, and that the wine Morris got from them was contraband.
On 18 Dec 1725 he had put the claret in the Hole in the Inner Cellar, presumably to conceal it from the Customs Officers]

#Walter Gale

Schoolmaster 1749 to 1759

>”I set out for Laughton after drinking a quartern of gin and came to Whitesmiths where was a hurley bolloo about Mr. Plummer’s (now a custom house officer) having seized a horse loaded with 3 anchors of brandy which was carried off by him and two soldiers.”

#Thomas Turner

Shopkeeper of East Hoathley

On 10 November 1757 Turner records an attempt of a father to rehabilitate his sons from a life of smuggling. Master Paris came to him and begged him to draw up a petition on behalf of his sons to ask some relief of their neighbours.

>”upon which I drawed up the following petition, viz., Whereas John and Francis Paris having formerly through mistaken notions followed that unwarrantable practice of smuggling though for a considerable time past being convinced of the mischievous consequences of such a practice…having entirely refrained from the said practice, but as they who have once ventured on such an illegal course may years after become subject to the law (as many unhappy instances too justly testify) and which is now become the case of those unhappy men who have lately been sworn against in his majesty’s court of the Exchequer for a very considerable sum. Which if the law is executed against them in the most rigorous manner they must be obliged to abandon their native country and that which is most dear to them- their family and relations, but as they have some prospect and hopes to believe the said affair may be made up for a small sum in proportion to so great a one which they are sworn against for, though still so great that they are unable to raise the same from their effects. They therefore humbly implore the assistance of their neighbours and acquaintance hoping they will commiserate their unhappy affair and yield them some relief and succour in this their day of adversity and trouble and they will ever (as in duty bound) thankfully acknowledge the favours they shall be pleased to confer on them. I gave the man 2s. 6d. for his son-not that I did it so much from principle of charity as self-interest, having formerly bought some brandy of them. I could not tell but their poverty might induce them to do that for me which another had done for them, in order to clear themselves.”

24 November 1763

>”Mr. Bannister having lately taken from the smugglers a

of brandy, entertained Mr. Carman, Mr. Fuller, and myself, in the even, with a bowl of punch at my house.”

On the 24 December 1764 he wrote

>”…Mr Bannister, our officer of excise, having lately made a seizure of some brandy, brought in 2 bottles of it to my house, and myself, Sam.Jenner, Thos. Durrant and Joseph Fuller Jr. clubbed for lemons and sugar, and we had an agreeable bowl of punch in the even, and spent the even till near 12 o’clock.”


Arriving from France

>”I had great reason to be pleased with the custom-house officers in England. These were two men whom at first glance I took for beggars: they had the appearance of persons of that station, which in England is the lowest and meanest of all. They came on board, and e most submissive manner asked permission to examine the contents of my trunk, which they opened, and retired with the utmost humility, without so much as searching my pockets, or even my linen-bag. It cost me half a crown to get my effects from the custom-house, where they had been left at my landing; but this is an old due and not an exaction of the officers: it is called the Viscounty fee.”

Compare with Sophie Van La Roche account.

#James Woodforde

14 February 1777

>”…Andrews the smuggler brought me this night about 11 o’clock a bagg of Hyson Tea 6 Pd. weight, he frightened us a little by whistling under the Parlour Window just as we were going to bed. I gave him some Geneva and paid him for the Tea at 10/6 Per Pd.- 3.3.0.”

29 December 1786

>”Had another Tub of Gin and another of the best Coniac brandy brought me this evening abt 9. We heard a thump at the front door about that time, but did not know what it was, till I went out and found the two Tubs but nobody there.”

6 June 1788

>”…1.18.0 for a Tub of Coniac Brandy of four gallons by Moonshine Buck and 2.6.0 for two tubs of Geneva of 4 gallons each by ditto and the odd 8d. for Horses shoes removed.”

#William Holland

29 July 1805

>”After breakfast moved about the garden and trimmed the arbour. While I was at work with a bill hook in my hand Little Cockney Shitfield the Brandy Merchant called. I desired him to walk in. I paid his bill but did not order more as what I had is not yet out. I made him give me a receipt this time which he used not to do before. He said it made a great difference to him but said I the Law requires it. It does so returned he, then he jumped up skipped on his horse and was off in a trice telling me that at any time when my stock was out if I would but drop a line I should have it in a trice.But really they are become now so abominably dear that there is scarce any drinking of them and moreover at the Custom House one may have very good spirits for half the price he sells at.So Mr Cockney I think I shall be able to cater better in future.”

