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22nd August 1485. Watershed in History.

‘It was showed that King Richard, late mercifully reigning upon us, was piteously slain and murdered to the grete (sic) heaviness of the citie’ (sic): (York City Meeting Minutes 1485). 

The 33 year old Richard III was killed today in 1485 at Bosworth Field, after a reign of only two-years, and after the shortest battle in English history. The earliest surviving portrait of Richard is c 1520 after the original was lost. 

Standing on the Yorkist heraldic, white boar. Richard and Prince of Wales, Edward Middleham, King’s only legitimate son with Anne Neville. Heraldic Roll.

For more than a century anyone could aspire to kingship who possessed some resemblance of a lineal claim, and an army to support them, as the descendants of Edward III. 

Richard III was the first king since Harold, at Hastings, to die in battle on an English field, and the only monarch not to have a proper tomb since the Conquest.

Like all losers he suffered negative propaganda, from the Tudors and from Shakespeare particularly, being associated with the murder of the Two Princes in the Tower, ignoring that Henry VII had just as much reason as Richard for their demise.

Richard’s short reign saw an unprecedented legislative programme with concern for justice and culture. He abolished ‘benevolences’, taxes extracted at whim from any citizen, the property market was regularised after the recent Civil Wars of the Roses.

Bail was introduced along with action against court verdict rigging. Finally he introduced the first statute in history for protecting and encouraging learning, being a patron of William Caxton, so now laws of the land could be printed in English.

Window at Sutton Cheney with Richard on the left and his son on right.

Before Bosworth, the Lancastrian, Henry Tudor arrived in Wales with 2000 men and 2000 mercenaries from the French prisons; he had 5000 when he reached England.

By the time Richard reached Leicester he had 6000 men; the Earl of Northumberland had a further 3000 but his loyalty was in doubt. One keen supporter of Richard was Sir John Audley of Markeaton, near Derby.

Richard had sent an order to Lord Thomas and Sir William Stanley, two of the most powerful men in the Kingdom to bring 6000 of his Cheshire and Lancashire forces. However Lord Thomas Stanley had promised to help Henry Tudor, and in a vain attempt to force his hand Richard kidnapped his eldest son.

It was the defection of both Sir William Stanley, Lord Chamberlain, later executed by Henry for treason, and Lord Thomas Stanley, the future King’s stepfather, (the third husband of Margaret Beaufort) which was a deciding factor at the Battle of Bosworth. (1)

The victor was the founder of the Tudor dynasty Henry Tydder (Tudor), now Henry VII. So ended the last King of the House of Plantagenet, who had ruled for 350 years, since taking their name from the son-in-law of Henry I, the Count of Anjou, Sir Geoffrey Plantagenet and father of Henry II, whose emblem was the Planta genista, or broom.

They were to supply fifteen kings including the cadet lines; the senior branch from Henry II to Richard II, then the junior branch of Lancaster before clashing with the Yorkist.

The death of Richard III and the crowning of Henry divides, for historians, the Middle Ages from the Modern World: the unification of dynasties would now see the Tudors wielding considerable power over parliament.

(1) One supporter of Henry VII was John Cheney (whose family with Ralph de Caineto) came over with the Conqueror. John was struck down by Richard, but lived long enough to be given a peerage after the Battle of Stoke as Lord Cheney of Falstone Cheney, and the Garter in 1486, by Henry VII to whom he became Standard Bearer.

References: of Richard.


21st August 1765. Silly Billy.

William IV was the last monarch to appoint a Prime-Minister in opposition to Parliament.

After the second son of George III, Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany died in 1827, the throne eventually went in 1830 to the third son, Prince William, Duke of Clarence who became William IV at the ripe age of 64.