A vast range of goods were smuggled not just the brandy and tobacco which first comes to mind but also many everyday useful goods which might have been defined as luxuries in this time such as tea, silks, coffee, cocoa, and even necessary items like candles, salt and soap.
Smuggling was part of the unending fight between the Government which needs to levy taxes to pay for public services and the citizen who knows this, but still attempts to evade paying his share.

7 Buildings-

The architect’s problems in dealing with clients impossible demands are illustrated in this extract. Imagine the size of the inscription necessary to make such large letters. Impossible to achieve while keeping the correct proportions of the pillar.

We think of vandalism as a 20th century phenomenon. So it is on a massive and near universal scale but graffiti have appeared throughout the centuries and here we have an example of awareness of the strong possibility that vandals would deface the monument.

Life and Correspondence of Mrs. Delany 15 February 1722-3

Lord Lansdowne to Colonel Bernard Granville

” ..• 1 thank you for the plan you sent me of the pillar erected upon Lansdowne, but I find the performer has not been exacLHis directions were to be sure of making tables for the inscription so large that the letters might be easily legible at a distance by any passenger on horseback … it was likewise forseen, that unless it was surrounded by a rail it would be impossible to hinder it from being defaced by comers and goers, who would be apt to scratch their own conceits and sentences upon it.”

Dear Miss Heber

Mrs. Bland to Miss Heber Seymour Street. 13 Sep. 1791

“Your acqaintance, Mr Hookham, has got a most tempting House. I was walking past it very lately & was kindly ask’d to Look at it. The Library & building of the House Cost £3000-& the first contains 10,000 Volumes to Let out to subscribers. The room is above 100 feet long, to have a large table in the middle, seats & other accomodation that, when Ladies have been walking with a Beau, they will find it the best way into Bond Street to Hook’em. n

British Museum

M. Grosley Vall. P.74

London suffered from humidity and “WOUld be uninhabitable, if, to supply it with constant fuel, it had not’ a resource in sea-coal, which immense forests would be insufficient to furnish … in the month of Mayall the apartments in the British Museum, apartments as extraordinary on account of their number as their size, had a fire in them: not so much to warm the rooms, as to preserve from damps and humidity the books, the manuscripts, the maps, and the curious collection of ali sorts deposited in that fine building.

Activities and inventions

From the top to the bottom of society people were very much more active in the 18th Century than in the late 2Oth.At the bottom agricultural labourers aided by horses did by hand ploughing, sowing seeds and harvesting, their teenage children were mostly employed as servants, their wives worked most of the hours of the day preparing food, washing clothes by hand, gleaning in season.Nowadays the same group of people are aided by machines which take away the effort of work, or are unemployed and receive a dole. Likewise upper and middle class people use cars to travel and machines to do most tasks so that it is necessary to go to a gym for exercise. The diaries show us even well off people walking, riding and engaging in activities of a/l kinds.

The amazing Dr. Morris successfully pursued so many activities it is hard to list them. He had a professional life of visiting and diagnosing patients which involved much travel. He had his own ‘elaboraory’ in which he dispensed medicines. He played many musical instruments and played in consorts with his friends, took his children to their boarding schools. He ran s~veral farms, supervised the brewing of a vast quantity of beer and entertained friends regularly. Besides all these activities his mind was very inventive and he personally tried to solve many little problems which were thrown up in everyday life. He undertook tasks which we would pass on to specialists such as cleaning a watch or servicing a barometer. His mind was constantly active noting things which did not work well and thinking out solutions then trying to make the mechanisms himself. He made a new jack for his harpsichord of metal instead of quill which would have resulted in a very much louder sound. He made a mechanism for opening and closing his curtains which sounds very like the contrivances sold today for this purpose.He devised a way of counting the revolutions of his coach wheels so that he could record the number of miles travelled. He was indeed a renaissance man.

Dudley Rider as a student made himself a fountain pen, presumably fitting his quill pen with some sort of reservoir. All of our diarists were writing in the tedious way then necessary. They used the feathers of geese, swans, and crows. They had to point and slit the lower end. The hollow inside the feather held some ink but not much so writing involved constatntly dipping their quill pens in ink. In 1809 Joseph Bramah (1748-1840) patented a machine for cutting gooe feathers into three or four nibs to be used with a separate pen holder. As early as 1780 a Birmingham manufacturer, S. Harrison produced a metallic pen but it was too difficult to use We see passages faint as the ink supply diminished or blotted where it flooded and marvel at their industry and at the ease with which we can put down our thoughts on word processors.