Born Today in 1765, William, known as the ‘Sailor King’ or ‘Silly Billy’ was thus to become King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, but also King of Hanover; Victoria was to be the last monarch of that House.(1)

Known for his opposition to slavery which still existed in the Colonies, after a short reign of seven years, he was survived by eight of his ten natural (illegitimate) children, with the Irish actress, Dorothy Jordan (originally Bland), who had been his mistress for 20 years.(2)

These children were all named Fitz-Clarence (which some mischievously called Fitz-Jordan) with all granted the rank of the younger sons and daughters of a marquess.

Double Sovereign of William IV.

The Royal Marriages Act 1772 which made it illegal to marry a Catholic, also stipulated the monarch’s approval for a prince or princess under 25 to marry a commoner. The effect of which was that the Dukes of Kent and Clarence took mistresses as they found it difficult to find an acceptable wife.(3)

William however did find an acceptable wife in Adelaide, but deserted Dorothy, albeit with a generous allowance, who owing to unforeseen  circumstances died penurious in France.

One of William’s illegitimate was Lady Elizabeth Fitz-Clarence, later Elizabeth Hay, Countess of Erroll, descendants including the Cameron Family who made money from Chicago grain in the 19thc.

David Cameron, Prime Minister until 2015, is of this Scottish family, and so distantly related to the Queen.

In 2001 the 7th Earl of Munster died, the last of the Fitz-Clarences, being a descendant of George 1st Earl (1831).

(1) William died on 20.6.1837.

(2) He had 5 sons and 5 daughters.

(3) Duke of Kent was father of Queen Victoria.


Coins of the UK/Pic. facts about William. 20.6.2016. William Hartson.


20th August 1913. Stainless.

Before ‘stainless-steel’ was invented, carbon-steel rusted if not polished, unless one was wealthy enough to have silver or, at a lesser level, Electro-Plated Nickel Silver (EPNS).

Not until metallurgist, Harry Brearley (1871-1948), in the Brown Firth, Sheffield, Laboratories in 1912, started looking into the effect of heat, as opposed to corrosion, in gun-barrels, did he eventually arrive at a solution to corrosion resistance, by discovering an iron alloy containing chromium and nickel. On August 20th the next year he made the first arc-furnace cast of stainless-steel.(1)

Not surprisingly the commercial possibilities soon became apparent, with the new bright metal being marketed as ‘Staybrite’, and one Bloxwich company J. & J. Wiggin moved from brass bathroom fittings to using Staybrite.

Alveston Tea Set, by Wiggin.

They later moved into roller skates, and window frames for Ford and Standard Motors, but it was in polished household goods that its name was made.(2)

When in 1920 William took over, his wife suggested developing stainless-steel tableware to replace silver, thus the toast-rack and tea-pot of the 1930.s went on everybody’s wedding list, products promoted at the 1934 Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition at Olympia.

Campden Dishes.

Wiggin’s Old Hall Brand became established and steel-makers, Thomas Firth and John Brown commissioned designers for the tea and coffee services, with Wiggin becoming the largest hollow-ware maker in the world. In the 1960.s the Cheltenham Tool Company and Bridge Crystal Glass Company were acquired.

A Breakfast Set. Stainless-Steel, Wiggin.

Brearley was awarded the Gold Medal of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1920.

By 1971 Leslie Wiggin retired and the company needed capital to expand and the company was sold to Prestige, then the world’s largest domestic metal-ware company outside America. In 1984 the American, Oneida Company closed the Old Hall Works which had once employed 500.

(1)  The most common alloy is 18/8 steel containing Cr 18%, Nickel 8% developed by W.H.Hatfield at Firth Vickers 1924.

Austenite is a class of iron alloys named after William Chandler Roberts-Austen (1843-1902). It is a non-magnetic allotrope of iron which exists at room temperature in stainless steel.

Major authorities give the date as 20th August 1913 including: century of stainless-steel.

American Society for Metals gives data of Brearley’s creation of casting No 1008 as 20.8.1913.

(2) Wiggin’s was founded James Thomas and his son James Enoch who started making hand forged buckles in a terraced house in Bloxwich, moving to the Mission Hall next door and into brass castings.