One might imagine that aristocrats with many servants passed the days in idleness or at least dOing no more than the many social activities which undoubtedly occupied much of their time. Mary Delaney’s diaries show an intelligent and gifted woman engaged in many artistic and craft works. Her paper mosaics, flower paintings and shell work were famous in her time. She also did knotting,was interested in organizing gardens, growing orange trees and making wine.ln her old age she was a valued friend of King George.

But machines were being invented and beginning to effect all branches of society. Spinning and weaving and agricultural machines took away jobs while enabling less men to do the work. Mary Delaney noted an invention by which 1800 candles were lit in 3 minutes, but unfortunately not how this could be done. Part of the entertainment for the well off of her day was to see wonderful machines like the clock which played twenty four tunes perfectly or an Orrery.

Dr. C Morris 27 April 1709

“Saw out of my Garret Window Cox hanged at Stookley Hill with my little telliscope.” 11 June 1709

“I cleans’d my wife’s Gold Watch.” 28 July 1709

“I prescribed for Mr. Mayowe of Truro and sent the form by the post in Mr. Mills letter to him.” 20 February 1710

“I rivetted on the Brass ornaments of my snaffle Bridie.” 21 Nov. 1719

“Mr. Hill came and mended some faults in the Penning my Harpsichord … James Parfitt put on the Brass Gemels [Bars placed together as couples) on my Harpsichord.”

15 Dec. 1719

“Later I made an end of a Harpsichord Jack of mine own invention to strike the String with brass, without a Quill.”

20 Nov. 1720

“I had a new hand made of Deal, by Thomas Parfit, put into the Time-Beater … .1 went to our Cecilia-Meeting at Close-Hail.”

20 Jan.1722

“I visited my Daughter, she having been, Yesterday morning about 8 a clock deliver’d of a Daughter.

Mr. Brook ofAxbridge came, with Mr. Thomas Parfit & set up the Five -Feet Pendulum Clock which I bespoke of him & calculated. I paid him 6 Guineas for it without a case.”

7Feb 1722

“I washed the mercury for my inlay’d Barometer”. 19 July 1722

“I bought in the Castle in Bristow, a large Cock for the Cistern in my Garden, & a Brass Wind-fall for the lower Pipe of my Pump. I bought, betwixt the Bridge and the Back, a Lock for my CoachHouse Door. My Servant waited with my Horses at the Glass-House in Bedminster, where I call’d & bespoke some Glasses. I got home by 10.”

8 Sep. 1722

“I put some of the Pictures which had been cleans’d, & vernish’d by Mr. Hodges [an ExeterJapanner] who came about this Country to cleans Pictures.”

13 Feb. 1723

“I went to the Toy-Man, now (from Bristow-Fair) at the Christopher, & bought a pretty Snuff-Box, for Travelling.”

16 May 1723

“I finished the putting on the Spurrs & Barrs of my Jack Splatter-dashes” [A gaiter or legging]

20 Sep. 1723

“I fitted the strings for my new-contriv’d manner of Drawing & undrawing the curtains of the Window in my Dressing-Room.”

19 Nov. 1723

“I made an end of calculating the Machine to be fix’d to my Calash to Count the Revolutions of the Wheel, & consequently the Miles travelled.”

28 Feb 1724

“Mr. Burland gave me a Bridge for my Bass Violin which he made on purpose: They all supp’d on Sturgeon.”


“John Bird fitted a Sprin[g]-Jack for my Harpsichord with the addition I had contrived.”

Dudley Rider

Monday, August 29. 1715.

“Began to read Perkin’s Law, but it came into my head to make my pen that belongs to my pocket book into a fountain pen, which took up all my morning and I did it at last.”

M. Grosley

Travelling from Dover to London on a sunday on which day the police law forbade coach travel.


“Between Canterbury and Rochester the inhabitants of a village situated on the side of the highway had made choice of that day on which the high road was to be free, to remove a windmill from the left to the right side of the road, to the place which seemed best suited to it.

[Shades of Don Quixote !]

“Now as the country is very woody, the body of these mills is a sort of high cage, which receives the wind above the trees: this cage which bears a strong resemblance to a bee-hive, consists of a circular frame of wood, surrounded with a lattice rough cast with lime. That which was to be removed having the form of a cone thirty feet high, with a diameter of 12 or 14 feet, moved on in a hollow way which we were then travelling in, and which it filled: twenty or thirty men, some of whom dragged it along with cords, the remainder pushing it on with their hands, advanced

slowly; and as it had twenty fathom length of road still to go, we had little hope of soon getting rid of it: coachmen, postillions, passengers .. alighted, and joined those who pulled or pushed it on: after about an hour’s labour, we reached a part of the road, where the slope, which bordered one of its sides, was least steep; this slope was made level, and lengthened out by a pick-ax: at last the carriages reached the ridge of the road with the help of cords, which entered the body of each carriage and the coach-box. All the frenchmen present laughed heartily at the adventure, but this had not the least effect on the flegmatic temper of the English: both young and old talked of many different expedients to get rid of us: at last they went about their work in good eamest, disengaged our carriages, and resumed their business with all the seriousness of men who had passed their life in removing windmills. ”

Mary Delany

February 9 and 11. 1724-5 To her sister, Ann Granville

“I was interrupted by Lady Peyton and her daughters who called on me to go to hear the musical clock … it is a new one, and a complete piece of ingenuity as ever I saw; it plays twenty-four tunes with as much exactness as it is possible for them to be played in concert, the price of it is five hundred pound. He was hoping to dispose of it to the King for Prince Frederick.”

[Lady Peyton was the wife of Sir Tewster Peyton, of Doddington, Camb., Bart.]

“I hope you received the harpsichord strings, the ballads and the edging. I send the rest of the strings this post.

-Mary Delany

12 October 1727. The day after the Coronation of George 1/ and Queen Caroline. To her sister Ann Granville.

“I was a spectator in West minster Hall, from whence the procession begun, and after their Majesties were crowned, they retumed with all their noble followers to dine … The room was finely illuminated, and though there were 1800 candles, besides what were on the tables, they were all lighted in less than three minutes by an invention of Mr. Heideggar’s, which succeeded to the admiration of all the spectators; the branches that held the candles were all gilt and in the form of pyramids … Everybody I knew came under the place where I sat to offer me meat and drink,

which was drawn up from below into the galleries by baskets at the end of a long string, which they filled with cold meat and bread, sweetmeats and wine.

I hope you found the worsted; I packed it with the flax, which if it proves good I desire you will give me the satisfaction of knowing.”

[Mary Granville and her mother were celebrated spinners, both in flax and in that preparation of wool called Jersey. Her descendant Lady LLandover who edited the letters still possessed her spinning wheel, a piece of purple poplin and damask napkins of the finest texture of her spinning in 1860.]

A more ordinary day. Mary Delany’s letter to her sister vividly conjures up the day.

“Last night I returned from Court cold and weary, … 1 found a room full of smoke, the wind and the rain beating against my windows, my pussey lost (as I thought), but she was found. Well, into bed I tumbled about half an hour after one. I slept tolerably well, dreamt of nothing at all, waked at eight, roused Mrs. Bell, huddled on my clothes, bought eighteen yards of a very pretty white silk for Trott, something in the nature of shagreen, [a sort of silk taffeta with a grained look] but a better colour than they ever are; it cost sixpence a yard more; the piece came to three pounds and twelve shilling. Then I called for my tea-table, sent John of a Howdee [hOW d’ye do?] to my Aunt Stanley, and at his return he brought me a letter from my dear sister.”

August 23. 1729.

to her sister

“Lady Sunderland is very busy about japanning; I will perfect myself in the art against I make you a visit and bring materials with me.”

to the same

September 9. 1729

“Everybody is mad about japan work; I hope to be a dab at it by the time I see you.” 8 June 1731

“The next day I met the Percivals at Mr. Wesley’s where after a good repast and kind welcome, we walked up-stairs, where we were to be entertained with an orrery. You must understand that this is a machine in form of a sphere, wherein is demonstrated the solar system, with all the motions and distances of the planets. Just as the learned man was going to explain to us, a summons arrived for me to go to Mrs. Monck’s Christening, which with great regret I did. I represented Lady Shelburne. no woman there but myself. I stayed there about an hour, and returned to the good folks in Conduit Street, but the celestial affair was over.”

Letters and post to her sister March 3. 1738-9

“to tell you all the particulars … would flourish out more paper than a single frank would contain.”

Mrs. Foley, of Stoke Edith, Herefordshire to Mrs. Dewes at Bradley near Droitwich in Worcestshire.