References: Brearley.

19th August 1942. Disaster at Dieppe.

Between the Wars, Dieppe was known as the poor man’s Monte Carlo from its white ‘wedding cake’ shaped, casino.

The disastrous raid Today on the French port of Dieppe in 1942, was the first Allied combined operation of WWII.

Dieppe location.

Dieppe was the first massed amphibious attack since Gallipoli, which didn’t bode well, with the doomed mission sailing on the evening of Tuesday 18th August, having been postponed from July 3rd, owing to the British 1st Airborne Division raising objection due to a heightening wind.

The raid was resurrected within a week, but without airborne backing, having changed its name from Operation Rutter to Jubilee.

Rear Admiral, Louis Mountbatten, as Chief of Combined Operations had insisted on a heavy, pre-assault bombardment, but the First Sea Lord Admiral, Sir Dudley Pound had refused to risk a battleship in the narrows.

Then Air Vice-Marshal, Leigh-Mallory had refused to provide 300 bombers, saying, ‘I have neither planes nor crews to spare for useless side-shows’.

No permanent bridgehead was envisaged, as it was to be a nine-hour, one-tide operation allowing for five hours ashore and four for withdrawal. The 10,000 raiders carried supplies for one day only to the six beaches along a 10-mile front. Their aims were to capture the port, destroy the aerodrome and the radar station at Pourville.

Troops having a ‘fag’ after decision to withdraw.

Thus the troops would be zeroed in on heavily manned beaches with no more cover than a few bombers and cannon-firing Hurricanes. Even Lt. General Montgomery, who had temporarily overseen the attack before departing for the Middle East, had only approved a frontal assault if heavy bombardment was unavailable.

It was generally felt that Canadians were chosen as they were getting restless encamped in southern England since 1941, and Churchill was being chided by Stalin, under attack from the Germans, to create a diversionary Second Front.

Also the Canadian Commander, General Andrew McNaughton was vociferous that his men should see some action in Europe.

Canadians had previously been employed during the Dunkirk period, when the 1st Canadian Division was moved to Northampton and Kettering as a mobile defence unit in case of invasion.

Then President Roosevelt became interested in a New Front and Churchill was goaded to action, with the attack being seen as a dress rehearsal, or a reconnaissance in force, for the later invasion of Europe.

The operation was mounted from five ports from Southampton to Newhaven with a force of 4963 Canadians, 1075 British and 50 US Rangers, landing at dawn at eight points across a ten-mile wide front, but were spotted by a German convoy so the vital element of surprise was lost.(1)

The prophecy of Air Vice Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory, the Air Commander, ‘that if the troops are pinned down on the beaches at the very beginning, they’ll never get going again’, proved accurate. The result was carnage: 1000 dead and 2000 prisoners, mainly Canadians.

Lessons were learned for D-Day with the need for capital ships and for saturation bombing, up to date intelligence and even for a portable harbour. (2)

Lord Lovat, commanding officer, No 4 Commando later said, ‘I hold the raid was a disaster as 30 Assault Unit’s performance was sketchy and was badly shot up and failed even to reach dry land’.

(1) The Germans knew we were coming especially as the BBC had told the local population to escape from danger.

(2) For D-Day in 1944 portable ‘Mulberry’ harbours were towed across the Channel.

Ref: Ian Fleming’s, Commandos: the Story of 30 Assault Unit in WWII Nicholas Rankin. Faber Faber 2011.



18th August 1850. ‘Hopping’.

The difficulty of growing hops is summed up in the Kentish Rhyme: ‘First the flea, then the fly/then the mould, then they die’.

Luffs Farm 1900.

Today in 1850 William Terrell Gunner of William Hall Farm wrote in his Journal: ‘Of all the crops the farmer has to do with, this is the most interesting, causes him more anxiety, requiring more attention. It costs more to produce, and perhaps oftener fails than any other, but at the same time no crop has paid so well’. The crop was hops. 