November 11. 1740

“I am, my dearest Mrs. Dewes, quite out of patience with your post, for your letter dated the 4th I did not receive until last night and the one you mention to have wrote in answer to mine never came to my hands: can you blame me for being anxious .. Please to put “post town at Gloster upon your letters; if they don’t come safe we will try by way of London.”


same person and date

“I was engaged with my crayons and painted whilst they talked the world over, and now and then put in a word to let them know I had my ears at liberty though my eyes were employed:that double entertainment is a high regale to me, but it come seldom in my way.”

30 October 1746

Daily activities at Cornbury, seat of the Duke of Queensbury.

“We meet at Breakfast between nine and ten, which lasts near two hours intermixed with conversations; when over, the coach is ready for D.O. and me to tour in the park,and to see my Lord’s improvements, and the rest of the company ride … We return home at two and spruce out, dinner at half an hour


after two; the afternoon- coffee, sauntering, conversation comes on, and tea; my drawings produced, many civilities are uttered, and the whole ends with a pool at commerce, which brings us to our hour of supper; and we go to our separate appartments at eleven.”


Mrs. Delany to Mrs. Dewes October 27. 1750

” •. 1 am knotting a plain fringe to trim a new blue and white linen bed I have just put up; as soon as that is finished I will do some sugar-plum for you .. ”

In 1861 Lady Uanover still had some brilliant blue linen chair covers with a border of oak leaves cut out in white linen and tacked down in different sorts of white knotting which also formed the veining and stalks, the work of Mrs.Delany. She said it was the custom of ladies to use their knotting shuttles in periods of relaxing such as the tea-table hour.

January 12. 1750-51

“I have made a pipe of orange wine and next week shall make raisin wine by your receipt.”

[very much larger quantities of light wines and syrups appear to have been made annually of currants, raspberries, and other home fruits in private families than is now the case. note of Lady Uanover, editor 1861)

January 19.1750-1 Delville

Mrs. Delany to Bernard Granville

“I am now considering about a greenhouse, and I believe I shall build one this spring; my orange trees thrive so well they deserve one. I propose having it 26 ft. by 13, and 13 high.”

December 16.1755

Mrs Delany to Mrs. Dewes. Spring Gardens

“I hope you do not take damp walks, but make use of your sedan.”

[It appears from this advice that sedan chairs were used in the country as well as in London.]

January 31.1756 New Street,Spring Gardens Mrs. Delany to Mrs. Dewes

“Mr. Wesley [her godson] came one morning to see me. I told him if he would cross the park from Pall Mall, (where they live) he might come to me at any time after nine: he seemed pleased and I gave him my key of the park door.”

17 November 1756. Bath Mrs. Delany to Mrs. Dewes

“We got to Bristol at one. Mr. Calcot, the philosopher was there, who has the famous collection of fossils … his collection is rare and curious, of spars, minerals and tossns, such as I have never seen, and unanswerable testimonies of the Deluge. But his heart I believe is of the petrified kind, and encrusted with avarice, for he has many of most sorts in his collection, and he gave me not so much as a single grain of tin! however I was not disappointed, as I went for instruction and entertainment, though not without some small hope of a little gain.!

September 4.1757 .Bath Mrs. Delany to Mrs. Dewes

“Lady Caroline Fox has taken lodgings in this house, and comes on tuesday.”

No date

“Lady Andover and I have entered on a piece of work to surprise the Duchess of Portland on her return, which is flourishing. It is a frame of a picture, with shell work, in the manner of the frame to your china case; and we are as eager in sorting our shells, ptacinq them in their proper degrees, making lines, platoons, ramparts, as the King of Prussia in the midst of his army, and as fond of our own compositions.”

December 29.1757. Bulstrode Mrs. Delany to Mrs.Dewes

“I have now in hand two frames of shells in their natural colours … The Duchess has just finished a bunch of barberries turned in amber, that are beauti{ll, and she is finishing an ear of barleythe corns amber, the stalk ivory, the beards tortoishell. At candlelight, cross- stitch and reading gather us together. .. 1 think the knowledge of houswifery is very necessary to everybody, let their station be what it will, but I am afraid my Pauline (Her niece) got cold with her mince-pie making.”

February 11. 1758. Spring Garden Mrs. Delany to Mrs.Dewes

“I am glad Mr. Lucy is so well; I wish he would bring some shells from Naples; there are very pretty ones there, though none extremely rare … 1 sent you a specimen of Gibraltar shells, to let you see Captain Meade may bring you very pretty ones ..