One of his difficulties he highlighted on the 28th September was the exuberance of the Irish traveller pickers whom he described, ‘as fighting each other like bull-dogs and laid about each other with hop-poles’.

Stencilling the Hop-Pockets.

Hop picking has always relied on itinerant labour such as the Irish, gypsies and cockneys who made a holiday of it.

The writer, George Orwell (Eric Blair) described uproarious scenes on Saturday nights in the local inn; the locals thought the hop-pickers a ‘vulgar lot’, but as a socialist thought, ‘it livened up a dull village to have the annual Cockney invasion’.

Income was based on piece-work for a ten-hour day, even for the children, but it was extra cash for penurious households. Levetts hop growers of Kent gave their workers tokens.

‘Hoppers’ lived in huts on the farm and made the best of what materials were available for rude comfort. Any trouble was dealt with by sacking without any compensation.

Hops have been cultivated since Anglo-Saxon times, but not used originally in ‘beor’, only in cloth dying, the sap for brown, and the cones and leaves for yellow. The stems were used for paper, sacking and ropes.

Not until the 14thc is there evidence of use in beer; its increasing use in Tudor times saw strong ‘big beer’ replacing ‘small beer’.

Hopped beer came from the Continent in the Middle-Ages, gradually to supersede the so-called ‘Gruit’ composed of herbs of the monasteries which imparted a bitter flavour.

However this was considered a health problem, as henbane and deadly-nightshade were being used as well as yarrow, aromatic bog-myrtle, ground ivy, rosemary and sage.

In the late 16thc Herefordshire was growing hops and by 1655 were being grown in more than fourteen counties, and the use of broom and wormwood was banned in 1710, used to avoid the hop-tax at 1d a pound.

Stourbridge Fair near Cambridge was the biggest 17th and 18thc hop market in England, whilst later Southwark on the road to the hop-gardens of Kent, became the main market; its telephone code being ‘HOP’.

The preservative function of hops became important after the abolition of Beer Tax in the 1830 Beer-House Act which increased the popularity of beer over a wider area, including India Pale Ale to the sub-continent by Mark Hodgkin the London brewer.

Hops were grown by Shepherd Neame, now the oldest brewing company founded 1698, about 80 years after Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona, where we see the line: ‘Blessing of your heart, you brew good ale’ (Act 3 Scene I).

References: Luffs Farm. 1900/Pic of oast-houses. Pockets.

In 1574 the first book in English devoted to hops by Kentish landowner Reynolde or Reginald Scot called a ‘Perfite Platform of a Hoppe Garden’.

The 18thc poet Christopher Smart wrote ‘The Hop Garden’ which was rooted in Virgilian blank verse, Georgics and Augustan Literature, which in that tradition of poetic instruction told how to farm hops.

Samuel Smiles in his ‘Thrift’ (1875) implied that the ‘hard multum’ which improved intoxicating qualities to beer was prepared from the poisonous alkaloid, Cocculus indicus a source of picrotoxin was used instead of hops. (Webster’s Revised Dictionary 1913).

17th August 2004. Murder Most Foul.

The Red Barn, Polestead, Suffolk as it was.

Today in 2004 BBC News Online reported that the killer, William Corder had been cremated at Streatham, London, nearly 180 years after his execution for the infamous Red Barn Murder at Polestead, Suffolk in 1827,(1)

Large turn out for public hanging of Corder. The hangman was allowed to keep stockings and trousers as a perk.

Linda Nessworthy a descendant, had campaigned for 5 years for the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS), to release the remains, which had reposed in their Hunterian Museum, besides that of highwayman, Jonathan Wild.

Maria Marten.

The original Assizes for this cause-celebre, at Bury St Edmunds in 1827, saw hotels soon fill up, with people crowding the courtroom to hear how Corder had strangled his lover Maria Marten in the ‘Red Barn’.

After the inevitable guilty verdict, the judge, The Chief Baron of the Exchequer, was unhappy with the Press for its reporting as prejudicial to the charged, however The Times, in its report, congratulated the public for showing good sense in aligning against the prisoner.