We had like to have lost all our week’s linen and three suits of the finest Irish damask;

the washerwoman’s goods were seized by her merciless landlord, and Lady B–th and the Steward threatened, that if we did not lay down six guineas our linen should be sold! I sent for Mr. Chapone, who got us our linen, only paying for the washing. Glorious news came today of Clive’s great victory.He shames all our generals.”

[Colonel Clive in conjunction with Admiral Watson gained a victory over the Nabob Suraja Doula after a campaign of only thirteen days.]

March 7 1758

[Mrs. Delany’s husband.the Dean of Down, also had a victory. After a case lasting for years Lord Mansfield in The House of Lords declared in his favour in the matter of a marriage settlement of his late wife. The decision vindicated his reputation, though he was left liable to pay three thousand pounds.]

c.P.Moritz Travels in England

At Oartford “I first saw (what I deemed a true English Sight) in the street two boys boxing.”

Shoe making craft

James Lackington’s Memoirs

He worked for Mr. John Taylor of Kingsbridge … ” he never treated me as a journeyman, but made me his companion. I was the first man he ever had that was able to make stuff and silk shoes; and it being also known that I came from Bristol, this had great weight with the country ladies,and procured my master customers, who generally sent for me to take the measure of their feet, and I was looked upon by al to be the best workman in the town, altho’ I had not been brought up to stuff-work, nor had I ever entirely made one stuff or silk shoe before.”

Learning to write

“I was obliged to employ one or other of my acquaintance to write my letters for me. My master said to me one day he was surprized that I did not learn to write my own letters. The thought pleased me much, and without any delay I set about it, by taking up any pieces of paper that had writing on them, and imitating the letters as well as I could. I employed my leisure hours in this way for near two months, after which time I wrote my own love letters, a bad hand, you may be sure; but it was plain and easy to read which was alii cared for.”

Dr Peter Oliver

30 March 1784

“I sent a power of Attorney to Dr. J. Jeffries to get my Dividend for me.” 30 November 1784

Dr. Jeffries in company with Mr Blanchard set off in an Air Balloon from the Rhodenum, Park Lane 25 Minutes before 3 o’clock & landed in the Parish of Stone in Kent 10 minutes before 4 o’clock.

[Dr. John Jeffries 1744-1819. American balloonist & Physician, born in Boston. A loyalist during the American Revolution, he settled in England and made the first balloon crossing of the English Channel with the French aeronaut Francois Blanchard in 1785.

Jean Pierre Francois Blanchard 1753-1809, french baloonist and inventor of the parachute. With Jeffries was the first to cross the Channel by balloon in 1785. A flight which was reported upon in the diary of Sophie van la Roche. Blanchard was killed during practice parachute jumps from a balloon.]

Nancy Woodeforde 15 June 1792. Friday

“I wrote a letter to Mr. Samuel Woodforde my Brother which I began at seven and finished before eight, being in haste to send it up to Mr. Bidewells that he may put it into the Post Office tomorrow.

14 July 1792 Saturday

Received a letter from Brother Sam. Paid for the letter 5 pence.

Penelope Hind

Diaries and Correspondence 1787-1834 Sarah Markham After a visit to friends

“Rarely did we return without finding marks of the tender way our Mother employed herself during our absence. At one time a little room alloted to us, and where we deposited our choices things, was fitted up afresh;pretty boxes Etc. of her own making to ornament, fresh prints to adorn it; and at another our chamber was fresh papered and made gay and chearful; and in one way or other, proofs were given of a delight in making us happy.”

Hannah Mary Reynolds

[See housework for details of diarist.] 18 August 1793 friday

“Walked with my father [Abraham Darby of Coalbrookdale] to the Parade and saw the Camera Obscura.” [In Liverpool]

William Holland

1 April 1803, Friday

“no clock striling this morning. Little William jumped down from the staircase window, jarred the clock so much that the pendulum fell off and was bent so we must have Mr Coles to it.After dinner Coles came to set the clock in order.”

26 November 1804, Monday

“Called on Coles the clockmaker about the Jack.” 3 December 1804, Monday

“I walked down to Stowey, called on philosopher Coles and paid for some little articles. He shewed me aa curious clock of his invention which was carried to London and exhibited before the Society of Arts and then raffled for and won again by the philosopher. He is certainly a wonderful man.”