No matter: Corder still received the traditional sentencing commending, ‘almighty God to have mercy on his soul’, but concluded with: ‘Your body shall afterwards be dissected and anatomised’, this for the benefit of lectures to medical students.

Five thousand of the public viewed the body, and Corder’s skull was also studied for ‘bumps on the head’, which Phrenologists thought reflected character and ‘found’ areas demonstrating: ‘secretiveness, acquisitiveness, destructiveness and lack of benevolence’. He obviously never had a chance!

The final ignominy was that Corder’s skin was tanned and used to bind copies of the story of the murder.(2)

It appears that this was a common practice as in the previous decade, John Horwood convicted in Bristol in 1821 of murder, was also dissected and anatomized, with his skin used to bind a copy of an account of the murder, a practice much in demand since the 17thc and known as anthropodermic bibliopegy.

Memorial to Maria Marten, Polestead, Suffolk.

It was the age of the macabre as Horwood’s skeleton was kept at the home of the dissector, Dr. John Smith, later Bristol Royal Infirmary and then the University, still with the rope round his neck.(3)

Broadsheet including confession and last letter to wife. T.Birt.

As always with any tragedy, there was money to be made and regarding the Red Barn Murder, timber was made into tooth-picks and strands of hair and of the hanging-rope found a ready market.

The building itself was stripped of its tiles, with the site becoming a tourist attraction. Even Maria Marten’s stone memorial was reduced to a stump.

Ballads and plays have been produced up to the present. It’s an ill wind!


(1) Tuesday 17.8.2004.

(2) Anthropodermic Bibliopegy as it is called was practised from the 17thc.

(3) William Burke’s skeleton reposes at The Anatomy Museum, Edinburgh University, whilst Jonathan Wilde and murderers Eugene Aram and Thurtell are at RCOS London.


Medical Care and the GP 1750-1850.

Medical Times Vol 3.



16th August 1819. Peterloo.

With the late 18th century Gordon Riots, the 1812 conflict with America and the French Revolutionary Wars still fresh in public memory, the government was understandably jittery that revolution might spread here.

In Manchester, yeomanry are ordered to clear a crowd gathered to hear speeches supporting parliamentary reform. Eleven people die, about 400 are injured. Date: 16 August 1819

The period witnessed many riots, meetings and protest marches in the northern, industrial towns including in 1815, the year of Waterloo, riots against the Corn Laws and the resulting high bread prices.

Protest came in 1817 from the Lancashire weavers, ‘The Blanketeers’, a movement which caused the Manchester Magistrates to form the short-lived Manchester and Salford Yeomanry.

Henry Addington then Prime Minister was responsible for the temporary suspension of Habeus Corpus in 1817, then the so-called repressive two ‘Gagging Acts’ of Grenville and Pitt, The Treason and Seditious Meetings Acts, intended to restrict public meetings.

Not surprisingly these did little to end discontent and within two years, St. Peter’s Fields, Manchester witnessed the pitched battle Today, known in folk tradition as ‘Peterloo’, when the local yeomanry were ordered by magistrates to quell the gathering of c 60,000.

The crowd were gathered in support of parliamentary reform, to hear the radical, later MP Henry (Orator) Hunt speak: in the process, eleven were killed.

Picture published by H.M.Paget.

More repression followed in The Six Acts the work of Lords Sidmouth and Castlereagh who had the task of justifying their action at Peterloo, and thus ever since have been regarded as a byword for reactionary Toryism.

The result was Henry Hunt was imprisoned for two years; meetings were banned involving more than 50 people, and a tax on newspapers was aimed to deter radical views.

However on the positive side, the age saw the rise of a militant Trade Unionism with the Grand National Consolidated Trade Union (Grand National), which widened the boundaries of the previous unorganised, including agricultural labourers, and the female, ‘Lodge of female Tailors’.